Be a Man

There’s a certain philosophy within Evangelicalism that the way to promote church growth is to have a laser beam focus on attracting men.  The frame of mind says men want to be manly and too much of the church has become feminized.  Too much worship promotes Jesus as some sort of cosmic boyfriend and what men want is not the be loved and encouraged but instead they want to lead and be challenged.

To capitalize on this some churches focus heavily on men in programs, sermons and worship selection.  It’s believed that by attracting men, women will be happy to be in a church where their husbands are involved and won’t complain that resources and attention aren’t devoted to them. It’s also believed that churches and women within churches have no problem starting up programs that meet the needs of women, so it’s not something that needs to be emphasized.  Some of these churches are patriarchal in nature but not necessarily so (as opposed to complementarian).

It’s my personal opinion that this philosophy is unBiblical. While I can understand the appeal and can even see how it may be working in some sectors I think it violates Paul’s mandate that we see neither male nor female when it concerns the gospel.  I don’t think church’s should be feminized but I don’t think they should be masculinized either. I certainly see goodness in calling men to lead and to do all of the things mentioned in the video and photo. But there is no need to marginalize women in order to do so.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church might be a poster boy for this philosophy if there ever were one. Driscoll brings a lot of bravado and confidence to his preaching. Unfortunately for Driscoll his posture brings controversy.

A recent interview in England concerning women in leadership is bring a lot of criticism towards Driscoll. You can read about it hear. If you’d like to hear the interview itself it can be found here. Since the controversy centers around this interview I highly recommend that you listen to the full interview.


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45 thoughts on “Be a Man

  1. I’ve summarized Driscoll’s position this way:

    1) The Church is primarily middle aged and female. In particular men 22-25 are the least likely to go to church. This is very bad.

    2) Thus the church needs an outreach to young men.

    3) However, the reason young men are not attracted to the church is a systematic problem with the way church is usually conducted. So churches that want to break from this mold need to “do church” with a very different flavor.

    4) In particular what is needed is a to build churches that are theologically orthodox but culturally young and masculine.

    No question Driscoll is part of the whole CBMW movement, but… I can imagine this sort of masculine Christianity in a egalitarian church.

    As for the controversy, I think Driscoll loves the controversy. Driscoll is a brand name preacher, in a decade he might be the most famous preacher in the United States. He has his own mini denomination which is exploding. I think Driscoll comes from the “all publicity is good publicity” school.

  2. Happy birthday to me, Tim?

    Some of these churches are patriarchal in nature but not necessarily so (as opposed to complimentarian).

    What’s the difference between “patriarchal” and “complementarian”?

    The stuff Driscoll says about women is just plain misogynist. That is not a label that I would apply to any Christian man from the CBMW crowd; Driscoll has firmly earned it. This is from his 2008 Church Leadership book (p. 43), commentating on 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

    Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed . . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality.

    Yeah, airtight argument there, Mark.

    It is seriously disturbing to me that he is as popular in the evangelical community as he is. It’s like we haven’t moved past the days when Early Church Fathers were arguing that women couldn’t be priests because menstrual blood is icky.

    I agree that the shrinking numbers of Christian men is a serious problem. But if the solution is to make Christian men like Mark Driscoll, count me out. I’d much rather have an all-woman church than a church populated by rank misogynists like Driscoll.

  3. The first time I saw a Driscoll sermon (via youtube) he compared Mormonism to a steaming pile of dung, so we didn’t get off on the right foot. Also, his complementarianism is extreme – even by Mormon/Evangelical standards.

    But, I think in many cases, his outreach to men is directed by his own Jonathan Edwards/grunge rock reading of the Bible(not the other way around). That much of the Bible is a gritty, violent saga of good vs. evil that should draw men in – is not too far off. If, at the end of the day, he only serves as a contrast to the Osteens of the world, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

  4. I watched the video and I actually kind of liked it. As a male myself and a father of two boys, a message of being a good husband and father based in the unique message of Christianity resonates strongly with me.

    I think the solution is not for Driscoll to downplay his harping on making better Christian men, but to change and amp up his message for making better Christian women. For example, after I finished the video I thought that what Driscoll needed to do was to give the exact same pledge the next week, except this time swapping the “husband” and “wife” words and roles. Have the women stand and say the pledge. Have the women lay hands on their husbands heads and pray over them. Finally, have the women serve communion to their husbands.

  5. I agree David, there’s nothing in the video I would particularly criticize. I think it’s good. Men should do all the things he’s calling them to do. I included it to show both sides of the coin.

    I think the church SHOULD be calling men into leadership and the church SHOULD be challenging men. But there is no need to step into misogyny or arrogance to do so as I think Driscoll sometimes does. The church needs men, but in that appeal to men, we always need to ask “What are we calling men into?” We might attract men by playing into any number of their (our) vices. But Christ calls men to be more than they (we) are. Some of those things that come with being a man should be celebrated others should be denounced. Arrogance and misogyny I believe are blind spots for Driscoll.

    He mentions in the interview that sometimes he goes too far, while other pastors don’t go far enough. I get what he’s doing. He’s making a big splash. He wants people to listen. But how you get people to listen can be just as important as what you want them to listen to.

  6. I finally got a chance to listen to the entire interview. It’s a great conversation. If you haven’t listened to it, I would encourage you to.

  7. Tim ~ I’m naturally going to default to our resident expert on these things

    Hard Complementarianism might be what some describe as Patriarchal. But true Biblical Patriarchy would not even allow women to serve in civic leadership.

    Okay, the second link helps me understand what you’re getting at. In my mind, all brands of “complementarianism” are just types of patriarchy, even though there are complementarians who would like to deny that and distance themselves from the stigma of the word “patriarchy.” I’d be similarly confused if someone described a church as “egalitarian but not feminist” when what they meant was, Mimi Haddad v. Letha Scanzoni.

    I’ll comment on the actual video more later.

  8. What’s the difference between “patriarchal” and “complementarian”?

    Jack, I thought you caught the tail end of working together on the Patriarchy thing, Jen Epstein? I might be remembering wrong. Anyway, I would define the two this way.

    Patriarchy — Male headship in church, family and society. In particular the idea of federal representation is embraced, that is that the father represents the family.

    Complementarian — Male headship in church and family. Makes no claims to broader society. Especially denies the idea that male and female salvation is meaningfully different.

    Since this is a Mormon blog, just to get the topic off Protestants I would classify Mormon theology of family salvation (exaltation) as being Patriarchal rather than complementarian.

    I would consider Driscoll a light complementarian in terms of actual policies. I think those who classify his as being on the far right, don’t know how large the scale is. Patriarchs have problems with women voting, or having legal civil rights distinct from their husband / father. The main thing that makes Driscoll seem more complementarian than he is, is that he is an unapologetic complementarian, which means his rhetoric seems often quite a bit more conservative than his actual policies.

    I agree that the shrinking numbers of Christian men is a serious problem. But if the solution is to make Christian men like Mark Driscoll, count me out. I’d much rather have an all-woman church than a church populated by rank misogynists like Driscoll.

    Weren’t we on your blog talking about the problems of unmarrieds. The issue is not so easy with a 3::2 ratio of active females to males you either are going to have lots of women in marriages with men who aren’t meaningfully Christian or a huge number of women single and settling for all sorts of other problems in their marriages. The reason Acts 23 is so popular with women is that the alternative for many of them is worse.

    I think it is easy to say, “Christians shouldn’t engage in harsh speech”. But no one is actually solving the very series problems that will tear apart evangelical Christianity as an intergenerational religion. Let me rephrase the question from “do you want sexists in the church” to “do you want your great grandchildren to be Christian”?

    I don’t like complementarianism anymore than you do, and possibly less. We both disagree with his theology of gender. I don’t see him as any worse and quite often quite a bit better on gender issues than C.J., so I think it is really just complementarianism. The core of missional Christianity is that there need to be forms of Christianity not designed to appeal to middle aged female white Republicans. In principle most people agree with that, but disagree in practice.

  9. The main thing that makes Driscoll seem more complementarian than he is, is that he is an unapologetic complementarian, which means his rhetoric seems often quite a bit more conservative than his actual policies.

    Good point CD. Besides the unapologetic tone, I guess automatically I lump Driscoll in with John Piper – who I heard once oppose the prospect of a female pres. (Palin specifically) on Biblical grounds. (Apparently Pastor Mark’s wife has an undergraduate degree – which says something I guess)

  10. CD-Host ~ Let me rephrase the question from “do you want sexists in the church” to “do you want your great grandchildren to be Christian”?

    I want 163 million women to not be missing from the global population. Going around teaching that women are more gullible and more easily deceived than men is only fueling the hatred that is literally killing us.

