Saturday, August 25, 2012

Male Headship: a Comparison with Christian Teachings of Long Ago

Over the last three years or so, I have read a number of essays online in support of male headship in the church and home, and interacted with many supporters of male headship in comments on forums and blogs.  The comments made to me and others by supporters of male headship as God's divine plan and design, usually fall into a few general categories.  These are as follows:

That the Church has traditionally, for 2000 years prior to the the current age, supported male headship.

That there is nothing wrong with male headship itself, and that protests against it are really about the abuse of male headship by some men, and not male headship itself.

That those who oppose male headship are capitulating to our modern, godless culture.

That women are designed by God to be under male headship and are happiest when they embrace that design.


That the early chapters of the Book of Genesis establish God's principle of male headship. 

That the entire Bible clearly and plainly supports male headship, and those who resist it are going against the Word of God. 

I have by and large addressed the actual substance of most of these arguments in many of my blog posts here.  Today I'd like to look at them in another way.

I want to make it clear from the start that I am not judging the motives of any of my complementarian brothers and sisters, except insofar as I am commenting on common motives of the human race in general, in its fallen condition which I and my fellow egalitarians also share.  I am not comparing the morals of complementarianism or of complementarians, to the morals of any other group.  I am not calling anyone a racist.  I am not questioning the sincerity of anyone's Christianity or the way they follow Christ.  

But I want to look at the arguments above, by comparing them to the arguments of another group from 150 years ago in the United States.  I want to point out that the makers of those 150-year-old arguments were, according to every criteria an evangelical Christian would use  today, devoted and upstanding followers of Christ.  Many of the people who sincerely made these arguments will, I have no doubt, meet us one day in the new heavens and new earth, as our brothers and sisters, lovers of Christ and dearly loved by Him.  But they were mistaken-- and I believe every reader of mine, egalitarian or complementarian, Christian or non-Christian, will agree that they were mistaken.

I refer to the arguments in the book (available at Google Books online) called A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical and Historical View of Slavery, by John Henry Hopkins, D.D., L.L.D., New York: WI Pooley & Co. (1864).


Before beginning, however, I would like to state why I am making this comparison by quoting egalitarian Christian leader Kevin Giles, who attended a complementarian Christian conference in Melbourne, Australia in October 2010.  His thoughts are recorded on Google Docs in this reply entitled "Kevin Giles replies to the Melbourne Hierarchical-Complementarians," and he states on pages 32-33 this profound thought regarding human sinfulness and weakness as it has played out historically for thousands of years (human weakness in which I share just like everyone else):

"Once [human] power over others is attained, it is only relinquished when it becomes impossible to maintain.  The more pressure applied to share power, the more reasons are thought up to justify the power held, and the more hostility to opponents is shown. . .  [I]n the southern states of America in the 19th century evangelicals led the opposition to the emancipation of the slaves, insisting the Bible sanctioned and endorsed slavery. . . They found much in scripture to support their ideas.  Nearly all the evangelical clergy in the Old South were convinced that slavery was taught in the Bible, and many in the northern states as well.  It took a civil war and the loss of over a million lives before these Christian men were forced to give up their power over their black slaves, and it took nearly 150 years before the Southern Baptists openly admitted they had been wrong to appeal to the Bible to justify slavery.  Men resist at all costs giving up power over others.  Another example is Apartheid.  In South Africa the Apartheid ideology was devised and institutionalized by Reformed Christians.  They wrote extensively, arguing that the Bible taught the separation of the races and that some should rule over others.  Appeal was made to a supposed 'order of creation' that set white men over black and coloured people.  These white Reformed Christians only relinquished power when the economic and political pressures became impossible to withstand.  Now in South Africa is is hard to find a Reformed pastor or theologian who is not ashamed that such repeated and insistent appeal to the Bible was made to justify what is unjustifiable.  It is undeniable that as a general principal, men resist at all cost giving up power over others.  And if they are Christians, try to find justification for their power by appeal to the Bible."  [Emphasis added.]


As a white person, I belong to a race that has, male and female alike, historically resisted at all costs giving up power over others.   Recognizing me as a fellow-traveler in human frailty, my readers will, I hope-- in a spirit of intellectual detachment-- simply read the general arguments listed below, followed by quotes from Rev. Hopkins' book in a similar vein, and see the similarities.  (All emphasized words in the quotes below were emphasized in the original.)

The Church has traditionally, for 2000 years prior to the the current age, supported male headship.

"But the Word of God has not changed; the doctrine of the Apostles has not changed. . . I do not respect your departure from the old and well-settled rule of the Church. . . . I know that the doctrine of that Church was clear and unanimous on the lawfulness of slavery for eighteen centuries together . . ." p. 47.

 There is nothing wrong with male headship itself, and protests against it are really about the abuse of male headship by some men, and not male headship itself. 

"[My] whole object . . . was to prove, from the Bible, that in the relation of master and slave there was necessarily no sin whatever.  The sin, if any, lay in the treatment of the slave, and not in the relation itself.  Of course, it was liable to abuse, as all human relations must be. But . . . thousands of our Christian brethren who held slaves were treating them with kindness and justice, according to the Apostle's rule. . .  I held it to be a cruel and absurd charge to accuse them as sinners against the Divine law, when they were only doing what the Word of God allowed, under the Constitution and established code of their country."  p. 45.

Those who oppose male headship are capitulating to our modern, godless culture. 

"Who are we, that in our modern wisdom presume to set aside the Word of God . . . and invent for ourselves a 'higher law' than those holy Scriptures which are given to us as 'a light to our feet and a lamp to our paths,' in the darkness of a sinful and polluted world?" p. 16.

"In religious truth or reverence for the Bible, the age in which we live is prolific in daring and impious innovation. . . We have heard the increasing clamor against the Bible, sometimes from the devotees of geological speculation, sometimes from the bold deniers of miracle and prophecy, and, not least upon the list, from the loud-tongued apostles of anti-slavery." p.48.

