Politics,  Theology/Bible

Responding to David Gushee

I mentioned on Monday that David Gushee penned an opinion piece for USA Today in which he criticizes conservative evangelicals who support Sarah Palin’s candidacy. He writes:

“It is an uncomfortable fact that many of the theologically conservative Christians who have endorsed Palin’s nomination would not be willing to endorse her or any other woman for service as pastor of their church. Women cannot serve as pastors in groups such as the Churches of Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, most non-denominational Bible churches, and an influential advocacy group called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).”

I belong to two of the groups that Gushee lists as transgressors on the gender question: the SBC and CBMW. I know, therefore, a little bit about the biblical and theological basis for the complementarianism represented in these organizations (though I am not claiming to speak for either one of them). With that in mind, allow me to respond briefly to the series of questions that he puts forth in his article. His questions are in bold, and my response follows each one.

Is it now your view that God can call a woman to serve as president of the United States? Are you prepared to renounce publicly any further claim that God’s plan is for men rather than women to exercise leadership in society, the workplace and public life?

Before answering this one, we’ll have to clear away a flaw in the premise of the question. Gushee asks what our view is “now” as though the Complementarian position has somehow changed to accommodate the candidacy of Sarah Palin. Nothing could be further from the truth. For reasons to be explained below, mainstream Complementarians haven’t changed their views at all. Gushee may express his disagreement with Complementarian views and may even highlight what he thinks its flaws are, but he cannot credibly imply that Complementarians are shifting the biblical and theological rationale for their position. Anyone who has been following this debate and the literature over the last thirty years or so knows that this charge is false on its face.

In answer to Gushee’s question, then, we should take note that Complementarians argue for their view of male headship with respect to two realms: the church and the home. Complementarian conviction does not exclude the possibility of women holding positions of secular authority (including President of the United States).

Complementarians are merely following the New Testament in this focus. John Piper and Wayne Grudem have summed up as clearly as anyone the reason for this, “As we move out from the church and the home we move further from what is fairly clear and explicit [in the New Testament] to what is more ambiguous and inferential.” Perhaps the best summary of Complementarian conviction on this point is the Danvers Statement, and it limits the application of “male headship” to “the family” and “the covenant community.” The Danvers Statement does not make “male headship” a condition for leadership in the secular realm. That is why Wayne Grudem can say the following in his book Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (p. 140):

“In the Old Testament, the civil government over the people of Israel was also the religious government over God’s people. . . Therefore we cannot assume that the general pattern of restricting civil government leadership over the people of God to men would also apply to the New Testament age, where the civil government is separate from the government of the church. The positive examples of women involved in civil leadership over nations other than Israel (such as Esther and the Queen of Sheba) should prevent us from arguing that it is wrong for women to hold a governing office.”

All of the Complementarian writings that I have quoted above were published well before Palin’s candidacy. The Complementarian position is long-standing and predates the current election cycle.

Do you acknowledge having become full-fledged egalitarians in this sphere at least?

No. We simply do not require secular rulers to live up to the qualifications of our ecclesiastical rulers. But this stance is not merely a question of gender. Many men who run for President, for instance, do not “manage their household well” as is required of pastors in 1 Timothy 3:4. So not only is Sarah Palin not qualified to serve as a pastor, but neither would be John McCain, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, or any number of other male Presidents that we’ve had. But that doesn’t necessarily make them unfit for secular office.

Would Palin be acceptable as vice president because she would still be under the ultimate authority of McCain as president, like the structure of authority that occurs in some of your churches?

No. The reason that some Complementarians may find Palin “acceptable” is spelled out in my answer to the first question.

Have you fully come to grips with the fact that if after his election McCain were to die, Palin would be in authority over every male in the USA as president?


If you agree that God can call a woman to serve as president, does this have any implications for your views on women’s leadership in church life?

It is fallacious and unbiblical to argue that what is allowed in the secular sphere must also be allowed in the church. For instance, Romans 13 says that the secular Roman authority was ordained by God. The secular authority in question was the Roman Emperor Nero, who is widely known as a tyrant and a murderer (who even had his own mother executed). On Gushee’s reasoning, then, should we conclude that tyrants and murderers can be pastors simply because God-ordained secular rulers like Nero happened to be such? Hardly. This is not a biblical way to address the issue.

Would you be willing to vote for a qualified woman to serve as pastor of your church? If not, why not?

No. How can a woman be “qualified” to do a work that the New Testament explicitly says she is not to do? “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12).

Do you believe that Palin is under the authority of her husband as head of the family? If so, would this authority spill over into her role as vice president?

Yes. See the following texts:

Ephesians 5:22-24 “22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”

1 Peter 3:1-2 “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

My question to Gushee would be this. Don’t you agree with Paul and Peter that wives should be following the leadership of their husbands?

Do you believe that women carry primary responsibility for the care of children in the home? If so, does this affect your support for Palin? If not, are you willing to change your position and instead argue for flexibility in the distribution of child care responsibilities according to the needs of the family?

I have already answered the first question in a previous post. To reiterate, Complementarians do believe that God has given mothers a special responsibility that centers on the raising of children and caring for the home. This is unambiguous in the New Testament. For instance,

Titus 2:4-5 “The young women [are] to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”

With respect to the latter question, no Complementarian that I know of has ever argued against “the distribution of child care responsibilities according to the needs of the family.” In fact, we have been arguing that in our culture the failure of fathers to be faithful fathers may be the most pressing burden upon families today. When there is disorder and dysfunction in the home, that responsibility falls on Dad, not Mom.