    I don’t want any and all complementarians out of the church. Some of my favorite Christians are complementarians. I want complementarianism out of the church, but that will take time and patience and compromise, the same way eradicating Christian slavery took time and patience and compromise.

    But there is a line that should not be crossed, and Driscoll has crossed it. I have to wonder if people would be anywhere near as tolerant of the good things he has to say if anti-semitism and/or racism were a sidebar of his ministry—if he were teaching that blacks are more gullible and easily deceived than whites, or Jews are more gullible and easily deceived than most other races. I’m guessing the answer is a whopping “no;” we’d kick him to the curb if he pulled that. And it’s that attitude that misogyny isn’t a big deal, that it’s something we can work with for the time being and let slide, that really bothers me.

  11. I want 163 million women to not be missing from the global population.

    That’s happening in countries that aren’t even Christian. I have a tough time tying that to Driscoll. Sex selection, raises the socio-economic power and status of women considerably over what it would be. That is a brutal form of fertility control, and while likely quite sexist in cause it is extremely anti-sexist in effect. Regardless I have a tough time tying that one to conservative Christians. Conservative Christian theology needs a close to 1:1 ratio between men and women.

    Going around teaching that women are more gullible and more easily deceived than men is only fueling the hatred that is literally killing us.

    I disagree with the “literally killing us”. But as far as the women aren’t more gullible… then again your problem is complementarianism not Driscoll particularly. Complementarianism sucks.

    I have to wonder if people would be anywhere near as tolerant of the good things he has to say if anti-semitism and/or racism were a sidebar of his ministry

    Sure they would. Mitt Romney is running a ferociously anti-Hispanic campaign and is about to win the endorsement of a major party for the presidency of the United States. 13 states have either passed or serious sponsorship for explicitly anti-Muslim laws, fed by pastors preaching against Islam for the last decade to widespread applause. Including applause BTW from Mitt Romney. The people who consider racism, sexism and religious bigotry a big deal, are liberals and they mostly don’t go to evangelical churches. The majority of people don’t possess any particular bigotry but they are mostly indifferent to it.

    That’s what the fundamentalist / modernists wars were about. The churches in the US have decided to worth through their ethnic issues and split on the right / left axis. When Driscoll emerged on the scene as part of the big 5 evangelical leaders: Driscoll, Burke, Kimball, Pagitt, Ward … his whole shtick was: postmodern philosophy, orthodox evangelical theology and modern missional culture. He was already splitting from the rest of the emerging church over the idea that the emergent Christianity needed to be different from liberalism and that meant staying within Evangelical Orthodoxy theologically. And the fact is the rest of the Emergent Church movement got pretty much kicked to the curb.

    If you are of the opinion that sexism is simply intolerable, then I don’t see how you can support Evangelical Christianity at all. The NET, NIV2011, NLT, ESV and HCSB all take strong anti-egalitarian stands unqualified. The people who believed in dealing with those verses through historical contextualization came from the churches that have female pastors and kicked the evangelicals out, 80 years ago.

  12. “I have to wonder if people would be anywhere near as tolerant of the good things he has to say if anti-semitism and/or racism were a sidebar of his ministry….”

    Jack, I have to wonder if people aren’t more tolerant because Driscoll can cite Paul for support. Now, I know that there are some who read Paul’s statements on women in a way that softens or even eliminates the misogyny, but that’s not the point. The point is that it is very common and easy to read Paul as misogynist—but I can’t think of where Paul is ever anti-Semitic or racist.

    I’m not trying to defend Driscoll, of course, just wondering what are your thoughts…?

  13. CD-Host ~ I don’t believe that people like Mark Driscoll are directly responsible for femicide in countries where Christianity accounts for a minor portion of the population. But the justification that members of those countries give for how they treat women meshes pretty darned well with what I just quoted from Driscoll. It all goes back to the de-valuation of women and a belief that women are somehow inferior to men. Not speaking out against teachings that de-value women ultimately perpetuates the problem.

    Yes, complementarianism does de-value women, which is why I say that I don’t want it in the church. But phasing it out is a bit-by-bit thing. I recognize that an all out, no-tolerance war on Christian sexism would get me no further now than an all-out, no-tolerance war on slavery would have gotten Christians living on the border of the Southern states in the early 19th century. It can be eradicated. It’s just a matter of choosing which battles to fight.

    But as far as the women aren’t more gullible… then again your problem is complementarianism not Driscoll particularly.

