Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

John Piper picture on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

On John Piper’s web site is posted a question that someone asked of him about the application of complementarianism that affects women.  The question is:

Do you think complementarianism is so important to some people that they deny women more opportunities than the Bible denies them?

I was shocked at John Piper’s response.  You really need to listen to it for yourself.  Click on the link above to hear an audio version or see the video clip. 

Below is an edited transcript of the audio from the Desiring God web site and below that are my comments.  I welcome your comments and discussion on this important question.

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John Piper’s Answer:

That does happen. But the problem there is not that complementarianism is important, but it’s that they don’t understand it.

You can’t say, “Here’s a truth, and that truth is so important it distorts the implementation of the truth.” Because if you implement it the wrong way, it’s not the truth anymore. It’s not what we’re saying.

I dealt with a couple one time. They were sitting in front of me, and she said, “He learned from you that I have to get permission from him for everything I do.” I said, “Really? Like what?” And she said, “To go to the bathroom! He won’t let me leave the room without his permission. If I get up and walk out of the room, he says, ‘Hey, you’re supposed to ask me first.'”

That’s not because the man values complementarianism. That’s not complementarianism. That’s sick! So we do deny women things that we shouldn’t deny them, if we’re sick.

Now the person asking this question is probably not going there. They’re probably thinking, “In the church, what kinds of ministries might a woman do?”

And my answer would be that it’s a delicate thing when you’re not dealing with the clear, black-and-white issues of elder and non-elder. I mean, I think it’s clear in the Bible that women should not be the elders of the church, the spiritual leaders of the church.

What kind of Sunday school classes they teach, what ages of boys they teach—those are ambiguities, and I’m sure there are people who make unwise decisions at that point in the restriction of women. Or the woman could carry on a speaking ministry among women, and some men begin to gravitate into those things. I mean, things like that.

So the answer would be, clearly, Yes, there are people who would draw lines in places that they shouldn’t be drawn. And we should just be constantly sensitive to what is the wise and loving application of the biblical clarity that we have for these situations. And we’re going to probably make different judgments about that.


© Desiring God

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

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My comments:

The one thing that struck me about this audio that I found odd is John Piper’s laughter on such a serious topic.  I also was struck with his admitting that complementarianism is not understood by many complementarians.  I think that is an understatement.  Apparently, it must not be as “clear” in the bible as some would like to make it out to be.  Piper says that if you implement complementarianism the wrong way, then it isn’t truth anymore. Who can see the problem with this?

It is a fact that no scripture teaches a complementarian how to implement complementarianism’s kingly authority.  In strict complementarian churches, the men are prepared to take over the “role” of authority in the home (and in the church) and it is the husband’s decisions that must be followed.  The husband  is given the ability to override his wife’s will so who or what can override his authority in the marriage?  When this kind of authority is given to a man, his implementation of that authority would have to be considered his business.  Those who try to “rescue” the wife from his rulership would be interlopers in the marriage.  Who can “usurp” the authority of the priest-king of the marriage?  This kind of unilateral authority that is clearly not taught in the scriptures is a ripe playing field for a man who wants to be God’s unique representative on the earth with full rights and powers to have his kingly way.  The fact that he can claim he is acting in her best interest (because apparently she doesn’t know what is good for her own self) removes him from having to accept any interference from outsiders in his kingdom of the home and marriage.

How appealing it must be to some men to know that they can expect their wives to support them without question as God has entrusted them as one of the special “first creation” kind who have been gifted with all the benefits of the rulership and decision-making power in their  marriage.  What does it matter if he has to go against her will when he has been especially chosen by God because of his gender (not his godliness) and he has been taught by the church to model the Father’s will that apparently overrides even the will of the Son?  (For a refutation of the subordination of the Son doctrine see my DVD “The Trinity Eternity Past to Eternity Future“).  Do you see the opportunity for misuse of authority and abuse of his wife as a fellow heir in Christ?

John Piper relates the story of a couple where the husband has implemented his authoratarian rule apparently after the privileges he has learned from John Piper.  The fact that this husband would not let his wife leave the room without his permission shows that he truly believed he knew what was best for his wife.  John Piper says that this behavior is not because the man values complementarianism.  He calls this “sick”.  He then says that some deny women  things that the bible doesn’t deny them.

The problem with this is that the very heart of complementarianism is the authority of the man.  If a man believes that denying his wife her freedom to live her life with freedom of choice because it is the best way for her, then the complementarian model has no help from the scripture since there is no indication of a rulership program there.  There are no limits set in the scripture to the rulership of a man in marriage because there was no rulership given to him by God.  One and only one verse taken out of its context of the sin and shame of the man who brought rebellion against God into the world, and it is that one verse in Genesis 3 that is used to justify the man’s “dominion” of the marriage that results in a man living out that dominion by approving or denying every action that his wife takes.

John Piper’s answer is that it is a “delicate” thing when not dealing with the “clear” issue of Elder.  He then lists some of the “delicate” issues that have no apparent “clear” answer.   The question that we all need to ask ourselves is why God hasn’t made this a “clear” issue.  How come there are so many grey areas that are supposedly “unclear” whether it is a sin or not for a woman to do certain things?   As I listen to John Piper speak, I can hear in my mind the sound of a bungled bugle.

 

1 Cor 14:7  Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?

1 Cor 14:8  For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

1 Cor 14:9  So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

If there ever was an “indistinct sound” this would be what it sounds like.  There are no loud bugle notes to say “Look here – this is sin”.  The warbling, indistinct sound of men everywhere trying to implement complementarianism without a law book that tells them what is right or wrong for their wife to do in her limited “role” as a helper or her limited “role” as a children’s and perhaps into-the-teens teacher is deafening in its indistinct sounds.  It is no wonder that churches everywhere inundate CBMW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) with questions each year on what is “permitted” for women to do and what is restricted.  Hundreds of questions regarding things as diverse as a woman ushering to a woman giving directions to a man,have come into CBMW (apparently these are the modern interpreters of the law) should really produce another Talmud of gigantic Pharisical proportions to strain out the gnat and separate the hairs of what an “equal” can and cannot do.

John Piper admits that there are “ambiguities” and that he is “sure” people make “unwise decisions” in their restriction of women.  After all what is a woman to do when men start gravitating towards her Sunday school room when she is teaching the bible?  Does she kick them out of her class, stop her godly teaching, or continue to teach?  What is sin and what isn’t sin?

If women are “equals” with a man spiritually, then what biblical spiritual restrictions are there on men?  When does a man who is a godly Christian man go from servant of God to sinner just because of who walks into his bible class?  The fallacy of “equal but different” is never so blatantly false as when complementarians like John Piper try to talk about the “ambiguities”.  The fact is that they teach “unequal and different” while the Bible teaches “fellow heirs”.

Piper ends his answer by saying that, yes there are some people who will “draw lines” (that means restrictions) where they shouldn’t draw lines.  What is his solution?  We should be sensitive to what is the wise loving application of the biblical “clarity” that we have for these situations.  That is amazing since he just said that there are “ambiguities” here so how did it now become “clarity”? And how does counseling someone to be sensitive work for a man who believes his kingly right is to make all the decisions for his wife?

Will John Piper write a handbook to help men to decide on all the “ambiguities”?  Perhaps. After all he says that we can make “different judgments” on “biblical clarity”.  But some of these judgments are wrong, he also says.  So what is right?  I sense that he is unsure himself.  When one tries to implement a kingdom rulership for men that the scripture never gives to them there will always be “unclear” and unsafe sounds coming from that bugle.

bugler on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

48 thoughts on “Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

  1. Hi, Cheryl. WOW! is the first thing that comes to mind. I’m speechless! Well, not quite. 🙂
    First, how typical to set up a straw man example that everyone will see is ridiculous and then say, “Of course that’s a wrong application, but that doesn’t make our position wrong.” Gender-based spiritual hierarchicalists do this all the time. People agree with the first statement, and then think the second one must therefore be true, too.
    Second, your section on the husband’s kingly rights reminds me of something I read somewhere, and I wish I could cite it for you, about how the Reformation, great as it was in so many respects, essentially moved kingly power from the secular ruler to the home, with every man now a king.
    I completely agree with you that the entire heart of this view is the power and authority of men. It’s about power, period, end of discussion. How is that biblical or God-honoring?

  2. Welcome to my blog lmb!
    I agree with your good comments.

    Power and unilateral authority by one person in a marriage is not God-honoring. The model for Christians has always been servanthood not power. It is funny how the complementarian model has added the word “leader” to the word “servant” as if the wife needs someone to lead her other than Jesus. This reasoning causes people to see women in a less than equal light as she becomes even less than child-like. At least children grow up, mature and are able to make personal choices without having to have someone “lead” them. That is of course unless the child is a girl. Then she will grow up…sort of….to find someone who will take the position of being her leader. All this does is take away the focus from the Lord Jesus and onto a mere fallible man. Our husband is not to be our “leader” but he certainly can lead. Both the husband and wife can lead by example in doing what is right. But neither of them is to be the “leader” because one is our Leader, one is our Teacher, our Master, our Lord and the one who is owed full obedience. That one is our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  3. Hi, Cheryl. I just found some more stuff I want to talk about with you. Recently I heard about Dennis Rainey’s book, Building Strong Families. You can read some of it here: http://books.google.com/books/p/pub-9000451281933865?id=740FztCiGLAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false. There are some things that bother me very much about this book, which are related to the comments you are making here.
    There is a chapter by Bob Lepine called “The Husband as Prophet Priest and King.” He argues like this: Calvin says Jesus had three offices: prophet, priest and king. Eph 5 says the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Now I will quote directly from the book. “Today, Christ is the head of His church by serving as prophet, priest, and king. If the husband is to be the head of his wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the church, then as a husband he must understand the prophetic, priestly, and kingly roles he is to fulfill.” (102) I’m sure you see the problems here right away. For starters, the author got the roles of prophet priest and king from Calvin. Then he took a description (the husband IS the head of the wife) and made it into a prescription (the husband is TO BE the head of the wife). Then based on that, he elaborates on how the husband is to fulfill the roles. He’s converted the descriptive statement in Eph to a command for husbands to rule.
    As priest he is the ‘spiritual leader’ of his wife for prayer and worship. As prophet the husband hears from God (presumably tells his wife what God said), establishes doctrine for his home (again apparently informing the wife of what she is to believe) and confronts her sin. Now, all of these things would be fine IF THIS WERE A TWO WAY STREET between believers. But it isn’t. Information flows one way, putting the husband as spiritual mediator between God and the wife. Finally, as king, I will quote him again. “He is to lead his wife. He is her provider. He is her protector. He is to know and apply the law of God in the home. A husband is to represent his wife and his family in the culture.” There it is again: he is to lead her, something, as you say, that God never once commanded. He applies the law of God in the home. Does that mean he also punishes the wife for infractions of that law? He represents her in the culture. Do we take the vote away from women to fulfill this?
    I thought this book also talked about the father passing the spiritual responsibility for the daughter to her husband when she married, but I can’t find it. Must be something else I read. . .
    These things are such twisted representations and interpretations of what the Bible actually says that it’s difficult even to know where to start in untangling the errors. The scary part is how many people seem to agree.
    I appreciate your insights and am very glad you are writing about this topic.
    BTW, did you see Piper’s post on his desiring god page that the husband is to decide how his wife and daughter will dress? Why don’t we all just don burkhas and convert to Islam? It would seem more consistent! http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn/ByTopic/52/2028_Why_is_a_daughters_modesty_a_dads_responsibility/

  4. Great! I will check it out. Seems like we are on the same page. I’m glad to have found your blog.
    So, do you also know where the passing-of-spiritual-responsibility-from-father-to-husband stuff is?
    And now I will get back to work and leave room for others to participate in this conversation 🙂

  5. I had the privilege of meeting Alan Johnson, emeritus professor of New Testament and Christian Ethics at Wheaton, at the recent conference on gender and culture sponsored by Christians for Biblical Equality in St. Louis. In a private conversation he used the term “casuistry” to describe this sort of rule-making that the CBMW has spawned. I had to look this up when I got home: Webster defines it as “a resolving of specific cases of conscience, duty, or conduct through interpretation of ethical principles or religious doctrine.” Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics (ed. by Carl F. H. Henry) expands, “All conceivable contingencies are taken into account and a detailed list of rules is provided so that the permissibility or culpability of an act may be determined.” It is clear, as you said, that this reflects the pharasaic approach to life and legality.

    Patti R., whom I had also met at the conference, pointed out to me what I’d overlooked (being a man, I suppose) as many times as I’d read John 20. The risen Lord waited until after Peter and John left the empty tomb and then appeared to Mary Magdalene, whom He then sent as the first witness to the resurrection to tell the other disciples. If the CBMW was right, then why did Jesus do this? He shattered their rule book 2,000 years ago!

    On the subject of authority, is it just me or does the complementarian position essentially ignore what Jesus said about authority in passages such as Mark 10:42-45 and Luke 22:24-27? To use the term “servant-leader” on the one hand (supposedly drawn from these texts) while at the same time encouraging the very attitudes that Jesus challenged (the worldly concepts of authority & power that the disciples associated with greatness) is just incredible.

    BTW, the conference was a watershed event for me. I flew to St. Louis knowing that I was “leaning” in this direction (having studied the issue for several years); I flew home afterward with the conviction that this is who and what I am.

  6. Wayne P,
    Welcome to my blog! I am very happy to hear your testimony of some of the things that have led you towards biblical equality. Awesome! I am trusting God that there will be many more men and women who will be touched by God to let go of their preconceived view of “gender roles” in order for the body of Christ to proceed full speed ahead in the work of God that he has planned for us.

    I trust that I will be able to attend a CBE conference one day. I am joyful to know that it was a watershed event for you. Praise the Lord!!

  7. From what I could gather, the couple Piper talks about were influenced by HIS teaching. Piper says that this is not Complementarianism, but just “sick”. Yet this is part of the problem. When did it go from being comp to being sick? How does Scripture back up and show the line between comp and sick? It would appear the Piper defines it as sick not because of Scripture but because of some social influence as to what is “normal”.

    I have always struggled with the comp perspective because if you follow it to the logical end it is sick! If you don’t want to follow it to its logical end you have a whole lot of decisions you need to make…women cannot teach Sunday School to boys of a certain age…but what age? Your wife must ask your permission as her “head”…but for how much?

    Piper might think it is sick, but many Muslim men would not.

  8. Thank you Cheryl. I looked at one of Piper’s broadcasts the other day and was aghast – thank you for your exposure of these issues – it is so liberating for so many men and women.

    love Rachel at Re vis.e Re form

  9. Wow. This was an excellent post. I resonate with so much here, especially the “no one stepping in to rescue” the wife for fear of treading on sacred ground (the husband’s authority). I experienced this very phenomenon the first time I “told all” about what was going on in my home (very abusive and strange behaviors). The dear older (Piper loving) Christian couple that we first went to for counseling was unable to offer much of anything, other than to suggest things such as how marriage was for holiness, not happiness (ie, I needed to stop expecting to be treated kindly or respectfully)….. They were unable to say much or do much, because, I believe, of the very phenomenon you describe. It’s not that they didn’t want to help. It’s just that the doctrine of husbandly authority/kingship seems to have a “blinding” affect on recognizing and confronting abusive behavior in men. I have since heard many similar stories.

  10. There is so much here to respond to but I will focus on one thing, touched on by molly. Of the many problems with the “kingship” paradigm, the one that bothers me most is the lack of accountability for the “king”. Sure, the wife has a “leader” who can guide her through life and help her make the right decisions. But who guides the husband? Comps will claim that Jesus is the man’s guide, which is a convenient way to ignore the very un-Christlike behavior the man engages in while supposedly modeling Christ. The result is some of the most abhorrent abuse imaginable as the husband is viewed by all as doing no wrong while the poor wife is maligned by all for the slightest objection to the abuse. Now that truly is “sick”.

  11. I am flabbergasted at John Piper’s response, to say the least. There are so many points at which he should be challenged, it’s hard to know where to begin. However, one thing is clear to me, Cheryl, from what you have said how many churches regularly contact CBMW about what women can or cannot do in the church. Though David F. Wells may have not have had them specifically in mind, CBMW appears to be in the process of becoming, for some, a Protestant magisterium that decides how the Bible is to be interpeted applied. This is the warning Wells gave:

    It is dangerous to assert that God the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, but somehow omitted to give us the key(s) to understand them! Systems of understanding are legitimate and proper only to the extent that they arise from the biblical word and are themselves disciplined by it. No one can legitimately impose a system on the Word. If we do not assert the right of Scripture to stand in authoritative relationship to every presupposition, custom, and tradition; every teaching, practice, and ecclesiastical organization, then that authority will be co-opted either by an ecclesiastical magisterium or by a scholarly one (Cf. “The Bible, Doctrine, and Theological Contextualization, THE USE OF THE BIBLE IN THEOLOGY, p. 187).

  12. Dave #8,
    Excellent questions! Your questions show that there is no biblical “line” that can be appealed to for complementarians. They must then decide on what is “sick” or not in a subjective way. This means that there cannot be any real justice because some complementarians will hold back a woman in one church while others will not hold back their women doing the exact same activity. Is being held back from doing God’s work a good thing?

    Thanks for such good comments!

    Sorry guys, I ran out of time today as I have been putting very long hours into video editing and year end accounting on our corporation. Hopefully I can pop in later as I take breaks. Keep all the great comments coming. I enjoy reading them as I have time. I will comment too myself as I have time.

  13. Hi Cheryl,
    Thanks for posting this and sharing your convictions.

    Regarding Piper’s laughter, if you listen to Piper reguarly, you will notice that nothing is meant by his laughter. This is a common occurence and is not a reflection on how serious or not he views a matter. I say this because their are many Christians who love and respect Piper and the ministry our Lord has given him and don’t think you want those who you are trying to reach with your views to turn you off prematurely.

    Regarding you comment:
    “…Hundreds of questions regarding things as diverse as a woman ushering to a woman giving directions to a man,have come into CBMW (apparently these are the modern interpreters of the law) should really produce another Talmud of gigantic Pharisical proportions to strain out the gnat and separate the hairs of what an “equal” can and cannot do….”

    I believe this is the wrong spirit and approach to have. I am referring to “…(apparently… should really produce …”.

    I am sure men and woman contact you with questions daily because they see you as an authority on Women in Ministry. It would be wrong for me or anyone else to condemn or judge your ministry by saying “…apparently these are the modern interpreters of the law…”

    If I am wrong in how I am intepreting your words, let me know. As an objective reader who came across your site recently, these are some of the things that stood out to me. Though your points were good!

    Don’t get me wrong Cheryl, I am not here to defend John Piper or any of the ministries that he is involved with. More importantly “they shall know that WE are HIS Disciples by our Love one for another.” What I am saying is just because you and I disagree doesn’t mean that I can’t respect your views and demonstrate my respect by the way I respond to those differences. It is the lack of demonstrating respect for the views of others that continues to keep our Lord’s body divided and hinders those who may have TRUTH from persuading or convincing their “opponents”. Ofcourse this is my opinion.

    As a student of the scriptures, I am always seeking additional light on God’s word and I appreciate your gifts and look forward to reading further.

  14. @Sean Isaacs

    I don’t know about the other, more regular people; but I don’t see myself as looking to Cheryl for direction on how to apply the Bible to my life. I look to the Bible for that.
    I ran into this blog in search of more clarifications on 1 Timothy 2:12 as I don’t know Hebrew. Now I am reading for her insightful posts and great finds.

    That’s a pretty distinct difference from people looking to the CBMW for a codified tally on what is sin and what isn’t. People should be looking to the Bible for that. If you have difficulty understanding a passage, find a Hebrew/Greek expert to see how you might better understand it from the core language and historical context. You shouldn’t have to look to man, though, to figure out what is or is not sin. And their codified prescriptions are dangerously running into Pharisee territory where you can’t carry your bed on the Sabbath or else you are doing work.

  15. Sean Isaacs,
    Welcome to my blog! Thanks for popping in.

    Regarding Piper’s laughter, if someone is turned off by my comment that I found his laughter odd when it was such a serious subject, then perhaps they are too sensitive. Now if I called him a name for laughing, then that would be different. I try hard to speak about other Christians who differ with me, with respect. That of course should include John Piper although we are all allowed to question his doctrine and his advice. I think that he would agree that this is allowed.

    Sean you said:

    I believe this is the wrong spirit and approach to have. I am referring to “…(apparently… should really produce …”.

    I am sure men and woman contact you with questions daily because they see you as an authority on Women in Ministry. It would be wrong for me or anyone else to condemn or judge your ministry by saying “…apparently these are the modern interpreters of the law…”

    If I am wrong in how I am intepreting your words, let me know.

    CLC answered this quite well by saying there is a big difference between answering questions and offering advice from the scriptures than trying to decipher what is sin and what is not. I choose to allow the scripture to define what sin is because God does a wonderful job of informing us what He considers as sin. This is the real problem with all the unwritten rules regarding women’s “roles”. Because godly Christians cannot find the answers in the scriptures regarding these restrictions on women, those who insist that it is a sin for women to usher, to sing in church, to pray in public, etc have to go outside of the scriptures regarding sin. That is a problem and I think that we should be very concerned when a group of men can add to the list of sins that God has not defined.

    You also said:

    It is the lack of demonstrating respect for the views of others that continues to keep our Lord’s body divided and hinders those who may have TRUTH from persuading or convincing their “opponents”. Ofcourse this is my opinion.

    Amen! This is what I have been saying for years. For those who have viewed my DVDs they should be able to readily agree that I am grieved with the division in the body of Christ and work hard to be a peacemaker. This view is evident just from the introduction found on line here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e9TL5TWdac

    Now if we could only get the other side to stop saying that those who believe differently in this area are in sin, we could have a giant step towards reconciling both sides.

    I do appreciate that you have given me the opportunity to explain my view of respectful disagreement. Anything that isn’t clear in that area can be challenged.

  16. CLC,
    You said:

    You shouldn’t have to look to man, though, to figure out what is or is not sin. And their codified prescriptions are dangerously running into Pharisee territory where you can’t carry your bed on the Sabbath or else you are doing work.

    Very well said! This is the danger that we need to speak out against. Adding to God’s word regarding sin is a very dangerous thing to do. It puts us above God Himself as if God’s word isn’t enough.

  17. Hey Cheryl,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate your humble response to the points I made above. This tells me that you are a woman of great character. Thank you!

  18. Just a quick comment for leanne,

    I went to Piper’s post that you mentioned on the husband deciding what the wife and daughter should wear. He actually said that the husband, WITH the wife, should help decide what the daughter is allowed to wear. That is a very big difference.

  19. I was still a little put off by the word choices in the short post (the man should “take responsibility” for a daughter’s modesty), so I went to the full sermon. The paragraph this post is exerpted from twists me in knots. Parts of it I strongly agree with but, as often happens with Piper’s preaching, there is just enough priest/prophet/king theology to make you squirm. Here is a breakdown.

    Set standards for your wife and children.

    This is how he starts the paragraph off. Although I agree with setting standards for children (both husband and wife do this together), I hardly feel qualified to set them for my wife. Unless, of course, she is equally called, equiped, and empowered to set them for me. I think husbands and wives have a duty to engage in mutual accountability. But I doubt Piper sees setting standards as a two way street.

    Work them through with your wife. Remember the path of leadership here is primary responsibility, not sole responsibility.

    I thought he was redeeming himself here, but the second sentence makes it clear that the focus has narrowed on the standards set for children. So, he leaves wife standard setting as the man’s responsibility with no mutual husband standard setting visible.

    Wives are eager to help here, but what frustrates them is when we don’t take any initiative and they are left to try to determine and enforce the standards alone. Take the initiative in thinking through what will be allowed on TV. What movies you and the children will go to. What music will be listened to. And how low your daughter’s necklines will be.

    I believe this is fundimentally true, and encourages the parenting partnership. That is what is so frustrating about Piper. If he would have just focused soley on parental standard setting for children, this reads just fine. But for some inexplicable reason (other than he has an underlying agenda), he waves that huge red flag in the opening sentence. It distracts from anything good he has to say.

    I am tempted to preach a whole message on the relationship between dads and the way their daughters dress. Yes, mom is the key player here in helping a young woman learn the meaning of modesty and beauty. But dad’s role for both of them is indispensable both in celebrating what they look like and telling them when the way they dress means what they don’t think it means. Dads, you know exactly what I mean. What you need here is courage. Don’t be afraid here. This is your daughter, and she must hear from you what she is saying to men with her clothes.

    Having raised two daughters, I can’t agree enough with this last section. This is precisely the approach my wife and I took in our parenting with, at least in my biased opinion, very favorable results. But again, I can’t get past that opening statement. The man drives me nuts. The majority of what he says sounds very good but it is almost always tainted by a comment or two that show his true hierarchical colors.

  20. Hi all

    I am a comp, but am probably more at the egal end of the spectrum of the comp position. What astonishes me is this. This blog has GREAT intentions of expressing the differences in the two positions. However, it seems from comments i have read throughout this and other posts, it is merely a place to to slander great theologians under the supposed banner of Christ. Sure Grudem and Piper have a different exegetical perspective on many passages, but i do not fell it is helpful to the topic nor Christlike merely to find a place where ‘egals’ can conjugate to slander the ‘enemy’.
    In my experience comps have tended to raise these issues in order to Glorify God, and unfortunately most egals i encounter merely point to how stupid comps are. Now im sure not all who read this fit this description, but perhaps it might good to keep in mind that this is how you as ‘egals’ are coming across in dialogues like this one. I hope we can all work together, to actually be united in Christ to glorify His name, not our own (both sides implied here)

  21. Mark,

    I think you are being too hard on people here. I have read egalitarians on comp blogs and the comps attack any egal who would dare to comment. I don’t think you will find that here at all. Most try hard to be respectful to people who comment here. As far as theologians, it certainly is helpful to express the fact that their ideas are “dumb” while not trying to ascribe a “motive” to the person. I try hard not to overly moderate here so I leave the comments up to the commenter.

    I guess I would ask you to consider the also the slander that is being responded to by egals here. When we are being equated to homosexuality and our teaching is said to be sin, then it is the slander of the comp position against their sisters in Christ that sets out the problem.

    I do try my hardest to keep my own comments as respectful because I do believe that we are dealing with brothers in Christ, even if they are very wrong and slanderous against egalitarians.

  22. Hi Mark,

    I agree that there are times where many of the contributors here can get a little indignant toward complimentarian authors and theologians. But I have never seen the kind of ad hominen attacks here that are often carried out by opponents of egalitarianism. My observation is that most here keep it to the facts, although ignorance (feigned or real) of the facts from the other side can get quite frustrating. I hope you won’t feel put off. Please stick around, as there is great value for the discussion to get input from all along the comp-egal spectrum.

  23. #22 Mark,
    I am so glad that you are on the “egal” side of the comp position. Praise God for that! I pray that in time you will come to see that your sisters in Christ are to be free to serve in anyway that God has gifted them.

    You wrote:

    In my experience comps have tended to raise these issues in order to Glorify God, and unfortunately most egals i encounter merely point to how stupid comps are.

    I have seen that most egals are interested in glorifying God by not denying the gifts that He has given them. They also have love for their brothers in Christ and do not want to deny these precious brothers the benefit of these gifts. Since this the position that most come to, I believe that most are living out the mandate to glorify God. I also very much want to see the body of Christ united on this point. It is when we all work together with our gifts that we bring the most glory to God.

  24. I just had to type ‘friend’ as my anti-spam word, which i hope is a reflection of what can be achieved with these dialogues?

    I have noticed Cheryl, that you have a big emphasis on gifts. DO you feel that the comp position restricts people using gifts? I don’t think that is what is at hand, rather that comps want people to use their gifts in acoordance with how the bible instructs us to use them. I would also like to strongly emphasise, that although i am a comp, i in no way do not love my sisters in Christ any less.

    The comp position doesn’t promote un-love towards women. What they hold to is this, that if God has mandated only men as elders for example, it is most loving to see this lived out. I don’t think it is helpful for egals to see the comp position as one which is sexist or unloving. But that said, there are many people who would come across that way or even promote it. But this is not a true reflection of what the comp position is. Did i explain this well? Probably not as is my habit 🙂

  25. Mark,
    I would be honored to be known as your friend! These kinds of dialogs, I believe, are very helpful for understanding. It is my personal opinion that when there is a disagreement we all need to work first on understanding the other’s position and then work on presenting ours. For if we misrepresent the opposition we are unlikely to build bridges between Christians.

    DO you feel that the comp position restricts people using gifts?

    Yes, I do feel that the comp position has been very frustrating for women by restricting them. It is especially frustrating when women are treated as if they are so child-like that they have to have a rulebook that defines what they can and cannot do. Can they pray in church? Some say no. Can they be an usher and pass the offering plate from front to back. Lots say no. Can they baptize a new believer? There are so many restrictions that so many women cannot help but feel like a second class citizen.

    But perhaps the most challenging situation is one that is not easily recognized and that is that men are left without some of God’s best gifts and their attitudes are adjusted even without their knowledge. When men are routinely kept away from women teachers they miss out on a balanced view from a whole other side of the 50% members of the body. Also keeping men away from women’s gifts does something to a man’s worldview. So many are tempted to either see women as less then men or they see men’s gifts as worth more than women’s gifts. After all, in their minds they don’t need women’s gifts so how important are these gifts? It is such a temptation to have an unChristlike attitude for comp men. I really don’t envy men in this area. It must be very hard for so many of them who naturally struggle with their egos.

    I don’t think that is what is at hand, rather that comps want people to use their gifts in acoordance with how the bible instructs us to use them.

    Then how come they spend so much of their time working on the restrictions rather than working on the opportunities?

    When have you seen a Sunday set aside for women teachers to use their gifts and women encouraged to come and bring their friends? No restrictions at all. When are women encouraged to preach to other women? So many deny the use of women’s gifts in preaching even though the Scripture never says that women cannot preach to women even if we take the comp view. I think that we as the church have been so brainwashed to a tradition that we don’t even recognize what has happened to us. Kind of like boiling a frog. Apparently if you do a slow boil, the frog will stay in the water and won’t even jump out. Perhaps we have been slow-boiled to death!

    I would also like to strongly emphasise, that although i am a comp, i in no way do not love my sisters in Christ any less.

    You, sir, are very special! I so wish that there were more of you around. You are a pleasure to deal with!

    The comp position doesn’t promote un-love towards women.

    I do not think that they willingly promote an unloving attitude. However the very essence of the comp position is that the male has an authority over the woman and taking authority over another person’s will even if the male feels that he has a benevolent attitude, can do great harm.

    My husband is a wonderful man. He thought that he was doing a loving act to make sure that I was not harmed by many things and that I got over my fears. In fact he took his authority over me right from the start on our honeymoon forcing me to the edge of a cliff to deal with my fears. It didn’t help me. And his habit of protecting me so that I didn’t have to deal with decisions by making wrong choices didn’t help me no matter how great his intention was. I needed to learn how to make wrong choices and then to get up and become mature through the process. So the comp way kept me stagnated for many years. It wasn’t until we dumped the comp model and made our model as the one-flesh and equal servant model that I started to grow in leaps and bounds. But if anyone wants to say that my husband was bad or had evil motives, they will have to face me. No one will get past me to question his motives. He tried his best to live out his responsibilities. The problem was that the responsibilities were tradition, not Scripture. It is God’s will that the body of Christ becomes a mature bride, not a dependent child-like one. The same for the human wives. The more mature I became and the more independent, the more my husband received honor from my growth. That was a gift to me and a gift to him.

    I don’t think it is helpful for egals to see the comp position as one which is sexist or unloving.

    If you could walk a mile in our shoes, perhaps you would understand. We are not questioning the motives of these dear men. We are questioning the model itself as unbiblical.

    But that said, there are many people who would come across that way or even promote it. But this is not a true reflection of what the comp position is. Did i explain this well? Probably not as is my habit

    I think you have a great heart. I am also quite confident that you actually live out an egalitarian-based marriage model. Most godly comps are mostly egalitarian in their marriages although they probably don’t like to admit it because that might make them feel like maybe they aren’t a true leader.

    Lots to think about anyway!

  26. Cheryl,

    thanks again for talking to me. I do not think i live out an egal marriage. I do try to love and serve my wife as if it is my own body. I try hard not to abuse my position of leadership and focus my energy and helping my wife and children become more like Christ. However my wife recognises that although co heirs in the grace of Christ, i bear a certain resposiblitly for our family that she does not. When a tough decision has to be made we talk about and my wife expresses her opinions, thoughts and concerns. But she will ultimatley leave the decision up to me as the ‘head’ of our family to make the right decision. She willingly submits to me in this way and respects me as her husband, of which i am eternally grateful. She recognises that i am sinful and Christ is not, and ultimately Christ is her Lord not me. and even as the head if i tried to lead her astray she would refuse. I would hope that she would encourage me to grow more like Christ in the same way i do for her. This is how i understand Eph 5 and live it out. I try to love her as CHrist does his church, and she tries to submit to me as the church does to Chrsit. Obviously we are both sinners and fail all the time to fulfill these God ordained roles.

    Im not sure what comps you base all your opinions on, but it is nothing like what the comp position teaches nor what i have seen in my experience. I am saddened though that men abuse the comp pos for their own glorification. Any comp i know would not restrict women preaching to women and the like. I do not think people miss out on anything by not having a woman pastor/preaher- the word of God is not gender orientated. They miss out if preachers are gender orientated.

    I’m not sure whether you see yourself as gifted in teaching, but you are definately gifted in writing. I have never seen somebody so able to write as much as you do 🙂

  27. Hi Mark,

    I hear the description of decision making in your marriage and I agree with Cheryl’s generalization – that it is predominantly egalitarian. That you and your wife have agreed that you will make the final call is your perogative. Good for you. Even though that is the “comp” way, it is mutually agreed upon by the two of you and so it is an egalitarianesque approach. BUT, and this is a big “but”, the fact that your wife has input on the decisions, and I sense it is significant input which you weigh carefully, gives your marriage a significant egalitarian bent. And the fact that you apparently allow your wife to make minor decisions on her own bolsters that conclusion. Strict comp teaching of Ephesians 5 states that she is to submit to you in all things – major and minor. Moreover, strict comp teaching says that she is inherently either deceitful or easily deceived (depending on the particular comp “sect”) and therefore can not contribute anything positive to decision making. Egalitarian teaching, on the other hand, states that both parties in the marriage have significant and unique experiences and perspectives which, combined, offer much better criteria upon which to make family decisions.

    Now, if your church teaches the same as you have outlined, they are probably comp light. They stick to strict comp-ness regarding church leadership but let married couples figure out what works for them. That is how our church is. (Actually, ours is only about 51/49 comp. They have male elders but women can teach and have leadership positions in ministry.) That is Cheryl’s point, I think. You may believe you have a comp marriage because you follow the comp line in major decision making but in reality it is much more egalitarian than you think. That is a good thing!

  28. Thanks gengwall- interesting name by the way

    I’m not sure what you would clarify John Piper as, but from the sermons ive heard him talk about marriage, it is very similar to what i have said. So perhaps there is alot of mis-understanding in each others views e.g- egals focus on extreme comps, and comps focus on extreme egals. The usual metaphor of the pendulum swinging. Hopefully through these dialogues we can all see the true teaching of each line of thinking.

  29. I wrote a little about how frustrating a man Piper is in a couple of other posts. I agree that 95% of what he says sounds just fine. But it is the 5% that makes one’s head spin. Please see post 21 above for a perfect illustration. I agreed with everything he said in the paragraph I was commenting on, and even acknowledged that my wife and I operated in basically the same way. But the opening sentence of the paragraph tainted everything that followed, no matter how good it sounded.

  30. “I’m not sure what you would clarify John Piper as, but from the sermons ive heard him talk about marriage, it is very similar to what i have said.”

    Mark,

    Perhaps to give you more understanding about why some of us have so many misgivings about John Piper’s teaching, I’ll offer this quote by him concerning a wife’s submission to an abusive husband from his website on Aug. 19th:
    “She’s going to say, however, something like, “Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t go there.”
    Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.”

    I feel for women who because of their circumstances have no other support then pastors who give this kind of advice. “then she seeks help from the church” “Then?” what if she does not survive until “then”? It is obvious from his advice that Piper has never worked in a women’s shelter or been the victim of domestic violence because his advice is the kind that escalates the abuser’s behavior and gets victims killed. By allowing husbands to sin against their wives like this, isn’t Piper allowing them to proclaim they know better than God? These are the kinds of statements that give me great pause about Piper.

    There are no limits set in the scripture concernint the rulership of a man in marriage because there was no rulership given to him by God. When a man believes that denying his wife her freedom to live by her own choices is the best way for her, then he has no help from the scripture since there is no rulership program there. The question that we should be asking is why God hasn’t made these limits clear? Why are there so many grey areas in whether it is a sin or not for a woman to do certain things? Why is it that all these limits and role duties have to be set by writings outside the Bible? Like, for instance by CBMW – they spend so much of their time working on the restrictions.

  31. #28 Mark,
    Sorry for the slowness. I am trying to slow down some as ministry work has taken up so much time and I am working on my first book. It isn’t easy to carve out a few hours at a time and when I do, its hard to quit!

    You said:

    I do not think i live out an egal marriage. I do try to love and serve my wife as if it is my own body.

    To me your marriage seems much more egalitarian than many marriages. Compared to the way my marriage used to be you are a semi-egalitarian. Or as you put it, on the egalitarian side of complementarian.

    I try hard not to abuse my position of leadership and focus my energy and helping my wife and children become more like Christ.

    I think that it is wonderful that you are trying to help your wife and kids become more like Christ. However many comps think that they know what their wife needs more than their wife knows and as way of thinking that allows them to believe they are the ones gifted with defining and directing their wives, their direction can become abusive without them understanding what has happened. Take a look at this article I wrote and see if it seems at all odd to you when it is dealing with full grown women who are supposed to be mature:
    http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/01/30/man-give-woman-self-understanding/

    However my wife recognises that although co heirs in the grace of Christ, i bear a certain resposiblitly for our family that she does not.

    I appreciate that you wife can think this way. This is the way that I used to think before I looked at this issue thoroughly from the Scriptures. What I found is that women are supposed to be overseers in the home as well and Scripture does not say that only the males are the rulers of the home. (See 1 Timothy 5:14 and look up the Greek term that is translated as “keep house”. It is amazing at what is there in the Scriptures that has not been emphasized or pointed out to us.)

    But she will ultimatley leave the decision up to me as the ‘head’ of our family to make the right decision. She willingly submits to me in this way and respects me as her husband, of which i am eternally grateful.

    I understand what you are saying because, again, this is where I was at. But I did not grow in my ability to make decisions through many years of marriage. Leaving the decisions up to the husband is not an approach taught by the Scriptures. Rather we are to practice our ability to decide and judge. If your wife leaves all that up to you and you let her get away with not having to make decisions on her own even if she might make a bad decision, she is not growing to be all that she can be in the Lord.

    My own testimony is listed here http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/07/05/wayne-grudem-part-2/#comments on comment #43. I would like to ask you to read it and think it through. Is the Scripture really telling us to set the women’s decision-making ability aside so that men make all the decisions? If the way that I have grown by my husband’s decision to set me free from being under his decision-making authority, then show us where we are wrong.

    She recognises that i am sinful and Christ is not, and ultimately Christ is her Lord not me. and even as the head if i tried to lead her astray she would refuse.

    It just seems that the maturity that we are to have in Christ is not being nurtured in a marriage where the only time the wife gets to make her own decision is when you are sinning. That just doesn’t sound like a sacrificial life-style to me on the part of the husband. Perhaps I am seeing more because my husband sacrifices for me and is willing to give up what he wants in order to benefit me. He doesn’t see himself as the boss any longer nor does he see himself as needing to take authority over me. When he did that it harmed both of us. We had a faulty view of what “head” means and now we understand that “sacrifice” is one of the very top words that describe a “head”. Someone who places the term “authority over the wife” in the definition of “head” just doesn’t understand the example that Jesus gave us for marriage. I am not saying that you don’t love your wife or that you don’t want the best for her. But perhaps God has granted her to know His best for her directly without going through you. After all He is sinless and you are not, right?

    I am saddened though that men abuse the comp pos for their own glorification. Any comp i know would not restrict women preaching to women and the like.

    All of the key complementarian teachers deny women the freedom to preach. They say that this is given to men alone and that women’s “role” is different. It is good to know that you and your friends are much more tolerant. How refreshing to find more of you out there. Perhaps you might want to join us in pushing for freedom for women to serve in their gifts so that “preaching” and “teaching” is not considered male “roles”.

    I do not think people miss out on anything by not having a woman pastor/preaher- the word of God is not gender orientated. They miss out if preachers are gender orientated.

    You are right in that the Word of God is not gender orientated. However we are individuals and we express ourselves differently. What would the world be like if there were only Fathers and no mothers? I have had the privilege of having male and female teachers and I have found a difference between the two. Perhaps if you had more female teachers you may see the same thing as I do. The fact is that we women are not redundant and just good enough if there are no men available. Our gifts are needed in the Church today and anything that the Holy Spirit gives should be celebrated in my opinion. Perhaps you have a different opinion but do you have enough information to make a decision that women teachers are not needed for you? How come we are told that we cannot say that another part of the body is not needed for us?

    1 Cor 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I</b? have no need of you.”

    I’m not sure whether you see yourself as gifted in teaching, but you are definately gifted in writing. I have never seen somebody so able to write as much as you do 🙂

    Thank you! I see myself as better in writing than in person but I was “in person” for 16 years in discipling a group of ex-JWs and whenever I tried to get someone to replace me, it would fall flat on its face. Perhaps the people just didn’t give them a chance. I don’t know. But there were people when I left that area who had come for most of the 16 years to listen to me. I guess that must mean something. I sure do appreciate that you would take the time to say something good to me! That is a real blessing to me!

  32. Sorry I’m so late in posting. I was searching around and stumbled on this site.

    I hear, and understand, and am somewhat in agreement with your positions. ( egal) I read the 33 responses that followed. It was quite informative to say the least.

    But when I began to reflected on this whole issue of authority, submission, obedience, headship, ruler, boss, descision maker, etc., etc.,…………the whole egal and comp positions pales into insignificance when one looks around sees what some churches teach and practice regarding “eldership rule.” The “usurping” of authority is taken to the next level!

    Under this so-called teaching, the pastor and the elders take Ephesians 5, and the directives given to the husband and wife, and apply it……TO THEMSELVES! They (the eldership) are the absolute rulers in the congregation and the church members are to submit to them in everything! Where does this lead?

    Many pastors are literally taking over and destroying many marriages inside their congregations in order to gain their own ends. An article that describes this in great detail is:

    http://www.wickedshepherds.com/awordtothewives.html

    How is this worked out? If a spouse starts to “question” the policy of the church or questions the pastors sermon, the other spouse is “counseled” to separate, or even divorce if necessary, if this situation “gets out of hand.” The “leaven” must be removed.

    All because one spouses’ eyes are beginning to be opened and they start to question some church practices. This is exactly the case.

    What that article describes is all-so-true. I know. I’ve experienced these diabolical practices first-hand and I know of many others who have gone through the same godless, disgusting ordeal. It is the most vile, evil teaching and practice that is going on in many churches; mostly “Reformed” in theology. Read the article and see for yourself.

    The so-called “spiritual leaders” is these churches are assuming to themselves “authority” and “rulership” that the Apostles themselves would not ever dream of doing.
    This is truly “authority gone wild” to say the least.

    Ken

  33. Hi Ken,
    Welcome to my blog!

    Authority taken over another person can be a very destructive thing. There are many different situations where this can be done and the elders/pastors of a church can cause great harm in “exercising authority” over the sheep. Instead of feeding the sheep, some shepherds eat the sheep. I think that we can agree that anytime someone has this kind of attitude of being a boss or ruler over another human, it is not acting in a Christlike manner. The pain from such actions can be long lasting and devastate a family.

    You have my sincerest sympathy.

  34. “I do not think people miss out on anything by not having a woman pastor/preaher- the word of God is not gender orientated. They miss out if preachers are gender orientated.”

    ~Mhmm. Men aren’t gender oriented.

  35. I realize this is pretty late, but I found this conversation while doing a bit of research on Biblical views of womanhood: http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bwtd/bwtd.pdf. After reading through it, it seems that some of the comments here misrepresent Piper’s position; I’d encourage you to read through it just to make sure you understand where he’s coming from. Like he says near the beginning, “I would simply plead for the application of that great principle of good criticism: Before assessing an author’s position, express an understanding of it in a way the author would approve.”

    I appreciate your sincerity in seeking God’s will, and may God give us increasing insight into how best to glorify Him.

  36. Jack,
    Welcome to my blog!

    This post deals with the problems that come from the complementarian position where the restrictions that are “heard” from complementarian sources cause more restrictions than perhaps the original author intended. John Piper is candid enough to explain where one man took control off his wife’s every move as a result of how he applied the kingly authority that he thought he had over his wife. Perhaps you could explain where the consequences of a belief is misrepresented. I have seen many women who have been taken over by their husbands as a result of the comp teaching that husbands are to have kingly authority over their wives and it is a good thing to discuss the fall out of an unbiblical teaching. If you have further comments about how the commenters here have misunderstood or misrepresented Piper, I am sure they would be interested to hear that.

    I believe that it is a wonderful desire to serve God and to honor and glorify Him, but I do not believe that one does this by taking an authority over one’s spouse even if it is for what one thinks is noble purposes. Differing thoughts and comments are welcomed here.

  37. The gifts of the Spirit are not gender based.
    Domata gifts – ministry gifts – teaching preaching etc. are not gender based.
    Women can minister under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

  38. Carin,
    Welcome to my blog!

    Women can minister under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    Absolutely. The Holy Spirit can use anyone He wants to and we cannot stop His moving through a female vessel.

  39. wow. I stumbled across this old posting looking for something else but was intrigued. All I can say is that there are a lot of women out there who have either been wounded by men and now are in rebellion against a wonderful example of God and His church, or they are just plain still stuck in rebellion. Wake up, women, no one is trying to take anything away from you or degrade you in any way. It’s just that old flesh rising to the surface when you bristle at any kind of authority. Open your minds and ask God to open your hearts to the beauty.

  40. Sandra,
    Welcome to my blog!

    It is unfortunate that many attribute the faithfulness of women who desire to use what God has given to them as an issue of rebellion. When God’s purpose for His gifts is for the common good of the body of Christ and we deny God the opportunity to have fruit from those gifts through us, we are the ones who will stand before God and give an account of what He gave to us. When it is others who stand in the way of women using God’s gifts to them and deny God fruit from His own gifts, it is not an issue of beauty but is a rebellion on their We part towards God’s Spirit working through women. We choose to let God decide on who He wants to use. We believe that it is a fearful to hold back God’s hand and set up a human authority that stops God’s purpose through the vessels that He chooses to use.

  41. Hi Sandra,

    You’ve made an interesting comment. It’s your tone that grabs me.

    All I can say is that there are a lot of women out there who have either been wounded by men and now are in rebellion against a wonderful example of God and His church, or they are just plain still stuck in rebellion.

    I would agree with you and say that there are indeed alot of women out there who have been wounded by comp men, but I would ask, how do you know 100% if any women hurt or not by the comp position are in rebellion against complementarianism? How do you know with 100% surety that complementarianism is even biblical?

    Wake up, women, no one is trying to take anything away from you or degrade you in any way. It’s just that old flesh rising to the surface when you bristle at any kind of authority. Open your minds and ask God to open your hearts to the beauty.

    If you knew for sure that complementarianism was biblical then I could possibly give this part of your comment some weight, and so I still sit here with my question that I gave above to you. What makes you so sure of your comp beliefs (theories)? Maybe you might consider that there a very good reasons for why the comp position is rejected?

  42. I wondered how western women would react ( or explain away) where it says in 1Pe 3:5 For so once indeed the holy women hoping in God adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands;
    1Pe 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose children you became, doing good and fearing no terror.

    It just shows the lack of holiness and understanding of God’s sovereignty in women who object to God’s authority over them. They want their way, not God’s way – the way of the cross.

  43. Wives are absolutely to honor their husbands and by doing them good they honor them. Godly husbands are also to honor their wives and do them good. God even commanded Abraham to obey his wife Sarah and when Abraham obeyed her, he both honored her and God for her way was truly God’s way.

  44. Hi Hamish,

    There is nothing in 1 Peter 3 for women, western or otherwise, to explain away. Peter isn’t giving a command here, he is making a suggestion for women who are in a particular situation. Peter isn’t calling for women to be under the authority of their husbands, especially the type of husbands in the immediate context – those who are not obeying the word (1 Peter 3:1b – a part you interestingly left out). Peter is showing women how they can win over such sinful husbands by showing unconditional respect even though the husband may not deserve it. This is no different than the Lord’s command to turn the other cheek. Such an attitude is one we all should take as we all subject ourselves one to another (Ephesians 5:21). But in the immediate context that Peter is dealing with here, it is especially effective when wives do it for their badly behaving husbands.

  45. In turn, I wonder how effectively Eastern men (since we are making this a geo-gender issue) live out the second part of 1 Peter 3 marriage counseling. Is demanding subservience from a wife “living with her in an understanding way”? (1 Pet 3:7). Is assigning her second class status “showing her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life”?

    As a husband, I can testify to the blessing that I receive when my wife follows Peter’s good advice (for I certainly am guilty of not always obeying the Word”). And she can testify to the blessing she receives in like kind when I listen to the apostle. But none of that has to do with any authority structure within our marriage. We are both under God’s authority to be sure, but we are neither under the other’s authority. There is only room for one authority in our marriage and neither of us is qualified for the job.

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