Gender Roles Not An Essential of the Christian Faith – Guest Post by Wade Burleson

“The gifts of the Spirit in the New Covenant are never differentiated on the basis of gender.”

Wade Burleson

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=74379&picture=face-man-and-woman

Faces of a Man and a Woman

The Role of Men and Women in the Home and Church Is Not an Essential of the Christian Faith

Wade Burleson

http://www.wadeburleson.org/2018/06/the-role-of-men-and-women-in-home-and.html

A Christian’s understanding of any alleged roles of men and women in the home and church often comes from listening to a pastor’s rote teaching rather than personal researched learning.

“Be diligent … to correctly handle the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).

It seems clear through a casual reading of the Bible–much less robust research–that Jesus Christ treats men and women as equals, a behavior that was contrary to the views and practices of His fellow Jews during Old Covenant days (1500 B.C. to A.D. 70).

Though there’s disagreement among evangelical Bible-believers on this issue, to say someone who disagrees with your view is “preaching a false gospel” is foolish.

Sinners are saved by the Person and work of Jesus Christ, not by a proper, biblical view on the roles of men and women.

So those who wrongly teach that God designed only men to have “spiritual authority” and only women are to have “submissive attitudes” are directly contradicting the infallible teachings of the New Testament which state that Christ alone has all spiritual authority in His Kingdom (Matthew 28:18), that leadership in His Kingdom is humbly serving others out of the power of one’s spiritual giftings (I Peter 4:10), and that all Christians are to “submit to one another” and  to”love one another” (Ephesians 5:21; John 13:34).

But being unbiblical and restrictive on the roles of men and women does not mean these people lack the Gospel.

If, however, there is a demand for conformity to a particular interpretation on this issue, rather than granting the freedom to disagree over the role of men and women in the home and church, then we may be playing the fool.

Let me explain.

Spurgeon Says a Fool Focuses on the Non-Essentials

Charles Spurgeon once began a message on the text “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22) with an illustration of three fools.

The first fool, Spurgeon said, is the ship’s captain who goes below deck during a ferocious storm to read an encyclopedia on the nature of Atlantic winds rather than fighting to keep his boat afloat.

The second fool is the wounded soldier on the battlefield who asks the arriving medic all kinds of questions about the size, shape, and model of the gun that fired the bullet which wounded the soldier rather than asking the physician if he’s able to heal him.

The third fool is the religious person who continually argues the subtle philosophical questions about the origin and nature of evil while ignoring the absolute truth that Christ’s blood is able to cleanse his sins (Hebrews 9:14).

Spurgeon said all three fools have one thing in common:

They trifle with subtleties while they ignore certainties.

A fool is one who spends time and wastes energy on matters that shouldn’t matter.

The “role” of women in the church and home shouldn’t matter when it comes to Christian cooperation, mission work, and spreading the Good News to a world in need of deliverance.

Some Christian leaders advocate that God’s design is for men to rule and lead while women are to receive and submit. Fine. But when Christians demand others churches, evangelicals, and missions organizations conform to such beliefs, then they are in danger of “trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.”

A demand for conformity on the alleged roles of men and women is taking a non-essential belief and turning into a measuring stick for believing the gospel.

The Danger of Making the Gospel About Gender

The overwhelming New Testament teaching of the Bible regarding men and women in the church is clear — “gender differences are irrelevant in the church of Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul says:

All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28).

Paul is emphatic that there is no room in the body of Jesus Christ for racial distinctions, no room for class distinctions, no room for gender distinctions. You may disagree with this assessment, but to make faithful gospel preaching hinge on an agreement with your views on gender is foolish. People are dying.
God’s people in the New Covenant are called to serve based upon the giftings given to them by the Holy Spirit:

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17).

Men who refuse a woman to serve, read, lead, or teach (when men are present) seem to be twisting the gospel of freedom in Christ into a doctrine of bondage by gender.
To restrict a Holy Spirit gifted and empowered woman from edifying other believers through the free exercise of her Spirit given gifts seems to be a resistance to the Holy Spirit.
Some of the most gifted leaders, teachers, and role models are women!
The Old Hebrew Way Is Not the Christian Way

An ancient Jewish prayer from the Hebrew Siddur (prayer book) went like this:

“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman.”

Hashem was the Hebrew name for the one true God. It meant “The Name” and was used by Jews to refer to God since the days of Ezekiel.
The same spirit ancient Jews possessed that caused them to believe that only men were created to rule and lead and that women were created to receive and submit is the same spirit now at work in more than a few evangelical Christian leaders.
Interestingly, the rise of the Hebrew Siddur (prayer book) coincides with the glory of God departing the Temple of Jerusalem in the days of Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 10). Jewish Temple worship continued, but it was during this Spirit-less intertestamental time period that you have the rise of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other male-only Jewish orders that were continually focusing on male “authority,” male “leadership,” and male “power.”
A preoccupation and fixation on authority (whether it be conservative patriarchalism or liberal feminism), is a sign that the Spirit of God has departed.
Jesus Christ explicitly forbids any one individual assuming authority over other adults in the Christian community (Matthew 20:20-28). In fact, after describing the imperialism of political rulers and the authority fixation of religious rulers, Jesus said to his disciples:

“It shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:26).

The New Testament covenant of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ totally turns the world’s concept of authority on its ear.

The world is concerned about position, power, authority, prestige, control, and ruling over others. Jesus Christ teaches His followers to serve, to love, to express their spiritual gifts to their fullest for the good of others, and to never fear what any person in so-called “authority” can do to them because “All authority … has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18).

There is to be mutual equality, respect, and submission within the home between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). There is to be mutual equality, respect and submission of men and women toward one another in the body of Christ based upon the gifts that the Spirit gives to each male and female believer who has been baptized into Christ (Acts 2:15-21; Galatians 3:28).

References to the churches’ teaching ministry and other gifts are found in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 and not one of those passages excludes females from being recipients of any one of those gifts. 

Let me say that again in a different way:

The gifts of the Spirit in the New Covenant are never differentiated on the basis of gender.

Paul’s Teaching about Women

“But what about Paul telling women ‘to be silent’ in the presence of men, and ‘to learn’ in quietness and submission from men?” you may ask. For example, Paul writes:

 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” (I Timothy 2:11-12).

Scripture never contradicts Scripture. Therefore, if you believe Paul is giving a general and universal principle that no woman, at anytime or anywhere, may ever teach men or have authority over men, then you believe the Scripture contradicts itself.

All the other Pauline books, including Galatians, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, as well as the other New Testament books written by Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, and other early disciples of Christ, never separate the gifts of the Spirit according to gender. 

So how does one understand I Timothy 2:11-12. I give one explanation for this text here, an interpretation that is consistent with the rest of New Testament teaching regarding men and women.

But for a fuller explanation, I’d encourage you to obtain Jon Zen’s book What’s With Paul and Women. After reading Zens, you will never again feel the need to restrict women in the home or in the church.


Spirit-Gifted, Humble Servant Leaders in the Home and Church

One of the advantages of being the pastor of a New Testament church where the Word of God is respected, believed, and practiced is that both men and women lead, serve, teach, and shepherd based upon their gifts.

We believe the concept of positions of power and authority held by “elders” is foreign to the New Testament. The word elder means “older.” Look to your elders for wisdom.

Again, the notion of some raw authority in an office of pastor or elder is foreign to the New Testament. Every believer in Christ is a priest in the Kingdom of Christ.

Our church has a Leadership Team composed of both men and women. I am a pastor, but there is no inherent spiritual authority in me or any “office” I hold.

Jesus Christ alone is the spiritual authority over his people. I serve people. I love people.

I lead people only if they are willing to follow–and frankly, if I do a poor job of serving and loving, they ought not to follow.

One of these days the church of Jesus Christ is going to wake up to the fact that we have so twisted and corrupted the concept of authority and leadership that what we have abandoned the clear and precise teachings of the New Testament.

The ancient Jews kept women in the courtyard and placed a fence around the Temple grounds lest a woman feel compelled to enter the Holy Place. The sacred rituals were performed by male priests. The sacred services were led by male priests.

Modern-day conservative evangelicals and liberal feminists often violate clear teachings of Jesus Christ and seem to wish to resurrect the Old economy of Temple buildings, gender priesthoods, and religious rituals.

Jesus Abolished all the Old Economy (Old Covenant) the New Agreement (New Covenant). 

The Temple of God is no longer a building, it is the soul of a believer (I Corinthians 6:19). The priests of God are no longer just male, they are both male and female (Galatians 3:28). The rituals of God are no longer holy days, sacrifices, and feasts, but faith in Christ and love for God and our fellow man (Colossians 2:16; John 13:3).

