Misogyny Isn’t Baked into the Cake of Christianity

The Martyrdom of St. Agatha of Sicily by Sebastiano del Piombo (1519). Agatha’s breasts were cut off during the 3rd century persecution of Quintianus. St. Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her breasts. She later died in prison.

Slavery was de facto and normative in the ancient world. Last week, Courtney and I saw the ruins of many colossal structures in Rome, each built by slaves of the Roman Empires. Some of those slaves were captured enemy soldiers, while others were merely born into the wrong caste. Few in the ancient world (or medieval world, for that matter) questioned the institution of slavery. It was the gasoline in the engines of civilization.

Notoriously, the institution of slavery is not questioned in the texts that comprise the Bible, either. While the people of Israel chafe under their own experience as slaves, they don’t call for the end of slavery in general. And Paul famously encouraged the slave Onesimus to return to his master, Philemon, in the eponymous letter. Although Paul elsewhere writes there is “no more slave or free,” he is no more questioning the institution of slavery than he is saying there’s no gender differences between men and women or ethnic differences between Barbarian and Scythian.

Nevertheless, the church fought its way to a different opinion a few generations ago. It involved the shedding of blood in the American Civil War and, yes, it involved schism. The Southern Baptist Convention, currently a major purveyor of misogyny in the American church, was founded as a pro-slavery association of churches. Today, of course, they are intent on distancing themselves from that history, and they have passed resolutions repudiating the institution of slavery.

The Southern Baptists and other pro-slavery Christians changed their minds on slavery, but they didn’t do it without a fight.

Today, some say that misogyny is baked into the cake of Christianity. It’s right there in our founding text, they argue. Women are lesser than men, meant to be man’s helpmate, and ordered to stay silent in public worship.

But, not unlike slavery, misogyny is not a characteristic of the Christian faith. It’s a remnant of the ancient world out of which Christianity was birthed.

If Jesus had been born in AD 1996 instead of 6BC, and if the books of the New Testament were to be written in AD 2049-2095 instead of AD 49-95, similar issues would arise. Two millennia from now, readers would have to distinguish the meanings of the text from the cultural accoutrements of our era. They’d have to peel away the assumptions of capitalism and democracy and nuclear fears and other aspects of the context of the writings.

Parsing the meaning of a text from the context in which it was written is the first and most important step in hermeneutics. We do it when we read about Israel wandering through the wilderness or sacrificing goats, and we do it when we read Jesus’ parables about mustard seeds and Samaritans.

Those today who make hermeneutical judgments about Samaritans — though they’ve never met a Samaritan — yet stand intractably on the misogynistic verses of the New Testament are being willfully incorrigible. These verses, from Paul or those writing later in Paul’s name, are remnants of his ancient context, in which women were systematically oppressed and silenced. The ancient world was — sadly, tragically, yet unavoidably — a misogynistic place. In my opinion, the really shocking thing is that the Bible isn’t more misogynistic.

The reason that I called for schism on these issues last week is this: those who readily contextualize the Bible’s position on slavery yet stand firm on the Bible’s misogyny are, in my opinion, steadfastly ignoring both rudimentary hermeneutics and the current movement of the Holy Spirit. 

Yes, schism is a harsh and ugly word. But I’m thankful that our forbears were willing to risk that to end slavery. Now we need to do it to end the oppression of women in the church. Our silence — or our desire to have more dialogue — is not only damaging our witness in the West, it’s also complicit in the overt oppression of women in much of the Global South. Therefore, it’s time to take action.

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  • keithbrenton

    There is no point in making things worse by dividing. You have a better chance persuading someone to whom you show love and fellowship than someone you are judging as wrong and hopeless. I refuse to do this with those who disagree with me about instrumental worship, one cup communion, grace over law — anything but the identity of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. No other confession is asked of us. No other specifics of faith are demanded. I am to love and include all — even the ornery and mistaken and judgmental and condemning, because at one point or another, that’s who I was.

    And causing division in the body of Christ because it was done a hundred fifty years ago seems a poor excuse to me.

    • http://tolkienista.wordpress.edu/ Madison McClendon

      The schism is already here. The division is already here. People have already been thrown out of churches for believing that women can be ordained or that men and women are equal in all respects. I don’t think Tony is asking us to forcefully divide the church; I think he’s asking us to recognize that the schism has happened already, and where we choose to stand in the discussion is a matter of deep importance. I thank him for that reminder, even if I would have chosen different words to say it.

      • keithbrenton

        Did I read too much activism into the last paragraph?

        I don’t think so.

        • http://tolkienista.wordpress.edu/ Madison McClendon

          It was certainly an activist paragraph. What’s your point?

  • Guest

    My all-time favorite post

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    meh. patriarchy and oppression are insidious and far-reaching. it’s not a one-and-done problem Over There–they’re in our own backyard, hearts, and churches, too. let’s get our own house in order.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

      They’re not mutually exclusive.

      • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

        but because you have no skin in this game, it comes across as a self-serving distraction. the sacrifices you’re calling for are all on others to bear, including the women in those denominations (who are not stupid or in need of saving). what sacrifices will you make to combat patriarchy in your own camp?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

          I have plenty of skin in the game, and there’s plenty for me to lose in making this call. But I’m not going to get into a back-and-froth with you on it. You hate me. I get that. But this post really isn’t about me, it’s about a bigger systemic issue that we need to combat from many sides.

          • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

            i don’t hate you, tony. i can’t think of anything i’ve written to give you that impression. is this just a way of dismissing me and my point of view?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

              No. Your words and ideas can stand here on their own merit.

            • http://www.throughaglass.net Kari

              I have always admired your engagement here, Suzannah.

          • http://tolkienista.wordpress.edu/ Madison McClendon

            Really? I’m trying so hard to read your blog with an open mind and heart, and this is the kind of stuff you treat people to? I have reviewed Suzannah’s history of commenting here and elsewhere, and while she has shared her views here before, nothing she has *ever* said, at least dating for the past six or so months of my review, indicates hate as an appropriate charge to level against her.

            It is fundamentally uncharitable. Fundamentally. Uncharitable. People can disagree with you, challenge you, want you to think things through, or consider you potentially part of the problem even as you are an ally in solving it, all without being hateful towards you. The accusation you have leveled regarding hatred Suzannah has for you is absolutely unacceptable for a Christian, let alone one who claims to write theologically for the good of the church. Beams, Tony. Beams and specks.

            If you’re going to engage your commenters, you owe us better. At least answer the question. She asked you what sacrifices you will make, and simply claiming you have something to lose doesn’t actual itemize what that something is in any clear way. That word of hers, at least, stands on its own merit, and you have made not even a passable stab at categorizing the measurable economic, spiritual, and community sacrifices at stake for you in this call. I see a man with significant reach in Christian circles saying something that won’t significantly impact his ability to sell books, find paid positions, or maintain his public platform. Tell me where I’m wrong, please. And if you say I hate you, well, that’s your right as a person, but it is beneath your obligations to me and the rest of us as children of the living God.

          • S_i_m_o_n

            In what way do you have skin in the game and what are you liable to lose?

          • Morton

            So anybody who disagrees with your and/or challenges you, automatically hates you? I think they have a name for that complex.

    • Craig

      The assumption is that Tony’s house is not perfectly in order on this issue. That’s likely true, but it’s likely true of nearly everyone in varying degrees. If we must get our houses in perfect order before speaking out against anything, none of us should ever speak out.

      One practical way to get one’s house in better order about a given cause might be to start engaging in the cause. If, e.g., I realize that I don’t care as much as I should about gay rights, or animal rights, or environmental concerns, or the plight of those in the Philippines, perhaps I will grow in care if I just start engaging in efforts to promote these causes. Where your treasure (or focus) is, there your heart will be also.

      As for skin in the game, so what if Tony has less? Should gays despise the support of heterosexuals who have little skin in the game? It is a very good sign when those who have no skin in the game, or personal stake in the issue, come down on your side. Why not welcome it as such?

      • R Vogel

        I really like this reply, Craig. I tihnk today post gives some real practical steps to getting involved from a women that looks to be on the front lines of this battle. Although, I think Suzannah’s concern is that Tony’s lack of ‘skin in the game’ means that he is making a call that others will bear the brunt of. I remember many years ago my college girlfriend told me of her aunt, who was a nun, and was the only official clergy in her parish, but she could not serve Mass, they bussed some guy in for that. Crassly I said, why doesn’t she just leave the Church and go to one where she could serve a minister. Telling a nun who has devoted her life to the Church to just up and leave was an easy position for me, a non-catholic, non-clergy, “none.”
        With that said, I am not accusing Tony of not having skin in the game. I, frankly don’t know if and how much he does. It seems to be to be a bit, and maybe unnecessarily, provocative to just declare that he does. Hence the defensive response. But there may be history here of which I am unaware, so I try to approach both sides with grace. (which is challenging because I am constitutionally a jerk!)
        I personally think I would have asked ‘Is it time for schism?’ and opened the floor to the women at the forefront of the movement to weigh in. If they think it is not, then ask them to help us understand how we can get involved. But it is not my blog. I just hope the very important issue Tony brings up here is not lost in the argument over delivery. It’s bad enough we have to get treated to every single bible verse that can be viewed to support the misogynist view-point!
        I am grateful for Tony for giving the issue some limelight, and for Suzannah’s challenging. Hopefully we can all come out of this friends and really make a more inclusive faith.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

    Your cake metaphor is reminiscent of a post of mine regarding a similar topic: http://coolingtwilight.com/a-new-recipe-for-gender-roles/

  • http://tolkienista.wordpress.edu/ Madison McClendon

    My church growing up was “disfellowshipped” from local Baptist organizations and the broader Southern Baptist denomination for having the temerity to have women on staff as ordained clergy. I’m not sure that a “schism” needs to be called for — we’ve already been “schismed-at!”

  • Carter

    This is by far the largest piece of certifiable, 100%, grade A bullshit argument i’ve come across on the internet in a long, long time. To accept it, we’d have to pretend that “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife…” just isn’t written into the New Testament. Nice try, I guess. But apologism won’t make the fact that misogyny is absolutely baked into the cake of Christianity go away.

    • Jakeithus

      Your argument only works long as people continue to ignore the verse preceding the one you quote, which says “Submit to one another out of reverence for God”. If you pretend that verse doesn’t exist, then you can continue in the belief that misogyny is baked into Christianity.

      “Wives submit to your husbands” is not some command only for women, as the command to “Submit to one another” is a universal. Using your same argument would be like saying Christianity teaches women not love their husbands, since only the husband gets the specific command, while ignoring the universal command to “Love one another”.

      • http://quijotefelix.blogspot.com/ rick allen

        I think you make a very important point. Every cultured despiser of Christianity (and most of the uncultured ones) know the verses about “wifely submission.” Very few know the context of those verses. They don’t see the stylistic parallelsim. If they know that there is a parallel command to husbands to love their wives, they typically have no clue what Christian love demands. They are also typically clueless about how Jesus says lordship is to be exercised–as a servant.

        Not that this will satisfy those for whom any difference whatsoever between male and female is “misogyny.” I sometimes think that the egalitarian passion of our age will only be satisfied by the undifferentiated plenum of Parmenides.

        • gimpi1

          This egalitarian will be totally satisfied by being treated as an equal. Nothing more, and absolutely nothing less.

          Different does not mean inferior. It should not imply inferior rights, privileges and responsibilities. In many manifestations of the Christian church, it appears to.

        • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

          As well, it is good to note that not only did Paul write that we are all to submit to one another, we are all to love one another as well. Verses 5:1-2, 21. It is like a sandwich. Take everything starting with love, walking in the light and in the spirit, ending with submitting to one another, and walk them into one’s marriage. The rules do not change when one gets married.

  • kellyecl

    Great post. Very hopeful and educational to those who need to better hermeneutic.

    But it seems misogyny and racism run deeper than just changing the rules, taking a stance, or forming a new opinion in the church. By saying, “not unlike slavery, misogyny is not a characteristic of the Christian faith. It’s a remnant of the ancient world out of which Christianity was birthed,” you are drawing an analogy between slavery and misogyny. But that’s not quite the right comparison. Maybe the right comparison is this: misogyny = racism. We still have racism in the church, even though most churches take anti-slavery stances. There will still be misogyny in the church, even when nearly every sect of Christianity allows for women ordination/leadership. Our stances on particular issues might change, but oppression will still be present. Racism and misogyny might be baked into our culture. Changing opinions and stances on particular issues might help, but it doesn’t get the bitterness out completely.

    • toddh

      Great point about misogyny and racism, well said.

  • Jonenred

    Protestantism: everyone making up their own rules.

    • Craig

      Suppose we let Albert Mohler make up all the rules for us. Would that be better?

    • Sven2547

      Catholicism: a small group of celibate men making up their own rules.

  • Karen Gonzalez

    I don’t think that everyone who doesn’t include women at all levels of ministry/leadership is a misogynist the way you’ve characterized the entire Southern Baptist Church. I know that these brothers and sisters that I disagree with are themselves seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures. If we break fellowship with them, we further divide an already fragmented church. I don’t think that’s the answer.

  • SusanRogersStLaurent

    What will taking action look like?

    • Agni Ashwin

      It won’t be televised.

  • Andrew Watson

    While I agree with you in principle I think a complete divorce and rebuffing of these groups is a bad idea. Even the Southern baptists are slowly changing, there is a significant rise in women in ministry in other areas than senior pastor, and there are many roles that are now routinely done by women that were once considered exclusive to male leadership. A lot of these groups are also obstinate and contrarian in nature, They will dig in their heels more due to vehement opposition than to theological ideas.

  • http://politicaljesus.com/ h00die_R (Rod)

    “The Southern Baptists and other pro-slavery Christians changed their minds on slavery, but they didn’t do it without a fight.”

    FOR REALSIES????????????? For realsies??????? Is this an honest assessment? Why do we still have SBC members defending the Confederacy?

  • Jesse

    Tony,

    You make some great points here. I especially like the lesson on hermeneutics and parsing the meaning of a text from the context in which it was written.

    I personally haven’t done the Sunday morning church thing for some time now, mostly because I echo Tripp Fuller’s sentiments when it comes to these sorts of matters (e.g. women in leadership, LGBT Rights, environmental care etc…), I need these issues to be off the discussion table. I don’t want to have to explain to my kid why we go to a church that won’t let gay people in the door, or won’t let women preach.

    But I agree with some of the feminist bloggers who have been saying that it’s not as easy as saying ‘schism.’

    This is why, although I don’t go to “church,” I still consider myself part of the “Church.” It’s because I see the Church as a microcosm of humanity in general.

