Saturday, October 27, 2007

Majoring in Submission

World on Line features a short article about a Southern Baptist college that offers an emphasis in homemaking. In it, you will find comments from author and editor, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. They unfortunately included more quotes from Dorothy Patterson than by Rebecca.

In the comments Rebecca submitted to World, her final comment followed a succinct argument (which World declined to print). It went like this:

The Genesis creation account never says the woman was created to serve and obey the man. When God formed the woman out of the man, the man did not see her as his subordinate. No, the man identified the woman as one who was like him—in contrast to the animals, over which woman and man had joint authority. Yes, the woman is a help (Hebrew: ezer) to the man, but God is also an ezer to humans; yet God is not subordinate to humans!

The idea that God created the woman to serve the man and the man to have decision-making authority over the woman logically entails that women are not equal but are necessarily and intrinsically inferior to men (see Discovering Biblical Equality, chapter 18).

“Equal but different” makes a good slogan, but it doesn’t make good sense.

33 comments:

Mike said...

And as the second comment in the World article suggests, its suspeciously similar to the phrase:

"Separate but equal."

Mike said...

*suspiciously*

sorry, if you could correct my misspelling and delete this comment, I'd appreciate it.

Mike Austin said...

While I would not want to defend the view that women are to obey men, I do not think that the following entailment exists:

x is to be served by and has authority over y entails that x is intrinsically and necessarily superior to y.

I may need to read chapter 18, referenced in your post, but I see no logical reason why God could not create men to serve women, be under their authority, and yet be equal to them. The role of x is not necessarily connected to the essential nature of x. So while I'm sympathetic to the view you espouse in general, I don't think it follows from this argument.

Mike said...

The argument of chapter 18 replaces X & Y with
Female-ness & male-ness, both of which are *essential* trains of humanity.

Thus by definition, there is a necessary and intrinsic connection between the "role" and the "essential nature." Because they are both based on physical and essential trait(s), they are one and the same.

Employee and Employer roles can change, male and female "roles" cannot.

Wayne Leman said...

Doug, I have linked to your post at the Complegalitarian blog.

Educator-To-Be said...

"Equal but different".

Oh, my, how I hate that phrase.

Amy

Kyle said...

I skimmed that chapter and may have to read it again, but I was disappointed to find it almost entirely on what the Bible couldn't have meant and not on what the Bible actually meant (though that might be in a different chapter). I really want to know what she says the Bible does mean by all of those. She says in your post that woman being the "helper" of man doesn't mean lower authority and in the chapter that the symbol of man being the "head" of the wife doesn't mean it either. In the footnote she says, "the husband’s civil authority was assumed, given the culture of Paul’s day," but can that really explain why Paul only ever used the headship analogy from husband to wife?

My main question is what then do those passages actually mean and what if any differences exist between men and women? What is the nature of any differences (ie. most would agree that there are some anatomical differences)?

The only other place I've found that side argued biblically and thoroughly is at christian-thinktank which I have yet to go through completely, but I am curious for what Rebecca believes or if I missed anything in my quick scan of the chapter.

Doug Groothuis said...

Kyle:

See "The Bible and Gender Equality" by RMG on her web page:
www.RebeccaMerrillGroothuis.com.

Mike Austin said...

mike said:
"The argument of chapter 18 replaces X & Y with Female-ness & male-ness, both of which are *essential* trains of humanity. Thus by definition, there is a necessary and intrinsic connection between the "role" and the "essential nature." Because they are both based on physical and essential trait(s), they are one and the same."

-I think there is some sort of equivocation here, or rather that we are using essential in different contexts, so that the entailment still does not obtain.

To Rebecca: I'll check it out. Thanks for the link!

Abu Daoud said...

I for one am offended that I as a man cannot get pregnant. Someone should really mention this egregious injustice to God, no?

Doug Groothuis said...

From Rebecca Merrill Groothuis:

The issue at stake here is NOT physical inability, as in men not being able to bear children--or, for that matter, all the other various physical disabilities that people have, such as a person not being able to be a major league baseball player, or not having the ability to become a neurosurgeon, or any number of more pedestrian examples of physical limitations.

No, the question at stake here is whether the Bible prohibits women from exercising their God-given abilities to teach, to lead, and to serve the church in whatever way God has equipped them. No one is stopping men from having babies. But women--and not men--are being denied the freedom to exercise fully the authority that they have in Christ.

Doug Groothuis said...

Mike said...

"The argument of chapter 18 replaces X & Y with
Female-ness & male-ness, both of which are *essential* trains of humanity.

Thus by definition, there is a necessary and intrinsic connection between the "role" and the "essential nature." Because they are both based on physical and essential trait(s), they are one and the same.

Employee and Employer roles can change, male and female "roles" cannot."

--------
Mike:

I got you confused with Mike Austin earlier. Sorry. This is a good comment, but I think you reversed X and Y.

Don't worry about the earlier misspelling. I simply cannot just go in and change it, though; it is more complicated.

Best,
Doug

Matt Proctor said...

"Equal but different"

Such an interesting issue . . . probably going to be a divisive issue forever. The big issue is not can people be equal, but different. Of course, they can. That's the beauty of unique giftings, personalities, etc. All humans are equal, but our differences are what make the world and the church beautiful.

The big question is about authority. Does God give men and women equal authority/responsibility in the home and church?

Some say yes, some say no.

From Eph. 6:1, fathers are directly commanded by God in regards to the home. Does this mean the father is ultimately held responsible for the homelife (and thus suggesting authority) or is is just a simple command directed at fathers? Complementarians and Egalitarians will not find agreement for some time. Same thing with 1 Cor. 11 and Eph. 5's statements about husband/wife.

Does it make sense that the Spirit is subject to the Father and Son, and the Son to the Father? And should this be a model for men and women in the home/church?

Could it be that our culture has confused the roles of men and women ?? has the culture said teaching and leading are so important that the result is that women feel cheated that some churches restrict this role to a certain gender?

I charge individuals to work through these questions carefully and honestly . . . don't be moved by blogs.

seek the Scriptures, read both sides, and then when you come to a conclusion, embrace it and share it humility and with grace.

Matt Proctor said...

"majoring in submission"

side-note: what an honor. I hope that one day someone might say that my life could be characterized as 'majoring in submission.'

I hope no man or woman would ever think majoring in submission is an improper Christian life!! I praise any man or woman who commits their life to such an enterprise.

Doug Groothuis said...

From Rebecca:

Mike Austin said...

mike said:
"The argument of chapter 18 replaces X & Y with Female-ness & male-ness, both of which are *essential* traits of humanity. Thus by definition, there is a necessary and intrinsic connection between the "role" and the "essential nature." Because they are both based on physical and essential trait(s), they are one and the same."

-I think there is some sort of equivocation here, or rather that we are using essential in different contexts, so that the entailment still does not obtain.

To Mike Austin:

It seems that if there is equivocation at work in the equal being/unequal role discussion, it is in the patriarchalists' insistent use of "role" to refer to a state of being established at creation. In their use of "role" they equivocate between the true sense of "role" (a part that is played or a function or office that is assumed) and the idea of a personal function or inclination that is grounded in and necessarily arises out of a permanent state of being. Thus they are able to have it both ways: universal female subordination along with equal female "being." But am I equivocating in my use of the word "essential"? I don't see that. Perhaps I should clarify that I do not use "essential" in a technical philosophical sense, but as loosely synonymous with nature, being, inherent character, intended purpose, defining qualities (see footnote 4).

Fletcher said...

Look at the religions invented BY men FOR men (Mormonism and Islam) and you see this very issue at the core of things: Women are subservient to men, have fewer rights, are lesser, are to have but one husband while polygamy is just fine, etc.

This is one of the (many) evidences of their falsity, showing they were obviously fabricated by men.

Paul D. Adams said...

As Dr. G has repeatedly insisted, and I strongly encourage, readers of this Blog with this area of interest simply must "read" Discovering Biblical Equality.

Even if one remains a traditionalists on the side of things, this perhaps is the most informed collection on the issues to date.

Dr. Steve Cowan said...

Rebecca wrote, "No, the question at stake here is whether the Bible prohibits women from exercising their God-given abilities to teach, to lead, and to serve the church in whatever way God has equipped them. No one is stopping men from having babies. But women--and not men--are being denied the freedom to exercise fully the authority that they have in Christ."

As a complimentarian, I have to view this comment as question-begging. NO ONE in this debate, as far as I know, wants to prohibit women from exercising their God-given abilities in whatever capacity God has equipped them. But the question at issue is whether or not God has IN FACT given to woman the abilities to teach, lead, etc., in capacities where they exercise authority over men. Complimentarians want women to fulfill whatever roles and do whatever ministries God wants them to do, we just don't think that God wants them to be pastors and the heads of families.

Concerning the alleged connection between subordination and "intrinsic inferiority", I have to echo the sentiment that I just don't see it. I served in the Army for several years as an enlisted man. I had many superior officer and NCOs to whom I had to submit. But never once did I feel, nor was I treated, as intrinsically inferior to any of them. I was treated with respect and considered a valuable member of a team. And I don't think that this would have been any different had my subordinate role not been temporary or contingent. There just isn't (as far as I can tell) any logical entailment from "X is subordinate to Y in authority" to "X is less valuable than Y." In fact, it seems that "X is subordinate to Y in authority" could even be consistent with "X is MORE valuable than Y." Using my own example again, some of my superior officers in the Army acknowledged (on occasion) that I was the most valuable member of the team (and the team included the person making such comments). If there really is a logical entailment between subordination and inferiority, then we need a much more rigorous analysis to demonstrate it.

Also, let me supplement Paul Adams' last comment by saying that anyone who wants to really study this issue should also read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, eds. Piper and Grudem. There are two sides to this debate, after all.

Doug Groothuis said...

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis comments:

Dr. Steve Cowan said...

Rebecca wrote, "No, the question at stake here is whether the Bible prohibits women from exercising their God-given abilities to teach, to lead, and to serve the church in whatever way God has equipped them. No one is stopping men from having babies. But women--and not men--are being denied the freedom to exercise fully the authority that they have in Christ."

As a complimentarian, I have to view this comment as question-begging. NO ONE in this debate, as far as I know, wants to prohibit women from exercising their God-given abilities in whatever capacity God has equipped them. But the question at issue is whether or not God has IN FACT given to woman the abilities to teach, lead, etc., in capacities where they exercise authority over men. Complimentarians want women to fulfill whatever roles and do whatever ministries God wants them to do, we just don't think that God wants them to be pastors and the heads of families.

Rebecca’s response: If, indeed, God created men with an inherent ability to exercise authority and created women with an inherent lack of this ability, then it is quite true that patriarchal complementarians do not prohibit women from exercising their God-given abilities to teach and to lead in the church—for the simple reason that women do not have these abilities. But that is a big IF, and one that is contradicted by the empirical evidence, and is not explicitly affirmed anywhere in Scripture. Foundational to the current patriarchal position in evangelicalism is the proposition that God designed and created man to exercise authority but did not so create woman. Whether God created woman without even the ability to exercise authority is a question for which patriarchal complementarians do not have a consistent and uniform answer. Some (not all) complementarians believe that at creation God not only gave the exercise of authority exclusively to men, but also gave only men the ability to exercise authority—presumably because this belief is a logical concomitant of their interpretation of what the Bible says about gender “roles” and/or because of their instinctive, culturally driven view of what women are like and what men are like. Certainly the Bible itself never explicitly says that woman was created by God NOT to have authority alongside man (much less that woman was created with a constitutionally deficient ability in this area). On the contrary, Genesis 1 explicitly states that God gave authority over all the rest of creation to both man and woman without distinction. Please note also that no one is arguing that a woman should be the “head” of the family. Scripture states clearly that the husband is the head of the wife (it does not say he is the head of the family, although the man did have authority over his household according to Roman law and Greco-Roman culture in general). However, Paul does not use “head” in the sense of authority when he speaks of the relationship of husband and wife as an analogy to Christ and the church (see Gordon Fee in Discovering Biblical Equality, ch. 8).

