MLK Day:A Civil Solution

Should the Church Celebrate Celebrate MLK Day?

President Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican, signed into law an official Martin Luther King, Jr, Day in 1983. In 1986 Martin Luther King Day, as a Federal Holiday, began to be observed on the third Monday of every January. MLK Day has largely supplanted in the South Lee-Jackson Day intended to honor the two great generals of the Confederate States.

Let it be said that Martin Luther King is a hero. He is not a man of the moral caliber of Lee and Jackson, but he is an American hero because the the role he played in the too long delayed attainment of the civil rights of all American citizens, black and white. He deserves a day to honor his memory and accomplishments.

MLK Day seems to have become a carefully, if unofficial, religiously observed day. I have noted for several years that bulletin services have offered a special Martin Luther King, Jr., bulletin cover. I assumed that these special covers appealed primarily to Black congregations. But perhaps I was wrong.

If I counted correctly, on MLK Day there were five articles at The Gospel Coalition, in one way or another, in praise of Dr. King. There was also an article exposing and condemning the racial views of Robert L. Dabney, Southern Presbyterian theologian who for a time served as chief of staff to Gen. Jackson. On the same Day, Dr. Russell Moore, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, published an article that can be described only as a grounding of Dr. King's positions in Scripture. 

But there are realities, doctrinal and moral, that tell against the treatment of Dr. King as a theological hero or a man to be honored by an unofficial ecclesial calendar. The truth is that Dr. King was theological heretic (Is Martin Luther King in Heaven?) and a moral philanderer (a subject I deliberately avoided but which is acknowledged by Ralph Abernathy).

So my question is very simple: why observe MLK Day as though it were a religious observance when there is every reason to observe his day as a civil holiday as we do with Washington's, Lincoln's. and Columbus' Days? 

No, I'm Not a Chauvinist and I Don't Wear Wife Beaters

Fat Guys Look Bad in Them

Marlon Brando, Streetcar Named Desire
Supposedly the attribution of "wife beater" to the sleeveless
undershirt has its origin in the role of Marlon Brandon in the
movie version of Tennessee Williams Streetcar Named Desire.

Since I published this Blog, my friend Rachel Miller, kindly has informed me that the decisions, which she approves, to publish her friend Dr. Valerie Hobbs, were made, not by her as the News Editor at The Aquila Report, but by the Editor. I appreciate this clarification and additional information while retaining my surprise that the decisions were intentionally made to publish an academic feminist and social/ecclesial egalitarian. 

My Blogger friend, Rachel Miller, has published at her Blog, A Daughter of the Reformation  (1/18), and republished aThe Aquila Report (1/24), where she serves as News Editor, No, I'm Not a Feminist or an Egalitarian. 

Apparently someone(s) has called her both names, and she finds it personally hurtful, inaccurate, misleading, and perhaps sinister. She writes:
Words are powerful, as are labels. They can be helpful. They can be used to encourage and build people up. But they can also be used to dismiss others. They can be used to belittle and discourage. 
When a conservative calls someone a feminist, it can be an attempt to question the person’s faith and commitment to Scripture.
Feminist doesn’t mean “a woman I disagree with and wish she’d stop talking.” Egalitarian doesn’t simply mean “someone who thinks women can have opinions about theology.”
I’m not a feminist. I’m not an egalitarian. What I am is tired of the name-calling and the attempts to silence me and others like me. No doubt those who need to hear these words the most are the least likely to listen. But I hope that those who are tempted to believe the lies about me will do me the honor of considering what I’ve written here.
Let me make clear at the outset a couple of things: 

(1) I know this falls into the "I have black friends" category, but I am married to a very strong woman. Anyone who really knows her would acknowledge that. Years ago, when she was serving as an administrative assistant, she and the other members of the staff took one of those "work personality" tests. The test identifies the predominant characteristic of the staff member according to the DISC formula: dominant, people influencer, steady, and competent. She was a "high D." Now combine that  high D with a high C (get all your ducks in a row), and you've got the woman who has been my wife for 48 years. Believe me, just as in The Naked City, so there are 8 million stories in a marriage that joins two "High Ds." 

