Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dialogue, Baby, Dialogue (and a short statement of application)

Part 5: Dialoguing with others on the whole Gender debate

As you know, we are all about dialogue around here and I have three people to whom I owe some feedback on the gender issue. I also owe a brief statement on how I apply my understanding in a church context. So without further ado, let's figh... err... dialogue.

Interacting with "Not-nervous-egalitarian" Jim Robinson, part 2

(if you want to read Jim's comments they are found here and here)

Greetings once again Jim,

I appreciate your interaction. I like interacting with people I disagree with. Hopefully this can be helpful for both of us. I am going to disagree with a good deal of what you said. Some of it will be because I think your facts are wrong, some of it will be because I have a different opinion, some of it will be because I don't think you really understand the other side of the issue. It seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that you've read Grudem and Piper and assumed that anyone who calls himself a complementarian is a piperite and/or a grudemite. That is simply just not the case. I wouldn't assume you agree with Paul Jewett's take on this issue just because you are both egalitarians (he argues that Paul is wrong and mistaken). On all of these issues there is a wide spectrum.

I think we agree in principle on something but you need to rephrase it. You keep saying that the complementarian position is based in post WWII legalism. Don't say that. The complementarian position has been the default position of the church for two thousand years. People who are complementarians today are complementarians because that is the most straightforward interpretation of the words of Scripture. That doesn't mean its right, but don't you have to at least acknowledge that this is a hermeneutics issue? You keep saying that this is a legalism issue. It's not a legalism issue. It's a hermeneutics issue. Saying that we can't listen to rock music, drink wine, go to movie theaters, or grow facial hair are legalism issues. "Christian" rules that have no biblical basis can rightly be called legalism. A position that has a clear biblical foundation is not being held because of legalistic extra biblical rules. It may be a misunderstanding of the "spirit of the text" but its not legalism. There are complementarians who say that this is an authority of the Bible issue. They would accuse you of not accepting the Bible's authority. Clearly, this is not fair. Its an interpretive issue. To label it as either an authority or legalistic issue is not fair. Let's properly define the debate. Although some legalists may be complementarians, just like there are some egalitarians who believe that the Bible is riddled with errors, does not make it a legalistic position or a legalism issue.

You are absolutely right when you say that the Bible was written in a patriarchal culture. Until recently, we've always had a patriarchal culture. But because the culture is no longer patriarchal does not mean that we should abandon complementarianism. And likewise, as you would fairly argue, just because the culture in Biblical times was patriarchal does not mean it was ideal or God's design. The question at hand is not what the culture is or was but what the Scripture teaches or doesn't teach.

Let me also say that in some aspects of the word I am a feminist (can a man be a feminist?). I am against the abuse and devaluing of women. Although I think that the Bible teaches differing roles for men and women, I am strongly opposed to the abuse of women. If a woman had a husband who was abusing her I wouldn't just tell her to submit (would anyone????) I would have the bum thrown in jail! Neither I nor anyone I know would tell a woman whose husband had an affair and divorced her that she was going to hell. What does that have to do with the issue though? I 100% agree with you about the pay issue (see my last post). As a friend of mine (Nate Duriga) said, "the abuse of the position does not mean that the position is wrong." It seems that you're arguing against the abuse of the issue but have not addressed the issue itself.

Correct me if I'm misunderstanding you or being unfair. I am trying to be as fair as possible. I know that there are people on both sides of the issue who aren't. Let's not imitate them.

Disagreeing with my own side of the debate: Dialogue with Surls

Because I've already posted several comments on your blog, some of this may be a bit repetitive but I'll try and keep it brief.

For part 1 (Robust Complementarianism from Genesis):

I don't think Genesis offers much in the way of supporting complementarianism, Robust or otherwise. It can be read in light of complementarianism, and then applied assuming the complementarian position, but I don't think it can be used to prove it. I don't think any of your points (man being mentioned first, woman called "helper, etc..) can be used to prove the complementarian position. I think that they are all CONSISTENT with complementarianism, but I don't think Genesis teaches it.

Let me say in support of your point that if God had intended egalitarianism, I would think you would see it taught or implied in Genesis but you don't. The culture assumed a patriarchal society and there is nothing to counteract it. one of the reasons complementarianism is not taught in the Old Testament is that I don't think it needed to be. The instructions in the NT are clearly corrective in light of some issue that needed to be addressed, apparently more than once in more than one context.

Part 2: The Rest of the OT

Yeah I had a lot of beefs with this post and you kind of retreated a bit (at least you said you shouldn't have posted it) so I won't reattack it. I don't think there's really a case there.

Part 3: The New Testament

I was surprised at what passages you didn't deal with but it seems that you are focusing more upon the issue as it relates to the marriage relationship and not in the church, so that's probably why you dealt with the material you did. Regardless, I only have good things to say here.
Very good points about the "traditions which I handed to you." There seems to be a universal formula here that Paul and Peter both use. Certainly this is something universal, not merely situational because some wives were subverting things. Right?

And Duriga, with whom I just can't seem to disagree

As I've told you in person Nate, it rather disturbs me that our takes on these issues are so similar, especially considering how similar our backgrounds are (homeschooled, Liberty, NBS). But I really have nothing to disagree with in your post. Even worse, you stole a lot of things I wanted to say. All I can do is highly recommend that everyone who reads my blog and doesn't read his should read his second-to-last post. It is well stated and points out many issues that need to be addressed from our side of the theological fence.

So to finish... here's me doing what I don't want to do....

All right, I admit it. I don't know how to apply my nervous complementarianism yet. That's part of the reason for the 'nervous'. But my uncertainty cannot be an excuse for not applying something. So here is how I would apply my position, but keep in mind, my position is still developing.

-I would not have a woman as a head pastor of a church.
-I would not have a woman preach to the whole church.
-I would have women on staff of a large church. I don't care what their position title is- pastor directer whatever- because pastor isn't really a biblical position (elder is, and though I am in theory a multiple elder guy, but I don't think there's practically a big difference. I don't have a problem biblically with the way it developed). Regardless, a woman on staff should be paid the same as a man would for the same position/work.
-I would allow women to teach at a seminary
-I would allow women to teach certain classes at a church
-I would believe it is my responsibility as the husband to lovingly lead my household. I would discuss and makes decisions jointly with my wife. The only time I would ever "use the submit card" is in an area where I felt strongly convinced biblically about something. Even then I would always try to reach a consensus. There would, I'm sure, be many many times when I would submit to my wishes to my wife's wishes (like what we're doing friday night, what I'm wearing to the Joneses, what house or neighborhood we move into etc...).

Is there something I'm leaving out that I need to address?

This completes the primacy of this issue on my blog. I will continue to interact with Nate and Austin as they deal with the issue. For now, I'm going to continue my work on my "Apology of Hell" and I think I may do some stuff on a theology of animals. Nate and I have discussed some ideas for what we are doing next. More on that later.


Sabrina said...

i'm actually kinda bummed that i agree with you, because that doesn't create much dialogue - but i'm going to email you a couple questions.

VentiAmericano said...

Your posts get better and better. Thank you for thinking, and thinking on this issue. We have solved all problems, right?

Anonymous said...

I love your position on Marriage. I think it is exactly where everyone should be before even entering into a covenant relationship under God. I know you are not married yet but you will be blessed when God sends you your perfect bride. Your knowledge and understanding and maturity on the scriptures and Biblical principals always impress me Matt!

faithbornfromdoubt said...

Thanks Anonymous... though I admit I'm curious as to who you are... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Here's a big hint: We go to church together. ;-)

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Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul