Calvin, Clement of Alexandria, and the Apostle Paul on "effeminacy"...


Under the two posts dealing with Wheaton College's announced change of policy concerning homosexuality (here and here) there's been discussion of the Greek word 'malakoi' God inspired in the text of 1Corinthians 6:9,10. It's been noted that the English Standard Version's editors refused to allow this word to be translated into their revision of the RSV. Predictably, the King James Version and New American Standard Bible stand resolute in their political incorrectness, rendering the Greek 'malakoi' "effeminate" in English.

We have all been trained by feminists and homosexualists to replace "sex" with "gender," and part of their politicization of sexual identity has been a very intense campaign to deny that sexual identity is good and to be affirmed in its physicality, beauty, and permanence. Biology is, in fact, destiny; God made us this way and it is good.

The feminists, though, hate it with a perfect hatred. Thus over my lifetime I've watched as the word 'effeminate' has been killed. The word was a constant in all previous generations of Reformed church fathers, but try to find one today who's willing to use it. Pfffft—it's gone. Not just from their language and writing, but from their ESV.

Why such a sea-change among Reformed men today?

Because whether knowingly or unknowingly, we have become the dupes of feminists and homosexualists intent on rendering all discussions of the hard-wired bifurcation at the core of our being put there by God and formerly spoken of as "sexuality" with that degradation that renders the glorious diversity of sexuality a mere social construct by speaking of it as "gender"..."Gender" is is a social construct. Gender is learned rather than given by God. Gender is infinitely plastic or malleable. Gender is alterable by means of the surgeon's scalpel and hormone pills. Gender is not bifurcated; it is a continuum with an infinite number of places one is free to stop and place oneself, and one such place one may choose to stand is "gay," "queer," or "homosexual."

Bring "effeminacy" into our brave new "gender" world and grenades and minefields begin to explode. The man who speaks of sex as "sex" rather than "gender" is a "sexist." And the man who rebukes another man for being "effeminate" is a monster.

Thus the ESV men tipped their hats to the new constitution, made their bows to the new revolution and removed effeminacy from the sins of 1Corinthians 6.

God bifurcated man, making each of us either male or female, and this foundational diversity of sexuality He pronounced “good." This is the reason for these Biblical commands:

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.[2]

For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man.… Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.[3]

In his exposition of the Seventh Commandment, John Calvin speaks of the immodesty of women who clothe themselves as warriors:

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?” [4]

Similarly, Clement of Alexandria:

What reason is there in the law’s prohibiting a man from “wearing woman’s clothing?” Is it not that it would have us to be manly, and not to be effeminate neither in person and actions, nor in thought and word? For it would have the man, that devotes himself to the truth, to be masculine both in acts of endurance and patience, in life, conduct, word, and discipline by night and by day; even if the necessity were to occur, of witnessing by the shedding of his blood. Again, it is said, “If any one who has newly built a house, and has not previously inhabited it; or cultivated a newly-planted vine, and not yet partaken of the fruit; or betrothed a virgin, and not yet married her;” — such the humane law orders to be relieved from military service: from military reasons in the first place, lest, bent on their desires, they turn out sluggish in war….[5]

Deuteronomy 22:5 declares that God abhors woman camouflaging herself as a man (and vice versa). Man and woman are not to exchange clothing because to do so is an attack upon the glory God has attached to sexuality.[6] Thus it is that the Church has condemned women warriors. [7] For example, Luther comments on this text:

A woman shall not bear the weapons of a man, nor shall a man wear female clothing.…for it is shameful for a man to be clothed like a woman, and it is improper for a woman to bear the arms of a man. Through this law (God) seems to reproach any nation in which this custom is observed.[8]

If men and women exchanging clothing is condemned because such actions explicitly deny one’s sexuality,  is it any surprise that womanly armies are loathsome and pathetic? So, for instance:

In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He is going to wave over them (Isaiah 19:16).

Behold, your people are women in your midst! The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies; fire consumes your gate bars (Nahum 3:13).

A sword against their horses and against their chariots and against all the foreigners who are in the midst of her, and they will become women! A sword against her treasures, and they will be plundered (Jeremiah 50:37).

The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted, they are becoming [like] women; their dwelling places are set on fire, the bars of her [gates] are broken (Jeremiah 51:30).

One can understand, then, why golden-tongued Chrysostom whose preaching was used by God in the conversion of Augustine would express himself in this manner concerning women’s roles:

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.[9]



[1] Genesis 1:26-31; 2:18-25.

[2] Deuteronomy 22:5.

[3] 1 Corinthians 11:8,14-15.

[4] 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.

[5] Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book 2, Chapter 18.

[6] The word (kli) used to reflect “what pertains to a man” in Deuteronomy 22:5 indicates more than apparel. In Genesis 27:3, this same root is used for “weapons,” and in his Annotations on the Pentateuch, 1639, Ainsworth writes, “The Hebrew kli is a general word for all instruments, vessels, ornaments, whatsoever; and here for all apparel and whatsoever a man putteth on him, in time of peace or of war, and so the Chaldee translateth it armour or weapons, which is also forbidden a woman to wear. And this precept concerneth natural honesty and seemliness which hath perpetual equity (1 Corinthians 11)….(Thus) men should not change their nature.” C. M. Carmichael writes, “‘No woman shall put on the gear of a warrior (kli-geber),’ is an accurate translation.” Cf. C.M. Carmichael, Law and Narrative in the Bible: The Evidence of the Deuteronomic Laws and the Decalogue, p. 162.

[7] “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.

[8] Luther's Works, vol. XIV, p. 700-01. Similar translation and comment is found in Calvin, J. Ridderbos, S. Driver, Peter Craigie, J. Maxwell, E. Kalland, The Targum Onkelos, etc.

[9] Chrysostom, Homily on Titus 2:14.

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PS: Yes, the Bodon ad is April Fools.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Thus the ESV men tipped their hats to the new constitution, made their bows to the new revolution and removed effeminacy from the sins of 1Corinthians 6

My understanding is that the ESV was based on the RSV. The RSV translated those verses thus:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

The ESV translates it:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

In a footnote to the words in bold the ESV has the following:

The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts

Not wanting to be a gadfly, but honestly the ESV translation and footnote are a step in the right direction from to the RSV.

>>the ESV translation and footnote are a step in the right direction from the RSV.

Actually, I think their text is worse although the footnote somewhat ameliorates it. The text doesn't simply continue the RSV's compression of two distinct condemnations into one, but it removes two pejoratives replacing them with one clinical expression.

As always, it would be easy to do it right, so one has to ask what the motivation would be for doing it wrong. That's what I've tried to address, above.

It's the same motivation that caused them to refuse to translate God's words 'grawdeiv muyouv' in 1Timothy 4:7. They replace it with nothing. It's simply gone. Here the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to command Pastor Timothy to have nothing to do with "old women's tales," but that command is removed from the ESV.

Love,

PS: Dear brother, you're no gadfly. Keep at it!

Which also explains the problems of the NIV11 rendering of these words as "men who have sex with men"; they have the same footnote as the ESV. At the time, I thought this was a straightforward paraphrase - it avoids the arguments over 'orientation', for one thing - but also because in modern English the word 'effeminate' generally has the idea about it of "camp". Not all gay men are camp, by any means, and I have known a couple of straight men, both fathers, who are! As usual, comments/criticisms welcome.

Actually, I think their text is worse although the footnote somewhat ameliorates it... it removes two pejoratives replacing them with one clinical expression.

True, but 'sexual perverts' could be much more easily evaded by homosexuals since they could simply deny that sodomy is in view.

It's the same motivation that caused them to refuse to translate God's words 'grawdeiv muyouv' in 1Timothy 4:7. They replace it with nothing. It's simply gone. Here the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to command Pastor Timothy to have nothing to do with "old women's tales," but that command is removed from the ESV.

I suspect this is ignorance in just copying the RSV uncritically. (I don't know for sure but (see below) I doubt they checked the translation of every Greek and Hebrew word when they updated the RSV to the ESV).

Here is what the RSV has for 1Tim4:7:

Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness

And here is the ESV:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness

It looks more like they were following the English text and making changes to this rather than following the Greek (and hence willfully leaving words out). There are much more offensive words they left in than 'old wives tales' which suggests they didn't realise what they did here. I wonder if no one got the memo about this omission prior to the recent update?

Michael Marlowe reviewed the original ESV and  compiled all the changes, finding that it was largely just the ESV with drop-in words to make up for translations offensive to conservative English readers; he later updated the review when the translators of the ESV actually did a little heavy lifting rather than pretending to, and found it better, but I noticed that it still lacks many of the OT prophecies about a Messiah (the sort that Kairite Jews would say are about Messiah while those derived from the "Orthodox"/Pharisaical/Rabbinical set would say are something else while trying to obscure the history). At any rate, when they took out RSV's "domesticity" about women as well as rendered "headcovering" as long hair (a translation the original NIV included in its footnotes, which the translators themselves--who simultaneously produced the neutered NIVI--issued threats about because it is so dishonest about the Greek), I think the ESV translators/committee revealed their stripes on these things.

Just a little side comment.  My husband and I went through a check stand at a local store recently.  The clerk looked like a teen-age boy and had the name tag "Kat" pinned to her store smock.  I was wondering if this person was male or female, but as soon as she spoke it became obvious she was a she of probably 30 years of age.  Her voice was a woman's voice.

This is becoming sickeningly common these days.   More and more we see women intentionally "butching" their hair and dressing like men. And too we see men wearing pink clothes and accessories and looking effeminate.

I was pondering to myself why this woman at the store would try so hard to hide who she is.  It occurred to me that feminists actually hate women because if they cared at all about women they wouldn't be pushing women to look and act like men. 

Basically it seems to me that feminists envy men and are trying to make women into "fake" men.   As a woman who loves being a woman I find this insulting.  Is there something wrong with being a woman?  Apparently feminists would say "yes".  I love the Chrysostom quote as well as the others.   

Blessings,

Nancy

>>I suspect this is ignorance in just copying the RSV uncritically.

Sadly, not. I spoke to the translators, personally, of my concern over this text years back, long before the recent revision.

Love,

I think that manskirt thing was an April Fool's joke. 

>>Sadly, not. I spoke to the translators, personally, of my concern over this text years back, long before the recent revision.

: ( Does anybody else think of the mandate/warning to beware prophets who say "peace peace" where there is none? And re-phrase it to "beware pastors who cry 'civility' 'civility' lest we be misunderstood by the wolves for using words that offend them within and without our churches, and drive them out so they cannot prey on the sheep"? At root they're the same thing: one is just an aspect of the other.

Susan's right. Here's the original picture.

http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Mens-Shorts/MJ081/Mens-Cargo-Shorts.html

That said, you can get an eye-opener if you google "man-skirt".

I've been mostly sitting on the sidelines here, but it does strike me that we do need the accurate translation so that those who would be effeminate--or "emasculate", per Nancy's comment--will know that they are sinfully playing a part God did not design them to play.

On the flip side, it's a huge joy to see a woman or man secure and joyful in their God-given femininity or masculinity.  For the woman, it's as if drops of incense are falling from her fingers as she performs the most banal of tasks, like wiping a snotty nose.  For the man....OK, I can't come up with a good word picture here.  Help!

You didn't notice this at the end of the post: "PS: Yes, the Bodon ad is April Fools."

Love,

You know what, Bert? I'm going to be honest and say that I don't usually leave this blog feeling better about myself, God, or anyone else for that matter, but I honestly appreciate that last comment. I think I've got some "drops of incense" in my hair right now and it honestly doesn't feel so feminine. It does my heart good to think that Jesus might see my snot and mud covered self at the end of a long day of loving on my littles and see a picture of God-given femininity. I honestly tear up a little at that. Thank you. 

It is so true. Feminists DON'T like women. I hadn't thought of it like that. 

Tim (#12); you're right, and I hope it's not too horrible that I also found pictures of man-skirts (that were NOT April Fools' jokes) hilarious in addition to depressing. 

Susan; at your service, and don't forget to thank Nancy Wilson even more.

Have you seen utilikilts? Nothing feminine about them. Strangely enough. I do thank people like Mrs. Wilson and also my sweet husband who works his bum off and has never asked me to do anything else. :-)

I love the word picture for women from Bert.   Wish I could think of a good one for men.  I picture my husband working hard at a job that requires a lot of physical strength and stamina and I see it as a picture of his love for me as he cares and provides for us through the sweat of his brow doing a job I couldn't begin to do. 

Just another quick note.  I'm not THE Nancy Wilson (of femina blog, Mrs. Doug).  I'm not that smart, but I too am a grandmother who is saddened to see what is going on around us and praying for the Lord to bring us back to the "Old Paths" of His way.

Blessings,

Nancy

Susan,

Your husband sounds like mine - working hard and not asking us to work outside the home.  May you be blessed in your loving care of your little ones.

Blessings,

Nancy

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