    You think that all or most complementarians would openly agree with the statement “Women are, by nature, more gullible and more easily deceived than men”? That they would heap scorn on women for being “emotional”?

    I don’t.

    I agree that there are forms of racism which have achieved a level of tolerance within Christianity. You didn’t use the examples that I gave (blacks and Jews); you used a political leader who isn’t even an evangelical (Mitt Romney) and anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim sentiments. I think that all of those things (racism against Hispanics, hatred of Muslims, sexism) can be just as verboten to even right-wing religious conservatives as racism against blacks and anti-semitism currently is. It has to be pushed for though.

    The NET, NIV2011, NLT, ESV and HCSB all take strong anti-egalitarian stands unqualified.

    Where do you get that the NLT and the NIV-2011 take unqualified anti-egalitarian stands? My impression of the latter in particular was that it was something of a compromise between egalitarians and complementarians (and I said as much in my review).

    Incidentally, I’m not particularly fond of the NET, HCSB, and ESV. I like to think of the ESV in particular as “the abusive boyfriend of Bible translations.”

  14. BFF ~ To some extent, you’re right, though it isn’t necessarily a Paul thing. It’s a Scripture thing. Hierarchists can quote some short, sweet sound bytes which make it sound like scripture is on their side. It makes for good propaganda but not for good exegesis.

    It was the same way over slavery in the 19th century, too. The South said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be” and “slaves, obey your masters.” Was it good exegesis? No. Were they right? Absolutely not. But it was certainly good propaganda.

    About the best the North could say in reply was, “Do unto others . . . ” There were no short, sweet anti-slavery passages in the Bible. The biblical anti-slavery position had to be arrived at through protracted and careful exegesis, which doesn’t make for good propaganda. That was why Northern Christians usually began their appeals with the Declaration of Independence, and not the Bible.

    Today it’s things like “Wives submit to your husbands” v. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”

  15. I’d be classified as a soft-complementarian. My church allows women in every level of leadership except senior pastor and elder (though women serve along side their husbands on the elder board). My wife currently carries the title of “pastor” and the second highest ranking person on our church staff is a woman. I say all of that to reinforce what Jack said about Driscoll’s misogyny. Saying women are more gullible isn’t born out of complementarianism. It’s just wrong and he uses bad exegesis to back it up. It was a sexist thing to say, not a complementarian thing to say. I’d be more inclined to believe he learned that from Fred Flintstone than today’s best complementarian thinkers.

    If anyone is new to these issues and wants to catch up on the counter-opinion to what Jack presents, you can read my church’s position paper on the subject here: http://rh-org.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/RH_Women_In_Ministry.pdf

    I’m open on the issue but don’t think complementarians are just picking verses to support their viewpoint like slave holders.

    I like to think of the ESV in particular as “the abusive boyfriend of Bible translations.”

    Ouch!

    Potential thread derail: I haven’t studied the ESV on these issues, but I have taken to reading the ESV for my primary personal study. I have a game at church where we read the NIV. Every time the pastor says “this passage would be better translated as. . . ” I check to see if the ESV has it that way and so far it’s been every time.

  16. You think that all or most complementarians would openly agree with the statement “Women are, by nature, more gullible and more easily deceived than men”? That they would heap scorn on women for being “emotional”?

    I think all or most complementarians would find some argument as to why women are structurally deficient for leadership in the home or family. Otherwise the restrictions seem arbitrary. If people believe the restrictions are arbitrary, that tends towards an “everything but…” kind of ministry. Where people go right up to the line of what they think is forbidden coming as close as they can without going over. And pretty soon, that works well and they just drop the remaining restrictions. That is the history of how most denominations ended up with female ministers.

    Christians, believe that God’s law is righteous, not arbitrary. If it is righteous than something must be right about it. You should expect as evangelicals are raised more egalitarian in their day to day lives the churches that want to maintain fixed gender roles will become more not less misogynistic to defend their theology. When everyone just “knows” that women are fundamentally different it is not hard to maintain a sexist structure. When everyone just “knows” they aren’t, considerable propaganda will need to be deployed.

    I agree that there are forms of racism which have achieved a level of tolerance within Christianity. You didn’t use the examples that I gave (blacks and Jews);

    You are correct I used a different racism and a different form of religious discrimination. You were before making an ethical point that anti-women attitudes were somehow unique. My counter argument is that anti-black racism is unfashionable right now in Evangelical circles while anti-Hispanic racism is fashionable. Anti-Semitism is unfashionable, while Islamaphobia is fashionable. Anti woman attitudes are more fashionable in this generation than they were in the previous, and less than they were in the generation before that.

    I think that all of those things (racism against Hispanics, hatred of Muslims, sexism) can be just as verboten to even right-wing religious conservatives as racism against blacks and anti-semitism currently is.

    Certainly. An evangelical in 1892 might very well have been an Orientalist, with a very high opinion of Arabs, and their ancient literature culture, their moral codes, their religion. They would considered it unthinkable to compare those hardworking people, of good morals and ethics to the genetically deformed people like negros and Jews. Fashion changes.

    My point is that Driscoll’s style of anti comments are just as supported towards races and religions today, even more-so.

    Where do you get that the NLT and the NIV-2011 take unqualified anti-egalitarian stands?

    Sure for example lets take the classic 1 Timothy 2:12. The word for “authority” has a negative connotation in Greek that isn’t present in English.

    The TNIV starts to introduce an egalitarian translation in the footnote:

    12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[a][b] she must be quiet.

    Footnotes:
    a 1 Timothy 2:12 Or teach a man in a domineering way; or teach or to exercise (or have) authority over a man
    b 1 Timothy 2:12 Or over her husband

    ___

    In the NIV2011 they revert:

    12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[a] she must be quiet.

    Footnotes:
    1 Timothy 2:12 Or over her husband

    _____________

    1 Tim 3:2 gender is ambiguous in this verse in the Greek not so much in the NLT

    2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife.[a] He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.

    Footnotes:
    1 Timothy 3:2 Or must have only one wife, or must be married only once; Greek reads must be the husband of one wife; also in 3:12.

    “Must be a man” goes even further than the ESV would.
    ___

    I agree the NIV2011 was a compromise between the ESV style and the TNIV. But the TNIV was already a compromise.

    I agree with you on the ESV. I think if women want to make a stand the ESV is an excellent place to make it. That bible is an attempt to create institutional Reformed Complementarianism. If there is a place to make a stand, the ESV is it.

  17. Potential thread derail: I haven’t studied the ESV on these issues, but I have taken to reading the ESV for my primary personal study. I have a game at church where we read the NIV. Every time the pastor says “this passage would be better translated as. . . ” I check to see if the ESV has it that way and so far it’s been every time

    If you want to see a good critique of the ESV Mark Strauss’ review.

    In terms of correcting problems with the NIV, and formal translation would to that. The RSV was a better bible than the NIV in terms of accuracy and the ESV picks that up. With very very few exceptions when the ESV and NRSV differ the NRSV is right. You want an accurate one volume bible the NISB is a great choice.

    As far as intent on gender and the ESV, Jack is right. The ESV has 4 key problems:

    a) Theological overrides, translating verses in line with Calvin’s theology not the underlying text (Isaiah 7:14)
    b) Undue emphasis on things of secondary importance to the biblical author but primary importance to Calvin (John 1:13)
    c) Political translation. Translation of verses in such a way to advance the political interest of the church (political translation of pronouns)
    d) Theological bias. Assuming that theological interpretations are intrinsic not extrinsic to the text (propitiation).

  18. BFF: Thanks for the reply. I want to press a bit more to see if I’m not missing something. <strongTim shared the position paper from his Church in defense of their (soft) complentarianism. And yes, surely I see that their implementation is vastly different than Driscoll’s Mars Hill hard complementarianism. But still, neither is egalitarian: Driscoll’s “bad exegesis” leads to non-egalitarianism and Tim’s church’s “good exegesis” leads to non-egalitarianism—and I guess I would ask “How non-egalitarian do you have to be before you can be called ‘misogynist’?”

    Or, in other words, whatever you want to call complentarianism—misogynist, sexist, or just wrong—it’s something that Paul’s writings support: somehow Paul says it’s okay to be non-egalitarian, to restrict a person’s involvement in the church based solely on her sex. The argument is about degree, not direction.

    But I think that’s very different than slavery or anti-Semitism. I don’t think Paul/scripture anywhere says those are desirable or right. “Don’t interfere with slavery” is not the same as him saying, “Slavery to some degree is ideal.”

    Thoughts?

  19. I just realized that almost the entire vow was in the passive voice. Throw in some Edgar Guest, reduce the volume a bit, and you have a talk Monson could give.

