Complementarian Hypocrisy?

In my previous post, we were addressing the question raised by the “On Faith” forum in light of Sarah Palin’s candidacy (a joint venture of The Washington Post and Newsweek):

“Women are not allowed to become clergy in many conservative religious groups. Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?”

In answer to that question, I noted that the Bible specifically enjoins believers to order their homes and their churches in light of a principle of male headship. There is no complementarian consensus, however, on how these matters apply outside of the home and the church.

One other item is related to this issue—whether wives and/or mothers should work outside the home at all, much less in a leadership position. I want to discuss this latter point in light of two biblical texts: Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31.

In what is probably one of the most politically incorrect passages of the Bible, the apostle Paul spells it out this way:

“3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored” (Titus 2:3-5).

Some have read this verse and wondered whether it is ever appropriate for a Christian wife and mother to work outside the home. Consider, however, the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:

“16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. . . 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant” (Proverbs 31:16-24).

So is it ever appropriate for a wife and mother to work outside the home? I will answer that question with five observations on these texts.

First, though many people regard Titus 2:3-5 as an irrelevant historical artifact, it’s hard to escape the apostle’s implication. The Bible does set forth an ideal for a wife and mother that includes a primary responsibility to her home, husband, and children. Wives and mothers have a special role and duty to domestic life that is an essential component of their Christian discipleship. In fact, Paul says that to fall short on this obligation “dishonors” the word of God. This is a non-negotiable for any wife and mother who is also a follower of Christ.

Second, the woman who “fears the Lord” in Proverbs 31 also has “work” outside of her home. This woman buys and sells; she produces and makes a profit. Clearly, the text describes an entrepreneurial woman—a business woman, if you will. But it would be wrong to think that this woman goes away to work in the same way that the modern working woman might go away to an office for her job. It’s likely that the entrepreneurship of this woman grew right out of her regular domestic duties—duties which would have been expansive in the agrarian lifestyle of ancient Israel.

Third, it would be wrong, however, to construe Proverbs 31 as a contradiction to the domestic exhortation in Titus 2. The text itself confirms that her entrepreneurship does not diminish the energies that she directs towards her family and home, because . . .

“[She] provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. . . 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:15, 27-28).

In other words, this woman’s business outside the home does not interfere with her primary duty to her home. She excels at both. Her God-ordained role at home is not compromised by her entrepreneurship or career. In fact, her business appears to be growing out of her work at home.

Fourth, Christians will need wisdom to apply these biblical truths with integrity. The fact of the matter is that the ambient feminist culture seeks to undermine the truth of Titus 2. And we can see erosion of biblical conviction on this point even among evangelical believers. The “you can have it all” mantra of feminism has made significant inroads into the church to the detriment of children and families. It would seem that certain seasons in a mother’s life may be more conducive to working outside the home than others. When there are children (especially small ones) in the picture, domestic duties tend to be more time-intensive and would preclude any activity that would distract from that focus. Every Christian wife and mother will have to weigh these factors prayerfully with her husband as she seeks to be faithful to God’s calling on her life.

Fifth, we need to recognize that not all women have the choice to be stay-at-home moms. There are single mothers, widows, and other women who find themselves in a situation in which they have to work in order to provide for their home. These women need our support and encouragement as they labor to raise the next generation and to bring home a paycheck every month. We should pray the Lord’s mercy and provision for them (see Psalm 146:9; James 1:27). Churches in particular have a responsibility to these women not just to tell them to “be warm and be filled” (James 2:16), but to direct resources towards mothers who are carrying heavy burdens.

This is far from everything that needs to be said about this issue. What is important for Christians to consider, however, is how God’s word comes to bear upon our own families and churches. We are not without direction on these matters. The Bible speaks to them, and anyone who really desires to “have it all” will give heed (Matthew 16:25).

56 Responses to Complementarian Hypocrisy?

  1. Kathy September 8, 2008 at 4:03 am #

    “Women are not allowed to become clergy in many conservative religious groups. Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?”

    I think a better question may be, is it hypocritical to think that a non-egalitarian woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?

  2. Kathy September 8, 2008 at 4:09 am #

    Am I to understand that non-egalitarian women and wives CAN by virtue of their womanhood run for the office of President and VP??

  3. Adam Omelianchuk September 8, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    Kathy, I think what we have hear is a rationale that would allow a woman to be VP if there wasn’t demaning responsibilities at home. A mother of small children, however, would be bound to them. It seems that Sarah Palin is in violation of Titus 2.

