WSC and God's Creation Order of Sexuality: A private thing?
(Tim) One of our interlocutors posted a comment largely made up of a statement on a few matters issued by the faculty of Westminster Seminary in California. The purpose of the statement being posted in our comments was to make the point that WSC has no desire to disengage in areas where God's Word is under attack today. Reading it, though, I came away with the conviction that even this statement is an example of the very thing David and I have been concerned about. Here is one part of the WSC statement:
Concerning the Ordination of Women we believe:That men and women equally bear the image of God and are to serve him with all their gifts according to his specific callings to them.
That from creation, men were given authority and ultimate leadership in the family and in the covenant community.
That Christ, as he makes clear in his Word, does not call women to the authoritative offices of teaching elder (minister) and ruling elder in the church and therefore the church may not ordain them to these offices.
This summary of Scripture's doctrine of God's Creation Order of Sexuality is defective...
Nowhere does Scripture limit the application of "Adam first, and then Eve" to the privacy of the home and Church. This statement of Scripture's doctrine of God's Creation Order of Adam and Eve, man and woman, ish and ishah, is symptomatic of the problem we see with Westminster Seminary in California's two kingdom disengagement from the world. They have reduced patriarchy to a private and a Covenant Community matter. Still, putting things this way does remove some of the awkwardness of our living in this world. Go ahead and draft women into the military, make them combatants, elect them president, have them train future pastors in theology; it's not the church or the home.
But make no mistake about it: no reformer nor one single man among the Westminster Divines would recognize this statement as an accurate summary of the Word of God.
Addendum: Actually, as I think about it, I really wonder how many of the profs at WSC were satisfied with this statement? I'm betting my friends, Peter and Rebecca Jones, weren't. Yes, I know Peter's adjunct, now, but Rebecca's Ed Clowney's daughter, right?
In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I doubt Bob Godfrey would put it this way. He's a wise man who's helped me much in this area of doctrine, and I doubt he would ever deny God's Creation Order of Sexuality is applicable everywhere man is man and woman is woman.
* * *
Chrysostom: 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).
Clement of Alexandria: 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).
John Calvin: 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?" (John Calvin, 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).
John Calvin: 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.