The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood advocates for evangelical patriarchy and gender inequality. Their teachings emphasize creation-based gender roles: the man is said to have been created to lead and the woman to follow, and any attempt to reverse these roles will cause chaos and heartache in both the home, the church, and society. But are their teachings found in the Bible?
CBMW and the Threat of Paganism
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has done it again - it has created the perfect egalitarian argument:
"If the egalitarian impulse wins out, the church is compromised precisely at the point where paganism is assaulting the church today. For, as Peter Jones has brilliantly demonstrated, paganism wants to get rid of Christian monotheism by getting rid of the Creator-creature distinction. And one way paganism likes to do that is through gender confusion—hence, the bi-sexual shaman, the sacred feminine, goddess worship, etc. Paganism understands that one of the best ways to prepare the way for pagan polytheistic monism over against the transcendent Creator God of the Bible is to undermine that God's image in the distinctiveness of male and female, and in the picture of Christ and the church in marital role distinctions, and in the male eldership of the church. Egalitarianism is just not equipped for that fight, and in fact simply capitulates to it." (Read the whole article here)
But if paganism tries to get rid of the Creator-creature distinction by undermining the principle that God's image is seen in both the male and the female, why do hierarchical Christians say God is overwhelmingly described as a male deity? Doesn't insisting that God shares an attribute with his creation get rid of the Creator-creature distinction, and undermine the principle that God's image is seen in both the male and the female equally?
If God is transcendent, perhaps God is neither male or female? If God is beyond his creation, perhaps only we are male and female? If this is the case, how does sacred feminine destroy the very concept of monotheism in which God is beyond his creation, but the idea of a male God - sacred masculine - doesn't? How can God remain distinct from his creation, and at the same time contain elements of his own creation? It is impossible, wherefore we find that CBMW has created the perfect egalitarian argument: if God is neither male or female, and both men and women are created in the image of God, why should a woman obey the man?
Let me explain.
If the image of God is reflected by our spirits, for God is a Spirit, why should the physical body prevent some from worshiping God in the spirit?
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24, NIV).
If a woman must obey a man, she cannot be single-minded in her worship of God, for we cannot have two lords whom we obey. Since we must worship God in spirit, our spirit must be free to worship God. Obedience removes free will, wherefore if a woman must obey a man, her will isn't free, nor is her spirit. And if this is the case, how can the woman worship God in spirit and in truth?
Thus we find that gender hierarchy does exactly what CBMW claims egalitarianism does: it removes the Creator-creature distinction when it makes the man the woman's god whom she must obey, and simultaneously creates a polytheism, rejecting monotheism. When the Creator-creature distinction is retained, we always obey God before humans (Acts 5:29), we do unto others what we would have them do to us (Luke 6:31) instead of demanding others follow our preferences (1 Cor 13:5).
In conclusion, CBMW is incorrect in saying that egalitarianism capitulates to the forces that would destroy the church. Egalitarianism isn't only well equipped to handle the fight; it wins it every time.
Don't Call It Feminine, It May Be Masculine
If the man's prior creation gave the man authority over the woman, we wouldn't talk about how men and women are different, for no reason would be needed. All that would have to be said is, "the man was created first." But because it just doesn't sound right, we have come up with all kinds of different reasons the man should have authority over the woman. One of them are the abstract ideals of "masculine" and "feminine."
What is masculine and what is feminine? Well, no one really knows. What we do know is that men are considered masculine, and women feminine. In addition, anything positive is usually found in the masculine department, and anything negative is found in the feminine department. For example, courage, strength, logic and reason are usually said to be masculine, and gullibility, weakness, and emotionality are thought to be feminine qualities. Hence, men are said to be courageous, strong, and rational, whereas women are said to be easily deceived, weak, and emotional. In the real world, however, real men and women do not fit neatly into these categories, wherefore we talk about feminine men and masculine women, and not with a positive tone. But if men were created to be masculine, if it is an innate instinct nurture cannot override, how can they be anything but masculine?
Because the one-verse-explanation [1 Tim 2] doesn't cut it anymore in a world where men and women are technically (although not always practically) equal, hierarchical theology has become obsessed with the ideals of femininity and masculinity. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys; cheer leading is a girly activity, sports are for boys; writing is for girls, math is for boys, and so on. But only two generations ago little boys wore pink, a little older ones were cheer leaders, and yet a little older ones aspired to write the Great American Novel.
Maybe we shouldn't call a trait feminine, for it may actually be masculine.
