Andrew Wilson/Alastair Roberts on Soft Complementarian Army Ladies

Gender and Bible scholar, anthropologist, and alpha male church elder, Andrew Wilson, has provided what is surely a contender for The Soft Complementarian Blog Post of the Year with “Feministism and ‘Equality'”. It is refreshing that a man, whose views are merged with another alpha male, Alastair Roberts (a hero of this blog!), from Durham UK, is finally prepared to stand up against women who do not know the limits of their role in the church.

I will give a sense of what Elder Andrew/Alastair is/are saying by quoting his/their own words:

One of the problems that I have with most feminist positions is with their rather naïve assumptions about the nature of power and their failure to provide an adequate answer to the question of where power comes from. Many seem to speak as if power were a naturally occurring social resource that has been monopolized by men. ‘Patriarchy’ is treated as if it were some vast conspiracy theory. What is less commonly asked is why practically every developed human society has developed its power structures in a broadly patriarchal manner

Elder Andrew/Alastair doesn’t cite any evidence for this but I too have read widely in feminist literature, from Nancy Pentecross right through to The Wife of Tim Keller and I am 94% sure that this is an accurate statement.

Elder Andrew/Alastair shows what this means for the church by liberal (not that sort of liberal!)–and dare we say in a distinctively alpha male way–use of bold:

As a number of people have observed (some feminists among them), the entrance of women into new spheres has often led to a weakening of the social power of those spheres, as women are often more vulnerable and easily exploited and less agentic and assertive in their typical modes of behaviour than men. As these social spheres and institutions were typically not designed merely for the empowerment of those within them, but for serving some broader social end and empowering society more generally, the loss of this power is a serious concern: the power structures of a social institution are weakened merely in order to include more women in its upper echelons. This may not serve the interests of women as a class at all…While women bishops, for instance, may be inclusive for some women, is this in the best interests of the Church as a whole? The bishop has the pastoral role of protecting the Church from attack, of effectively symbolizing and enacting the authority of God within the Church, and representing the authoritative voice of the Church to the wider society. In Scripture, this priestly role is often associated not merely with men, but with ‘alpha’ men. The Church is strengthened as a body when it is led by persons with steel backbones, principles, and nerves, persons that can withstand others in more confrontational situations. One of the reasons why the Church is so weak as a social institution has to do with the fact that its leaders seldom conform to this type.

Elder Andrew’s/Alastair’s church hierarchy has it right: a ground of sturdy, tough-jawed, no nonsense, steel backboned, alpha elders on top, followed by a gaggle of protected ladies below with another man to help and protect them more.

Being an alpha male, Elder Andrew/Alastair uses a military example to show who’s in charge:

To take an extreme example, making women half of our military may serve an inclusive purpose for the women involved, but it would weaken our nation’s security and international power and wouldn’t necessarily be in the best interests of women as a class, who benefit far more from the security and power of our nation than they do from quotas or tokenism.

How refreshing to hear such “man-talk” from Europe! And how right! After all, when we want our government to save us from the Taliban, to bomb a nation of little brown people back to the Stone Age, or to kill a village load of foreign kids, we want that button smashed hard rather than some lady-fingered delicate touch. It just wouldn’t send the right message otherwise.

Elder Andrew/Alastair concludes bravely:

In the quest for ‘equality’, we seem to be heading further in this direction, especially as many women are arguing that bringing women into episcopal leadership should entail new modes of leadership (more collaborative, less oppositional, more empathetic, etc.). Given the choice between being members of an increasingly impotent institution within which women enjoy equal leadership or being members of an institution with a strong voice in society, yet with men dominating the top positions—while empowering, listening to, and acting in the interests of women—it is far from immediately obvious to me that the former option best serves the interests of women (99% of whom will never be priests or bishops).

Amen.

And don’t say “what if we replaced ‘women’ with ‘black people’ in all these arguments” because we soft comps need more time to think about this.

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Review of BBC’s so-called “The Big Questions”

The Big Questions: “Are Religions Unfair to Women?” A Review

This show is sexist because it has ladies speaking for most of the time, not that I have a problem with ladies – Christian or liberal – speaking. But isn’t it ironic that liberal secular society demands “rights” for women yet ultimately discriminates against men! This is, of course, how liberal secular society favors The Homosexual and is intolerant to those of us who hate the sin but reach out aggressively in love to love the sinner (in a godly and non-sexual way).

The show gives a prominent role to lady scholars. This might be good for liberal secular TV but good for the Word of God? I think not! I know not! While I don’t mind lady scholars having an opinion, sometimes Political Correctness goes too far. I think this show shows that Professor Thiselton was right all along: this show shows just why we all get so tired of shrill women talking about “clitorises” (whoever they are), “menstruation”, and a number of vulgar feminist words which I won’t repeat here and recommend you cover your ears when you get to the relevant parts. Truly this is the sort of thing we would expect from someone like Alanis Morissette. Our prayers go out to the host, Nicky Campbell, who had the uneviable task of having to referee this feral bunch.

One lady – who somehow claimed to be going to heaven – rejected the notion of the Bible being “black and white” and would like to question God about why He did not explain things more clearly in the Bible. No wonder Paul wanted Christianesses to calm down and be quiet – it’s as much for their own salvation as ours. (I should add that I call God a “He” rather than a “she” because it is best to use non-gendered language when describing God who isn’t a gender, as one non-Christian rightly remarked – and shut them all up – in his desperate grasping for The Truth.)

However, this show is an accidental advert for Soft Complementarianism. It shows why ladies should have an opinion but not teach because, while they keep harping on and on and on, they predictably can’t agree with each other! I could have told them that beforehand and saved us all the bother! That they don’t just agree on the Plain Meaning of the Scripture is precisely why the Lord has decreed that women must not be leaders in the church.

The show had some more positive points. It was good to see lady humans powerfully argue for the headship of man. One Christianess rightly pointed out that secularism is “brutal”. Through the glass darkly, certainly, but some light at least gets through!

A final point: for those who live outside the fold of Versailles, Missouri, and only watch Mark Driscoll’s MegaChurch TV, I should warn you that this show is from the socialist-liberal British Broadcasting Corporation and that there are a number of Pagans and Idolaters (both men and lady idolaters – the Devil cares not for complementary difference in his satanic flock). There are Jews too but that’s fine because Jesus and Paul were Jews, as were all the Christians, and still are when you think about it.

Dirk’s conclusion: Other religions are unfair to women but Soft Complementarianism recognises their different roles and is entirely fair to ladies.

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Agreeing with Mark Driscoll: A Nagging Woman IS like water torture: but not like full-on torture

Mark Driscoll has a wonderful way of putting family relationships into the proper perspective. In this video, he talks about a nagging wife, one who refuses the submission obliged to her husband, just as we are all obliged to submit to Christ the head of the Church.

Mark Driscoll illustrates the "crazy cycle" caused by nagging women

Mark Driscoll illustrates the “crazy cycle” caused by nagging women

Mark Driscoll rightly points out that a nagging wife is like the water torture used against American prisoners of war, like the terrorists in the Guantanamo Bay high-security prison facility. Now, as the USA respects the human rights of all men, we do not engage in full-on torture like what happens in the Middle East. A woman’s nagging is therefore like “torture” in kind of scare-quotes, because it is not really torture at all. But nagging can surely be likened to torture, especially if, like Mark Driscoll, you do so in a light-hearted and humorous manner.

It is a pity, then, that the liberal secular media have chosen not to take notice of Mark Driscoll’s careful distinction between water “torture” and proper, full-on torture, when he compared a nagging wife to water “torture.” No matter how careful a Christian is, the liberal secular media will immediately jump down our throats when we dare to describe the natural order of God’s creation for men and women. And they claim that they are “tolerant!” The truth is that they are anything but “tolerant,” however. Quite the opposite, as the liberal secular media shows itself to be intolerant of the Christian perspective on the proper role for women.

So not only does Mark Driscoll describe biblical truth, and does so with good-natured humor, but he shows respect for his wife that could provide a lesson or two for some members of the liberal secular media.

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Biblical T-Shirts

real_woman_practice_biblical_submissionOne of the members of our local church family pointed out this t-shirt to me on the Face Book. I’ve ordered two: one for me and one for my wife Sheryl!

real_woman_practice_biblical_submission_ladies

Biblical submission is a choice that many women in fact want to make. Ironically, those feminists who parade the humanist value of female choice are the very ones who want to take this choice away from females. The feminist position is therefore shown to be an inconsistent one, unlike the Word of God.
onemore

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Pastor and Mrs Driscoll: Complementarian Love in Action?

Many of you will be familiar with the hard complementarian and mega-church book of Pastor Mark and Mrs Grace Driscoll: Pastor Mark and Mrs Driscoll, Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).

Many of my flock ask me about whether eros-love is acceptable in a soft-firm complementarian church.

And it’s a good question.

Read Canticle of Canticles, I sometimes tell them.

Yet sometimes even Solomon can be too symbolic.

Imagine my relief, and the relief of my wife, when we saw the thoughtful and gracious review of Pastor and Mrs Driscoll’s book by Denny Burk. Prof. Denny is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College which is the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is a foremost Bible scholar, author of articles and books, and, most importantly, editor of the Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (JBMW), a biannual publication of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. So if anyone can elucidate the plain meaning of scripture on manhood and womanhood, Prof. Denny can!

Prof. Denny begins by outlining “significant common ground” and I would like to announce that we can safely place my wife and I in this common ground:

First, the book is unashamedly complementarian. Mark’s challenge to men in chapter 3 is one of the strongest exhortations to biblical manhood that I have ever read…Mark challenges men to grow up, to take responsibility, and to lead their families. He encourages them to be producers not consumers, to be students of scripture, and to be faithful churchmen. Above all, he encourages husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This part of the book is countercultural in the best kind of way.

Grace’s chapter on “The Respectful Wife” is likewise helpful. She encourages women to respect their husbands with their head, heart, and hands. She also gives practical advice to women about how they can disagree, counsel, encourage, and submit in a respectful way with their husbands. The Driscolls argue that the only way to experience marriage to its fullest is to embrace manhood and womanhood as the Bible defines it and to live out the roles that are prescribed in scripture. This is all to be commended… I agree with the Driscolls that the Song of Solomon is mainly about marital (sic) love.

I know of no complementarian, hard or soft, who would disagree with such a tender assessment. However, Pastor and Mrs Driscoll were somewhat explicit about their habits in the martial bed for a couple as sexually vanilla as Dr Dirk and his wife!  Fortunately, Prof. Denny “tried to summarize and critique as discreetly as possible” and, as I don’t know of some of the practices mentioned, I will have to defer to those more knowledgeable than I:

Chapter 10…has the simple title “Can We _____?,” and the Driscolls fill-in the blank of the chapter title with a variety of sexual activities that are sometimes considered taboo…If one judges a given behavior to be biblically lawful, relationally helpful, and non-addictive, then it is permissible for Christians to participate in that activity. Among the activities that the authors deem permissible within this taxonomy are masturbation, felatio/cunnilingus, sodomy (on both spouses), menstrual sex, role-playing, sex toys, birth control, cosmetic surgery, cybersex, and sexual medication.

At first I was worried I would have to partake in some or all of these and even look some of these practices up in a dictionary or on the internet. But mercifully Prof. Denny continued:

The Driscolls are careful to stipulate that these are activities spouses may participate in by mutual agreement, but not that they must participate in (p. 180). No spouse should be manipulated into doing anything that violates his or her conscience (p. 178).

Most importantly, Prof. Denny continues with Bible and pastoral critique:

The problems with the Driscolls’ advice, however, are not merely exegetical. They are also pastoral. Although some Christian authors comment on the ethics of a husband sodomizing his wife, I have yet to find any who contemplate the reverse. Yet the Driscolls give explicit instructions to wives about how they might sodomize their husbands in a pleasurable way (p. 188).

I’ve not read such Christian authors but I am thankful that Mrs Byrd will probably not be sodomizing me…and I still don’t know how that’s biologically possible! Helpfully, however, Prof. Denny shows that such strange activity is gay:

Yet where in the Bible is such an activity ever commended? The Bible only contemplates such activities in the context of homosexual relationships. Why would Christian couples emulate that unnatural use in the marital (sic) bed? What about a husband for whom such an activity might stir up homosexual desires that he has never experienced before engaging in this activity with his wife? I do not think that the Driscolls have reckoned with the view that says “immorality” (porneia) is possible within the marital (sic) bed. The Driscolls may disagree with this point of view, but they should at least engage biblical commentators who understand sodomy as a defilement of marriage.

Prof. Denny also raises some pertinent questions:

Is sexual holiness really upheld while engaging in cybersex with one’s spouse over the internet (p. 184)? Does anyone really think it wise for Christians to upload digital, sexual images of themselves to the internet even if it is only intended for a spouse? What if a third party were to intercept such an image and make it available to everyone with an internet connection? How the cause of Christ would be shamed by such a result! … Or what about the endorsement of “Sex Toys”? The Driscolls recommend purchasing them “from one of the more discreet Web sites” (p. 193), but this seems to me a precarious proposition. How does a Christian go about finding a “discreet” seller of sex toys? The authors give no specific vendor for such objects. Specific rather than vague guidance might be better here, since a search for “sex toys” is just as likely to connect Christians to pornography as it is to “discreet Web sites.”

Good gravy, I don’t even know what a sex toy would look like! I HOPE nothing like the Transformers I had as child!

But Pastor and Mrs Driscoll are, ultimately, good complementarians who have been guided by the cautious exegesis of Prof. Denny. It remains only to leave you with the wise words of peace, agape (but not eros!), and communion given by Prof. Denny:

I love and appreciate the Driscolls, and I am really grateful for the testimony that they share about their own marriage. I was genuinely helped by many of the practical exhortations in this book. I think many marriages would be strengthened by the Driscolls’ advice on becoming a friend to your spouse. Men would benefit from hearing Mark’s powerful call for husbands to grow up, take responsibility, and lead their families. Women would be edified to hear Grace’s testimony and passionate call for wives to follow the leadership of their husbands.

Vote and Discuss!

While the Word of God should not be reduced to voting in the realm of temporality, my wife and I were curious to assess the feeling out there in the pews. Please keep your answers graceful and serious; do not upset the cause of Christ.

  1. If discreetly available, should a loving soft complementarian couple use sex toys in the martial bed?
  2. If an Intra-web is available, should a loving soft complementarian couple upload illicit digitized images of themselves?
  3. Is sodomizing the soft complementarian husband in a pleasurable way gay?
  4. Should the soft complementarian husband perform felatio/cunnilingus?
  5. Should the loving soft complementarian couple administer sexual medication even if they have not passed a basic First Aid course?
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Apostasy Now!

It is with great disappointment we learn that Dr Michael Bird has given up his complementarianism (hard and soft) and become a secular liberal Bible scholar. While we would not presume to know what God knows, surely Pastor Randy is correct in his scripturally loyal judgment that Dr Michael has strayed from the narrow path. Dr Michael’s new book certainly has a title which still incorporates soft male dominance (Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Hair Cuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry) but falling from the grace of Christ is to renounce repentance as the Apostle Paul teaches us.

However, Dr Michael’s book is in a series of three Yuletide e-books released by Zondervan, the home of critical Bible scholarship. Two of the three are written by men and the third and final book symbolically restores the order of creation because it is written by a lady who shows complementarianism is not sexist because it allows ladies to promote and write the truth of Scripture in an e-book whilst reserving leadership roles for men. As Dr Michael writes: “to round up the series, Katherine Keller (wife of Tim Keller) has her own book on a similar topic”.

The Wife of Tim Keller, Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry

This original digital short by author Kathy Keller, co-founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, offers a personal and challenging perspective on biblical gender roles and the complementarian view—a preference for reserving certain leadership positions in ministry for men.

Complementarianism encompasses a range of disciples and views. We are undecided if the wife of Tim Keller is allowed to give public readings of her book or should be allowed to read to lady Christians in special house church gatherings.

 

Appendum

SPCE have confirmed that Dr Michael has indeed become a Biblical Feminist 😦

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Anyone for complementarian tennis?

When composing my latest sermon, I thought, “Isn’t it funny how theology really does play out into all areas of existence?”

Even in tennis.

Before the great schism and the formation of the National Association of Hard Complementarians, my wife (Sheryl) and I used to play mixed doubles with Pastor Randy and Mrs Hawk. There was even the possibility that we would invite Postmodernist Christians but they believe, in flat contradiction to the Plain Meaning of Scripture (Acts 20:24; Gal. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:24-26; 2 Tim. 4:7), that there’s nothing to be gained in labelling people “losers” and that we are all in fact “winners” just for taking part.

While we instead followed the Plain Meaning of Scripture, I noticed something interesting. Pastor Randy was hitting the ball equally as hard at me and my wife and even said that if she couldn’t hack it she shouldn’t be on the tennis court. He would also step in and take Mrs Hawk’s volleys as often as possible. That’s Hard Complementarianism in action, I thought.

I, on the other hand, saw how mixed doubles could also be more softly complementarian. I would pat my serves to Mrs Hawk but really hit my serves hard to Pastor Randy. Even though I would win most of our points, I encouraged my wife when she felt like “a let down”, tell her that she isn’t a bad player and that she should stick to those shots she’s good at, usually when returning Mrs Hawk’s serves. That’s Soft Complementarianism in action, I thought.

What other areas of life do you see theology in action? Join the debate!

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