Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

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”

… means:

“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:

1) Teaching,

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.

Conclusion:

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.

—————————————-

Note

* 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.

Advertisements

Comments on: "Smoke and mirrors: A review of the Danvers statement (Part 5)" (5)

  1. Don Johnson said:

    I agree with much of what you wrote. One minor point.

    LITV 1Ti 3:1 Faithful is the Word: If anyone reaches out to overseership, he desires a good work.

    is a better translation of 1 Tim 3:1. There is no office of overseer, it is a ministry.

    Like

    • You are right. I was focusing on the supposed gender issues, and did not see that there is another problem with the verse in some translations. I corrected it.

      Like

  2. Thank you for your posts on this important issue!

    Like

  3. Very well-defended. Biblical husband-hood and wife-hood, not manhood and womanhood. That’s an interesting point, and it may explain why complementarians are so eager for women to be wives and mothers. If women don’t become wives, there is no biblical justification for requiring them to be under male authority at all, because as you argued it, authority in the church, even if restricted to males, is not “male authority” per sebecause not all men are called to lead churches. A woman could say, “I’m single and not under male authority. I’m under my pastor’s authority, but because he’s my pastor, not because he’s male.” And this, of course, assumes there is an actual God-given authority tied to pastorship as an “office” — which, again, the Danvers statement does not prove.

    Can’t have these women slipping through loopholes– gotta get them married and under control as soon as possible!

    Like

    • If authority is tied to pastorship (I think there is authority tied to the gift), then male congregants are under said authority just like female ones.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: