Sunday, October 12, 2008

Away Again...

I will be away from “Leaders Together” for several weeks, but will check in periodically. Anyone who comes up with a question or comment during this time may leave it here or on the post below (“Responses to Questions…”), and I will respond in due time. Comments will not be moderated during this time.

See you again some time in November!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Responses to questions and comments have appeared at last!

Below are the comments and questions posted during the “Blog Holiday” of a couple of months ago. I have responded to all. Any responses to my Blog Holiday responses should (obviously) be posted here, not under the original Blog Holiday post.

I have also responded (belatedly) to the more recent comments/questions under the posts, “The Question of Consistency, Part 1” and “Adam and Eve in Genesis and 1 Timothy.” I believe this covers everything. I hope I haven’t left anyone out!

Also, please note that I have begun moderating comments so that I can keep better track of them. (Hope it works!)

Blog Holiday comments:

Jamin Hubner said...

Much has been said and written on gender..but very little on exactly what "gender" is. While I tend to think complimentarians have the upper hand in possessing a hermeneutic at allows them to say "this is masculinity" and "this is femininity," I think both sides have not clearly defined gender itself (simply metaphysical differences between sexes? What's the dif between sex and gender? How much of gender is a social construct? How much is God-bestowed? etc. etc.)
June 19, 2008 2:36 PM

RMG response:

I responded to this in my recent post, “The Question of Consistency, Part 1.” Regarding the difference between sex and gender, it is interesting to note that gender was used only as a grammatical category until sometime around the 1970s when it also came to be used in the contemporary sense. My guess is that this word was given a new meaning when the concept of sexuality was compartmentalized into the physical and the mental/emotional aspects of personality (the “hardware” and the “software,” if you will). Thus the notion of maleness and femaleness in the nonphysical realm became malleable, socially constructed. This then cleared the way for designer sexuality, as it were. Where there are no longer any givens, anything goes. Personally, I have never resonated with the sex/gender distinction, and have not based my thinking on this concept. For me, “gender” simply means male or female; so I am really using it more in the earlier sense of “sex” (encompassing the whole package of male and female difference, both physical and nonphysical aspects, not just the hard wired, physical aspects).

kparis said...

I like your blog because you are really invested in this issue and have intelligent positions to put forward/defend. I would like to see more discussion surrounding culture's influence on this debate. (Historically, how has culture influenced a traditionalist interpretation of the Bible? What did 19th century "feminism" look like as compared to the women's movement in the sixties and seventies? How were the backlashes the same/different in the church and elsewhere? And what positions do we deem "biblical" that we should re-examine as merely cultural? etc.)
June 21, 2008 7:24 AM

RMG response:

Much of this is covered in my 1994 (but still relevant) book Women Caught in the Conflict. It is still relevant because, although the battle lines in this debate have hardened, they have hardly budged in the last decade. (Although I suspect that if Sarah Palin were to become Vice President, the battle lines would shift somewhat.)

One position that many deem traditional and biblical, but which in fact is a result of cultural change, is that man’s authority over woman is specifically a spiritual authority. (I discussed the problems with this notion in the recent post “The Question of Consistency, Part 2”.) But as I pointed out in Women Caught in the Conflict, male authority has been scaled down from culture at large (where male rule had been thoroughly ensconced since Genesis 3:16) to merely the realm of the church. This adjustment occurred when the larger culture began to accept women’s right to vote, to own property, to obtain an education, and so to have a measure of personal agency, all of which brought womanhood into adulthood, and rendered woman’s permanent and comprehensive subordination to male authority untenable in society at large.

Another interesting aspect here is that, according to Daniel Mark Cere’s essay in Does Christianity Teach Male Headship?, the concept of male spiritual authority was a late comer in this saga. For most of human history, male authority over woman was simply a cultural given, and it obtained in both secular and religious realms. Male authority was not considered to be specifically “spiritual” until the early modern era when the idea emerged in certain Catholic circles. This “theologization of conjugal authority,” as Cere puts it, then entered Protestantism with the Reformation.

Paul D. Adams said...

How about architecting some kind of biblical egalitarian "manifesto" of sorts, along the lines of "we affirm..." and "we deny...."?
Various statements might address:
-- commitment to socio-cultural and literary exegesis as well as grammatical-historical exegesis
-- affirm the trinue nature of God; deny subordination of the Son as theological grounds for PC view
-- Gender versus sexuality
-- God as gender-less; God as Father and anthropomorphisms
-- heterosexual marriage only w/in bounds of Scripture; same-sex marriage not part of a responsible biblical egalitarian position
-- the cross of Christ as the basis of unity for all believers; gender debate not an essential defining belief, albeit important...etc.

You get the idea.

If a manifesto is warranted, then this blog could be the draft toward possible publication somewhere, I know not where (to loosely quote Locke).

Just thinking...Paul
June 23, 2008 10:31 AM

RMG response:

This is a good idea. I will keep it in mind. I have come across a number of comments in different venues noting the rather vast difference between what the BE view actually says and what the PC view claims the BE view says. If the record could be set straight on this somehow, it would certainly be helpful. I suspect the greatest need for clarification would be setting forth what the BE view does NOT affirm!

Your list of subjects to address is all good. I would also want to add something on the matter of “abortion rights,” since that is certainly a gender issue and is routinely brought up by the PC critique as one of the many evils of feminism: a point on which they are correct; it is one of the evils of feminism—that is, radical post-70s feminism. The early feminists in the 18th and early 19th centuries were firmly opposed to abortion; it was (rightly) deemed an abuse of both women and children.

The biggest difficulty in this project would be in getting the information out there. I don’t know where it could be published, or how the information could be made widely known, especially since the PC institutions “hold the microphone” in evangelical culture. JETS used to publish views on both sides of the gender divide, but no more.

believer333 said...

I've been intrigued lately by the term "sexual orthordoxy" coined I think, by the Bayley Brothers. As far as I know there has never been an orthodox doctrine on sexuality. I guess the hard core patriarchalists would like to lay claim to one. And I would like to see it exposed as what it is, an extra Biblical insertion with the intent of hoisting up the concept of male dominance.
July 15, 2008 12:54 PM

RMG response:

I’d not heard of “sexual orthodoxy,” so I googled Bayly and sexual orthodoxy and came up with only two blog posts on the Bayly brothers’ blog where that term appeared: their September 19, 2008, post, and their March 31, 2008 post However, there may be other references that I’ve missed.

In each of the two posts, there was one comment that referred to “sexual orthodoxy,” each made by Kamilla, and neither offered any definition of the term. It is not even clear what the basic concept is here. I assume it is not mere sexual ethics, but something more comprehensive, perhaps encompassing the whole of the properly biblical PC perspective of male-female reality. Whatever it may be, it is considered to be the antithesis of Egalitarianism. “The core of Egalitarianism is a rejection of sexual orthodoxy,” Kamilla explains. At any rate, it is evident that the term, as used on the Bayly blog, carries with it a profound contempt for biblical equality, which is regarded as synonymous with feminism, which is regarded as hat in hand with the worst of the radical feminist movement (abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, men’s abdication of their responsibilities toward women, etc.)

A salient characteristic of this blog is its high pitch. Everything is writ large. There are perils at every turn. And such a thicket of rules and rhetoric!

At any rate, please feel free to enlighten us further, if you are able!

Gem said...

I wonder if you would be interested in doing some pondering and analysis of 1 Peter 3:1-6 along the lines of your analysis of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in "Leading Him Up the Garden Path"?1 Peter 3:1-6 is another passage where I find the traditionalist approach demeaning toward women and the egalitarian approach diminishing the power and authority of God's Word to speak to us transculturally in every age.I read your brief analysis of the 1 Peter 3:1-7 “The Bible and Gender Equality.” The entire epistle of 1 Peter is dear to me and filled with wisdom, encouragement, and spiritual challenge for a modern day woman dealing an oppressive PC marriage. I pondered a great deal about the use of Sara as the role model. I found that Katharine Bushnell has some good insights about Sarah which I find quite relevant to living out the teaching of 1 Peter. (see Lessons 66-69 here:
August 27, 2008 7:42 AM

RMG response:

There are two important points in 1 Peter 3:1-7 that generally are ignored:

1. While the surrounding culture was patriarchal in NT times, the church was not bound to male authority in spiritual matters. The apostle Peter actually commended Christian women who refused to submit to their husbands’ false spiritual beliefs, yet at the same time he urged these women to be submissive to the social roles of the time (1 Pet 3:1-6). The submission Peter asks of wives is not submission to the husband’s spiritual authority. Peter approved of women who rejected their husbands’ false religious beliefs (such women were his primary audience in this text). The wifely submission Peter asked of women was cultural, not spiritual, and was based on the principle of submitting to the authority structures of the time so as not to bring reproach on the cause of Christ, but rather to reflect Christ’s humility (see the preceding text, 2:11-25). The PC view today inverts the NT situation by advocating, in essence, an inequality in spiritual rights and responsibilities for women in a cultural context in which women generally experience equality in the larger society.

2. The passage concludes (verse 7) with a clear statement of woman’s spiritual equality (equal inheritance in Christ) and an exhortation to husbands to remember and respect their wives’ spiritual equality.

These two biblical truths are certainly out of sync with the PC perspective on this text.

I also have a section on this text in Good News for Women, pp. 172-176. And there are some helpful insights in Peter Davids’ chapter, “A Silent Witness in Marriage,” in Discovering Biblical Equality.

I am curious: What is the “egalitarian approach” that you see as “diminishing the power and authority of God’s Word to speak to us transculturally in every age”? Also, what were the insights you gleaned from Katharine Bushnell regarding the use of Sarah as a role mode? (I looked at the Lessons you noted but could not discern anything helpful. But perhaps I just don’t resonate with Bushnell’s communication style.)