The body of Jesus Christ is to make no distinctions in race, class, and gender. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that sets the captives free to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts.

To revoke the privilege of a gifted, believing woman from reading Scripture or teaching men, or to have leadership in the home or church is to violate the clear and certain teaching of the New Testament.

Is there room for disagreement on this issue among evangelical Christians?

Sure.

But if conservative, Bible-believing, Christ-loving, Spirit-filled, graced people demand conformity on over the “roles” of men and women in the home and church, then we are trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.


Comments

Gender Roles Not An Essential of the Christian Faith – Guest Post by Wade Burleson — 694 Comments

  1. Jack, I have more respect for your understanding of the Bible than that of many evangelical Christians I know. You are moving down the path of truth, and I really appreciate that.

    Also, right on about toxic nostalgia. These are the good old days, with all the problems that we have.

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  2. Ricco: Also, right on about toxic nostalgia. These are the good old days, with all the problems that we have.

    I tried to look for the time and place when “the church” got it right. Everything I’ve found so far tells me there was never a golden age of the church. There is nothing to return to. It’s always been a mess and each generation added to the mess in the various ways they dealt with the various pressures and persecutions. We are adding to this, whether for good or for bad. I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s supposed to be this way.

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  3. Bridget,

    I disagree.

    Then you are denying the doctrine of the Trinity and aren’t reading the Bible as a Christian. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3), Jesus is God, ergo, all Scripture is Jesus-breathed.

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  4. Victorious,

    “husband of one wife” 1 Tim. 3:12
    “wife of one husband” 1 Tim. 5:9

    1 Tim. 5 is about enrolling the widows for supporting them financially, not church leadership.

    “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity” 1Tim. 3:8
    “Women must likewise be dignified” 1 Tim. 3:11

    Is Paul talking about deaconesses or wives of deacons. There’s actually legitimate debate to be had over this office.

    “He must be one who manages his own household well” 1Tim. 3:4
    “I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household” 1Tim. 5:14

    Nothing in 1 tim. 5 about church leadership.

    “Rebuke not an elder, but exhort him as a father” 1Tim. 5:1
    “…the elder women as mothers” 1Tim. 5:2
    “…the younger men as brothers” 1 Tim. 5:1
    “…the younger women as sisters” 1 Tim. 5:2

    Nothing in 1 Tim. 5 about the church office of elder. This is about relationships within the church, not authority to teach and govern the church.

    “…”Whoever divorces his wife…” Mark 10:11
    “…”if she herself divorces her husband” Mark 10:12
    “…each man is to have his own wife” 1 Cor. 7:2
    “…each woman is to have her own husband” 1 Cor. 7:2
    “…the wife should not leave her husband ” 1 Cor. 7:10
    “…the husband should not divorce his wife” 1 Cor. 7:11
    The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” John 4:17-18
    Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. Mar 10:2

    Not sure how any of this is relevant to whether women may be ordained as elders.

    I could probably list many more scriptures that speak to the same issues surrounding men/women and husbands/wives in the NT. I think it’s obvious that polygamy, divorce, slavery, circumcision, idolatry, and assumed authority existed among both the Jews, Greeks, and gentiles who were new converts.
    It should be obvious that both Jesus and Paul were refuting those who were trying to continue these practices and teach mutual relationships void of a hierarchy that was so pervasive in that culture.

    If Paul and Jesus were trying to get rid of all authority, Jesus would not have told the Apostles that the sins of those whom they forgive are forgiven and Paul would not have had established elders at all.

    To continue to promote anything other than a system of mutuality and one-anothering is totally contrary to the Gospel.

    Do you go to a church that has no leadership at all? How does that function.

    Mutuality and one-anothering don’t violate the idea that there are ruling officers in the church. Your setting things at odds that the Bible never sets at odds.

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  5. Jack,

    Jesus’ edicts of do unto others and love thy neighbour are far cry from an eye for eye.
    Did God make a mistake? Or change his mind?

    Nope. Eye for an eye was a principle given for legal and judicial settings and wasn’t intended to be applied to every personal slight. That’s Jesus’ point.

    Equality and tolerance are very much Christian attributes.

    Sure. Now define equality and tolerance according to an objective, transcendent standard. Saudi Arabia’s understanding of equality and tolerance is very different than yours. Why should I accept your understanding and not theirs?

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  6. Ricco,

    Not so sure anyone should be ruling in the church.

    Then your problem is with the Apostle Paul (1 Tim. 5:17).

    There are many things I dislike about my Mennonite heritage and upbringing, but interpreting the Bible through the life of Christ is my favorite thing about Mennonites

    Wait, you said you liked the Nicene Creed, which affirms the deity of Christ. Since the Bible teaches that it is revealed by God, then you can’t set any part of the Bible against what Christ said.

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  7. Lea,

    The people you’re talking about? They don’t believe in equality.

    According to Lea. Why should I believe you and not them.

    There is no male female, slave free, jew gentile. We are all one. THAT is my view of equality.

    That’s my view as well. But the biblical view of equality also includes the other letters Paul wrote, and he doesn’t know of women elders ruling the church. So somehow, equality means that women don’t have to be elders.

    Your default when people disagree with you is to accuse them of not being Christian. You need to stop doing that.

    No. My default is when people disagree with the Bible is to say that they are not thinking like a Christian on the matter where they disagree. You can be a Christian and have non-Christian views on some things. It’s inevitable. There are points in my thinking where I am not thinking like a Christian. My goal is to conform those areas to Scripture and think in a consistently Christian fashion.

    China and India have killed millions of girls because they do not consider them as important as boys. Maybe you should think about where inequality leads.

    Prior to the twentieth century, no one in the West held liberal feminist views of equality, and I do not know of an epidemic in the West of killing girls. Infanticide and sex selective abortion—abortion in general—were not a problem in the West like they are in China and India.

    More girls have been killed in the West since the adoption of liberal feminist ideas and policies than before such ideas and policies were in place.

    China and India’s views of equality and inequality did not match the Christian and Western view millennia ago. So your comparison is invalid. Christians who didn’t have liberal feminist views of equality went into India and effectively stopped the practice of widow burning. The West adopts liberal feminist views of equality and now we’ve killed upwards of 30 million baby girls in the past forty years or so.

    Looks to me like both the liberal feminist view of equality and the traditional inequality views of India and China lead to the murder of females.

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  8. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    How do you know this?

    Because I’m a Trinitarian. Jesus is God. All Scripture is God-breathed. Therefore, every word of the Bible is Jesus-breahed. The words Paul wrote—they are no less Jesus’ words than those words in red.

    The Bible does not teach this, and ancient Christians filtered all the other books of the Bible through the four gospels. They considered the gospels more authoritative than the epistles.

    The Bible teaches that Jesus is the final, authoritative interpreter of Scripture, not that His words have more authority than the words of others. But where does Jesus deliver the authoritative interpretation of Scripture?—the New Testament.

    You’re overstating what the ancient church did. They did not consider the gospels more authoritative than the epistles, and certainly the church as a whole has not viewed them more authoritative than the epistles.

    But the fundamental point is that if you believe in the Trinity, you can’t view the words of Jesus in red as more authoritative than the words in black. So if you are a Trinitarian and you do believe that, you are not thinking consistently on this point.

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  9. Robert: Saudi Arabia’s understanding of equality and tolerance is very different than yours.

    Honey, Saudi Arabia doesn’t believe in equality. Many christian ‘fathers’ did not believe men and women were equal. This is apparently not penetrating.

    You think we have some crazy definition? No. Equality is equality. We don’t live in some crazy world where slaves are really ‘equal’. This isn’t complicated. You are making it so to try to make a point.

    If the standards of so-called equality were applied to you, you would be calling them out right quick. Bah.

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  10. Robert: But the fundamental point is that if you believe in the Trinity, you can’t view the words of Jesus in red as more authoritative than the words in black. So if you are a Trinitarian and you do believe that, you are not thinking consistently on this point.

    What proof do you have for this idea? The vast majority of Christians throughout history have put the four gospels on a higher level than the OT and the rest of the NT. We see this even today in high church protestant services where people sit for the OT and NT readings but stand for the Gospel reading. This is not a red-letter/black-letter issue. It is not an issue of pitting some books of the Bible against other books. It is not an issue of saying some books in the Bible are less valuable than others. Rather, it is interpreting all of the Bible through the lens of the gospels rather than interpreting the gospels through the lens of other books. This is historical Christianity.

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  11. Robert: Do you go to a church that has no leadership at all? How does that function.

    Mutuality and one-anothering don’t violate the idea that there are ruling officers in the church. Your setting things at odds that the Bible never sets at odds.

    Robert, you missed the point entirely. I was showing the clear message of the mutual, equal, balanced, equitable treatment of members of the body of Christ regardless of gender, ethnicity, or status. If the male/female verses I posted don’t convince you of Paul’s and Jesus’ words of impartiality and adverse words regarding authority over others, I can believe you are reading them through a lens of your choice rather than the one where all members serve in the areas of their gifts, strengths, and talents. Some of those are naturally acquired and others are supernaturally provided via the Holy Spirit.

    Nowhere, for further evidence of God’s impartiality, is a man mandated to have authority over his wife other than 1 Cor. 7 where the authority is mutual and only after mutual agreement.

    Redemption in Christ brings freedom in all areas of relationships and behavior between members of the Body; none are mandated to subjugate another. This is totally foreign to the gospel.

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  12. Robert: Nope. Eye for an eye was a principle given for legal and judicial settings and wasn’t intended to be applied to every personal slight. That’s Jesus’ point

    In the context of the culture, the eye for an eye principle was taken to a personal level. The middle east has a long history of blood feuds. These would escalate into generations long tit for tats – look at the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
    Jesus meant for Christians to be the better people. The be the ones to stop the tit for tats, his followers would have no common cohesion if they were constantly at war over various perceived offences. We see Christians attempt to put this into practice through such initiatives as the Geneva Convention – attempting to civilize warfare.

    Muhammed also united the Arabian Peninsula the same way. Forgive your brother to achieve unity. He unified the tribes there as an army that conquered the Middle East and North Africa to Spain.

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  13. Robert: Sure. Now define equality and tolerance according to an objective, transcendent standard. Saudi Arabia’s understanding of equality and tolerance is very different than yours. Why should I accept your understanding and not theirs?

    The Christianity I was raised in viewed the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament. Jesus wasn’t taken back through to the Old Testament.

    Saudi Arabia adheres to a very strict interpretation of the old testament laws, so yes their understanding of equality is different, and we don’t define it as Christian.

    Your interpretation of equality has more in common with Saudi morality than Christianity as most people practice it. Is that what your church is like?

    But if Jesus is to be interpreted through the lens of the old testament laws then everything Paul and epistles bolted on is simply “make it up as you go along” religion.

    Because Jesus didn’t come to reveal anything – and that means every Christian hitched their wagon to the wrong horse.

    Man, the Norse Gods of my forefathers are really going to be brassed with me. I’m never getting to Valhalla.

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  14. Jack,

    The Christianity I was raised in viewed the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament. Jesus wasn’t taken back through to the Old Testament.

    The OT should be read through the lens of the NT. But that does not entail setting the two against each other.

    Saudi Arabia adheres to a very strict interpretation of the old testament laws, so yes their understanding of equality is different, and we don’t define it as Christian.

    Saudi Arabia rejects the OT and receives the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not the OT.

    Your interpretation of equality has more in common with Saudi morality than Christianity as most people practice it. Is that what your church is like?

    It does? Because I don’t believe women should be ordained to the office of elder and that liberal feminism has a lot wrong, I also believe that women can’t drive, must walk around covered up, etc., etc.? Not the last time I checked.

    But if Jesus is to be interpreted through the lens of the old testament laws then everything Paul and epistles bolted on is simply “make it up as you go along” religion.

    No. But you need to understand the OT laws to understand what Jesus was actually teaching and revealing.

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  15. Victorious,

    Robert, you missed the point entirely. I was showing the clear message of the mutual, equal, balanced, equitable treatment of members of the body of Christ regardless of gender, ethnicity, or status. If the male/female verses I posted don’t convince you of Paul’s and Jesus’ words of impartiality and adverse words regarding authority over others, I can believe you are reading them through a lens of your choice rather than the one where all members serve in the areas of their gifts, strengths, and talents. Some of those are naturally acquired and others are supernaturally provided via the Holy Spirit.

    I’m not denying that all members should serve in the areas of their gifts, strengths, and talents. What I am denying is that there is no authority structures in the church. If your church has leaders, it has people in authority over others.

    Nowhere, for further evidence of God’s impartiality, is a man mandated to have authority over his wife other than 1 Cor. 7 where the authority is mutual and only after mutual agreement.

    Eph. 5:22–24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

    Col. 3:18 “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

    1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

    Redemption in Christ brings freedom in all areas of relationships and behavior between members of the Body; none are mandated to subjugate another. This is totally foreign to the gospel.

    Agreed. I’m not advocating that anyone subjugate anyone else. To exercise authority is not necessarily to subjugate.

    Does your church have leaders that can excommunicate abusive husbands who refuse to repent? That vote over the direction of the church? If the answer is yes, then your church has authorities.

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  16. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    What proof do you have for this idea? The vast majority of Christians throughout history have put the four gospels on a higher level than the OT and the rest of the NT. We see this even today in high church protestant services where people sit for the OT and NT readings but stand for the Gospel reading.

    If they were on a higher level, they wouldn’t exist alongside other books in the canon. I agree that some Christians have seen the gospels as more important, but that’s more a reflection of bad theology than anything else. If your’e a Trinitarian, the black words are no less the words of Jesus than the red ones.

    This is not a red-letter/black-letter issue. It is not an issue of pitting some books of the Bible against other books. It is not an issue of saying some books in the Bible are less valuable than others. Rather, it is interpreting all of the Bible through the lens of the gospels rather than interpreting the gospels through the lens of other books. This is historical Christianity.

    Historical Christianity says that the New Testament is in the Old concealed and that the Old Testament is in the New revealed. Augustine said that if he thinks he finds a contradiction between any two Scriptures then he is wrong, not the Scriptures.

    You can’t accurately interpret what Jesus is saying unless you accurately understand what the Law and the Prophets are saying. Jesus came not to overturn but to fulfill.

    The basic idea that the Apostles are the authoritative interpreters of the OT is correct. The idea that you run everything through the grid of the gospels as if they are somehow more authoritatively God’s Word isn’t. Jesus himself told the disciples that He had more to teach them after His ascension. Where do we find that teaching of Jesus? The epistles.

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  17. Lea,

    Honey, Saudi Arabia doesn’t believe in equality. Many christian ‘fathers’ did not believe men and women were equal. This is apparently not penetrating.

    What’s penetrating is that you have a particular view of what equality is that is colored by twenty-first century Western feminism and that if anyone disagrees with you, you don’t think they believe in equality. Now defend that according to some objective standard.

    You think we have some crazy definition? No. Equality is equality. We don’t live in some crazy world where slaves are really ‘equal’. This isn’t complicated. You are making it so to try to make a point.

    No, I think that your definition of equality, from what I can tell, isn’t what the Bible means by equality. You seem to think that men and women aren’t truly equal unless all offices in the church are open to both men and women. I say that is not how the Bible defines equality, that most people throughout history would not agree, and that in all likelihood, most Christians around the world would not agree either. The largest churches worldwide do not open the office of elder/bishop/pastor to women.

    Maybe they are all wrong. Maybe I’m wrong. What I do know is that those views of equality aren’t equivalent to modern Western definitions of equality.

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  18. okrapod,

    What is your denominational background and current affiliation, and do they agree with you in what all you are saying?

    Grew up in the ELCA. Spent time in the Pentecostal movement and Wesleyan tradition. Became Reformed after studying Scripture and theology in detail. Now I’m in the PCA. Pretty much I’ve seen everything—fundamentalism, evangelicalism, Protestant liberalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, etc.

    PCA agrees with me on what I have said about the ordination of women and the equal authority of all of Scripture.

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  19. I said/asked for….
    Nowhere, for further evidence of God’s impartiality, is a man mandated to have authority over his wife other than 1 Cor. 7 where the authority is mutual and only after mutual agreement.

    And you gave me wife scriptures. I’m asking again for scripture that mandates a husband to be authority/leader over his wife.

    Robert: Eph. 5:22–24: “WivesM, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

    Col. 3:18 “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

    1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

    Please provide scriptural evidence for a husband to lead or have authority over his wife.

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  20. Robert: Maybe I’m wrong.

    Yes. This one.

    In addition to being incredibly obtuse about what I am actually saying and skipping right to pretend I said whatever you think I said.

    You think people in Saudi Arabia think they are practicing equality? Nonsense. You haven’t even begun to address my point, before circling around to your own accusations of ‘feminism’ and ‘western thought’. Sigh.

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  21. Robert: Then you are denying the doctrine of the Trinity

    No I don’t.

    Robert: and aren’t reading the Bible as a Christian

    Yes I do, unless your thoughts are the determining factor to everyone’s Christian status.

    Robert: All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3), Jesus is God, ergo, all Scripture is Jesus-breathed

    Yes. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    But it does not necessarily follow that the letters that apostles wrote are on the same level as what Jesus said in the flesh.