Women are designed by God to be under male headship and are happiest when they embrace that design.

"The eldest son of a royal family is in due time king, and his brothers forthwith become his subjects.  Why should not the same principle obtain in the races of mankind, if the Almighty has so willed it?  The Anglo-Saxon race is king; why should not the African race be subject, and subject in the way for which it is best adapted, and in which it may be more safe, more useful and more happy than in any other which has yet been opened to it, in the annals of the world?" p. 32.

The early chapters of the Book of Genesis establish God's principle of male headship. 

"The first appearance of slavery in the Bible is the wonderful prediction of the patriarch Noah: 'Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren' . . . the fulfillment was reserved for his posterity, after they had lost the knowledge of God and become utterly polluted by the abominations of heathen idolatry.  The Almighty, foreseeing this total degradation of the race, ordered them to servitude or slavery under the descendants of Shem and Japeth, doubtless because He judged it to be their fittest condition.  And all history proves how accurately the prediction has been accomplished, even to the present day."  p. 7.

The entire Bible clearly and plainly supports male headship, and those who resist it are going against the Word of God. 

"[We must refer] the question to the only infallible criterion -- the Word of God. . . . I proceed, accordingly, to the evidence of the sacred Scriptures, which, long ago, produced complete conviction in my own mind, and must, as I regard it, be equally conclusive to every candid and sincere inquirer." p. 7.

"[We condemn] the loud and bitter denunciations of our anti-slavery preachers and politicians, calling themselves Christians. . . For they. . . set themselves against the Word of God in this matter. . . . " p. 16.


Having finished this, I'm very much afraid that I cannot help but have given offense-- and I sincerely apologize.  But I believe this comparison is one that I, in all honestly and in my best integrity, have to make.  If anyone thinks I am pointing fingers, my last blog post "My Wish-I-Hadn'ts" will show you that my other three fingers are to the best of my ability, pointing back straight at me.

I know that our Lord Jesus has mercy on us all.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great comparison. People get really offended if you bring up the church's defence of slavery as an analogy to the defence of male headship. Getting offended is no substitute for a decent counter-argument.

pnissila said...

Thank you for your insights...analogy compelling. I pray those who read this and who believe men are somehow superior to women spiritually will see how easy it is for human beings to stray from the intent of the Gospel.

Jesus came to set us free. All of us. Male, female, Jew, Greek, slave, free... Those who cherry pick Scripture for the end game of power and control certainly miss Jesus' admonition to be "servants." They certainly miss how He respected women, did not hinder women from sitting "front row center" in His ministry, and entrusted them with the spreading of the Good News (consider the woman at the well; Mary Magdalene on Resurrection morning).

If women are to continue to suffer the consequences of the curse because Eve was deceived, what about Adam, who was deceived twice, you might say? First, by believing Eve, and by so doing, believing Satan. Shouldn't men, then, continue to suffer their own curse only more so? Should we not mandate they must earn their living only by the sweat of the brow...and make it harder for them to do so?

Of course, logic has nothing to do with the argument. Women, as per extra-biblical patriarchy thinking are the only ones who must continue to suffer the consequences of the curse by being "lorded over," Jesus' declaration, "It is finished" notwithstanding. And I am familiar with how the language of Eve's curse has been twisted to indict her alone for all earthly time, while Genesis clearly indicates that the prophesy of Jesus' future redemption was directed at them both.

Thank God Jesus is present where "two or more are gathered together" in His name. We can find a fellowship where all are respected as equal heirs to the life of grace.

Thank you, again, for your thoughtful post.
Phyllis

PeaceByJesus said...

Equating male headship with slavery and invoking texts such as Gal. 3:28 as negating the former is sophistry, which prohomosexuals likewise engage in using the same hermeneutic.

The Scriptures do indeed sanction its regulated forms of slavery, but which were not part of the fundamental moral laws ordained by God from the beginning, which are based upon creational distinctions as reflective of the Divine order, but instead are part of the civil laws and which regulated a existing institution which God did not initiate.

And regardless of Mormonic or other racist doctrine, God did not make the black man a perpetual servant to the white man (and strangers could own Hebrews servants for up to 6 years).

The basis for slavery being different than that of male headship, thus Paul continues to only clearly affirm the latter, but while he instructs on how slaves are to be treated, yet he clearly requires a slave owner to receive his escaped and converted slave back as a brother, no longer a slave, (Philemon 1:15-17) and in general recommends that they obtain freedom if lawfully able. (1Cor. 7:1)

And which would later be made possible, while slave revolts under Rome only made things worse (and the Christian emphasis is on having a superior spirit in all circumstances, rather than focusing on proactively promoting political change [cf. 2Cor. 10:3-6]).

By equating male headship with racism and slavery is as if Genesis taught:

"And the Lord God formed the white [or Hebrew] man of the dust of the ground. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the white man should be alone; I will make him an helper for him. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a black man, and brought him unto the white man.

"And the white man said, The black man whom thou gavest to me, he gave me of the tree, and I did eat. " (Genesis 3:12)

"Unto the black man God said, I will greatly multiply thy labor and thy servitude, in the sweat of thy face shalt thou provide bread, and thy desire shall be against thy master, and he shall rule over thee."

And is seeking to negate the fundamental basis for male headship, the egalitarian exegetes have New Covenant teaching saying,

"But I would have you know, that the source of every man is Christ; and the source of the women is the man; and the source of Christ is God. For this cause ought the woman to have no sign of submission on her head*, because of the angels who also are not ruled over by God."

"But I allow a woman to teach, and to reject any claims to male headship, as they are to be quiet. For Adam was not first formed and then Eve. Nor was Adam first deceived, but the man and the woman were deceived as equal partners." (1 Timothy 2:12-14)

In the light of zero examples of female priests, apostles or pastors (despite egalitarian extrapolations), and women only being as a head in a rare exceptional circumstance, in contrast to explicit statements that women are not to occupy the (magisterial) office of teacher in the church, and that the wife is to be subject to her husband as the church is to Christ, based on creational distinctions, then the very attempts to negate the headship of the male are an argument against the feminist egalitarianism.

