Get Me a Beer, Eve! Pronto!

Fighting the Bible with the Bible

Eve, baby, be a sweetheart
and get me a cold one.

"It's like deja vu all over again" (Yogi Berra). We have passed this way before. St. Paul was not at his best when he was concrete: "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 1 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" (1 Timothy 2:11,12). He was at his best when he was general: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" Galatians 3:28). St. Paul himself did not see in his lifetime the implications of what he wrote in his first letter (Galatians). Toward the end of his life (1 Timothy) he had not yet applied his Galatians insight to his understanding of relations between men and women in the church.

We also have heard before that "headship" in the Bible means "source" as in the "headwaters" of the Mississippi River. Headship does not imply authority as in "headmaster" of the school. So we have been getting this thing about male headship wrong. Man is not the head (leader) of woman, but the head (source) of woman for woman was made from man.

Sam Powell shares the Blog page My Only Comfort with Barbara Roberts. He has recently published a Blog Headship Is Not Hierarchy. He writes:
Before the fall, before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve served God perfectly. They did not live for themselves; their desires were not to have power over each other, but they both lived as they were created – as one flesh, in perfect unbroken harmony. We can have no idea what this was like, since our state now is far different. If by “hierarchy” you mean that Adam ruled his wife and she submitted to his desires, I reject that. It has no basis in scripture. If by hierarchy you mean an order of creation, that I happily accept, as Paul wrote
For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (1Ti 2:1 KJV)
This I wholeheartedly confess, believing the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible word of God. I am hesitant to try to apply this beyond how Paul applies this, however, since I have no idea what it looked like practically before the fall. I think it is reading to much into the text to say that this means that Adam ruled over his wife.
Mr. Powell accepts that in the order of creation man is prior. From this he seems willing to derive no more than a chronological fact. However, God established nothing else about the relationship between man and woman by the prior creation of Adam. It seems to me that that is very hard to maintain in light of the Apostle's use of the chronology:
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (Timothy 3:12-14).
St. Paul appears to argue: (1) Women may not teach or exercise authority over a men in church. (2) Why? (a) Adam was created first. (b) Woman was deceived by the serpent and became a transgressor. Or, put another way: Women should not teach or exercise authority over men in church, because God established male leadership by creating Adam first and because, when Eve turned the relationship upside down, she was deceived and became a transgressor.

It seems that Mr. Powell does not want to deal with the implications of the prior creation of Adam as those implications are drawn out by the Apostle himself. I surmise this must be because it does not fit this thesis that headship does not mean hierarchy. He illustrates his point by an absurd imaginary situation in the Garden:
Did Adam sit on the couch and say “Woman, beer me and shut those kids up!” I think not. He did not rule his wife. They both served God and one another perfectly, being without sin. This is the only thing that I meant when I said, “There was no hint of hierarchy before the fall.”
For Mr. Powell hierarchy is a consequence of sin, and like all consequences of sin, we much labor to reverse the curse. Adam did no leading in the Garden, because Adam didn't have a hierarchical bone in his sinless body. The relationship between Adam and Eve in the Garden was egalitarian. As redeemed people for whom it is now possible not to sin (posse non pecare), let us make our way back to the Garden.

However, if St. Paul is right, then hierarchy goes back to the pre-Fall Garden. We can't imagine Adm saying from his couch, "Woman beer me and shut those kids up!" (who says, "Beer me"?), but we can imagine him saying, "Let's till that field over there today and then let's go to the peach orchard and tend the trees." Without sin he would would have made the decision without selfishness, and without sin, she would have willingly complied. Sin did not introduce hierarchy based on headship; it screwed it up.

Given the recent interest in the "finalization" ESV's translation of Genesis 3:16 (from "Your desire shall be for your husband," to "Your desire shall be contrary to your husband"), Mr. Powell has an interesting take:
After the fall is a world I can relate to. Men and women became idolaters and rebels. They were covenant breakers, serving themselves and their own lusts. The curse that came upon the relationship was that the desire of the woman would be “toward the man”, which I still interpret to mean that she would retain the longing for the one flesh relationship that she would be unable to have, because he would instead rule over her. This is different than before, and part of the curse, and not good. She, in her unregenerate state, would respond to this rule in a variety of ways, depending on her personality. Despair, hopelessness, manipulation, domination – but it would be a life of slavery and degradation after the fall, which she would resist in various ways, because she would still be human. And she would still long for her husband.
Both Adam and Eve are now sinners, and both being told the consequences of their rebellion. But notice that the woman's part in Genesis 3:16 is good:"...she would retain the the longing for the one flesh relationship that she would be unable to have." Why would her noble desire be frustrated? "...because he instead would rule over her." Man's rule disrupts woman's desire for intimacy. Woman's sin comes in her response to man's sin of rule:
She, in her unregenerate state, would respond to this rule in a variety of ways, depending on her personality. Despair, hopelessness, manipulation, domination – but it would be a life of slavery and degradation after the fall, which she would resist in various ways, because she would still be human. And she would still long for her husband.
Woman's desire for intimacy is met by man's rule which then provokes sinful responses from woman. In the pre-Fall Garden there was no rule. Rule is the result of sin. Rule denies to women the one-flesh relationship they desire.

With the accomplishment of redemption through Jesus Christ the relationship between man and woman is changed:
The husband’s job is not to rule over his wife, enforce the rules, or be the commander and king at home in his castle, for it is not his castle. The home belongs to Christ. He is not to usurp Christ’s role as the king of kings, but he is to emulate Christ in only one way, according to the text. He is to love her.
This fits beautifully with Jesus’ definition of authority in John 13: 
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
(John 13:1-5 KJV)
We cannot claim the smallest amount of authority that Jesus has. All authority has been given into his hands. And yet, he took the lowest place and washed his disciples’ feet. Wow.
Then look what he says,
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (Joh 13:12-15 KJV)
The husband is not called to emulate Christ in "rule" but in only one way - to love his wife. Christ showed husbands the way to love by his treatment of his disciples in the Upper Room. He got up, removed his outer clothing, wrapped an towel around his waist, and then took a basin and washed each disciple's feet, drying them with the towel around his waist. Christ has all authority, but he exercised it by washing his disciples' feet. This is the only authority a husband has - authority to wash feet.

How does this husbandly authority work out?
So in answer to the question, “Do I believe that the husband has authority in the home?” My answer is “Yes. Certainly. There is no way around it. He is to wash his wife’s feet, serve her, do good to her, love her – even, as Paul says, give himself for her.
This is far different than the curse of Genesis 3:16. It turns it on its head. Instead of either the man or the woman serving themselves, their lusts, their goals and desires, both are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in taking the lowest place in the home. That’s not me saying this. That’s Jesus Christ...
The husband isn’t the boss, the commander, the chief, the king. All of that belongs to Christ. Rather, the husband is the head, and she is the body. He is to nourish, cherish and love her as his body, because she is his body. That’s the point. To ask the question, “But isn’t he still in charge?” is to miss the point entirely. Do you think that she will turn into a harpy if you neglect to command her for a day? Whom did you marry? Is she not also an heir of eternal life and a firstborn son of God in Jesus Christ?
So for you husbands insisting that you are the head of your home, take it seriously. Go home, cook dinner, draw her a bath, do the dishes, put the kids to bed. Ask her what she is thinking. Talk about her dreams and fears. Assume she also is led by the Holy Spirit and trying to serve her Lord with a pure heart. Do all the modern equivalents of washing the feet. This is what Jesus is talking about.
Remember that we are bought with a price, the precious blood of the lamb, and do not belong to ourselves. Husbands don’t belong to themselves, and wives don’t belong to themselves. All belong to Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in service and love.
Yes, I believe that the husband is the head of the home. But not like the president is head of the country. But like Jesus is the head of the church – flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. And he washes our feet, and took the lowest place. This is our example.
The husband's authority has nothing to do hierarchy, nothing to do with a position of institutional headship to which he has has been appointed by God, nothing to do with leading his wife and home, nothing to do with decision-making or direction-setting. The husband's authority is nothing like a head of government or leaders of the church (or is theirs like the husband's?). He can cook supper, wash dishes, put the kids to bed, ask questions (about her), and listen.

However, this has got to leave wives confused when they read Biblical exhortations to them that make no sense if they have husbands whose whole concept authority is washing her feet:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).
I suppose they can submit to having their feet washed.
Or, what about their following the example of poor Sarah?
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:5.6)
I suppose they can imagine poor Sarah watching Abraham coming with the basin and the water and thinking to herself, "I really don't want my feet washed tonight," but saying, "Yes, my lord, you may wash my feet."

I would go on, but I was cooking supper when Susan called from the living room, "Come wash my feet and beer me!" I had no choice but to exercise my authority and comply.

I read this kind of stuff, and I feel just the slightest sympathy for Tim Bayly.


Let Me Be Man*

Mamas, Don't Make Your Boys Grow Up To Be Females**

Several weeks ago I was recovering from knee replacement surgery, when the little lady came into the room and said, "I'm going outside to move mulch." This meant she was going to go to the mulch pile, load up the wheelbarrow, push it to shrubbery beds, then unload and spread the mulch, repeat, repeat. I responded to her announcement with, "I don't think that's a good idea." "Why?" she impertinently asked. I explained: "(1) You're still recovering from two knee replacements, both of which had complications, in the last 9 months (2) You're a girl."

From time to time I looked through the windows to watch her moving mulch. And, as things like this tend to go ("Give her and inch; she'll take a mile"), one thing led to another. Soon she was digging up and moving 20 years of accumulated dirt that covered the driveway of the Rectory we moved into in June. I watched helplessly. 

I am still hesitant to be seen by the neighbors, such is my shame. I have not recovered from a shaming I received in Louisville, MS, over 30 years ago. This happened because I allowed her to mow the grass. A neighbor, who wrote a gossip column for the weekly newspaper, said to a church member, "That woman works all the time. That man - I don't know what he does." This is surely vindication of Tim and David Bayly. Had I not permitted this rebellion against her sex, I could have saved myself untold embarrassment. 

There is a discussion within the evangelical-reformed community about men, women, egalitarianism, complementarianism, and Trinitarianism. It has been going on for what seems like eternity. It is beginning to look like it will go on ad infinitum if not ad nauseum. 

People such as the Baylys hate the word "complementarianism" which they regard as a weasel word. Hiding behind complementarianism is egalitarianism. What the Bible teaches, they say, is patriarchy ("father rule") which is grounded in the Fatherhood of God and the "eternal economic submission of the Son to the Father." 

On the other side of the discussion there is growing dissatisfaction with the word "complementarianism" by writers such as Rachel Miller and Aimee Byrd. They believe that the word is tainted for at least two reasons: (1) Its use can amount to "patriarchy." (2) It has become connected to subordination within the Trinity. Rachel Miller says, "We need a new name", though she does not have one to suggest. 

It is unfortunate that the doctrine of the Trinity has got entangled with the doctrine of the sexes. The fault for this lies with those advocates of patriarchy who assert that female submission applies to all male-female interfaces, not just home and church, and that it reflects the eternal submission of the Son to the Father.

Rightly the other side has vigorously asserted the doctrine of the eternal, ontological equality of the Father and the Son (the Spirit, too). On this they are entirely right. 

But I also have a suspicion as I read those who oppose patriarchy. Let me put it like this: I agree with you that female submission is limited to marriage and church. It does not apply to the the workplace, the state, or other institutions. But, I wonder if you are not becoming uncomfortable with female submission altogether, including submission in marriage and church. What changes do you want in the way males and females relate to one another in marriage and church? What qualifications would you apply to male headship and female submission? When may a wife not be submissive to her own husband an all things? When may a woman teach and exercise authority in the church? What problems do you have with the "traditional" Christian understanding and practice of male-female relations? 