Masculinity and femininity are as versatile as water; they can take many shapes, and often they are thought to be something they aren't. Steam can look like smoke, ice can look like glass, snow resembles cotton candy. If we look only to the appearance, we will be deceived to believe to have found the real thing.
Or perhaps masculinity and femininity are versatile because there really are no strict ideals that all men and women must adhere to. Maybe we all invent femininity and masculinity as befits us;
maybe we will one day realize that being a man and woman has little to do with being feminine or masculine, for we are always men and women, but sometimes more feminine/masculine than other times; maybe we'll realize that it's ok for a girl to throw a ball like a boy and a boy to cry like a girl, for if you can do it, why not?
When the Provider is Compared to a Slave
Poverty creates all kinds of difficulties for "Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." It is difficult, even impossible, to tell men and women they have failed to be what God has called them to be just because the economy isn't working.
Women are used to being told their "role" is that of a parent and spouse, but men have usually had the added "serve God" clause that has allowed them to pursue their dreams. Well, sorry guys, that is no longer the case.
On the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood's website, JD Gunter calls all men to set their dreams aside in order to provide for their families.
"Something about growing up and having a family changes the perspective of a man. Instead of a professional athlete, he aims for management. Instead of a multi-platinum record deal, he pursues health insurance. Instead of wanting to be a famous astronaut, he dreams of raising one. This is maturity. This is growing up. This is a man dying to self and living for another. It used to be women who were told to set aside their dreams and watch their children pursue theirs. Their sons weren't only allowed to dream about becoming artists, athletes, and astronauts, they were actively encouraged to become everything and anything they could. But all that is over now. Instead of pursuing their dreams, men should set their eyes on well-paying jobs; making money, that is what Christ-likeness is all about."
(Read the whole article here)
Of course, well-paying jobs are becoming increasingly rare, wherefore...
"This truth is not meant to shame men who struggle to provide. On the contrary, there is tremendous honor for that man who struggles to provide. I have known men to work three meager-paying jobs to humbly support a wife and children. Men have toiled away for years working faithfully in what the world would never see as a dream job. In the face of great uncertainty, men take what jobs they can find and spend little as they feed, clothe and provide for their kids. And of course a man can still chase his dreams - as long as his wife can stay home."
It is enlightening to look at the verses Gunter uses to support his argument.
"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8 NIV).
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Col 3:23-24 NIV).
First of all, neither is from the creation account, which is kind of strange since this providing business is supposed to be a created "role." But the chosen verses are equally dubious. The first verse is gender neutral and includes all, but his second choice was written to... slaves.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism" (Col 3:22-25, NIV).
What is going on here? In order to convince modern men their created role is that of a provider, Gunter has to compare them to first century slaves. It is kind of fitting, for Jesus did tell us that the one who wants to be the greatest must become a slave (Matt 20:27), but this begs the question: how much authority does a slave have?
Unwittingly Gunter makes the man a lowly farmhand who must because of sin toil away until he dies, which is a very biblical concept indeed (Gen 3:17). Because the man's "role" isn't all that glorious, hierarchical complementarians must give the man authority over his wife. But if the man is like a slave, what is his wife?
When Theology Goes Horribly Wrong: The Naming Concept
Because of the absence of a biblical commandment for men to rule over women, there have been a lot of attempts to "find" the man's authority over the woman in the Bible. One of those attempts is the naming concept; by naming Eve, Adam claimed authority over her.
For example, Raymond Ortlund, in CBMW's book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, grasps the beauty of the poetry involved in Genesis 2:23 and he sees the woman as an equal because she is created from the man, for with the woman the man can experience companionship on his own level. But simultaneously he views the man naming the woman as an act of authority, a royal prerogative, since he is naming his helper.
But Joey Cochran, whose article, When Adam Named Eve, is published on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood's website, disagrees:
"But when God brings the Woman to Adam he does not name her Eve as we would suspect. He identifies her in relationship to himself as Woman because, “she was taken out of man.” This name lacks specificity. Adam does not claim rule or authority over the woman at this point. For now she is Woman. This is how the serpent and God address her in Genesis 3. It is not until the end of Genesis 3 where Adam calls her by the name, Eve, which is the significant point to be made." (Read the whole article here)
Cochran cites John Walton who points out that the Hebrew uses a different vocabulary and syntax when the naming of the animals is referred to compared to the joyous exclamation of the man when seeing the woman. But because the same vocabulary and syntax used in 2:19-20 is found in 3:20, Cochran concludes that it here that the man claims authority over the woman. He adds further that Genesis 2:23-3:20 is an "inclusio."
"However, the calling of Eve, Woman, does introduce an important point to be made about the story of the Fall. It, in a sense, introduces and forms the front end of an inclusio between 2.23 and 3.20. An inclusio is a repetition of two ideas that book end a discourse. Inclusios serve as valuable signposts. They signal an important point in the text. In this text the inclusio is the naming of the Woman."
The entire description of the fall of humankind is only an inclusio that exists to explain when and how the man claims authority over the woman?
Let's see how Cochran defends his argument:
"The story of the Fall begins with the Woman being named categorically. At this point the Man and the Woman are naked and feel no shame. At the end of the Fall narrative the Man names the Woman Eve, offering specificity. However, everything is different. Rather than being naked and feeling no shame, the first sacrifice is made for garments of clothing. Between these two end caps is the story of what happens when man does not exercise headship appropriately. It is a story of failed leadership, leading to the man accepting responsibility for his failure to exercise authority where he ought."
Wait a minute! How can the fall narrative be a story of "failed leadership" if the man never claimed authority over the woman in Genesis 2? He never made himself the head!
Cochran gets into an even bigger mess when he tries to explain why the man failed to exercise authority over the woman:
"Note that God called to Adam, “Where are you?” Matthew Lee Anderson refers to this question as “the first moment of God’s redemptive activity” (The End of Our Exploring, 42). God begins his effort of redemption by addressing the one who is ultimately responsible. He addresses the one who was commissioned to rule, subdue and refrain from eating a fruit from a tree. .... Adam as head must take responsibility for the fall. God commissioned him to rule and subdue all creation. Ironically, a reptilian creature and a piece of fruit brought down the man who was meant to rule them. In the process he failed at leading his wife."
God holds him responsible for eating the fruit, but not for not exercising authority over the woman, for the mandate to rule and subdue was given to the man and the woman. Cochran has to make the woman less human in order to give the man authority over the woman and even then he finds it after sin had already entered.
"So Adam, recognizing his failure, accepts the consequence and responsibility for the Fall. He takes up his tarnished mantle of headship and names the Woman Eve. Adam naming Eve conveys his authority over her and in turn over all the living. His naming of her not only represents his commitment to his commission as head but also confesses his faith in God’s redemptive plan. As “Mother of all the living,” Adam knows she is the mother of the redemptive Seed that will crush the head of the Serpent (Gen 3.15)".
Cochran has to assume God gave the man authority in Genesis 2, which the man then finally accepts in Genesis 3. But by doing so, he is essentially agreeing with egalitarian theology: the man claims authority over the woman after sin.
Nothing is said about God giving the man the authority.
But it gets worse, a lot worse - for men.
"It makes most sense to take this phrase at face-value and understand that Adam was present during the temptation but silent. Why did he remain silent? Why did he not act? We could speculate much about this. Throughout the Old Testament there are other examples of when men fail to act and lead. Judah failed to act on behalf of Tamar, so she took matters in her hands. Barak failed to lead as judge, so Deborah stepped up to lead the army against its foes."
In other words, even the most perfect of all men, Adam, who knew no sin, didn't know how to lead.
And since men are proven to be incompetent leaders from creation, in Cochran's mind, men should have authority over women, lest the more competent women take over and men are left behind.
What Cochran's article shows is in the most clearest way is that when we do not accept what the Bible says about the creation of men and women, we end get a theology that goes horribly wrong in every possible way.
CBMW, Kyle Worley, and Why the Bible Wasn't Written in Blue
Kyle Worley laments the lack of leadership in the modern world:
"In an age where flippancy, prolonged adolescence, and foolishness are celebrated; the voice of men who came before ring louder than ever. Young men must sit at the feet of the great men of history and hear their stories, sing their songs, and read the books they read. There is a world out there that needs leaders and we have a vacuum of able and willing men to lead." (Read the whole article here)
Of course one is tempted to ask why Worley works so hard to keep women from becoming leaders since there aren't enough men to go around. But that's not all. The list he quotes from Jonathan Edwards Resolutions is advice well given, but why does he apply it only to men? Do we not need women who will never lose a moment of time, who live well, who fight against sin?
In other words, do we not need godly women?
The Bible doesn't speak now to men, now to women. The book was written to humankind, and should be taught to humankind. All this nonsense about men being this way, and women that way, doesn't diminish the fact that we all sin the same way, are saved the same way, and will one day see God the same way. Why separate that which belongs together?
