Yes, I know: Most supporters of gender roles for Christian women are not half as blatant as this. But in a way, a page like this one exposes confusing ideas that the more crafty complementarians share, but will never express this way. (more…)
Posts tagged ‘gender roles’
8. In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
Since the question is BMaW and not a restriction or two on one gender, we should see if God’s Biblical criteria for ministry include that everybody of a certain gender should be involved in any of these tasks, with none of the other gender. With that in mind, we study these texts now:
1 Tim 2:11-15: Part 3 linked to other explanations of this contradictory passage, and part 2 discussed the possible gender roles in :12-14. (To recap, the only thing in that text that may be just for one gender is teaching men – or perhaps teaching in general. But not all men are called to teach, so this is not a gender role meant for all men.)
As such, we will look for possible gender roles in :11 and :15.
:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
This woman – singular, the Greek manuscripts from which we translate our Bibles also has it as singular – should learn in silence and subjection. An individual that should do something does not make a gender role. And if it was a gender role, what is then the role of men? To see to it that they do not learn? To learn with noise and argumentation?
God certainly calls everyone to learn of him – male and female. We all should subject ourselves to truth. We all should reject error, and none of us should be so submissive to leaders that we accept false doctrines from them. 1Thes 5:20-22 says we (male and female) should listen respectfully to religious teaching, test if it is good, accept it if it is, and reject it if it seems not to be.
1Ti 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Is being “saved in childbearing” a gender role? By one common understanding among scholars, it means she shall be saved in the childbirth (of Jesus). Being saved in Christ is not a gender role.
If it means that bearing children will have a significant meaning to women, then it is a gender role we do not need CBMW for. Women were having children long before CBMW penned the Danvers Statement. Men have never usurped the childbearing role. They cannot. While bearing them is a biological gender role, both mothers and fathers are called to love and raise their children. If CBMW sees a non-biological gender role in here, they did not explain what it is. And it says nothing of the gender role of those women who have no children, of which I am one.
The second part of the sentence – faith and charity and sobriety – is obviously not a gender role.
1Tim 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 explain the requirements for elders and deacons. First things first: even if those are gender specific, it will only be a gender role – meant for the whole male gender – if God called all Christian men to be elders and deacons. If not, it is not a role for the whole male gender.
Once again, it has no corresponding, complementary female gender role. Submitting to the elders is not a gender role – Male and female church members should submit to elders.
With that in mind, we can study the text and see what evidence exists that these tasks are restricted to men. The gender-specific evidence in these texts comes down to this:
> “The husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2; 3:12; Tit 1:6) is a saying that meant, in the Greek speech of the time, a faithful man or woman. Even some complementarians, like Douglas Moo and Thomas Schreiner, admit that this text does not clearly exclude women.
> Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers…”(1Ti 3:11) has, in my KJV, a few words in gray to show they were inserted because translators thought they made sense of the text, not because the Greek say that. More literal translations say: “Likewise women should be …” Why suddenly speak of women in the middle of talking of deacon requirements? Probably because female deacons should, like mentioned before of deacons, be grave and not slanderers.
> “he”, “a man“, etc. In several spots where Paul wrote gender-neutral Greek, our translations inserted “he” to make a coherent English sentence. For example:
“If a man desires the office of bishop, he desires a good work”
“If anyone desires overseership**, that person desires a good work”.
None of these “he”s and in some translations “a man”s actually denote maleness, if you read Paul in the language he wrote in.
9. With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).
True, but this is no statement about BMaW. In the same vein, it could be said that with the labourers so few and the need so big, limiting the potential workers in what they may do is detrimental to church health.
And this could contradict other things they said. If, for example, a woman with grown children want to be involved in a fulfilling ministry, but her husband orders her to stay at home 24/7, should she submit to his headship (Danvers statement, points 3-6), or should she get involved in a fulfilling ministry? (Don’t answer here that home-keeping for the man is a fullfilling ministry. I am responding to a passage that does not include “with the stresses and miseries of unmade beds and non-home-cooked meals” in the subjects that need to be adressed in fulfilling ministry.)
If men have the role of leadership, and a spiritually immature man who came to Christ recently nevertheless wants to be involved in a fulfilling ministry, should we make an immature man the leader of some ministry (the Bible speaks against it), or should he take a church task which is not a Biblical manhood gender role?
10. We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.
They are convinced that denying/ neglecting BMaW will have dire consequences. And some people are convinced that they have been abducted by aliens. I don’t care one whit what CBMW are convinced of – unless they also convince me.
What did the Danvers statement give evidence for?
> It gives no evidence for all the dire consequences (unraveling marriages, uncertainty and confusion, ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood and vocational homemaking, illicit or perverse sexual relationships, pornography, abuse in the family, threats to Biblical authority, etc.) which, according to their rationale, will follow if people do not live BMaW.