In my view what those who oppose the proponents of patriarchy need to say is, "The Persons or the Trinity are equal. The doctrine of the Trinity has nothing to do with the relations of men and women. Whether there is subordination or equality among the Persons of the Godhead is irrelevant to the subject at hand. Male-female relations are prescribed in texts of the Bible that deal with the subject. Now let's exegete, discuss, and debate these texts. (Those who hold to patriarchy will likely resist as they "need" the subordination of the Son to the Father for their doctrine of male-female relations. On the other hand, the doctrine of Trinitarian equality has nothing to do with the complementarian view of male-female relations.)

I have digressed. What interests me today is the dust-up about the First Things  article "Why Men and Women Are Not Equal" written by Glenn Stanton. Stanton writes: 
Women create, shape, and maintain human culture. Manners exist because women exist. Worthy men adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room. They become better creatures. Civilization arises and endures because women have expectations of themselves and of those around them.
Both Aimee Byrd and Rachel Miller have pushed back hard against this heresy. Rachel quotes a friend with approval:
Worthy men do not need to adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room, because they are gentlemen no matter whose company they find themselves in. Worthy men act honorably because they are worthy men, whether they are in a room full of men, mixed company, or alone!
I think Mr. Stanton's use of "civilization" is too broad. There is much more to forming, preserving, and passing on civilization than what women do. But he is right, despite the denials of women such as Ms. Byrd and Ms. Miller, that women do have a much needed "civilizing" effect on males. Males do act differently when women are present, and that, contrary to Aimee and Rachel, is as it should be.

What is hard to push back against is the observable reality that boys and girls, men and women are different. It's ontology.

Watch boys playing. They will knock each other down. They may spit. They might play "chicken fight" in the pool. Now introduce girls into the mix. There may be a few girls who will mix it up with the boys, but generally the play changes when girls are part of it. This is one reason that boys will object to having to play with the girls. You don't knock a girl down, or spit in front of her, or try to "drown' her, because your mama and daddy taught you to treat girls different. But, it is not wrong if boys, playing without the girls, are boys.

It is true of men, too. There are things that men who are friends may do if they are by themselves and no women are present. They may pee in the woods. Or pass gas loudly and laugh about it. Or use the indelicate word my wife hates for that particular
bodily function. They may smoke cigars and drink beer. They might say "hell" instead of "heck." They might skinny dip in the pool. And they, too, may spit. Introduce women into the mix, and the dynamics change. They change, not because what the men were doing is bad, but because they are not appropriate when women are present.

Not only will boys be boys, they must be if there is any future for civilization. The problem with the flattening of male-female differences is not that girls will become boys but that boys will become girls. And that's bad. Who will have the chicken fights? Who will kill things and bring them home? Who will rescue the young damsels? Who are going to be the lineman and linebackers in football? Who will smoke the cigars? Who are going to fight the wars?

The big problem we have today is not with overly masculine men. It is with girly boys. The war on boys has had a lot of success.

My wife lived part of her life with six males. (Or, as she sometimes said, she lived with six male members, only she didn't say "male members.") Through those years she often made two observations: (1) She was very thankful she was not a guy. (2) Since her least favorite human beings are adolescent girls, she was very glad she had only boys.

When the six of us males were together, we often acted like guys. When she came into the room our conversation and behavior changed. Why? Not because she is delicate or weak. Not because we were doing anything wrong. But because she is a woman. Because we showed her deference as the wife and mother of our home. Because I had been trained by my parents, and we had trained our boys that men and women are different and that there are ways to act around men that are not appropriate around women. If we did not, she kicked butts and took names. But if she were to have to deal some of the evangelical-reformed women who are blogging today, she would be baffled by the problems they write about that to her are non-problems.

But I have a nagging question: What does it say about me ontologically that the little lady moved the mulch when I said not to move the mulch. What does it mean that this morning when I was working on this, I took a break, opened the back door, and found her washing the car?

* With thanks to Elizabeth Elliot (Let Me Be Woman)

** With thanks to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings