Some helpful questions...

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(TB: Under another post, a Christian sister we've come to respect has asked a series of questions I make a stab at answering below. For the context of her questions please look at comment number thirteen under the above post. First her comment in full, followed by my responses quoting part of each numbered item in what she wrote.)

I mean this as an honest comment/question, not a baiting or critical one. 

First, I was taught to believe that a wife must submit to her husband and a husband must love his wife as Christ loves the Church. A wife is not a doormat, nor is a husband is a tyrant. Furthermore, a couple will work out a balance of this principle in their marriage that is Biblical and fits their personalities and won't look the same for every couple. I assume you would generally agree with that.

Second, I was also taught that everyone in the laity (male and female) must submit to their church's clergy and its governing body -- elder board, church council, board of trustees, vestry, parish council, etc. Again, I assume you would also hold to this view.

Third, the relationship of a wife to submit to her husband does not apply to all males. It applies only to her husband and other male church authorities. She does not have to submit to every other man in her church, in her neighborhood, in the PTA, etc. This is where we probably start to diverge; do you disagree for cultural or Biblical reasons?

 Fourth, every young woman should obtain an education that matches her talents and abilities and the Lord's will for her life. This is not just because her husband could leave her high and dry with several young children. It's because she probably she will marry, she doesn't know whether that will happen when she is 21, 31, or 41 or never and she has to support herself. Do you disagree and if so, why?

Fifth, in society in general, as long as her husband agrees (or she stays single) and she keeps a balance between raising a family and her career, there is no career that she should not attain to her if she is capable of it and it is God's will for her life. (This is similar to what Albert Moller wrote about when Sarah Palin ran for Vice-President in 2008). So why is it wrong for a father to tell his daughter she can run for President someday? 

Sixth, what do you think a single woman means if she says that she has has no voice in the church? 

Finally, I know you will agree with this. SAHW's and SAHM's have gotten a really bad rap for a long time. They are terribly unappreciated and deserve as much encouragement as we can give them.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Sue 

Now for some responses. After a day or two we'll post another response by David Wegener whose thought processes and succinct writing style will give Baylyblog readers a pleasant relief after what I've done here.

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First, I was taught to believe that a wife must submit to her husband and a husband must love his wife as Christ loves the Church. A wife is not a doormat, nor is a husband is a tyrant. Furthermore, a couple will work out a balance of this principle in their marriage that is Biblical and fits their personalities and won't look the same for every couple. I assume you would generally agree with that.

Not "generally" but completely.

Second, I was also taught that everyone in the laity (male and female) must submit to their church's clergy and its governing body -- elder board, church council, board of trustees, vestry, parish council, etc. Again, I assume you would also hold to this view.

Again, yes, of course.

Third, the relationship of a wife to submit to her husband does not apply to all males. It applies only to her husband and other male church authorities. She does not have to submit to every other man in her church, in her neighborhood, in the PTA, etc. This is where we probably start to diverge; do you disagree for cultural or Biblical reasons?

We don't disagree. But to say that a woman (and man, for that matter) need to submit to proper authorities is not to say that there should be no difference between how women of the church relate to older men of the church, as opposed to how they relate to older women of the church.

We never escape sexuality, and men never escape manhood as women never escape womanhood. It's our very nature and we want to live this part of our calling with faith--not squelch it. Part of that living is male responsibility and female deference, both of which are made visible, for instance, in (sadly forgotten) good manners.

And if you're Anglican, surely you agree with this?

There is a difference between men living in an understanding way with the weaker sex and a man living with his wife as the weaker vessel. He still takes responsibility for women, generally, while taking covenant care of his wife and daughters. There is a difference between women living in a woman-is-the-glory-of-man way in the world and a woman calling her husband "Lord" as Sarah did.

Man and woman are to be man and woman at home, but also in life outside the home--including at church--and the nature of manhood and womanhood created by God when He decreed Adam being created first, then Eve, should be part of the way we confess our faith in all of life. It should also be the way we lead our wives and raise our daughters.

Fourth ...every young woman should obtain an education that matches her talents and abilities and the Lord's will for her life.

Not "every" young woman. Education is not the center of Christian discipleship. It is the center of money and class (again, you're Anglican, right?) and status as well. So we need to be careful we don't unreflectingly make education into the sine qua non of becoming a mature Christian man or woman. Also we need to understand that education is not schooling. Mark Twain declared his principle never to let his children's schooling get in the way of their education.

Again, this needs to be worked out on an individual basis keeping in mind that schooling is not a unilateral good. Sexual purity, for instance, is more important than schooling, and parents should not pressure their daughters or sons to get a higher education degree if they are engaged and not being pure. They shouldn't force their children to finish their degree on the back of continual burning with lust and falling into fornication.

Calvin's Geneva required couples who got engaged to get married within six weeks in order to avoid impurity.

There's a reason our Christian couples normally have been impure prior to marriage and that reason is often bound up with parents puting a schooling degree above purity. Everyone knows how often socioeconomic security and status drive that degree. It's fine to talk about our children's gifts, but gifts should always be subordinate to holiness. 

Being in Bishop J. C. Ryle's denomination, I'm sure you agree.

Let me add that one of our daughters was a NM finalist and is married without a college degree. Money was aplenty, but God led her and her parents to give permission for becoming a wife and a mother to take precedence over getting a BA. And I might add that she's about as educated as a woman or man can be, and always getting more so. Clearly, her gifts and talents are being much more used and fulfilled as a wife and mother than they ever would have been being a student finishing up her degree at IU. So there are more reasons to marry and become a mother beyond avoiding sexual purity and we're pleased Michal and her husband, Ben, were married when they were. Simply put, their priorities were a very, very, very fine house, with two kids in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy cause of you...

Fifth, in society in general, as long as her husband agrees (or she stays single) and she keeps a balance between raising a family and her career, there is no career that she should not attain to if she is capable of it and it is God's will for her life.

Well, again, what's the point of being a woman if it stops when she walks out the front door Monday morning? Why would we be so stingy with femininity that we tried to limit its fulfillment in our wives and daughters to church and home? What's wrong with us that we want to hide and keep God's Creation Order from the world's lost? Why would we hide it in our private Christian homes and churches? Isn't that pathetic? Isn't that faithless?

And also, think of what it means for those very churches and homes we're supposedly reserving the truth for? Christian mothers dropping their covenant child off at the daycare center so they can use their most-excellent gifts? So they can be "all they're meant to be?"

The ban on woman teaching and exercising authority over man is founded, based, and demanded by God's Creation Order. In 1Timothy 2, the Holy Spirit tells us this. So why are we so faithless in our embracing of this beauty for men and women, for our sons and daughters? Wouldn't we want our sons to care for women? To protect mothers and sisters and daughters in the world?

What joy to see our sons taking responsibility for widows and orphans as Boaz did? And isn't this our son living as a man-as-man, and not simply as a godly-person-as-godly-person?

Would we deny this to the lost of this world?

The question of whether we love God's creation order and try to live it faithfully everywhere possible is where our attention needs to be focussed, I think. Why be stingy with this gift of God we call the Creation Order? Why try to go the way of the world on this?

So yes, a wife and mother can work outside the home as long as her principle commitment is the home. That's what God commands in Titus 2:3-5 ("be domestic" is the RSV's translation of the phrase in verse 5 translated "workers at home" in the NASB). And anyone who thinks it's good for a physician to be a mother and wife, also; or the President of these United States (or for that matter, governor of some state) to be a mother, also--like Sarah Palin tries to do, publicly, with the whole world watching--has a few screws loose in his or her head. I mean, really; doesn't Sarah Palin's own family demonstrate the truth of this? How very sad it is for her and her family, and for the church before the watching world. They should be ashamed, but they're not. Can I say this without all our readers despising me for it? I hope so. I don't mean to be mean. Some things everyone sees in public should be named and used in the service of repentance by pastors who love God's sheep and the world's lost, too.

God's good news for the lost includes His Creation Order. What a relief it is to this sin-sick world to hear that God made Adam to bear responsibility for Eve as Eve went through the bloodshed of childbirth and the lifelong duties of being a helpmate for her husband and a mother for all her children!

Men who have abdicated our responsibility to sit in the city gates should be blushing to see Deborah there, but theyr'e (we're) not.

If Sarah Palin were running for President, I might well vote for her. But it's to my and your and your own husband's shame. This is what Calvin and Marvin Olasky said, and they're right. Those who deny it are simply wrong. They need to be taught Scripture.

The reason it's wrong for a father to tell his daughter that she should run for president when she grows up is that it's an abandonment of her femininity, plus it gives men an excuse to play video games (or watch March Madness).

Then too, since you're Anglican, why would any self-respecting and loving and Christian father want his beloved and beautiful daughters to grow up to the New York Times hurling the epithet "Iron Lady" at her? Smiling.

I've spoken here before about how I handled these matters with my daughter, Michal. Maybe she'll pipe in to help out on this.

Sixth ...what do you think a single woman means if she says that she has has no voice in the church?

Let's allow some single women who read Baylyblog to answer this. It's a very tender subject and I'd prefer the authority of a single woman to address this matter over the limited abitlity of a married man and pastor. Maybe even a married woman would offer her thoughts on this?

We've had a woman in a congregation say this and the truth was that her life was consumed by bitterness just as her mother's had been before her. Eventually she left the church and I'm sure whatever church she's in now she resents regardless of whether it's feminist or Creation Order faithful.

The position of single men and women is very sensitive in churches and must be approached with the greatest tenderness and love. Churches that are family-centered might have a weakness here, but we must not give in to the modern and perverse habit of sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal. But again, I want to emphasize that single men as often could complain about "lacking a voice" as single women do. Also childless couples could complain of the same. White believers who are members of African churches (and vice versa). Blue collar workers in Anglican churches. Smiling again.

Men without a post-BA degree in Presbyterian churches. And on and on it goes in our culture of victimhood. We need to be extra-careful to cover over the more tender parts of the body while not allowing those more tender parts of the body to oppress the rest of the body by virtue of their proclamation of their weakness and pain--not having a voice. Both are real and constant dangers.

Finally ...They are terribly unappreciated and deserve as much encouragement as we can give them.

Not sure they're terribly unappreciated. Often unappreciated, for sure. But if you want to really know who's unappreciated in the church, look carefully at the deacon who provides for his wife and many children while spending time at church with widows and orphans off the street and widows and orphans of the church; and then has the elders and (more likely) the senior pastor ask him why the grass hasn't been trimmed?

Or the mother of many who is married to the rotten husband who plays video games and won't talk to her.

In other words, the church is absolutely filled with unappreciated souls loved and seen by their Heavenly Father. We all need to stop keeping track of offenses and realize the life of a Christian is a life of painful sanctification. Nobody appreciates any of us the way they ought to--neither the beauty of the gifts we give the world nor the horror of the sins with which we corrupt the world. How's that for a Christian dose of reality?

Thank you, dear sister, for your excellent challenge. I hope you didn't mind my constant references to your Anglicanism. Some of my best friends are Anglican, in heart if not in reality.

Wth much respect,

Your brother in Christ, Tim.