> As far as roles at church go, these male roles was defended:
2) being an elder and perhaps a deacon, depending on how they interpret 1 Tim 3.
These 2 tasks are not for all men: All men are not spiritually mature enough to teach or oversee. Scripture even warn that all should not try to teach, because teachers will be judged more strictly.(James 3:1) In a congregation of 200+ people, all 100+ men cannot teach.
There was one bit of evidence (1 Timothy 2:11-15) given for women not teaching in church, but none for a gender role that women, but not men, actually do have at church. (The Bible passages quoted, not the Danvers statement itself, may add a female role of either wearing something on your head to church, or deciding for yourself if you want to do so; and a male role of not covering your literal head.)
> When it comes to roles in the home, one role is given for married women: They have to submit to their husbands. That does not cover how they should treat any other person, beside the husband. They also defended a husband’s headship of his wife. (Yes, some people understand the Bible in ways that disagree with said evidence. But the dissenting views are not the topic right now.) Nothing showed the man having a kind of authority over his children that the wife does not, or over any other kind of family member. Nothing showed Biblical home gender roles for singles living alone, young adults living with parents, boarders living in someone else’s home, individuals living in communes or boarding houses, etc.
> In the broader community, no gender roles were defended. It may have been asserted that leading is a general role for all males, but it was not proven from any Bible texts.
These applications are so limited that half of all adults really have no gender role under it. No teenage or child believer (except for a few who married in their late teens) have a Biblical gender role.
The Danvers statement uses 10 passages in an attempt to prove gender roles.* Of these 10 passages, only 2 (1 Tim 3 and Titus 1:5-9) was aways used in a way that can arguably be justified from the texts. The other 8 were used, at least once, to say something that is simply not in there. That is notoriously bad eisegesis!
But even if all the scripture actually supported the confessions they made, there is still not evidence that gender roles are meant for all. The Danvers statement defended Biblical wife-hood and husband-hood in a way I understand, even if I do not agree. But I saw no scriptural defense of Biblical womanhood and manhood.
* The 10 passages are: Parts of Gen 2:16-24 -5 times; Parts of Gen 3:1-16 – twice; Parts of 1 Cor 11:2-16 -3 times; Eph 5 – twice; Col 3:18-19 – twice; Parts of 1 Tim 2:11-15 -4 times; and 1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9; Tit 2:3-5 and 1 Pet 3:1-7 once each.)
At least 2 of those 10 are also among the most seemingly contradictory passages in the New Testament – 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2. Proof texting from these is not wise.
The Danvers Statement also use 6 other passages besides these(Gen 1:26-27; Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Cor 12:7-21; Gal 3:28; 1 Pet 3:1-2), but these six were used to show points like equality, avoiding sin, and having a fulfilling ministry.
** See the first comment for why this change was made.
The same question I asked at the start of the review is still the one I want to ask in the affirmations: Is this a good reason for Biblical manhood and womanhood? What gender roles does it give that Christian men should be and do but not women, or vice versa?
Note, dear reader, that this set of posts won’t try to convince you in any way on wifely submission to her husband, or a man’s headship of his wife. Marital submission and headship is about how a married husband and wife should treat each other. It says nothing of how the married man or woman should treat the 7 billion people they are not married to, or even just their own children. Marital headship or submission say nothing whatsoever of the activities or demeanor of the unmarried or widowed. Biblical manhood and womanhood, on the other hand, claim all men – married or unmarried – should play a role that do not belong to women, and all women – married or unmarried – have a role men do not. They claim these differences are part of Christianity.
Likewise, I will not discuss here if women could preach or be elders. Even if they cannot, the majority of men who call themselves Christians do not want to be preachers or elders either. BMaW say that even those men and women who do not want to lead in church (men cannot all be leaders in church, and most are not) have different roles God expects of them – a manhood role if male, and a womanhood role if female.
And please bear with me if I get really pedantic about “the plain meaning of the text“. You see, the Danvers makers claim that the plain meaning of texts are on their side:
We have been moved in our purpose by … the increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts; the consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;
Personally, I don’t think everything in the Bible could be taken on face value – some things contradict each other that way. But the Danvers makers are measured by their own measure here. (Matt 7:2) (more…)
The Danvers Statement, and many other sources, claims that Genesis 2 gives evidence of gender roles: things that are the task of men and not women, or vice versa.
I have a MENSA IQ and a very good reading comprehension, and I searched the whole of Genesis 2 for my gender role many times. Why did I do it? Because I reasoned like this: (more…)
Here is how that works, presented in diagrams.
