Woe to those who call good evil...

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. (1Peter 3:1-6)

David and I have mentioned our interest in the proceedings of the "Gender and the Church" conference going on this weekend at our denominational college, Covenant College. Sponsored by Covenant's Kaleo Center, the keynote speakers are Carolyn Custis James and her husband, Frank. The conference web site provides the following credentials for Mrs. James:

Carolyn Custis James is an international conference speaker for churches, colleges, seminaries and other Christian organizations. She is a new voice in Christian publishing with a strong, affirming message for women... Carolyn is President of Whitby Forum, a ministry organization dedicated to helping women go deeper in their relationship with God and to serve Him alongside their brothers in the faith... She is a founder and sponsor (along with Reformed Theological Seminary and Campus Crusade for Christ International) of Synergy conferences--a national gathering of women in seminary and in vocational ministries... During the years between seminary and her present ministries, she had her own business as a computer software developer in Oxford, England. She and her husband Frank (President of Reformed Theological Seminary-- Orlando ) live in Orlando, Florida. They have one college-age daughter.

What "strong, affirming message for women" does Mrs. James provide that is "dedicated to helping women go deeper in their relationship with God... to serve Him alongside their brothers in the faith?" Here's an excerpt from last night's Bible message by Mrs. James...

This excerpt is taken from the web site of a woman in the audience who was completely sympathetic to the presentation:

'Ezer,' the word used for Eve as a "helper" suitable for Adam, is used twenty-one times in scripture. Twice for a woman. Three times for nations. Sixteen times for God. For the references to nations and to God it is used in reference to battles. A better translation of 'ezer' is "warrior."

When God says "It is not good for man to be alone" he creates a 'warrior' to go to battle with him because the man's need was not trivial.

Every woman is a warrior. We are image bearers and we are 'Ezars.'

If you're looking for a wife and you're looking for a woman who will submit, I think you're looking for the wrong thing. You need an 'ezer.' You need a warrior because you're going to have battles to fight.

This is just standard fare from evangelical feminists. It's wrapped up in the spirit of our age and directly contrary to the Word of God. A man who's looking for a submissive wife is "looking for the wrong thing"?

Assuming the report of what Mrs. James said is accurate, did President Nielson, his wife Kathleen, one of the Bible profs, or even Mrs. James' husband correct her when she contradicted the Word of God?

You think that's a joke?

It's not--I'm deadly serious. If the Apostle Paul confronted the Apostle Peter in front of the church for not eating with the Gentiles after "certain men" came up "from James," what do you think he would have done with Mrs. Frank James when she told the young men of Covenant they ought not to desire a submissive wife? He'd have resisted her to her face.

Mrs. Frank James tells the young men of Covenant desiring a submissive wife they're "looking for the wrong thing?"

Has no one heard? There isn't a young man in the church today who would dare acknowledge desiring such a biblical thing in a wife. It's been beaten out of him long ago by women like Mrs. Frank James whose husband is...

What, silent?

Comments

Dear Tim:

Good post. Spread the word.

Just watch...out of this she'll get a special invite to speak at Covenant Seminary's chapel.

I had a seminary professor who used to ask, "Will you lie for God?" If Mrs. James (is that OK or is it "Ms."?) had left it that "ezer" is used in the Old
Testament mostly for God (though once for a rock--1 Samuel 7:12), it might have stimulated some interesting reflections among the subordiantionist fraternity. But she had to stick in that warrior nonsense, which pretty much excuses everyone from taking her seriously.

EXCELLENT post; I get so tired of feminist women preachers. Thanks for sharing this.

-gena
www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/TOSPUBLISHER

I don't know the full context of what she said, and I have no idea who she is, and I'm not a Biblical scholar so I don't know how accurate her translation power is (it is interesting, though), so maybe this is just the contrarian in me speaking, but it seems like she's saying that a Christian man shouldn't be primarily concerned with finding a woman who is submissive in a general sense, a woman who is meek and quiet and mousy and weak, but he should look for a woman who is strong, who can be a co-combatant with him.

I know several pastors who married quiet and meek women, and those women just don't seem to have the stomach for the work their husbands do. I think a woman can be a very strong person but still submit to her husband, and maybe in the case of a pastor, he should marry a strong woman.

Yes, Keith, and maybe the fact that these exact same arguments have been being made for decades now by evangelical feminists who hate submission, who believe in women pastors and elders, and who keep falling into the lesbian trap, has absolutely no implication for what Ms. James means when she uses them. And maybe the spirit of the age is, just this once, benevolent, bringing in the Kingdom of God. Just imagine all the good reasons the Apostle Paul could have come up with to be "understanding" concerning the preferential treatment Peter gave the Jews when he was among the Galatians and spurned the Gentiles.

No matter what other things Ms. James said, this is enough. At a time when the whole world is seeking to turn women into warriors and to end the day of their submission to their husbands, for any Christian institution or church to allow just these few statements to be made is to aid and abet the work of Satan, and only those who despise the gift of discernment could fail to see it.

It's late in the day, dear brother, and if we're to guard the good deposit, we must be capable of seeing and dealing with those who are attacking it.

Good Grief....

This is quite unbelievable.

I must admit that a woman can be submissive and also strong!!! But a WARRIOR??

HA - you hit the nail on the head in your earlier post when you wrote:

"....back in the old days before women became warriors."

Little did we know that God made women warriors from the start!?!?!?

~pw

Tim;

Thanks for being our Azariah on this and not letting it slide. 2 Chronicles 26:16-19

In the spirit of this age, a "strong woman" will be one who is immersed in pride and one who rebels against God's created order and deep down resents God for that order. Our culture might call them "independent", "assertive" "aggressive" "ambitious" "strong willed" and not to be trifled with. Some might even call them "warriors."

Men, having been emasculated by the times and hardened by their own passive cowardice, can only sit by like fattened, docile, house pets and only move or make a whimper on the occasional need to scratch themselves.

I listened to CCJ at GA in Chattanooga last year when she started talking about the "warrior" concept. You have to wonder why before the Fall woman would be called a "warrior" ('ezer) and man wouldn't be. Besides, before the Fall what is the need for a warrior?
To this point, I have found no reputable commentary that translates 'ezer in Gen. 2 as warrior--and this includes English, Dutch, & German.
Rattlesnake 6

Tim, I agree with you, I'm just saying that, based upon this particular evidence that you've put forward, your case wasn't very strong. If I didn't know you, it would seem like you were simply picking nits and bullying a woman who phrased something poorly.

I'm glad you've now posted the other stuff to clarify.

Came across this quote: "Carolyn is her husband's favorite theologian. She is not a kitchen wife. She does not keep house, cook, clean or sew, but she reads an awful lot and often talks to women (and sometimes men) from all over the world about women's struggles within the evangelical church."

There is a link to this quote, but your filters denied it (or my ineptitude, one of those two).

i'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish in this post, since you are more or less misconstruing ms. james message. at no point did she "contradict the word of God." she's trying to understand what it means to be female, and considering that her interpretation of "azer" was sunk in the midst of a powerful discussion of service to christ and his church, i don't think the label of "feminist evangelical" you give her does any thing more than create a straw-women which you can easily knock down. oh, and one more thing, i was the young man she told to not desire a submissive wife. she was being very tongue and cheek when she said that, trying to point out that when that is the first thing a man is looking for in a women, that may be a problem. also that comment came after mr. james had given a chapel talk discussing divorce in the church. he mentioned two divorces cases that came at the same time at a church where he served as elder, both of which were in good part the fault of authoritarian husbands who insisted that their wives be submissive (read passive).

also, mrs. james spoke out against feminism in her talk, so you should look for another label. all the dismay of the people posting comments here is not well founded. seems pretty reactionary to me, and i think y'all might be fighting the wrong battle. i was at most of the kaleo conference and nothing was said out of line with scripture (ordination wasn't even really discussed) or the westminster confession.

Dear Matthew,

Perhaps you could elaborate on your view of what is "out of line with Scripture." For instance, is it out of line with Scripture to ordain women as elders?

Is it out of line with Scripture for women to preach God's Word?

In Christ,

David Bayly

at this point, i'm not sure exactly what is out of line with scripture. i know it is out of line to mis-label your brothers and sisters as being a threat to the gospel when you can't make a strong claim on being sure of what they actually said (such as mrs. james comments on marrying a submissive woman.)

i know that it is out of line with scripture to allow homosexuals, and anyone else caught in sin to have a leadership position at the church.

i know that paul seems to be saying that only men should be elders (a point the kaleo conference was not at all interested in contesting.)

as far as women preaching in church, i heard a few women preach very good sermons at an anglican church last fall while studying in england. i truly do not quite know what to think about that.

what bothers me about what i'm seeing on this blog (this is the first time i've ever looked at it) is the stance taken toward mr. and mrs. james and anyone else who thinks that perhaps the PCA needs to rethink some of its theology and practice concerning the issue of women. at the kaleo conference the issue of ordination wasn't debated. instead much of the discussion focused on working within the pca's current theology to ensure that men and women are able to serve christ. really, that's all. nothing subversive at all.

>at this point, i'm not sure exactly what is out of line with scripture. i know it is out of line to mis-label your brothers and sisters as being a threat to the gospel when you can't make a strong claim on being sure of what they actually said (such as mrs. james comments on marrying a submissive woman.)

Actually it sounds like they were spot on. If she was saying that one of a man's top priorities in looking for a wife isn't her willingness to do as God commanded then that is poor indeed.

>i know that paul seems to be saying that only men should be elders (a point the kaleo conference was not at all interested in contesting.)

Interesting choice of words. "seems" Hard to see how you couldn't just say that that is what Paul is saying.

>as far as women preaching in church, i heard a few women preach very good sermons at an anglican church last fall while studying in england. i truly do not quite know what to think about that.

Well I think we know what Paul would think about that. Or perhaps for yourself what Paul would seem to think about that. Do you think that you judged their quality of work to be so good that God's word should be set aside in this matter?

>what bothers me about what i'm seeing on this blog (this is the first time i've ever looked at it) is the stance taken toward mr. and mrs. james and anyone else who thinks that perhaps the PCA needs to rethink some of its theology and practice concerning the issue of women.

What bothers me is that the PCA is currently housing people who are hostile to its historic beliefs, orthodox Christianity and the Reformed Faith. Most of them haven't the courage to openly fight the matter so we see sly words until they judge that they have sufficient strength. Then we shall see their teeth. Who will be the PCA's Machen?

>at the kaleo conference the issue of ordination wasn't debated. instead much of the discussion focused on working within the pca's current theology to ensure that men and women are able to serve christ. really, that's all. nothing subversive at all.

It sounds as if what was being done was to ensure that men and women are able to serve Christ in a manner that will not offend the spirit of the age.

Dear Matthew,

I can understand your accusation that we are being uncharitable to the Jameses; it's only logical that one who disagrees with us will find us wanting in charity as we declare what we believe is God's Word on the issue.

But may I gently encourage you to come to terms with Scripture yourself on this issue before seeking to deal with leaders who are acting in accord with what they are confident Scripture says?

Meanwhile, I can only respond to such accusations with the response of Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:1-4.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Bayly

"i was the young man she told to not desire a submissive wife. she was being very tongue and cheek when she said that, ******trying to point out that when that is the first thing a man is looking for in a women, that may be a problem*****. also that comment came after mr. james had given a chapel talk discussing divorce in the church. he mentioned two divorces cases that came at the same time at a church where he served as elder, both of which were in good part the fault of authoritarian husbands who insisted that their wives be submissive (read passive)."

Well, I think that vindicates my optimism.

Also, this is interesting:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70179-0.html?tw=rss.technology

Keith, that article was fascinating...and convicting!

i'm realiziing that it's going to be hard to have a meaningful discussion on this blog. i'm 21 and trying to figure out this difficult issue, and i'm being told to keep my thoughts to myself while the leaders deal with the real problems. i'm quite familiar with this whole discussion and i'm not sure why david feels the need to pull rank. when i do state my opinions, i'm told by david gray that they are wrong. all of them. and he does nothing to address my questions. they are real questions. not tools of the spirit of the age.

i've been in the pca my whole life (my dad is a pca pastor) and i am quite familiar with the usual questions on this issue. some think this is a very open and shut issue. others (like myself) aren't so sure. i know all the scripture passages, and yet it all isn't fitting together for me.

i think that to a good extent there is a generational issue in this questions. many of my friends here at covenant have similar questions, and seek to answer them in a way that will be faithful to scripture, build up the church, and strengthen the pca. in a number of ways we are the future of the denomination and hope to be well prepared to address this issue.

here are a couple of particular questions i have:

1) is it ok for a woman to teach sunday school to more than just children?
2) what is a women to do if she isn't a wife or a mother?
3) how do the fruit of the spirit square with the douglas wilsonesque hard man image?
4) on a scale of 1-10, with ten being the most important (ie dual nature of christ and the trinity) and one being least important (ie whether or not to use bulletins), where does the issue of women's ordination stand?
5) so, what does it mean for a women to be submissive to her husband?

Dear Matthew,

Your father is a friend from years back, so it's good to meet you even if only by means of this blog.

I'm in between finishing a class this evening, leading a Bible study early tomorrow morning, and leaving town early tomorrow afternoon, so I apologize for having to be brief in my response.

I've looked through three different summaries of the content Dr. and Mrs. James gave at Covenant College this past weekend, one of which was quite detailed, and it's clear to me that our early quite-limited quote from their content was, in fact, indicative of their content as a whole. For instance, here are the quotes Dr. James used to summarize the history of the church's view of women:

First, he summarized the position of the Early Church as follows:

Origin:
"Women are worse than animals because they are continually full of lust."

Tertullian:
"You are the devil's gateway, you are the first deserter of the divine law, you destroyed so easily God's image: man."

"Mankind, not woman, is made in the image of God."

Augustine:
"I don't see what sort of help woman was created to provide man, if one excludes procreation. If the woman is not given to man to bear children, for what help could she be? To till the earth? If man needed help for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort and solitude. How much better for two men to live together... For woman is not the image of God. Man alone is the image of God."

Roman Catholic Bishops and Laymen:
James referred to a group of Roman Catholic bishops and laymen that voted on the proposition, "Are women human?" He noted their vote was 32 in favor, 31 against women's humanity.