  4. Nathan September 8, 2008 at 8:57 am #

    Adam,

    You are to some degree making this decision as if you were Sarah Palin’s husband. I think the point of Denny’s argument is that this is fluid and the family (with male headship) makes this decision as husband and wife together.

    Your conclusion may be right for your family, but you are not the head of the Palin family.

    Food for thought?

  5. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    Thanks, Denny, for the concise points.

  6. Don September 8, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    The lack of understanding by Denny of these verses in their cultural context and pericope context is staggering.

    It is simply not true that these verses are not Politically Correct, they are very 1st century PC. The basic and fundamental mistake that Denny makes is to teleport these verses from the 1st century into the 21st century without any discussion of what they meant in the 1st century on Crete to Titus.

  7. jeremy z September 8, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    i love it. i love watching ultra complementarian try to re-interpret scripture to make sense out of Palin. basically the complementarian’s are doing what they accuse the emergent for doing, which is interpreting scripture according to the cultural realities.

    to say the Bible specifically argues that women cannot lead in the church but lead in the government is ludacrious to me. why?

    First, complementarians are supportive of Palin being president if John McCain wasn’t able to lead and she stepped in to lead the 303 million people of the USA. But the irony and theological practical tension is how complementarians are supporting her as a leader to that extreme capacity of 303 million people, yet in a complementarian rural church of 50 people, she would not be able to lead both men and women there.

    Second, the complementarians define church as this sacred holy zone. apparently the church is the ONLY place where the complementarians scriptural passages apply to. i have a hard time believing the same 1st century church is identical to the 21st century church. the 1st century church was not a big building. rather it was fused into the community, which means the church was not only a place, but it was a part of the local community and culture.
    to say the complementarian view only applies to the church is too limiting and narrow.

    i love the fact that Palin’s husband is the stay home mom. if Palin is a legit christian, she would obviously interpret the CLEAR gender roles in the Bible.

    in my opinion the complementarian’s have some more explaining to do in order to make sense of the Palin situation.
    Cheers!

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides September 8, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Denny: “What is important for Christians to consider, however, is how God’s word comes to bear upon our own families and churches. We are not without direction on these matters. The Bible speaks to them, and anyone who really desires to “have it all” will give heed (Matthew 16:25).”

    Absolutely correct. Moreover, the direction that God provides in His Word is transcendent. It transcends all people, all cultures, and all time. Thank you Denny for reminding of this, particularly on those directions which the New Testament (Covenant) plainly carries forward from the Old Testament (Covenant).

    Don: “The basic and fundamental mistake that Denny makes is to teleport these verses from the 1st century into the 21st century without any discussion of what they meant in the 1st century on Crete to Titus.”

    The basic and fundamental mistake that Don makes is to teleport his own 21st century egalitarian eisegesis into Scripture.

  9. John September 8, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    Yeah TUAD, you’re never guilty of eisegesis, are you?

    I’m with Jeremy, the complementarians have some more explaining to do. It’s easy to accept Palin due to their hatred of Obama and love for the Republican party, but from my view it’s in violation of their hermeneutical grid.

    I’m sure more discussion and interaction will take place in the future. I look forward to hearing and reading more about it.

  10. Lydia September 8, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    This simply makes no sense at all. So Palin is NOT in sin if her husband says Ok. So, if say…. Denny says his wife can run for office, even with small kids at home, then it is ok for her to be Denny’s civil authority in that venue? So she is not a ‘Chrisitian’ at work? :o) It is only when it comes to home, kids, worship, etc that she has her husband as authority? How does that square with the teaching of CBMW that CREATION ORDER is the key to male authority?

    Another I see with this interpretation is that the church is NOT a building. We have institutionalized the church to the point of not recognizing what it really is: A Body of believers who can be anywhere at any time.

    The Proverbs 31 woman had servants. To do what she was doing, she was NOT at home all the time with kids. She was delegating duties to her servants.

    Nice try, though, Denny.

    The problem is that you guys are not consistent. Christians do not have ‘civil’ realms and spiritual realms. We are Christians all the time. So, what does that make Palin in your scenerio if you are to be consistent?

  11. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Don (#6): I see we’re back to Trajectory Hermeneutics. To take the mindset of “understanding” these verses in light of 1 cen AD Greek culture is to make light of Paul’s writings, relegating them to human-borne (or inspired or authored) letters that carry no weight for the Church and no carrying principles (we hold to scripture or don’t). To confine them to “what Paul was saying to Titus” is to ignore the fact that they were authored by God. Additionally, we can relegate nearly all teaching to that treatment including divorce, homosexuality, extramarital sex and, well, pretty much anything (including what you and I agree are the untenable ideas of deity of Christ, propitiation, etc.). Just out of curiosity, what is your view of each of just those mentioned (divorce, homosexuality, extramarital sex, deity of Christ (I’m fairly certain about the last, of course))? If you’re into answering questions.

    And, to bring it back to topic, Paul’s section of 1 Timothy was church-congregation-centric. He rooted it in Genesis (just to mention since many allude that it’s an idea concocted by complementaritans). All creation is rooted in Genesis (unless, of course, it’s a myth 😉 ), and thus, the examples can be applied to all of life, but we are commanded for home and congregation-related leadership to be men, nothing commanding government (though we are commanded to obey government. Which means that government is demeaning to us, right?) to follow that model. The difference is command versus preference in this case (or, other applications as others have mentioned (Darius, etc.)).

    BTW, Lydia is right to say that we don’t have spiritual and other, but the world has Christians and others (there are two types of people in this world, saved and unsaved). It makes Palin a woman seeking a government office (Government is ordained by God, but there is no expectations that it must follow God’s design). We don’t live in a Theocracy.

  12. Truth Unites.. and Divides September 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Brian (another):To confine them to “what Paul was saying to Titus” is to ignore the fact that they were authored by God. Additionally, we can relegate nearly all teaching to that treatment including divorce, homosexuality, extramarital sex and, well, pretty much anything (including what you and I agree are the untenable ideas of deity of Christ, propitiation, etc.). Just out of curiosity, what is your view of each of just those mentioned (divorce, homosexuality, extramarital sex, deity of Christ (I’m fairly certain about the last, of course))?

    Most excellent queries Brian. Don, do you believe that same-sex behavior is a sin as defined by the transcendent teaching of God’s Word in both the Old Testament and the New Testament regarding this behavior? A transcendent teaching which applies to all people, all cultures, for all time?

  13. Don September 8, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    I was not speaking about trajectory hermeneutics.

    I was merely pointing out that until we do our best to figure out what some Scripture text MEANT, we have no business saying what we think it MEANS today or how it might apply. Especially text as challenging as Paul’s, whom even Peter wrote that some things Paul wrote is hard to understand. If so in the 1st century, HOW MUCH more today.

    Teleportation is simply a horribly flawed method, unfortunately it is done all the time by some, many without even realizing it. God did inspire the various authors of the 66 books of the Bible, but they used terms that meant something to the original readers and words can change their meanings over time.

    God’s ideal in marriage is a man and a woman joined for life, but God allows for divorce in some cases such as adultery, abuse or neglect.

    Sex outside of marriage is a sin.

    It is very important to understand Genesis, it is foundational. If your understanding of Genesis is off, it is like a moon shot and you can end up far away from the target by the time you get to the NT and today. Reading Genesis with blue colored glasses is not recommended.

  14. Moz September 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    So Dr. Denny, do you think it is unwise for a woman such as Sarah Palin (married, mother of 5, small children, etc) to work outside the home such as she does? If you do, then is it unwise for American’s to elect her to a position that would take her away from her home responsibilities?

    Thanks,
    Moz

  15. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Don (#13) Stating that 1 Timothy 2, Titus 3, 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 3, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3 are irrelevant because we don’t understand how Paul was applying isn’t explicitly trajectory hermeneutics, but it’s certainly a far cry from holding to having a biblical standard and handing the authorship of the bible to men.

    “…we have no business saying what we think it MEANS today or how it might apply.”

    I believe, then, that we do not hold the same beliefs. I hold to biblical applications today, not just “back then”. Also, I hold to biblical applications and not just what I feel like doing or what society should dictate. And while I can imagine the response, we are talking about several verses across several books with multiple authors. Not a single cited implied application (see women are gullible b/c of the example of the fall……which I believe to be misguided, btw). Though I am perplexed how you can arrive at the definition of marriage (in particular) without crossing the swamp of “it’s just us not understanding 1 Cen CE homosexuality”. But that is a bit larger than what we should address here, I think. Thanks for answering the questions, very gracious of you for the short rabbit trail (and the latitude, too!)!