Much more can and should be said on all of these questions, but I hope this at least begins to show how Complementarians have been answering these questions over the years. I am glad Gushee is joining the conversation. I’m sure there will be more to come.


  • Moz

    I think the Palin situation is somewhat problematic for complementarians in the sense that while she is not a pastor in a local church she is a woman in a position of authority and the complementarian reasoning has been that the doctrine of creation describes woman as being equal to men yet with different roles. They are to be the helpmate. So it does seem like complementarians are having to clarify their position in light of Palin and in doing so, seem to be having to limit the argument to the church, which seems to somewhat restric t the creation implications. I think Denny is right that the scope of limitation is in the church, but is it me, or does this seem like a slight change of tactic for the complementarian argument. Either way, it is an important clarification and faithful to the text.

  • Jimmy Williams

    The problem that I find with CBMW’s response is that it espouses the unbiblical dualistic teaching of secular versus sacred. We cannot separate our lives in that kind of way. We oppose an adulterer as President, even though the office of President is not a church position, why not a woman. I am an historical, conservative complementarian and the choice of Palin really grieves me.

  • David (not Adrian's son) Rogers

    While I am not going to fully return to post and comment, post and comment, post and comment on this blog, I will make a few comments now.

    First, thank you for responding to the questions.

    Second, will you or others address the issue of the Complementarian reasoning that a woman’s role is rooted in a Creation ordinance or design. I am still perplexed why if a woman’s role is defined and limited in a so-called Creation ordinance it does NOT apply to ALL areas of life, including here her role in “secular” society.

    Where does the Genesis text say that it only applies to religious and family contexts, not to societal ones, if the text intends to define a universal, cross-cultural, cross-temporal design ordinance? Where does Paul indicate that the creation ordinance does NOT apply elsewhere other than the religious assembly or home?

    Thanks for your replies. Whether I jump back in here and give rejoinders or not, I do appreciate the opportunity to post questions and comments.

    David Rogers

  • Don

    1. Based on the evolution of CBMW membership (as the more extreme non-egals drop out), one can see that when they formed they had a big tent strategy, where a minority believed in male leadership for society and a majority was not sure; so the solution was to avoid discussing this, to maintain the big tent.

    2. CBMW continues to promote the supposed creation principle of male leadership, they just do not apply it to society. They issue statements pointing out that the application of this supposed creation principle is only done in the home and church in the Bible. This allows them to argue that the Bible is silent on the application to society.

    However, IF it actually IS a creation principle, it applies everywhere. CBMW wants to use every argument to buttress their claims, but does not want all the implications of their own arguments. This is inconsistent, they must know it and others can see it, both the more extreme non-egals and egals. The more extreme non-egals call on CBMW to be consistent; the egals call on CBMW to abandon their conclusion of a creation principle.

  • MIKE

    The Comp’s referanace to creation order as a sign of headship is Paul’s referance to creation order as evidence of male headship in the Church governance. Genesis describes the creation of the first couple and marital relationship. Thus forms the foundation for headship dogma in these areas. Government did not arrise until much later in history.
    God’s Goverment will be a Monarchy, not democracy.
    If a study of the book of Job reveals nothing else we should understand that God interacts with nations in a different way than with individuals. Read Deuteronomy 30, the blessings and cursings of Israel we’re retributive, however in Job we know that Job is upright and still suffering.
    A discernable line betweeen God’s realationship with gov’t and gathering is drawn all thoguh scripture. It was the over equating of Gov’t and Gatherning that led to the Pope’s justificaiton of the crusades.

    Men and women are created equal in worth and dignity but not without distintion. The fact that Comps can oppose female pastoral leadership and yet endorse a responsible female VP is not an example of hypocracy in distinction but a testimony to the truth of equality.

  • Moz


    I agree there are ways to maintain a comp position and still affirm a female president or VP. I also agree that Paul’s reference to authority is specific to the context of the church. But the argument from creation that women are (by design) to be helpmates and under the leadership of a man (which is a standard sort of comp argument, I think) does not obviously stop in the church/home if it is a creation mandate, and so I think it is reasonable to discuss or request clarification on exactly why creation order doesn’t apply in government. I understand the argument to be that 1 Tim 2 is specifically about the church, not government. However, Paul’s argument from creation (which is the support for a prohibition of female leadership in the church) doesn’t obviously only apply to the home and church. After all, if there is a created order why wouldn’t it have application in government? Isn’t the strength of an argument from creation that it extends into all aspects of human life? The move to say that Paul is making a limited appeal from creation to the church is only begs the question of women in governement, since there is still a creation principle on the table. Right? Or am I missing something.

  • MIKE

    Everyone in chruch that is not teaching should be quiet. How is this disrespectful? Generally the argument is against the teaching not the being quiet.

    The Church is not Government.
    The Government is not a Christian.
    I do not hold the government to the same standards as the church (I am not saying that one is higher than the other).
    Scripture does not hold them to the same standard either. The Israeli Gov’t was ordered to kill the Cannanites but it was still against the law to kill a visitor to the land of Israel. Gen 1-2 where we have the garden does not express a government, why should then a creation principal be applied to something that is not in view? Gen 1, the relation between God and Man is in view (church) and the relation between Man and Woman. The only gov’t you can even INFER in Gen 1 is the Kingly Creatorship of God. The fact that ‘male headship’ is a creation principal means that it NEVER EXPIRES or simply that it was not a temporary mandate. Being a creation principal doesn’t mean that it blanket applies to all areas of creation. (Perhaps we have some vocab confusion here?)Jesus makes his divorce rules from creation but also gives an exception. Anyway, any arguement that equates these areas is a misapplication, or red herrring.

    The same kind of misapplied arguement can extend to the “just war” theory. To often the question is, “how can killing your neighbor be loving?” When It should be, “is it in the best interest of a nation to go to war with another nation.” This is a major red herring, the first question is about individual christian life, where the latter is about a Nation’s best interest. We’re not seeking a theocracy here, only an atmosphere that is hospitable to Christian life. The headship of man is about the individual christian home or church, the question about the VP is a question of the best interest of a nation.

    This is why ‘male headship’ is not ‘male dominance.’ (at least it shouldn’t be).

  • John

    David (not Adrian’s son) Rogers:
    Your view somewhat flattens theology and Biblical authority. There is a progression of revelation and doctrine within the Biblical cannon, which is not reflected en toto in all Biblical passages.
    Paul’s appeal to Genesis for male headship is in the context of the local church, and is a development of the Genesis text that (up to that point in revelation history) had not been revealed before. I find it difficult to take Paul’s argument out of his intended sphere and turn it into a blanket argument. Are we of deeper theological understanding than Paul? Just a thought.

  • Kamilla

    On the contrary, Don. Complementarians and Patriarchalists (I am the latter) keep highlighting it because our society has so thoroughly denigrated women’s vocations/work/roles. As Steven Hutchens noted recently elsewhere, “But those who demand ab initio that it [women’s work] include the work of men are fated to understand neither.”

    It is this lack of understanding which leads religious feminists to believe their world of greys is beautiful, living technicolor. As in the title of Alice von Hildebrand’s delightful little book, it is a privilege to be a woman.


  • Moz


    Sorry bro, but I somehow made you think I confuse the church and state. Not sure how, but that is not the case. My concern is that it seems as if the creation order would apply to the church (as Paul applies it) and to the government, as it does the family. Can you speak to that, specifically?


  • Don

    From RBMW p. 362.

    Because the principle of male leadership
    is based on the most fundamental of truths, God’s creation order, it should be clearly and
    explicitly stated by the church as part of its basic teaching, and adherence to this general
    principle, especially as it applies to the ruling and teaching officers of the church, is an
    appropriate requirement of all officers in the church.

    This sentence references the supposed creation order of male leadership.

    Egalism is no world of grays, everyone gets to be fully what God wants them to be, with no man-made limits.

    The women who have come out of non-egalism that I have heard say that the claimed advantage they had was to duck adult responsibility, as their husband had the supposed final responsibility. It may seem like an advantage, but it is not really, cuz you still have the responsibility even if you think you do not.

  • quixote


    Please. If we’re going to talk about this, let’s be honest. The “women should be quiet” was not in general reference to noise going on while another is teaching. Otherwise, wouldn’t the verse read something like, “Hey, everyone (men and women alike) quiet down unless you’re the one holding the conch shell!”

    It was a specific injunction against women teaching in the church (more specifically, teaching men), or at least that is how the non-egals read it. And as I said before: there is no equal worth or equal dignity in that.

  • quixote


    I hate to break it to you, but if you were truly living in a patriarchal society, you wouldn’t have your own blog nor be allowed to discourse with men on this one.

    You might want to reconsider.


  • Darius

    quixote, it doesn’t really matter if we think there is worth or dignity in something, it’s what the Bible commands. For those who still hold to the authority of Scripture, our own personal preferences are irrelevant.

  • Carrie Allen

    Changing the subject here a little – Mr. Burk, I came upon your website because of JT’s link. I am wondering (since you sit on CBMW) if you have any recommendations of an article that specifically addresses the complementarian view on women teaching men in a circumstance where a woman is more biblically educated than a man. For example – a remote area that hasn’t been reached with the gospel yet that a woman missionary stumbles upon. I know things have been written, but I can’t seem to get my hands on anything good. Thanks.

  • quixote


    I was responding to a particular comment made by Mike in #6: “Men and women are created equal in worth and dignity but not without distintion.”

    My personal preferences aren’t at stake.


  • Don

    I agree that “Men and women are created equal in worth and dignity but not without distinction.”

    The distinction is physical, not spiritual.

    2Co 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.

    Non-egals want to regard people according to the flesh in the new covenant, which is specifically rejected by this verse.

  • David (not Adrian's son) Rogers


    My view “somewhat flattens theology and Biblical authority”?

    I didn’t actually fully articulate a view here. I asked some questions.

    Paul may have appealed to a so-called “creation design ordinance” to make his point about religious and family order (i.e. acc. to the complementarian position) but where does he clarify that it does NOT apply anywhere else?

    Why don’t complementarians preach male hierarchy in all areas of life since that would match the idea of it being God’s original creation design that is appealed to in Genesis?

    Yes, it is true that we do not live in a theocracy, but that doesn’t stop us from preaching against abortion or homosexuality. Should we stop making public proclamations about them because we don’t live in a theocracy? Why aren’t complementarians attempting to apply the CREATION ordinance to all areas of life, including society? Is Jesus’ lordship only to be preached in religious and family issues. Is he not Lord of all of life?

    Where does the Scripture reveal the Creation Design Ordinance clearly does NOT apply to government and that those who claim it does are absolutely wrong to claim it does?

    That is the argumentation I would like addressed at some point. It would help me evaluate how consistent complementarian claims are. If the argumentation is strong, I would definitely consider the journey back to complementarianism, and yes, I started there, but with further biblical study found that complementarian argumentation did not answer enough legitimate exegetical questions.

  • MIKE

    My thrust is this…
    Paul’s argument from creation appeals to the timeless quality of the command not to it’s universal application. The appeal to Paul’s argument as based on creation is always used in referance to the Egal’s claim that Paul was either wrong or he was just refering to a cultural ethic.

    What do you think occasioned the need for Paul to tell the women to keep quiet? Paul praises women, and we know that he believed the scriptures which praise a wise woman… why do you think he told them to quiet down?

  • Don

    Paul was not wrong.

    Paul did not tell women to be silent, altho legalists from Corinth did, which Paul rebuked.

    Paul is not using an argument from creation, he is stating what is true, as contrasted with the false teaching itself.

  • Moz


    Ok, so what does it mean for a creation principle to be timeless but not universal? I get what the egal’s claim. What I don’t get is how a creation principle about gender roles wouldnt apply to all aspects of life. Can you give me an analogy or otherwise help me understand this? It seems like either comps embrace the whole of the creation principle across the board (all contexts women submit and men are head) or the strength of the argument seems diminished to me for almost committing the very sin comps charge of the egals, namely, limiting a creation principle (the egals limit it altogether to culture, the comps to the church).

  • Moz


    Ok, thanks. So are there other egala that would say there was a creation distinction between male and female in which men were leaders but this has been eliminated in the new convenent? I would be more likely to see this as viable since clearly the OT is patriarchical…I mean, this seems pretty straightforward.

  • Kathy

    ‘The Comp’s referanace to creation order as a sign of headship is Paul’s referance to creation order as evidence of male headship in the Church governance.’

    The comp’s reference to chronological ordering of creation as a sign of headship is Paul’s What? Paul does refer to chronological order but NOT kephale in the same breath.

    I’ve already asked here more than once why it is that when Paul talks about chronological order (which doesn’t imply or equal hierarchal order as the two orders are different kinds) he does NOT mention kephale, and when he does mention kephale he doesn’t refer to creation order. No one has ever answered these kinds of questions.

  • Kathy

    And so, how do any really know that Paul’s referance to chronological (Not hierarchal)order is evidence of male head’ship’ when Paul does NOT even speak of kephale or male leadership or authority, JUST as he NEVER has in any of his writings on man/woman or male/female?

  • Marie Jones

    The egals don’t limit male headship to culture; they don’t limit it at all. They believe that the difference between men and women is only physical, and thus, arbitrary. Just a point.

    Another point, this one about the original post. Denny Burk says that Complementarians do NOT admit to being egalitarians in the area of government. He then goes on to say that it is fine for women to serve in government but not the church. Perhaps he doesn’t understand the meaning of the term egalitarian? This is a contradictory statement.
    Responding to someone’s post, male headship IS a subtle( or not so subtle) statement about male dominance. If it weren’t, what reason would you give for it?

    Someone mentioned the fact that the basis of non-egals principles was based on a few verses by Paul. I think this is a good point. Elsewhere in the New Testament, it refers to a deaconess. What reason can you give for that? Also, what makes you think that when Paul tells these particular women, who are uneducated, according to the custom of the time, to be quiet, that he is referring to every women, because they are women? I think it’s fairly obvious that he didn’t want ignorant people making comments and disrupting the lesson.
    It wasn’t Paul’s job to change societal customs that weren’t related to Christianity. That’s not what he was trying to address. This is clear both in the verse about women remaining quiet and in the verse telling slaves to obey their masters.
    Was he saying he believes slavery is right? No. He was simply addressing the world as it was at the time, telling Christians how to live their lives in their own community, according to its problems. Conversely, even if he believed wholeheartedly that women are not worthy to speak when a man is in the room, he is just one man out of many people in the Bible. Perhaps he was sexist. He is not God. It is very one-sided to look at the view of one man talking to one society.
    Some people say that God created the world with the clear intention of male headship. They believe this because after the fall of man, God tells Eve that her lot in life is for her husband to rule over her. But if one were reading carely, they might notice that He gives this as a punishment for sin, not as His original intention. But the role of Christians is to try to live their lives as perfectly as possible, to make the world as close to the Garden of Eden as they can.
    Because God said something was a negative consequence of sin, does that mean we should try to make it that way? Or that we should strive for something higher, the beautiful love,not based on domination, between a man and a woman that God intended?

  • Kathy

    ‘Men and women are created equal in worth and dignity but not without distintion. The fact that Comps can oppose female pastoral leadership and yet endorse a responsible female VP is not an example of hypocracy in distinction but a testimony to the truth of equality.’

    Does this mean then that women are NOT equal spiritualy or domesticaly to men?

  • Kathy

    ‘I agree there are ways to maintain a comp position and still affirm a female president or VP. I also agree that Paul’s reference to authority is specific to the context of the church.’

    What reference to male authority, Moz?

  • Kathy

    ‘Gen 1-2 where we have the garden does not express a government, why should then a creation principal be applied to something that is not in view? Gen 1, the relation between God and Man is in view (church) and the relation between Man and Woman.’

    You claim that in Gen at creation government is not in view but ‘church’ is? This is interesting.

    The relation between God and humanity (made male and female) is in view, BUT the church remember is the BODY OF CHRIST, and Christ was prophesied through God to come through the woman’s seed, and so we do NOT have church at creation.

  • Don


    There is a creation distinction between males and females in that they have physical differences and the woman came from the man. This is about it. We see how God declares hierarchy and he did not between a man and a woman in any explicit fashion.

  • Kathy

    ‘quixote, it doesn’t really matter if we think there is worth or dignity in something, it’s what the Bible commands. For those who still hold to the authority of Scripture, our own personal preferences are irrelevant.’

    What does the bible command? Therefore what does Paul, God, or any other biblical writer command? And what about universal laws applicable to all?

  • Kathy

    ‘There is a creation distinction between males and females in that they have physical differences and the woman came from the man. This is about it. We see how God declares hierarchy and he did not between a man and a woman in any explicit fashion.’

    Well, how come God did NOT explicitly declare a hierarchy between man and woman through the bible, EVER?

  • Truth Unites... and Divides

    “These are clever questions indeed, questions that Gushee seems to think are virtually irrefutable and that conservative evangelical Christians are unable to answer. My purpose in this brief response is not to address the questions Gushee raises (though I do not think they are quite as irrefutable as Gushee seems to believe). Indeed, Palin’s nomination raises all kinds of interesting issues that require further discussion. My concern here is rather with the forum Gushee chose for his frontal assault on his fellow evangelical Christians (albeit less “moderate” than he). Here is my question: Is it appropriate for Gushee to seek to ridicule, or at least embarrass, his brothers and sisters in Christ on the pages of a national newspaper for their “archaic” beliefs? Or is this the equivalent of believers bringing lawsuits against fellow believers in worldly courts, a practice Paul condemns in 1 Corinthians 6?

    The world needs the gospel; it does not need to watch conservative and “moderate” evangelical Christians be at each other’s throats in contentious public debate. How does the spirit and tone of Gushee’s contribution to “The Forum” in the pages of USA Today serve the gospel? How does it serve to bring the lost closer to Christ and help them come to terms with the salvation he offers and the judgment incurred by those who reject what God has done for them in Christ? How is the piece charitable and constructive? The way I see it, maybe conservative evangelical Christians are facing “The Palin predicament,” but by targeting CBMW and complementarians in his Op-Ed piece in USA Today the way he chose to do, Gushee has created a predicament of his own.”


    (H/T to JT)

  • Don

    It helps spread the gospel as people will see there are Biblically faithful alternatives to choosing to interpret the Bible in a way that restricts women as CBMW does.

  • Kathy

    ‘How does the spirit and tone of Gushee’s contribution to “The Forum” in the pages of USA Today serve the gospel?’

    What’s the spirit and tone of Gushee’s ‘contribution’?

  • Kathy

    Lydia, when will anyone answer your question?

    Can we imagine the VP called to be in sin if the woman were to lead a bible study, by a select group? Sure we can.

  • Sue

    So are there other egala that would say there was a creation distinction between male and female in which men were leaders but this has been eliminated in the new convenent?

    I don’t believe there are any egals that believe this. Frankly, no. Egals believe that hierarchy entered the marriage relationship in Gen. 3:16. In fact, in the Vulgate, the text for 12 centuries, it was explicit and likewise in the early church fathers, that woman was made subject to man in Gen. 3:16.

    Egals believe this same thing that was taught for 15 centuries. But historically, theologians did not believe that there was any freedom from the authorities and powers of miserable monarchs and cruel slavemasters, all were to be endured, and inequlality in marriage.

    Egals now believe that just as there is democracy there is also freedom from slavery and there is also a way for Christians to treat each other as equals in marriage. Egals believe that in Christ, there is mutuality in marriage.

  • William

    This egal vs. comp argument is going nowhere on this blog. The posts and comments are just repeating the same old reasoning. I understand that this is an important issue, but no progress is being made here.

    I would like to see Denny move on to something else for a while. Too much more of this debate and this blog will be entirely uninteresting.

  • MIKE

    I don’t have time to catch up on all of this but I’ll respond to Kathy in #32. Re read my posts, you ignored where I specified the relationships in Gen 1-3 as “God-Mankind” and “man-woman” thus church or Gathering or Body of Christ relates to God and the Man relates to the Woman.

  • Kathy

    ‘I don’t have time to catch up on all of this but I’ll respond to Kathy in #32. Re read my posts, you ignored where I specified the relationships in Gen 1-3 as “God-Mankind” and “man-woman” thus church or Gathering or Body of Christ relates to God and the Man relates to the Woman.’

    Maybe I am not understanding you?

    Did the man and the woman at creation function as memebrs of the body of Christ? If not then how could there have been church at creation? Members and giftings of the body build the body up, they function together as members so I don’t see ‘church’ at creation. How could have either the man or woman been a MEMBER of Christ’s body? Did Christ give gifts at creation also for his people?

  • Don

    If the man at creation was the leader, he served as a TERRIBLE example. He clearly failed at the charge of protecting the garden. Then he deliberately eats the fruit. Then he tries to blame his wife and God.

    What kind of role model is this? A negative role model is my answer.

  • Kathy

    ‘If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[e]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we[f] bear the likeness of the man from heaven.’

    Here in Co 15 we can see that the first man was not a part of the church, since he was not born again, and so the church, the body of Christ who’s memebers are born again, is NOT in view at creation.

  • Quixote


    Here’s a must-read from Fox News.

    Lifeway Bookstores have pulled the latest “Gospel Today” mag from their shelves because it featured an article on women pastors.

    Talk about freedom of speech. On this blog, we lament news reporters who can’t objectively report the news and mock their bias when they openly weep during an Obama speech. But if a magazine reports on a trend that goes against the SBC, objective reporting goes out the window??


  • Don

    Yes, you again refer to the Holy Spirit with the correct Hebrew/Greek grammatical gender of she/it. Thank you for recognizing the truth of what I wrote.

  • Brian (Another)


    If you are referring to CBMW, they do answer. One particular answer is Grudem’s book. If you mean specifically on CBMW (the site), a cursory search shows several places (here’s one, even one about Palin). If you mean on this site in particular, I have read more than one person answer you (it’s just far more tedious and time consuming to search through comments.). As Jason had said once before (to Sue specifically, but applies here), just because you don’t accept or agree with the answer doesn’t mean it is no less of an answer.

    Hope that helps (well, at least answers the question, perhaps?).

    Joy, peace and hope!

  • Sue

    As Jason had said once before (to Sue specifically, but applies here), just because you don’t accept or agree with the answer doesn’t mean it is no less of an answer.

    Can anyone provide an example of authenteo that has a positive connotation?

    Here is what Baldwin wrote about BGU 1208,

    “In BGU 1208 the influence the writer exercises is based on his authority over his own funds and property. He is seeking to get what he considers an honest payment made to a boatman for services rendered in transferring his sheep across the Nile.”

    Please note that the writer is trying to get money from someone over whom he has no jurisdiction. By Baldwin’s comment, one gets the impression that using force to extract funds from womeone is fine and good as long as the funds are owed to you. But Grudem offers a contrary explanation.

    He cites Payne as writing,

    “This passage is about a hostile relationship; his action is called ‘insolence’ in the text.” Ev. Fem. and Biblical Truth. page 680

    Grudem then continues,

    “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.” Page 680

    There is no sense at all that Grudem is trying to present BGU 1208 as a possible occurrence of godly authority. Quite the opposite. He infers that since the preposition pros plus accusative is used, this may not be a good parallel to 1 Tim. 2:12.

    Considering the variannce between the assessment of these two writers which Denny chose to cite in response to my question, I do not consider that I have received a convincing answer.

  • Lydia

    “Hope that helps (well, at least answers the question, perhaps?).”

    How about you? Does CBMW speak for you? Grudem? But then, those links do not really answer this direct question:

    Would YOU consider Palin to be in sin if she lead a bible study for her mixed gender staff members?

    Yes or no will suffice. :o)

  • Lydia

    They claim they have answered questions that have not really been answered at all. Then they claim that something is wrong with us because we do not like their ‘non answer’. I wonder if this non answer technique works at their workplace? Probably for profs at SBTS?:o)

  • preacher's wife

    Someone in a thread like this made statements about CS Lewis and whether he was comp or egal. Here’s a quote from his book The Four Loves that I thought fitting in this thread:

    “But I dare not mention this Pagan sacrament without turning aside to guard against any danger of confusing it with an incomparably higher mystery. As nature crowns man in that brief action, so the Christian law has crowned him in the permanent relationship of marriage, bestowing–or should I say, inflicting?–a certain “headship” on him. This is a very different coronation.

    And as we could easily take the natural mystery too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery not seriously enough. Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles.

    The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church–read on–AND GIVE HIS LIFE FOR HER. This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least….

  • preacher's wife


    I love when Lewis wrote, “The husband is the head of the wife *just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church*.” I think this qualification would disqualify many husbands from being the head of the wife.

  • Brian (Another)

    As much as I shouldn’t pick at the scab….

    Lydia (#64): I don’t know if you caught it, but I already have personally responded to this. Yes, I do agree with Grudem on this.

    yes or no will suffice

    The question isn’t specifically a yes or no digital answer (at least in the way you phrase it). Yes, if Palin set to lead a study of men through the bible, to be accountable for that group (as a study leader should be, then yes, I consider that to be against 1 Tim 2. But, I also do agree with Grudem in the fact that this can be a little more “grey” since it isn’t the church (consistent with the idea that Paul is speaking specifically to church. The grey comes in since some consider church subject in 1 Tim 2 to be only the meeting place of everyone, while I would say a group of believers (or a bible study) fall in that same category.). And there can be much more attached to the answer. But I think I’ve written too much already.

    BTW, the original question was Would CBMW consider Palin to be in sin if she lead a bible study for her mixed gender staff members? which is why I linked the CBMW articles (I assume you read them?) rather than answer for myself again.

    Sue: Again, your overall thought is summed up with:

    I do not consider that I have received a convincing answer.

    Which goes back to the difference between not answering (the issue posed here) and giving an answer with which you disagree (or, in this case, “not…a convincing answer”).

  • Sue

    I am glad that you are happy with an answer that basically goes like this.

    Authenteo means authority because BGU 1208 demonstrates it might mean legitimate authority. (Baldwin)

    Authenteo means authority in spite of the fact that BGU 1208 demonstrates it is power used in a hostile situation. (Grudem)

    Authenteo means authority since we don’t have enough lexical evidence to say what it means so we can deduce what it means from didasko, and didasko is always positive [not]. (Kostenberger)

    Is this all it takes to convince you? Are you not interested in consistency?

  • Kathy

    ‘Authenteo means authority because BGU 1208 demonstrates it might mean legitimate authority. (Baldwin)

    Authenteo means authority in spite of the fact that BGU 1208 demonstrates it is power used in a hostile situation. (Grudem)

    Authenteo means authority since we don’t have enough lexical evidence to say what it means so we can deduce what it means from didasko, and didasko is always positive [not]. (Kostenberger)’

    This is a joke, right? I just didn’t get it, as usual…

  • Sue

    This is a paraphrase of these men’s notions about how the evidence informs the conclusions. This is no joke. Anyone is free to contradict this.

    Basically BGU 1208 is the only occurrence of authenteo that everyone accepts as evidence. This is a letter from a landowner to his brother about how he got someone who sold sheep/cattle to him to pay the ferryman to bring the cattle across the river. Authenteo appears to mean “I made him do it” as in compel of force.

    Authenteo does not appear to have anything to do with actual authority in this letter, but rather force.

    My sense is that Kostenberger and Wallace argue that the evidence is too slim to be relevant and therefore, from context, we can read any meaning we want into the text that APPEARS to make sense. They further argue that didasko always has a positive meaning in the pastoral epistles and must be positive. Teerefore, authenteo must have a positive meaning in 1 Timothy as well. However, didasko does not always have a positive meaning, see Titus 1:11.

    The problem is that none of these men argue their case from the evidence, as it exists. None of them deal with the facts.

    “Have authority” was first used for authenteo in Tyndale’s Bible. In the Latin Vulgate authenteo was translated as dominari which was used elsewhere in the scriptures as something that a people ought not to do. For example, dominari is the Latin found in Gen. 3:16. Eve will be “dominari” by her husband. Not a good thing. Chrysostom said that a husband must never authenteo a wife. Not a good thing.

    Egalitarians have very good reason for being skeptical about complementarian theology.

    Here is another odd example of theology found on the CBMW site.

    Compelemeentarians cannot argue that their translations or interpretations have much to do with classic theology. The fact is that the ancients subordinated women for their own reasons, and complementarians subordinate women for a whole new set of reasons. Since the old reasons, the inferior mental capacity of women, is now our of vogue.

  • Brian (Another)

    Just as a point, if I understand it correctly, in Titus 1:11, in order to be negative, teach was accompanied by “the things they ought not to teach” (NIV). The verb teach is not negative until it comes in contact with “what not to teach” (or similar). Isn’t there a different word derivative for teach in Greek? In Titus 1 it is modified by the “things they should not teach” whereas in all other instances, teaching (didasko) is positive. At most it is neutral in Titus 1:11, the “what” is the negative.

    Re: the boatman’s transaction, would you say that because a plaintiff and a defendant bear animosity towards one another, a judge’s ruling is negative (that sounds analogous to what the boatman’s transaction situation is)? If I understand, this is about paying the wages, not forcing someone to pay without cause (despotically). But that is a path we’ve been down, I believe.

    I would say that the theology you mention is not “odd”. It’s something that has been out there. I think part of the difference in our contemporaries now is that peering into the why (as Luther did, saying ‘twas b/c women were inferior), the complementarian view more accurately shows a true complement than an inferiority (as many previous have tried to demonstrate). And order does not equal inferiority (or despotic subjection), or else the animals would also be placed along side man in an unfallen world (so it would seem). Again, though, I think that is also something that has been discussed ad nauseam here.

  • Sue


    Re: the boatman’s transaction, would you say that because a plaintiff and a defendant bear animosity towards one another, a judge’s ruling is negative

    There is no judge in this transaction. One private individual MADE another private individual do something. The interaction is considered hostile. Grudem appears to agree with this.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with the law, or jurisdiction or leadership, or any kind of authority. It is about force.

    The notion that authenteo was in any way related to authority first appeared in Erasmus Latin translation of the NT. Even then he said “autoritatem usurpare.”

    You agree then on other points that Luther did not understand that male headship existed in creation but came with the fall. I wonder how Luther would fare today. The gender imparity in the creation order was not traditional theology.

    How can you say that women were created for subordination and the fall makes them resist it, when the Bible that all the early church fathers and reformers had clearly said that women were made subject to their husbands in the fall.

    Yes, I will repeat it ad nasusema. Complementarians are out of step with tradition in their interpretation. The common denominator is the subordination of women. If one way to subordinate women falls into disrepute, then find another one.

    Otherwise, why wouldn’t these authors openly admit that the evidence on authenteo is not what it was in Baldwin’s first study.

  • Sue

    You are saying that a person coercing someone else to do something, is analogous to a judge making a judgement in court. And you are saying that all of this is analogous to a leader in church.

    Therefore, when Paul says a woman should not coerce a man, he really means that a woman cannot be a church leader, because men are to coerce people as leaders, that is what a leader does, as Christ coerces us. Is this what you are saying?

    Be honest. What do you think this means?

  • Kathy

    ‘The gender imparity in the creation order was not traditional theology.’

    This is amazing really since the traditional view held that women were inferior to men. What happened to real traditionalists? Today’s compism is truley NOT traditional, hence it’s called ‘complemetarian’ (with hierarchy) verses patriarchy anyway. Even I am a complementarian (without hierarchy).

  • Don

    From http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2008/09/30/three-spheres-of-subordination-shrinks-to-two/#comment-4575

    This documents the inconsistency of CBMW.

    Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, an organization that believes the bible forbids women from voting, has taken CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) to task saying that Dr. Gushee is right in his USA Today challenge that people like CBMW have experienced an historic change in their theological position. He writes:

    Dr. Gushee’s point was essentially this: Christians must formally acknowledge that a historic change has occurred in their theological commitments and policy objectives, or reasonable observers must conclude that that their position lacks intellectual integrity.

    While I do not agree with Doug Phillips at all regarding his very legalistic interpretation of women’s “roles”, he is right in pointing out that if one interprets the distinctions between male and female as rooted in the creation order itself, then it is inconsistent to not apply that principle to all three realms – marriage (home), church and society – instead of just in marriage and the church. If we are going to remove the realm of society and civil government, then we need to rethink our interpretation of Paul.

    CBMW states that they are being consistent and that:

    God’s design for male headship in the home and the church does not require the exclusion of women from leadership in public life, where spiritual headship is not involved. Such extrapolation carries the biblical teaching about the role of women beyond the Bible’s own application.

    The apparent inconsistency according to CBMW only comes when one overlooks the priority of the church:

    Complementarians only seem to be inconsistent if one overlooks the priority of the church and misses the distinction between the church and and civil government. This confusion is resolved when one understands that complementarians simultaneously hold a high view of Scripture, a high view of women, and a high view of the church.

    I think it is time that we test CBMW’s claim to consistency and see what they have taught in the past regarding the role of men and women in Society.

    In 1987 CBMW formed as a concerned group of individuals and in that year they created the Danver’s Statement which is a list of CBMW’s core beliefs.

    Point 1 under Rationale, CBMW lists a concern:

    The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;

    Note that the concern is not just about the home and the church but about “our culture”. Did CBMW believe in 1987 that the difference between masculinity and femininity would necessitate different roles in society? Their Danver Statement affirmations make it clear that they believe the “created order” that was ordained by God and it goes past an application to Christians because it is to be found within every human heart:

    Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).

    We find in CBMW’s 1991 book “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” that there is a “breaking point” of femininity that makes some “roles” for women inappropriate, unproductive and unhealthy:

    One or more of these roles might stretch appropriate expression of femininity beyond the breaking point. (pg 50 RBMW)

    But as I said earlier, there are roles that strain the personhood of man and woman too far to be appropriate, productive and healthy for the overall structure of home and society. Some roles would involve kinds of leadership and expectations of authority and forms of strength as to make it unfitting for a woman to fill the role. (pg 51 RBMW)

    Notice that in 1991 it was not just the home and the church, but there were limitations on women also in society. These limitations revolved around authority and leadership. What is the principle that CBMW claimed would controvert God’s created order?

    To the degree that a woman’s influence over man is personal and directive it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order.

    A woman may design the traffic pattern of a city’s streets and thus exert a kind of influence over all male drivers. But this influence will be non-personal and therefore not necessarily an offense against God’s order. (pg 51 RBMW)

    An offense against God’s order (and presumably an offense against God himself) would be if a woman exerts directive influence.

    All acts of influence lie on the continuum between personal and non-personal. The closer they get to the personal side, the more inappropriate it becomes for women to exert directive influence. … It would be hard to see how a woman could be a drill sergeant over men without violating their sense of masculinity and her sense of femininity. (pg 51 RBMW highlighted text is my emphasis.)

    It is clear from CBMW’s book that women are to carry forward a subordinate role to men even in society as a whole. In fact according to them, men will not flourish under the leadership of a female superior.

    The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish long under personal, directive leadership of a female superior. (pg 52 RBMW)

    Let me ask, would being a VP of a country put a woman into the position of giving personal, directive leadership over men? The answer is a resounding yes! What has changed in CBMW’s mindset?

    In 1991 CBMW allowed women to lead in society as long as a woman gave signals to the men that she endorses his mature manhood and she does not exert directive influence.

    There are ways for a woman to interact with a male subordinate that signal to him and others her endorsement of his mature manhood in relationship to her as a woman….Her demeanor – the tone and style and disposition and discourse of her ranking position – can signal clearly her affirmation of the unique role that men should play in relationship to women owing to their sense of responsibility to protect and lead. (pg 50 RBMW)

    Even back in 1991 CBMW realized that this appeared to be a contradiction.

    It is obvious that we are on the brink of contradiction – suggesting that a woman may hold the position of leadership and fulfill it in a way that signals to men her endorsement of their sense of responsibility to lead. But the complexities of life requires of us this risk. (page 50 RBMW)

    But now in 2008, it is okay for a woman to exercise directive influence and leadership in society as long as it is not in the home and not in the church. Praise God that CBMW has come a long way. But they should be honest about the change in their view. They have not been consistent as they have claimed:

    Complementarians hold a consistent view of the role of women in the church, home, and political office by keeping in mind the priority of the church with respect to civil governments.

    It is not a consistent view if one claims that God created a difference in the roles that men and women are to have because of creation. The change from things “unfitting” for women back in 1991 according to CBMW are now no problem as “fitting” in 2008. Is it a “timeless” command that a woman cannot have directive authority over a man in society and in civil government? In 2008 the answer must now be shown to be “No”. I applaud CBMW for seeing that this issue is not a “timeless” law of God. Their move towards allowing women like Sarah Palin to be nominated as Vice-President, shows that they have thought through the contradictions of their former position and have moved towards a more biblical approach. There is more work to be done but their words below show a good start:

    Even though the Bible reserves final authority in the church for men, this does not apply in the kingdom of this world.

  • Kathy

    The 3 concluding questions From http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2008/09/30/three-spheres-of-subordination-shrinks-to-two/#comment-4575 are great:

    CBMW web site: ‘Government has been instituted since the Fall, whereas manhood and womanhood, marriage and family, and the fellowship of all true believers are part of the design of creation.’

    If manhood and womanhood was instituted before government was instituted because male and female are a “part of the design of the original creation”, then wouldn’t government have to be subject to the “rules” of manhood and womanhood since creation order came before government? How does a secondary institution circumvent creation? And lastly how come the discussion of “manhood and womanhood” overlooks the fact that in the original creation God created the male and female and gave them the exact same rulership over creation?

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