Is the Sun Setting on YRR – aka New Calvinism?

"Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement."

John MacArthur

Beaufort (NC) Sunset

(Taken by Deb)

The Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement (YRR) gained much notoriety five years ago when Collin Hansen coined his catchy description of a new trend in Christendom.  The emergent church movement, so prevalent decades before, waned while the YRR movement, also known as "New Calvinism" advanced at rapid speed.  We believe advances in technology are largely responsible for YRR growth.   Websites, conferences, blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and Twitter have been highly utilized by the New Calvinists to promote their brand.  So many young, serious-minded Christians have fallen in lock step behind those leading the movement, and until recently there seemed to be no stopping the popularity of YRR leaders.

Remember the 2009 TIME ranking of Top Ten ideas changing the world? (link)  "The New Calvinism" came in at number three.  A mere two years later, there appear to be problems afoot within the movement.  Perhaps C.J. Mahaney's stepping down as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries in early July triggered a panoply of voices.  The internet, which popularized New Calvinism, appears to be a driving force for the movement's exposure.

John MacArthur did a series of blog posts last summer highlighting his concerns with the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement.  The above quote came from his post entitled:  'Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed".  MacArthur explained his concerns as follows: (link)

"YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.

It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate."

Here are the titles of John MacArthur's (and colleagues') posts, which can be accessed at the above link (scroll down to bottom of the post).

Grow Up

Advice for YRRs (part 2) (blog)

Growing Up: How to Listen Like a Man (blog)

Paul Edwards Interviews Phil Johnson about GTY's YRR Series (blog)

The Marks of Immaturity, and How to Keep Growing (blog)

Growing Up: Becoming a Real Man (blog)

Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty (blog)

The Brouhaha over the Brew (blog)

Discussing the Controversy over John MacArthur's "Beer" Posts (blog)

Wretched on the YRR (blog)

Keep Reforming (blog)

Kevin DeYoung, who will be speaking at the 2012 T4G, just wrote an intriguing post he called "Wither YRR?" that all New Calvinists need to read.  You will remember that when SGM's interim leadership team established an impartial review panel to judge Mahaney's fitness for ministry, DeYoung was one of three selected.  The panel's findings did not go over well with some.  I quoted DeYoung at the top of yesterdays post, but it bears repeating.  Kevin wrote: (link)

"Tis the end of the year, the time to reflect on what has been and what may be. For several months I’ve been pondering a post on this thing that’s been called Young, Restless, and Reformed. What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be celebrated? What needs to addressed? For starters, it may be time to retire the name."

DeYoung lays out the "Challenges Ahead" for those who call themselves New Calvinists by writing:

"But there are also challenges facing my generation of evangelical Calvinists. And I’m not thinking here of the outside forces that threaten to undermine a biblical understanding of marriage or a high view of Scripture or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. I’m thinking about issues that need attention (and are receiving attention) in our YRR circles. Let me mention three of these challenges:  Ecclesiology, Missiology, and Sanctification."

DeYoung concludes his post as follows:

"What Now?

So what is the way forward? Is there a future for YRR? On the one hand, I don’t really care about the future of a label. But on the other hand, I do pray for the propagation of the good theology, expositional preaching, strong passion, and gospel partnerships that have characterized the best of the New Calvinism. I would hate to see these renewed emphases once again subside, whether because of boredom (“the glory of God is, like, so 2005″), a reverse bandwagon effect (“I like Calvinism until other people did”), or a general disease with anything that smacks of evangelicalism.

That’s why–and this will sound somewhat paradoxical–one of the most important steps forward for YRR is for each of us to go deeper into our own churches and traditions. No movement, let a lone a mood, can sustain lifelong mission, discipleship, and doctrinal commitment. The Baptists should learn to be good Baptists. The Presbyterians should not be ashamed to be Presbyterians. . ."

I continue to think a lot of good can come from the conferences, the resources, and the friendships that these groups foster. But we should read deeply into our tradition, not just broadly across the current spectrum of well-known authors. We need to learn to be good churchmen, investing time in the committees, assemblies, and machinery of the church. We need to publicly celebrate and defend important doctrinal distinctives (e.g., baptism, the millennium, liturgical norms) even as we love and respect those who disagree. We should delight in our own histories and confessions, while still rejoicing that our different vehicles are ultimately powered by the same engines of the Christian faith–justification, the authority of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, and the glory of our sovereign God.

Let’s dream big and labor small. The work God is doing to sharpen the theology, fire the passion, inspire the minds, and join the gospel hearts in this generation will be better and stronger as we go deeper down and bloom where we’re planted."

I wonder what prompted DeYoung to tackle this topic.  Could he be concerned that after all the publicity YRR has gotten over the last five years, they are not making that big of an impact in Christendom? 

Could it be that the Barna Group's recent statistical findings are troubling to DeYoung and his like-minded colleagues?  In his article "Is there a 'Reformed Movement in America's Churches?", Barna writes: 

"Some observers and journalists have described a movement among Reformed churches, pointing to prominent Reformed pastors and new Reformed church associations as a significant trend. A new study from Barna Group explores whether the so-called “New Calvinism” has, as yet, affected the allegiances of pastors and whether Reformed churches are growing."

Here are some of the trends the Barna Group discovered after conducting extensive research: (link)

Clergy Identity

"For the past decade the Barna Group has been tracking the percentage of Protestant pastors who identify their church as "Calvinist or Reformed." Currently, about three out of every 10 Protestant leaders say this phrase accurately describes their church (31%). This proportion is statistically unchanged from a decade ago (32%). In fact, an examination of a series of studies among active clergy during the past decade indicates that the proportion that embraces the Reformed label has remained flat over the last 10 years."

Church Size

"The Barna study also examined whether Calvinist churches have grown over the last decade. In 2000, Calvinist churches typically drew 80 adult attenders per week, which compares to a median of 90 attenders in the 2010 study, about 13% higher than 10 years ago. Wesleyan and Arminian churches have also reported growth during that period, increasing from a median of 85 adults to 100 currently, reflecting an 18% change over the last ten years."

How discouraging!  After all the effort put forth by New Calvinists, Arminian churches have grown more over the last decade than Calvinist churches.

We look forward to hearing your reaction to these recent developments involving YRR.

Lydia's Corner:    Job 28:1-30:31    2 Corinthians 2:12-17    Psalm 42:1-11    Proverbs 22:7


Is the Sun Setting on YRR – aka New Calvinism? — 113 Comments

  1. I left a lengthy comment over there on the original YRR post. Rather than typing up a similar response here, I’m just going to cut and paste most of what I wrote over there.

    “Jim at 1:18 p.m. pointed out the thing that jumped out at me. Brothers?

    I’m not YRR. I’m Reformed, middle aged, a happily married woman, mom, and would probably call myself an egalitarian (so I guess that makes me the heretical enemy even though I am your sister in Christ).

    It is interesting how many people here commented about interacting more effectively with the “other side”, the egals, etc. as though they were the enemy. Do you really view them that way? Your own brothers and sisters in Christ that you will spend eternity with? I sincerely get the impression that many YRR truly do not understand egals and their sincere love for Christ in the midst of their egalitarianism. Linking to an article about feminism and declaring that is what your sisters in Christ really want as egals is so far off the mark it isn’t even funny.

    I think many of the YRR have done a great job of turning people off to the Reformed tradition. I have lost track of how many times I’ve felt almost embarrassed to admit to being Reformed in the course of conversations online because people have been so turned off by the aggressive, obnoxious, and rude YRRs making their presence very known online. What is sad is they think ALL Reformed people are this way. Even if it is just a small segment of the YRR group doing this, it reflects on all of you. If you really want to advance the wonderful doctrines of grace, I suggest demonstrating a lot more grace to those who disagree with you.

    If you want to move forward as whatever new YRR labeled group you will be, I suggest you strive to truly understand your brothers and sisters in Christ who may hold to a different view on secondary matters rather than mischaracterizing their beliefs and motives. Honestly, I think as a group (not singling anyone out here) you have left a bad taste in the mouth of many that love and serve the same Christ you do.”

    In short, as a woman I do not feel welcome at all in their movement. The focus on men is alienating. The hostility toward their gifted sisters in Christ who would call themselves egalitarian is even worse.

    And, in many cases, the YRR are their own worst enemy. They have done more to turn people off to the Reformed traditions than any persuasive Armenian ever could.

  2. Sallie said:

    “If you really want to advance the wonderful doctrines of grace, I suggest demonstrating a lot more grace to those who disagree with you.”

    Amen, Sister!

    “I suggest you strive to truly understand your brothers and sisters in Christ who may hold to a different view on secondary matters rather than mischaracterizing their beliefs and motives.”

    Sallie, your above comment is so true! Secondary issues have become salvific with this crowd. Not believing just as they do may result in being labeled as “unregenerate”. Shame, shame!

    And finally, your statement “In short, as a woman I do not feel welcome at all in their movement. The focus on men is alienating” expresses my sentiments as well. In our previous post I discussed the 2006 Christianity Today article that promoted the YRR movement. Not one woman could be seen in the photos. Of course, if you read the article online you miss seeing all the photos that are in the actual CT magazine.

    Thanks so much for posting your comment. I know a lot of our readers will agree with your sentiments.

  3. I think Deyoung misses the main point totally. If he cares, he really needs to ask himself what is it about this specific doctrine of theirs that makes young men so arrogant, rude and brash? Why would a “truth” from God turn them into little tyrants? It makes no sense from a spiritual standpoint. It is an interesting subject to dive into. And very complicated.

    Not sure he really cares about that question concerning the little popes they are churning out just that they somehow be more accepted. “Be a better churchman”? What is that? Focus on doctrine and tradition? Traditions? Here we go again. Wrong focus.

    And not sure about Barna’s research. This is a hard one. Many churches have YRR on staff in positions like youth minister, etc. And many do not admit they are YRR going in and many churches become divided. I know a few churches where YRR seminary students went in as volunteers in the youth and totally ripped the church apart after a time because they had truth that even the pastor did not! So they can do damage without the position/title. In some respects, they hope to take over the church. Even Mohler’s old church was staunchly free will but like boiling a frog, little by little they taught Reformed position…never mentioning the C word but now it is run by Calvinists. They also brought in elder rule by the back door.

  4. “Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement.”

    What will be interesting is if the behavior of the YRR is becoming an embarassment to the leaders…and they start to rebuke the young men they have influenced…..???

  5. anon1,

    Great points! It will be fascinating to see how all of this shakes out over the next few years. In the meantime, we need to keep hammering these issues.

  6. I’ve skimmed a few of DeYoung’s articles on his blog, and they mostly seemed OK, but, frankly, he Lost Me At Hello. Last summer, I was googling Pipet and his leave of abscence and was led by providence to TWW. I had no idea Mahaney had taken his faux leave of absence, and had never heard of DeYoung. TWW linked me to Mahaney’s view from the cheap seats, which at time had his faux confession. There, as the last previous “normal” post, was an excerpt from a DeYoung conference talk, “Male And Female On Purpose”. Even having been a long-term semi-complementatian (less so now) I was so infuriated I was shouting at my IPad. “After Eve sinned by taking a bite of the fruit, who did God talk to….” Etc. Then discovered that this same Deyoung had already been on an “impartial” panel and declared Mahaney fit for ministry!

  7. Deb,

    The thing that bothers me most out of this YRR crowd and similar groups along with some of the overtly far, far right fundies is just that position that people not subscribing to their ideas/version of things are unregenerate – that is not saved or not true christians and that is a position that I reject with such ferosity – words are not available to describe it! I’ve heard that from SBC mega types, the traveling evangelists, the far right fundi COCs and on and on it goes and its just about drove me out of the church and even the thought of questioning the faith has floated through my mind on occasion though I’ve not taken that path – never want to turn my back on God but these church denoms are really on the thin ice with me – it’s cracking fast!

  8. RE: The Guy from Knoxville on Fri, Dec 23 2011 at 01:01 pm:

    You are not alone. I hold tenaciously to Jesus’ virgin birth, his bodily resurrection from the dead, and his bodily return to earth one day. Aside from that, I now think that the rest of the stuff from the Nicene fathers to the medievals both Catholic & Protestant, is largely conjectural & based on a particular view of Scripture which I no longer hold. How’s that for a Lutheran plowboy who’s read the stuff and no longer comes up with the same conclusions?

    There are those who hold that I am unregenerate, beyond the pale of orthodoxy, and destined for the fires of hell, but I can no longer go against my conscience. I can no longer acquiesce to a theology that runs counter to my grain as a human being made in God’s image.

  9. I think Deyoung misses the main point totally. If he cares, he really needs to ask himself what is it about this specific doctrine of theirs that makes young men so arrogant, rude and brash? — Anon1

    A couple years ago, my writing partner related to me how he was starting to have run-ins with Party Line Hyper-Calvinists. And he mentioned a LOT of them were fairly young — in their Twenties and Thirties. Could this be some sort of Mass “Cage Phase” phenomenon, additionally charged by the Know-It-All Utter Certainty of someone young who’s just committed to The Big Idea?

    He also reported a lot of these Young Hyper-Calvinists were into something called “Double Predestination” and even “Socratic Atheism” (where even God is not God, but only another puppet of Utter Predestination).

    Or it might be an overreaction to chaotic times. When everything around you turns into a South Park episode and then some, retreating into Utter Predestination (“In’shal’lah”) might provide a comfort zone. No matter what happens, It Has Been Predestined to Happen. (Though the side effects of this can build up destructively; check the history of Islam for how Extreme Predestination can cascade into stagnation, fatalism, and passivity.)

    The thing that bothers me most out of this YRR crowd and similar groups along with some of the overtly far, far right fundies is just that position that people not subscribing to their ideas/version of things are unregenerate – that is not saved or not true christians… — Guy from Knoxville

    And there’s not much distance between that and “Kill All Infidels!”, especially when you’re already in a Holy/Culture War mindset. After all, they’re Unregenerate and Damned anyway! And after there are no Infidels left, you start on the Heretics. What do predators eat after they’ve killed off all the prey?

  10. So according to Mac (my references to MacArthur…) Catholocism is a Satanic religious system out to engulf the earth? If that’s not a theological WTF I don’t know what is… — Eagle

    The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Reformation Wars in 1648.

    It is now 2011, and still some haven’t gotten the news — Alberto Rivera, Jack Chick, all those Calvary Chapel preachers, those “Babylon Mystery Religion” tracts shoved under my door — and now Mac.

    One tip: If they invoke the names “Nimrod, Semiramis, and/or Tammuz” as the aspects of Satan which Romish Papists REALLY worship, or speak of “Babylon Mystery Religion” and are not Left Behind characters, you’ve got a Hislop fanboy. Back when Queen Victoria was on the throne, there was this classic of Anti-Catholic hate literature/Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory titled Two Babylons by a guy named Hislop. And rabid Anti-Catholic Crusaders have been cribbing from the guy ever since. 150+ years and counting.

  11. Pingback: Is the Sun Setting on YRR – aka New Calvinism? | The Wartburg … « Feeds « Theology of Ministry

  12. William, thanks for the link. Here is another one:

    This guy wrote a book about the origins of where this neo Calvinism came from. Shocker: Seventh Day Adventists.

    One of the problems with the NC is that the false teaching is so subtle it takes a while to catch on to it. But a red flag is when you hear them refer to those who are born again as totally depraved. They say this in many different ways. They are basically melding Justification and sanctification. And calling sanctification “works”. Anything you do after being born again that is righteous is considered filthy rags. (Even though we are told to “be” righteous). It would be like you telling your child that no matter what they do that is good, just, righteous…. it is filthy in your sight.

  13. Deb,

    You are very welcome! I’ve followed a number of broader movements within the church as well. Pretty much anything that has had an impact on how women function in the church has been of interest to me. I’ve been watching this entire thing unfold from the sidelines for a number of years, linking to articles from time to time and writing some series of my own, but having neither the time nor the energy to get involved in discussing on other blogs. However, the Challies article about women not reading the Scripture in church was the proverbial last straw.

    I agree with your comment in the article that much of this has been internet, conference, etc. driven. I’m a member of a CRC church (Christian Reformed Church)although I’m more a Reformed Baptist. I ended up in the CRC because I could not find a Baptist church where I could fit in and participate without violating my conscience about issues related to women exercising their gifts, marriage “roles,” etc.

    Anyway, the funny thing about all this is that if you talked to the average CRC member at my church or any other CRC church, they would have no idea that any of this is going on in the name of the Reformed tradition, Calvinism, etc. These are people in a historic Reformed denomination (many of them multiple generation families), but this is totally removed from their line of sight. I think most of the pastors would recognize the biggest names, but the rank and file members would never have heard of C.J., Devers, etc.

    What is also interesting to me as I watch this New Calvinism group is their increasingly narrow views on women. This is in direct contrast to what I have experienced in the CRC. The CRC has each church decide for itself how it will handle the women’s issue. In our church, for example, women may do anything except serve as elder. Some CRC churches have women as elders and deacons and others have women in neither of those positions. But the CRC churches that would hold to the very narrow views on women such as those promoted by the New Calvinists would be very few. And even then, the CRC churches who would be in agreement with the New Calvinist hierarchtical complementary position would be completely aghast at someone like Driscoll and his profanity and oversexualiztion of his sermons. They would run him out of town on rail.

    Anyway, just some random thoughts. Like I said before, I feel like I have to apologize or offer disclaimers when I identify myself as Reformed because what is being called Reformed/New Calvinism is profoundly different than what I have experienced and enjoy as a Christian woman.

  14. Sallie,

    I am so glad you are chiming in here. Your voice is very important. I have visited your blog and like it very much!

    Yes, it’s such a shame that those who are truly Reformed have no clue that their theological convictions are being tarnished by these power mongering Calvinistas (aka New Calvinists and YRRs).

    Would you consider writing a guest post for TWW sometime about what you have just shared about your church experience?


  15. TL;DR version: a plea for you all to extend the same grace you complain that YRRs don’t extend to you.

    Full version:
    If you’ll allow me to chime in with a fairly strongly different point of view, I’m troubled by the blindness I see in a number of these comments. Let me put it this way: would any of you in this thread who are not Calvinistic, opposed to Calvinism in the SBC, etc. like to be represented by the loudest, most extreme people who agree with you on a few points? Or would you prefer if those who disagree with you recognize that there are bad apples in every bunch, and try to evaluate (a) the theology and (b) each individual on their own merits?

    Here’s the thing: I’m young (24) and Reformed, though not very restless. I know a lot of people my age who are similarly Reformed but not particularly restless. They’re not theological snobs who think that everyone who disagrees with them is unregenerate. They’re not hyper-Calvinists, nor hyper-complementarians, nor hyper-anything. They’re passionate about God, about mission, and about people. They’re seeking to become holier, while recognizing their need for God’s power and the transformation of the gospel in more profound ways.

    And they certainly don’t look like some of the caricatures in this thread. Seriously: John MacArthur and his approach to most points of doctrine couldn’t be more distant from the way most guys I know think about things – not on the age of the earth, not on Catholicism, not on gifts, not on complimentarian vs egalitarian questions. I’m a complimentarian, but egalitarianism isn’t heresy. I think it’s off the rails, and headed down an unwise road, but it’s nothing like heresy. Being Arminian doesn’t mean you’re not saved. Etc. I don’t know anyone who fits the picture I hear batted around so often. I assume they’re out there, as I read people saying, “I had this experience,” and I don’t doubt it (Sallie, for example). But they’re not typical or normative. They’re just loudest.

    For every one of your hyper-Calvinists there are thousands or more who are reasonable, quiet, and simply trying to walk with God as best they know, who are increasingly convinced of the sovereignty of God in all things.

    Headless Unicorn Guy, your comment seems more than a bit hyperbolic to me. Socratic Atheism? That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. I hope you don’t actually think that’s relevant to this conversation… Those people are so far beyond the pale that the hyper-Calvinists would be hitting them in the face with their Bibles… and I don’t know a young Reformed guy who isn’t driven up the wall by hyper-Calvinism. Comparing the YRR movement to a “Kill All Infidels!” approach? Don’t make me laugh.

    The best thing you could do for the young, restless, Reformed crowd is pray for them to grow up and recognize that there’s more to the Christian faith than the sovereignty of God. (Calvin himself is probably rolling in his grave, given how small a part of his writing the topic of election is.) The tension between Reformed and non-Reformed views isn’t going anywhere. But a lot of what’s happening here is just young guys who are discovering a view of God they never heard before – one that answers a lot of the questions they have had – and getting passionate about it… sometimes, unfortunately, in a way that includes a lot of anger at never having heard it.

    As for the arrogance, well, I think a lot of that comes down to one simple fact: young men tend toward arrogance anyway. Add in a theology that makes sense of the world in a way it hadn’t made sense before, and you have a recipe for guys (and gals, but mostly guys) suddenly feeling like they know more than anyone else around them.

    So the other thing you can pray for the YRRs is that they’d understand that knowledge, in and of itself, isn’t the same as godliness. It can help, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of sanctification.

  16. Chris, I think everyone is busy with Christmas.

    While I understand that these young guys have anger and that this is somewhat typical of male, human development, at the same time I have no patience with the offensive, arrogant, “get-in-line-you-ignorant-lowly-female” attitude that I’ve dealt with from some of these wet-behind-the-ears puppies who aren’t even out of diapers, spiritually.

    I do deal with these young men on a case by case basis. When I talk to a YRR who is respectful, and is able to articulate his position, I can respectfully disagree and even enjoy my conversation with him. Plus, I’m open to learning something.

    What I cannot tolerate is the pompous attitude. The king of that offensive attitude, in the past at least, has been Mark Driscoll. Some Driscollite had talked me into listening to part two of his peasant princess series. Most of the teaching was fine. But the two things I could not tolerate from Driscoll was his blatant mockery of those who hold a different view than him and how messed up his actual teaching was on the verses in SoS’s that he addressed.

    It seems mockery, derision, and scoffing are the modus operandi of of Driscoll. Some of those who worship him are worse than he is about it. When I encounter them, I pull no punches because that’s the only approach they respect right now, because it’s what is “in”.
    Granted, I understand they won’t respect me anyway.
    But, oh well, if they can’t take it then they need to stop dishing it out. I will answer a fool according to his folly. If I pamper him, I’m doing him no favors. Tough love is way better than enabling.

  17. Chris, Some of us live in the YRR universe in seminary towns that are YRR conclaves. I can tell you, as a group, they are arrogant, brash, disrespectful and scary. I thank God every day we do not have a state church and they are in charge. I have witnessed them (YRR pastors in training) rebuke older women for speaking in bible study. I have seen them rebuke a pastor for not being a 5 pter. I have seen them tell youth groups that the pastor is teaching heresy because he is not Reformed. I have even seen them split churches.

    Some in the YRR movement say this is simply the cage phase. I don’t buy it. They might grow out of it but what is it about this doctrine that makes so many (not all but MANY) so arrogant, mean, brash, etc? I question that. It is a question that needs to be thought long and hard on. A born again believer (esp one who is making ministry his life calling) will show fruit of salvation in terms of love, mercy, etc, at SOME point. Salvation and having “correct” doctrine does not make one WORSE.

  18. anon1: wow, but also [sigh], because I think this kind of behavior characterizes all extremism (and extremists), religious and political.

    Like you, I am thankful that there is no state church in the US, though I am certain that there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to impose it on us.

    As for the arrogance (etc.), it is the very opposite of modeling one’s speech and behavior after that of Christ. I’d guess the people you mention have been reading mark Driscoll’s playbook. [ugh – that’s kind of an awful image]

  19. anon1 – The kind you’re talking about! “Extreme fundamentalism” is another way of putting it, though probably not the best description.

  20. Religious (and other) beliefs characterized by authoritarian and/or totalitarian systems is more accurate, I think…

  21. Hi Chris

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We have tried to make ourselves saliently clear on the “Neo-Calvinist” issue. We have absolutely no trouble with those who are Reformed. We dislike those we call Calvinistas. These are the arrogant legalists who label those who disagree with them on certain secondary issues as “unregenerate” or Scripturally illiterate. I think “Calvinista” helps those who are looking at our critique to understand that our negativity is directed at that particular group. For example, Wade Burleson and David Platt are Reformed and we are enthusiastic regading their ministries. Tim Challies, who now believes women cannot read Scripture in the pulpit is a Calvinista and we are less than blessed by his restrictions.

    We allow all sorts of comments on this site, including those who are agnostic, atheistic or “liberal.” We think that the religious community benefits from hearing the opinion of a wide variety of folks. We often say that the world needs to look at us and what we have to offer. What they see, however, may not be what we want them to see. Being missional means to understand the impact we are having on our culture. Sometimes that impact is negative. We want the Christian community to hear what the world is saying from a broad perspective and that is why we have such diversity at this site. In fact, some agnostics and liberals are among some of our favorite commenters!

  22. Chris Krycho: “I’m a complimentarian, but egalitarianism isn’t heresy. I think it’s off the rails, and headed down an unwise road, but it’s nothing like heresy.”

    Here’s the crazy thing, Chris. I’ve seen complimentarianism destroy far more relationships than egalitarianism.
    From Dobson in the 70s and 80s through Promise Keepers in the 80s and 90s and the Homeschool movement in the 90 and beyond, Complimentarianism had it’s chance to fix marriages. It has done the opposite. Divorces are on the rise because Complimentarianism has taken us down the wrong road, denying the words of Jesus.

  23. Mara,

    Sadly, complimentarianism is sometimes disguised as patriarchy. Remember Russell Moore’s comment — “I prefer patriarchy”?

    So glad for the internet to expose this stuff.

  24. Deb and others –

    If Russel Moore, and others, prefer patriarchy, how do they support this view from the NT (I get the OT perspective) and under the New Covenant that Jesus set forth? I have never really heard what their argument is to support this view to the extent that it consumes some of these groups and allienates so many others from the Gospel.

    Dee and Deb – do you have any older articles that referenced their teachings on patriarchy?

    BTW – it’s certainly easy to see why a man would “prefer” this view of marriage and family. Me thinks Moore was speaking from the heart on that one!

  25. Sallie,

    Thank you so much for your post. I am Reformed and can’t stand how many YRR focus so much energy on male headship and female submission. The Scriptures mention it, briefly. Most of Scripture’s focus seems to be on the unveiling of Jesus Christ and lifting up the gospel. I think YRRs would do well to mimic the Bible’s balance on such an issue.


  26. Bridget,

    I believe, as Arce (another commenter here) has also stated, that complementarianism is rooted in SIN. The fallen nature that we inherited from Adam works in our natures to enslave us to anything, including one another. Complementarianism supports the belief that women cannot exercise authority over men based on a fallen interpretation of scripture. For those individuals who do not understand the sinful consequences of such faulty interpretations of scripture, or who support complementarianism in a general sense (characterizing those who consider it a danger as having a ‘hobby horse’ or denying that SGM’s issues, for example, aren’t rooted in this sin) greatly mistake the matter. False interpretations lead to false teaching – which cause a great deal of harm. The Christian should be passionate about the importance accurate bible interpretation, the lack of which leads people back into bondage. Truth is not something subjective.

    I agree with CS Lewish who said,

    It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly.

  27. Below, please find an excerpt from an interview with Dr. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City. He and his wife, Kathy, recently released the book, ‘The Meaning of Marriage’. The book began as a series of sermons Tim gave in 1991. I have not read the book but I have listened to the sermons. I thought the following excerpt was interesting because it is an honest opinion on the current gender debates from a complementarian withouth the typical nonsense.

    Q: “Your wife Kathy adheres to a complementarian view of gender roles but points out that a subdivision of labor can vary greatly within marriages and across cultures, generations, and societies. You state that cultural gender roles are not necessarily the same as biblical gender roles. Might this view advance the egalitarian vs. complementarian debate beyond a current stalemate?”

    A: “I don’t know. I would love that. Let’s just say, I hope so. I don’t have a lot of hopes right now about some of the stalemates we have in our evangelical world.

    On the one hand, we say there is such a thing as male headship. It is irreducible in the home and in the church. But then, the details of what it looks like are almost completely un-spelled out. There are hints, but they are not laid out. We think it’s a principle for all times, all places, and all cultures, so if you had any list of specifics, it would make the principle less applicable. Complementarians admit the principle, but they always add a list of specifics that they treat as universal. Egalitarians won’t admit the principle. So, you might say we’re complementarians who endorse the principle that the husband and wife say “yes, the husband is the head,” but then we expect couples to come up with what that’s going to look like in their own marriage. Just don’t punt on the principle.”

  28. Matt,

    I have trouble with Keller when he says male headship is ‘irreducible.’ I think he’s dead wrong, and he obviously doesn’t care about alienating a growing segment of Christians who can easily take him to task over that statement. The issue of whether male hierarchy is rooted in sin remains ignored by Keller who opts instead to side with tradition. To me, that’s an irresponsible approach to addressing the topic, and for a bible teacher & scholar, I think he needs to be more careful and less inclined to give his opinion. Scripture doesn’t provide us with opinions on this matter – it provides us with the truth. Mr. Keller’s statement simply doesn’t come clean in the wash, regardless of how much fabric softener he adds in an attempt to make his argument comfortable. An argument regarding the nature of sin is never comfortable. It’s obvious Keller thinks he’s right, and he’s trying to make his position palatable. I think that’s a shame and disgrace, personally. I think he does his audience a disservice and acts in accordance with his complementarian convictions: he speaks not as a servant but as a boss who assumes spiritual authority over others. Maybe his success has gone to his “head” – the only one he seems to recognize in this debate.

  29. Evie,

    Thank you for your reply. Have you read Keller’s and his wife, Kathy’s, full position as articulated in their book? Unless you have, your comments are presumptuous.


  30. Matt

    I have not read Keller’s position so I cannot comment on that. However if he said the following “I have trouble with Keller when he says male headship is ‘irreducible,” there is absolutely no sense in reading to dialogue. I can read to seek to understand his position but that is where it will end.

  31. Dee

    Irreducible does give the bottom line, doesn’t it? Being presumptuous can mean being overly bold, I believe. That’s the sense I was picking up from Evie. How is Keller speaking not as a servant but as a boss assuming spiritual authority over others? Wasn’t he just answering a question?

    How is Keller being irresponsible in his approach to address the topic? Is he being irresponsible in his answer to an interview question or is he being irresponsible in his approach contained in his book?

    What is a shame and disgrace? That he thinks he is right or that he is “trying to make his position palatable”? Is it wrong to think you are right? Doesn’t everyone (that’s trying to persuade) trying to make their position palatable?

    Don’t you sense Keller trying to be constructive by offering a critique of complementarians as well as egalitarians? Don’t you pick up on a different tone from Keller – different from your typical complementarian? Different in that he doesn’t think one can give a list of specific gender roles for all times and all places.

    I posted the above from Keller to be constructive because, from my experience, he doesn’t overstate things and seems to work hard at not speaking louder than the Scriptures speak. Things that, unfortunately, very few in the Reformed community do well.


  32. Matt
    I have a generally positive view of Keller. But, I approach things from a different perspective. I am on the front lines of a battle that is raging, and has been raging for centuries. The end result of this battle is a gazillion denominations and independent churches who all believe they are 100% correct, so much so that they start new churches over these matters. Many of the battle fatigued end up here. And we are trying to find common ground. So many find little need for common ground however. They have big churches, good income and have sub-selected just the right congregation member. In such circumstances it is quite easy to fall into our own happy little exclusions.

    We claim that Christians are unified in our love and yet we cannot even attend church with one another. Granted, having our own separate churches usually does prevent us from killing each other, which has some merit, I suppose…

    On the other hand, I have been blessed to be in some churches in which people of differing views on gender roles, baptism, communion, etc, have found a way to worship and enjoy one another. And that starts with learning to speak with humility. If Keller said “irreducible” that means he knows that he is correct and there is absolutely no other way to look at it. Why not say something like “It is personally hard for me to look at this passage in another way?”

