Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Logical Fallacy of "Equal But Subordinate"

Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding Board has drawn the blogosphere's attention this week to an article that the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood ("CBMW") posted in its Spring 2006 Journal entitled "Relationships and Roles in the New Creation," written by Mark David Walton. Spiritual Sounding Board put up its first post on this dated March 12, 2014, and the CBMW has since removed this article from its website.  However, this screen shot captures the withdrawn article.

The gist of the article is that male headship and female subordination are part of the very nature of manhood and womanhood, and thus will continue in the next life: that the full arrival of the New Creation in Christ will simply be a more complete and joyful enacting of our gender roles.

In referring to "gender roles," CMBW does not mean only that women take care of the house while men provide for the house; indeed, if that were the extent of it, it would be annoying but not nearly so dangerous.  No, what CBMW means by "gender roles" is that men were designed by God for "headship" over women, while women were designed by God for "joyful submission" to male headship (i.e., willing subordination).  Since according to CBMW, headship and subordination are part and parcel of what it means, respectively, to be a man or a woman, the logical conclusion would in fact be that these would continue into the next life. As the article puts it:
Complementarity [by which is meant male headship/female subordination] is not just an accommodation to the less-than-perfect conditions that prevailed during the first century.  Rather, it is a divine principle weaved into the fabric of God's order for the universe. . . . To deny the very concept of male headship on the false assumption that it is incompatible with creation ideals is, at best, reckless theology.
The Strange Figures blog has written a very humorous parody of the article-- here's a sample:
To our dear sisters in Christ, 
Greetings to you in the name of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who has bought us with His blood, purchasing for Himself a people reflecting the richness of biblical manhood and womanhood. . .

For we have taught you always that your rank as women is part of the divine order, God’s prelapsarian will for the “better half” of his highest creation (if you will permit us a tiny and theologically unsound joke). If submission is God’s will for you in this mortal life, would it not also be His will for you in heaven? Heaven will be a return to the lost edenic dream in which you were created to be helpmeets to the “adams” God has appointed over you, and we look forward with anticipation to the blessings that will come to you when that perfect vision is restored.
Besides the fact that the idea of a new heavens and new earth in which I as a woman will be eternally subordinate-- perhaps to all males, but at least to my husband, my father, my father-in-law, my grandfather, my grandfather-in-law (and so on down to the roots of the family tree) smells a bit more of fire and brimstone than any self-respecting concept of eternal bliss really has any business smelling of-- there are some serious logical flaws in this whole line of thought.

I want to particularly address this line of reasoning from the article:
At the very heart of the feminist movement is the conviction that there can be no true equality as long as gender-based differentiation of roles and responsibility remain. . . Only where there is functional equivalence between the sexes does equality exist. . . [But this] premise is false because functional equivalence cannot be genuinely necessary to genuine equality.  A biblical worldview understands that the locus of worth of a human life does not reside in any physical, emotional or intellectual attribute or possession.  Neither is it to be found in the individual's functionality or potential for productivity.  The worth of each person is based upon the truth that he or she bears the imago dei, the image of God. . . . Feminists, both secular and evangelical, define equality in terms of functionality rather than ontologically-- on the basis of being.  They err by effectively reducing equality to "sameness". . . We can be certain, however, that the new creation will be characterized not by sameness but by incredible diversity- diversity of abilities, diversity of gifts, and diversity of rewards. [Emphases in original.]
CBMW is here saying that all individuals have differing gifts and abilities and thus are not functionally equal, but are still ontologically equal: equal in their essential being or nature.  Male and female gender roles are like this, the article implies.  Just because women have differing gifts and abilities (and thus differing roles and responsibilities) than men does not make them essentially non-equal.  If one person is gifted to be an entrepreneur and another to be a car mechanic, this functional difference does not equal an ontological difference.  Both are made in the image of God and are thus equal in their very being, even though not equal in their gifts and abilities.

The difficulty here, of course, is that no "feminists" have actually denied this.  As a Christian egalitarian and a Jesus feminist, I do not in fact believe what he says I believe: that functional equivalence is necessary for true equality-- nor is this conclusion implied by my position.  The idea is not that a particular man and a particular woman cannot be equal if he is leadership-oriented and she really prefers a supportive role.  No-- the egalitarian/feminist objection to male headship is not based on a requirement for functional equivalence.  The objection is actually based on a false equation: that male headship/female subordination IS actually a functional difference. It is in reality an ontological one. 

In order to see where I'm going with this, it's important to understand the distinction between necessary (or essential) and accidental properties, as these terms are used in philosophy.  As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains:
[A]n essential property of an object is a property that it must have while an accidental property of an object is one that it happens to have but that it could lack. . . In the characterization just given of the distinction between essential and accidental properties, the use of the word “must” reflects the fact that necessity is invoked, while the use of the word “could” reflects that possibility is invoked. . . [T]o say that an object must have a certain property is to say that it could not lack it; and to say that an object could have a certain property is to say that it is not the case that it must lack it. 
Many would say that each individual human could not fail to be human; if so, . . . the property of being human [is] an essential property of each human. And, too, many would say that although someone, say X, is in fact fond of dogs, X could have lacked that property; if that is right, then. . . the property of being fond of dogs [is] an accidental property of X.
Keeping those definitions in mind, it is clear that maleness or femaleness is an accidental property of being human.  A human could be male and still be human; she could be female and still be human; a human could in fact be intersex and still be human.  There is, then, a subset of humanity which is male and a subset which is female, and both subsets are human.  Let's look, then at what the CBMW article does with the concepts of headship and subordination as they relate to male and female humanity.
In the ordering of his creation. . . God formed the man first and gave him responsibility and authority as the head of the human race.  This headship, far from being a result of the fall - feminist and egalitarian claims notwithstanding - is a central feature of the divine created order.  Because the new creation is, fundamentally, a return to the divine order that prevailed before the fall, it follows that male headship will remain in the new creation. . . . The principle of headship and submission in male-female relations is clearly affirmed in the New Testament. Furthermore, nowhere in Scripture is this principle replaced or rescinded. . .  There is every reason to believe, then, that male headship will continue as the divine order for male-female relationships. [Emphasis added.]
Notice what is happening here. God built male headship into humanity at creation and ordained that it would continue always. In other words, CMBW has assigned this quality - headship - as an essential attribute of those possessing one particular accidental trait: that of maleness. And they have assigned another quality - subordination/submission - as an essential attribute of those possessing another accidental trait: that of femaleness.  Remember that it is the essential traits that make a thing ontologically itself.  A human cannot be genetically non-human, because the human genome is essential to the being (the ontology) of humanness.  CBMW is saying that headship is part of what makes male humans ontologically male, while subordination is part of what makes female humans ontologically female.

Now, we might say that possession of the XX chromosome is essential to being a female human, and that possession of the XY chromosome is essential to being a male human.  We might also say that the potential ability to bear children is essential to being female, though a particular female human can have the accidental quality of being actually unable to bear children. Equivalently, the potential ability to engender children is essential to being a male human, while an actual inability to engender children would be an accidental quality of a particular male human. But notice how the essential qualities are equivalent.  There is no essential ability in the one that does not correspond to an equal and corresponding essential ability in the other.  One does not have an essential ability (potential procreation) which the other lacks, but both male and female are essential to human procreation.  In other words, these essential properties are equal and result in ontological equality in male and female human beings. 

The same is true of the imago dei which the CBMW article quite rightly identifies as the essential spiritual quality of humanness.  Both male and female humans are equally made in the image of God. The image of God is not lesser or diminished in one human sex. To be made in the image of God is what it means to be human: this is a necessary/essential property of humanness.

But what does it mean to say that the subset of humans with the trait of maleness essentially possess headship, while the subset with the trait of femaleness essentially are subordinate to that headship? Submission and subordination are not positive ontological qualities in and of themselves; they are, rather, responses to the ontological quality of headship in the other.  The human with headship is the agent, the mover, the one who acts.  The subordinate human follows and responds to the agent and mover. Subordination is not an essential ability which is equal and corresponding to headship.  It is in every way a lesser and dependent quality to the quality of headship.

If headship is essential to male humanity and subordination/submission is essential to female humanity, and since the essential attributes are what make a thing ontologically itself, then male humanity in its very essence possesses a quality which female humanity in its very essence lacks and is dependent upon.  The result is that given these definitions of the nature of male and female humans, female humanity then logically and necessarily becomes ontologically lesser to male humanity.

We simply are not talking about functional differences here!  If the nature of human maleness is headship and the nature of human femaleness is subordination, then what we have are two classes of humanity which are superior and inferior by their very natures. This is what egalitarians and feminists object to-- and this is what CBMW, intentionally or not, is holding forth as a truth not simply of this world, but of the one to come.