CBMW, Greg Gibson and the Awful Truth About Immature Manhood
Greg Gibson follows Kyle Worley in erecting a "MEN ONLY" sign where general advice designed for all Christians is being given.
"The business of mature manhood, however, is a vocation every man can obtain. Whether you are married, single, have no kids, have 10-kids, have a seminary degree, pastor a church, coach a basketball team, or work in a factory, mature manhood is your terminal aim. The Apostle Paul seems to liken mature manhood with the “stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
(Read the entire article here)
How does "mature manhood" differ from "mature womanhood" if a "mature manhood" is equivalent to the “stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)?
Fullness of Christ.
Isn't that found in Ephesians 4:9-16, and meant for all Christians?
Isn't that found in Ephesians 5:1-2, and meant for all Christians?
Let's go to war... armed with truth.
Isn't that found in Ephesians 6:10-18, and meant for all Christians?
Are women not part of the Body of Christ? Are women not meant to grow into the "stature of the fullness of Christ" by becoming perfected in their knowledge of the Son of God through the teaching of the church? (Eph 4:9-13)
What kind of Gospel is this?
One that tells men that they are manly when they pursue the fullness found in Christ, and women that they are out of order when they do the same.
"The pursuit of mature manhood makes the characteristics of risk-taking, courage, and boldness become more manifest in the life of a believer. Under fire, he holds a stoic composure. He speaks truth winsomely. His decision-making is always for the benefit of others, and he carries himself with a humble courage. It is to this kind of posture I resolve. Therefore, men, as the Apostle Paul says, “Imitate me, as I am of Christ.” I, too, say to you who are reading this post—imitate me, as I am of Christ. But I don’t stop there; I furthermore say, “Let me imitate you, as you imitate Christ. Let us resolve to mature manhood together. Let us pursue this Christ—this Warrior King— together. Let us go to war, shoulder to shoulder, armed with Truth, and together pursue the fullness of Christ. Let us repent when we fall short of mature manhood, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us in Jesus. This is good, and it is to this I resolve."
It seems to me that "mature manhood" sounds very much like the biblical concept of a spiritually mature person. And it seems also that Gibson is of the opinion that women should not attain spiritual maturity, but remain forever spiritual infants, which is of course necessary if they must in all things obey a man; obedience removes free will, which is needed for spiritual growth.
The Gospel we find in the Bible applies to all, but hierarchical theology doesn't. Hierarchical theology acts very much like patriarchy: it pretends to protect women and children, but in fact, it protects the man who exploits women and children, who takes more time, money, and resources for himself, and less of the burdens of life. Hierarchical theology speaks sweetly, but behind its words hides the poison that kills unity and love: pride. Gibson is so very proud of being a man that he is willing to leave women behind in order to feel manly. That's not what Jesus did.
CBMW, and the Perpetual Infancy of the Body of Christ
On CBMW's website we find an article that attempts to explain how women can serve in the church without teaching men or having authority over men. The article lists a few problem areas, such as music, and children's ministry, for the Bible doesn't talk about these in detail.
"For a woman to serve as a worship leader or music minister in a church is a more difficult issue. Part of the difficulty in making application here lies in the lack of uniform agreement among various church traditions regarding the role and function of one who serves in such a ministry. It is certainly possible for a woman to serve in a position in which she leads in congregational singing during a church worship service. However, it would depend on how that particular church understands the degree of authority that she holds over the assembled congregation and the extent to which she provides instruction."
(Read the whole article here)
Can a woman lead worship?
It depends on how the particular church understand the degree of authority.
In other words, it is no longer about the Bible, or what the Bible says about men and women, but how we as believers understand authority.
We all know that everyone has an opinion, but that opinions aren't facts. If we cannot go to the Bible to find the facts, are we then allowed to resort to opinions? And whose opinions?
Here we must assume that it is the men in charge whose opinion holds sway, for are they not given authority in the church? But this begs the question, if men are given authority to make such decisions, what about Jesus? What place does Jesus have in the church? Should we not consult the Gospels to find what Jesus would have done in such a situation?
And what about children's ministry?
"Paul speaks commendably of Timothy's mother and grandmother who taught him the Scriptures and passed their faith on to him (2 Tim 1:5; 3:14-15). This does not conflict with the biblical prohibition against a woman teaching doctrine to men or exercising authority over them in the church, because young boys do not relate to women teachers as man to woman. Thus, there is nothing inappropriate with women teaching or exercising authority over young boys who are under their mother's authority at home."
