Eugene Cho

does the responsibility of God’s glory fall upon men?

A post with Fabio as the lead image is worth reading.

In response to my post yesterday about the pending death of the TNIV version of the Scriptures, one of my readers, Joe Louthan, contributed a comment that I thought was worth posting as a separate post and he was gracious to let me share it today. I very much appreciated the tone and manner he shares both his thoughts and presents some straightforward questions so I am obviously asking my readers and commenters to do your usual thing and engage in thoughtful, engaging, and civil engagement.

Here’s his comment:

To you, Eugene and those from the gender neutrality/inclusive camp, may I ask this:

You want the Bible to address both brothers and sisters equally. Yet, the vast majority of the weight of responsibility falls on the men. For our wives, our children and the people we lead. Their lack of spiritual growth falls a little bit on them but most of it is on us. We men have to give account of all the people we were responsible for.

Now, I have not read the TNIV. The NIV, to me, doesn’t read very well. It is a bear for me to read through it. That and the mistranslations are glaring. (I know there is no perfect translation.)

I know or assume that the TNIV did not go through blindly and replace ‘brothers’ with ‘brothers and sisters’, etc..

You say that we there is this push for machismo, Ultimate Fighter Christians and I completely acknowledge that without the Spirit of Christ, that could go wrong in a hurry.

But answer me this, is not the American Church overmothered and underfathered? Futhermore, doesn’t the Bible clearly place the majority of the weight of glory and responsibility on the men?

In short, my answer is, “No.” I do not believe the weight falls exclusively or on the vast majority on men. This, in my opinion, has been part of the problem. God created both men and women for mutuality and partnership. And while I agree that there are men that need to grow up in maturity, spirituality, and responsibility…I can say the very exact same things for women.  As we’ve concluded a two year study through the book of Acts, it would be a dire mistake to think that the responsibility falls on men such as Peter and Paul, but rather, the emphasis should be (as you’ve partly acknowledged) on the Holy Spirit. When women and men yield and submit their lives to the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s will and work will be done.

These are my words alone but my fear in reading the trajectory of the worldview in the comment above is that I don’t see how one can’t come to the subtle or not so subtle scary inclination that…

Men are more important.

Enough of my thoughts. Please discuss.

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Filed under: bible, christianity, Jesus, pastors, religion

52 Responses

  1. esther says:

    Joe says… “Yet, the vast majority of the weight of responsibility falls on the men. For our wives, our children and the people we lead. Their lack of spiritual growth falls a little bit on them but most of it is on us. We men have to give account of all the people we were responsible for.”

    This does not even line up with what the Scriptures tell us. Nowhere in Scripture is a husband told to lead his wife. Men are told to sacrifice for their wives, to love their wives and to be the head. (and when i am saying head i’m sure some will read that as lead but that correlates metaphorically to the woman as the body)
    Also both men and women received the command to “go and make disciples”. We are all – both men and women equally – responsible before God for all our actions here on earth. I started being a more respectful, loving wife when I realized that I am responsible for my own actions, not when my husband took more “responsibility”.

  2. eliseanne says:

    Bless you for bravely stating that conclusion to your public.

  3. attgig says:

    “For our wives, our children and the people we lead. Their lack of spiritual growth falls a little bit on them but most of it is on us. We men have to give account of all the people we were responsible for.”

    I’ve struggled with this question as I’ve been going through premarital counseling right now. Growing up, my worldview has always been that men have the responsiblity, similar to what Joe said. However, as I’ve been discussing scriptures concerning role of men/women, I think my worldview has changed.

    imi (in my interpretation?), headship is Christ’s, not man’s. Responsibility (as much as men love to feel like they’re responsible for things, and being relied upon – at least I do, and I think that’s where this idea sticks with me) is not man’s but on everyone. Women are not mere automotans to do the will of men (and if they don’t, to be ones accused of not submitting).
    Now, within a union, responsibility can be delegated to one part or another for things, as each is gifted. But to put the responsibility of the other’s spiritual welfare of the rest of the family on the man? I don’t know. Does that mean, if the man is having a hard time spiritually, the rest of the family must also be having a hard time spiritually? I think men can do certain things to create an environment of spiritual growth, but why can’t the woman either?

    anyways, lots of jumbled thoughts still…and for me, it’s still hard to shake off something that was ingrained into me since the beginning of my life.

  4. Erick says:

    Esther, thanks for your thoughts, very well put.

    Male ego can be dangerous. I think it’s safe to say that all of us (males) are guilty of a love of control/power/(personal)glory…and the world continues to feed us these things, but that does not justify it.

    I want to encourage us all to read Ephesians ch.5 as it speaks equally to both men and women (husbands and wives) in this context. Most importantly, Eph 5:21 “…and be subject to one another in fear of Christ” -this is the mutuality Esther is speaking to.

    God tells us to do all things in love, nothing is excluded-that is a mighty and helpful word to me from God.

    I’ll end with a question for Joe: Could you explain more about what you mean when you say: “is not the American Church overmothered and underfathered?” I think I know what you’re getting at, but I’d just like to clarify it. Thanks for being willing to have your post shared so that we can converse about these things.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Joe,

    I am a married woman, I am also a daughter and a church member with a male lead pastor. When things come up in my life which I do not have the spiritual maturity to deal with, whose responsibility is it? If my husband, parents and pastor are responsible for my spiritual growth, it would be so easy to stay a spiritual child and blame them for the things I lack. I just cant beleive that when the scripture calls adults to maturity, it is talking mainly to men, who are then responsible for the women. Women are responsible for their own spiritual health. That’s not a task anyone can take on for you.

  6. Julie says:

    The idea that the church is “overmothered” is so strange to me. Who is leading the majority of churches? Who actually has “deciding power” in the majority of churches? (It’s not women.)

    True, more women attend church and consider themselves religious than men. True, older church buildings often show signs of being completely decorated by a lace-making women’s ministry from the 1950s. True, women are more likely to volunteer for children’s ministry duty.

    But just because a church is decorated by your grandmother or Sunday School is taught by your mother doesn’t mean that church is over-mothered. It means that women don’t sit quietly and “take it” as well as some male leaders might like them to – they’ll find ways be involved.

    It means that the church is over-segregated. Women are told that they have no responsiblity for other adults; men are told that decorating and children are a woman’s role. (And it is the lack of men in children’s ministry, I would argue, which is one of the key reasons that there are more adult women in church pews than adult men.) Mutuality and partnership lack in ministry to both adults and children.

    Certainly the Bible was written in a culture which operated where men and women were segregated, where men inherently had more responsibility in some areas. (It was also written at a time when a male pronoun could be understood universally, which is not the case in today’s English…) Yet this makes the Bible’s statements about communal living in Acts or women learning from Jesus in the gospels all the more striking – Jesus treated men and women first as humans, not first as humans-fitting-into-a-particular-gendered-category.

    The question shouldn’t ever be, “What should my role in church be as a woman?” The question should be, “What should my role in church be as a Christian, led by the Spirit?” I don’t mean to say that I need to ignore the fact that I am a gendered human being, but just that, in Christ, “there is neither male nor female.”

  7. Jin says:

    “But answer me this, is not the American Church overmothered and underfathered?”

    Until i came to my current church, I’ve never been in any church with a woman pastor (except for children’s ministry) or a woman on an elder board. Of the thousands of sermons preached to me, the number of sermons by women can be counted on my left hand. Is the church really overmothered and underfathered?

  8. Kacie says:

    I really appreciate when men call men to step up and father families and churches. I have NO problem with that. I encourage it, I appreciate it.

    As long as it doesn’t dismiss the call for mothers and leaders among women as well.

  9. Travis says:

    From my understanding of church history, Most of the early church leaders were women. that was one of the attacks that many outsiders had on the church. Women and children actually led the way for recruiting believers and many “educated minds” thought that it must be a dumb religion for that reason. Many of the strong females were the ones that we read about in the martyr stories.

    I feel that once the church became organized and had to be “ruled” over is when we have seen the male dominance. And once male dominance is established, we want to say it is a male responsibility to keep it that way. The spirit works with men and women both.

    Last month, my denomination, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), met and we heard great calls from our female leaders, including out General Minister and President, as well as from male leaders. If one were to tell me that Sharon Watkins didn’t have the Spirit of God at work in her simply because she’s a woman, i would stop listening to them.

  10. Travis says:

    From my understanding of church history, Most of the early church leaders were women. that was one of the attacks that many outsiders had on the church. Women and children actually led the way for recruiting believers and many “educated minds” thought that it must be a dumb religion for that reason. Many of the strong females were the ones that we read about in the martyr stories.

    I feel that once the church became organized and had to be “ruled” over is when we have seen the male dominance. And once male dominance is established, we want to say it is a male responsibility to keep it that way. The spirit works with men and women both.

    Last month, my denomination, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), met and we heard great calls from our female leaders, including our General Minister and President, as well as from male leaders. If one were to tell me that Sharon Watkins didn’t have the Spirit of God at work in her simply because she’s a woman, i would stop listening to them.

  11. Travis says:

    sorry, for the double post. you can delete one if you want.

  12. jeff says:

    Leadership is a harsh, brutal, and heavy burden. No, I don’t believe that men are more important than women but I do believe that God, for whatever reason, has placed the extra burden on men, and called women under even a heavier burden of submitting to men.

  13. Joy says:

    @ Eugene…thanks for pursuing this dialogue…and thanks to Joe for your willingness to let your ideas be featured to evoke our conversation here. This is an important issue.
    @ Julie…your reply was brilliant. Truly. I cannot think of a thing to add to your thoughts…

  14. gailsongbantum says:

    ok. wow.

    first of all, i do appreciate the honesty and forthrightness of joe’s question/assertion.

    so, if we were to think along these lines of sole male responsibility and leadership, this would suggest that when we all stand before god to give an account, 1) the obvious would be that i, as a woman, wouldn’t have to stand before god and 2) the men better ratchet it up because at the rate ya’ll are operating, you’re on a path straight to failure. but of course you’d be on a path to failure, right? because men are human. men are created, not the creator. we are all created beings in need of the one who formed and created all things.

    what if we were to imagine the relationship between male/female through a christological lens? in the person of christ we are fully and wholly represented –christ as not merely an example or the one to whom our worship is directed, but the one who continually prays for and on our behalf. what we cannot adequately express, christ has already redeemed and continues to redeem through the spirit. the spirit’s transformative work in the binding of our lives into christ’s life frees us from the bondage of self-conscious fear and pride. for it is christ whose perfect life of worship exemplified for us a perfect response. it is this christ that acted and embodied ways of being that may not have been “appropriate” by the community’s standards at the time. as fully god and fully human, jesus was born in a poor manger, powerless; he sat with and forgave the samaritan woman; he walked amongst the lepers, the sick and the blind and healed them; he ate with the tax collectors; he allowed himself to be anointed by a woman; he died extravagantly, humiliated and scorned. this is the christ whose life we have been brought into.

    christ defied all expectations, assumptions, realities and possibilities. christ’s physical body as particularly male also transgressed all notions of what maleness ought to look like. he did not come with a hyper-machismo-like persona. rather, christ came as the slave (philippians 2:5-11). this pneumatological christ was empowered to express more than what was imaginable. in this way, i would like to suggest that our lives, both male and female, empowered by the same spirit that was with christ, defy failing gendered categories of existence and rather reclaim what it means to be the body of christ.

  15. Andy M says:

    The idea that the church is “overmothered” and “underfathered” doesn’t make any sense to me, because I don’t believe that you can be “overmothered” at all. You can only “under” achieve when it comes to being a mother or father. If you “over” do it, then you are actually “under” achieving as a parent because you are not fulfilling the ideal of mothering or fathering. I don’t know if that will make sense to anyone, but that is how I think of it.

    Maybe if you can picture a dartboard with a bullseye, and the bullseye is the ideal of “Mother” (Bullseye=Mother). If someone misses the bullseye they have “undermothered”, whether they missed by throwing it too high, too low, too far to the right, etc. Does that make sense?

    So in that sense, I think that the church is undermothered, and underfathered.

    I also think a lot of this problem stems from fundamental misunderstandings about gender. It is just like how much of my family tells me that I just have to get ready, because my little 8 month old girl is going to love pink, princesses, barbie, and Highschool Musical whether I like it or not. To them those things are part of being female, but that, I feel, is degrading. On the other side of things, around where I grew up hunting is considered almost essential to being male. But I’ve never had any interest, so what does that make me? It is degrading and innacurate to put these kinds of stereotypes on boys and girls.

    But on the other hand, I recognize that there are distinct differences between males and females. I am not the type that believes that there are no differences except for the body parts. Males and females are built differently, that is obvious.

    So I think that we need to explore the realities of what it means to be male and female, not from the limited perspectives of stereotypes, but from the perspective given by the love of God for every single person, unique in gifts and personality.

    And as far as the Bible putting the weight of responsibility on the men. That is just untrue. Think of it this way. While the men in the bible may have had the weight of much of the obvious stuff, Moses, David, etc. You have to keep in mind that behind the scenes were the women. Wives and mothers to these men who raised them up. The weight of raising the children was placed heavily on the women. History and psychology has made if plain that people become who they are raised to be, so if Moses was the most humble man in the world, we can probably attribute much of that to his mother. If David really was a man after God’s heart, then we can attribute much of that to his mother. The men of the Bible could not have existed and lived as they did without the underrepresented women behind the scenes. Look at Jesus, he was supported financially by women, but they are given very little attention in the NT in comparison to the men. (Just to be clear, I don’t think that women should be limited to being stay-at-home moms just because most of biblical women were, it is just a fact of that culture and time period that raising children were probably most women’s contributions to society.)

    Just look at the Creation narrative. God created the world in a process of increasing complexity and beauty. When God created life, he began with vegetation, then birds of the sky and creatures in the waters, then animals on land, and Man, and then Woman. The creation of Eve, it could be said, is the pinnacle or climax of creation. I’m sure that there would be some that would argue with that, but I think that it is important.

  16. I deeply appreciate all of the comments on this thread. One thing I’d like to add is the specifics of the TNIV retranslation. The primary drive behind gender-neutrality wording has to do with the greek word “anthropos”.

    A century ago when “anthropos” was translated as “man” it was an accurate translation. But now English has evolved and we read “man” not as a universal term but as a male-specific word. In greek it means “human”; there’s no connotation of either male or female. Translating it as “men and women” or “people” is much more accurate in 21st-century American English.

  17. elderj says:

    Well quite honestly the church is full of women, is run by for about about the concerns of women, and despite the predominance of male leadership, largely caters to the concerns of women; thus women are its primary constituency.

    Additionally almost every sphere of authoritative influence in the lives of youth (both boys and girls) is dominated by women, chiefly education. Images of men on television are notoriously negative with men playing the role of the irredeemable but likeable slacker, the rakish playboy, or the angry/suspect/unbalanced policeman/cop/scientist. In fact church is likely one of the few places a young boy is likely to see any sort of male leadership modeled on a consistent basis in a positive way.

    By almost every conceivable social measurement, men in our society are exactly faring well (see my post on “Does God like girls better than boys?”). Women outnumber men in college and men are told consistently that women are “more mature than men,” a sentiment I hear far too frequently among Christian college students that really has no real basis in fact or applicability beyond generally broad and unhelpful social categories, yet which succeeds in undermining both the esteem of men and inflating the ego of women.

    I think perhaps Joe’s comments reflect a larger social reality that the church is not doing a very good job of addressing; which failure is attributable to my first statements about the primary “consumer” of church: women. It is with far too much ease that we talk about men having “an ego problem” with the implication being that there is something ontologically wrong with them.

    Biblically speaking, neither man nor woman is independent of the other, and yet this interdependence is not interchangeability and there are reasons beyond “patriarchal dominance” that men tend to occupy the highest positions in society (though few seem to note that men also dominate the lowest positions in society as well). If we are to take scripture seriously, and I trust that we do, we must note that instructions given to husbands are far more extensive than those given to women and though not explicitly, certainly implicitly suggest a greater measure of accountability related to the household. And scripture pointedly does not assert that the man is the glory of the woman, but rather the other way ’round. The full import of this is unclear, but it is not insignificant.
    /endrant

  18. Jennifer says:

    ElderJ,

    Actually, there is some science behind the idea that women are more mature than men – at least if you’re talking about people under 40. A woman’s brain reaches maturity before a man’s does, in part, because her body is basically done growing by age 13 or 14…while many men are still growing through age 20. Her body has more resources to devote to brain development because she doesnt need them for physical development. Everything pretty much equals out by 35 or 40 though.

  19. elderj says:

    Jennifer, I am aware of the science to which you refer. I reject their interpretation of the data as the word “mature” has a particular connotation which is unhelpful since what is meant by “mature” is rather subjective. A negative way of reading the same data would be to say that women get stuck in the same mental patterns earlier than men and are therefore less innovative and creative, which is why there are so many more top notch male artists and why women are not as good at math as men.

    See it isn’t helpful especially since such data reporting is true only in the aggregate and not in the particular and have no meaning in any given context.

    However that was not the point I was making.

  20. gailsongbantum says:

    i’m a little bit worried yet intrigued with this discussion…how are we not continuing to perpetuate the assertion of self and power without any mention of CHRIST? where is christ in any of it?!!? how has christ redeemed, reclaimed, renamed, all of this mess? how did christ redeem the master/slave narrative but to come as the slave; how did christ redeem the male/female narrative but to be born of a woman and refute all norms of masculinity?

    in jesus’ humanity, his maleness is not equivalent to his divinity. his maleness isn’t the source of his power nor does it establish men in a way that subjects women. the way he inhabits his maleness frees men and women, husbands and wives, to relate to one another with a freedom in christ. this freedom is not one of responsible dominance but of mutual subjection.

  21. eliseanne says:

    Ah snap, elderj. Think through some of your philosophies here please.

    I’ll start with your last bit, that men are more creative and better at math then women. That’s pretty much both sides of the brain so that leaves women to be good at….cleaning house? breastfeeding? Come on.

    Perhaps the reality is that throughout the white/euro-american ages:
    a) men only were educated
    b) educated men only passed on their education to men
    c) the only educated people to take up top-notch jobs were men
    d) employed men hired only men
    e) stereotypes and models of men as better at hard science and money/math because they are the only ones allowed to be educated and employed in it
    f)when women did get education it was minimal and “home ec” and are said to be bad at math.

    For the good of yourself and all others, please explore your societal sexist upbringings.

    Peace.

  22. Jennifer says:

    I would just want to add that it IS true that more men are in the higher IQ brackets…but more men are in the lower ones too. It’s as if nature can take more chances with men – because really, if 90% of the men on the planet died, the only thing that is going to happen is that the remaining men will have more sex. If 90% of the women died, we’d be in major crisis as a species.

  23. elderj says:

    Eliseanne – I think you’ve missed my point entirely which was to point out that aggregate data points can easily be misinterpreted and put to less than honorable purposes. Let’s deal with what I am not and did not say.

    I did not say men are better at math and more creative than women. I said that there are more top notch artists who are men and that men are better (on average) at math than women. This is indisputably factual just as it is true that women are better (on average) than men at verbal communication. Women are better at breastfeeding too!!

    You said:

    Perhaps the reality is that throughout the white/euro-american ages:
    a) men only were educated

    This is false; most men and women were uneducated or were taught at home. Men are and have been more likely to leave school early due to the need to work, etc. Illiteracy rates are generally higher among men.

    b) educated men only passed on their education to men

    Largely true at the university level especially

    c) the only educated people to take up top-notch jobs were men

    True, but even if false most of these jobs would not have gone to women because of discrimination and the unavailability of women.

    d) employed men hired only men

    False. Both men and women were employed especially during the industrial revolution at jobs most women were glad to give up in exchange for being supported by a husband making a living wage. Besides women were not and are not well suited physically to strenuous manual labor with some few exceptions.

    e) stereotypes and models of men as better at hard science and money/math because they are the only ones allowed to be educated and employed in it

    This is flatly false. Women are no more excluded from working in the hard sciences than men though many fewer tend to go into those fields.

    f)when women did get education it was minimal and “home ec” and are said to be bad at math.

    Historically both men and women received “vocational” and practical education: home econ for women, wood shop or mechanic for men – because that was realistically what they would be doing in life. The education of wealthy people was exceptional and wealthy women were far more educated generally than poor or even middle class men in literature, mathematics, art, etc.

    I am well aware of how women have been educated and not educated historically. I have explored my supposedly sexist societal upbringing (about which you know nothing); you however, seem to have not questioned the patriarchal oppression narrative of history that you’ve been taught.

  24. daniel so says:

    Elderj – You wrote, “Well quite honestly the church is full of women, is run by for about about the concerns of women, and despite the predominance of male leadership, largely caters to the concerns of women; thus women are its primary constituency.” — While this might be true of your experience in the church, I think many of us have experienced just the opposite. The church is run by men and largely caters to the concerns of men.

    I don’t think your statement about men occupying the lowest positions of society. From my limited experience working with a non-profit organization that deals with global poverty & justice issues, it is women & children who are the most oppressed around the world.

    I do agree that we, as the church, should model healthy expressions of man & womanhood to our kids (exactly *how* we do that is certainly up for debate as well). I also agree with your sentiment (if I read correctly) that if we seek to build up one group (either women or men), we should not accomplish that by trying to knock down the other.

  25. daniel so says:

    Whoops… in the second paragraph above, I meant to write, “I don’t think your statement about men occupying the lowest positions of society is accurate.”

  26. Dan says:

    I think that Jack Danger Canty got it exactly right. The TNIV was an attempt to accurately translate what a number of gender-neutral Greek words meant. A century ago “men” could mean “human beings in general” and now, not so much.

    What strikes me about Joe’s comment is that in one sense it is very conservative in that he favours a gender-based hierarchical complementarity. At the same time though he does not like the TNIV because he can’t make a faithful translation fit his value-system. This is what conservatives criticize liberals in the church for all of the time – trying to rewrite scripture for their own values, and yet this is exactly what Joe has proposed.

  27. Let’s face it, it is utterly impossible for any human being to be objective about this issue. Every single one of us has an investment in gender perspectives. And try as we might, none of us can fully recognize what seems oppressive or threatening to the opposite gender.

    That’s why I share gailsongbantum’s concern about the centrality of Christ to this discussion. When we look at the ministry and message of Jesus, the gender lines don’t disappear, but they never take on the “us & them” polarization that seems to be our natural human tendency. Jesus didn’t jump on a soap box to champion Mary of Bethany’s right to learn at his feet when there was more culturally appropriate “women’s work” to be done; he simply affirmed her choice. He didn’t make a big deal out of choosing Mary Magdalene to carry the news of the resurrection even though the testimony of women carried no weight in the surrounding culture; he simply told her to do it. He engaged with both women and men as fully responsible participants and contributors to the Kingdom despite ample opportunities to place restrictions or qualifications on gender roles. I have to be suspicious, then, of a hermeneutic that reads exclusive male responsibility into Paul’s instructions to the Church when Jesus himself did not seem to live with that understanding.

  28. Joe Louthan says:

    There is a lot to respond to in this one post.

    Let me answer 99% of the concerns and questions that were directed to me:

    I am not a fundamentalist. You can call me a lot of things but pretty please, don’t put me in that camp.

    I subscribe to the view of Complementarianism. What does this mean? What this means to me, based on my knowledge of the Bible, that men are not exalted above women nor women exalted above men but women are equals to men and stand side by side. (Not to be too cute but most women fit right beside their husband and love to cuddle right there because Eve was taken out the side of Adam. But I digress.)

    Where does this view pertain to headship as in husband and wife? This all starts out with Genesis 3. Many people who read the Bible think that Eve sinned first. The original sin is that Adam was sitting nearby as he did absolutely nothing while his wife was chatting it up with Satan. We can sit and debate who sinned first but in the eyes of God, that matters not because God gave headship of the marriage to Adam back in Genesis 2:16, given him the keeper of the only commandment before the Fall. This was proven so because when God came down to walk in the coolness of the garden, He did not call out Eve but he immediately called out to Adam, “Where are you?” (as though God did not know where Adam was).

    God called out Adam because Adam bared the most of the weight of the responsibility for not only himself but his wife.

    This is further proved when we get to the classic marriage text in Ephesians 5. Verses 22 to 24 are indeed for the wives to submit, not to be confused to subject, themselves to the husbands as the body submits itself to the head as the church submits to Christ.

    Perhaps even a more powerful example of submission is while the Father and Son are equal, Christ submits Himself to the Father. John 5 goes into detail of Jesus and the Father being equal. Matthew 15:36-42 is one of the most powerful examples of Christ in submission to the Father.

    Wives to submit to their husbands just as husbands are fully submitted to Christ. Christ is fully submitted to God the Father.

    Where does this leave men?

    We are to love our wives just as Christ loves His Bride. How do we do this?

    We lead by praying with and for our wives and children.

    We lead by reading and intently studying the Bible and teaching the Bible to our wives and children.

    We lead by not giving into the curse laid on us back in Genesis 3 by a dictator rulership over our houses nor we take a passive role just as our original father did by sitting idly by and doing nothing.

    We lead by being servant kings just as Christ was the example of serving and leading. We love. We give. We serve. We joyfully and gladly lay our lives down for our wives and children.

    I am called to love my wife, protect my wife, serve my wife, lay down my life for her even and especially if she doesn’t submit to me. No matter what she does, I know what I am called to do.

    My wife will not be responsible for my spiritual well being. But I will be responsible if did exactly what my original father did: nothing.

  29. Joe Louthan says:

    As to the overmothered/underfathered comment pertaining to American church:

    1. We have more women than men in church. Traditionally, we have women dragging their husbands to church kicking and screaming. This has got to change.

    2. Churches have fallen for this in catering to women and children and not calling out men to step up and man up.

  30. Joe Louthan says:

    I say all of that for one verse:

    1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

    … out of one passage: 1 Corinthians 11:2-15.

  31. Joe Louthan says:

    It is in my opinion, according to the Bible, that women can serve anywhere in ministry except for as an elder. I can give instances in the Bible where women served as deacons, teachers, pastors, counselors, leaders, evangelists, prophets and directors.

    There is one instance where it appeared that the woman was leading with no submission to male headship, Deborah in Judges 4. However, something to keep in mind as you are reading this passage. Deborah has to step up because all the men in Israel refused to step up. (I have some very choice words her but with Christ, I will be just like them.)

    In verses 6-7, Deborah devises an attack plan that would ultimately deliver the general of the opposing army into the hands of Barak. I will argue here that Deborah did this in order for Barak to receive the glory. This is proven later on.

    Look at what Barak does in verse 8: Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”

    Simply put, he didn’t want the responsibility and risk.

    This is where I believe Deborah was trying to submit herself to his leadership:
    9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

    She tried to give him glory and he was too much of a little boy to step up. Despite his sin, God’s will still be done and He used Deborah to do it.

    Deborah understood male headship. When women are leading churches, that is a sign of failure and the weight of responsibility is on the men alone. Understand me clearly: what Deborah did and what women senior pastors are doing now is not a sin at all. All that means is that men are not doing their God-given calling. Men will face that charge before God, not the women who stepped up.

  32. elderj says:

    Joe – you’re not going to win any converts to complementarianism here. I rather suspect you will only raise the ire of those who feel strongly that you are mistaken in your hermeneutic and others who might perhaps believe that you are held captive to some particular sexist narrative of which you yourself are unaware.

  33. elderj says:

    @Daniel:
    you said

    I do agree that we, as the church, should model healthy expressions of man & womanhood to our kids (exactly *how* we do that is certainly up for debate as well). I also agree with your sentiment (if I read correctly) that if we seek to build up one group (either women or men), we should not accomplish that by trying to knock down the other.

    You have indeed caught the heart of my sentiment. I find it unfortunate that some have seized erroneously on some brief parts of my statements to distort that sentiment, but I assume their intentions are not malicious.
    The presumption of good intent is, I think, essential as we wrestle within the body of Christ (via the means of this blog).

    As for your specific points. You are right to assert that my experience of church may not be reflective of many or even most (for those who don’t know, I was raised in a church with a woman pastor and have always been in churches that affirmed women in ministry). However my statement about the church being run for and catering to women is more an interpretation derived from the observation of how much more women are drawn to church. We are doing a very bad job ministering to men generally.

    As for saying that men are in the low positions of society I refer to issues such as criminality, mental retardation, drug addiction, abuse, and any number of other issues that affect men disproportionately. Clearly poverty’s affects women more than men, so I guess it depends on how you slice it. You’re point is well taken and I don’t dispute it.

  34. elderj says:

    My many grammatical errors are evidence of my own fallibility.

  35. esther says:

    Joe…
    “All that means is that men are not doing their God-given calling. Men will face that charge before God, not the women who stepped up.”
    Eph. 4:11 “It was he who game some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” < "some" does not specifically refer to men. Are you saying that women who "stepped up" are not called by God to those places?

  36. esther says:

    elderj…
    Your statements seem to be all over the board so that is probably why there seems to be some confusion as to where you are coming from. Judging from your last comment all you seem to want to address is that churches are not ministering to men effectively. So then, how specifically do you think the church is failing in this area and how do you propose they work on this problem you perceive?
    I would say from my perspective of most churches it is typically the women who are doing most of the “work” in churches while the men are doing the leading.
    Also I would hope and assume that it is not your intent or joes to convince someone to become a complementarian. It often seems in this discussion that neither side is really being heard. The goal should be to learn from one another, challenge one another and partner together to move Gods kingdom forward.

  37. Jennifer says:

    Joe,

    I’m really interested in concern about the churches catering to women. It’s an interesting choice of words.

    I’m reminded of the story in Acts where the church is apparently distributing food, and some of the widows (women) are being overlooked. The apostles create the office of deacon in order to serve them – literally, in order to cater to them. It seems like you’d have a big problem with such a move.

    I’m not sure women are catered to in the church today, but if they are, there is biblical precience for it.

    From everything I have read, the church has always had a greater percent of women than men. This is not a 20th centeru phenomia, but is how the things have always been.

    Also, Paul talks about women leading house churches (and all churches were house churches then), as well as being his peers in ministry. One of the ways we know the early church had elders is that 2 of them were named as such in a document stating they were to be tortured and killed for trying to lead others to faith.

  38. Joe Louthan says:

    All,

    Go back and read my comments on women in ministry and Judges 4. My argument is never that God didn’t call up women in those positions of leadership. At the beginning of the ministry/Judges 4 comments, I wrote “I can give instances in the Bible where women served as deacons, teachers, pastors, counselors, leaders, evangelists, prophets and directors.”

    So where in that disagrees with Ephesians 4:!1-16? None.

    My argument is that women are in places of eldership because men are not stepping up to the task. The Bible calls for clear male eldership starting with 1 Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1 proceeded by the 12 apostles picked by Christ. This is built all the way back not just for the priests but back further in Exodus 18:13-23 when Jethro advised Moses to (verse 20) “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”

    Which when I read the Bible, I will always contend that is the way God has always done it starting with Genesis 1-2.

    In all of this, if you think I am arguing that males are more important, I am not. That is in complete contrast to everything I have written in here and complete contrast to the Bible.

    I know I am not going to win anybody to any side. What I hope to win people to have a high view of Scripture and where it seems Scripture is not absolutely clear on one issue, we would let all of Scripture interpret that one particular passage because the Scripture is inerrant and all sufficient.

  39. Joe Louthan says:

    Jennifer,

    There would be no way I would oppose Acts 6 especially when I wrote how Christ came to serve and how we husbands should serve in the same way: first to our wives, then our kids and family and then to the church as a whole.

    Serving and caring for the widows is not catering to women but a God-given commandment. God has a heart for the widows because that is exactly like His Bride being without Her Bridegroom. Christ was so heartbroken over us that He did whatever He had to do in order to get His Bride back to Him including nailing His beaten, battered and broken body upon the Cross and pour out all of his tears, sweat, urine, feces and blood and die.

    What I mean by catering are the little things like praise songs sung in a key that can only be sung by women and very few guys. Again, subtle things.

  40. Joe Louthan says:

    Jennifer,

    Paul did talk about women leading ministries and house churches but to whom did those women leaders were submitted to?

    Acts 2:42a And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…

    Who were the apostles? Thirteen men.

    Again, I have to repeat myself for a third time, women can serve anywhere especially in the church so long as they are submitted to a male leader. Women lead ministries because they are submitted to the male elder staff.

    Let me put it in another way, I get to counsel others, serve children and widows because I am submitted accountable to a group of men and we are all submitted to Christ. I can teach and preach Christ my Lord because I am submitted to a group of men and we all are submitted to Christ.

    If my call for wives to submit themselves to their husbands gives the impression that men don’t have to submit to anyone, that would be devastating incorrect. Wives are submitted to their husbands because we are unapologetically submitted to Christ our Lord and God and King.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Joe,

    I’m not sure I buy the idea about praise songs…most worship leaders are male. And they’re singing the songs, so they have to be singable by a male voice.

    On a note of trying to find middle ground…I am aware of at least one group that is trying to find a good middle ground between the women God has gifted to lead, and those who want male leadership. They require bishops to be male, but lead/senior pastors can be women. The pastor leads the local church under the authority of the bishop.

    Personally, it doenst go quite far enough for me, but it is an interesting way to meet in the middle on this issue.

  42. elderj says:

    @esther – I don’t want to convince anyone of anything. I only want to express my thoughts just as others have. I have not been “all over the place” in my comments, rather I have addressed the concerns and questions that have been directed to me as best I can in this format. But for the sake of clarity I will repeat what was my initial response:

    I think perhaps Joe’s comments reflect a larger social reality that the church is not doing a very good job of addressing; which failure is attributable to my first statements about the primary “consumer” of church:[being] women. It is with far too much ease that we talk about men having “an ego problem” with the implication being that there is something ontologically wrong with them.

    Biblically speaking, neither man nor woman is independent of the other, and yet this interdependence is not interchangeability and there are reasons beyond “patriarchal dominance” that men tend to occupy the highest positions in society (though few seem to note that men also dominate the lowest positions in society as well). If we are to take scripture seriously, and I trust that we do, we must note that instructions given to husbands are far more extensive than those given to women and though not explicitly, certainly implicitly suggest a greater measure of accountability related to the household. And scripture pointedly does not assert that the man is the glory of the woman, but rather the other way ’round. The full import of this is unclear, but it is not insignificant.

  43. BL78 says:

    In the context of marriage:

    Eph 5:23
    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

    “The head”
    Strong’s G2776
    Greek: κεφαλή kephalē
    Pronunciation: ke-fä-lā’
    Root Word (Etymology): from the primary kapto (in the sense of seizing)

    Outline of Biblical Usage :

    1) the head, both of men and often of animals. Since the loss of the head destroys life, this word is used in the phrases relating to capital and extreme punishment.

    2) metaph. anything supreme, chief, prominent
    a) of persons, master lord: of a husband in relation to his wife
    b) of Christ: the Lord of the husband and of the Church
    c) of things: the corner stone

    Vine’s expository dictionary of head:

    besides its natural significance, is used

    (a) figuratively in Rom 12:20, of heaping coals of fire on a “head” (see COALS); in Acts 18:6, “Your blood be upon your own heads,” i.e., “your blood-guiltiness rest upon your own persons,” a mode of expression frequent in the OT, and perhaps here directly connected with Eze 3:18, 20; 33:6, 8; see also Lev 20:16; 2Sa 1:16; 1Ki 2:37;

    (b) metaphorically, of the authority or direction of God in relation to Christ, of Christ in relation to believing men, of the husband in relation to the wife, 1Cr 11:3; of Christ in relation to the Church, Eph 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:18; 2:19; of Christ in relation to principalities and powers, Col 2:10. As to 1Cr 11:10, taken in connection with the context, the word “authority” probably stands, by metonymy, for a sign of authority (RV), the angels being witnesses of the preeminent relationship as established by God in the creation of man as just mentioned, with the spiritual significance regarding the position of Christ in relation to the Church; cp. Eph 3:10; it is used of Christ as the foundation of the spiritual building set forth by the Temple, with its “corner stone,” Mat 21:42; symbolically also of the imperial rulers of the Roman power, as seen in the apocalyptic visions, Rev 13:1, 3; 17:3, 7, 9.

    NT Greek lexicon:

    1. the head, both of men and often of animals. Since the loss of the head destroys life, this word is used in the phrases relating to capital and extreme punishment.
    2. metaph. anything supreme, chief, prominent
    1. of persons, master lord: of a husband in relation to his wife
    2. of Christ: the Lord of the husband and of the Church
    3. of things: the corner stone

  44. gailsongbantum says:

    @joe, @elderj – i can appreciate where you are coming from… you have every right to direct us to scriptures that can be read so clearly and concisely like the one’s you’ve pointed out. however, i wonder if we can make such adamant and definitive claims when such verses are read within the context of the scripture as a whole. while the texts you highlight do suggest one thing but once you put them next to a text like judges 19, it all becomes complex and difficult. christianity is messy.

    all of this to say, the discussions of who’s the head of what body is irrelevant at this point for all of it is rooted in the assumption that we even know how and what it means to submit to christ. even christ struggled in submission to the father…(let this cup pass from me). slaveholders believed that they were fully submitted to christ as they raped, abused, and killed their slaves. the reality is that many women and darker folk have been victims of such language throughout history. if you continue down in that ephesians passage, there are instructions to slaves to obey their masters….again, we cannot believe that this suggests one should own and master slaves, right?

    rather than asserting claims on what roles each one should or should not play, i pray that the church (both men and women) earnestly seek to mutually submit in the well-being of the other. this is where the healing lies. this is where love abounds. this is the very perichoretic nature of god.

  45. BL78 says:

    In the context of marriage:

    Eph 5:22
    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

    “Submit yourselves”
    Greek: ὑποτάσσω
    Transliteration: hypotassō
    Pronunciation: hü-po-tä’s-sō
    Strong’s number: 5293

    Outline of Biblical Usage:

    1) to arrange under, to subordinate
    2) to subject, put in subjection
    3) to subject one’s self, obey
    4) to submit to one’s control
    5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice
    6) to obey, be subject

    This word was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

    Vine’s expository dictionary:

    Subject, Subjection (Verb, Adjective, Noun):
    primarily a military term, “to rank under” (hupo, “under,” tasso, “to arrange”), denotes

    (a) “to put in subjection, to subject,” Rom 8:20 (twice); in the following, the RV, has to subject for AV, “to put under,” 1Cr 15:27 (thrice), 28 (3rd clause); Eph 1:22; Hbr 2:8 (4th clause); in 1Cr 15:28 (1st clause), for AV “be subdued;” in Phl 3:21, for AV, “subdue;” in Hbr 2:5, AV, “hath . . . put in subjection;”

    (b) in the Middle or Passive Voice, to subject oneself, to obey, be subject to, Luk 2:51; 10:17, 20; Rom 8:7; 10:3, RV, “did (not) subject themselves” [AV, "have (not) submitted themselves"]; Rom 13:1, 5; 1Cr 14:34, RV, “be in subjection” (AV, “be under obedience”); 1Cr 15:28 (2nd clause); 16:16 RV, “be in subjection” (AV, “submit, etc.”); so Col 3:18; Eph 5:21, RV, “subjecting yourselves” (AV, “submitting, etc.”); Eph 5:22, RV in italics, according to the best texts; Eph 5:24, “is subject;” Tts 2:5, 9, RV, “be in subjection” (AV, “be obedient”); Tts 3:1, RV, “to be in subjection;” (AV, “to be subject”); Hbr 12:9, “be in subjection;” Jam 4:7, RV, “be subject” (AV, “submit yourselves”); so 1Pe 2:13; 2:18, RV, “be in subjection;” so 1Pe 3:1, AV and RV; 1Pe 3:5, similarly; 1Pe 3:22, “being made subject;” 1Pe 5:5, RV, “be subject” (AV, “submit yourselves”); in some texts in the 2nd part, as AV.

  46. BL78 says:

    @gailsongbantum,

    You mentioned:
    “slaveholders believed that they were fully submitted to christ as they raped, abused, and killed their slaves.”

    My response:
    Those who committed these acts were not submitted to Christ. The Apostles commanded slaveholders to treat others their slaves with respect. (Eph 6:9)

    You mentioned:
    “if you continue down in that ephesians passage, there are instructions to slaves to obey their masters….again, we cannot believe that this suggests one should own and master slaves, right?”

    My response:
    The issue that was address in the book of Ephesians was not about owning a slave but how the slaveholder and slave should treat respond with one another in Christ.

  47. BL78 says:

    @gailsongbantum

    Going on the line with slavery, heres a link on:

    “Does the Bible condone slavery?”

    http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html

  48. Jon says:

    BL78,

    That’s alot of Cut and Paste Theology.

  49. Joe Louthan says:

    Hey for the record, I don’t know about the rest of you guys but this has been an absolutely wonderful opportunity to discuss and debate on certain Christian doctrine. Thank you guys for taking your time in going back and forth in this blog.

    May God bless you immensely.

  50. Andy M says:

    I was just quickly reading through the comments here, and just had one thought to add. It could be argued that the reason that the church has more women, and possibly caters to women more, is because in society women and children are typically the most oppressed and left out portion of the population. The Church is meant to care for the poor, the oppressed, and so naturally focuses it’s attention on that portion of the population, which is just naturally women. If society’s most oppressed people were typically men, I would expect the church to focus on them.

  51. Branching slightly towards another topic: if men are responsible for women’s glory, who’s responsible for the intersex folks? Of course, this comes to mind mostly because of Caster Semenya being in the news, and we don’t have conclusive results of these tests we keep hearing about, but the division of church and church roles into male and female fall down entirely when we realise that God appears to have created people male, female and most everything in between. Or are people prepared to say intersex people are freaks and Jesus die for them? Its hard to see how they might fit into a church divided in roles like the one suggested in the original post/comment.

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