1) There are more women than men in church, of varied levels of spiritual understanding. It is humanly impossible to accurately measure spirituality, but for the sake of this point, I will call a level of understanding that only get “Give your life to Jesus, he saves” and acted on that, a 4. (A level of spiritual understanding that do not get that part is not Christianity.) 10 represented a spiritual understanding as deep as is possible on this earth. The levels of understanding will not be distributed as evenly as below, but I draw them that way for the sake of simplicity.
Blue represent church men, and pink church women:
2) A spiritual leader cannot lead anyone ahead of him, so any given man has to marry only a woman that is less spiritual than him. The man marked as 4, (more…)
I peeked inside a book in the bookstore today. It was named “Woman, thou are loosed.” And the first thing I saw was more or less this:
“Men process facts, and women emotions. It is a sin for a man to be like a woman, or a woman like a man.
1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”
Firstly, it is simply not true that women do not process facts. The mere fact that some females do well in school, mean they can process facts. Nor is it true that men do not process emotions. The mere fact that some men write great songs, poetry and symphonies prove they can do so. And God never, as far as I know, rebuked men like David or Solomon for emotional acts like song writing, or women for practical things like feeding their families, accepting the family factually needs food.
Secondly, using that verse to say women should not act manly is spurious for at least two reasons.
1) The literal wording is against acting effeminate. If the literal wording is what God meant, then both men and women should act manly.
2) Translators obviously never reached consensus yet on how to translate “effeminate”. It is translated as effeminate, men who have sex with men, or male prostitutes, depending on what translation you use.
Not all translators agree God condemned effeminate men there. But what certainly is not in there, is a condemnation of emasculate women.
In the attitude of that writer, I probably sinned now, as I processed facts and thereby allegedly acted like a man. But I had to answer that from a factual perspective, because that is how my God-given mind work. And that dilemma – answering to the best of my ability, allegedly sinning by doing so, brings me to my actual topic:
I do not oppose gender role doctrine only because I chose to. Much less do I reject it because I don’t want to listen to God. I oppose Biblical Womanhood because it simply don’t make sense. You could as well tell me to cafoob a minoockle bradogally, or to draw square circles. I have no idea how I, a single woman, could live my gender role.
Some say single women should look for husband to live their gender role, but the simple truth is that there are fewer Christian men than women. I don’t believe God calls people to infinitely look for what isn’t there.
According to some, a woman is supposed to be emotional and not focused on facts, but Jesus said “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.” And God happened to give some women good minds, and to suppress it to love God only from their emotions, would be disobedient to that most basic commandment.
This is not about me. I loved Jesus years before hearing of Biblical womanhood. I won’t stop loving Him even if all the church tell me I should learn to think only like a woman. (How? And why? God don’t say it?) This is about other women who are not Christians yet. How many women would follow God if we tell them that to love Jesus, they should live their life shutting off their brain and not processing facts, while simultaneously loving God with all of their mind? How is that possible? For that matter, how could a man love God with all his heart and soul if processing with the emotions is effeminate? I pray for women and girls (and men and boys) to be able to come to God unhindered. I pray to be capable of saying: Woman, thou are loosed from those impossible expectations.
I just added a new page, “Christian myths on gender and gender roles” to my blog. It is largely based on ideas I got here. There are several more topics to add, and my readers are welcome to add ideas.
Myths that are not there yet, but which I hope to adress in future, include:
Male-only rule is good for creating a stable and progressive society; Eve is blamed alone for the fall; Women are made only reflectively in God’s image as the moon reflects the sun; Motherhood/ wifehood is a woman’s highest calling; Men are called to be the head/high priest/ prophet/ king of the home; Provision is a male gender role; Only complementarians are reading the Bible for its “clear” meaning.
Some gender role defenses are easy to understand, whether I agree or not, but others simply baffles me. This, for example, was originally from an advertisement, but was quoted by Mary Kassian in an article to defend gender roles:
“Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their Khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. .. For the first time since bad guys, WE NEED HEROES. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s Time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. IT’S TIME TO WEAR THE PANTS!”
I agree that the world need men. The world need men as much as it needs women, and elsewhere (it is not this blog’s topic) I have strongly disagreed with women who feel fathers are just another disposable nursery item.
But even though the world needs men as much as it does women, what has opening doors got to do with anything? My door-opening capacity as as good as any man’s. * And it says nothing of masculinity in general, as there was no worldwide, as-long-as-history exist, tendency for men to open doors for women. Doors existed in the time of Jesus, but I don’t think he opened literal doors for women any more than for men. It was not their custom.
As for little old ladies, some of them may need help across streets. But then, a 12-year old girl scout is up to the task. We don’t need men to do that either. Okay, indirectly, all other things being equal, children from 2-parent homes are more decent on average, so there is a “maybe” on that one. And old men are as likely to need help, but there are fewer old men than women.
