Saturday, March 2, 2013

"But That's What the Bible Says"

I have written extensively on this blog about why "But the Bible clearly says" isn't necessarily a very good defense for certain traditionalist positions.  I've written a lot of posts that analyze certain texts which are supposedly "clear," but which maybe weren't intended by the original writers (or understood by the original audiences) to mean what seems so "clear" to us today.

This isn't one of those posts.  Today I just want to write a few things from my heart.

I came across another Internet discussion this week that was all too familiar.  A Christian writer said some general things about why having women in all areas of church leadership was a good idea.  He talked about how women's perspectives, women's voices, are part of the myriad wisdom of God, and how the church is unbalanced when the only voices it listens to on Sunday mornings are male ones.    How women's leadership might be the key to societal and world-wide healing and change in areas that most affect women, such as sex trafficking and spousal abuse. How Paul praised women leaders in his epistles and valued their labors for the gospel.

And as is so often the case, the responses of women who thanked the writer for empowering them were nearly overwhelmed by the voices, both male and female, insisting that this was all against God's clear commands in the Bible that amount to "Women can't and must not."

Women can't.

Women must not.

Exactly how much, and in what ways, women are to be restricted is never agreed upon by these voices.  It's a song where some sing verses that say, "Complete silence.  Keep her head covered and don't let her even pray or read scripture aloud."  And others sing verses that say, "No, she can speak and even teach, as long as she only teaches children or other women."  And others sing, "Just keep her from saying anything while standing behind the pulpit.  Let her speak from the floor, not the podium."

But on the chorus they all join in.  They don't agree on how much, they don't agree on where or when or which-- but "Restrict her!  Keep her under male authority!" they sing in unison.

And the reason is always the same.  "We have to uphold what the Bible clearly says, no matter what."

But what does it actually mean, that a woman must be restricted, under male authority?  Why must she be?

"Because she's more easily deceived," some say.  "Because Adam was created first, woman second-- and therefore he was created to lead and she to follow," say others.  And others simply say, "Neither of these, but it doesn't matter.  Who are we to question God?"

But if God designed things from the beginning of creation so that woman must be restricted, kept under male authority, then one of two things is going on.

Either women are not equal to men, because God created them with a certain lack of authority over themselves, or ability to lead others, that men do not lack.  And this lack is intrinsic to womanhood, while any lack a particular man may have in the area of leadership, is simply an individual characteristic, not intrinsic to his manhood.  This makes women, in their essence as women, inferior to men.

Or women are equal to men, but God simply decided that women, because they are women, despite lacking nothing that He gave men for authority over themselves or leadership of others, may not use that authority or leadership.  In other words, they are to be under male authority even though God did not design them or create them to be suited for being under male authority.  This makes God, in His essence, arbitrary and unjust.  He makes rules without good reasons.

But those who restrict women today don't generally ask why.  They don't think about what it means, that women should be restricted.  They don't believe women are inferior, and they don't believe God is arbitrary.  "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it," is enough for them.

And this is the sad thing.  That we'd rather live with cognitive dissonance, believing that women are somehow equal but yet somehow lesser-- or that they are to be restricted for no reason, but that God is still just-- than to believe it's possible we're misreading our Bibles.

We'd rather restrict women and have the Bible be "clear" than admit that we just might be wrong.

Certainty is more important than female humanity.

Because here's the thing.  To consider women lesser is harmful to women.  It exposes them to ways of being treated that are only appropriate for inferiors.  It leaves them perpetually in a state of dependence from which they can never escape.  In a very real sense, it renders them less human than men.

But to restrict women even though they are not lesser, is to restrict them without good reason.  And this, too, is harmful to women.  It says, "It doesn't matter how skilled or gifted you are.  It doesn't matter if you'd be better at this task than 99% of all the men in your church.  You are forbidden anyway."  And this leaves women in a perpetual state of living with injustice and arbitrary, senseless rules.

Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  He said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  And He said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."  And these words, most will agree, represent the overarching message of the New Covenant.

Surely, if a text pulled from the Bible to support a certain doctrine, results in something contradictory to these truths, there is something wrong with the way we're reading that proof-text?

