Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is Marriage Really an Illustration of Christ's Relationship with the Church? Part 1

This idea is pervasive in evangelical Christianity today. The idea comes from Ephesians 5:21-33, where Paul speaks of Christian marriage. Christianity specifically states that God intended marriage to be an illustration of Christ and the church, and the New Living Translation even says so explicitly:

As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. Eph 5:31-32, NLT.

The web page goes on to explain that the way this works out is that husbands “illustrate” Christ’s leadership authority, as well as His self-sacrifice, while wives “illustrate” the church’s submission to Christ’s leadership authority. Is this what the Bible actually teaches?

I am not going to write today about the meaning of words like “head” in the text of Ephesians 5:21-33. I am not going to write about mutual submission as the controlling verse of this text. I have written about these things elsewhere, as have many others.

But this idea of marriage as a picture or illustration of Christ and the church is troubling, and needs to be carefully examined. If Paul is saying that marriages illustrate Christ’s authority over the church and the church’s obedience, this has serious implications. I have heard preachers say that when non-believers look at the leadership of husbands and the submission of wives, they will see the beauty of Christ’s relationship with the church and be drawn to Christianity. I have heard teachings that a marriage will only properly illustrate Christ’s relationship with the church when the husband steps fully into his leadership role and the wife responds to that in complete submission. Ideas of husbands and wives as best friends, companions and lovers tend to get lost in all this. Are Christian wives supposed to show the world a picture of human obedience, while their husbands are a picture of their Lord and God? Non-Christians are hardly drawn to Christianity by this picture-- they are often frankly disgusted. But this is certainly what this marriage-as-illustration teaching implies.

However, the original text of Ephesians 5:32 never uses the word “illustration” or any similar word. The more word-for-word translations translate that verse like this:

“This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” KJV

“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” NIV (1984)

“This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” NASB

What is being said here? Is marriage an illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church? Or is something different, and much more profound, going on in these verses?

First of all, look at the direction in which the comparisons move. Christ and the church are not said to be “as” husbands and wives. It’s the other way around. Husbands and wives are “as” Christ and the church. If one relationship is being set up here as a picture or illustration to help us see the other relationship more clearly, it is Christ and the church who are the illustration, the picture for husbands and wives to follow-- not the other way around. Husbands and wives are to see more clearly what God meant marriage to be, by looking at a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. But-- and this is important-- the passage doesn’t just say, “You husband and wives, try to generally imitate Christ and the church.” The illustration being given here is not general, but specific. Husbands and wives are to imitate this particular picture of Christ and the church.

So what is the picture? What is being illustrated?

That is the question that Part 2 will discuss.


Donald Johnson said...

Yes, exactly!

Unknown said...

You are simply wrong my dear. This blog reeks of gender worship and resentment toward one's being created women. I'm truly not trying to be mean, but it literally screams at somebody showing up here.

Woman is precious and good and every bit the bearer of God's image as she was created. A helper without which man would be alone and in a "not good" state. We need you. Not just for sex and sandwiches either. That's not what I mean at all. Embrace that as God intended and watch your peace and joy increase. You're going to need to find somebody else to try and convince of how peaceful and joyous you are. I know what I see here.

Kristen said...

Mr. Smith, your comment reeks of condescension and male superiority. And I do embrace what God intended, which is my full equality as one made in His image. It isn't your place to come onto women's blogs and set them straight. I suggest you find something else to do with your time.

Unknown said...

Feel free to call me Greg. I came here because you linked here from Sharon's blog. I'm not lookin for a fight and I am the one advancing your full equality and worth. You can't see my face or hear my voice so I understand how you may assume, as I suspect you probably do of anybody who holds the views of the church universal for 2000 years, that I am a misogynistic pig. If we ever meet in real life, you will be immediately disabused of that woefully fallacious notion. I say again. Woman is every bit as precious and valuable in God;s sight and therefore mine as is man with the two of us together completing His image. It is however a teleological fact that neither gender functions correctly outside of His "I'm this, you're that and together we're it" design. I'm not trying to anger you Kristen. I hope you can believe that. I'm actually a very nice man who still holds the door and removes my hat for the ladies. It's respectful.

Kristen said...

If you don't want to anger me, Greg, don't call me "my dear" and don't tell me my blog "reeks of gender worship and resentment towards one's being created woman." The first is condescending and the second is judgmental. You make assumptions about me that you have no business making. Everything about what you wrote indicated that you had decided I needed setting straight. Read your first comment and see if you can find any readiness in it to consider my point of view, any treatment of me as you would like to be treated yourself-- in short, any hint that you actually consider me an equal.

But when I responded the way I did, rather than looking to the words you wrote for a possible reason, you decided that I am a person who automatically assumes you're a "misogynstic pig."