What, then, happens to a verse like Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"?  CBMW's position is that this applies only to our standing in Christ in terms of salvation; that it means nothing with regards to male headship and female subordination in the body of Christ today or in eternity.  But if headship and subordination are essential and therefore ontological traits of male vs. female humanity, and if headship and subordination are therefore going to continue even into the fullness of the New Creation, then Galatians 3:28 means exactly nothing at all.  Our standing in Christ does not and never will add to female humanity this additional human quality of headship which it now lacks and always will lack.  In Christ, in fact, there absolutely is "male and female," now and forever.

And yet it is the CBMW which insists that egalitarians have a "chronic conundrum" of "how to reconcile passages that are . . . plainly inconsistent" with their worldview.  Egalitarian interpretations usually show how historical-cultural understandings of particular texts give them different applications for today.  They do not simply render a scriptural passage, to all intents and purposes, moot and fundamentally meaningless.

I try to avoid in principle speculations into the motives and internal character of other Christians, so I will not offer any opinion on why CBMW has removed their article "Relationships and Roles in the New Creation" from their website.  I will simply say that the article does reflect the logical conclusion of male headship thinking, that its logical conclusion contradicts its own premise of male-female ontological equality-- and that it contemplates a supposedly divine reality that I would really rather be excused from ever having to live in.


Don Johnson said...


Diane said...

My goodness THAT was excellent and a joy to read. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add something to your comment of,

"If one person is gifted to be an entrepreneur and another to be a car mechanic, this functional difference does not equal an ontological difference. Both are made in the image of God and are thus equal in their very being, even though not equal in their gifts and abilities.
The difficulty here, of course, is that no "feminists" have actually denied this."

To use this as an analogy to church roles:

Among gender complementarians, if you have a male and female auto mechanic, even if the female is equally talented, skilled, or competent at the profession as the male is (or even MORE talented, competent, etc), the gender complementarians would argue that she should not be allowed to "lead" or use those talents or skills but should have to defer to the man, due to gender alone.

It would not matter to a gender comp if the woman made Straight A's in Auto Repair School and the male student made grades of C's, they would still argue that the male get to take on the role, not the woman, just on gender alone.

They do this with leadership positions and preaching/teaching positions in the church, and in marriages.

By default of just being male (and no other qualifier), the guy gets to lead and make all decisions, while the woman, who may have more common sense, be more educated or intelligent than the male, is told she must always defer to the husband anyway.

Paul said...

This is a fantastic article, thank you so, so much! I'm trying to circulate it widely on FB and otherwise. May God continue to bless your ministry!

heather said...

Love this

Mary said...

Thanks for this.

How profoundly depressing it would be if the bondage that women are subjected to in this life - in the secular world, and even more so in the church - were to continue in the next world, the New Creation.

As a female Christian, I long for heaven where we will all be one and equal in Christ. I will never let any council, regardless of what they set themselves up to be, take this hope away from me.

Anne Garboczi Evans said...

An interesting thing to think about is that God made BOTH male and female in His image. That means that our masculine and feminine qualities both come from God. Which means there are aspects of God that are what we would call feminine. We women reflect those aspects in a way that men do not. Just like there are aspects of God that are uniquely masculine that men reflect in a way that women don't. So though I definitely think He is the appropriate pronoun to use for God b/c the Bible uses it and the male pronoun has always represented power, God encompasses both the masculine and feminine qualities we see in people since both male and female qualities were taken from His image. So I don't think God's male. I think He's God and way above gender.

Gracie said...

wow; thanks!

vineland said...

Great post, thank-you for clarifying why the "gender role" argument is so objectionable to feminists. Isn't it heretical to think we will be needing human (well, resurrected human) leaders in a place where Jesus is King?

Ruth (the blogger) said...

Wow! You make a tremendous case for egalitarianism here! Loved this and will be linking to it on my blog, and checking in to yours regularly. Thank you for your hard work here! :)


rach.h.davis said...

First of all, this was a great article. I'm glad to have found one blog post that focuses on this particular angle of the discussion (functional vs. ontological roles). As Mimi Haddad of CBE once said, "Ontological beliefs always have functional consequences."

I simply must throw in another comment about a particular issue that was raised in the quotes you examined...the idea that male headship is "clearly" shown in the creation account.

That argument is so, so, so arrogant and unfounded that it can drive me to the brink of insanity in one second flat. I have never yet heard ANYONE explain HOW the pre-fall verses specifically portray male headship. The closest I've ever heard anyone get, is saying that Adam named the animals and Eve, which is an act of power. At best, that could be *alluding* to male headship, but it's certainly not explicitly spelling it out in any way, shape, or form.

If a complementarian were to say "I believe from verses in the New Testament that male headship is God's ideal, therefore we can assume it was present in Eden" then fine. I would disagree with that person, but fine. That's a logical conclusion from their standpoint, and they're admitting that it's an inference they drew based on other evidence.

But to say that the pre-fall verses of Genesis pointedly establish male headship is just plain stupid, because they don't, and all it takes it a quick read-over to dismantle that argument. Yet people parade that argument around as if they are completely unaware of what their own Bibles say.

It's like someone wearing a red sweater and going around all day claiming that it is green, and that its being green makes your red sweater inferior. I just...I can''s so stupid!

Anonymous said...

I feel so sad that whether or not you are are subordinate or authoritative is the means by which you determine whether or not you want to go to or will enjoy heaven? We will all be subordinate to Christ. If a woman was authoritative over another woman and she was less qualified to lead, would we still be having this same argument about gender?

I have been both a boss and an employee, both roles have their perks and unpleasantries, I for one am glad to be in submission to Christ and if He determines that a man should be in authority over me, then in His wisdom I welcome it. Not all men are abusive and brutish with their leadership. I have seen women abuse their power as well as men. As a matter of fact it has been my experience in my 52 years that women are much crueler in their abuse than any man ever was, except when it come to physical abuse. These qualities are not tied to gender they are tied to sinfulness.

When the new heaven and the new earth are brought about, our sinfulness both men's and women's will be crush and authority and submission will not be the same as here under this fleshly existence and curse. While we will reign with Christ in heaven, we will by no means BE Christ in heaven, there will still be a gap in who we are and we WILL still be in subjection to Him. I trust in Him and His leadership.

rach.h.davis said...

Interesting questions, anonymous. Being subordinate to Jesus is, of course, a whole different story than being subordinate to other people. To your point of a particular woman being more qualified to lead than another woman...even in that case, I would still argue (and I think Wordgazer would too) that this woman would not remain ontologically and functionally "over" other women in the new creation. The new creation will reveal the spiritual truth that we often can't see on earth; that Jesus has equal authority over all, and we humans are not separated into groups with certain groups having special authority over the others.

Also, regarding the idea that submission in heaven would be better because our restored sin natures would prevent the abuse of power...this article was not discussing the abuse of power. This article was showing how even non-abusive ideas of male authority imply female inferiority, whether abuse has entered the picture or not. So, I see your point, but I think Wordgazer's argument has already anticipated and gone beyond that line of thinking.

Kristen said...

Everyone's comments are very appreciated; some really interesting points raised! A few responses:

To the first Anonymous: Yes, the fact that it is maleness above skill or education is another proof that this isn't about "functional" differences but is about an ontological one.

To Anne Evans: Good point! I have a blog post along the lines you're speaking of, called "Is God's Nature Father and Not Mother? that might interest you.

To Vineland: That's a really good point. When Jesus is fully present and fully king of our hearts, why would we need a hierarchy of command?

To Rach.h - I think what this line of thinking does is interpret Genesis 1 & 2 through the lens of 1 Timothy 2, so that they can claim male headship comes from Genesis when in fact it comes from a certain reading of 1 Timothy 2, read back into Genesis. In effect, it uses 1 Timothy 2 to support 1 Timothy 2, which is circular reasoning.

To 2nd Anonymous: I'm not sure you've thought through the implications of what you're saying. As Vineland pointed out, there is no need or place for anyone besides Jesus to lead us in the New Creation. To say otherwise is to imply that Christ will not be fully present to and in communion with each of His children. If I'm submitting directly to Christ, I know what Christ wants-- and what a man might tell me to do would either be redundant, or would be expressive of a desire of his own that is not Christ's. In effect, the man would be between me and my God. Anything or anyone between me and God is simply not an eternal state I should be expected, as a Christ-follower, to want or enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous above, I didn't know how to put in my name, which is Kim. But if abuse of power is not the issue, then what is? What difference does it make then who is in submission to whom?

I have seen people who initially did not seem qualified and capable of serving by the gifts they presently possessed, rise and exceed expectation. This still all seems an outward looking argument, and even if we could see inwardly, we might still be surprised at how a person blossoms, regardless of gender.