Even if it seems completely "clear"?

How much of a "truth" can it be if it does to a woman what a man would not wish done to him?  If it puts her in bondage rather than setting her free?  Or if it makes the Father look totally unlike the Jesus who championed the woman caught in adultery, who spoke as an equal to the Samaritan woman at the well, who told Martha that her sister's choice to join the men in training for discipleship was a better thing than women's traditional labors?  The Jesus who, resurrected, appeared first to women and sent them to preach to the men?

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus found fault with a myopic view of the Bible that focuses on "tithing mint, dill and cumin" but neglects "justice, mercy and faith."  It's true that Jesus didn't tell the teachers of the law to stop tithing-- but what might He have said if tithing, as practiced, were actually against justice, mercy or faith?  Should the practice of a "clear" passage of scripture result in active violation of justice or mercy?

Surely not.

And yet isn't this what "Women can't, women must not" actually does?

This is why sometimes I want to cry when groups of commenters on the Internet rush to uphold "the Bible," when what they're really upholding is, "what the Bible looks to me like it's saying, and I know I can't be wrong."

I want to cry because it's easier to say, "women can't, women must not" than "maybe we've missed it."

I know that those who believe the Bible restricts women usually don't think about it this way.  In their minds, it's God's will, and if it's God's will, it must be good.  I know it's hard to question what looks like clear scripture.  And I know there's pressure from other Christians not to question, so as not to come under suspicion of not being "one of us."

And I know some women don't mind being restricted.  I know some women are happy to be under male authority and to live with "I can't; I must not."  But I can't help wondering if they'd be even happier if they ever came to truly believe they could follow Jesus and love God without these requirements.  That they are free to let men lead if and when that works for them (and for the men), but there is no law telling them this is the only way.

But the way I see it, there's something wrong with the way we look at the Bible, when we read a small set of texts in ways that jar with its overarching truths.  There's something wrong with holding the nature or treatment of women, or the character of God, hostage to a verse.

There's something wrong with righteously standing on obedience to the Bible while treating fellow human beings less than righteously.

And there's something wrong with clinging to the confidence that we're so very right in doing wrong.


Anonymous said...

The Bible is in fact clear on female leadership in a church context.I don't know of another interpretation to 1 Timothy 2:12, and I didn't see a comment here about it either. And if you read further, there are legitimate reasons. However, apart from that, I should point out that equality in value and essence is not the same as equality in authority. Jesus chose to submit to God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit chooses to submit to God the Father and God the Son. However, all three persons of the Trinity are equal in essence and value, even if not equal in authority. Finally, two points need to be made with regards to male leadership and female submission: First, this is only in the context of church government. So a Christian woman can certainly be a prime minister, president, CEO, etc. Second, a woman chooses to submit to authority in the church. It's a choice. This is not because of lack of intelligence or value, but because of the role given to her by God. It is not a lesser role just because it's submissive. There's strength in choosing to submit. Jesus submitted to His Father and yet His role was central to the salvation of humans. Through submission women have done amazing things for the glory of God! I think also it is worth noting that the majority of churches which forsake this teaching end up forsaking the authority of Scripture altogether. Giving up to cultural norms is a slippery slope. In the Middle East, churches and Christians are mocked for considering women to be of equal value of men. We know that they should not give in to cultural norms, but the pressure on them from their culture is enormous. Culture should never dictate Scripture. Just my two cents.

Brandon Harnish said...

"In the Middle East, churches and Christians are mocked for considering women to be of equal value of men."

Are you serious?

Anonymous said...

Yes I am. I grew up there. We were constantly being called foolish for believing and preaching that. The general public's view was quite contrary to this, that women, by nature, are inferior to men. Not every non-Christian believed this but the majority did, and still does.

Valerie said...

"There's something wrong with righteously standing on obedience to the Bible while treating fellow human beings less than righteously."

I really like that.

I really like all of this. I saw Rachel Held Evans tweeted it too.

I think even Anonymous commenting here is proving your point... placing a set of restrictions on women, while other comps would place other *different* restrictions on them, claiming the Bible is "clear."

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Valerie, I agree that the quote you included is a very good point that Kristen made, and I know for sure that this issue has been abused countless times (by men, obviously). However, I do think that your judgement of my opinion is harsh. You judged my heart, which is only something God can do. I am not being self-righteous about it while looking down on other views. I do not think that restrictions should be placed on women. I think that women who believe this, and believe that God says what He means are doing the right thing by *choosing* to submit to God's word. You may choose to interpret it differently. We disagree on this, and it's fine. It's certainly not the centre of the Gospel and there are many more weighty things than this. But condemning me because I see it differently is, I think, not very tolerant and is self-righteous. It says to me that you yourself think that the Bible is clear on this and there's no room for you to be wrong (which is the very thing of which you're accusing me). I think I was being sensitive about it and respectfully expressing what I faithfully believe God is saying. I could be wrong in the end, but I believe that this is what God's word is saying, even though I am uncomfortable with it and it is an unpopular take on it (I wish I didn't think that this is what it was saying). But at the end of the day, God judges the heart, and I think my motives are pure here. Again, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, so I can't say for sure.

Anonymous said...

I should also add that I believe that leadership within the church should model Christ's leadership, which is servant leadership. In other words, the men who lead (not all of them lead) should outserve everyone else. Figuratively, women should have there feet washed by men in the church. Leaders are to act as slaves to those whom they lead, just as Christ took on the role of the lowest of slaves in their culture and washed the feet of His disciples. That's what Christian leadership should look like, and anything different than that is domineering and not modeled after Christ.

Valerie said...

Actually, I think there's a misunderstanding here. The quote I pulled out of her post stood by itself with the, "I really like that," and possibly the next line.

When I addressed you, it was to be read completely separately. I don't think your expression of your opinion was insensitive or unrighteous, but I do think it was only an opinion - not a statement on something for which the Bible is "clear."

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. You are certainly entitled to your opinion/interpretation as well. Regardless of our positions on this topic, let the love of Christ thrive between Christians and to the world that needs Him.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. Having grown up in the tradition of male leadership in church settings, I started questioning it a few years ago. I mainly don't understand why many churches are okay with being in the gray area on this issue while still claiming to be 100% biblical. In the church I grew up in, for example, women are aloud to ask questions and engage in conversation during Sunday school & informal services, are aloud to pray in group settings, but aren't aloud to lead males. Why not just go the whole nine yards and not allow women to speak at all and make them have their heads covered? It seems to me that we should either apply all of the rules to women in the church or completely set them free. It does no good to stay in the middle allowing male leadership to leave in what they're comfortable with and throw out what they're not.

Kristen said...

Annonymous, you said:

"The Bible is in fact clear on female leadership in a church context.I don't know of another interpretation to 1 Timothy 2:12, and I didn't see a comment here about it either."

It is true that no matter how good your motivation, you are in fact adding your voice to the chorus of those who restrict women for the reason that the Bible is "clear" that they should be restricted. To say that women should voluntarily restrict themselves, when if they don't restrict themselves they're being disobedient to God, is in fact restricting them. "It's your choice-- but not choosing Choice A is a sin" is not actually a choice.

As for 1 Tim 2:12 and the fact I didn't mention it in this post-- I did say at the beginning of my post that I had done a lot of other posts on the actual proof-texts. You say you don't know of another interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12. Perhaps you'd be interested in reading one. My five-step analysis of 1 Tim 2:11-15 starts here:

Five-Step Analysis of 1 Tim 2:11-15, Part 1

You can view my topic index (link at top of the page) for the remainder of the series, plus posts addressing other scriptures.

Kristen said...

Anne, you make a very good point! Your experience seems to be yet another verse in the song about how and in what ways women should be restricted. Some churches would say, "Sure, she can lead a youth group game time-- as long as they're all just kids." Others would say, "She can lead anything as long as it's not her marriage or a church service." But your church said, "A woman can't be in any position of leadership in a church setting, even if it's just a game time." No agreement on any specifics, just full agreement that women should be prevented from doing things they are qualified, willing and able to do, and that meet the needs of others.

Kristen said...

I also need to ask about this:

"Culture should never dictate Scripture."

Just what exactly about "these restrictions harm women and are against 'do unto others'" is cultural? I believe I'm talking about right and wrong here, defined as Jesus defined it-- not culture.

Kristen said...

PS. The whole issue of submission/subordination within the Trinity is addressed in this blog post:

The Bible and Human Authority, Part 3: The Great Chain of Being.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I love this post, Kristen. Forced gender roles can be harmful to both men and women, marriages, and the church its self. Jesus chastised the leaders of his day for being legalistic, yet many insist on continuing the tradition of legalism.

So many seem to think that the 66 books we call The Bible just fell from the sky exactly as we know them today, and that there is one secret decoder ring to interpret them all. It's a wee bit more complicated than that. ;-)

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, way up there: yes, but Jesus gave Himself willingly...

Should we really regard the curse of "lordship" in Genesis 3:16 a mandate for men? Or rather, a warning for women, as in, because of sin this is how the relationship will be, just as women will have sorrow in childbirth and men will now have to work the dirt, as it were, to get make a living, and so on.

Of course, we now have no end of modern conveniences to ease up men's work, but why must some still insist on the full force of the "lordship" curse for women? Well, that is, except that, thankfully, childbirth is a lot easier now due to the development of pain medications, surgical procedures, and simple hygiene, thus the death rate for women and newborns is way down. (Or should we go back to each of those curses, too, and insist they be in full force again?). Just curious.

And of course, life post-curse is not God's best for us, and before the dew dried in Eden He prophesied and set in motion redemption from them.

Fortunately, Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death.


Anonymous said...

Phyllis again: should read, "why must some still insist on the full force of the curses for women..."

Caleb Gates said...

Those who argue against women in Church leadership on the basis of 1 Timothy 2 say that this is based on the order of creation. If it is really based on the order of creation, then this cannot apply only to church. Rather it must apply to all of society. Thus, women cannot be CEOs, presidents, or prime ministers. But no complementarians would argue that (although some might think it).
Plus women functioned as church leaders in the early church.

Desley said...

"Culture should never dictate Scripture."

I agree! If we allowed culture to dictate Scripture, we would be forever sentenced to a male-dominated world. I get so tired of the inequalities our culture tolerates and even perpetuates. I would LOVE to see Christians get with God's program and make an impact on the male-dominated culture we live in, instead of reinforcing it. Think of how many women (and their children) we could set free from domestic abuse if we just esteemed women as equals! Think of how many abusers we could challenge to honor their wives as equal partners, and how we could explore the benefits with them (yes, benefits!) of sharing power.
Think of how many young men we could free from oppressive gender stereotypes that restrict them from showing weakness or expressing sadness, fear, and other human emotions. There are several qualified professionals who are now making a link between the pervasive aggression in young males (i.e. the overwhelming majority of school shootings were done by males)and the unhealthy gender stereotypes perpetuated by the culture.

The church could be the solution instead of contributing to the problem!

"Those who argue against women in Church leadership on the basis of 1 Timothy 2 say that this is based on the order of creation. If it is really based on the order of creation, then this cannot apply only to church. Rather it must apply to all of society. Thus, women cannot be CEOs, presidents, or prime ministers. But no complementarians would argue that (although some might think it)."

John Piper thinks women should not be in leadership positions all around the board, not just at home and in the church. He actually lamented Sarah Palin's campaign to be VP because he thought "she should be at home taking care of her disabled child." He didn't ask if maybe her husband was happy to take on that role while she pursued this very worthy endeavor; that would be unfathomable to him.

When women are in positions of leadership over men (e.g. driving buses with male passengers[I kid you not]), Piper thinks they have to tread carefully in order to affirm the masculinity (authority/superiority)of each male under female leadership.

Donald Johnson said...

The idea that 1 Tim 2:12 is clear (perspicuous) is pernicious as is the idea that all Scripture is clear.
That verse (which as a verse is a man-made invention) is anything but clear.

The original protestants proclaimed the doctrine of the perspicuity (clearness) of Scripture in terms of salvation, but somehow this has gotten transmogrified into an absolute monster of supposedly all Scripture being clear. What nonsense! When something is not so clear the answer is that it is not so clear and should NOT be used for doctrine.

However, it is not according to the Kingdom principles of justice and freedom to restrict women in the church; this means the burden of proof is on the restricters of women, not the ones that teach that women (and men) are free to serve God as they have been gifted.

Donald Johnson said...

P.S. The basic reason 1 Tim 2:12 is not clear is that the readers are not Timothy in 1st century Ephesus. Timothy was called a spiritual son by Paul, how many of us can claim that? None of us.

All communication is based on a shared context to fill in the gaps for unstated things that are provided by that shared context. We can be confident that the shared context between Paul and Timothy was much larger than we share.

E.G. said...

For thos in this comments going on about the clarity of 1 Tim. 2, I suggest that you read this:

Yes, it is clear, but perhaps not in the way that some think... i.e., the first post in the thread.

Note, too, that the writer is a SBC pastor. Not exactly a raving liberal.

Morgan Guyton said...

Somehow it feels kind of silly to engage people who are using the Bible for proof-texting ideological purposes rather than discipleship, but Paul always makes a distinction between when he is making a judgment call on his own and when the Spirit is telling him to do something ("Not I, but the Spirit," etc). In 1 Tim 2:12, Paul is very clear in saying that he has made a pastorally contextual judgment call on his own by saying "*I* do not permit the women to teach." The only thing clear about this statement is that Paul is being very intentional about qualifying what he's saying as a personal judgment call. But expecting a fundamentalist to have the integrity to recognize this would be incredibly naive on my part. The day has indeed come when people surround themselves with teachers who tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, who commented first on this post:

Your view that men and women can be equal in function but different in roles is a view I've heard expressed a lot. I don't want to come off as being disrespectful of those who hold that view, but the thing is...that view is exactly Kristin's point in writing this post. She is saying that it doesn't logically hold out to say that God has given women a submissive role yet called them equal. Either they have different roles because, as women, they lack the capabilities of men (which would make them not the same/equal in essence) or God has placed arbitrary restrictions on them.

I understand that many people believe the "different in role but equal in essence" argument. I'm just saying that that's exactly what Kristin set out to debunk, so repeating it in your comment isn't necessarily adding something new to the argument.

Valerie said...

Caleb Gates: There are plenty of complementarians that believe women should not be CEO's, prime ministers, or presidents, many that believe a woman shouldn't even work outside the home. I know several personally and have read from countless others.

Kristen said...

I appreciate everyone's comments very much, and the good discussion that is going on here. I do have to say this to Morgan, however, about these words of his:

"But expecting a fundamentalist to have the integrity to recognize this would be incredibly naive on my part. The day has indeed come when people surround themselves with teachers who tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear."

This blog has a rule against "personal attacks, or speculations on the character or motives of other commenters," as I have posted. The above comments are in the nature of a personal attack/speculation on character or motives-- and even though you and I are on the same side of this issue, I have to enforce my rule fairly on all. Therefore, any additional comments along these lines will be deleted. Thank you for understanding.

Leigh Newton said...

Thanks Kristin for your good thinking. Fundamentalism, I think, seems to dull critical thinking. To critically engage and wrestle with the text is to bring it to life and bring meaning to our own life. To unquestioningly accept the Biblical text is about as wise as doing the same with our newspapers. People, including the writers of Scripture, have opinions, come from a particular social background and carry gender biases that they are not even aware of. We are flawed people who do our best to follow the law of love but again and again we demonstrate that we still don't get it.
The best attitude to maintain is one of openness, hoping to one day understand the full story.
Thanks again for your wise reflection.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your reply. I took a look at your articles. First, let me address the first issue. I think there was a misunderstanding with regards to the comment that we should not let culture dictate Scripture. By that I meant that culture, in most cases, disagrees with Scripture. Whether this culture or another. And the Middle Eastern culture is an example. For example, in this culture, leadership is seen as superior to following, and that leaders are superior to followers. Therefore, if women can only lead in certain contexts, they must be lesser. I think this is a cultural bias. In many cultures, including some Asian cultures, following is an honour. Christ made it very clear that leaders are to be servants in doing so.

Second, when I said I haven't heard another interpretation, I meant that I haven't heard another compelling argument. The only egalitarian arguments I've read seem to impose and assume too much. Again, let's be careful, since reason is often a captive of the will or desire. For me, I desired time and time again to not believe the complementarian view. However, I could not fail to see it. And the arguments for it are the most compelling. Again, the people who influenced me the most are John Piper, Timothy Keller, Mark Driscoll. These are pastors who do not abuse this authority, but lovingly and gently assume leadership roles. However, as I said, I only took a quick look at your other blog posts, so I can't make a careful assessment of them. I will hopefully get to them soon (if grad school allows me to breathe).

Lastly, Jesus clearly said that He obeys the Father and does not speak on His own authority but what He has been given from above. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane also seems to demonstrate submission to His Father, ending it with "not my will but yours be done." Jesus is in no way inferior to His Father in essence or value.

Thank you again for your replies and I hope to continue the discussion.

Kristen said...

Annonymous, I appreciate your graciousness in disagreement; you are one of the first commenters on my blog who has taken the other viewpoint but done it with respect.

With regards to this: "For example, in this culture, leadership is seen as superior to following, and that leaders are superior to followers. Therefore, if women can only lead in certain contexts, they must be lesser." -- I haven't really been thinking about it in terms of leadership being superior. What I've been talking about is leadership as a power or a skill set, which if a group lacks, and that lack is intrinsic to their very nature as a group, then that lack amounts to an inferiority. In this case, if women are able to lead in secular society, but unable (by nature) to lead in church or home, then the lack is a spiritual one, for the difference between leading in society and leading in church or home is a spiritual difference. If only men are suited to lead spiritually and women are not suited to-- then women are inferior. On the other hand, if women do not have any such lack, but God forbids them anyway, then God is unjust. It's not a matter of whether the skill to lead is superior to the skill to follow. It's that if the kind of humanity you (generic "you" here) are lacks that skill intrinsically, and nothing your kind of human could ever do could cause you to gain it-- then you are lesser in some way than those humans who have the power to gain the skill as an intrinsic part of their nature.

With regards to 1 Tim 2 -- I have never understood why the complementarian view is not seen to impose and assume too much, particularly in light of other passages of Scripture that ought to throw some light on it. Why "I do not permit a woman" should be read as "God says no woman must ever" really does seem to make a lot of impositions and assumptions regarding the text. Really, the main thing going for this reading is that it's the traditional reading-- but tradition has been wrong before.

I will refrain from making comments about the complementarian leaders you cite, except to say that some of the things I have read that they said really don't come across as positively as you state.

Finally, if and when you have the time to read my post "The Bible and Human Authority, Part 3" that I linked above, you will see that I'm not disputing that Jesus submitted to His Father while walking as a human on this earth. But that does not mean He has submitted from eternity past or into eternity future; indeed, "submission" is incoherent when there is one Will shared by both-- and there has been no disparity in Will within the One Triune God, except when Jesus' human needs were at odds with the will of the Father while He walked on earth. Thus, looking at Jesus' submission as similar to that claimed as a woman's duty to a man, is an apples-and-oranges kind of comparison. I'd encourage you to read that whole post before engaging with it further.

Anonymous said...

Kristen, I have a question for you that isn't directly related to the post but it's something I think you might have an interesting opinion on. I recently read a blogger, Matt appling, say that he was a feminist (by his own definition) because he loves and serves his wife. I don't think that loving and serving one's wife makes one a feminist. But I'm not sure I have the words to articulate why. Do you have an opinion on a man claiming to be a feminist because he loves his wife? I'm asking you because I think you articulate the egal perspective i a way I can't.

Kristen said...

Anonymous, I think to be a feminist means you have to believe in equal opportunity and equal treatment for women-- all women. You can certainly love and serve your wife as a feminist, but you can also love and serve your wife and yet believe she should be restricted from having the same opportunities men have for leadership in the church, or treated as one under authority in the home. So no, I don't think just loving and serving your wife makes you a feminist.

Mel said...

Getting a kick out of the fact that the very first comment starts with "the Bible is in fact clear." Lol. Well, I got the point. Thank you so much for being bold with this topic, and for just exploring what is in your heart so the rest of us can gain strength from it. Intelligent and lovely posts like this remind me that I too can speak with confidence and love about the way I see the Bible misused around me.

Mel said...

For an amazing read on the topic of women during biblical times see Paul Among the People: Reinterpreting and Reimaging the Apostle in His Own Time By: Sarah Ruden. I am reading this book right now, I can't stand to put it down. For me, the New Testament will never be the same.

Kristen said...

Thanks, Mel! I will check that book out!

Anonymous said...

The supposed restrictions on women in the church are based on Paul's letters. Paul was always careful about distinguishing his personal opinions from "Thus sayeth the Lord", and all the restrictions on women preaching are Paul's personal opinions. Like any advice, his opinions should be weighed against actual circumstances to see if they are actually helpful. If not, discard them.

He may have been the "Apostle to the Gentiles", but he wasn't perfect. "Acts of the Apostles" and his own letters document some of his mistakes, so do not hold the personal opinions of Paul up as if they were the inerrant Word of God Himself. They aren't.

Kristen said...

Dragoness-e, I tend to agree. I certainly have always wondered why "I do not permit a woman" is read as if it said "God said no woman must ever." Paul didn't say "God says no woman must ever"!

Helen Davis said...

Ah yes, John Piper. Piper is a very disturbed man in my opinion and his advice on domestic violence is dangerous. He may not beat his wife but there are many men in both the church and the world who do. Patriarchy had a purpose in the cave man dies when the human race was just trying to survive but in today's world it is outdated and unfair. If Piper wishes to live like it's the 1300s that is fine, but he has no right to tell the entire Body of Christ to do so. He is in a position of influence and can use it for the good. He simply, IMO, chooses not to

Kristen said...

Helen, whether John Piper's position on this is due to a moral failing or a mental issue is beyond my pay grade. But I agree completely that his advice on domestic violence is dangerous. Preachers should not give advice about things they know nothing about.

Helen Davis said...

Thanks Kristen. I am sometimes a little snarky when I speak of complementarians since I personally have been so burned by their teachings.

Kristen said...

I hear you, Helen. I do indeed.

Kristen said...

Steve Finnell, this is the second time you have used my blog as an advertisement for your own. Although you are tangentially on topic, you haven't really addressed what I've said in my blog but have simply spouted (in capital letters, too-- which is against Internet etiquette) your own ideas. One more attempt to do this, and you will be banned.

You have been warned.

Tamara L. Rice said...

Kristen, this is an amazing post. Thank you for leaving me the link. It was also very timely for me having just had a family member write to correct me in this matter as "the Scriptures are clear." Ahh, where to begin with the problems of that statement? You, however, have done a fantastic job here.

And I do so much appreciate this and may quote you down the line:

"To consider women lesser is harmful to women. It exposes them to ways of being treated that are only appropriate for inferiors."

Anonymous said...

Some adults are disabled and unable to take care of themselves. Are they lesser? Are they inferior — and thus deserving of less dignified treatment?

I can't help but think that, too often, attempts at egalitarianism replace sexism with ableism.

"[W]ays of being treated that are only appropriate for inferiors." But who is my inferior? How is such language appropriate for the free world?

Kristen said...

The last thing I want is to be ableist, and I'm quite willing to be shown where where my error is. But I think you're misunderstanding me, too. My statement about inferiors did not in any way imply that I believe anyone actually is inferior; I used this language to forcibly bring across my point that women are being treated as inferiors, in ways that do indeed stand out in a free world.

This series on this blog further clarifies my position on this issue:

The Logical Fallacy of Equal But Subordinate

Why Protesting "Equal But Subordinate" is Not Just Me Having a Problem With Authority

"Equal But Subordinate" and Soft Complementarianism