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

Posts tagged ‘plain meaning of scripture’

Was Sarah Bessey right with this claim? I understand why Denny Burk is confused

(To simplify quoting in this article, I will put Denny Burk quotes not in quotation marks, but in red. Something he quoted will be in blue and quotes, something else I quote beside Burk in normal black and quotes.)

Actress Candace Cameron Bure said recently that she submits to her husband and “his desire to have the final decision on just about everything.” 
Sarah Bessey answered with an understanding of submission that does not make the woman smaller, but enables both partners to grow. 

Denny Burk answered Sarah Bessey – and made generalizations about egalitarianism in general.

Central to Burk’s argument is this:
… there was one line in her post that jumped off of the page at me. It stood out not because it is new, but because it is “Exhibit A” of what is wrong with egalitarian exegesis. Here’s the sentence: (more…)

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

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 nobody of the other gender doing it. 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 verses 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 verse 11 and verse 15.

:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

This woman – singular, the Greek manuscripts from which we translate our Bibles also have 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 the 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 grey 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, as 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.

Point 9 could also contradict other things in this statement. 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?

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 warns 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 the 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, besides 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 has 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 always 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 no 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 defence 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.

John Piper, you make no logical sense on gender roles – Part 4

John Piper, ending the same sermon I was quoting this past 4 posts:

this is the way the Scriptures teach us to order the church,
and God inspired the Scriptures

Oops. The primary verse expounded upon in there is 1 Timothy 2:12. And 1 Timothy 2:12 is not what the scriptures, per implication God, teach. It is prefaced with the word “I.”

“I permit not” means, in that context, that the letter writer Paul forbade something. Piper’s words make it sound as if we have to believe that God is behind Paul’s words when Paul say “I”. Paul makes it clear this is not always the case elsewhere:

1Co 7:12 But to the rest say I, not the Lord: …

Another important verse he use is Ephes. 5:32, which he muddles badly.


Ps: Jon Zens tackles Piper with logic and evidence here.

1 Timothy 2:11-15 – My cut and paste answer

Sometimes, people respond to me with things like: “You are wrong, see 1 Timothy 2:11-15” Most of the time, they will then cut and paste the entire passage, invariably from a translation which put “assume authority” in :12, never from one that choose another possible meaning. They will have nothing more to say, as if the passage is self-explanatory. Of course, in studying this topic I looked at 1 Tim 2:11-15. Here is what I will cut and paste next time someone does that: (more…)

The plain meaning of the text?

Men-should-lead-women-should-follow proponents sometimes claim they take scripture at face value, while those who disagree ignore the Bible/ add to it/ re-interpret it. But is this true? Or do hierarchical complementarians (believers in “men should lead, women should follow”) ignore the plain meaning of scripture in favour of what they want to believe?

(Several comments below deals with the is/ ought distinction. To explain that in plain language, when I say “water run downwards” it is a claim of what is the case. We cannot go from “water run downwards” to “water ought to run downwards, so drinking straws are immoral, and dogs lapping up water is immoral.” “There were slaves in first-century Roman culture” does not mean: “There ought to be slaves today.”)


Hierarchical complementarians usually:

> Read God’s statement to Eve – “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” as ” thy desire should be to thy husband, and he ought to rule over thee.

> Read ought into the two verses which call man the head of the woman, although the verses use “is”, not “ought”.

Seemingly fail to read the plain meaning of Gal 3:2: “in Whom there is no Jew nor yet Greek, there is no slave nor yet free, there is no male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”

Seemingly fail to read the plain meaning of 1 Cor 14:31 “For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted,” and believe women are not part of the all.
> Read leadership into the two verses which call man the head of the woman, although not everyone agrees it is in the plain meaning of the text, and fail to see the things that plainly speak against that interpretation. *

> Quote Eph 5:22 without reference to 5:21 (everyone submitting to one another), even though 5:22 does not have its own verb in the original manuscripts of scripture and borrow from 5:21.

> Seemingly fail to read the plain meaning of “all submit” (If all believers should submit to one another, then submission do not place the Christian husband in a hierarchy over his Christian wife.)

> Ignore that 1 Timothy 2:12 say “I (Paul) do not allow…” and act as if it says “God does not allow.” (The meaning of exactly what is not allowed, and who – one woman, all of that congregation, or all women in the world, is not plain either and caused many scholars much debate. Hierarchical complementarians tend to “solve” this by simply ignoring all scholarship they dislike and just quoting their favourite translation – the plain meaning of other translations do not matter.)

> Do not take ” No servant can serve two masters”(Luk 16:13) at face value, but ask women to serve two masters, God and the husband.

> Seemingly fail to read the plain meaning of “Priscilla taught Apollos” (Acts 18:26)

They sometimes, although I cannot say if it is standard:

> Quote “the woman ought to have authority over her head “(1 Cor 11:10) with extra words inserted that is not part of either the original Bible languages or the King James. They read it as “the woman ought to have a sign of her husband’s authority over her head.”

> Read hierarchy (men over women) into the role of helper (Gen. 2:20), while the face value meaning of helper – God is also called a helper – does not require it.

> Read ought-ness into places where men are called rulers of the home (“oikosdespotes”, home=”oikos” in Greek, “despotes”=ruler)

> Read maleness into places where unnamed people are called rulers of the home. (That may be correct, seeing the culture the Bible was written in, but it is not the plain meaning of the text.)

> Read ought-ness out of the statement that remarried widows should rule the home (1Ti 5:14), (“oikosdespoteo”, home=”oikos” in Greek, “despoteo”=rule)

> Read “Eve was deceived, Adam was not” as “all women are easily deceived.

> Claim even though the Bible makes men the head of women by their “plain” Bible reading, this only applies in the church and home and not the rest of society. No verses, by the plain meaning, show women could step into leadership roles as long as it isn’t in the church and home.

> Seemingly fail to read the plain meaning of “For there is one God, one mediator also between God and mankind, Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 2:5) (They believe men are mediators between God and their wives/ children, that men will stand before God and give account for their families).

Of course, the men-should-lead brigade could give long answers of why they read some of these things into scripture, or why they under-play others. But giving long answers why you don’t take scripture at face value, is still not taking scripture at face value.

Will I blame them for not taking scripture at face value? Yes. Not because scripture should always be taken at face value (it should not – sometimes the truth is harder to find), but because “for with what judgment you are judging, shall you be judged, and with what measure you are measuring, shall it be measured to you.“(Mat 7:2) For that reason, I hold that even God will judge them for not taking scripture on face value.


Other egalitarians (non-hierarchical complementarians, really!) are welcome to add examples of scriptures that the men-should-lead brigade simply does not see the plain meaning of.


* See here, in the discussion of Eph 5:23 and 1 Cor 11:3, why I think those texts give plainly visible clues that man being the head of the wife does not make him the leader and her the follower.

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