This open letter is in response to: “Our-Pro-Woman-
Are the guys over at The Gospel Coalition getting desperate? You and I both know that Jesus was not a complementarian or an egalitarian. Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was the Messiah. How dare you call Jesus a complementarian?
Jesus does not take after your image!
You are right about one thing though; Jesus did in fact treat women in a fashion that was radical and revolutionary. Let’s get down to business, shall we? There are three major problems with your article.
1. The entire premise of your article is based on an unclear biblical assumption: “Jesus’ revolutionary treatment of women was, nevertheless, consistent with God’s original design for role distinctions.”
Do you know why there is so much confusion about gender roles and why complementarians can’t seem to come to an agreement on what those are and how they are played out in real life? Because the Bible never mentions gender roles.
There is not one verse in the Bible that clearly hands out gender roles. Complementarians have made many arguments based on the words, “Helper” (Ezer) and “Head” (Kephale), but so have egalitarians. There are many conservative and centric scholars who disagree with the way in which complementarianism has interpreted these ancient words and Pauline instructions.
Therefore, your whole post is built on your own biblical interpretation that many Christians, who are just as “conservative” and just as “trained” and just as “in love with Jesus” as you, strongly disagree with and can make sound biblical arguments as to why.
2. You forgot to mention that Mary of Bethany assumed the position of “disciple” and Jesus praised her for it: “The most obvious example is his selection of an all-male apostolic leadership.”
Jesus did not select “an apostolic leadership team.” Do you understand how “first world evangelical” this sounds? No, Jesus chose 12 disciples, most of whom were “nobodies” according to the culture (sort of the way women were “nobodies” – not respected, not valued, and not special).
Jesus did not choose these guys because they were some great “apostolic leadership team.” He chose them because they were moldable, teachable, and would bring glory to Jesus. Their calling was to humbly sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.
If anyone in the Bible is a complementarian, it would be Martha of Bethany, Mary’s sister. Martha was a woman who embraced her place in Jewish culture. While Martha did the cooking and the preparing for Jesus and all His male disciples, Mary took the posture of a disciple, at Jesus’ feet, right among all the men.
Do you know how inappropriate this would have been in Jewish culture? Women were not permitted to learn under a rabbi. This would have been like a woman from the church you pastor, showing up to an “apostolic leadership team” meeting she was not invited to, and taking a seat at your “elder table.”
You and your complementarian elders would be uncomfortable and worried about breaking laws and customs, while Jesus would have invited her to stay.
When Martha questioned Jesus and sought His assistance in getting Mary back in her cultural “gender role,” Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was best (Luke 10:38-42).
3. Lastly, your argument has a major inconsistency in it: “Further, that Jesus called only Jewish males as apostles doesn’t mean that for Jesus to be making a statement about normative male leadership he must also be making a statement about normative Jewish leadership.”
How can you claim that Jesus’ intentions for not selecting any females to be part of this so-called “apostolic leadership team” were because He didn’t believe women should have that sort of authority, but then turn around and say that Jesus’ not choosing any Gentile men to be part was meaningless?
You either have to say that Jesus’ selection of no females and only Jews was intentional for setting a precedent for universal and timeless leadership OR it was not.
The truth is that after Jesus’ death, resurrection and then Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers: Jew and Gentile, Slave and Free, man and WOMAN!
Kevin, I know you would like to think you have more authority than my sisters and I because you are a man, but the same Holy Spirit lives in us that lives in you.
We have been in the last days for a long time, according to the Bible, and the sons and daughters of the living God will prophesy the next coming of the Lord (Acts 2:17).
Complementarians may try to keep us women out of the pulpits and away from your legalistic elder tables, but you will not silence us. We will start blogs. We will preach the Bible with great authority as daughters of the living God. We will write books and we will prophesy to the nations.
We will plant churches and lead men and women to spiritual and life victory, as Judge Deborah did (Judges 4). We will become apostles as Junia was (Romans 16:7).
Our authority will be respected because of who we are in Christ and we will continue to call out the biblically unsound doctrine of complementarianism and the men and women who continue to spread falsities.
Men will read and listen; they will not be able to help themselves because we will be speaking the Words of the Spirit. Women are already leading men and women globally, and complementarianism is already defeated.
May God remove the blinders from your eyes.
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Ya know, Paul also said if we wanted a relationship with God and to be the absolute closest we could be to our Creator… That we should not get married… So a whole new way of worshipping God could be derived from those verses too….could it not?? I think our brothers and sisters would benefit from going back to their first love of God and believing with a simple faith. It’s ok to ask God questions and learn, but perhaps they should ask God directly?; instead of ripping the Word up to benefit their views of how we are to worship and learn about our Creator. I’m no theology graduate, but I did have to study theology in order to become a “member” of a Methodist church I had been going to since I was a baby…it does not strike me odd that human beings would twist words and only go by a few scattered, incomplete script, just to get people to believe as they do. We all have in us a desire for others to do what we want..some of us ignore this and are humble in our approach about God..and some of us twist the words around so much, that they themselves become lost. That, of course, is just my opinion.
Returning to our first love seems a good idea always! 🙂
“This would have been like a woman from the church you pastor, showing up to an ‘apostolic leadership team’ meeting she was not invited to, and taking a seat at your ‘elder table.’
You and your complementarian elders would be uncomfortable and worried about breaking laws and customs, while Jesus would have invited her to stay.”
Thanks ladies! 🙂
Great work. Just excellent. Love it.
This is perfect. Bravo.
Thank you, Bailey!
Good reply to K DY’s letter!
Mary of Bethany also performed a priestly rite when she anointed the head of Jesus for the burial…and He defended her right to do so and prophesied that her name would be remembered for it. When he ascended into Heaven it was at the Mount of Olives…adjacent, I believe, to Bethany!…the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus…
And this is one of many reasons that women were (and still are) so attracted to following Jesus. He was and is a man of authority that empowered them as equals!
I love this part in your article! I had whispered a prayer of thanks and praise to Jesus for this very thing recently –
Jesus did not choose these guys because they were some great “apostolic leadership team.” He chose them because they were moldable, teachable, and would bring glory to Jesus. Their calling was to humbly sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.
Thank God they were moldable and teachable, I would hate to think what the outcome could have been when Mary Magdalene came to them, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus after the resurrection.
Would the disciples have allowed her to speak? Would they have dismissed her? Belittled her? Would they have not believed her and not have played a part in sharing the Good News? Thank God they were better men, better disciples than that.
“Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.”
John 20:17-18 CEB
Beautiful comment! Thank you so much, Alyce! Xo
I wish there was a like button for this comment, but there isn’t, so I’m just gonna ditto Jory’s response that it is beautifully said!
Thanks, Olivia! 🙂
Mr. DeYoung looks agitated in that picture. I think the fellas at TGC are really getting nervous and afraid.
They should be very nervous, Clarke!
The bible does speak about gender roles and it is not cultural. It is a matter of obedience. Any woman can say she is called to be in authority but the bible says in bold black and white that she is not, so if she does think she is, where did that come from? Not from the Bible. However, I do think that much has been misappropriated and that in the discussion about what was taught women did participate. What they did not have was authority in the church for that which was taught for a woman is more intuitive and more easily deceived. It was not Adam who was deceived, it was Eve and so he bears responsibility and sin was imputed to the human race.
Most people cut the following passage short to try to make out that it is cultural, but God states his reason for not allowing women to teach or have authority.
1 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Oh goodness George, please read the WHOLE Bible and stop cherry picking one Bible passage to continue limiting women. Here is a good place to start your studies: http://juniaproject.com/defusing-1-timothy-212-bomb/
Notice all the could be’s in what I was referred to. It is in fact clear what Paul is saying and evidently the same gender issues were arising in his day and he dealt with them under the influence of the holy spirit. What Paul says is indeed clear, it is just that there are those who rebel against it.
CBE International is currently running a series on this passage, pointing out that:
“While they [complementarians] contend that their understanding of men and women’s roles is established within “the original creation order,” it appears that a particular perspective on 1 Timothy 2 is being imported back into the creation story.”
So many would argue that it is complementarians who take this passage out of its rightful context, preferring to go from 1 Timothy back to creation instead of from creation to 1 Timothy.
Check out the series.
Coming this week.
The complementarian hermeneutic is flawed. The subordination of women to men, universally, lines up with the Arian Controversy which erroneously says there is eternal subordination/hierarchy in the Trinity (i.e. Father over Son over Spirit). The Athanasian Creed corrected this heresy. Sadly, some “well known” theologians of our day have dug it up and repackaged it as “complementarianism.” Please study critiques of the complementarian hermeneutic that so often neglects ancient near eastern and classical context. That so often imports meanings and biases not contained in the actual text. Dallas Willard’s writes on this in “How I Changed My Mind About Women In Church Leadership.”
Technically that’s not accurate. The arian controversy subordinates God in relationship to God. E.g. The Son is lesser than the Father. We are talking about creatures, human beings, who are an entirely different category and not to be compared to that controversy–if we do it’s a false analogy like you suggested above.
Those who see a chain of command in the Godhead–dividing up members of the Trinity into “separate” but “equal” roles eternally–use that as a model for a chain of command in marriage (i.e. “separate” but “equal” roles). Read “The Trinity And Subordinationism” by Dr. Kevin Giles.
“Separate but equal” is a human philosophy. It is used to control others who are different from themselves. It is far from Christlike and far from biblical.
George-if it was in fact clear–we wouldn’t be having this disagreement. Please don’t be so dismissive…
If it was so clear we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Many many top evangelical theologians disagree with your view.
Adam was equally deceived. He was present for the ongoing conversation between Eve and the serpent. Adam had been given full authority over every creature in the garden… presumably even talking snakes. At no point did he tell the snake to stop speaking nonsense. He didn’t defend his wife. He allowed the lies and temptation to grow until Eve offered him a bite… which he did.
Adam was not present when the serpent deceived Eve. there is no mention of him in those verses and the serpent spoke only to her and also, there were things that had been added to what God had said. She added that concerning the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil they were not to touch it. God did not in fact say that, but there is speculation that Adam added that to keep her safe. When Adam took the fruit, he was not deceived. He knew that it was wrong.
two people speculating about who was there? c’mon…no one really knows!
Well, so what you’re actually saying is that no one can prove Adam was present, and no one can prove that he wasn’t. Saying “Adam wasn’t present” is just as much as assumption as saying he was.
“Saying “Adam wasn’t present” is just as much as assumption as saying he was.”
Exactly. The Bible does not say. It is absurd to believe we know. This was the beginning of time- possibly billions and billions of years ago. Who knows!
Eve was deceived (1 Tim 2:14). There’s no disputing that. However, what does that tell us about Adam? The Bible states that Adam was not deceived. Therefore, Adam knew what was right, yet he knowingly and willingly failed to do what he knew was right. Adam knowingly and willfully sinned against God. Knowingly and willingly sinning are not characteristics of Godly leadership and decision making.
Comps, authoritarians and supporters of patriarchy like to emphasis “women are more easily deceived than men” as a way of supporting the idea that men are BETTER (at ruling, leading and decision making) than women. However, they fail to acknowledge and emphasis how Adam (and countless men) have knowingly and willfully sinned against God and led those under their charge (wives, kids and others) away from God and into incredible folly. There are also plenty of modern examples of men knowingly and willingly sinning against God and exercising poor judgement and leadership. All one has to do is read a newspaper, and they can find countless modern examples. So yes, some women have been deceived; some women have also been wise, and there are multiple examples of that in the Bible and throughout history too.
Throughout history, countless men have knowingly and willingly sinned against God and misled those (wives, children and others) under their subjection. Knowingly and willingly sinning against God and misleading those under your authority doesn’t equate BETTER at leading and decision making. Therefore, a man who believes that he is automatically BETTER than women at leading and decision making because Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t, should keep in mind that there’s a laundry list of Biblical men who knowingly and willingly sinned against God and misled those under their charge (wives, kids and other subjects): the men who accused Daniel (Dan 6:24), Nabal (1 Sam 25:3), Achan (Jos 7:25), Haman (Book of Esther), Ananias (Ac 5:1-11), Jeroboam (1 Ki 14:1-20), Nadab (1 Ki 15:25-26), Baasha (1 Ki 15:32-34, 16:1-17, 6:11-13) Zimri (1 Ki 16:19), Omri (1 Ki 16:25-26) Ahab (1 Ki 16:30-33), Ahaziah (1 Ki 22:51-53), Zechariah (2 Ki 15:9), Menahem (2 Ki 15:18), Pekahiah (2 Ki 15:24), Pekah (2 Ki 15:28), Ahaz (16:2-3), Manasseh (2 Ki 21:1-7,9-12,16, 24:3-4), Amon (2 Ki 21:20-22), Jehoiakim (2 Ki 23:37), Zedekiah (2 Ki 24:18-19), King Saul (2 Sam 21:2), Samuel’s sons (1 Sam 8:1-3), Eli’s sons (1 Sa 2:12-17), Diotrephes (3 Jo 1:9-10) – to name a few.
It’s interesting. If you study scripture and compile a list of women who were easily deceived and of men who knowingly and willingly sinned against God and misled those under their authority, you just might discover that there are just as many, if not considerably more, men who knowingly and willing sinned against God and misled those under their authority than so-called women who were easily deceived documented throughout scripture.
In response to point 2 – but Jesus DID appoint the 12 disciples to become apostles. We see this in Luke 6. Am I missing something here?
I am not saying he didn’t, but it was not some fancy leadership team like they have over at The Gospel Coalition. They were not chosen because they were “great.”
Jesus also sent Mary Magdalene to the apostles after his resurrection. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent”. So Mary Magdalene is the apostle to the apostles.
That’s not the same thing at all. She was sent and it may have used a similar verbal form, but the apostles are still distinguished as a separate office.
I know we all can often tend to make Jesus into our own image at times, but the title of his post was just kind of cringeworthy. It was like they owned Jesus, all pre-packaged with their chosen options. Jesus isn’t owned by anyone or any particular group.
The whole complimentarian thing just suffers under the weight of your first point. What does a pro-woman complimentarianism look like? There isn’t even a clear consensus among that group. Does it look like patriarchy where women are homemakers and dependent upon a man? Does it mean that a woman can have a job as long as she doesn’t hold authority over another man (a la Piper’s bit about the woman thinking about being a police officer)? Is it just a restriction for women in leadership of churches? The answers seem all over the place. I mean that’s not even getting into people who don’t come to the complimentarian conclusion.
I just don’t understand how gender roles became so important for the Gospel. Jesus didn’t die for the sins of men only. He didn’t die and resurrect twice once for males and once for females. As you point out He also didn’t send the Holy Spirit with any sort of clarification that the Spirit would only do certain things for women as opposed to the full gamut for men.
This is a really well thought out comment, Jeremy. Thank you for this input!
Thanks. I found your post to be very well thought out too. Honestly, much more thought out and cohesive than the post you were responding to.
It’s a matter of holiness. If you look at the definitions of eglitarianism, those definitions differ significantly too. They seem aligned because they conclude that women in many or all offices is “OK,” but they differ significantly in principle. The fact that many don’t see it as an issue IS an issue. It’s not a confessional issue, it’s not a gospel issue, but it is important.
It’s a matter of holiness? This sounds like a rather weak argument when left on its own? Why? We see plenty of women from Genesis to Revelation who do exemplary actions in the name and fear of God. With the freedom provided by Christ in that there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, one would think this is even more the case today. In that case every time that women were in leadership roles or went against male leadership would be unholy and that is a pretty big charge to make.
Yes, assuming one identifies as an egalitarian I’m sure their definitions or principles differ as well. Granted, I also note you give absolutely no examples. Are they as significant as the differences among the complementarian side? I think the issue with the complementarian side is that all these different views are claiming they know what Godly complimentarian relationships should look like because that is “clearly” shown in the Bible. They can’t even get on the same page on what that “clearly” is, so maybe its not quite as clear as we’re told?
I haven’t experienced that as much from the egalitarian side, although I’m willing to be pointed to it, if you have primary source examples at the ready. In my experience reading those who call themselves egalitarian they simply present the idea that women are equally capable as men, regardless of the difference in sex. If a woman wants to be a houseswife, blessings to her; if she feels called to be a pastor or leader in her church, blessings to her as well.
I don’t think you’d find too many people who would say this debate isn’t an issue. I mean Jory probably wouldn’t write a post like this if she found it unimportant. However, I do think it right and proper to call things out when the importance gets conflated.
Regarding this quote from the author:
“You and your complementarian elders would be uncomfortable and worried about breaking laws and customs, while Jesus would have invited her to stay.”
This is simply not true to Kevin’s position. Kevin divides the Old and New Covenant properly and distinguishes between the laws that are accepted and rejected without contradicting Jesus’ ideologies. If you would other pieces of his work that would be apparent in his writing.
Secondly, I wanted to comment on this quote:
“You either have to say that Jesus’ selection of no females and only Jews was intentional for setting a precedent for universal and timeless leadership OR it was not.”
This also is inaccurate. Jesus does not choose any women or gentiles for two reasons. It has to do with what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Jesus dies and is raised, that much we agree upon. The curtain in the temple was turn and things change forever with the New Covenant. Men and women now share the same worship space. Previously men took precedence. However, the clergy still remain men! There is a universal precedence. So that’s Jesus did not choose any women. Why didn’t Jesus chose a gentile to be an apostle? Because they had not reached any yet! Gentiles were not familiar with the Scriptures. The gospel was given to the Jew first, then to the gentile. Primarily because the Jews knew the Scriptures and upon conversion they could aid in the task of evangelism.
I understand Kevin’s position quite well. I studied complementarianism on a master’s level and wrote my thesis refuting it (using the Bible as my primary source).
Most of what you have written is simply what you have been taught and have chosen to believe. You have made assumptions as to why Jesus chose Jews only and state your assumptions as “biblical facts.”
The truth is that we do not know Jesus’ intentions because He never said why He chose only male Jews. I can do the same thing as you and make assumptions and state them as “biblical facts,” but I try not to do that. I believe we should honor the Bible and not add to the text.
So you’re counter-argument is that you understand Kevin and you have an education? In addressing any truth claim you need to respond particularly. I have two masters, an M.Div and Th.M in systematic theology, and I’m working on a doctorate, but that does not mean a thing! Why? Because every response demands a humble answer, not a logical fallacy advocating for my awesomeness to back it up.
Though we don’t know Jesus’ intentions, we do know that people operate out of their principles and beliefs within a certain system. Jesus, for instance, kept the sabbath, but also violated the Pharisees legalistic definition of the sabbath. Jesus showed respect and dignity to women, but He never appointed them to an office because it was not part of the creation order, not part of the temple order, and was not permissible. That’s why Paul opposes it 1 Tim. 2.
Biblical facts are often known through historical facts, such is the case in this instance. It’s sad that there’s such a wide-spread misinterpretation of women in office when the church assumed it for so many generations. Now everyone says it’s because the church or society was “patriarchal” when in reality numerous men and women affirmed Scripture based on principles. Now even at the masters and doctoral level we have washed out inferior educations with little knowledge of Judaism and the transition that occurs to Christianity. The result is blog posts like this.
I don’t list my education to advocate for my “awesomeness,” but to list my credentials to write on a subject. As a female, that matters in the world of theology. Humility is a heart condition, which cannot be judged over the internet.
I encourage you to study the historical context of 1 Tim. 12; I assume you have already based off your listed education, but I am confused at how you don’t understand the historical context with such an education.
Again, my degree has an emphasis in church history. It seems you are trying to educate me on “how” to study the Bible. This, to me, is disrespectful of my education and condescending; it causes me to have a hard time hearing you.
Please talk to me as a peer and stop trying to teach me the error of my ways. Then we can have a real theological discussion.
I have not made any sort of counter-argument, because so far, you have talked down to me. God bless.
I’ve listed several points above that you have not responded to. So I’ll address verse 12 specifically. I followed a link of a source that you cited in one of the comments below (http://juniaproject.com/defusing-1-timothy-212-bomb/) , so hopefully that’s a helpful place to start a discussion.
The author in the link you posted asserts that 1 Tim. 2:12 can be “defused.” Meaning what Paul says about women not exercising authority over a man is temporary, or contextual. The author points out that verse 12 is a kind of “hapax legomenon (a word that occurs only once in an author’s writings or a text).” My assertion is that Paul rarely speaks bluntly about women’s roles in terms of a prohibition because it’s assumed. In the other comments I’ve read, people have said things like “but look (insert female biblical character) and how she led.” If you do a careful study of any female in Scripture, you will find that a few different things. The first of which is that God used a specific woman for a specific purpose to show that God can use a woman. (That sounds sexist in our day, but back then that was a powerful message). Secondly, you will find that all women that Paul commends for labors in the New Testament are not clearly defined as being in a specific office. That leaves subjectivity to the modern reader who then debates that these women were elders, when in fact we do not see this historically at all. At most, they would have been deacons, care-givers, maybe couriers, and other roles that aided the apostles and the ministry in the church. To assert that a woman could have or would have been an elder or leader would be prone to speculation.
Male leadership is also assumed culturally–hopefully we can agree somewhat easily on this point, as many eglitarians believe decisions are made out of a predominately patriarchal society. The problem, however, is similar to what I stated in my first comment (in this chain of comments). Temple worship prohibited female clergy. Jesus’ choosing of the twelve excludes any women as well. That’s because the natural order assumes certain roles for me and certain roles for women. In another post you wrote that “separate but equal” is used to subordinate women. Although that is sadly true at times, that is not always the case, nor it should be. My wife, for instance, is a complementarian. He works full-time as a high school teacher. She does not self-perceive herself as “lesser” than me, including in the labors of the ministry at our church.