Ok, so a mother can teach her children, should teach her children. A mother who neglects to teach her children is a bad mother. But why does a woman who is considered godly for teaching the principles of God to her children, suddenly ungodly when she teaches those same principles to a man? How can that possibly be?
Young boys do not relate to women as man to woman. Granted. So the problem is in the man, not the woman.
It is the man who doesn't want to hear a woman teach him the principles of God, because in the church teaching is viewed as a position of power (falsely so, but that's material for another blog). It is the man who refuses to submit to his sister, as another member of the Body of Christ. And although hierarchical theology considers this right and proper it goes against the Bible in every possible way.
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines" (1 Cor 12:4-11, NIV).
Teaching is a gift from the Holy Spirit. A man who refuses to listen to a sister who is teaching is causing the Body of Christ to cease from growing, and becoming perfected and mature in knowledge.
"(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:9-13, NIV).
Teachers help us grow into maturity, until we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. As long as we remain infants, we are easily deceived and become disconnected from the head (Col 2:19). The hierarchical model assumes that the pastor will keep these infants from trouble, but it is an impossible task. As in the natural world, an infant needs a caregiver; one person cannot care for hundreds of infants at the same time. And as in the real world, an infant is supposed to grow and become a mature grownup. But as long as half of the church believes they already have enough knowledge, and are therefore free to ignore the other half, the church remains in the cradle, unable to do the works of service that are required to build the Body of Christ until it stands complete and perfected.
John Piper and Masculine Christianity
John Piper, a hierarchical theologian, “draws out the eleven elements of the goodness of God's design of "Masculine Christianity"” in an article posted on CBMW’s website. Let’s take a look at these eleven elements.
(Read the whole article here)
According to Piper Christianity should be masculine, because masculinity is equivalent to courage, strength, risk-taking, and a willingness to sacrifice oneself in the service of a majestic God.
I actually agree with Piper. Christianity should be masculine for all those reasons and all men and women who exhibit masculine traits should become preachers. But I have a feeling that this isn't what Piper means with his "Masculine Christianity," for Piper thinks women should be properly feminine, although he writes:
“Men are freed to have feminine traits without being effeminate and women are freed to have masculine traits without being tomboys. (The most admirable women have masculine traits and the most admirable men have feminine traits: Lopsided masculinity and femininity are not as admirable.)”
Men should be masculine and feminine, and women should be feminine and masculine, but men should be more masculine than women, for masculinity is essential for leadership, and only men should lead. The key here is that men fear becoming effeminate, which in Piper’s view refers to being dominated by a woman. This must be avoided at all cost, for a man who is dominated by a woman will not be able to feel his call to lead, protect, and provide.
And what about women? Women, Piper tells us are “more properly drawn to a Christian life that highlights the proper place of humble, strong, spiritual men in leadership.” In other words, men shouldn’t dominate either, but take the initiative without being domineering. This will free women to be strong and courageous, and prevent men from feeling threatened by women who are effective in ministry.
But if women should be strong and courageous, why are they not considered properly masculine and therefore able to lead the church? In Piper's view, women should be strong and courageous, but only as long as they are not stronger and more courageous than men, for it would compromise the “biblical vision of complementarity.”
This "biblical vision of complementarity" will include a “clear definition of manhood” that will help men accept their responsibilities, and youth leaders and parents “will catch a clearer definition of how to answer the question of a boy: "Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?" And a clearer definition of how to answer the question of a girl: "Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?"”
However, this clear “definition of manhood” isn’t found in the Bible, for the Bible tells us how to become God-like, and God isn’t a man. Piper has to begin with the idea the men should lead. Hence we find that Piper’s “Masculine Christianity” is an edifice that is imposed on the Bible instead of a theology that is found in the Bible. In other words, men shouldn’t lead because they were born masculine; they should lead because, well, because men should lead, and because men should lead, little boys must be taught how to become properly masculine and little girls must be taught how to become properly feminine. What they will learn depends on their teachers, and it is here that things get tricky for Piper, for if men are men and not women, why do men need to be taught how to become men?
In addition, if men and women should be both masculine and feminine, why does a man have to be more masculine than feminine? Who decides how much is enough?
The last elements in Piper's list give us a clue. Piper writes that the “God of the Bible is overwhelmingly powerful and authoritative and often violent. He is Lord and King and Master and Sovereign and Father and Ruler.” Piper equates this list with masculinity,
Not surprisingly, Piper equates femininity with tenderness, gentleness, patience, and nurturing, and he writes that women need men to portray God’s grandeur in order to be properly feminine without having a need to “work to create the ethos of God's grandeur.”
