Piper pipes on about women. Light at the end? Emmm.....

John Piper on how Jesus treated women differently and 'they were amazed he was speaking to a woman'.

John Piper is on the ball here but I am not sure about the outworkings of sin which he describes which become very gender specified. Aren't women and men both capable of either being overly dominant or overly passive to equal extents? There is some slanting going on here. Where in the Bible does it say that God created men and women equal and in his mage but with the Piper appendix that they are to have differing, honourable, complementary roles? I understand that women have the children and men do not but there is something else going on here too which unfortunately has its outworking in preventing women from preaching and teaching the word of God to men. Of course, this is not explicit here or even hinted at but I sense it do you? Can you sense it too? The man is a humble courageous protector and he lays down his life for his wife but the woman should do the same if she is in Christ. This is revolutionary, yes, but because it was said to men by the apostle Paul. To quote E L Mascall, who is actually a traditionalist: 'behind St Paul's thought about the man and the woman... the fundamental relation is ...of mutual perfection and of derived partnership.'1

Where Paul advocates that the man is to lay down his life for his wife we are in an interesting place in the bible because of the way that it has been presented. We are looking at Ephesians 5:21-33. The NIV, like many bibles, incorrectly creates a separation between verse 21 and the rest of Paul's writing here. Verse 21 is the frame within which the rest of the advice should be understood. The husband and the wife are to be mutually submitted to each other: the wife to the husband as the Church to Christ and the husband to the wife as Christ to the Church. Christ died for the Church,so the husband's love for the wife is to be self-sacrificial. Paul overstated the husband's submission to the wife to counteract the authority men had over their wives in the first century. It doesn't mean that Paul didn't think that the wife shouldn't also lay down her life for her husband. She should, it just didn't need stating because it would already be assumed that she would.

You're so nearly there Piper.

1 MASCALL, E.L., 'Women and the Priesthood of the Church' p.119

1 comment:

Phil Almond said...

‘But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives to their husbands in everything’ (Ephesians 5:24 in the context of Ephesians 5:18-33).

The heart of the disagreement about the ordination of women is the disagreement over what it means in the above passage for the church to be subject to Christ and what this should mean in the above passage for the husband-wife relationship in marriage and, in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Timothy 3, for the man-woman relationship in the church.

It is clear from the New Testament that the church is under Christ’s authority and that all Christians ought to obey his commands and follow his leadership.

In the Ephesians passage husbands are called upon to model their relationship with their wives on Christ; wives are called upon to model their relationship with their husbands on the church. These involve self-sacrifice, love, nourishment, cherishing by Christ towards the church and husbands towards their wives, and involve being subject to Christ by the church and being subject to their own husbands by wives. Because the Christ-church, husband-wife analogy is so closely coupled, and the notion of Christ’s authority in Paul’s thought is inescapable, the notion of the husband’s authority is likewise inescapable.

One of the main attempts by supporters of the ordination of women to counter this conclusion is the view that verse 21: ‘..being subject to one another in the fear of Christ’ ‘controls’ what follows, so that the husband-wife relationship is one of mutual submission. We reply that this cannot be right since it would imply that the Christ-church relationship is likewise one of mutual submission because of the close coupling of the analogy. In response it is argued by some that the Christ-church relationship is in some sense symmetrical so that the Christ-church model husbands and wives are exhorted to imitate is a mutual submission model.

Examples of Christ’s alleged submission to the church are often given as Mark 10:35-45, Philippians 2:1-11, John 13:3-17. In each of these, Jesus speaks of himself or is spoken of as a slave or servant. But this is not submission. By coming as a slave or servant, by drinking the cup which ‘my Father hath given me’, by becoming obedient unto death, even the death of a cross, Jesus was meeting our needs, doing for us that which was necessary to save us from our sins. He was not submitting to our authority. He was obeying his Father. And the exhortation in all three passages to followers of Christ is that they should meet the needs of others by being servant to all. In the John passage Jesus says, ‘Ye call me the Teacher and the Lord, and well ye say; for I am’. The disciples were not Jesus’ Teacher and Lord.

Also if, as seems reasonable, Ephesians 5:21 – 6:9 is one connected line of thought, the verse 21 argument fails anyway because the parent-child and master-slave relationships are obviously not mutual submission relationships.

Colossians 3:18-19, ‘The wives, be ye subject to your husbands, as is befitting in the Lord. The husbands, love ye your wives and be not bitter toward them’, Titus 2:5 and 1 Peter 3:5-6 support the understanding of Ephesians 5 given above.

Phil Almond (edited to fit 4096 chars)


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