As an older woman I have placed myself under the authority of younger men and women and rather than watch them for inadequacies, I rather encouraged and helped them succeed in their role. Submission is not an inferior thing unless you make it so by your prideful reaction to authority. That's why I say this real, argument has not gone beyond that line of thinking.

If I am missing the real issue, then tell me. My daughter who I love more than I love myself is struggling with whole issue and I for the life of me can not see what is so evil about authority and submission in and of themselves. People can corrupt those positions, but I don't see where one is greater than another? If everyone is in authority, then how would anything get done? There must be order and that's how I see authority and submission.

Truthfully, as a pastor's wife, I see men wanting to cast off their role of headship all the time because its difficult and the responsibility is weighty. When you lead in love, you worry that you might lead wrongly and harm those under your authority.

As a mother I know its difficult to be in authority when those under you, your children who you love, will not submit to you, when you are only trying to love and protect them. This is only considering the positive aspects of these roles. Add sin to either side and the problem just snowballs.

I guess if there is some other aspect of authority and submission I'm missing that requires this kind of passionate argument, then I'm blind to it, and sincerely, out of love for my daughter wish someone could explain it to me simply.

Kristen said...

Kim, I'm 50 years old myself and have a child in college and one in high school, so we're coming from basically the same general place in our lives. I'm going to do a follow-up piece on Saturday which will give some concrete examples of what I mean, and hopefully will put this in a clearer light.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it in itself an elitist attitude for someone to claim that he deserves a position of authority because he is more talented? Does that not insinuate that might makes right?

You might remember that a proper leader, in God's eyes, is one who is a servant of all — rather than using his power to lord it over others. I believe egalitarians can also have a distorted view of power.

I myself would dread to have absolute power over someone. To obey or submit in "everything" must be a hyperbole because the authority figure could never demand someone to recant his faith in Christ. If an authority figure violates his call of duty, he has surely gone beyond his God-given authority. I myself would want to be held accountable; I would not want my sin to go unchecked.

Terri said...

The argument I have seen is that women are not actually inferior, that the role differentiation is just functional.

However, a role differentiation that is based solely on gender, which is ontological, is also ontological.

That is to say, if I'm to be subordinate not because of any deficiency of competence in me, but solely because I am female, that is ontological, not functional.

Kristen said...

Thanks Terri, I agree. I deal further with the functional-vs-ontological argument in the next two posts after this one.

Anonymous said...

I previously made a comment on July 22, 2014. I have since concluded that the Bible was not, in fact, advocating soft patriarchy -- any more so than slavery. After all, I can find nothing in the Law of Moses to suggest that mother figures should have less a voice in the church than father figures. Especially since one of the judges, in the Book of Judges, was a woman named Deborah.

The more I have read about the epidemic of domestic abuse, the more disillusioned I have become with patriarchy, of any sort, as a foundation for a sound family unit.

Kristen said...

Thanks for coming back, Anonymous, and letting us know how your thoughts on this issue have developed. I agree.

Dan said...

Wow, I love your candor and attention to detail. As a man, I am happy to call myself a feminist and a Christian. Though still very conservative, I am married to an amazing, fun, intelligent, gorgeous and very liberal wife. There are tensions in balancing our worldviews, but I welcome them as it brings us both closer to Jesus.

My wife struggles any time the topic of submission comes up in church. Not surprising due to the widespread misunderstanding, misapplication and sometimes abuse of leadership in churches especially when it comes to gender roles. Thanks to my wife (that's not sarcasm) I too struggle with the biblical concept of submission.

Kristen's example about human (potential) procreation being an essential ability is a valid point: "One [male or female] does not have an essential ability (potential procreation) which the other lacks, but both male and female are essential to human procreation."

Kristen combines the different roles that male and female have in procreation into one ability: the potential to procreate, and points out that both male and female roles are needed in order for either to procreate. While this is ok, she then differentiates between roles in leadership, stating "[Subordination] is in every way a lesser and dependent quality to the quality of headship." Wait, what?

Leading and following are just as dependent on each other as male and female roles in procreation. The roles are co-dependant and uniquely different without being superior, inferior, positive or negative. I believe the same is true of leading and following roles in relationship. (I don't like the terms headship and submission because their negative connotations make them distracting.) Just like procreation has co-dependancy, so does relationship. If one person is alone they are not leading or following. Once you have two people together that relationship of leader and follower can happen.

CBMW is apparently asserting that the leader role is essential to males. Kristen concludes that according to CBMW's stance "female humanity then logically and necessarily becomes ontologically lesser to male humanity"

I disagree that CBMW's assertion concludes in making female humanity lesser to male humanity. The role of leadership does not equate to being superior. Jesus himself taught that when he washed the disciples feet. The disciples still thought of leadership the way so many Christians do today. They thought leaders were to "exercise authority over" their followers, ultimately idolizing the leadership role. Jesus said "whoever would be great among you must be your servant," and then Jesus showed that greatness by dying for us. Wow.

Men and women often idolize leadership, but Jesus shows us that leadership is just as much about serving others as following is, maybe more. To say, "the human with headship is the agent, the mover, the one who acts," is not viewing headship or leadership biblically. I understand many people view it that way, not just Kristen, but Jesus sets us free from those ideologies. Jesus shows us that the leader and the follower both "act" and both "respond."

What God says in the Bible does lay the responsibility of leadership on men. Women can lead, but men are held accountable for leadership. Men can follow too, but women are called to show us how. In my humble opinion, women have done a far better job throughout history than men have. Women leaders can be a beautiful thing (my wife is a wonderful example of this), and men who follow well are extraordinary, but don't swallow the world's definition of headship and subordination or leading and following. Jesus sets our table with richness so we can be free from that.

Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog. It's AWESOME. I love your thinking and careful explanations! I say this after hearing our pastor say about 3 years ago that women were "subservient", not just submissive, but subservient. That's a huge word, and implies even more than submission, right? After that message, I raced out of the church and was in tears before I reached the car. Hubby asked the pastor about it, and pastor said, "Well, that's what it says." Then, the same pastor, while teaching a class (in I Cor. I think) said that the male/female position, with male being in the leadership role, is because of the order of creation--male was first, followed by female. Whew! That pastor is no longer here, having left about 7 months ago. I'm "holding my breath" about the one coming in a couple of weeks. He has no formal Bible school or seminary degree as such, and I'm......uh....waiting. The next time I run out to the car in tears, I may very well just not go back. I'm prepared for that. I can't deal with this any longer. I grew up being "only a" and "less than"; married and reduced to my script of "yes, dear; no dear; anything you say dear; how high should I jump, dear." Then divorced. Why should I be surprised!!! The leadership simply led himself to another woman. So what could I say? I gave him what he wanted. Is this foolish, or WHAT!!?? Sorry to sound like I'm whining. I'm not. Maybe somebody can be encouraged. I also want to confirm that I GET what you're saying. Blessings....

Kristen said...

Dan, I appreciate your thoughtful response, and your willingness to call yourself a feminist! There is a disconnect, though, when you take my words "headship" and "subordination" and turn them into "leadership" and "following," as though these were synonymous. They are not. Following and leading are ACTIONS that people can take, and "leadership" is simply the noun referring to the action of leading. "Headship," on the other hand, refers to a state of having the right or power to be in charge, whereas subordination refers to a state of being under that power.

I agree that following and leading are both positive, interdependent things. But they are different from being in authority and being subordinate. A person in authority can decide to follow and to let the subordinate take the lead sometimes-- but it's always entirely in the power of the authority holder to do so. It's never in the power of the subordinate to take the lead unless the authority permits it. Thus, being subordinate is a dependent state, whereas being an authority is a state of having agency that the subordinate lacks.

When it comes to leading and following, I also disagree that Jesus, in washing the disciples' feet, was saying that leadership involves servanthood. Rather, He was saying that ALL Christians are to be servants of one another: that if He, the leader, could wash feet, then EVERYONE should wash one another's feet. Jesus was not defining a thing called "servant leadership." That's a modern interpretation. What He was defining was just servanthood itself-- the servanthood of all Christians to one another. Within that servanthood, sometimes an individual Christian will lead and sometimes follow-- and it's normal to switch back and forth between the two in different situations.

I hope this makes my position clearer. Thanks for commenting!

Kristen said...

Anonymous, I hear you. No, the Bible never says women are "subservient" to men. That is an interpretation by your former pastor. Also, I think it's so sad how a man in authority can divest his wife of power to the point where she can't even hold him accountable to stay faithful to her. And when she is in that subordinate position, he often finds there is no challenge, no zest, in the relationship anymore, and he's tempted all the more to stray. A "yes-dear-jump-how-high" woman is not really what he wanted after all, is it?