The blog sponsored by Christians for Biblical Equality can be counted on for showing us the cutting edge of egalitarian thinking, the sort of stuff that egalitarian leaders in academe look for in order to know where to place themselves so they’re at the head of the popular mob.
It is also a way to look at things ostensibly “Christian” through egalitarian glasses. An excellent example of this is found in Trevor’s analysis of how/why we have created “a church of gender division.”
His evidence includes the following:
- We encourage separate men’s and women’s meetings, rallies, conferences etc.
- We encourage separate men’s and women’s study Bibles and Bible helps.
- We encourage the genre of exclusive male to male and female to female authors.
So what? Ministries targeted at women and men, ministries pursued by men in concert with men (and women with women) are hardly new, going back to the very beginning (cf. 1 Tim. 3, or Titus 2). And so it has been for about 2,000 years now. The underlying premise of ministries aimed at either sex is simply that men and women are different, and that this difference should be acknowledged and accomodated by church ministry.
Admitted, the advance of technology (printing, video, travel, etc.) makes the opportunities for such accomodation more frequent. Again, so what? If ministry to men alone facilitates such ministry, as with women (as commenters reluctantly acknowledge), why frustrate this ministry by cutting back on it?
- We encourage male supremacy and primacy within marriage and family.
- We encourage marital role separateness when we promote hierarchy as a marriage model.
- We encourage the language of biological differentiation when we talk of his needs, her needs.
- We encourage difference between the sexes through accepting the thesis of books like, “Men are from Mars – Women are from Venus.”
Again, such “observations” ignore what everyone has always easily known. Moreover, it ignores the Bible’s own mandate that men be heads of the marriage, family, and church. This mandate has been ground zero in Church conflict for several generations now, and evangelicalism seems to have pretty well settled into camps where compliance with Biblical norms are honored (a minority now), and those where these Biblical norms are flouted, ignored, or mocked (e.g. the so-called egalitarian church communities, whether they be congregations, denominations, or parachurch institutions).
What puzzles me is the “we have …” in these observations. It sounds as if this egalitarian is lamenting that the egalitarian agenda hasn’t been more comprehensively implemented in supposedly egalitarian churches.
We encourage segregation and individualism by all of the above which leads to dissatisfaction and the breakdown of balanced gender relationships, including marriage and family.
Flummery. American evangelicals are the “freest” Christians history has ever seen. Their ecclesiology (actually, their lack of an ecclesiology) allows them to do what they routinely do as often as they change their socks: change churches to suit their tastes in virtually anything, including how the church handles ministry to men and women.
The NT scriptures are addressed to believers generally, not to genders specifically. While instructions are given to husbands, wives, children, slaves and slave owners these instructions are to be culturally considered.
Here we have egalitarian falsehood and egalitarian flummery in one sentence.
First, the OT and NT Scriptures are generally address specificially to the men, and when context indicates that the entire congregation is intended, it is the inclusive masculine gender that is used in the Biblical text. The Ten Commandments, for example, are addressed to men, because men are the heads of the various social units within Israel (marriage, family, tribe). But, no one ever questions that “Thou shalt not steal” is a commandment women are obliged to follow. Specifically, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife …” does not leave the women free to covet their neighbor’s husband. No specific prohibition directed at women is needed, because her moral duty is included in the moral duty of her head.
And, what about those Scriptures known to address specific — gender specific — groups, such as husbands (as opposed to wives) or wives (as opposed to husbands)? According to CBE’s blogger, these are to be “culturally considered!” That’s egalitarian code words for “ignored” or “dismissed.” On this score, the entire Book of Proverbs should be dismissed, because it is compiled by men for men as men. Its purpose is to equip young men to take their places in the gates as older, wiser men.
May women profit from The Proverbs? No one ever said otherwise. Does the Book of Proverbs contain exemplary models for women to emulate? Of course it does, primarily Lady Wisdom. Models of women to reject? Of course it does, primarily Woman Folly. But, even those passages are primarily crafted for the express instruction and development of men’s characters and wisdom. In this way, the Proverbs are typical of the Bible as a whole — addressed to the heads of the believing community for the benefit of all.
While some may disagree, it is my belief that many of our differences are culturally adapted rather than biblically mandated.
Yet that’s what the quarrel is all about! Egalitarians take the Bible’s mandates regarding the nature and relationship of the sexes and dismiss them out of hand in favor of some pansexual or asexual inclusiveness.