Open Letter #2 to Rebekah Merkle (Doug Wilson’s Daughter)

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This Letter is in Response to Rebekah Merkle’s “I’ll take Whiskey.” (Found Here).

As a small child, my father read me the Bible most nights of the week. I watched him preach God’s Word for as long as I can remember. My dad has a charismatic personality and a background in theater, which he brought with him to the pulpit. Needless to say, he is a great preacher. I learned from birth that the Word of God is God breathed and true. This truth was embedded into me and I am sure this same truth was embedded into you Rebekah.

I enjoyed your response to my last post and especially the clever title, but what I did not enjoy was your assumption that my feelings control how I interpret the Bible.

When I was in Bible school and seminary, I was taught to separate myself from my feelings when interpreting God’s Word. I learned not to cherry pick Bible verses and that the best resource to use when interpreting the Bible is the Bible itself.

In graduate school, my focus was Christian doctrine and church history, so I became well aware of New Testament culture and learned how to study the original languages that scripture was written in before making final judgements. I understand the complementation argument well because I combatted it in my master’s thesis (Found Here).

I respect that you believe that the complementarian interpretation of scriptures is the correct one, but the truth is that there are many interpretations of God’s Word because we are all doing our best to understand an ancient book that was written to an ancient audience in ancient languages.

As much as you and I both don’t want to admit it, our feelings and experiences (and what has been embedded into us by our parents) will always creep into our interpretations of the Bible.

“Gender roles” are a tricky biblical topic, no doubt, so for either of us to believe that we have found the absolutely correct interpretation is quite prideful. The Word is clear,

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (1 Corinthians 13:12).

To be truthful with you, I understand how complementarians can believe what they believe concerning gender roles because when one reads the Bible without deeper study of surrounding context, it seems plain and clear. It is only after years of research that we can let go of what our parents have taught us to some degree and see the scriptures for what they really are.

It is difficult, but in order to truly let go of our personal experiences and feelings concerning gender roles, we have to somehow try to put ourselves in the Apostle Paul’s shoes. Once we realize that patriarchy was the backdrop of the Bible and not the message of the Bible, we begin to realize that Paul was an advocate for female equality in both worth and authority.

As stated in my previous letter, there is little to no evidence that “kephale” (head) means “authority over.” The ancient texts are simply not there to prove this. Most egalitarians argue that “kephale” means “source,” meaning man (Adam) is the source of woman (Eve), but the ancient texts to prove this are limited as well (although “source” does have more evidence among ancient texts than “authority over” does).

The truth is that “kephale” is an extremely unique word and although “head” often means “leader” in English, it is a mistake to apply our language to scriptures that are written in ancient Greek. 

Since we cannot depend on ancient texts to interpret the word “kephale” we must depend on the surrounding verses in the Bible and historical background. Since husbands are compared to Christ metaphorically and we know that women were treated no better than slaves in Paul’s world, could it be that Paul is asking husbands to sacrifice their cultural privilege and dismantle inequality in the home? The “marriage passage” in Ephesians 5 does begin with this verse:

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

I love Sarah Bessey’s words on this matter:

“And so we discover the great paradox hidden within these hotly debated passages of Scripture, tragically misused to subject and berate and hold back, to demand and give place to pride – however benevolent the intention. If wives submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ, and if husbands love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, and if both husbands and wives submit to one another as commanded, we enter a never-ending, life-giving circle of mutual submission and love.” (excerpted from Jesus Feminist).

“But what about 1 Timothy 2:12?” is always the next question complementarians dart at me as if they have won the day by killing me off with this verse. I explain this passage, as well as other controversial Pauline passages in my master’s thesis in great detail, so for the sake of this letter, I will keep things relevant.

The verse states: “I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.” Here is my issue with your situation. You do teach high schoolers, right? At what age is a high school male considered a man? Since the Bible does not tell us that answer, who gets to make that answer up?

Some may say that a boy becomes a man around puberty (13 or so). Some may say a boy becomes a man at 18-years-old, since that is what our American law says. This leads me to another hypothetical situation; if we are going to go with 18, then what happens if you have a high school student who is 18 (which happens often)?

And if we are going to make the argument that a high school is not “the Church” then I would have to say that “the Church” is not a building with walls; but rather, the makeup of men and women of God. It is also strange how complementarian men are allowed to read your blog and learn from your teachings, but you are not allowed to teach them from behind a human made idea of a pulpit.

When legalism abounds, confusion and hypocrisy abounds further.

Lastly, if the Apostle Paul has given a timeless and universal truth that women should not teach or lead men, then why did he praise the female apostle Junia as outstanding among them (Romans 16:7) along with many other female leaders in the New Testament? Why did he call women his co-workers in Philippians 4:3 and if they were simply leading other women and children then why is there a substantial amount of sociological/historical evidence that women hosted and led “house churches” within the first and second centuries of the early church? Surely both men and women attended these “church gatherings.”

Further, if God chooses whom He wills, then why did He choose Deborah as judge to lead the Israelite Army of mostly men (Judges 4)? Because there were no Godly men around? If that was the case, why did God not raise up a godly man to do the job? The truth is that you don’t have the answers to these questions because no complementarian does. When any complementarian is asked these questions, they either ignore them or they do some sort of far-fetched, theological gymnastics to try and answer them.

Again, I am going to use the word “audacious.” It is quite audacious for you and your camp to assume your biblical interpretation that limits half the Church is the correct one and that evangelical feminists are operating out of their feelings. Generally speaking, Christian feminists are highly educated and filled with the Holy Spirit (as I am assuming you are) and although we may be both snarky and sensitive at times, most of us regard the Bible as being the highest authority on this matter (just as your camp does).

So, again, if you are going to take us on, you are going to have to do some legitimate biblical/contextual/historical/sociological/linguistic research that is not based on your “feelings” or “experiences” with evangelical feminists.

Blessings in your journey sis. I love you and I actually like you too, but I am going to have to stick to “light beer,” whisky is too heavy and gives me a headache.

Cheers!

Jory Micah 🙂

 

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86 Comments

  • I thought feminism was about choice? I believe many women are comforted by a complementarian structure. Those that are not are always free to leave whichever church that is apparently holding them back and find an egalitarian church.

    Keep in mind that, if in fact “kephale” can be interpreted to mean “authority over,” then this authority should not be used with an iron fist, but with the same love Christ had for the church. A good leader (whether in Church, home or at the office) is one who listens (James 1:19) and who considers wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15) and is not a schmuck to those “under” his authority.

    I would recommend that any woman who was in an Iron Fist Reformed Patriarchal type of church to high tail it out of there asap to keep from going Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. But those types of churches seem like a caricature anyway, unless you’re talking about the Amish.

    However, I will say that these complementarian churches you harangue, seem to be doing just fine, especially if you consider they’re the ones who are taking The Great Commission seriously and are not obsessed with gender quotas for the pulpit. And I don’t see how having more women in the pulpit equates with more being saved, since (and I’m sure you’ll agree) the words preached from the pulpit are spiritual and not gender specific.

    • “Those that are not are always free to leave whichever church that is apparently holding them back and find an egalitarian church.”

      Are you sure about that? What about women and girls who have been denied the tools to make that escape? I am not merely speaking of complementarian communities, but of major world religions as well…

      • Then I suppose those women will have to work within the confines of those churches. Remember, it does not matter what title you hold or office, but God looks at the heart and judges our attitudes and motives regardless of the work entrusted to us.

        I suppose if a church made me feel like it was sucking the soul out of me, I would find a way to leave.

        • How? And I am not merely talking about women denied ministry positions, but women who are taught that–to complement a man (this is “complementarianism” after all)–they must accept marriage as their highest calling. Let’s take an extreme example. How do women who have not been prepared for (or even presented with the option of ) singleness escape their communities?

          While I am thinking of it, here is a question no one seems to answer: Is the desire to live a single, sex-free life a sin? I know Paul’s answer on the matter, but most complementarians I engage give me a very different one (the remainder avoid the question entirely).

          • The idea that a woman’s highest calling is marriage is foreign to me. It does seem to be one that most women want though. To live the life you want is more important than one that comps or even egals want for you. We all have to follow our own paths even if it means others may not approve.

          • Greg said,

            The idea that a woman’s highest calling is marriage is foreign to me.

            I’m over 40 years old. I was brought up in gender complementarianism.

            And yes, the view that “wife hood/ motherhood are a woman’s highest calling or only godly role in life” is/ was widely taught by GCs (gender comps), and still is.

            Many of GCs (not all) have yet to catch on that more and more people are not marrying these days, or the age of first marriage has increased. For the ones who do notice this change in culture, rather than minister to adult singles, they shame or blame anyone who is single.

            GCs assume women such as myself who are single this long (I had wanted to marry), intentionally chose to stay single, because we supposedly placed career over marriage (not true for me and other women in my position).

            Wanting to be married does not guarantee that marriage will happen, but a lot of Christians, gender comp and otherwise, mistakenly believe wanting it means it will definitely happen.

            Gender comps most certainly do not value singleness or childless women – I wrote more about that in other posts down this page, so I shall not belabor it here.

            The gender comp view that women are only or primarily called to be mothers or wives is so wide spread that others have written blog posts refuting the notion, such as….
            Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling?

            Again, I can only presume you are blind to this pressure gender comp Christians place on women since you are a man (I assume, with a name like Greg), and hence, you don’t receive anywhere near the amount of the pressure to marry and have kids as women do.

          • “GCs assume women such as myself who are single this long (I had wanted to marry), intentionally chose to stay single, because we supposedly placed career over marriage (not true for me and other women in my position).”

            That sucks, for lack of a better term.

            I was “fortunate” in the sense that singleness was my choice–it was clearly the best fit for me. I can only imagine how GC doctrine adds insult to injury if singleness is not one’s choice.

    • By not allowing women to express their gifts, by calling it “biblical” and influencing the young ones in your midst to think the same way, you ARE hurting the great commission. Smart, enlightened, gifted people are leaving churches that hold them back or hurt them every day and warning others to stay away. It’s unfortunate, but for many people it eventually becomes impossible to separate Christianity from its abusive followers…”Love” from these abusive followers appears to be imaginary and one can’t help but wander what else they’re deluded about. And once one gets away from these abusive people and beliefs one realizes, they’re wrong about so, so many things. Once one knows this beyond a doubt, how is one to ever return to such a system and how is someone with any amount of character to handle the truth that set them free? Ethical people spread the word. This isn’t just about “quotas”, it’s about injustices committed in the name of God.

    • Greg said,

      “And I don’t see how having more women in the pulpit equates with more being saved, since (and I’m sure you’ll agree) the words preached from the pulpit are spiritual and not gender specific.”

      Of course this doesn’t bother you, since you are a male. I’m not surprised.

      You remain blind to how harmful and condescending complementarianism is to women.

      I’m not sure if we can do links on this blog, but I will give it a try:
      Ten Ways Male Privilege Shows Up In the Church

      As someone who was brought up complementarian, but who has been teetering back and forth between Christianity and agnosticism the last 2, 3 years, I can tell you that churches and Christians who insist on limiting women (i.e., pushing complementarianism) are helping to push me away from Christianity, giving me one less reason to want to hold on to the faith.

      Your church may preach the Gospel, but if it’s also telling me at the same time, and at the end of the day, that I don’t have as much value or authority as a man (telling me I am ‘equal in worth but not in role’ is, in the end scheme of things, contradictory: I can never change my gender), or if your complementarian church is also telling me I cannot do “X” because I am a woman, I don’t want to be a party to that.

      The sexism is breath taking, and complementarians are daring to insist that God ordains sexism.

      • CP said: You remain blind to how harmful and condescending complementarianism is to women.

        That’s not really a reply to my point about how having women pastors would equate with more men and women being saved. I agree with Rebekah that there is a type of Patriarchal structure that is harmful to women (and men for that matter). However, if you haven’t noticed, the complementarian church has done great things (John 14.12). How do you think the church has experienced exponential growth?

