Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

***Working to be a safe place for all sides to share.***


Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I'm cool with it

In formulating an explanation to the questions on my previous post, I discovered that it was getting lengthy. Rather than put it in the combox, I've posted it below as a separate blogpost.

To sue, bonnie, lin, and molly,

You all seem to be asking the same question, so I'll respond with the best answer that represents my viewpoint. A caveat, though: most of you already know I'm not the CBMW kind of Comp. I take a position that is much more generous towards women's roles in life than, say, Wayne Grudem. I don't believe that one must be as strict as he to be a Comp. Therefore, my views only represent me and not the more famous Comps out there...at least not yet.

The question is, 'in the Complementarian view, if creation roots male authority over females, which then prohibits women from having spiritual authority over men, then why would Complementarians accept women in civil authority, which seems contrary to the creation design?'

I think this question contains some erroneous assumptions.

1. Creation roots male authority over females,

1A. One assumption is that this "authority" encompasses all of existence, specifically that females are under the direction of males in every aspect of life without limits. In which case, that's a form of omnipotence, not authority. I cannot find any evidence where such unlimited power is mandated in scripture as God's will. Indeed, you know the well the examples to the contrary where women are in authority, so I don't need to list them here.

1B. "Male" authority? I've said this in a previous post as well that God didn't create a female for Adam, but a wife. I hope the meaning of this is not lost on anyone, that Eve was created married. There is no male and female as two separate entities that eventually got married only because there was no one else around. We cannot assume, therefore, that such a thing as "male authority over females" applies as a general state of affairs. The so-called "authority" that we often speak about in creation exists primarily in a marriage relationship (if it exists that way at all; see 1C), and I believe that it should only apply within marriage-related contexts (more on that later).

1C. Authority. This word has never been defined for the comp/egal debate ever to the point where both sides agree what it entails and encompasses. I think we all just assume that it means
- the husband is the boss/calls the shots for all decisions
- the husband is in control of the wife (and the rest of the family)

I believe that our assumptions are only partially true, but whether we can genuinely call it authority remains to be seen, when I'm done with it. In general, I prefer "spiritual leadership" or "head" (it's entirely biblical) to describe the relationship. Take Eph. 5:22, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." Here's the breakdown:

- the husband is not the Lord, but God commands wives treat their husbands with the kind of submission as if they were submitting to the Lord (which is also true)
- a relative position of respect and deference that wives should give their husbands as a moral act, not a compulsory act
- such deference is not given to any other man
- a position that does not entail a right a husband must maintain by force in general; indeed, it is not an inherent right to leadership but one based on the context of Christ and a wife's moral submission (and only under these circumstances)
- a position where wife and family are under a huband's care, not under his control; having said that, there are instances where a husband can and should act in the best interest of his family to avert danger or harm and to promote godliness.

(If you think this last one is a loophole, it isn't. If a husband chooses to abuse those under his care, that is not acting in the best interest of his family, which means there is no support from God for his actions. What to do about it is a separate issue we can discuss some other time.)

2. which then prohibits women from having spiritual authority over men,

2A. I don't think the argument can be made this way. Indeed, when we get to this content, it is usually 1 Tim. 2 that gets whipped out (not Genesis 2-3). Paul doesn't say that women shouldn't have any authority whatsoever over men, but in a leading/teaching capacity in the church. Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason points out that our translation of "man" and "woman" in this passage is in other places rendered "husband" and "wife." I think he makes a good case that women can, indeed, lead, teach, and have authority in some capacity in church, so long as that authority doesn't trample on the marriage relationship as I've described above. That is a principle.

The actual context in 1 Tim. 2 is sketchy. Why did Paul say what he did? Why didn't Jesus say anything like that? Why does he talk about braided hair and jewelry right before that? Why, why, why? I think we are not answering "why," so we are not arriving at an agreeable hermeneutic on this passage. In my mind, Paul is addressing 'problem women' in the church where Timothy is leading, and that his solution is for such women to get silent and show that their husbands should set them straight. Such should apply to all problem women, yes?

2B. So can women lead Bible studies in mixed company? Yeah.

2C. What if a woman's husband is in the Bible study? I think we take this business of Bible studies too seriously/formally. Everyone is learning together in an informal setting which isn't a uniquely church activity. A better question is 'Can a woman be her own husband's seminary professor?' which is a true authoritative position. We simply use other words, like conflict of interest. For every situation between these poles, I think Christian freedom should dictate what each couple does.

2D. So can women be pastors? If, by that, we mean the official person with ultimate responsibility for directing a congregation spiritually, organizationally and personally into the lives of churchgoers, then no. However, I wouldn't exempt women in being a part of the process by which all of that takes place. I know you must be asking why, so here's my rationale:

Eph. 5:22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

According to this scripture, Christ's relation to His Church is pictured in the husband's relation to the wife. Scripture specifically names the husband (not the wife) in the place of Christ in the picture. The marriage unit picture is, therefore, foundational to the makeup of the Church (afterall, the family is a microcosm of the Church). So, the human people that must lead and direct the Church should be men--they are a type of husband figure for the church body. Wives and women occupying this particular position in church do not fit this biblical picture. It is not that there is anything wrong with women so much as having a woman take directive leadership of the Church changes the image of the Church that God wants to portray. It is undeniable that a woman head pastor of a congregation changes the picture given to us in Eph. 5, not to mention that such a position of authority would throw her marriage into conflict of interest with her husband (if she were married).

3. Why would Complementarians accept women in civil authority?

This is a fair question. On the surface it seems to make sense that if our theology of men and women were universal, then it would naturally extend from the Church arena into all other arenas in life. This is the view that Patriocentrists take, and so they oppose any position where a woman might find herself in authority over men. But I've already made a case that it isn't really a theology of merely "men" and "women." However, besides being impractical to the level of absurd in some cases, it ignores the fact that no other arena besides the Church is built on a relationship between husband and wife and what it means (Christ redeems His Church), at least none other came to mind. That is why I said in my previous post that we do have separate realms on an existential level. Even with something as big as government (some would say especially the government), the primary function of which is not about and does not speak to the unique marriage dynamic that is set up by God to reflect Christ and the Church).

So back to Sarah Palin being a governor and possibly VP. I am way cool with it. As bonnie commented, "the fact that many complementarians are endorsing Sarah Palin for VP indicates....At the very least, [Complementarianism] is facing redefinition." Yeah, I'm cool with that too.

/big grin