On less of an academic point, it saddens me that so many make he assumption that complementarianism subordinates women, even it is more of an “implicit” message that complementarian send. At the heart of the debate, for me, is not a desire to subordinate women, but elevate them in the way God designed it to be. An even deeper concern is that one day every knee will bow at the feet of Jesus and He will bring all sin, all rebellion, and all behavior outside of the natural order into account. That means women pastors too will be called into account. Sure God can use a woman pastor. Is it ideal? I don’t think so. Being a man, I leave that to those women and the Lord, but my heart breaks for them because I think they’re committing an act of rebellion against the Lord and it hurts me to see anyone to act in that way.
Anonymous actually said: “At the heart of the debate, for me, is not a desire to subordinate women, but elevate them in the way God designed it to be.”
If I hear this again I will explode! ” Elevate”? “The high calling of women”? Do I hear “pedestal”! God did NOT design women to be elevated!
This woman (me) does NOT want to be elevated either!…how can you say that with a straight face…or did you? Quit the manipulative talk “Anonymous”…right now! Can you actually hear what you just said from a woman’s point of view? No man wants to elevate a woman. …in fact men would really prefer to be elevated themselves while convincing women that their whole desire is to elevate the women while doing nothing of the sort. This is trash talk. If you really want to elevate women SUBMIT TO THEM….you can’t raise them up, only God can do that…just get down with them and submit to them like you expect them to do.
Do you not get it we want Equality…not superiority…you don’t even want to give us equality but you want to elevate us? We would be happy if men would just obey Paul’s command in Ephesians 5:21…that would be a good start if you want to do anything for us…”submit yourselves one to another…” that is all we ask.
I’m sorry if I upset you. I’m genuinely trying to learn and contribute with my comments. So, if I’my understanding you right, Judy, you’re upset about me saying elevate” but then you say that you want men to submit to women?” My opinions aside, if I’m faithful to what Paul writes in Ephesians 5:21, the submission he refers to is women submitting to their husbands, as unto the Lord. This submission happens NOT because men are superior and women are inferior, but because the tasks are different. Verse 25 says that women are to love their wives.
Just on the basis of this passage as you quoted, how can you infer that men should submit to women in exactly the same way? If that’s what you’re asking in terms of equality? I’m not talking about a society where women serve men here. I’m simply saying there are differences in our roles–no role is less significant than another, just different.
Anonymous, you just said ” if I’m faithful to what Paul writes in Ephesians 5:21, the submission he refers to is women submitting to their husbands, as unto the Lord. ”
Well you are NOT faithful to Ephesians 5:21 for it says :” Submitting yourselves ONE TO ANOTHER in the fear of God.”
This verse 21 is a generic statement for all believers and it is the heading of the next several verses…in that it contains THE verb for verse 22 that you quote above…in fact verse 22 just says, “wives to your husbands”…there is no verb there saying ‘submit’. Verse 22 is actually only part of the intention of Paul…the other part is that the husband is to “paradidomi” himself to the wife…which in Greek means to put himself into her hands…that is also a form of submission which verse 21 requires…all the verses following verse 21 are just fleshing out the intent of verse 21…that we are to submit ourselves one to another. Verse 22 has never stood alone although to judge by the state of the church today one would think the rest of the 30,000 + verses of scripture are just incidental to Ephesians 5:22.
I do not imply that men submitting to their wives is MY desire, I said that God’s Word on Ephesians 5 says men are to submit to their wives as wives are to submit to their husbands. Men are not excluded from submission. Ephesians 5:21 makes it clear that submission is not a one way street. It has the same connotation of the scripture that says “in honour preferring one another”…or to prefer others over ourselves.
As for “elevate”…I believe most women are tired of being told about their “high calling” while they know that the full intention is to limit their ‘agency’ or action to what men permit…it is a lie, actually, to tell us you want to elevate us, for that is certainly NOT your intention, and it is pretentious to tell women they are to be elevated when the honest intention is that they lose their free will to men and that men are actually elevated to calling all the shots. Flattery about us being equal while you continue to tell us that God teaches you to exert limitations and restrictions on us is just trash talk! When one person is restricted (in bondage) by another they are not equal at all! The term “roles” is a restriction for anyone. It doesn’t work for many men either.
Amen a hundred times over, Judy! So on spot that I wanted to cheer you on several times while reading it.
Thanks Monette ☺
A few comments to some of what you say.
1. If God using women, which is outside of the normal cultural landscape, is so powerful (as you state), then why is it not possible that God is perfectly fine with using women today? Wouldn’t that be equally as powerful? If you concede that God and Jesus can and do use women and that it is a powerful message or revolutionary when they do, why is it then held that women shouldn’t be used by God in leadership?
2. I think you get too caught up in offices. In all honesty, 1 Tim 2:12 seems rather blanket and not necessarily associated with offices in the church, more as a way to worship with your life if you will. So if that’s the case a woman should not teach or assume authority over a man, ever. If we look at historic and culture ages where one is considered a man, for Jewish boys that would be 13 (typical age of Bar Mitzvah) and for Romans from what I’ve read it could be 14+. So a real question that comes out of this is what about women high school teachers, which you say your wife is? Women professors? Even women youth pastors to be honest? Unless they’re only teaching girls/women, they could be teaching men based off of the historic context of the passage and thus in rebellion against God as you so delicately put it.
3. I believe that the issue women have with the way you put your last paragraph here is that it sounds like double talk. There is the claim to want to elevate women, but this “elevation” looks a lot like exclusion. “Elevation” by not wanting women to be viewed as equal to men or to have them be excluded from some roles that are claimed to be for men.
4. Your last paragraph also shows a certain arrogance, even if unintentional. You believe your interpretation is correct and that anyone who views it different is in rebellion against God and will have to face Him one day. It doesn’t take into consideration the idea that you could be wrong. Such a position even ignores that God can very well use women to lead sometimes, which you concede. It also assumes that if we don’t have complete 100% theological correctness we’re going to be facing God’s judgment.
Not only does this not come across when we see how Jesus talks about eternal life, but it’s also probably impossible for anyone. Complimentarians and egalitarians I believe can both follow God and be seeking after their salvation with fear and trembling. Both can be dead wrong and unloving in their interactions and more worried about being right than being loving. I know for certain I will not be right on everything I believe no matter what my efforts. It is why I cling to the mercy of God and Jesus Christ, which is a whole lot more efficacious for salvation than relying on comp or egal theology, even if I and others have their beliefs about those subjects.
I really appreciated your comments. I’ll respond in the order you listed.
1. The point I was trying to make is that God uses women in Scripture, in cases of leadership roles, in extraordinary means, rather than normative means. What I mean is that cases in which women lead over a man, for instance, Deborah in the Old Testament, is an act of grace but also a display of the failure of male leadership. In the cases of the New Testament, it is women that are servants of the church functioning in appropriate roles. E.g. letter couriers, deacons, care-givers, and so forth. To make female leadership normative would be to contradict God’s Word and, therefore, God’s desires in terms of the manner in which women serve.
2. I take more issue with women exercising authority over a man in the context of a church, the context that Paul is writing about. The primary way in which women are given authority in the church is ordination. To that end, I personally don’t have a problem with a woman teaching (even in a church). If they’re ordained I would struggle with it. I did have women professors in seminary that I sat under. I suppose some who share my views might have walked out or gone to another seminary, and they did while I was in school. But I’m more of the opinion that my professor made that personal decision herself, and aside from having a discussion about it with her, she was providentially led to teach my course it’s not outside of God’s sovereignty to use her despite this decision being outside of His will.
3. Part of why it may be perceived as “double-talk” is because many read without a basic understanding of logic, namely, a coherence theory of truth as well as a correspondence theory. Most read with only a correspondence theory, meaning that everyone thinks everything has a “one-to-one” relationship. For instance, a person can be pro-choice and still be republican, when the assumed perspective is that they’re democratic. In a similar way, I hold that it is possible to elevate women while still believing that God calls them to be submissive to male authority. Again, that’s in the context of men loving their wives. I’m not calling women to be obedient to perpetual abusive husbands dragging them through the mud, so to speak.
4. In every comment I’ve read, I too perceive arrogance. Perhaps it’s because we disagree? Perhaps it’s because the cultural norm is now gender equality, and even, might I add, gender reconstruction based on personal preference? I acknowledge God can use women to lead. But my point is that it’s not the idea. God can use cancer to bring a person to love their family better, but they’d have been better off loving their family when all was well. Likewise, God can use a woman exercising authority over a man, but that’s because God’s in the business of using sinners who live with sin.
God obviously saves both eglitarians and complementarians–gender roles is not a salvation issue. When I use language of judgment, I do not mean “women leaders” are not saved, rather that exercising authority over a man is a wrong, unwise, or even sinful act that God will eventually reorient an individual on so that they believe the contrary in the new creation. I am not without sin, there is much I too will be reoriented. Jesus saves us while we’re yet sinners, but it’s worth having this discussion so we know what the Word of God says so that we can live obediently to glorify God and live with less sin.
Thanks for your response. I’ll try to respond in kind.
1. I used to hold the same view that you have, so I understand at least somewhat, where you’re coming from. I’ve come to view things differently over time though.
Take Deborah. Is Deborah’s leadership really due to the failure of man? Judges 4:4 states, “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.” She was leading before Barak’s request to have Deborah come with him to chase Sisera. This is the request many view as the failure of man in leadership, since Sisera would be killed by a woman instead because of it. Yet she was already leading, so it’s not due to any obvious failure of man. She’s even called a prophet, an office if you will of service to God.
Now you can again say its an extraordinary case, it shouldn’t be made normative. I guess I’m just not sure that holds as much weight as I used to.
If God can decide to make a woman leader anytime he wants, how then can we really figure out when it is okay? Can we quantify male failure? Does it even require male failure? How many women pastors are normative when we have billions of people? Does God have to speak to us too so we allow it?
2. To me 1 Timothy 2 is not just about church (talk of raising hands everywhere, women adorning themselves with good deeds, childbirth all makes it seem much more expansive). So if we can justify women teachers, women professors, even at the seminary level, and women teaching in the church, what then prohibits women from ordination (something which itself isn’t directly in the Scriptures)? It seems if you accept that far, what’s really keeping that last door closed? Those are the kind of questions that made me reflect on my beliefs regarding this subject.
3. I understand where you’re coming from, and to be honest I think a weakness of the egalitarian position is dealing with the idea of headship that is connected to a male. You seem like one who desires a loving relationship with your wife and respects her as a person. However, I don’t think that it seems like “double-talk” only because of a failure of logic. It comes from experiencing men that are not as loving in their complimentarian position, who perhaps do view women as less than men (or at least act like they do). Or simply feeling the call of God for ministry and men saying that it can’t be true, as if they were God. Logic may play a role, but I think logic can only go so far.
4. Perhaps it is because we disagree that arrogance is perceived. The connection to judgment just didn’t set well with me. I guess to me women in leadership isn’t such a clear sin that the judgment language should be employed (Paul has plenty of lists of sin and this isn’t on any of them). Even more so if we’re conceding that God has used women to lead in the past, was Deborah in sin? I am also not sure if I would compare cancer to women in leadership, even if I understand your point.
I agree that we should seek to figure out how God desires us to live. I guess when it comes to women in ministry particularly, I believe that I have to defer to their own personal calling. I will not judge based on their calling alone. How that calling is lived out, perhaps, just like I would with any man who claims to have that calling as well.
If you want to address Deborah specifically, it’s not necessarily male failure. I realize I did say that, and mispoke in part. I hold that Jesus fulfilled the prophet office. So if we’re talking about the church today we’re talking about a different office. In any case, Deborah is an extraordinary case rather than a normative one. If we’re asking about women in the present situation, namely, the new covenant church, I still see a prohibition in Paul’s theology. No God does not speak in a manner orally telling us it is or is not permissible, but it’s in Paul’s theology and I’m not willing to say that it’s OK if Paul holds it as a prohibition.
2. I’ll grant that the culture is slightly different, but verse 14 Paul argues from the creation order. It still advocates for a broad principle that women, on the basis of the creation order, should be in a position of submission rather than dominance. I don’t see that if we’re talking about women leading above men, and when that leadership is not out of necessity but a general pursuit of equality.
3. You’re right in that complementarian men have, will, and will continue to abuse their role as head. The same could be said about any position we disagree with. Take, for instance, eglitarians who hold beliefs based on improper principles. All our convictions as Christians should have principles rooted in God’s Word. Some, yes, strive to interpret the Bible rightly. Others pursue their own agenda, the agenda of culture, feminism, et al. So I’ll grant you this point but say that it is not really helpful in drawing a conclusion. People were pretty sure Noah was off nuts in his beliefs and then the flood waters came.
4. I’m not sure I would classify it as “sin.” But anything outside of a union with Christ is improper or at least unorthodox, or maybe thinking of it as “not the best way to do things” is helpful, if we’re debating language usage here. Perhaps Paul does not list them because it’s a non-issue in his day? Deborah as a comparison to this point is referring back to an old covenant moral order and is in that sense a false analogy.
Finally, many people profess “personal calling” and it’s from themselves and not from God, men and women. It could be because they lack gifts, if not permenantly than for a season of their life. It could be because their “calling” wrecks their family, or damages others. Many make calling an idol in the sense that it’s more from them than from God, and if we do not pursue an internal and external calling that aligns with God’s Word, it’s not a true calling. It may happen, male or female, they may end up leading a church, but it’s not a true calling. There are plenty of things that we do and get away in this life that God will one day bring into account.
1. I was simply using Deborah as an example, since you presented her. As to her office. Paul also has prophets in his theology, yet that seems to fall under a cultural time frame and expiration date, why is it so different with this one mention of women? Could it not be viewed that way as well?
2. Your right that the creation order is invoked here. Again though, if this is a broader context of life and not just Sunday morning church, this calls for a much stricter view of the place of women than you seem to have. It seems more likely, that there was something up in this specific location, a number of women were deceived like Eve, than a blanket statement of women not being able to teach or have authority forevermore.
3. This wasn’t a point for trying to get you accept complimentarianism or woman in minstry. You simply wondered why people got worked up over the “elevation of women” language. Plus I would say abuse of another person is more severe than vague “improper principles.” Also Noah’s a poor example, we don’t know if they thought he was crazy or just didn’t care. Genesis doesn’t really tell us.
4. “Not the best way to do things” would be a good way to put it and have your thoughts be understood. Paul’s lack of including it elsewhere could be that it’s because it is a non-issue, but that’s a huge leap of speculation to make especially considering the things he does list. Referring back to Deborah here isn’t a false analogy. Since the New Testament proclaims even more freedoms for women in worshiping God than the Old Testament does, it would make more sense to include leadership than causing some inter-testamental rift that makes Deborah’s leadership somehow invalid to the discussion.
I agree with the “personal calling” having potential for misuse. However, one’s idea of misuse depends on interpretation. If God does use women in leadership, even if only in exceptional cases, we have to be real careful when we dismiss it based largely off of one passage.
Well it’s been a fun back and forth, but I think this will be my last go at it. Feel free to respond, I’ll give it a read. Take care.
See, I see things differently. I think Paul was trying to respect the culture (in order to bring about more salvation’s), while seeking to liberate women. I see Paul as a great liberator of women and a fighter for gender equality. However, Paul was on a mission and had a primary calling to bring salvation to the Gentiles. So, gender issues were a side note for Paul. Yet, I believe Gal. 3:28 was the crux of Pauline theology and I think he would certainly apply this to more than just salvation. I agree that men and women are quite different and not the same. I don’t see why “creation order” matters in what jobs we carry out and I don’t see how the Bible points to this. If a woman is gifted to lead, why would God not want her to lead in society, marriage and ministry? My husband is not at all offended when I take leadership in the areas I am gifted in (and he is not). Yet, if I tried to take authority in the areas he is gifted in, he might be annoyed with that. Why not apply reason and life experience and practicality to our theology? My husband and I get along better when we both lead and mutually submit to one another. Healthy fruit bloomed out of our marriage when we embraced egalitarianism. Should we not look beyond the biblical text and into what brings forth life and what brings forth death? Did Jesus not teach us to do this? Thank you for speaking to me as a peer. You seem a very intelligent person and I appreciate a good debate! 🙂
Regarding Galatians 3:28, that has to do with temple worship. The fact that there is no difference between Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman–that is space that was used in the temple. The barrier was destroyed. But the there remained a barrier among clergy. That’s the point I’ve been trying to reiterate. Paul is a liberator, so is Christ, but it’s “how” that I’m discussing. I agree with everything you said with regard to marriage as well. I emphasize my wife’s gifts and she emphasizes mine, I’m not debating that but discussing boundaries within leadership. I appreciate your responses, though.
May I ask something, and do not feel you have to answer, but why did you opt to be Anonymouse? This is a perfectly sincere question and there is no hidden agenda.
I can be found on the internet easily and being opposed to women in office usually is assumed discrimination. I’m a pastor of a church and I’d prefer to not have people try and slander me publicly. It’s unlikely that would happen, but nevertheless something I’d prefer to avoid. I’m part of various communities with women church leaders and hiding my opinion is usually easier than dealing with the backlash that results when they know my beliefs. Many already do, but it’s just one less battle to fight. Also I think there are about 3 different anonymous posters here lol… so you might want to ask that question like to every poster.
Isn’t it true though? Culturally being against women in office is the same as hating black people or something. It’s ridiculous that it’s that way, but it’s true.
That’s because being opposed to women in office IS discrimination. You may use the Bible to justify yourself, as slave owners used the Bible in justifying themselves, but that does not mean you are doing what is righteous, godly, and in-line with the biblical message of Christ.
This is part of the problem. The Bible does not advocate for slavery. Learn the historical context, and it’s clear that women were not office. Slavery was not always abusive chattel slavery like it was in the U.S. Paul event advocates that Philemon be treated better, but doesn’t advocate for slavery, why? Because slavery differed from our day. Gal. 2:8 doesn’t reference the freedom of slaves from chains but the freedom to worship as equals in church.
Where as you view me as a discriminatory, I view you as in open rebellion against God’s Word. You have society on your side, but not God on that particular issue.
Oh no my friend, I have first world society on my side, but the rest of the world digs patriarchy and it is destroying girls and women globally. You are in rebellion against God’s plan and I pray God shows you mercy and removes the blinders from your eyes. Don’t believe for one second that your theology in counter-cultural. Just look at the worldwide stats and get out of your religious bubble.
George Falconer said;” Any woman can say she is called to be in authority but the bible says in bold black and white that she is not, so if she does think she is, where did that come from? Not from the Bible.”
IN BOLD BLACK AND WHITE EH? My Bible does describe women called by God to be in authority…i.e.
First::2 Kings 22:9-19
” And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe , and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying ,13 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found : for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. 15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, …” The King enquired of the Lord and his priests went to Huldah the Prophetess to do so….she then gave the King the Message from God.
Second: In Judges 4:5 the people of Israel went up to Deborah for judgment.
Abigail prophesied to King David.Considering we are dealing with a completely patriarchal society, even one woman is a majority with God. Huldah is a unique God raised authority over King Josiah of Judah. How much more authority do you think God gives? If it even happened once it is possible.
Jory, you are the reason I still have hope in God’s love for all of his children, even when men continue to dictate that our worth is less valued than their status. If only they could heed Jesus’ example that he never felt the need to lord over others and fill himself with such self importance.
Amen Jax…I love Jesus so much. If the complementarian men and women only understood who Jesus really is. He never once said that he had authority over women because he was male. He embraced women as equals. He showed an example of a new way. This is why women loved Jesus so much. This is why they poured out their most expensive perfumes and wiped Jesus’ feet with their hair. He set them free. He saw them as needed. He never demeaned them by taking away responsibility.
I admire your patience. I simply couldn’t spend all my energies refuting those who dont want to listen. You have a very important and valuable message. If I may be so bold as to say that sometimes it’s not worth casting those pearls. Let he who has ears to hear listen and weed out the rest.
Thanks Jax. I don’t write these posts for just the person I am addressing, but also for the thousands of people who are reading it. 🙂
Please continue with the posts. I was referring to the overwhelming number of people who attack you. As a reader of your blog, which I find refreshing, I find myself starving to read more about egalitarianism, sift through the refuters of your blog, which is the same old message beating the doldrums, and reason why I’m leery of religion. Gotta run!
Gah! I was rushed to write this last comment. I meant to say that it gets tiring to have to sift through the refuters when I want to read more about your message.
Thanks for the post Jory! I have appreciated your perspective over the last few months as I continue my own journey of growing in understanding and reforming my beliefs on gender roles. I still have a lot a studying left to do, but the more I strive to encounter the Bible as truth that is intended to shape me and the more I attempt to be aware of my personal and cultural presuppositions, the more it seems my convictions are coming to the egalitarian side.
I just wanted to mention how important it is that both sides engage in this discussion with grace-filled and loving heart. The manner in which we hold our convictions can be as important as the convictions themselves – unity in our divisive, dualistic culture is one of the most powerful signs we can provide our world as evidence that God’s Kingdom has been established in Christ and his Church.
From reading a good bit of your work, I am quite sure you would agree! The one issue I have in this post is when you say “Kevin, I know you would like to think you have more authority than my sisters and I because you are a man.” To me, that statement projects a motivation in Kevin’s heart that no one but God could know of for certain – he would likely say that he is compelled to think a certain way by the Bible, and he would also likely say that this statement oversimplifies his convictions.
This may be just a misread on my part or a subtlety you did not mean to imply, so please forgive me if I’m off base! I know you’ve received more than your fair share of comments that were extremely clear in their disgust or arrogance, and I admire your commitment to dialogue and sharing your heart in this forum. Thank you, and I pray that God will continue to bless and transform his people through your work!
Thank you for the constructive criticism, Peter. Sometimes I am more harsh than other times, but I try to be led by the Spirit – which is both truth and love. Sometimes love and grace looks a bit tough and sometimes it looks more gentle. I am only human, so I could have missed it, but I think this post was spirit led.
I think it is arrogance and pride for men to read the Bible in such a way that they believe they have more authority than women (just because they are male). I think it is ego – not spirit led theology.
You are right though, Kevin would not see it that way. May God bless you as you find freedom in the truth. Egalitarianism is not a perfect theology, as no theology is, but gender roles are not found in Scripture. May we honor the text that is there and be honest about the text that is not there. God bless you, friend.
Inclusive versus Exclusive
I just had a little insight into the reason there is hostility over this issue.
No one likes to be excluded by their friends, but we all want to be included in things our friends do. When our friends seek to exclude us for reasons beyond our control we get _____________(different responses). When we become Christians we begin to believe that other Christians are “us”… unless we are women…suddenly we are taught that we are excluded because we must be FEMALE Christians…not just Christians….we are taught there is this other group ‘out there’ of MALE Christians to which we can never belong…and men are taught there is this group out there, FEMALE Christians to which they can never belong. We have just divided the Kingdom of God by this process. Furthermore we offend the work of Christ BECAUSE ” For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; ” This phrase refers to Jews and Gentiles between whom was a great partition until they became ‘IN CHRIST’…Now they are at peace and the middle wall of partition has been broken down…Why is this significant…because in Gal. 3:28 This same division is referred to when Paul teaches :” There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” This SAME wall of partition has been broken down, not only between Jew and Greek, but between bond and free, male and female, barbarian and Scythian….Why? because HE IS OUR PEACE.
So why do we insist on this PARTITION? Why do we insist GOD has elevated that middle wall again when Christ BROKE IT DOWN?
Therefore this Exclusion of certain groups from Christian IS that middle wall of partition…and as I see it, if we insist on it we WAR against Christ!
But it is clear. The problem is that so many do not like what the bible actually says and avoid the passages that are crystal clear to build a conrary case. That said though, I also think that those in the USA ( I have to make it clear that I am not American) seem to have gone to such an extreme on what in the USA seems to be called “Complimentarinism” that it has become a dictatorial formula and that is not what it is about. I think a lot of it is about love. If a man and his wife disagree, then he is the head of his wife, it does not follow that he dictates. He does however make the final decision and he may choose out of love of his wife to go her way unless there is a pressing reason not to. I think the whole thrust of the debate in America probably started out well in seeking out biblical truth and to obey it, but it has gone sour and now you have women feeling terrible and fighting back.
How, George F., do you explain that the husband is the head of the wife and what does that have to do with “he does, however, make the final decision”? Under that assumption, believe it or not, it means that God says essentially (according to that view) that the man must, in the end, ALWAYS get his own way, if he so chooses. You say it is not dictatorial because YOU don’t think so…but many men DO think so and they become autocrats…the problem is that this whole set of rules is SUBJECTIVELY interpreted by each man and, depending on his degree of selfishness, makes its interpretation entirely at the whim of each individual man…instead of under God. The man becomes God in his own mind…at least the authoritarian man, and the nice guys still think this works…it only works if you are married to a nice guy…the rest of women are often at the whim of a sociopathic, entitled boor who uses Christ as an excuse to drive a truck over her if she doesn’t submit and then smiles at the other men at the church door as he jokes about “how women are” and preens himself with his “long robes and prayers”…sorry, these men are just using other Complimentarian men as a cover for their sin! Can you not see this?
How do you reconcile the idea of status between men and women with Jesus ‘counting it not robbery to be Equal with God” who is HIS HEAD?
Sir, I disagree. IF a man has the ‘final’ decision, then he would ALWAYS submit to his wife. Because Christ told his male disciples ‘do not seek authority’. Paul said to ‘submit to one another’. Peter said ‘IN THE SAME WAY, husbands’ (which the verb is SUBMIT. The New Testament is full of NO authority of any kind except to God.
I just can’t get past this comment about Complementarians and the law!
It seems to me, since I can find no teaching in the Old Testament that sets men as head over their wives, that insist on the wife submitting to her husband, while the husband is “required to be a leader”… that these are NEW laws created by ___________(you decide) for the New Testament times. Why a new set of LAWS when Paul makes clear that we are no longer under the law?
Since it makes no sense to me why God would suddenly bring in new laws for women and men when they were never clearly delineated under the Old Testament is the opposite of Jesus’ claim that He really came: “…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and ….to set the oppressed free,..” How has this new set of RESTRICTIONS anything at ALL to do with proclaiming freedom and setting the oppressed free?
You are so brave and so clearly spirit-led in blogging so passionately and intelligently about gender issues within Christianity. I started reading the comments and had to stop. It both hurts and infuriates me to hear people twist Jesus’ words to present one gender as being “in charge” of another. The biggest part of me just wants to disengage from organized Christianity altogether to distance myself from that kind of ego-driven insanity. It is voices like yours that keep me coming back. Keep writing. You give so many of us hope for Christianity’s survival. Sending you so much light and many blessings.
Thank you my sister; comments like these keep me charging on! 🙂
Great article! I just realized that this entire discussion is based on the truth that neither side can really refute the other side. Each side can argue against the other side, but both sides have strong biblical arguments that neither side can refute. I’m so glad I live in a time where we are having this debate and I can learn from both sides and give grace to both sides! At the end of the day, let’s be charitable and let the Word of God control our consciences!
Thank you, Brad. The problem is that one side limits, leaves out, controls and often oppresses women based off their gender (something they do not choose); and the other side empowers both men and women. If both arguments seem biblically legit to someone, I would hope they would choose the side that gives women greater freedom and become an advocate for their sisters in Christ.
Thank. Amen. I would hope that all Christians would Jesus’ side. He made it clear when he said NO ONE should want authority, but should serve. I believe he was talking directly to MALES, lol. It does not make a male less to simply share. Females are not asking for authority, only equality.
I would add to the replies by Jory and Dee, and perhaps make them even stronger. Twenty-six years in a strongly complementarian congregation impressed upon me how much they stressed hierarchical authority for men and traditional gender roles for women. A cross-cultural study of the gospels, however, convinced me just how much Jesus does exactly the opposite (“comps” who appeal to Jesus’ choice of all male apostles completely miss this point).
A good study of this can be found in the work of Carrie Miles (whose global ministry I serve in) – her book, “The Redemption of Love” and her Bible study guides, New Man, New Woman, New Life – used in Africa and India – which can be downloaded from the ministry website, and Face to Face – the American version, which can be purchased on Amazon. (see http://empowerinternational.org/ – see Programs and Resources)
All in all, the Comp teaching seems to indicate that God added new laws for women after Christ died for them…new restrictive laws that even go against the intention of Proverbs 31…in that women now are even more limited…not run a business or buy a ‘vineyard’ and plant it, etc. Surely this is ridiculous since Paul repeats over 10 times that we are no longer under the law, yet a new law of female bondage enters at that point, even more restrictive and even silencing! How can this be explained by Comps?
please flesh out your amazing insight!
Anonymous…you say “I hold that it is possible to elevate women while still believing that God calls them to be submissive to male authority.”
Wow! How do you intend that…specifically…I would love to hear you flesh out that “elevation”…as it is actually a demotion, in all practical senses. Do you really believe your own words? Is it with titles, trophies or money you intend to elevate the women? Like the Most Honourable Toilet scrubber, or it is with expensive jewellery, a regular paycheque, a new car or just kindness etc.? On the contrary, if she does NOT submit what then? What sort of opposite behaviour to ‘elevate’ do you intend then? Please explain!
Could you not do all these ‘elevating’ things even if she were considered your equal or are they just payments for service?
This seems more like a jab than a constructive comment. Please explain your criticisms sometime today or I will be deleting this comment.
I agree Jory…you sure know how to handle cheap shots…even though they are more than cheap…childish, in fact.
I am a male pastor of a Reformed Church much like Kevin DeYoung’s church. Our theological tradition allows a wide scope of thought when it comes to women in the church and in the home. Yet I lament that the loudest voices from my Reformed tradition echo that of Kevin DeYoung and the complimentarians. I am a father of daughters who need a church that values them as much as Christ does. The complimentarian perspective is subversively demeaning for women in the church, nearly as much so as separate water fountains for African Americans and whites was during the Jim Crow days. I pray for a day when more people in my religious tradition begin to acknowledge that truth. I dream of a day in my tradition that I love so much, where my daughters will know that in God’s Kingdom they are as valued as anyone.
Pastor Joel, this comment made me tear up. Thank you for getting it.
As a woman who feels like a fish out of water, because I have left Reformed Fundamentalist Christianity over the issue of the way women are treated…I too dream of a day when the men can really learn to respect women as equals…However, I will not hold my breath because after 30 years watching their behaviour, I feel that day will not come in my lifetime.
So for now I occasionally attend a Salvation Army church, knowing that despite the lovely people and the fact that men and women are equals, I just am not comfortable with their doctrine and am so sorry that conservative Christian men are so pig-headed
Keep in mind for future reference “ECO” – “A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.” This young denomination (barely four years old, I think) has an explicit commitment to egalitarian ministry. (For example, http://eco-pres.org/ – click on “Who We Are” and scroll to the bottom of “Our Core Values.”) After 26 years in a complementarian congregation, I appreciate – as a new elder – working alongside both men and women elders (my co-elder in my area of ministry is a woman) and deacons (I’m team-teaching a series of classes on Fikkert’s “When Helping Hurts” with two deacons who are on their benevolence team – both women), as well as an ordained woman pastoral staff member. I’ve only been here three years but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a woman’s voice discounted because of her gender. (This was a part of this congregation’s core values long before it moved from PCUSA to ECO.)
To Brad: you said “both sides have strong biblical arguments that neither side can refute. I’m so glad I live in a time where we are having this debate and I can learn from both sides and give grace to both sides! At the end of the day, let’s be charitable and let the Word of God control our consciences!”
Well said except both sides do not have STRONG biblical arguments…yes this is precisely the same as the slavery issue…both sides had their “good” arguments but in the end it took the shedding of much blood to settle the issue…so “charitable” doesn’t seem to be in the nature of Christians? Some of the arguments were not as good as others. It was the heavenly overview that won the day.
In the end one needs to search out ALL the scriptures to see who God really, is. It is this overview…this view from above, looking down on created beings who were ALL created by Him and in His image, that helps us to see the mind of God. As long as we insist on 4-5 proof texts to use in order to impose our own will and our cultural bias, we will never get out of the gutter of human nature and sin. As this continues we will see that the exodus of women from Complementarian churches over time will settle the question. They will be unable to carry on much longer as women growing up in these circles become informed of the Egalitarian position…they will just not return to the ‘prison’ of this ideology.
Joel Thanks! You said “Our theological tradition allows a wide scope of thought when it comes to women in the church and in the home. Yet I lament that the loudest voices from my Reformed tradition echo that of Kevin DeYoung and the complimentarians.”
Yes you are right in mentioning the “wide scope” of thought…generally…I find a vast array of opinions and varying degrees of liberty granted women in this tradition which UNDERLINES the fact that the Bible is really not as clear as they think on the matter of female subjection and is largely dependent on the CULTURE of each church and the ‘feelings and emotions’ of the men who run it…the Bible has, in contrast, a tradition of God setting people free from bondage, yet I have evidence of churches that actually require females to be silent from week to week, in church services and even in prayer meetings…that is the extreme end of the spectrum. I don’t know why women bother to go to such places, except for the insistence of uncaring husbands…you certainly don’t want your daughters in such a prison.
sermonaudio dot com has, as the 10th of its 10 Articles of FAITH(believe it or not) that they are “not open to the dissemination of such distinctive Charismatic and Pentecostalist views as…women pastors/preachers/elders, etc. ” among other views… despite their claim, they say: “We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in Jesus Christ and cherish every Scriptural expression of that unity. ” and boasts of having “The largest and most trusted library of audio sermons from conservative churches and ministries worldwide.”all of whom must submit to this Article of Faith…(so you see I have a problem with your belief that they IN FACT have a wide scope of thought regarding women in leadership…it is a false notion of scope) …This website represents “churches and ministries that are conservative in doctrine and Bible-believing”…including Free Reformed, Baptist, Free Presbyterian and so on…
To give an idea of the scope of this site, they have over 1 million free sermons and 23,333 different speakers.
The message is clear, if you want to present your church as a faithful Bible believing church on this site you must keep the women out of leadership, first and foremost. “That is God’s will” in their view…and some of the most well known public preachers can be found there.
Judy, I think you might have misunderstood what I meant by “my religious tradition.” I was referring specifically to the same Reformed Denominational traditions that Kevin DeYoung and I used to share until the last few months when he lead his church into the Presbyterian Church of America largely due to his perspective (though not solely – to be fair to DeYoung) on women in ecclesiastical office. (Though again, to be fair, my denomination does consider the PCA to be a sister denomination in the same reformed tradition though it holds to some more ‘traditional’ perspectives)
I know nothing of this website of sermons you spoke about. I’ll take your word that it isn’t very diverse. Perhaps a better site of sermons that tries to be diverse in gender and ethnicity while still holding to the reformed tradition I hail from can be found at the Center for Excellence in Preaching http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/
Joel, by all means do not take my word for that website…check it out for yourself. It is public domain.
Joel, sounds like you are from the other Reformed group that follows the Heidelberg Confession (Continental)…The group I mention follows the Westminster Confession (British) and “they are clearly Presbyterian and while differences certainly exist between English Presbyterian theology and continental Reformed theology, these differences are certainly of such a kind that they are non-essential, that no barriers to true unity exist between those who hold to them in their doctrine and life and those who maintain the continental Confessions as their confessional basis, and that they stand solidly in the tradition of the Calvin Reformation.”