    Experts do not agree as to which scriptures Paul was actually referring to since the Scriptures were not yet defined as we know them today.

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  22. Robert: PCA agrees with me on what I have said about the ordination of women and the equal authority of all of Scripture.

    It seems more likely you joined the PCA because you agree with *them*.

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  23. Jack: Muhammed also united the Arabian Peninsula the same way. Forgive your brother to achieve unity. He unified the tribes there as an army that conquered the Middle East and North Africa to Spain.

    Mohammed seriously reduced the blood-feud infighting and inter-tribal warfare of Arab culture by redefining all Muslim believers (his followers) as a single tribe and redirecting the blood feud and raid-and-pillage economy outward against the Infidels(TM). Brought relative peace among the Arab tribes and clans at the cost of us on the outside.

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  24. Robert: Saudi Arabia rejects the OT and receives the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not the OT.

    Both originated in similar Semitic tribal cultures.
    I would expect a lot of parallels.

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  25. Lea: It seems more likely you joined the PCA because you agree with *them*.

    Though he does throw around the word “Scripture(TM)” more like a Calvary Chapel bot.

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  26. Robert: If they were on a higher level, they wouldn’t exist alongside other books in the canon.

    Good point. If the gospels were more important they would have been placed at the beginning of the NT rather than where they are…

    What you are really saying is PCA is egalitarian with respect to each of the individual words in the Bible, but not egalitarian with respect to each of the individual people in the church.

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  27. Robert: Augustine

    Speaking of Augustine, what is the PCA view of other ancient church “fathers” and councils? When I read reformed writings I get the sense that Augustine was the only viable church authority between the times of the origin apostles and the reformers? Is that what PCA teaches? My understanding is that Calvin rejected most of the ancient church fathers because he thought they were wrong.

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  28. Robert: It does? Because I don’t believe women should be ordained to the office of elder and that liberal feminism has a lot wrong, I also believe that women can’t drive, must walk around covered up, etc., etc.? Not the last time I checked.

    In truth, no. I don’t think you have the same rigidity as Saudi Arabia’s law. But when we have a system that places one set of people above another we’ve got a situation in which abuse can and does proliferate. This has been seen time and again, to the point of being normal in many fundamentalist communities, Christian & others.

    Ultimately your view is a Christian view but not the only Christian view.

    No one has convinced me that the biblical view is infallible, inerrant or superior. As you said to me, why should I accept it your view over my own?

    The truth will not be found in a faith that subjugates and denigrates others.

    Thanks for the interaction.

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  29. Victorious: Please provide scriptural evidence for a husband to lead or have authority over his wife.

    They can’t unless they spin Scripture to mean what they want it to mean.

    It’s usually done by playing mix and match with what’s descriptive and what’s prescriptive.

    From there, circular reasoning and special pleading become the rivets so to speak for the machine they want to construct.

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  30. Victorious: Please provide scriptural evidence for a husband to lead or have authority over his wife.

    I just started reading “God’s Word to Women” by Katherine Bushnell. It’s fascinating. Based on what I read so far, I highly recommend it. I read “Eve” by Paul Young (yes, I know he is a confirmed heretic), and I think he read this book before he wrote his because the overlap is remarkable. If my opinion changes as I continue to read I’ll make a comment.

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  31. Ken F (aka Tweed): I just started reading “God’s Word to Women” by Katherine Bushnell. It’s fascinating. Based on what I read so far, I highly recommend it.

    Ken, some time in the early 1980’s, I found a little 100-page book entitled “The Magna Charta of Woman” by Jessie Penn-Lewis. (originally published in 1919 and republished in 1948.) She died in 1927.

    In Penn-Lewis’s Introduction, she tells the source of much of her book was found on the little known work of Katherine Bushnell whose book was last published around 1923.

    A gentleman from upstate N.Y. by the name of Ray B. Munson also was made aware of Bushnell’s work and he began the effort to find those who would help financing the republishing of her book. He offered the book for a $5 donation and I received mine somewhere around 1980 and it’s been on my bookshelf ever since. It’s tattered and torn, but I still reference it mostly on the internet now.

    Here’s the list of 100 lessons:

    https://godswordtowomen.wordpress.com/100-lessons/

    Please note that the dates I’ve mentioned are as accurate as my memory allows….:)

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  32. Victorious: Here’s the list of 100 lessons:

    https://godswordtowomen.wordpress.com/100-lessons/

    Just wanted to add the importance of Bushnell’s chart in which she skillfully traces the erroneous interpretation of the word “teshuqa” in Gen. 3:16 from “turning” to “desire” to imply some sort of lust. This is important in that many scholars? today use Gen. 3:16 as the impetus for Eve’s and all women’s subordination.

    http://godswordtowomen.org/chart_of_teshuqa.htm

    Chapters 16-18 deal with this issue.

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  33. Victorious,

    Just wanted to add the importance of Bushnell’s chart in which she skillfully traces the erroneous interpretation of the word “teshuqa” in Gen. 3:16 from “turning” to “desire” to imply some sort of lust. This is important in that many scholars? today use Gen. 3:16 as the impetus for Eve’s and all women’s subordination.

    http://godswordtowomen.org/chart_of_teshuqa.htm

    Chapters 16-18 deal with this issue.

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  34. Robert and all other responders:

    I HAVE A VERSE FOR THIS!!

    23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (NIV)

    10 days!

    Enough. Please.

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  35. Ken P.: Enough. Please.

    On the other hand, I’ve been pointed to some of the best resources and differwnt ways of thinking through off-topic discussions.

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  36. Ken P.: 10 days!

    Enough. Please.

    Ken, IIRC several topics have surpassed 1,000 and one even over 1,400! I don’t remember anyone monitoring the exact number of days involved, but this one has stayed on topic. The subject of gender roles does seem to generate much debate and this one has remained (in my opinion) civil so I think it’s been beneficial but in the event Deb or GBTC closes it or corrects those who are participating, I’m thinking you should feel free to ignore it if you’re find it annoying.

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  37. Victorious: I’m thinking you should feel free to ignore it if you’re find it annoying.

    I was just expressing an opinion.

    I will ignore any further discussion on this thread.

    Carry on!

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  38. Lea,

    It seems more likely you joined the PCA because you agree with *them*.

    Just like you joined whatever faith community you’re a part of because you agree with them.

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  39. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Speaking of Augustine, what is the PCA view of other ancient church “fathers” and councils? When I read reformed writings I get the sense that Augustine was the only viable church authority between the times of the origin apostles and the reformers? Is that what PCA teaches? My understanding is that Calvin rejected most of the ancient church fathers because he thought they were wrong.

    The basic view would be that ancient church fathers and councils are right wherever they agree with Scripture and wrong wherever they don’t. PCA would essentially view itself as ONE continuing branch of the true church that began with Christ and carries through to today.

    Calvin quotes Augustine more than the other ancient fathers, but it is not true that he rejected most of them. He had a dim view of a lot of medieval thought, but Calvin and the other Reformers thought they were restoring the church to the purer days of the patristics.

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  40. Lea,

    You think people in Saudi Arabia think they are practicing equality? Nonsense. You haven’t even begun to address my point, before circling around to your own accusations of ‘feminism’ and ‘western thought’. Sigh.

    No, I think that the people in Saudi Arabia look at modern Western views of equality and laugh. In reality, they would see it as degrading of women. You just assume the Western view is correct without defending it.

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  41. Bridget,

    No I don’t.

    If you believe that the words of Jesus in red are more authoritative than the words of Paul, for example, then you are denying in practice that Jesus inspired Paul, which would go against the doctrine of the Trinity.

    Yes I do, unless your thoughts are the determining factor to everyone’s Christian status.

    It’s not my thoughts. It’s simple logic. If God inspired the Bible—which is what Christians believe—and Jesus is God, then Jesus inspired the Bible. Which means Jesus doesn’t say one thing more authoritatively or more true in one place than he does in another. Paul and Jesus have equal authority because Jesus is saying what Paul is saying.

    Experts do not agree as to which scriptures Paul was actually referring to since the Scriptures were not yet defined as we know them today.

    That’s not exactly true. Certainly he was talking about the OT Scriptures. Paul’s canon was the Jewish and Protestant canon. By extension, if the NT writings are Scripture, then Paul’s words apply to them as well.

    If you think the words in red are more important than the words in black, then you’re reading Scripture wrong. Frankly, words in red is a new thing and should be done away with altogether. But we do love our traditions.

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  42. Jack,

    No one has convinced me that the biblical view is infallible, inerrant or superior. As you said to me, why should I accept it your view over my own?

    Well, you may deny biblical authority. That’s one thing. But if I’m right, it’s a transcendent standard, binding on all. What is your transcendent, binding on all standard? That’s really what I’m asking. We can put our standards up against one another and then compare.

    The truth will not be found in a faith that subjugates and denigrates others.

    What is your binding, transcendent standard that allows you to make such a statement? It’s not the Bible. It’s not the Qur’an. What is it?

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  43. Victorious,

    And you gave me wife scriptures. I’m asking again for scripture that mandates a husband to be authority/leader over his wife.

    1 Cor. 7 is about sex and prayer, so while it is relevant, it doesn’t say everything you think it says.

    If the Apostles mandate wives to be subject to their husbands, that is a mandate for the husband to be authority/leader over his wife. If that’s not good enough for you, demanding a Scripture that says specifically something like “husbands lead your wife” is silly. It’s like Muslims saying the Bible doesn’t teach the Trinity because the Bible never says “God is a Trinity.”

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  44. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Good point. If the gospels were more important they would have been placed at the beginning of the NT rather than where they are…

    By this logic, Genesis is the most important book in the Bible. Even more important than the Gospels.

    What you are really saying is PCA is egalitarian with respect to each of the individual words in the Bible, but not egalitarian with respect to each of the individual people in the church.

    Nobody is egalitarian with respect to each of the individual people in the church except perhaps the Quakers. Once you have church offices, you have hierarchy. Even if you accept women’s ordination, if you have officers, your saying that individual people in the church are not equal in terms of authority. Some individuals have more authority than others.

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  45. Robert: Calvin quotes Augustine more than the other ancient fathers, but it is not true that he rejected most of them. He had a dim view of a lot of medieval thought, but Calvin and the other Reformers thought they were restoring the church to the purer days of the patristics.

    Robert,
    You come across as someone set in your ways with no intention of every reconsidering your views based on anything that does not conform with what you already believe. In particular, you are wrong about Calvin’s view of the patristics. This is what he actually wrote in chapter 2 of his Institutes (look it up yourself if you doubt me):

    Moreover although the Greek Fathers, above others, and especially Chrysostom, have exceeded due bounds in extolling the powers of the human will, yet all ancient theologians, with the exception of Augustine, are so confused, vacillating, and contradictory on this subject, that no certainty can be obtained from their writings. It is needless, therefore, to be more particular in enumerating every separate opinion. It will be sufficient to extract from each as much as the exposition of the subject seems to require. Succeeding writers (every one courting applause for his acuteness in the defence of human nature) have uniformly, one after the other, gone more widely astray, until the common dogma came to be, that man was corrupted only in the sensual part of his nature, that reason remained entire, and will was scarcely impaired.

    From his own words there is no way that one can reasonably suggest that Calvin did not reject the early patristics. If you say that Calvin did not believe in something that he actually wrote in his most important work, then we have no way to communicate with each other. It’s becoming more and more clear that you are an ideologue with no interest in reasonable dialogue.

    For the record, I once believed much more like what you seem to believe. But the more I investigated historical Christian writings the more I became convinced that I was wrong. Much of what Calvin taught was not believed by Christians for the first 1500 years of Christianity. If Calvin is right, then it means there were no true Christians until the reformers burst onto the scene. I find it hard to believe that Jesus lied when he promised to guide his church.

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  46. Robert: If the Apostles mandate wives to be subject to their husbands, that is a mandate for the husband to be authority/leader over his wife.

    Really? So if the Apostles mandate slaves to be obedient to their masters, we should still be supporting slavery? But surely the mandate applies to female masters, right? I mean, if we’re going to use arguments from silence, we can make scripture say just about anything.

    If that’s not good enough for you, demanding a Scripture that says specifically something like “husbands lead your wife” is silly.

    Actually, if there is no specific mandate for husbands to assume they have authority over their wives is silly. The obvious problem is that we are reading something into scripture that’s just not there and refusing to see the 59 (or more) scriptures that mandate mutuality among all believers….and refusing to admit that a husband is not exempt. For example, Eph. 5:21 mandates mutual submission. Mutual means mutual, doesn’t it?

    Again, the challenge is to recognize that good hermeneutics and proper exegesis require evidence/support for application of scripture. That means considering the historical, cultural, and contextual aspects prior to arriving at the meaning the author intended.

    Since you’ve been unable to provide even one scripture that applies to authority of the husband over a wife and seem to marginalize the ones in 1 Cor. 7 where the authority is mutual, we are left with the fact that there is no such mandate for husbands to assume authority over his wife.

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  47. Dee, Deb, and GBTC,
    I have two comments in custom because I accidentally replied as my wife instead of me. Is there any way you can fix that in those two comments? Thanks.

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  48. Ken F’s wife,

    I know. All because one believes that every word in the Bible is infallible . . . Jesus/God/Holy Spirit ends up having equal authority as Paul 🙁 God is reduced to a Book instead of the book inspiring us toward Jesus.

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  49. Robert: No, I think that the people in Saudi Arabia look at modern Western views of equality and laugh. In reality, they would see it as degrading of women. You just assume the Western view is correct without defending it.

    What ‘people’? Men? Do you realize how illogical you are being, when you ask me to defend the ‘western’ view of…being able to what, vote? Drive a car? Leave the house? You are still dodging my point, which is that those men are not trying to achieve equality between the sexes. I do not have to defend my ‘version’ against their ‘version’. Also? YOu live in western society. Maybe you should get used to it.

    I know women who live in the UAE and when they are there they are required to wear insanely hot garments and when they get to the us? They take them off. Because they are actually EQUAL and allowed to make their own decisions.

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  50. Robert:
    Lea,

    It seems more likely you joined the PCA because you agree with *them*.

    Just like you joined whatever faith community you’re a part of because you agree with them.

    I’m not the one claiming to be right, because my denom agrees with me.

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  51. Robert: If the Apostles mandate wives to be subject to their husbands, that is a mandate for the husband to be authority/leader over his wife. If that’s not good enough for you, demanding a Scripture that says specifically something like “husbands lead your wife” is silly.

    Sigh.

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  52. Victorious: Really? So if the Apostles mandate slaves to be obedient to their masters, we should still be supporting slavery?

    It’s so creepy when you realize all the arguments used to keep people in slavery are the same used against women.

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  53. Robert: Well, you may deny biblical authority. That’s one thing. But if I’m right, it’s a transcendent standard, binding on all. What is your transcendent, binding on all standard? That’s really what I’m asking. We can put our standards up against one another and then compare.

    If you’re right, is the key statement. If you’re wrong? That’s Pascal’s Wager, I’ll hedge my bets, if I’m wrong, oh well…if I’m right, then I don’t go to heck. So if I’m dishonest enough to just pretend to accept the bible as written, no questions then the creator of the universe just doesn’t see through that?

    Anyways, if I’m reading you’re comment correctly, I need to accept a transcendent, binding on all standard in order to legitimize any assertions I make regarding equality…
    Doesn’t matter if it’s the bible, the quran, the book of Mormon, the Hindu scrolls, Bushido, Dianetics, the comic book code authority or the Boy Scouts Manual.

    I have to be a follower of something.

    Before I go down this road, let me ask you….in this smorgasbord of cosmic edicts…why the bible?

    My wife had the opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia…she declined to immigrate to Canada.

    Food for thought before we start comparing standards.

    Full disclosure – I am a member of the Archie Fan Club.

    Except for a tacit approval of bigamy, I think the standards are pretty high.

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  54. A couple of comments.

    First, as some on these threads reference the church as a 501ce, it is obvious they know about the state’s control of the church. When I originally rejected the hierarchical authoritarian structure of the church, and couldn’t find a ‘biblical’ church, I finally came across the tax laws churches must adhere to in order to be considered a ‘church’ by the state. In other words, having a leadership structure is required, even to ministers being required to undergo ‘training’, as well as having a formal statement of beliefs, etc. Due to historical events, churches have more recently been encouraged to have a former process of discipline, supposedly to avoid court interference in their affairs. Such things explain a lot about what has arisen in the modern church; and why it is nearly impossible to find a non-authoritarian church without formal creeds and ‘rulers’.

    Second, (and this I know even less about, so I welcome input from more qualified scholars), it is important to be aware that women had very few rights in biblical days. It is amazing that long before, Moses was willing to grant land to the daughters of Zelophehad, in a day in which women simply were not viewed as equal to men. I will quote from a scholar of the Roman era, so as to not reveal my own ignorance:

    “. . . Roman women were closely identified with their perceived role in society – the duty of looking after the home and to nurture a family (pietas familiae), in particular, to bear legitimate children, a consequence of which was an early marriage, (sometimes even before puberty but typically around 20 years old), in order to ensure the woman had no sexual history which might embarrass the future husband. The Roman family was male-dominated, typically headed by the most senior male figure (paterfamilias). Women were subordinate . . . This close dependence of women on their male relatives was also reflected in such matters as law and finance where women were legally obliged to have a nominated male family member act in their interests (Tutela mulierum perpetua).” (https://www.ancient.eu/article/659/the-role-of-women-in-the-roman-world/)

    Israel was under Roman rule at the time of Christ, and was, if anything, even more restrictive in its concept of the role of women. Thus, one must view Paul’s writings with such things in mind. A strong case can also be made that in his writings Paul was quoting and refuting the practices of individual churches in many cases, such as in the Corinthian practice of requiring headcovering and silence.