*Note that kephalē, the word for "head" in 1Cor. 11:3, etc., in the less than 20 times out of 76 that the word for "head" is used outside the literal sense, and outside such metaphorical uses such as Christ being the foundational head stone of the building, then it denotes far more than simply "source," but authority, so that 1Cor. 11:3 is corespondent to, "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:24).

Kristen said...

PeaceByJesus, none of this actually addresses the topic of my post, which was that the arguments for slavery and the arguments for male headship that I have listed here are the same arguments. Furthermore, characterizing my post as "sophistry," with the implication that I am using deliberately smooth and deceitful arguments with the intention of misleading people, is out of bounds on this blog. Any further comments that fail to engage the actual post or which descend into a discussion or attack on my or anyone else's character, motives or person, will be summarily deleted. Any second occurrence will result in the commenter being banned.

Further, if LGBT people want to comment on any of my posts giving reasoned scriptural arguments that address the topic, I intend to give them the same consideration I would give anyone else, regardless of what you think.

I'm not tolerating any longer the kind of comment where the commenter assumes he or she has a divine mandate to set me straight. Either respectfully enter the discussion that is presented, or find somewhere else to comment.

PeaceByJesus said...

"none of this actually addresses the topic of my post." "Any further comments that fail to engage the actual post or which descend into a discussion or attack on my or anyone else's character, motives or person, will be summarily deleted."

With due respect it seems as if you only read the first sentence, as my response certainly did address the premise that these argument for male headship are the same as for slavery.

And rather than my post consisting of an attacking on your or anyone else's character, motives or person, outside of my relegating the egalitarian argument as sophistry - which i see defined (Free dictionary) as

1. Plausible but fallacious argumentation.
2. A plausible but misleading or fallacious argument,

and its use by me was in regards to the argument itself, and did not necessarily impugn the motive - then the rest of my post was a reasoned argument against the egalitarian polemic.

Nor was i tell you to disallow dissenting prohomosexual posts, but showing how the same reasoning is used to wrongly justify both.

And thank you for allowing me to express my conclusions.

Kristen said...

With due respect it seems as if you only read the first sentence, as my response certainly did address the premise that these argument for male headship are the same as for slavery.

No, I did read your entire comment. However, the fact that you disagree with the 1850s position on slavery and want to explain why, and that you then want to explain why male headship should not be considered the same sort of thing as slavery (even though Paul teaches about the two back-to-back both in Eph. 5 and Col. 3), really does not address the issue that the way they defended slavery in the 1850s and the way male headship is defended today, are based on the same basic types of arguments.

You see, this post was not actually an expression of what you call "the egalitarian polemic." I never said, "Slavery is wrong, therefore male headship is wrong." Your response was therefore addressing something I wasn't talking about. What my post says is, "these arguments that used to be used to support slavery are no longer considered valid. These same types of arguments are now being used to support male headship, so those arguments ought to be re-examined." Therefore, your argument "slavery is wrong, but male headship is different, and here are different arguments to prove it" really does not address the point I was making.

Further, the word "sophistry" does have the connotations I mentioned, and "deliberately deceitful" is in fact part of the understood meaning of that word. If you don't want to be considered to making comments that impugn motive, then don't use inflammatory words. "Fallacious argument" would have suited your stated meaning better, without the connotations that are part and parcel of the word "sophistry."

Finally, with regards to your point on "homosexual arguments" - what bothers me is that you seem to be using this as a reason to weaken my argument through guilt-by-association. I do not buy the idea that any argument LGBT people make is automatically wrong, and that any argument I might make that looks similar (even if on a completely different topic) is therefore also wrong. I don't treat people like that.

Kristen said...

PS. Also, your speculative rewriting of Gen. 2-3 in an attempt to show that the basis for slavery and the basis for male headship are different, actually proves how much the two arguments are the same. The 1850s argument claimed that blacks were intended by God to be subordinate to whites from the beginning of the time there were races. Your argument claims that women were intended by God to be subordinate to men from the beginning of the time there were sexes. The 1850's argument claims that all black people inherited subordination due to the sin of their ancestor. Your argument claims that all women inherited subordination to the sin of their ancestor. The 1850s argument allows no change to the subordination of black people even though Jesus has brought and is bringing the New Creation. Your argument allows no change to the subordination of women even though Jesus has brought and is bringing the new creation.

The fact that the 1850s argument doesn't claim God set up race supremacy before there were races, really is beside the point.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 1:

Paul teaches about the two back-to-back both in Eph. 5 and Col. 3


"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. " (Ephesians 5:22-24)

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; " (Ephesians 6:5)

The commonality is that submission is enjoined upon both, but the key distinction is that the basis is different and therefore its transcendence. The headship of the male is based upon creational distinctions reflective of that within the Godhead. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. " (1 Timothy 2:13) “and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1Cor. 11:3)

And in which creation the wife typifies the church, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. " (Ephesians 5:31-32)

In contrast, while submission is required of both, the station of a servant is not based on any creational order or intrinsic distinctions, but is a matter of circumstance in the NT. And which station can change, with freedom for to servants being recommended or even enjoined, while male headship is further affirmed under the New Covenant, with no liberty from that being offered, despite the attempts to assert otherwise.


What my post says is, "these arguments that used to be used to support slavery are no longer considered valid. These same types of arguments are now being used to support male headship, so those arguments ought to be re-examined."


While you may have engaged in this simply as an examination of polemical similarities, it seemed to me to be an attempt to impugn the doctrine of male headship by using certain arguments for slavery by some Christians and making them analogous to those for male headship, yet there are problems with the former argument which the latter do not have, as well as the critical distinctions between the two cases, some of which i thus dealt with.

And thus noted evangelicals such as Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley were among and many other Christian abolitionists who were in opposition to slavery while upholding male headship, while less doctrinal minded types such as the Quakers were part of a a minority that deviated from the traditional doctrine.

Further, the word "sophistry" does have the connotations I mentioned, and "deliberately deceitful" is in fact part of the understood meaning of that word..."Fallacious argument" would have suited your stated meaning better,

The “understood meaning” of sophistry as denoting willful deception is an interpretation, while apart from motive i see it as meaning deceptive, as explained.


Finally, with regards to your point on "homosexual arguments" - what bothers me is that you seem to be using this as a reason to weaken my argument through guilt-by-association.


It is, as they both invoke the same fallacious argumentation, though they push it to a further extreme, both in this case as well as many others.

To be ctnd.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 2:

Also, your speculative rewriting of Gen. 2-3 in an attempt to show that the basis for slavery and the basis for male headship are different, actually proves how much the two arguments are the same.


Just the opposite. My post actually contrasts the two arguments by illustrating the type of statements and foundational support slavery would need if it were to be have the same basis and immutability as male headship.


As it does not, what you can argue is that there are similarities between some attempts to justify at least racial slavery, or similarities as regards certain aspects as submission, but which ignore the critical foundational distinctions between the two.

There are also similarities between the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the story of Mithras, but which does not make them the same due to distinctions and other aspects , nor make the former to be the one doing the copying.

Thus the real issue becomes the viability of the arguments for racial slavery insofar as they compare with those for male headship.


The 1850s argument claimed that blacks were intended by God to be subordinate to whites from the beginning of the time there were races. Your argument claims that women were intended by God to be subordinate to men from the beginning of the time there were sexes. The 1850's argument claims that all black people inherited subordination due to the sin of their ancestor. Your argument claims that all women inherited subordination to the sin of their ancestor.


I will give a brief response to these first and then respond more fully.

The differences is that the former cannot be established while the latter is and the contrast it clear. Unlike the women, in creation God nowhere said He made a black man from a white man to be his helper, and that whitey would would rule over the black man, and confirm in the NT by making the women to be as the church, with submission being likened to that of Christ to the Father.

The racial slavery argument is based on their curse on Canaan is at best speculative, and is not confirmed in the rest of Scripture, with leadership being restricted based on skin color, whereas male headship in marriage and the church explicitly is. And the attempts to negate the latter, which i have dealt with by God's grace, overall require such fallacious argumentation that they effectively are an argument against them.


The 1850s argument allows no change to the subordination of black people even though Jesus has brought and is bringing the New Creation. Your argument allows no change to the subordination of women even though Jesus has brought and is bringing the new creation.


Again, even if the argument for racial superiority and slavery from Gn. 9:25 were sound, the NT nowhere makes race a factor in leadership, as if the head of the black man was the white man and that blacks are not to usurp the authority of the white man, while explicitly stating this as regards the husband over the wife.

Moreover, the premise that the principle behind such texts as Gal. 3:28, that of essential equality, negates male headship would also negate any order of leadership within the Godhead and in the church, but which it manifestly cannot not.

To be ctnd.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 3:

These arguments illustrate why this exercise in analogy is deceptive, because the arguments for racial slavery rests upon assertions which are nowhere established, unlike those for male headship. Again, you simply will not find God creating the black man out of the white Adam for a helper he is to rule over, and the NT confirming the white man as the head of the black with the latter being a type of the church, as well as spiritual leadership being restricted to the white man.

In addition, it cannot be established that Adam and Noah were white, and that Canaan somehow distinctively became the progenitor of the blacks of Africa, and that his posterity were forever cursed as slaves for Japheth and Shem, and that this is confirmed under the New Covenant.

The first mention of anyone having servants was Abraham, (Gn. 14:14) and neither there or anywhere else does skin color determine slavery. While an argument may be made, based upon the Table of Nations, that the descendants of Canaan populated part of Africa, that is speculative and not transcendent in any case.

What Scripture does do is place the boundaries of Canaan in close proximity to Israel, (Gn. 10:19) and it is more accepted that they populated a large portion of what is now in the Middle East , occupying the Levant , a restriction that was emphasized by 18th century abolitionist theologians.

Also, as Canaan was the name of the “Promised Land,” thus Shem fought his own relatives for it. Yet the Canaanites in the promised land were to be killed (not subjected) and which was for moral reasons, not race. In contrast, cities in areas very far off from them who were objects of conquest, and chose not to fight, were made tributaries. (Dt. 20:10-18)

And it was from the heathen that were round about Israel, and children of the strangers that sojourned among them, that they were allowed to buy bondmen and bondmaids from, although the latter could own Hebrews servants for a time. (Lv. 25:44-47)

Meanwhile, as genetic science has that humans originating in Africa near present day Ethiopia, thus some argue that Adam was black.

I would also add that, as one who has had 2nd degree burns on both my legs due to being out in the sun for about 6 hours (forsaking the law of my mother!), besides other episodes, i do not think dark skin is inferior to white, and it is the latter which i think could seem to be like a curse in most of Africa.

Furthermore, and critically, the NT also says nothing about blacks being fated to slavery, or slaves being so due to any aspect of creation and distinction between races, with only commonality with women being that they were both called to submission within an established order. And likewise Christians are enjoined to (conditionally) submit to spiritual and civil rulers as an order ordained by God. (Heb. 13:17; Rm. 13:1-7; 1Pt. 2:14) Besides the specific authority structure, Christians are to serve one another, but which does not place all on the same level of functional authority.

In addition, not only was a race not forbidden to be in leadership, but as said, slaves were encouraged to obtain freedom, (1Cor. 7:21) and abolishment of slave status was actually required in one case. (Philemon 1:10-21)

To be ctnd.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 4:

In contrast, the submission of the wife to her husband has a unique and transcendent basis, beginning with the women coming from the man as a helper, and ruling over her, and the priesthood and (later) apostleship consisting only of males (despite some eisegetical egalitarian extrapolation arguing otherwise), and explicit NT teaching that affirms the headship of the male in both marriage and the church, based on creation, the fall, and reflective of the order within the Godhead.

Therefore the weakness of arguments of racial slavery and the strength of the evidence against it is something egalitarians can only wish was the case in regards to male headship, while the distinctions between them negate the attempt to equate the two as both being conditional and abrogated.

Kristen said...

Part 1:

Sorry, PBJ, but what this really boils down to is that you agree with a certain interpretation of the scriptures that supports male headship, but you disagree with with another interpretation of the scriptures that supports African slavery. You believe you have more support for your position than they did for theirs, but your continual use of the word "explicit" is really identical to another of the pro-slavery 1850s arguments: that your position is "clear" in the scriptures while your opponents are "twisting scripture" or committing "eisegesis." This is the exact argument that pro-slavery opponents would use to privilege their position while disparaging that of their opponents. But there is no such thing as an unbiased human being, and there is no reading of the Bible that is not an interpretation. I don't think yours holds up any more than you think the slavery ones hold up. Just because you think you're reading your favorite passages as God actually meant them to be understood, doesn't make it so.

All of the issues you raise are addressed in my other blog posts, such as

The Bible and the Nature of Woman

and

Does the Bible Teach Male Headship? Part 1

Does the Bible Teach Male Headship? Part 2

Does the Bible Teach Male Headship? Part 2

and

Does the Bible Teach Male Headship? Conclusion

There are many more as well-- a Topic Index appears at the top of my blog.

Kristen said...

Part 2:

However, I can see that you have dedicated a lot of time to creating your own websites on this issue which are intended to negate the functional equality of women and relegate them to being under male authority. I don't think there is any way we can ever convince one another, and we'll have to agree to disagree. But I would like you to think about this: If the position that you take, however "biblically correct" it seems, is inherently against "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," then how can you be so sure you're interpreting correctly?

This post of mine articulates my position about the overall message of the New Covenant Kingdom:

The Message of God's Kingdom: Foundational Equality

This understanding of God's Kingdom equality brings liberty and gladness-- that the gospel is just as much good news for women as it is for men. This understanding leads men to do unto women as they would want done unto them-- to be treated as full, functional equals. Your understanding fundamentally tells women that the Kingdom of God really isn't as great a place for them as it is for men. It tells women that the gospel isn't as good of news to them as it is good news for men. I want no part of a "sucks to be you" gospel, or a "too bad you're not a man" Kingdom.

And when it comes right down to it, when I look at Jesus and how He treated women, I can't believe that your gospel is His gospel. If a reading of scriptures ends up painting God as a "respecter of persons" even though the scripture says He isn't-- if it ends up painting God as arbitrary and unjust-- then it can't be a correct reading, no matter how correct it seems.

Shirley Taylor on her Baptist Women for Equality blog put it so well:

"What about the so-called difficult scriptures? You know what is difficult about those scriptures? The real difficulty in those scriptures is this: that we find it easier to believe that God made women inferior, than it is for us to believe that we have misinterpreted those scriptures."

That's what it comes down to for me. I really don't see the point, therefore, in continuing to argue about it.

Kristen said...

PS. And please don't tell me that your view of scripture is not about women being inferior. Giving lip service to "equality of nature" while stating that women are designed to be under male authority and men are designed to be in authority over women, is not "equality." It's female inferiority, no matter what you call it.

Don said...

I think I would start any discussion with Peace4Jesus by asking him to not use the word "headship" as it is not found in the Bible and the use of it makes some unwarranted assumptions. What actually IS used in the Greek NT is the word kephale which has a primary meaning of one's physical head and when not used for that purpose has some metaphorical meanings.

Once he agree with that, it is possible for the discussion to go further, but without that I think he has already added too much tradition that is not found in the Bible to the discussion.

believer333 said...

Pt. 1

”In contrast, the submission of the wife to her husband has a unique and transcendent basis, beginning with the women coming from the man as a helper, and ruling over her, and the priesthood and (later) apostleship consisting only of males (despite some eisegetical egalitarian extrapolation arguing otherwise), and explicit NT teaching that affirms the headship of the male in both marriage and the church, based on creation, the fall, and reflective of the order within the Godhead.”

PBJ, I’m going to comment on these erroneous conclusions that you put forth here.

The submission of the wife to the husband is the same submission that all believers are to give to one another. Eph. 5:21 contains the verb that vs. 22 does not have and thus sets the tone. Here is how Paul laid the foundation. All are to love one another sacrificially in the same way that Jesus did us in laying down His life for us (only we are not called to physically die). Eph. 5:1 This is accomplished by putting aside sinful attitudes, walking in truthfulness and allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide us. It is nothing to do with exercising authority or leadership over each other. This concludes in all being admonished to be submissive to one another, which also has nothing to do with exercising authority or leadership over one another. We are to yield to one another, support one another, stay part of the family, consider other’s needs before our own. I think basically if you will look for all the allelon verses (containing admonishments about how we treat one another) you will get the picture.

Paul then continues by stepping into the common household codes of the day to change them from the inside out by saying that these attitudes Paul just promoted are to continue in ALL relationships, including the wife to the husband. By saying anything at all to the wife, Paul just promoted her from the positions of menial servant that you appear to ascribe to, to a person of equal value to everyone. She is now included with everyone’s similar submission to Jesus and to each other. This is something not heard of in that era. Normally, all discussion and admonition was addressed to the husbands and men only, as they were the respected citizens who could deliberate decisions.

But not only did Jesus not respect those attitudes by deliberately dialoguing with women in deep discussions (woman at the well, the Samaritan woman seeking healing, Mary versus Martha, etc.) but He never promoted any such teaching.

believer333 said...