(2) I am, at least in the circles in which I have been, a relatively liberal conservative. For instance, we Episcopalians use lectors who read the Scriptures (except for the Gospel). At the last Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols I planned I used all women lectors (and all of them did better than than the usual male lectors). Had I remained as vicar, I would over time have sought to introduce the practice of using women as regular Sunday lectors. 

(2) I do not believe I have ever suggested that Rachel Miller is a feminist or egalitarian. I have no judgment about that, and take her word that she does not believe herself to be either.

(3) What I do know is that she publishes both feminists and egalitarians. To cite one example: Mrs.Miller publishes Dr. Valerie Hobbs who is both a feminist scholar and a social-ecclesial egalitarian. Dr. Hobbs' writes in her latest post at The Aquila Report
But there are also those in the church who have confused strength with dominance. At this crucial moment, as the Christian church considers how to resist and reject rampant toxic masculinity around and among us, men would benefit not from ‘manning up’ but from looking for inspiration in an overlooked place: the sacrificial strength of Christian women. As Penny Long Marler contends, “As the women go, so goes the church.” 
She goes on to offer a new 21st century "dynamic equivalent" translation of 1 Corinthians 16:13,14. She writes: "Consider therefore how Paul’s metaphor might translate to all our ears today:"
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like women, be strong (emphasis added).
Let all that you do be done in love.
To cite another example, Mrs. Miller has published at The Aquila Report articles such as Headship is Not Hierarchy which takes the typical egalitarian view that headship in the New Testament means "source" and not "authority."   
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?

While I accept Mrs. Miller's assertion that she is neither feminist nor egalitarian, I must ask, What is one to make of the association between the authors and content Mrs. Miller publishes and Mrs. Miller's own views?

Let's look at Mrs. Miller's denials and affirmations. She writes:
Why would anyone think I’m a feminist? Let’s consider my beliefs (which I’ve stated before.) I hold to the following beliefs regarding men, women, and gender:
      God made man: male and female in the image of God 
      In Christ, male and female are equal before God
  • Husbands are called to sacrificial, servant leadership of their wives, loving them as Christ loves the church
  • Wives are called to voluntary submission to their husbands, submitting to them as the church submits to Christ
  • Ordination is restricted to qualified men in the church
  • Marriage is between one man and one woman, ideally for life
  • Men and women need each other and depend on each other
Take particular notice of what I believe about leadership and submission in marriage and ordination in the church. Those right there set me apart. I’m not a feminist. I’m also not an egalitarian, closet or otherwise. I have respect for the egalitarians I know. I appreciate the work some egalitarians have done defending the Trinity. But we have significantly different interpretations of what the Bible teaches about marriage and ordination.
There is NOTHING here with which I find myself required to disagree. I would ask a few questions for clarification.
1."God made man: male and female in the image of God." Does this include the inspired implications drawn by the Apostle Paul from God's creation of man and woman?        
For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man (1 Corinthians 11:8,9).
 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...(1 Timothy 2: 12,13). 
2. "In Christ, male and female are equal before God." True (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). But does this remove the functional differences in this world, including the rule of males in the home (husbands) and the church (officers)? 
3. "Husbands are called to sacrificial, servant leadership of their wives, loving them as Christ loves the church." Yes, but are husbands by implication from the text also called to leadership of their wives, though not by way of compulsion? And are husbands charged by the Apostle to love their wives conditionally or unconditionally? In other words, what if she turns out to be hard to love? Is he still under obligation to love her or not?
4. "Wives are called to voluntary submission to their husbands, submitting to them as the church submits to Christ." Does "voluntary" submission mean "if they wish" or does it direct a wife as part of her being "in Christ" to submit to her husband without being compelled to do so? Is the charge to submit conditional or unconditional? Does a wife submit to her husband only if, as she sees it,  he makes good decisions and gives wise leadership? If he proves himself dumb as a post, is she freed from the Apostolic command?
5. "Ordination is restricted to qualified men in the church." Does this restriction include the functions of the ordained offices or only the status of ordination?
6. "Marriage is between one man and one woman, ideally for life." Of course, but what if the marriage is not ideal? Under what circumstances or upon what grounds is divorce allowed according to the divine revelation about the institution of marriage?
7.  "Men and women need each other and depend on each other." Indeed.