  20. BrianJ said:

    Or, in other words, whatever you want to call complentarianism—misogynist, sexist, or just wrong—it’s something that Paul’s writings support: somehow Paul says it’s okay to be non-egalitarian, to restrict a person’s involvement in the church based solely on her sex.

    But certainly an argument could be made that in at least some of the passages that Paul is giving direction for a particular culture rather than trying to convey an eternal principle. This is fairly explicit in 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach” — in LDS lingo, he’s establishing policy and not doctrine. The maintaining of order in the church was quite important to Paul, and it’s plausible that that was his primary consideration.

    It would be a stretch to consider Paul a feminist, but certainly his statement about there being “no male nor female” must have seemed radical at the time.

    David Clark said:

    I just realized that almost the entire vow was in the passive voice.

    I find that downright strange.

  21. Eric, I like your approach to 1 Timothy 2:12 and have heard more than one egalitarian Christian use it as well. It begs the question though – can one take said approach and still call themselves evangelical in their approach to the Bible?

  22. can one take said approach and still call themselves evangelical in their approach to the Bible?

    I think this is the real battleground in evangelical self-identification and border policing.

    I generally don’t identify as an evangelical, because in the American sense of the term, I’m not. But, in the original meaning of the term, I am. In Europe, Protestant and Evangelical are for the most part synonyms. In fact the term “Evangelical” predates the term “Protestant” for identifying the Protestant wing of Christianity.

    There’s a second meaning of Evangelical, the British one. There it is used for those who want to push the Church of England away from Anglo-Catholicism and towards what we would call Protestantism. Since John Wesley was at the forefront of that movement, I also qualify for that definition as well.

    The American meaning of the term generally means that one takes a specific inerrantist interpretive stance toward the Bible, and I don’t qualify on that count.

    So to answer the question. If by evangelical approach to the Bible you mean reading the Bible with a focus on faith, grace, and the cross as the core interpretive strategy, then yes. If by evangelical approach to the Bible you mean a suitably strict version of inerrantism, then most likely no.

  23. I don’t think that reading is outside of Evangelicalism and I don’t think Evangelicalism is defined by inerrancy. Fuller Theological Seminary is a major Evangelical seminary and their stance is infallibility.

  24. I wouldn’t see a cultural reading as outside of evangelicalism, as looking at cultural context has more to do with interpretation than with infallibility (which is a prominent doctrine of evangelicals). Only in the extreme fundamentalist wing of evangelicalism would you hear anything about it being wrong for women to braid their hair or to wear pearls, for example, which Paul taught quite clearly.

    But the broader issue of women’s roles is certainly an ongoing debate in evangelicalism. I think (and Tim or Jack can correct me if I’m wrong) that a view similar to that of Tim’s church is probably the most common these days, although the National Association of Evangelicals (the leading organization of evangelical denominations, although it doesn’t include many independent evangelical churches) includes churches that allow (at least in theory) women as head pastors as well as ones that take an explicitly complementarian role.

  25. Let me further just back up that reading on I Timothy 2:12. It’s been on rare exception that I’ve heard any body say that it was anything other than an instruction based on the culture of the day and was primarily about order within the service.

    The LDS church is further to the right on these issues than most Evangelical churches and even they allow women to give sacrament talks. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a church that didn’t allow women to speak in some form or another.

  26. Eric: “But certainly an argument could be made that in at least some of the passages that Paul is giving direction for a particular culture…establishing policy and not doctrine.”

    Definitely those arguments can be (and are) made. I’m not arguing about what Paul really meant—whether he was complementarian or egalitarian. My point is that non-egalitarian, universally applicable conclusions can be (and are) easily reached using Paul’s writings, which is just one reason that non-egalitarian policies/doctrines are unsurprising in Christian churches. I brought up the question because Jack compared Driscoll’s sexist bigotry to anti-Semitism or racism, but I just don’t see any comparison in Paul’s writings. Sorry, I know that I’m raising a very narrow point, but it is because I want to know if I have overlooked something in Paul’s writings (on blacks, Jews, etc.).

    As for what Paul taught and thought: I really don’t know how radical his “no male nor female” statement must have been at the time. I’d love to learn more about that. I have some questions about your reading of 1 Tim 2, but I’m going to ask them of Tim, below (not to be confused with Tim, tebow).

    Tim: “Let me further just back up that reading on I Timothy 2:12 [that 'Paul is giving direction for a particular culture.'] It’s been on rare exception that I’ve heard any body say that it was anything other than an instruction based on the culture of the day….”

    I want to make sure I understand what you are saying here. You believe that Paul’s instructions to Timothy—specifically, the instructions that women are 1) not to wear “braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing,” 2) to “learn quietly with all submissiveness,” 3) not to “teach or exercise authority over a man,” and 4) to “remain quiet”—do not necessarily apply to any congregation other than Ephesus at that time (and similar cultures…)? In other words, when Christians today make decisions on the roles of women in church, 1 Tim 2 is just an example of what was right for one culture, but we can make very different decisions (because our culture is very different)?

  27. I’m interested in Tim’s answer as well. My understanding of biblical inerrancy and infallibility needs some work. Relating to this particular topic, I wonder what makes these versus applicable only to a specific community many years ago and others (say, 2 Cor. 11:14 for example) are used with broad relevancy today. (I assume this is not an easy answer and that there are many schools of thought on the topic)

  28. Let me apologize, I wasn’t careful in regards to which verses I was referring to that are generally regarded as cultural.

    Braided,covered hair and pearls are cultural examples of the principle that Christians shouldn’t be bringing unnecessary attention to themselves. In some context not having braided hair and not having pearls might bring unnecessary attention. This passage could easily be used to say that a Mormon man SHOULD wear a white shirt to sacrament meeting given the fellowship around him.

    If you haven’t read it. I would encourage you to read my church’s position paper. Clearly we are saying one specific part of the passage is cultural and that the rest is universally instructional. This discusses in depth why and makes note of objections to our view.
    http://rh-org.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/RH_Women_In_Ministry.pdf

    I think it’s a legitimate disagreement to say that the entire passage might be context specific. I’m open and sympathetic to the view. But I disagree.

    ———————–

    Inerrancy and Infallibility might have some bearing on the controversies with this passage but I don’t think it has a huge bearing on it. It’s certainly easier for an infallibicist to brush it off, but I think someone can hold to both inerrancy and egalitarianism (as Jack probably claims for herself).

    In regards to the resurrection, an inerrancist MUST believe that Christ physically rose from the dead. An infallibilcist might believe that Christ physically rose from the grave and they might believe that the resurrection is just a metaphor. What’s ultimately true for the infallibicist is the “spiritual truth” that death has been defeated.

    Inerrancy = Jericho was literally defeated and the walls literally fell
    Infallibility = the land was given to Israel specifically by God

    Infallibility offers a larger camp to sit in. The Barna Group only measures for infallibility when determining if someone is an Evangelical.

  29. Tim: I did read your church’s position paper, which is why your earlier comment in support of Eric confused me :)

    Thanks for clarifying.

  30. Eric: just to be clear, I would still appreciate you answering the questions I asked Tim earlier. It would help me to understand how anyone could interpret 1 Tim 2 to be culture-specific, because I’m having a hard time seeing that.

  31. BrianJ –

    But I think that’s very different than slavery or anti-Semitism. I don’t think Paul/scripture anywhere says those are desirable or right.

    I notice you brought this up. There are good arguments in scripture for both.
    Dabney: old testament, new testament.

    As far as anti-Semitism if you mean anti-Judaism. I’d say the New Testament is all over the place but Rabbinic Judaism evolved out of Pharisaic Judaism and I think you would agree the bible is rather harsh on that. But more important, up until recently the norm was the belief that the Jewish religion is a burned out dead husk of a failed religion. And you can find excellent support for that in virtually the entire book of Hebrews and John. American Protestants like dispensationalism because it deals with Old Testament law mostly. Dispensationalism is pro-semitic and even among non dispensationalists that’s a popular position.

    If by anti-Semitism you mean racial anti-Semitism, 1st century people didn’t have a “modern” theory of race so they aren’t capable of that sort of thing.

    But is slavery were popular you would see Paul read much as Dabney reads him above.

    Lets put it this way. You have a book which from top to bottom unequivocally condemns lending money for interest; an economic system, capitalism which structures the entire economy around this; and most of the population not seeing any conflict.

    This was part of what Joseph Smith was doing so well in the Journal of Discourses, forcing people to come face to face with what the bible actually says rather than what they wished it said.