    Instead we stand our ground and lose something very dear in the process. Once again, I am not talking about the vitals, merely the secondaries.

  33. Dee

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with you – sadly, many in the church find little need for common ground. In Reformed circles there is a tendency, almost a posture toward others (other believers!), that looks for a fight.

    I, too, appreciate churches and denominations that allow for a variety of views regarding secondary issues. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) is one of which I am aware.

    I suppose Keller could have been slower with his conclusion than to use the word irreducible. I believe he was cutting to the chase because it was simply an interview. I think if one were to read his book – and in fact his wife, Kathy, wrote the sixth chapter on gender roles – his tone would not be arrogant. If the sermons on which the book is based are any guide, he gives good exegesis for his position regarding male headship without any of the “looking for a fight” sort of posture.

    May I ask you, is there a way for complementarianism and male headship to work in a loving serving Christ-imitating way? In other words, can you (or other posters on TWW) imagine it working at all?

    Thank you for your blog and your interest in finding common ground in Christ.


  34. Matt
    Perhaps I have not made myself clear. I believe in liberty in the secondary issues. I contend that a unified church body would find, within its’ membership, complementarians and egalitarians. And, if we truly believed in serving one another, we would respect for one another. I have seen all sorts of marriages work, especially when both parties agree. What I object to is some bully theologian like Mark Driscoll who calls those who have egalitarian marriages guilty of living in a homosexual relationship.

    Here’s the deal. If complementarian or egalitarian marriages work well, then the example would be the witness and there would be little need for haranguing the faithful. Instead, 50%of all marriages end in divorce. My guess is that there are equal numbers for both comps and egals. There is enough hypocrisy on both sides to go around. For example, i know one guy who professes to being the head of his household.He claims that he works and his wife stays home. but she is required by him to work full-time at home, babysitting other kids. She does everything “at home.” I know another egal couple in which the wife is forced to work outside the home, ditching the kids in daycare because they both have to equally contribute financially because they are equal.

    I have smiled when i see women leading Bible studies, ruling the roost at home, beating their husbands into submission while claiming that they are submissive wives. I have also seen egals whose husbands run themselves ragged to support the family who then make him clean the dishes and do the laundry in order to “equally” divide the chores. We all run the risk of hypocrisy and many of us play games with the terms. As my one pastor says “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.”

  35. Dee,

    Thank you for your comment. I agree – practice is always much more complicated than principle. That’s what I appreciated about Keller’s thinking – he gives what he believes to be the Bible’s teaching on the principle but leaves much of the practice up to individuals because that seems to be what the Bible does.

    As a husband and a complementarian I just don’t think about headship or my role as head that often. If I’m thinking of it, it’s usually a thought that is more like my conscience saying, “You know, you really ought to get up and help your wife right now instead of sitting there while she handles the children.” Or, “Your wife has been home with the children all day (four of them with three under 3) and she could probably use a break. Ask her if she would like to get out and do something by herself.” Or, “You (meaning me) need to do a better job praying with the children.”

    Mostly, headship to me means I should be the first one to sacrifice and I should be thinking a lot about the spiritual nurture of the family. In other words, to me it means I need to be listening very closely to the Holy Spirit so I can love my wife and kids and show them Jesus Christ.

    I strongly dislike and disagree with any complementarian that thinks the principle of headship implies the practice of:
    -telling your wife what to do
    -making your wife ask you permission or otherwise grovel for something
    -anything that has the whiff of humiliation of others
    -the husband gets to do whatever he wants

    While I do believe the Bible teaches the principle of complementarianism I guess I would say it is very much second to husband and wife having the attitude of Jesus Christ and serving as he serves.

    There will always be plenty of hypocrisy to go around, as you point out. I’m certain I have my share. In my previous question I was just curious to see if you thought being a complementarian was a legitimate position and if so, could it be practiced in a Christ honoring way or does the principle always lead to bad practice. I hope you didn’t read my question as argumentative.

    Thank you again for your comment and your pursuit of common ground in Christ.


  36. Matt –

    Thanks for responding. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back here – life keeps marching on. I did read the interview link you posted and have read several of Keller’s books. I have probably believed the comp. view for some time and with good results in my marriage. But sometimes it seems like my husband and I function more like egals within our marriage. Or, maybe it is mutual submission that we have experienced. 🙂 I just know that there have been times when we disagreed about an important decision but one or the other of us would not ask the other to go against their conscience. When I have found myself in this position I usually have much peace in going with my husband’s decision, knowing that even if it doesn’t work out the way he thought, that God is faithful. Jesus is the head of both of us and is quite capable of seeing us through our mis-steps. Now if the issue we were disagreeing on involved sin, or in some way put our family at risk, there would be no submission from me.

    The whole comp issue is so misapplied within most of today’s church that it’s hard to see the good in it. There has been so much pain inflicted under the guise of “this being the biblical way.” I believe what Deb said above about groups claiming to be comps but many men/families within those groups functioning as patriarchs is true and it has caused a lot of damage to a lot of women AND children.

    I have to admit that I, too, had a sinking feeling when I read the “irreducible” word. It just sounds too much like “this is THE way and it is RIGHT.”

    There are many women capable of teaching, preaching, administrating, and pastoring. Why would God give women certain giftings along with the desire to use those gifts to the glory of God and then not want them to actually use them? How many times in scripture are we told – women are not allowed to . . . ?

  37. Dee –

    Your last paragraph at 2:35pm is funny. I have seen that many times as well and I do more than smile!

    When sin is mixed in with any viewpoint or belief – the working out of that viewpoint or belief gets twisted and misapplied.

    About the Patriarchal viewpoint – have you come across any teachings on this. I’m just interested in how some of these men come to a scriptural belief in this view.

    Hope you had a nice break and a blessed Christmas – even if it was chaotic.

  38. Hi Evie –

    Thanks for your response above and sorry about being slow to get back with you. I have some thoughts rolling around in my head about some things you said and will respond a bit later. I don’t have the time at the moment. I have been reading a lot of the links posted by commentors that have to do with interpretations of scripture and women’s issues and am enjoying them! You’ve probably already read my response to Matt above so that will give you some ideas about where I am coming from – really don’t think anyone should rule over anyone else 🙂

  39. Matt

    i bet you are a great husband and all round nice guy. I am being sincere.

    Now, a tough question for you. You said “Mostly, headship to me means I should be the first one to sacrifice and I should be thinking a lot about the spiritual nurture of the family. In other words, to me it means I need to be listening very closely to the Holy Spirit so I can love my wife and kids and show them Jesus Christ.” Awesome!

    But, I am confused ( a primary state of being for me). What, in this, should your wife not do? Should she strive to be second in sacrificial response? Should she not make the spiritual nurture of the family her primary concern as well? In other words, what is it that you are doing that is left to you, alone, as the male, and not her? I am still trying to wrap my arms around this puzzling concept of the man’s role versus the woman’s in the comp view of things.

  40. Bridget

    The primary teachings on this subject seem to be emerging from SBTS and the fringe groups, such as Vision Forum. Frankly, it amazes me that SBTS is embracing such weird groups and theologies. It must shore up their peculiar view on hyper-authoritarianism. Anyway, Russell Moore and CBMW are the core proponents. Here is one link for you. Not only does Russell Moore hate the word complementarian, he eagerly promotes the term “patriarchy.”

    I do get a bit of a giggle when I think bout these guys walking around, playing patriarch. Do they get fancy robes and have servants as well?

    I believe it stems from an adherence to OT covenantal practices that some say are still in play today (or at least they hope they are). I also believe that it sprang as a knee jerk response to extreme gender confusion in secular society.

  41. Matt,

    You wrote,

    Don’t you sense Keller trying to be constructive by offering a critique of complementarians as well as egalitarians? Don’t you pick up on a different tone from Keller – different from your typical complementarian? Different in that he doesn’t think one can give a list of specific gender roles for all times and all places?

    I think you and I would agree there are differences between manhood and womanhood. Where our agreement would end is when you begin to assert these differences warrant hierarchical relations between Christian men and women. You seem to agree with Mr. Keller that the Christian community is to be organized in terms of a gender-based hierarchy. You’ve as much admitted the same holds true in your marriage.

    Scripture never describes marriage or the Christian community as being ordered according to a gender-based hierarchy. Consider the following verses:

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

    “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

    All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

    For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

    Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

    There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    Scripture forbids racial, gender and class destinctions by reason of the oneness of the church. The declaration that we are all one in Christ is a mandate for all to participate without raising any differences as grounds for discrimination.

    What is needed is for Christians to access women’s capacity for service in the same way we access men’s – not based on the Fall but on our atonement in Christ. To do otherwise is to do violence to the gospel, and no amount of cordiality or ‘tone’ on the side of those causing the corruption is going to solve the issue. In fact, when confronted by arguments that work to corrupt the gospel, we ought to react with vehemence!

    So, yes I picked up a different ‘tone’ and it sounded lukewarm.

    But my dear Matt, I suppose I’ve overstepped my bounds and have said too much. Perhaps you think me presumptuous and that I’ve attempted to ‘teach or exercise authority’ over you! Oh dear!

  42. Bridget,

    Thank you for your comment. If a more evangelical complementarian were to x-ray my marriage it is possible they would accuse me of being egalitarian. That would be fine with me. As Dee pointed out earlier, the tricky part is the practice of the principle.

    If I’m reading your last post correctly then it sounds like you are or have been convinced of the complementarian principle with good results in your marriage. Thank you for sharing your positive experience (I hope I’m not mis-characterizing what you said at this point).

    Sadly, complementarianism has been habitually misapplied and used as a club with which to beat women. Men who use the Holy Scriptures to proof-text, justify or otherwise condone their mistreatment of women should be beaten themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ did not give himself so the husband can always get his way. A husband who mistreats his wife and uses the Scripture as justification is saying to his wife and the world in the most vivid way possible that this is the way Jesus Christ treats his bride. Not okay!

    Much of the difficulty seems to come in the application. Others here will disagree with me, however, I believe the Scriptures teach the husband is head of the wife. Now, what does that look like? I agree with Keller on a number of points here. Most complementarians want a specific set of roles or behaviors that are reserved for women versus men. I think this is where most peoples’ bad experiences with complementarianism begin. Complementarians get over zealous about what complementarianism means in practice.

    I don’t think the difference ought to show up that much. At the end of the day, to me, it means as the husband I am ultimately accountable to Jesus Christ for what goes on in my family. It is my primary responsibility to set the tone of grace in the home. This does not mean my wife doesn’t have these responsibilities too – it simply means I must always be ready to answer to Christ for what is going on in my home. If there is one defining difference in our roles, my wife and I have agreed that me being the head means if we have an impasse then I have tie-breaking authority.