We believe Mrs. Miller identifies herself as a non-feminist and non-egalitarian, and so we shall regard her. However, there is this question to be asked: What is the significance of Mrs. Miller's, as news editor at The Aquila Report, publishing feminists and egalitarians? Two cases in point: (1) She has frequently published Dr. Valerie Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs is a feminist scholar and a social-ecclesial egalitarian. I have quoted and responded to Dr. Hobbs a sufficient number of times at this Blog for that to be clear. (2) She publishes articles such as Headship is Not Hierarchy in which Sam Powell argues that headship has to do with origin, not authority. This is the same argument that was being made in the 70's by feminists, both male and female, in order to explain that the Apostles never intended to imply that a husband, as head, has authority in marriage. 

Again, OK, Mrs. Miller is not a feminist-egalitarian. But she publishes and promotes feminist-egalitarians. Several years ago, Mrs. Miller wrote an article about Protestants doing such things as wearing vestments, observing Lent, and practicing a Eucharistic liturgy, If It Looks Like Rome... . What if what one publishes what not only looks like but are feminist-egalitarian authors and content? 

Mrs. Miller moves on from feminism to complementarianism and egalitarianism. She no longer regards herself as a complementarian. (As I understand the coining of the term "complementarian" was negatively an effort not to use the misleading word "patriarchy," a decision that makes Tim Bayly mad as a hornet. Positively it was an effort to describe the man, Adam - woman, Eve, the husband-wife relationship in terms of the creation account: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him'” Genesis 2:18.)

Mrs. Miller tells why she is no longer comfortable with calling herself a complementarian:
So then the question is, am I a complementarian? I used to think so. I used to call myself one.  After all, I believe that husbands are the spiritual leaders of their families. I believe that wives should submit to the leadership of their husbands. And I believe that ordained church leaders should be qualified men. Isn’t that a complementarian?Apparently not. To be a true complementarian, you also need to believe: 
  • women were created to be submissive, responsive, soft
  • men were created to be leaders, providers, strong
  • men are supposed to be priests for their families
  • women are supposed to be at home and not in the workforce (unless there’s a really good reason, but even then)
  • divorce is wrong even when there is biblical justification for it
  • the eternal subordination of the Son, especially as it is applied to men and women
  • all women are rebellious feminists at heart and men must put down that rebellion (an interpretation of Genesis 3:16)
She goes on to state her beliefs and in the process to say again that she is not an egalitarian:
How do I know this is necessary for true complementarianism? Well, when I disagreed with these beliefs, I was called a “soft,” “thin,” or “anorexic” complementarian. I was also called a closet egalitarian or a feminist because: 
  • I questioned what CBMW taught about men and women and the Trinity
  • I defended orthodox Trinitarianism against the eternal subordination of the Son
  • I raised questions about the ESV translation for changing the wording of Genesis 3:16 and 4:7
  • I wrote about abuse as biblical grounds for divorce
  • I believe women can be leaders in business and politics or even cops and umpires
1. It is regrettable that the doctrine of the Trinity has been introduced into the discussion of how men and women should relate to one another. On the one side there is a defense of what I believe to be historic Nicene Trinitarianism. The Father and the Son are co-eternal and co-equal in their ontological relationship ("the same in substance, equal in power and glory"). However, as the Messianic-Son, the second Person of the Trinity voluntarily subjected himself to the Father in order to accomplish the work of redemption (called by some "the economic Trinity"). But what is the purpose of this restating of the doctrine? It is to say that the eternal relations of the Father and the Son are reflected in the man and woman relationship so that, as the Father and Son are equal in their Godhood, so  men and women are in their humanity. (One thing I have not seen - and I may have missed it - is, if the Father and Son are equal in eternity but the Son is subordinate in redemption, then are men and women to be equal in the eschaton while women are subordinate in this world and time?)

On the other side, there is defense of a form of Subordinationism. While the Father and Son are equal, both being fully God, in eternity and in the ontological relationship there is some kind of Father-Son relationship with the Son "naturally" subordinate, fulfilling the role of Son to the Father. The economic relationship does not exist only in time but also in eternity. This subordination of the Son in eternity also serves a purpose in the debate about men and women. It is argued that the relationship of the Father and Son is reflected in the male-female relationship. Man and woman can be equal in created dignity and redemptive blessings, while woman is subordinate to man. Just like the Father and the Son.

But, I contend that the doctrine of the Trinity - remember there are three not two equal Persons - is mostly irrelevant to the debate about man and woman. God made us in his image, but God is also a wholly other Being. The eternal relations of the Persons of the Trinity are unique to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. These relations are eternal and and ontological (having to do with essential Being) relations within the Trinity. 

Why can't there be two debates? One debate is about the relationship between males and females, husbands and wives. Here we can talk about patriarchy, egalitarianism, complementarianism, and all the subjects that arise when we seek to account for all the Holy Scriptures say about men and women.

The other debate is about the Being of God and the relationships of the Persons of the Trinity. Here we can talk about Adoptionism, Subordinationism, Arianism, and about Nicene, Chalcedonian, and Athansian Trinitarianism. When we discuss the Trinity we talk about the Being of God and the relations within God, the Holy Trinity.

2. It seems to me that there is an over-reaction to the revision of the ESV text at Genesis 3:16. So great is Mrs. Miller's distress that she and her family have abandoned the ESV and returned to the NASB (Saying Farewell to the ESV). The issue is this: the original translation of Genesis 3:16 reads: "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." The revised text reads: "Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." In the one case wives have desire for their husbands - probably a result of the Fall and described in various ways such as excessive dependence upon the husband - but, rather than responding positively to the wife's desire (need?), the husband sinfully rules over his wife. In the other case there is a an underlying conflict in the relationship, the wife sinfully asserting her will against her husband, and the husband asserting his will, often in sinful ways, to bring her into submission. 

Mrs. Miller calls the revision an "interpretation." It is an interpretation in the same way the original reading is an interpretation. The question for Hebrew scholars, linguists, stylists, and all involved in translation is, "What does the Hebrew text say?" I am not such a scholar, so I have nothing to say about the two possible translations. What I will say, based on 45 years of ministry, is that I have seen the dynamics of the husband-wife relationship work out according to both readings of the text. 

3. Mrs. Miller has written about abuse as a ground for divorce. Depending on the definition abuse, she would find little disagreement. If a spouse's abuse results in the abused spouse's leaving the home, then the abusive spouse has caused a separation which amounts to desertion. It was not long ago that, if you said a man was an abusive husband, you meant that he physically attacked and was a threat to the physical safety of his wife. It appears that is no longer the case. What concerns me is Mrs. Miller's definition of abuse. She has published Barbara Roberts and and written a commendatory review of a book by Jeff Crippen on abuse, divorce, and remarriage. Here is their definition of abuse found at the website A Cry for Justice:

What is Abuse?

The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his* target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

The definition of domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he* chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.
You could drive a Mack truck named "Divorce" though that opening. Is this Mrs. Miller's definition of abuse?
4. Mrs. Miller believes that  "women can be leaders in business and politics or even cops and umpires." I agree. My only concern is if a woman can call the strike zone.
As for me, I have a bigger problem. Last night I managed to burn the expensive salmon Mrs. Smith got from her fish monger yesterday.

1. Men's close fitting, ribbed, sleeveless white cotton undershirt most commonly used before T-shirts came into vogue as undergarments. It is named wife beater after Marlon Brando's character, Stanley Kowalski, who wore one during much of the movie version of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." Stanley proved to be a sloppy, drunken, ill-tempered brute who beat his wife. 

Race, Sex, and the Generation Gap

Challenges That Can't Be Avoided

I suppose there have always been generation gaps. I recall an incident that took place in a class with Dr. Morton Smith. In those days I was among the last of what used to be the "traditional" seminary student, men who graduated from college and went directly to seminary. You went to college for four years and graduated at 21. You went to seminary for three years and were ordained at 24. 

But there were also "older men." Some of them were students, who had careers in business, but now were called to the ministry and enrolled in the Master of Divinity program. One day, as we were walking back from chapel (in those days held at the old Westminster Church on Clinton Blvd.), one of the older students made a disapproving remark to another "oldster" about some of us who were not wearing socks. Having grown up in the beach town of Pensacola, FL, it never occurred to me that there was anything improper about going sockless. You wore blue or dirty white tennis shoes without socks to school or for more formal occasions weejuns without socks.

But back to Dr. Smith. The incident I am recalling involved some older local men who were not Reformed and not preparing for the ministry, but who wanted to take some seminary classes. Some subject came up (I have no idea what it was, though civil rights and the Vietnam War were hot issues of the day), and, after allowing the discussion to progress for awhile, Dr. Smith commented, "I think what we have here is a generation gap."

I expect that Adam, who lived to be 930 years old, had many occasions to comment to Eve, "What's going on with these kids of ours? We didn't bring them up like this. Where did they get these ideas? What's up with that cacophony they call music?" And, if Adam, how much more Methuselah , who had to contend with one more generation than Adam since he lived to be 969?

My interest today is with a generation gap that characterizes our society and has a big impact on the church. In America one of the advantages of being an Episcopalian is that you live in the backwaters of denominationalism where your concerns, if you are an evangelical of the Cranmer sort, are Anglo-catholicism and N.T. Wrightism. But since I am that rare American Episcopalian, the evangelical (which was also true of the founder of my denomination, Bishop Cummins), I have a concern for the evangelicalism that is often spelled with a big "E."

It is my belief that two of the great challenges that exist in contemporary Evangelicalism are race and sex, both revealing a huge generational gap. 

Surely the generation of which I am a part, and that is quickly passing from the scene (I have reached threescore and ten years), experienced some big changes regarding race and sex that sometimes created a gap between us and our parents' generation. Regarding race we may have grown up with segregation (my high school was "integrated" with two black girls and one black boy when I was in the 10th grade) but we became integrationists. We believed that no one, because of the color of his skin, ought to be denied any of the rights of an American citizen or an opportunity to get a job and move up the economic ladder. We bought Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of judging people not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. We believed that by integration, all of us could be assimilated to a common culture, which was predominantly western (though enriched and modified by various cultural influences including black influences) in nature because the West was the highest form of human civilization and culture that mankind has yet produced. It looked simple. As the Italians, the Irish, the Germans, et. al. had been assimilated into American culture, so, if given a fair and much too long delayed chance, would African Americans. 

Regarding women, we became egalitarians. Though World War II opened the door to women working outside the home, most of our mothers were stay at home moms (housewives, as they were called). However, many of our contemporaries got jobs and had careers and kids. 

Were women created by God to be subservient to all males in society? No. Margaret Thatcher was not an example of the "monstrous rule of women." She was an example of meritocracy. She succeeded politically because of her gifts, experience, skills, work, and accomplishments. Are there other women of Margaret Thatcher's abilities? Then, please God, raise them up and give them success - women of courage, today's Deborahs, women who know what they are committed to and who can lead political cultures into the way of truth, justice, and right. Such women can lead us, not into women's ways of truth, justice, and right, but into the ways of truth, justice  and right where sex makes no difference. The P.M.'s name may be Winston or Margaret, but he will not lead as a man nor she as a woman, but both as steely Prime Ministers.

However, today integration and egalitarianism are not enough. In fact both represent, not equality, but the dominance of those who are white and male over the oppressed members of society, such as blacks and women. 

This is the generation gap. Younger adults have absorbed the view that the structures of society give white people and men  privileges that put blacks and women at a disadvantage. Whites and males have created these structures and imposed them on blacks and women. Whites and  males make the rules that give them the advantage, and then they expect blacks and women to play by these rules that put and keep them behind. There are not just incidents of discrimination; there is structural racism. There are not just places where women are not fairly treated; society is structured to be sexist. 