  32. BrianJ — Just to be clear, I wasn’t making the argument that all of 1 Timothy 2 should be viewed as cultural; I was just suggesting that the argument could be made, and probably is made by egalitarians. Maybe Jack could chime in here and specifically address Tim’s church’s position paper, which logically distinguishes between cultural and universal teachings.

    As to my own views: I don’t believe in scriptural infallibility, and while I believe the scriptures are generally reliable and indeed inspired, I see inspiration as something that blends both human and divine elements and takes place within a specific culture. I see Paul’s admonition against teaching in church as being culturally based, but I guess, to be honest, that I’m not convinced by his attempt to theologically universalize his view. It’s one of those things I could put on a shelf, so to speak, and try to look at the totality of scripture and other inspired teachings. I tend to view the whole Adam/Eve thing as primarily allegorical, and I haven’t worked out yet how that account fits into everything.

    My natural tendency is to lean toward an egalitarian approach, and I tend to resolve ambiguity in that direction. The general issue was of huge concern to me in my decision to join the LDS church; ultimately I had a hard time saying that having 12 male apostles is inherently wrong when Jesus himself selected 12 males as his apostles (I deliberately don’t use the word “disciples” here, for Jesus has many female disciples).

    I’m in a distinct minority on this among active members of the Church, but I would heartily welcome opening up the priesthood to full female participation. (Even my own wife disagrees with me on this, and in general she’s at least as egalitarian as I am. She thinks women already have the priesthood, but that’s a whole other issue.) In the meanwhile, though, I see in the scriptures a lot of egalitarian messages, especially considering the times when they were written.

  33. Since we’ve tangentially mentions inerrancy and infallibility; neither view opposes seeing parts of the scripture as allegorical if they were intended to be allegorical. So for instance, the parables of Jesus are allegorical and no one has a beef with that. I believe even the staunchest inerrancist theologian would say you could view Genesis 1-3 (or Jonah) as allegorical if you had enough evidence to support that claim.

  34. I think it’s safe to say that staunch inerrancists tend to also be literalists, but there’s no logical reason why the two have to go together.

  35. My natural tendency is to lean toward an egalitarian approach, and I tend to resolve ambiguity in that direction. The general issue was of huge concern to me in my decision to join the LDS church; ultimately I had a hard time saying that having 12 male apostles is inherently wrong when Jesus himself selected 12 males as his apostles (I deliberately don’t use the word “disciples” here, for Jesus has many female disciples).

    Even in the orthodox scriptures Junia is an apostle. But being LDS and thus having a wider definition of scripture you can if you like have different Jesus choices, there are scriptures with different lists. See for example. http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=210

    Thomas names 5 key disciples Mary being one.
    Gospel of Mary has Peter and Mary as the two interpretations of Jesus.
    Dialogue of the Savior has James turning to the female leaders for assistance.
    Pistis Sophia which is a masterpiece has Mary as the primary disciple understanding and dialoguing with Jesus about the revelations.

    Finally unique to Mormonism itself there is quite a bit of support for this image with heavenly mother and dissident approaches like: Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, Maxine Hanks, Janice Allred, and Margaret Toscano. And the Adam-God doctrine had a divine Eve. It would be nice if the LDS leadership embraced rather than repressed these tendencies, though things may be getting better.

  36. I believe even the staunchest inerrancist theologian would say you could view Genesis 1-3 (or Jonah) as allegorical

    I can tell you that ain’t true. When I was growing up “theistic evolution” was seen as saying the bible opened up with a lie. There was debate whether an allegorical interpretation was such a severe heresy as to be a full denial of the bible, or was just a wrong headed opinion. Same with Jonah.

    BTW in response to the earlier comment regarding Tim. I have been to churches where women aren’t allowed to speak to the congregation. If you go to Patriarchal churches women pass a note to a male relative if they would for example like to make a prayer request.

  37. I don’t deny those kind of patriachical churches exist. They’re just a small minority.

    I don’t deny that inerracist generally reject theistic evolution. What I’m saying is that if the internal textual evidence were clearer (similar to the parables), it wouldn’t be a rejection of inerrancy to say that Genesis 1-3 are an allegory. There is a difference between literalism and inerrancy.

  38. What I’m saying is that if the internal textual evidence were clearer (similar to the parables), it wouldn’t be a rejection of inerrancy to say that Genesis 1-3 are an allegory.

    I agree with that.

  39. I think the internal textual evidence is quite clear. But I don’t want to threadjack, so maybe that would make a good future topic. Maybe I’ll even write another guest post for you, Tim.

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