Pt 2

”….. explicit NT teaching that affirms the headship of the male in both marriage and the church, based on creation, the fall, and reflective of the order within the Godhead.”

PBJ,

There is actually no teaching in the whole of Scripture that puts forth a male headship in either the marriage or the church. All such assumptions are pulled from pieces of sentences out of their Scriptural context and then used to reinterpret the rest of Scripture.

Interestingly, all Scriptures used to support something husbands should be are things addressed to women, not the men. In Gen. 3, in discussing the results of their sin, God says to the woman (not the man) that the man would now respond to her desire for him by seeking to rule over her. Notice that God did not tell the man to rule over his wife. It is important that we see this and that God is not applauding this result. God is only warning the woman what is to come.

In Eph. 5, Paul is talking to the woman (not the man) when he says that the husband is head OF (not over) her. This has the appearance of reminding her of connection since we know she already has her own head. In a similar manner, Paul in talking to the husband (not the wife) reminds the man that he needs to treat the wife as his own body. Since the man has his own body, he is not to take his wife’s body as his own or other such silly thing that wives are often told today about their husbands in ‘head of. Rather it is an admonishment of connectivity. Husband is head of and wife is body of. They need to live as one unit, which is furthered stated in vs. 31, where we are reminded that two are supposed to live as one.

In the church is another long discussion because you have instigated into Scripture what is not inherently there.

Also, a belief of hierarchy in the Godhead is Arianism. Arianism is the assertion that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father, which the early creeds were created to admonish against. The Athenasian creed points out that in God, none is before and none behind, none is superior and none lessor, and all share the same authority and Will. There are not two wills but one shared will. And so forth. You’ve a long haul to prove otherwise.

Don said...

From the text fragments that PBJ quoted, it seems he prefers to take text out of context in order to try to reach his conclusions; this is not a good way to try to figure out what some text means, however.

The teaching unit that includes the wives submit text starts at Eph 5:15 and ends in 6:9, for example. By truncating it at both ends, he is simply treating the text like Play-Doh and making it into something of his own creation.

Retha said...

PbJ, your first assumption is that husband-and-wife hierarchy is based on a creation order.
For that you quote 1 Timothy 2:13. That text speak of a creation sequence, but does not say the man is hierarchically over the woman.
Then you quote 1Cor. 11:3. That text, in the opinion of male headship proponents, is about male leadership. If that is true, it does not say male leadership is because men were first, because then the text do not speak of firstness. In the opinion of another group, the meaning of head is different and the text is not about leadership. Either way, the text does not connect male leadership to who was created first.
Neither of those passages (nor anything else in the Bible) actually, in so many words, base hierarchy on a creation order.
Many of your other assumptions have as little base as your first.
For example, if you have any idea what helper mean in the Old Testament, you will not use the word to demonstrate hierarchy. (The same Hebrew word mostly denotes God helping humans, 2 or 3 times denote stronger nations helping weaker ones, and twice Eve helping Adam. It is usually used for a stronger person mercifully choosing to help a weaker one who does not have any right to give commands.)
You say we want to think: "For this cause ought the woman to have no sign of submission on her head, because of the angels who also are not ruled over by God."
Do you realize that the text, as written in the original Greek, does not not have any "a sign of her husband's" words in? It is translated into the text. The Greek say "For this cause she should have authority on her head, because of the angels. (I think this refers back to 6:3 - If we can judge the angels, we can certainly decide for ourselves over trivial things like headgear.) This Greek expression never refer to someone else's authority over, but always to own authority. Don't go quoting wrong how we would understand the probably the worst-translated text - most words added - in the Bible.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 1.

• Sorry, PBJ, but what this really boils down to is that you agree with a certain interpretation of the scriptures that supports male headship, but you disagree with with another interpretation of the scriptures that supports African slavery. You believe you have more support for your position than they did for theirs, but your continual use of the word "explicit" is really identical to another of the pro-slavery 1850s arguments: that your position is "clear" in the scriptures while your opponents are "twisting scripture" or committing "eisegesis."

Of course what it boils down to is the warrant for each polemic, and thus i worked to substantiate that the arguments for slavery that are used in attempting to negate those for male headship fail.

• But there is no such thing as an unbiased human being, and there is no reading of the Bible that is not an interpretation.

Well of course it is an interpretation, but the “that's your interpretation” response can be used for anything, including that there is no coherent moral ethic in Scripture, and which allows one to justify anything, and which modern revisionist hermeneutics lead to.

However, truth is exclusive by nature and in Scripture is manifest, and thus the Lord made absolute and divisive statements, as did the apostles, and persuaded souls based on Scriptural substantiation and exegesis. And which the modern feminist polemics are demonstrably contrary to, such as by reducing God to being the “source” of Christ, rather than His head, and thus Christ simply being the source of the church, and not its head, so that it can dispense with the male as the head of the wife, and physically signifying that.


• I don't think yours holds up any more than you think the slavery ones hold up.


Of course you do not, but which does not make your judgment valid, while the nature of debate is to present evidence and let the others judge, and thus i do, seeking to present what is most consistent and clear in Scripture on this issue.

• However, I can see that you have dedicated a lot of time to creating your own websites on this issue which are intended to negate the functional equality of women and relegate them to being under male authority.

That is not an objective statement as i really have only one web site with a couple mirrors, and one page, with a couple sub pages out of about 300 that was created specifically to address this issue. I have blogs but which do not yet specifically address male headship.

• . But I would like you to think about this: If the position that you take, however "biblically correct" it seems, is inherently against "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," then how can you be so sure you're interpreting correctly?

Your challenge assumes what needs to be established. Atheists also invokes “do unto others” as their moral guide, and as illustrated by the use of “do unto others” argument by those who want to negate any authority and advocate “free love,” it must be recognized that this principle presupposes a moral code from God that establishes what you should want to be done unto others as done to you.

Left to himself, man can easily justify consensual fornication based on “do unto others,” but the first commandment, is to love God supremely. And among other things, this enjoins obedience according to our station in life, including based on age and creational order and the Fall and after the order in the Godhead and the church to Christ.

In the end, upholding positional/functional distinctions is no more against “do unto others” now than it was in the past, or against such things as requiring obedience to parents by teenagers (who think they know what is best and rebel against parents being uniquely endowed with authority over them), versus parent being in submission to them.

Kristen said...

PBJ, this morning I came to my blog and found that you had left 13 - thirteen! - comments on this blog post, most of which are as long as the above. In the second one, you answered my statement, "All of the issues you raise are addressed in my other blog posts" by saying, "Which foundationally are being dealt with here."

What it looks like to me is that you have decided to use my blog for your own personal podium. You believe this is a place where you can come and authoritatively "deal with" the views on my blog. Not so. I allow comments, and I do publish a reasonable amount of disagreeing comments, but 13 long posts are hardly a reasonable amount. Nor is this blog set up, or intended to be, a "debate" blog. I allow civil discourse, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to be put on trial. You have your own blogs where you can present your views of scripture in detail.

I am against your foundational assumption that the nature of the universe as God intended it is positional/functional hierarchy with God on top, then Christ, then man, then woman, then children, etc. Most of your 13 comments are elaborations on this theme. Frankly, as I read through them, they became quite repetitive. One of them also broke my rule against speculating about my motivations, by intimating that the reason I believe as I do is that I have been abused by men. This is a tactic designed to make my carefully researched position seem like mere emotionalism. Such tactics are not permitted here.

In short, and as I have told other men who came here to try to set me straight-- I am not permitting you to teach and assume authority on my blog. You are confident in your authority over women in your home and church. Go exercise it there.

Finally, contrary to your strange equation of my position on "do unto others" with that of atheism, I do presuppose a moral code from God that establishes what you should want to do unto others. And setting yourself over them in a chain of command is, not, despite what you claim, part of what you should do unto others. "Thus do the rulers of the Gentiles," Jesus said, "but it shall not be so among you."

I will give you one opportunity to answer this, and comments will then be closed on this post. I reserve the right to refuse publication if your answer does not meet my rules of civil discourse.

PeaceByJesus said...

• What it looks like to me is that you have decided to use my blog for your own personal podium. You believe this is a place where you can come and authoritatively "deal with" the views on my blog. Not so. I allow comments, and I do publish a reasonable amount of disagreeing comments, but 13 long posts are hardly a reasonable amount.

I understand your protest and authority, however, my 13 responses were to 8 posts attacking my position, which included links by you to more, and it is not unreasonable for me to present reasoned replies to each to the multiple arguments they made, which i quote, all of which makes for some length.

• Nor is this blog set up, or intended to be, a "debate" blog. I allow civil discourse, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to be put on trial.

Well, I would say it is not reasonable to have a blog on an issue which opposing views are attacked, but which ends up allowing one side to be present 8 posts while disallowing reasoned Scriptural responses them.

• You have your own blogs where you can present your views of scripture in detail.

I do have one, and if you would rather not post my responses then i may post them there if that is OK.

• ...Most of your 13 comments are elaborations on this theme. Frankly, as I read through them, they became quite repetitive.


The arguments against my position were from 4 different posters in 8 posts and somewhat repetitive or covering more than one aspect, and included speculating of me, “it seems he prefers to take text out of context in order to try to reach his conclusions,” and overall longer responses were needed.

• One of them also broke my rule against speculating about my motivations, by intimating that the reason I believe as I do is that I have been abused by men.

That was an honest speculation which was general, “i wonder if some of the reactions here...”, and i was not conscious at the time that i was violating your rule against attacking motive, which this seems to fit under. Sorry.

• In short, and as I have told other men who came here to try to set me straight-- I am not permitting you to teach and assume authority on my blog.

My real motive is truth based on sound exegesis, but I do not think responding to a polemic against something in a combox on a blog which you control is assuming authority on your blog, while some level of teaching is inevitable in responding to issues.

• Finally, contrary to your strange equation of my position on "do unto others" with that of atheism, I do presuppose a moral code from God that establishes what you should want to do unto others. And setting yourself over them in a chain of command is, not, despite what you claim, part of what you should do unto others. "Thus do the rulers of the Gentiles," Jesus said, "but it shall not be so among you."

If a chain of command is contrary "do unto others" then God would be contradicting Himself, as He did just that, and requires (conditional) obedience to authority. (Rm. 13:1-7; 2Thes. 3:14)

And the Lord here is obviously not rejecting authority, as He exercised it Himself and gave it to the church. (Mt. 18:17; cf. 1Cor. 5:13; 6:4) Note also my comments on “red letter” exegesis, as only relying on the gospels is not a valid hermeneutic. And thus obedience to elders is enjoined. (Heb. 13:17; cf. Acts 20:28; 2Thes. 3:14) But what the Lord is teaching is what manner leadership is to be: "And whosoever will be chief [not that none may be] among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. " (Matthew 20:27-28)

• I will give you one opportunity to answer this, and comments will then be closed on this post.

Kristen said...

PBJ, I looked over the posts before yours. I made a two-part response plus a PS to your four-part comment. Then Don made 2 comments, Believer333 made a two-part comment, and Retha made one comment. To say that these were "attacking" your position ignores the fact that this is an egalitarian blog, and you were the one who came here. Therefore, it is actually you who are the attacker, and I and the other comments are defenders. Nor can the links that I posted be construed in any way as attacking your position, as they were written long before you ever came here and articulated your position.

Nevertheless, if you had posted one response comment to each of the five single comments, and a response in kind to the two two-part comments, that would have been reasonable, and would have resulted in five short responses and two two-part ones. I would have posted those. Thirteen long responses, some of them as three- or four-part responses to one short comment by someone else, are simply too much, and I'm afraid I do have to view it as a kind of hijacking of my blog.

You are certainly welcome to post your responses to my blog on your own blog. I have no say over that, and it's what blog writers do, anyway. That's what "blogosphere" conversations are all about.

I agree that the blogger who speculated about what you "preferred" should not have done so. I will do my best to be more consistent in enforcing my rules on all commenters. I apologize for that.

As for assuming authority on my blog, your stated purpose to "deal with" my position was hard not to read as an assumption of authority. I would never come onto your blog to "deal with" your position as if it were my job to set you straight.

Finally, with regards to the Bible and authority, I do have a three-part series (accessible through my topic index) on "The Bible and Human Authority," which articulates my position. I am not, as you seem to think, a "red-letter-only" Christian. Obviously you are under no obligation to read those posts, so suffice it to say that I have done some exegesis myself, and that though I do not believe God is against all human authority, the idea that He set up the universe from creation as a system of hierarchical authority, is simply one that I reject.

believer333 said...

PBJ,

I see by your website that your method of interpretation is to quote a verse and then interpret that verse in whatever seems obvious by those words in only that verse. This method is very common today but it is an inaccurate way to understand what the New Testament authors intended. Perhaps you are unaware that originally the Scriptures did not have verse numbers. If I recollect correctly, they were not inserted until around the 11th or 12th century when the Bible was first printed into book form as we know it today. And then the purpose of the verse and chapter numbers was not to highlight statements, but only to number the metal plates that printed out the Bible so as to keep them in the correct order.

So, when we pull out ‘verses’ according to this system, we are pulling out statements and pieces of sentences that are intricately linked with other words, and /or other sentences to convey their full meaning. And often taking the piece of a thought out of its context will and does change the intended meaning and purpose that the author had.
Because you apparently have done this all your Christian life, you now have a backlog of assumptions made by this method. And you use these previous assumptions (from individual verses and snapshots of words) as if they were context to support new individual assumptions. IOW it appears that you use 10 assumptions from 10 individual verses elsewhere to bolster the interpretation of an individual verse or subject you are discussing.

Correct exegesis of Scripture ignores the verse numbers and looks for the beginning of the subject being discussed and the ending. This can span a chapter or two or three. Then we add in the cultural climate of life at the time the letter was written. We consider what questions the author may have been answering or problems he was addressing. In many cases we may have to research the meaning of some words in the original languages because English is often woefully inadequate. And then we must balance what we think we see with what the rest of Scripture reveals as well.

PBJ, until you learn how to do this many (not all) of your conclusions are simply human inventions or reinventions of what Scripture actually gives us. You would do well to carefully pay attention to how KR exegetes and researches Scripture subjects and learn from her.

Kristen said...

I appreciate your kind words, Believer333. Technically, though, I was planning to close the comments on this post. Since you've added this, I'll give PBJ one last chance to respond (which I would have done anyway, since I had the last word)-- and then I'll need to shut this one down. :)

PeaceByJesus said...

[Ignore recent post; lacked link to blog]

• I see by your website that your method of interpretation is to quote a verse and then interpret that verse in whatever seems obvious by those words in only that verse...Because you apparently have done this all your Christian life, you now have a backlog of assumptions made by this method.

Then what you “see” is not reality, but instead you posit a premise without proof. Simply because a specific text is referenced does not mean the context have not been considered.

Instead, in contrast to the misconstruance often shown by egalitarians in their eisegesis, which includes arguing based on a “red letter” hermeneutic, i endeavor to compare Scripture with Scripture, and which consistently upholds male headship as i described it, from Genesis onward. And i also have posted the entire Bible (except Revelation, due to my need to give it more study) with commentary from others.

• Correct exegesis of Scripture ignores the verse numbers and looks for the beginning of the subject being discussed and the ending.

True, context is what i have often admonished others for ignoring, and while blogs are conducive to extensive examination, in my last series i engaged in this in refuting the idea that the context was contrary to the historical conclusion, but my posts were disallowed from appearing due to length and other objections.

Here they are, with more material. (elsewhere I have also posted the entire bible [except Revelation  as i need to give it more study]  which provides classic Protestant commentary, by God's grace, and also on historical understanding of female "silence" in the church.)

As for the rest of your exegetical aspects, I affirm giving what these considerations warrant, and consideration of these aspects are what you will find in conservative guides on exegesis as well as “liberal” ones, and the issue is whether such valid considerations as cultural climate and authorial intent or linguistics are understood as warranted, or whether they are abused in order to affirm a desired conclusion.

The latter is abundantly manifest by modern day revisionists in departing from historical truths, and includes everything from relegating OT miracles and historical accounts to being fables, to making God the Father to be a women or merely to be the source or Christ, and likewise Christ for the church, as distinct being from the head of it.

Or such considerations are invoked in muddying their waters so that the command to live by every word of God is practically impossible. Some prohomosexual authors invoke such considerations in arguing that Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today’s debate, and even that nothing is intrinsically immoral, disallowing that the Bible offers a coherent sexual morality for today, and basically contending we can do what seems right based upon our judgment. (contra Dt. 12:8)

• PBJ, until you learn how to do this...

I understand these principles,and how they can be abused, and find the assertion your side is rightly using them, and all the opposing position is not, to be spurious. And that instead, with the totality of Scripture considered, and in the light of how Scripture interpret itself, I find and show that the Scriptures uphold male headship, as explained, from beginning to end.

To Kristen:
• I'll give PBJ one last chance to respond (which I would have done anyway, since I had the last word)

You already gave me that one opportunity and which I did, make use of, and this is another one, thank you.

Kristen said...

PBJ, thank you for your reasonably lengthed response. I don't think there is anything more to say, as the disputes come down to foundational presuppositions which affect the way we read the texts and are not susceptible to easy persuasion. Suffice it to say that we must agree to disagree, and let it stand at that. Comments for this post will now be closed.