In essence Piper believes that if we don’t see God as a strong, violent God, we won’t see his gentleness, and because of this fear of his, men must be masculine and women feminine. Piper goes as far as saying we must have a “wartime mindset and a wartime lifestyle.” I wonder what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would say about that one.
Piper is also fearful that strong preaching will vanish, and it is here that his whole edifice finally collapses. For if preaching must be a “forceful acclamation of the greatness of God” and an expression of the “full range of the way God is,” why not let women talk about God once in a while too? God is, after all, tender, gentle, patient, and nurturing too.
The most troubling aspect about Piper's "Masculine Christianity" is that nothing in the Bible tells us that being powerful and violent is a masculine trait, nor does anything in the Bible tell us what femininity is all about. So where does Piper get his definitions from? From the same place everyone else: from his parents, culture, movies, books, which is why little boys and girls must be taught how to be properly masculine and feminine.
In a final analysis, Piper's "Masculine Christianity" is nothing more than a cultural package adorned with a cross.
1 Peter 2 & Ephesians 6: The Disobedient Slave
We often assume that slaves obeyed their masters without question in the first century Roman society. But if that was the case, why did both Paul and Peter encourage slaves to obey their masters? Were Christian slaves worse than others? It seems absurd. But a better question yet is, why did Paul and Peter also encourage slaves to disobey their masters?
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:18-21, NIV)
Why were these slaves beaten, unless they had refused to obey? And why did they refuse to obey?
Because they didn't want to do evil.
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you (1 Peter 4:3-4 NIV).
We have a tendency to think slaves aren't quite as human as we are, wherefore we can't imagine a slave choosing to be beaten for his refusal to sin; slaves were born to obey, for better or worse. But hear what Peter has to say:
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16, NIV).
We are all free in Christ! Or as Paul put it,
For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave (1 Cor 7:22-23 NIV)
We are free to serve God, for in the Kingdom no one is a slave to another human; we are all slaves of Christ and of righteousness (Rom 6:18).
Somehow the idea that slaves lived to please their masters alone is etched into our minds, but Paul had another thing in mind.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor (anthropareskos) when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free (Eph 6:5-8, NIV)
The second part of anthropareskos, ("human pleaser") found in verse 6, pareskos is found in Galatians 1:10:
"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please (pareskos) men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." (KJV)
The phrase "slave of Christ" is at the heart of the disobedience of the slaves. A slave cannot serve two masters; she must choose which one to obey. A slave of Christ chooses to serve Jesus, and only Jesus, even if it means he must suffer unjustly. More than one first-century slave did.
This last thought brings us to 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5: if slaves were encouraged to disobey their earthly masters for the sake of the kingdom, why do we assume Paul and Peter told freeborn Christian women to obey their husbands in all things? Is a wife lower than a slave? If all Christians are free from the tyranny of the will of another human, why do put married women back into the slavery of having to fear another human? More than one wife has suffered unjustly in the hands of an unbelieving husbands, but why should she suffer in the hands of a believing husband?
In the instructions Peter gives to the slaves, he asks them to remember the example of Jesus who suffered unjustly. But this begs the question, if Peter reminded the slaves to live as Christ lived when calling them to suffer for the kingdom of God, why does Paul compare the husband to the same Christ when calling them to exercise authority over their wives? And why does Paul compare the wife to the church if women were created to submit considering the church didn't exist before sin.
All Christians are called to imitate God and live the life of love (Eph 5:1-2). Now, this call to imitate (mimetes) God brings us back to 1 Peter:
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers (mimetes) of what is good? (1 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
A follower of God lives the life Jesus lived. Peter didn't limit the example of the suffering Jesus to slaves, he asked also the overseers to remember the example of the Shepherd, and the sufferings of Christ, and forsake the exercising of authority over the laity. Instead, he asked both overseers and the laity to submit to one another and be clothed with humility (1 Pet 5:1-5).
Now the question is, why did Paul not see the example of the suffering Jesus in the same light as Peter and call husbands to submit to their wives, just as the slaves and overseers submitted to their masters and the laity? Or perhaps he did, for Paul did write, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21 NIV).
The example of Jesus is one of servanthood, one of suffering for the sake of that which is good, refusal to do evil and refusal to obey those who do evil, one of mutual submission and pleasing others as means of edifying and building up, not as an excuse to do evil. To this we were all called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21 NIV).
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