Worst of all the oppressors are not even aware of this reality, so they must be confronted with their guilt, re-educated and sensitized, and they must change.
White people must see that insisting on standard English, teaching the Western canon in literature and philosophy classes is culturalism (which is what racism really is), and traditional SAT testing and scoring are examples of white prejudice and dominance. These are tools used to keep blacks down. 

White people must accept the massive collective guilt that is theirs because of slavery and Jim Crow laws and instinctive racism. They must apologize, and find out what black people want them to do about the past and present. White people must stop pointing out the examples of such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Ben Carson, Condoleezza Rice, Tim Scott, because these black people are not really black. They have been educated and socialized to the point that they operate as effectively whites. 

Men must stop encouraging one another and their sons to "act like a man" or "man up." Men must know that holding a door open for a woman may be perceived by her as a micro-aggression which at best is thoughtless and at worst is a put down that says, "You're not able to open the door yourself. You need a man." Men need to stop being their manly selves which leads to toxic masculinity, sexual aggressiveness, and spousal abuse. Men need to observe, listen to, learn from women, and change their concept of masculinity.

Older generations may not be aware of this change in the worldview of the younger. The younger generation are not concerned with merit and equality, for these are not sufficient. Their concern is social justice.  They want those who are white and male to acknowledge the privileges that white males have historically enjoyed and used to their own advantage to the detriment of people of color and women. If they are evangelicals, these concerns for racial, sexual, and economic justice are transformed into "gospel issues."

It is not enough that a black person can attain anything for which he or she is qualified and works. No, the standards are wrong. The standards are white, and they must be changed to deal fairly with the unique experience of blacks.

It is not enough that a women can attain anything from CEO of a large company, to Secretary of State, to President of the United States. No, the standards which are defined by males must be rethought, modified, and perhaps radically changed to take into account what women are, think, feel, and want. Do you need to be able to carry 150 pounds to be a fire person? Then the standard must be changed since most women cannot cannot 150 pounds. Do men approach life the way they do a department store - go in, shoot it, get out of there, and take it home? Perhaps they need to change. Do boys spit and scratch and sometimes pee outdoors? Maybe they need the Barney Fife treatment - "nip it in the bud." 

To bring all this into the world of the church, if you want examples evangelicals for whom race is the primary category of life, look at Jemar Tisby, Michelle Higgins, and her father Mike. If you want an example of an evangelical for whom sex is the primary category look at Valerie Hobbs, who describes her academic focus: "My primary research at present focuses on the discourse of conservative evangelical Christians, particularly the ways in which members of this community talk about gender roles. I am especially interested in corpus-based and corpus-assisted discourse studies and have built several of my own corpora." 

If you are a commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America or a messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention, listen and you will hear the the generation gap regarding race and sex.



I Am Valerie, Hear Me Roar

No Paul Did Not Say,
"Act Like a Woman"

 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.
                        St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:13, 14

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman.
                Helen Ready

Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl
                                            Bob Dylan

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like women, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
                                                  Valerie Hobbs

I feel like Jude. I wanted to write about something else, but circumstances intervened, and "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." In my case, I wanted to get started blogging as "The Reformed Reformed Episcopalian" and argue that  Anglicanism from its beginnings was not only a reformed English church, but also a Reformed church, though somewhat different from the Reformed churches on the Continent, nevertheless not only reformed but Reformed in doctrine. However my attention was diverted to Dr. Valerie Hobbs' latest, Act Like Women, at The Aquila Report. 

Her reasoning as I follow it, is:

(1) What Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians was 13:13, 14 was: "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (ESV).

(2) What Paul was doing when he wrote "act like men" was to use as a metaphor the Roman soldier: "Here, Paul draws on military imagery, evident from the Greek: grÄ“goreite: keep awake, keep vigilant, take as your inspiration a Roman soldier. It’s a metaphor for the spiritual life, intended for all Christians, men and women" (Valerie Hobbs).

(3) Who are the Christians today who most embody the characteristics of the vigilant Roman soldier? Valerie's answer is, "Christian women" who have endured "toxic masculinity."

(4) Therefore, if Paul were writing today and wanted an apt metaphor, he likely would write not "Act like men," but  "Act like women."

A few notes on what Valerie has written:

(1) When Paul wrote "to act like a man" or "to conduct oneself in a manly or courageous way" (A  Linguistic Key to the New  Testament), his metaphor was not how the Roman soldier acts but how a man who is manly acts.

(2) The way the phrase is translated:

            "quit you like men" (KJV)

            "quit you like men" (ASV)

            "be courageous" (RSV)
            "act like men" (NASB)

            "act like men" (NIV)

            "be strong" (NKJV)
            "be courageous" (NRSV)

            "act like men" (ESV)

(3) What is clear is that even the more "dynamic" translations understand what the Apostle wrote as based on "manly characteristics" or "manly virtues." No one understands the the word as associated with those character traits which are distinctive of the female person. The Greek word has to do with "men" and even those translations that are "looser," seeking the significance of the word over its literal meaning, translate it with reference to words that are associated with "manliness" - that is, "courage."

A few notes regarding Valerie's understanding of the text:

(1) Dr. Hobbs has missed what Paul wrote in Greek. She calls our attention to Paul's use of the metaphor of the Roman soldier. But it is not the third ("act like men") but the first verb of the sentence that calls our attention to the soldier, "grÄ“goreite," translated as "Be watchful," which means "to watch, to stay awake, to be alert" (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament).

(2) Paul does not write "act like a man" or "be courageous" until the third verb of the sentence. Here he uses used "andrizesthe" (from aner/andros - male or man) which means "to conduct oneself in a manly, or courageous way" (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament). "The word was also used in a papyri in the exhortation 'therefore do not be fainthearted but be courageous as a man'" (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament). In other words, while Paul calls us to emulate the Roman soldier with the first verb, he calls on us to emulate men with the third verb.

(3) For Paul men and women are essentially one in Christ: "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). But essential oneness and equality in Christ does not extinguish the differences between men and women in this world. Men are called to be leaders and women followers in the home (Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7). Men are to teach and rule in the church while women are to listen and learn (1 Timothy 2:8-13, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35). 

(4) As there are differences of role in home and church, so there are differences of nature and natural characteristics between men and women. When Paul's readers, male and female, read, "Act like men," they had no struggle with understanding, for they knew what men are naturally like. Men are designed to be courageous, though there are men who fail to "act like men." It is the man who places himself between his wife and children and the attacker. If it is the wife who must stand between the attacker and her husband and her children, then she is having to fill an "unnatural role" in which she, rather than her husband, must "act like a man." As much as Dr. Hobbs may wish to flatten the differences between men and women, husbands and wives, and to blur the distinctions between men and women, the Bible won't allow it, for the Bible everywhere teaches that men and women are different in creation and redemption. There is such a thing as "acting like a man" and "acting like a woman," and when a woman acts like a man or a man acts like a woman the natural (created) differences are denied, or, to put it more bluntly, rebelled against.

Finally, what are we to make of Dr. Hobbs? She is a Christian and a feminist, or, to put the terms together, she is a Christian feminist. Three times she speaks of "toxic masculinity" not just in society but also in the church. What is her goal? The removal of distinctions between men and women in society and in church so that there is "equality and fraternity":
By now, to all with eyes to see, the evidence is clear of the pervasiveness of a toxic masculinity that cultivates male violence, sexual aggressiveness, and emotional distance. But it is too early to say whether we will see any change in our society’s perception and treatment of women and other vulnerable people. What might it take for Hollywood, for politics, for all our institutions to be transformed into bastions of equality and fraternity after the reckoning of its tyrannical power players?
I fully grant Dr. Hobbs right to be a Christian feminist. The one thing I do not understand is why she, as a Christian feminist, should have a voice at a website committed to confessional Reformed Presbyterianism.