    As McLuhan would say, you cannot separate the medium from the message. It could be said that the church is simply an expression of the gospel, and that the church is a direct reflection of Jesus, God’s chosen medium sent to be–not just to proclaim–a message of healing and hope to the world.

    And I love what your buddy Shane Hipps says about this:

    “We are the message. In all our hypocrisy and fear, in all our giftedness and hope, in all our brokenness and bitterness, in all our faith and love, in all our gossip and self-righteousness, in all our grace and gratitude.

    This is a great mystery.

    Why would God choose such a frail, failing, and inconsistent medium to embody this abiding message?

    Is it possible that God chose a collection of bent and bruised hearts to bear the message of redemption and reconciliation because that is a message in itself? Maybe God chose a medium of weakness to reveal God’s stunning ability to reach through human failure, sin, and sadness to grow new life.”

  • Craig

    For many, “willful incorrigibility” just means keeping the faith in these “PC” times. True, their forebears defended slavery. Before that they persecuted Jesus and the prophets. And we’ll never convince them of that.

  • ChuckQueen101

    Tony, in spirit I agree with what you are saying,, but I would make a couple of distinctions. I don’t think you can say that misogyny is not a characteristic of Christian faith. Not my faith or yours, but it’s in our sacred writings. And I don’t think you can neatly separate the “meaning” of a text from it’s culture. I think the critical issue in evaluating these texts is not “meaning,” but “authority.” The fact is, we have some oppressive texts, because the writer/redactor/communities that gave us these texts believed some oppressive things. The real question is not what they mean, but what authority do they have, if any? For example, for years I tried to make that horrendous text in 1 Tim. 2:11-15 say something it did not say. In my research on that text in my D.Min studies I discovered a number of other interpreters doing the same thing–exegetical gymnastics with the text–to make is something that it does not say. I say now: let the text say what it says, let those disciples believe what they believe – they were fallible humans like the rest of us conditioned by their culture. Since we are not inerrantists we don’t have to accept what they say. Such a text like 1 Tim 2:11-15 should be given no “authority” in the church today. So, it’s not a quesion of what it means; it’s a question of authority.

    I would also argue that the Paul of the undisputed letters really did intend for the Magna Charta texts of Galatians and 1 Corinthians proclaiming our oneness in Christ to have revolutionary social consequences, at least in the churches, in the way the Messianic communities practices their life together.

    • Russell Snow

      Why one and not the other? Because ChuckQueen101 hath spake it?

      • ChuckQueen101

        I am assuming you are asking me why accept the liberating texts of Galatians and 1 Corinthians and not the oppressive, misogynist text of 1 Timothy. Because I believe one is more inspired than the other; that one has a certain inherent authority and the other doesn’t. I commonly ask three questions of a text.

        First, does the text make God look good. My assumption here is that God is always better than our best. God is always good. If the text doesn’t reflect a good God then the text cannot be an authentic revelation of God. Second, does it make me want to be good. Does the text inspire me to be a more loving, inclusive, just, forgiving, kind, etc. person. If not, then the text may be more useful in teaching me how not to be and live. Third, is it reasonable. I do not mean, “Is it provable or even without inconsistencies?” What I mean is, “Does it make sense and does my understanding and use of the text reflect common sense?” I begin with the presupposition (we all begin with pursuppositions) that flawed human beings produced flawed texts, and some texts are transformative and others are more harmful than helpful. These questions help me to be discerning and sensitive to what the Spirit may be teaching me. I don’t believe Scripture is the Word of God, but I believe it can convey and mediate a living Word to me if I am open, receptive, and listening. These questions help me listen . . .

  • jeux999

    yeah, actually…it is.

    edit: anyone with a brain can notice the european nations didn’t enslave each other: they enslaved pagan cultures. to this day christians will band together to stop pagan events, stores or people from being successful. regardless if you’re a “capital-P pagan” (of a pagan religion) or simply text-book ‘pagan’ (non-monotheist) you will be othered. it’s not under any one person’s control: it’s just a symptom of the ‘us vs them’ worldview of christianity, in the same vein as misogyny.

  • Mark Kirschieper

    There really is no need, to be in any way dismissive or negative, towards those writings ascribed to the Apostle Paul, regards the issue of misogyny, within Christendom. Some examples: Colossians 2:9 speaks of the “Godhead” (Strong’s #2320) regards the current ontic state of Christ. Godhead is a feminine noun. Also, Ephesians 5:23 speaks of Christ as the “head” (#2776), of the Church. Head is a feminine noun. So, we have Christ, an incarnated mortal biological male, occupying feminine positions. The English word “bishop” (#1984), is a feminine noun. If Christ can occupy feminine positions, than why shouldn’t a biological female, occupy a feminine position, within the Church Universal? It’s certainly more logical, than forcing only males, to be bishops The denominations that exclude biological females, from leadership positions, are only looking at the material part of a person. We are no longer to do so, Galatians 3:28 reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) However, this verse does not negate the fact, that certain spiritual roles, may have masculine or feminine “aspects”. the conditions of female vs. feminine, and male vs. masculine, are two different ontic states. A topic for another post…

  • Pax

    Was Jesus a misogynist? (I ask in a completely sincere and unsnarky way)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

      It does not seem to me that he was.

      • http://quijotefelix.blogspot.com/ rick allen

        I do wish that you would address the simple contention that Jesus, who unusually, for his day and age, had women supporters and disciples, and whose death and resurrection were witnessed first by the faithful women, nevertheless created a body of men, often called the Twelve, who had a unique role in the governance of the newborn Church.

        If you think the Twelve some sort of late fiction intruded by misogynists into the varous texts, that certainly lets Jesus off the hook (though its existence seems to me as well-attested as the twelve (male) Caesars).

        If, on the other hand, you accept as even roughly accurate the New Testament accounts of the Twelve, I don’t see how your egalitarianism would keep you from dividing from Jesus himself, during his earthly ministry.

        • Craig

          I suppose there are important differences due to context. Was it as bad, in Jefferson’s day, to treat black people as slaves as it would be to do so today? Granted, it was still bad, but was it as bad?

          Sometimes one hears this kind of criticism: “you believe in biblical creationism in this day and age“?!

          Just as there once was a time when intelligent, educated people reasonably believed in biblical creationism, perhaps there once was a time when non-misogynistic people believed that leadership roles should have been held by men.

          • http://quijotefelix.blogspot.com/ rick allen

            Craig, I think you accurately express the feelings of many. But it seems to me that, for a Christian, there is a great deal of difference between the excuses we can offer for a Jefferson and those that make sense for Jesus. I am not myself quite ready to claim that, had Jesus lived in a more progressive environment, he might have been as enlightened and ethical as I am.

        • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

          The first 12 apostles were not only men, but Jewish men, of a certain region of Israel. If you wish to wrongly claim that therefore all apostles must be men, then naturally they all should be Jews from certain regions of Israel.

          The facts are that more likely, Jesus chose those 12 to map to the 12 tribes and nothing more. The fact that one of the apostles after that was a woman praised by Paul also not of the original 12 but also called of God.

      • Morton

        Jesus had 12 disciples – all of them men. How is that NOT mysogynistic?

  • Rolland

    How can anyone who has read the beautiful letter to Philemon believe Paul supported slavery? Please RE-READ! Paul is pleading for Philemon to welcome Onesimus no longer as a slave, but as a brother! Of course Paul was questioning the institution of slavery in that letter. He rehumanizes Onesimus through his display of brotherhood and immense love. I support your desire for women to be treated equally in the church, but don’t throw Paul under the bus!

    • Dan

      For the postmodern interpreter, the text is largely irrelevant. Tony’s own stated view has been to compare interpreting the Bible to an umpire interpreting a strike zone, “they ain’t nothin’ till I call ‘em”, rooting the meaning of the text completely in the mind of the interpreter. The objective text is always of lesser importance than the subjective influence of culture. So, in that view, the views of slavery and roles of women in the first century primarily determine the meaning of the text even if that cultural perspective makes the text say the opposite of what it says. The role of the interpreter is to deconstruct what is really going on behind the text. Of course once we go there, we have to admit that our own culture so completely determines our viewpoint that we can’t be objective about our own beliefs, which is what makes Tony’s absolutism and vitriol on this issue extremely curious.

      A more sane approach, and one that doesn’t saw off the branch one is sitting on, is to say that culture can help shed light on a text, but cannot completely overrule it, and our own cultural context requires us to apply the text to new situations, but again, our cultural context can’t overrule the text.

      The balance is there. Scripture acknowledges the slavery of its time, but neither condones the idea that slave owners have absolute right over life and death nor suggests first century slaves should stage a suicidal revolt against Rome. Women and men are both bearers of God’s image who complete each other, but one cannot deny that gender differences are real. The complementarian view simply tries to retain the balance and for that Tony labels complementarians (including women who are complementarians?) “hater’s of women” and demands schism.

      • gimpi1

        I don’t really have a dog in this race, Dan, but frankly – from the outsider’s perspective – being told I’m a lesser being, with fewer rights, deserving of less respect, who’s needs, beliefs and ideas shouldn’t be shared in the public marketplace, but that I “must wait, and ask my husband at home,” is hateful. There’s no way I can feel differently about it. If you don’t want me to regard you as hateful, don’t regard me as inferior. Pretty simple

        That said, I don’t begrudge complementarians their chosen way of belief and life. The problem I have with them is that some are unwilling to leave me in peace. I have heard complementarian calls to strip women of the right to vote, to pressure women out of the work-force, to deny women basic rights before the law. Given that, I have a hard time trusting them. Can you understand that?

        • Dan

          I would very much like to know which complementarian called for the stripping of the right to vote and the denial of basic rights. That may be true of some extreme fringe teachers, but I doubt if they are in the complementarian camp. Most churches I have been in that are complementarian would never, ever say such things. In the church I presently attend, the head of our church deacon/deaconess board is a woman. Why do they allow that? Because “deaconess” is explicitly spoken of in the New Testament and they want to be true to the text.

