Is feminism a source of good in the church?

Laura Ortberg Turner writes at Christianity Today that feminism is the Christian f-word. Turner argues that evangelicals have wrongly dismissed feminism as “anathema” to the body of Christ. She contends that feminism has not been a curse but a blessing both to the world in general and to the church in particular. She writes,

The church needs feminism because at its core, feminism affirms to us what our faith teaches us about male and female in God’s Kingdom and what Jesus himself preached throughout the New Testament.

Feminism is simply the belief that women are equally as human as men—equal in the eyes of God, equal in image-bearing, equal in ability…

Jesus’ care for the oppressed, the marginalized, cannot be ignored in the New Testament. As men continue to hold the reins of power in the church—2,000 years after the weak were made strong and the low made high in Jesus—we should welcome efforts to uplift and incorporate people who have been sidelined in Christianity, including women, including people of color, including LGBT folks.

I think there are a number of problems with the claims made in Turner’s essay, not the least of which is the claim that feminism has mainly been a force for good. The chief problem with this claim is its failure to account for the length and breadth of modern feminist ideology, which is anything but benign in its relation to the Christian faith. If feminism were defined solely by the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Turner’s claim would not be nearly as controversial. But second and third wave feminism is a far cry from Stanton, and the radical claims of these feminists are not featured at all in Turner’s article.

Does the church “need” the feminism of Judith Butler who treats gender differences as socially constructed and who says that sexual differences between male and female are a farce? Third wave feminists such as Butler are very much aligned with mainstream queer theorists on these matters. The normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism has ideological roots in the gender theory of third wave feminists such as Butler. The last thing one could conclude is that this kind of feminism “affirms to us what our faith teaches us about male and female.” This brand of feminism—which is perhaps the dominant type today—is a direct challenge to what the Bible teaches about male and female (Gen. 1:26-27; Matt. 19:4-5).

Feminism has also had a poisonous effect on Christian theology. Does the church really “need” the feminism of Virginia Mollenkott, whose Christology contends for “The Androgynous Jesus”? Can we really claim that the world “needs” the feminism of Mary Daly, who argues that we must cast aside any notion of God as Father? Daly also argues that Christians need to get over their “fixation on Jesus.” These kinds of contributions from feminist theologians have been anything but “needful.”

For these reasons, it is fundamentally in error to say that “the church needs feminism” or that “feminism affirms to us what our faith teaches us about male and female in God’s Kingdom.” Feminism has proven to be one of the great ideological competitors to Christianity in our time. It has been nothing short of a sustained assault upon Biblical authority and Christian orthodoxy. In these ways feminism has truly been the enemy of Christianity.

We must also question Turner’s contention that LGBT should be “incorporated” into the body of Christ. What does she mean by this? I agree that LGBT people are welcome and invited into Christ’s church, but they must be welcomed to the table on the same terms as everyone else—through repentance and faith (Mark 1:15). But this is the point that is at best unclear and at worst misleading in Turner’s article. Can we “incorporate” into the body of Christ those who disagree with what the Bible teaches about homosexuality and who continue to engage in homosexual behavior? As I said, Turner is at best unclear on this point.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that she puts LGBT persons in parallel with “women” and “people of color,” which seems to suggest that LGBT is simply another facet of diversity that we need to embrace within the church (à la Gal. 3:28). Does she really mean to say that LGBT is as morally neutral as being a woman or being a person of color? Does she mean to suggest that homosexual behavior is compatible with being a disciple of Jesus? The 2,000 year old consensus of the Christian church has been that homosexual behavior is a sin and incompatible with being a disciple of Christ. Is Turner within or outside of that consensus?

Second and third wave feminism has attempted to redefine Christianity and in some cases to destroy it altogether. And that is why I think Turner’s article fails to convince. It does not deal seriously with the main features of feminist theory or with the key revisions of feminist theology. Nor does it account for modern feminism’s ideological alliance with radical gender theorists. In light of that, it’s just not credible to contend that “the church needs feminism.” It most assuredly does not.

66 Responses to Is feminism a source of good in the church?

  1. Mary Gray Moser October 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Agree 100% with you, Denny.

  2. Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Denny,

    Excellent!

    I’d like to bring it closer to home — to territory Turner has herself inhabited. Namely, the influence of so-called “egalitarianism” within evangelicalism.

    First, there is the former CBE blogger working with the”christian godde” project, Shawna Atteberry. A self-proclaimed feminist who, even though she embraced Christ-Sophia, was listed as a blogger for CBE until public comment caused her to ask her name be removed. And please note, this was done at her request, not at CBEs.

    Then there is Turner’s former home church, Willow Creek, where the “pulpit” was turned over (for all three weekend services) to an advocate for both feminism and abortion, Nicholas Kristoff, one weekend last year.

    Last, there is Rachel Held Evans, who has made a specialty of emotional manipulation and muddying the waters, in particular when she equates feminism with the fight for LGBT affirmation (as you note Turner does in her article). Given that affinity, I found it amusing that Turner retreated with Evans’ familiar tactic, “you’re just trying to entrap me!” When challenged to clarify her thinking on that point.