    I realize this may raise all sorts of questions at this point. Please understand, we have never needed to break a tie so far and we have been married for a number of years. We talk things through, we pray about them together and we build consensus. Of course, if I’m trying to take the family into sin, I don’t expect my wife to submit – I expect her to correct me!

    As to women in the church – instead of focusing on what women can’t do, I prefer to focus on what women can do. I have benefitted tremendously from the teaching ministry of women in the church. There are many many many godly women who are far wiser than I and I would be a fool not to listen to them. Joni Eareckson Tada, Elisabeth Elliot and Becky Pippert are a few – I have read their books and listened to their teaching both live and recorded. God has given the church a great gift in women like them who teach the Bible.

    I am not in favor of women’s ordination to the position of teaching or ruling elder in the church, but I’m not going to break fellowship over it. I am friends with a wonderful Christian couple where the wife was ordained as a pastor a few years ago. I was happy to be invited to her ordination service, which I enjoyed attending. We are friends. We, obviously, disagree over this secondary issue of women’s ordination but we have our fellowship in Christ, not in our views of complementarianism or egalitarianism.

    Thank you again, Bridget for your reply. I hope some of what I have written is constructive. Please feel free to correct or instruct me (!) wherever I may be missing something or where I have been unclear and/or inconsistent.


  43. Evie,

    Thank you for your comment – I welcome instruction from anyone, including women! 🙂

    I agree with you that the church needs more not less from the gifts that the various parts of the body have to give. And I agree that we should view one another as “in Christ” rather than as “totally depraved” and on that basis see the potential that another Christian has rather than sniffing around for the sin in their life.

    I would humbly disagree that the authority structure of a husband as the head of his wife is rooted in sin. Paul’s case in Ephesians 5 seems more to line up with the pre-fall order of creation.

    However, if you are convinced in your conscience before the Lord that any sort authority structure of a husband as the head of the wife is doing violence to the gospel then feel free to shoot down my case. I put complementarianism and egalitarianism in the category of secondary issues. There are wise godly people on both sides of the debate. If you are convinced in your conscience then so be it and thank you for your honesty.

    I appreciate the Scriptures you cited regarding oneness in Christ. You and I can certainly agree that only in Christ can we love one another well.


  44. I have to admit that I, too, had a sinking feeling when I read the “irreducible” word. It just sounds too much like “this is THE way and it is RIGHT.” — Bridget2

    My favorite phrasing of “This is THE way and it is RIGHT” is “EES PARTY LINE, COMRADES!”

  45. Matt
    Please do not think I am beating a dead horse here. I am a practical person and believe that, if there are gender roles that are applied in the church, then I would like to understand exactly what they are. There is no way to compromise, accept or even change my thinking if the rules of the game are not clearly delineated. For example, as a nurse, I am not allowed to perform major surgery. That role is reserved for the doctor.

    Since a comp marriage and church believes there are separate yet equal roles, what exactly are they? In other words-who is the nurse and who is the doctor? Those rules make sense. I have not been trained and I cannot do the surgery. Is not God logical? Did He just make a rule for the sake of the rule? I don’t think so. If there are important differences, He would make it known clearly.

    How are you anymore responsible for what your wife does than your wife? Of course, if she is falling into sin, then you must intervene.But, then again, the favor should be returned on her part. So, let’s say your wife deserts the family to live with Stephen Tyler. You did your best to convince her of her stupidity but she will not listen. Does that mean, when standing before God she is less to blame and you get to shoulder it?

    This is the reasoning behind SGM making pastors step down if their kids decide to sin (unless, of course, you are the main man and that gets a pass). But, as the prodigal story clearly demonstrates, the kid was at fault. The dad did all he could. So, why is he responsible in the afterlife for that incident? Don’t some kids rebel, no matter how faithful both the mother and father were.

    Now. let’s say the both of you, wholeheartedly decided to pursue a wealthy life-style, neglecting the spiritual priorities of your family. Do you take more of the blame than she does? Why? If this is what she wanted, is she not equally to blame?

    I still am not understanding the exact differences in the roles that are often discussed but not defined. About all i see is that women can’t be pastors. Period. The question is why? What do pastors do that are so spiritually authoritative? From my observations, most preach from the same book-little new there. Most make decisions about how many services to hold or when to throw somebody out of the church and then it is done with lots of input from lots of people. In other words, I am not seeing some unique gifting on the part of a male pastor. Of course, some are better than others but that is the same in anything. Is a Mac Brunson really more qualified because of his testosterone than a Jill Briscoe, for example?

  46. Dee,

    Thank you for your comment. I doubt any explanation I offer will satisfy everyone. I can say that the principle of headship I described earlier squares with what I understand to be the Scriptures’ teaching. I don’t think the Bible would ever tie itself down to a specific set of gender roles or responsibilites. The Bible is a transcendent document so getting into cultural specifics would limit its ability to speak to everyone. I think the Bible is wiser than that.

    The defining feature of my role as head is that I hold the tie-breaking authority. Is it really unusual to hold the head of an organization responsible for the actions of the people in it? Aren’t lots of people pretty upset with John Corzine, former CEO of MF Global, for what happened on his watch? Can’t I, as a parent, be held legally responsible for my child’s crimes?

    As for women in the church. I believe women shouldn’t be pastors. Why? To me, it seems to be the teaching of Scripture. Whether or not I see some unique gifting on the part of a male pastor isn’t so much the issue. Testosterone is not a qualifier for ordained ministry – spiritual fruit (character) is primary and the degree of spiritual gifting is secondary. I don’t believe this means women can’t function in a teaching capacity – authors, speakers, etc.

    As for how the Lord will sort out who is responsible for what sin and how much in marriage or anywhere else…I have no clue, does anyone? Bottom line, the husband has more responsibility before the Lord and that ought to make any Christian man pursue Christ and make himself available to the Holy Spirit like crazy.

    This could go on – I do think there are instructions specific to men and women (Husbands, love your wives… Wives, respect your husbands…) that address areas where we will temperamentally wander. This is a bit more of a rabbit trail but we can discuss further if you like.

    I hold my position in good conscience before the Lord as I read the Scriptures. I am open to seeing how my position can be characterized as un-Christ-like. At the very least, we can put this in the category of secondary issues and celebrate the most primary one – that Jesus Christ loves you and I.


  47. “would humbly disagree that the authority structure of a husband as the head of his wife is rooted in sin. Paul’s case in Ephesians 5 seems more to line up with the pre-fall order of creation.”

    Paul is not saying that to show an authority structure. If we believe that, then we must believe women are saved in childbearing. Would Paul teach a work salvation for women? It makes no sense.

    It only makes sense in the cultural context and if we go back and read chapter 1. The book is about false teaching in the Body and there are differences: Those deceived out of ignorance (Paul claims he was in this category) and those who deceive on purpose (Hy and Al).

    Because the Holy Spirit chose the word “authenteo” (used once in the NT here) and we know that as late as 300 AD Chrysostom wrote that a husband should not “authenteo” his wife, we know it is not the typical Greek used for authority over. It means something else. It is very sinister. The Greek grammar in that passage makes it about “A” woman. Not all women.

    Why mention the creation order? Because the huge Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was a fertility cult that taught Eve was created first and worship of Diana would save women in childbirth. Many women died in childbirth back then….a very reasonable fear.

    Paul is using an illustration with all of that because this ONE woman was teaching something false. But Paul has a lot of compassion for her because she is deceived out of ignorance. He says, “let her learn”. This makes more sense when reading that she will be “saved” (sozo) by childbearing. The childbearing is a noun and refers to Messiah.

    Otherwise, you have a few problems:

    Paul teaching that women are saved by bearing children. Only a cruel God could make such a rule for women who are believers but barren. Can you imagine? Only in the last 200 years have women been deemed as important whether they give birth to sons or not. Only a cruel God would relegate a barren women to such a status. And what about women who choose to stay single and go on missions? Where is the caveat from Paul for them in this passage?

    It cannot be about “roles” because the Holy Spirit uses the language of salvation. (Many pastors twist this, sadly, and try to make it about sanctification in a role)

    Creation order is a problem. One reason is because the “Human” which is translated as “Adam” was created last in the “creation” order. (Cows and birds were created before the human so creation order is a very silly argument)

    Adam/Eve were “formed” in chapter 2. Check the language. Remember, right away in Gen 1 God said, let US make THEM in my Image:Male and Female. So many miss this part.

    Paul mentions creation order because of the teaching of the Fertility cult in Ephesus. We know for a fact that cult taught Eve was created first. The cult mixed pagan worship with some wrong Jewish teaching as many cults did. Later, Islam did this, too.

    I know you do not mean to but you make God into a monster with your interpretation. Please study and pray. God loves his daughters and would never make a work of salvation for them. He loves his barren daughters and his single daughters.

  48. Matt,

    The greek word translated head means head in the sense of source, as the head of a stream. It does not mean “boss”. That is one of those terrible translation errors that plague us today. If you treat that passage as meaning “boss”, as in head of an orgnaization, you are advocating that the members of the Trinity are not equal, which is, by long-standing church doctrine, a heresy, since the passage says that the Father is the head of the Son and the Son the head of the HS. Source works, boss doesn’t. But if you choose to continue to advocate this heresy, well best of luck.

  49. “This could go on – I do think there are instructions specific to men and women (Husbands, love your wives… Wives, respect your husbands…) that address areas where we will temperamentally wander. This is a bit more of a rabbit trail but we can discuss further if you like.”

    So, it would be ok to “respect” your wife? But no necessary? Would it be ok for your wife to “love” you but no necessary?

    Sounds like Emerson Eggerich teaching. The problem is you are taking it out of it’s context. In 1st Century the wife was chattel….literally owned by the husband. (Some wealthy women escaped this) Most marriages were arranged with the husband typically being much older. It was never a question of loving your wife in those years. She was there to produce sons for you.

    Paul was actually turning all that on it’s head. Saying “love her”. Sacrifice for her. (You just got another wife)

    Her voluntary submission (Hyptasso) was a STEP UP for her as a believer. She was to “obey” by the civil standards and if a Jewess, by the Talmud.

    You do violence to the text by taking it out of it’s context. I am so glad my husband “respects” me.

  50. “At the very least, we can put this in the category of secondary issues and celebrate the most primary one – that Jesus Christ loves you and I.”

    It really is not secondary for women. Even those who agree with it because it makes them lazy spiritually. You have described a Jesus Christ Who left a human “mediator” for married women believers when the temple veil was torn in two. She has the Holy Spirit, too.

  51. Anon1,

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the time you spent in your reply.

    There are other passages besides the one you cite that connect headship to the created order.

    As I mentioned in response Evie, if you think my position compromises the gospel then by all means shoot it down. I don’t need complementarianism to be a Christian. But please allow that my view is within the pale of Christianity even if you think it means I’m an inconsistent and foolish believer – which I’m sure I am.


  52. Anon1,

    Thank you for your above comments. I will take them seriously and think on them.

    I respect my wife immensely. My earlier statements have a context too.


  53. Arce,

    Thank you for your comment. I don’t believe any of my earlier statements regarding headship could be construed as describing the husband as the “boss”. However, if I have given that impression – I sincerely apologize. Husbands are not the boss – we agree on that for sure.


  54. Hi Matt,

    I really appreciate your thoughtful replies on the whole subject of “headship.” While we disagree on that, I have a sneaking feeling that we agree on an awful lot of other things. 🙂

  55. Matt –

    I echo what numo says.

    But if you don’t want to give anyone the idea that the husband is boss, maybe you could explain a little more about what an “authority structure” without a boss is.

    Or maybe avoid illustrations like this: “The defining feature of my role as head is that I hold the tie-breaking authority. Is it really unusual to hold the head of an organization responsible for the actions of the people in it? Aren’t lots of people pretty upset with John Corzine, former CEO of MF Global, for what happened on his watch?” People might get the idea that heads of organizations with ultimate authority are like what we would consider a boss.

  56. Hello Numo,

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your warm disagreement. 🙂 I enjoy a forum where we can disagree and remain charitable. That’s one of the things I appreciate about this conversation. Sharpening one another with a focus on lifting up Jesus Christ.


  57. Matt
    I do not think your position is unChristlike. In fact, it appears that you are seeking to obedient. I bet you are a great husband and an asset to your church. I actually like corresponding with you because you always answer kindly. This is such a difficult question and I am in process myself. It is often hard to ask these questions of some men because they can get defensive, not understanding my intent. You do not do that and I am grateful.

    Last night i told my husband that this thing often boils down to being the tie-breaker.But, if the complementarian view is true, that seems like it is somewhat trivial. In any relationship, if both parties are always in a stalemate that requires a tie break, then something is wrong to begin with. Surely there is more to the argument than this?

    The law holds you accountable for your children if you let your kids run wild. But, it does not hold you accountable for your grown children nor does it blame you if little Matt Jr. hits Sally unless he does it all the time and you do not impose some discipline. If Matt Jr. grows up to embrace a drug addled lifestyle, in spite of your good parenting, you are not held responsible. He is a free agent in the eyes of God and responsible for his decision.No matter how hard you try, you cannot guarantee an particular outcome for your child. Each one of us is a sinner and each one us gets to make our own decision regarding the faith. There is no magical formula that you can follow to guarantee the “correct” outcome. So, if there is no way to guarantee the outcome, why would God hold you responsible?

    A man holds more responsibility before God? Dos that mean that I, a wife, can sit back and enjoy the ride? I believe that I must give 100% of myself to the marriage. You must give 100%. So, where does this leave us? We both give 100% but you get blamed for 100% while I get blamed for only 96%? This all is most confusing to me.

    And yes, testosterone is the first tier qualification to be a pastor.That hurdle must be crossed before any other gifting is considered. No matter how gifted, a woman, she cannot be a pastor in the comp view. I still do not see it. What does a man have, except for his hormones, that a woman does not have? If there is nothing, then it has everything to do with testosterone. I am left wondering what the specific roles involve. I still do not have a definitive answer except the guy gets to break the tie and for this Andy Davis called my friends unregenerate?

  58. Hi Dana,

    Thank you for your comment. When I say, “authority structure” I don’t mean top-down management. I am referring more to an “accountability structure”.

    My illustration of a corporation like MF Global and John Corzine as CEO was specific to Dee’s earlier question about the leader being held responsible for the actions of others. The analogy breaks down at that point because I do not believe husbands should be issuing executive orders or memos to wives telling them about this year’s strategic plan for the family. I figured that analogy was too easy to read in a way I didn’t intend – I should have added a disclaimer.

    In my marriage, my wife and I agree that me being the head means I have tie-breaking authority. I have never exercised it. We have always talked through our disagreements and been able to reach consensus.


  59. Whoop. I made a mistake. I meant to say – “heads of organizations with ultimate responsibility”. Like CEO’s.

  60. Evie –

    Sorry it has taken so long to get back with you. I believe you mentioned somewhere that you were once in an SGM church. I know that much abuse has occurred in SGM and has damaged many people. I am currently in an SGM church, but we are somewhat obscure in the scheme of things, although not without seeing and feeling the effects of the problems.

    I have to disagree with you when you said that “or denying that SGM’s issues, for example, aren’t rooted in this sin.” (You were referring to your statement that complementarianism (C) is rooted in sin.)

    First, I don’t necessarily agree that holding a C view is rooted in sin. It could be a faulty view and a wrong interpretation of scripture, but I don’t know that it is outright sinful to those who hold to it, unless they are using it to sin against others. I, myself, have been learning much about the translation of certain words and how certain words may have been translated to produce “desired” results. But am I sinful because I hold a view that has been taught to me by other’s who have believed that same view in good faith? If translators did use certain words to produce a desired result, then they definitely sinned. I wish we had a Bible that word for word translated from Hebrew and Greek to modern English, but I don’t think that it would be possible considering the changing meanings of words over the years.

    My second issue is that you believe SGM’s issues are caused by their complementarian view. I believe you could have a complementarian view and not sin in the application of it, likewise you could have an egalitarian view and still sin in your application. SGM, for example, has hurt many men, as well as women and children, and many former pastors. I believe SGM’s (along with many of today’s celeb pastors and churches) issues stem from a wrong view of “authority.” One day I searched the word “authority” in the NT and was surprised to find it used in reference to Jesus Christ and not to leaders. Conversely, Jesus was very clear about what a leader should be like and who would be greatest in His kingdom.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts 🙂

  61. Matt,

    “boss” is just a short hand for “having authority over”. But my point is that, if the comp basis is the scripture that describes husband as the “head” of the wife, and takes that as meaning “having an ounce more authority over her than she does not have over him” that is a serious problem, because it denies the doctrine of the Trinity that has been in place for centuries and is in all of our current Christian creeds and theology, except for ESS. That is because the passage at issue describes the Father as the “head” of Christ, meaning that they are not equal and that there are attributes of the Father that Christ does not have. But as “source” there is not that problem, since we believe that Christ was present at the beginning (see John 1).

    You cannot use the passage to justify calling yourself the “head” of your spouse and meaning that you have an iota more authority over her than she has over you, without also denying the equality of the Trinity, which is a long held doctrine of all of Christianity except the ESS people, who are heretical.

  62. Dee,

    For now, I will stick with tie breaking authority as the defining feature of headship in my marriage. I do think God will hold me more accountable as the head – similar to the way Jesus seems to hold spiritual leaders more accountable than the non-leaders.

    I agree that men should be the candidates for ordained ministry. I guess that would make testosterone a qualification although Scripture indicates LOTS more than just testosterone qualifies one for ordination. I don’t read Scripture as saying a man has something that inherently a woman does not have and that is why only men can be ordained. I read it as the way God set it up – from a philosophical perspective, it is arbitrary. At this point I figure, “It’s God’s universe. He gets to be arbitrary if he wants.”

    Once again, I believe this is a secondary issue. It doesn’t come up all the time in my marriage. Mostly, it comes up in my mind as a prompting by (I believe) the Holy Spirit to regularly gaze at the Lord’s beauty and thereby be strengthened to live as Christ in my family and lift him up to my wife and children.

  63. Bridget,

    Thank you for your comment. I hope what I have described can be taken as mutual submission since that is the governing participle for Ephesians 5:21ff.

    The husband must sacrifice self-interest first – I think this is a form of submission to be given out of reverence for Christ. I do not think mutual submission is mutually exclusive from complementarianism.


  64. Matt

    Your behavior as you describe it is egalitarian, for which the defining term is mutuality. Your theology as you describe it is complementarian. That can make you anathema to both camps!!!! What you appear to have said is that by agreement you and your wife live an egalitarian existence. Welcome to the fold.

  65. Matt –
    I appreciate your endurance on this thread. Most people answering multiple questioners would have folded or lost patience by now. I don’t doubt that you are a good husband and a good representative for Christ.

    I’ve tried not to harangue you, and hope to not harangue at this point.

    Since you don’t mean “authority structure”, can you then describe an “accountability structure”? I don’t much care what it is called; I’d like a description of it. Is it a structure where you have more of either authority or accountability than your wife? If so, why? From the various answers you’ve given so far, it sounds like a husband’s headship is tie-breaking authority that you do not use. Why not? If you are more accountable than your wife and so have more (or somehow different) authority, then what does it mean that you do not use that authority? Will you not have to answer Christ for not exercising the authority you have been given?

    Again, you sound like a great guy. Let me explain how great guys like you support a system that can make life not-so-great for, say, some women. Further up this thread you talked about how you don’t focus on what women can’t do, you focus on what women can do. This is a great way to make sure that women who are silenced and marginalized remain that way. If there are roles, offices, or service that women are not to engage in, you serve them much better by not deflecting attention elsewhere. You owe them a coherent explanation of how and why their service is restricted. A clear picture of what is allowed (and why) is the only way to make sure that they will feel comfortable in offering themselves in approved ways. Of course, I don’t believe in restricting women in church, but it is one of those secondary things. You are free to restrict.

    Again – you are one of the best emissaries of complementarianism I have seen commenting on a blog. I salute you. It’s just that complementarianism doesn’t seem to make much sense – it seems pretty arbitrary. On that we can agree.

  66. Dana and Arce – what you said!

    Matt, you are very gracious to take the time on these replies… but I have a feeling that we’re getting bogged down in semantics.

    Also – is it wrong that I keep picturing football referees running around making calls when people talk about tie-breaking? (I guess tennis umps and lines-folks would be more apt, but I football refs’ uniforms are somewhat zingier. ;))

  67. Arce Fri, Dec 30 2011 at 04:22 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.


    Your behavior as you describe it is egalitarian, for which the defining term is mutuality. Your theology as you describe it is complementarian. That can make you anathema to both camps!!!! What you appear to have said is that by agreement you and your wife live an egalitarian existence. Welcome to the fold.

  68. I am enjoying the dialogue here very much.

    anon1 – you have given me some good things to ponder as far as scripture is concerned.

    Matt – I have to agree with Arce’s comment at 5:54. And that is what I stated in my comment at 3:41 on the 29th for myself. We have been taught and believed we were functioning as comps, but I think we have actually been functioning in mutual submission 🙂

  69. Arce,

    Thank you for your comment. I don’t mind being anathema when it comes to carrying the label of complementarian or egalitarian. They are not biblical terms so they’re not in the category of “vitals” – at least to me. As I mentioned earlier, a more evangelical complementarian than I may x-ray my marriage and accuse me of being egalitarian. That’s fine with me.