          And again, I did not say, nor did Paul, that “ask your husband at home” is indicative of women being inferior. The question was one of order in a time of cultural shift, a new situation where women had an increased role that was turning out to be a little disruptive, somewhat like everyone speaking in tongues at the same time. If Paul says “speak one at a time” is he calling anyone “inferior”?

          I am just fed up with the charge that everyone who is a complementarian is a “woman-hater”. It is a sterotypical slander. And it needs to stop.

          • gimpi1

            Here’s one complementarian who calls for stripping women of the right to vote or sit on jurys:

            http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=32493

            I understand there are different interpretations of various scriptures. Some groups welcome women as full members. Some won’t even allow women to ask for prayer requests, instead they tell unaccompanied women to talk to a male friend before the service, so he can speak for her. The problem I have is that the “middle-of-the-road” types, such as yourself, don’t take the John Piper, Doug Phillips, Mary Pride et all types to task. Perhaps that’s because you aren’t aware of them.

            I’m sorry you’re offended. I would suggest you do a bit of research into the more extreme branches of patriarchy on, for example, the No Longer Quivering blog here on Pantheos. You might be surprised at some of what comes up.

            • Dan

              Exactly who is this person you have linked to? How is his view representative of the complementarian positon? Does he claim to be a complementarian?

              Yes there are “extreme branches of patriarchy”, but that is not the question I have raised. Why is it that all complementarians are repeatedly lumped together with “haters of women”?

              If you and Tony really want to fight subjugation of women, then spend a fraction of the virtual ink spent here to expose white slavery on the one hand and the honor killings, acid attacks and genital mutilation of those who really do hate women instead of projecting the worst of all motives onto fellow Christians in a false blanket accusation. Plenty of actual misogyny around – no need to hurl false blanket slanderous accusations toward anyone to the right of Rachel Held Evans.

              I don’t begrudge anyone who is an egalitarian the right to their viewpoint. I am not offended by egalitarianism. But it is clear from his own words that Tony wants to starve more conservative churches of oxygen and members – he has declared war and has chosen to shoot anything that moves outside of his own camp. That is offensive and just wrong.

              • gimpi1

                I, personally try not to lump all branches of anything together. The fellow I cited is an extremist. Yes, he claims to be a complementarian. Words often mean different things to different people. You asked for someone who supported stripping women of the right to vote. I provided him.

                I frankly have two problems with “middle of the road” complementarians:

                Firstly, there tends to be a bit of “mission creep” in which soft-core becomes more and more hard-core over time. People who are naturally drawn to a belief system often seem to try to out-do each other in demonstrating their devotion, often to their own detriment. I have seen moderately religious folks drawn down the rabbit hole of extremism, and it’s not pretty.

                Secondly, many, though by no means all, complimentarians do seem to want to impose their beliefs in law. (Please note the by no means all) I understand you don’t believe in this, but some do, and there are serious calls out there for limiting or making illegal many form of birth-control, (Rick Santorium) for not regarding domestic violence as a crime, but a matter for “church discipline” after “enduring it for a season,” (John Piper) and for trying to prevent women from either voting or serving on juries as I cited above. These people are real. They may not be the majority, but they exist, and they are serious about their goals.

                Frankly, If you want support in your beliefs, the best way to earn it is to go after some of the folks I mentioned. It’s sort of like when there’s an act of terrorism carried out by a follower of Islam, and Christians want to know where are the moderate Moslems denouncing it. They don’t denounce it because they don’t see it as having anything to do with them. They KNOW they aren’t extreme, and don’t understand why we in the west lump them all together.

                I am an outsider. Outsiders often lump members of groups together. They shouldn’t, but they do, just like Christians lumping Muslims together. If you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as the extremists, call them out. It might help.

  • Mich Barry

    Would you call for schism on Economic justice issues too?

    • Morton

      Or abortion?

  • jtheory

    “you hate me”

    indication that the schism already exists, and that there is the problem.

  • Nathan Duffy

    Let’s decipher the ‘real’ meaning of the Bible by attempting to substitute the assumptions of the culture and era it was written in (what St. Paul calls in Galatians 4:4 calls ‘the fullness of time’, but what Tony Jones calls some random time & place that could as easily have been some other time and place), with the assumptions of a certain modern subculture of our own choosing! This definitely is not making up our own religion as we go along! At all!
    I like the part where it’s admitted that Gal. 3:28 actually doesn’t do what feminists always want to claim that it does, though. Amen to that. Egalitarianism has no leg to stand on, not even this slender verse that they usually want to do *everything* for them.

  • Krista Dalton

    I think what you’re calling for will inevitably suggest a radical re-understanding of the place of ancient texts in the Christian tradition, which will inevitably split camps. Again, not because of the issue of women, but because one must adjust the place of the texts in the tradition.

    • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

      It is human nature to “split into camps”.