I'm afraid it really is true that you were-- and still are-- the one making assumptions about me. Don't put this down to female emotionalism, but read your words for what they actually communicate.

I don't assume people are misogynistic unless they treat me without respect-- which, like it or not, you have done. Insisting that you are "advancing my full equality and worth" is unconvincing after your earlier comments.

P.S. I don't know who the "Sharon" is that you speak of.

Unknown said...

I am not making assumptions Kristen. As I said above. I know what I see. The egalitarian position requires a modern extra biblical framework of thought be assumed before the text is engaged in order to find it there. That's why nobody did for 2000 years. It is exegetically impossible. The articles on this blog are a strident proclamation of dissatisfaction with God's created order.

WHAT IF that's true. WHAT IF all the giants of the faith throughout history, who are practically unanimous on this, actually got it right and God didn't leave His church bride for dozens of centuries languishing in ignorance about His most ancient, basic and foundational human relationship and institution after all? WHAT IF? That's true? What would that say about what you're doing here?

Ask yourself why you're angry reading this. Yes you are. There is no way you are going to honestly tell me you're not. I'm not angry with you. I can sit here before my Lord Jesus and tell you from my heart I AM NOT angry, or resentful, or in any way upset. My heart rate has not changed one beat during any of the time I’ve been here. Men and women are different Kristen. They were designed and commissioned to serve God by serving EACH OTHER in different complimentary ways and functions.

This is so readily manifest even in nature itself, God's general revelation, that one must go quite a bit out of their way to deny it. You have and are. If you'd like to continue this conversation, I promise you as sure as my fingertips are touching this keyboard I will prove that to you in the most conclusive manner you ever heard of.

Not because I want to be right and you to be wrong. May it be done to me and much more if I lie. It's not that at all. I yearn to see my beautiful magnificent Jesus exalted and glorified in all that I am and all that I have. That's my only motivation. If we are to be enemies that will be all you and I will be grieved.

"Why OH WHY did this guy have to show up at my blog?"

That really is a good question isn't it? I was not looking for women to argue with. I also don't have a blog, but if I ever do? There will be NOBODY I hope doesn't show up there because I'm not afraid of ANYBODY. This confidence and certitude arises not from my person, but from my positions, which are built squarely upon the only solid rock of the revealed Word of the living God.
Just so I'm not some anonymous words on a screen to you.

P.S. I sincerely meant nothing untoward by calling you "my dear", but if it offends you I will refrain.

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

Angry? No. Actually, I'm sitting here laughing. The arrogance of saying "I'm not making assumptions; I know what I see" when what you see is what you've decided to see! No human being is the objective arbiter of reality, but you apparently will not even consider that you might be wearing masculinist "glasses" that color your vision of events. No, what you see is what is. End of story.

I have done some fairly extensive reading in church history, and I can tell you this: there is a consistent pattern since the very inception of the church that whenever a new move of the Holy Spirit brings reform or refreshment to the people of God, the new move is characterized by both men and women being moved of the Spirit to speak and minister (even as Joel predicted and Peter affirmed in Acts 2), and by an increased openness to women's participation in ministry (including leadership). In fact, church history is chock full of women that God raised up and used, sometimes with the cooperation of male leadership, and sometimes without. Usually the new move of the Spirit was met with consternation on the part of those in authority. But eventually the move would become respectable and mainstream-- and the first thing the male leaders of the new movement would do is tell the women in their midst to sit down and shut up.

If you want to see church history as an unbroken succession of male authorities in consensus that they should stay in control, and the rest of the Body of Christ in unbroken agreement except when a wild, radical woman would occasionally break out before being subdued, go ahead. But it's not welcome here. You might try reading Daughters of the Church by historians Tucker and Liefield. Or you can go on as you are, but don't expect me to meekly fall in line.

You see, even if you can claim divine right to authority in your home and church, the one in authority over my own blog is me. And I am not permitting you to teach or assume authority here. You'll have to either decide to learn in quietness and submission (and then engage me again once you've actually considered my position with an open, humble heart) or leave.

Donald Johnson said...

Jesus was an egalitarian inside his culture as was Paul and Peter, etc. That some have misunderstood Paul meant that Peter discussed this even in the 1st century.

Greg would do well to check out some other of Kristen's posts on this blog. Perhaps he will then be able to remove his blue eyeglasses that distorts the way he reads the Bible.

Kristen said...

I might also point out that the stance that women are equal but have different roles is not what you call "view of the church universal for 2000 years." The view of the church from about AD 400 until the mid-20th century has been that women were inferior. Does the Bible teach that women are inferior? No. But ancient culture did, and so did every culture until the modern, Western one-- and that was the consensus that colored the attitudes of the church, and particularly church authorities, until very recently-- and as long as men believed this about women, and women believed it about themselves, they could not see that Jesus and Paul taught something else entirely.