Speaking of which, “step away from the salad bar” is ironic – if men ate more vegetables and fresh fruit, they would most likely live longer. We need men, but that is no reason for men to step away from the salad bar. And a man who eats enough salad usually looks, superficially at least, even more manly than one who does not watch his diet.
Or consider this statement, for man-as-leader roles at home:
I guess I should not teach my two boys “ladies first”, but “equality” in who opens the door for who. … I have never bowed the knee to kiss the hand of my boys. I have bowed the knee to kiss the hand of my daughter. Wow, male supremacy just gets more and more extreme, eh?
Regardless of hand-kissing, it remains true that domestic abuse is sometimes the result of, or aggravated by, gender role preaching in churches. 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse somewhere in their lives, and some studies find wife beating is more than 300% more like to happen in traditional marriages than in egalitarian marriages. Kissing girls’ hands neither cause nor solve this problem, but it is certainly no argument in defense of practices that sometimes cause/ worsen the problem. If I had to choose between:
a) A world where all daddies kiss their daughter’s hands and not their sons, and 25% of those girls grew up abused by a man, and
b) A world where no daddies kiss their daughter’s hands, and only 6% of them ever end up abused by a man,
… I know what I would choose.
Now, daddy who read here, would you choose any differently?
If you want to open doors for us, please open the door to a world where none would look down on our teaching because we are women, where nobody would think me a lesser Christian for not being married, where no woman is told to allow abuse by her husband (what a distortion of Christian submission) just because she is a believing wife.
* No, I am not the belligerent sort of “feminist” who would argue with a man if he opens one for me – I’d say a polite thank you and move through the door. Of course, as this has never been part of the African idea of manliness, and I live in Africa, this rarely happens.
I was twelve when I read it in a little Bible study book for children:
God had a reason for making you! He had a reason for giving you the talents you have! He had a reason for making you a boy/ girl!
Pray: Tell God how you feel about how He made you.
And I prayed: Lord, thank you for how you made me. Thank you for my talents. Help me to use them for your honor. But Lord, I don’t know why you made me a girl. Please show me why you wanted me female?
The truth is, it is more than 2 decades later and I still do not know. The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood say that gender roles should find an echo in every human heart, but I have a human heart, and it finds no echo in mine. (I am heterosexual, and care deeply about men, in case you wondered.)
So, here is my question to gender role proponents: As a single adult woman who love God and will most likely not marry, what is my gender role? Please quote the appropriate Bible verses when you answer.
Here are a few answers that do not apply:
Not applicable #1) Wives should submit to their husbands.
I do not have a husband, and the Bible is clear not everybody is called to have one.Not applicable #2) Love your children.
a) I have no children.
b) If you call that a gender role, you proclaim fathers should not love children.
Not applicable #3) Take care of your household.
a) Hardly anyone ever comes to my little rented apartment. When I see friends, it is elsewhere. Caring for my home is the most self-centered thing I do.
b) If you call cleaning and cooking and bills my gender role, you say a male bachelor should not take care of his home.
Not applicable #4) Older women (or women elders?) should teach other women to submit to husbands, to love children, and take care of households.
a) I am not an “older woman.”
b) I cannot teach what I do not have experience of. I never had a husband or children.
c) I should preach what I do not practice? Is the whole purpose of Christian singleness for women to talk the walk instead of walking it?
d) Are you saying no man should ever preach submission to women, that it is a female gender role?
Not applicable #5) Your gender role is to not preach or teach men:
Erm, “not teaching” is no gender role, like “you did not get the part” from a casting director is not the name of a part that should be played. Teaching men is a role that, if gender role ideas are right, I do not have.
Not applicable #6) You should be a helper to [man]
a) To which man, and where in the Bible do you get that I should be that man’s helper?
b) Helper, as the Bible use the word, is not an assistant following orders, but a word used mostly for God. It is a strong aide, a rescuer, a political ally. If that is a gender role, is no man supposed to use his strength to help, to rescue or be an ally of any other man or woman?
Now, this is supposed to be easy: God made the genders to live their defined roles, say gender role proponents. These roles should find an echo in every human heart. If so, tell me my gender role as an unmarried woman who want to live as God tells me.
If there is no answer, then God did not create all humans to fulfill a gender role. And if I understand 1 Cor 7:34 right, gender related things were actually regarded as a distraction from the things of God, not as the things of God.
One day, The Body was walking along, and Miss Foot got a thorn. “Aauuuwww”, wailed Foot.
“Shut up, Foot”, admonished Mr. Mouth. “You are a woman. Women should be silent in the body of believers!”
Miss Foot send the pain message along to Mr. Nervous system. “I wish”, thought mr. Nervous System, “that she’d shut up. She can’t teach or have authority over a man!” (more…)