Governor Palin and the order of creation...
Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed. (Chrysostom, Homily on Titus 2:14).
(Tim) In other discussions on this blog of Governor Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President, someone left a link to a piece by Dr. Al Mohler commending the leadership of women outside the church and home--as long as the dishes are done and the diapers changed first, that is. Front end, I want to say that I have great appreciation for Dr. Mohler's leadership, particularly as it pertains to God's order of sexuality.
And yet, here is the heart of his argument:
The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility. I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture. Then again, that presupposes that women -- and men -- have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.
The New Testament does not clearly speak to the complementary roles of men and women (in) roles of public responsibility and women as CEOs and government officials "are no affront to Scripture." Yet here's what the Apostle Paul writes in that same New Testament to which Dr. Mohler refers:
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:12-15)
Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul declares he does "not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man." Why this prohibition?
Two reasons: First, because God established a Creation Order when He created Adam first and then Eve; and second, because Adam was not the one deceived, but Eve was deceived and fell into transgression.
According to the Holy Spirit speaking in the Word of God, we are not to "allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man" because of the Creation Order and the Fall. So says the New Testament.
When I served as the Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I tired of those halfway covenant men who showed great zeal to defend the creation order where it maintained the male prerogative in the church and home, while dismissing it Monday through Saturday, everywhere else. Are the Fall and Creation Order really meaningless outside the church and home? Are they really immaterial everywhere else? Does it really not matter a whit that Sarah Palin is a woman?
Yes, I can hear the response: "Of course it matters, but not the way you say. The Creation Order and the Fall have nothing to do with a woman serving as Commander in Chief, Supreme Court Justice, or President. The New Testament never addresses such positions. Adam being created first and Eve being deceived have no--I repeat, no--application to life outside the church and home."
Conveniently, this leaves intact the two-wage household as well as higher education degrees and jobs worthy of reformed believers' social class.
We don't really think the deceitful effects of our great wealth are absent from this debate, do we?
Thus the order of creation becomes a private conviction for Christians only, practiced in the narrow confines of church and home with complete freedom and androgyny of leadership everywhere else.
This is convenient for a time when "not many" has morphed into "almost all:"
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. (1Corinthians 1:26-29)
If we're to take an honest look at this sea-change in the exegesis of Scripture on this subject, we must be aware of how convenient it is for those of us wanting to live a godly life in Christ Jesus while hanging on to our status or money. Such a posture keeps the money flowing into our temples to education and allows every person in our congregations to have a high enough household income to afford the lifestyle that will assure us that... That what?
That the next PCA church plant will be in our neighborhood.
Please allow me to state the obvious: This exegesis of Scripture wouldn't be understood by fathers in the faith who lived before the middle of the twentieth century. Prior to then, everyone understood there's no conflict between the Old and New Testaments concerning the connection between sexuality and authority. Everyone understood the Old and New Testaments speak with one voice testifying that this connection between sexuality and authority has been perpetually fixed by God in the order of His creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden. No one thought John Knox was wrong.
My friend, Doug Wilson, pointed me to this summary of prevailing convictions among the Reformers by C. S. Lewis. Discussing Knox's Monstrous Regiment... and the embarrassment it caused the Reformers, Lewis explains it this way:
It was embarrassing because in a certain sense nearly everyone (except regnant queens) agreed with Knox. Everyone knew that it was contrary to natural and divine law that women should rule men . . . Calvin knew as well as Knox... Bullinger thought the same... No one wanted the thing to be said, yet no conscientious doctor could answer it in the resounding style which alone would satisfy Queen Elizabeth. No woman likes to have her social position defended as one of the inevitable results of the Fall." (C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 199-200.)
"Everyone knew that it was contrary to natural and divine law that women should rule men." Why?
"Adam was created first, and then Eve." Nothing confusing there--nothing at all.
It's strange Dr. Mohler would single out the New Testament. It's as if he's been hanging around those men who talk about the spiteful and angry God of the Old Testament giving way to the compassionate and loving God of the New Testament, and he now thinks the principal emphasis needed in explaining the relationship between the Old and New Covenants is discontinuity. But of course, Dr. Mohler is no dispensationalist, nor does he need instruction in the character of God or the justification by faith of Abraham as well as the Apostle Paul. He's got these doctrines nailed and would do a better job than I of explaining them. So why did he single out the New Testament in his statement of support for women serving as the civil authority?
Because he couldn't say the same about the Old Testament.
Here's a little inconvenience found in Isaiah where God Himself proclaims the curse on His people, that they will be led by women:
O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
Some suggest the curse is that God's people will be led by men lacking the male principle--what today we'd refer to as pantywaists, wusses, or wimps. Not that they would be led by biological women. But what does this suggestion accomplish for the modernist exegete intent on advocating women as civil authorities?
If Isaiah is simply saying God's people will be cursed by leaders who act like women--men who have no courage, that is--what is the nature of that curse or shame? Is it simply that whichever sex rules Israel, the members of that sex need to rule in a way that is congruent with their physiology? Women in civil authority should be sure to be feminine, and men masculine?
Of course not. Even if this interpretation were the correct one, it only makes sense if it's shameful for effeminate men to rule. But then, where does that leave us?
Well, back at the Creation Order which forbids woman leading man.
God ordered His creation in such a way that there is an inseparable connection between sexuality and authority. This Creation Order is found throughout Scripture, Old and New Testaments. If we were confused as to the bedrock upon which this principle is built, the Holy Spirit illumines the Genesis account in the New Testament where He explicitly says to us, "For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve."
Also by God's Creation Order, fathers and mothers are owed honor and obedience by their children. So we see that the authority of the husband in marriage and parents with their children stand and fall together. This is a point feminists don't like to acknowledge, but it's hard to see how the rebellion they promote can be limited to the husbands and wives without the virus spreading to parents and children, also.
Children oppressing and women ruling have in common the reversal of God's Creaton Order. Thus, for Liberian children to wave sub machine guns in the air and riddle the bodies of fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, was a horrific sight that caused all of us to feel nauseous.
Children oppressing fathers and mothers is a curse as women leading men is also a curse. God created Adam (man) first, and then Eve (woman).
When the stations God has ordained for man and woman are violated by a nation like the United States; when all its positions of authority are taken over by women; whether we recognize or want to admit it, we've been shamed. And that shame isn't the product of thin-skinned male egos. Rather, it's due to the order of creation written on man's heart by God and revealed by God's special revelation in Genesis. Women taking over our medical and law schools, courts and tribunals, mayors offices and legislatures, executive and principal's offices are to our shame--just as children oppressing adults is shameful, also.
The two are in parallel construction; they're both from the mouth of God; they're both curses; and it takes fancy footwork to obscure what God here and many other places makes clear.
This is why men who normally emphasize the continuity end of the much-debated relationship between the Old and New Covenants might slip into discontinuity when it comes to speaking about the propriety of the woman exercising authority over man in the corporate or political realm. Whatever they may try to get away with saying about the New Testament, they're left with the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, recording how God judges His people, and it's by way of the curses of children oppressing and women ruling Israel.
So we see why, when we're advocating women as civil authorities, we can't make the same claim about the Old Testament we might try to make about the New. It's simply not true that the Old Testament "clearly speaks to the (Creation Order) of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility."
To the contrary, the New Testament speaks with great specificity and perspicuity to the violation of the Creation Order when women exercise authority over men:
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:8-15)
"But," sputter complementarians everywhere, "that text says nothing about the world outside the church and the home. It's only addressing the relationship between sex and authority within the Church, so it's twisting the text to apply it to government, business, the military, education, courts, and so forth. Women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the Church--that's all!"
"But why not?" we ask.
"Why not what?" the complementarians respond.
"Why are women not to teach or exercise authority over men?"
"Well, you can read as well as we can," the complementarians answer. "It says right there: Because 'Adam was the one who was created first, and then Eve.'"
"But," we ask, "which is greater, the application of the principle or the principle itself?"
Comps stall for time, asking, "What do you mean?"
"You know very well what we mean. If Scripture records the order God created Adam and Eve, then applying that creation order to church matters, this is not the Holy Spirit limiting the creation principle to one specific application. It's simply that this place is where that creation principle currently needed to be applied. Since when has the larger principle ever been contained by the smaller application? That's absurd! Father says mother is always to be obeyed by her children. Later, Johny takes a cookie after his mother tells him he may not have a cookie. Father rebukes Johny for taking a cookie, saying 'Shame on you for taking a cookie. I told you to obey your mother!' To which Johny responds, 'You told me to obey my mother when I was not going to bed when she told me to. But you never told me I had to obey her when she tells me what to and not to eat!'"
Let's put it another way. Look at the text above and it's apparent more commands are given than those dealing with women teaching and exercising authority over men. Women also are told to "adorn themselves with proper clothes, modestly and discreetly."
So, if a man creates and publishes a company-wide policy that women on company time are to dress modestly and discreetly, would our complementarian friends come alongside him to tell him he was well-intentioned, but wrong? If he cited 1Timothy 2 as the inspiration for his policy, would they tell him he was misapplying Scripture; that this text only applied to the church since that was the context for the Apostle Paul's original command concerning women's adornment?
No, of course they would never say that.
Because the application is based upon the universal principle of the Seventh Commandment in God's timeless Moral Law: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." And the fact that 1Timothy 2 doesn't apply that commandment to the corporate world doesn't limit its proper application today, does it? Adultery is always and everywhere wrong.
So then, why limit the commandment concerning women teaching and exercising authority over men? True, it's applied to the church, here. But the principle being applied is another universal, this time not found in God's Moral Law, but rather in a place and time that is even more binding. The principle the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit apply to the church is based on God's creation order established prior to the Fall. So again, why are our complementarian friends running around putting up fences to keep God's creation order in one area and outside another?
The answer likely has to do with exceptional cases like Lydia and Deborah. "How can you claim there's a creation order when we have Deborah exercising authority over men as judge of Israel? Or when we have Lydia leading her whole household (which surely included men) into Christian baptism?"
Long ago we should have learned that exceptions make bad law. Deal with exceptions as the exceptions they are; don't try to establish them as the norm or use them to finely parse the principle into this or that category that strictly delimits--what?--the Creation Order principle? Come on.
Scripture and life are filled with exceptions to the Creation Order principle that woman is not to exercise authority over man, but not one of those exceptions in any way ruptures or limits that principle. Eve gave the fruit to Adam. Deborah judged Israel. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos Christian doctrine. Lydia led her household into baptism.
So what exactly do these examples prove? That there is no Creation Order?
Well then, they prove the Creation Order doesn't apply to the civil realm because Deborah ruled the nation.
Really? The exception disproves the rule? Then also, surely you would agree that Priscilla and Aquila instructing Apollos proves the Creation Order doesn't apply to the church? And Lydia leading her whole household into Baptism proves the Creation Order doesn't apply to the home, right?
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right?
But of course, no complementarian is arguing that Priscilla instructing Apollos and Lydia leading her household prove the Creation Order doesn't apply to the church and the home. The only thing they prove is that Scripture contains many records of men failing, as well as many accounts of God acting from HIs sovereign will in ways inscrutable to the mind of man.
Hence this eminently reasonable statement by John Calvin concerning Deborah's leadership in the civil realm. Note that he makes no effort to set aside the Creation Order, but rather reinforces it by showing how shameful the exception was to the men of Israel:
Two years ago, John Knox in a private conversation, asked my opinion respecting female government. I frankly answered that because it was a deviation from the primitive and established order of nature, it ought to be held as a judgment on man for his dereliction of his rights just like slavery-that nevertheless certain women had sometimes been so gifted that the singular blessing of God was conspicuous in them, and made it manifest that they had been raised up by the providence of God, either because He willed by such examples to condemn the supineness of men, or thus show more distinctly His own glory. I here instanced Huldah and Deborah." John Calvin, "Letter DXXXVIII to William Cecil" in Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, ed. Henry Beveridge & Jules Bonnet, vol. 7, (Philadelphia, 1860), p. 46.
Noting the support of many Christians for the vice presidential candidacy of Governor Palin, the New York Times describes that group of conservatives that "rejects both abortion and stay-at-home motherhood."
Not to cause our good readers to froth at the mouth and gnash their teeth, but I may very well vote for the McCain/Palin ticket come election day. If so, however, it will not be due to my denying the essential conflict between women as civil authorities and God's Creation Order. Rather, it will be due to my recognition that the Creation Order is not the only consideration in my stewardship of the one man, one vote principle at the heart of our democracy.
* * *
We do not say that woman's nature is the same as man's, as she is woman. For undoubtedly it stands to reason that some difference should exist between each of them, in virtue of which one is male and the other female. Pregnancy and parturition, accordingly, we say belong to woman, as she is woman, and not as she is a human being. But if there were no difference between man and woman, both would do and suffer the same things. As then there is sameness, as far as respects the soul, she will attain to the same virtue; but as there is difference as respects the peculiar construction of the body, she is destined for child-bearing and housekeeping.... For we do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war (although) I hear that the Sarmatian women practice war no less than the men; and the women of the Sacae besides, who shoot backwards, feigning fight as well as the men. (Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, book 4, chapter 8).
This decree also commends modesty in general, and in it God anticipates the danger, lest women should harden themselves into forgetfulness of modesty, or men should degenerate into effeminacy unworthy of their nature. Garments are not in themselves of so much importance; but as it is disgraceful for men to become effeminate, and also for women to affect manliness in their dress and gestures, propriety and modesty are prescribed, not only for decency's sake, but lest one kind of liberty should at length lead to something worse. The words of the heathen poet (Juvenal) are very true: "What shame can she, who wears a helmet, show, Her sex deserting?" (Exposition of the Seventh Commandment; John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, tr. Charles Bingham, 22 vols., (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, repr. 1996), 3:110).