        Do you realize that men also take lesser roles in the church? Only one can be the lead pastor and a handful, elders. Having “value” does not mean we all have to be in the pulpit, does it? (see 1 Cor 12) Value comes from knowing God loves us and that we use whatever he has entrusted to us with a proper attitude and stewardship.

        Perhaps your problem is that you see all things through comp/egal lenses when your focus should be Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). You’re too focused on church structure and titles. Paul tells us to do everything “without grumbling and complaining” and that we will, as Christians, share in Jesus’ sufferings. Everyone suffers. Ultimately the gospel should be our focus.

        How can a church’s structure cause you to go from belief in God to not being sure if there is a God? Your faith in God should be personal (he died for YOU), and not influenced by church politics. No one can take that from you. He did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)

        • “Perhaps your problem is that you see all things through comp/egal lenses when your focus should be Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). You’re too focused on church structure and titles. Paul tells us to do everything “without grumbling and complaining” and that we will, as Christians, share in Jesus’ sufferings. Everyone suffers. Ultimately the gospel should be our focus.”

          So it should not matter then to complementarians as long as the most gifted individual occupies a position that suits them…even if that position is a “leadership” or pastoral position and even if that individual is a woman.

          Ironically, I left complementarianism because I do not (big emphasis on not) believe in “gender quotas” for church positions. I simply believe that the best people should be in the best positions, whether those individuals be men or women. If you are interested in this take on egalitarianism, I highly recommend an essay by Dorthy Sayers, “Are Women Human?” It’s delightful, to say the least…

    • Sure, every woman has a choice to stay or leave comp. churches. The issue is that comp. church leaders are sometimes very influential all over American Christianity (and other countries too) and their poor theology is creeping into the universal church of America – which keeps men as the preferred pastoral candidates and women who have been called to pastor/lead are left out of jobs and even volunteer leadership roles.

      • I’m not sure I would characterize their theology as “poor.” The church universal has grown by leaps and bounds and this couldn’t have happened if their theology was poor.

        Have you ever thought of kicking it Brit Nicole-style as in her video “Lost get found” and just minister to the needs of people you meet? It’s not what position we hold in the church building that we’ll be judged on, but on how we handle anything that comes our way. Are you making the most of every opportunity? (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5)

        • Greg,

          People grow churches with poor theology all the time. EX:// Churches that preach the “prosperity message” and the “name it claim it” theology. These leaders have some of the largest churches out there. People are drawn to human made religious ideas even more than Christ all the time. Complementarian teaching is a manmade doctrine which is attractive to many humans.

          As for your other questions: there is nothing you can say or do that will get me off of the mission of #BreakingTheGlassSteeple, so you are wasting your time if that is your ultimate goal.

          Telling me not to seek a “position” or have you considered this and that is silly. I am not seeking a position anymore, but I am fighting for women in ministry who are.

          The Lord has given me this calling/mission and I will never quit. I must obey God despite human opinions.

          • Jory,
            Have you visited comp churches to try to get them to see things from an egal perspective?
            That might be more effective than blogging.

            I am not trying to stop you and couldn’t if I tried. I am just trying to understand another Christian’s perspective (and there are so many different perspectives out there) and isn’t that a good thing?

            No one gets it right 100% of the time though, but we can be charitable toward one another and not resort to calling each other pests or haters.

          • Greg, please stop making suggestions to me. I am blogging because this is what God has told me to do. I am sure you have a great heart, but you are truly being a pest between twitter and now here. I don’t want to have to block you, but I will. This is your last warning.

    • It’s not a matter of quota, but opportunity to serve with the gifts they were granted by God. (James 1:19) I realize people love to make the quota assumption, but sadly it shows they aren’t listening very well. (Proverbs 12:15)

      Certain women are comforted by the egalitarian belief system as well for that reason. They are allowed to share their gifts that God has granted them with to use for his purpose. Sadly, to many take that as a threat to their authority…and its never about them. Men use their gifts for the same reasons women do – because they are led by God to use them for his purpose.

      • Amen Hannah! I do think the church needs to start being intentional about hiring an equal amount of female leaders whenever possible. If one wants to call that “quota” then so be it.

        • (Shrugs) To me they need to choose whom would be the best fit for their congregation. I do believe everyone fits somewhere, because God would not allow their gift to go to waste. That would happen more rapidly if people could place their prejudice aside, and look to the person…and not gender.

          Another comment you had today spoke of the history of the church as her reason to stay put in her belief system – I’m sure there are others as well. Yet, if we look at history they have been wrong before. We – as the body of Christ – as grown beyond that error as well as did our best to correct it. That’s not to say they didn’t get similar comments to these changes, because they did. It’s the human side that people seem to forget about. People are afraid of change, and pride is what enables them to stay in error.

          I find it odd also that people are so afraid of admitting they have feelings. Jesus showed them, and so did so all the other characters in the bible. Yes, they can take us down the wrong path at times. Yet, they also can encourage us down the correct one too. If men don’t feel they are moved by the Holy Spirit – which also involves feelings – they have no business in their position. (Shrugs) I figure that is the best they can come up with, and it really doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make a lick of sense. lol I guess it sounds good! Denial at its best – again being human.

          • I beleive that we have to combine practicality with this mission, which does mean finding women who have the gifts needed. If there is already a male pastor, I believe the church should find a female pastor with the gifts and qualifications needed. I think this is how we practically balance out a imbalanced system. I am not suggesting “quotas” as a rule, but as ideal. If there are 3 male pastors, it is ideal to have 3 female pastors, etc…

    • I followed your exchanged here with Rebekah Merkle, mainly because it is heartening to see two Christians, who disagree, able to interact with each others ideas without descending into caricatures of their opponent. Real debate is hard to come by these days and harder to come by on the internet, especially in blogs. I thank you both. And I hope she decides to respond again.

      At any rate, I thought I would throw a few thoughts your way on the topic. Just so you know where I am coming from. I grew up in churches that would all be categorized as complementarian or even patriarchal, though it was never harped on. My father definitely leaned that direction, ideologically. And it was he who encouraged me to study philosophy and theology in college and write for Christian periodicals. I remember musing to him once about “why am I doing this, cause I’m a girl” and he looked at me like I was insane, “that is precisely why you should be!” In both the churches and at home I was always given more responsibility/leadership than I was able to handle. I was/am often sought out (by men in the church and incidentally, still my dad) for my opinion, to sit on committees, to take on teaching roles, to take on service roles, to speak and sing during worship services. Sure, I’ve encountered to occasional “chump” that Rebekah satirized in her piece, but I, like her, learned from my father to “think in a straight line” and not let them (or whoever else) turn me into a “reactionary pinball” (man, I wish I had thought of that line 🙂 Never have any of these chumps had any real power (which is telling considering Christ’s Word about being the servant of all). And I’ve never experienced anything like that in all from a Pastor, Elder, or Deacon. I don’t want to say these things don’t happen to women, but because I’ve been in not-a-few complementarian churches and never encountered this, it does make me wonder why it happens to my self-identified “feminists” sisters. It could be that I’ve never come up to one of these Pastors and asked when I can fill the pulpit (just a theory :).
      All that to say, I find rhetoric about being “side-lined” or the gospel being “limited” because women are “silenced” to ring a bit hollow. At least from my experience it sounds like something of a caricature. (I’ve found the most accurate metaphor used by feminist to be “glass ceiling”. That I could see. If you are trying to rise in the church and you see Pastor/Teaching Elder as the top rung, you are going hit that ceiling.) But that is not my point. My point is I never felt compelled to even look into this topic until it started coming up with some family-members. And being the scholarly type I decided to take it on. I quickly got past the blogs and glorified blogs and found the work actually done on the relevant texts. I did find the issue to be a lot less “cut and dry” than I had assumed. I did learn a great deal about accurately interpreting some of these texts, and I learned how many respectable interpretations exist. I learned the problems with traditional views and where egalitarian work on the subject has been an invaluable contribution to our understanding. I did learn that the role of women put forth in all the Scripture was even broader and more “glorious”, as Rebekah put it, than I realized. I did not, however, “switch sides” on the issue (for exegetical reasons only.) My commitment is to the truth of Scripture and I was committed to being led by whatever I found. If I found that women were even “more limited” than I thought going in I would assume that was for God’s ultimate plan and glory and our benefit, even if I couldn’t understand it this side of heaven. If I learned that God wanted us all to become crusading feminists then I would have assumed the same. So my first suggestion to you would be to not assume your opponent has not done their “biblical/contextual/historical/sociological/linguistic research”. I am an armchair scholar at best and I was able to (I am sure not to the extent that you have, but still). And I am guessing Rebekah Merkle is more than a bit acquainted with the relevant research. Sure, there are people who are not, and simply parrot the side on an argument that they agree with. But for those who have, usually the disagreements do not come down to lack of research but rather the lens in which we are (often sub-consciously) viewing that research. The process of maturing as Christians involves becoming increasingly aware of that lens and what is shaping it. And ultimately asking God to continually re-shape it after His Word. (I don’t assume I am telling you something you don’t know. But many people do not and when this idea was presented to me I found it invaluable to my growth as a Christian thinker.)
      Secondly, I can’t help but point out that your argument about 1 Tim. 2 amounted to “I find the application of this absurd and/or impossible therefore it must mean something different.” Our ability or lack thereof to understand and apply is not a good exegetical standard. It would carry a lot more weight to allow your argument to rest on other texts that explain and carve out the definitions you advocate for the text in question. It may very well be absurd to conclude that a female never teaches a male, even an adult male (whatever age that turns out to be) but that can and should be determined by what else is taught in Scripture not our reaction to the text. And accusing the complementarian of “darting” or “engaging in theological gymnastics” when they fail to answer your hypotheticals is to hold them to a standard that exists and evolves in your own mind. We used to refer to that as the “heretical hypothetical”. In all fairness it appears that you were going to other Scriptures in your second paragraph on that passage and I would assume you delve more into that in your thesis. I realize many of those things are beyond the scope of a blog post, just as I am well beyond the scope of a blog comment here :). But when given limited space or time it is telling what our “go to” arguments are. And evaluated those in ourselves and others can be instructive. So it may be instructive to you that in that instance you did not follow the interpretive principle you set forth in your third paragraph, letting the Bible interpret itself. Thanks for your blog and taking time to read my comments. I pray God will bless you in all your endeavors for Him.

      • “So it may be instructive to you that in that instance you did not follow the interpretive principle you set forth in your third paragraph, letting the Bible interpret itself. ”

        I think Jory DID accomplish this within the confines of her post, showcasing a variety of passages from the Old and New Testaments. In order to allow all of scripture to interpret itself, you must incorporate texts beyond the confines of 1 Timothy and Ephesians 5 when looking into the question of gender roles.

        In addition to examples of godly women (such as Deborah or Junia) who are difficult to fit within the complementarian mold, I find many complementarian theologians do NOT allow texts related to the state of marriage in the new heaven and earth to inform their theology.

        I know I must sound like a broken record at this point, but what happens to complementarianism if there is no marriage in heaven? Jesus’ statements on marriage in heaven are pretty “clear,” one might say clearer than Paul’s statements on marriage in Ephesians, yet it is difficult for me to find complementarians willing to discuss them…

      • Hi thank you for your comment. May I suggest next time to keep it much shorter. I honestly do not have time to engage with comments this long when there are over 50 comments just on this blog alone. I hope I don’t sound mean, but this is way too long. Please write another comment with just a few lines if you want me to engage. Thanks so much and God bless. 🙂

  • Well done, Jory!

    I find it interesting that Rebekah disqualifies women for ministry on the basis that they “feel called” to the ministry. I have never met a male pastor who didn’t “feel called” to the ministry. In fact, I have those men over and over again give up stable, high-paying jobs to go to seminary (and yes, their wives have to bring home the bacon to get him through), and uproot their families to go wherever they “feel led”.

