Why I’m Complementarian

girls-20vs-20boys-small1-309x268I’m continuing my thoughts here from my last post, where I outline what a winsome complementarianism might look like.

By complementarianism I mean the view that men and women are equal as God’s fellow image bearers, but do have some differences of role in the church and in the home. The way I like to put it is equal, but not interchangeable. In other words, you cannot simply swap male and female in and out of different roles without any consequence; nor are the differences between male and female mere matters of anatomy. There are some fundamental, structural, psychological differences as well (though never matters of better or worse). Two specific ways this plays out: I think the husband is called to a loving leadership role in the marriage, and the office of elder/bishop/overseer (and pastor as we typically use the term) is reserved for men.

Let me be clear: as a complementarian, I oppose with all my heart (as much as any egalitarian, I hope) the misuse of male strength, so common in ancient cultures and still prevalent today. I recognize that many human cultures have indeed perpetuated systems and environments in which women have been denigrated and downplayed and devalued. But whereas egalitarianism tries to redress this problem by taking away the principle of male headship altogether, complementarianism does so by radically redefining it in light of the gospel. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That means complementarianism is a call to die, to love, to serve. In my relationship to Esther, it means that I seek to be the first to soften and apologize in conflict, and that I seek to put her needs above my own – it means that I walk 10 miles to please her rather than walk 1 mile to please myself. I fail every day at that. But that is my target. That is what complementarianism means to me on a daily basis.

Why do I hold this view? A few reasons:

1) First, and this is more of a preliminary consideration than an argument per se, egalitarianism (as I use the term, the view that men and women have identical roles) is historically quite eccentric. To the best I can tell, its the product of recent Western cultures only. Almost every other civilization has conceived of men and women as having different roles in various spheres of life. I am not saying all ancient/Eastern cultures were/are complementarian. I think complementarianism, biblically defined, is radically subversive in every culture. For example, the call to Christ-like, sacrificial love from husbands to their wives runs counter to the staunch patriarchalism of many ancient cultures. Jesus’ own treatment of women (welcoming them as disciples, teaching them, etc.) was profoundly counter-cultural. I am simply saying that we should have some historical perspective in approaching this issue. Egalitarianism may be the default leaning in our setting, but if we widen our horizon its very much a minority voice. Unless we have a bias in favor of 21st century Western democratic cultures, this should humble us a bit and give us perspective. Why should our culture see the truth more clearly than others?

2) The Trinity is my model for all human relationship. And I would say the Trinity is pretty decidedly complementarian (Father-Son-Spirit), not egalitarian (Brother-Brother-Spirit). I am aware of the debate about this point in the literature, bit it seems basic to me that a father-son relationship is complementarian: each person complements the other with a unique role. In the case of the divine Father-Son relationship, for instance, the Son eternally is begotten of he Father, while the Father is not eternally begotten of the Son. The very fact that this God reveals this relationship with our words “father” and “son” is quite telling. And, historically, theologians have maintained that the incarnation is not arbitrarily assigned to the Son, but grows out of these ontological relations.

That means before I ever get to debate about male and female, a crucial domino has already fallen for a long while back – namely, the premise that relationships of hierarchy and subordination, of headship and submission, are not necessarily bad or oppressive or unfair. In fact, this kind of differentiation of role characterizes the relationship, the architectonic relationship, the love and joy that pulses at the core of reality. Diverse roles within equality of being and value: this is what a perfect, overflowingly joyful, happy, free, living God looks like. We don’t need to be scared of this. Its not bad.

3) Before we ever appeal to Scripture, there are strong sociological reasons for believing that men and women are different in a variety of ways that transcend culture or upbringing. Again, at the risk of reiterating this point too much, the differences are never a matter of better or worse! But there are differences. That makes me further open to the fact that maybe these differences go back to something about the way God made us.

4) The creation narrative of the Bible emphasizes that men and women are equal as God’s fellow image bearers (Genesis 1:26-28). In fact, it seems to me that the text indicates that the image of God shines forth in humanity as male and female; thus, if either all men or all women were to suddenly vanish, the image of God on planet earth would not be reduced to 50%, but to 0%. At the same time, however, the creation narrative is not what you would expect if the Bible were an egalitarian book. If that were the case, you would probably expect men and women created together, naming each other (or both named by God), and each sharing various roles. That is not the case. Adam is created first, names Eve, and she is called his helper. I am not interpreting these facts just now, I am simply reporting them. That is what happens in the narrative. Its what we all to interpret, and submit ourselves to. I don’t know that Genesis 2 would itself get me to complementarianism without the rest of the Bible, but its certainly hard to read it as an egalitarian account!

5) Throughout the Bible, both men and women play a vital role in the life of God’s people. Both use gifts to minister to others in significant ways. But in both Old and New Testament, God establishes a pattern in which the office of highest authority and leadership was held by only men. Throughout the Old Testament, women could serve as prophets, which was an occasional, diverse, ad hoc institution, but only males could serve as the Levitical priests, the regular, ongoing office of leadership among God’s people. Then in the gospels, Jesus calls only male apostles in his inner 12.  Egalitarians typically respond that Jesus was adapting to the culture, but is this really plausible? Jesus was not afraid to challenge the culture. He did so all the time. Is it really plausible that Jesus would challenge the culture of his day as radically as he did but capitulate here?

You often hear people say that its sexist to deny equal leadership opportunities for male and female; then was Jesus sexist? He could have chosen 6 and 6. Or 9 women and 3 men just to prove the point. But He chose 12 men. Was Jesus sexist? Was God sexist for the way He set up the Levitical priesthood? Should we be more progressive than Christ was? There is a pattern here already established before we ever get to the office of elder in the church (which, I would say, completes the pattern: priest –> apostle –> elder).

6) Then of course the Pauline texts, five of which stand out to me: I Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:33b-35, Colossians 3:18-19, Ephesians 5:21-33, and I Timothy 2:9-15 (I leave I Peter 3:1-7 aside for now). As I read through Two Views on Women in Ministry, I remember struggling with Keener’s contribution on I Timothy 2. I wanted to give him a chance to prove me wrong; I read with an open mind. Sometimes I got overwhelmed by the amount of background information he would present, and I would wonder, “hmmm, what if it really was just an issue related to the women in Ephesus?” (Egalitarians typically argue that Paul’s restriction was due to the fact that women were less educated in the first century and as a result more susceptible to false teaching, which indeed certainly did happen in Ephesus [I Timothy 3:6]).

But then a rather obvious thought suddenly hit me: if the problem was women in Ephesus who were teaching false doctrine, why didn’t Paul place a restriction on women … in Ephesus … who teaching false doctrine? Why would Paul universalize his concern along the lines of gender? That seems awfully sexist if it really only a problem with certain women. Were there no uneducated men in Ephesus who were susceptible to false teaching? What about women who had not succumbed to false teaching – wouldn’t it be unfair for Paul to exclude them if his concern was only with those who had? Furthermore, there is confirmation of Paul’s prohibition in I Timothy in I Corinthians 11 and I Corinthians 14. And in the latter Paul prefaces his comments with, “as in all the churches of the saints,” and grounds his teaching in “the Law,” which seems to suggest we are dealing with a trans-cultural principle.

There is a danger of appealing to murky, uncertain background situations in such a way that the actual statements of Scripture become neutralized. People do this to try to make Romans 1 not really about homosexuality per se. The bottom line is that Paul does not say that he doesn’t permit a woman who has been influenced by false teaching to teach and have authority in I Timothy 2. He says he doesn’t permit a woman to teach and have authority. Period. No qualifiers. I want to honor Paul’s words. If someone wants to convince me its possible to honor this text and come out an egalitarian, I’m all ears. But all the efforts I’ve read feel like they are not giving his words the honor they deserve.

7) Ephesians 5:21-33 is perhaps the most profound passage in the Bible on the meaning of marriage. Marriage is an institution ordained by God at creation, prior to the entrance of sin into the world. And in this passage, there are clearly different roles for male and female in the way marriage is designed to operate. Certainly Christian husbands and wives are to practice mutual submission (5:21), in the way that all Christians are. But when Paul gets more specific about the husband-wife relationship, not all the arrows point in both directions. There are certain responsibilities that husbands have that wives do not, and certain responsibilities that wives have that husbands do not. For example, Paul nowhere says, “husbands, submit to your wives, as the church submits its (wife??), Christ.” It does not say that.

Gender means something. Diverse roles in gender mean something. In this passage, their meaning is bound up with the gospel. Male, female, husband, wife, Christ, and church are all somehow integrated in Paul’s thinking. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (5:32). If we flatten out the differences of role assigned to husband and wife, we are in danger of tampering with this God-ordained institution that pictures, and is predicated on, the gospel. Its a big deal to flatten out the differences and make all the arrows point in both directions.

8) One thing I have learned in ministry is that every group tends to have leaders, and often, one key leader. Why should families be different? If its not offensive for churches to have a senior pastor, or businesses to have a CEO, or nations to a President, why is it offensive for families to have a head?

I am not ashamed to be a complementarian. I do not accept that I am 60 years out of date by taking this view. I think it is the best and most reasonable synthesis of all the relevant biblical data, and I think it accords with much of what we know apart from the Bible in the arena of common grace, and I think it can work well in every day life for mom, dad, kids, and society as a whole. It is not a view to be scoffed at and dismissed as out of touch. It should be taken seriously as a non-sexist, non-patriarchal option on the table – even for we in the 21st century West.

54 Comments

  1. […] I am not ashamed to be complementarian. It has never been a dirty word for me, because I’ve grown up seeing godly expressions of it in my family, and hearing compelling arguments for it from my ministry heroes. More than anything, C. S. Lewis books like Perelandra have shaped my thinking about gender. (For anyone curious, I’ve summed up why I’m complementarian here.) […]

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  2. I fail to see how you can claim women are equal to men if you deny them equal access to leadership roles. If women are to be followers whilst men are leaders, where is the equality? There are many other shortcomings in your arguments – for example the Hebrew word in Genesis 2 for helper is used of God, so it cannot imply any order of authority as you suggest. Also, the 12 apostles were all Jewish, so by your reasoning that must mean gentiles cannot be leaders in the church.

    Despite your objections to the misuse of male strength and the devaluation of women, you have done what you protest against. As a man, you have constructed a theology that devalues women by restricting their roles, based on a selective interpretation of the Bible. I hope and pray you will reconsider.

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    1. What do you mean by leadership roles? Head pastor? Worship leader? Kids Pastor? Youth Pastor? Galatians 3:28 says that in Christ there is neither male nor female, but clearly Paul lays out in Ephesians that the order is Christ > Husband > Wife though in 5:21 he says “submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ”. So, while there may be order to authority, we are all called to submit to one another out of “reverence for Christ”.

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      1. With Ephesians 5:21, the examples that Paul then gives are non symmetrical – husband / wife, father / son, master / slave. I take it that he means that we are to submit to one another according to the roles that we find ourselves in, not every Christian to every other Christian equally.

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  3. […] 4. Gavin Ortlund has written a good overview coming at this from another angle at: https://gavinortlund.com/2013/09/03/why-im-complementarian/ […]

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      1. Andrew Amos
  4. Thank you Gavin for your helpful perspective. Ministering in a Scottish context, I find that rampant Anachronism plus a systemic inbreeding of thought made up of only moderate to liberal leaning European theologians has led most of the evangelical church in GB to see Complementarianism as the ancient bigotry of a by-gone era. Rather than starting with the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the big picture of what the Holy Spirit has been speaking through the Church universal of two thousand years… most Christians and sadly many churches assume that any church or ministry who holds any view opposing the cultural tide of the PC brigade is ready to take away suffrage and begin arranging marriages. We are black balled and lambasted in all circles… yet the Gospel is growing and bearing fruit– and is being displayed in marriages and in the church through complementation relationships.

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    1. Jacob, I can start with the Bible and produce an egalitarian theology. But appealing to “the big picture of what the Holy Spirit has been speaking through the Church universal of two thousand years” isn’t really a good argument when for most of those years the church claimed that slavery was divinely approved. It’s impossible to detach our theology from the surrounding culture, be it christian or secular. I’m no liberal and I regard complementarianism as a false teaching, created by by the old boys network in the interests of self-preservation. The gospel is all about equality – the old saying that there is level ground at the foot of the cross – and so it is best modelled through egalitarianism, both in church and marriages.

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  5. Megan Ryan

    Thank you so, so much for this. I have not found another blog post explaining my own thoughts so thoroughly and clearly – and I am a woman. Thank you for the scripture exegesis. Thank you for going into detail and actually bringing the counter-arguments into the light instead of just the pro-complementarian views. They both need to be addressed and discussed in light of the historical and redemptive context of scripture. I teach Girls’ Bible at a Christian High School (a relatively “liberal” one, at that!), and I am going to direct my students here for a more thorough explanation of why I am a complementarian.

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    1. glad you found it helpful megan!

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    2. Megan, as a teacher of girls I implore you to research this issue further. Your teaching has the potential to harm girls by instructoring them to follow a “role” as opposed to God’s Spirit gifting and calling them. That’s weighty responsibility.

      You also have the position of being a great blessing to these girls and God’s kingdom.

      There are many exegetical books that detail God’s plan, and it centers on God’s leadership rather than a gender code taking the place of lord. Just do a Google search on any issue to find an article. At the least, read both sides as opposed to just the ones that match what you’ve been told before.

      You have a chance to change someone’s life for the better or the worse. I would know. I’m one of those girls who was never directed in my gifting. Instead God made it clear to me in my 30’s. Then I read Philip Payne’s book Man and Woman, One in Christ and finally understood.

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  6. […] I am not ashamed to be complementarian. It has never been a dirty word for me, because I’ve grown up seeing godly expressions of it in my family, and hearing compelling arguments for it from my ministry heroes. More than anything, C. S. Lewis books like Perelandra have shaped my thinking about gender. (For anyone curious, I’ve summed up why I’m complementarian here.) […]

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  7. Mahlon LeCroix

    Throughly enjoyed reading this. I am a Baptist pastor and I teach a new belivers class on a regular basis. It never fails that when the role of Pastor is addressed this issue comes up, because it is so counter cultural. I was impressed by how you addressed this issue, and with your permission I would like to use your blog to give new members additional reading on this subject.

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    1. Please feel free to use it, glad it was useful!

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  8. […] Four Dangers for Complementarians: I am not ashamed to be complementarian. It has never been a dirty word for me, because I’ve grown up seeing godly expressions of it in my family, and hearing compelling arguments for it from my ministry heroes. More than anything, C. S. Lewis books like Perelandra have shaped my thinking about gender. (For anyone curious, I’ve summed up why I’m complementarian here.) […]

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  9. Charlie Falugo

    Hey, Gavin,
    Thank you for your helpful and detailed explanation of your views. I really appreciate that you used the Father-Son-Holy Spirit example first. I share your views on complementarianism and the value of words used by the Holy Spirit as He inspired the writers of Scripture. However, I am amazed at the influence of CULTURE on my thinking/feelings. I agree with your views about Scripture, I do speak out in defense of male Pastor/Elder roles and yet I still feel a bit awkward when I explain my views to a mixed audience! As Mr. Spock would say “fascinating”. As a Christian I think “WHAT?”!

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  10. Mark Taggart

    Great piece. I would love to hear a more detailed argument concerning why the 1 Timothy issue is not cultural but creational. This is the epicentre of the issue on many occasions. Are you aware of any articles specifically on this aspect?
    Thank you for the post.

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    1. Charles Falugo

      Hi Mark. I don’t have time to give you a more detailed argument (there are MANY, though) since it’s well after mid-night. However, in Timothy the Holy Spirit, through the writing of the Apostle Paul answers every Biblical concern. Cultural? Locational? Temporary? etc, etc. Vs 13 of 1 Tim 2 explains the Holy Spirit’s intentions on this matter when He says in vs 13 “For (or because) Adam was formed first, then Eve. And the Holy Spirit continues His reason in vs 14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
      The questions are answered by deciding who you will believe. The Holy Spirit or cultural warriors.
      The Holy Spirit in Isaiah 53:1 asks “Who has believed our report”? That questions resounds today for everything in the whole of God’s Word.

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    2. Mark (and Gavin), please note that in the creation account, Adam does not name Eve until after the fall. This naming in Genesis 3:20 is the first instance directly emphasizing the result of the curse that “he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Before the fall in Genesis 1:27-28 both male and female were created in the image of God and given authority over creation. Jesus came to undo the destruction of the fall and renew created intent. Praise God!
      The references to creation in 1 Timothy were to address false teaching that was going around; a common one held that women were created first. The headquarters of the prevalent cult of Artemis, a female goddess leading a fertility cult, was in Ephesus where Timothy was leading after Paul’s extended time there. Please read Dr. Cynthia Westfall’s book Paul and Gender for more. Creation order is specifically addressed on pages 70-76. Thank you, and blessings on your continued study into God’s created intent!

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  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate you putting yourself out there. I know I’m late to the party. I do see a few methodological points I’d like to address.

    Your definition of egalitarian is an example. So that we’re on the same plane here I’m going to use the definition from Merriam-Webster, “a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs.” I’d even be willing to add religion or church to that. I can’t speak for all egalitarians but, in my opinion, gender roles are another discussion on their own. I believe women are equally qualified to exercise the same gifts (if empowered by the Holy Spirit) and positions as men while affirming gender distinctions. Traditionally, males are males and females are females and only men can become husbands and women wives. Furthermore, only women can naturally give birth. The gender roles are distinct. That doesn’t mean women are inferior. I do want to note that gender stereotypes must not continue in the church. Not all women are nurturing and not all men are masculine. Husbands are to be sacrificial in love; however, Paul makes this rhetoric in the context of a marriage. Using this logic as a blanket statement for ecclesial governance pushes its use a bit too far. Additionally, does this mean single men cannot be sacrificial? You are using a negative inference fallacy. Paul instructs husbands and wives to both be submissive. Does this mean wives can’t be sacrificial?

    Your view of the Trinity assumes a hierarchy. In John 14, Jesus (the incarnation) was less than God (the Father). It also states this in Hebrews 2:9. I view the Trinity as a perfect harmony and equal submission between all three persons. The context of Jesus’ statement provides further insight.

    Adam being created first doesn’t demand his superiority. If anything, the Bible displays favor of the second born (i.e. Abel, Moses, Isaac, Jacob). The Holy Spirit is also called, “helper.” You should do a word study on “helper.” I found it fascinating.

    There’s a lot more to be said. I think this is a good starting point though. I hope this encourages you to do more digging. I don’t expect to change your mind or for you to adhere to my views. I merely desire for you to understand my perspectives.

    Shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Carole

    This makes no sense. Women are not “better” at certain things simply because they are women. Men are not better at leadership or anything else because they are men. Studies have shown that there are greater differences AMONG men and AMONG women than between men and women. Children are socialized from birth in certain ways, and this is why your argument, despite your prooftexting, fails. The basis is more cultural than religious. And why we do not look at individuals and allow them to do and choose the things they are INDIVIDUALLY gifted at is unreasonable and damaging. And it is inextricably part of our culture, not just a given church.

    ANY dogma that restricts half of the population, that places them in a role that is preordained because of a random, arbitrary characteristic, makes them dependent and less than full participants in society (I have heard serious discussions on whether women should be allowed to vote, MUST vote the way their husbands tell them to, if they do (even if they disagree— women have actually promoted both of these ideas— and even if they should be allowed to lift weights at a gym!), and places them in danger, is bad for that population.

    Women who have not lived on their own, have not received a real education, are not allowed to have their own jobs, money and resources, are dependent upon the largesse of a man for EVERYTHING. And the man is given absolute authority based on nothing except being a man. Often, a man a woman did not choose, because “father knows best.” Not as common now, but many of the Duggar-like cults still practice this.

    When and if she is in danger, she has no resources or recourse. And is often told to go back and pray for the abusive person who will likely, at some point, kill her, because divorce is not allowed. NEVER will I, nor should any woman, be put in that position. My partner knows that if he ever hit me even once, it would be the last time. I would be gone. And he knows I CAN, because I have a job, money, support, and credit to do so. We are PARTNERS, not a father and daughter, master and servant, or employer and employee. To define a marriage in these contexts is abhorrent. we work together, as equals, on OUR plan, that we decide TOGETHER. And we each contribute what we have to offer, not based on what we are “allowed” or “supposed” to do.

    Or gambles away their money? Or abuses her? She is told to “pray for him,” and keep following him. Doesn’t stop them from getting kicked out of their house. What happens if he dies? Now, she either gets a job (with no skills or experience, likely no education), or is dependent upon another man.

    I read of churches where obviously these men know nothing about the cycle of abuse and allow only separation until he calms down. And women who are emotionally blackmailed by these same “leaders” who tell her if she files a report, then she will lose her only means of support, since “he csn’t work if he’s in jail.” This sets a woman up for failure with little recourse should the man NOT “love her as Christ loved the church.” What I hear in response is, “Well, then he is not a true complementarian.” All well and good, but that does not save her home or her life. Another priest praised a woman who came to him (not for the first time) with bruises. Why did he praise her? Because her husband came to church. Great! Is that going to stop him from beating her when she gets home? And then there are those who are all about, “Well, is it REALLY abuse? Did he hit her or just grab her? Did it happen once or more than once?” Or who insist that the wife must not have been “submissive” enough.

    These are REAL issues that are inherent in the power structure and have been both church and cultural issues for centuries. And they are dismissed instead of being dealt with.

    And the man does not get a whole, adult, fully functioning partner. He essentially gets a child that he has to lead, correct, and “manage.”

    The entire premise is based on the assumption that men are automatically better leader because they are men, false gender stereotypes, and a power structure that necessarily leaves one person vulnerable to abuse. It may not always happen, but it is set up to allow and even encourage it. It is set up to allow half of the population a “voice” only insofar as men are willing and able to speak for them. Perhaps it might work in an ideal world (although why any woman would choose to be subjected to such is beyond me), but this ain’t that world, and men are not God.

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    1. A lot of what you say is spot on. Sadly there are all sorts of situations where people abuse their position. However, you have not given any Biblical basis for your position and ultimately, that is what is important. God has told us how he wants us to live, and we would do well to follow his loving instruction. I went through the exercise of writing a Bible Study on this topic and it seemed to be well received by a group I lead (all ladies as it works out). You can find it at: https://awamos.com/blog/2018/08/men-and-women-as-god-intended/

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      1. Andrew, for Biblical teaching on egalitarianism, check out the following websites (I won’t link them as this often causes comments to be blocked as spam – typing the names into google will easily find them)

        (1) Christians for Biblical Equality
        (2) The Junia Project
        (3) Margaret Mowczko
        (4) Cheryl Schatz

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      2. In my experience, egalitarians use one or more of the following lines of attack:

        1. Ignore the Bible, either by saying something like “I’m comfortable with it” (evangelical), or “Paul didn’t write those verses anyway” (liberal).
        2. Redefine words away from their normal meaning, like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass – “When I use a word,… it means just what I choose it to mean…”
        3. Speculate about some cultural situation that Paul was writing about, which then brings into question the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture. Apparently we need to have special knowledge about what was going on before we can understand what the Holy Spirit was inspiring the authors to say.
        4. Say that God has obviously gifted women to teach (no argument there), and so he must have meant them to teach in every and any situation. This really is a variant of method 1.

        Have I missed something?

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      3. Andrew, for Biblical teaching on egalitarianism, check out the following websites (I won’t link them as this often causes comments to be blocked as spam – typing the names into google will easily find them)

        (1) Christians for Biblical Equality
        (2) The Junia Project
        (3) Margaret Mowczko
        (4) Cheryl Schatz

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      4. No, thank you. I lived through that abuse. My mother taught us a lot, but one of the most important lessons I learned from her was never, EVER put yourself in a position to be completely dependent on someone else. It’s unhealthy, it’s co-dependent, and it’s dangerous. I neither want nor do I need a “head.” I’ve got a pretty good one of my own. Men are not God or Jesus, and I will not treat them as if they are:

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      5. Carole

        You said “My mother taught us a lot, but one of the most important lessons I learned from her was never, EVER put yourself in a position to be completely dependent on someone else. It’s unhealthy, it’s co-dependent, and it’s dangerous.”

        Actually we are completely dependent on Christ, it is a lesser level of dependence on our spouse. However, in my experience (and my wife would agree), the marriage relationship is in fact beautiful, a wonderful gift from God.

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      6. Andrew,
        I attempted to post to your blog, but it was not allowing me to, so I’ll rely here. This message is for Gavin as well.

        You are choosing to dismiss the truth in favor of maintaining a hierarchy that puts you on top. Separate but equal is not equal. Your arguments that women are of equal worth but divinely directed different role, based on gender, mirror the points slave owners made to justify slavery biblically. Think about that.

        There is so much exegesis available that I do not need to write it here. Read Philip Payne’s exegetical analysis of Paul, Man and Woman, One in Christ.

        As for your quote of 1 Cor 11, look at the entire passage.

        For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

        Men and women are designed for reciprocal relationship; we need one another. The “Nevertheless in the Lord” moves from the likely quotation of what the Corinthians were saying, to the greater truth that in the Lord, there is mutuality.

        Be careful what you teach, especially when that teaching advances your own interests and power. It’s not me saying the warning, it’s James 3:1.

        Or ignore all of this; up to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Andrew Amos

        Kristen

        Sorry you had problems commenting on my blog. I have made some changes now, but this is probably a better place to comment anyway.

        You say: “You are choosing to dismiss the truth in favor of maintaining a hierarchy that puts you on top.” In fact, Paul tells the husband: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” and “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” Jesus’s love was a self sacrificial love, not “being on top”. This is the standard that men are to aspire to. It is hard work and a heavy responsibility.

        You rightly say “Men and women are designed for reciprocal relationship; we need one another.”

        You also say “Be careful what you teach”. Indeed. I am fully aware that what I am teaching is counter cultural and not popular. The church I attend has a different view to me, but I go there because they teach Christ crucified, and there is little other choice nearby. However, I am convinced that what I am teaching is what the Bible says, and it is for the flourishing of both women and men. You too need to be careful that you are not teaching something that would make it difficult for women to achieve all that God has blessed them to enjoy. For women to try to be the same as men is setting them up to fail. They have great and valuable gifts, but are different to men. That is the way God has designed us.

        My wife runs a women’s group, and I happened to be there yesterday having lunch with them after the meeting. They, unprompted, were telling me the same thing. It is not just males who acknowledge that God says we are different but equal.

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      8. Andrew, respectfully, I am a wife married 17 years with 4 kids. I’ve loved the Lord from a young age. I have an academic mind that has excelled, yet I lacked a career goal that I so longed for. And no, it wasn’t because I wanted or was designed for home. I stayed home with my kids because I didn’t like my job. It was the hardest, most breaking, most foreign to my gifting, thing, that I have ever done.

        Finally in my 30’s God made my gifting clear to me. Then I read Philip Payne’s exegesis and understood it intellectually. My pain through so many years was the result of soft complementarian ideology.

        You cannot tell me that I don’t understand or that a division where men make theological (and all major) decisions is not a hierarchy. You cannot tell me that I should be the most fulfilled person ever, with a wonderful husband and 4 kids and the opportunity to stay home with them. [My husband IS awesome, by the way, and is more tired of blind religious leaders who cling to gender roles, than I am. He’s seen the problem since he was a child; it took me 33 years.]

        That’s nice that your wife’s friends are gifted in ways that align with gender roles—many are. Or, they’re as confused as I was for many years and think that roles are biblical. In such cases, making it work seems God’s way.

        I did not flourish staying home with my kids. I always flourished in academics and sports and have found joy and respite going back to college to add a minor in Biblical and Theological Studies and then to seminary to earn a master’s degree. That is flourishing, for me, and no amount about rehearsed phrases can change this. I know more women than I can count who understand their calling by God to teach and lead. Thankfully my seminary and undergrad are RCA and egalitarian. My church tradition is soft comp. I live the divide between the two worlds. I observe. I receive the treatment from both, and I know the difference.

        Now will you listen?

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      9. Andrew Amos

        Kristin, I am sorry to hear you had a difficult time figuring out where your gifts lie. I hope you are not taking anything I have said to imply that I think that women should be home looking after the kids and not having a role outside the home. That is not what we see in the woman described in Proverbs 31. I also hope you don’t think I am taking the position I do in order to maintain some authority. I personally have nothing to gain from trying to defend what I see as what God is saying in his word, in fact the opposite. My wife has just retired from the responsibility of being a medical doctor – she wasn’t stuck at home. My daughter in law has a doctorate in science, and is far happier in that arena than solely being a mother. As I have said elsewhere, I don’t think there are hard and fast rules in figuring out how this works in particular relationships. However there is too much material in the Bible giving different roles for men and women for me to be able to ignore it. I hope I am not “upholding a system”, but rather upholding God’s word.

        You ask what are women to do? A good example is Claire Smith (you can read about her at: https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/authors/claire-smith). The blurb about her book (which I recommend) says “Although Claire Smith was a young adult when she came to know Jesus, it wasn’t until she went to theological college that she noticed parts of the Bible that challenged her feminist views. Studying these passages led to radical changes in her life.” Since then she has kept pretty busy!

        On another note, I would be careful hanging too much on Junia / Junias and her / his relationship with the Apostles. My understanding is that the difference depends on an accent which wasn’t in the original, as they didn’t use them then.

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      10. Andrew, I celebrate that you see and know women using their gifts in leadership in the secular realm. I wonder how your wife would feel had you tried to convince her that the Bible says she couldn’t be a doctor. It wasn’t long ago in our country that this is what men believed. I wish I had wanted to be a doctor. I started college with that goal because I was top of my class and liked biology. The thing is, I didn’t want to be a doctor and so switched to exercise science.

        I was 7 when I came to know Jesus. When I read through the Bible in 6th grade, I had a dissonance inside that I didn’t understand, when I read Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2. I understood them as an English-speaking person (with no context or original language text) and took the common read as authoritative. So why did the Holy Spirit inside me give me such discomfort?

        I didn’t know until I was treated as a child (at age 33) by well-meaning pastors in a soft-complementarian structure church.

        A man in his 60’s recommended that I read Philip Payne’s Man and Woman, One in Christ. That’s when I understood that the dissonance that I felt when I was 12 was the Holy Spirit trying to tell me that I wasn’t understanding the text correctly. So much joy filled my being (that’s nephesh in Hebrew) when my intellectual understanding finally matched God’s Spirit’s leading inside me.

        It is very sad that Claire Smith was indoctrinated in such a way as to place herself under men as opposed to beside them. Did you know that feminism started in the church? Research Katherine Bushnell. Did you know that egalitarians first used the phrase that men and women complement one another? Others took the word and added set roles one is born into and can never escape (like a caste system). In the mid 1900’s the wording changed from patriarchy of the past which said women were interior in reason and character, to saying that women were equal in those things yet still needed to not hold leadership, or at least, spiritual leadership. Do you see what’s going on here? They took away the historic reason for women’s subjugation but still tried to cling to the outcome. It’s purely a pride-based system, born of sin.

        After reading Payne I have since taken Greek (to of my class) and Hebrew (2nd by a point to another woman). Your idea about Junia is simply not true.

        You seem like one who could understand Payne, and I recommend that you read him. He is a Greek scholar who started his 36 years of research for the book with the goal of proving your position to be correct. Evidence proved the egalitarian position true. Here’s the thing: he was humble enough to admit that he was wrong. When one’s top allegiance is to God and not self—working for things that last rather than clinging to kingdoms of straw—such a move is possible. That degree of honesty and humility in top Christian leaders who’ve built their kingdoms, proves rare. I pray that you will not be such a one.

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      11. Your arguments are all based on feelings, not the Bible. That is an unreliable foundation on which to base your theology. I acknowledge your pain, but that is no reason to ditch God’s loving instructions to us in his word.

        I have no “kingdom” to maintain.

        I admit I haven’t studied Hebrew in depth, but I too topped my class in NT Greek. You say “Your idea about Junia is simply not true.” Did you look into it? I have written some brief notes at: https://amos.gs/blog/2021/04/junia-an-apostle/

        The offensive statement “It’s purely a pride-based system, born of sin” could be claimed about either side, depending on who is right.

        Kirsten Birkett wrote a book titled “The Essence of Feminism”, which covers the history of feminism in some detail, however, like Claire Smith, she remains “indoctrinated”. Your use of such terms for strong, knowledgeable, intelligent, independent thinking women is again offensive.

        You say “that egalitarians first used the phrase that men and women complement one another”. Great. But two things complementing each other necessarily implies that they are different. The question then is, how does that difference work itself out, biblically, in the church? You seem to be saying that the conclusion is that men and women are the same. This makes no sense.

        I have now read “The Bible Teaches the Equal Standing of Man and Woman” by Philip B. Payne (https://www.pbpayne.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Payne.pdf). His argument about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is interesting. That passage certainly has people scratching their heads over what it means. Some reasonable interpretations have been made, but they remain only that. However, if this passage was transferred from a marginal note, it must have been done very early on, and it is conjecture that this actually happened. The rest of what he says seems to be mainly straw man arguments (arguing against things that people don’t actually say), and the rest is presenting only half the relevant Biblical information.

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      12. Andrew, I was presenting my experiential “feelings” side of things, taking the wealth of biblical exegesis on the topic as an understood background. I base my views on this topic in the Holy Spirit’s witness to me my entire life, with that witness finally making sense to me by way of egalitarian exegesis. God wins, and has helped me to understand why my complementarian view of Scripture did not align with who God made me to be.

        It may be offensive to call strong, educated, intelligent women “indoctrinated,” but as a strong, educated, intelligent woman whose eyes have finally been uncovered, by the Lord, I stand by that descriptor. They are using their leadership gifts and intelligence in service against themselves, or at the least, against others of their own sex who are called to lead the full church.

        Perhaps these women you cite are not called in that form of leadership; thus a male-female hierarchy of authority feels right to them. Perhaps they are shoving those whispers from the Spirit aside, trying to fit what their understanding tells them is true. (That is where the term “indoctrination” fits. We all grow up being taught and shown a narrative.)
        I also felt the pull to depend on my husband and see him as my leader. God had to work on that in me to help me grow into a whole person. You see, the Genesis 3:16 sin WILL feel natural; that’s the deceptive nature of sin. The woman’s desire is turned toward her husband, instead of into God (don’t listen to the ESV’s version; it skews the intent—I know it first as a woman and second as a scholar).

        I suggest reading Katharine Bushnell, one of the very first Christian feminists, to get a first-hand account. Judge yourself if what she writes is true.

        I have looked into Junia. Have you read egalitarian scholars or only those who fit your view? I am glad you’ve read (one article from) Payne. I would not so easily dismiss his knowledge of the Greek and 36 years of study on this topic, especially since he started trying to prove your view correct. His book better explains what he couldn’t fit into an article size.

        The thing that complementarians get wrong about difference is twofold:
        1) they assume that difference means there must be hierarchy in leadership, and
        2) they assume that differences are gender-concrete as opposed to in variation by the individual. There are higher percentages of certain traits per sex, but making set roles based on these stereotypes places a system over God’s lordship in individuals. God gifts as God chooses, and some women are leaders of the whole church (I know countless) just as some men are preschool teachers (I know 3).

        If your heart is not willing to move on this one, no amount of exegesis will convince you. My Greek professor is egalitarian even though he will say that the Greek is inconclusive either way. (He also has not studied the issue in depth; Payne called the evidence an “avalanche.”) My professor concludes his view on this with an old statement from Augustine, “In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things charity.”

        Is it of grace (charity, charis) to deny women to follow as they feel called by God to do, when that means leadership?

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    2. Carole,
      Your factual truth of differences WITHIN genders being more prominent and BETWEEN genders is right on. See here: https://www.wired.com/story/a-study-finds-sex-differences-in-the-brain-does-it-matter/?utm_source=facebook

      The real life examples you lay out must be dealt with by well meaning Complementarians. Actual life lived and consequences of this ideology speak volumes over high minded idealism. Thank you for taking the time to write it out.

      Like

  13. Eric Breaux

    You are ignorant and selective of scripture. The church is simply the community of Christians, there are no assigned offices needed to teach about God, nor prescribed in the bible, because preaching isn’t a business. Jesus specifically taught that none should lord it over with anyone. The very first people to preach the gospel were women, sent by Jesus himself to tell the apostles. The first church meetings were in homes, without ranks or pulpit’s. Many women are mentioned as teaching men in the old and new testaments. Deborah was a judge and prophet, contradicting the male teachers of Gods instructions only mentality that many people have used 1 Timothy 2:11-15 to justify. The entire book of proverbs also contradicts that interpretation, because those are the teachings of Lemuels mother. The other female prophets mentioned in the old testament are Miriam, Hulda and Noadiah. Isaiah uses a female prophet as an example of how God uses people to reveal his will. Hulda authenticated scripture in 2 Chronicles 34:23-26, so has to be teaching Gods revelation, which is what preaching is, and taught it to men. https://margmowczko.com/huldah-prophetess/ In the new testament Anna and Philips four daughters are mentioned as prophets. Romans 16:7, Acts 2:17-18 and 24-26, Phillipians 4:2-3, romans 16:1-12; which mentiones Phoebe as a deacon in the original Greek text, 1 Corinthians 1:11 and Collosians 4:15 all mention women who preached the gospel, the last verse specifically mentioning that Nympha had church meetings in her home. The parts about keeping silent and not exercising authority over a man, bible historians know the context to be not to interrupt during lessons and to not argue over who should be considered greater at teaching and serving for God. This is the message of salvation to eternal life, no one can afford to restrict anyone available from giving the message to those willing to hear for such a petty reason as sexual differentiation. Women not being allowed to preach is a human made interpretation motivated by male ego, that requires ignorance of other verses that directly contradict that idea.
    The only authority addressed in the creation in Genesis is that of all humanity to have dominion of all the other earthly creatures. No gender distinctions making men automatic leaders. You should realize that God doesn’t give men permission to have authority over women simply because of gender differences. What it means by adressing husbands as heads of their wives is not making husbands automatic leaders in relationships, because marriage is a partnership. There needs to be equal contribution from both spouses to benefit and please each other. That was the whole reason for the statement in the creation in Genesis, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. The word translated as helper from the original hebrew text is ezer, meaning a necessary help to benefit someone. This word is used numerous times in the old testament to refer to God, and twice for allied armies who came to rescue Israelites from enemy forces. Wives are not husbands assistants, they are their rescue from being alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eric, you bring up a few issues that are commonly canvassed. I will try to deal with them briefly.

      1. Yes, we are all to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20), to give an account for the hope that we have (1 Pet 3:15-16), but there also are specific roles that occur in the church (e.g. search for “elders” in the NT). You admit this by referring to deacons. Are you suggesting that the Apostle Paul was in error in appointing elders (Acts 14:23; Tit 1:5; etc)?

      2. Yes, women were the first to announce the resurrection of Jesus, which was a significant thing in that society. Jesus was counter cultural in taking the time to teach women (Luke 10:38-42). He had a high view of them, we should too.

      3. As mentioned above, there are different gifts and roles in the church. The role of prophet is different to the role of pastor / teacher. There are numerous examples of women prophets both in the OT and the NT, as you mention. No problems there. However, the role of elder / pastor / teacher is reserved for men (e.g. Tit 1:6-9; 1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-7). There is evidence that the role of deacon was shared by both sexes (Rom 16:1-2, as you mention, and 1 Tim 3:11). We need care in figuring this all out, taking a nuanced approach. This is not to say that women can’t be excellent teachers. They can, and are urged to be so (Tit 2:4-5; 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15). Appealing to bible historians knowing the context of 1 Tim 2:11-12 is not helpful when Paul gives the context himself in the next 2 verses.

      4. The pastoral epistles are pretty clear that men and women have different roles in the marriage (Col 3:18-19; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Pet 3:1-7). The husband is to love his wife and give himself up for her – who could object to that?

      5. Yes, being a helper is not a degrading thing, It is a strong role, as is rightly portrayed by Lemuel’s mother in Prov 31. However I think you would be on thin ice claiming that the whole book of Proverbs is from that source.

      6. Your first few words do seem to be rather lacking in grace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ericbreaux

        I’ve tried posting this at least 3 times now. Could I get an explanation from the admin to why it keeps being rejected?
        Teaching of Jesus resurrection and the salvation it brings is preaching. Women were the first to do that. Ranks of authority are not needed for that. There only needs to be a chosen leader in a select group of people. That ranking does not apply to being a missionary.
        Prophesying is teaching. Titus 1:6-9 uses a male example of proper pastorally conduct. That doesn’t restrict women. That same logic could justify that lust is only wrong for men because Jesus didn’t mention women lusting when teaching about adultery of the heart. It even specifies women in 1 Timothy 3:11 to act likewise as the male examples. You admit there were female deacons but you could use the fact that only male deacons are referenced in 1 Timothy 3 to argue only males can be deacons, like you argued it teaches only men can be preachers. You contradict yourself when writing that teaching is reserved for men, then write later that women are urged to teach in Titus 2:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-15. This shows that you have to selectively read to justify a gender hierarchy. Romans 16:3-4, Acts 2:17-18, 24-26 and 18:26, Philippians 4:2-3, Romans 16:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:11 and Colossians 4:15 all mention women who preached. The last verse mentions that Nympha had church meetings in her home. Your argument for 1 Timothy 2:11-15 ignores the fact that preaching doesn’t exercise authority over anyone, so women pastors can’t be violating it. It doesn’t specify that it’s only about teaching the gospel, so female prophets also contradict your arguments for those verses. Submission is not having less authority, it’s giving of yourself to help others. Those verses are about not being domineering. Jesus forbade anyone from exercising authority over another in Matthew 20:25-28. The words in most languages translated from exercise authority are words for being abusive, not simply having authority. The reference to the creation order doesn’t ascribe different roles. In Genesis the only authority mentioned was given to all humanity to have dominion over earth. There’s nothing foretelling who would be allowed to be pastors. You don’t have to be a historian to know that.
        Colossians 3:18-19 doesn’t teach different roles, it’s giving examples of how to handle a marriage. Those verses don’t teach for wives to love their husbands, but mutual love is needed for a marriage to work. The same thing applies to submitting, which Ephesians 5:21, that you skipped, states. Husbands being called heads of wives is not giving men more authority than women. If it did, then it wouldn’t be much use to know because it gives no description of what the husband supposedly has more authority to do. Submission is only giving of yourself to help others. There is no rank of authority with that. 1 Peter 3:1-7 teaches mutual treatment in marriage. Verse 7 starts with “husbands in the same way, live with your wives. . .” How did you interpret different roles from that?
        I learned since then that it’s only chapter 31 that Lemuels mother taught. She was still teaching a man and every man who’s ever read it.

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      2. You state “Prophesying is teaching”. This is not true. In 1 Cor 12:28-29, Paul distinguishes prophets from teachers, and similarly in 1 Cor 14:26, prophesy is distinguished by Paul from those having “a word of instruction”.

        Yes, women are urged to teach, but look at the context, it is to other women and children.

        Your list of women who preach doesn’t in fact list women who preach. E.g. having a church in your home doesn’t necessarily mean you are preaching, it just means you are hospitable.

        You then seem to be confusing preaching with prophecying and with teaching.

        Eph 5:21 is talking about submitting to others to whom we need to submit. Paul then goes on to give examples of 3 such situations – wives submitting to husbands, children obeying fathers, and slaves obeying masters.

        A similar thing is going on in 1 Peter. In 2:13, believers are to submit to human authorities, in 2:18, slaves are to submit themselves to their masters, following Jesus’ example. and then in 3:1, wives are to submit to their husbands (and call them lord!).

        In 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are to behave in the same way as Jesus, as are wives (verse 1), as detailed at the end of the previous chapter. Peter uses the word translated “likewise” as a loose connective word (refer to Word Commentary). Thus husbands are to act in the appropriate way towards their wives.

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      3. ericbreaux

        I know that it’s listed with prophesying. Prophesying tells information from God. Telling someone information is teaching: they learn something from it. Prophesying is just special revelation that can’t be known by teaching what was written. And none of the gifts listed are said to be reserved for men.
        Titus 2:3-4 specifies older men and women and doesn’t say women are only allowed to teach women and children. It only says to encourage them. It’s giving examples of how to apply their knowledge and behavior. 2 Timothy 1 and 3:14-15 also give no context for female teaching being restricted to women and children. The later specifies no gender and instructs how to learn not teach.
        You ignored the fact that women were sent by Jesus as the first people to preach his resurrection to the disciples. Romans 16 lists Phoebe as a diakanos in the original text. That’s what the words deacon and servant are translated from. Priscilla and Aquila are said to be fellow workers for Jesus. Andronicus and Junia are said to be outstanding among the apostles. Acts Philippians 4:2-3 says Euodia and Syntyche, together with Clement shared Paul’s struggled for the sake of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1 mentions Chloes people. The parts of Paul’s letters about church leaders and commendable servants for the gospel are about preachers. It doesn’t make sense to think Nympha didn’t lead her own house church if no one else is said to have. You’re going to have to give some compelling evidence that these women not being preachers isn’t just your opinion. These texts only imply the opposite.
        You ignored the fact that submission is simply giving of yourself cooperatively. That’s not having less authority than another or fewer rights and responsibilities. Paul uses Sarah as an example of reverence by calling her husband lord because Abraham was a patriarch. That was the greatest rank of authority in their community. That doesn’t teach all husbands are lords of their wives just for being men. Any time authority with husbands and wives is mentioned it’s about mutual treatment.

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      4. Just a note that God told Abraham to listen to Sarah. This sounds like [mutual] submission.
        Gen 21:12
        But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and your slave woman; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.

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      5. ericbreaux

        I’m inclined to agree. Where it says the husband is the head and for wives to submit it never says what the husband is allowed to do that the wife isn’t. They’re useless for arguing that husbands and men in general have more rights and authority than women and wives. Any place the word authority is used addresses both genders and doesn’t teach special permission for either one.

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      6. Eric, I hit reply to reply to some comment, and it tagged you. Maybe it was someone else under your thread who argued for women to submit like Sarah called Abraham “lord.”

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      7. ericbreaux

        That was Andrew Amos who argued that.

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      8. Andrew Amos

        Actually it was Paul who suggested it, not me.

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  14. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for sharing what you have learned about this topic in a gentle and clear way.
    I would like to learn more about this issue as I want my beliefs to be faithful to God and the Bible, that’s it.
    So I’m studying about the points of this Complementarian view and you made some good observations. However I have some questions that I would love if you could help me to understand, according to your view.

    – Taking 1 Tim 2:8-15 into account, I’ve found that the word “authority” used here could be also translated as “to dictate” or “to tell the man what to do”. Depending on the interpretation, this could be as harsh as exercising excessive power over a man (a dictature), or not even allowing a woman asking a man to (please) not put his dirty shoes over a coffee table. So where is the crossing line in this issue.
    – The same goes for “I do not permit a woman to teach”. Where is the crossing line? Is it only at church? Or in Universities? Or at home? And if a woman is permitted to teach the gospel to a man because that is also a command for us (women). Then, where should a woman stop teaching? Or a woman should not teach the gospel to a man?
    – With Deborah, she was not only a prophet, she was the highest authority in the nation of Israel. Why would God allow this if women are not to teach or to exercise authority over man. And I know that God allows many things that are sinful (like polygamy in the OT). However, polygamy is never celebrated or encouraged by God, God used Deborah to lead Israel and deliver His people from their enemies. She even asked Barak (a man) to lead the army and he would not do it unless she would go with him. So, another question is, if a woman is knowledgeable and more capable of teaching and/or leading men in a church, is it better if no one leads the church? or is it better if a man that has less knowledge or experience with the Scriptures to lead or teach in a church?
    – Why would God give a command through many women prophetesses if they are not to teach or exercise authority over men? This happens more times than Paul saying that a woman should not teach men in the Bible.
    – I understand the danger of using too much historical context to prove a point, but if we have all these other instances where women teach or exercise authority over men, why could it be wrong to use those historical contexts to explain why there are situation where yes, women should not teach or exercise authority over men.
    – Do you think that is better if a woman covers her head (1 Cor. 11), or if they do not braid their hair (1 Tim. 2:9)? Yes, I know that many times the authors in the Bible give an example of what wrong behavior could look like, and their intention is not really to forbid women to ever braid their hair, but to call them to godliness (1 Tim. 2:10). Why are we taking verse 12 completely as a literal specific command and verse 9 not as a literal command?

    I would appreciate if you take time to respond to each point as I really respect your opinion as I can see that you want to be faithful to Scriptures, but are willing to consider all the alternatives found in the same Bible.

    If I need to explain myself better in any point, please let me know.
    Thank you so much!

    Zabdi

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Zabdi, thanks for your gracious comments, hopefully the following will provide some assistance:

      1. With respect to your first two questions about where to draw the line, different groups end up with different dividing lines. E.g. some Bible Colleges are happy with female lecturers, because it is not a church and they consider Paul’s instructions to be restricted to that environment, others are not. Both (presumably) are trying to be faithful to the Scriptures and I am not going to condemn them for that. I suggest listening to https://www.9marks.org/pastors-talk/episode-93-on-1-timothy-212-and-recent-complementarian-kerfuffles/ which (eventually) gives some background on how to handle these differences. It is targeted at pastors who are familiar with the US scene (which I am not), but the important points should be able to be generally understood I hope.

      2. With respect to Deborah, Barak was supposed to provide leadership and refused (Judges 4:8), and so God determined that he would not end up receiving the glory for the death of Sisera (vs 9). Is it any wonder that God used Deborah when the men were refusing to take the lead? Of course, we need to be careful with our use of the Old Testament – often it is descriptive, not prescriptive – it tells us what happened, not necessarily what we should do. Today, if no suitable men are available, I imagine God will indeed use Godly women as He finds appropriate. However that is a big “if”.

      3. With respect to women prophets, I don’t see the relevance about the “number of times” something happens. We need to attempt to bring it to all make sense together. As I suggested in a previous reply, the role of a prophet is different to someone who teaches and has authority in the New Testament church context.

      4. You mention :all these other instances where women teach or exercise authority over men”. Where are these instances? It is never permissible to use “historical context” to nullify the word of God.

      5. In Paul’s day, covering the head was a culturally appropriate way of indicating a wife’s submission, that is what Paul is talking about. Today in the West it means that a woman is a Moslem or into retro styles of dress. We need to find culturally appropriate ways of indicating the same thing. This will differ from culture to culture, but the truth behind it remains. In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul says it is his “desire”, but in verse 12, he says “I do not permit”, the level is different. As I understand the passage, in verse 9, the reason for his “desire” is so that they may do what is proper for women who profess Godliness (vs 10). For verse 11, the reason is given in verses 13 and 14.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ericbreaux

        I think this is my fifth time trying to get my response accepted. Teaching of Jesus resurrection and the salvation it brings is preaching. Women were the first to do that. Ranks of authority are not needed for that. There only needs to be a chosen leader in a select group of people. That ranking does not apply to being a missionary.
        Prophesying is teaching. Titus 1:6-9 uses a male example of proper pastorally conduct. That doesn’t restrict women. That same logic could justify that lust is only wrong for men because Jesus didn’t mention women lusting when teaching about adultery of the heart. It even specifies women in 1 Timothy 3:11 to act likewise as the male examples. You admit there were female deacons but you could use the fact that only male deacons are referenced in 1 Timothy 3 to argue only males can be deacons, like you argued it teaches only men can be preachers. You contradict yourself when writing that teaching is reserved for men, then write later that women are urged to teach in Titus 2:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-15. This shows that you have to selectively read to justify a gender hierarchy. Romans 16:3-4, Acts 2:17-18, 24-26 and 18:26, Philippians 4:2-3, Romans 16:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:11 and Colossians 4:15 all mention women who preached. The last verse mentions that Nympha had church meetings in her home. Your argument for 1 Timothy 2:11-15 ignores the fact that preaching doesn’t exercise authority over anyone, so women pastors can’t be violating it. It doesn’t specify that it’s only about teaching the gospel, so female prophets also contradict your arguments for those verses. Submission is not having less authority, it’s giving of yourself to help others. Those verses are about not being domineering. Jesus forbade anyone from exercising authority over another in Matthew 20:25-28. The words in most languages translated from exercise authority are words for being abusive, not simply having authority. The reference to the creation order doesn’t ascribe different roles. In Genesis the only authority mentioned was given to all humanity to have dominion over earth. There’s nothing foretelling who would be allowed to be pastors. You don’t have to be a historian to know that.
        Colossians 3:18-19 doesn’t teach different roles, it’s giving examples of how to handle a marriage. Those verses don’t teach for wives to love their husbands, but mutual love is needed for a marriage to work. The same thing applies to submitting, which Ephesians 5:21, that you skipped, states. Husbands being called heads of wives is not giving men more authority than women. If it did, then it wouldn’t be much use to know because it gives no description of what the husband supposedly has more authority to do. Submission is only giving of yourself to help others. There is no rank of authority with that. 1 Peter 3:1-7 teaches mutual treatment in marriage. Verse 7 starts with “husbands in the same way, live with your wives. . .”
        I learned since then that it’s only chapter 31 that Lemuels mother taught. She was still teaching a man and every man who’s ever read it.

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  15. Thank you for taking the time to write this. You gave many reasons you are not egalitarian, and that certainly hedges complementarianism in on one side. Do you have any posts explaining why you are not of the Biblical Patriarchy crowd?

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  16. Gavin, considering your definition that egalitarianism is the “view that men and women have identical roles,” I ask you to consider my perspective as one who is (somewhat) new to the debate: I see egalitarians saying that men and women have equal opportunity for God to gift and lead them toward whatever role God desires for them.
    Do you see the distinction? This places roles at the discretion of God and not a system that we can follow apart from God. It’s the difference between gender being the determining factor, or God being the ultimate and active leader.

    Also consider that Jesus chose 12 Jewish men. Could there be any symbolism there beyond a rule to establish gender roles? That there were 12 tribes of Israel, is one insightful parallel. If Gentiles can now lead the church, why does Gal 3:28 not also stand true for women?

    Don’t you think that distinguishing women as “prophets” (Acts 2, Joel) from women as “teachers and preachers” might be splitting hairs? To prophesy is to speak God’s message; is this not authoritative teaching? I find this to be a destructive arguing over words (2 Timothy 2:14).

    See also this post that I just wrote. Thank you for reading and considering these points. I wish you well.

    https://coffeewithkristin.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/they-thought-they-had-this-locked-up/

    Kristin

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    1. Your definition of egalitarianism is definitely better than my short-hand one. I’d certainly see the 12 apostles as symbolic of the 12 tribes, but not sure that takes away from the relevance of the point. I do see elders and prophets as pretty different – I don’t think its splitting hairs because they are portrayed so differently in the Scripture. Just my take. Thanks for engaging Kristin.

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      1. Gavin, Thank you for engaging. Can you explain why Jesus’ paradigm-shattering life and death opens the way for Gentiles but not women, in the context of Galatians 3:28?
        Galatians 3:3 warns of beginning in the Spirit and trying to turn to human methods. The masculine pronouns in the Greek certainly include men and women, throughout the passage. The pantes (all) of 3:26 includes truly all as “sons of God,” (the “sons” implying right to inheritance, in Greco-Roman culture, not specificity to men; of course you know this already).

        Prophets and elders are different; I will give you that. I won’t go into the elder aspects in 1 Timothy (except to again consider the masculine yet inclusive pronouns and word forms) but will ask you to consider how Scripture places the prophetic and teaching/leading (eldership) gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (if one must establish primacy, which is not the point but is relevant when forced).

        Thank you!

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