Next, he turned to the church of the middle ages and summarized their position as follows:

Thomas Aquinas:
"A woman cannot be trusted... prudent men, therefore, tell their wives as little as possible about their plans. A woman is a botched male and by comparison with him she possesses a defective nature. In short, one should be on guard against any woman as against a poisonous snake."

Otto of Clooney:
"To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure."

James allowed that not all men despise women. Some really love their wives. And yet, he said, three statements provide a good summary of the reformers' view of women:

-women are dangerous seductresses
-women are by nature inferior
-women are not made in God's Image

Illustrating these views, he quoted Luther and Calvin:

Luther:
"Although Eve was a most extraordinary creature, similar to Adam so far as the image of God is concerned, that is, in justice, wisdom, and happiness, she was nevertheless a woman. For as the sun is more excellent than the moon (although the moon, too, is a very excellent body), so the woman, although she was a most beautiful work of God, nevertheless was not the equal of the male in glory and prestige."

Calvin:
"Woman was created in the image of God but in a second degree."

What was the response of the Covenant College student body, faculty, and administration? One young mother summarized it as follows:

"At this point, the audience was reeling. Yet, as James pointed out, as Christians we are morally obligated to tell the truth even when the truth hurts. In this discussion, we will not be able to make progress unless we tell ourselves the truth. From these quotes, James drew several helpful observations."

"First, history reminds us that all our heroes are flawed. The history of the church is full of examples of heroes with feet of clay..."

"Secondly, history reminds us that we have come a long way on the question of gender. At least we think women are image bearers now! Even better, we are no longer debating whether women are human. Given the history of the church, this is a big deal."

"Third, history reminds us that Christian practice is often better than the principles that have been espoused."

From both the above summary of Dr. James' message, and other summaries I've read of Carolyn Custis James' content--none of which summaries are in any way critical of their content--it's clear that what was posted on this blog early in the conference was indicative of the tone and content of the conference as a whole.

Second, you indicate that Ms. James' discouraged the young men of Covenant from seeking a submissive husband in a larger context; namely, that it was a "tongue-in-cheek" comment. You describe that context as Ms. James "trying to point out that when (submissiveness) is the first thing a man is looking for in a women, that may be a problem."

Regardless of your belief both that this was a tongue-in-cheek statement, and that it had a serious point--namely, that this should not be the first trait you should seek in a prospective wife, Ms. James' plain statement discouraged young men from seeking wives that have a spiritual charism that Scripture commands wives to have. She also discouraged women present from honoring this charism in the way Scripture honors it. Yes, every statement has a context in which that statement must be interpreted, but it is clear to me that the larger context for Ms. James' statement was rather typical feminist rhetoric justified by run-of-the-mill tendentious feminist history.

No student of church history who sought to provide an accurate summary of the early church, the middle ages, or the time of the reformation would look at this summary as an accurate portrayal of our church fathers. So why present an unfair portrayal?

Both by training (BA in history from University of Wisconsin, Madison), and love (the class I taught tonight at the Reformed Evangelical Pastors College was on Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening), I'm a student of history. And as just one example of the tendentiousness of the James' history of our church fathers' teaching on women, let me encourage you to get a copy of Steven Ozment's excellent work, "When Fathers Ruled."

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/OZMWHE.html

This work does a brilliant job of demonstrating from primary sources the honor paid to women and children by pastors and other protestant church leaders at the time of the Reformation. It will quickly demonstrate how perverse it is to summarize this time, and particularly Luther and Calvin, as one more group in a long line of Christian misogyny.

Matthew, let me move away from the lectures given at Covenant College this weekend, back to this blog and the posts we made concerning Carolyn Custis James. If you look through those posts, you will find that very little we wrote had to do with the content of the James' talks at Covenant, largely because those talks were going on as we wrote. Almost all our writing had to do with published statements Ms. James had written, statements that are documented textually, not audibly.

And far more than the reports of what was said at Covenant College, Ms. James' writing is a great concern to us because it does not accurately divide the Word of Truth on this subject. Ms. James' beliefs and practice might be better than what she has written, but it's her writing which has been sent around the world and must be corrected. This is neither hateful nor demeaning, but necessary for the church. Real souls are in danger of being led astray and it is the work of undershepherds of Christ, ordained to the eldership, to carry out that correction--particularly in this day when men and women do not want to put up with sound doctrine, but instead to surround themselves with teachers who will say what their itching ears want to hear.

Finally, you say this might be a "generational" thing.

Likely you're right. Young people today are like young people across history in their need of elders who will guard them from the spirit of the age, correcting and rebuking them with great patience. This is what we have taken vows to do and we do it knowing full well that soon you will be the elder generation warning the young people several generations removed from you. But if you are to do this faithfully, as unto the Lord, you must first learn from your elders. I will pray that God will give you faithful elders who will not themselves cave in to the spirit of the age, but will warn you away from it, and instead toward the narrow path that leads to life and joy.

Few things are more tied to your future joy, for instance, than your marriage. The woman you choose, if you are to marry, will not only be your wife, but also the mother of your children. So you're making the decision that will determine the future contentment and peace of many souls. And just as women, if they're to marry, should be asking God to give them a husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, so men such as yourself should be asking God to give them a wife that submits to their husband as unto the Lord, in everything. Scripture relentlessly pursues both themes and faithful elders and pastors are scrupulous in adhering to Scripture in both its themes and very words.

Be wise, Matthew, and listen to your elders as they warn you away from those who would discourage you from either not seeking such a submissive woman at all, or placing this charism on the back burner of the charisms you seek in a wife.

If, though, you didn't mean this being a generational thing in a positive sense, but rather in the sense commonly used today in which old people are dissed and young people are flattered as being better able to see and acknowledge certain realities older people are blind to, or young people are free to embrace new truths and thus the wave of the future, then I'll bow out of this discussion and let the younger members of my congregation and family take over. I'm sure they have some ideas you'll find helpful.

Regardless of which way you meant it, I remain your friend and, by faith, your brother in Christ,

Tim Bayly

A man or woman identifying himself as "Light" posted a comment beginning with this statement earlier today: "Hmmm, I thought I posted a comment here and now it's gone."

Yes, Light, your comment was removed, and now this one has been removed, also. I sent an E-mail to you explaining why David and I won't allow it, but not surprisingly, you were shooting from the shadows, posting under both a fake name and E-mail address. Thus my message came back to me with a fatal error.

So your comments aren't allowed, now, because you won't identify yourself, because you gave a fake E-mail address, and for the original reason: namely, that you are promoting false doctrine on this site. But David and I have taken vows to guard against false doctrine. This is a pastoral work David and I do, and part of pastoring is judging the character and doctrine of others and silencing those who oppose, not us, but God Almighty.

You are an opposer of God in this area of biblical doctrine, and we will not allow you to use this site to subvert the biblical faith of those who read here.

So for all those reasons, we have silenced you here, and we pray that God will silence you everywhere you seek to rebel against Him through the faithful ministry of those called to guard His good deposit.

Sincerely,

Tim Bayly

That is a sad "history" of church thought on women that was presented, and one I've seen elsewhere on heterodox sites. If we think that all of the fathers and all of the reformers were wrong, then that doesn't say much about how they passed down the deposit, does it? The fact is that none of them are with the egalitarians. And so on one side we have every titan from church history. On the other the egalitarians.

It's not that Matthew's questions are bad, but when someone chops at the root of the tree, you need to go grab the ax. In other words, it's all well and good to ask about the positive calling of women, but first we must get the basic Scriptural teaching straight: women are not to teach or be in authority over men in the church. The fact that men act like buffoons at times is not a reason to set aside clear Scriptural teachings about the order of creation, headship, and submission. That is what is at issue here: are we going to trust God's wisdom or create our own? As Lewis said, "We men make very bad priests. This is because we are insufficiently masculine. It is no cure to call in those who are not masculine at all."

Second, the James should show their cards on this matter. They've hinted at their hand quite well, but come on now, show it. Perhaps the PCA needs to take Samuel Miller's advice, and draft a confession of faith to see who is with them on this.

Matthew,

Thank you for bringing your first-hand comments regarding CCJ and the conference to this blog. It bothered me all day yesterday that someone came in here and dropped the "submission" bomb, out of context, and ignored any of the other good things that might have come out of that conference. Another example of that is demonstrated when your very good questions:

1) is it ok for a woman to teach sunday school to more than just children?
2) what is a women to do if she isn't a wife or a mother?
3) how do the fruit of the spirit square with the douglas wilsonesque hard man image?
4) on a scale of 1-10, with ten being the most important (ie dual nature of christ and the trinity) and one being least important (ie whether or not to use bulletins), where does the issue of women's ordination stand?
5) so, what does it mean for a women to be submissive to her husband?

were all ignored. To me it is inspirational when a young man is wrestling with these issues. I think the very fact that you are ought to give both men and women hope for this next generation of believers.

I, too, had hoped for a good discussion here, as so much of this blog is full of practical, Biblical insight. But the topic of what a woman can and cannot do within the body of Christ seems to be off-limits to that. Practical insight I mean. There was criticism of CCJ for asking questions but not offering solutions but I have yet to see a thoughtful, respectful discussion on the meat of this issue here. To ignore these questions in the church and to respond with things such as Phil Henry's catechism for women, for example, only serves to squelch the discussion, to minimize the importance of those asking the questions, ultimately offending. It is one thing to disagree with someone else. It is quite another to shut down discussion. Whatever happened to the great reformational truth, the concept of the priesthood of the believer, where the Holy Spirit works through every believer, men and women, young and old, elder and layman, to accomplish God's purposes?

An interesting aside.....I have found myself, in the past few days, on the receiving end of someone's anger because I criticized Betty Friedan so I have gotten a good dose of what egalitarian Christian women think. I am not a feminist, I believe in a complimentarian view of men's and women's roles. I do not believe that women ought to have authority over men. I joyfully submit to my husband. I have loved every minute of being a wife and mother. But I think that if I feel maligned on this blog, simply by asking questions, how would this woman or others like her respond? As I stated before, I think much of feminism is a reaction to just this sort of attitude.

One of the other things I pulled out of the conference summaries was Dr. James' concern over the growing problem of divorce among Christians. He told the story of having 6 couples in his church divorce during one year. He attributed many of the marital problems to the authoritarianism of the husbands. This is a problem I am seeing over and over again not only in the relationship of husbands to wives but also between parents and children. These views do, indeed, have far-reaching consequences. As I said before, we can scream "children, obey your parents" saying it is a command, which it is, while we ignore "fathers, provoke not your children to anger". Which is the greater sin?

>Whatever happened to the great reformational truth, the concept of the priesthood of the believer

That would be the priesthood of the believers, not the autonomous individual.

Dear Matthew and Karen,

First to Matthew.

It shows a lot about your character that you were and are willing to come back and continue to dialogue and post after getting a couple of somewhat (and very likely unintentional) dismissive comments in response to yours at the beginning of your post here. I commend you for that.

Next to Karen.

"There was criticism of CCJ for asking questions but not offering solutions but I have yet to see a thoughtful, respectful discussion on the meat of this issue here."

I think that there has been some dealing with the issue. However, it is SUCH a huge issue and SUCH a foundational one that there are many out there (myself included) that are not really wanting to invest the large amount of time necessary to answer all of the issues. Books have been written on the subject, how are we to deal with it in a palatable fashion for a blog?

I am going to attempt to deal with Matthew's questions somewhat in order. I would ask for help from any of the learned readers, most of who will be much more theologically trained than I. If there is any point that I make that is in error or anything that I say that could be expounded upon, please do so.

Matthew, I am of your generation, more or less. I am 30 with a 29 year old wife. We have three boys, one of whom we recently adopted from Africa. I am related to Tim, the host of this blog, as I married his eldest daughter. So you can probably guess where I stand on this issue. It may surprise you, however, to know that this was not always the case. I was raised in an egalitarian home and was committed to that model when I left for college. The Lord was gracious to me, I feel, and allowed me to see, and what is more to accept, the clear teaching of Scripture on this issue.

Here are your questions. Some of which I feel mostly able to answer haltingly, some of which I must pass upon.

1) is it ok for a woman to teach sunday school to more than just children?
2) what is a women to do if she isn't a wife or a mother?
3) how do the fruit of the spirit square with the douglas wilsonesque hard man image?
4) on a scale of 1-10, with ten being the most important (ie dual nature of christ and the trinity) and one being least important (ie whether or not to use bulletins), where does the issue of women's ordination stand?
5) so, what does it mean for a woman to be submissive to her husband?

1) "Is it ok for a woman to teach sunday school to more than just children?"

I think that the issue here must be will this woman have authority over men? Paul says VERY PLAINLY in I Timothy, "1Ti 2:11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 1Ti 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 1Ti 2:13 For it was Adam who was first created, {and} then Eve. 1Ti 2:14 And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 1Ti 2:15 But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (NASB)

Now this seems quite offensive to our Western ears. It appears to put women into a category of second class citizens, does it not? Those who make this argument, however, do not understand Paul's teaching. Men and women are absolutely equal before God in terms of worth, importance, etc. However, we HAVE been created for different roles. Which is greater, the sun or the moon? The sun is more brilliant, lights our day, provides us with energy, etc. You will hear very few that love the sun, however. The moon is the object of our affection as it is soft, beautiful, and full of that which we admire. They are both heavenly bodies, but to compare them in terms of greatness is to compare an apple and an orange. It depends upon the criterion that we use. The fact is that both the sun and moon were created by God...for different purposes. So it is with men and women; equal in status, yet different in roles.

So, back to your question. According to the clear teaching of Scripture, it would be absolutely acceptable for a woman to teach unless involved in that teaching was the exercising of authority over men. The next question that is asked is always, "What constitutes authority?" As has been mentioned in other posts on this blog and I agree whole heartedly with, the teaching of theology is always authoritative. It is impossible to divorce the teaching of Scripture with authority. Do so and I will show you one who is not teaching Scripture. Women, therefore, must, according to Paul, be prohibited (by Paul, not by any man) from teaching men. This does not mean that women do not have anything good to say. My wife is has amazing insight and is often sharing with me or offering opinions to me on how to Biblically view our lives. All of the above posters would agree, I think. It is simply that the Holy Spirit, through Paul, has defined the woman's role in teaching to be that of other women and children. I don't know why for certain and neither does anyone else although you may find some willing to venture a guess. We cannot know the mind of God. We simply know that it is PLAINLY taught to us in Scripture. At this point, we must live by faith and not by sight.

2. "What does a woman do if she is not a wife and a mother?"

To this I would respond with another question: What does a man do if he is not a husband and a father? There are many different roles within the church in which we may all serve. How many churches that you know would not be absolutely thrilled with the offer for more help with the children or the youth? How many new families are greeted with hospitality befitting Christ in our churches? There are a myriad of tasks that each of us can do in service to Christ's bride. This may or may not be what you were driving at with this question, but I will leave it at that for now.

3. "How do the fruit of the spirit square with the douglas wilsonesque hard man image?"

Upon this question I must beg your forgiveness and pass. I am not overly familiar with what you are talking about and rather than conjecture I will allow another of the more equipped readers to answer this one. I will state, however, that any biblical masculinity will be full of the fruits of the Spirit...gentleness included.

4. "On a scale of 1-10, with ten being the most important (ie dual nature of christ and the trinity) and one being least important (ie whether or not to use bulletins), where does the issue of women's ordination stand?"

I would say on this question that it must rank very high. I would say at least 9. Many would express surprise at this "spurious issue" ranking so highly. The difference between this issue and paedobaptism for example, however, is that the issue of woman's ordination is PLAINLY laid out for us in Scripture. In order to "get around" the I Timothy passage that I quoted above, one is reduced to saying "Paul didn't mean it," or "Paul was addressing a different age," etc. In order to not apply this passage to the debate, you are attacking the very root of inspired Scripture and inerrancy. If this passage does not apply, we are reduced to picking and choosing which passages of Scripture do and do not apply to us in this age. Upon whose authority do you do that?

If I Timothy and Ephesians 5 do not apply, then I might as well throw my Bible away. This is the real difficulty of the Christian life. At some point (really at many points) one comes up against things in Scripture that are contradictory to the way in which he lives his life. A decision must be made here, do I live by faith or by sight. Do I do that which seems right to me, or do I trust that the Lord's way is the way of life and conform my life, thought, and actions to Scripture?

Or course, this, like anything, is subject to abuse. If you don't support the US military, or are not a patriot, you must not be a Christian, etc. We must, however, go back to Scripture on these issues. If a clear case is made from holy inerrant Scripture, then we must conform to it. There are many things that we do not have clear direction on (see paedobaptism, which I do hold to, by the way.) However, the issue of women teaching men is expressly forbidden by God Himself. It is not unclear.

5. "So, what does it mean for a woman to be submissive to her husband?"

Wow, could you ask a broader, more intimidating question next time, please? :) I am out of time to write here, so I am not going to address this one right now and ask that someone else take up where I have left off. Sorry to have to sign off in the middle, but I have a meeting that I must get to. I will try to continue later if no one takes up the baton.

I read this dialogue on the blog and remember much of my own history in struggling through and working out these issues. I pray for each of us that the Holy Spirit would give us wisdom in looking at this and all other issues. May He who is able guard the deposit that He has given us until that day.

Warmly your brother in Christ,

Doug Ummel

i greatly appreciate the responses i've received from tim, karen, and doug. i realize that i've basically dropped these enormous questions into a group of people who are fairly settled in their opinions, and who may not be particularly interested in addressing the issues i'm interested in. so thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

to tim: mrs. james was not doing anything to undermine the scriptural position on submission. i had asked her what she thought it meant. she responded that it isn't so much a situation that shows up from time to time when there is a conflict, and there has to be a tie-breaking vote. i think she said positively that submission is something along the lines of the wife embracing all that her husband is about (ie encouraging and helping him in his ambitions, tasks, etc.). while i'm not entirely sure what she meant by this, it seems clear that she took positive meaning out of the passage, and wasn't suggesting at all that this is not a biblical characteristic of a wife. like i said before, her quip that men should not be first and foremost looking for a submissive wife was said in a context where submissive was equated with passive, which isn't her view at all (nor any of ours, i hope).

second, your view of the reformers and women is the same conclusion mr. james made. you mention the ozment book, which "does a brilliant job of demonstrating from primary sources the honor paid to women and children by pastors and other protestant church leaders at the time of the Reformation." i think dr. james actually mentioned ozment (he referenced a harvard historian) positively. and he made the same conclusion about the reformers, most particuarly luther, treating their wives well. he added, though, that some of their theological teachings were not so strong. he simply quoted a number of theologians. the case isn't too hard to make that the church has often struggled to correctly understand the nature of women, and he was interested in bringing that before us. a good part of his talk focused on luther and augustine and how their theology and practice didn't quite match up concerning women (which in this case may have been a good thing). also, james has a phd in history from oxford, so he seems a worthy judge.

third, concerning my statement that this is a "generational thing," i'm mainly trying to highlight that in my experience, people over the age of forty can't see what all the fuss is about, while those my age feel like a lot of work needs to be done. take that how you will. i'm definitely not dissing my elders.

to doug:

thanks for your answers. they are concise, thoughtful, and rooted in scripture. concerning question 1), you seem to be saying that women shouldn't teach men theology. would you limit that to the church, or does that extend to, say, the classrooms at covenant college?

on question 2, this is where i have some major issues. i'm thinking particulary of the post on philuptheblog which states that scripture teaches that "women are called not to be profession or vocational theologains but mothers and wives." my question is what are women supposed to do with their lives if they are either single or do not have children? this was a question informing mrs. james's view, because she found herself unmarried for ten years after graduating from college, and she also fought and lost a battle with infertility (i think they adopted a daughter). this really struck me because in pca circles we tend to think, whether we realize it or not, that a whole person is a married person. we tend to ignore paul's comments in first corinthians 7 that it would be better if not so many were getting married. i think that it is upon this issue that many of the questions are being raised. if you are not assuming that all women ought to be both mothers and wives, then i think you will have some questions about the thought and practice of the pca. if you do assume that all women ought to be mothers and wives, then i can see why a number of people don't think that there is a problem with the current positions. these different paradigms are going to lead to different questions and different answers, even while examining the same scripture. the pca doens't tend to talk about gender in relation to single people, assuming that most everyone ought to be married before too long. i think that i'm operating out of a perspective that thinks that women should not be expected to be just wives and mothers, mainly because i know that it is not the case that all women will enter into these roles. and even when they do enter into them, they will not be raising children their whole lives, and in many cases they will be widowed at the end of their lives. that's a lot to say, but i think it is a major methodological question guiding the jameses and myself. is this wrong?

on question 4, i think i see where a lot of the contention comes from. it seems like more than anything, the contributors to this blog see this as an issue on the authority of scripture. all i'll say now is that i've come across a number of christians with very high views of scripture who read the passages mentioned differently/choose to focus their attention elsewhere. so may be this isn't the slippery slope it's often presented as being. i'm not taking a position at all on ordination, i'm only saying that you could probably sign the chicago statement on inerrancy, be a five point calvinist, adhere to the westminster confession, and still think it alright for women to be ordained. one of my professors here brought this 1-10 rubric to my attention. he said that we sometimes elevate certain discussions (and become contentious) to a higher significance than they deserve, and thereby downplay the most important things.

to anyone: i would appreciate recommendations on where to look for a good answer on what submission means.

Doug,

Thanks for bringing some discussion to this very important topic. Your responses were thoughtful and thought-provoking.

I had stated earlier that I think it would be great if we could talk about all the things a woman can do in the church rather than what she cannot do. Matthew brought up something else that is interesting....is women not teaching men for outside the church as well? I am wondering this because several years ago I was asked to be a presenter at a workshop at a PCA Mercy Ministries Conference because of my background work in post-abortion ministry. I had written a Bible study to be used in the church (this is where I think this ministry belongs, btw) and from a reformed perspective. After reading here, I had two concerns:

1) was it improper for me to speak at a conference workshop when there were men present (I believe that pastors and deacons need to embrace the idea of post-abortion ministry in the church)

2) in my last chapter, I list ministry options for women to consider as they are matriculated back into the body of Christ after the counseling. I have many things on my list that I imagine might not be approved of here....choir director, for one example. If a woman directed the choir and led a devotional would that be acceptable or does that fall under the "women teaching men" prohibition.

Do you see that this isn't such an easy issue even among those of us who love God's word and want to obey all the commands of Scripture.

Matthew, as far as submission is concerned, it is not something that you can make someone do. It is only something that someone does willingly. It is like having children who obey. You cannot make them obey, you can make them conform to certain behaviors. But obedience, as well as submission, comes from the heart. You do want a wife who is submissive. I believe you also want a wife who one anothers you in all the one anothers of the Word. When you, as the husband, one another her, she will joyfully do it right back at ya!

Here's a Gen-Xer's view of things...

"i've basically dropped these enormous questions into a group of people who are fairly settled in their opinions, and who may not be particularly interested in addressing the issues i'm interested in. so thanks for taking the time to answer my questions."

Only in the sense that Chesterton said, that an open mind must close on something.

"james was not doing anything to undermine the scriptural position on submission."

Again, she should show her cards, because a lot of it is stuff seen before by people with an agenda (e.g. lists of quotes on what a bunch of misogynists the fathers were). One thing that's key to understand is that WE are biased culturally too. When we come up with an idea that pretty no one in the history of the church held before 1850 (really until the 20th c), it is very likely that WE are wrong.

"a good part of his talk focused on luther and augustine and how their theology and practice didn't quite match up"

That's the story of my life, too. I'm a pathetic sinner. But that does not change what the Bible says.

"third, concerning my statement that this is a
'generational thing,' i'm mainly trying to highlight that in my experience, people over the age of forty can't see what all the fuss is about, while those my age feel like a lot of work needs to be done."

There were many things I thought needed to be done when I was 21, and now I feel the opposite on many of these things. This is not to despise your search, but just to say that there is a reason why elders are put in positions of authority.

"What are women supposed to do with their lives if they are either single or do not have children?"

Single people have always been with us, and always will be. I was one until ~age 30. Some are called to it for the long term, although in my experience most are not. And a lot of times (from personal experience) singles unintentionally become second-class citizens in churches. But this doesn't change the main point, that women should not be in authority within the church or teaching men (I believe that extends that to seminaries because it is theological instruction; some complementarians may differ on that). As to what women can do, well, pretty much everything else! Too many things to list here. It almost seems to me a case where some are so focused on the forbidden apple that they are wilfully disregarding the tasty fruit on all the good trees. I've done a bit of teaching, but most of the other thigns I've done could have been also done by a woman. Many were involved alongside me.

"it seems like more than anything, the contributors to this blog see this as an issue on the authority of scripture."

Correct.

"All i'll say now is that i've come across a number of christians with very high views of scripture who read the passages mentioned differently"

They are going against 1850 years of scriptural interpretation. And the reason this was so solidly held for so long is because it's obvious in Scripture to those who aren't torturing the passages.

"you could probably sign the chicago statement on inerrancy, be a five point calvinist, adhere to the westminster confession, and still think it alright for women to be ordained. one of my professors here brought this 1-10 rubric to my attention."

Yes, you can, but... look at the history of churches that ordain women. Not good. Keep in mind, Matthew, that this issue is contentious because egalitarians are actively pushing it in the churches. The complementarians didn't "start" the fight. So it's a matter of riding to sound of the guns (or more accurately, there is lot of noise coming from that wooden horse). The Baylys have been courageous and consistent about pushing this, I'm sure because of past affiliations but also they are convicted that it's time to stand up on this issue. Not many are today; it's not a popular stance.

The pastors on here are more competent to answer your question about submission than I could ever be, but an old pastor of mine told me it was my responsibility to lead and guide my wife in both spiritual matters, and also to be the final decision maker. She doesn't call me to ask what she should eat for lunch, but I decide if we're going to buy that new Lexus... ok, Toyota. I believe that I am going to answer to God for how I've done in guiding her... which is often not a pleasant thought, by the way.

Sorry for the long ramble, but hopefully that helps in a small way.

"What are women supposed to do with their lives if they are either single or do not have children?"

As a single, childless 38-year-old woman who has already struggled through understanding many of these issues, my goal has become to be the sort of woman who would make a really good wife and mother even if I never get to be one. (Alas, I've got a lot of catching up to do.) I am still responsible for keeping my home a clean and welcoming place, for being hospitable, for washing the feet of the saints, for developing mothershood skills by being a servant to mothers in my congregation and by developing relationships with their children, and as long as I must work to support myself, for being a reliable, diligent employee. (Did I mention I have a *lot* of catching up to do?)

Finding appropriate ways to serve in my church is relatively simple, because we don't weigh ourselves down with a kazillion programs that aren't mandated by Scripture (I'm being polite and not calling them extra-biblical, but some would). In the past year (I joined the congregation last May), for instance, I have taught a number of girls and moms to crochet, updated the church directory, made meals and cleaned for several families in times of need, and done weekly Communion prep (baking bread, buying wine, setting up the elements) for two months. Informally, I have prayed, encouraged and exhorted friends young and old, taken a group of young ladies to the movies, read picture books to little ones, and taught some young sisters the Important Art of Making Snickerdoodles. There's lots more I want to do, especially opening my home to show hospitality and offering babysitting services.

I've also learned what a very great joy it is, upon entering someone's home, to hear shouts of "Miss Valerie's here!" and get bombarded with hugs from a passel of petite people. Note that I am someone who used to avoid working with children because I didn't think I was gifted to do so!

When a church has a kazillion "ministries" to choose from, working with children often becomes one option among many available projects rather than a calling of every member of the congregation (like most Presbyterians, we vow at every baptism to assist the parents in raising the baptized child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord). Who'da thunk: children aren't just projects, but actual people with whom to build loving relationships!

Some Reformed folks have an idea that will seem more radical to most of us: they believe that unmarried women should be staying in their father's household, under his protection and provision, supporting him in his calling until such time as God gives them their own household. Reading the Old Testament, in particular, we see the assumption that every woman belongs to some man -- usually her father or her husband, sometimes her brother or another male relative -- not as chattel, but as a his to provide for and protect and love. For instance, when Boaz meets Ruth, he asks "Whose young woman is this?" Ruth's tragic situation at the moment is that she is no one's young woman, and the happy ending of the story is that she becomes Boaz's young woman. That's a bit of a tangent, but something that ought to inform our understanding of this topic and strive to conform ourselves to the Bible rather than to the culture. It's also important to note that this belief is not so much about what godly women should do as about what godly men should do, and until the men step up to the plate, the women will not always be able to attempt the ideal.

Another thing a single, childless woman can do: have conversations in which she informally shares her understanding of such matters. But I know at least one who's spent too much time writing this and has to get on to other tasks! ;-)

I was at the Kaleo Conference and I believe that Caroline Custis James has been misquoted. In her comment about men not looking first for a wife who is submissive, she thoroughly explained herself, saying that men SHOULD be looking for a woman who will be a "strong helper," who will support him and challenge him, not remain silent on issues and not join with him to make decisions. She was condemning false understandings of "submission," to replace it with a biblical one. Hopefully we would be encouraged at this endeavor. She was not throwing out submission at all. Please feel free to order the sound recordings from the conference in order to hear her entire address so you can hear her comment in its context. I believe it will be available at www.covenant.edu. Any quote can be severely misunderstood if taken out of its context.

Further, it seems like her interpretation of the word "ezer" as warrior has just been ridiculed rather than refuted. Is it really a problematic translation? She pointed out that most of the uses of the word in the OT refer to God when he is helping his people in time of military trouble. Can any Bible scholars help in this area?

>Can any Bible scholars help in this area?

Do you mean like the pastors whose blog this is?

Yes, that's who I mean.

Matthew,

I'm a 24 year old single male who is finally finishing up my undergraduate education here at Indiana University. I've been sitting here for about 20 minutes staring at the computer screen and trying to figure out how to respond to your last question:

"to anyone: i would appreciate recommendations on where to look for a good answer on what submission means." I am glad you have asked it, because it is the central issue of the current discussion. What does submission look like, not only for women and wives, but for men and fathers?

Now, as young men, we ought to search our own hearts when we question our elders and pastors in ways that you are doing now, and that I've done in the past. Remembering Jeremiah 17:9, we must question our motivations. I would encourage you, dear brother, to consider the following question: are you so uneasy about these posts regarding the submission of women because you yourself are not willing to submit to the authorities over you? We have been focusing on submission as it pertains to women in these posts, but submission is a relentless theme in Scripture for all of us. You might as well ask what submission means... for you.

If you're looking for examples pertaining to women submitting, I would strongly encourage you to carefully examine the difference between Valerie (three posts above my own) and Carolyn Custis James. I'll admit that I've never met the woman, but it seems that Mrs. James is unhappy with her lot in life, and has decided to make a principle of carefully justifying herself when she wants to do things her own way. Valerie, on the other hand, has done the gut-wrenching work of seeing the incongruities between her own life and the commands of scripture, and then submitting to scripture. She has chosen to trust the plain words of God on this issue. By the grace that God has given to Valerie - and I've never met her, either - we have been given a picture of what it looks like for a single woman to submit to scripture.

And this, dear brother, is where this discussion impinges upon your own soul: are you willing to submit to the plain teaching of scripture on these issues? I challenge you to grab your bible and look up every reference to wife, wives, mothers, women and woman in the New Testament and see what Holy scripture has to say about the issue. And remember, this is not just some academic, philosophical debate (as much as I love those myself, trust me), it is real life, and the stakes are very, very high.

In Christ,

Lucas Weeks

>Yes, that's who I mean.

I think they have already indicated that the translation is problematic.

dave

i want to point out a few things about my posts which i don't not think i have made clear enough. first, i am not trying to disrespect or ignore elders, older people, and anyone who has settled this issue in their minds and hearts. my comments were merely describing my own experience. if i were not interested in hearing what authorities said on this issue, i would not be posting on this blog. and i would probably leave the pca. but i am posting, and i don't plan on ever leaving the pca.

second, at no point have i said that i think that women should be ordained. i'm actually not too interested in that debate. what troubles me is that it seems that by the very fact that i having questions on the issue of gender and the church, many people on this blog assume that 1) i have a low view of scripture, 2) don't care about our theological tradition, and 3) really want to get women ordained. none of these assumptions are correct. i'm more interested in exploring the resources within scripture and our own traditions in order to help me (and some of my friends) to answer the questions i have. instead i'm being told that i'm not submitting to authority and that, basically, i should just keep my mouth shut. i was hoping for a discussion which both helped me to understand the issue of gender and the church, and which was personally edifying. i've found a decent amount of the former, and not enough of the latter. if the pca is not going to allow its younger members to ask hard questions, then we, the younger members, are not going to have the answers when the same questions are asked of us.

third, i'm not uneasy about the posts concerning submission because i have a thing against authority. i'm uneasy first because mrs. james is being misrepresented (see stephanie's post for a clearer explanation of this than the one i gave), and second because i'm not sure what submission means.

Jack's Pipe said: "this issue is contentious because egalitarians are actively pushing it in the churches. The complementarians didn't "start" the fight. So it's a matter of riding to sound of the guns (or more accurately, there is lot of noise coming from that wooden horse)"

I think that feminism, inside or outside the church, is more of a reaction than a movement all by itself. Could you prove how you might disagree with this, Jack's Pipe?

>I think that feminism, inside or outside the church, is more of a reaction than a movement all by itself.

Do you mean in the sense that is a reaction by a proud and sinful nature to revealed truth?

David, she means, of course, that it was a reaction to oppressive men.

Also, is there any context where the quotes above from the church fathers are defensible?

Gilli,

This is Jonathan Crum, room 211

I hope you haven't given up on this site. Tim Bayly is my pastor (so THAT"S why I'm so messed up) and a good friend and a father. I know that if you ask a question you will get an answer.

It may not be the answer you want, but both Tim and David (as well as the multitudes that comment on this blog site) are speaking from their knowledge of Scripture.

But it seems to me that you already know the answer to one of your questions. You said yourself that the Bible does not allow women to be ordained as elders in the church, and elsewhere we are told that a woman is not to exercise authority over a man.

Though the Anglican ministers you heard were excellent in delivering the Word of God (they may be better than any man you've heard preach) you should not give up the Scripture on the basis of personal experience.

The question has nothing to do with how well the preaching is, but how it conforms to the truths and commands of Scripture.

I'll see you in a month. Hope school is going well.

David,

What I meant is that I belive that much of the feminism inside and outside the church comes as a reaction to things that men have done.

For example, there was a time when it wasn't unacceptable, even within the church, to spank a wife. Perhaps there are even readers here who think that is ok. I can even remember reading in World Mag a couple years ago about elders in a church who spanked women. And, of course, in watching I Love Lucy reruns or John Wayne/Maureen O'hara movies, it was not only acceptable but amusing. For women to react to that, especially if they have ever been beaten by a husband, is understandable. Your question to me implies that those in authority are always the keepers of revealed truth. I am saying that that isn't always the case.

I will give you another example. I have spent time in our crisis pregnancy center counseling women who have made really bad life choices. Of course their choices are bad and they really don't need me to point it out. But if I were to approach them with a finger pointing and calling them "baby killers" for aborting a child, which is, in fact what they are, I will loose the right to minister to them. Instead, as I build a relationship with them and take them through a Bible study, I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in the truth as I gently lead them.

This, David, is how a real man treats a woman, with graciousness, gentleness, not lording it over her because she is a woman.

The very way you responded to my question for Jack's Pipe proves my point.

Karen, it's hard to prove a negative, but I have no doubt that many women are attracted to feminism because of life experiences. Submission is a difficult concept when you have an unreasonable husband, just like loving an unkind wife would be difficult. But we don't counteract sin by responding with sin. Regardless of why people are attacking Scripture, they need to be met and defeated. Complementarians are coming out against people in the church who are attacking Scripture. A pastor cannot reverse all of the effects of sin in the world; people are messed up. But pastors are to guard the deposit, especially where it is under assault.

One more thought for Matthew: For a "Doug Wilsonesque" understanding of submission and headship, I would highly recommend Volume 5 of his "Marriage as Manifest Glory" series ( http://www.canonpress.org/shop/item.asp?itemid=871 ). It might also answer your question (which I'm not sure I understand, so I won't try to answer it) about the fruit of the Spirit and Mr. Wilson's views of manhood. If you can't afford the 23 bucks, contact me (click on my name to find my e-mail addy on my website), and I'll send you a copy.

A few thoughts:

First, about submission. The observation that CCJ brings up in her article in "ByFaith" is that there is an influx of women who are graduating with undergraduate degrees in Biblical studies, going on to pursue seminary degrees in theological studies, and are fully equipped to use these gifts in church ministry. Her point is that the PCA needs to be aware of these women, their gifts and training, and should be very interested in using their gifts to benefit the body of Christ. While the Bible talks about submission of wives to husbands (which we have established already requires some study to really understand what that means), I do not believe that a proper understanding of "submssion" by women (whether married or single) would be necessarily for them to lay aside their training and gifts in order to do nursery duty, organize potlucks, or decorate the church. These duties are important and there are many who have wonderful gifts in these areas. However, the body of Christ does not work well when some of its members' gifts are not being encouraged and used. It is not about women gaining more recognition, power, authority, or influence. It is about the body working well together.

Second, about Matt's question concerning Mr. Wilson's view of manhood and the fruits of the spirit. I believe he is referring to a chapel talk that Dr. James delivered last week. Dr. James' topic was "biblical manhood." He encouraged men (and women) to look first at the fruit of the Spirit in order to learn about manhood (and womanhood). Patience, gentleness, and kindness are not "female" qualities, they are Christian qualities. Before we are male or female, we are Christians. If our view of manhood (often thought of as "hard" and "tough") comes into conflict with the fruits of the Spirit, then we should probably reconsider our view of manhood.

"there is an influx of women who are graduating with undergraduate degrees in Biblical studies, going on to pursue seminary degrees in theological studies, and are fully equipped to use these gifts in church ministry"

Karen, I think this points to an area in which the church has gotten confused by the culture. We are used to professional training in essence giving someone the authority to practice in a certain vocational field (an M.D. allows someone to practice medicine, for instance). But degrees do not equip people for ministries to which thay have not been called by God. The point many here are making is not that women can't be smart enough or educated enough or knowledgable enough for this role or that, but whether, according to God's Word, a given role is lawful for them according to God's design. By analogy, it would be like spending time and money to get trained as a deep-sea diver, and then complaining because I couldn't practice those skills in arid, landlocked Arizona -- God simply did not design the world that way.

"If our view of manhood (often thought of as 'hard' and 'tough') comes into conflict with the fruits of the Spirit, then we should probably reconsider our view of manhood."

Again, I'd recommend Mr. Wilson's sermon series for a solid understanding of what headship and submission are and are not. Or if either of you has a more specific example of a conflict you see between masculine toughness and the fruits of the Spirit, perhaps someone could address that, but in general, I don't see the conflict, so I can't speak to it.

D'oh! I'm sorry, Stephanie...I looked at your name, and still typed "Karen" because Karen has posted a few times on these threads. Please forgive my carelessness.

>The very way you responded to my question for Jack's Pipe proves my point.

You've set the bar far too low then...

>Your question to me implies that those in authority are always the keepers of revealed truth.

BTW, not the case. Just that feminism is inherently hostile to a biblically ordered creation.

Stephanie,
I think Valerie did a great job of answering your main concerns. Practically speaking, I always get comfused when issues over what women are to do in the church gets raised. I've never personally known a woman to feel she wasn't able to find an area in the church to use her gifts. I do have to admit to being offended by your dismissal of all of the nuts and bolts of the running of the hospitality of a church. What kinds of gifts and training do you think are being laid aside to do nursery duty? I would venture that any gifts and training you have could be used in this area, and that even more importantly, you could be learning much yourself, and serving yours sisters in the church by allowing the mothers to actually be in worship. What does God call women to in the church? One specific action is for the older women to be teaching the younger women to love their husbands and their homes. I think we can learn two things from this command; first, maybe at certain ages in our lives, we would be better off learning than teaching; second, there's always someone younger in the church and always a way to be helping someone through the hurdles you've already passed.

I think the only women feeling their gifts can't be used in the church are those who have too high a view of themselves and their gifts and training. A women who has graduated from seminary may feel her training would be wasted on the very young. I would strongly beg to differ. Theology is a big picture. You have to understand the whole in order to explain the parts (especially simply enough for a child to grasp.) I don't think I've ever felt as inadequate in my grasp of theology as when my four-year-old asks questions and I can't figure out the answer. I was a Bible major at Taylor University with a minor in Christian Education and graduated 7 years ago.

I recently visited a church and spoke with the pastor's wife for a time. I walked away wondering what was wrong with our conversation and then realized I was comparing her with my mother, also a pastor's wife. I realized that my mother is half of what makes my parents' church what it is. I wonder if you asked many of the members of the church whether their allegiance lay more with my mother or my father what they would say. My father is the one who teaches, the one who's seen and known. My mother is the one who organizes potlucks, serves younger mothers by serving in the nursery (frequently), invites almost every guest to the church over for lunch after church at some point, asks newcomers questions, makes people feel comfortable, makes sure there's a youth program, helps my father with counseling and lends a woman's wisdom, makes sure the needy in the church have someone to celebrate holidays with, counsels young women in the church. I could go on and on. Oh and I forgot, is speaking at a woman's retreat in a couple of weeks and speaks at women's functions in the church. Are these just simple gifts she has? Why is it I've yet to meet a pastor's wife in my area with any of these gifts? Is it because they're too busy working, getting their master's degrees, finding their own niche and name away from their husbands? Is it because they have different training? Where are the women who are willing to read the Bible and embrace their calling? They're quiet. They tend to be behind the scenes. I'm not saying this because it is necessary for them to be so, I'm saying this is the reality. Women who aren't struggling with God's view of them aren't taking on the feminists because they're too busy FOLLOWING God's call for their lives. I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids, I am planning on homeschooling because of the lack of good schooling options in our area, and I doubt I'll ever be invited to address the student body at my alma mater. They're not interested. But they should be. I WILL be using my degree from Taylor. I am using it to train the next generation (ie raising a godly seed.) Not an easy task, by the way.

I hope I've made some sense here and I hope you can get a glimpse outside of the narrow focus you usually have while in college. Go talk to the most godly women you see in your local church there. If you don't know who they are, look around. I can guarantee they will seem at peace, they will be smiling and serving. Ask them what their gifts are and how they use them. Learn.

That's my wife, everybody! :)

Ain't she somethin'?

Is she your favorite theologian? ;-)

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