Saturday, October 20, 2007

Men and women's roles: The end of the conversation (but not really)

Introduction
A mono-dialogue
Continuing the conversation (Gen. 1-3)

Because we're not emerging.

...

BK: So we’ve covered the Creation and Fall story-blocks...so how about we cover the Redemption block? How does Jesus figure in? Let me quote Galatians 3:28 – "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Why don’t you each tell us what the complementarian and egalitarian take is?

Casey: For the egalitarian, this is a total abolishment of class, racial and gender barriers in Christ. So, it’s a reversal of Genesis 3 as I’ve described before, and full male/female equality is restored.

Alex: Complementarians understand this to simply mean that God’s salvation extends to everyone! So just because I’m a Gentile doesn’t mean I am denied entry into God’s kingdom. Ditto for women. Gender has no role to play in our salvation, so just because someone is a guy doesn’t mean he somehow merits salvation more than women.

BK: Let’s perhaps cover just one more issue. We haven’t talked about marriage yet. How does this play out within the complementarian and egalitarian framework? I’m thinking specifically of Ephesians 5:22-33.

Casey: Let’s look at this in context. Don’t leave out v.21, where it says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". Surely this, however we interpret what follows, needs to be kept in mind. So I don’t think it’s as simple as pointing at this text and saying, "aha! Isn’t this clear?" The culture of the time certainly didn’t think much of women! So Paul subverts their cultural understanding, using marriage as a prime example. There is mutual submission at work here. Women serve their wiveshusbands, but equally men love their wives, just like Christ! This is followed by the examples of parent-child and masters-slave.

Alex: I agree that v.21 is an important transitioning verse. But if you thought I was jumping though hoops on Genesis 3, I think you’re doing the same here! Firstly, the reason the wife should submit to her husband is precisely because he is the "head". Her submission is modelled on the church’s submission to Christ. This is quite simply, the natural reading. The difference is, headship shouldn’t be modelled on the world, but on Christ and his sacrificial love. No chest-pumping for the man here. So I am totally with you on men loving their wives! In fact, husbands get more airtime in this passage to make sure that blokes really, really understand the humble love they are to model. So I agree with you on the imperative, but take exception to the fact that you label this as mutual submission.

Don't be a (Tasmanian) devil of a husband!
Casey: I concede, against my will, that complementarians have the stronger case here, but I don’t think the egalitarian case is crushed completely. I still think there is some kind of mutual submission going on, and that needs some explaining.

BK: Sorry Casey, I do think complementarians win on this one. Linguistically, there might be one way to explain "submit" as well. Stott tells me that the Greek word for submit, hypotassomai, has at its heart the word for order, taxis. There has yet to be even one example in ancient Greek literature that understands this word in the context of relationship between persons. It’s always in relation to authority. So submission here could potentially mean a humble recognition of ordering of roles within marriage. But this isn’t the clincher for me. It’s 5:24. We submit to Christ, but Christ doesn’t submit to the church. He’s the glorified Lord. But as Alex already pointed out, men can’t be arrogant about this.

Casey: No fair being a fictional character of your imagination! I should caution you though that some people might bristle at a perceived patriarchal tone in what you just said. But since I’m actually in your mind, I know you’re not equating men as somehow superior. But some egalitarians simply think that’s how the logic works out; no matter how much complementarians try to dress it up, it’s the guy who "wins". I don’t think so though, you know, me being nice and all.

BK: Oooh, you get a bonus for this. How about I let you make one more point for the egalitarian position, with no rebuttal from Alex?

Alex: *finds himself gagged* Mhmmhfmhhwmm!!!!

Casey: In 1 Corinthians 12, we find that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in his distribution of spiritual gifts, there is no distinction between gender. Surely, if the spiritual gifting is gender-neutral, and God wants them to be exercised, men and women should be free to exercise them. There are after all, examples of female leadership in the Bible.

BK: Alright. I didn’t say I can’t make a rebuttal!

Casey: *whacks BK with a baseball bat*

BK: Ow! Ow! Can’t you take a joke? And where did you get that bat from anyway?

Alex: Hey Casey, I’m hungry. What say we get outta here for a bite? I’m sick of being in BK’s mind anyway. Let’s jump over to Jamie Oliver’s...

Casey: Nigella’s better...

BK: I’m staying out of this one.



Postscript: I do hope that the exchanges above give a much better idea of how both sides justify their positions exegetically. I chose to concentrate on Genesis 1-3 primarily because so many of the other relevant passages appeal back to them, plus, I’ve actually studied Gen. 1-3 in some depth. There’re even more arguments both sides could throw out on Genesis 1-3 alone, never mind 1 Corinthians et al., but Alex and Casey decided that there was more than enough to chew on! I hope you don’t mind that this is a little skewed towards the complementarian side. This in part reflects my upbringing and the church teaching I’ve received, (possibly personality and experience plays a part too). I probably haven’t heard all the egalitarian arguments yet, but for now, the complementarians have won me.

For the moment, I’ve restricted the discussion mainly to discussion of the biblical texts themselves, since I think that’s where we should all start, and that will continue into the next post in this series when we look at 1 Tim 2:8-15. Later, I might discuss how this debate touches on other vitally important parts of Christian belief, and all the miscellaneous stuff that has yet to be touched on, like how this works out in practice etc. etc.


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Anonymous mad_scientist said...

Brian ... erm, a correction to make ... Casey. "Women serve their wives", are u sure ...
;-)

1:24 pm  
Blogger BK said...

It's now corrected. Casey thanks you for being so vigilant and blames it on that pesky complementarian Alex (and maybe BK is a co-conspirator!) who can be so agitating.

8:03 pm  
Blogger Tim said...

haha BK you've outdone yourself again.

im not sure whether to be worried about the state of ur mental health, but at any rate you've risen to the challenge very well hehe. howver, it might be time to put to rest your dual personalities.. :P

7:55 am  

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