I've never been too sure about Driscoll. What do you think?

There's an interesting site I've come across which engages fairly and intelligently with issues of authority in the church. We are invited to respond in a blog conference on the issues coming up in September. Here's a sample post which caught my attention. H/T Cheryl at WIM

daveI was reading a blog post by Mark Driscoll here where he gives a brief outline of what he sees as the three main positions held on the relationship between men and women.

I appreciate Driscoll’s attempt to outline the different views and thought it might be helpful to think about it before our Blog Conference. One reason for doing this is that it can help us to distill in our minds what some of the issues are. This is what Mark Driscoll said;

“There are three basic views prevailing today in the home and church:
  • Egalitarian (Feministic): There is no innate distinction between the roles of men and women in the home or church. Women can be pastors and men can be stay-at-home dads so that their wives can pursue their careers.

  • Complementarian (Moderate): Men and women are partners in every area of life and ministry together. Though equal, men and women have complementary and distinct gender roles so that men are to lovingly lead and head their homes like Jesus, and only men can be pastors in the church.

  • Hierarchical (Chauvinistic): Women are not only commanded to follow male leadership, but are not given a voice with male leaders, as women are often chauvinistically kept under thumb as the polar opposite of egalitarian feminism.”

In looking at the basic positions as outlined by Driscoll I noted the following;

1 – Egalitarian is about recognising equality between men and women in the home and the church. It is therefore appropriate that Driscoll likens this with feminism, as true feminism (according to my dictionary) is about equality, and NOT women dominating men, as is often thought and at times seen in extreme movements. According to Driscoll’s definitions, egalitarian (feminism) is NOT the moderate position! For Driscoll, complementarianism holds the moderate position.

2 – According to Driscoll complementarianism holds that male and females are equal, though men are to lead in the home and in the church. Personally I find complementarianism hard to define because the terms used at time appear contradictory. Often comps describe men and women as equal – but different. When trying to define how they are different it would appear that with marriage and church there is a hierarchy. This hierarchy is claimed to be God ordained and involve love, but is hierarchy none the less. Although Driscoll claims comps are moderate it must be admitted that they are very closely related to the chauvinists!

3 – Under the heading “hierachical” Driscoll makes some interesting comments. He sees this stance as being the “polar opposite of egalitarian feminism”. If this was the case, egalitarian feminism would be trying to make sure that men “are often chauvinistically kept under thumb”. As noted above, this is not what egalitarian feminism is about. As a result Driscoll’s two extremes and one “moderate” view actually demonstrate a lack of understanding of the true moderate view (egalitarianism), while trying to distance complemantarianism from the hieracrhical model, when in fact they are very similar!

Leading up to our Blog Conference we will continue to think through how we define some of the terms we use to describe ourselves and the different views we represent. What I have written above could be challenged by complementarians and chauvinists because I am trying to show the group I represent as “moderate”. What do you think? What is the “moderate” position?


Rosemary said...

Chuckle .. methinks you [or rather Mark Driscol] are using the wrong category. Which is the biblical category is the correct attitude surely?

Rachel Marszalek said...

Biblical attitude indeed and we have to trust that the Holy Spirit leads those he calls into the fullness of the truth about what scripture teaches. The problem is, Rosemary, as I am sure you are aware, is tthat here is a divergence of thinking about what the truth is regards the God-ordained 'roles' for men and women. Each of us has to hope that the Holy Spirit has taught us the truth - for me that is mutual submission and a lot of the complementarian teaching just doesn't stack up -it is extra-biblical and CBMW,for example, have tried to formulate loads of rules that are not set down in scripture. So here's a question for your strict complementarian, not a question for you, I'm not quite sure where you sit.

Q. At what age in a boy's life does it become ungodly for him to be taught the scriptures by a woman? Complementarians allow women to teach children but not men - when does a boy become a man according to complementarians? If it is sinful for a woman to teach a boy but not a man, then aren't complementarians saying something about the way we value children as compared to adults? If this is the case it is certainly not what Jesus said.


Rosemary said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer Rachel. I don't know about you, but I always think of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus. [Romans 8:9] The Spirit of God .. they are One. So the fact that He didn't choose any women to lead His church is meaningful for me. It doesn't diminish me. Submission to Him is therefore paramount.

I don't know anything about CBMW, but what you describe sounds like legalism to me, and legalism is always wrong surely?

With regard to your question, there are no teenagers in the Bible. At age 13, a boy is considered to become a man and needs to start to learn to behave as a man and no longer a child. So within His church, I would have thought that at age 13, a boy should leave Sunday School and attend church with the other adults. In my own church, that means he will be taught by men.

I have a question for you. Do you think that boy/man will benefit from being taught by a woman more than being taught by a man? Can she help him to be the male adult Jesus wishes him to be?


Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi Rosemary
Good points and questions to which I am happy to respond. As regards Jesus and the twelve. I think we need to determine what we mean by the word lead; it's too generic, not precise enough, it doesn't convey what Jesus wanted from his disciples precisely enough.Perhaps I'm being too pedantic, so to get on with it. You imply Jesus chose men.

In the gospels we can see how Jesus also began to develop women. He changed inherited patterns. He began to restore to the church and the world the partnership of men and women we lost at the Fall.

Of course in Jesus' culture this was always going to be challenging when the testimony of a woman was disregarded in a court of law. They were second class citizens. I don't think humanity has shaken off this way of thinking, yet. It just often assumes other forms.

Jesus' appointment of the twelve was also symbolic twelve male apostles represented the ancient patriarchs, and worked as an eschatological sign denoting that Jesus was reconstituting the ancient people of God.

In Luke 8:1-3, we see that a number of women accompanied Jesus, along with the twelve, it is possible to argue that Jesus not only encouraged women to follow him, but also to lead others.

In John’s Gospel, women are given places as exemplary disciples and full-fledged apostles, with Mary Magdalene as premier example.

We read in Luke 9 how the twelve are sent out but then in 10 how seventy-two others are sent out, no doubt with women among these. Hence, women were certainly
entrusted with ministry.

Tom Wright in his article Women's Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis by N.T. Wright (http://www.ntwrightpage.com/ Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm), describes how Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, assuming the attitude of someone who was a disciple and who would subsequently be a teacher.

The other Mary is of course described as the apostle to the apostles because she is given the task of telling the good news of the resurrection.

Quite contrary to the point you make, Rosemary, I believe that Jesus inaugurated a new way, a new
attitude to women, recognizing that what mattered was their response to God, rather than the roles which society dictated for them.

Then, thank God, the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, and yes, Rosemary, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and here we have God’s new society established, where women as well as men were empowered so that old distinctions of race, class and gender were abolished with qualification dependent on giftings so that women are able without restrictions to serve alongside men.

To your next point as regards teenage boys, well, they learn to be truly human and not just men by being taught by both men and women.

Thanks for listening. It could be Rosemary that we will never agree on this issue but we can still love each other, nevertheless.


Rachel Marszalek said...

Rosemary - all the work going on here is worth reading - it is debate about these sorts of issues:
See http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2009/08/advice-to-complementarians.html

Rosemary said...

Thanks Rachel, I'm sorry that I haven't had time to investigate your link. To be truthful, I'm not sure I have much motivation for it either. You are relatively 'fresh' to this study, but I've been living with it and studying it for over 20 years.

I would make a couple of remarks before signing off. I believed totally, completely and irrevocably in the ministry of women, and it's difficult not be to feel somewhat resentful that you make the implication that women who believe as I do, dont'do anything resembling worthwhile ministry because we don't 'teach' men. Or .. worse .. that we're restricted in some way. That's calumny, I'm so busy I don't have enough hours in the day, so are most women I know. I'm sure the same is true for those women you know. I have been in ministry since I was converted, as you have. Ordination does not indicate that one is in ministry for either men or women.

Secondly, God planned and executed His plan whether it's with regard to the Patriarchs or present day. Jesus IS God, so He knew exactly what He was doing .. and to say He didn't appoint a woman as one of His 12 Apostles for patriarchal reasons indicates that you don't trust that God did it right the first time round, never mind the second. In other words .. does that trust God?

If I may quote Ashley Null .. "God Himself has selected a specific mission for each person, complete with everything necessary to fulfil it, including the abilities, opportunities, successes and even failures that will enable us to learn, grow and eventually perform the good works He has set aside for each of us before the foundation of the world. In other words, like the agent at the beginning of every Mission Impossible episode, we each receive an identity kit from God that enables us to fulfil His purpose of us. The task in life then is not to escape from this divinely established personhood, nor seek to determine and achieve of a personhood of our own choosing, but rather to receive from Him the understanding and power to live out the personhood which He has established for us."

Rachel Marszalek said...

But Rosemary, I completely trust that God as Jesus empowered women and men through his Holy Spirit to minister to both women and men. Some are called to minister to both, some perhaps feels better equipped and called for a ministry that is more specific and to one gender.