    Maybe I’m describing something more like complementary egalitarianism or egalitarian complementarianism. 🙂 The label is not important to me.

    What’s important (to me on this secondary issue) is that I am faithful to what God is saying in the Scriptures. I believe the Scriptures teach the husband is head of the wife and that in marriage the Scriptures teach this is to be lived out in a way that is not authoritarian.

    Can complementarianism be a valid perspective where the husband has tie breaking authority without it meaning the husband is a misogynist?


  70. Matt,

    On Dec 30 at 11:08 you said,

    I welcome instruction from anyone, including women!

    Are you saying as a complementarian who believes in male hierarchy that you disagree with 1 Tim 2:12? Wouldn’t you say that’s one of your go-to verses? If you believe it to be true, and that you don’t believe women (in general) should teach or exercise authority over men (in general), then what do you mean by you “welcome instruction” from women?

    Are you just being cordial? Does welcoming instruction mean that same as joyfully receiving teaching and instruction from women? Does it mean that same as submitting yourself to a woman’s teaching and instruction?
    If you are a true complementarian, which I believe you are, then one’s gender is an important factor to you in how you filter information. Knowing I’m a woman would mean that as a complementarian, you couldn’t possibly be as open to what I have to say, or any of the other women here, in the way you claim to be. To do so would be to deny your belief in complementarianism.

    Or maybe you’re scared of being identified as a sexist and you’re couching your sentiments of welcoming instruction from women in seemingly acceptable language.

    I think you need to be consistent. The problem is complementarianism lacks consistency because it doesn’t line up with the truth. When something is true, you can depend upon it to be pure and consistent.

  71. Hello Dana,

    Thank you for your comment. To summarize, I do believe a defining practice for headship means I have tie breaking authority. Just because I have not used it does not mean (to me) that I am abdicating my authority. It simply has not been necessary.

    I agree with you, if I’m going to claim complementarianism then I owe it to women in the church to outline what is okay and what is not. I freely admit my thinking at this point may need challenging. At the very least, the ordained offices of teaching and ruling elders (in other words pastors or elders) would be off limits. Further, in a nutshell, whatever a non-pastor male can do in a church, a woman can do.

    I am not against a woman teaching the Bible to a man. I know there are passages that seem to preclude such an activity but I believe they (1 Timothy 2:11ff.) are referring to disciplinary authority over someone’s doctrine – this is reserved for ordained elders who are to be men.

    I hope this is helpful. Thank you for pushing me to be clearer in presenting my thoughts. This is a terrific discussion!


  72. Evie

    That passage is badly translated. It should say “domineer”. Paul was dealing with a particular problem in a particular church where some women were taking over and going beyond equality to domination of the men (and other women). The word is used once in the NT. But other uses of the word refer to excessive domination, of the form that Jesus said no Christian should do to another.

  73. Numo,

    Thank you for your comment. I can’t stand it when I use, say or hear a term so much it loses meaning – semantic satiation. I suppose to break this tie we should resort to the final authority. You know what I mean – rock, paper scissors 🙂

    I’m joking, of course.


  74. Arce,

    Thank you for your earlier comment, which I missed. I do not think me claiming that headship gives me tie-breaking authority does violence to the classic formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity (three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory).

    I believe Jesus Christ voluntarily submitted (cf. Philippians 2:6) himself to the Father. I am not certain the biblical material supports the doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son. It’s a doctrine that seems to driven by an authoritarian agenda.


  75. Bridget,

    Thank you for your comment. I do think the command for mutual submission applies to men and women insofar as that means we are to be self-denying. I don’t think mutual submission and complementarianism are mutually exclusive.

    Nevertheless, I’m not going to be upset if I’m accused of being a liberal by complementarians and a throwback by egalitarians.


  76. Evie,

    Thank you for your comment. I was not simply being cordial. I was being sincere. I didn’t see your comment regarding 1 Timothy 2 until after I posted a response to Dana, but I briefly discussed 1 Timothy 2 there.

    In church, I think a woman can do anything a non-ordained male can do. I don’t believe 1 Timothy 2 means a woman may not teach men the Bible. I believe it is referring to disciplinary authority over someone’s doctrine.

    I am sorry that complementarianism has been promoted in such a way that you believe a complementarian could not be open to what you have to say because you are a woman. This is tragic and wrong. Any man that thinks he can’t learn from godly women because of one verse in 1 Timothy is foolish.

    Thank you for taking the time to help me understand your perspective. I hope some of my comments have given you my (imperfect) thoughts thus far.


  77. Thanks Arce. And I stand in agreement with you. I wholeheartedly believe Paul was writing Timothy to authorize him on how to deal with a serious situation in the Ephesian church that threatened its very existence, not to mention the glory of the gospel that Paul labored tirelessly to establish in that place.

    Paul’s instructions were remedial. The situation was a deadly serious one. We read elsewhere Paul describing the activities Timothy was needing to confront & correct as akin to witchcraft, having been inspired by demonic spirits (“this wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, senuous, demonic”).

    The very problem Paul instructed Timothy to correct is of the same nature as what we find within the rebellion of complementarianism.

    I agree with you 100% that hierarchy is rooted in sin, and if this be true, then we can be sure it is a passion of our Lord Jesus Christ to see His Bride washed clean of this heresy!

    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!

  78. Alright, Matt. You pass my complementarian acceptance test. I’m sure you’re breathing a big sigh of relief now.

    Honestly, I have to say that it was probably this brand of complementarianism (that you are presenting) that made me shrug and admit that I’m not really a complementarian anyway. I personally have never been in a church where women were doing anything that a non-ordained man(or a non-elder/pastor) would do. I would be interested in seeing how that would work. I think that’s probably a goal in the church I’m in now, but it needs some work. Just because we believe things should work a certain way doesn’t mean that they do.

    As for marriage – I think that whatever a husband and wife can work out that keeps them in a loving reciprocal relationship is okay with me. Relationships change over time and hopefully they grow in love and acceptance and understanding. Some people like to use gender roles to facilitate that, and I don’t care if they do. I don’t care if they don’t, either.

    I still say that you’ve done an admirable job of hanging in there in this conversation. And I still might harangue you some day. Mostly ’cause you’re so good natured. And…I don’t agree with you.

  79. Promise Keepers straight up ruined my marriage.
    For those who don’t know, Promise Keepers is one of the many vessels (dare I say Trojan Horse) of the Complementary doctrine.

    Let me explain, back in the 90s, I was totally pro-Promise Keepers. My husband’s brother was a DJ at a Christian radio station back then. We’ll call him Joe. When Joe got free tickets from his employer to go to a Promise Keepers event, I sent my husband along with my full blessing. Joe’s wife (we’ll call her Jan) and I were ecstatic that they were going. It held such promise for us. We were given many, many promises by the propaganda and spin mill. We believed it. Jan told Joe to bring back a t-shirt for her sister that said, “I’m looking for a Promise Keeper”. We were so freaking duped.

    And from what I understand, Promise Keepers is Comp-light.

    Well, I couldn’t put my finger on it right away, but my sensitive, caring husband began to change after he got back. We got into stupid conversations over whether or not I should get my hair cut. He thought he cast the deciding vote on that.

    It wasn’t until later that I realized what Promise Keepers really was. Here is one of the things Tony Evans told my husband at the event:

    “. . . sit down with your wife and say something like this, “Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake. . . I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.”. . . I’m not suggesting you ask for your role back, I’m urging you to take it back . . . there can be no compromise here. If you’re going to lead, you must lead . . . Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead!”

    My husband and I are still struggling through the damage that Promise Keepers has done.

    I’m not sure the marriage of Joe and Jan will survive. The jury is still out on that one.

    As others have said, the problem with compism is how very squishy it is. One man gets that the tie-breaking vote doesn’t have anything to do with whether his wife should cut her hair. Another man doesn’t get it at all.

    The problem with power and the view that you have a divine right to it is that MANY men cannot handle it. It is a drug to them and they need to stop cold turkey, not learn new expressions of servant-leadership (huh?).

    Ephesians 5 calls the men in Ephesians the heads of their households because under their law, they were. THIS is the “irreducible” fact of male headship. It exists in all of fallen culture. Just because it existed and the Church had to deal with it, this does not make it a divine order. Men are reading more into the text than what is there.

    Paul is just stating as fact that men ARE the heads of Ephesians households. THEN Paul goes to great lengths to get these heads to stop thinking in terms of the world. He appeals to the picture of Jesus Christ. Paul was dealing with a lot of ego and a lot of cultural conditioning in these men. He was asking them to let go of some of what the world system granted them as patriarchs. Little Kings don’t go down easy. But Paul was doing his best.

    I find it a crying shame that the 21 century church insists that these words to the Ephesians, words meant to loosen the grip of tyranny over the lives of Christian women… I find it a crying shame, a travesty, that Paul’s words are now being used to enslave women, and men, to a system of hierarchy (whether light or heavy) and in some circles it is even being taught that if you don’t hold to these teachings, your very salvation is questioned.

    Matt, you have been very gracious on this blog.
    Do not take this as an attack against you.
    All it is, at this point, is a picture of how real life exposes the error of Compism. It absolutely doesn’t work in all circumstances, nor is it a divine law. It was an issue that needed to be addressed in the early church. And it is an issue that needs to be addressed in all cultures that believe men are to be head and women are to be subjects. It’s not a teaching on divine order. It’s a teaching against the sin of Patriarchy.

    Compism has been at the wheel of modern American Christianity for a long time, decades, in fact, through Dobson, Promise Keepers, and beyond.

    Yet, STILL Christian Marriages are failing at record levels. So the answer is to try harder, do better, what wasn’t working in the first place. Whatever.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    I nearly laughed out loud when I read Driscoll’s attitudes to avoid when reading his marriage book. One of his warnings is that, if it didn’t work before, that’s not reason enough to not go try again.
    Go back and beat you head against the same stupid wall. Compism is correct! You are the problem.

    Yeah, right.
    BTDT, Jan’s sister has the t-shirt.

  80. More lovely quotes from Tony Evans and company.

    The demise of our community and culture is the fault of sissified men who have been overly influenced by women. –Tony Evans

    You do know, don’t you, that we’re raising our children at a time when it’s an effeminate society. It’s not the proper climate. We need young boys that are launched to be men and that has to be imitated for them by a godly man. –Bill McCartney

    The primary cause of this national crisis is the feminization of men. –Tony Evans

    Don’t you understand, mister, you are royalty and God has chosen you to be priest of your home? –Tony Evans

    It appears that America’s anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men’s movement . . . –Rev. Jerry Falwell

    And to think I sent my husband into this, “Men rule, Women drool” testosterone festival, called Promise Keepers. Boy did they have the wool pulled over my eyes.

    You want to know where Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 gets off talking about Male-love? Look to the source.
    Thank you Jerry Falwell, you have sown to the wind with your male-centered, male-favoring gospel. Now we are reaping whirlwind and the fall out. We get such awesome benefits from men like Driscoll and the angry YRR who believe they have the divine right to rule because you and Tony Evans love your testosterone too much. Thank you so much for all the damage you have done.

    My marriage might make it.

    I don’t want to talk about those that have already been destroyed by it.

  81. Mara
    You are an excellent writer. In fact, you have just said something very important. We have heard from others that this “new” movement of “manly” leadership (aka patriarchy) has hurt many, many marriages. Tony Evans is dealing with a culture in inner city Dallas in which men have abdicated their responsibilities for their families by deserting them, leading to a predominance of single mothers.

    At first, I thought his emphasis on the men returning home was wonderful, believing he was talking about men participating in the home and raising of the kids. But it has swung too far, as many movements do.And that is the dangerous aspect. Your comments are so valid, I am thinking about basing a post on your comments.

  82. Responding to Mara, who wrote…

    “The problem with power and the view that you have a divine right to it is that MANY men cannot handle it. It is a drug to them and they need to stop cold turkey, not learn new expressions of servant-leadership (huh?).”

    Dear Mara,

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. Been to Promise Keepers several times. Met Tony Evans at a Christian school fundraiser while living in Dallas…etc. Just a few thoughts:

    1) The principle problem with “radical complementarianism” (by this I mean separate but equal roles, approaching patriarchy) is “radical genderism” (by this I mean the male playing the sex card when a female disagrees with them).
    2) Fundamental to the male psyche is a craving for respect.
    3) Seems to me that God has not gifted most men with strong leadership skills. Even on a good day, most Christian men can barely lead themselves, let alone lead others (including their families).
    4) Christian men can not simply “speak” their “authority” into being by fiat, using the “name-it claim-it” Benny Hinn approach to prosperity, while ignoring the work and commitment of Christ’s great commandment to love their Neighbor as themselves (including their families).
    5) Christ is loved and respected by His followers for His loving behavior. Christ has earned our respect. He has called all of us who would claim to follow Him to behave Christianly.
    6) If men want respect from their families, they will need to learn to lead themselves well by loving their Neighbor (that includes their spouse). Not a bad New Year’s resolution.

    Blessings and Happy New Year.

  83. anon1 –

    Again – thank you for all the wonderful and informative links you have been sharing! I listened to the Eph. 5 sermon you referenced above. It was fantastic! I appreciate the way he (Darrel Johnson?) tied Paul’s teaching to the Ephesians back to Jesus’ words and instructions to the disciples on servanthood. I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the series. I think I’ll send the link to my pastor for his thoughts. I read some of the other links as well and was much informed by them. Have you heard any good teachings on the “head(ship?)” scriptures?

  84. Mara –

    Thank you for sharing your experience with a PK. I’m sorry it had such a negative impact on your marriage. I know couples who are involved with the group. I haven’t been involved myself (might I add “thankfully”).

    Your thoughts on Eph. 5 echoed the message that anon1 referenced right above you 🙂

  85. Thanks, Dee and Bridget.

    Dr. Jon.

    The biggest problem that I have with the PK and beyond message is how they vilify the feminine.

    That is the second oldest sin in the Bible.

    It has its most blatant expressions with the witch hunts during the Black Death. People were dying, 1/3-1/2 of the population in some places in Europe. They had to figure out a way to stop it. They found their scapegoats, women.

    Promise Keepers and Challies and Driscoll also blame women.

    And, apparently Tony Evans sees no way to get men back active into families without some sort of promise of a fiefdom.

    So what is the problem? Is it really women? Or are they just an easy target, like Eve was for Adam?

    I’m a firm believer in respect. I respect my husband and all people for what they are, the image of God.

    But as you point out, compism teaches and unnatural respect, an undeserved respect.

    The first respect I mentioned builds trust and relationships.
    The unnatural respect that compism forces beyond what is naturally owed is fuel for sin.

    The only place the Bible talks about control is in Galatians, in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit. It is self-control.

    As you have also mentioned, giving control of the life of another human being to a man who doesn’t even have control of himself is a tragedy waiting to happen.

    Jerry Seinfeld: Oh, it’s Risk, it’s a game of world domination being played by two guys who can barely run their own lives.

  86. I think blameshifting is a big, big part of the misogynistic crap. It’s so much easier to have a scapegoat rather than dealing with your own shortcomings, right? [irony fully intended]

  87. “Paul is just stating as fact that men ARE the heads of Ephesians households”

    yes! Because in the 1st Century the “head” was considered the source…for providing the body food, air, life, etc. Where exactly was the typical 1st Century women who was considered property going to get her life sources without some man to provide them to her? There were exceptions among the Romans like Lydia and Phoebe who had wealth.

  88. Anon 1
    Make sure you keep putting the “1” after your name. We have an “anon” that is problematic.

  89. ANON

    I will continue the discussion with you off line. Send me an email. But, I will need to reply to it so you need a valid email. This blog has it’s fair share of critics and we publish those critics to a fault and you know it. Your comments are way over the top and you have joined the ranks of just a few people who have been banned, unless you learn to communicate with a modicum to dignity.


    TWW has banned just a few commenters on the last 2 1/2 years. A couple were for language that continued after several warnings. Another was for a liability issue. One comment was removed when a woman, who shall remain nameless, published a sarcastic comment under my husband’s name.Then, there was the infamous troll, more recently, that attempted to disrupt this blog. You should see the comments he then sent us-we have saved them in case we need to take action. Currently, there is an anon who has gone over the top, acting much like our troll. Hmmm. I have offered to communicate with him off-line to see if we can work this out but I have my reservations.

  91. Thanks, Dee for the heads up.

    Mara wrote:

    “Jerry Seinfeld: Oh, it’s Risk, it’s a game of world domination being played by two guys who can barely run their own lives”

    LOL! This is so true! And explains comp doctrine in one sentence. Mara, I have so enjoyed all your comments and you always sum things up so nicely. I especially love your summing up the result of their doctrine: sucks to be you.

    These men remind me of the Jewish men of old who thanked God daily for not making them a women or servant.

  92. “Have you heard any good teachings on the “head(ship?)” scriptures?”

    Here a some good sources but will take some time to get through but all have done their homework:

    Katherine Bushnell’s book: God’s Word to Women. Written a long time ago but this missionary doctor (China) taught herself Greek and Hebrew and the book is incredible concerning all the passages that deal with women and the larger concept of gender in the Bible from Gen to Rev. She deals with the concept of “Head” all through the book.

  93. Anyone that enters a blog discussion this way doesn’t seem the least bit interested in constructive dialogue. They really can’t expect others to take them seriously in the face of such immaturity.

  94. Hello Commentors,

    Thank you all for taking the time to interact with me earlier this week. I enjoyed your constructive challenges to my thinking. Here are a few links to source material that has helped me thus far:

    Also, you have all encouraged me to look further into perspectives and approaches to specific biblical texts regarding women, men and the headship issue that will challenge me even more. The following books have received quite a lot of attention and good reviews. I hope to check them out soon. Perhaps some of you are already familiar with them.

    The following is a review of Stackhouse’s book, Finally Feminist, by someone I respect – adjunct facutly at William and Mary, Classical Education Evangelist, PhD and…a woman:

    I’m pretty much done with our discussion on this post but wanted to thank everyone who interacted with me for taking the time to do so. I hope I didn’t miss anyone’s responses and if I did I hope you don’t feel I avoided you. I enjoyed our discussion and I look forward to discussing more issues together in the future. May God bless you in 2012 and, of course, beyond.

    In Christ,

  95. Hello Commentors,

    Thank you all for taking the time to interact with me earlier this week. I enjoyed your constructive challenges to my thinking. Here are a few links to source material that has helped me thus far:

    Also, you have all encouraged me to look further into perspectives and approaches to specific biblical texts regarding women, men and the headship issue that will challenge me even more. The following books have received quite a lot of attention and good reviews. I hope to check them out soon. Perhaps some of you are already familiar with them.

    The following is a review of Stackhouse’s book, Finally Feminist, by someone I respect – adjunct facutly at William and Mary, Classical Education Evangelist, PhD and…a woman:

    I’m pretty much done with our discussion on this post but wanted to thank everyone who interacted with me for taking the time to do so. I hope I didn’t miss anyone’s responses and if I did I hope you don’t feel I avoided you. I enjoyed our discussion and I look forward to discussing more issues together in the future. May God bless you in 2012 and, of course, beyond.

    In Christ,

  96. Matt

    The book, Slaves, Women, Homosexuals has been recommended to me by a whole bunch of people who believe that women should be able to serve in church leadership. I have been meaning to read it myself. Apparently, it deals with slavery and women in much the same fashion while rejecting that homosexuality can be lumped in with the other two. Off to Amazon to order.

  97. Eagle

    You know, you just challenged me to think differently by posting that link to patheos. I have always encouraged my daughters to dress modestly but, I have never once thought about that issue for my son. The issue that , in countries in which women wear burkas, there is still an issue with lust, hit home to me as well. Then, the comment about the young woman going to her father for approval of her dress bothered me as well. Why just her father, why not her mother? I think I have a post here.

  98. Eagle
    As you consider the faith, please remember that Jesus is the center and the rest of us are in need of grace every day. Jesus came to save those of us who understand our inability to live life without hurting others and hurting ourselves. We are a people in process and I am so sorry that you have encountered and been hurt by people who forget that they are not there yet.

  99. Eagle: “It’s stuff like this (on top of so much more….) that make my glad to be outside Christianity. What is the good news in all this? It centers on control! For many its a power play to put women in their spot and control them.”

    I agree. The gospel isn’t the good news any more. Men have turned it into as opiate of the people just like any other religion. It looks nothing like what Jesus was talking about. Jesus never brought up gender issues. These are the constructs of men. One of my favorite quotes is the following from Dorothy L. Sayer:

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

    Yeah, when men turn the gospel into a vehicle to promote their version of what women should be and map out our sphere for us, then it’s not the gospel anymore. It has turned into just any other religion used to control and manipulate people.

  100. Dana
    Wade Burleson reviewed the first book you mentioned on his blog. Two of the contributors were Jill and Stuart briscoe. Their son, Pete Briscoe, was my pastor in Dallas at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship. He changed my view on the role of women. His mother, Jill, was a living example to him of the undeniable gifting of leadership in women.

  101. How wonderful that you were pastored by Pete Briscoe. I remember reading your account of him encouraging you to teach. Good for him and good for you. I’m sure that experience helped to develop the wonderful voice you have. It’s always a relief for me to find and read women who are strong and tender. Thanks for this ministry you and Deb have. And thank God for pastors like Pete.

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