    I like your take on 1 Tim 2:12. Let’s also remember that St. Paul, a former Jewish Pharisee, was specifically called as Apostle to the Gentiles. Gentile women in that particular congregation were likely illiterate, and certainly unschooled in the Scriptures. They were unruly and rude. I can see where Paul had his hands full just getting literate Gentile men trained to lead and teach, since such former pagans had no tradition of learning the ways of the One True God.

    And yet he had nothing but good things to say about Priscilla, whom many scholars believe to be the anonymous author of the book of Hebrews. Junia, of course, was a fellow Apostle, and tradition holds that Mary Magdalene became a bishop.

    Complementarians want women to get married, have children, keep house and keep their mouths shut. This is fine, but Jesus wants better for women. In Luke 10:38-42, our Lord gently rebukes Martha for focusing on housewifery, and praises Mary for sitting at His feet, training for a life of ministry and good works. He said Mary had chosen “what is better”…so all this “get thee to the kitchen woman!” I’m hearing out of the Christian community is not coming from Jesus. It’s a dogma of males who are speaking from their carnal nature. I pray that more young women would eschew marriage altogether and follow what is better, as Mary did.

    And don’t get me started on Deborah! Two whole chapters of the book of Judges is devoted to this mighty leader of the Israelites. She was a married women, but her husband, Lappidoth, only gets honorable mention in this passage. We don’t know if she had children. Deborah interpreted and applied the Law of Moses “under the Palm of Deborah”, and told both men and women what to do. She was by far the best of all the Judges: As Commander-In-Chief, She won a war with minimal bloodshed. She is also the only Judge to preside over 40 years of peace. This tells us that she was also an awesome diplomat. She was not “deceived” at all, was she? Rather, she was anointed a prophet and a leader. Her words came directly from God, and they came to pass.

    I do have trouble with Paul when he says that women are more easily deceived than men. The text of Genesis that he uses to support that contention does not really say that Adam was not deceived. He had to have been, or he wouldn’t have sinned. Also, there are many instances in Scripture when men were easily deceived. In Judges 16, who was deceived, the man Samson, or the woman Delilah? I say Delilah was quite in the know, evil as she was! Going back to Judges 4, who was deceived, the man Sisera, or the woman Jael? Sisera, of course. Even Solomon with all his great wisdom was ultimately deceived by pagan women. So, it would appear that people, both men and women, are equal when it comes to being easily deceived.

    It seems to me, and I really don’t mean to harsh, that women who adopt this complementarian view are just a tad lazy, or enticed by earthly things like Martha. This willingness to burden men with the important work is all to easy. Certainly, I would agree with Paul that silly and unlearned women need not apply.

    • Darla said,

      I pray that more young women would eschew marriage altogether and follow what is better, as Mary did.

      I did not intend to be single as long as I am. I blog about this issue quite a bit on my own blog – but there are a lot of Christian women who wanted to get married, but who are now over 35, 40 years of age (or older) who had desired marriage but never married. I am in that camp, too.

      I was brought up to be a GC (complementarian) but realized once and for all that GC is false and doesn’t have biblical support sometime around my mid 30s or there-abouts.

      What I noticed around that time and after is that the vast majority of GC content only addresses middle class married mothers. Most of the GC sermons, blog posts, etc, I have read are thoroughly obsessed with marriage and motherhood.

      Gender complementarians have little to nothing to say to women like me, who are over 40, never married, and who are still virgins. I’ve never had children, so I’m not a mother. But most of the material they pump out (that is aimed at women) discusses motherhood constantly, or “how to be a good wife.”

      GCs are more fixated on parenting and marriage than the God of the Bible.

      In the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7) Paul wrote it’s better not to marry. GCs (and many other types of Christians) seldom address that passage, or the few times they do, they try to water it down.

      That GCs cannot and do not meaningfully and regularly address never-married, celibate single adults (and certainly not nearly as much as they do married parents) is one huge, huge clue that their perspective on gender (and related issues such as marriage) is flawed and based more on cultural concerns and their personal preferences than on the Bible.

      • 49 never married. Paul’s recommendation is historically tied to the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem. I understand the feeling left out bit, but eschew marriage? Back in the day, that almost destroyed Europe by under population. Loads of people refused marriage before and at the beginnings of the Reformation. I would recommend a book When Fathers Ruled by Ozment, Harvard University Press for that story.

    • Darla, I just want to mention that it doesn’t say in Paul’s writings–or anywhere in scripture–that “women are more easily deceived,” although I have heard that teaching. It’s usually based on 1 Timothy 2:14 which says “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived….” This is a reference to Eve (“the woman”), not to all women in general. I don’t want to get into the context of that letter and the societal/cultural issues Timothy was dealing with in the church and Paul was addressing, but it’s another example of what he wrote being misrepresented and misused. And notice that few say anything about what that passage says about Adam–that he wasn’t deceived but apparently deliberately sinned. 🙂

  • To ignore the sinful culture of those the New Testament was written to is to miss the point of the writing. If we were writing to believers in Saudi Arabia about how to function in their society, we would give some directives that are not normative, but rather guidelines on how to be true to Christ and still function within the limitations of an ungodly culture. To ignore what we know about God and his character and stick to the instructions that were given to believers to effectively live in a repressive New Testament church culture is to misunderstand the purpose of the Bible. Even today, there are things that we do or don’t do to avoid unnecessarily alienating those in our own ungodly culture, not because these things are always right in every circumstance for all time, but so we have the best chance of being salt and light within the culture of which we’re a part.

  • Jory,

    I hope you won’t mind if I respond to one point in here.

    “but the truth is that there are many interpretations of God’s Word because we are all doing our best to understand an ancient book that was written to an ancient audience in ancient languages.”

    Yes, people interpret the Bible in many different ways. But this doesn’t mean each interpretation is equally true or valid. There is but one valid interpretation. Regarding the question of women holding the pastoral office/ordination, the Church has spoken clearly and with one voice for the entirety of her history and the answer is “No”. It is good that you speak of interpreting biblical passages in context, but you seem to say our context for understanding these texts has a wide gap between the original writings and us, walking around here, now.

    You see, Jory, it’s not just your “camp” versus Rebekah’s “camp”. It is religious feminists versus the entire 2000 year church age. Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestants. That’s a heavy burden to bear and a scary place to stand. Because, it’s not just interpretive history you are standing against. You also have to explain why the Holy Spirit couldn’t manage to communicate this until now, in our post-industrial, technological society swimming in feminism.

    You seem to think I hate you. I don’t. I fear for you because I despise the lies and know the danger of the feminism you have embraced.

    • Nicely written, Kamilla. I don’t “hate” Jory either. In fact, I’ve tried to dialogue with her, but to no avail. I have noticed that women who disagree with her are called “sister” and are told “blessings!” When I have made comments I’m referred to not as “brother” but as “this dude” and “hater.” Not sure why as I have tried to respond in a matter worthy of the gospel and not with malice.

    • You said,

      You see, Jory, it’s not just your “camp” versus Rebekah’s “camp”. It is religious feminists versus the entire 2000 year church age.

      And a lot of American Christians used the Bible’s passages mentioning slavery to rationalize and excuse white Americans owning black people in the 19th century. Their interpretation on that was wrong, I would hope you would agree.

      Gender complementarians of today are using the same methodology and hermeneutics in defending placing limits on women as previous Christians did in regards to American slavery. The parallel is striking.

      That an interpretation has been around for ‘X’ number of years does not necessarily mean it is correct.
      Appeal to Tradition – Logically Fallacious

      • American, Spanish, Portuguese, and French . And some Black on Black slavery as well. Not to mention the virtual extermination of 100 million Native Americans of both North and South America. There have been terrible sins, sometimes done by God’s people. This is an apples to Oranges comparison. This is not about American Christendom, but Christendom, period. My name is Abdullah, I am from a predominantly Muslim ethnicity in AfroAsian part of the world. There are three hundred Christians in my ethnicity. We have just come together in the capital city. We are studying God’s Word that was just translated into our language from Bible translators from Finland. That is happening all over the world. They will go probably with a historical approach to Church government and show me a converted group which doesn’t do this?

    • Post Script.
      Kamilla wrote,

      You see, Jory, it’s not just your “camp” versus Rebekah’s “camp”. It is religious feminists versus the entire 2000 year church age. Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestants

      It seems to me that reading the Bible through a lens tainted in sexism is what has caused a lot of these incorrect interpretations through the centuries.

      You can read one page that discusses one aspect of that topic here:
      The Subordination of Women in the Church: Where things went wrong, and what we can now do to stand for love and equality

    • *Post Post Script*
      (my apologies to the blog owner. I am not trying to spam your comment area!, but I keep forgetting various pertinent web pages I’ve seen before and thought some of your readers may benefit from these, or enjoy them):

      Kamilla said,

      You see, Jory, it’s not just your “camp” versus Rebekah’s “camp”. It is religious feminists versus the entire 2000 year church age. Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestants

      The GC (gender complementarian) position has changed over the centuries.

      GCss keep moving the goal posts as time goes by, which is yet another tip off that the GC position is not biblical.

      GC is, at its base, built on the shifting sands of time and changing cultural views of women… not really on the Bible, though GCs do like to cherry pick the occasional Bible verse to make others think, or to reassure themselves, they are getting it all from the Bible when they are debating some particular point or another.

      This guy, Holmes, talks about it more on his page:
      Reflections on a New Defense of Complementarianism

      Here is an excerpt from that page (I believe Holmes is here addressing the newish fad of complementarians to use the doctrine of the Trinity to argue their position):

      — start excerpt by Holmes—
      I [S. Holmes] reflect, however, that these continually-shifting arguments [by gender complementarians] to defend the same conclusion start to look suspicious:
      by the time someone has offered four different defences of the same position, one has to wonder whether their commitment is fundamentally to the position, not to faithful theology.

      Judging by his essay in this book, Grudem [who is a gender complementarian] is ready to throw the Nicene faith overboard, if only he can keep his ‘complementarianism’; other writers here are less blunt, but the same challenge may be presented.

      How many particular defences of a position need to be proved false before we may assert that the position itself is obviously false?
      — end excerpt by Holmes—

    • I have a real problem with the historical argument here, because you are basing “the whole of church history” on your camp’s interpretation of scripture and view of the culture of the early church, both of which are greatly influenced by a patriarchal culture and the Platonist influence of church “icons” like Augustine.

    • Kamilla wrote,

      I fear for you because I despise the lies and know the danger of the feminism you have embraced.

      I just caught this last part of this post.

      Gender complementarianism is very dangerous for women because it is codependency dressed up with biblical language.

      Christian women are encouraged by many churches and other advocates of gender complementarianism to be codependent, and, they are taught to think being codependent is actually God’s design and will for their life (when it is really no such thing).

      Any number of books, by both Christian and Non Christian authors, will explain how codependency makes women very vulnerable to being abused, and how it makes them attractive targets and easy prey to people who are abusers, users, exploiters, or manipulators.

      Gender complementarianism encourages women to engage in behaviors that make them attractive to abusers, such as (but not limited to), being passive; lacking boundaries (or to seldom enforcing whatever boundaries they may have); and it discourages them from making their own choices in their lives and from taking personal responsibility, especially if they marry.

      (Women in gender complementarian environs are taught to let the husband make all, most, or the “important” choices for them (the severity of this may differ from one gender complementarian church or denomination to the next), and before they marry, to let their father or some other male adult in their life play that role).

      In short, gender complementarian infantilizes adult women.

      Most of secular culture already encourages women to be codependent (and punishes them if they “step out of line” of following stereotypical gender norms and instead practice boundaries or being assertive).

      The gender complementarian church re-enforces this behavior ten times more so in women (but then has the nerve to argue they are being “counter cultural,” when they are doing no such thing. Gender complementarianism is actually pretty status quo).

      I personally do not self identify as a feminist because the word “feminist” (or feminism) is often connotated (especially with my fellow right wingers) with left wing, secular feminism, which generally leans Democratic (politically) and pro-choice.

      I myself am right wing, socially conservative, and pro-life.

      At least the feminists of whatever stripe encourage women to be assertive and to practice healthy boundaries, where-as the whole of gender complementarianism does not do these things but rather holds women back in these areas, and in others.

      • “Gender complementarianism is very dangerous for women because it is codependency dressed up with biblical language.” YES TO THIS!

    • I don’t think you hate me Kamilla. I think you are dead wrong and being led by the deceiver (seemingly what you think of me).

      • Jory,

        I appreciate your honesty. Most feminists are not willing to say it that directly. And the truth is, you are absolutely right. One of us is being led by the deceiver.

        This is an issue that appears to be one merely affecting practice, but as the claim you make in your thesis about Jesus Christ risen and ascended makes clear — it is really an issue of central import.

        I’ve never known when to quit, but I think little would be gained by continued public engagement. So I’ll try to step out of things now. However, you are always welcome to email me privately.

        Kamilla

    • While using tradition to uphold a point is a logical fallacy, I’ll still respond…

      Church tradition? From what I can see there were women in EVERY available church office of the early church. Scripture and church history tells us about these women. They had authority and influence over both women and men, which is pretty impressive considering the cultural norms of patriarchy in the day.

      Per Ephesians 4:11 – there were 4 or 5 church offices, depending on whether or not you connect pastor and teacher, which many do: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

      If God didn’t intend women in these offices, (the only ones available at the time because the church didn’t have worship leaders, women’s pastor, and children’s directors) we should not see them there and certainly they would not be commended or affirmed.

      However, what we see in the NT is women affirmed as leaders in each of these offices. To name a few (there are plenty of others, but I think this makes the point)…

      Anna – prophet
      Philip’s daughters – prophets
      “Chosen Lady” of second John – pastor-teacher
      Euodia and Syntyche – evangelists
      Junia – Apostle
      Phoebe – Deacon
      Priscilla – Pastor-Teacher, House church leader
      Lydia – house church leader

  • Really interesting exchange (i came here from femina – a friend had posted a link, and i followed your link in the comments section) – i love the charitable tone and as a 42 year old mother of 8 : ) – i would encourage you both that this is a topic that is probably a lot more important than the Church seems to believe. If Jory is right, we are squandering 1/2 of our manpower. If Rebekah is right, women are scarily trampling right up to that one forbidden tree. For my part – i tend to see these verses just like the tree in the Garden of Eden – one thing, out of a whole Paradise, forbidden, with no intelligible reason given (you will become like Me, knowing good and evil? sounds kind of awesome, right?). In the same way, women preaching to a mixed group in church – that might be the one tree thing. And yet, as others have alluded to, there is so much more to ministry than to stand on stage while other people listen to you talk. So much more. Small groups, reaching out, friendship, hospitality, organizing fundraisers or conferences – speaking/sharing/preaching to large groups of women. And even, the ultimate title of “oikodespoteo” – home despot – the tyrant of te home, where we are privileged to minister, day by day, by example, thought, word and deed, to the next generation of believers. That is hardly a smaller sphere.

    • “And even, the ultimate title of “oikodespoteo” – home despot – the tyrant of te home, where we are privileged to minister, day by day, by example, thought, word and deed, to the next generation of believers”

      If by “next generation” and “tyrant of the home” we mean the contexts of marriage and motherhood (not assuming, just seeking clarification), what do you do with a single woman who has no interest in sex or marriage (and consequently, no God-given interest in “complementing” a man)? It the absence of those desires sinful?

      • Sensible, you touched on a subject I posted about higher above on the page.

        Gender complementarians are consumed, absolutely consumed, with marriage and parenting. They fixate on marriage and natalism far more than the Bible ever does.

        I am over 40 and still a virgin. I’ve never married, and obviously have never had children.

        I was raised to believe in GC (gender complementarianism) and did for many years, but as I grew older, I noticed that the GC focus is on the “nuclear family.”

        GCs will go on endlessly about a woman’s role but only in so far as it is to, 1. keep women out of positions of leadership in churches, but especially, 2. to pontificate constantly on wive-hood and mother-hood.

        GCs really have nothing to say to or about never married, celibate women. The vast majority of their sermons, magazine articles, and blog posts are about motherhood and marriage.

        Any articles they do print on celibate single adults are very few in number, and usually written with the assumption that the woman reading it is 25 years old and will be married before she reaches 30.

        GCs don’t have a clue what to do with never married, middle aged (or older) women, and ones who are not “maternal” and who are simply not interested in playing maternal- or mentor- roles to younger people.

        And I also get the feeling they simply do not care. If you don’t fit their “married with kids” mould, they don’t care if you fall off the planet and cease to exist.

          • Hey Sensible!
            I’m not sure if we are related or not. Maybe we were separated at birth? 🙂

            The few times I’ve pointed out to GCs on other sites that they basically ignore adult, childless singles (especially women), they don’t have much of a comeback or reply for that.

            The GCs I’ve come across who I confront about this subject either will encourage women such as myself to be a “mother figure” to someone younger (which I have no interest in or temperament for), or…

            The well meaning gender complementarian might point me to like ONE (or possibly two or three at the most) lone article(s) written for older, childless celibate adults on— get this— a pro-gender complementarian site that has 567,876 MILLION pages aimed at married mothers. They don’t seem to spot the irony in that.

            I’m sorry, but one or two “token” articles for never married, childless women doesn’t cut the mustard, gender complementarians!

            When you have 1 to 4 articles for celibate childless women that is drowning in 453,832 millon pages addressing married mothers, you’re demonstrating loud and clear who and what you really care about, and it sure as heck ain’t single childless women.

            What the paltry amount of GC material aimed at never married, childless women tells me is that they really do view women as being nothing but baby-making machines and sammich- makers for a husband.

            They cannot even envision women who do not marry or have kids. They cannot picture a woman doing or being anything else.

            They are very consistent in addressing wife-hood and motherhood but rarely addressing celibate, single women who are over the age of 35.

          • “They cannot even envision women who do not marry or have kids. They cannot picture a woman doing or being anything else.”

            Yes! And not just “women who do not marry”…but even worse…women not WANT to marry. It is one thing to not be able to complement a husband, it is another to chose not to complement a husband through singleness.