    I am so encouraged to read this. One historical name I would have added is the late Nancy Hardesty. I had the privilege of corresponding with her somewhat frequently not too long before her death. She was adamant that feminism and her own lesbianism were of a piece. We disagreed on that in very strong words, but she never moved an inch,

  3. Kathryn Elliott Stegall October 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Wherever the gospel has gone throughout the ages, the status of women has steadily risen.

    “But even more striking is the fact that over the past three millennia women have risen from the status of property without personhood to having equal rights with men under civil law when the only constant influence guiding toward that end was Christian morality. Women outside the Judeo-Christian heritage have enjoyed no such rise.”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/17346242/Knight-on-a-White-Horse

  4. greghahn4 October 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I think your objections, Denny, are akin to blaming the abolitionist movement for the Black Panthers. There are many feminists that hold to traditional orthodox Christian doctrines, though many are discouraged from speaking up by well-meaning preachers who paint with too broad a brush.

    The patriarchal paradigm came about as a result of the fall, is oppressive to women, and does not represent the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus.

    • Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      Well …

      Since the term feminism did not come into common use until it was put into service in an attempt to re-brand the “women’s libbers” of the 1960s, your analogy holds very little water. It’s the world’s term for what, when it is imported into the Church, becomes a second order heresy. In consequence, it is something that orthodox believers wishing to be fully orthodox believers, will have no part of.

      • greghahn4 October 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

        Kamilla, yes “feminist” is a relatively new word. Here is an even newer one: “Complementarian”. I don’t think your objection to my analogy has any merit.And I’m surprised you seem to feel that patriarchal beliefs are a mark of Christian orthodoxy.

        So is it really about Sophia, gay rights, a high view of Scripture, and abortion, all of which I expect you and I would agree on?

        Or is it just about patriarchy, and if I don’t see it your way, I’m a second-order heretic (whatever that is).

        • Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

          Of course patriarchal beliefs are a mark of Christian Orthodoxy! It is the initial denial of God’s fatherhood in feminism which leads us to all the other errors. In a brief review of just three points:

          1) Adam was formed first, then Eve. The woman was made from the man, for the man, and brought to the man. The fall did not institute patriarchy, it corrupted it.

          2) God, in His sovereignty, formed Israel as a patriarchy – ruled by patriarchs and served by male priests. God is husband to his bride, Israel.

          3) In the New Testament God becomes incarnate in male flesh. He numbered only men among the twelve and instructed us to pray to the Father. As evidence of their understanding of the significance of this, Paul directly connects human fatherhood to the Fatherhood of God, from which it is derived. The twelve also evinced their understanding of this Dominical practice by only considering two men as possible replacements for Judas. This practiced continued unbroken through the age of the Church Fathers and on down to us.

          Now I can probably guess the counter examples you will come up with and they have been dealt with.

          The reason feminism is a 2nd order heresy is due to the Incarnation. Faulty anthropology will always end up infecting christology. We see this in numerous examples, just one of which is the Gnosticism of religious feminism when they claim, as one CBE speaker did in conversation with me about two years ago, that Christ no longer has a male body, that he is spirit alone since his ascension. It can also be seen in the example of the former CBE blogger I mentioned above.

          • greghahn4 October 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

            Kamilla, how does your teaching a man like me fit in with your patriarchal theology? I thought that was against the rules?

            And again- I’m not a gnostic nor any other form of heretic, yet I espouse what you would term faulty anthropology because I believe women and men are equal. How did that happen?

            In fact, one can point to the subordinationism that seems to be coming from many Complementarian circles today- which actualy is a heresy- to say that it is Complementarianism that infects christology, if one were so inclined.

            As to your points-

            1- That is false. Gen 3:16 is the first hint of patriarchy in the Bible.
            2- True. That was after the fall. But it “wasn’t that way from the beginning”.
            3- Right. I’m not going to argue those points. I am sure you can look up valid answers to each of them.

            • Ryan Bibbs October 2, 2013 at 1:16 am #

              @Greghahn4″ You wrote
              1- That is false. Gen 3:16 is the first hint of patriarchy in the Bible.”

              If your contention is true and “patriarchy”( I prefer the term male headship) is a result of the fall How do you explain the world falling through Adam and not Eve ?

              The only way to explain this is to realize that Adam was the head of the entire human race prior to the fall not Eve, Adam not Eve had the superior position.

              The reason for this is made clear in Scripture.
              God created Marriage from the beginning to reflect the mystery of Christ and the Church( Ephesians 5:31-32)
              Even as Christ is the head of the church the husband is the head of the wife.(Ephesians 5:23)

              • greghahn4 October 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

                Ryan, “the entire human race” at that time consisted of two people. You are only making the assumption that Adam was the head of the entire human race and then using your own assumption as an undeniable fact for debate. The world fell through both Adam and Eve.

                I completely disagree about Eph 5. The pattern given there is that Christ and the church are the pattern for marriage, not that marriage is an illustration of Christ and the church. You have that backwards.

                And again- prior to Gen 3:16, there is no hint of male dominance. Otherwise- what is the point of making the statement in Gen 3:16 at all? If those conditions already existed, why make the pronoucement that this is the way it will be form now on? That’s not logical at all.

            • David Powell October 2, 2013 at 10:59 am #

              As a Christian brother, you need to apologize to Kamila for baiting with the “woman teaching a man” thing. If you are out of line and your sister-in-Christ sees it, it is not just her right but her duty to point it out. Headship has nothing to do with the Fall. Go read 1 Corinthians 11:3. It’s rooted in intra-Trinitarian relations.

              • David Powell October 2, 2013 at 10:59 am #

                *Kamilla, that is. Sorry for the misspelling. Why can we not edit on this site? lol

        • Chris Ryan October 2, 2013 at 3:16 am #

          When asked during the ’08 campaign if she was a feminist, Michelle Obama had a great answer: “Lets not get hung up on labels because labels are confusing.” She then went on to cite specific things she was in favor of, and many of those things would show up on any good feminist’s “To Do” list, whether it was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, increased funding for children’s heath care, a stronger safety net, or anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people.

          In that vein, I’m curious how many commenters here would agree with the sentiment that America would benefit from less patriarchy. Second, how many would agree that the Church–in contrast to America–would benefit from less patriarchy?

          I certainly think that society places too many strictures on our girls, either hyper-sexualizing them (eg, Miley Cyrus) or hyper-domesticating them (eg, Carmela Soprano) and that sexism at work & at home prevents many women from realizing their full God given potential.

          • Akash Charles October 2, 2013 at 8:29 am #

            many feminists would say Miley Cyrus is exercising her female power

            stop trying to blame everything on men- women need to be responsible for their actions

            “sexism at work” feminist code words for selecting candidates for promotion based on merit!!!

            ” Sexism at home” feminists ignore that men do other chores at home and work on average longer hours ( do a little research) not to mention women have higher home standards- if they want a standard met they should meet it

            Also ignores that men also suffer from domestic violence- 40% of cases are women on men in some regions but no one ever talks about that cause women obviously can do no wrong

            or how national media laughs when a woman cuts a man’s privates off but will be horrified if the same occurs to a woman

            women and wives screaming, complaining and whining and not to mention trying to put laws in place to prevent men from succeeding in today’s workplace with Quotas etc are preventing numerous men from reaching their “God given potential” as you say it

            it amazes me how when women do not do well- BLAME MEN

            and when men do not do well with higher unemployment and lower education rates they also blame men rather than the numerous benefits and scholarships women get for further education- how about we start blaming the female bias!!!

            get into the 21st century dude!!!

  5. Suzanne McCarthy October 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    What do we make of the first generation of women to attend university? These young Baptist women entered the women only medical school in the 1880’s because they were excluded from mainstream medical schools. In Toronto, some interned at St. Michael’s because it was founded by nuns, and was the only school to include women.

    These women went to India and Africa under mission organizations run by women only, funded by women, directed by women, and started hospitals run by women, trained native women as doctors, and had little to do with any men at all. Some missions were women only for 100 years.

    Why? To save the torn bodies of women. And the same today, as Kristoff will attest and many others, that the main problem for women in Africa today is torn bodies (fistulas), by rape, and HIV from forced intercourse with husbands and others.

    Another concern is that children in male led families in Africa get fewer calories than children in female led families. Do we care about the survival of women and children? Do we care about torn bodies and starvation? If we do, we need to continue to promote parity and equal decision-making by women around the world. This is part of World Vision’s platform.

    If we take a stand against feminism, we take a stand against Catherine Booth who petitioned parliament to raise the age of consent from 12 to 16 so little girls would not be raped with impunity in brothels. The men thought she was creating conditions that would be too hard on men. Who will protect women, if not other women? Look at history.

    I agree with Kamilla, that it may be overwhelmingly Christian and Jewish women, who have improved conditions for women. But it was the women, and not the men. Let Christianity embrace and increase this incredibly valuable tradition of promoting equality of treatment for women.

  6. Suzanne McCarthy October 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Excuse me. It was Katherine who mentioned the track record of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  7. Kathryn Elliott Stegall October 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    “Be a radical feminist. Reject immorality as a part of our cause and embrace Christian sexual morality as the single greatest strategy for the advancement of women’s equality in this new millennium.
    Be a radical Christian. Reject the double standards of both traditional morality and gender “roles” as a part of our cause and embrace equality for women as the single greatest strategy for the advancement of Christian sexual morality in this new millennium.” From Knight on a White Horse http://www.scribd.com/doc/17346242/Knight-on-a-White-Horse

    • Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Kathryn,

      I’ll give you props for understanding the importance of true radicalism on this issue. That is something neither Egalitarianism or Complementarianism was willing to achieve. That’s why neither group was willing to embrace the true label for their view – feminism in the one case and patriarchy in the other.

  8. Rachel Held Evans October 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    The problem here is that you are taking the most extreme voices in feminism and making them representative of the whole.

    A similar line of argumentation could be made against Christianity, saying that because Westboro Baptist identifies as Christian, then all of Christianity is harmful to society.

    The word “feminism” is a lot like “conservative” or “liberal” in this regard. It is helpful to define what it means before claiming it or using it. I prefer Dorothy Sayer’s definition of feminism as “the radical notion that women are human.” So when feminism is defined as the radical notion that women are human, I am indeed a feminist and I believe Scripture supports this view. If you define feminism as a political ideology that supports abortion…well, then I’m not.

    Because Laura began with something of a definition, I think we should engage the merits of her argument based on those terms. Of course, we can always acknowledge and discuss the ways in which different expressions of “feminism” can indeed run contrary to Christianity, but dismissing the entire movement and the many who identify with elements of it, would be unfair.

    • Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      Rachel, those extreme voices *are* the voices that popularized and defined the term. Why anyone would want to import such a worldly and foreign concept I to the Church at all is beyond my comprehension.

      • greghahn4 October 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

        The point is, Kamilla, feminism began in the church, long before the 1960s. It ran parallel to abolitionism in the 1850s. The name may be new, but the concept is not. We want it back.

        • Kamilla Ludwig October 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

          Uhm no. Not everything related to women and their position in society, home and the church is properly labeled feminism. It’s an historical anachronism to start with. The women’s libbers owned the term and there is no reason for the Church to try to baptize either the term or the concept.

          However, if you want to go historical on me, you really should trace it back to Mary Wollestonecraft and her “Vindication of the Rights of Woman”. I’m sure most of us know how well THAT turned our.

    • Denny Burk October 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Rachel,

      I agree that it’s helpful to define a term before claiming it or using it, and that is precisely what was lacking in Turner’s article in my view.

      I doubt that many feminists would recognize Dorothy Sayers as a major resource for understanding feminism. In any case, “the radical notion that women are human” is completely uncontroversial. No one is disputing that men and women are created equally in the image of God and have equal worth and dignity before God as human beings. If that’s all feminism were, we would have no dispute.

      Modern feminism, however, goes much further than that. Even it’s most mainstream proponents have bought into the idea that gender distinctions are a social construct, purely conventional identities with no normative connection to biological sex. That is foundational in nearly early stream of feminism. That is in part why there is such a close ideological affinity between modern feminists and queer theorists. They hold to the same view of gender identity.

      We should mention, by the way, that one of the main reasons that Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) was formed was to separate from the erroneous elements within mainstream feminism. Even CBE recognized the incompatibility of mainstream feminist theology with orthodox Christian faith.

      Thanks for the interaction.

      Denny

    • Akash Charles October 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      oh please feminism defines “women as human”

      your living in another world Rachel- I though you of all people would do a little research

      actions speak louder than words- through the dictionary definition in our face all you like- the devil still shows his ugly face through feminists actions

  9. Suzanne McCarthy October 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Denny,

    I think the problem is that it is difficult to find different attributes in the Bible for men and women. I have been searching for even one attribute for men and women that differs in the Bible and have not found one yet. So it is difficult to take a biblical stance on gender as a social construct vs biology only. I am not saying there is no difference. I am saying that I can’t find it in the Bible.

    For example, all men and women are to be chayil in Hebrew, or andreia in Greek. That is men and women are to be courageous and valiant. Men and women are to be strong. Men and women are responsible for providing for their family. Men and women are responsible for managing their household. Men and women are to be wise, gentle, sober, faithful, etc. Men and women are to strive for the greater gifts of apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.

    Even if one can construe different assignments in terms of reproduction, and in the home, from a few verses, there are no different attributes for men and women. They seem to have the same moral design, and are presented with the same ideal attributes as members of the Hebrew nation, and as Christians. I have been looking for this for several years now and would so much appreciate it if someone could mention even one attribute that varies for men and women.

    • Esther O'Reilly October 2, 2013 at 8:01 am #

      Ummmmm, how about the fact that all of the warriors and soldiers are men?? (And no, sorry, Deborah doesn’t count because she just went with Barak to strategize and watch the battle from a distance while he actually led the army in combat.)

      • Suzanne McCarthy October 2, 2013 at 9:49 am #

        Women in the Bible had the necessary attributes of decisiveness and impulse to action. Think of the women who dropped a millstone on Abimelech, Jael who used a tent peg, the wise woman of Abel who had Sheba’s head cut off. That women are physically less strong is accepted, but in the Bible, women have the moral fortitude to kill without hesitation. Not sure what to make of that. Did God plan it in the garden, this tendency to make war. Is it our design?

  10. Akash Charles October 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    umm the church does not need feminism or any ism on earth

    it Needs God and the Bible – simple- feminism is not part of our Bible!!

  11. Suzanne McCarthy October 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Then the same for complementarianism. That is what I can’t find in the Bible.

  12. Paul Reed October 3, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Feminism just isn’t compatible with the Bible. Instead of coming to this argument with our own assumptions, let’s just read the Bible says:
    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. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety

  13. Ian Shaw October 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Paul,

    It is a common misconception/easy-to-blame that Eve was the only person deceived/sinned in the garden. A closer look at the language and you will learn that it was not only Eve who sinned by disobeying God regarding the fruit, but also Adam disobeyed God by ignoring his responsibilities as a husband. The word “you” in the scripture I’m trying to reference is not used as singular (just to Eve), but to both of them. I’m trying to locate the sermon at my church that referenced it, but it evades me at the moment.

    That being said, are men and women both of equal value before their creator? Heavens yes, but we cannot forget that God has given both man and woman different responsibilities.

  14. Ian Shaw October 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Adam was not deceived. You are correct. He stood silent and ignored his responsibility as the spiritual leader of his family, which is almost worse! He knew God’s command and he stood silent. It’s not like Adam wasn’t around when the serpent tempted Eve, though that’s the impression many people have. The usage of the word “you” by the serpent before the fall and during/post the fall by God is not singular but plural. When God says to Eve, “what have you done”, God is not speaking only to Eve.

  15. James Bradshaw October 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Ian writes: “God has given both man and woman different responsibilities.”

    What are they, exactly?

    I mean besides the obvious child-birthing thing (which, as a man, I must say… I feel for you ladies, I really do.).

    Some women are empathetic … some aren’t at all. Some women are nurturing, while others are just cold and unpleasant. Some women are aggressive.

    I know men who are tender and kind. Some men are great at being parents and are good listeners (I’m not, I’ll confess). Lots of men are not good at sports and are not alpha types who want to dominate and rule over others.

    So tell me: what personality/spiritual traits are *distinctly* feminine and what traits are masculine?

    • buddyglass October 4, 2013 at 12:03 am #

      When folks talk about distinctive traits they typically don’t mean “true in every member of the group”. What they mean instead is that there’s a noticeable bias towards those traits among group members.

      Clearly not every woman is nurturing. On the other hand, it seems fairly clear to me that women, as a group, exhibit a bias toward nurturing that men, as a group, do not.

      Where folks err, in my opinion, is when they take those biases (which are real) and turn them into rules, e.g. “this is how all men should be”.

  16. buddyglass October 3, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    The problem with this discussion is that, over time, the goal posts have shifted. Here’s where I am:

    I believe women should have the vote.
    I believe women should be able to own property.
    I believe women should not be denied admission to state universities arbitrarily.
    I believe employers should be prohibited from discriminating against women arbitrarily when hiring.
    I believe women are not so fragile that they should be prohibited from competing in marathons.
    I think there are women who can be every bit as capable as men in the fields of law, medicine, mathematics, science, business, etc.; that is to say, being a woman doesn’t preclude one capability in those fields.
    I believe an adult woman should not be legally prohibited from having sex with any consenting adult to whom she is not related.
    I believe it is possible for husbands to rape their wives.
    I believe it should be equally shameful for a man to be caught in adultery as it is for a woman.

    For the most part these are fairly uncontroversial views. Today they’re probably not enough to get you labeled “a feminist”. And, yet, a hundred years ago they’d have placed one among the feminist fringe.

    Feminism, loosely defined, has unquestionably benefited women. To the extent women make up half the church, it has benefited half of the church. That said it has also been a force for evil to the extent that advocacy for abortion rights has been conflated (in the minds of many) with “feminism”.

    • Akash Charles October 4, 2013 at 2:22 am #

      get to the 21st century- feminists argue for quotas for women to actively discriminate against men in Universities and businesses

      its not about equality anymore all about discriminating against men

    • Suzanne McCarthy October 4, 2013 at 7:12 am #

      Abortion has been around forever and men were able to force wives and daughters to have abortions under less than antiseptic conditions. What feminists have really fought for is legal and antiseptic abortions only at the will of the woman herself. Not that I am defending abortion but we need to realize the horror of women forced to have abortions against their will. That is the counterpoint. Read Aristotle on abortions to see what a patriarchal practice it once was.

      So we need to understand that abortion is not unique to feminism.

      And I am still waiting to hear what attributes are unique to either men or women in the Bible.

  17. Ian Shaw October 4, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    The problem I think lies in where people have secular views on a subject that the Bible contradicts. While the Bible speaks of the man being the spiritual leader of his household, the secular view of “everything being all equal and anyone can hold any position” clearly clashes with the former. Are the Scriptures saying the the role women have for their families any less worth to God than what the man’s is? Heavens no!

    Similar situation where Paul writes that wives should submit to their husbands. Many a secular feminist will stop reading at that moment and proclaim that Paul was a woman hater and this cannot stand! Fortunate for us that realize you must read scripture in it’s entirety to get the context, Paul also says that likewise husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25-30) That’s huge responsibility. Paul is saying that husbands will be held accountable to God for how they treat their wives. If that doesn’t put the fear of God into you, I don’t know what will. However the secular viewpoint will say that we cannot have distinct roles placed on us by our Creator, since it’s discriminating. So at what point do you stop mixing both worldviews and decide to follow one of them?

    • Suzanne McCarthy October 4, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      If men have more responsibility before God then do women have less? Morally, no they don’t. So they are disempowered from their moral obligations.

      In Africa, male led families have a poorer track record on children surviving – its a matter of life and death. In all of Asia, females are aborted or left to doe because they do not fill the same role as males, in caring for parents, and in economic value to their families.

      So this inequality of role is a death sentence for women, does anyone care?

      • Akash Charles October 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        so, those male led families do not have godly men

        just because they have a different role its no excuse to abort them!!!!

  18. Suzanne McCarthy October 4, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Left to die, that is as infants, or trafficked.

  19. Ian Shaw October 4, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Suzanne, I did not say men have more responsibility before God than women did I?

    In Africa, what populations are you talking about? In Asia, what populations are you talking about? Context is key. I assume you’re talking about China (as Asia)as the biggest human rights offender as a whole. But to be honest, why do those attrocities surprise you being that they happen in pagan countries? And for the record, I consider America a pagan nation.

    • Suzanne McCarthy October 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      No, you didn’t say men have more responsibility. Sorry bout that. Some people have said that to justify men having greater decision-making rights in the family. I am not sure why complementarians a cord more rights to men than women but they often say it is becuase God holds men primarily responsible in the family. Which is moral and legal nonsense.

      Let me mention Nicholas Kristoff as a reference for Africa. I will try to find a quote if I have time. Its in Half the Sky.

      On China and India, there is a significant imbalance of males over females in the population. A well known fact. Perhaps 100 or 200 million fewer females. This is because women are not of the same economic value to their families. We need to witness to the world that women are of equal value in real terms, and can be breadwinners and decision-makers. We need to see that women are treated as equals not just labeled as equals. Two completely different things. Complementrarianism does not treat women as equals, and this goes against the law of Christ. We are never treated as equal by a headship male, even women who are single and support children and parents financially.

      • Kamilla Ludwig October 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

        Suzanne,

        Treating women as equals/breadwinners by forcing them off the farms, out of the homes, and into the factories in order to ramp up China’s industrial production has been disastrous for women!

        In fact, “women hold up half the sky” is a bit of Moaist propaganda designed to promote the Great Leap Forward. It is *not*, as Kristoff and WuDunn would have you believe, a folk/traditional Chinese saying.

        And China’s one child policy is a direct descendant of that. It is, in part, the devaluing of women’s unique contributions to society that encourages the further devaluation of women and the enormous tragedy of sex selective abortions and female infanticide.

        The huge and hugely problematic demographic imbalance is not because “women are not of the same economic value to their families.” Women are not and never will be of the same “economic” value as men. At least not as long as there us such a wide disparity in occupational fatalities (as has been nicely illustrated by ARI recently) and as long as women have babies. The demographic imbalance is largely due to the false and dangerous notion that women *should* be of equal *economic* value.

        Women lose their value where children and family life have already lost their value. When we forget that children are a blessing and that wage slavery isn’t where a person finds their true worth, and that women have an infinitely valuable contribution to make as the bearers and nurturers of the next generation as well as the keepers of society’s emotional resources — when we take a society such as that and mix in coercive population control (whether by government or society and peer pressure), that is when women are genuinely devalued and treated as little more than chattel. That’s not the perfectly egalitarian utopia. And I thank God it is not!

        If you respond with your customary twisting of what I’ve written here, well, don’t expect me to respond.

        • Kamilla October 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

          *AEI

        • Suzanne McCarthy October 5, 2013 at 4:31 am #

          Sex selective infanticide was a documented practice in ancient Greece and Rome and in modern India. The decision whether to expose a chid or not belonged to the father. Egyptians did not practice infanticide. This is historical fact. Patriarchy and infanticide were often associated. There is no intrinsic relationship between feminism and abortion. The association does occur, but it is not an essential association. One does not necessarily lead to another.

          • Kamilla Ludwig October 5, 2013 at 4:52 am #

            Suzanne,

            It is illegitimate to imply a causal link between patriarchy and female infanticide, as you have, while at the same time denying the causal link between feminism and abortion.

            Since you want to camp on historical fact, do I really need to remind you that it was Christians, patriarchal Christians, who risked much to save many of those exposed baby girls?

            • Suzanne McCarthy October 5, 2013 at 6:01 am #

              I said they were “associated.” I did not say there was a “causal link.” I don’t deny that patriarchal Christians rescued baby girls. So did feminists of the 1900’s. My point is that there is no essential connection between feminism and abortion, nor is there a necessary link between patriarchy and infanticide. But there is an association on both accounts.

              I am trying to point out the difference between “association” or “correlation,” on the one hand, and “causal link” or “necessary connection,” on the other hand.

              And please, if you ask others not to twist your words, please don’t put words in the mouth of others.

        • Chris Ryan October 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

          How much explicit Biblical text supports this view that women’s primary role on Earth is to raise children?

          The institutions of motherhood & family were Vastly different during Biblical times than today. Historically people (I’m not saying you) have read scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:15 and contrived such a restrictive role for women in the church that Sarah had no value until she conceived Isaac.

          In general, most of our conceptions abt women’s role & even motherhood is based on cultural foundations, not Biblical foundations. In other words, I can see why Paul (1 Timothy 2:12) might not suffer women to have authority over him (who other than Peter would be qualified?) but since I’m not an Apostle, I’m perfectly fine with women having authority over me :-)

          • Akash Charles October 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

            how do you know who was qualified then??

            Mary could have been qualified by your definition on who is qualified

            There seems to be many women in the NT that would have been qualified but Paul still insisted on this command!!

            actually most men have had women in authority over them for periods of time including Jesus- their mothers!!!

            • Chris Ryan October 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

              You’re making my point, Akash. Mary Magdalene would not have been qualified by this scripture, am I right?

              Paul was exclusively concerned with salvation, that’s why he overlooked slavery, that’s why he overlooked the brutal crimes of Caesar. He was so exclusively concerned with spiritual salvation, the here and now was simply irrelevant. Even marriage was a spiritual distraction to Paul! (1 Corinthians 7:27-29) But just because Paul didn’t care abt these things it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care abt the here and now.

  20. Ryan Bibbs October 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    @Suzanne I do not believe it is ” moral and legal nonsense” for God to hold men more responsible. In scripture God holds those in positions of authority to a higher standard James 3:1. God has given the role of family leader to the husband Ephesians 5:22-24. We should not toss this teaching out because some men abuse their authority. God has called men to be servant leaders men who abuse their wives are living the life of a biblical complementarian.

    • Don Johnson October 5, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Correction: God has called husbands to be servant-servants of their family. No leadership is implied, except that fathers and mothers are co-leaders.

  21. Ryan Bibbs October 5, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    In my previous post I meant to say ” are not living the lives of a biblical complementarian.”

    • Suzanne McCarthy October 5, 2013 at 6:43 am #

      “Men who abuse their wives are not living the life of a biblical complementarian.” Any group can make a similar argument. Anyone who is not perfect is not a part of “our group.” Easy words!

      Tim Keller says that men need democracy because of the tendency towards abuse of power. Men need access to the seat of power. Those are his words. Because of sin.

      But women don’t need this in the home. Why? Because there is not such thing as sin among Christian husbands? Is that Keller’s position? Or does Keller think men need protection from abuse of power, and women don’t? Why are men so self protective, and don’t care about the protection of women in the home? I don’t get it? Are we not sisters?

      Women need financial and emotional resources. Being in a submissive role for most of your life, doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help women escape abuse. Shouldn’t women be treated as the “neighbours” of men? How do men want to be treated? Apply that to women. Treat women as equals, as fellow human beings.

  22. Suzanne McCarthy October 5, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    There is no biblical teaching that men are more morally responsible to God for their family than women. In civil law mothers have equal responsibility for their children. They cannot argue in court diminished responsibility on religious grounds. This teaching goes against the laws of our civil society and the Bible tells us to obey our laws.

    1 Tim. 5:8 is fully gender inclusive in Greek. Women do not get off from their responsibility to protect and provide. Proverbs 31 shows a fully responsible woman.

    • Chris Ryan October 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      FWIW I agree wholeheartedly with you. Paul no more means for men to be the masters of women than he sanctioned slavery in sending Onesimus back to Philemon. And yet up until 1865, in this country, many Christians interpreted the Bible to mean just that. Now, of course, we no longer do. This just indicates how often our cultural preconceptions can distort how we interpret the Bible.

    • Ryan Bibbs October 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      @Suzanne

      You have misrepresented my position.

      “Men who abuse their wives are not living the life of a biblical complementarian.”
      Any group can make a similar argument. Anyone who is not perfect
      is not a part of “our group.” Easy words!”

      I never wrote or implied that a man has to be perfect to be a biblical complementarian.
      What I said was men who abuse their wives are not living the life of a biblical complementarian
      A man who abuses his wife can not be a biblical complementarian Ephesians 5:28-29.

      I agree with Tim Keller democracy does protect us from abuses of power.
      I also agree with you women ought to have protection from abuses of power in the home. This protection ought to come through the Church.

      I have already made this point once but it’s worth repeating

      According to Scripture the man ought to be the leader in the home Ephesians 5:22-23
      and God judges those in positions of leadership with a greater strictness James 3:1.

      • Suzanne McCarthy October 6, 2013 at 6:57 am #

        But those who abuse are, in fact, members of the group. I know some counsel excommunicating an abusive husband. How about teaching men from the beginning that they don’t have more rights in the marriage than their wives? It takes a long time for a woman who has made a vow to obey, to break that vow and get help from the police.

        So men get democracy and women are minors under the guardianship of the church? The church may help some women, but with all its teaching of submission, it sometimes serves as the perfect reinforcement for a husband who wants to get his way. It reinforces the notion that women have diminished rights, diminished responsibility, diminished need for fulfillment of gifts and ambitions.

        And, above all,putting women under the so called protection of the church, instead of according them equal participation in decision-making, is in no way, treating women as fellow adult human beings. Women are under guardianship their entire lives, and live as separate entities, as a separate class of beings, and true heart fellowship is broken. A woman can never be what the bible says “my sister, my love.”

        But men need democracy because they are special beings with more rights than women! Are men not ashamed to claim what they deny to women? Are men not embarrassed that they refuse to treat a woman as a neighbor? Do men never read the most important law of Christ?

        No wonder women resist and seek control. No wonder. How frightening it is to be at someone elses disposal, to not have the same rights as men have to participate in decision-making.

        I was 50 years old when a non-Christian asked me if woman was not the neighbour of man, and I said, not at all, for Christians, woman is not the neighbour of man. I attended the church of famous complementarian theologians all that time.

        • Ryan Bibbs October 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

          @Suzanne

          “But those who abuse are, in fact, members of the group”

          In order to be a “Biblical Complementarian” You have to actually believe the Bible when it say’s ” Husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19 Ephesians 5:28-29 Wife beaters are not fulfilling their God given roll They are not loving their wives as Christ loves the church and they are neglecting to treat their wives as fellow heirs of Grace 1 Peter 3:7 Romans 8:17.

          I acknowledge that some churches mishandled the doctrine of submission and male headship but I still believe the church should be a place of accountability for men and women. The Church has a duty to protect women from any kind of abuse and a duty to discipline men who abuse their wives.

          In the words of Russel Moore

          We must teach from our pulpits, our Sunday school classes, and our Vacation Bible Schools that women are
          to be cherished, honored, and protected by men.” and ” “A man who hits you has surrendered his headship,
          and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this
          church in enacting church discipline.”

          Biblical Complementarianism does not teach women to be their husbands slave, it does not call them to be mere tools at their husbands disposal. 1

          “Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it
          through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will.” Piper and Grudem.” 2

          Provided there is nothing new said that I feel the need to respond to this will be my last post in this discussion

          I recommend the following links for your study.

          1 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/11/25/the-church-the-gospel-and-violence-against-women/

          2 http://cbmw.org/uncategorized/fifty-crucial-questions/

          • Andrew Orlovsky October 9, 2013 at 8:56 am #

            Good post Ryan,

            One of the issues I have with egalitarians is that they argue against Biblical Complementarianism on a strictly pragmatic basis, but completely fail to see the pragmatic arguement against Egalitarianism, which is much more stronger. Egalitarians will make the argument that they agree Complementarianism does not give men the right to abuse thier wives, but it ends up leading to abuse when certain men mishandle the doctrine. Of course any biblical doctrine could be abused and that does not mean we should just throw out the Bible verse. Should we stop giving to the poor because some abusive church leaders have misused Acts 4:32 to force people to give up thier private property? But back to my main point, when men are not given authority in the home, they will simply decide not to get married, as evidenced by the declining marriage rates in our society, and its usually the man who has to be presurred into marriage be the women. This results in a larger number of children born out of wedlock. The biggest factor of whether a man will grow up to be an abuser of women is whether or not he has a father. Also, statistics show the women are more likely to be abused by boyfriends than husbands. If we want to greatly reduce domestic abuse in our society, they best thing to do will be to provide an incentive for men to want to marry, and Egalitarians seem to be doing just the opposite.

            • Don Johnson October 9, 2013 at 11:26 am #

              There are many examples of people that accept comp doctrine facilitating abuse. Telling an abused wife to accept it for a season, like Piper did on his DG website before it was taken down.

              The #2 correlation of spouse abuse is a belief that the man is in charge. The #1 is substance abuse. These correlations exist for a reason, people are sinners. Not everyone taught comp doctrine is mature in the Lord and it can be deadly in the hands of an immature Christian.

  23. Jim Peet October 6, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Denny … we used on Sharper Iron here.

    Thanks – always appreciate your thoughtful articles.

  24. Don Johnson October 6, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Feminism developed as a alternative to masculinism, the idea that men are to be on top in the hierarchy in society, including the church and home. So to the extent that one sees the Kingdom of God endorsing masculinism will go a long one on how one answers Denny’s question. There have also been waves of feminism, so there are some messy details, feminism, per se, is not monolithic in that the ideas presented by self-proclaimed feminists have not always been consistent with each other. Because of the idea that abortion rights are essential to feminism, many believers think that feminism and the Kingdom are disjoint ideas, but many of the first feminists were believers. So the best answer to Denny’s question is that it is a mixed bag.

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