    Still don’t understand the blue colored glasses thing (unless it’s another Rep v dem thing) other than it being a broad characterization to somehow insult my views. But that said, I, too, think you must understand that Genesis is part of God’s breathed word and therefore is also inerrant*. Just as His words in 1 Timothy 2, 1 Tim 3, 1 Cor 11, Titus 1, Col 3, Eph 5, 1 Peter 3 over which egals have such a trifle (or, in the case of some, just choose to ignore). I also believe for the bible to be a transcendent document that applies at all times, not just to a select people. That is why I would refer to it as the living word of God.

    To ask a question to which I believe I know the answer, in an egalitarian mindset, submission equals subservience, equals demeaning. So, then, to turn the question behind this thread in a different manner, how does the government not demean us as we are to obey (and can therefore ignore passages about obeying government)? Think outside of an elected official here. Why can I not just choose to ignore speed limit signs? I mean back in Paul’s day, he wasn’t writing about the little things for which we have laws now, right?

    * – in the original documents.

  16. Don September 8, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    All 66 books of the protestant Bible are inspired. I can assure you that I treat NONE of them as “such a trifle” or any parts of them. The Bible is given to us and is sufficient for faith and practice. As the Spirit inspired it, one needs to the Spirit to even begin to understand it and it not seem like nonsense.

    I hold that the Bible applies today, it was sufficient back then and is sufficient now. However, culture changes with time and space.

    However, there is always the matter of the “nut behind the wheel” which is us trying to understand what God inspired. As we are not infallible, we can make mistakes. The goal is to make as few as possible. Translations lose things in the process, translations are not inspired and ALWAYS involve interpretation and therefore are subject to human error.

    Submission is one of the marks of a believer so it cannot be demeaning, Jesus is our example.

    We are to obey God rather than man, we are to obey the government unless there is a conflict with obeying God.

  17. Lydia September 8, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    “To ask a question to which I believe I know the answer, in an egalitarian mindset, submission equals subservience, equals demeaning”

    Absolutely not true and I ask you to retract it as far as my beliefs are concerned.

    We are to submit to one another. Where we part ways with comps is that it is NOT ONLY wives who are to submit and no where does it say ‘obey’ for wives or that the husband is the wife’s authority. All believers should submit to one another.

    A true believer will serve and submit to other believers and will not teach that there is to be authority over others in the Body. The authority is Jesus Christ and His Word. Not the man or woman who speaks it or preaches it. They are mere messengers. We are all priests in the Holy Priesthood with different functions. We all have anointing. We are all given gifts by the Holy Spirit. The hand cannot say to the eye: I have no need of you. (Body/Head metaphor)

  18. Don September 8, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    Methinks Brian (another) has been hearing ABOUT egals but has not been seeing what they actually believe. So much for hearsay.

  19. Benjamin A September 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    Lydia,

    How do you as an egal. understand this verse?

    ἀλλὰ ὡς ἡ ἐκκλησία ὑποτάσσεται τῷ Χριστῷ, οὕτως καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἐν παντί.

  20. Don September 8, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Eph 5:24 (what you wrote) is part of the series of examples given after Eph 5:21. The principle of mutual submission is given in v. 21, and v.24 is one of the examples Paul uses.

    He makes a gloss on Aristotle’s household codes, but does not use the same verbs in 4 of the 6 cases. The verb “obey” would have been expected from the culture but was deliberately omitted by Paul, as that would be contrary to the idea of mutual submission in marriage.

  21. Scott September 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    Benjamin,

    How do you take the passive part in v.21?

    Similarly, how do you explain the imperative in 6:5?

  22. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Don/Lydia: No, that is how submission (in the case of a wife to her husband) was classified. I think it was in one of the DBC-related posts (probably the 1700 post one). And on other blogs (though by far and away, folks here show far less animostiy) it was a specific statement of telling someone to submit was offensive (I just projected the word demeaning to it). I’ll restate, then. What is the difference in an egal mindset between government and a complementarian interpretation of submission?

  23. Scott September 8, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    The command to the husband to “love” his wife is never mentioned in those codes either. However, I think we can be a bit too harsh on the Greco-Roman conception of marriage.

  24. Don September 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Brian (another) wrote: “What is the difference in an egal mindset between government and a complementarian interpretation of submission?”

    I am not a (hierarchical) comp. so I have no idea how to answer your question, but perhaps that is not what you meant.

    As a general statement, a believer is to obey the government, except if it would ask you to disobey God.

  25. Benjamin A September 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm #

    Don,

    Are you saying Eph. 5:24 is not calling a wife to submit to her husband?

  26. Don September 8, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    Yes, and similarly, a husband is called to submit to his wife.

    V. 24 is an EXAMPLE of the principle of mutual submission in v. 21. And we are supposed to notice, as those in the 1st century would have, that she is NOT called to obey. Paul’s silence in this case is deafening.

  27. Don September 8, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    In contrast to Aristotle, the original readers would have noticed and we are to notice also that the weaker party is addressed first by Paul, while they were not addressed at all by Aristotle, let along first.

    By the structure and wording of Paul’s gloss on Aristotle, he is subverting the cultural assumptions, from the inside out.

  28. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    Don (#26): But the fact is that there isn’t anything mutual about the command in v. 24 or Col 3 or 1 Peter 3 or 1 Cor 7. And yes, we are to put our wives’ needs before our own. We are to lead our families. Just as women are called to lovingly submit to their husbands in the family (along with the other verses about church leadership).

    Where is the complementary passages that say in the same way, husbands submit to your wives?

  29. Don September 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    Brian (Another),

    Mutual submission is the principle in Eph 5:21 and that verb is brought down by the principles of Greek grammar into Eph 5:22, where is it explicit about wives and husbands. The verb has been made reflexive and symmetrical by Paul in v. 21 and is omitted in v. 22.

    My translation of this, showing the chiasm (not sure how well it will format):

    A4 but be filled by the Spirit,

    B4 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

    C4 singing and praising in your heart to the Lord,

    C4′ giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God the Father,

    B4′ submitting to one another in the fear of Messiah;

    A4′ wives, [submitting to one another] to your own husbands as to the Lord.

  30. Don September 8, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    The point is that the subject and direct object switch so husbands are (also) to submit to their wives.

  31. Brian (Another) September 8, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    Interesting, Don. It seems if Paul were to subvert the cultural assumptions to which you referred, he would not have written verse 24 at all. Also, if that was what Paul meant (in post #29), then he would have written it at least once. On the contrary, he wrote nearly the same thing (as Eph 5:24) 3 times, 3 different ways. Not to mention Peter.

    I suppose it’s too much of a jump for me. That just seems a bit much of biblical writings being inspired by man not by God. But interesting nonetheless.

    I hope all goes well on the thread tonight.

  32. John Mark Inman September 8, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Has Palin considered a trailer rather than the White House?

    http://www.henryinstitute.org/commentary_read.php?cid=470

    It is because pastors know that couples would say that they could never afford to live on the provision of the husband alone. And they are right, if living means living in the neighborhoods in which they now live, with the technologies they now have. Christian pastors know that no godly woman will ever say on her deathbed, “If only I had put the children in daycare so that I could have pursued my career.”

    But do Southern Baptist pastors ever ask whether it might be better to live in a one-bedroom apartment or a trailer park than to follow this American dream? Rarely, because it seems so inconceivable to us that it doesn’t even seem like an option.

    When confronted with the challenge of a counter-cultural, family-affirming–but economically less acquisitive–life, too often we see what our inerrant Bibles define as the joyful life, and then we walk away saddened like another rich young ruler before us who wanted eternal life but wanted his possessions more (Luke 18:18-30).

  33. Don September 8, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    We are to use the full counsel of God, if something is mentioned once or 100 times it is still true.

    One aspect is that the letters were read in a home church setting, as most people could not read. For a church to be a church, new people might show up. But the Roman government sent out investigators of meetings, they were called aggelos or messengers. They were to see if subversive activity was being done at meetings, which were suspicious just for meeting. So Paul was brilliant, writing things that were not overtly subversive, but subversive from the inside.

  34. William September 8, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    Don,

    I do not think your last comment (#33) is sound. Do you have any real evidence for this or are you simply infering your idea from a vague (and hardly universal) historical tidbit?

    I don’t think Paul seems terribly concerned with cloaking his language in order to avoid being subversive. It seems to me that much of what the apostles (including Paul) suffered was directly related to their unwillingness to cloak any idea so that it seemed “less subversive.”

    Can you offer any better evidence for this interpretation? I have appreciated many of your comments up to this point but I am not sure about this reasoning.

  35. Don September 8, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    About 30% of Roman society was slaves and about 30% were freedmen, who still had a responsibility to support their former master, else they could go back to being slaves. Every slave society lives in fear of a slave revolt, think Spartacus and John Brown.

    Some slaves were used as sexual playthings, so there were some very bad aspects to some of it.

    It was considered subversive to the state to write things like “Slaves, disobey your masters.”

    Paul was a Torah scholar who had learned from Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel. He was brilliant.

    Paul’s basic strategy was gospel first; EVERYTHING else was to be done in service to that; once people were believers then many things were possible for the better.

    Paul knew that the Roman investigators were looking for overtly subversive statements; then the group would be liquidated before it became a threat. But he also knew the believers would read and reread aloud his letters; they would treat them as precious and meditate on them, just as we do today.

    So my belief is Paul wrote in such a fashion that on the surface it would appear to the investigators that there was nothing subversive to the existing order (Aristotle: paterfamilias rules wife, kids, slaves; wife, kids, slaves obey paterfamilias) but he wrote things that would transform these structures from the inside out. And as we know eventually slavery was seen to be incompatible with the gospel, altho it took many years and some slaveholders used a few of Paul’s verses as prooftexts.

    The verbs Paul uses were the same as Aristotle in only 2 of the 6 cases and he put limits on the paterfamilias.

  36. William September 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    Don,

    I find it hard to believe that Paul would use Aristotle in the fashion you are indicating. By the late 1st century Aristotle had fallen into relative obscurity (compared to Plato) and there is little reason to suppose that Paul had any significant training in Greek philosophy (despite Acts 17). You are trying to compare Paul’s use of verbs with Aristotle’s use of verbs… a stretch I think. This requires that Paul, and his readers, be familiar with Aristotle’s teaching on the family. I do not think that this case can be made.

    Again, I am not arguing against your egalitarian position… I simply do not think you can use this argument.

  37. Truth Unites.. and Divides September 8, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    In the very long Touchstone blog thread Sanctified Incoherence: The AEF Call Revisited Don gets soundly and repeatedly rebuked. Mercifully (for Don), the thread owner closed the thread.

    Stuart Koehl: “By the way, Don, there were no censors in the Roman Empire, because publication was a private matter. Of course, one had to be discrete about how one spoke of the Emperor and his household (and of the mos maiorum, if the Emperor was in a moralizing mood–ask Ovid), but other than that, there was very little oversight of what got put on papyrus. After all, even though it was one of the most literate societies prior to the 19th century, probably only about 15% of all people were truly literate, and fewer than that could actually afford to own written works.”

    Don: “The Roman censors were looking for subversive writings, subversive in this case being anything that went against Aristotle’s Household codes, which by this time were codified into law for the most part.”

    Stuart Koehl: “What a load of crap. The office of the Censor, in the first century AD, was held by the Emperor and (frequently) a senior colleague. It devolved from the office of Censor under the Res Publica, where it was an elected office held by two senior Senators, for the purpose of investigating the qualifications and rectitude of members of the Senate. They thus held the power to appoint new members and remove sitting members from the Ordo Senatus. They didn’t give a hoot about the Aristotelian household code, which, by the way, was never codified into Roman law. The marital and household laws promulgated by Augustus (and never actually enforced except sporadically) were not Hellenistic in origin, but rather (as I said) grew out of the Roman mos maiorum–the “way things are done”. Again, Don flunks Ancient History 101.”

    Pax.

  38. William September 8, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    Don,

    I guess the real issue in this debate, and I think you would agree, is whether a trajectory hermeneutic is legitimate. From what I can tell, Denny’s readers have been debating this for several posts now… and to no avail. My two comments were not integral to the debate really… I just felt like saying a thing or two. 🙂

  39. Truth Unites.. and Divides September 8, 2008 at 8:36 pm #

    Repeating #12:

    Most excellent queries Brian. Don, do you believe that same-sex behavior is a sin as defined by the transcendent teaching of God’s Word in both the Old Testament and the New Testament regarding this behavior? A transcendent teaching which applies to all people, all cultures, for all time?

  40. Don September 8, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    I used the word censor in error, the word is aggelos which means messenger.

    Paul uses the exact 6 terms that Aristotle used in the 4th century BCE. Aristotle was popularized by Andronicus of Rhodes in the 1st century BCE. Paul uses Aristotle’s reasoning in Eph 5:28 as both wrote that loving your wife is like loving yourself and that no one hates themselves.

    There are other household code verses in the NT, but only Eph 5-6 matches all 6 terms. To get the comprehensive NT teaching on household codes, one gathers all these together, of course in context.

    Philo and Josephus discuss the household codes also, so we know it was a current topic of discussion.

  41. Don September 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    Tuad, I already answered your question above.

  42. J. Swanson September 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    Denny, you know I repsect you even though we don’t see eye-to-eye on the comp./egal. issue. I think that certain complimentarian leaders/denominations are unaware just how this stance that you address, specifically impacts the lives of their pastors’ families.

    In your fifth point you stated,

    “Fifth, we need to recognize that not all women have the choice to be stay-at-home moms. There are single mothers, widows, and other women who find themselves in a situation in which they have to work in order to provide for their home. These women need our support and encouragement as they labor to raise the next generation and to bring home a paycheck every month.”

    Denny, it is not just single women and/or widows (yes, I know you mentioned ‘other women, ‘too), but pastors’ wives, or para-church ministry wives, too. To begin with, as a pastor’s wife, I know only a HANDFUL of pastors’ wives, who are able to be SAHM’s. These women live frugally, manage their budget as best they can, but have to work to pay bills–not to finance wants, but to finance needs, such as housing, food costs, paying for seminary loans, or even to work to have medical insurance b/c smaller churches (or larger) can’t or don’t provide that benefit.

    So, for this argument to ‘cut the mustard with me,’ first, I think churches need to be aware of this reality in the lives of many ministry families. And yes, these women need to be encouraged, too, especially in light of many churches expecting pw’s to be involved more than the average church memeber in the ministry of the church.

    Thankfully, we belong to a very supportive denominational conferece with great leadership, as well, basically, have no debt other than a mortgage. However, I see it as a minstry TO my church-planting husband (and to our kids, who get to go to Christian school for free b/c I work there) TO work, so that my dh doesn’t have to work both a full-time job planting a church and another job to have additional funds in the event that our support doesn’t come in one month, or to get ahead, so that we can bring on other staff to grow this church.

    I don’t know, this is definitely a topic for me to chew on, but I guess, I am living the reality just like many other wives of vocational ministers. And I know many, many pastors’ wives who don’t have a choice of wheter or not to work, even if they enjoy their jobs outside of the home.

    So, this is just not the voice of a person who pushes back on what you have written, but is living the reality of working outside of the home and although crazy at times, very fulfilling and rewarding.

  43. Truth Unites... and Divides September 8, 2008 at 10:56 pm #

    Don, be utterly clear in your response. Don’t obfuscate or obscure. What is your unambiguous answer to:

    “Don, do you believe that same-sex behavior is a sin as defined by the transcendent teaching of God’s Word in both the Old Testament and the New Testament regarding this behavior? A transcendent teaching which applies to all people, all cultures, for all time?”

  44. John September 8, 2008 at 11:14 pm #

    TUAD,

    What’s your point for asking the question. Why are the main two things conservatives focus on abortion and homosexuality?

  45. Lydia September 9, 2008 at 12:01 am #

    “How do you as an egal. understand this verse?

    ἀλλὰ ὡς ἡ ἐκκλησία ὑποτάσσεται Ï„á¿· Χριστῷ, οὕτως καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἐν παντί.”

    I don’t. I am an ignorant peasant who must rely upon the Holy Spirit and the resources He guides me to in understanding the scriptures.

    If your goal was to make me look ignorant, let me help you: I am. I am a fool. I am weak. And I am blown away that my Savior loves me and gave me a Great Counselor.

  46. Lydia September 9, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    “Don, do you believe that same-sex behavior is a sin as defined by the transcendent teaching of God’s Word in both the Old Testament and the New Testament regarding this behavior? ”

    What is ‘same sex’ behavior? Are you speaking of homosexuality which is a sin?

  47. Denny Burk September 9, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    J. Swanson,

    Thanks for the great comment. I appreciate the “push-back”!

    Blessings to you!

