Q&A on Complementarianism

A commenter in a previous post asked some questions about Complementarianism and how it plays out practically in various settings. I am happy to answer these queries, so I will list them here and respond to them in turn. For an overview of the Complementarian viewpoint that I am defending, see the Danver’s Statement.

1. Does your complementarian perspective mean that women don’t understand the Bible or biblical doctrines as well as men do? That they don’t receive scriptural revelation like men do? Or that they just aren’t able to TEACH it the way men do?

The short answer to this series is no, no, and no. From time to time, you’ll find someone like Mark Driscoll who interprets 1 Timothy 2:14 to mean that women are generally more gullible than men. But this is not a mainstream Complementarian view. Driscoll’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:14 does not take into account verse 13 which grounds the prohibition of 2:12 in the order of creation: “for it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” For a competent defense of the mainstream Complementarian view, see Douglas Moo’s essay “What Does It Mean Not To Teach or Have Authority over Men?” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The different roles that God assigns men and women are not based on which sex is more or less gifted than the other. God gives the gift of teaching to both men and women. So for Complementarians, the discussion is not about the innate abilities of the sexes. It’s about how the Bible directs men and women to use their gifts within the church. Complementarians affirm that men and women are created equally in the image of God and that redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation. Nevertheless, they also affirm that some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to qualified men (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

2. Is the complementarian perspective something that is preached from the pulpit of churches that embrace this doctrine? I’ve been to many churches that probably hold this view, but I’ve never heard it preached from the pulpit. Rather, the pastor preaches something more in tune with the members’ everyday life.

Yes, Complementarians do preach on gender roles, and many such sermons are available on the internet (see CBMW’s audio resources). If you want to hear an excellent exposition of the Bible’s teaching on marriage and family, you should check out John Piper’s recent series that went from January 28 to July 1 of this year. What you’ll find in all of these sermons is that the Bible’s teaching on these matters is very practical; it gets into the nitty gritty of everyday life. It affects how husbands give themselves away for their wives, how wives follow the leadership of their husbands, how husbands and wives forgive one another, and more. Complementarianism is not merely about esoteric and philosophical speculations about gender. Complementarianism commends a way of life rooted in the biblical revelation, a way of being disciples who are created as both male and female.

3. As a NT scholar, do you know why Paul wrote this admonition to Timothy [in 1 Timothy 2:12]? What was going on in that particular situation that warranted Paul’s response? Could it be possible that this was a situational problem, since this admonition is not really given in other instances?

Egalitarian exegetes often say that Paul only meant for the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 to apply to a specific situation in the Ephesian church (once again, see Moo’s essay). This argument simply will not work since Paul grounds his prohibition in a creation ordinance: “for it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). In other words, it’s something about the way in which God created men and women that is the foundation of Paul’s directive, not some situation in Ephesus. Paul draws on a creation principle to address the specific problem in Ephesus. The exegete does not even have to reconstruct the specific background to see the general creation principle that Paul is setting forth.

4. A friend of mine received her Masters from a famous Baptist seminary. As a single woman, she’s been a missionary and a nurse, but she told me she’s not allowed to get an M.Div. or teach classes on doctrine or Hebrew/Greek. She is however allowed to teach children and youth and classes on marriage, family, social issues, etc. This makes no sense to me. First, when does a teenage boy become an “adult male”?

As far as I know, Complementarians have not set an age at which they believe a boy becomes a man. I think opinions on this question vary. In general, however, Complementarians favor the view that boys should begin taking on the responsibilities of manhood at a much earlier age than that practiced by the larger culture.

5. Have you ever pastored a church?

I have been an active member of a church since I was nine years old. I have also served as a youth minister and in various staff positions in different churches, but I have never been a senior pastor.

6. If you have NOT pastored, then please just answer this question the best you can. What practical difference does this “Comp. vs. Ega.” thing make to a church member?

It makes all the difference in the world. When Jesus calls people to be His disciples, He’s not calling them as androgynous creatures. He calls them as male and female. A man’s role as a Christian husband is different than a woman’s role as a believing wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). A Christian husband will lead his family as Christ leads and “heads” His church, or else the husband is a disobedient disciple. A Christian wife will follow her husband’s leadership as the church follows Christ’s, or else she is a disobedient disciple. These two biblical principles alone have massive practical implications for the ordering of family life, for the raising of children, and for the continued health of marriages. Within the church, Complementarianism has enormous practical implications. It means that a church that wants to obey the Bible will only call qualified men to be pastors. It means that churches will be aiming to open up appropriate avenues of ministry for all of its members, including women. The practical outworking of Complementarianism is too large to list here. There’s just no getting around the fact that the gender question has massive implications for the life of the disciple in nearly every aspect of his life.

146 Responses to Q&A on Complementarianism

  1. Sue September 24, 2007 at 2:02 am #

    Paul’s concern is not with a woman’s acting independently of her husband or usurping his authority but with the woman’s exercising authority in the church over any man.

    This statement by Douglas Moo goes against all the evidence from the study in Grudem’s book which mentions domninate, domineer, compel, control, flout authority, instigate, etc. It also goes against 2000 years of translation history, in which this word has been translated as “dominare” and “usurp authority”.

    You cannot change history.

  2. mlm September 24, 2007 at 6:44 am #


    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate your time and effort.

    I felt that *most* of your response dealt with Complementarianism as it applies to marriage, but that wasn’t really the scenario I was confused about (I apologize if my questions didn’t make that clear). For example, when you referred me to Piper’s teaching on Complementarianism and told us that Complementarians DO preach on gender roles, it seems that you were talking about “in the context of family life, marriage…” I, on the other hand, meant that I’ve never heard pastors get up on Sunday morning and preach a sermon about why there ought not be female pastors and such.

    I am more puzzled by how you see complementarianism in the practical workings of the church. I must admit I don’t find your answer(s) completely sastifying, but I’m going to read all the materials you linked within the post before asking more questions.

    In the meantime, there are a couple questions from my original post that I’d like a more direct response to, if possible.

    I asked:
    “If a woman teaches a sermon on Sunday morning, what spiritual ramifications is that going to have on Mr. Smith sitting on the front row?

    Is there divine retribution for this “sin”? Do you even consider it sin, or just deviation from the prescribed?) Does Mr. Smith get punished if he listens and heeds the message? Or should the message go unheeded because of the messenger? (Although, again, in most churches the average churchgoer doesn’t even know about this debate, so he wouldn’t even know he isn’t supposed to be taught by a woman. In this case, is the damage still done, and the people just aren’t aware of *why*?)”

    Thanks again, Denny, for your gracious response. I appreciate it.

  3. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 7:06 am #


    Sorry I didn’t address the concerns that you hoped I would. I think some of the articles I linked do.

    I have a question for you. Do you believe that the Bible teaches that husbands should be the leaders of their homes? I know now that your questions were aimed primarily at the church. But what about the home?


  4. mlm September 24, 2007 at 7:10 am #


    I don’t have time to answer your questions as fully as I would like (the baby has awakened!), but here’s an excerpt graph from my original comment in the BW post.

    “I’m currently reading Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book LOVE AND RESPECT which certainly has a complementarian perspective in regard to marriage. And I don’t argue with this one bit. I see it clearly in Scripture, and while I don’t always understand it or succeed at carrying out my role in it, I do embrace it and strive toward it. However, I don’t see how this carries over into the churchworld, at least not as strictly as you have carried it.”


  5. Bryan L September 24, 2007 at 7:44 am #


    Have you always been a complementarian or did you become one later in life?

    Do you think if you didn’t run in such strong complementarian circles that you would still hold to it a much as you do? I imagine there is a lot of pressure to adhear to it.

    Do you know any egalitarians personally (at Criswell or wherever else) that you highly respect?

    Bryan L

  6. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 7:53 am #


    I think I was an egalitarian by default for a long time. Somewhere during my college years, I became convinced that the Bible’s teaching contradicted my egalitarian beliefs. So I chose to go with the Bible.

    I hold the Complementarian view not because I’m pressured by anyone to do so, but because I truly believe it’s what the Bible teaches. I gladly confess Complemenatrianism as true to the Bible’s teaching.


  7. Bryan L September 24, 2007 at 8:07 am #

    So do you know any egalitarians personally (at Criswell or wherever else) that you highly respect?

    Bryan L

  8. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 8:25 am #

    I guess I’m just not sure what you mean by “highly respect.” If you’re asking do I “highly respect” their views, of course the answer is no. If you are asking if I admire people for holding what I believe to be a wrong understanding of Scripture, then the answer is no.

    If you are asking if I love egalitarians, then the answer is yes. If you are asking if I have a high regard for the scholarship and insight of some egalitarians on issues unrelated to this one (like Roger Nicole or Gordon Fee), then the answer is unquestionably yes.


  9. Bryan L September 24, 2007 at 8:58 am #

    never mind.

  10. mlm September 24, 2007 at 9:17 am #


    Are there any areas of doctrine where you have proven to be wrong in the past, or where you presently suspect you might be wrong?

    If YES, is there a remote possibility that this area of complementarianism is an area of incorrect doctrine (since you are admittedly fallible)?

    If NO, are you saying that you are 100% correct in all that you believe and infallible in all your doctrine?


    In my experience, we all hold tightly to our beliefs until someone convinces us they are wrong. Yet before we were convinced of our error, we were SO SURE our beliefs were correct. This makes me think that there may be things that I currently hold tightly as truth that later in life I may discover to be false. This knowledge keeps me humble and meek (teachable).

    I admit there were periods in my life that I thought I knew it all. That was when I was most dangerous to myself and most useless to others (including God).

    Now, I try to remain aware that deceived people are just that…deceived! Of course I believe my views are right. If I knew them to be wrong, I’d abandon them immediately! Therefore, in the areas that I am still wrong, I am deceived. Thus, I pray with the Apostle Paul that the eyes of my understanding be enlightened.

    Would that all our Bible scholars, professors, writers, and pastors did the same.

  11. Matthew September 24, 2007 at 9:25 am #

    This has been a vexing issue for me. I am not out of the weeds yet.

    I wanted to mention two sites in addition the CBMW site that have provided some good information:

    1) Scot McKnight has written on the subject, coming from the egalitarian perspective: http://www.jesuscreed.org , click the “Women and Ministry” category.

    2)Michael Kruse at http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/ has posted quite a bit about household codes. He terms his position “non-hierarchical complementarian.” He also reviewed the book, “Discovering Biblical Equality” on his blog. His review is worth reading, even if you disagree the book or his opinions of it.

  12. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 9:32 am #


    You are right. If I knew what areas I was wrong about, I would repent!

    The answer to your question, though, is yes. I have been wrong on many things. For me, however, finding out that I’m wrong usually comes by the Scripture’s shedding light on my errant beliefs. I used to believe in libertarian free will. I’m now convinced by scripture that is an untenable view. I used to believe that true Christians can live in unrepentant sin and have assurance of salvation. I’m now convinced by scripture that is an aberrant view. I used to be an egalitarian. I’m now convinced by scripture that egalitarianism is unbiblical.


  13. Faimon September 24, 2007 at 9:37 am #

    2 questions for the esteemed Dr Burk:

    1) You wrote: “I’m not convinced by scripture that egalitarianism is unbiblical.” So, you think egalitarianism is biblically defensible? The two negatives equal a positive….

    2) And you do not respect any egalitarian’s view on this issue? So, those who disagree are not worthy of a hearing on the issue, because the view is not respectable?

  14. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 9:42 am #


    Ha! Thanks for catching the typo. The “not” was supposed to be a “now.” I made the change.

    Like I said before, it depends on what you mean by “respect.” If respect means “I think your view is consistent with biblical teaching,” then no I don’t respect it in that sense.

    If respect means “I love you nevertheless and respect your right to make your views known,” then in that limited sense you might say I “respect” the egalitarian’s view.


  15. Lucas Knisely September 24, 2007 at 9:43 am #

    Denny, your patience and faithfulness brings glory to the Father. Thank you.

  16. Matthew September 24, 2007 at 10:02 am #


    I am guessing that today will make for a busy day for you! I appreciate you doing it.

    Something that concerns me greatly is the alleged similarity between the complementarian position and pro-slavery positions a century or so ago. Mark Noll, for example. I have no doubt that well-meaning Christians defended American slavery “bibilically.” Yet, I have no doubt that they were wrong. The concern is, what if we look back 100 years from now and realize that at least some aspects of complementarianism look just as ugly as a defense of American slavery would now?

    I would appreciate any comments you make to this subject. Thanks.

  17. Matthew September 24, 2007 at 10:03 am #

    Oops. I should have said “hermeneutic” not “position” in the post above.

  18. Sue September 24, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    You are right. If I knew what areas I was wrong about, I would repent!


    You have not defended your understanding af authentein. A lot of your belief rests on something that isn’t there. How will you feel at the end of your life, if you do finally realize that your meaning of authentein never existed, that you have lived your life with a wrong understanding of scripture?

    I feel this is worth your checking out at least the pages I mentioned.


  19. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 10:21 am #


    I think if we are thinking biblically about these two issues we’ll see that they are apples and oranges. There has been much written about this because of how the question relates to our evaluation of three issues: slavery, gender roles, and homosexuality.

    I think the Bible teaches that gender roles are a part of God’s created order. In other words, gender complementarity precedes the fall of man into sin. Gender complementarity is thus a part of God’s creation ordinance. Such is not the case with evil of slavery and homosexuality, both of which come after the fall.


  20. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 10:38 am #

    Dear Suzanne,

    I have looked at the meaning of authentein, I just haven’t written about it here.

    Once again, I think Moo has the better part of this argument. Also, you should read Albert Wolters’ study “A Semantic Study of authenteis and its Derivatives.”


  21. Bryan L September 24, 2007 at 10:52 am #


    “I think the Bible teaches that gender roles are a part of God’s created order.”

    I think it teaches that gender is a part of God’s created order. There is no gender specific roles listed in the Genesis account and the appeal to 1 Tim 2 is ultimately circular, i.e. Genesis needs to be interpreted by 1 Tim 2 and 1 Tim 2 needs to be interpreted by Genesis. Before the fall the was nothing like what we find in 1 Timothy 2 and in fact those things come after the fall so I don’t see how the roles listed in 1 Tim 2 could be considered pre-fall and part of God’s created order.

    Besides, I think the appeal in 1 Tim 2 to the Adam and Eve story is not an appeal to the created order and instead is being used by Paul as an analogy to the situation going on in Ephesus.

    Man it seems like it’s been a while since the whole egalitarian/complementarian thing has been debated on this blog. Unfortunately it will probably just be a rehash of everything that’s already been said before.

    Bryan L

  22. Suzanne September 24, 2007 at 12:33 pm #


    I have compared research with Al Wolters through several emails recently, and he admits that he is still puzzled over the meaning of authentein, but that definitely the meaning “usurp” which was used in the King James version and dominare which was used in the Vulgate had a very negative connotation. I will hsare his emails later with his permission.


  23. mlm September 24, 2007 at 12:34 pm #


    I read some of the links you provided and I’m so glad to learn that Piper allows women to give driving direction to men, provided the men are lost and in need of the woman’s knowledge. 🙂

    Whew! And here I thought we women had to be silent at all times! 🙂 Finally! A way to use my education and knowledge and talents…to give directions when a man asks for them. But wait. Men NEVER DO ask for directions!!??!?!

    Side thought that struck me while reading: I feel very sorry for Piper if Hillary Clinton be elected. Whatever would he do with a female CEO? I guess he wouldn’t work well on Wallstreet.

    I tend to dislike sarcasm and try to refrain from using it, but I’m being utterly tempted here. It just seems so convenient for those, such as yourself, who embrace these views to be male…and white. (FYI: According to the link you provided, Driscoll considers your stance “heirarchical” not complementarian.)

    I wish you would answer my questions about the practical workings in the church. I don’t see answers to those in any of the materials you referred me to.

    I asked:

    “If a woman teaches a sermon on Sunday morning, what spiritual ramifications is that going to have on Mr. Smith sitting on the front row? Is there divine retribution for this “sin”? Do you even consider it sin, or just deviation from the prescribed?) Does Mr. Smith get punished if he listens and heeds the message? Or should the message go unheeded because of the messenger? (Although, again, in most churches the average churchgoer doesn’t even know about this debate, so he wouldn’t even know he isn’t supposed to be taught by a woman. In this case, is the damage still done, and the people just aren’t aware of *why*?)”


  24. Suzanne September 24, 2007 at 12:36 pm #

    Dear Denny,

    I have read Moo’s paper and he presents an opinion. I think considering the gravity of the advice you are giving women, that it is worth quoting the evidence for 1 Tim. 2:12, rather than just secondary sources. There is no scholarly consensus for “exercize authority”.

    Thanks for responding,


  25. Faimon September 24, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    Hmmmm, interesting. I think you are taking a very narrow view of the verb “to respect.” So, are there any views contrary to your own that you respect? How about pedobaptism? Do you respect that view?

  26. mlm September 24, 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    I could be wrong (it DOES happen, you know), but what I think Bryan L and others were asking was, “Is there someone you respect enough to listen to (and possible by convinced by their presentation of Scripture) that you readily know doesn’t share your view of complementarianism?”

    Basically, we tend to surround ourselves with people who believe the way we do and by conscious thought or not, shut out opposing voices. Perhaps it’s more comfortable that way. So I guess we’re wondering if Denny has Christians whom he admires and respects for their spirituality (relationship with God and man) and their education (degrees, qualifications, and such)that he doesn’t happen to 100% agree with.

    The Apostle Paul was quite the convincer, but even he couldn’t talk King Agrippa into believing the Gospel. Jesus made it seem like only 25% of the people who heard His message would receive enough to have it do any lasting good in their life. So it would appear that many Christians (and according to the Bible, ESPECIALLY Christian leaders ie. theologians, scribes, pharisees) are blinded to the truth but only because they refuse to open their eyes.

  27. Suzanne September 24, 2007 at 2:20 pm #

    Excerpts from Al WOlters private emails to me in the last few weeks.

    I’ve puzzled long and hard over authentew in BGU 1208 and in the Philodemus fragment. Although most of the lexicographical authorities seem to give it the meaning “have authority over” in those contexts, I don’t think anyone can really be sure. Most people (including Grudem) are too sure about their conclusions in this regard. I do think it’s quite well established that authentes and its cognates often have to do with mastery and authority.

    In a desultory fashion I have been collecting examples of the non-pejorative use of 16th-17th century English “usurp.” So far my collection is quite small. Maybe someday I’ll publish a note about it. However, I am quite content to have the usual interpretation of the KJV of 1 Tim 2:12 be the right one.

    I guess you and I are alike in trying to do our bit to counter philologically unjustified interpretations of verses such as this one.

    I myself grew up in (and still belong to) a conservative Dutch Reformed church, the Christian Reformed Church. Over the last generation we have moved as a denomination to a position which considers both an egalitarian and a complementarian interpretation of Scripture to be defensible.

    Feel free to report what I wrote you about Junia/s and/or authentew on BBB.

    Note that authentes is not the same word as authentew. Note that Wolters has little information on non-pejorative uses of “usurper”.

    So Wolters is content for the meaning “usurp authority” for authentew. That this has a very negative meaning is confrmed by this quote from Lancelot Andrewes, the chief translator of the KJV.

    An usurper may be deposed: so they all agree. And is it not in the power of Rome, to make an usurper when it will? If he have no right, he is an usurper: if he be lawfully deposed, his right is gone: if he but favour heretics; nay, though he favour them not, the Pope may depose him, Non hoc tempore, sed cum judicabit expedire: and that done, he hath no right, then is he an usurper, and ye may touch him, or do with him what ye will.

    A usurper is an person who wrongfully tries to take over power.

    Usurp from the OED.

    – To appropriate wrongfully to oneself

    – To intrude forcibly, illegally, or without just cause into (some dignified or important office, position, etc.); to assume or arrogate to oneself (political power, rule, authority, etc.) by force; to claim unjustly.

    – To seize or obtain possession of (territory, land, etc.) in an unjust or illegal manner; to assume unjust rule, dominion, or authority over, to appropriate wrongfully.

    This is the information which Al Wolters agrees with. I do not think that there is any lexical evidence for “exercize authority” for this word. Moo does not present any, neither does Kostenberger. I say this respectfully. I have read their papers in great detail.

    Thank you for posting this information.

  28. Suzanne September 24, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    I didn’t say it explicitly, but yes, I have read Wolter’s paper. Since most people refer to him as doing the best research, I thought it was best to talk to him directly and he was happy to tell me that the meaning of authentew is uncertain, but that “usurp authority” is very possible. Since I have done the same research as him, I know that “usurp authority” is the most likely meaning.

    I have examined Grudem’s research on Gen. 1-3 and I find that he clearly denies that the human race is named with the Hebrew word for “human”. However, Adam is the Hebrew word for human. It means earthling. Grudem claims that Adam na,ing Eve gives him authority, but Hagar names GOd.

    I have read every source that has been recommneded and I cannot find unambiguous support for the complementarian position. I think it should be presented as one possible interpretation, one that Gordon Fee, Bauckham, Epp, McKinght, Witherington, F.F. Bruce, and many others do not hold.

  29. Denny Burk September 24, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    Gosh, Faimon. I don’t know what to say. I think paedobaptism is an aberration, a practice not consistent with what the Bible teaches. It’s hard for me to respect an error as error.

    Do I love and appreciate many paedobaptists? Yes, I do. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that I think they are profoundly wrong about baptism.

  30. jeremy z September 24, 2007 at 4:14 pm #


    Thank you for taking the time to communicate your perspective. After reading your post, I am even more confused about your position.

    You pull the classic Denny response by referring people to your past blogs, piper sermons, and an absolute sureness of you position.

    Please explain this to me. You state:

    God gives the gift of teaching to both men and women. So for Complementarians, the discussion is not about the innate abilities of the sexes. It’s about how the Bible directs men and women to use their gifts within the church.

    What does this imply? You first admit okay women can teach, then you state this unclear statement? Are you implying the Bible affirms women teachers or the Bible does not affirm women teachers?

    Also, I would be really enlighten for you to illustrate how you are leading your household? Do you take care of the finances? Bills? Lawn? Dishes? Spiritual?
    Simply, I want a concrete illustration of how one of your perspective lead? Does your household function as “Thus say Denny” and everyone do as you say?

  31. Daniel Davis September 24, 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    jeremy, i can at least answer for denny on the first question of yours.

    God grants teaching gifts to men and women, but the Bible must still direct how those gifts are to be used (paraphrasing denny). this means that our use of gifts is subject to the direction of the Word, such as women (with the gift of teaching) teaching women per Titus 2. such would be a Scriptural use of the teaching gift for women.

  32. Blank Slate September 24, 2007 at 7:16 pm #

    Wow, just read all these posts and have come to the conclusion that we should not hand out Bibles to new Christians until they have had a 7 year masters course on Biblical interpretation which includes Creek and Hebrew instruction because if these newbees read the Bible on their own they would not get it at all would they???

  33. scott September 24, 2007 at 8:01 pm #

    not all complementarians agree on this, but many believe that specifically teaching with authority over a man is what is in view in 1 Tim 2. and that teaching with authority specifically refers to teaching in the church, not secular matters. it is worth reading the transcript of one of john pipers sermons, in a series on manhood and womanhood, this one called freedom to minister (not an mp3 this time 🙂 ).

    in my opinion, the complementarian view allows that women can teach men things, both spiritual and secular matters, exhort them, etc. i think it would be fine to discuss scripture, doctrine, or anything else. when people discuss or dialog with eachother, there is not typically one person in authority over another. so i think the kind of teaching with authority in the church has the most obvious implications for the pastorate and eldership, who have responsibility for teaching, leading and shepherding the congregation. i think it is possible that many other positions of teaching do not carry the same spiritual authority and responsibility, and so should not necessarily be limited to just men.

  34. Sue September 24, 2007 at 9:05 pm #


    Thanks for understanding why I don’t listen to mp3’s very often. It wasn’t any antipathy to what you presented.

    I read Piper’s sermon and note that he says,

    So the authority Paul has in mind in 1 Timothy 2:12 is the authority of elders.

    But this cannot be substantiated, because the word authentein is associated with hostile control or insolence in the one other full citation of this word in the same century as Paul’s epistles. Here is a part of what was written about authentein.

    R. B. Payne, implies that the translation of Paul D. Peterson is superior: “when I had prevailed upon him to provide,.” Of Payne’s arguments the last is the most important – the use of προς. Payne writes that this use is “denoting a hostile or friendly relationship-a) hostile against, with after verbs of disputing, etc. …. This passage is about a hostile relationship; his action is called “insolence” in the text. None of the other uses of προς in the over three columns devoted to it in BAG seem to fit the text.” It is difficult to evaluate the strength of Payne’s argument. For all extant uses of verbal αυθεντεω that are transitive in the Greek-nearly all are followed by a genitive noun, only twice by an accusative noun, once by the preposition περι, once by the preposition εις, and here alone by the preposition προς. However, the meaning of “compel” does seem appropriate.

    Grudem page 680.

    I don’t know why people have latched onto this verse in its present version of “exercise authority” – it is not related in meaning.

  35. Carlito September 24, 2007 at 9:58 pm #

    I don’t think either of these camps should choose to die on this hill. Clearly there are differences in the interpretation of the disputed text by gifted scholars ON BOTH SIDES of the debate who have no doubt spent innumerable hours researching all the intricacies of the Greek implications, etc..

    If denominations and/or churches choose to allow women to pastor and hold authoritative positions within the church, then so be it. Those churches that hold to the traditional male-led congregations will continue to do so because of their belief that it holds faithful to Scripture and God’s design.

    I believe that in time, the churches and denominations who have the “correct” view will bear rich and ripe fruit, while those that apply the “misinformed” doctrine will suffer distress and will eventually be led to re-evaluate their leadership structure.
    God will NOT be mocked. In due time, He will humble those who need to be humbled and He will bless those whom He will bless.

    Just my 2 pennies.

  36. scott September 24, 2007 at 11:12 pm #

    I mentioned Piper’s message because he teaches on how these principles work themselves out in the church. It was a sermon, not a greek exegesis lecture, so forgive him for not going into lots of detail.

    “…But this cannot be substantiated, because the word authentein is associated with hostile control or insolence

    i think the best you can say is that the word may be associated with hostile control. it is certainly not plain that this is the meaning in this context. if you care to do a bit more reading, grudem has responded to this claim in his book EF&BT, pages 304-ff, you can download it free at this link.

    anyway, it doesn’t make much sense to me that the authority in this verse speaks of abuse of authority. because why would paul make it a gender issue? men shouldn’t abuse authority or assert hostile authority either, so why would paul single out women here? for every woman who was teaching false things in a hostile manner, there were surely men doing the same thing. and why would Paul support his argument by pointing to the order of creation? it just doesn’t make sense in context.

    in our culture today, the complementarian view seems offensive and backwards. it is so easily misunderstood and caricatured. it is embarrassing. sometimes i wish the bible taught something else. in fact for most of my life, i was egalitarian, and i was happy to know that my egalitarian position was completely valid because there were scholars who made arguments that said so. but at that point, i wasn’t really interested in understanding what scripture had to say… i just wanted to somehow interpret a few verses to make it say what i already knew was “right”. and in my mind, it was obviously clear that the egalitarian position was right. surely scripture backed me up.

    it took a few years of intense study and personal struggle with verses about the Trinity (which i thought unrelated to this issue at the time) before i finally came to a more proper understanding of authority and submission, equality, yet differences.

    this issue is surely not the most important theological issue ever, but the implications i think go much deeper than most realize. the way we approach it can also say a lot about us. are we willing to let scripture teach us something we don’t like? if we are really honest about answering that question, i think we would admit we are not as teachable and objective as we think.

  37. Kevin Jones September 24, 2007 at 11:30 pm #


    I like your 2 pennies worth. They are nice and shiny. 🙂

  38. Sue September 25, 2007 at 12:08 am #


    if you care to do a bit more reading, grudem has responded to this claim in his book EF&BT, pages 304-ff, you can download it free at this link.

    I have read this, then I read the appendix, then I read the footnotes to the appendix and I quoted those footnotes above. I wish other people would read the book as carefully as I do. There is this one example, and it means “compel”. There is a little more but it is tedious to type and won’t do the complementarian agenda any good. It is a fragment.

    I realize it doesn’t make sense to you but that is what is says. This is simply not about what makes senses to you. This is about what the evidence tells us about authentein. Women are not to usurp authority.

