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In this talk Wayne Grudem gives some practical counsel on what decision-making looks like in the life of a complementarian couple, and some of the key distortions that need to be avoided:

* * *

In our own marriage, Margaret and I talk frequently and at length about many decisions. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be here tonight unless Margaret and I had talked about this and asked the Lord about it, and she had given blessing to it, and said, “Yes, I think that’s right.” Sometimes we make large decisions such as buying a house or a car, and sometimes they are small decisions like where we should go for a walk together. I often defer to Margaret’s wishes, and she often defers to mine because we love each other.

In almost every case, each of us has some wisdom and insight that the other does not have. Usually, we reach agreement on the decisions that we make. Very seldom will I do something that she doesn’t think is wise–I didn’t say never. She prays; she trusts God; she loves God. She is sensitive to God’s leading and direction, but in every decision, whether it large or small and whether we have reached agreement or not, the responsibility to make the decision still rests with me.

Now, I am not talking about every decision they make individually. Margaret controls a much larger portion of our budget than I do because all the things having to do with the household and food and clothing and house expenses and everything . . . she writes the checks and pays the bills. I take care of buying books and some things about the car. I have appointments during the day with students. She doesn’t get involved in that. She has her own appointments. She has her own calendar. I don’t get involved in trying to micromanage all of that. We have distinct areas of responsibility. I am not talking about those things. I don’t get involved in those things unless she asks my counsel.

But in every decision that we make that affects us together or affects our family, the responsibility to make the decision rests with me. If there is genuine male headship, I believe there is a quiet acknowledgement that the focus of the decision making process is the husband, not the wife. Even though there will often be much discussion and there should be mutual respect and consideration of each other, ultimately the responsibility to make the decision rests with the husband. And so, in our marriage the responsibility to make the decision rests with me.

This is not because I am a wiser or more gifted leader. It is because I am the husband. God has given me that responsibility. It is very good. It brings peace and joy to our marriage, and both Margaret and I are thankful for it. Now, I need to add very quickly, men, this does not mean that a husband has the right to be a selfish leader.

Just about three years ago, maybe four years ago now, we started the decision making process. Margaret had been in an auto accident in Chicago. As part of the aftermath of that accident, she was experiencing some chronic pain that was aggravated by cold and humidity, and Chicago is cold in the winter and humid in the summer. Chicago was not a good place for that. Some friends said to us, “We have a second house in Mesa, Arizona, if you would ever like to go there and just use it as a vacation place, we would like you to do that.”

So we did. We visited Arizona. Mesa is a suburb of Phoenix. Margaret felt better. It was hot, and it was dry. And so I said, “Wow, Margaret I would love to move here, but I am only trained to do one thing; I can teach at a seminary and that is it. There aren’t any seminaries here.” The next day Margaret was looking in the yellow pages—literally. She said, “Wayne, there’s something here called Phoenix Seminary.” One thing led to another and God was at work in that seminary, and it was starting to grow.

Then we went through a decision making process. When we were in the middle of that decision making process, on the very day that we were focusing on that, I came in my normal custom of reading through a section of scripture each day, I came to a Ephesians 5:28, “Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.”

I thought if I would move to take a job in another city for the sake of my body, if I were experiencing the pain that Margaret had, and husbands should love their wives as their own bodies—then shouldn’t I move? Shouldn’t I be willing to move for Margaret’s sake? That was really why we moved to Phoenix.

I just say that by way of illustration, husbands, headship doesn’t mean selfishness. It means being willing to give of yourself for your wife and care for her as well. God has brought . . . I think that was obedience to Him and God has brought blessing. But there are dangers, there are dangers of distortion in male headship and female submission to or support of that headship.

There are dangers of distortion in one direction or another. There are errors of passivity and errors of aggressiveness. I put this on a chart of husband and wife. In the middle is the biblical ideal for a husband as loving, humble headship. That’s the ideal. For a wife the ideal is joyful, intelligent submission to that headship. Intelligent, that means she is contributing her wisdom and her counsel to the decision making process.

On the right side of the chart there are errors of aggressiveness. A husband can be a tyrant. “Everybody serve me.” He’s selfish; he’s harsh, and he’s abusive. That’s an error of aggressiveness. Or a wife can be a usurper, resisting and rebelling against and being hostile toward her husband’s leadership time and again and challenging for it. When a tyrant is married to a usurper there is conflict all the time.

But there are opposite errors. There are errors of passivity. A husband can be entirely passive. He comes home from work; he clicks on the TV; he plops down in his chair, and he wants everyone to wait on him. The children are disobedient; he does nothing. He’s entirely passive. There is a hostile neighbor that needs to be dealt with and addressed, but his wife is dealing with the conflict all by herself. He is a wimp. That’s an error of passivity.

There is an error of passivity on the wife’s part. Day after day, month after month, year after year in their marriage, “Yes dear, whatever you say . . . yes dear, whatever you say.” She doesn’t contribute at all to the decision making process. She has no preferences, no desires. She’s a doormat. That is an error as well. That’s not the biblical pattern.

If a tyrant gets married to a doormat you get all sorts of abuse, and it’s dehumanizing for both of them, but particularly for the wife.

If you get a wimp married to a usurper, well, he follows her around all day long, six steps behind just doing what she takes the leadership in. If you get a wimp married to a doormat, everything runs like the energizer bunny running out of batteries, finally. It just all goes downhill and everything goes wrong in the family. There’s nobody taking responsibility.

The biblical ideal is loving, humble headship and joyful, intelligent submission.

Now, you have personalities and backgrounds that predispose you to make mistakes on one side or the other of this chart. For those of you, you could think perhaps about marriages you know or relationships you know. You can see people making errors in both sides of this, but those are distortions. Those are distortions of the biblical pattern.


You can read or listen to the whole talk here.


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Comments:


126 thoughts on “Complementarian Decision-Making as a Couple”

  1. Phil Brown says:

    I like this post. I think it is a good description of a healthy Biblical balance of what us married folk should be.

  2. This is a great look at complementarian roles in a practical way….Lots of respect for Grudem!

  3. I, too, like this post. It describes perfectly what a complementarian marriage is, and brother, it is not biblical. Tyrants, doormats, wimps and usurpers. Awful words. Paul did not use those words to describe the men and women in a marriage. He told men not to beat their wives because they wouldn’t beat themselves. In the middle of this often used discourse about the relationship in marriage, Paul has to stop and tell the men not to beat their wives.

    Does Grudem mean biblical marriage where the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian women not to divorce their husbands when they become Christians because they might have an influence on the man so that he becomes a Christian? That appears to be the wife in a leadership role. Then again in Corinthians, he tells the men not to divorce the wife if he becomes a Christian because he might lead her to become a Christian.

    That is the only leadership that the Bible teaches about marriage, and it is directed at both men and women. Spelled out in fact.

    God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Trinity, but when you add husbands, you make it a quartet. That is not biblical. Men and women are both leaders in the marriage and in the home. That is what true complementarianism is all about. Not this male headstuff that has been fostered on men and women.

    There is only one way that women can have a male as a head over her, and that is Jesus Christ, our Lord. To give man headship over another human being is to make earthly gods of men.

    You claim “the biblical ideal is loving, humble headship and joyful, intelligent submission,” but those are your words, and are not found anywhere in the Bible.

    1. Chad says:

      Okay, Shirley – I’ll bite. Tell me why Ephesians 5:22-23 doesn’t qualify: “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.”

      Without question, as Dr. Grudem makes clear, “headship” does not mean dominating. But to say that “loving, humble headship and joyful, intelligent submission” are Grudem’s words and “not found anywhere in the Bible” seems to be neglecting this passage, don’t you think?

      We can debate interpretation and meaning but we cannot debate the call to the wife to “submit” and the declaration that the husband is “head”. They are in the text.

      1. tiro says:

        I’ll participate in this if you don’t mind. :)

        1. Ephesians 5:22 does not have the verb hupotassomenoi in it, but must take the word and the intent from vs. 21. Verse 21 is about mutuality amongst believers, which is achieved by letting the Spirit fill us and direct us. Submitting one to another is about honoring, respecting, supporting, helping, and considering the needs of others much the same as we are admonished in Phil. 2. This also has an allusion to the oneness we are to have in Christ as we yield our lives to Him who died for us, who intent is to heal our sin and lift us up to set beside Him. We are to trustingly (because He has proved Himself trustworthy) yield ourselves to support and honor Him in everything.
        2. “Headship” is a modern term meaning leader or chief. I believe one of it’s roots is from the position of head teacher in a school. The Scriptures do not mention either the term or the meaning. Wives are not children to be lead and taught by their husbands.
        3. Husbands are not told to be ‘heads over’ their wives or to lead them. Rather, the wives are admonished to treat their husbands as if their husbands were an integral part of their lives (heads OF) just as Christ is to be an integral part of our lives because He is our Savior. The “because” is of great importance here.
        4. The rest of the metaphor is found in the admonition to the husbands to treat their wives as if they were the body OF the husband. We know that both wife and the husband have their own body and their own head, which is why this is a metaphor. The point that is often missed though is the purpose of the metaphor, which is mutuality. A whole body is composed of head and body. In order for the whole body to survive both head and body must stay attached to and supportive of each other. This requires mutual honor, mutual support, mutual encouragement and interdependence.
        5. Just because Grudem says that his view of ‘headship’ does not mean dominating does not mean that it isn’t. Facts are that lifelong subjection to another’s headship is indeed domination.

      2. Because Chad, something just doesn’t fit. If the husband is the head of the wife, then why does she need Jesus?

        Read that this way: Christ is the head of people (it is the same way you are the head of your wife – you bought her and she is now yours) and Christ can do this because God is at his head.

        Otherwise, you have given a human male divine status. Thou shalt have only one God, remember? Christ is God, but Man? You just made him God.

        You ought to tremble when you realize that you have given a human male the same headship that Christ has.

        1. lander says:

          Who said or implied that Christ’s being Head of all is the exact same as male headship in marriage? Not Grudem.

          It is not the same. A husband’s headship is derived, like all authority, from the One who has all authority. But it is not the same. It is delegated authority.

          Is the authority given to governments the same as God’s? No. It’s derived and therefore subordinate to God.

          This will be my only comment Shirley because I’m too busy… so you have the last word.

          1. tiro says:

            Lander,

            “A husband’s headship is derived, like all authority, from the One who has all authority. But it is not the same. It is delegated authority.”

            Would you please point us to the Scriptures where Christ delegated authority to husbands.

            1. lander says:

              1 Cor. 11:3
              Eph. 5:22-23
              Col. 3:18
              1 Pet. 3:1-7
              1 Tim. 2:12-14

              See ESVSB notes and Grudem’s many books on the subject.

              See also, “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15″ Tom Schreiner, Andreas J. Köstenberger.

              At all times, authority must be loving, following Christ’s example, not the domineering authoritarianism common in the first century (and every other century):

              Eph. 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

              Col. 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”

              1. tiro says:

                There is no delegation of authority given to anyone in those Scriptures. Using them in that manner is eisigesis, and reading into them what you wish to find. But there is nothing about authority in any of them.

                The only one that could come close by reading it ‘plainly’, is 1 Cor. 11. However, even then there is an assumption of heirarchy which is absent when read in the order written. Also, when read in context and as it is actually presented, there is no authority being delegated or even discussed in verse 3.

                As well, 1 Tim. 2 is not about husbands and wives. Also, no authority is delegated. Rather, whoever the women are being discussed were authentein (usurping authority). Not the same subject.

              2. lander says:

                Eisigesis, lol! To “submit to” or “be subject to” is not submitting to authority? To read mutuality into those verses is eisigesis–since none is mentioned.

                Evangelical egalitarians are confused on this issue because they still sentimentally cling to inerrancy and try to make Paul say what they want rather than let Paul speak as the progressive/soft patriarchialist that he was. Paul roots his argument in the pre-fall created order…

                Honest liberals, like Richard Hays at Duke, admit that Paul and Jesus were progressive/soft patriarchialists for the 1st century. And then they simply reject that as outdated or use the trajectory hermeneutic, etc.

                Is it not at least a tiny bit likely that egals read 20th century views back into 1st century texts, overriding centuries of interpretation? [and no antebellum slavery is not a parallel… Christians were actively opposed to slavery VERY early and consistently…]

                Grudem has done REAMS of research on kephale, summarized in the ESVSB:

                1 Cor. 11:3. It is sometimes said that this term (Gk. kephalē) means “source,” but in over 50 examples of the expression “person A is the head of person(s) B” found in ancient Greek literature, person A has authority over person(s) B in every case. Therefore it is best to understand “head” (kephalē) here as referring metaphorically to “authority” (see also Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 2:10).

                As with the authority of Christ over the church, this is not the self-centered exercise of power but leadership that takes care to serve the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the wife. See Mark 10:44–45; Eph. 5:23, 25–30.

                The head of Christ is God indicates that within the Trinity the Father has a role of authority or leadership with respect to the Son, though they are equal in deity and attributes (see notes on John 5:19; 14:28; 1 Cor. 15:28). Paul applies this truth about the Trinity to the relationship of husband and wife. In marriage, as in the Trinity, there is equality in being and value but difference in roles (see Eph. 5:22–33).

              3. tiro says:

                ”To “submit to” or “be subject to” is not submitting to authority?”

                Whether or not any kind of submission, especially self authored willing submission, is involving authority, one has to find it in the immediate context. And authority is not being discussed in the Scriptures stated.

                ”Honest liberals, like Richard Hays at Duke, admit that Paul and Jesus were progressive/soft patriarchialists for the 1st century. And then they simply reject that as outdated or use the trajectory hermeneutic, etc.”

                I don’t know any liberals. And I disagree that either Paul or Jesus were patriarchalists. Both went against the cultural norms by teaching women, praising women leaders, and so forth.

                ”Grudem has done REAMS of research on kephale, summarized in the ESVSB:”

                I’ve read quite a bit of Grudem’s research on kephale and have found it sadly wanting of good research techniques. Several scholars have countered Grudem’s “findings” with actual provable research.

                ”The head of Christ is God indicates that within the Trinity the Father has a role of authority or leadership with respect to the Son, though they are equal in deity and attributes.”

                If the Father has authority over the Son and an hierarchy is in the Trinity, then we do not in fact have equality at all, but rather the Father is greater than the Son and they are not the Echad/unified One spoken of in Scripture. I’m aware that a few patriarchalists hold to this error. However, remembering that the Son is fully Human and fully Divine, there is an authority from the Father relative to the job of becoming Messiah and ministering salvation to believers. This is somewhat of a mystery, but it is not wise to mix it up with the unity of the Godhead in Trinity from before the beginning of time.

                These issues are complex and not likely to be discussed with the depth of commitment one might expect to find between brethren with no agenda debate. Nevertheless, thank you for your willingness to discuss things even though tinged with some amount of an appearance of contempt. I think I understand.

              4. lander says:

                I don’t agree with his view, but at least he is honest and recognizes what Paul’s views really were:

                Duke Divinity School professor Richard Hays is a highly regarded NT scholar and an egalitarian who favors women’s ordination. In his commentary on 1 Cor., he concedes that Paul was a patriarchalist on gender roles:

                “Any honest appraisal of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 will require both teacher and students to confront the patriarchal implications of verses 3 and 7-9. Such implications cannot be explained away by some technical move, such as translating kephalē as ‘source,’ rather than ‘head,’ because the patriarchal assumptions are imbedded in the structure of Paul’s argument” (Interpretation, p. 192).

              5. tiro says:

                ”“Any honest appraisal of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 will require both teacher and students to confront the patriarchal implications of verses 3 and 7-9. Such implications cannot be explained away by some technical move, such as translating kephalē as ‘source,’ rather than ‘head,’ because the patriarchal assumptions are imbedded in the structure of Paul’s argument” (Interpretation, p. 192).”

                Well, I don’t agree. However, it is true that in that era there were many patriarchal attitudes which needed to be addressed. IMO Paul did an excellent job of not challenging directly, while encouraging a mutuality that was contrary to the norms for the times.

              6. lander says:

                I quoted the ESVSB notes written by Grudem and Packer.

                You’ve accused me (Grudem and Packer who wrote the notes, and Bruce Ware whose work on the Trinity forms some of their basis) of eisigesis and heresy. And you throw in contempt for good measure?

                Even if kephale means “source” (which Grudem persuasively shows it does not) scholars like Hays concede that Paul was a patriarchialist (a very prgressive one indeed).

                Grudem’s research on kephale is plenty solid and exposed exceedingly shoddy egal assumptions that get recycled.

                I appreciate evangelical egals who are forthright and say either they disagree with the Bible (like liberals such as Prof Hays) or say, as charismatics do, ‘the Spirit is leading in a new way’. If they did that, then one would at least know what their rule of faith is and isn’t.

                The eternal submission of the Son to the Father does not in any way rob him of equality.

                Grudem/Packer: “The uniform pattern of Scripture is that the Father plans, directs, and sends; the Son is sent by the Father and is subject to the Father’s authority and obedient to the Father’s will; and both Father and Son direct and send the Spirit, who carries out the will of both. Yet this is somehow consistent with equality in being and in attributes.”

              7. tiro says:

                ”You’ve accused me (Grudem and Packer who wrote the notes, and Bruce Ware whose work on the Trinity forms some of their basis) of eisigesis and heresy.”

                Didn’t mention heresy. But there are a lot of heretical statements within Christianity these days being passed off as tradition. Ware is the worst I’d say. I do not recommend Ware’s views of the Trinity.

                ”Even if kephale means “source” (which Grudem persuasively shows it does not) scholars like Hays concede that Paul was a patriarchialist (a very prgressive one indeed).”

                “Source” is only one choice in the range of meanings for kephale, which is determined by context. When a word is used in a metaphorical meaning, the range of meanings is wider. Kephale simply means one’s head on the shoulders. The metaphors must be judged on their own. As for Paul he was certainly born into a patriarchalist society. However, no patriarchalist worth his ‘salt’ would send a woman to be the messenger for his most theological epistle, in which he praises several women leaders. So, though Paul started out a patriarchalist because of his upbringing and cultural times, I do not think he remained one long under the training of the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

                ”Grudem’s research on kephale is plenty solid and exposed exceedingly shoddy egal assumptions that get recycled.”

                Nice you repeated that, but that isn’t my experience. I’ve read much better work by Christian scholars with fewer ‘letters”.

                ”I appreciate evangelical egals who are forthright and say either they disagree with the Bible”

                I don’t know any evangelicals who disagree with the Bible, though I don’t doubt they are out there. But that doesn’t mean much anyway. Those who say they agree with the Bible distort it on a regular basis, so it’s difficult to say which is wrong. Are the one who you say are disagreeing with the Bible really doing so, or just disagreeing with someone else’s erroneous interpretations of the Bible.

                ”The eternal submission of the Son to the Father does not in any way rob him of equality.”

                Actually, it does. I recommend Kevin Giles book, “Jesus and the Father”. He can sort that out for you.

                ”Grudem/Packer: “The uniform pattern of Scripture is that the Father plans, directs, and sends; the Son is sent by the Father and is subject to the Father’s authority and obedient to the Father’s will; and both Father and Son direct and send the Spirit, who carries out the will of both. Yet this is somehow consistent with equality in being and in attributes.””

                I prefer Berkhof’s Systematic Theology. Review his chapters on the Holy Trinity. My book is falling apart, especially in those chapters and its too much to type it out for you, but you can likely find it at a library, or even google it online. Think it starts on page 82.

              8. Sue says:

                Lander,

                You cited,

                “It is sometimes said that this term (Gk. kephalē) means “source,” but in over 50 examples of the expression “person A is the head of person(s) B” found in ancient Greek literature, person A has authority over person(s) B in every case. Therefore it is best to understand “head” (kephalē) here as referring metaphorically to “authority” ”

                I researched this intensively, and no matter how hard I tried and interacted with all the relevant scholars, I could only find one example of this in any Greek literature previous to or contemporary with the NT. It was Jephthah. In all other cases in the LXX of a person A having authority over a person B, other words typically used of leadership were found.

                I have never had anyone cite to me any other example and so I regard this evidence of Dr. Grudem’s to be very weak.

                I would be interested if you could cite some other example.

                I do agree that there are patriarchal assumptions in the epistles. They are not cut off from the culture of their day. But technically, Dr. Grudem has written something which is poorly supported by technical evidence and this deserves to be known, so the issue can be discussed more fairly.

              9. lander says:

                Sue,

                Perhaps you should correspond with Grudem directly and ask him?

                If you confined your search to the LXX that may explain the difference.

                I assume Grudem included the Gk. database at UC, Irvine and not just the LXX.

              10. lander says:

                Sue, sorry, I misread your post: it sounds like you looked at Gk lit prior to/contemporary to the NT. But not shortly after the NT?

                I assume Grudem included the Gk. database at UC, Irvine and that his search was broader than yours? Perhaps that is how he came up with 50.

                So how do you translate kephale? What did Paul mean? Does it apply in any authoritative way? How?

              11. Sue says:

                I looked at all Grudem’s examples – they are available on the internet. Then I looked up the examples in their original context. These are mostly now available on the internet also. I find that both egalitarians and complementarians misread the evidence.

                Some egalitarians say that it should read “source” and I agree but only in a very limited context.

                There is one very valid line of interpretation in the early church that kephale meant origin, or head of the family line, but was not in any way attached to authority. This is possible, but I don’t feel strongly that this is an obvious answer.

                There is also the very valid example of kephale meaning point of prominence or person of prominence and NOT head of the family line, or authority. This is seen here.

                “the whole family of the Ptolemies was exceedingly eminent and conspicuous above all other royal families, and among the Ptolemies, Philadelphus was the most illustrious; for all the rest put together scarcely did as many glorious and praiseworthy actions as this one king did by himself, being, as it were, the leader of the herd, and in a manner the head of all the kings.” Philo. Moses 2:30

                (This is not a literal translation, but one that is available)

                It seems like authority but, in fact, Philadelphus was not the founder of the Ptolemaic line, and was not the authority over others in that line.

                Here is Fitzmeyer’s literal intepretation of the same passage,

                “Philo speaks of Ptolemy II Philadelphus as one who was outstanding among the Ptolemies and expresses it thus,

                genoumenos kathaper en zōō to hēgemoneuon kephalē tropon tina tōn basileōn

                being, as the head is the leading part in a living body, in some sense the head of kings [of the Ptolemaic dynasty]. (De Vita Mosis 2.5.30)”

                But we know that Philadelphus was not the head of the dynasty, who was Ptolemy Soter.

                I mention this citation because Dr. Grudem says this about Philadelphus in the passage,

                “The King of Egypt is called “head” of the nation in Philo, Moses 2.30, “As the head is the ruling place in the living body, so Ptolemy became among kings.””

                Clearly Philadelphus is the king of the Ptolemaic empire, but he is NOT called the kephale of the nation. He is clearly called “the most illustrious.”

                I simply provide this as one of Dr. Grude’s clearest examples, and show you how it is open to interpretation. It seems to mean something, but what exactly? What does “in some sense” mean? I wish I could answer that question.

                Later Philo talks of a virtuous man in the city being model for others to follow and being in that sense the kephale. But there is no authority attached to this hypothetical virtuous man, who appears to be a private citizen. Once again, kephale seeme to related to someone being held up as an example, as Philadephus was.

                But can that apply to 1 Corinthians? I don’t see it.

                I sometimes think that Paul is saying “God shares his nature with Christ, man shares his nature with woman, [and now through the incarnation] Christ shares his nature with man.

                It is just a thought. I don’t really feel that I have answers, I just started looking up examples from Grudem’s books as a way to practice researching Greek on the internet.

              12. Sue says:

                Lander,

                All Grudem’s examples are available on the CBMW cite. No mystery there. They are all vague and open to interpretation. There is no consistency. There is no person A who has authority over person B, except for Jephthah, and som other ambiguous passages.

                There is simply no example in ordinary Greek prose of the word kephale being used to mean “leader.” This is because kephale meant in Greek “a small raiding party.” So clearly, you could not also use the word to mean “the leader” without creating military chaos.

                However, in Latin, caput did mean leader, so in later Greek, the meaning of leader is found. But that is after Paul and is usually not considered evidence for Paul.

              13. Sue says:

                One of the things I need to clarify here is that the phrase “head of the kings” does not exist in the Greek. It says,

                genoumenos kathaper en zōō to hēgemoneuon kephalē tropon tina tōn basileōn

                being, as the head is the leading part in a living body, in some sense [the head] of kings [of the Ptolemaic dynasty]. (De Vita Mosis 2.5.30)”

                This is an example often offered by Grudem, but it does not offer in Greek a structure of “person A is the kephale of person B”. We see that only in the passages about Jephthah and that is translation Greek. Nobody ever said that phrase in Greek.

                There is no exact phrase using kephale in non-translation Greek literature for

                head of the nation
                head of the tribe
                head of the family

                until one example occurs in the second century AD.

                I have to admit that Paul sounds patriarchal, even if we don’t know exactly what he meant by kephale, but on the other hand he also spent a lot of time with women who were attached to no husband, women who were free agents, who were the head of their own household, leaders of their own house churches, and deacons and apostles. These are likewise facts.

  4. Very nice. Just how it should be!

  5. 3rd Cent Prof says:

    Any thoughts for how this would be practically any different for an Egalitarian couple who want to honor each other? It would be interesting to have an ebalitarian share some stories from their own life about how they worked through situations. My thought is that it woukd be much the same.

    I think one of the biggest problems with Grudem’s advocating of Complementarianism, is that simply put, most complementarians that I know are not like Grudem. Grudem practically in this decision making process seems much moe like an egalitarian. Many well known complementarians seem to take a
    micro-management approach to their wife and family schedule. I believe Driscoll has publicly mentioned several times that he reads his wife’s email to keep her out of trouble. I think it is unfortunate that extreme patriarchy and a true complementarian position have become theological allies in the manhood/womanhood discussion.

    1. 3rd Cent Prof says:

      I think there is actually an interesting sociological analysis that can be done on the complementarian movement. As a complementarian I am actually disgusted by things like this Driscoll video that Desiring God put out a few years back:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSrZVF3FEUQ

      I would be curious to find out how do other complementarians feel about this type of flavor that has been accompanying the movement the last few years? It seems very very different than what I hear Grudem espousing. Thoughts?

      1. lander says:

        Driscoll haters like to attack straw men… as though the talk Grudem made was in defense of everything Driscoll ever said.

        I listened to the Driscoll clip expecting to cringe but thought he made sense. A little hyperbole never hurt.

        What he said (not the rap song and not the silly cartoonish pictures inserted) was exxagerated but not wildly.

        The church is feminized. Decor in most churches is feminine. Many church leaders and worship leaders are more soft and feminine. And many biblical characters were rugged.

        Why is it heresy to state the obvious?

        Why do egalitarians hate the fact that Driscoll reaches working guys with the gospel? He’s a smart, hip “blue collar” guy who tells it straight. Why does he HAVE to be gelatinous and artsy and metro to be acceptable?

        I thought the clip was funny.

        1. 3rd Cent Prof says:

          Lander I am a fully reformed complementarian, not an egalitarian in any sense. I have major problems with Driscolls comments, but am not a driscoll hater.

          1. lander says:

            I understand. Sorry to imply you were a Driscoll hater. Whenever he gets mentioned on this board, he gets wacked.

            He does overuse hyperbole and “shock” attention grabbers. The Word doesn’t need hyperbole or attention grabbing tactics.

            I think/hope Driscoll is mellowing over time and trusting more to the Word’s power than his own techniques or communication tactics. There does seem to be growth over the last 4 years rather than hardening.

    2. tiro says:

      An egalitarian couple talks at length about important decisions similar to what is stated above. The primary difference, which is huge, is that both are responsible for making the decision. Even if one yields to the wisdom of the other, it is both their decision to do so. No one has sole veto power. Often one will give general area’s of responsibility to the other because they don’t have the same interest; such as car maintenance, home maintenance, bill payment, etc. When problems arise that are important and they cannot find agreement, they both pray until they find agreement or until one yields to the other. In the process they grow closer as they come to know the other’s heart.

    3. tiro says:

      “I think it is unfortunate that extreme patriarchy and a true complementarian position have become theological allies in the manhood/womanhood discussion.”

      Agreed, 3rd Cent. Prof. What I would like to see is for good Christians to get off the manhood/womanhood bandwagon, and concentrate on being good Christians. It is my belief that when we concentrate on living by the Holy Spirit and producing fruit of the Spirit in our lives, that these other things will settle into their rightful places.

  6. John says:

    I’m just curious – where specifically does the male headship thing entail final decision making in the Bible?

  7. Bridget says:

    Why does Mr. Grudem purchase all the books? That seems odd and a strange oddity to point out. Do books have some high importance placed upon them?

    1. tiro says:

      My guess is that Grudem believes it is his responsibility to control what information his household views. That is just a guess. :)

    2. Aaron Kahler says:

      Seeing as Dr. Grudem is a seminary professor and author one might assume that he purchases the books he reads to prepare to teach and write and not read the statement as indicating that he “controls what information his household views.”

      But what fun is it to assume the best when you are in the middle of a witch hunt? Although by putting a smiley face at the end of a sentence you are entitled to say whatever you want :)

    3. Stephen says:

      My guess is simpler than tiro’s guess. Mr. Grudem is a seminary professor and a fairly prolific academic writer. Mrs. Grudem is a homemaker (I don’t know if they still have children living in the home or not). Probably, Wayne reads a lot of books and his wife does not, so he takes care of buying the books he wants and doesn’t make his wife do that for him. Further, he is probably even more considerate and in his perusing of new books that come out, takes the liberty of buying stuff that his wife may be interested in.

      1. tiro says:

        We are each entitled to our opinion. :) And surely it is nice to think the best.

        Having followed Mr. Grudem’s rise to popularity and his doctrines, it is more likely that Mr. Grudem believes that he as Head of his household and wife, has the responsibility to see that what books are read are approved by him as to doctrine and content. I’ve known other gender hierarchalists who do the same. In fact one such person and his family has been my friend for 35+ years.

        1. lander says:

          If I were married to a guy with training like Grudem I’d let him suggest healthy books of a doctrinal nature. Defering to an expert is wise.

          I bet Margaret reads plenty and buys books whenever she wants. If they were unhealthy, Wayne would say something beacuse he loves her, just as she would say something to Wayne if he sat on his can and watched TV all day.

          It is unfair to extrapolate hyper control over a comment that he spends (more) money on books than his wife. If he were a builder, he’d spend more money on tools.

          1. tiro says:

            “I take care of buying books”

            Sounds like he takes care of buying primarily all the books to me.

            If someone says that they take care of buying the groceries, generally this means that it is an exception when someone else does any of the buying of groceries. In one family I know of this means that if someone wants something, they tell the person responsible for buying the groceries and that person will get it or decide on something else.

            But you are correct in that we don’t know if that means she is allowed to buy some of her own choosing, or not. But I know some gender hierarchalists who do not allow their wives to buy something they have not approved. So, yep, it’s a toss up. Nevertheless, I do lean to the idea that Grudem controls every aspect of his household, with his veto power as final decision maker.

            1. lander says:

              The Grudems do not teach or practice the abuses of the false shepherding movement which you say (on this thread) you were a part of. To read your unfoirtunate experience into their relationship and imply that Margaret is in an abusive or controlling relationship is libelous and false–and laughable. I’ve never met a more gentle man than Wayne Grudem. His love and dedication to Margaret are an example.

              Read his books. He is a Harvard, Westminster, Cambridge trained guy who has dedicated much time to exegete the passages in question.

              He may be slightly more conservative in application than Carson or Keller, but all 3 teach within the mainstream of evangelical orthodoxy.

              1. tiro says:

                You misunderstand me, Lander.

                As far as reading Grudem’s books, I have read most if not all of them, including his book on systematic theology. I’ve watched CBMW since it’s beginning. I’m very familiar with their teachings.

                It is my sincere belief that the doctrines on gender hierarchy are incorrect interpretations of pieces of Scripture formulated to fit an agenda. Grudem’s beliefs definitely leave the door open to abusive treatment of wives, and women in the church. How far any of them take it will be an individual thing. And even then, if they were abusive no one would ever know it in the public eye. I’ve counseled many women with abusive husbands who put on a great public face while being unspeakable tyrants behind closed doors. I have no actual knowledge of how Grudem or any of the primary gender hierarchalist leaders actualize their “servant leadership” in their families. Many are able to be benevolent leaders whom nevertheless maintain complete control of their families. Yet, I would still not recommend an ‘authoritarian’ style of husbandly leadership.

              2. Sue says:

                Lander,

                Dr Grudem presents many unusual interpretations of scripture. For example, Dr. Grudem has taught that when God acts as the ezer of man He is subordinate to man. He has taught that Eph 3:21 means that “some submit to others.” He has taught that in 1 Tim. 2:12, “to assume authority” is the novel and suspect translation of the TNIV, when, in fact, it comes legitimately from an English translation of Calvin’s commentaries. He has taught that adelphoi ought to be translated as “brothers” when the standard and classic lexicon has as its main entry “brothers and sisters.”

                I feel we need to hang on to classical scholarship.

              3. lander says:

                tiro, I think I understand you perfectly well. You insinuate that Grudem is mishandling Scripture to force fit an agenda.

                Moreover, you wonder (‘who knows?’) if other like-minded complimentarian scholars, (Carson, Kostenberger, Moo, Beale, Packer, perhaps?) may be ‘unspeakable tyrants behind closed doors’. And you assume they may possibly be ‘authoritarian’ in their husbanding.

                You ponder this publicly and throw your musings about because you counsel abused women who had hypocritical husbands. So you assume that these others may be hypocrites too.

                A sincere belief, if wrong, is still wrong. The exegesis is persuasive…

                In my work, I have seen many egals with abusive, unhealthy, hurtful relationships. I’ve seen egals manipulate, lie, attack, control the levers of power, force people out of institutions and denominations. What does that prove? That people are sinners? That people misapply what they sincerely believe to be ‘true’? Yes. It shows that people are ‘simul iustus et peccator’.

                There is sin on all sides brother. But I can assure you, Grudem is a gentle–though imperfect–husband.

              4. tiro says:

                ”I think I understand you perfectly well.”

                I don’t think so. You stretch things a bit far. I know many complementarian men and gender hierarchalists who are kind men even while they are overly authoritarian. Many are friends, some for 30+ years. Many complementarians are not really gender hierarchalists, which is why I choose to use that term. There is a wide range of how people choose to respond to gender hierarchalist and patriarchal teachings. Many use the title but don’t use the liberties. Then there are some who use both the title and the liberties. Until one gets to know them, one doesn’t really know. All I can comment on are the belief systems and doctrines. I don’t pretend to know the persons.

                ”In my work, I have seen many egals with abusive, unhealthy, hurtful relationships.”

                Agreed. No matter what the belief systems and doctrines one holds, how one personally lives them out is a wide variety. Although, I have seen far fewer unhappy egal marriages than patriarchal ones. That simply has to do with the doctrines. It’s easier to be abusive when one’s doctrines gives one complete control at one’s discretion. There is indeed sin on all sides.

                ”But I can assure you, Grudem is a gentle–though imperfect–husband.”

                All I know is that the doctrines Grudem promotes leaves the door wide open for abusive types.

              5. lander says:

                Sue,

                I agree, we need to hang on to quality scholarship of Scripture. Grudem, Packer, Carson are well-trained–are they not? Or does their arrival at different conclusions than you make them shoddy? Packer studied classics straight through at oxford. Grudem and Carson did time at Cambridge.

                Of the ‘many unusual interpretations of Scripture’ that you assert Grudem presents you point to:

                Eph. 3.21: “…to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Did you mean a different verse?

                Also, you point to 1 Tim. 1.12, as though the T/NIV11 is definitive. Is it? It’s certainly one alternative. But even if “assume authority” is the most adequate translation, what difference does it bear in context or application than “have authority” or “exercise authority”? See “Women and Ministry” by Kostenberger et al.

                The fact remains, Paul, following Jesus, was a progressive/soft patriarchialist, and yes rather revolutionary for his day and culture. He was somewhat pragmatic on some issues (he circumcises Tim), but intensely bold enough on others to get his teeth kicked in at every other stop.

                So why did Paul not appoint women elders? Why did Jesus only appoint male apostles? Did they cave to culture? Were they stealthy and practical, knowing their REAL view would win out some day if they just hinted a bit?

                Anytime you can get a renowned scholar who is a liberal prof at Duke like Hays, and an equally well-trained conservative scholar like Grudem or Carson, to agree with tradition on a pivotal point (soft patriarchy of Paul) then maybe that IS the classical interpretation.

              6. Sue says:

                Hi Lander,

                I meant Eph. 5:21, which has throughout church history been interpreted as a reciprocal structure, but by Grudem as “some to others.” Unlikely that Grudem is setting right a misunderstanding of this verse.

                In 1 Tim. 2:12, the KJV had “usurp authority” and other translations has “be the master of” or “domineer.” The notion that authentein could have a positive connotation and mean “lead in church” cannot be established as there is no comparable example in Greek literature. Kostenberger is aware of this, as far as lexical evidence goes. The question is whether “teaching” is “usurping” for women. Perhaps. But it would be better not to retranslate the word for the sake of theology.

                I do think that culture matters in the NT, just as slaves are told to obey and Christians are told to honour the emperor. America well demonstrates that slavery and colonial dictatorial powers engage Christians in revolt and revolution. If men do not submit to slave masters or King George, then why are women bound by a different hermeneutic?

                I agree with Hays that the text is patriarchal. I disagree with the details of Grudem’s exegesis. I have viewed the details. But please ask me as specific question that I can discuss on this point.

  8. tiro says:

    ”In almost every case, each of us has some wisdom and insight that the other does not have. Usually, we reach agreement on the decisions that we make. ……”
    This is commendable. Some men who believe in male ‘headship’ believe quite literally that all decisions in their family are their responsibility. And they do have a point because I know of no place where Scripture explains the boundaries of male ‘headship’.

    ”but in every decision, whether it large or small and whether we have reached agreement or not, the responsibility to make the decision still rests with me.” …………”But in every decision that we make that affects us together or affects our family, the responsibility to make the decision rests with me. If there is genuine male headship, I believe there is a quiet acknowledgement that the focus of the decision making process is the husband, not the wife.”

    So, of course, this means that men hold supreme veto power in their homes. Husbands can overrule any decision made by anyone. Husbands are supreme rulers. Interesting. I’m wondering what Biblical Scriptures Grudem uses to support this position. Are there any teachings by Jesus that promote this view?

    While it is commendable that Grudem personally has some degree of conviction of serving the needs of the family, the doctrine he promotes does not. Supreme responsibility over others allows a man to do with it whatever he chooses. It is also excellent that Grudem notes that in Ephesians 5 Paul instructs husbands to sacrificially minister to and treat their wives as if she were their own body. However, Ephesians is not discussing male ‘headship’. In fact, I am at a loss in finding any Scriptures at all that tell husbands to take authority over their wives or to take a position of ‘headship’ over their wives or to instruct husbands to be the decision makers.

  9. I would like for all of you to examine your motives in the complementarian view. I understand that you want to be true to the Bible. But it has been pointed out far too many times that your interpretation of these scriptures does not fit the Word of the Bible.

    Look at Jesus. He never once mentioned that women were to be in submission to their husbands. He never once told women that their husband would be His stand-in. What heresy!

    Look at the Ten Commandments. Honor your mother and your father. Nothing about children honoring their father’s “loving leadership.”, or about women submitting to that ‘loving, humble leadership.’

    Look at Paul and he doesn’t even have a wife or a marriage, and knows nothing firsthand about being equal partners in a marriage.

    But Paul does know Christ, and his greatest desire is to teach Christ and him crucified. Not male headship in families. But Christ.

    Now look at yourselves. You are like the Jews and pharisees who loved nothing more than arguing in the marketplace about whether or not women were fully human, and even had souls.

    Love your wife as an equal. God made her equal, and you do dishonor to Him when you claim headship (headship!what arrogance) over another one of God’s human creation.

    1. Matthew says:

      The call to examine motives is both noble and necessary for all Christians as we read and interpret the Scriptures. The Spirit is given to lead us to understanding. However this doesn’t excuse us from taking responsibility to fight the flesh and push back against cultural assumptions that cloud our reading. The local church, elders and historical understandings of the church are all helpful in assisting us in this regard.

      To be fair Shirley, it has been pointed out just as many times that the egalitarian interpretation of the Scriptures does not fit the Word of God. There is a disagreement in interpretation. One side is ultimately right, the other wrong. But your claim of the hermeneutical high ground is hardly unbiased.

      And as far as looking at Jesus. He doesn’t mention headship or submission, but that goes both ways. He also doesn’t deny it. He had intense things to say about many abuses of the law, but he never addressed male leadership in the church and home as unbiblical. The argument from silence is highly problematic. He never mentions homosexuality, circumcision or sleeping with animals either. Does his silence in these matters supersede the clear teaching in other passages? But he does appoint 12 men as his disciples and prepare them for the leadership they’ll carry as Apostles in the early church.

      As for husbands as Jesus’ stand ins. This is a highly pejorative reading of the complementarian position. Paul makes an analogy to Christ’s sacrificial, loving, self-giving relationship with the church to how husbands should relate to their wives. There is a connection in Paul’s mind, between preaching Christ and him crucified and the relationships of men and women in marriage. The latter was designed to be a living, breathing analogy of the former. Husbands don’t become demi-gods to their wives. But they are called to love them, lead them and help them to grow in holiness the same way Christ does with the church.

      As for the 10 Commandments. There is a lot they don’t say or cover. And the Law of Christ takes all of it further and deeper, internalizing it all.

      The comments about Paul’s lack of experience in marriage seem to be an implication that he is therefore less than qualified to speak authoritatively on this subject. This seems to reveal several things. First, you are uncomfortable with what Paul says in reference to aspects of this issue. Why else the ad hominem argument against him? It also seems to involve a low view of inspiration and inerrancy. ‘Jesus’ words (or lack of words) carry more weight.’ ‘Paul doesn’t really have experience in these matters so we should be careful how much authority we invest in him.’ ‘1st century biblical ideas are backwards, culturally conditioned and need to be updated (taken from statements at your blog)’

      It is also a caricature that the complementarian position considers women less human, soul-less and unequal. We believe and argue strongly that men and women have absolutely equal standing before God and an equal share in their bearing of the divine image. Grudem (and I) would echo your call to love women broadly and our wives specifically as our equal. Equal in the image of God, equal in personhood, equal in dignity, equal participants in salvation and equal heirs with Christ and the glory to be revealed. However, we don’t see differentiation in roles as imply inequality in personhood.

      If you’ve read much literature from men like Grudem, I’m sure you know this to be the case. It saddens me that you would so intentionally mis-represent a brother in Christ. Just as it saddens me how some complementarians can mis-represent egalitarian’s, both in their motives and positions.

      As for looking at myself. It is again, a necessary and uncomfortable process. It hurts to confess that I am, tragically, like the Pharisees. I’m prone to self-righteousness and often overly concerned with outward appearance rather than inner heart renewal. I am reminded almost daily that I need the gospel. Aside from the grace of God and Christ’s life, death and resurrection, I am without hope. Thankfully, I have a wife who is faithful to assist me in looking to Jesus and the word for perspective. She’s a great gift of God to me, a helpmate suitable.

      God Bless

  10. My friend in Christ, of course I am biased! You are too, my friend.

    Equal-but!

    I’ll pass on Dr Grudem’s great literature. I prefer Paul.

    Jesus did not speak on many subjects. But the ones he spoke on left no doubt. Women are equal. He was so filled with heavenly food after telling the woman at the well that he was the Messiah, that he was not hungry. He knew she would go and tell and that is exactly what she did. No other scripture tells of such satisfaction to his soul as this encounter with this woman does. He by-passed men at the tomb to tell Mary first that he had risen, and he commissioned her to go tell the men the good new that he had risen and where to find him.

    Now to the male disciples. As my Chinese friend points out, he also chose Jews. That might exclude you, too.

    I ask you again. If the scripture can be interpretated both ways, why do you choose the one that demeans woman. Your flowery words about your wife, is just that. I mean no disrepect toward her as she is not the subject (except you made her the subject).

    Why don’t you chose a loving heart toward women? Submission and the denial for women to be deacons or pastors come from the same mindset. There are 7 billion people in the world. Don’t you need a little help?

    1. Matthew says:

      The bias certainly goes both ways. In no way was implying that it didn’t. I’m sorry if it came across as though I was.

      My bigger issue was the way you were, and still are, unfairly caricaturing the complementarian position.

      I don’t have any desire to have an unloving heart towards women. But even more than this, I desire to have a biblical view of the issue and to allow the text of Scripture to define what it means to have a loving heart towards women. As one who grew up in an egalitarian household, this was difficult to come to grips with. Not to mention the massive cultural pressure, that you employ as well, that to hold to a complementarian view makes one a misogynist.

      I don’t argue that Jesus believed women were equal. I think they are as well. I simply disagree that ontological equality and differentiation of roles are incompatible. Were all the other tribes of Israel inferior to Levi because only their men could be priests? Of course not. They were all equally image bearers and full members of God’s people and equal recipients of the covenant blessings. But God still reserved the role of priest for certain men from a certain tribe. There was nothing demeaning to the other 11 tribes in this.

      As for the male disciples, I admit I baited you on that one. Yes, all Jews, which makes perfect sense given the redemptive historical significance of the period. As Paul stated, the gospel must go the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Which was his practice in each new city where he preached the gospel. Furthermore, God had promised that Abraham and by extension Israel would a blessing to the nations. The selecting of 12 Jewish men is perfectly and necessarily in keeping with this. The way these 12 men represent the 12 tribes of Israel is not insignificant for the forming of the NT church as God’s people. But while the church would argue in detail that this didn’t mean the gospel was exclusive of Gentiles, it did argue that leadership–both authority and teaching–were reserved for men.

      Like Grudem, I’m convinced by Scripture that this is the case. And because I believe it is Biblical I believe it is also inherently empowering to women, not demeaning.

      While issues like the exclusivity of the gospel, hell, any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage as sin, holiness and moral absolutes are culturally unpopular, I am bound by Scripture to uphold them and celebrate them as true, beautiful and God glorifying. The complementarian position was a hard conviction to come to. I was acutely aware of how unpopular it was, even in some corners of the church. But I believe I’m bound to the word of God and I believe God upholds the beauty and ontological equality of women while also designing them for different, important and God glorifying roles in the church and family.

      1. tiro says:

        ” But even more than this, I desire to have a biblical view of the issue and to allow the text of Scripture to define what it means to have a loving heart towards women.”

        I am positive having been on both sides of this issue that this is true for people on both sides of the question.

        ” I don’t argue that Jesus believed women were equal. I think they are as well. I simply disagree that ontological equality and differentiation of roles are incompatible.”

        I would strongly disagree. If one is compelled to be subjected to men for life because of something one cannot change such as gender, race, eye color, etc., then one is not equal. The supposed roles that gender hierarchalists teach are roles that are compelled upon all women for their life (some believe for eternity). Further, this is not taught as a time related segregation. Also, it is taught that this happened AFTER the Messiah Jesus died to set us all free. The result is that men are set free but women are faced with a new bondage. And then the gender hierarchalists must think of ways to explain away all the Miriams, Deborahs, Huldahs, Anna’s, Phoebe’s, Priscilla’s, Lydia’s and other female leaders of the old and new Testaments.

        ” But while the church would argue in detail that this didn’t mean the gospel was exclusive of Gentiles, it did argue that leadership–both authority and teaching–were reserved for men.”

        Actually Paul did not. He praised women leaders and teachers: Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche and others. Those who wish to limit women read into Scripture their own bias.

        ” Like Grudem, I’m convinced by Scripture that this is the case. And because I believe it is Biblical I believe it is also inherently empowering to women, not demeaning.”

        Sorry, after having grown up with the Catholic male bias, and having my first Christian experiences in the Shepherding movement 43 years ago, before finding that they were not an accurate representation of God’s Word, the idea that such doctrines empower women would be ludicrous, except that it is so damaging to both women and men.

  11. tiro says:

    ” There are 7 billion people in the world. Don’t you need a little help?”

    LOL Don’t we all need a little help. Exceptional statement!

  12. There is nothing inherently emplowering to women when you deny women the usage of the gifts God has given her.

    To even say so, demeans women.

    Matthew, I don’t have a pacifier in my mouth. I am a grown women. I know what you are saying. I know what Dr Grudem says. You might also recall that I demanded an apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood for their teaching that denigrates women.

    You are following the teachings of an earthly man. Look to Jesus.

    You are persecuting women. Remember that the farthest thing from Saul’s mind as he walked down the Road to Damascus was that he might be wrong.

    1. Matthew says:

      Shirley (and tiro)

      It’s clear we strongly disagree and are just arguing in circles. I don’t believe my position denigrates women or dishonors God. In fact, I believe it frees women from the seduction of feminism and a secular worldview that demeans what God made beautiful in women. I also think your definition of ministry may be too narrow. It is certainly not limited to elders, teaching and congregation wide leadership roles.

      And I believe what I believe because I’m convinced it is Biblical. I say amen to the call to look to Jesus. His word is truth and I put all my hope in the reality that it is his sacrifice and righteousness that saves me, not my own. At the end of the day, I entrust my salvation to God’s grace. He saves by grace through faith, in spite of our shortcomings. Although I believe Scripture affirms a complementarian position, I’m not saved by this theological stance or condemned by it (although I hold it with much fear and trembling). My hope rests in daily placing faith in Christ and my union with him.

      While my position clearly offends you, I encourage you to read Scripture with fresh eyes. I am convinced it is both biblical and liberating.

      Grace and Peace

      Matthew

      1. tiro says:

        “I encourage you to read Scripture with fresh eyes. I am convinced it is both biblical and liberating.”

        Thank you Matthew. It was the intense searching of the whole of Scripture that showed me deliverance from the bondage of gender hierarchy doctrines. I told God that He had to prove to me through Scripture. God did. Gender hierarchy is only falsely liberating to men. It is bondage to women.

        Saying that it is liberating to women is like telling the black man he will really be more comfortable in the back of the bus, and with his own bathrooms, and really the menial jobs are much more fitting to him. It’s patronizing. And the smart ones never believed the white folk.

  13. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Mrs. Grudem is happily married, I hear.

  14. Marsisme says:

    Allow me to weigh in on my decision to be egalitarian regarding role of authority. Having also (like Stephen?) been raised Catholic and belonging to a ‘shepherding’ church in the ’70s and
    ’80s, I believed that authority was scripturalized to males. And then three events changed me: I started to recognize the ‘roles’ that women had in Scripture, I got common sense and I became a father.

    Without belaboring the roles of women in Scripture – Deborah as top Judge and Leader of Israel, Huldah the one who validated the scrolls for Josiah and 5 males assistants, Priscilla who was the teacher of the apostle Apollo, Junia the apostle (who underwent a gender change by translators some 200-300 years ago by translators), etc.

    Common sense – I was one of the few in my shepherding church who recognized and challenged the abusive authority of male leaders who claimed authority not only over women, but deceived males, as well. If the ‘sheep’ would have used their minds in reading Scripture, many lives would not have been wronged. Common sense should not be underestimated. God gave it to us.

    But, the seminal moment in experiencing change came when I became a father.

    ” There are 7 billion people in the world.”

    Think about it, half of them are women. God is their father.

    I am a father with sons and a daughter. And I am made in the image of God. Probably the strongest attribute of God’s image that I reflect is that of a father. I have a father’s heart. My fatherly heart extends to my sons and daughter equally. I will not grant to my sons any opportunity or experience that I will not grant to my daughter. Nor would I extend any privilege or office that I would not grant to my daughter. And I would do whatever I could to prevent an exercise of authority, role superiority or advantage by my sons over my daughter or any other female.

    When my family was attending a Minnesota ‘super church’ a few years ago, a complementarian pastor from Omaha was a guest speaker for a Month of the Family service. I couldn’t believe it when I heard him preach that women become less feminine when they are put in roles of authority. When I spoke to him afterwards and questioned whether he believed that women could hold roles of leadership in the secular world, he alluded to the passage in Isaiah that states as a warning to Israel that “women and children will lead you”.

    Think of only one of the implications … in the church and in the secular world women would be victimized by a lower pay scale because they are lower on the food chain. Is this the stance of some complementarians (hopefully, not all)? This is injustice towards women. And injustice is one of the most often cited sins in Scripture.

    By the way, when my family exited the church, I immediately told my daughter that she could be anything she aspired to – even pastor of a church! I believe that the restriction of women to the pastorate is a huge ‘black eye’ on the Church today.

    You see, because there are differing interpretations of what Scripture teaches regarding roles … and half of God’s family is made up of females … I choose by faith, by common sense, by not over-interpreting female roles in Scripture and by following my father’s heart to grant freedom and not impose restrictions to women. I believe this to be my Father’s heart, as well.

    Authority should not be claimed or imposed. Jesus taught us that. Authority is granted to those who are humble and wise servants. Isn’t it interesting that Wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a woman.

    I respect the high regard complementarians have for Scripture and someone will probably cite that “the heart is deceitful”. But, I will take comfort that there is at least a little bit of God’s image in me and that His image is reflected strongest in a fatherly heart.

  15. tiro says:

    Marsisme,
    That was me that was raised Catholic and was in the Shepherding Movement, also in the 70’s. Nice to hear that someone else made it through the Shepherding movement with sanity.

  16. Sue says:

    Before one writes off feminism in one stroke, we must think about how Christian femininsts appealed to British parliament in the 1800’s to raise the age of consent for young girls from the age of 12. Many young girls were legally prostituted out at this age and men did not in any way protect them. Without women advocating for weaker women, so much sadness and violence would not have a legal response.

    A second thought is that complementarians and egalitarians do not either of them have some exegetical high ground. If we take the KJV as a rough standard, complementarians have demoted Junia, rewritten 1 Tim. 2:12, and removed the phrase “the children of God” from the Bible. In each of these cases, I do believe that current scholarship will uphold the decision of the translators of the KJV. In addition to that, Dr. Grudem has reinterpreted Eph. 3:21 as “some are to submit to others.” This is almost withou precedent in 2000 years of church history. But egalitarians have their own weak points.

    One must think about the core of the gospel, to consider others before oneself, to not emphasize “focus on self”, as this post does.

  17. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Lander, et al,

    Here’s an interesting comment thread that discusses “Kephale”:

    HERE.

    FWIW, I’ve engaged Sue on many other blog threads regarding her revisionist feminist arguments. This is her hobby horse.

    P.S. She’s also engaged Dr. Grudem as well on these topics. There’s just no agreement.

    1. Henry says:

      Lander/TUAD, I second that.

      Here is Wayne Grudem’s testimony about Sue McCarthy:

      From what she has written here, I would not be able to say that Suzanne McCarthy should be considered a reliable source of information for understanding Greek or for quoting other authors (like myself) fairly and with attention to context.

      Read the whole thing: http://adrianwarnock.com/2006/12/wayne-grudem-replies-to-critic/

      Sue has even indicated before that even if the apostle Paul did teach male headship she would be unwilling to repent:

      halo:

      Sue, a question for you:

      What would you do if the Apostle Paul returned today and told you that the writings of his that we dispute are indeed intended to teach the complementarian view of gender roles?

      Would you abandon the faith or admit that you had been blind and ask for grace to see?

      Sue:

      [After much evasion of the question (which is telling in itself) she tacitly confirms she would still not repent]:

      …to assign the decision to someone based on gender is always a bad idea…. I would never in my life be in a [complementarian] relationship again. Certainly Paul does not oblige me to do this, so pragmatically Paul and I have no disagreement, it is better to be single than to be complementarian.”

      http://powerscourt.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/male-voices.html

      I think she is beyond repentance, it is probably best to leave her be, you are just wasting your breath.

      1. Henry says:

        Rather than saying ‘she is beyond repentance’ which is probably me speaking too strongly, I should say this instead:

        “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10.

        1. KR Wordgazer says:

          Henry, this is awful. Ad hominem attacks on someone’s character, just because they have taken a strong position that you disagree with– and especially when you don’t know them and have never met them, neither prove your position nor demonstrate Christian love or mercy.

          Jesus stirred up plenty of division, didn’t He? The Pharisees called Him demon-possessed because He dared tip over their sacred cows. How can you be so sure it is you who are in the right? A little humility per James 3:17-18 would be appropriate.

      2. tiro says:

        Actually, Sue is far more capable in understanding and researching Greek than the esteemed Grudem. And if one actually reads her research, it is quite obvious that Grudem has been shoddy in his research on this issue.

        Also, claiming a difference in interpretations is ‘stirring up division’ is a real stretch. Why don’t you just carry that all the way and claim that all of the many godly men and women on the other side of this question are all ‘stirring up division’ and become sessionists toward them.

        Rather, I recommend treating her and all the Giles, Bilzikians, Fee’s, Cunninghams, Brady’s, Webbs, Flemings, Haddads, McKnights, Davis’s, Myatt’s, LaRue’s, Hamiltons and countless other good Christians who do not uphold gender hierarchy as your brethren with whom you disagree with on this subject. Follow their examples and be kind and tender hearted to one another. Are you aware that the founder of the world renowned Youth with a Mission, is a firm egalitarian, having written the book “Why Not Women”?

        One thing I respect about the women such as Sue, who do such incredible research and are brave to speak up about it is that they often speak in spite of their painful experiences managing to be respectful most of the time. When they do speak of their painful experiences, we should not be beating them down yet again. Doing so only proves her point.

        1. Henry says:

          Dear tiro,

          Thank you for your response. Let me flesh out what I am getting at. I think you could agree with me that being a disciple of Jesus requires repenting of sin. There is no exemption clause that excludes the sins of not submitting to your husband as your head by trying to explain away the commands of the Apostles.

          It is a frightening thing to consider that many egalitarians have elevated their revisionist views to such a high level that they would refuse to repent even if the Apostle Paul came and personally told them so (this is why the above quotes from Sue are so serious).

          It reveals a heart that is in rebellion against God. Ears that *cannot* hear and eyes that *cannot* see. This is something that if unchanged will mean a soul will one day hear the words ‘Depart from me you evildoers, I never knew you’. It is a *very* serious matter to cling to these idols. It would be unloving of me to paper over this and pretend otherwise. Are we giving heed to the word’s of Jesus himself who warned that on the last day Many will say to me Lord, Lord’? yet be cast into outer darkness.

          When an egalitarian displays such stubbornness and unwillingness to submit to God’s Word I cannot very easily call them a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ in the Lord given that a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ is one who is disposed to repentance. I actually attend a church which is semi-egalitarian and have found many of the brothers and sisters there to actually be quite open to what the scriptures say. That tells me they are not the kind of egalitarian who is unwilling to repent – they have just been raised with a wrong belief.

          I really hope most of the other egalitarians you list are like this. I’d like to believe that it is just that we are all at different stages of our understanding, but are all genuinely wanting to do what God wants, *whatever* that may be, even if that means submitting to a husband and remaining quiet in church.

          I encourage you to ask yourself the same question that was asked of Sue, for your own soul’s sake.

          Kind Regards,

          1. tiro says:

            ”I think you could agree with me that being a disciple of Jesus requires repenting of sin. There is no exemption clause that excludes the sins of not submitting to your husband as your head by trying to explain away the commands of the Apostles.”

            Agreed. The difference is what is actual sin. This is not to be determined by fleshing out doctrinal statements. Sue does not agree with your interpretations of what is involved with submitting to one’s husband AS their head. Neither do I agree with your interpretation that the husband is to view himself as the wife’s head as in authority or leader. You cannot expect to be able to claim that anyone who does not accept your interpretations of certain Scriptures is in sin. Conviction is brought by the Holy Spirit, not you. And especially we cannot in good conscience expect that we can claim knowledge of sin in someone’s life that we do not know anything personally about.

            1. Henry says:

              Dear tiro,

              Before continuing this conversation further, I want to ask you a question: Are you willing to pick up your cross and follow Christ wherever he goes? Are you willing to accept whatever station he calls you to in life – whether it be as a slave, a servant, a woman – *whatever* it may be, even if that means submitting to a husband and remaining quiet in church?

              Can you honestly say you would be willing to receive this? – if this is what Jesus requires of you from an honest reading of scripture?

              Thanks,

              1. tiro says:

                Dear Henry,

                Let me ask you a few questions: are you willing to stop denigrating women who have given their lives to God to serve Him in whatever capacity God calls them, even when it goes against your understanding? Are you willing to honor one of God’s servants who happens to be a woman, when she is called of God to preach, teach and lead in the Body of Christ.

            2. Sue says:

              Henry,

              I am rather in the dark about your commentary on myself. Let me point out the extent of my solidarity with Paul in remaining single. Let me point out the consistency with Christ’s message in Luke 14. What else have I done that you disagree with? I provide for my family according to 1 Tim. 5:8, I manage my home and children well, they are a blessing, and live a respectable life. I devote myself to the word, and attend a church with a male minister.

              You have not provided any evidence for you accusations against me, nor is this the appropriate venue for discussing my person. Let us keep the discussion on the factual details of the exegesis.

              1. Henry says:

                tiro,

                Your unwillingness to engage my question indicates that like Sue, you also are unwilling to surrender your will to Christ. This illustrates the teaching that no man can truly call Christ ‘Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

                As for us complementarians, and I think I can speak for all of us, it would be much easier if we were wrong and could cast off the reproach we bear of being ‘backwards’, ‘oppressive’, ‘denigrators of women’ etc. I have at times wished I was wrong for the offence that comes with believing these things. So I can say to you that if Jesus will show me from his word where I have gone astray in this matter then I will repent, and mend my ways, even if it means becoming an egalitarian.

                As a matter of principle I’m not going to continue this conversation further with you. I hope you can understand that unless you are willing to repent of your sins, take up your cross and follow Christ – *wherever* he leads – then exegesis is in vain.

              2. tiro says:

                Dear Henry,

                ” So I can say to you that if Jesus will show me from his word where I have gone astray in this matter then I will repent, and mend my ways, even if it means becoming an egalitarian.”

                I have given my life to Christ and lived every day willing to hear His voice in my life for 43 years. I do my very best to please Him in all things and am willing to repent to the Lord God and whomever He might require me to, any sin that God convicts me of.

              3. Sue says:

                Henry,

                “Your unwillingness to engage my question indicates that like Sue, you also are unwilling to surrender your will to Christ.”

                Let me point out how entirely innappropriate it is for you to put yourself forward as internet judge and jury on the enternal welfare of your fellow human beings.

                Let me also wonder why nobody is really interested in engaging in the details of exegsis. The foundation of the truth does not appear to be a gripping issue. So be it.

            3. Red says:

              “Agreed. The difference is what is actual sin.”

              Agreed. Besides, where is the second witness to this sin against the comp doctrine? Don’t we all know yet that any law (including sin), or fact etc MUST have a second witness? Oh, how much we need to study our BIBLES!! lol :) Where are the serious students?? lol :)

              1. tiro says:

                I was trying to find where these false accusations started and here it is: on 3:19 at 12:59pm Henry jumps into the middle of conversation saying this…..
                ”There is no exemption clause that excludes the sins of not submitting to your husband as your head by trying to explain away the commands of the Apostles.”

                First, to my knowledge Sue doesn’t have a husband. And I don’t either. So, Henry felt the need to manufacture a “sin” in order to take the heat off of actual discussion as to what kephale means in Ephesians 5.

                Christians who attempt to force others to do what they want whether it be some actual activity, or to comply with their belief systems are really setting bad examples for Christianity. I believe it is called bullying. And this is exactly what Jesus said we are not to do in Matt. 20:25-28.

                For me, this kind of manipulation and disrespect warns women to be very careful of churches that preach gender hierarchy. There are enough problems in this world without having to worship around people who hold themselves as more important. To me it is like having people standing on your head trying to make sure that you don’t draw closer to God then they supposedly are. Who in their right mind would want to live around that.

                When it isn’t about what is truth and what isn’t but about one’s right to discuss it, then we are on dangerous ground.

                I don’t know that I’ll have time for any more dialogue here, as I’ll be pretty busy for the next few days. But to those who did dialogue with respect I do want to thank you for your time and efforts. I usually find it to be a pleasure to discuss Scripture with fellow Christians. Disagreements should only cause us to dig deeper into the Word of God.

              2. Red says:

                Manipulation : Word

                This kind of stuff is so sorry. Henry *might* not even be aware of his heart. – Like I said, so sorry..

        2. Sue says:

          I would like to summarize an online discussion I had with Dr. Grudem. He said that when the TNIV used “assume authority” in 1 Tim. 2:12 instead of “exercise authority” it was a “novel and suspect” translation.

          I remarked that “assume authority” was similar to the KJV which had “usurp authority.” In addition to this, the Calvin Bible, a translation based on Calvin’s Latin commentaries, had “assume authority.”

          My response to Dr. Grudem is that it is not accurate to say that the TNIV (and now the NIV 2011) use a “novel and suspect” translation choice in 1 Tim. 2:12.

          This is one major disagreement between us. No Greek is needed to understand this.

          I can cite other disagreements, if needed, but they are basic, factual items with no need to speculate.

          For example, the classic Greek lexicon says that adelphoi means “brothers and sisters” but Dr. Grudem had not referred to this when he drafted the Colorado Springs Gender Guidelines for translation, and he said that adelphoi should be translated as “brothers.”

          Once again, a simple reference.

          Some exegetical issues are complex but these are not. I was deeply affected by attending a translation seminar with Gordon Fee, and subsequent conversations with Bruce Waltke. I am very saddened by the ongoing stance of Dr. Grudem with respect to the TNIV and the NIV 2011.

          This is why I feel that regardless of the value of Dr. Grudem’s testimony about his marriage, his books, and his exegetical work, should be treated with some discrimiination, some questioning.

          1. Henry says:

            Dear tiro,

            Why are you so loathe to give a straight answer instead of generalities which avoid mentioning the sin at hand and the authority of scripture in this matter? I’ll ask once more:

            Are you willing, if the most honest interpretation of *scripture* indicates so (setting personal feelings aside), to follow the Lord Jesus by submitting to your husband and remaining quiet in church – being in submission as the Apostle says?

            1. Sue says:

              Henry,

              There are two classes of people you need to challenge before you take on women.

              Ask a descendant of slavery if he would resubmit to obeying a master, even a violent master, as the apostle Peter teaches. Do this and tell me how it goes.

              Ask a descendant of the American Revolution to condemn democracy and the independence of the USA and resubmit to the British crown, if it could be proven that the apostle Paul taught submission to the empire.

              In fact, when the USA surrenders independence and resubmits to the British crown, then and only then, would it be appropriate for any American to challenge women on any issue.

              Do not speak to women this way on the internet!!!

              1. Henry says:

                For the interest of others reading:

                Q
                Should not America re-submit to the British Crown?

                A
                In Romans 13 the apostle commands submission to *current* authorities, not *past* ones. To reject the existing authority in the land is to say that God has not instituted that authority, contra Paul in Romans 13. The scriptures repeatedly record God raising up and bringing down different authorities. Christians are to submit to the ones that exist when they are alive, not ones that existed in the land 100’s of years ago. Granted, in the case of a revolution a judgement call needs to be prayerfully made as to which authority is the existing one as the revolution takes place. I do not think the apostle permits a Christian to foment a revolution though. God will do that if he pleases.

                Q
                Should slaves submit to their masters, even violent ones, ‘as Paul teaches’?

                A
                Yes. If we lived in the time of slavery and were born into slavery, say in the time of Paul, we should obey the apostle’s command. If you were the recipient of his letter would you just discard what he said? Today slavery does not exist and in connection with the previous question it would be rebellion against the existing authorities that forbid it. But if the situation ever changed, and slave trading became legal again, and we were born slaves, then we should humbly surrender our wills to the Lord of our souls, knowing that the station in life he has called us to is part of his plan for our good and his glory.

                Do not speak to women this way on the internet!!!

                This is telling. I merely relayed the words of the apostle Paul.

            2. tiro says:

              Why are you so loathe to give a straight answer instead of generalities which avoid mentioning the sin at hand and the authority of scripture in this matter?”

              Excuse me? I answered you very specifically. I have given my life to Christ and lived every day willing to hear His voice in my life for 43 years. I do my very best to please Him in all things and am willing to repent to the Lord God and whomever He might require me to, any sin that God convicts me of.

              And what ‘sin at hand’ are you referring to?

              As well, please note that no one should expect another believer to “submit” to their interpretation of any set of Scriptures, unless they are their pastor. And I am submitted fully to honor my pastor and submit to his leadership as well as his understanding of Scriptures. This does not mean that I am bound to believe that everything they say (I’ve 3 pastors, one being senior pastor) is absolutely perfect. But while I am serving there, I am committed to respecting and supporting their leadership; which I do wholeheartedly.

              1. tiro says:

                And a question to you, Henry.

                Are you submitted to your pastors so that you will adhere to their interpretations of Scripture even if you disagree with them on some points.

                Do you acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures both old and new testament are our final authority on truth in this world? Do you acknowledge that the Scriptures are inerrant as to the original manuscripts in the original languages, but not inerrant according to the hundreds of translations in other languages. And do you also acknowledge that some of the ‘original’ manuscripts are copies and they also have some few errors, although minor.

                And do you acknowledge that there are some questions that Christians have struggled with for centuries and may not in this life ever have an answer for?

                And finally, are you done trying to usurp authority over my life and Sue’s. Can we get on with discussion of Scripture like mature Christians? Sorry to feel the need to put it that way, but your questions are way too personal and intrusive for the internet and even for in person because we do not know each other, we are not from the same church, and likely not from the same Christian denomination.

                The proper tone in dialogue is not that of standing upon another’s head, but that of facing them with charity and brotherly love discussing the deep things of God to the best of our knowledge.

              2. Henry says:

                Dear tiro,

                Perhaps I am wrong but it seems to me that you are speaking like a politician, making every effort to avoid answering the question directly by papering around it with generalities instead of engaging the specific points that you dislike: being open to being corrected by scripture if that is what an honest reading says even if that means submitting to a husband and remaining quiet in church.

                I will not press you further with those things because I can see it is making you uncomfortable. I probably shouldn’t have asked in the first place. But curiosity got the better of me in the remarkable fact that both Sue and yourself are unwilling to yield to the Lordship of Christ on these hypothetical questions. It is instructive to know before I enter a conversation with someone if they are just pretending to be in a search for the truth, in humble submission to whatever the scriptures may say to us, or if they really mean it.

              3. tiro says:

                Dear Henry,
                ” Perhaps I am wrong but it seems to me that you are speaking like a politician.”

                You are wrong. I am not unaware that your question is an attempt to force me to comply with your reasoning, if your reasoning is “an honest reading”. I can believe that your interpretation is according to your knowledge of God’s Word and that it is sincere. But God is my judge, not you. I live my life fully submitted to God and His leadings, including the directions of the Holy Scriptures. And it is my guess that you could say the same.

                This is not about you taking the privilege to “correct” me. This is an open internet discussion between brethren who disagree on some interpretations of Scripture. There should be respect given both ways. I am doing the best that I can to show you respect as a fellow believer in Christ. In no ways am I making any demands that you have to yield to my interpretations and understandings. You would do well to do the same.

                I also notice that you have refrained from answering my questions. Why is that?

                ” But curiosity got the better of me in the remarkable fact that both Sue and yourself are unwilling to yield to the Lordship of Christ on these hypothetical questions. It is instructive to know before I enter a conversation with someone if they are just pretending to be in a search for the truth, in humble submission to whatever the scriptures may say to us, or if they really mean it.”

                You are incorrect. As I have stated several times now I am fully submitted to the Lordship of Christ in ALL areas of my life. How much more specific can one get? I do not pretend, there is no benefit to it. As well, it is rather remarkable that you feel the freedom to suggest it.

                I think that now that I have suffered through your impertinence that you could be willing to answer my questions as well.

            3. Red says:

              “You are wrong. I am not unaware that your question is an attempt to force me to comply with your reasoning,”

              lol

              1. Red says:

                “Can you honestly say you would be willing to receive this? – if this is what Jesus requires of you from an honest reading of scripture?”

                With full blown real honesty…there is NO “if” there’s only “Know”. And ya either KNOW something or you DON’T. That’s HONESTY.

              2. Red says:

                Someone please tell me what is legitimate and truthful about “if” this or that? Something is or is not. Simple. There is no “if” in the truth!! Either Paul restrained women from (any) ministry or he did not. There is no, “if” he did or not. Hello?

  18. Marsisme says:

    Tiro, apologies mistaking you for Stephen. A toast to your escape!

    One positive take-away from the Shepherding movement – I grew in the area of worship. Although I am not now charismatic in their sense, they had it right in worshipping in spirit and in with the emotions (i.e. joyfully).

    1. tiro says:

      Yes, Marsisme, there were many good things in spite of the horrors of the patriarchal treatment of the women. Worship was one of them. The fellowship was also often precious. Also, the willingness to yield to the Holy Spirit in prophesy and prayers. Thru their heartfelt prayers I was healed of an illness.

      It is always interesting to see God work in the midst of some really bad stuff. In our Shepherding communities men were told they could spank their wives. This may have contributed to the high rate of divorce. I can laugh now but then it was horrific.

    2. Henry says:

      In reply to tiro comment above – March 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Dear tiro,

      I think you are unnecessarily reading animosity into my words.

      I am not unaware that your question is an attempt to force me to comply with your reasoning, if your reasoning is “an honest reading”.

      This is my point. You are uncomfortable assenting to “an honest reading” because in your mind you know that an “honest reading” means that wives should submit to their husbands etc..

      BTW I thought it was clear that my questions were hypothetical, so please don’t accuse me of trying to force you to do anything. (Your various little interspersed ‘jabs’ at me have not gone unnoticed either).

      How much more specific can one get?

      I honestly don’t know if you have not understood my question or if you are still evading. But given that the possibility that God might require you to submit to a husband offends you I don’t think it is wise that I continue to ask if you are willing to do what an honest reading of scripture suggests.

      Do you not see that your unwillingness to commit on this question betrays that deep down you realise that an “honest reading” of scripture means that wives should submit to husbands and remain quiet in church? And as such, it makes our conversation pointless from my perspective because you are in effect saying that you will never be willing to repent, because you are unwilling to obey an “honest reading” of scripture. In the nicest way possible, why would I want to engage if that is your true attitude? (btw I don’t understand what is difficult about your questions – e.g. why would I not affirm inerrancy??).

      May God lead us both into greater obedience to his good truth revealed in scripture, even the most difficult parts.

      Kind Regards,

      1. tiro says:

        ” This is my point. You are uncomfortable assenting to “an honest reading” because in your mind you know that an “honest reading” means that wives should submit to their husbands etc..”

        That would be incorrect again. I am not willing to give over my judgments in Christ to another fallible human being. I am responsible before God whom I trust explicably with my heart and soul. I am not responsible to you.

        IMO wives should submit to their husbands. You haven’t asked me that yet. I’ve no qualm with that. We might have some disagreement as to exactly what that means though, which I am willing to discuss with anyone who is willing.

        1. Henry says:

          Dear tiro,

          The scriptures are clear on this matter. Take it or leave it. It’s not my job to persuade you to obey God. I’m going to finish up here now,

          Regards,

          1. tiro says:

            And this is my point. Why on earth are you making this false assumption that I am disobeying God. About what? Where? When? With whom.

            Why do you suppose it is your need to judge someone you don’t know and with no proof?

            I don’t get it. And what good does it do you to make such false assumptions and accusations,…. except distract from the topic at hand with which you are unwilling to actually engage. Do you think it is acceptable to God to make false assumptions and accusations in the small hope of discrediting someone.

            I am deeply saddened by this witness.

            Well, I’ve got work to do……. perhaps another time.

          2. Red says:

            Henry,

            Obey God on what, Henry?

  19. Red says:

    The only way to know for sure, or without a doubt if Paul used head, in Eph 5 to mean ‘headship’ or ‘authority over’ is if the context provides support for that kind of meaning. So how does Paul talk about the husband? Does he instruct the husband to lead, to exert his authority, to make decisions, to rule etc? No. (Husbands already had civil authority over their wives anyway)

    The only way to know for sure what head means is to read what Paul instructs the husband to do. The context provides support for a meaning of sacrifical service as the husband is told to give himself up as Christ gave himself up. So we, egals and comps can know without a doubt that head has something to do with sacrifical service, but without contextual support of the husband being told to lead, no one can know for sure that head means ‘authority over’. And without the kind of contextual evidence of leading etc., the comp position blows in the wind as it is not solid.

    The two things the comp position offers in defense is 1)what the wife is instructed to do, which is to submit and 2) that Christ is called head. The comp interpretation then is that since the wife is instructed to submit and Christ is ‘head’ of the Church therefore ‘head’ in Eph 5 must mean ‘authority over’. Yet, there is nothing at all in the context itself about head having to do with authority.

    Submission itself does not necessitate that the one being submitted to is in authority over the one submitting. That being the case, one cannot know without a doubt that Paul is saying in the passage that the husband has authority over the wife. Without a doubt we can know though that the head is a position of sacrife, but we cannot know that it is a position of authority. The connection of wife submission to head therefore the husband is the leader, does not need to be made, and anyone would be in error to say otherwise. It is a choice to see things that way and an error of logic since people can submit one to another, v21.

    Christ is the head of the Church. Where in Eph 5 is Christ’s authority written about? It’s no where to be found. There isn’t an ounce of contextual support in this passage for the idea that Paul is saying, that Christ as head means he is in authority over the Church.

    Context is King and the comp position cannot provide the necessary contextual evidence that proves that Paul was saying that the husband is the authority or leader of the wife. If the evidence is not there, then for me, there is no argument.

    I want to see it written down, then I’ll believe it.

  20. It doesn’t work without trust. Every issue I see opposing this involves a lack of trust in the relationship. Particularly, I see lack of trust in God. Even if your spouse is untrustworthy, and we all were born untrustworthy, then God is definitely trustworthy and He is working in the life of your believing spouse. Is your spouse not a believer? This is why we should not be unequally yoked.

    It also doesn’t work without a biblical understanding of leadership, which is the point I think Grudem is making in the excerpt. “The rulers of the gentiles lord it over them… it should not be so among you…whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Mat 20)

    My husband verse is Eph 5:25ff. If Jesus gave His life to present the Church to Himself spotless, then my purpose is to conspire with God in the sanctification of my wife. If she is less than she should be, then I still have much prayer to do on her behalf rather than running her into the ground. Then I must follow up sacrificially to provide the spiritual development she NEEDS, which is hopefully what she wants.

    Likewise, I trust God to use her in my sanctification. Interestingly, this comes about as I give to her sacrificially. I’ll defer to my wife on precisely what she does with God on my behalf. But I know I haven’t been perfect and I have received nothing but grace from a woman filled with the grace of God.

    1. tiro says:

      This is a good word, Pemberton. If you just subtract the word leadership and insert “godly love”, then we’re in basic agreement. :^)

      1. Thanks, tiro. Biblical leadership and godly love are not mutually exclusive.

        1. tiro says:

          Oh, quite true Pemberton.

          The question is still whether or not the concept of husbandly leadership of wives is Biblical. :) Find me somewhere in Scripture where it outlines how a husband is to ‘lead’ his wife, and I’ll be glad to consider it. But please let it be precisely so stated and not an assumptive interpretation of the term “head”. We are already aware that kephale only meant head on ones shoulders. There is no one only way to use it in metaphor and the interpretation of metaphors must come from the contextual usage subject to cultural norms of the times.

          1. Well, it looks like the polemics have already gone on here ad nauseum without anyone being convinced either way.

            If comparing the relationship between husband and wife to Christ and the Church in Eph 5 isn’t enough context to convince anyone of the meaning of the word “head” intended by Paul, nothing is. Therefore, I’ll not join in the fray. I’ll only offer what I’ve already offered, namely my testimony on how I apply Ephesians 5 to my relationship with my wife, how that also agrees with Matthew 20, and how great a marriage God has blessed us with in light of that. Take it or leave it.

            1. tiro says:

              ” If comparing the relationship between husband and wife to Christ and the Church in Eph 5 isn’t enough context to convince anyone of the meaning of the word “head” intended by Paul, nothing is.”

              First, I see nothing about leadership there either. Second, marriage is not being compared to Christ and the church; rather Christ’s love for the church is being compared to the love that husbands should have for their brides. It is Christ’s sacrificial love for the church that unites us (the body of his flesh and of his bones) to Christ. It is not Christ’s leadership that saves us, but His sacrifice born out of great love. God so loved the world that He gave …….. That is the great mystery!

              Something to consider, that you can likely agree upon.

            2. Red says:

              “If comparing the relationship between husband and wife to Christ and the Church in Eph 5 isn’t enough context to convince anyone of the meaning of the word “head” intended by Paul, nothing is.”
              Excuse me, what? Christ how? In his divinity or his humanity?
              Do YOU even know how the title “Christ” is used consistently throughout the scriptures?? It is NOT a reference to his divinity, and ofcourse not since the husband does not have authority like the “Lord” does. Paul didn’t compare the husband to the “Lord”, but rather to “Christ”. Or do you not know the difference, explixitly? In other words, Paul was not making the comparison that some comps whish he was making, besides your comparison is backwards! lol

            3. Red says:

              “If comparing the relationship between husband and wife to Christ and the Church in Eph 5 isn’t enough context to convince anyone of the meaning of the word “head” intended by Paul, nothing is.”

              Jim,
              Let’s talk about this (undefined) “context” you speak of. I am interested.
              Do you think God, er “Christ” (divinity) died? Divinity cannot die. Christ the human died. Christ is not a title of “authority” but servanthood! Or do you wish to dispute this contextualy (Eph 5) and/or on the basis of the title “Christ”?

  21. Ted says:

    I like this saying: “The husband is head, but the wife is the neck that turns the head!”

    1. tiro says:

      Actually, Ted, the wife is the body.

      ” 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”

      This is then compared to us being members of Christ’s Body, of His flesh and His bones. Being the body is a bit more earth moving than being the neck, don’t you think? :)

  22. KR Wordgazer says:

    I find this disingenuous in the extreme:

    Henry:

    “But curiosity got the better of me in the remarkable fact that both Sue and yourself are unwilling to yield to the Lordship of Christ on these hypothetical questions.”

    Henry again:

    “Your unwillingness to engage my question indicates that like Sue, you also are unwilling to surrender your will to Christ.”

    Sue:

    “Do not speak to women this way on the internet!”

    Henry:

    “This is telling. I merely relayed the words of the apostle Paul.”

    Funny, I don’t remember Paul saying women who disagreed with Henry’s interpretation of the Scriptures or didn’t like his loaded questions were unwilling to surrender their will to Christ.

    It looks to me like the real problem is that they’re unwilling to surrender their will to Henry.

  23. Henry says:

    This is remarkable,

    Yet a 3rd egalitarian is only willing to obey Jesus as long as he does not ask her to submit to a husband:

    Q
    “Can you honestly say you would be willing to receive this? – if this is what Jesus requires of you from an honest reading of scripture?”

    Red says:
    With full blown real honesty.., there is NO “if”. :)

    !!!

    Sue, tiro and now Red all publicly display their unwillingness to obey Jesus in this hypothetical scenario!

    Credit to them for their honesty, but I am amazed they are not even willing to say “Yes I would submit to a husband and remain quiet in church if the Apostle did indeed teach that”.

    Unless a man is willing to follow Christ wherever he might lead, then how can he be called a disciple?

    Is there not a single egalitarian here who can affirm the hypothetical words: “Yes I would submit to a husband and remain quiet in church if an honest reading of the Apostle did indeed teach that”.

    Anyone?

    1. KR Wordgazer says:

      Henry,

      Would you still follow Christ if someone could prove to you that He was actually not merciful or just, but arbitrary, self-centered and cruel? Would you love God if God were spiteful, mean-spirited and capricious? Or would you just fear Him?

      Or would you maybe say, “The true God is not like this; therefore any interpretation of the Bible that turns Him into this has to be wrong. I will seek the true God Whom I know as love, full of justice and mercy”?

      If you were a woman who’d been married to an abuser, would you trust in a version of Christ that would tell you to remain married to him and continue to be abused? If not, then maybe you should start listening to your sisters in Christ with your heart and not just your head.

      1. Henry says:

        KR Wordgazer,

        Thankyou for your question.

        I would answer that it is not a relevant parallel since that is not one of the two options on the table. I am arguing that complementarianism is true *AND* that God is loving, good, just, merciful etc. You are arguing that egalitarianism is true *AND* that God is loving, good, just, merciful etc. I am open to accepting your view if an honest reading of scripture shows it. You, and every other egalitarian here has so far been unwilling to be open to accepting the complementarian view if an honest reading of scripture shows it.

        The reason for focusing on this before engaging in exegesis is to see you if egalitarians here are open-minded to being conformed to scripture, or whether their ‘discussions’ are just a pretence.

        The difference between us is further illustrated in your following comment:

        Or would you maybe say, “The true God is not like this; therefore any interpretation of the Bible that turns Him into this has to be wrong.

        You are effectively saying that if the God you find from an honest reading of scripture is not to your liking you will reinterpret the bible to find something more suitable. This is fashioning an idol in your own image. I do not think it is wise to do such things.

        1. KR Wordgazer says:

          Henry, what I am saying is that complementarianism, in and of itself, is arbitrary, unmerciful and unjust. Therefore God is not the author of it, and a closer examination of Scripture is necessary.

          When men practice it so that they are merciful and have servant hearts towards their wives, they are mitigating the problem, but not solving it– any more than slave holders treating their slaves with mercy solved the fundamentally unjust nature of slavery.

          When the passage in 1 Tim 2 says “Women will be saved by chilbearing,” you don’t take that at face value, do you? You don’t say, “Oh, Christ is not enough when it comes to women. They must also have children”? I hope that you nuance it according to your understanding of the clear message of the gospel.

          That is what I do with the teaching, “You as a woman were born to be under a man’s authority. So be quiet in church and obedient in marriage.” That is a denial of the nature of woman as the image of God, a distortion of the true gospel, and I will not for one moment submit to it. Gal. 3:6-9.

          As to this:

          “You are effectively saying that if the God you find from an honest reading of scripture is not to your liking you will reinterpret the bible to find something more suitable. This is fashioning an idol in your own image.”

          No, I am not. I am reading the whole counsel of the Scriptures and digging deeper when a face-value reading of one passage contradicts the most basic, fundamental message of the whole.

          I find that you have set yourself up as a judge over the other contributors to this conversation. Is that wise? Who appointed you as such?

          1. KR Wordgazer says:

            Caveat:

            Though I believe complementarianism is a denial of the New Covenant and goes against the fundamental nature of the gospel, I am not claiming that those who hold to it are denying the gospel. I think they are misunderstanding the New Covenant and how it was meant to gradually change human relationships from the 1st century onwards– but agreement on this issue is not necessary for salvation. Therefore I am not going to say to you what you have said to Sue and Tiro.

            1. Henry says:

              KR Wordgazer,

              When the passage in 1 Tim 2 says “Women will be saved by chilbearing,” you don’t take that at face value, do you?

              I’m not at all arguing for a kind of ham-fisted literalism that pays no attention to context. The word ‘saved’ is used in a number of different senses by Paul, and it is important to be sure which sense he is using there. I would recommend Andreas Kostenbergers article on that verse if you are interested, I think it can be found online. (Also it is ‘through’ not ‘by’ – that is significant).

              But when you look at the context of the verses about men and women you come away with an unmistakable picture of what is meant, and if you check your interpretations with the history of the church you will see you are in good company.

              I feel sad that those scriptures seem so outlandish to you that you must reinterpret them. This is largely a fault of the church in not upholding the authority of scripture to its members and holding fast to the difficult texts. Once people begin to see that we unreasonably explain away some verses they naturally feel it is ok to do that with other parts of the bible as well. It is like taking a thread out of a piece of clothing, gradually the entire thing will unravel.

              It is no surprise that many of the denominations that ordained women back in the 70’s are now reconsidering their stance on homosexuality. It is perfectly reasonable to do so given their premises – if we are free to explain away the verses on men and women then why not with the verses about sodomy? History is showing this happens.

              Given Jesus’ and the apostles’ high view of the authority of scripture I would encourage you to bring the difficult verses you find in scripture before God and ask him to help you not reject them out of hand but to soften your heart that you may receive them. The gospel of John records that many of Jesus’ disciples no longer followed him when he said some particularly difficult sayings.

              Regarding my comments about Sue and tiro, it is not in the least unreasonable to question the genuineness of someone’s faith if they are unwilling even to consider the possibility that they could be wrong on an issue that has been unanimously agreed upon by all Christian traditions from the earliest of times. I just think that is arrogance to presume without even a hint of ‘I might be wrong’ that Christians down through the ages were all interpreting their bibles wrongly on this basic matter.

              That is a denial of the nature of woman as the image of God, a distortion of the true gospel, and I will not for one moment submit to it.

              There is no logical contradiction between Eve being created in the image of God and yet having been created for the purpose of being a helper to Adam, to submit to him and to be loved by him, as the Apostle commands.

              1. Guy Coe says:

                But that’s exactly what I have claimed on the basis of the Scriptures about Abigail (1 Sam. 25).

                You yourself need to be willing to reconsider the possibility that “male headship” (already an English abstraction) means an “unquestionable delegated spiritual authority in marriage to the male,” no matter how many Christians throughout the centuries have neglected the importance of the story of Abigail.

                To insist on such a dynamic, indeed, erects the husband as a virtual idol and an intermediary between the wife and God, when the Scriptures plainly state that Jesus is our only intermediary. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Not even your husband, wives (sic).

                Written as it was in the midst of a patriarchal culture, as yet unredeemed by Christ, should we not expect the prevailing winds to blow against God’s original purposes, within the accepted teachings of Israel (and even in the church –which we are warned will harbor both wheat and tares together)? Thus, appealing to popular understandings is hardly the theological safe harbor we may think.

                I am not suggesting error in the writings, but most strongly cautioning against automatically taking the interpretive “majority views” as normative. The Scriptures constantly warn against being deceived, especially by appealing to the popular.

                The story of Abigail clearly indicates that the patriarchal view of an unquestioned final husbandly decision-making prerogative is wrong. Complementarian views should also take note.

                This is simply Scriptural, and goes against your so-called “plain reading.” You have to search the whole counsel of the Scriptures. You also have to be very careful of not exporting cultural biases backwards, especially when translating from one language to another. Every language contains its own “petrified philosophy.”

                All of this is germaine to your last sentence, where you claim Eve is a “helper.” The English implies mere secondary assistance, while the “ezer kenegdo” of the Hebrew says infinitely more. You undoubtedly already know of this term as being applied to God.

                I suggest you do similar studies on the meaning of “submit” as a translational word choice, when the original is so much more mutual than you’d expect. Both husbands and wives should be agreeable, but neither is commanded to universally or unilaterally submit to the other, especially in the sense which seems to be implied by the English word.

                Neither of us want to be of the camp which says,”If King James English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me!” Instead, we are to “study to show ourselves approved, as a workman who accurately handles the word of truth.”

                That responsibility is no less incumbent upon women as upon men. Therefore, as men who appreciate whom God has given us as an “ezer kenegdo,” we are to listen carefully to their voices, and not draw unwarranted distinctions around who may have the faithful word of God’s Spirit for a given situation, simply because of gender. Paul certainly didn’t do so.

                We ought not claim to be able to so easily abstract our theological positions from a “plain reading” of a translation some two millenia or more away from us.

              2. Guy Coe says:

                Correction– some two millenia or more away from the original.

              3. KR Wordgazer says:

                Henry said:

                “I’m not at all arguing for a kind of ham-fisted literalism that pays no attention to context.”

                Except, apparently, where it comes to the time-honored traditions of men which you are setting forth as the only legitimate understanding of the scriptures on women.

                “This is largely a fault of the church in not upholding the authority of scripture to its members and holding fast to the difficult texts. Once people begin to see that we unreasonably explain away some verses they naturally feel it is ok to do that with other parts of the bible as well.”

                I guess you would support slavery as an institution, then. Do you know that one of the pro-slavery arguments was that once people started reading slavery as a cultural institution rather than God’s will, they might actually slip so far as to let women vote or own property?

    2. Red says:

      “Credit to them for their honesty, but I am amazed they are not even willing to say “Yes I would submit to a husband and remain quiet in church if the Apostle did indeed teach that”.

      Unless a man is willing to follow Christ wherever he might lead, then how can he be called a disciple?”

      Henry, there is a huge difference bewteen what the scriptures do say and where Christ would lead an individual.

      My reason for denying your hypothetical is because I don’t care about hypotheticals. My concern is only the scriptures and what they do teach. That is my focus. My focus is on the facts not hypotheticals. I have a hard time seeing your hypothetical as anything other than a waiste of time. The scriptures matter, not hypotheticals. That where I’m coming from.

      Try to understand me, in my mind, someone either knows for a fact what the scriptures teach or they ask egals if they would be open to hypotheticals.

      And when I said there is no “if” what I was getting the notion of was that you are not being honest because you are asking about a hypothetical and also I was thinking that since you even have to ask about some hypothetical, that therefore you really do not know your Bible – er what it teaches on women.

      Let me put it another way. I wouldn’t ask a comp if they would accept an egal hypothetical because I already KNOW what the scriptures teach.

      Does this help in explaining where I’m coming from?
      Btw, Eph 5 DOES teach a wife to submit, but Paul did not tell women to remain quite in church.

      Now you are asking the hypothetical because you are the one who is open to finding out truly what the scriptures teach. I already know though.

      I hope I explained myself well enough to at least be understood or enough to where you Henry can understand my perspective.

      1. Henry says:

        Dear Red,

        what do you mean by this:

        Henry, there is a huge difference between what the scriptures do say and where Christ would lead an individual.

        As evangelicals we believe that the scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith for the Church. Once you start thinking that Jesus will lead you in the opposite direction of scripture, don’t you see that you have now created 2 Jesus’ – the One in scripture who gave his apostles authority to instruct the church and the new “Jesus” you are now following. The apostle Paul says ‘If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command’ 1Cor14.

        Paul did not tell women to remain quiet in church.

        You know as well as me (and Gordon Fee and William Webb!) that Paul said some things that do not square with this statement.

        Now you are asking the hypothetical because you are the one who is open to finding out truly what the scriptures teach. I already know though.

        Red, do you not think that given the numerous scripture passages that you have to explain away and the consistent understanding of the Church through the ages, that your confidence is a perhaps a little misplaced?

  24. Henry, with due respect, turn the question around. Would you be willing to work in equal partnership with your wife, allow a deacon to take up your offering, and listen to a woman preach on Sunday, if the Bible really said that it was ok.

    Well, we believe it does say that. In our opinion (your have your own opinion about the scriptures) you need to make a change immediately. You are in sin against Christ and against his church, and against all women when you deny them use of the gifts God gave them.

    Remember, just because that is the way you believe, doesn’t make it so. Many, many Christians see it differently, and love the Lord with all their heart.

    Are you willing to submit to the Bible’s teaching about the equality of women?

    1. Henry says:

      Shirley,

      I have already answered this question earlier in the comment thread. Please see comment:

      March 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

  25. I think Jesus has showed you, Henry. Only problem, it was through the mouth or pen of a woman, and yours ears and eyes were closed. You might consider reading my post of Is it preaching if you are sitting down.

    1. Henry says:

      And I’m the one being accused of judging others hearts!

      1. tiro says:

        Henry,
        Now that you put it that way, I agree.

        People have answered your questions but that isn’t enough. It appears that you will only accept an answer that is according to the words you choose for them. If they use their own words to answer according to their own conscience you accuse them of not answering. In addition it appears you expect compliance to your reasoning. It does not appear that any credence is given to another believer’s thoughts, especially a woman’s. I haven’t seen you actually engage in dialogue with the discussion. Rather, a bull barged into a china shop and took an offensive stance.

        Onlookers notice these things. A woman considering the question of who has the correct interpretation of Scripture on these questions looks at those who show disrespect toward women and may think she will never go to a church with men who think like this. Is that what you want? Or is your disrespect toward women so deep that you really don’t care how what you say affects women?

        I am truly sorry to be so blunt. But I believe that someone needs to express the truth about how your attitude and words affect others. I understand that sometimes people get the impression that because these are only texted words on a computer that it doesn’t matter. But it really does matter.

        And finally, your stance is so impenetrable that you appear to not be affected by anything said. But if per chance something I have said did wound your heart, that is not my intention. My intention is to reach your heart so that you might ‘hear’. So please accept my apology for any offense to you.

        And I do have other things to do today. So, unless you want to actually discuss the Scriptures, I likely won’t have the time to respond.

  26. KR Wordgazer says:

    It was not I who assumed that when Sue said “Don’t talk to women like that,” she was referring to Henry quoting Paul, rather than to Henry’s own words to herself and Tiro. It was Henry who assumed that, and used it as a springboard for condemnation.

    As for Sue and her husband, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” Prov. 18:13. Unless you know the whole story (which, frankly, is none of our business), it’s better to focus on the logs in our own eyes and stop digging at the speck in hers.

  27. Guy Coe says:

    Thank God Abigail was not hindered in her obedience to God by reading poorly-nuanced commentary on the Scriptures when she decided to overrule her husband, and defy his express wishes
    (1 Samuel 25).

    While Grudem’s description of the mutual decision-making process he and his wife follow in their marriage is commendable to a large degree, his precise point about being appointed the final arbiter of God’s will in taking sole responsibility for the final decision is simply not supported in Scripture. He holds no automatic “veto” power over his wife.

    There is no “unquestionable authority” to decide invested in husbands in the Scriptures, and examples like Abigail’s ought to be kept firmly in mind when nuancing our interpretations of the passages in question. Abigail knew that a poor decision like this would impact the both of them greatly, and took Biblically-commendable action in negating it.

    The “head/body” metaphor does not communicate anything like we think it means regarding authority or heirarchy in the English translation, but instead points out the need for mutual cooperation and submission. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit is the “neck” that connects the two!

    Just as Paul writes to believing wives to hang in there with their unbelieving partners, in case God can influence their husbands through them,the picture of God’s wisdom flowing through either party to the other is undeniable (how much more so when the two are both believing spouses?).

    So, while Grudem highlights the need for his wife to submit to his final decision-making prerogative, she has the right to tell him she won’t, when his decision is a folly, as did Abigail. If Grudem loves his wife, he’ll be ready to admit that as often as not, wisdom she provides is what persuades him to agree with her, and take a course of mutual action.

    I am fine with reminding men that they need to be “a” spiritual servant-leader in their households, but NOT “the” spiritual leader to whom all others must defer. Sometimes even the children are more filled with God’s wisdom, as in the case of two alcoholic parents who are raising children who end up having to take care of them.

    Obviously, in such a case, neither parent is taking Godly responsibility –but the ideal solution is for both of them to do so together! When a husband “reforms” prior to his wife, he still must treat her as a being made equally in the image of God in order for his encouragement to lead her to reconciliation with God. Simply insisting in a supposed Biblical prerogative of “unquestioned authority” to lead unilaterally is virtually guaranteed to do the reverse.

    Paul writes very progressively for his time, but perhaps felt he did not need to state the obvious in the specific contexts he wrote for, as the Biblical example of Abigail was already there for all to see. We ought not to imagine Paul as negating the wisdom presented in the story of Abigail.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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