The Greek/Roman society of New Testament times was very patriarchal. It was also very condoning of gay relationships.
In Plato’s Symposium it is written:
The original human nature was not like the present… The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, of which the name survives but nothing else. Once it was a distinct kind, with a bodily shape and a name of its own… the primeval man… had four hands and the same number of feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond…
Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods…
Thus they were being destroyed, when Zeus in pity invented a new plan: [a plan of separating them into halves] …and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest, and go their ways to the business of life. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, seeking to make one of two, and to heal the state of man.
Each of us when separated… is always looking for his other half. Men who are a section of that double nature which was once called androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers are generally of this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men. The women who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have female attachments… But they who are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young, being slices of the original man, they have affection for men and embrace them, and these are the best of boys and youths, because they have the most manly nature.
Some indeed assert that they are shameless, but this is not true; for they do not act thus from any want of shame, but because they are valiant and manly, and have a manly countenance, and they embrace that which is like them. And these when they grow up become our statesmen, and these only, which is a great proof of the truth of what I am saying. When they reach manhood they are lovers of youth, and are not naturally inclined to marry or beget children – if at all, they do so only in obedience to custom; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with one another unwedded…
In other words, Plato believed that preferring men and boys is more manly and respectable than preferring women. Such a view is understandable, coming from a patriarchal world that sees women as inferior.
And here is a story from Afghanistan, where gender roles cause women, but not boys to be hidden away in homes – in that culture molesting of boys is epidemic.
It is clear that egalitarianism is the way to go, if you don’t want society to accept same sex relationships and exploitation of boys.
Wait! Don’t quote anything I said above this bolded part, without quoting the part below too. The part above has facts, but the allegedly clear conclusion does not follow. It is not a good argument. The header of this article is not my opinion.
The argument I just made is as bad an argument as the common complementarian one which state that if we don’t accept (their idea of) differences between men and women, we will condone homosexuality. That is simply not true. In fact, Christians for Biblical Equality was started after its predecessor was taken over by those who wanted to argue for acceptance of homosexual acts. It was a hostile takeover precisely because those who formed the organization did not want that.
CBE is now much larger than its predecessor the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus , pretty much because Christians who accept egalitarian ideas do not want to promote a pro-gay agenda. To quote Marg Herder, Director of Public Information of EEWC, responding to a question of mine:
You will find that CBE is much larger than EEWC-CFT — bigger budget, more events, more members, more international involvement. Their more conservative stand on issues, especially LGBT equality, has historically been much more conducive to gaining members and financial support.
EEWC, like Christians for Biblical Equality and most people outside the complementarian camp, sees no slippery slope straight from egalitarianism to acceptance of same sex acts. (Or, for that matter, to calling God our “Heavenly Mother.”) They know that even if people accept egalitarian ideas, it does not have to lead to believing as EEWC does. The male headship people’s accusation against egalitarians is unjust.
If we make an argument from patriarchal Greek and Roman society of New Testament times, and patriarchal Afghanistan, and apply it to today’s patriarchal American “male headship” people, we will be as unjust as the male headship people are. We don’t deserve to be grouped with those who condone gay acts. Nor do the “male headship” people deserve to be grouped with either gays who only pair themselves up with consensual adults, or with molesters of boys.
But if we don’t lash out with unjust associations like the one above for our opposition, why can’t our opposition show us the same grace?