An Accidental Misrepresentation?

An article in CT the other day told the story of a woman’s acceptance of complementarian gender roles. She said,

I found a defense for the holy beauty of submission when I hadn’t gone looking for it. Jesus Christ, obedient to his Father, went willingly to his death—for me. Was I to argue against the disposition that saved me? Running, I was caught.

The assumption seems to be that egalitarians are committed to arguing against submission in all its forms. But they are not. They like submission so much that they implore both men and women to submit to one another mutually! Nor do egalitarians find submission to pastoral leadership, the governing authorities, or the requirements of one’s employer to be ethically problematic (unless they are abusive). Nor do they believe inequality is intrinsically bad. They can fully agree with the conclusion of the following argument Alex Pruss gives:

  1. There is nothing intrinsically bad in heaven.

  2. There is inequality in heaven (God is in heaven and humans are in heaven, and there is infinite inequality there).

  3. So, inequality is not intrinsically bad.

So the article, I think, misrepresents egalitarians. What they actually believe is that maleness neither qualifies one for authority, nor does femaleness disqualify one for authority. That is to say, roles of authority and subordination that are ontologically grounded in maleness and femaleness do not exist; therefore patriarchy is to be rejected. It does not follow from this, however, that there are no ontologically grounded hierarchies; Jesus is worthy of obedience precisely because he is the Son of God. Part of that obedience is imitation; he “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” If the greatest possible being can give up his divine rights, then so can men who (wrongly) believe they have patriarchal rights over their wives. In any case, the Christian gospel undermines patriarchy.

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Dorothy Sayers: Are Women Human?

From Scot McKnight’s blog:

God, of course, may have his own opinion, but the Church is reluctant to endorse it. I think that I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Martha and Mary that did not attempt, somehow, somewhere, to explain away its text. Mary’s of course was the better part – the Lord said so and we must not precisely contradict Him. But we will be careful not to despise Martha. No doubt He approved of her too. We could not get on without her, and indeed (having paid lip-service to God’s opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her. For Martha was doing a really feminine job, whereas Mary was just behaving like any other disciple, male or female; and that is a hard pill to swallow.

Perhaps it is no wonder that women were the first at the Cradle and the last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as “The women, God help us?” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words or deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.

But we might easily deduce it from his contemporaries, and from His prophets before Him, and from His Church to this day. Women are not human; nobody shall persuade that they are human; let them say what they like, we will not believe it, though One rose from the dead. (p. 46-47 from 1981 printing)

Webb v. Grudem: “Ultimate Ethic”

In the last few years William Webb has been the favorite whipping boy of CBMW and complementarians of all types. Ever since his book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals was published he has been subject to intense criticism by those that label his project “trajectory hermeneutics.” These code words are supposed to represent the idea that Webb has constructed a “cultural filter” that weeds out the parts of the Bible he doesn’t like (i.e. the subjugation of women) and posits an “ultimate ethic” outside of the Bible that the unfolding narrative of Scripture was heading towards. Thus Scripture is set on a “trajectory” towards something it doesn’t explicitly affirm, and perhaps even denies.

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Indian Prime Minister Denounces Abortion of Females

From the New York Times:

“No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women,” Mr. Singh said, giving an inaugural speech at a national conference dedicating to “saving the girl child,” which brought together politicians, doctors and advocates.

Testosterone Gospel

Brandon O’Brien wrote an article for Christianity Today about what the so-called “new masculinity movement” gets right and wrong. Some interesting items of note:

Today a growing body of literature is leveling its sights on the church, suggesting that men are uninvolved in church life because the church doesn’t encourage authentic masculine participation.

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