    One of the problems is that we now have no common Bible in the Christian community. For example, in the KJV Junia was an apostle and she still is in the Greek scriptures. In 1 Tim. 2:12 it had “usurp authority”, and in 1 Cor. 11:10 it had that a woman should have power on her head. Also, in the KJV “power” and “authority” were synonymous so you really could not prove that Christ was equal in power, but unequal in authority. This doctrine, in its present form, is new.

    Are you aware that the KJV and Luther’s Bible would not meet Grudem’s gender guidelines for translating the scriptures? Do you think that Luther had simply given in to culture on the gender issue?

    Women have had less position throughout history but so have slaves. History does not make something right or wrong. But it is still worth knowing history. Women have been terribly abused, as slaves were, as citizens were under tyrannical gov’ts.

    But throughout history women have preached and taught men just the same. Hilda in the 7th century taught 5 bishops. She was the head of a seminary in Whitby, Northern England. It was a time of great growth in the church. Katherine Zell, a friend of Martin Bucer, preached, other women preached in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the great abolitionists were women preachers.

    The truth is that 1 Tim. 2:12 is misinterpreted and other scriptures are not preached on at all.

    Why have I not once heard any complementarian preacher mention the one verse that is so important – Luke 6:31. “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.”

    How do you think that verse is reflected in gender relations?

  39. Sue September 25, 2007 at 12:10 am #

    I have to ask also if men are willing to have scripture teach them something they don’t like. I have invested far more than most in knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, as well as interacting with top scholars. I just don’t see some men taking this kind of care with the scriptures and writing daily about the scriptures as I do.

  40. Matthew September 25, 2007 at 7:13 am #


    A thought to tag along with your mention of Luke 6:31. I think 1 Cor 7:1-14 has a role in this discussion. I know people who extend the authority-submission role to the marriage bed, namely, that the wife must do whatever, whenever, however in order to submit to her husband. First Cor 7:1-7 teaches that part of the relationship in marriage is completely egalitarian, unless I misread it.

    Based upon this, and upon basic common sense in relationships, I believe that when a man expects his wife to submit in this area, he is in disobedience to scripture and probably getting close to the line of abuse. Would you agree?

  41. Sue September 25, 2007 at 10:06 am #


    I do believe that unilateral submission is abuse, yes. It is interesting that C.S. Lewis in an essay on equality said that democracy was not such a great system but that he knew he was not himself fit to be a ruler. He said that he was not fit to “rule a hen roost.” If more men had that attitude then they would understand the purpose of mutual submission, which is explicitly taught in 1 Cor. 7, as you asy.

    I believe that the intimate relationship as taught in 1 Cor 7 as mutual and reciprocal represents the marriage relationship as a whole.

    Christ himself humbled himself. Why is the fact that Christ did not grasp equality with God important? So he could become human, on the same level as humans. Why do men not see that they are to have the mind of Christ, to not grasp the power that is theirs to overrule their wife. Why do they not humble themselves, realizing that they are sinful humans themselves and put themselves on level with their wives.

    Abuse is pervasive in marriage even now, here and in other countries. World Vision sees the greatest problem anywhere in the world is the denial of decision-making power to women. This accounts for women getting AIDS and living in suffering and poverty throughout the world. Abuse is higher in the US than in Europe, there is has nothing to boast about here. And abuse is at exactly the same rate among Christians as among non-Christians. The main component of abuse is male entitlement.

    I have seen enough abuse in the church, and among pastors and Christian men to know that it is the thought that they are entitled to lead and have their way that justifies their abuse and keeps women in abusive situations.

    This is why Cromwell executed the king. Monarchy had to be transformed and made democratic, marriage should be transformed and made mutual, to reduce abuse and to have this relationship reflect the law of Christ – Luke 6:31. “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.”

  42. scott September 25, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    Why do men not see that they are to have the mind of Christ, to not grasp the power that is theirs to overrule their wife.

    in the last few posts, there is a lot of misunderstanding of the complementarian view. perhaps we must do a better job to clarify what the compl. view is about, what is supports, but probably those opposing the view should also do a better job listening, rather than perpetuating misunderstandings.

    i agree with your interpretation of 1 cor 7.

    sadly, there are many men who abuse their power and try to use scripture to support their behavior, to get what they want. as you have said, this is FAR different from the model we have of Christ and the Church. in light of such abuses, a proper understanding of the complementarian view corrects and rebukes this behavior just as strongly as the egalitarian view. the model we have in Christ is to use our authority to lead, love, protect and serve. SERVE! putting others interests ahead of our own, not dominate for our own selfish gain.

    the words authority and submission tend to make us think of abuses of authority, and demeaning submission. but we should let scripture renew our minds, and our definitions of these terms. look no further than the authority/submission relationship we see with God the Father, and Christ the Son. or with Christ and the church. headship is not inherently a bad, demeaning thing. the fall corrupted these roles, but in Christ, these roles are meant to be restored, not obliterated.

  43. Bryan L September 25, 2007 at 11:33 am #

    I’ll be honest Scott, the reason there may be “lot of misunderstanding of the complementarian view” is because it seems to be a moving target that is hard to pin down.

    For one it is a rather new movement that seems to have come in response to Egalitarianism and feminism (not the same thing). Yet at the same time it positions itself as the dominant view through church history. But what in fact is the dominant view in church history is traditional patriarchy. So complementarianism tries to distance itself from some of the more negative aspects of patriarchy in the past all the while not distancing itself enough so that it is still viewed within the same line and tradition.

    Many of the views on how complementarianism works our in practice are rather new or softened from how patriarchy was practiced in the past.

    So for the Egalitarian we are arguing against both patriarchy (which is still alive today) and it’s more modern updated form, complementarianism which there is much overlap.

    On top of that many complementarians appear to be saying different things from each other about how it works out in practice. It changes from one to the other. I’ve seen some of the quotes Sue produces from some leading complementarians and some are outright appalling, and often there’s a refusal from complementarians to actually acknowledge those quotes and deal with them, or say anything against those well know Christian leader (unless it’s someone like Driscoll).

    So if there is a misunderstanding the responsibility rests largely at the feet of complementarians who seem to be saying different things and not demonstrate how much they differ from traditional patriarchy (which took its cues from the Bible) or call traditional patriarchy out for its sins.

    Bryan L

  44. Carlito September 25, 2007 at 11:42 am #

    Sue –

    I appreciate your passion and knowledge on this subject. You are very committed to your mission, and I commend you for that. It’s clear that, based on your experiences and observations, you have a natural disdain and distrust toward men because of those who have abused positions of leadership. I understand your frustration and your desire to facilitate change.

    However, I would humbly suggest that you be careful not to go too far in making blanket generalizations and stereotypes toward men in the US and elsewhere.

    For every example you can give of men who have abused authority/power in the church or elsewhere, I will give you a similar example of men who have lovingly and sacrificially given their lives to protect, provide for, and lead their families and churches in God-glorifying ways. Not only that, but I can give you examples-for-examples of women who have willing-fully and joyfully embraced their role of submission in the home and in church. They will tell you that it is a beautiful picture of Christ and the church, and that they are grateful for the positive impacts of the complementarian relationship applied to daily life. See http://girltalk.blogs.com/girltalk/biblical_womanhood/index.html for just a few examples.

    I agree that many men in the church have failed in the area of Christ-like servant leadership. I posted a link last week to an article by Josh Harris about this issue – along with a call for men to take seriously their responsibilities of leadership.

    One other thing I’d like to point out is that the root issue at stake is personal sin and lack of accountability. As the Puritans said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Men in positions of power will undoubtedly fall to grave temptations if they are not actively “rooting out” sin by the power of the Spirit in their lives while humbly seeking God daily for mercy to be sanctified. Accountability is huge for obvious reasons – namely because many times we are blinded by our own sin and our hearts can be cunningly deceitful. These sins are only magnified when authority begins to corrupt.

    To think that holding to a certain view (whether egal or complementary) will solve the problems is simply narrow-minded and naive. The nature of the problem lies in the hearts of men, not in an exterior factor.

    To your last point, men in positions of leadership who are daily applying God’s word and seeking to walk worthy of the gospel will consistently live by Luke 6:31 in the way they lead & shepherd their families or congregations. Servant leadership is a huge calling and one that, when appropriated correctly, will ALWAYS reflect the law of Christ. I personally know numerous pastors in my city who subscribe to the complementarian view. These men by grace obey the Luke 6 commandment in a way that brings glory to God and serves as a wonderful example of true Christ-like service for the Kingdom.

    p.s. Kevin – thanks for your comment 🙂

  45. Carlito September 25, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    Sorry – I was posting my comment before I saw Scott’s last comment, and I said some of the same things. Oh well, Scott, at least we’re on the same page 🙂

  46. Matthew September 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm #


    in light of such abuses, a proper understanding of the complementarian view corrects and rebukes this behavior just as strongly as the egalitarian view.

    I am not sure this is true. For example, Mary Kassian, author of a book blurbed by Waltke and author of two articles on the CBMW site, wrote in her book, “Women, Creation, and the Fall” that usually a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of abuse. I have personally seen advice like this encourage wives to be enablers of abuse.

    I am concerned that the CBMW site has little or no practical help for victims of abuse. Am I missing it? Perhaps you can point me to articles or other help available there.

    I am curious: what advice to you give to wives of abusive husbands? How bad does it have to get before you help the wife stand up to the husband, if ever?

    It’s an emotionally loaded subject, but I don’t mean to come across as emotional. If I do, please forgive. I am asking each question honestly. Thanks.

  47. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    I am not sure this is true. For example, Mary Kassian, author of a book blurbed by Waltke and author of two articles on the CBMW site, wrote in her book, “Women, Creation, and the Fall” that usually a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of abuse. I have personally seen advice like this encourage wives to be enablers of abuse.

    This is incredibly dangerous advice. I recently heard Waltke preach and he said that divorce is caused by women resisting their role.

    In face, submission rewards and reinforces physical abuse. The bully is encouraged by a submissive response. Lundy Bancroft, who works with the penal system in the US pinpoints male entitlement as one major factor in ALL abuse situations. This is a fact. I have seen it.

    World Vision pinpoints denial of decision-making power for women as a cause of AIDS, poverty, illiteracy and death.

    We don’t have an absolute monarchy because of abuse. We should not have hierarchic marriages because of abuse. One or two kind and godly monarchs do not justify lack of democracy. The fact that there are kind complementarian husbands does not justify hierarchy in the home.

    I know many traditional marriages in which the mother stays home and is truly the mistress of the home. That is not hierarchy. I am not against tradition but against heirarchy and this new “leadership of the male” idea.

    Mahaney has written an article advertised on the CBMW site in which he places ALL the blame for difficulties in the marriage on the women’s lack of following. That is spiritual abuse.

    I have spoken to Bruce Waltke personally sonce then about abuse as a cause for divorce and he had no response. He had not been challenged to confront this before, or he had not done it. We sat there and he just shook his head at what I told him. These men do not have the answers. It was very sad to see him so silent on this issue.

    Men will realize, some of them, before they die that they have deprived their companions of normal autonomy, of the exercise of scholarship and contribution, which they themselves so avidly desire.

    Denny advised his female colleague or friend, on the basis of his understanding of 1 Tim. 2:12, that she cannot teach men doctrine. Why should a women be excluded from the academic community of theology just because someone does not read a research paper through to the end.

  48. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 1:58 pm #

    Excuse the typos – In fact, not “in face.”

  49. scott September 25, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    Wow. I am not so familiar with what Waltke, Mary Kassian, or Mahaney have said on the subject. The view that abuse in the home is due to women not submitting is ridiculous. If anything, “submitting” to abuse will enable the bad behavior to continue. That is a misapplication of the biblical texts and does not represent the complementarian view as I understand it.

    As Bryan pointed out, there is not just one understanding of the complementarian position, and some who claim it try to justify things I think are wrong. What I hope is that we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are a few out there who I think do a good job representing the complementarian view, such as Piper and Grudem. I could never see them blaming abusive situations on lack of submission, or requiring a woman to submit to such treatment.

    The scriptures are there to guide us into the truth. I think the Bible clearly teaches concepts of authority and submission, within marriage and the church. Some will misapply the principles, but that doesn’t mean the principles are wrong.

    I could find poor examples of those who espouse the egalitarian view, and spend all my time critiquing them, and reject the egalitarian view based on their poor example. But that is not very responsible. Let’s be more concerned with what the scriptures say on the subject, rather than the example of others.

  50. scott September 25, 2007 at 2:49 pm #

    Matthew, I appreciate your concern about CBMW and the need to address the issue of abuse. They should perhaps make such resources more prominent. Nevertheless, here are two articles which I found by typing “abuse” into the search box:

    CBMW Statement on Abuse

    Male Headship and Violence against Women

    Needless to say, I stand by my previous statement that “in light of such abuses, a proper understanding of the complementarian view corrects and rebukes this behavior just as strongly as the egalitarian view.”

  51. scott September 25, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    oh no! I posted the wrong link…
    this is the right one:
    Male Headship and Violence against Women

  52. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    As I said, male entitlement has been pinpointed as a causal factor in ALL abuse. World Vision sees the same thing. It is like smoking tobacco, dangerous to your health.

    Although there may be lots of bad things that happen in egalitarian marriages, can you name one thing that is a result of the husband treating his wife as an equal in decision making, treating her like an adult.

    As I said, I am not against a traditional arrangement but against hierarchy in decision-making, that the man has more say. What I see in the books I read is spiritual abuse, and it leads, on the part of some men, to physical abuse. Why should women be deprived of choosing a career, just because she always has to be at the beck and call of her husband. Believe me, I have read the complementarian blogs, and I have read about one good thing a man can do for a woman, walk on the outside of the sidewalk.

    But the women runs through her day with her husband, seeking how she can serve him, and meet HIS priorities, and help him with his job, ministry whatever. Some women say that their daughters ask why Daddy speaks to the mom like he does. This is on complementarian women blogs.

    And one woman asks why she has felt like she had no voice for 40 years of marriage, on a complementarian blog.

    Sure it can happen to anyone, but the women is blamed in the comp. system as rebeling against God’s order.

    Just admit that the whole thing is one possible interpretation, and that “treating others as you want to be treated” is another valid way to model Christ’s teaching and stop trying to influence men to treat their wives like “helpers”, instead of marriage being two humans together for mutual help.

  53. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 3:10 pm #


    In a complementarian view, male entitlement is not acceptable, so one pillar of abuse is already negated.

  54. Matthew September 25, 2007 at 3:26 pm #


    I am surprised by your leading comments in post #49.You seem to imply that it is an ad hominem attack to critique the writings of Kassian, Waltke, or Mahaney. You appeal to Piper and Grudem and the Bible. But the CBMW is the definitive group for the compl. view. It is joined at the hip with Piper and Grudem. Mahaney and Grudem are both on the board of directors for the CBMW. And as I said, the site features articles by Kassian and Waltke blurbed her book. Waltke is not a random theologian; he is well-respected in many circles, especially in the CBMW – Piper – Grudem crowd. It is not ad hominem to critique the writings of these authors. They represent this particular interpretation of the Bible. These writings have Piper and Grudem’s implicit, if not explicit, approval.

  55. Matthew September 25, 2007 at 3:35 pm #

    I didn’t explain very well what I was reacting to. It is these two paragraphs:

    Wow. I am not so familiar with what Waltke, Mary Kassian, or Mahaney have said on the subject. The view that abuse in the home is due to women not submitting is ridiculous. If anything, “submitting” to abuse will enable the bad behavior to continue. That is a misapplication of the biblical texts and does not represent the complementarian view as I understand it.

    I could find poor examples of those who espouse the egalitarian view, and spend all my time critiquing them, and reject the egalitarian view based on their poor example. But that is not very responsible. Let’s be more concerned with what the scriptures say on the subject, rather than the example of others.

  56. scott September 25, 2007 at 3:58 pm #

    Critique their viewpoints all you want, just realize that you are ultimately critiquing their opinion on a particular application, not the complementarian view as a whole.

    Many authors contribute articles that appear on CBMW, but of course that does not mean Piper or Grudem approve of everything that every author has ever said on the subject.

    The complementarian view is not a list of things a woman can and can’t do. The basic idea of the complementarian view is that men and women are equally created in the image of God, equal in value and essence, however there are God-given roles for men and women, which are meant to reflect Christ and the Church, and which lead to appropriate God honoring behavior. This involves the concepts of headship, authority and submission. Every complementarian will have a slightly different view of how those details are worked out in practice, but they will all agree that the concepts exist and lead to distinctions that should be made in men and women’s roles.

    Again, lets look primarily to scripture to guide us in the issue.

  57. Bryan L September 25, 2007 at 4:40 pm #

    Scott, what help is the complementarian view if there is no consensus on its application.
    The roles have precisely to do with the application, which then boils down to a list of things a woman can and can’t do (however there is never any talk about what a man can’t do, since he is not the one being limited).

    The main place complementarians get their theology is from CBMW. If its adherents cannot go there to find authoritative teaching on how complementarianism works out in the real world, or can’t know if the views are officially endorsed then what good is it?

    You don’t have this kind of confusion when it comes to Egalitarianism because it’s simple, a woman can do whatever a man can do (that’s biologically possible) so there is no need to come up with a special list of things a woman can and can’t do.

    Bryan L

  58. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 5:01 pm #

    The complementarian view is not a list of things a woman can and can’t do.

    Both Piper and Grudem are famous for their lists.

    Christ did not teach that authority and submission are the core of the gospel, he taught that treating others as you want to be treated is.

    Piper, Grudem and Kostenberger have all kinds of restrictions that they put on women. They are called boundaries, and Kostneberger even thinks that they keep women from sin. The question is what keeps men from sin? Or are men better than women, and don’t need restrictions? Have you read Kostenberger’s article on how women are saved by childbirth? Have you read Piper’s lists or Grudem’s lists. It is all about keeping women in the lower ranks, that is the core teaching.

  59. scott September 25, 2007 at 5:37 pm #

    Scott, what help is the complementarian view if there is no consensus on its application.

    Bryan, what help is the christian worldview if there is no consensus on its application? My point being, there need not be total consensus, but there is a lot of consensus, there are some clear principles, and it can be very helpful.

  60. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 5:52 pm #

    It is clear from this discussion that exegesis is not considered all that important. I don’t see anyone prepared to defend the idea that 1 Tim. 2:12 actually does say that women are not to “exercise authority.” You certainly can’t do that on the basis of any study yet published. And yet, look at what importance Piper puts on this idea.

  61. Carlito September 25, 2007 at 6:02 pm #

    “It is all about keeping women in the lower ranks, that is the core teaching.”

    “Although there may be lots of bad things that happen in egalitarian marriages, can you name one thing that is a result of the husband treating his wife as an equal in decision making, treating her like an adult.”

    “Believe me, I have read the complementarian blogs, and I have read about one good thing a man can do for a woman, walk on the outside of the sidewalk.”

    Sue – …treating her like an adult??? C’mon! These are purely inflammatory, patronizing statements and are a gross caricature of the complementarian view.

    That’s like the redneck anecdote of the beer-swigging jerk yelling to his wife that she needs to get “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen”. You know as well as I do that your statements are blatant misrepresentations of the comp view. In a God-glorifying complementarian relationship, the man will treasure, prize and honor his wife above all else. And, just so there is no doubt, he WILL treat her like an adult.

    “Christ did not teach that authority and submission are the core of the gospel, he taught that treating others as you want to be treated is.”

    You keep going back to this, but I’m not following your logic on this. Who ever said anything about NOT treating anyone else as he/she would want to be treated???? As has been stated previously, just because the husband is the head of the household doesn’t mean that he no longer has need for the golden rule. In fact, it’s completely the opposite. The husband is called to sacrificially give his life away (as Christ did) for his wife and family..

    See Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:
    “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

    Sounds eerily familiar to the golden rule, doesn’t it? In this passage where Paul is expounding upon authority/headship and submission in marriage, he weaves in the “treat others as you would like to be treated” commandment verbatim. In my opinion, your logic in regards to the ‘golden rule’ just doesn’t hold up.

  62. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 6:22 pm #


    Have you read the lists? Have you read the article on the CBMW site about how to counsel a woman who won’t be a good follower? What about this?

    So this is what a helpmate SHOULD look like in my marriage and what I aspire to do!

    Responding to the priorities he has established in the realms of caring for the home, such as cooking, cleaning, food shopping, errands, and any other tasks he delegates to me. … In this season, it also means supporting him in the ministry team that he leads.

    Regularly sharing my “to do” list with him and asking him if anything should be removed or added, which items are his priorities for me to do, etc. Then, I should do whatever I can to serve him on a daily basis, even if it means that items I’d rather get done don’t get done.

    Providing companionship in ways that are meaningful to him. In our marriage this includes things like getting up early to have breakfast with him, not only so I can prepare it for him but also because he appreciates spending a little time with me in the morning. It also includes joyfully greeting him when he comes home at the end of the day, relaxing with him when he desires to relax together (even if my ‘to do’ list beckons), giving him my attention when he wants to talk (even if I am tempted to be distracted by something else).

    She can’t determine her own priorities in terms of cleaning the house and shopping. Not that she has any other. He has a ministry, she serves him, and he sets her priorities in terms of her daily “to do” list.

    This is mainstream. She has to realx with him when he wants to relax. You would not know from this that this woman has a newborn baby!

  63. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 6:23 pm #

    And if men do sacrifice for their wives then where is the complementarian husband who goes off to work and puts his wife through a Th.D. because that is her calling?

  64. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 6:24 pm #

    Treat women like adult human beings with all the same interests and gifts as men.

  65. mlm September 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm #


    It seems this comment thread has led away from the questions I originally asked, AND it seems you don’t wish to answer the question I continue to post again and again (why is that?).

    But a large thing I notice is that your female readers who typically voice support for your doctrine are conspicuously silent. I would like to hear from WOMEN who embrace this complementarian perspective: what they think/believe/feel about it, and how it works itself out in their daily life.

    I realize I could go read the blogs that your male readers have suggested, but I want to hear from everyday women, especially your faithful readers. I’m not suggesting that you round up a group of your friends and compel them to weigh in; I’m simply hoping that if your usual bevy of female readers are reading this that they speak up.


  66. Suzanne September 25, 2007 at 6:47 pm #

    PS I quoted from a mainstream complementarian blog, not an aberration but a mainstream example.

  67. mlm September 25, 2007 at 6:48 pm #

    Also, to Bryan L, who claims to be totally egalitarian in his marriage and his church views…please explain to me what this “total egalitarianism” looks like in a marriage.

    How is a thing decided when you and your wife strongly hold opposing views? If you were to both suddenly “submit” to the other, nothing would ever get done. Nor would anything ever get done if each of you stubbornly stood your separate ground. Can you elaborate on how this plays out in real life? Thanks.

  68. Trish September 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm #


    I am one of Denny’s faithful readers who embraces the complementarian position. The reason I hesitate to jump into this discussion is because of some of the personalities involved in this post. I know that I am going to be attacked for making this comment, but it will be far less than the attack I would get for anything I would try to say about why I believe the complementarian view is biblical.

    There is nothing I could contribute that would not be dismissed as invalid because I will be seen as unqualified enough, uneducated enough, or both.

    I will say that I believe the reason there are differences is because we come to the table with a different perspective on theology. If the Bible teaches a truth that does not align with what I think is right does not make the Bible wrong.

    God is sovereign and He has His purposes for what He teaches that don’t have to be understood by us, they are to be obeyed. He doesn’t ask for much from us, just to love Him completely and love others the same way. When we love someone, we seek to please them and do as they say.

    God asks us to trust Him and do what He tells us, to take it on faith that it is good and it is right. God’s ways are not our ways, He tells us that. We need to not try to fit our understanding of the way we think the world should be into what He tells us the world should be. We are fallen creatures and we don’t see the world rightly. But God gave us His word, and while we most certainly don’t see this in the most pure light it really is, He has provided us a helper in the Holy Spirit. At this point in my life, with the background I have, with the reading and studying I have done on this subject, I am totally comfortable with trusting in the complementarian principles as taught in the Bible. God is Sovereign. Christ is the head of the Church and submits to God. A husband is head of the house and submits to Christ. A wife submits to the husband. Their is a hierarchy in the Trinity, there is a hierarchy in creation, there is a hierarchy in the church and in the home. This allows for there to be an order in determining how to serve God.

    I need to stop, I’ve said far more than I intended and dread the comments this will bring. Just so everyone knows, I am submitting this post just so mlm knows there is a least one female reader of Denny’s that supports this view. I did not make this post to engage in the dialog happening here and therefore will not be responding to any comments directed at the statements I made. I know you will find fault with them and there is nothing I can say to change that. I believe what I believe to be right.

    God Bless,

  69. Bryan L September 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm #

    You said “How is a thing decided when you and your wife strongly hold opposing views?”

    I’ll let you know when it happens. As it is it generally doesn’t (not enough to where I can remember a specific example). We don’t generally hold strongly opposing views. Neither of us is that stubborn or determined to always get our own way. Marriage is about mutual submission and thankfully the Holy Spirit reveals to us when we are seeking after our own desires and and he shows us when one should submit to the other. We both listen to the others view when we disagree and one of us changes our mind or we both do and we take a different route altogether.

    Also we recognize that we each bring certain gifts to our marriage. For instance I do the finances. I’m particularly good at it and my wife doesn’t like doing it, so she trusts me with that. But there are times when I want to buy something substantial, and even though I do the finances, I get my wifes opinion and often if it’s a bad idea I come to recognize that through my wifes counsel.

    It’s important to recognize our particular gifts that we each bring to the marriage as well as being open to the counsel of the other believing that the Holy Spirit speaks through them when we are not listening to him too well.

    Let me know if you would like me to explain anymore, or you are always welcome to take your questions/comments over to my blog so that this discussion doesn’t become all about me ; )

    Bryan L

  70. Denny Burk September 25, 2007 at 7:25 pm #


    I’ve been at work all day. Since I left for work, I just haven’t had time to participate. We’ve got company tonight, so I’m dropping in now just to say that I’ll be out of pocket a bit longer.

    Let me know the key questions again you want answered.


  71. Denny Burk September 25, 2007 at 7:27 pm #

    Thanks, Trish! That’s a good word! I appreciate your reading the blog.


  72. Bryan L September 25, 2007 at 7:30 pm #


    I don’t think it is fair for you to claim you will be attacked (by the Egalitarians I’m assuming). If people are going to share their views openly on a blog like this then they should expect to be questioned on them or challenged (especially on controversial topics) and not consider it a personal attack. If they don’t want to be challenged then they should let it be known that they are just stating their opinion and not interested in defending their views or having a discussion on them.

    I’ve been personally attacked on blogs, but just being challenged for my views is not the same things (even when the rhetoric gets turned up a bit). If anyone from my perspective were to personally attack you I would call them to repentance.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion as a female complementarian.

    Bryan L

  73. Sue September 25, 2007 at 8:28 pm #

    The reason I hesitate to jump into this discussion is because of some of the personalities involved in this post. I know that I am going to be attacked for making this comment

    I understand, Trish, last year a female commenter made a personal attack on my character on this blog. It happens. Following that I had ridicule heaped on me for admitting that I did not have a PhD and that I was usually addressed as Ms. in my workplace.

    Then I had a very famous complementarian male email me and ask me some very private personal questions about sexuality when I was in the middle of an extremely difficult personal crisis, one of my children was in hospital. Overall the personal attacks are very sad. I don’t mind much if someone quotes something I have written – that would be right and proper.

  74. Carlito September 25, 2007 at 8:34 pm #

    Bryan L – good post #72. Trish, I concur. Thanks for sharing your heart in a humble way. I think Trish feels threatened by the fact that she might be asked to provide contextual lexicalization of the perjorative non-negative derivatives of the word “authentein”, and she feels she’s not necessarily qualified to do so.

    OK, Sue, you win. Congratulations.

  75. mlm September 25, 2007 at 8:40 pm #

    Trish: Thanks for your comment and your courage to make it. I’m not trying to lure you (or other females) into the public forum in order to attack you. I’m truly trying to gain understanding for how each these theories plays out in real life. Your comment was very thorough as to WHY you believe (and THAT you believe) what you do, but I still am left to wonder what are the practical outworkings of it. But maybe that’s too much info to get into on this limited blog space and without the ability to also verbally question and clarify. Plus, it’s probably a lot to share with a bunch of strangers. 🙂

    Bryan L: After reading that you and your wife have yet to hold strongly opposing views, I’m left wondering how long you’ve been married!?!?! 🙂

    Denny: My original question was this: “If a woman teaches a sermon on Sunday morning, what spiritual ramifications is that going to have on Mr. Smith sitting on the front row?

    Is there divine retribution for this “sin”? Do you even consider it sin, or just deviation from the prescribed?) Does Mr. Smith get punished if he listens and heeds the message? Or should the message go unheeded because of the messenger? (Although, again, in most churches the average churchgoer doesn’t even know about this debate, so he wouldn’t even know he isn’t supposed to be taught by a woman. In this case, is the damage still done, and the people just aren’t aware of *why*?)”

    Thanks again, Denny, for your gracious response. I appreciate it.

  76. Bryan L September 25, 2007 at 9:01 pm #


    About 4 years with a 1 1/2 year old. You? How long did it take you and your husband to have strongly opposing views on something that neither of you were willing to cave on?

    If we were to have on of those issues we would handle it the way I prescribed. That may be why I can’t think of any specifi times (even though there might have been some) because our way of handling disagreements on particular directions we should go never ends in a stalemate so that nothing gets decided on or one person has to take control and the other is left mad.

    Good hypothetical question though. Practical outworking and application is always important to any theology.

    Bryan L

  77. mlm September 25, 2007 at 9:16 pm #

    Bryan L:

    That’s exactly where I’m lost on this whole issue: practical outworking and application. At first I thought I understood how it all worked in the home and in marriage (I thought the Bible was pretty clear on that, and I just needed help walking it out) and that I was just muddled about how it all works out in the Church. Lo and behold, peeps can’t seem to agree on either or explain to me in practical terms how this works in everyday life. AGH!

    And if I have to go with Piper’s or Driscoll’s explanation (THEY don’t even agree and the latter wouldn’t call Denny’s views complementarian but rather heirarchical), then I’m afraid I’m rather discontented.

  78. Matthew September 25, 2007 at 9:32 pm #

    Trish, I deeply sympathize with your fear of speaking up. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I will never know. Alas!

    mlm, the best presentation of the complementarian view I know of is by Alex Strauch, “Equal Yet Different.” (He also wrote “Biblical Eldership.” As an aside, I have talked with him on several occasions and am assured through a mutual friend that he is as genuine as the day is long. )

    He believes that a wife is a helper to the husband. But sometimes, the help he needs isn’t the help he wants. Strauch comes down on the side of the wife doing what is right, even if the husband doesn’t like it, which might mean turning him in to the church leaders or authorities. All this to say, he presents male leadership but he does not turn wives into enablers. I think his presentation is fair and reasonable.

  79. mlm September 25, 2007 at 9:47 pm #

    Matthew: I’ll add it to my list of things to check out. Thanks!

  80. scott September 25, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    And if men do sacrifice for their wives then where is the complementarian husband who goes off to work and puts his wife through a Th.D. because that is her calling?

    funny you should ask that, but currently that is what i am doing as a complementarian husband. going to seminary has been a dream of my wife’s for some time, so i work as an engineer and support her as she is working towards an M.Div. from gordon conwell. she is enjoying the opportunity, and i enjoy to see her blessed by it. she doesn’t want to be a head pastor or anything, she is probably a bit more conservative in her complementarian views than i. she has a passion to use her gifts to teach younger women.

    also, in the rare case when we strongly disagree about something, when we are done being stubborn, we listen to each other and work towards a compromise. not very complicated. if i had to use “complementarian” terms to explain, i might say that i defer to my wife out of love and care for her, while she defers to me out of respect and trust in my love for her. but ultimately, it’s good ol’ fashioned compromise. 🙂

  81. Denny Burk September 25, 2007 at 11:09 pm #


    I’m reprinting your questions below with my answers in red:

    “If a woman teaches a sermon on Sunday morning, what spiritual ramifications is that going to have on Mr. Smith sitting on the front row? It’s difficult to work with this hypothetical, given that I don’t know anything about Mr. Smith. If Mr. Smith is like me, he’ll likely grieve that God’s commands (like the one in 1 Timothy 2:12) are not being followed. If Mr. Smith is unaware of the Bible’s teaching in this matter, he’ll be reinforced in his error that men and women are interchangeable, that God doesn’t differentiate roles for men and women in the church’s teaching ministry. Is there divine retribution for this “sin”? Yes. The Bible teaches that no sin goes unpunished (Exodus 34:7). But this sin is not in a class by itself. God treats all sin this way. Sins get punished either by the unrepentant sinner in hell or by Jesus’ death on the cross. Do you even consider it sin, or just deviation from the prescribed? To “deviate” from what God “prescribes” is what sin is. There’s no difference between the two. Does Mr. Smith get punished if he listens and heeds the message? Again, it depends on who Mr. Smith is. Is he in a position of enabling the teacher to disobey 1 Timothy 2:12? If so, he would be in sin to sit passively while his church’s teaching office is in disarray. Is he an innocent passerby or visitor listening to a sermon? Or should the message go unheeded because of the messenger? There’s never any excuse to disobey the Bible’s teaching, no matter who the messenger is. We should recognize, however, that it’s difficult to call people to obey what the Bible teaches when the teacher doesn’t obey it (perhaps by not giving heed to 1 Timothy 2:12 and the rest of the Bible’s teaching on male headship). (Although, again, in most churches the average churchgoer doesn’t even know about this debate, so he wouldn’t even know he isn’t supposed to be taught by a woman. In this case, is the damage still done, and the people just aren’t aware of *why*?)”

    I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. Thanks for being patient.


  82. Sue September 25, 2007 at 11:15 pm #


    Can you show me where I have said an unkind word about anyone here? Denny recommends an article and I discuss it. Is that funny?

    You would be wrong to think that I don’t feel very threatened by what is said about me in a forum like this. Let me assure you that I have all the normal feelings.

    I’ll tell you how I got into this. My former pastor, a complementarian, asked me if I could disprove the Statement of Concern against the TNIV, posted on the CBMW website, because he was so embarrassed by it. Since he was well aware of the rhetoric which had been aimed at some of the translators, mixed comp and egal, he did not want to investigate this himself publicly.

    Of course, it is easy to prove that the TNIV, NRSV, NLT, NET, CEV, KJV and Luther’s Bible do not conform to the guidelines regarding gender language, composed by Grudem, Poythress, Piper, Sproul and Dobson, which are published on the CBMW site.

    So I wondered why the TNIV was singled out and why the people who wrote the statement of concern against the TNIV did not come quietly to their Christian complementarian brothers, translators of the TNIV, first, before making a public attack and boycott.

    However, last year Dec. 2006, on a blog, Dr. Grudem explained one of the reasons for his own desire to boycott the TNIV. He wrote,

    To take one example: in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (italics added). If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women’s roles in the church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.” Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.” Then in the footnotes to 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV also introduces so many alternative translations that the verse will just seem confusing and impossible to understand. So it is no surprise that egalitarian churches are eager to adopt the TNIV.

    I was surprised because the meaning of authentein has always been considered obscure. When I started reading the studies, especially in Grudem’s own book, Ev. Fem. & Biblical Truth, I found that the majority of the evidence came out for a meaning of “usurp authority” or “compel”. I was very surprised and I still am. No further study had ever changed that meaning. I had someone recommend Al Wolters, and I am very familiar with his other research, we have a lot of interests in common. Through speaking with him, I found out that he does not consider the meaning of this word, authentein by any means certain.

    What has impressed me most is the tendency for some people to attack and make fun of other people, but I think most of all, the false accusations against the TNIV simply shocks me beyond belief. I really find it hard to believe that a Christian organization would do that. But Grudem makes clear that for him, a major reason is because he does not want the alternative reading for 1 Tim. 2:12 to become recognized as the one that was standard for 19 centuries.

    Piper, Grudem and Denny depend on this verse for many of their sermons and articles regarding the role of women in the church.

    I hope this explains how I became interested in this cause.

  83. Sue September 25, 2007 at 11:20 pm #


    I just read your comment. Thanks for sharing, that is great. I appreciate it. I have no problem with a old fashioned compromises.

    How would you feel if your wife had a passion for languages and wanted to teach Greek in a seminary?

    This is not to bait you personally, I think you have given me an honest answer that I respect completely – this is to expand your thinking to how the complementarian teaching affects other women.

  84. Shannon September 26, 2007 at 1:28 am #

    MLM –

    Another complemetarian female voice here. I completely concur with what Trish said… You said your frustration is with:

    “peeps can’t seem to agree on either or explain to me in practical terms how this works in everyday life. AGH!”

    I think that’s because this looks different in different relationships, honestly. Practical example: my husband is very comfortable with me making decisions without checking in with him, about most things. He’s comfortable with me going away for a weekend without checking in, about letting me spend money, about most stuff. I have a girlfriend whose relationship looks completely different: she has to check with her husband about most everything, and she’s completely comfortable with it. In her home, this is what it means for her to “respect” and “submit” to her husband’s leadership. In my home, it’s that I’m careful with the tone I use when we’re talking, that I’m careful about the words I use when we disagree, that I’m careful to protect his reputation when I speak about him to others… It’s that if we have a big decision to make (public school, private school, or home-school?), I hear what he has to say, and if we absolutely cannot come to common ground about something, I respect his decision, knowing that “the buck stops with him” as head of our home, and that he’s accountable before the Lord for these decisions as head of our home.

    I’m not sure if that’s what you were looking for, but I hope this helps at least a bit…

    On another note, as a woman involved in ministry to other women (I have a masters in biblical studies from DTS), I have a hard time relating to some of this discussion…I absolutely LOVE being involved in ministry to and with other women. Purely based on the way I relate to other women vs the way I relate to men (hubby not included in this), I really don’t see the appeal. I can’t even imagine being able to open up and share my heart with a roomful of men the way I can at a MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) meeting. Not sure that that really helps anything at all in this discussion, but I just don’t understand the appeal. Like Denny’s earlier post said, “Women are from Venus, Men are…just gross!” ;o)

  85. mlm September 26, 2007 at 6:48 am #


    Thank you very much for your answers. I appreciate your time. Did you write your answers in red so that they’d resemble the words of Jesus?:)

    All kidding aside, I do struggle with wondering how you feel about people such as Beth Moore, who preach doctrine to men under the authority of her senior pastor. Is this a “lesser sin” since she’s not a senior pastor, but still teaching doctrine to men?

    I know many a female senior pastor (some who’ve stepped in when their husband suddenly died), and to read that you think they are in danger of going to hell…ouch.

  86. mlm September 26, 2007 at 6:56 am #


    Thanks for your comments! They were VERY helpful.

    One thing that always strikes me, when I’m discussing or pondering ANYTHING at all, is *motivation*. For example, if a woman is fighting for her right to be a senior pastor, what are her motives for doing so? If a woman is fighting for her rights to be an “equal” (for lack of a better term) wife, what is her motivation for doing so? Likewise, when a man fights for the opposite, what are his motives?

    In the end, we can claim “doctrine” all we want, but the Lord looks at our heart. And in the end, that’s what will be judged.

    Sometimes, there seems (to me) to be a lot of other presupposed ideas and ways of thinking that jade our approach to Scripture and to the way it “ought” to play out in our life.

    In reference to this particular subject, I find that humility and agape love are noticeably absent in many cases.

    Thanks again for your help! I appreciate it.

  87. Denny Burk September 26, 2007 at 8:23 am #

    Ha! That’s great, Shannon. Thanks for commenting.

  88. Denny Burk September 26, 2007 at 8:27 am #


    I didn’t mean that every woman who teaches men is going to hell. That’s not the question you asked. You asked if God judges people for “this sin.” I was just giving a generic theological answer for how God deals with sin. I’m not saying that every woman teacher is going to hell. Sorry if I gave that impression. That’s not at all what I intended.


  89. scott September 26, 2007 at 9:21 am #

    How would you feel if your wife had a passion for languages and wanted to teach Greek in a seminary?

    in that case, i would try to determine, with my wife, if this is a way God would want her to use her gifts, including taking into account God’s order for men and women. i think the kind of teaching with authority that Paul had in mind was like a pastor or elder. some may disagree, but i think the authority and responsibility of a professor over his/her students is significantly different from that of a pastor over his congregation.

    as a matter of fact, i asked my wife this morning, and she disagrees with me 🙂 like i said, she has a passion for using her gifts and studies to teach women. she said her conscience would not allow her to be in that kind of position over a man. i respect that. i appreciate her desire to be careful that she is honoring God with her gifts.

  90. mlm September 26, 2007 at 9:31 am #


    Thanks for all that you’ve shared. I don’t think you and Denny quite see eye-to-eye, in fact he perhaps is more in agreement with your wife. Although I was under the impression that strict complementarians don’t like for women to get M. Divs…anyway, thanks for your comments. I don’t see a lot of difference between your beliefs and mine, except maybe in titles, labels, and semantics.

    I agree with your thoughts about the differences between the classroom and the church. I wonder how your wife feels about secular female professors. Does she feel there needs to be segregated universities or only male professors? Or is it okay for women to “have that kind of position over men” (a phraseology I can’t quite wrap my brain around) everywhere but in seminary? Either the issue is authority (in which case female professors of male students in biology or any subject is forbidden) or it’s subject matter (in which case only biblical studies should be taught by men). Both make little sense to me (to my natural mind AND to my scriptural knowledge) but the latter makes even less sense.

  91. scott September 26, 2007 at 9:47 am #

    you mention that God judges our hearts, or motives. that is true, but i just thought i would point out we are often poor judges of our own motives (Jer 17:9). if God designed men and women’s roles to be a certain way, then things will work better when we follow that model. if we deviate from God’s design, whether from “good” or “bad” motives, there will be consequences, and it is evidence of sin.

    as to my own motives, maybe this is hard to believe, but i have absolutely no interest in limiting or restricting my wife. however, my wife and i want to be sure we are operating within God’s designed boundaries.

    also, i think the primary application of the complementarian view is to encourage men to step up and be the spiritual leaders. that is what i focus on… rather than telling my wife to submit, my focus is to try to be a better leader and “pastor” of our family.

  92. scott September 26, 2007 at 9:59 am #

    I wonder how your wife feels about secular female professors.

    1 Tim 2 speaks of two things: teaching and authority. i see the two modifying and clarifying each other (i.e. teaching with authority over a man). my wife sees the two more separately, i.e. teaching or authority.

    my wife believes that the teaching spoken of in 1 Tim. is teaching of doctrine, exposition of the Word, etc, so she has no problem with secular professors. the subject matter makes the difference.

  93. Sue September 26, 2007 at 10:05 am #


    I appreciate your wife’s thoughts on this. I too was happily involved in the chidren’s and women’s ministry in a church. I share her feelings about teaching men.

    However, some women are interested in the Biblical languages – without this having anything to do with men – and if there was a seminary of only women, where the Bible translation was done by women only, I would be happy to be there. But, I am afraid that the translation would be considered “without authority” because it was done by women. 1 Tim 2:12 and other verses would be translated according to the consensus of Christian scholarship so there might be a boycott against it.

    I see that there is no interest here in the correct translation of 1 Tim. 2:12. I have gained a lot of insight into the complementarian movement in this exchange.

    Denny, Thanks for allowing me to share.

    I desire justice regarding Bible translation and I pray that one day I will see it.

  94. Sue September 26, 2007 at 10:13 am #


    I picked up your last comment. You seem to be a very generous person. You might want to think about the fact that authentein does not say “authority” at all, but says “compel” or “dominate”. It is painful for me to think that women are quoting such a poor translation. I am not saying that she should change her ideas about ministry, or theology, but just let her know that that is not a correct translation of that verse, so she could find a different verse to quote in defense of her ideas.

    I really mean this in all sincerity. Take this one notion, no matter what you think of my way of presenting. Scholarship (Grudem’s book included) supports the meaning “dominate, compel, usurp authority”. Buy your wife a King James Bible for Christmas and let her have an alternate view of scritpure. Every woman should own a King James Bible so she can see what the Bible was like before the “woman in ministry” issue had an affect on translators.

  95. Chris September 26, 2007 at 3:47 pm #

    For example, Mary Kassian, author of a book blurbed by Waltke and author of two articles on the CBMW site, wrote in her book, “Women, Creation, and the Fall” that usually a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of abuse.

    Matthew, Can you tell me where in Kassian’s book that she claims this?

    Mahaney has written an article advertised on the CBMW site in which he places ALL the blame for difficulties in the marriage on the women’s lack of following.

    Suzanne, Can you tell me where in Mahaney’s article that he claims this? (I assume you are referring to “How to Encourage Husbands to Lead and Wives to Follow.”)

    Thanks for the help.

  96. jeremy z September 26, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    I have been following Denny’s blog for a while. In a way, it is circular.

    check out my blog to see my position.

  97. Suzanne September 26, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for holding me accountable. Although many very lovely and useful things are written in the chapter, the central issue is that the wife does not follow. Nowhere do I see any notion of turn taking or compromise.

    After two more appointments, the central problem of Harry and Jill’s marriage comes into focus. It isn’t pretty, but neither is it very
    unusual: Jill doesn’t follow Harry.

    Harry’s opinions on their wedding reception were frequently dismissed. There is no discussion of whether Jill’s Dad paid for the reception. There was no discussion of whether a couple should compromise. Good old fashioned compromise is not considered.

    When Harry understands his role as leader better then Jill’s sin can become the centre of attention. He has the right to spend money without her agreement but she does not have the right to spend money without his agreement. There is no mutuality.

    Thank goodness the anger issue is handled well. I give him top marks for that.

    Thank goodness Catherine Booth had a husband who followed and supported her work in changing the vice laws in England to protect little girls from prostitution and illegal sex. Let women contribute to change the way men view and treat women, and let men support and follow some of these brave women leaders.

  98. mlm September 26, 2007 at 5:28 pm #

    This may be a silly question but is Sue and Suzanne the same person? Are there two Suzanne’s in addition to Sue?

  99. mlm September 26, 2007 at 5:53 pm #


    There’s an interesting article in the Associated Baptist Press that relates. Here’s the link: http://www.abpnews.com/www/2765.article

  100. Suzanne September 26, 2007 at 6:14 pm #

    Sorry, I am the same person, but using two different computers. There is only one of me.

  101. Suzanne September 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm #

    To tell the truth last year people made so much fun of me, and harassed me, emailing me with advice to repent to my pastor for what I was saying, that I commented as Sue for a while on a few blogs.

    It is too bad, because I am addressing some real exegetical problems. However, I see it is not of interest. That’s okay.

    I do want to thank Denny for not moderating me and allowing me to present recent info from Wolters etc relating to authentein, as well as allowing me to comment about the TNIV centre on the CBMW website.

  102. Wayne Leman September 26, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    Denny asked:

    “Do you believe that the Bible teaches that husbands should be the leaders of their homes?”

    It is not as easy to answer that question as it might first appear. Technically, the Bible nowhere explicitly teaches that husbands should be leaders of their homes. Do I believe that they should be, however? Yes, I do. Let me explain, with some cautions about what we claim about what the Bible actually teaches. Interestingly, I addressed something very close to Denny’s question in a recent blog series beginning with this one:

    The Bible, of course, was not originally written in English, so our ultimate authority needs to be the biblical language texts. The Bible explicitly teaches that a man is the kephale of his wife (Eph. 5:23). The Greek word hupotasso does not appear in the oldest manuscripts of the preceding verse, although it appears as the translation “submit to”, for an assumed (I assume it also) hupotasso. Other passages (e.g. Eph. 5:24; explicitly state in Greek that a wife is to hupotasso to her husband. The Bible nowhere explicitly defines what it means by kephale in the 4 kephale:soma (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; 4:15, 16; 5:23) relationships of which the husband:wife relationship is one. Many assume that kephale in these passages means “head” as in the English metaphor of “head” which refers to someone who is the boss of a company, or the leader of a military unit. And Grudem has written that his own study of the Greek lexicons supports this meaning. Perhaps it does mean “boss” or “authority”. Perhaps the Bible means that the metaphorical head is the authority of the metaphorical body in each of the 4 cases explicitly mentioned. We really don’t know for sure. We do explicitly know, from Scripture, how a head is to behave toward its body, as Christ sacrificially gave himself for his body, the church (Phil. 2; Eph. 5:25). And it is explicitly taught in Scripture that there is an organic unity between head and body

    Are there biblical words for “leader” (the word used in Denny’s question) and “authority”? Yes, they are, as one can easily discover from a Greek New Testament. (I’m preaching to many choir members, I’m sure.)

    One Greek word for “leader” is kathegetes (Matt. 23:8, 10). It can be translated as ‘teacher, master, leader.’ This word appears only in Matt. 23 and neither it nor any etymological cognates are used to refer to any of the four kephale:soma relationships, including that of husband:wife.

    A church episkopos is explicitly required to proistemi (manage) his own household, which includes his children being en hupotagy (a variant of the same basic word used of a wife to her kephale, husband) to him (1 Tim. 3:4,5). Deacons must also proistemi their children and household (1 Tim. 3:12).

    Younger widows are explicitly instructed to oikodespotew households (1 Tim. 5:14). This verb is typically translated as “manage” or “rule” in English versions.

    Children are explicitly taught to hupakouw (obey) their parents.

    The word for “authority” is exousia. As far as I know, a husband is never said to have exousia over his wife or children, although it is a logical thing to infer that if children are to obey their parents, parents have authority over their children. The inference is not so clear for wives to husbands. There is no explicit teaching that the reason that wives (or a man, or the church) is to submit to their kephale is because the kephale has exousia. In fact, I am not aware of any correlation between kephale and exousia in any of the Bible’s teaching. But my aging brain might have forgotten some such passage and I would warmly welcome help for my memory.

    So, does the Bible teach that a husband is to “lead” his home, or family, or wife? As far as I know, the Bible does not explicitly say so. Some might suggest that I am splitting semantic hairs here, but I really am not trying to do that. I was raised to take the Bible very, very seriously, to obey its teachings promptly. I want to be a truly biblical Christian.

    Should I lead in my home? I believe I should. The Bible gives a number of examples, such as Eli and others, where fathers apparently did not parent as they should have and they paid the price with disobedient, sometimes reprobate children.

    Should a husband lead his wife? I don’t think the Bible explicitly teaches this. Rather, it teaches that the husband is organically (so closely that they become “one flesh”) one with his wife. What a beautiful illustration of how the church is to be united with Christ, our kephale. Should the church follow Christ as its leader? Of course. Does wifely submission including following a husband as “leader”? It would seem so, logically, to me, but, again, I don’t think the Bible teaches this explicitly. And, again, if I have missed some passage, please do remind me of it. As you can see by how long this comment has become, I do like to be as thorough as possible.

    Should we say that the Bible teaches that the man is the leader of his home? That is a difficult question to answer. Explicitly, the Bible does not say this. By application, I think we can justifiably infer it from examples and biblical words which are related to the idea of leadership. But I don’t think that such inferred leadership is any more strongly taught in the Bible for men than it is for women. The virtuous woman of Prov. 31 is a wonderful example of a woman who takes a lot of initiative for the benefit of her husband and family. She is not said to lead her husband. Nowhere does the Bible teach that. But neither does the Bible explicitly say that a husband is to “lead” his wife or home, either, as far as I know.

    My own plea would be for all of us to use restraint when we claim that the Bible “teaches” something. Let us base our claims on explicit biblical teachings. When these are lacking, and yet the spiritual principle seems to exist by application, let us state that we believe that something is true by application. But let us not over-reach with generalizations that are broader than can actually be supported by what the Bible actually does explicitly teach.

  103. jeremy z September 26, 2007 at 7:57 pm #

    I have received an overwhelming response if I will continue to keep posting on Denny’s blog.
    However Denny motivated me to start my own blog.

    Thanks boys and girls (especially the gals)


  104. scott September 26, 2007 at 7:58 pm #

    It is too bad, because I am addressing some real exegetical problems. However, I see it is not of interest. That’s okay.
    you are referring here to your concern that authentein should be translated as something implying hostile control, instead of a more neutral having authority. i thought grudem addressed that issue fairly well in pages 304-316 of his book (esp. pages 314-316).

    anyway, it seems there is a range of meaning of the word in various literatures around that time, and most do not imply a negative use of authority. but the context in 1 Tim 2 should ultimately determine how the word is translated and what it means. what is the basis for your translation of that word? it seems you have pulled the word authentein completely out of it’s context in 1 Tim 2, and assigned it a negative meaning which supports your presuppositions about women’s roles.

    i don’t think your choice of meaning makes sense in the context of these verses. why would Paul single out women to not usurp authority? does Paul permit men to usurp authority? if you let the context decide how to translate the word, i think the NIV does a good job with the word.

    anyway, i don’t care to debate this word very much, you seem to have made up your mind about it, and to be honest, i don’t think the complementarian view is so dependent on this one word as you seem to think.

  105. Suzanne September 26, 2007 at 8:53 pm #

    i thought grudem addressed that issue fairly well in pages 304-316 of his book (esp. pages 314-316).

    His footnotes clearly indicate that there is ONLY a negative meaning. I quoted his footnotes “compel”.

    It was assigned a negative meaning for 19 centuries. I have not found any evidence for a neutral meaning. If there was some, I am sure that Denny would post it. Kostenberger admits that there is none and he has used a grammatical argument, that it MUST be positive or neutral because of the context. That is his hypothesis.

    I read Grudem, and the appendix, and the footnotes. I assure you that there is no support for a neutral meaning in Grudem. The one other example is mistaken and a fragment. That is one of the things I asked Wolters, and Wolters would not confirm Grudem’s conclusions. For one century it has been “exercize authority” but the evidence does not support it. I bring this up because of the way Piper and Denny use the word. It is unsupported.

  106. Denny Burk September 26, 2007 at 10:30 pm #

    MLM (in #100),

    I have a short response to the article you linked, and it will post tomorrow morning.

    Thanks for the link.


  107. Matthew September 27, 2007 at 7:50 am #

    Chris #96,

    Thanks for asking. Page 70. On page 69 she implies that wives ought to submit, even if the one in power abuses authority. She presents something of a mixed picture. On the one hand, she does claim that the biblical precedent is fleeing abuse – but I don’t think she offers evidence for that. However, she also says that the Bible does not limit the wife’s submission, therefore we shouldn’t either. This is after teaching that the wife’s natural impulse is to be in rebellion to her husband but submission the is the primary role assigned to Christian wives (don’t have references for all these quotes, they are just notes I took).

    I think it is in that same area, around p69ff, that she asks what a wife should do when the husband tells her to do something wrong. Her answer is that this is a real pickle, because the right thing to do is to obey the husband. My impression of what she says here is the wife is wrong no matter what in this case. Her overriding solution is for women not to marry the wrong men. That’s good advice for unmarried ladies, but to tell that to a victim of abuse is like saying, “You made the bed, now lie in it.” That is NOT helpful.

    I don’t have the book in front of me. I am referring to notes I took for a paper I wrote for class. If you look it up and disagree, feel free to contradict me.

    Another book that I found interesting was by Susan Foh, “Women and the Word of God.” Foh actually expends some energy defending the idea of slavery (not American slavery), pp30-34. This was in order to develope a literal hermeneutic that does not “deculturize” the word of God. Thankfully, I found that Piper and Grudem did not defend slavery, RBMW p66.

    I cannot agree with some of the hermeneutics I see applied by egalitarians. However, one article from “Discovering Biblical Equality” really bothers me. It is Groothuis’ chapter which deals with “equal in being, unequal in role.” It’s a good chapter and ought to be read and dealt with by both sides, in my opinion. It is true that many, if not all, complementarian writings depend on the “equal in being, unequal in role” formula. If that formula is broken, then the complementarian position has a real problem.

    As I mentioned earlier, the complementarian work that worked the best for me was the small book, “Equal Yet Different” by Strauch. And I do apologize. You asked for one reference and I threw a bibliography at you 🙂

  108. Chris September 27, 2007 at 11:36 am #


    Thank you for replying to my question. I appreciate your humility with regard to being held accountable. Likewise, I want to be accountable for my words and am glad to be part of a community of mutual accountability.

    In this spirit, I want to express my concern that you have misrepresented C. J. Mahaney by taking his comments out of context. You said that “he places ALL the blame for difficulties in the marriage on the women’s lack of following.” There are two problems with this statement. First, for those who have not actually read Mahaney’s article (available here: http://www.cbmw.org/Online-Books/Pastoral-Leadership-for-Manhood-and-Womanhood/How-to-Encourage-Husbands-to-Lead-and-Wives-to-Follow), it sounds like you’re saying that he claims this for marriages in general. But Mahaney is dealing with a specific scenario. I am concerned that people who read your comment understood it to apply to every problem in marriage.

    Second, even in the scenario in this article, Mahaney is not claiming that the husband is guiltless and that the marriage difficulties are solely the wife’s problems. Far from it, his diagnosis is “the wise pastor/counselor focuses his attention initially on the husband” (p. 191). Later he writes, “From my experience, the norm is that a wife does eventually respond to a husband’s humble and godly leadership” (p. 203). He does not absolve a wife of her responsibility, but he lays primary responsibility at the feet of the husband. This seems very different from your statement. Accusing Mahaney of “spiritual abuse,” in light of what he actually has written, does not seem to represent him fairly (regardless of whether one agrees with his complementarian viewpoint).

    Suzanne, I do not share your egalitarian views, but I appreciate dialogue in Christian love. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

  109. Chris September 27, 2007 at 11:43 am #


    Thank you your gracious reply to my question. I appreciate the added feedback.

    Similarly to my response to Suzanne above, I am concerned that you have misrepresented Mary Kassian by your earlier comment. Please let me be clear: I am not trying to say that I would write exactly what she has written if I were authoring the same chapter. Nor am I interested in disputing whether or not she has effectively argued her position. Rather, I am concerned that a view has been attributed to her that she seems clearly not to hold.

    Again, you state that Kassian wrote that “ usually a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of abuse.” (The book is available online at http://www.cbmw.org/Online-Books/Women-Creation-and-the-Fall/Women-Creation-and-the-Fall) But she does not say this, nor do I see how it could be implied from the context on pp. 68-70. When she says, “In context, this implies that wives are to submit even if the one in authority abuses his position,” she is simply referring to the fact that 1 Pet 3:1 “urges believing wives to submit to unbelieving husbands” (p. 69). Once again, I am not interested in debating exactly how this passage should be applied. I am simply observing what Kassian has actually said in light of the Scripture passage she is considering.

    When she raises the issue of physical abuse at the bottom of p. 69, she advocates a wife “fleeing” the situation. I do not see anywhere in which she claims that a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of physical abuse. Having read some of Kassian’s materials, I think she would be appalled that such a position would be attributed to her.

    The only place where I can find her speaking of a wife’s conduct as “solving the problem” is on p. 70. She writes, “Since the Bible does not limit a wife’s submission, it is unwise for us to do so. If a husband requests something which goes against God’s Word, a wife must appeal to him with reason and sound judgment. If this fails, she must appeal to God himself. If wives have consistently been applying principles of Christian conduct, this appeal to their husbands and to God will often solve the problem.” This seems quite different from the view you attributed to her.

    My concern is simply that she be represented fairly, as all of us would want to be. As a result of the comments on this post about Mahaney (#47) and Kassian (#46), Scott (#49) wrote, “Wow. I am not so familiar with what Waltke, Mary Kassian, or Mahaney have said on the subject. The view that abuse in the home is due to women not submitting is ridiculous.” Unfortunately, for some readers, it will be assumed that Kassian and Mahaney advocate such a view.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I appreciate the dialogue. I agree that Alexander Strauch’s Equal Yet Different is a very good resource.

  110. Matthew September 27, 2007 at 1:08 pm #


    I certainly don’t want to misrepresent Kassian or anybody else. Thanks for the link, it was helpful.

    Scott stated in #42 proper understanding of the complementarian view corrects and rebukes this behavior just as strongly as the egalitarian view.

    Under the heading, “[Misconception:] The extent of the wife’s submission is qualified,” Kassian says:

    For a Christian woman (one who is in the Lord),
    submission is the fitting or proper or right attitude. Scripture does
    not qualify the extent of a wife’s submission. In fact, it even urges
    believing wives to submit to unbelieving husbands. In context, this
    implies that wives are to submit even if the one in authority abuses
    his position.

    As I said in #108, there is somewhat of a mixed picture. She follows the above with:
    This does not imply that a wife is meant
    to suffer, nor does it advocate remaining in a situation where constant
    physical abuse occurs. (In cases of abuse, the Biblical precedent
    appears to be fleeing or getting out of the situation.)

    And yet, she immediately follows that up by pointing out that Paul and Peter don’t give any wiggle room.

    And then:Since the Bible does not limit a wife’s submission, it is unwise
    for us to do so. If a husband requests something which goes against
    God’s Word, a wife must appeal to him with reason and sound judgment.
    If this fails, she must appeal to God Himself. If wives have
    consistently been applying principles of Christian conduct, this
    appeal to their husbands and to God will often solve the problem.
    But should a wife obey her husband when, after all appeals, he
    orders her to do something she believes is wrong? Should she obey
    him and disobey God? There is no easy answer, for in most
    instances obedience to God means submission to one’s husband —
    even if he is not a believer. Guidance must come from God Himself,
    and a Christian woman must prayerfully consider her decision.

    Chris, I know people who counsel wives to remain in situations where the husband abuses the wife or children. I know situations where the husband’s demand is that the wife and children submit to physical and/or verbal and emotional abuse. If such a wife reads these comments, she is extremely likely to conclude that she is supposed to remain in the situation. The phrase “If wives have consistently been applying principles of Christian conduct” becomes a guilt trip, and “this appeal to their husbands and to God will often solve the problem.” becomes a lie, for the husband continues to behave in an angry manner, just as he has all his life. It is quite common for the husband to lay a guilt trip on the wife and tell her that she is not submissive.

    To recap these quotes: Kassian writes that the extent of the wife’s submission is not qualified, that wives are to submit, even if the one in authority abuses his position (in my reading, this means even if the husband is abusive), it is unwise for us to limit the wife’s submission, and that if the wife has consistently obeyed, it will solve the problem of a husband’s wrong request.

    I should have qualified my original statement to state that she gives some advice to the contrary. But it is too little, too late. The emphasis is on submission, and as seen in these quotes, the implication is submission even to abuse. And we are back to Scott’s statement quoted above. Based upon these statements, I think the compl. view as presented by Kassian falls way short of correcting and rebuking abuse. I think this particular articulation of it is more likely to create enablers than to correct abuse. After reviewing her work, I still think that Kassian implies that a wife’s obedience is likely to fix the problem of abuse, even if she doesn’t say it outright. What do you think, Chris? Do you see my line of thinking on this or am I all wet?

  111. Chris September 27, 2007 at 2:20 pm #


    Thanks for the response. Here is what I take from Kassian’s line of reasoning:

    (1) According to 1 Pet 3:1, a wife is to submit even to an unbelieving husband. I do not read “even if the one in authority abuses his position” (p. 69) as meaning physically abusive husbands. That does not seem to be the intent (especially in light of #2 below). To abuse one’s position of authority does not necessarily imply engaging in physical abuse. There are all kinds of ways to “abuse” one’s authority. What she seems to have in mind is addressed in #4 below.

    (2) When she does address physical abuse at the bottom of page 69, she advocates fleeing the situation—not merely submitting and obeying.

    (3) Kassian is dealing with the difficulties of suffering when submitting to unjust authorities as discussed in 1 Pet 2-3. Her “mixed picture” is a result of trying to handle the text and the difficulties inherrent in such scenarios. She is not simply coming up with these ideas out of thin air. Thus she says, “Peter simply recognizes that submission is a difficult thing when those in authority are harsh or unjust” (bottom of p. 69). Whether one agrees or disagrees with how she handles this passage in 1 Pet, a Christian cannot escape the text itself.

    (4) Regarding her comments on p. 70, I would simply caution that this not be read in terms of physical abuse. She is not talking about physical abuse. The scenario is “If a husband requests something which goes against God’s word” (p. 70). This could be any myriad of things (e.g., let’s lie on our income taxes). Kassian then argues that appeals to the husband and to God (not obedience) will often solve this problem. Now whether such appeals will actually solve the problem or not, my point is that she is not talking about physical abuse here (or even, necessarily, verbal abuse). She is asking, “But should a wife obey her husband when, after all appeals, he orders her to do something she believes is wrong?” (p. 70). Rather than answering with something like, “Yes, she should obey his unjust requests and the problem will be solved,” she instead says, “There is no easy answer.”

    Again, I’m not trying to defend (or critque) her presentation, but simply reading it to see if she is explicitly or implicitly saying what you claim. In light of what she wrote, I still think it is an unfair representation to say that Kassian believes a wife’s obedience will solve the problem of a physically abusive husband. I do not see anywhere in which she claims that a wife’s obedience will “solve a problem.”

    Thanks, again, for responding, Matthew. That does it for me on this. I will let others read the section and judge for themselves.

  112. Suzanne September 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm #


    I read Mahaney’s article twice because at first I could not believe what I saw. However, this chpater was the main chapter in the book dealing with counseling. I do not believe that it was balanced by a chapter on what to do if a wife is being abused.

    I am disappointed that the fact that 10% of women being hit is less important than men getting their way all the time in things like wedding reception planning.

    Less than 30% of abused women are able to leave physically abusive situations. Male entitlement and submission on the part of a wife are part of this entrapment. For a woman to leave she must start to take control of her own decisions, she must be self dependent. I have read enough of some complementarian materials to know that they encourage a woman to let the husband do all the driving and many other things.

    Women in abusive situations need to see themselves as entitled before God to make decisions, both large and small before they can get out. Some women try to get permission from their husbands to see a counsellor and their husband will deny permission. He will deny financial control, spending too much time with friends, talking on the phone without him listenting in once in a while. All along he will say that the problem is her fault because she does not submit. When a husband really is abusivem anything, like not hearing a command, or interrupting a converation to care for children with dirty diapers, can be called lack of submission.

    You may think this is a joke, but some women live this. I see a paradigm where authority of the male, and all males are sinners, like their wives – is put ahead of the health and welfare of women.

    To top it all off, when a women achieves the same understanding of the scriptures as man, she can’t teach a man. Therefore, men can eternally perpetuate their own authority. They aren’t even held responsible to scholarship. We see this hear. Look at the TNIV fiasco. There is not accountability whatsoever.

    Men can hypothesize the beautiful complementarity of male authority in heaven if they want. I have seen this in Piper and Grudem, as a suggestion only. But it is there. Where will abused women go? I hope there is a separate heaven for them.

  113. Suzanne September 27, 2007 at 2:26 pm #

    Excuse for the many typos. I am on a short lunch break. 🙂

  114. Chris September 27, 2007 at 2:56 pm #


    Two brief comments:

    (1) I said nothing in my post to make light of domestic abuse. My mother lived in a tragic home with an abusive and alcoholic father. So I am baffled by your response. I wrote to you regarding my concern that you misrepresented another person.

    (2) I’m not sure which book you are referring to that contains the Mahaney chapter (perhaps it appears in more than one book). The book I have in mind is Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, which is available online here: http://www.cbmw.org/Pastoral-Leadership-for-Manhood-and-Womanhood/. In addition to Mahaney’s chapter, it includes a chapter by David Powlison, Paul David Tripp, and Edward T. Welch, “Pastoral Responses to Domestic Violence.” It also includes a chapter on church discipline for healing marriages by Ken Sande.

  115. Matthew September 27, 2007 at 3:28 pm #

    Paul David Tripp and Edward T. Welch – I like those guys. They write good stuff.

  116. mlm September 27, 2007 at 5:39 pm #


    Early this morning, I posted a comment to Sue (should have been around #108) but it’s not showing up. Would you please look for it in your trash bin? Thanks.


  117. Sue September 27, 2007 at 5:45 pm #

    I am relieved. I honestly missed that chapter by not scrolling down the page.

    It is important to realize that this happens in the ordinary Christian home. For some, they think it is likely the alcoholic non-Christian that will be like this.

    The abusive husbands that I have known are seminary professor, 2 pastors, missionary kid and professional, labourer, and so on.

    Among the abused women that I know, they have lived with violence anywhere from 2 to 60 years, a lifetime. They ones who stay are the ones who have learned to submit.

    But think of all the women who also live with non-violent but selfish and emotionally and destructive men, men who spend their money and leave them in debt, or are controlling in other ways. You absolutely must teach women to stand up for themselves from day one. This means that a woman must reject unilateral submission from the very beginning – before marriage. She must recognize that unilateral submission will lead to abuse. If women are taught this, that would be great!

    This chapter in no way addresses the women who have learned to submit well enough that they never get to counseling.

  118. Suzanne September 27, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    Sorry, I meant to sign as Suzanne, I switched computers.

  119. Suzanne September 27, 2007 at 9:42 pm #

    I am glad to read more of this book and respond. I don’t want to mispresent something.

    I would also very much like to see someone check and find out if authentein means “have authority” of “usurp authority”. No one has responded to this.

  120. Suzanne September 27, 2007 at 10:05 pm #

    “have authority” OR “usurp authority”. Sorry.


    I would really appreciate it if you could post about your understanding of the word authentein some time. It might clear the air. I feel that I have been asked a lot of questions and I have tried to interact as honestly as I could in good faith.

    However, you have not made your own position transparent. I wasn’t able to understand your position on authentein because although I read Al Wolters article as you suggested, I could not see how his study supported your position.

    It would be useful to look at material from the various studies so people would know what the evidence really is.

    We could then more easily discuss the scriptural basis for the idea of authority and investigate what it means. In the mainstream tradition, “have authority” was first used in 1952 in the RSV.

  121. Denny Burk September 28, 2007 at 9:55 am #

    Dear Suzanne (in #121),

    As you know, there are many difficulties surrounding the interpretation of authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12. For starters, authentein is a hapax, so we don’t have any other uses of the word to compare it to in either Paul’s writings or the rest of the New Testament. Also, the word is fairly infrequent in literary Greek (about 314 known uses). So we have to recognize the limitations of lexical studies alone since the word is used so infrequently.

    That being said, I am comfortable that we do know the broad range of meaning of authentein. The root meaning of the term has to do with “exercising authority.” Yet depending on context, authors can portray the “exercise of authority” as either a positive thing (e.g., “exercise authority”) or as a negative thing (e.g., “domineer” or “usurp authority”).

    Köstenberger’s syntactical study of the phrase in which authentein appears has been widely received by both Complementarians and Egalitarians, and I too am compelled by his argument. In this particular construction (verb + infinitive + oude + infinitive), the conjunction oude joins two concepts of the same order. In other words, oude joins two activities that are either viewed positively or negatively by the speaker. Since didaskein is more of a known quantity in Paul and is almost always viewed positively, then we have good reason to regard the unknown quantity authentein to be positive as well. For those who are interested, you can see Köstenberger’s entire argument in “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12” in Women in the Church, 53-84.

    So that’s the summary of my understanding of authentein. It means “to exercise authority,” and the verbal action is viewed positively by the Paul.


  122. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 2:33 pm #


    I really appreciate your response on this.

    That being said, I am comfortable that we do know the broad range of meaning of authentein.

    I haven’t seen the evidence for the root meaning being “exercizing authority” that falls within 3 centuries of the epistle. Could you cite an example.

    The root meaning of the term has to do with “exercising authority.” Yet depending on context, authors can portray the “exercise of authority” as either a positive thing (e.g., “exercise authority”) or as a negative thing (e.g., “domineer” or “usurp authority”).

    I also understand that Kostenberger’s study depends entirely on the fact that “authentein” is more of an unknown quantity than “didaskein”, in order to make both have a positive meaning.

    But there are those who have read the evidence indicating that “authentein” has only a negative meaning. It is relatively unknown, but not completely. There is no broad scholarly consensus on Kostenberger’s recent theory outside of those who are already complementarian.

    I admit that this does not make for a clear and easy interpretation. I am not pretending that it does. I will say though that I have not seen any lexical evidence for a positive meaning for authentein at that time, and I have read every article recommnded to me, and I have looked at some of the original citations in place in the databases.

    I think people need to be informed that the meaning “exercising authority” for “authentein” is based on Kostenberger’s recent grammatical theory.

    This is an interpretive issue and people need to have grace towards each other. That is, maybe God does not want women to have authority over men, and maybe he does. Maybe authority rests on the word of God and not on people at all. If a woman teaches from the Bible, she has the authority of the scriptures in her teaching and people will come to salvation through the word of God.

    We can’t judge women who preach as being absolutely in contradiction to scriptures, but only contradictng one interpretation.

    But what else do the scriptures teach us unambiguously about authority in the church? This is probably the core problem. Our concept of authority overall should be supported by scriptures.

    Is it baptism, as Luther taught, or laying on of hands, gifting in the spirit, what is it based on? Or is authority the wrong question?

  123. Denny Burk September 28, 2007 at 2:40 pm #


    You wrote: “There is no broad scholarly consensus on Kostenberger’s recent theory outside of those who are already complementarian.”

    This is not accurate. Keener and Marshall (just to name two) are among the many egalitarians who have accepted the Kostenberger’s view. Once again, I would direct readers to Kostenberger’s study. It’s very convincing.


  124. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    I am not convinced that two people are a consensus.:-) I am also aware that some who do not hold to the inerrancy of scripture also see a kind of misogyny of Paul in this verse. Kostenberger uses this in his defence. I am not convinced that citing those who do not try to reconcile all scripture with other scripture is useful to the discussion.

    That is, some of these scholars consider that Kostenberger’s thesis could possibly be right, but they do not agree that the scriptures as a whole teach that women should not teach. SO they don’t try to reconcile one scripture with another.

    Others do not hold scriptures sacred at all, and Kostenberger has cited them as support anyway. Dr. Packer and Dr. Watlke would say that one’s view of scripture is foundational to interpretation, so they would not use evidence from liberal theology to support their views in this way. (I don’t mean Keener and Marshall, but others that K. has cited.)

    Some of these scholars don’t think Paul wrote the epistle to Timothy at all.

    So, the range of belief introduced by Kostenberger is quite wide. Compelementarians have picked up one interpretation and teach it as God’s will. I feel there should be more recognition of the many different ways that people read scripture.

    I guess what is happening is that women who are gifted to teach are being told to go elsewhere and maybe this is the best compromise. But, in this case, it must be made clear that this is based on interpretation, and not on judging someone else’s belief as resisting the clear teaching of scripture.

    That is, I accept that your view is in some sense traditional and one possible interpretation of scripture, (I don’t think it is, but maybe a call to grace would require this of me) and you would accept that there are those who hold to a different possible interpretation, similar to mine, as represented in “Discovering Biblical Equality” by Pierce, Grouthuis and Fee.

    Naturally, on abuse, I remain concerned that women who are not constantly exercising their ability to make decisions, may become more vulnerable to abuse. I will always carry this concern with me.

  125. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    An afterthought, – excuse me – but I have read enough of K. to know that his belief in women remaining within the boundaries of the domestic is not consistent with all of scripture, nor with the testimony of church history. He does not account for women missionaries, other than those who preach only to women.

  126. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 3:41 pm #


    I allowed myself to get distracted. Could you present evidence from K.’s article that there is a possible positive meaning for authentein at the time of the epistle.

    I can’t remember exactly but think that K does not resolve this issue. I don’t believe that most scholars, those that K. cites, have given this enough attention.

    Since my central point has been that this evidence does not exist, I wonder if you could present it. I wonder if it does exist, but I just haven’t understood it that way.

    I think people should see the evidence and not just take someone else’s word on this, whether Kostenberger’s or yours – or mine. I can’t see any other way of ending this impasse except for dealing with the actual evidence. Is there very much of it?

  127. Bryan L September 28, 2007 at 5:32 pm #

    If I’m not mistaken isn’t it Henry Scott Baldwin who does the study on authentein and concludes that there is no certainty on what it means based on lexical studies alone and then passes the torch onto Kostenberger who concludes through his syntactical analysis that it must mean “have authority” in a positive sense. This is because it can’t be a negative and a positive, because of the syntax it can only be 2 negatives or 2 positives and so he goes with 2 positives. I Howard Marshall agrees with Kostenberger on the syntactical analysis but concludes that they are 2 negatives instead of 2 positives.

    Bryan L

  128. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 7:58 pm #


    I think I have found it.

    Paul’s Pastoral Pronouncements
    Regarding Women’s Roles
    in 1 Timothy 2:9–15*

    by Kostenberger.


    41These two references are: Philodemus (1st cent. BCE): “Ought we not to
    consider that men who incur the enmity of those in authority (συν αυθεντουσιν)
    are villains, and hated by both gods and men”; and BGU 1208 (27 BCE): “I
    exercised authority (Καμου αυθεντηκοτος) over him, and he consented to
    provide for Catalytis the Boatman on terms of full fare, within the hour.” For full
    Greek texts and translations, see Baldwin, “Appendix 2” in Women in the
    Church, 275–76. (in the PDF page 13)

    There are a couple of problems with Baldwin’s study that are not corrected. First, the Philodemus quote is a fragment, reconstructed. And more seriously, “those in authority” is not the translation of authentein at all – it is the translation of another phrase in the sentence. I think authentein is translated as “powerful”. Philodemus is quoting someone else here, so in fact, I don’t think the context for the “powerful” rulers is known.

    And in the second quote, “I exercise authority over him.” is not the accepted translation, but is a translation that Werner supplied in order to contribute to Baldwin’s thesis. Most people suggest “compel”.

    Maybe you could show me where Kostenberger deals with this evidence more thorougly. However, in this article he does not.

  129. Suzanne September 28, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    The Philodemus quote is a bit difficult, since it is, as I said, a fragment, and the phrase is a quote from an unknown source, so undated, I would presume.

    But the phrase is “fighting with powerful(?) lords(?)”

    διαμαχοντοι και συν αυθεντ[ου]σιν αν[αξιν]

    Since anax is not in BDAG, I am guessing that it is not a Hellenistic term at all.

    My guess is that it is a Homeric term, but that is just a guess. But maybe the word isn’t anax, it is reconstructed also.

    The entire fragment is not translated but Hubbell gives a precis of sorts. It is all available on the internet, so you can translate this yourself and see if authentein has a positive or negative meaning. But it most certainly is not translated as those in authority, as Kostenberger claims. “Those in authority occurs further down in the piece.

    I think that if this quote is being used to shore up the translation “exercise authority” then it should be properly translated, possibly by a secular and non partisan scholar. But I don’t really think that anything new will be revealed from a fragment.

    Philodemi Volumina Rhetorica


    The Rhetorica Philodemus.

    Do you have the reference?

    My guess is that it is a more or less neutral term referring to the exercise of sheer might in this case, a secular power with no moral right attached to it. That is a concession BTW, it could mean usurpers – who knows?

  130. Sandi M. October 13, 2007 at 12:14 am #

    ‘Gullible’ is usually regarded as a pegoritive term, so it’s pretty hard to speak of women in this way with out sounding anti-woman. But God did design women, it seems to me, to be more innately trusting of others than men. Men are generally more designed, I think, to be critical thinkers in order to protect their families from harm.

  131. Suzanne December 2, 2007 at 5:30 am #

    Men are generally more designed, I think, to be critical thinkers

    As a woman myself, let me be critical of that remark.

  132. Greg Anderson December 11, 2007 at 3:57 pm #

    I’m not a Greek scholar nor do I know one character of Biblical Hebrew. I have noticed this though. No matter what English translation I comb through, I cannot find one hint of male hierarchy instituted prior to the fall. Grant it, the folks at CBMW see it that way, but in all honesty this reasonably intelligent idiot (me), cannot in all good conscience arrive at that conclusion. I am of the belief that Paul the apostle refers back to the creation account in his letter to Timothy in order to refute a pagan doctrine that was circulating around Ephesus at the time, and that it was never meant to be a universal prohibition of Godly women teaching orthodox doctrine. In Acts 15:28-29, I am assured by the Holy Spirit himself that there are only four things that I must refrain from in my Christian walk. To say that Paul has added the the universal prohibition of Godly women teaching sound doctrine makes Paul our new Moses and new law-giver. Even more disturbing, it implies that Jesus’ work on the cross is only partially fulfilled for women, and that they are not fully enfranchised in the Body of Christ. No matter how many statements of equal in person hood but separate in each and every case of role and function are issued, the dictates of my conscience will not accept this as doctrinal and binding.

  133. henrybish January 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    A few obvious points that have not been made:

    In addition to what Denny has said, the context of 1Tim2:12 militates against women being in authority over men:

    let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness… vs11

    … she is to remain quiet vs12

    Also, 1Cor14:33-36 would clearly show that women could not have authority over men in the church:

    … As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

    Which is why I believe Sue goes with the minority position that rejects it from the canon. However, no bible translation committee has found this move convincing, not even the egalitarian dominated ones (such as for the TNIV or NIV2011).

    Given these considerations, it seems abundantly clear that women should not have authority over men in the church and there is no good reason to make such a fuss over authentein as though historic Christian doctrine stands in the balance!

  134. henrybish January 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    p.s. sorry a bit late in the game, it was not 2 years in moderation.

  135. Donald Johnson January 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    My take is 1 Cor 14:34-35 is repudiated in 1 Cor 14:36ff and earlier in the pericope; that is, in the context of the whole pericope of 1 Cor 14:26-40, those verses are a quote from some Corinthian legalists. And this shows to me that the whole immediate context of Scripture must be considered and one should not just extract a verse or 2 from an entire teaching unit.

  136. henrybish January 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    God Bless you Donald. I know we have had this discussion on a different post!

  137. Sue January 17, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Hi Henry,

    I don’t think that these verses should be removed from any translation. I find the note in the NIV 2011 quite adequate. Clearly, there is difficulty reconciling this text with chapter 11. We all read the text according the light God gives us.

  138. Donald Johnson January 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Hi Henry,

    If someone claimed that I was aligned with some Corinthian legalists opposed to Paul, I would certainly want to check out the reasons they claim this. I would want to make sure I was not doing that and if necessary, err on the side of caution.

    But each his own.

  139. henrybish January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Hi Donald,

    I have read the book you refer to (Why not women) – not that one has to check out every claim. And I answered those arguments on a previous post (see below) where we discussed this whole issue in depth.


    I believe you intimated in a previous discussion that Donald and my argument was ‘moot’ because you did not believe the verses were original to Paul.

    I think all this discussion occurred in this post:


    So it now seems that you have changed your position. Which is fine.


  140. Donald Johnson January 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm #


    Thanks for reading that book by Hamilton. He does not actually show that 1 Cor 14:36ff repudiates what comes immediately before. If you want to investigate that aspect, see Bruce Fleming’s “Familiar Leadership Heresies Uncovered”.

  141. henrybish January 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Donald,

    I already interacted with you on this subject in this post:


    Unless you have some ‘new’ argument you got from Fleming since then, I don’t see the reason to read him.

  142. Donald Johnson January 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Yes, we interacted and from the entire interaction you decided to bow out.

    What I do in my teaching is combine Hamilton’s chiasm with Fleming’s and Nyland’s insight into eta, the expletive of repudiation found twice in 1 Cor 14:36, as well as the fact that 1 Cor 14:34-35 contradicts other Scripture about people teaching and that “law says” refers to the so-called Oral Torah of the Pharisees.

    In other words, comps are aligning with the teaching of people that Paul opposes in their extracted understanding of 1 Cor 14:34-35. This is why it is so important not to extract text from its pericope.

  143. henrybish January 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm #


    I only ‘bowed out’ after the debate had gone on long enough to became clear that you were not refuting my arguments. I engaged your substantive arguments but you did not respond:

    For example, the arguments you bring forth just above were responded to by me in the comments. The fact that you made them again just their shows that you have either forgotten what I said or did not read my comment carefully when it was made.


    1) regarding eta I said see Grudem in EFBT. You did not explain why his arguments were wrong.
    2) Regarding the ‘law says’ I addressed this in a later part of this comment: https://www.dennyburk.com/jbmw-online/#comment-57841
    You did not engage that.
    3) Regarding 1Cor14:33-36 contradicting other scripture see my response to the 3 best examples you gave (comment 59) in comment 65: https://www.dennyburk.com/jbmw-online/#comment-57888
    You did not respond to this.
    4) In more than one of the comments I also made the point that the fact that your view is a minority position and is not favoured even among most egalitarians speaks volumes. Are they all just dumb and do not understand your position properly? Your providing the odd counter example did not change this fact.

  144. Sue January 20, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    I believe you intimated in a previous discussion that Donald and my argument was ‘moot’ because you did not believe the verses were original to Paul.

    I think all this discussion occurred in this post:


    So it now seems that you have changed your position. Which is fine.


    I don’t think that I have changed my position. I feel that although the verses may not be original to Paul, they should remain in the main text of any translation and be acoompanied by a note. In fact, they usually are accompanied by a note which indicates that they were either in the margin, or have changed location in the text.

    The main reason why something would be in the margin is if those verse were not in the original manuscript.

    There are complementarians who agree that these verses were in the margin – see the NET Bible notes.

    The problem is that we than have to decide what this means about the original text. I don’t have an answer, and I don’t think anyone can say for sure, unless they believe in providential oversight by the Holy Spirit throughout history. If we believed in that, we would probably still be learning Latin in high school. Which I did, but not for that reason. 😉


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