          • I would recommend a book by Wycliffe called The Good Seed by Maryanna Slocum. She was a Bible Translator in Southern Mexico in the 1930s. You might find the story interesting.

        • “Any articles they do print on celibate single adults are very few in number, and usually written with the assumption that the woman reading it is 25 years old and will be married before she reaches 30.”

          Oh yes…I am the target audience for those articles. And don’t get me started on courtship literature, for that matter. One of the reasons I dropped the GC worldview(s) was because GC could not provide an adequate theology of friedship. You are either married, or prepping for marraige…

  • I heartily agree with the statement, “But I’m afraid I’m not willing to settle for the anemic vision of women’s roles offered to me by feminism. I believe the Scriptures offer us something far more glorious than “equality of authority”  which sounds pretty boring and tedious after all.””
    God has something greater for us all in this life.

    • “God has something greater for us all in this life.”

      Indeed He does, a world with no marriage, among other things. What happens to complementarianism then?

        • God’s word, not mine. There will not be marriage in heaven. I suspect some (not all) complementarian women would feel differently about marriage if they had experienced it if Paul’s day.

          Still waiting for an answer: what happens to complementarianism when God’s people are no longer married?

        • Actually yes, for much of history and still in many parts of the world, women were considered property. Like unto a slave. You know what ends/ended that type of thinking? Feminism.

          • Definitely. It’s no wonder that Paul discusses marriage and slavery in the same breath. We have romanticized marriage to the point that we are unable to talk about marriage as a secular, temporal category (in the same “box” as the relationship between slaves and masters or taxpayers and Caesar) as Paul does. If marriage was created specifically to “illustrate the gospel” as complementarians maintain, then they should also be comfortable saying that God created slavery to illustrate the relationship between himself and his creatures.

  • Jory Micah, might I just say as a first time commenter that I am in awe of the generous, lighthearted, humorous approach you have taken in this post and in the ensuing discussion. 🙂

  • Jory, I stumbled upon your posts after stumbling upon Femina’s posts… I just want to say THANK YOU so much for responding in such a kind, loving and Christian way. I’m so grateful that although you disagree, you are willing to explain why in a way that is not only honest and sincere but kind-hearted and open to a reply. I really wish that the interactions on the internet (Especially between Christians! Especially if they disagree!) would be more like yours – I think the web would be a much better place for it! So, thank you.

  • “It is quite audacious for you and your camp to assume your biblical interpretation that limits half the Church is the correct one”

    But do you not believe that *your* interpretation is the correct one? And if you’ve somehow managed to dodge the “audacity of assuming that your interpretation is correct,” then why did anyone bother reading your posts arguing for egalitarianism if you’re not even sure that you’re correct?

    It’s amusing: you have have the audacity to assume your own Biblical interpretation is correct while schooling others on the audacity of assuming their own Biblical interpretation is correct.

    • “It’s amusing: you have have the audacity to assume your own Biblical interpretation is correct while schooling others on the audacity of assuming their own Biblical interpretation is correct.”

      Would you be interested in conversing with someone who does believe her view is the right one? Or was that remark crafted to end the conversation before it even began?

    • Matt, the major difference between my interpretation and the complementarian interpretation is that mine does not limit half of the Christian Church. In fact, it limits no one. It is an interpretation that literally focuses on freedom and equality for all. Secondly, I made it clear in the post that no one’s interpretation can be assumed 100% correct because the Bible says that we only see partly here on earth. My interpretation is not audacious because it demands freedom for the oppressed, while the comp. interpretation demands that we continue to limit women (with literally NO limits on men). Double standards were not cool with Jesus, so they are not cool with me.

  • Dear Jory,

    You wrote: “Once we realize that patriarchy was the backdrop of the Bible and not the message of the Bible…”

    Patriarchy is a word formed by two Greek roots and simply means “father-rule.” Jesus taught us to pray to Our Father who art in Heaven. Saint Paul wrote that every family in heaven and earth derives its name from God the Father (Eph. 3:14-15). Christians confess, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”

    You don’t see patriarchy woven into the very fabric of Scripture? Then you aren’t reading closely enough. Quick question for you: If a child prays to Our Mother who art in Heaven, is that child praying a Christian prayer, or a pagan prayer?

    • Hi Ben.

      I think it is fine to pray to God as mother, as scripture points to God as both mother and father.

      Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother

      God: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

      Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear

      “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”

      Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle

      “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”

      Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth

      “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

      Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother

      God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

      Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother

      God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

      Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor

      God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”

      Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother

      “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”

      Psalm 123:2-3 God compared to a woman

      “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!”

      Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen

      Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

      Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin

      Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  • I didn’t expect a response. I realized the comment was long but didn’t expect that to throw you. But thanks for letting me know this is not the place for thorough discourse. Just reminds me why I am not into blogs. 🙂 But I wish you success with yours!

    • I really love responding to my readers, but it is tough to respond when it is too long for me to read. Would love to engage with you more though! 🙂

  • Thanks for your biblical insight Jory! It is so great to see a fellow sister digging into the historical context and original language instead of just relying on what we’re taught! I really appreciate how much time you’ve spent researching women’s roles in the Bible. Women in the church need to hear more of this! 🙂

  • The age in which God condemned the Israelite men for not going into the Promised Land was 20. Because of that, I believe Biblical of age is 20

    • This seems to be far fetched..the truth is that we cannot know when a boy becomes a man according to the Word because it is never directly said.

  • Jory,
    Thank you for your two open letters. Your description of a cycle of mutual respect, submission and love is beautiful. The thread has over all faded at this point, but I want to add one note that I don’t hear from Christians often.
    Many Christians have supported the idea that the man is head of the household — perhaps to use a Biblical reference, “He shall rule over you.”
    That’s part of a curse.
    Do we plant thorns because God said that we would labor with thorns?
    Hopefully not! Most who farm or garden fight that curse. Yet in families, many Christians plant “rule” of some type instead of seeking for a mutual cycle of submission/sacrifice. I would suggest that saying, “You! Sacrficie yourself!” to someone cursed with a tendency to try to “rule” is one of the toughest challenges there is.
    Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.
    Al

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