So as far as you holding fast to the 2000-year-old doctrine that women are equal but have different roles-- not true. Maybe you should stop letting your way of reading the Bible be infected by modern culture, and should embrace the church universal's traditional teaching that I am actually inferior to you. Since you've only been giving lip service to my equality all along, this really shouldn't be too hard to do.

Unknown said...

I am in a tremendous hurry at the moment, but could you please point me to a place where someone has documented that the CHURCH has had a consensus of female inferiority throughout her history? NOT the culture, which I couldn't possibly care less about. Not an individual here and there. A consensus.

I tell you Kristen as the Lord lives. You will have no greater champion allied with your cause than I if the adversary be those who would demean and denigrate women in the name of a perverse pseudo masculine notion of male superiority. No ma'am. My wife is a woman, whom I adore and cherish as the most blessed gift of my God save for the blood of His Son alone. I would kill and or die for her. This is true of me first because I have been commanded to love and protect her as Christdoes His Church bride. I am still learning what that means. It is both painful to face my many failures and joyous as I grow in His love for her.

You adopt this hostile defensive stance in error. I can't help what you've been exposed to, but you have run into a man whose complimentarian views are born out of extensive study of the Word of God and a heart made willing by His grace to follow that word wheresoever it may lead. Truth be told? I wish you were right. Left to myself I'm a 48 year old immature weakling who would love to be able to put my responsibilities on my wife instead of carrying them myself. An egalitarian outlook on our marriage would make that much easier.

Marg said...

Hi Greg,

By "the giants of faith throughout history" do you mean people like Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome and Augustine?

Clement of Alexandria (Greek Father, C2nd): “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman…the consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame”

Tertullian (the Father of Latin Christianity, C2nd-3rd): ”And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert— that is, death— even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins?”

“Let her be entirely covered, unless she happen to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.”

Jerome (Scholar, C4th-5th): “Woman is the root of all evil.”

Augustine (Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Hippo, C5th): “I don’t see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation. If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?”

Greg, Are these the "giants of faith" who have influenced your view of women? They have certainly influenced the Church for centuries.

But these people are unanimously wrong.

I think the Apostle Paul was right when he advocated for a church without castes, and a body of Christ where there is unity and equality (not sameness) for all people regardless of ethnicity, wealthy or gender.

My egalitarian beliefs are not based on a "modern extra biblical framework" but on the New Testament and the practices of the primitive (very early) Church.

Furthermore, I see no mention of male leadership or authority, or female subordination in Genesis 1 and 2. I see unity, affinity and mutuality. Which bit in Genesis 1 and 2 says that men and women have different roles or functions or positions in life?

Men and women have some basic biological differences, but we also share many things in common. In many ways I am more like my (grown) sons than my sister. My gender is just one of many things that describes me. I love being a woman, but my gender does not define me completely - far from it.

God sees the real me - my femininity and my other attributes. He does not see me as just a woman. He sees me as a person: a unique human being made in his image, redeemed by his Son and gifted by his Spirit.

I think it is a destructive thing to divide the New Covenant community of the Church into two along gender lines.

believer333 said...

”could you please point me to a place where someone has documented that the CHURCH has had a consensus of female inferiority throughout her history?”

Hello Greg, excellent question. However, there is so much that I’m surprised you are not aware of it. Just do some research on the early church fathers and you will see the usual arguments about whether women should be leaders because the female is inferior to the male, she is built to submit to the superior minds of men and so forth. My guess is Kirsten has some of that info on this website.

Origen (a.d. 185-254) “Men should not sit and listen to a woman….. even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since the came from the mouth of a woman.”

From the Jewish Talmud“Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law. It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men. The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.”

Chrysostom (a.d. 347-407) “God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matter to the woman”
Interestingly, Chrysostom also spoke of Junia in glowing terms for being an apostle.

Most of these ideas about male and female gender stuff came IMO from Aristotle (about 250 b.c.) who had created an extreme social order where only the wealthy and noble born men could be considered true citizens and make decisions regarding the running of governmental things. He was a genius of sorts and certainly made it sound good to the men.

While the apostles were alive they continued with Jesus' example of treating all believers equally, teaching the women, communicating and defending the women and the defenseless. He commissioned the women as well as the men, as God always has. It did not take long for culture to insinuate itself into the believing community and start to separate into privileged and less privileged divisions. That did not however, stop all women from obeying the Lord and moving in the gifts and ministries as God leads. We just don’t hear much about them, unless we search.

As far as marriage is concerned the same battles apply. Jesus never made any differentiation of who has authority and who doesn’t. We are all to love like Jesus, and submit to one another as brethren. A marriage is a gift of God to humans. It only reflects a couples love or lack of it. Jesus is the Anointed One who gives the examples of how to love. Not us.

Unknown said...

Marg said... Greg, Are these the "giants of faith" who have influenced your view of women?
Nope. My views are taken only from scripture. Alone and in it's entirety. It's admittedly been a very long time since I studied church history in regard women. This isn't how I generally remember the early church though Origen was a heretic as far I'm concerned and I don't care what the Talmud says. Furthermore, anybody can be made to say anything in a copy n paste world and there are all kinds of matters of translation etc., but lets just say for now I stand corrected and concede Kristen's point. The church has historically treated women like garbage.

I don't. What part of what I've said here is unbiblical? There may also be some definitional issues which when clarified might reveal us not being AS far apart as it first appears. There are vital foundational important responsibilities of life that my wife is far better at than I. I would be a fool and in prideful self exalting sin to not allow her to bless us with her superior gifting in those areas. That's part of what "helper suitable to him" means. I not only have no problem with that, but praise God for it. I have loved her for 22 years and look forward to growing old with her if the Lord allows.

Kristen said...

In the Reformation church:

Martin Luther said,

"The woman certainly differs from the man, for she is weaker in body and intellect. Nevertheless Eve was an excellent creature and equal to Adam in so far as the divine image: that is, righteousness, wisdom and eternal salvation, is concerned. Still, she was only a woman. As the sun is much more glorious than the moon (though also the moon is glorious), so the woman was inferior to the man both in honor and dignity, though she, too, was a very excellent work of God." [From Luther's Commentary on Genesis]

Calvin said of the first appearance by Jesus to women rather than men:

"I consider this was done by way of reproach, because they [the men] had been so tardy and sluggish to believe. And indeed, they deserve not only to have women for their teachers, but even oxen and asses. . . Yet it pleased the Lord, by means of those weak and contemptible vessels, to give display of his power."[From his Commentaries on the Gospel of John]

John Knox said:

"[Women are] weake, fraile, impatient, feeble and foolish."

He also said women were "unconstant, variable, cruel and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment" and "woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man." [From his The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.]

In fact, the attitude of the great men of the church (both the early church fathers and the fathers of the Reformation) towards women has reflected certain internal contradictions-- attempts to reconcile the Bible's teaching that women reflect equally the divine image, with the entrenched belief that women were inferior in mind and body to men. Often this cognitive dissonance was increased by their personal friendships or acquaintance with devout women of great character, intellect and clear divine giftedness, whom the men usually described as "transcending her sex." As Daughters of the Church puts it:

"[T]here was a contrast between women in general, whom they pictured as 'light-minded, vain, unintelligent, and even treacherous,' and the particular women with whom they had close fellowship. These individual women were seen as beginning, at least, to transcend their femaleness." [p. 127, quoting in part Elizabeth Clark's Jerome, Chrysostom and Friends.]

This strong belief that women were equal to men only in bearing the divine image but were in every other respect inferior, and created inferior, wasn't really challenged until the Renaissance. In the midst of this attitude God continued to raise up women to serve Him in extraordinary ways, though church historians have largely ignored these women and focused on "giants of the faith" (as you put it, Greg) who were uniformly male. The extent to which these male "giants" were instructed by and influenced by women has been downplayed. Jerome, for instance, actually admitted that his pupil Marcella would set forth theological opinions of her own but pretend they were his (with his concurrence)so that she would not appear to be outshining him as a teacher. [Jerome's Epistle, 208]

Kristen said...

Greg, you said: "What part of what I've said here is unbiblical?" You have also seemed surprised at my response to you, saying, "You adopt this hostile defensive stance in error."

Here is what you've said here on my blog that is unbiblical:

"This blog reeks of gender worship and resentment toward one's being created women. . . You're going to need to find somebody else to try and convince of how peaceful and joyous you are. I know what I see here."

Where does the Bible say you should decide the state of someone else's heart based only on how it looks to you?

"I understand how you may assume, as I suspect you probably do. . ."

Again, where does the Bible say you should "suspect" things about someone whom you've never met?

"Ask yourself why you're angry reading this. Yes you are. There is no way you are going to honestly tell me you're not."

Where does the Bible say you should decide how someone else is feeling without asking them?

All of these ways of treating another person are, as far as I can see, unbiblical. They are not doing to another as you would want done unto you. And my "hostile defensive stance" is based entirely on these sorts of statements. As far as the complementarian position is concerned, you have actually said very little about it at all. You have affirmed your desire to honor and respect women. I appreciate that, but I might note that this is also the desire of egalitarians.

I will grant that as this discussion has continued you have abandoned much of your original "let me set you straight" stance. This makes it much easier to actually dialogue about the real issue we're discussing.

You have spoken briefly of different "roles" for men and women without ever really clarifying how you envision them-- except that you recognize where your wife has giftings and strengths and you are willing to "allow" her to bless your marriage with her superior gifting. This again is admirable (except for the "allow" part-- I don't believe it should be a matter of you giving her permission to use her God-given gifts)-- but again, this is not just a complementarian position, but an egalitarian one as well.

In short, I don't think we have really had a discussion about complementarian positions except for the position that complementarianism is 2000 years old, which I think we have adequately demonstrated is untrue. If you want to discuss my position on some of complementarianism's foundational texts (without insisting, as you were doing, that your position is the only one that takes Scripture seriously, which it is not-- both sides interpret the Bible, and indeed it's impossible not to read without interpreting; the difference is not in the reverence we hold for Scripture, but in the principles of interpretation we use), then I'm willing to engage you respectfully. You'll find that I'm not hostile or defensive unless I perceive I am being attacked.

However, it would only be good manners if you actually started by reading my positions on these topics, and my analyses of the particular scriptures. This is, after all, my blog.

As for your assertion that egalitarianism would make it easier for you to place your responsibilities in the marriage on your wife-- this comes from a misunderstanding of egalitarianism. Egalitarians believe that couples should shoulder side-by-side the responsibilities of leading the home. Men don't get to abdicate responsibility in egalitarian marriages.

Perhaps this makes my position more clear.

Donald Johnson said...

When one clears away all the flowery language, the difference between comps and egals in terms of marriage is whether marriage is a hierarchy with the husband having some kind of trump card he can play in certain conditions or whether marriage is a partnership with no one having a trump card based on their gender.

I am egal and enjoy my marriage partnership with my wife. If I had a trump card based only on my being male, I would be concerned about using it for selfish reasons and not even realizing they were selfish.

Donald Johnson said...

Further on the idea of a husband's trump card, even just claiming to have it could result in a distortion to the decision making process. And how does a husband decide that he is NOT using the trump card in a selfish way, the only way I see he can be sure of that is to use the trump card to make a final decision that defers to his wife's wishes, which he is already free to do anyway.

In Eph 5, a husband is called upon to love-agape his wife and according to 1 Cor 13, love-agape does not seek its own way, so how does a husband fulfill what is actually found in Eph 5 by seeking his own way? This has never been answered by any comps I know, they just dodge the question.

Unknown said...

Kristen I don't see away to contact you privately so I have to do it like this. You don't need to post this. I would however greatly appreciate it if you would change the thris sentence of my last post from "I do want to apologize for Kristen for violating one of my cardinal principles of debate." to "I do want to apologize to Kristen for violating one of my cardinal principles of debate."

Or just please let me know you've not posted it and I will submit it again with the correction. It was a typo. I certainly would never presume to apologize on your behalf for anything.
Thank you.

Kristen said...

Greg, I don't know how to edit someone else's comments-- I think Google Blogs permits me only to post or delete them. I certainly accept your apology, and I hope with no hard feelings on the part of either of us. But the comment you're referring to appears to have been sent by Google into the vast unknown. If you'd like to reiterate what you intended to say, that's fine. Or if you'd rather just leave it at this, that's fine too. Bless you, brother.

Unknown said...

I always keep copies of posts I make in potentially hostile territories. Especially at first. Nothing personal with anybody, but I've been falsely maligned, misrepresented, libeled and just plain lied about enough to find this a wise God honoring practice. Not that you have done this. I'm just explaining how I came to the practice of keeping my posts before I send them. The following is the one that was lost:

I do see quite a bit more than that Don, but I have so little time and I'm involved in a half dozen of these conversations at least, (not about this) around the web already. I do want to apologize to Kristen for violating one of my cardinal principles of debate. "Never underestimate your opponent". I did. The first post I read here appeared shallow and cheap to me. That's merely an honest statement. In reading a few others now of your pieces here Kristen I see that that was an erroneous premature conclusion.

You are very thoughtful and far more comprehensive in your handling of the texts than I would have initially imagined. That said, please know that I'm not being gratuitously stubborn or antagonistic. Before my Lord you have my word that I am not. I wish you could see my face and hear my voice as I say this.

I am compelled to restate my first sentence on this blog. You are simply wrong...

Dear Lord Jesus let this woman receive what I'm saying with all the grace with which I am sending it. Methodologically, lexically , etymologically and in the end theologically and in practice... wrong. Being that I so woefully underestimated you when I arrived, I now see that a proper demonstration of these points is well beyond my present schedule. Believe me when I say that's a compliment. And no, not "jist fer a gurl" either =]

I don't know what you've been told a biblical complimentarian church and family looks like, but it sure doesn't sound like my view at all. Also, the point with the historical church is that wile even if they misapplied the principles of God's design, none of them saw egalitarianism there because it isn't. What was needed was a move, not away from God's design of equal but different, but a proper application of that design which my view is. I learned it originally from Dr. Jay Adams 1972 book, "Christian Living in the home". Every syllable I've typed since I've been here is in accord with the thoroughly biblical principles in that over 40 year old book though I don't even own it anymore..