Steve said: Concerning the alleged connection between subordination and "intrinsic inferiority", I have to echo the sentiment that I just don't see it. I served in the Army for several years as an enlisted man. I had many superior officer and NCOs to whom I had to submit. But never once did I feel, nor was I treated, as intrinsically inferior to any of them. I was treated with respect and considered a valuable member of a team. And I don't think that this would have been any different had my subordinate role not been temporary or contingent. There just isn't (as far as I can tell) any logical entailment from "X is subordinate to Y in authority" to "X is less valuable than Y." In fact, it seems that "X is subordinate to Y in authority" could even be consistent with "X is MORE valuable than Y." Using my own example again, some of my superior officers in the Army acknowledged (on occasion) that I was the most valuable member of the team (and the team included the person making such comments). If there really is a logical entailment between subordination and inferiority, then we need a much more rigorous analysis to demonstrate it.

Rebecca’s response: More rigorous than what? More rigorous than the analysis in chapter 18 in Discovering Biblical Equality? It seems that if you are going to dismiss the argument in chapter 18, and assert that woman’s universal subordination (i.e., subordination that is permanent, comprehensive, necessary and unchanging) does not logically entail woman’s ontological subordination, then you need a much more rigorous analysis than an expression of your feelings about having been a subordinate serviceman in the military. This military analogy—which I address in my books along with other analogies offered by complementarians in their attempt to illustrate and justify the “equal in being/unequal in role” construct—is a false analogy. There is no logical entailment of fundamental superiority and inferiority in simply the orderly exercise of authority and submission in various societal and organizational roles. However, man’s authority over woman ramifies beyond the exercise of authority in a purely organizational setting. The man has authority that is established at creation and is inherent to his very nature. Created manhood includes not just a greater exercise of authority but, by logical necessity on account of the nature of man’s creational authority, also a higher moral responsibility before God, a greater power of will, a greater personal agency, a greater honor and importance, a higher rationality, a higher spiritual status, and so on. In short, manhood is thereby a fuller representation of humanness; he is more fully human in the sense of more fully possessing and exercising the essential and uniquely human capacities (i.e., those capacities that distinguish humans from the lower creatures). For more on this see especially pp. 307-310 in chapter 18 of DBE; also Adam Omelianchuk, “The Difference Between ‘A and Not-A’: An Analysis of Alleged ‘Word Tricks’ and Obfuscations, published in Priscilla Papers, vol. 20, no. 1 (Winter 2006), available on www.cbeinternational.org.

Steve’s comment: Also, let me supplement Paul Adams' last comment by saying that anyone who wants to really study this issue should also read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, eds. Piper and Grudem. There are two sides to this debate, after all.

Rebecca’s response: You urge people to read both volumes, as well they should. I wonder, have you read both books? The argument offered in chapter 18 of “Discovering Biblical Equality” requires a close reading if one is to understand it, and one should understand it before one attempts to refute it. The complementarian case for male rule in the church and home depends crucially on the equal being/unequal role construct being logically tenable. If it can be shown to be inherently logically contradictory, as I believe I have shown it to be, then the current patriarchal complementarian view is false, and either women are inferior in both being and function, or women have been given equal authority with men at creation, as well as equal authority in Christ in the new creation.

mike aubrey said...

Thank you, Rebecca, that's a wonderful response. I hope that Steve Cowan will take the time to think through what you wrote and read DBE if he has not.

My wife and I were very impressed when we read chapter 18 several months ago.

I just wish the book was sewn instead of glued, my copies falling apart.

Mike Aubrey (i.e. the Mike that was confused with Mike Austin)
http://evepheso.wordpress.com

mike aubrey said...

while I'm at it, I thought I would add one more thought.

The whole premise that "submission" necessitates an authority structure is itself flawed. The Koine usage of the word was much more flexible than that - something that I've dealt with over on my blog in a book review of Peter O'Brien's Ephesians commentary.

A significant example of this is seen in 1 Clement 38.1-2, where the author writes,

"So in our case let the whole body be saved in Christ Jesus, and let each person be subject (ὑποτασσέσθω) to their neighbor, to the degree determined by their spiritual gift. The strong must not neglect the weak, and the weak must respect the strong. Let the rich support the poor; and let the poor give thanks to God, because He has given the poor someone through whom their needs might be met. Let the wise display their wisdom not in words but in good works. The humble person should not testify to their own humility, but leave it to someone else to testify about them. Let the one who is physically pure remain so and not boast, recognizing that it is someone else who grants this self-control."

This can hardly be argued to be some sort of hierarchical submission. And there are several other examples that could be given.

All that to say that in Ephesians 5.21, there is no linguistic reason to reject the concept of mutual submission as some would argue on the basis of υποτασσω (submit) or ἀλληλοις (to one another).

Doug Groothuis said...

From Rebecca:

Thanks, Mike, for your comments. Last week I was so pleased to see your perceptive summary of chapter 18. So few understand it well enough to restate it so succinctly. Sorry about the Mike mix-up. I initially assumed both Mikes were one and the same, when Doug informed me otherwise. But then Doug told me it was Mike Austin who had made the summary comment, and I just went along with his view without checking. So much for submitting to your husband without thinking it through for yourself!

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Very good response to the original article and the comments, Rebecca. Long time, no talk!

To Steve:

If the complementarian teaching is one where 1) God desires women to use their God-given capacities, and 2) God does not desire women to be pastors/heads of family then it follows that God gifts individuals on the basis of their sex. That is not necessarily controversial. However, it IS controversial when such capacities imply a hierarchy. What we are saying is that this equates authoritative abilities (leading, pastoring, teaching) with nature (male and femaleness). This is problematic because one's nature is the decisive criteria in bringing about one's authority or subordination.

If this logic is applied to your military service, it would follow that you were in a subordinate position because of your "Cowan-ness" and not because of other contingent factors (experience, ability, ect). This is why we in the egalitarian camp find the "equal in being/subordinate in role" construct to be nonsensical." If anything, complementarians need to be more rigorous in their articulation of this idea, or at least admit that women are inferior to men.

Andrew & Kiara Jorgenson said...

We have read the dialogue on this issue of submission and, needless to say, have many thoughts. For those who hold to traditionalist views, I wonder how "complementarian" is understood.

Must a woman with CLEAR and UNDENIABLE teaching gifts compliment her male counterpart, even if he is without such gifts? Must an anointed female leader use her gifts in a complimentarian way only, even if her God-given leadership is compromised in the process?

In addition to the role and nature discussion we MUST take everyday evidence into account. There ARE women clearly gifted in these areas. Strong biblical teaching and godly leadership abilities are given by the Spirit, and the Spirit alone. In refusing to acknowledge this, I fear the "complementarian" calls a much larger work into question.

Paul D. Adams said...

A supplement to Dr. Steve Cowan's supplement.

Dr. Cowan:
Thanks for the pointer to the alternative work on men and women roles. I've read that and trust others will do likewise.

I must ask, in the spirit of equality, have you read the entire work Discovering Biblical Equality? In all fairness, I do hope you will/have. Linda Belleville's chapter is particularly good. I heard her present on her line of exegesis re: 1 Tim. 2:11-15 at the ETS annual in 2000. In addition to my own, it turned not a few heads. I was so glad to see it published in the aforementioned.

Zac Hicks said...

ON DBE, CHAP 18.
Many chapters in DBE are helpful and informative, but 18 was the slam dunk of the book. I had a loving debate with a pastor I worked with over this chapter, and the best he could offer was something hollow with regards to how we can't elevate the use of logic/philosophy above the authority of Scripture. Has anyone else received this rebuttal?

It's frustrating to me, because it acts as a kind of dismissive shut-down to prevent one from engaging the discussion in the first place.

Without convincing counter-arguments, chapter 18 has dealt the most vicious blow to the core of the modern evangelical complementarian construction. Why can't dissenters see that or take it seriously? I long for intelligent response to that chapter from the complementarians, because as of now, their exegetical gymnastics mean nothing, because they're building their house on the shifting sands of a logical contradiction (unless othewise disproven)!

ON BELLEVILLE'S CHAPTER & 1 TIM 2:
I thought Belleville's chapter less convincing than other understandings of that passage. I came away from that chapter sensing the holes that complementarians would poke in her exegesis. A much more convincing historical and exegetical construct (that isn't receiving much attention, yet) is in Philip Towner's NICNT commentary on 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, who teases out the exegetical implications of the important historical research by Greco-Roman guru Bruce Winter (Roman Wives, Roman Widows, Eerdmans, 2003). Please read it!

Paul D. Adams said...

Zac Hicks laments of responses to him along the lines of "we can't elevate the use of logic/philosophy above the authority of Scripture."

I hear this all the time, especially from leaders of churches and, naturally, from congregants as well, who faithfully follow their leaders. Of course, my response to this is that it takes logic to make this claim, in which case I get sneers and jeers. Sad....truly sad. This is nothing short of intellectual cowardice and is at the heart of why Christianity is not taken seriously by non-Christians. Moreover, as you suggest this spirit is behind why others are not taking Chapter 18 seriously (notwithstanding Dorothy Kelley Patterson's review.

Thanks so much for the comments on Belleville's contribution to DBE and the pointer to Winter's work. I've heard N. T. Wright refer to him on several occasions and suppose that I should now put my mind where my mouth is and dig deeper.

Doug Groothuis said...

From Rebecca:

Andrew and Kiara Jorgenson wrote:

“There ARE women clearly gifted in these areas. Strong biblical teaching and godly leadership abilities are given by the Spirit, and the Spirit alone. In refusing to acknowledge this, I fear the "complementarian" calls a much larger work into question.”

Exactly. The spiritual authority that we have as believers is precisely the authority that has become ours by virtue of the work of Christ and our repentance and acceptance of what he has accomplished for us at Calvary. Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, and he has delegated and sent all those who believe on his name to do the works that he did during his short time on earth in the flesh. Now, the Body of Christ is the only physical body on earth that Jesus has to work with. Every believer has been given authority to minister to the world and the church, according to the Spirit’s direction.

It is not just a matter of injustice that the exercise of spiritual authority is being denied women based on the fact of their gender and not their actual giftings and abilities. It is that the whole biblical concept of believers having authority in Christ to do his works as his Body on earth—simply by virtue of their believing in his name—has been almost entirely lost in the church today. As a result, we have lost the power that was so evident in Christ’s earthly ministry and the ministry of the early church. Spiritual authority does not come from the flesh (such as: the flesh of maleness). No, spiritual authority comes from the Spirit.

Paul made it very clear that the mark of the true circumcision is that believers (those who boast in Christ) put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). In Christ there is no merit or privilege or power connected with merely physical qualities (as was the case in the old covenant, especially male circumcision). In Christ, membership in the Body is marked by (gender-inclusive) baptism, not (gender-specific) circumcision. And into what are we all baptized? Into Christ. Now, is the male flesh baptized into all of Christ while the female flesh is baptized into only selected aspects of Christ (omitting the spiritual authority that is in Christ, which he gave to his disciples)? Of course not. And what sort of power and authority did he give to his disciples (specifically the 12 and the 72)? Precisely spiritual power, not authority over people and institutions of this world. Jesus gave his disciples power and authority over demons and disease and all the power of the enemy.

This is the biblical understanding of spiritual authority. Yet the gender war has construed spiritual authority in terms of the power to manage and direct the behavior of people and organizations. To say Christ has delegated spiritual authority to men and not women, and then to define spiritual authority as essentially the business of managing and directing a household or religious institution, is to take the essence of the gospel and squeeze it into the mold of the world.

mike aubrey said...

that's sad.

If scripture is "beyond logic," then how can we even understand it?

Revelation becomes less revealing when we can apply logic to understand it. Logic is fundamental to how we think and thus necessary to any kind of understanding.

The idea of interpretation is based on the concept of a text making sense (i.e. logical). Without that, there is no interpretation of scripture.

Paul D. Adams said...

To Rebecca:

As I read complementarians, they are grounding their argument in a metaphysical presupposition that entails gender having ontological status. For instance, my maleness is at the very heart what I am as created by God. Thus, by virtue of my ontic status as a male, I have spiritual authority over women.

Spiritual authority, so goes the complementarian line, is not grounded in material, "fleshly", physical status. Ergo, could it be, Rebecca, that your argument erects a straw man [(no gender pun intended ;-)]?

The nonsensical statement "Equal in Being, Unequal in Role" cannot rightly be understood unless and until both sides of the debate agree upon the same metaphysical presuppositions, which seems to be at the heart of the debate.

To consider: God created Adam and Eve "male" and "female", which I suggest are essential properties of being human (After all, know of any non-male/female humans?). Seems to me that gender is a necessary property to the ontological status of humanity. If, therefore, gender (among other necessary properties, such as the imago Dei) is essential to the ontological status of all humans, then it follows that humans share the same necessary property, though distinctly expressed as male or female. That all humans share the same property (viz., gender), then it logically follows all humans are on equal footing.

"Authority", on the other hand, whether spiritual or otherwise, is not a metaphysical category, but an epistemological one. Authority ultimately is found in the God of truth (Mt. 28:19; Jn. 14:6), and is delegated by God to others irrespective of gender (Rom. 13:1b; also 2 Cor 10:8; see especially Jude 1:6 where angels, who are non-gendered, had authority).

Doug Groothuis said...

From Rebecca:

To Paul Adams:

My being/role argument (chapter 18) is one of counterfactual entailment: Given the patriarchal complementarian view of gender (i.e., that by God’s act of creation, spiritual authority is constitutive of maleness but not of femaleness), women are necessarily ontologically inferior to men. But since this entailment contradicts biblical teaching, its premise (that God created men and not women to have authority) must be false. Therefore, it cannot be the case that authority is inherent in the male gender (and subordination inherent in female gender). Put differently, authority is not a defining quality of manhood, nor submission a defining quality of womanhood.

And of course, gender is not a component of the divine image in humanity, for the divine nature is not sexual or gendered in any sense. Humans share sexuality with the rest of the physical animal and plant life that God created. Human nature does not share sexuality with the divine nature.

If authority is not inherent in the very soul and being of manhood, then when patriarchal complementarians deem men to have authority solely on account of their gender (which, of course, is determined entirely on the basis of the characteristics of their flesh), spiritual authority is being determined according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit.

But, of course, patriarchal complementarians see man’s authority as given and established by God at creation. However, the Bible does not actually state this to be the case. It does, however, specifically and repeatedly say that the Spirit gives different gifts—prophecy, etc.—to both men and women as the Spirit chooses, and that whoever has been given a gift should use it for the good of the church and the glory of God. What the Bible directly says should have hermeneutical precedence over what some interpreters purport to read between the lines.

The two sides cannot agree on our metaphysical presuppositions concerning the created natures of male and female, because that is at the very heart of the disagreement. But my argument assumes the patriarchal complementarian presupposition and then shows that its logical entailment contradicts the clear biblical teaching on the ontological equality of male and female.

I’m not sure it logically follows that male and female are ontologically equal if they share the same property of gender. All humans share the property of intelligence, yet intelligence comes in different forms: some are superior to others. Similarly, although all humans have gender, this does not rule out one gender being superior to another.

Your last paragraph is an important observation. A key error of the complementarians is to regard authority as somehow inherent in the created being of male humans. But authority (especially spiritual authority) is inherent in God alone. God delegates the exercise of authority to men, to women, and to (ungendered) angels, as he sees fit. Authority resides in God’s Word, not in the gender of the preacher.

mike aubrey said...

To Rebecca (and you can read it too, Doug):

I just went back to take a look at the "review" article of your chapter 18 by The Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I was really hoping for some sort of meaty response.

It is probably needless to say that I was disappointed, There is no engagement with your argument, lots of ad hominem, red herrings and assertions against your conclusions without any argumentation.

I hope that some one will take the time to actually think it through and attempt to give an actual response.

But as far as I can see, they must either admit that A) women are inferior or B)authority is not inherent in men.

Much of this is based on the wrong assumption that submission must entails an authority. Perhaps they see mutual submission as a logical contradiction. Although, my study of scripture (and plenty of others) would suggest otherwise.

Paul D. Adams said...

To Rebecca:
Thanks so much for clarifying your previous comments. I failed to see that you were assuming the presuppositions of complementarians in order to engage the failed logic.

As for a shared attribute not logically entailing equality, you bring up interesting analogies that I must consider in building a case for a biblically responsible and philosophically feasable human ontology. More to chew on.

To Mike Aubrey:
Amen to your observations on Dorothy Kelley Patterson's review of Chapter 18 of DBE. I could hardly get through it without wanting to simply stop reading due to the harsh and insulting tone. Shame on Ms. Patterson for hardly dealing with the arguments and, instead, going for the jugular. Shame!