    Denny

  48. Don September 9, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    Tuad,

    I am a member of CBE and subscribe to their statement of faith. One line says, “We believe in the family, celibate singleness, and faithful heterosexual marriage as God’s design.”

    http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/about/who_we_are.shtml

  49. Lucy September 9, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    I think many people forget the real role of government, when they ask if it is appropriate for Palin (or any woman) to lead, in a position of authority. Government should exist only to secure and defend the rights of the individual. “Leadership” shouldn’t even be a question, nor should authority unless you have commited a crime against someone else.

    I cannot think of anything in the Scriptures that would stand against a woman performing the real duties that should be involved in a government.

  50. David Hamilton September 10, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    Jeremy Z made a comment that I’d like to comment on. I didn’t read all of the comments after his, so forgive me if I am reiterating something that somebody else has said.

    I think this is something that should factor heavily into this discussion. Jeremy says that it is crazy to think that a woman is able to lead a nation of 303 million people, but not a rural church of 50 people.

    Your presupposition here is that the lives of 303 million people are more valuable than the eternal souls of 50 people in a rural church. That is also the presupposition behind this “complimentarian controversy.” It is not controversial because we value the eternal souls and the faith of our church and family members moreso than we value anything that our governments can control.

  51. David Hamilton September 10, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    In the name of hindsight being 20/20, if I could jump in my Delorian, I’d go back and change that first line to, “Jeremy Z made a comment to which I’d like to respond.”

  52. Sue September 11, 2008 at 12:11 am #

    It is not controversial because we value the eternal souls and the faith of our church and family members moreso than we value anything that our governments can control.

    So we put children under the teaching of women, but adults under men. Is this because,

    “we value the eternal souls and the faith of our adults more so than we value our children?”

    I don’t think anyone would actually say that, but I struggle with the logic.

  53. David Hamilton September 11, 2008 at 1:52 am #

    If you would like to follow through with that logic and take the teaching of children away from women, I guess that is up to you.

    I do not know Greek as well as I would like to (1st semester!). I don’t like having to depend on others’ translation of the Greek text. However, I think it safe to fall back on others’ translation when just about every Bible out there translates 1 Timothy 2:12 to say that Paul didn’t allow women to teach or have authority over men.

    My three weeks of Greek training at this point unveil “didaskein,” “gunaiki,” “ouk,” and “andros.” Those mean “teach,” “woman,” “not,” and “man,” right. And the lexicon in the back of my elemetary Greek book tells me that “epitrepo” means “I permit/allow.” “Authentein” isn’t in the lexicon, but I’m guessing that’s where the whole “exercise authority” part comes into the English translations.

    Unless my Greek teacher, textbook, and most if not all Bibles are lying to me, it looks like Paul clearly says “I do not permit/allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.”

    So, if Paul’s words apply to us today, then we should heed Paul’s instructions and not allow women to teach or exercise authority over men in our homes and churches.

    As far as I know, the Bible does not prohibit women teaching children. So, we have liberty in such situations, right? I’m fine with allowing women to teach children in our homes and churches, but if you disagree, then I would love to hear your thoughts on that.

  54. Don September 11, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    Here is how you are making mistakes, my take is not intentionally.

    Permit is in the present tense, this means is can be translated as “I am not now permitting” as a temporary injunction. It is a decision of the translator whether to translate it this was or that.

    The meaning of words is provided by context. A noun like gunaiki without an article might be definite, indefinite or refer to a group (perhaps only 1 in the group) with a property. If it is definite, it refers to a specific woman and Paul is known to refer to some without naming them.

    Besides that, the noun may mean women or wife. The same for the term andros, it might be man or husband and this is decided by context.

    The neither/nor construction might refer to 1 thing or 2 things. For example, when Jesus said “neither break in nor steal” he was referring to 1 thing, stealing, the break in part is a part of the process of stealing.

    Authentein is a very challenging word to translate as it is so rare. We are not even 100% sure if it has a negative or positive connotation. We KNOW it had a negative connotation in some cases. If negative, then it is something no believer should do.

    It is not recommended to take a verse out of its teaching unit or pericope, this is a major possible way to lose context. Ideally, one wants to understand the whole pericope to make sure the whole thing hangs together, in the case of 1 Tim 2:12 there are other challenges with the nearby verses.

    There are at least 3 ways to faithfully understand 1 Tim 2:12 only 1 of which restricts women permanently. See Ben Witherington’s blog for a discussion on this.

  55. Don September 11, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    P.S. By mistakes I mean you are assuming something is certainly true when it is merely possible. The important thing to see is that there are other possibilities.

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