Hear one reviewer from CDB's website: Go to the chapter "A Word to the Wives" and read on p. 77 that "a good manager will look at his helper and say, 'She has certain abilities. If I am going to manage my household well, I must see that every last one of those gifts is developed and put to use as fully as possible.' He will not want to quash her personality; rather, he will seek to bring it to the fullest flower."Go farther in the same chapter to the discussion of Proverbs 31. At the bottom of p. 81 read again that "the idea that women should not hold jobs is false. Here is a prominent city elder's wife who does. The key to whether a job is fitting or not lies solely in whether the job helps or hinders her family."

Actually, could you please send me to one, or maybe two of your articles where all this is defined by you if there are such representative articles? I want to understand you better, but am so pressed for time.

the One last thing. I will stand, head and hands raised to heaven with my yea being utterly yea when I tell you that I have no, as in none, nada, zeeroh, zilch motivation from gender for one particle of my views. My manhood plays no part in my engagement with the word. I long to hear my master say "well done my good and faithful servant". THAT is my only motivation. If the bible taught FEMALE headship I would embrace it with joy and thanksgiving. I want whatever He has revealed in His word.

Kristen said...

Greg, I must say I am disappointed that what you apologized for is not at all what I thought you were going to apologize for: that your first principal of debate is "never underestimate your opponent" and not "never make personal attacks or assume that you know or are authorized to judge the state of another's heart." Since you did not apologize for that, I have no guarantee that you will not do it again. Therefore, though I can forgive you, there is no basis on which I want to encourage further interaction.

I don't mind in the least if you think I'm wrong, but please bear in mind that I also believe you are simply wrong. That the reason that shortly after Paul's death, the church's leaders forgot the egalitarian principles he was setting forth (still within the first-century mindset, yes-- but this was the direction the Holy Spirit was leading the church) is that their entrenched presupposition of female inferiority, and the influence of Platonic and Aristotelian thought on their Greek-born minds, blinded them to the egalitarian implications of the texts.

But given that you have not apologized for the things I specifically detailed to you as the source of our conflict, I am not inclined to encourage more interaction by sending you articles. If you want to read more of my work, you must do it on your own.

I must also inform you that any comments you try to post in the future that are along the lines of your initial posts here, will be deleted. If you want to respectfully discuss the issues or the texts, I will respond, but I will permit no further discussion of my character, motivations, or supposed feelings.

That said, I bear you no ill will and look forward to the cessation of conflict when we meet in the coming Kingdom.

Unknown said...

If this post is a duplicate, it wasn't intentional. Please ignore on of them (long story).

"ONE of my cardinal principles of debate" Is what I actually said Kristen. Not, "first principal of debate" as you have here I'm sure unintentionally misreported. My very first principle of anything, including debate, is that my words, thoughts and deeds be faithful and bring honor to my God and His Christ by following His word regardless of where it leads or what it costs me.

What did you mean and how did you know, when you said "Mr. Smith, your comment reeks of condescension and male superiority." I don't mind btw and I'm not asking for an apology. I wouldn't even if it were my blog. That's your view, but could you explain how that statement, by your own declared standard, escapes your own scrutiny? Maybe it should. Again. I am not being hostile. Not even a little. I'm asking.

I would also be honored and gratified (truly) if you and any of your readers who find themselves so inclined would critique this short piece I wrote in a debate with a guy a while back about judging in the New Testament.

Though I've read 3 already, to ask once more, "could you please send me to one, or maybe two of your articles where all this is defined by you if there are such representative articles? I want to understand you better, but am so pressed for time".

On a related note. I intentionally smile, open the door, remove my hat where appropriate and offer to carry things for the ladies, even strangers, but I don't for the men. I intend it to be gentlemanly and respectful. What are your feelings on that? That's also an honest and sincere question. I keep saying that to prevent you from inadvertently detecting non existent sarcasm in my words because you don't really know me.

Kristen said...

Greg, have you ever heard of answering in kind? That was what my response (when you said what my post "reeked of") was. A response in kind is a way of saying, "Look at the kind of thing you're saying. Do you like it when someone says something similar to you?"

For the rest, I'm still surprised that a man who says he opens doors for women and offers to carry things, cannot see fit to apologize when a woman has told him, in no uncertain terms, that his words did not "bring honor to God and His Christ" because they were judgmental, disrespectful and demeaning. You ask what I think of your gestures of respect to women. I think it's nice if you give women courtesies like that. But what good does it do when you don't give them the courtesy of actually listening respectfully to what they're saying? I said I was not interested in sending you any articles, because there was no reason for me to even want to continue interacting with you. Apparently you either didn't read that, or didn't take me seriously. I don't appreciate not being taken seriously. It does give me the impression that you don't respect me. True, I don't know you-- but you don't know me either and yet were quite glad to believe you had me all figured out, saying "I know what I see."

What I see is a man who uses flowery language to declare how much he respects women-- but methinks the gentlemen doth protest too much.

Unknown said...

I absolutely do take you seriously or I would leave which I have somewhat revised my priorities regarding. I don't waste time on frivolous people. Is this not a perfect opportunity for folks to see our differences. For Pete's sake don't try to keep me civil. The worse I act, the more I make your point about complmentarians.
You didn't give me your thoughts on my NOT showing the same feminine courtesies to men which was the point. I had a rather long post the rest of which I'll sit on for now. You may not believe this Kristen, but I actually do like you.

Kristen said...

I was not aware that I was trying to make a point about complementarians. In fact, I wasn't. I don't blanket-judge complementarians. This is about your behavior, and no one else's. I'm also not trying to "keep you civil." I'm trying to make clear that I will not continue this conversation unless it is a respectful dialogue. Thus far it has not been. If you want to keep talking to me, become civil. That's all there is to it.

Kristen said...

In fact, thinking about it-- you say you are showing you take me seriously by not leaving. I have said that the way to take me seriously is to treat my words with respect. Instead, you apparently have decided to stay here and continue in the same vein as you have been.

Enough. I will allow you one more comment in which to show you understand that there is such a thing as boundaries and that you are prepared to respect mine.

Donald Johnson said...

I have read some things by Jay Adams, my assessment is that he was better than many 30 years ago, but that was 30 years ago.

My take in reviewing this exchange is I would want Greg to acknowledge a few things:

1) All of us can make mistakes in interpretation, altho we should strive to do our best. But we all have blind spots and weak spots and emotional triggers, etc. that can distort things.

2) Whenever dealing with a boundary issue, it is important to see that it takes courage to point out any boundary breaking and such should result in repentance from the boundary breaker for doing so. If this is not forthcoming, then the expectation is further boundary breaking by an unrepentant boundary breaker.

3) Assertions are not logical arguments, they are just assertions and prove nothing, altho they can help in understanding where someone else is coming from.

Anonymous said...

I said I'd drop in, Kristen. You asked me to read these posts to give my perspective. I think that in this case try exchanging the idea of men and women to black and white, as the races were seen by American society in general and particularly in the South before the mid 1960s. Then substitute the idea of women for black. Here it goes: the races, black and white, have been placed on this earth by God to complement each other. White people should be in ultimately in charge, but blacks have their important place and that place (serving the whites) should be respected. How does that sound?

Also, regarding this idea about different roles that are dependent upon gender, how about for women who aren't married (and are not waiting for their natural state of marriage), and who don't have children? Women in that position under this belief system, if their existence is acknowledged at all, are to be deeply scorned at worst and pitied at best. I've seen plenty of this attitude in the patriarchal church system.

My take on Greg is that he is rambling, talking in circles. I think he's a troll, though he may be a troll who doesn't know he is one. It appears to me that he can and will engage you for hours in pointless "conversation."

That sums up my thoughts. -- Your Sis

Unknown said...

Ok, Kristen. I recant. I was hasty and premature in my original assessment of you and this blog. Please forgive me.
Anonymous says: My take on Greg is that he is rambling, talking in circles. I think he's a troll, though he may be a troll who doesn't know he is one. It appears to me that he can and will engage you for hours in pointless "conversation." Do Don and yourself also see me as a substanceless circle rambling troll? Whose goal here is to waste hours in pointless "conversation"? If you tell me that this is NOT an attack on my character and requiring no such correction as I was in need of, I will know that while premature and hasty that my original assessment was accurate after all.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I spend my days in the trenches with the most vicious God hating pagans you can imagine. I am regularly told I am a brain dead, anachronistic, antique moron whose death (literally) would make the world a better place. I AM NOT asking for an apology here. I don't want one. I couldn't care less what anybody thinks of ME personally.

I would however find it spectacularly inconsistent if an apology were demanded for my comparably innocuous comment far above and none was demanded for this direct attack on my intelligence, honesty, motives and command of the language. What do you say Kristen? Is it OK for her and not for me? Do you want your blog to be free of this kind of thing? Or only if someone like me does it?

I'm not the least bit offended by or interested in her opinion of me as a man and if you actually are consistent, she can apologize to YOU for staining YOUR blog and embarrassing YOU. I KNOW who I am and much more importantly, WHOSE I am. I don't need anybody's apology. As of right now I'm believing you will handle this consistently. I'm gonna have to start one of these blogs. I will invite you AND ANYBODY to say ANYTHING they want to short of profanity or pornographic language. You will never have to wonder if one of your posts will be published. They all will every time.