The problem is, Rosemary, nobody would ever argue with you that you feel called to minister to women and children but a lot of women have suffered unnecessarily for callings to ministry to both men and women when some people interpret the bible to place restrictions on such callings.

My ministry is to both women and men, proclaiming the Good News from the Gospel, through social action and just plain living it out as best I can by the grace of God. Perhaps my calling will just play itself out a little differently to yours, I would never ever think of a particular calling as having somehow more authority or credence than another, that would be totally contrary to Jesus' upside down kingdom and the fact that God has no favourites and indeed we were all built in ways specific to serve him and magnify his holy name, as you articulate yourself.

You have misread me, no, start that sentence again Rach, more probably I have failed to express myself in such a way to convey my true meaning and I apologise if you thought I was elevating one ministry over another, this was never my intention. On the contrary you are my mature sister from whom i have much to learn even if on the issue of women preaching when men are in the listening body, we disagree.
Yours with respect and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Rachel Marszalek said...

The quote from Ashley Null is very affirming. By a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit, the Church of England decided in 1992 to ordain women to churches where they can preach to women and men in mixed congregations - they can lead churches now and I was born in the seventies to grow up witnessing this change and to be ordained into a church in two years time which asks me to take up this ministry in full confidence that that would not contravene the will of God.

It is though still quite painful that I live with those brothers and sisters who do not recognise my calling. I am not saying that you are one such person, but Rosemary, I have met them. So I live with the pain and I love them and know that actually they love me too. All I want to do is the will of God.

Rosemary said...

Oh dear, how can you say this .. "Some are called to minister to both?"

That's just plain silly and demonstrative of more than just ignorance. ALL are called to minister to both. I have a husband of over 40 years, four sons and I cannot possibly count the number of men that my life impacts and I've never stood in a pulpit and instructed any of them! What a prejudicial, ridiculous statement, I cannot think of anything more likely to make matters worse than that. You have a deal of arrogance to suggest that I only minister to women and children Rachel. Do please have a rethink, publically or privately. I have no desire to do this in public and make the suggestion that you remove this recent post of yours. I would do so by email, but unfortunately I'm not at home and don't have your email with me.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Rosemary, I am not worried about our discussion and I really don't feel like I need to remove comments from this blog. Could it be that we are simply talking past each other?

I thought you believed in the whole Male headship thing and that women cannot preach to congregations which contain men. Tell me what is your belief?

Perhaps I have it all wrong.

I never intended to be arrogant. Some Christians do not believe that women are called to preach and teach men and I thought you were such a woman. In the US they call it complementarianism and use a particular interpretation of 1 Tim 2 11-15 in support of such an idea.

This could all be because most of the discussions I read are between complementarians and egalitarians. Perhaps I don't know you well enough, Rosemary. All I was saying was that I will teach and preach mixed gender congregations. Some women are not allowed to do this. For example in John Piper's church 'prayers of praise, the reading of the text, and the preaching, ...none of those the women do at Bethlehem. And that is intentional.' (John Piper's words)

Sorry Rosemary if you do think women can do these things, I misunderstood. I really do not want to argue with you Rosemary. We have much in common but you only comment on my posts about gender so I thought you had a particular viewpoint. If you want me to clarify mine I will.

Actually you know this is very symptomatic of the whole problem. I 'get' egalitarianism'. Men and women mutually submit to one another as to the Lord and can both preach the word of God in the church, anything other than that is confusing and I think that this is often the point made by Cheryl Schatz over at Strive to enter, you really should give her a try. You confuse me Rosemary, I do not really know what you think or what you might wish I mature into thinking.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Hey, anybody reading these comments - accountability alert!! Help me and set me right if I am speaking out of turn. I want to learn and have humility and not offend my sister in Christ, I really do.

Anonymous said...

How hard it is to enter this discussion without also entering a minefield of sensitive feelings, recriminations and prejudice.
This is an acute problem for Protestants, for Catholic and Orthodox theology of ordained ministry answers this question squarely in terms of God's call, which is sovereign. The short answer in that world to 'Why can't women become priests?' is 'Because God has not disposed so,', (on sacramental grounds) and the longer answer is 'But you can always become a nun'- not an idea that appeals to those who set their hearts on marriage and motherhood.
The subject perplexes me because (a) I don't have a problem with a woman preaching (provided she's a good preacher and biblical - I know a lot of men who fall short here); and (b) I don't (really) have a problem with 'lay presidency' or 'celebration' of communion, if I already accept 'lay preaching' and 'lay ministry' in general.
So why do I demur? The evidence from the Bible and most of Christian tradition does seem to favor the 'complementarian' view; I'm not really impressed by historical revisionism or attempts to build great edifices on the mysterious Junia, though I wouldn't be surprised if Andronicus was her husband and the worked together - like Priscilla and Aquila. So I am happy when married couples minister together.
So what's my problem? Is it because men more naturally seem to be the leaders/defenders (and aggressors) in the world and women the nurturers and relational builders of homes and families? That sounds pretty stereotyped, but why are women overwhelmingly represented in primary teaching, nursing, social work? I think it is to do with the idea of women spiritually "ruling" men. Like it or not, a church led by women will become more 'nurture-orientated' and inevitably more feminized, and will have little appeal for men who are by nature more focused on actions than feelings.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you anon for your balanced and honest contribution. Some interesting points. I am under the impression though that for Protestants too it as much about the sovereign rule of God, but yes, the Church of England offers choices as a consequence of their interpretation of God's sovereign rule in the scriptures which are not the either/or of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Most of Christian trad favours the 'complementarian' view indeed but, (and I know my reasoning is a little overplayed here by many who have come before me), but that same tradition also had its way until William Wilberforce was instructed by God to set about a very important mission!

Of the stereo-types you discuss I seem to be a mixture of both and always have been and I wonder how much gender behaviour is down to socialisation, but that's another debate and not quite my field.

I trust that the denomination I belong to (C of E) nd by whom I am being trained have interpreted the scriptures with wisdom, intelligence and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That they decided to ordain women to the ministry 92 and consecrate them to the episcopate 08 is really very recent in terms of history but I trust it. At the end of the day the Church must apply the Gamaliel test: I just so happen to trust, unless it is proven otherwise that this is indeed a move of God. I guess that's where I rest and then just get on with it.

Enjoying your contributions
Thanks Anon

alex said...

Rachel, I hoped to answer this sooner, my apologies.

No one fits precisely into these boxes that people use to describe people's beliefs, and I'm pretty sure all they accomplish is to distract us from what our ministry should be. That includes the boxes Mark drew that started this conversation, or the one you presume/wish I fitted into. Whether or not women should lead mixed congregations is a very minor matter when compared to reaching out to the lost .. which IS our ministry. So any conversation about ANY subject, must always be driven by that understanding. Does this honour God .. and is this good for mission? Nothing else matters but that. When I asked you the question about raising young boys to be men, and who could best achieve that, I was asking from that point of view. How best to honour God, and how best ensure they have the knowledge to 'stand firm' in the faith in order to benefit the lost in the next generation. We can get so bogged down in various enthusiasms, that we are distracted from our real mission and ministry.

Bearing that in mind .. that what is important with regard to ministry, is what honours God, and what is best with regard to the necessity of finding and building up those lost sheep .. then whether we're talking about your recent experiences at the New Wine conference and afterwards, or the ministry of women, we're more likely to have our priorities in place. For example, in what way does 'conducting an orchestra' honour God? In what way does a woman teaching a mixed congregation promote Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life? That is all that matters, we are to declare God's praise in a way that honours Him and draws the lost towards Him. It's why you yearn to study His Word and share your experiences and the things you learn on this blog, in order to honour God and draw people to Him.

In common with many women, I have often thought, why don't they let women run the country, they are caring, nurturing people and would never lead their country into war, but would play the role of peacemaker far more successfully than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, that hasn't proved to be the case has it? I have thought long and hard about this, because I see the same thing happening in the church. Too many women leaders, especially those in prominent positions of leadership who are far from being nurturing, they appear to be bossy and hard .. to have almost lost that caring side of their nature. [I need to add here that this DOESN'T happen in all cases, particularly among women who choose the permanent diaconate and always have a 'serving' role.]

to be continued..

alex said...

I think you know that I am married to a vicar in the Anglican church, and I know well why the Bible exhorts those who wish to take on the mantle of 'teacher' must be VERY sure of their calling. Also the warning, that should such a teacher lead any lambs astray, their punishment will be great. That responsibility/load is heavy indeed, almost crippling sometimes, and those teachers need huge support.

THis is not a game is it? It's not a question of wearing colourful robes, leading the communion services, playing an 'up front' role, this is both a tremendous privilege, and an extremely onerous, difficult and painful task to undertake. Much of our church is aging, and dying .. and young priests are posted to places thinking, hoping, that they will be able to encourage and teach a willing and young congregation. It rarely happens does it? I'm sure you've already learned that in your children's work.

Then comes what Paul refers to as 'the problems of the church.' The decisions you must make as a p[astor of a flock are not easy. It's very difficult to stand firm on the teachings of Scripture when your instinct is to love and nurture, to heal and not harm, and above all to comfort. It's hard to phone the police when a confession is a crime and report it. To advise the young girl who wishes to marry a non believer, that no, although she's convinced she'll be such a good witness that the love of her life will be converted, that the Bible teaches that this is not a given. I'm sure you know many other instances that you've already encountered. Often there are tears that one presumes are repentance, but are frequently not, just the remorse of being discovered. Or simply pain .. and yet you must stand firm on God's Word. The comfort you wish you could offer, is in so many cases, not possible, but rather you must be strong and 'strengthen the weak.'

THen there's rightly dividing the Word of God. Hours of study and preparation .. time that MUST be put in when you have so many other demonds on you already. Such responsibilities take their toll, and sometimes I wonder why anyone would wish to shoulder them, it takes a very brave person in my opinion. But first, they must honour God, and secondly they must remember to point others to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

I can only say for myself, that I would find it impossible to undertake the role my husband has. That I'm horrified by the changes in so many women who DO undertake this task. So it's quite clear to you now I hope, that I know I'm not called to that task. My own ministries are both a privilege and extremely difficult and painful, and I hate myself that I'm not better at it. It's certainly not up to me to ascertain what anyone else's calling is, no matter what their gender .. chuckle .. although I always have an opinion!!! But I think there is a great need for us to spend time, years if necessary, seeing where God blesses our ministry, and where He closes doors, and as Ashley Null said, making sure we don't follow our own desires .. but His. "Make straight YOUR way before me." [I'm pretty sure that's Psalm 5, verse 8b, but I can't check that right now.

Sorry about the 'alex'.. it's actually me, Rosemary

alex said...

Dear Anonymous, thank you for joining our discussion. I must say that I worry about men in our western society. Perhaps that's because I have four sons, I don't know. Here our sociologists have begun to worry about the welfare of children who have no male teachers, and because of the sheer number of solo parents, the lack of male role models for our younger children. I find all that true, but what concerns me is what women can do to men. They are very good primary teachers .. in fact teachers at all levels, that does NOT encourage men. Now women are becoming very good doctors, and we're beginning to experience a lack of male doctors. If we keep demonstrating our own strengths in this way, where will our menfolk end up?

I've put that badly and in haste, but I hope you understand.

Rosemary .. not the alex that appears at the top.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you Rosemary, much wisdom there. Two things come to mind immediately.

Re orchestra imagery - just something I am thinking about at the moment, we each contribute our song that's all, much like Paul's body image with many parts. We must all work together and honour all members. Just the way I express things.

Secondly, much of what you say stresses the difficulties of ministry which I do not disagree with, only that I think that God has more belief in us than we have in ourselves and this keeps me going. I am an optimist by nature so see the joys before the difficulties. No doubt, I'll have my difficulties in the future but I will tackle them with God's help as they come. One of the greatest things that I have learned is not to live in fear. God inspects my heart and knows by motives, I will err but he is there to catch me. I hope to have a ministry in which I affirm before I judge, in which God works through me to build up and release people to see their God-given giftings. This is the way that I think he will use me. Who knows. It is all a tremendous privilege to be feared in the sense of holding God with the awe which he deserves but my Father has been such a faithful God and I feel very nurtured and able to nurture as a consequence. God is love, as of course, you know.

Thank you, Rosemary for taking the time with me.
God bless

Anonymous said...

I want to sign off from this thread by saying first that it is evident that Rachel loves the Lord and desires to see men, women and children enter into a life-giving relationship with Christ. I pray that the Lord will sustain her in this desire and give her a fruitful ministry - knowing that 'fruitfulness' in Christ first of all means fidelity to his doctrine and character, and not so much gaining plaudits from others (much as humanly speaking we do need recognition and encouragement from others).
To Rosemary, I wonder why gender relations have tilted so far in New Zealand: is it partly becasue in a post-industrial society men who previously lived more by their physical strength rather than intellectual skills have become socially as well as economically redundant? What is there left for working class males with active hormones? Males are naturally more violent than females and need those instincts to be trained and channeled productively. (IOW, they need good fathers!) Girls are overtaking boys educationally everywhere in the western world. Girls mature earlier and can cope with the epidemic of family breakdown better than boys, while the great expansion of public expenditure in higher education has basically meant more money on education, healthcare and social work - traditional female areas. So the gap widens...

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you very much anon for all your thoughts and advice.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions