According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yes, Relationships Between Equal Married Partners Does Work Better (And it's Biblical!)

It’s not complementarianism; it’s patriarchy
http://rachelheldevans.com/complementarians-patriarchy

by Rachel Held Evans
May 3, 2012
Comments
'Hierarchy' photo (c) 2008, snowmentality - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Russell Moore is concerned that too many evangelical marriages are complementarian in name only.

The dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Seminary recently said this at the Together for the Gospel Conference is Louisville, Kentucky:

“What I fear is that we have many people in evangelicalism who can check off ‘complementarian’ on a box but who really aren’t living out complementarian lives. Sometimes I fear we have marriages that are functionally egalitarian, because they are within the structure of the larger society. If all we are doing is saying ‘male headship’ and ‘wives submit to your husbands’ but we’re not really defining what that looks like...in this kind of culture, when those things are being challenged, then it’s simply going to go away...”

He’s right. Whenever I speak or write on this topic, I hear from men and women who say that they went into their marriages expecting to impose upon them the hierarchal structure advocated by the complementarian movement, but who found that, practically speaking, a relationship between two equal partners just worked better than a relationship between a boss and a subordinate.

“It just didn’t fit,” they often say. “Hierarchy felt awkward and imposed. It made so much more sense to work together as a team, to settle into roles based on giftedness rather than gender.”

This is exactly what happened to us. Even though Dan and I were both raised in a complementarian culture, our marriage was “functionally egalitarian” long before we began reevaluating our interpretation of those passages of Scripture so often used to support hierarchal-based gender roles.

We make decisions together. (No one holds a trump card.)

We share household chores. (No one gets out of doing the laundry or helping with the yard work based on gender.)

We don’t impose gender-based absolutes on one another. (I like football more than Dan, and nobody’s particularly concerned about that. Roll Tide!)

We don’t have a single leader. (Dan likes to say that “leadership” requires context. It’s not something you are; it’s something you do. So depending on the circumstances, sometimes I lead, and sometimes Dan leads. Sometimes I support, and sometimes Dan supports. We see our gifts, particularly our spiritual gifts, as complementary. We function best—as individuals and as a team—when we do what we’re good at and what we love, and when we cheer one another on. We also function best when our leadership looks more like service than authority, just like Jesus said.)

Moore is right. Complementarians are losing ground. And they’re losing ground for several reasons:

1. They are losing ground because more and more evangelical theologians, scholars, professors, and pastors are thoughtfully debunking a complementarian interpretation of Scripture and doing it at the popular level through books like The Blue Parakeet (by Scot McKnight), Discovering Biblical Equality (by Ronald Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Gordon Fee), How I Changed My Mind About Women in Church Leadership (by a who’s who of evangelical leaders), through evangelical colleges and seminaries that celebrate women’s giftedness to lead and are producing record numbers of female graduates, and through organizations like Christians for Biblical Equality.

2. They are losing ground because their rhetoric consistently reflects a commitment to an idealized glorification of the pre-feminist nuclear family of 1950s America rather than a commitment to “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood”—terms that many of us recognize as highly selective, reductive, and problematic. This reactionary approach often comes at the expense of sound biblical interpretation. (I touched on this in a post about Mark Driscoll’s interpretation of Esther and Vashti a few months ago. We’ll be talking about this a lot more in the weeks and months to come.)

3. And they are losing ground because, at the practical level, evangelicals are realizing that complementarianism doesn’t actually promote complementary relationships, but rather hierarchal ones.

Complemenarianism is patriarchy—nothing more, nothing less. (Though sometimes it is referred to as "soft patriarchy.") This was made crystal clear when John Piper announced months ago that Christianity is inherently masculine. Such a view can hardly be described as “complementary” when it excludes one gender entirely! We experience the same discomfort when we realize that, based on the “complementarian” understanding of gender, Fred Phelps would be more qualified to speak to your church on Sunday morning by virtue of being a man than someone like Lois Tverberg or Carolyn Custis James or Christine Caine. When a man with no biblical training whatsoever is considered more qualified to teach than a woman with a PhD in theology or a woman whose work in New Testament scholarship is renowned the world over, we are not seeing complementariaism at work, but patriarchy. (And, I might add, we are missing the Apostle Paul’s point to Timothy about teaching entirely—but that’s a topic for another day.)

Furthermore, as Russell Moore himself has observed, even married couples who identify as “complmentarians” are functioning as equal partners rather than forcing a hierarchal pattern onto their relationship that is highly prescriptive regarding gender. This should come as no surprise seeing as how a truly complementary relationship is one in which differences are celebrated, but not forced. If your marriage is like mine, this means that the complementary differences between you and your spouse often fall into gender-influenced norms (I am more emotional; Dan is more even-keeled), but not always (Dan is better at nurturing relationships than I am; I am more competitive). Rather than trying to force our personalities and our roles into prescribed molds based on gender, it just makes more sense to allow our natural difference to enhance and challenge one another. We lead where we are strong; we defer where we are weak.

Complementarianism isn’t working—in marriages and in church leadership— because it’s not actually complementarianism; it’s patriarchy. And patriarchy doesn’t work because God created both men and women to reflect God's character and God's sovereignty over creation, as equal partners with equal value.

In June I’ll be running a more in-depth series on the Bible and gender in which we will tackle some of those passages of Scripture that are used to promote hierarchy in the home and in church leadership, because I realize and respect the fact that that, particularly among evangelicals, it’s not enough to say that hierarchal-based gender roles don’t work; we must also be able to show that they are not required by Scripture. So stay tuned for that discussion!


What do you think? Are complementarians losing ground? Should it be called “complementarianism” when it’s really just patriarchy?




Review: Matt Chandler's "Explicit Gospel" misses on many fronts...

The Gospel from the Air
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/03/the-gospel-from-the-air/

by Scot mcKnight