Common objections: women's speaking and leading dishonors men

Common objections: women's speaking and leading dishonors men

shame on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Another common objection to women in ministry is the claim that when women speak and lead publicly it dishonors men.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) speaks of this as dishonoring the “calling” of men:

We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. This primary responsibility is to be carried by the pastors or elders. Therefore we think it is God’s will that only men bear the responsibility for this office. (pg 64 online version)

One thing that we can notice from the quote above is that CBMW says “we think it is God’s will…”.  The fact that they don’t know for sure is telling. The fact is that God has not revealed in the Scriptures that it is His will that only men can teach and lead in their gifts. God has also not revealed that women can never teach and lead with their gifts in the body of Christ.  Instead of a sure word from God, “inappropriateness” of the public use of women’s gifts is a position based on what some surmise is God’s will.  It is result of the teaching that men alone bear the God-ordained responsibility for teaching.

CBMW continues with the thought that it isn’t about competency:

The issue is not whether women are competent or intelligent or wise or well-taught. The issue is how they relate to the men of the church. … So the issue of shamefulness is at root an issue of doing something that would dishonor the role of the men as leaders of the congregation. (pg 65 online version, my emphasis)

So, according to CBMW, the issue is not about whether God gifts women or about women’s intelligence or their wisdom or how well-taught they are. The focus is solely on men’s dishonor. Where does this issue of shame and dishonor come from?  Is it a Biblical teaching or does it come from shame-based cultural “laws”?  There is no doubt that the worldly system is based on honor and shame.  In worldly Islamic societies if a woman does something that is considered a shame to the man she may suffer punishment even to the extent of  losing her own life.  In ancient Jewish culture recorded in the Talmud, a man may suffer shame by his wife exposing the hair on her head in public or by exposing a bare ankle or her forearm.  A man was encouraged to deal with this shame by divorcing his wife.  It was his right to punish her for his dishonor.  This was the world’s way of handling men’s dishonor, but is it Biblical to accuse women of shaming and dishonoring men by using their God-given gifts?

If we do a Biblical search for the issue of shame or dishonor coming upon godly Christian men merely because of  a woman using her spiritual gifts, we find no verse that teaches such a thing.  No woman is ever charged with dishonoring a man by giving her gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ.  So where does CBMW get such an idea that women teaching the truth of God’s Word shames and dishonors men?  I suggest that issues of shame and dishonor follow quite naturally with the issue of pride.  Proverbs 11:2 speaks about pride that brings dishonor:

Proverbs 11:2  When pride comes, then comes dishonor,  But with the humble is wisdom. (NASB)

When one has a coveted “position” or “office” to defend, the pride that follows will set up boundaries to hold others outside. Then when women dare to function in the gifting that these men believe they alone have received from God, their pride is hurt and shame and dishonor follows.

Paul did not experience this shame. Instead of experiencing any kind of competition and thus dishonor, Paul gave his personal commendation on behalf of a woman to the Romans. This woman who received Paul’s personal recommendation was a servant or minister or deacon of the church at Cenchrea.  Depending on the translation, Phoebe is called “a deacon of the church”, “who serves the church”,  “our sister, who is a minister of the assembly”.

Paul describes this woman as one who actively served the entire church at Cenchrea. Because she was one who served in this way, she was to be received favorably by the Romans and because she had been the benefactor, protector, helper of many people, including Paul himself.

Romans 16:2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.  (TNIV)

Paul was not dishonored that a woman had been his benefactor. Nor did Paul indicate that the church at Cenchrea was dishonored by having a woman minister to the entire church. She is not said to be a deacon of the women but a deacon, minister, or servant of the church.  ‘She is not said to bring dishonor, but Paul’s extended his commendation in honoring her. Phoebe used her gifts to benefit many people including men because she used her gifts to benefit Paul.

Paul also was not dishonored by the ministry of Priscilla who was a “fellow worker” of Paul’s (Romans 16:3). Priscilla was one of the teachers who taught Apollos the way of God more accurately. Apollos did not experience shame or dishonor by being taught and corrected by a woman.

Yet some are so dishonored by a woman’s using her gifts for the benefit of the entire church that they have kept some of the best of men’s teaching away from women. Just in case that a woman might dishonor them, they will not allow her to learn about anything that has been held in high regard for the use of men alone. They will not allow her into their seminaries or take pastoral courses even though the Scriptures never hold back learning from women and Paul himself commands that a woman should be allowed learn. A man’s  protection of his “office” from suffering “dishonor” causes him to disobey the Bible’s clear injunction to allow a woman to learn.

Rather than holding to a position of boasting in an “office”, the Bible turns men away from such a boastful way and it commands all who desire to be the greatest in the kingdom to be the servants of all. The servant then must equip the saints for the work of service.  (Eph 4:12)  The true servant of God will equip all for service for the express purpose of building up the entire body. There can be no dishonor in equipping women to serve the body.

Eph 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. NASB

True servants of God should never suffer dishonor through their position of equipping the saints when these godly women saints take that equipping and use it to build up the body of Christ.  When a Christian man turns aside from both protecting the flock and preparing them for ministry, pride will cause them to feel a need for protection from the flock especially from the gifts of godly Christian women. Any Christian leader who is dishonored and fearful of equipped Christian women is short sighted and has taken his eyes off of Jesus as the giver of the gifts and the One who has empowered us with the Holy Spirit for body service. When men’s shame and dishonor comes before the work of God it is time for men to repent and seek His forgiveness.  I believe that when godly men turn from their pride in an “office” and turn back to the Lord Jesus in humility and start practicing the equipping of the entire body of Christ for service, God will be honored and the Church will go out triumphant in all her glory to win the lost for Christ.

56 thoughts on “Common objections: women's speaking and leading dishonors men

  1. At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I think that a lot of guys who would bar women from speaking in church are suffering from overweening pride. It’s the kind of pride that says, “If a man says it, it’s true; if a woman says it, check her sources. (But she shouldn’t be saying it in public)”. These kinds of men are simply NOT willing to learn from Godly women, since they are at risk of being called out for their prideful ways.

    You are right; it’s telling that CBMW says “we THINK it’s God’s will…”. To me, that exposes that they’re standing on a very weak foundation, one of worldly pride, not humble willingness to let God work where He will. I believe that men who hold those positions will be held accountable for their pride, and how that pride quenched the Spirit, who poured out gifts without regard to gender. I don’t believe He had a list of “pink” gifts for girls (stereotypically helps, mercy, etc.), and “blue” gifts for boys (“teaching, leadership, etc.), but rather gave (and still ives) the gifts to the willing, regardless of gender. To insist that He operate by the world’s codes (and insist that the church, the ekklesia, the “called-out”, do the same) is shameful, and needs to be repented of.

  2. CBMW: “So the issue of shamefulness is at root an issue of doing something that would dishonor the role of the men as leaders of the congregation.”

    Cheryl,
    Shouldn’t they be more worried about what dishonors God? I think you are spot on to suggest that issues of shame and dishonor go hand in hand with the issue of pride. Didn’t Paul say “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”?

    I couldn’t agree more that Jesus turned men away from such a boastful way and commands all who desire to be the greatest in the kingdom to be the servants of all according to Matt. 20:25-28. The true servant of God will equip all for service without concern over having his or her own honor.

    When a man’s shame and dishonor comes before the work of God, something is terribly wrong.
    “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!” Phil. 2:5-8
    “but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” vs. 3

    Frankly, I’ve always envisioned the apostle Paul being shocked and dismayed if he were here to see the number of churches named in his honor – St. Paul’s insert denomination Church.

  3. I have just finished the second weekly session in Men’s Fraternity on the topic “The Biblical Definition of Manhood”. Now, Men;s Fraternity is a program I endorse, and its leader, Robert Lewis, is at worst Comp light, although my reading of other materials he has produced leads me to believe he is solidly egalitarian, at least in the home. Never-the-less, this focus on men being “designed by God to lead” was at the front of those last two sessions. I believe CBMW believes even stronger in this design element which leads to the conclusion that female leadership strips a man of his designed calling and even his built in yearning. In their mind then, it is not a pride issue at all. It is a glorifying God issue – it glorifies God when men act in accordance with their God given design. Conversely, it is shameful to a man – in essence a repudiation of his design – if a woman takes his place in leadership (which inherently includes teaching).

    The linch pin in this philosophy is the leadership “design” of males. What is that idea based on? It is based on the same old tired arguments from Genesis 2 and 3: Adam’s being first created, Adam’s naming of Eve, Adam’s “job” of tending the garden, Adam’s teaching to Eve God’s command about the fruit, and Adam’s being approached first after the fall. The complementarian interpretation of these events leads them to the conclusion that the male was designed to be the leader. It doesn’t matter to them that scripture never says this literally because they believe scripture says this suggestively. Because man has this built in design to lead, and subsequent yearning to fulfill that design, it is shameful for a woman to deny him.

    Now, as is typical with complementarian arguments, the premise is entirely false. That is where the debate needs to begin, as I have attempted to point out in my “Show Stoppers” series of posts. Until you move complementarians off of this fundimental belief in God’s design for males, the most rational arguments and appeals to scripture will fall on deaf ears, or worse, be construed as an attack against the very will of God.

  4. “In their mind then, it is not a pride issue at all. It is a glorifying God issue – it glorifies God when men act in accordance with their God given design. Conversely, it is shameful to a man – in essence a repudiation of his design – if a woman takes his place in leadership (which inherently includes teaching).”

    gengwall,
    How convienient for them.

    “It doesn’t matter to them that scripture never says this literally because they believe scripture says this suggestively.”

    Yes, the same reasoning used by polygamists and slave owners.

    “Because man has this built in design to lead, and subsequent yearning to fulfill that design, it is shameful for a woman to deny him.”

    Interestingly, they come up with “male only leadership” via implication, but deny clear cut examples of female leadership like Deborah and Abigail.

  5. “Interestingly, they come up with “male only leadership” via implication, but deny clear cut examples of female leadership like Deborah and Abigail.”

    They don’t necessarily deny these examples literally, but they approach them in one of several ways. Some simply try to explain them away as not actual cases of leadership. Some dismiss them as being rare exceptions to the rule. Some even go so far, at least in cases like Abigail’s, to claim that the female “leadership” is still a usurpation. In any event, those cases do not upset their general view that men are the God designed leaders of the human race.

  6. “Paul was not dishonored that a woman had been his benefactor.”

    I know some of these CBMW contributers and I can say they do not turn down money from wealthy women.

    “Shouldn’t they be more worried about what dishonors God? I think you are spot on to suggest that issues of shame and dishonor go hand in hand with the issue of pride. Didn’t Paul say “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”?”

    Kay, YOu have nailed the underlying truth of their teaching. It is about elevating themselves.

    “Until you move complementarians off of this fundimental belief in God’s design for males, the most rational arguments and appeals to scripture will fall on deaf ears, or worse, be construed as an attack against the very will of God.”

    Gengwell, what is even stranger is that these views are fairly new from a historical perspective.

    For thousand years the belief was that the Fall instituted Patriarchy and was from God. The woman was to blame. When that would not fly (probably after folks could read the Word for themselves) they changed it to Patriarchy instituted BEFORE the Fall based on what you wrote above which has to be READ INTO IT.

  7. Yes, Kay, much of the argument is an argument of convenience. That doesn’t change the convincing nature of the argument in their minds. In fact, the conviction they hold about male leadership is only reinforced by the observed differences between men and women and the apparent (to them) obsession of women to grasp leadership. It is of little effect, then, to point out biblical cases of female leadership to them or to blithely brush their arguments aside as convenient because you only look more like a “Femi Nazi” to them and are easily disregarded as, ironically, out of touch with God’s design and Word.

    The only effectual approach, at least IMHO, must be to challenge the original premise. Were men designed by God to be the leaders of the human race, or were men and women together designed to be the co-leaders of the human race? Moreover, considering the obviously observed differences in men and women, are there gender specific design parameters instilled by God and if so, what are they if not leadership and, I guess, “followership”? These are the questions that must be addressed first. Knock out the foundation, and the whole house of cards crumbles.

  8. Abagail is a big problem for them. She defied her husband and was REWARDED for doing so.

    Deborah was both prophet and leader. I have heard it taught many times that God HAD to use her because there were no men whom God could use. I have even heard Calvinists say this! Which strikes me as funny.

  9. “The only effectual approach, at least IMHO, must be to challenge the original premise.”

    I totally agree with this. And we can show historically the traditional premise changed from Post fall to pre fall. Just read the early church fathers some of these CBMW guys love to quote on everything else. Most of them believed in the post fall stance of Patriarchy.

    ” Were men designed by God to be the leaders of the human race, or were men and women together designed to be the co-leaders of the human race? Moreover, considering the obviously observed differences in men and women, are there gender specific design parameters instilled by God and if so, what are they if not leadership and, I guess, “followership”? These are the questions that must be addressed first. Knock out the foundation, and the whole house of cards crumbles.”

    What do physical differences have to do with leadership?

    We can start with this question: Is leadership brawn or brains? If it is brawn, then Deborah was a strange choice by God.

    What do physical difference have to do with wisdom, spirituality, intellect and obedience to God?

    Calling me a femi Nazi for asking these questions or having a different view does not hurt me nearly as much as it hurts them. Spiritually.

    I have also learned that it is a waste of time to try and convince those who benefit directly from this false doctrine. It is best to spend our time with folks who are questioning the contradictions they see from the teachers of this doctrine and the apparent contradictions in some interpretations of the Word. (For example: Why is there no prohibition for women teaching men in the OT but there is now in the NT?)

    There is also the consideration that the comp world is big business. If the money dries up (how many seminars do folks have to attend that say the same thing different ways before they tire of the formulas and roles?) then most of this stuff will go away.

  10. “Yes, Kay, much of the argument is an argument of convenience. That doesn’t change the convincing nature of the argument in their minds.”

    gengwall,
    What I see is that the argument is brilliant because the “convincing nature” of it is that initial appeal to a man’s pride. I mean, seriously, Paul didn’t pen all the verses like the ones I just mentioned in Phillippians for no reason.

  11. …and it’s like a one-two punch – appeal to the pride for the catch and reel them in by “spiritualizing” with the new pre-Fall “roles” – which replaced the previous “because of the Fall” they used at first.

  12. Lin – by “observed differences” I do not mean only outward physical differences.”

    But those cannot be proven scripturally. They could very well be a result of thousands of years of culture and lack of education. It does not seem that emotions or PMS affected Deborah negatively in any case. :o) And her ‘intellect’ or ability was not questioned by the men. The reverse is true. She was asked to go into battle.

    So that is a nebulous area that has become part of our culture. Ask all the women who have had husbands die young and they were all of a sudden responsible for the family and the income. The Britons squashed the idea that women could not fly planes because they needed them to. Even industrial work was done by women during the war at a time it was thought only men could handle it. Nevermind the back breaking labor of working the fields with a baby strapped to your back. Poor women have always been ‘capable’. And rich women studied Latin.

    Whether physical or intellectual, the problem was opportunity. Not capability.

  13. Well Lin, you are still not understanding me. Physical size and genitalia are only a portion of the physical differences between men and women. There are many more that occur underneath the skin. Those are now “observable” and, in some cases, play a role in behavior. They do not, IMO, dictate leadership ability at a gender level. But that is the question that needs to be addressed.

    The reason this is vital is that “design” is the key to the comp argument. Our “design” differences are clearly evident in what is observable. If the observable gender differences grant neither gender a leadership advantage, then it can’t be claimed that men are designed to be leaders.

  14. “If the observable gender differences grant neither gender a leadership advantage, then it can’t be claimed that men are designed to be leaders.”

    If you are talking about scientific observation – there they find a lot of over-lapping of “differences.” Too, many to be totally definitive.

    What about the fact that Gen. 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image: in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’?

    Which part of God is the ‘follower’ and which part is the ‘leader’?

  15. Never mind. I forgot – hierarchist’s doctrine of ESS. But then, where does that leave the Holy Spirit?
    Shouldn’t there be third ‘role’?

  16. Kay – don’t get me wrong – I agree that the differences don’t equate to gender separation of such roles as leader and follower. But men and women are fundimentally different (there are areas that don’t overlap at all like some hormonal levels and brain structures). Ignoring the differences does not make them go away. Moreover, such ignorance misses a prime opportunity to catch comps using their own terminology. “Design” boils down to biology. But comps can’t point to any design features that inherently yield (or block) leadership ability. The best way to defeat the “designed to lead” argument is to have them come to their own conclusion that nothing that is uniquely male in their design makes for a universally good (or bad) leader. So, if you want to see them squirm, have them point out what is unique about male “design” and prove that it makes for a better leader. When they can’t, they have just self-acknowledged that they are not designed to lead.

  17. “ESS”?????

    The Holy Spirit – good point. I love it when someone tells me that I am to be the “spiritual leader” in my home. I respond: “Oh really? I thought the Holy Spirit was the spiritual leader in my home”.

  18. “The significance of God’s name El Shaddai is both interesting and touching.
    God (El) signifies the Strong One. The qualifying word Shaddai is formed from the Hebrew word ‘shad’ the breast, invariably used in Scripture for a woman’s breast; e.g. Gen 49:25; Job 3:12;Psa. 22:9; Song 1:13 (and more); Isa. 28:9;; Ezk. 16:7.
    Shaddai therefore means primarily ‘the breasted.’ God is Shaddai because He is the Nourisher, the Strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the Satisfier, who strengthened and nourished from the mother’s breast, but also is quieted, rested, satisfied, so El Shaddai is that name of God which sets Him forth as the Strength giver and Satisfier of His people.”
    -1909 Schofield Bible

    Trying to define ‘roles’ for God is rather like nailing Jello to the wall…

  19. “Trying to define ‘roles’ for God is rather like nailing Jello to the wall…”

    Well, God has no gender…I’m not sure what you are getting at here.

  20. Cheryl, I don’t know how familar you are with the writings of Gordon Fee, but in his book, LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT IN THE TEXT, he has a discussion on how Paul’s teaching on the New Creation in Christ, as found in 2 Cor 5:11-21 and Gal 3:26-4:7, radically changed this whole shame/honor mindset for the earliest Christians. Here’s what he says:

    Our difficulty with understanding the truly radical nature of Paul’s assertion [in Gal 3:26-28] is twofold. First, most contemporary Christians have very little sense of the fundamental eschatological framework which was common to the entire New Testament experience, and which in fact was the only way the earliest believers understood their existence. Second, Western culture in particular is quite foreign to that of these earliest believers at some fundamental points. In the culture into which Paul is speaking, position and status prevailed in every way, so that one’s existence was totally identifed with and circumscribed by these realities. By the very nature of things, position and status gave advantage to some over others; and in Greco-Roman culture, by and large, there was very little chance of changing status.

    Well, I’m at the public library, and my time on the computer has run out. So I’ll finish the rest of my comment later.

  21. “So, if you want to see them squirm, have them point out what is unique about male “design” and prove that it makes for a better leader. When they can’t, they have just self-acknowledged that they are not designed to lead.”

    I have actually heard a response to this. It was a long time ago and I cannot remember who teh speaker was but he said it was obvious because the man was not designed like the woman. DUH…And he went on to point out the things you mention such as brain structure, hormones, etc. They always focus on the women. It is their paradigm.

    (I wish I could find the study done on London Taxi drivers that showed the long time male drivers brains looked almost identical to wiring in most women’s brains)

  22. That’s right Lin, but pointing to differences is no more proof that those differences yield better leaders than pointing out a particular, er, “appendage” that men uniquely have. The followup needs to be: “given those differences, what about them makes men better leaders?”…….and…….nothing but crickets.

  23. “Well, God has no gender…I’m not sure what you are getting at here.”
    gengwall,
    Exactly – God has no gender and a lot what we have termed “female/feminine” qualities that cannot be separated from His “male/masculine” qualities along the lines of “Father” or ”Son” which could prove that male/masculine = Father/Leader & feminine/female = Son/Follower/subordinate.
    And even if we could do so, that still leaves out the Holy Spirit.

  24. “The followup needs to be: “given those differences, what about them makes men better leaders?”…….and…….nothing but crickets.”
    gengwall,
    I’m writing this down with your 3 Things.

    Something else I find interesting about this is if you ask most people “What makes a good leader?” you’re answered by a list of character qualities not a biology lesson. Personally, I’ve never had anyone respond “being male.”

  25. “That’s right Lin, but pointing to differences is no more proof that those differences yield better leaders than pointing out a particular, er, “appendage” that men uniquely have. The followup needs to be: “given those differences, what about them makes men better leaders?”…….and…….nothing but crickets.”

    Good point. I wonder if they would try to claim more testoserone as inherently better for leadership?

  26. You know, we really need to define leadership, too. Biblically, in the NC, it is about serving. And we all know traditionally women are the servers. :o)

  27. Now that I’m back home and on my own little computer, I can finish my comment. (I was at the library, doing job hunting research, having been umemployed for some time). As I was saying, Gordon Fee explains how Paul addresses this very shame/honor issue we’ve been discussing in 2 Cor 5:11-21 and Gal 3:26-4:7. So now I’ll complete my quote of Fee’s explanation:

    …Thus the Gentiles had all the advantages over thew Jews, so Jews took refuge in their relationship with God, which they believed advantaged them before God over the Gentiles. The hatreds were deep and natural. Likewise, masters and slaves were consigned to roles where the advantages went to the masters; and the same was true for men and women, where women were dominated by men and basically consigned to childbearing. In fact, according to Diogenes Laertius, Socrates used to say every day: “There were three blessings for which he was grateful to Fortune: first, that I was born a human being, and not one of the brutes; next, that I was born a man and not a man; thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian.” The Jewish version of this, obviously influenced by the Greco-Roman worldview, is the rabbi who says that “every day you should say, “Blessed are you, O God,…that I ‘m not a brute creature, nor a Gentile, nor a woman.” It is especially difficult for most of us to imagine the effect of Paul’s words in a culture where position and status preserved order through basically uncrossable boundries. Paul asserts that when people come into the fellowship of Christ Jesus, significance is no longer to be found in being Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. The all-embracing nature of this affirmation, its counter-cultural significance, the fact that it equally disadvantages all by equally advantaging all–these stab at the very heart of a culture sustained by people maintaining the right position and status. But in Christ Jesus, the One whose death and resurrection inaugurated the new creation, all things have become new; the new era has dawned. The new creation, therefore, must be our starting point regarding gender issues, because this is theologically where Paul lived. Everything else he says comes out of this worldview of what has happened in the coming of Christ in the Spirit (cf. “Gender Issues: Reflections on the Perspective of the Apostle Paul,” LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT IN THE TEXT, pp. 60-61).

    And when I was a Bible college student, I can remeber the lively discussions that went on regarding “the heart of Paul’s theology”: Was it justification, reconciliation, sanctification, union with Christ, oneness of the Body of Christ, whatever? Well, after much study and thought of Paul’s letters, I agree that it is only Paul’s doctrine of the New Creation, inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Christ and his pouring out of the Spirit upon the Church, that really unites and explains Paul’s theology.

    Consider, for example, his teaching in 1 Cor 11:2-34. Apart from his directives that men are not to wear a head covering while the women are so as to maintain proper sexual distinctions in worship–i.e., not engage in unisexist or androgynist worship–yet he otherwise commends the Corinthians for not only keeping the “tradition” he had given regarding men and women praying and prophesying together, but other authoritative teachings pertaining worship which maintained in all the churches he had established. But it is not until 11:17, that he actually and directly reukes them for violating these traditions.

    Now, I would ask our hierarchicalist friends, what “tradition” called for Paul’s “gentle” rebuke of the apparent unisexism in 11:2-16? I believe it was a misunderstanding of the tradition he first sets forth in Gal 3:26-4:7, a vital element of his “New Creation” theology, “the adoption to sonship of all believers.” And this doctrine of adoption and all it means is further developed by Paul in such passages as Rom. 4:13-17; 8:9-25; 1 Cor. 12:12-27, and Eph. 2:11-12. According to this teaching, through “the Christ event”–i.e., as a result of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection and pouring out of the Spirit upon his new covenant people–the eschatological promise of the Abrahamic Covenant is now being realized at the end of the Old Age and at the inauguration of the New Age, which will be fully manifested by Christ’s Second Advent and his Millennial Reign. And this fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise is now manifested by the new covenant family of Abraham, the true Israel, united with Christ, the Seed of Abraham (Gal 6:15-16, NIV)–“the new humanity” in which distinctions of ethnicity, race, age and gender are no longer valid barriers in either having fellowship with God, nor in how and where they serve him. They are heirs of Abraham and co-heirs of Christ, destined to rule and reign with him in the future, while serving as priests, prophets and ambassadors of God’s Kingdom in the present time (cf. Matt. 28:18-20 and 2 Cor 5:11-21).

    So I think that part of our challenge in winning our hierarchicalist friends over to our view has to do with convincing them as to the nature of the New Creation in Christ and its centrality to Paul’s theology. But as Gengwall has pointed out, the various presuppositions governing their understanding of the Scripture regarding Adam and the Old Creation vs. Christ and the New Creation, as well as their supporting arguments, have to be constantly exposed and challenged, in but the spirit and methodology of 2 Tim. 2:23-26. Or at least that is how I see it.

  28. Look at the brightside, at least CMBW doesn’t advocate honor killings for recalcitrant and uppity wimminz.

  29. Greg,
    I know you meant to tell a joke and to be funny. But I would testify that the various ways in which patriarchy brutalizes and desensitizes men towards not only towards women, but also towards other men, is no laughing matter. I think the mortal wounding of a woman’s or man’s soul “To keep white trash, negroes, and uppity women in their place” (as the old slogan goes), is far more deadly and terrible than any physical death inflicted by a murderer’s weapon. Let me explain.

    Some years ago, I read a book on men and their relations with others that, besides the Scripture and egalitarian literature, finally convinced me how bad patriarchy really was for both men and women. I forget the author’s name at the moment, but in the book, THE MEN WE LONG TO BE: MOVING BEYOND MALE DOMINATION TO TRUE CHRISTIAN HUMANITY (Harper and Row, 1995), he argues very convincingly that the dominate manhood we see being reasserted by CBMW and other such groups is not only harmful and destructive in terms of women’s human worth as God’s image bearers, but also of men’s human worth as God’s image bearers.

    Why? Because at heart, as the author so strongly argues throughout the book, patriarchy is both in conflict with and a denial of the new humanity taught and modeled by the Lord Jesus Christ who, though Lord of all, dominated neither men nor women, but so served and nurtured them as to enable them to realize, by God’s redemptive grace, their full potential as God’s image bearers. And he also argues that until men realize how harmful patriarchy is to themselves, as well as to the women they love and care about, then they will not be as ferverent and uncompromising in the fight against patriarchy as, new men in Christ, they should be.

    And to drive home many of his points, the author uses not only the Scriptures, but the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the Reformers , along with the discoveries of modern psychology and social science. Of course, I don’t agree with everything he says; he’s far more lenient towards homosexuality than I would ever be, or that I think Scripture would permit. However, his expose and critique of what patriarchy really is and how it brutalizes and deforms men, especially men who wish to truly be like Christ, outweighs this flaw. And if you want a Christian man to read a book that will really open his eyes to what patriarchy is and how it deforms Christian men, and does not transform them, then have him read this book.

  30. “It is especially difficult for most of us to imagine the effect of Paul’s words in a culture where position and status preserved order through basically uncrossable boundries. Paul asserts that when people come into the fellowship of Christ Jesus, significance is no longer to be found in being Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.”
    Frank,
    Good point!
    Adding to that, I think many people miss the counter cultural nature of what Jesus said regarding patriachial family life. Jesus in Luke (9: 59-60) said to a traveler, “Follow me.” The traveler replied, “Let me bury my father first.” Jesus said in return, “Let the dead bury their dead; you go and proclaim the reign of God everywhere.”
    Remember that the man’s father wasn’t dead. The man was affirming his traditional family obligation to stay around until his father died.

    Look at how Jesus approached the family values of his day. Jesus started his earthly life as an unplanned pregnancy from his parents’ perspective, and his teenage mother was pregnant before she was married. It’s interesting that those facts haven’t made their way into Christmas carols so far.
    There is no reference to Jesus being married and his closest twelve disciples were either single or left their families as quickly as they dropped their fishing nets to follow Jesus’ call.

    Look at Jesus’ specific teaching about family according to the Gospel accounts. He predicts that because of Him, “Brothers and sisters will betray each other to death, and parents their children; children will rise up against their parents and have them executed. Everyone will hate you because of me.” Matt. 10:21-22

    And how about Matthew 10: 35-37: “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”
    Still, another traveler approached Jesus in this way: “I’ll be your follower, Rabbi, but first let me say good-bye to my people at home.” Jesus answered, “Whoever puts a hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.” (Luke 9:61-62

    About this time, Jesus received a letter from an organization called First Century Family Values. It said:
    Dear Jesus,
    We have noticed some devaluing of traditional family life in your teachings. You do not treasure the family as our people have for centuries. Your preaching against our traditional family values gores against all that we hold dear in our religious and cultural heritage, the very foundation of our society. If you continue to do this we will make you the subject of one or our future market-place programs

    Sincerely, Top Patriarch

    Jesus evidently did not take heed. A short time later, this happened:
    “Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived and sent a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting around Jesus, and they said to him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who is my family? “ And looking around at everyone there, Jesus said, “This is my family! Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my sister, my brother, my mother.” Mark 3:31-35

    This was quite incredible to Jesus’ original audience, which valued their family traditions above all else.

  31. “Good point. I wonder if they would try to claim more testoserone as inherently better for leadership?”

    I think you and are in synch now Lin. That is exactly my point. Gender differentiation in testosterone levels, as one example, is indisputable. Yet – higher testosterone levels can hardly be claimed as a condition necessary for superior leadership. Ironically, the opposite conclusion has more evidence – that elevated testosterone inhibits effective leadership.