      1 Cor. 1:11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household,that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

      And those schisms require another schism of backing out of an established schism into a more proper paradigm. Backing out of the already established schisms of male hierarchies into a more Biblical environment of both men and women working together in the teamship of leadership would seem a more equitable move.

  • R Vogel

    Is there a difference between the Bible’s tolerance of slavery as an institution versus the active role it seems to take in establishing a patriarchal hierarchy? After all it doesn’t command people to be slaves, right? But it does command women to be submissive to their husbands. I feel to be honest I have to own that some element of misogyny was part of the original ingredients of the cake, but that it was not an essential part of the recipe and leaving it out acutally makes it better!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

      The Bible doesn’t *do* anything. It’s a text. The writers of the Bible did things.

  • joe_chip

    Whether Tony is correct in his calling for a schism I don’t feel qualified to comment on. I will say, that as an outsider perusing his writings and his comments, he absolutely comes across as arrogant, angry and prickish. Is this the best face of the “New” Evangelical?

  • Russell Snow

    Seems to me that slavery is discussed in the Bible as a fixture of the culture they lived in. Outside of Israeli civil law in the OT, it is not commended. But verses like

    8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. [1Cr 11:8-9 NIV]

    Are really kinda baked in.

    • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

      you forgot: 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

      also, that verse 10 is a stickler. It actually says in the Greek that woman is to exercise authority on her (own implied) head. IOW she is to make her own decision on these matters.

      As well, I wouldn’t boast too much about woman being created for the man. It was because man needs the strong complementary help of the woman to allay his aloneness. Alone, a man does not do well. A smart man recognizes the need of a smart woman to balance him.

      blessings….. :)

      • Russell Snow

        “It was because a woman needs the strong complementary help of the man to allay her aloneness. Alone, a woman does not do well. A smart woman recognizes the need of a smart man to balance her.”
        tifify

        So here is the context of the verse. The plain reading is that women should have their heads covered in church to show submission to their husbands because that is the order of things. This does not imply that women are less valuable than men, just placed in a different order.

        3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman [is] man, and the head of Christ [is] God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having [his] head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with [her] head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover [his] head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on [her] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither [is] man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman [came] from man, even so man also [comes] through woman; but all things are from God. 13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? [1Cr 11:3-14 NKJV]

  • Mark Kirschieper

    Romans 16:1 speaks of Phebe (some translations use Phoebe). The word used to describe her Church position, is the neuter Greek noun diakonos (Strong’s 1249). This word is correctly twice translated “deacons”, in 1 Timothy 3. So, we have definitive scriptural evidence of a female, in a leadership position, in the first century Church. The churches/denominations, which do not affirm females in leadership positions, like to conveniently overlook this fact. Of course, many Bible translations, also conveniently use other words rather than deacon, in Romans 16:1. This merely proves the translator’s misogynistic/chauvinistic translation bias.

    • Digger

      It “proves” their misogyny? In other words, misogynism is the ONLY reasonable explaination for their use of words other than “deacons”? Is there NO OTHER POSSIBLE, plausible explaination available?
      If this is true, then ALL 31 times the word, Diakonons, is used in the NT, it MUST be translated as deacons, and refering to the formal office to which the rules apply. So Paul must have held the office of deacon. The servants at the wedding at Cana must have been Deacons. Government was refered to as Diakonos. Tychichus was refered to as Diakonos.
      No, the word is used in so many different settings, and in so many different ways, that to suggest that “deacons” is the only true way of translating it is actually the LEAST logical explaination. It would require extreme bias to come to that conclusion in all 31 instances of the word, Diakonos.

      • Mark Kirschieper

        If the Greek word applies to a particular person (Paul, Tychicus, Phebe, etc..), why shouldn’t it be translated as deacon? Are you suggesting, that Phebe can’t be a deacon, in Romans 16:1? Because each PARTICULAR person’s name you mention (a proper noun), could indeed have been a deacon. (I apologize for quoting the incorrect verse, in my original post…It is Romans 16:1.)

        • Digger

          Yes, I suppose they could have been, but let me reword my point. Every one of us is, in fact, a deacon. The word deacon means servant. Most of the instances of the word Diakonos in the Bible mean just that. The rules in Timothy apply to the office of Deacon.
          The ability to be a sevant in one’s church is open to men and women equally. The office of deacon, in other words the official title, is only for men. That is the plain reading of the scripture IN MY OPINION. I am fully aware that you do not interpret it that way.
          The point I am making is this: Your interpretation of the Bible does NOT make me a misogynist, nor does it make me a chauvinist. I do not think it is right for you to issue an absolute statement that insults all people who hold complementary views.
          What of women who hold complementary views–are they misogynists?
          (By the way, we know that Paul did NOT hold the office of deacon. Also, no worries on the misquote, I was able to deduce from the context which verse you were refering to.)

          • Mark Kirschieper

            Thanks for the response. I’m very happy, that we both value Scriptural apologetics, and that you at least acknowledge Phebe/Phoebe, could have been a deacon. That’s really enough for me. However if your interested, could you give me your absolutely best SHORT Scriptural defense, for your position, that only a biological male, can be a deacon? I mean try to really “bash” me, with the very best “clobber passage(s)”, regards females not serving as leaders, in the Christian Church?

            • Digger

              Mark, I am not particularly interested in engaging in the Phoebe Deacon issue. I believe that the Bible says no to women holding the OFFICE of deacon; however, if my church wishes to have women hold that office, I will support them without dissent. It is not a battlefield I’m willing to die on, as the saying goes. I did not take offense at your position that she was a deacon; I took extreme offense at what think is a ludicrous, thoughtless, and rude statement that people who hold a belief similar to mine only do so out of dishonorable intent (pardon me for paraphrasing you). THAT is the only point I wanted to contend here.
              That being said, I’ll address your question briefly out of an interest in civil discourse. I do not merely acknowledge that she could have been a deacon, I am certain that she was one. I do NOT acknowledge that she held the office of deacon to which Paul wrote about to Timothy. The word deacon means servant. We are all supposed to be deacons in our churches. The word also is used to describe an official position–Deacon. We obviously all do not hold that position. For a very fair (in my opinion) treatment of this issue, rather than duplicate another’s work, I would direct you to “got questions” where you can search for “can women serve as deacons in the church.” They provide a nicely balanced view that I wholly agree with.

              • Mark Kirschieper

                Happy Thanksgiving Digger. Agreed, your reference, does quite a good job, regards the office of deacon, and the potential for Phebe. However, if we look at your referenced author’s attempt to deal with bishops (some might use the word elder), we see [here: http://www.gotquestions.org/women-elders.html quite a different situation. Your referenced author, S. Michael Houdmann, uses 1 Tim. 3:1-7, as the definitive NT passage, to defend his assertion, that females can’t serve as bishops/elders. That’s a great passage indeed, and actually proves my original accusation and criticism, that most English Bible TRANSLATIONS, demonstrate a pervasive male, or masculine form of chauvinism, or one might say misogyny. Houdmann uses the ESV translation, for his exegesis. The ESV is notoriously not gender neutral. In his chosen “males only as bishops/elders” clobber passage, the Greek word for bishop is “episkope” (Strong’s #1984). This noun is FEMININE, yet in every given opportunity to be gender neutral, regards 1 Tim. 3:1-7, the ESV translators (NOT YOU), deliberately chose to use the personal pronouns he, him, his. Now, I hope you understand my original accusations, and criticisms…My negative comments, were not directed at you, or any one else, that happens to just read what they see before them, in the various English translations. I don’t know why you took it personally, no need to do so. Best wishes!

      • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

        Diakonos only has two aspects of meaning under the constraining of “servant”. One serves in physical service. The other serves in spiritual service. One can usually tell by the context in which it is used. Phoebe not only being commended for ministering spiritual matters in the church in Cenchrea, also ministered spiritual matters by being the trusted carrier of Paul’s epistle to the Roman church. That looks like a clear slam dunk for using the transliterated English ‘deacon’ instead of servant. Although, personally I think it was a mistake to adopt “deacon” anywhere in Scripture. I’m of the opinion that we should have stuck with “minister/ministering”.

        • Digger

          So, if I read your comment correctly, you are an egalitarian. I’m fine with that, and have no illusions of swaying any egalitarian into changing their mind.
          Sticking to the point of my comment, do you, like Mark K, believe that the ONLY explaination for a person being a complementarian is that they are a misogynist? (He said the translators’ use of words other than deacon “proves…misogynistic bias.”)

          • http://tiro3.typepad.com/spoudazo_logos_blog/ tiro

            Thank you for the respectful dialogue, Digger. I am neither complementarian or egalitarian, just Christian who believes in mutuality. Or you could say I’m a non hierarchical complementarian. I believe in the dictionary definition of complementary to be needed in Christian treatment of one another. But the term of complementarian among Christians is really different from the dictionary and more like a soft patriarchy. And I’ve nothing to do with the popular patriarchal belief systems.

            And no I do not believe every complementarian is a misogynist. Most are just responding to the idea of complementarity, not realizing it’s patriarchal roots. And most are just trying to be good Christians, and I camp there as well. But the leaders and founders of “complementarian” may indeed be grounded in misogyny to some degree.

  • Badari Pandarinath

    Wrong… The ANCIENT world worshipped goddesses, from Egypt, to Hindus, to Mayans (who came from Hindus), to Greeks, to Norwegians … all these subgroups had powerful female figures that women were taught to be like. It was the Christians, and Christians alone who wiped out all that good and replaced it with vile misogyny and oppression. the Garden of Eden story is what set off the movement of blaming women for all evil, and from this train of thought formed Islam. Muslim women were forced to dress like nuns, and Christian Vatican rule was the archetype for female oppression. the Church was founded by misogynists , and is still run by them today. The Ancient world was a stark contrast to this, filled with female empowerment and equality.

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