    All that to say, what we find is a culture in which all respectable women were, with very few exceptions, legally under the authority of some male relative, be it father, brother, uncle or husband. This could explain Paul’s writings as suggesting the woman transfer her loyalty from her father’s protection to her husband’s. What she did not have was the option of throwing off the shackles and setting up shop for herself, unless she was educated, witty and wealthy, therefore qualified to be a courtesan. Note that in this day men would marry the ‘proper’ sort of woman to be the mother of his children, but often seek ‘entertainment’, intellectual stimulation and some would say ‘true love’ in more beautiful, intelligent and witty courtesans, particularly in the wealthy class.

    It is impossible to even begin to understand Paul’s teachings without having at least some understanding of women’s position and lack of rights in the ancient world. It seems more than odd that the patriarchal movement in fundamentalist churches seeks to present the re-subjugation of women as a return to biblical standards; but perhaps is not surprising in a denomination that sought to defend the practice of slavery, until it became politically unfeasible. Those who dismiss all discussion of the ramifications upon scripture of historical realities would seem destined to misinterpret scripture in many cases.

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  55. truthseeker00,

    I might add that strong patriarchy almost invites adultery and/or abuse, as men seek to have a subjugated wife for church approval, while longing for a more meaningful, freer relationship or perhaps a more ‘exciting’ sexual life than subjugation and mindless obedience allows.

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  56. Lea: It’s so creepy when you realize all the arguments used to keep people in slavery are the same used against women.

    That’s because both are arguments from the Haves about the Have-Nots.

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  57. truthseeker00: What she did not have was the option of throwing off the shackles and setting up shop for herself, unless she was educated, witty and wealthy, therefore qualified to be a courtesan. Note that in this day men would marry the ‘proper’ sort of woman to be the mother of his children, but often seek ‘entertainment’, intellectual stimulation and some would say ‘true love’ in more beautiful, intelligent and witty courtesans, particularly in the wealthy class.

    Hetiarae.
    The highest class of high-class prostitutes, the only women in Hellenistic culture who were educated and cultured.
    Joss Whedon’s pattern for the “Companions” in his Firefly universe.

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  58. Jack,

    Anyways, if I’m reading you’re comment correctly, I need to accept a transcendent, binding on all standard in order to legitimize any assertions I make regarding equality…
    Doesn’t matter if it’s the bible, the quran, the book of Mormon, the Hindu scrolls, Bushido, Dianetics, the comic book code authority or the Boy Scouts Manual.

    More that you need to accept a transcendent standard in order to rightly expect others to agree with you and to even tell the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it’s just your subjective opinion. As a finite creature, that doesn’t count for much.

    It does matter the authority because you want the right one.

    Before I go down this road, let me ask you….in this smorgasbord of cosmic edicts…why the bible?

    For starters, because Jesus rose from the dead. There’s also the case that Bible alone posits a consistently knowable, personal God who can be trusted. I could give other reasons.

    The ultimate transcendent standard has to be personal because only personal beings can hold someone accountable. I would contend that only the Bible presents a consistently personal God. But that’s starting to get pretty heady. The main reason is that Jesus rose from the dead.

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  59. Victorious,

    Really? So if the Apostles mandate slaves to be obedient to their masters, we should still be supporting slavery?

    I wouldn’t reintroduce slavery where it has been abolished and Scripture clearly forbids race-based chattel slavery, but the Apostles clearly believe that at least some forms of slavery are not incompatible with Christianity. Are you embarrassed by that?

    But surely the mandate applies to female masters, right?

    Sure.

    Actually, if there is no specific mandate for husbands to assume they have authority over their wives is silly. The obvious problem is that we are reading something into scripture that’s just not there and refusing to see the 59 (or more) scriptures that mandate mutuality among all believers….and refusing to admit that a husband is not exempt. For example, Eph. 5:21 mandates mutual submission. Mutual means mutual, doesn’t it?

    Eph. 5:21 says to submit to one another and then goes on to describe what that means. For the wife it means submit to the husband, for the husband it means love the wife. If submission were identical in both cases, there would be no need to then tell the woman to submit and the husband to love. Submission is submission is submission.

    The way you read “mutual” necessitates no authorities whatsoever. Are you a Quaker, because they’re the only group I know of it that actually applies it consistently.

    Again, the challenge is to recognize that good hermeneutics and proper exegesis require evidence/support for application of scripture. That means considering the historical, cultural, and contextual aspects prior to arriving at the meaning the author intended.

    Sure.

    Since you’ve been unable to provide even one scripture that applies to authority of the husband over a wife and seem to marginalize the ones in 1 Cor. 7 where the authority is mutual, we are left with the fact that there is no such mandate for husbands to assume authority over his wife.

    1 Peter 3 says that holy women obey their husbands like Sarah obeyed hers. There’s one Scripture for you.

    1 Cor. 7 is about the husband and wives respective rights to one another sexually. You are trying to apply it in a context that Paul doesn’t. And you’re trying to make all relationships exhaustively mutual in the church, which the Bible doesn’t do and that you don’t do either if you have any leaders whatsoever in your church. My hermeneutic is far more consistent both in presentation and application. Maybe that says something in its favor.

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  60. Bridget,

    I know. All because one believes that every word in the Bible is infallible . . . Jesus/God/Holy Spirit ends up having equal authority as Paul God is reduced to a Book instead of the book inspiring us toward Jesus.

    Paul’s words in Scripture have equal authority because Jesus/God/Holy Spirit inspired them. I thought you believed in the Trinity?

    No one is reducing God to a book, but while we’re at it, how does the book “inspire you toward Jesus” when the only way you can know Jesus is through the book? Why are you setting Jesus against Scripture when Jesus Himself said that God’s Word can’t be broken?

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  61. Ken F’s wife,

    You come across as someone set in your ways with no intention of every reconsidering your views based on anything that does not conform with what you already believe.

    Wrong. I’ve reconsidered lots of my views over the years when I’m presented with good arguments.

    From his own words there is no way that one can reasonably suggest that Calvin did not reject the early patristics. If you say that Calvin did not believe in something that he actually wrote in his most important work, then we have no way to communicate with each other.

    Calvin—and everyone writing in his era—was prone to overstating things at times. The same work you cite is filled with quotes from Christians from year 0 to 1500. He particularly loved Bernard of Clairvaux, who I know is later than the early patristics. In the same work he also talks about his appreciation of Gregory of Nazianzus’ work on the Trinity. You can’t just pull out one statement without also considering what else Calvin does with the patristics, particularly because Calvin’s work is very polemical and he’s going to go after his opponents when they use sources against him. Roman Catholics did the same thing at the time.

    For the record, I once believed much more like what you seem to believe. But the more I investigated historical Christian writings the more I became convinced that I was wrong.

    Funny, but the more I investigate historical Christian writings, the more they favor Protestantism.

    Much of what Calvin taught was not believed by Christians for the first 1500 years of Christianity.

    You’d have to be more specific. Calvin believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, like the Christians before him, the doctrine of the Trinity, unconditional election (that one is admittedly rarer), justification by faith alone (found incipiently in some streams of the Christian tradition, though not all, just like the RCC doctrine is found incipiently in some streams ). Calvin wasn’t an innovator and never claimed to be.

    If Calvin is right, then it means there were no true Christians until the reformers burst onto the scene. I find it hard to believe that Jesus lied when he promised to guide his church.

    That’s just outright wrong. If you think Calvin, Luther, et al are some radical break with what came before, then you’re reading later ideas into the patristics. Are you Roman Catholic?

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  62. Ken F’s wife,

    What!?!?!?! Wow! If you truly feared God you would never say such a thing.

    I mean the words of Paul in Scripture, not Paul himself. If you believe the doctrine of the Trinity, then Romans has as much authority as the Gospels. All Scripture is God-breathed, and both Romans and the Gospels are Scripture.

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  63. Ken F’s wife,

    <i.For the record, I once believed much more like what you seem to believe.

    For the record, I was once an egalitarian. I became a complementarian after study and after seeing how the same approach that yields egalitarianism, when taken consistently, leads to heresy. Just look at the mainline denominations that can’t even figure out if Jesus is God anymore. It’s because of their hermeneutic.

    Now, many egalitarians are not consistent in the application of their hermeneutic, and they remain orthodox. I praise God for that.

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  64. Victorious: But surely the mandate applies to female masters, right?

    I saw this because Robert pulled it out, but it is interesting to the ‘women can never have authority over men’ defenders that Paul never went on any sort of rants about women who had male slaves not ‘exercising authority’ over them… I’m sure there were many.

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  65. Robert: Just look at the mainline denominations that can’t even figure out if Jesus is God anymore.

    Did you come to this conclusion because you accuse everyone who doesn’t agree with you of ‘not believing in the trinity’??? Goodness.

    You’re quite wrong about this point, and you keep insisting on it.

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  66. Robert: Eph. 5:21 says to submit to one another and then goes on to describe what that means. For the wife it means submit to the husband, for the husband it means love the wife. If submission were identical in both cases, there would be no need to then tell the woman to submit and the husband to love.

    My notations in the NASB indicate that the word “submit” does not occur in Ephesians 5:22 (and is in italics) but refers to the verb in verse 21. Therefore according to the NASB Paul’s intent is for all to:

    * be filled with the Spirit
    * speaking in psalms, hymns etc.
    * making melodies in your heart to the Lord
    * giving thanks for all things to God
    * submitting yourselves to one another
    * wives to your husbands
    * husbands love your wives

    If submission were identical in both cases, there would be no need to then tell the woman to submit and the husband to love. Submission is submission is submission.

    Are you saying the submission of the wife is different than the submission “to one another.”

    That leaves several important questions….(1)where do you find the areas or parameters you think the wife’s submission is defined in scripture?

    and

    (2)Where do find a scripture anywhere for a husband to have authority over his wife or to be her leader. (still waiting for this….:) And are you saying that the husband is exempt from the “submitting yourselves to one another” in verse 21.

    1 Cor. 7 is about the husband and wives respective rights to one another sexually. You are trying to apply it in a context that Paul doesn’t. And you’re trying to make all relationships exhaustively mutual in the church, which the Bible doesn’t do and that you don’t do either if you have any leaders whatsoever in your church. My hermeneutic is far more consistent both in presentation and application.

    You corrected me for applying 1 Cor. 7 in a context that Paul doesn’t (sexually only). And then you apparently think mutually doesn’t apply and leadership in the church equates somehow to leadership in a marriage.

    I don’t see that as consistent at all but rather selective literalism and certainly a stretch.

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  67. Robert: Are you Roman Catholic?

    Not RC. I think the dialogue between us has gone as far as it can because we appear to have different understandings on what words mean. Thanks for the discussion.

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  68. Lea,

    You’re quite wrong about this point, and you keep insisting on it.

    Since in the ECUSA you can be a bishop in good standing and not believe in the deity of Christ (John Shelby Spong), then no, I’m not wrong.

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  69. Victorious,

    My notations in the NASB indicate that the word “submit” does not occur in Ephesians 5:22 (and is in italics) but refers to the verb in verse 21. Therefore according to the NASB Paul’s intent is for all to:
    * be filled with the Spirit
    * speaking in psalms, hymns etc.
    * making melodies in your heart to the Lord
    * giving thanks for all things to God

    Yes.

    * submitting yourselves to one another

    Yes, within the broader church. But clearly Paul has in view that this looks different within household relationships as evidenced by what he then launches into:

    * wives to your husbands
    * husbands love your wives

    Only husbands are instructed to love their wives. Does that mean wives aren’t supposed to love their husbands? Of course not. We’re supposed to love one another no matter who we are. But if Paul has to single it out, that says that there is something unique about husbands loving their wives. So there’s something unique about wives submitting to their husbands.

    Just keep reading the Ephesians passage. Paul next talks about children and parents and masters and slaves. If mutual submission entails what you are implying it entails, then parents have to obey children. That’s obviously wrong. I don’t obey my 3 year old.

    Are you saying the submission of the wife is different than the submission “to one another.”

    Yes.
    That leaves several important questions….(1)where do you find the areas or parameters you think the wife’s submission is defined in scripture?

    It’s not defined in every specific detail. This is where people like Piper go wrong. I would say that submission and leadership is defined broadly in Scripture, mainly with respect to spiritual matters, and more concretely in the natural order. As a rule, men are physically stronger. This points to them being protectors and providers.

    In practice, I think there is a good deal of freedom from couple to couple as to how the specifics play out.

    (2)Where do find a scripture anywhere for a husband to have authority over his wife or to be her leader. (still waiting for this….:)

    I cited 1 Peter 3, where Sarah is held up as a model for obeying her husband.

    You corrected me for applying 1 Cor. 7 in a context that Paul doesn’t (sexually only).

    Are we talking about the same chapter?

    Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

    Maybe you mean a different chapter, because 1 Cor. 7 is all about sex in marriage, who should marry, divorce, etc. I see nothing in there about “mutual submission” outside of conjugal rights. Maybe the application is broader, but you haven’t made a good case for it.
    And then you apparently think mutually doesn’t apply and leadership in the church equates somehow to leadership in a marriage.
    I’m saying that if mutual submission means what you think it means, then there can be no leadership in the church. You keep saying that Christians are to submit to one another, and I agree. You then say that means that the wife’s submission to her husband is, essentially, no different from the mutual submission to one another in the church, which means there is no leadership in the home. But if that’s the case, then the submission of church members to elders is no different from mutual submission to one another, which entails no leadership in the church.

    If mutual submission means what you think it means, you can’t just apply it in the home. You have to apply it to church leaders as well. The only people doing that are Quakers.
    I don’t see that as consistent at all but rather selective literalism and certainly a stretch.

    No, it’s reading the Scriptures in context of the immediate passage and the entire canon. If there is church leadership, there has to be a way to combine “submit to one another” among Christians with the notion that there are some people in the church that have an authority that others don’t have. If one can do that—and one has to do that—it’s no stretch to combine “submit to one another” among Christians with the notion that there is an office of leadership in the home. In fact, all of us do that with children, for none of us believes children are the leaders of our homes. Why, then, can’t we apply it to husbands and wives when wives are told to submit and are told to follow Sarah as a model of obedience?

    Probably because we’re reading Scripture through the lens of twenty-first-century Western feminism.

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  70. Robert: But if that’s the case, then the submission of church members to elders is no different from mutual submission to one another, which entails no leadership in the church.

    I think your biggest problem here is that you don’t understand fundamentally what leadership *is*. I think this is true of most people who focus incessantly on ‘authority’. It’s not just telling people what to do. That is hierarchy.

    True leadership can come from anyone, in any position. People chose whether or not to follow you, based on whether they respect you and your ideas are good and sometimes they will do something for you because they love you. If you demand these things, if you try to enforce demand, you wreck the relationships. That is what this focus on submission and authority has done – it wreck relationships.

    Refocus off this and you will be better off.

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  71. Robert: If there is church leadership, there has to be a way to combine “submit to one another” among Christians with the notion that there are some people in the church that have an authority that others don’t have. If one can do that—and one has to do that—it’s no stretch to combine “submit to one another” among Christians with the notion that there is an office of leadership in the home.

    In fact, all of us do that with children, for none of us believes children are the leaders of our homes. Why, then, can’t we apply it to husbands and wives when wives are told to submit and are told to follow Sarah as a model of obedience?

    1. Wives are not children. I feel like this point has to be made *way* too often.

    All your other stuff is if, then statements that lead you in the direction you want to go, which is basically ‘I’m in charge’.

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  72. Also, if you understand what leadership really is, you would realize you cannot assign an ‘office of leadership’ and you cannot make women not leaders no matter how many offices you bar them from.

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  73. Robert, first I’d like to thank you for discussing this topic in such a civil manner even when there is strong disagreement. That’s not always been the case when it comes to the subject of men and women in any context.

    Robert: Only husbands are instructed to love their wives. Does that mean wives aren’t supposed to love their husbands? Of course not. We’re supposed to love one another no matter who we are. But if Paul has to single it out, that says that there is something unique about husbands loving their wives.

    Yes, there’s something likely unique about having to tell husbands to love their wives. I see this as Paul’s efforts to raise the status of wives and curtail the practices of harsh treatment toward them in an era and culture that previously permitted polygamy, concubinage, marriage by purchase or by capture in war, slave-marriage, and putting away wives for any cause. One cannot read history and deny the horrid treatment of women. I might add we see that beginning in Genesis when Adam tried to blame Eve and even had the audacity to blame God rather than confess to his sin of disobedience. Eve, on the other hand, did confess to being deceived and exposed satan as being the deceiver.

    Deuteronomy tells of the practice of husbands sending away or divorcing their wives “for any cause” and Moses’ effort to command a Writ of Divorcement to save women from being stoned for adultery should she marry again.

    Fast foward to the time of Judges when we clearly see Sisera’s mother concerned that he hadn’t returned with “a damsel or two” as the spoil of war.

    I don’t think I need to give a history lesson on the treatment of women, but when it’s taken into consideration, it becomes clear why both Jesus and Paul begin to “level the playing field” so to speak and teach an agape love that will assure mistreat anyone, but especially wives.

    So there’s something unique about wives submitting to their husbands.

    Yes, there is something unique but only if we admit we are misunderstanding the words submit and subject and how those words were meant as a turning-point for wives in a culture where previously they had little value. Paul knew of their treatment historically and would never endorse a power or authority that caused it throughout the history of his people and in particular the Oral Law which the Pharisees were still in favor of.

    Just keep reading the Ephesians passage. Paul next talks about children and parents and masters and slaves. If mutual submission entails what you are implying it entails, then parents have to obey children. That’s obviously wrong. I don’t obey my 3 year old.

    I want to speak to this, but I’m a bit short of time right now. I will be free in a couple hours and I hope you will find my “part 2” and hopefully see the subject as I do.

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  74. Lea: True leadership can come from anyone, in any position. People chose whether or not to follow you, based on whether they respect you and your ideas are good and sometimes they will do something for you because they love you. If you demand these things, if you try to enforce demand, you wreck the relationships. That is what this focus on submission and authority has done – it wreck relationships.

    That is a great, concise explanation of appropriate vs inappropriate leadeship!

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  75. Part 2…:)

    Victorious: So there’s something unique about wives submitting to their husbands.

    Yes, there is something unique but only if we admit we are misunderstanding the words submit and subject and how those words were meant as a turning-point for wives in a culture where previously they had little value. Paul knew of their treatment historically and would never endorse a power or authority that caused it throughout the history of his people and in particular the Oral Law which the Pharisees were still in favor of.

    So immediately following Paul’s short list of mutual “one-anothers,” he specifically mentions wives. Not for the purpose of reinforcing, endorsing, or maintaining a system known to have been historically abused by men…no. He is rather appealing to women to see their husbands with a new perspective; one of being the recipient of the agape love of her husband. That agape love is compared to that of Jesus’ for those he loved (the church).

    The church is “subject” to the love Christ poured out by humbling Himself; by emptying Himself; by nourishing her; by giving His very self up for her sake.

    So…since we have nowhere found commands or endorsement for husbands to have authority over their wives, but do find the meaning of being “subject” to the one who provides agape love to the extent of giving his very life for her, we can not justify employing an authority that is totally contrary to the whole counsel of God and the love Christ emphasizes as the focus for all believers.

    Up next….Words to slaves and children.

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  76. Victorious: Just keep reading the Ephesians passage. Paul next talks about children and parents and masters and slaves. If mutual submission entails what you are implying it entails, then parents have to obey children. That’s obviously wrong. I don’t obey my 3 year old.

    Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ…Eph 6:5

    We know from scripture slavery was rampant but from the beginning, this was never God’s plan nor did He establish a system of domination of one over the other among His people. We see, throughout scripture God’s efforts to protect the well-being of slaves and educate slaveholders how to treat them fairly. With the many scriptures in the OT that support fair, just treatment of slaves, we look at Paul’s admonishments to both slaves (weak and vulnerable) and masters (strongers and more powerful). Here we see Paul’s effort to “level the playing field” again…

    And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening…Eph 6:9

    So Paul is not supporting nor endorsing the continuation of the practice; on the contrary, he is appealing to the fair treatment one to another to ensure a peaceable relationship in an existing situation and time that permitted privileges to one to the exclusion of the other.

    We know he continued in this effort to eradicate the existing system and implement one that is patterned after mutual respect when he encouraged Philemon to change his attitude toward his slave to one of a brother in Christ. He further tells slaves that if they became a believer while being a slave, to remain in that position (because of the late hour) but if they could become free, to rather do that

    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

    we can briefly look at Paul’s admonishment to children and parents. Again, we know from scripture (and history) the harsh manner parents have treated their children; i.e. “Passing through the fire” and offering them to false idols, selling them as slaves. We see the relationship between Saul & Jonathan, Absalom’s rebellion against his father David, and the stoning of a rebellious son whose parents brought him to the elders of the city to complain that he was a drunkard and a glutton. Compare the treatment of the father to his son in the parable of the prodigal son.

    So Paul entreats children (weaker and more vulnerable) to be obedient to their parents (stronger and powerful) so it will be well with them in their care and then admonishes the father not to be harsh nor to exasperate the children but to instruct them in the way of the Lord.

    We see Paul hoping for a peaceable relationship between children and their parents. But we know that that obedience does not apply forever as children eventually leave the protection and guidance of their parents and as adults continue to honor but forsaking the necessity to obey.

    IIRC the average length of life in the first century was somewhere between 30-40 yrs. so what we consider an child or teen today may have likely been considered an adult in that culture. If it’s true that Mary gave birth at the age of about 14-15 and Jesus died at 30, this accounts for Timothy being trusted by Paul even at a very young age.

    That’s how I see Ephesians 5. I do think many have built doctrine by isolating a couple words, phrases, and/or sentences without taking history, culture, context, etc. into consideration; e.g. head, submit, and the idea that first is best.

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  77. Victorious,

    Good points. I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe the definition of ‘submit’, or words translated thereas, have likely been distorted through the ages. To submit most likely did not mean to lay like a doormat and accept any treatment whatsoever. It seems to suggest more a voluntary, respectful choice to give up certain rights. Thus, calling a slave to submit, even though his soul is fired up by the injustice of someone ‘owning’ him, is a call to surrender his genuine right for freedom, due to cultural and/or individual circumstances. The same would apply to the other passages. A person being asked to submit is, often in specific instances, to voluntarily surrender the right to do something other for the sake of respect, etc. As you have explained, Paul makes clear he is not endorsing abuse or oppression.

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  78. Robert: More that you need to accept a transcendent standard in order to rightly expect others to agree with you and to even tell the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it’s just your subjective opinion. As a finite creature, that doesn’t count for much.

    It does matter the authority because you want the right one.

    So without a holy scripture of some type, I don’t have any concept of right and wrong.

    Well, I guess me and my guppies have more in common than I thought.

    I used to be Christian and I’ve read the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon but not Dianetics.

    I feel more comfortable with edicts like the Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and UN Declaration of Human Rights than I ever did with any “holy” scripture.

    I give to charity, take care of my family, volunteer my time without any expectation of a divine reward. I don’t need a bible to treat my wife as my partner or be nice to all my co-workers and friends – Hindu, Muslim and Christian in addition to a whackload of unaligned folks like myself.

    If you need to be kept on the straight and narrow by the bible then to each his own.

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  79. Jack: So without a holy scripture of some type, I don’t have any concept of right and wrong.

    I feel like Robert would benefit from taking a philosophy class or history of ethics or something. His perspective is so limited.

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  80. Lea: I feel like Robert would benefit from taking a philosophy class or history of ethics or something. His perspective is so limited.

    I’ve crossed swords with a number of religious folks both on this blog and in the real world.

    There are tons of great christians but there’s enough not so great ones for me to ever return to it.

    I know it’s supposed to be about ideas and not people here but this guy pretty much compared me to an animal.

    Time to break for a while and enjoy the articles.

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  81. Jack: So without a holy scripture of some type, I don’t have any concept of right and wrong.

    That appears to be his thought, although it is contrary to scripture.

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  82. Jack: but this guy pretty much compared me to an animal.

    So that means you can join us goats who are obviously not among the elect…

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  83. Victorious,

    I cannot remember ever reading an explanation as clear and concise as yours. I recommend you save these last few comments in a form that you can paste into future comment threads when this comes up again, as it certainly will.

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  84. Robert: For the record, I was once an egalitarian. I became a complementarian after study and after seeing how the same approach that yields egalitarianism, when taken consistently, leads to heresy.

    Oh, so you used to believe in mutual submission in marriage, but don’t anymore. So perhaps you could explain something that’s been a puzzle to me since I first heard about gender comp doctrine.

    What exactly — in concrete terms, mind you — do you and your wife do now that differs from a healthy mutualistic marriage? What do you do now, which you didn’t do before? Or, what do you refuse to do now, that you used to do before adopting gender comp?

    All the gurus have different, competing and inconsistent ideas about how complementarianism (still not a word) is supposed to work in marriage. None of them can seem to explain it:

    a) in real, concrete terms;
    b) in a way that’s significantly and obviously different from healthy mutualistic marriage;
    c) in a way that makes sense and doesn’t sound horribly abusive

    If you can meet all of those criteria, I might find it helpful to understanding your case.

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