    This is true regardless of the differentiating factor and regardless of the gender gap (which is rarely large and often overlapping). All of these things may impact HOW we lead, but as with virtually anything, they have both positive and negative impacts on how EFFECTIVE our leadership is. And no biological reality no matter how gender specific it might be grants a whole gender the right to take authority over the opposite gender.

  32. “Gender differentiation in testosterone levels, as one example, is indisputable. Yet – higher testosterone levels can hardly be claimed as a condition necessary for superior leadership. Ironically, the opposite conclusion has more evidence – that elevated testosterone inhibits effective leadership.”
    gengwall,
    Are you referring the results from the Swiss testosterone studies that came out last year?

  33. “All of these things may impact HOW we lead, but as with virtually anything, they have both positive and negative impacts on how EFFECTIVE our leadership is. And no biological reality no matter how gender specific it might be grants a whole gender the right to take authority over the opposite gender.”
    gengwall,
    If the “designed to lead” and “designed to follow” paradigm were true, then one has to wonder why ALL men aren’t leading by nature (without being told it’s their ‘role’) and why all women aren’t following naturally by design? Why is it we have to told which ‘role’ we are assigned. If it’s in each gender’s DNA, then it should be as natural as breathing.

  34. No Kay – I am referring to general biological knowledge. Testosterone levels are universally higher in anatomically normal males males than in anatomically normal females. In most cases, they are 20-30 times higher. But even at the extremes of the ranges of each gender, there is no overlap.

  35. Frank, you are right and I stand corrected.

    The subjegation of human beings based on gender, race, religion, national origin or sexual preference is no laughing matter.

  36. gengwall,
    Ooops – I meant to put “Also” in that first sentence of #35.
    “Also, if the “designed to lead” and “designed…”
    Looked as though I was disagreeing.

  37. “If the “designed to lead” and “designed to follow” paradigm were true, then one has to wonder why ALL men aren’t leading by nature (without being told it’s their ‘role’) and why all women aren’t following naturally by design? Why is it we have to told which ‘role’ we are assigned. If it’s in each gender’s DNA, then it should be as natural as breathing”

    The comps would tell you it is a result of the fall and sin. They interpret Gen 3 to mean that she desires HIS “role” as authority.

    They teach the sinful consequences of the fall as virtue.

  38. “The comps would tell you it is a result of the fall and sin. They interpret Gen 3 to mean that she desires HIS ”role” as authority”

    The falacy in the argument is that they attribute this “role” to (biological) design but derive it from scripture based soley on events (and a presumptuous interpretation of those events at that).

  39. “They teach the sinful consequences of the fall as virtue.”

    In the worst case. But even in the best case, where they teach it as unfortunate remedy, male “rule” is still a sinful consequence. I never will understand how some can interpret what is clearly sinful as God’s intent.

  40. “The comps would tell you it is a result of the fall and sin. They interpret Gen 3 to mean that she desires HIS ”role” as authority.

    They teach the sinful consequences of the fall as virtue.”
    Lin,
    Yes, that’s what they do, but it still breaks down on the fact that all men don’t naturally take the lead.

  41. “In the worst case. But even in the best case, where they teach it as unfortunate remedy, male “rule” is still a sinful consequence. I never will understand how some can interpret what is clearly sinful as God’s intent.”

    They still must explain how it could be leadership by design and at the same time an unfortunate remedy for the Fall. The two don’t jibe.

  42. gengwall, #41, they don’t see it as a sinful consequence (some of them); they see at as God’s remedy for a now-fallen creation, amazing as that may seem. I know this from personal conversations with men who believe this way. Your comment that they practice a fallacy by claiming the role is by design yet base their claim on events rather than biology is very astute.

    Kay, very good point that leadership by design and remedy/consequence for fall don’t jibe. And yes, if it is so genetic for males to be leaders and women to follow (by ‘design’), then why don’t all men and women find it easy to do their roles? They would probably claim some type of ‘fallen nature’ clause yet it is this very same ‘fallen nature’ that in their ‘remedy’ theory is supposed to address any ‘fallen nature’ deficits!

    Lin, #39, I have actually heard some indeed say that the consequences are not curses or consequences for sin but rather are blessings from God meant to address the problems that occurred in the fall. This blindness to all the logical breakdowns in their thinking is why one doesn’t get far even with good logic when talking with them. Back to praying that ‘blind eyes’ will see.

  43. Just wondering…if male leadership/female followership is a genetic/’by design’ feature of God’s creation, then it would seem that the fact that not all men are natural leaders and women natural followers would indicate flawed design. I wouldn’t want to accuse God of that!!!

  44. Hi all,

    I have ignored this post while I was so busy and when I had time I answered the comments in on this post http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/12/20/equal-in-value-and-worth-in-whose-eyes/ I should get time to get back to the issue of honor and dishonor within a few days and just to let you know that I am working on a new post that deals with the issues of men’s original design from the book of Genesis.

    Thanks for your good comments and I will engage again later as I have time.

  45. @ truthseeker: Heavens to Betsy! I never thought (who’da thunk it) that there could be a flaw in God’s design! Ye gads and little fishes….what next? Unfortunately, that idea, I think, kind of shoots the “design” argument of a lot of complementarians.

    To make this personal: My fiance does not seem like a strong “leader”; he might be seen as more of a “follower”. Is there, then, something “flawed” in his design? Is there something then “flawed” in my design since I tend toward being a stronger “leader” than he does? I’d love to know. Seeing it on that level really exposes the huge flaw in the logic and the issue then becomes a goose chase of who erred in the first place: us, or (Heaven forbid) God?

  46. PS @ Cheryl: looking forward to your post on Genesis. You bring such great stuff to the table; looking forward to your thoughts on the design issue.

  47. K, guys and gals, I’m amused by this talk of “flawed design”.

    I still think that the comp view is simply not very nice. Within the position the women (or wives) are treated with less love than neighbors. What cannot even be done to your neighbor based on the second greatest commandment, is done in the name of God to women! It’s not very nice.

    Anti-spam word “FALL”

  48. If you cannot do it to your neighbor, by God then you cannot do it to your wife or sister in Christ without breaking the Law.

  49. “If you cannot do it to your neighbor, by God then you cannot do it to your wife or sister in Christ without breaking the Law.”

    pinklight,
    I’ll add to that – “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died… But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Rom.14:15 & 23

    There is no qualifier given for wives. If a wife cannot do something in faith that her husband asks of her, then it is sin for her. Even if she is wrong in her understanding, if she cannot do it in faith, it is sin. Verse 12 “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”

  50. Hi Kay,

    I agree with your points. And I’d like to add something speaking of “faith”.

    In faith, can a person break the second greatest commandment?? This is a very serious question. What do you think??

    I don’t think it is even possible. I do not think that it is even possible to treat someone – beginning with your neighbor – as if they are under you or as if you are over them in some hierarchy. Therefore what someone does To another outside of the principle of treating them As They themselves would like to be treated is Not of faith. If I cannot go to my neighbor’s house and claim right of authority, or leadership over them, then what would make me think that I can do such a thing to a family memeber who actualy lives with me under the same roof? The relationship of one to a neighbor is not even as close as one to a spouse. And the second greatest commandment is only elemental.

    Need break…

  51. I do not think that one can claim right of authority over another because of gender, based on faith (unless they want to be treated that way too) because it’s a contradiction of the 2nd greatest commandment on principle. Real faith from above does not produce a result that is contradictory to the commandment. Impossible.

  52. Kay and Pinklight-outstanding points!!!! The comps I know do not see their ‘authority over’ as unkind to neighbors but rather as obeying God’s command for the sake of order in the church and in the marriage relationship. They would be quick to say they submit to others, also, (like the other plurality of leadership, etc.) and say they have no problem with that. I think they speak genuinely-at least the ones I personally know. They just somehow don’t ‘get it’.

    Gwall-liked your comeback to others when they ask who leads in your marriage-‘the Holy Spirit’!!!!!! Love that!!!!! I can already hear the rebuttals from those I know who just can’t grasp the concept of not having leaders: “Yes, the Holy Spirit leads, and then He gives ‘subleadership’ to men.” Somehow, we are such a bunch of truly motley sheep-especially we women-that we need leaders, and sub leaders, and sub sub leaders, ad nauseum. They point to the military and how there is a huge chain of command there for order’s sake. They also point to Moses and the children of Israel and his father-in-law’s advice to appoint leaders over groups of people so Moses wouldn’t have to do all the work. They say all this is needed for the sake of simple logistics-and order. AND, they say women are not allowed to participate in this stack of leadership positions-more or less-depending upon which group one is referring to. And, of course, this is all part of God’s ordained plan for working with fallen mankind, which brings us dangerously close to the whole hush-hush possibility of flawed design.

    Flawed design kind of reminds me of how so many stores now try to sell-immediately at point of purchase-an additional warranty for the appliance or whatever. It is almost to me an admittance that the product has a flawed design and will inevitably not hold up somehow to the claim that their product is wonderful.

    I agree with the thought I have heard expressed that if the man always leads, he can never fully mature as a person would if he sometimes has to ‘follow’ or work a thing out in mutuality; and likewise, neither can a woman ever truly mature if her growth is always stunted by keeping her in a position of total or even partial submission ultimately. Rotten stuff! Stanks like old fishiz if you aks me. 🙂

  53. “Hi Kay,
    I agree with your points. And I’d like to add something speaking of “faith”.
    In faith, can a person break the second greatest commandment?? This is a very serious question. What do you think??”

    pinklight,
    I see that you reasoned out the answer (#53) for yourself…
    All that is left for me to say is: Great point! and isn’t comment #52 your longest one to date? 😉

  54. Kay #2, you said:

    Shouldn’t they be more worried about what dishonors God? I think you are spot on to suggest that issues of shame and dishonor go hand in hand with the issue of pride. Didn’t Paul say “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”?

    Absolutely! We need to look beyond ourselves and our own shame and look to what honors the Lord Jesus and stay away from what shames him. When men become focused on their own shame instead of looking to what is the best for the church and for the Lord Jesus, it is easy for them to miss out on what is important.

    Oh my goodness, I am so behind in the comments. I feel like the story of Alice in Wonderland…I’m late…I’m late….for a very important date. I am going to finish the new post and then I’ll come back here to comment.

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