I am humbly asking your permission to respond to anonymous' race analogy. This is your house.

And Don? Come on man. Are you going to tell me that you agree with this person's attack on me? Silence will speak volumes.

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

Greg, my honest assessment is that "Anonymous" has not attacked your character. "Troll" is simply a word that refers to someone who comes onto a blog and disrupts it. It isn't a personal attack; it refers only to someone's activity on a blog. (She even said you might not be intentional about this, which is a far cry from a personal attack on your motives.) But the word "troll" in internet parlance has nothing to do with intelligence, honesty or motives; it's about a certain kind of behavior. In fact I agree with her that your behavior has been trollish.

Also, it appears to me to be only a statement of fact that almost none of what you have said here has had anything to do with the subject of the post you've been commenting on, which is whether marriage is intended by the biblical text to be an illustration of Christ and the church. You have made basically one point about complementarianism (that it's 2000 years old), but that discussion is now ended. Most of what you have said here has not been focused on the topic, the text or the issues but on statements regarding either my character or yours. I don't think the word "pointless" is really all that inaccurate.

I have indeed found that way too much of my time and energy has been taken up by this. I think this needs to be over. Now.

If you want to believe that I'm being unfair, so be it. But I am asking you to leave.

Unknown said...

"...but you have run into a man whose complimentarian views are born out of extensive study of the Word of God..."

For the record Mr. Smith, could you share a little more about your 'extensive study' - details, degrees? Or is it like most of the rest of us laypersons, self-study and Sunday School class? And did you receive your 'Bible Studies Diploma' from the Detroit Bible Institute after completing those eight courses? How long did that take - four, six, 12 months? Impressive? No Greg, not so much. The folks you are bumping heads with here have studied extensively, receiving masters and doctorates in theology, ancient languages, religious studies, comparative religion/philosophy, ancient civilization, biblical history and a host of other concentrations including 'EXTENSIVE STUDY' down to inspecting the actual ancient manuscripts that the scriptures were written on as well as the languages used to record them and communicate the faith through the ages - ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek, to name a few. Contrary to American bible belt churchianity, the bible wasn't written in the language some folks like to call 'King James', just in case you're flying that flag. All that in addition to being God-loving, gifted, called (to learn, to teach and preach) women in successful egalitarian marriages with equally amazing and accomplished husbands who willingly share 'roles'.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be so condescending to a Christian brother but your arrogance and dismissiveness to these learned and accomplished, compassionate and brilliant women of God is actually nauseating and frankly, you need to be schooled before you choke on your own two feet. And in that spirit, let me be the first to inform you that the word is 'complementary', not 'complimentary'. They sound the same but are spelled differently with different meanings.

From the get-go your intent is to put Kristen in her place - which you emphatically deny (dripping with your over-the-top 'complimentary' drivel aimed at her), but it's obvious to the rest of us, we've seen it before coming from men at the highest levels of Christian leader/scholarship. She, Marg et al totally owned you (swallow your own pride and admit it, at least to yourself).

Now, run along sweetie, grab a dictionary and go read a book. Adults are talking now.

(God have mercy on me, but you really asked for it!)

Anonymous said...

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35 (CSB)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say how much this series helped me and set me free. The Jesus i know honors and lifts women up but because of what the world taught me about how women should be, my interpretation of these verses contradict the Jesus i know.

Being a christian woman and feminist, its a difficult passage to read and i always avoided these verses but you changed my life by showing me Jesus in these verses.

Women can be leaders too! In fact, I believe God is making things right raising female leaders in the church and in the government. In the midst of all the chaos of the coronavirus, female leaders are being recognised

Praise the Lord!
Keep up the good work!

Kristen said...

Wow, thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old blog, but I do thank you for it. God has been really working on my heart to not simply accept old narratives because it's what the Gospel Coalition says or what I've always heard in church. Practically speaking my wife has been the biggest catalyst with regard to the issue of leadership and roles in marriage even though she grew up in the same stream of understanding as I have. Leadership is a gift that not all men have. It is not a gift that not all women have. It is not called for in marriage in the way it has been traditionally taught. In my marriage, our mutual submission, service, and love for each other and Christ has served our relationship well. Isn't it a wonder that we have been a model for a God honoring marriage without having to play our traditional leader and submissive roles.
It is difficult men to really wrestle with this issue because it means laying down our power and authority. But, my goodness, is that not the most true and accurate picture of Christ? My heart sinks at the amount of Christian woman that are being stifled by many well-intentioned men that think they have to be in charge of the "weaker sex". A holistic and wholistic biblical picture sees women and men working in mutual respect, love, unity, and submission to glorify God. No one may see this, but I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts.