What about the boys?

This post is a bit haphazard, but I hope you’ll stick with it to the end. First, I look at a timely study on the role men play in global gender equality. Then, I explore the Christian gender debate as a tragedy to the name of Christ. And lastly, I tie the two together and conclude the church is strengthed by recognizing gender equality.

The State of the World’s Girls

This year’s “State of the World’s Girls 2011″ is named “So, what about boys?” It is focused on educating men that traditional views of masculinity weaken society; and that societies improve as it recognizes gender equality. Throughout the world, girls and women are subjected to violence, poor education and stigmas simply because they are female. In many areas of the globe, men are conditioned to believe they are superior and women are inferior. This study explores how the traditional understanding of manhood hurts everyone. Gender equality is good for boys and men too.

So too does the notion that ‘real men’ are tough and hard and that the only appropriate emotion for them to display is anger. This does not just harm women and girls, it also damages men and boys.

A national survey of young men aged 15 to 19 in the US found that young men who adhered to traditional views of manhood were more likely to engage in substance use, violence and delinquency and unsafe sexual practices.

Young men have [among] the highest rates of death by traffic accidents, suicide and violence, all of which are related to the way that they are socialised to be men. In Western Europe, these external causes make up more than 60 per cent of mortality among boys and young men up to the age of 24.

Studies have shown that societies that value and educate women and girls steadily succeed over those who don’t. Poverty, disease and ignorance perpetuate itself when women do not share basic human rights, opportunities or voices with men. Both men and women, boys and girls, suffer when females are denied equality.

Increasingly, men themselves are acknowledging that they also are impoverished by rigid gender roles. Sharing power may in fact be empowering for everyone: not a diminishing of masculinity but an enhancement of it. In many societies, in many different parts of the world, men have voted for legislation that gives women rights. (p. 9)

The study concluded that global gender equality improves when men stand up for female equality; when men share their power. Even when men begin to serve in traditionally female roles. The study relates a few programs that teach husbands to join in the laundry tasks (not using a machine, but walking to a river and hand-washing!), child care and cooking.

“Imagine my girlfriend and I had a child. Do I have the right to change its diapers? I can already picture the looks on my friends’ faces if they saw me with a dirty nappy in my hand. They’ll make fun of me. Still, that is how I’d want to relate to my child. I want to be a caring dad. For most of my friends, that’s worth a good belly laugh.” Dikitso Letshwiti, 23, Botswana

So, is an answer to the world’s ills is found in gender equality, or is gender equality a result of the answer?

I sincerely believe the answer to what ails the world is faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly, some of the worst offenders of the world’s ailments have been inflicted in His Name: colonialism, crusades, inquisitions, slavery… and even now “biblical” gender distictions. Wait a minute, Kay! How can you put Christian gender roles in the same list as the crusades? Because the root of the problem is identical. The result may not be as violent (yet), but these social ills were perpetrated because Christians believed it was the will of God, all the while ignoring Jesus’ plea: Love God. Love others. Treat them like you wish to be treated yourself.

There is a group of Christians that believe the American church is in decline because men won’t be “men” and women are taking over. They believe it is God’s will for the church to have a masculine feel. That when a church feels too feminized, it is indicative the world is seeping into the Bride of Christ (how ironic). They preach a rigid heirarchy that places men on top.

After reading through the study I explained above, this sentiment sounds exactly like the world, to me.

Gender Equality strengthens everyone.

Historically, the ideals of Jesus seep into a culture, and transform it … like a mustard plant. The truth is a tiny seed, but it quickly grows to an astounding height. The article that I have linked in my sidebar, The Christian Liberation of Women, explains how the teachings of Jesus have liberated the delicate sex from the oppression of men. In fact, it states that

The advent of Christianity raised the dignity, freedom and rights of women to levels never before known in any other culture or religion. Indeed, as one historian put it: “The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of women.”

The love lesson of Jesus permeates every society it is planted in. The boys began to treat the girls as they wanted to be treated themselves. And through the years, those girls grew up into women with education, with rights and with a strong voice that began to change the way we view gender. Was it because men were acting in their God-given role to lead the women’s rights movement? No. It was because men had always held the power. Men had to share it.

As I read through the report above, I found myself hearing the words of Jesus. “I came not to be served, but to serve.” “The greatest among you should be like the weakest.” “Whoever takes the lowest position is the greatest.” It is a call to those who hold the power, to exchange it for the bondage of those he controls. The men must share. The report, and Jesus, call men to treat women as they themselves would like to be treated.

I am afraid today’s “Biblical Manhood” and its emphasis on who should have authority in the church,  weakens the church just as Jesus said it would. “Those who seek the greatest postion will come in last.” “The State of the World’s Girls 2011” report confirm that gender equality improves society for men and women; and the favoring of traditional masculinity roles leads to poverty, crime and early death. The church is stronger when it releases its women from worldly gender roles to serve the Lord Jesus in any capacity His Spirit leads. Boys, please share with the girls.

24 thoughts on “What about the boys?

  1. Retha, you forgot to include this quote in your “evidence” of my position as a [supposed] quiver-full member: “Suffice to say that I would encourage (and help) anyone against whom a crime has been committed to seek out protection and relief from that kind of oppression AND I would further encourage the prosecution of the perpetrator of the crime.” – in this case, that’s the father, right!?

    I feel like I have been tried and convicted of being in someone’s camp and believing a certain doctrine based upon very little evidence and MUCH judgment of my motives and intent: (e.g. “I think your summary was carefully crafted to avoid certain issues, as they make an authority-based world view look bad.”)

    Instead, my true intention was not at this time to go further into that topic on this specific blog (concerning a different topic).


    1. I withdraw my question 3 – it was a not a conviction, but a question. I know you are patriarchal, I have no reason to ask if you are quiverfull – birth control is not the topic here.
      If you feel you don’t want to discuss the rest on this thread, you could go to the trackback thread: “That hard question…” listed below. It is on topic there.


  2. Just because I believe I Timothy 2:9-15 is the Holy Spirit’s teaching … DOESN’T mean I’m necessarily in any other special “camp” of thinking

    It is the combination of everything you said about authority and slavery that make me ask this, not that one fact.

    My intention in answering your question was to provide a summary answer NOT to give a detailed account of the process

    Answering these questions would have been, at most, 51 words. Instead, you make a 139 word defense for not anwering.

    (Maximum 7 words for maximum 7 authorities in question 1, yes or no each for question 2 and 3, perhaps 10 or 20 words for question 4, two words – a number and % for question 5, and 10 or 20 for question 6.)

    Your summary said that you will encourage her to trust God to refine her while in her situation. As you will give long term attitude advice for staying in that situation, I still believe that taking her out is not your immediate intention. The same idea comes from how “embracing the protection of the law could be” God’s will. Not is. Long-term advice for how to work on her attitude while in that situation, most likely mean that you rank authority and going through correct authority channels as more important than the immediate safety of a child.

    I think your summary was carefully crafted to avoid certain issues, as they make an authority-based world view look bad.

    You could quote me every possible verse about parental authority, but rather remember how Jesus berated the Pharisees. They knew the scripture and could apply it in fine detail, but they forgot mercy and kindness and justice in the process. He scolded them a lot more than the adulterers and rebels against authority (one of his disciples was a zeolot, an anti-goverment rebel) and dishonest tax collectors.


  3. In 1 Corinthians 7:21-22b, Paul writes: Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman.(NASB)

    So, yes, if you a person held in bondage in a society whose law promotes slavery or female subordination , God has a plan for you. He says to submit, knowing that while a slave or obedient wife, you are still set free in Him.

    But God also says being free is better and you should take the freedom if you can.

    If God says it is preferable to be free, then the institution of slavery cannot be justified by God but only tolerated. If Christianity had set as its immediate goal the end of slavery, it wouldn’t have survived the 1st century. What’s more, trying to eradicate it at that point might have caused more chaos and suffering than slavery itself. Plus, Jesus’ goal was not to start a political revolution. Revolutions never get to the root of evil and injustice. But as time passed, slavery in the West passed away, due to the over-arching concepts of human dignity and freedom that are inherent in the gospel message and world view.

    It is probable that a woman living in a place like Saudi Arabia today would need to “not worry about it” and just serve her husband as unto the Lord. But this is not Saudi Arabia. In our western culture, woman need to listen to the “if you are able also to become free, rather do that” part of the verse.

    As for issues of exaltation and humility, when a person understands freedom fully, she/he will come to know that freedom is not really so much about the ability to do whatever one wants and does not exalt the person having it. It’s about responsibility and the ability to do what you believe is right.


  4. Whoa, Retha, I think you’re “barking up the wrong tree” here! Just because I believe I Timothy 2:9-15 is the Holy Spirit’s teaching through Paul (hence, the doctrine of the inspired Word of God) to the church DOESN’T mean I’m necessarily in any other special “camp” of thinking. One doesn’t have to lead to the other…

    Suffice to say that I would encourage (and help) anyone against whom a crime has been committed to seek out protection and relief from that kind of oppression AND I would further encourage the prosecution of the perpetrator of the crime. My intention in answering your question was to provide a summary answer NOT to give a detailed account of the process in handling a hypothetical situation. Neither do I care to do that here…sorry. I’ll leave that for yet another future blog…Kay?


  5. Retha, the teaching Paul was giving in I Cor. 7 concerning unbelievers and believers married to one another was actually quite different than teaching of the Old Testament and the Law. It was, in essence, a different way of doing things under the New Covenant. Paul was exercising his apostolic authority – and sanctioned by the Holy Spirit, if you believe the inspiration of the entire Scriptures.

    Paul also warned the Corinthians – and all Christians through the Word, I believe – and equally sanctioned Timothy’s teachings – a reflection of Paul’s own ways and words “which be in Christ.” See I Cor. 4:14-17. Thus, to pass off Paul’s teaching – the principle author and teacher of doctrine to the church – as “not of God” would be a dangerous thing!

    As far as your other question concerning the molestation of a 13 or 14 year old girl and what I would instruct her to do in that situation: I would encourage her to please God within that situation by appealing to the authority (including governmental) God has given to her for her protection, and still trusting God to teach her and refine her (if she is a believer) while in her situation. Ongoing anger, bitterness, and vengeance cannot be God’s will for her or anyone else, but embracing the protection of the law could be.


    1. Thank you for your honesty. I hope you will continue in staying honest, we need to hear your POV. We have two different topics before us right now. Although we disagree about Paul, I will drop that point now, as I don’t want to distract from this one: You will encourage this girl to go to authorities, “including govermental.” Now please be straight with me:
      1) What other authorities should she go to, and 2) is there an order to it? Is there one she should go to before she could go to the police?
      I assume you are from the way of thinking where a girl’s first authority is her father. 3) Is this assumption correct? Should the girl, in your view, go to her father first, or to someone else, or could she go straight to the police? I see you did not say “I will hear if she is in danger right now. If so, I will take her to the police/ invite her to sleep over at my place untill we two could go to the police together tomorrow.”
      Instead, you said “I will encourage her to please God within that situation.” So, she should first stay in that situation and get abused some more, and you will confront her sin of bitterness and anger if she feels that.
      4) What about confronting the sin of a man who molests a girl? Why would you not confront that? (I have an idea, but I want to hear it in your own words.)
      5) You say that embracing the protection of the law “could be” God’s will. How likely is it to be his will?
      6) Otherwise, what else could be his will?

      I repeat the questions:
      1) What other authorities did you have in mind?
      2)Is there an order to it? Is there one she should go to before she could go to the police?
      3) Are you a supporter of Christian patriarchy/ Quiverfull?
      4) Why would you not confront the sin of the man who molests his daughter?
      5) You say that embracing the protection of the law “could be” God’s will. How likely, according to you, is it to be His will?
      6) Otherwise, what else could be his will?


  6. Linda, by your reasoning we would still be under kings and emperors. But no– human governmental structures do change. The institution of civil government has not passed away, but the institution of monarchy has passed away in most first-world countries, to be replaced with representative government. Similarly, the institution of family authority has not passed away– children still need the authority of their parents. But yes, by and large, the institution of husband as sole head of the household has passed away, to be replaced with joint co-leadership by wives and husbands as a team. I for one embrace these changes as more closely approximating the principles of the New Creation kingdom, in which God is our Father, Christ is our Leader as the Firstborn Son, and the rest of us are equal-status brothers and sisters.

    As for your ideas about women in church leadership– what you are saying is that God cannot and will not ever call a woman into leadership of a congregation. But in China, God is calling them, and many women are serving in the growing Christian movement over there. Here in the US, women are feeling His call, and live their lives in frustration that men forbid them to answer. Fundamentally, this isn’t about “rights.” It’s about obedience to God, and openness to His ability to call anyone He wants, be it male or female.

    I’m all for practicing meekness. But if my sisters feel the call of God and want to obey it, I’m going to stand up for them to be allowed to do so, even as Martin Luther stood up against the church authorities in his day to proclaim that “the just shall live by faith.” God never said that in our obedience to authority we were not allowed to stand against injustice and the wrongdoing of people in power clinging to their power, when Christ said “not so among you.”

    So ok, we’ve come to an impasse– but I will not accept your implications that my reasons for my position are power-seeking, rights-grabbing and rebellion. That’s not what this is about at all.


  7. “1 Peter makes it clear that they are of humanity, not divine, and therefore it is ok to let them pass away.” Wow, Kristen, that’s a BIG jump right there! Even if your supposition on the passage is true – which I don’t believe THAT is the intent of the teaching (rather it is to teach us to be more like Christ as found in I Peter 2:20-25) – who says God WANTS these “human” institutions to pass away this side of eternity? Nowhere does God EVER teach that; rather He says to honor our authorities in Romans 13 for they were ordained BY God. To obey and honor authority IS love (Rom. 13:9-10) – until we make the choice to disobey God, that is. Hence, “as unto the Lord” is relevant in commands for wives to obey their husbands, children to obey their parents, servants to obey their masters, citizens to obey their government, etc.

    And, no, I won’t throw out the Holy Spirit’s direct command in I Timothy 2:11-15 because I want to be able to assert more spiritual authority within the church. We may never be able to fully understand the entire context of those verses, but obedience to them is expected, I believe. Rather than bristle against men’s authority as Christian women, why not practice giving thanks, supporting, and praying for their leadership within our churches as godly women called to good works. There is SO much women CAN do within their churches – why is it we seek the prominent position of leadership over men. Submission to authority (within the church or within other called roles; i.e., employees, wives, children, citizens, etc.) is never easy, but it IS pleasing to God. I believe we women SHOULD speak out against the practice of disobeying God in order to please our husbands (abuses sometimes found within patriarchal system – in every system it’s the case, though), BUT why does this teaching seem to go TOO far and finally reach the point where women are demanding their supposed spiritual rights. I don’t EVER see Christ doing that; rather He practiced meekness and WAITED for the honor (Phil. 2:5-12). He instructed women – and men – to follow His example. And when Christian women begin to be bitter that MEN aren’t doing what they are supposed to, we have James 5:9 and I Peter 2:23 to encourage us. Honor for a godly woman may not always come this side of eternity (Prov. 31 isn’t a promise after all), but it WILL come. Honor is better given than demanded!

    We two are probably at a crossroads on this subject; thankfully, Heaven will clear it all up for us. God bless!


    1. “I won’t throw out the Holy Spirit’s direct command in I Timothy 2:11-15 because I want to be able to assert more spiritual authority within the church.-Linda”

      Is it the spirit speaking in ;12-15, or Paul? Paul say “I permit not” in a tense that is translated in the most literal translations with “I am not currently allowing” or something like that.

      And Paul could distinguish between his own words and God’s, see 1 Cor 7:10&12


  8. Jaimie, the Noahitic Covenant (Genesis 9:1-7) established by God, which was pre-Moses-law (not replaced, if you will) lays down God’s requirement and judgment against those who would “shed man’s blood.” Of course there are other verses addressing this as well; that is a principle one. It’s true that Scriptures teach the importance of coming to the defense of “weaker” ones in our society; however, that should not be at the expense of sinning ourselves to do so. I believe the author of this blog is seeking to expose what she deems to be a wrong within the church – and speaking out against it. The danger – as with any interpretation of Scripture – is to miss the mark as to what God actually says/intends. Thus, it behooves each one of us to carefully study it and use God’s Word to formulate our belief-system and motivate our actions, knowing we will one day be held accountable for that very thing as well as our influence with God’s Word on the lives of others (see II Timothy 2:14-18 for an example).

    And – jumping from that thought – Kristen, you can rest assured that – if counseling a slaveowner in previous days – I would have encouraged him/her to apply the law of love toward God and his fellow man as well – especially obeying Scriptures addressed specifically to him as “master”. Don’t forget that God did institue a “year of jubilee” in the OT to address and help the injustices of slavery. I don’t believe the slavery system is the most loving way in our republic and would have sought to lawfully abolish it, but injustices DO happen – and when they do, God gives specific instructions, help, and hope to those who find themselves the victims of injustice. You’re right, it is an imperfect world we live in; thankfully, in whatever situation a “victim” finds him or herself in, we can EACH please God within it – whether we are a man, a slave, a woman, or even a blogger (ha).

    If I thought I couldn’t please God as a slave – or as a woman in submission to her husband – then I WOULD be in a predicament indeed. It’s not the POSITION one finds herself in that is all important (though it hurts like everything to be IN that position sometimes), but rather the FELLOWSHIP with God while IN that position that matters most. Remember, this is the same God that “approved” the cruel death of His own blameless Son (Is. 53:10) – the greatest injustice – yet Jesus layed aside His own rights and endured the effects of His Father’s Will in anticipation of the JOY and honor to follow.

    I Peter 2:18-25 says to the victim of injustice, “Follow His steps.” Please don’t ever take that scriptural HOPE away from victims in the world today by saying this truth is only relevant for THAT culture and time!


    1. Ok, Linda– but then it makes sense to me that if you’re going to say slavery was an institution that is not just in and of itself, and God was NOT endorsing it as His will for all time in Eph. 5-6, you could acknowledge that the patriarchal household where the husband has authority over the wife might be a way of doing marriage that is not just in and of itself, and that God was not endorsing it as His will for all time either– particularly since it’s part of the same passage. Also, yes, the context of 1 Peter 2 is about Christians living under unjust institutions, and it is not an endorsement of those institutions either. In fact, if you read 1 Peter 1 and 2 closely, you will see that “wives submit to your husbands” there falls under the heading “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” (Emphasis added.) What this means is that the patriarchal household is being viewed by Peter as a human institution, not something laid down from the beginning by God. So if the words to masters about treating their slaves with love did not endorse slavery, but laid the foundation for society’s eventual rejection of slavery, could it not be that the words to husbands about loving their wives and laying down their lives for them/respecting them as fellow heirs, be not an endorsement of husband authority, but rather a foundation for its eventual rejection?

      And why, if slavery is no longer an institution in our society today, and we do not seek to re-establish it, are we seeking to re-establish patriarchal households in our society today, with they are no longer an institution either? 1 Peter makes it clear that they are of humanity, not divine, and therefore it is ok to let them pass away.

      If you want to go back to Adam and Eve and say that Adam was in authority over Eve from the beginning– if that is your justification– then let me submit to you that the text does not actually support this view, and it is a contradiction of Genesis 1:26 (which makes them co-rulers with equal authority). The only way you can get patriarchy before the Fall is by imposing a particularly problematic interpretation of 1 Tim 2:11-15 onto the Genesis text, rather than letting the Genesis text (the far earlier one) inform your reading of what Paul might or might not have meant in 1 Tim 2:11-15.

      May I suggest that you have a look at my in-depth analysis of 1 Tim 2:11 -15? It might make it clearer where I’m coming from.



    2. Linda, suppose you hear of a girl, say about 13 or 14, who is molested by her father. Would your words to her be Eph 6:1, obeying her parents? Would you tell her that she could please God within her situation, and leave her there?

      If not, by what reasoning would you help her?


  9. Linda– Wow. Just– wow. The implications of what you’re saying are that if you had lived in 1850, you would have been a pro-slaveholder rather than an Abolitionist. I hardly know what to say to that.

    I believe that basic human rights come from God, and that as Christians we are to honor them and work to make our societies do the same. I believe that it was never God’s will that humans own one another, though He accommodated that while moving them towards a better way. I also believe that it was never God’s will that male humans be in charge of female humans; this was the result of the Fall, and it has been perpetuated in every society since, but is NOT part of the New Creation kingdom of God. Nor do I think God was baptizing first-century Greco-Roman culture as His will in every age, just because the people His word came to lived in that culture.

    In short, we couldn’t be further apart in our hermeneutic. I cannot live with the implications of yours, nor could I serve such a god as it turns God into. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh– it’s not meant as a personal attack, but simply as a statement of my position. Here I stand, I can do no other; God help me.


  10. Kristen, I have found I “do better” by staying more focused on whether or not I (emphasize I) please God rather than if my neighbor is doing all HE can. I believe Jesus was teaching EACH ONE of His disciples to humble him-or-herself in whatever way that will look like in their personal and cultural setting. However, I also believe Scripture DOES teach us what God expects from men, women, children, servants/slaves, government, etc. Thus, although slavery existed (even seemed to be promoted by God, but for the sake of captives who needed their basic existence provided for them to even physically live) – and people have been wrongly abused within slavery – I don’t see God (through Paul) encouraging all the Christian slaveowners in the New Testament to give a blanket ticket to freedom to all their slaves. Rather, the admonition was for slaves/servants to please God within the system, recognizing they were really serving God rather than their earthly owners. (Titus 2:9-11; I Cor. 7:20-24)

    In fact, this passage in Titus actually is a BEAUTIFUL commentary on Galatians 3:26-28, the very passage at the heart of this discussion. Note that it also states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither BOND nor FREE, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Titus, Paul expounds on this to shew God’s meaning (in fact, he calls Titus his own son after the “COMMON faith” in 1:4). God speaks directly to the men, women, young men, and even servants/slaves, admonishing them to serve God within their specific roles – not to seek to be FREE from those roles (though if freedom comes, use it for God accordingly – I Cor. 7:20-24). Either way, a slave OR a woman has the ability to TOTALLY please God within their specific circumstances and roles. And it is THAT goal we each must seek. The world’s philosophy says a man, a woman, and a servant/slave has RIGHTS; America’s culture fights for it even more profoundly; now (I believe) the church has picked up the mantra to a certain extent.

    Titus 2:11 says the “grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men” – some of those groups are delineated in the previous verses of that chapter. God is willing – and HAS – saved men, women, slaves, rulers, Greeks, Jews – there is NO respector of persons with God!!! BUT He DOES describe what He wants a woman to be in EVERY culture (Titus 2:3-5 – and other places) AND what He wants a servant/slave to be in EVERY culture (Titus 2:9-10) AND, thankfully, what He wants a man to be in EVERY culture (Titus 2:2; 6-8 and other places). AND we ALL can apply Titus 2:12-15 WITHIN OUR SPECIFIC ROLES. After all, it’s all about good works as unto the Lord and holiness, waiting for the coming of the Lord. As a woman – or as a slave, if that should occur – I am FREE to serve God with great rewards to come!

    Lastly, your last paragraph I have no disagreement with; all that men and husbands should be willing to do out of love for God and their neighbors. It’s the specifics that contradict and/or twist Scripture (I Tim. 2:12; I Peter 3:1-6) of which I will disapprove.


    1. But aren’t you actively pro-life? So you believe in mandating that no woman should have an abortion, ie, protect the rights of the unborn, but all other rights are of the world’s philosophy? Where does the Bible give mankind the right to life?

      Since abortions are lawful in the United States, Biblically you should allow fetuses to please God within the system. By petitioning for their rights and meddling in their situation, you are denying them the chance to humble themselves. You are picking and choosing Bible verses (and inventing a few others). I’m not saying you can’t change laws within our democracy, but until that law is changed, you are interfering with a unborn child’s ability “to TOTALLY please God within their specific circumstances and roles.”


  11. Linda, a few questions.

    With regards to “he that humbles himself shall be exalted,” I have to ask the more obvious question: Is that verse only for the women in the room? Are the men in power humbling themselves? Are they taking the lowest seats at the banquet (per Jesus’ parable)– or are they holding as hard as they can to the highest seats, while insisting that those in the lowest seats are out of order in expressing any desire whatsoever to move up? Why do we insist that it is women who are exalting themselves by suggesting that the men at the top might share? It’s not like we’re asking to take over all the highest seats. We just want to share the highest seats with them.

    Second question: Is it not true that the Bible has an overall “feel” that is pro-slavery throughout? It is certainly true that the anti-Abolitionists in the 1800s in the USA accused the Abolitionists of abandoning the “face value” reading of the Scriptures in favor of “dangerous picking and choosing.” The Abolitionists, instead, were looking at the nature of the New Creation kingdom of God as presented in the New Testament (such as Gal. 3:28-4:6), rather than at the passages discussing practical living (such as Ephesians 5 or 1 Peter 2). The Abolitionists determined that what mattered was the New Creation, just as Paul also said– and that the New Creation said something about what our lives on earth should look like, rather than the other way around.

    Final question: Is it “throwing out” a verse to determine first what the original author meant to say, and what the original audience would have been most likely to have understood him to say? Or is that just proper exegesis? Most Bible scholars agree that this is proper exegesis: that we can’t know what a passage means for us, until we understand what it originally meant to them. What if the way they would have read a passage like Ephesians 5:21-33 was something like “Husbands, you have all the power in your marriages. You are used to looking at your wives as property. You are to stop looking at them that way. You are to lay down your power and privilege as Christ laid down His, and raise your wives up to be glorious, as Christ raises up the church? What if the direction the church is now taking male-female relations is in the opposite direction from where the Holy Spirit was leading the early church?


  12. Sorry, Kay, I think I missed that reply on the Isaiah passage the first time around…or I’ve simply forgotten (probably the case). I’ll go back and look at it.

    Kristen, good comments. Tim, seems in your comment, Jesus was emphasizing that God didn’t give the same “set” of laws as what they (man instigated) had become. His instigation of the law and society for Israel was a much better one than what it had become.

    I’m afraid that this assertion/teaching towards women’s “biblical rights” goes too far for me to see it within Scripture – aside from any one else’s (seemingly) “wresting” of the scriptures. When one just sits down and reads through the Bible, the predominant message is more in line with a complementarian viewpoint (though with discaimers). However, the good news is that we women can also abide within God’s guidelines for His kingdom, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12) Or is this verse only for the men (in power) in the room?

    Point is, in my opinion, a woman must forsake taking Scripture at face value in order to come up with the egalitarian viewpoint. Now whether that is because of the culture during the time of the writing of Scripture – maybe. But I think it’s pretty dangerous to begin picking and choosing which Scriptures are culturally-driven rather than Holy Spirit-driven, especially when there are such point-blank commands for women concerning their role in the church that complement the overall “feel” of a woman’s role all throughout the Bible. We’d have to “throw out” more verses than I care to do so.

    But…you DO get me thinking, Kay…


  13. In fact we KNOW it was not ideal, Jesus says: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way.” (Mat 19:8 NET) The law (“Moses” cf. Deut 24) was not God’s ideal but adapted to hard human hearts.


  14. Linda, I think it’s a mistake to conclude that just because God gave Israel the Law, He was instigating their culture or setting up an ideal society. The text contains plenty of evidence that they already had a culture– and Ancient Near East tribal one– and that God was giving them the type of society that they could understand and assimilate. It was “perfect” for that people at that time, in that it was the best they could reach for.

    But to say it was an “ideal society” is to say, among other things, that God’s perfect society includes slavery, polygamy, treating women as property, and beatings/cutting off body parts as proper punishment for criminals.

    God was accommodating that people, in their limitations. Today He accommodates us in our limitations, and there is no such thing as “God’s ideal society” that is achievable here on earth. All we can do is strive to let the principles of the New Creation (including dignity and equal justice for all) be realized in our earthly societies to the fullest extent we can.


  15. “The State of the World’s Girls 2011″ report confirm that gender equality improves society for men and women; and the favoring of traditional masculinity roles leads to poverty, crime and early death.”

    Yet, this is the culture – the ideal society – that God chose to instigate with the Israelites. There was a definite leaning to masculine leaders and patriarchal society….or do you think this was set up to show it DOESN’T work? Similar to the law? Yet it wasn’t the LAW that was imperfect – but the people within the system.

    Isaiah 3:12, which insinuates that when women ruled a society, it was a shame to the men, does show God’s take on what He meant society to “look like”. Not that God didn’t set up women to rule at times, but for the intent of awakening His people to the state of disrepair they were in. I realize you say it all changed with the cross, yet it must not have been such a terrible injustice to women and society or God wouldn’t have instigated it.


    1. God did not instigate the patriarchial society. Patriarchial society is a result of the fall. ( https://kbonikowsky.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/problem-passages-genesis-316/) God worked within the culture of the time. Patriarchial society, as well as the society under the Mosaic law, works. But, the point isn’t that it WORKS, but that there is a better way. The better/ best way is life in the Spirit birthed by faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, there is no worldly heirarchy.

      You’ve asked about Isaiah 3:12 before under my Deborah post. Here was my reply:

      • 1.Understanding the word “rule” in Isaiah 3 helps me understand the situation a little more. I assume this “rule” is tyranny, total domination. God is proclaiming how weak Israel has become. Women and people acting like foolish children controlled the people! In what way were they domineering? By leading the people into paganism. The rest of the chapter describes Asherah (Diana) worship and the fertility rites that accompany it. Which is what women rulers “priestess” is most likely referring to. Those leading Israel into false worship.
      • 2.My conclusion is that since the context is false religion as led by the priestesses of Asherah, it doesn’t seem to be making a specific gender statement, but rather a reflection of the fertility/sex religion that was leading God’s people astray. It wasn’t woman rule that was disgraceful, but WHAT the women were domineering them to do.


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