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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A pit bull with a pit bull

I thought that there was a little book written just for preachers that gave the instruction not to ever say "This is what the Greek actually says," especially if every single Bible translation that has ever existed in English does not mention that option for translating a verse. However, last Sunday I heard a preacher say, "The Hebrew actually says 'opposite' - woman is opposite to man."

This was an overtly complementarian sermon, based on the text Gen. 2:18, that God made woman as a helper who was opposite to man. Now it is true that if one looks in the Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon, then the entry reads,

neged - original noun 'opposite', 'counterpart.'

However, if one looks back at the preceding entry it reads,

ngd - put something up conspicuously in front of someone.

So, opposite, in the sense that a man and a woman may sit opposite each other at a table. Not, opposite, in the sense of different, that men are teachers and women are learners, men are leaders and women are followers. Obviously some men are not very good leaders and some women are not very good followers, and some of us aren't good at either.

The pastor preached an entire sermon on how women were 'complementary' to men, 'opposite' to men, from Gen. 2:18. He did not mention the lexicon entry which suggests that woman was simply, among all other creatures, conspicuously put in front of man and chosen as what man wanted. No, the preacher did not think of that.

When in doubt, I think a preacher should go for the most common translation, a woman is 'suitable' for a man, how can one go wrong with that; and not attempt to make a position paper out of an alternate lexicon entry.

נֶגֶד
  1. what is conspicuous, what is in front of adv
  2. in front of, straight forward, before, in sight of
  3. in front of oneself, straightforward
  4. before your face, in your view or purpose with prep
  5. what is in front of, corresponding to
  6. in front of, before
  7. in the sight or presence of
  8. parallel to
  9. over, for
  10. in front, opposite
  11. at a distance prep
  12. from the front of, away from
  13. from before the eyes of, opposite to, at a distance from
  14. from before, in front of
  15. as far as the front of

My imagination suggests that, if we were talking about breeding dogs, a complementarian would breed a German Shepherd sire to a poodle bitch, and an egalitarian would breed a pit bull with a pit bull and a cocker spaniel with a cocker spaniel. That is what Adam was looking for, after all, a female of the same species or variety as himself, a female who corresponded to himself.

PS. Puttering around the book store this afternoon I ran into an older woman friend who is also member of our congregation. And I said,

"Well, what did you think of that sermon?"

She answered,

"The gospel chapel down the road invited me to preach last Sunday so I missed it."

Postscript: I apologize to anyone who misunderstood my comment on dog breeds. I own and walk a dog and associate with other dog owners. I have papers that use the language of parentage which I used above.

I did not intend to use the breeds of German Shepherd and Poodle, Standard Poodle, with any pejorative intent. I did not realize that it was not a well known fact that poodles are probably the most intelligent breed of dog. Try it out - google this! I truly meant to name a breed associated with loyalty and dedication, and a breed associated with intelligence and good humour. As for the pit bull, oh well, just for a laugh. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

35 Comments:

At Wed Oct 18, 10:04:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

I think the two names, or categorical identifiers, "complementarian" and "egalitarian" are fairly poor. They don't leave much room for gray areas, which most of us find ourselves in.

Anyway, Pastors need to be careful, of course. Honestly, this just seems like an irresponsible use of the Lexicon. Twenty seconds and I come up with this:

NASB Greek-Hebrew Dictionary
Neged, #5048: in front of, in sight of, opposite to...

Strongs Greek-Hebrew Dictionary
English Words used in KJV:
before 12
against 4
in the presence 6
about 1
[Total Count: 23]

subst
1) what is conspicuous, what is in front of

adv
2) in front of, straight forward, before, in sight of
3) in front of oneself, straightforward
4) before your face, in your view or purpose
with prep
5) what is in front of, corresponding to
6) in front of, before
7) in the sight or presence of
8) parallel to
9) over, for
10) in front, opposite
11) at a distance
prep
12) from the front of, away from
13) from before the eyes of, opposite to, at a distance from
14) from before, in front of
15) as far as the front of

All I can say for that pastor is... OUCHHH!!!

 
At Wed Oct 18, 10:23:00 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Great post---thanks. And a big laugh on the last sentance! lol...

 
At Thu Oct 19, 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Brian said...

i too have heard it is the height of arrogance to attempt to tell a congregation what the Greek or Hebrew "really" says as if the preacher is all knowing and somehow better than others.

perhaps it is better just to say something like 'what the verse is trying to say is..." then just explain it from the Greek or Hebrew without saying the words Greek or Hebrew.

Also, it seems like the preahcer you listened too may not really know how to do a good word study and just picked out a word that suited his theological liking.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 11:22:00 AM, Blogger David Lang said...

I would agree that the preacher went off and running with the wrong nuance of the English word "opposite," but it seems to me Ms. McCarthy has responded with more heat than light. The Hebrew preposition neged by itself doesn't mean "suitable" any more than it means "opposite" in the sense of "contrasting to." In this verse, neged is joined with the preposition ke, which means "like." It is the combination of the two prepositions which indicates "suitability," or even (dare I say it?) "complementarity." Adam had plenty of creatures which were completely "other," and which were therefore not "suitable." It was not until he was given someone both like him, yet distinct from him, that he exclaimed "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."

As for the German Shepherd-poodle metaphor, I think it's a rather uncharitable caricature of the "complementarian" view (or rather, "views"). Was Ms. McCarthy's preacher really implying that big strong men should dominate their women, or that God created woman to fill a void and a need which man, by himself, could not fulfill? If we're going to demand balance and careful exegesis of the preacher, shouldn't Ms. McCarthy demonstrate it as well?

 
At Thu Oct 19, 01:06:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

David,

Much of what you have said deserves to be looked at carefully. The notes of the NET Bible seem to capture the same information that you have highlighted:

The Hebrew expression כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (kenegdo) literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable [for]” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea. (Translations that render the phrase simply “partner” [cf. NEB, NRSV], while not totally inaccurate, do not reflect the nuance of correspondence and/or suitability.) The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God had invested in him.

You'll have to forgive me if the fonts don't turn out right.

I, personally, have to agree with you by expressing a dislike for the German shepherd and poodle bit that Suzanne created. I have listened extensively to complementarian teaching (among egalitarian, straight up feminist, and many others: even sacred or divine feminine teaching), and can't say I remember any pastor, teacher, or preacher that takes this view recommend that all men be weight lifters who left their "branes" (get it?) at the gym and all women be 4 foot 11, cute as a button, and contain as much will power as a piece of overdone spaghetti. They may be out there, but I haven't found them yet.

Also, I don't know what the official position taken by this blog is on "potentially offensive language", but, I think you would be surprised how many people DON'T know that "bitch" is a reference to any female member of the canine family. In fact, when speaking about feminine and masculine issues (and taking into consideration that huge amounts of offense go along with this subject), I would recommend against using words such as "sire", "bitch", or whatever else you can think of that is potentially convenient for inspiring rage. In our modern world where "bitch" has become a vulgar term and where "sire" has become slang for "sow my seed" or "to tag", perhaps it is time to only use it on dog breeding boards. Even then, I find that the words female and male work just as well.

This blog features frequent contributions to the on going gender issues in the Bible, I recommend we be careful going about discussions.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 03:20:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Matthew wrote:

Also, I don't know what the official position taken by this blog is on "potentially offensive language", but, I think you would be surprised how many people DON'T know that "bitch" is a reference to any female member of the canine family.

There is no official position on offensive language on this blog, Matthew. But all comments should come under the umbrella of our posting guidelines in the margin.

Obviously, if someone refers to bitches who go like the TNIV, that language would be inappropriate on this blog.

For that matter, it would also be inappropriate for anyone to refer to the pigs or male chauvinists who translated the ESV.

It all has to do with intent. We really want this blog to be a place where comments about Bible versions can be share as objectively as possible. We don't want name calling because that gets in the way of objective study. It attacks people rather than seriously evaluating their ideas.

And, yes, many people do not know that a bitch is a female dog. Our language has shifted. So we need to be careful when we use the word bitch. That is why we periodically need to re-examine Bible versions to see if their language is appropriate for the current generations of speakers.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Wow!

As a dog fancier I had no idea that these terms, sire and bitch, which really are always used by breeders, would be considered offensive.

Matthew, I didn't even know that slang meaning for 'sire.'

And, no, male and female, do not work as well, and are not used, because a neutered or spayed dog is still male or female, they are simply taken out of the breeding arena. These are technical terms.

However, I take complete responsibility for not clarifying that I meant a Standard Poodle, which is a similar size to a German Shepherd, and is a candidate for the most intelligent dog of all. There is no way that a poodle of any kind has less brains than a German Shepherd. A standard poodle is slightly smaller than a German Shepherd, exceptionally agile, intelligent, great sense of humour, social, great with children, what's not to like?

German Shepherds, however, may not be known for their sense of humour. ;-)

Sorry about the misunderstanding.

And I am surprised that no egalitarians have complained about the pit bull, cocker spaniel stereotyping.

David,

Yes, yes, and yes. I just left out the details.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is an example from a site that I would send children too.

Every bitch should have a litter! This is flat out wrong. Bitches are not improved by having puppies. They may undergo temporary temperament changes, but once the puppies are gone, she'll be back to her old self. Nor is it somehow good for her physically. In fact, you will put her at risk of mammary cancer and pyometra. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spaying a bitch without her having a litter.

If every word that has a contrary meaning is ruled out, we would be left with an impoverished language to be sure!

But, If Wayne says I can't use this word, I won't use it again.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 03:39:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Good example, Suzanne. May I focus on what I think the underlying exegetical problem is?

Why is it that every time a preacher says, "Well, the Greek says..." the specific reference is always a word?

Let me try something. Let's say I'm a preacher, and I say the following. Note that all I really do in the next paragraph is change the language, replacing "the Greek" with "the English." Also, the audience--you--is much too knowledgable of English to just blindly accept my argument. Good for you.

The text we have before us is: "The husband is to provide for his wife." Well, the English says...'provide'. Collier's dictionary presents us with a ready explanation, and I quote, a (selected) part, "to state as a condition; stipulate." In fact, the sense of "stipulation' is such a prominent meaning of 'provide' that it is used in both transitive and intransive senses. So, you see, the husband's role is one of stipulation. He is to set down the conditions. He is to stipulate in three areas in their holy wedded bliss. These stipulations are:..."

Obviously, that doesn't work. Whatever one believes about complementarian versus egalitarian, that exaplanation is simply wrong. And the reason it's wrong is because you all (the audience) have a particular context in which you understand the above text. And that context molds and selects a specific meaning of the word. My attempt at dragging the audience to a different understanding is laughable at best.

The explanatory technique of "the Greek says" is often too word oriented and therefore it is often a fallacious support. People should be told to discount any explanation "of the Greek" that doesn't support the overall text. Now, it's sometimes helpful to expose the Greek to an audience, I'll grant you that. However, the exposure must be in support of the paragraph's thought. Too often the preacher bends the paragraph's thought to support a specific meaning of a word. And that meaning was selected because it fits well with the preacher's context, or the audience's context, not the God-chosen context.

I hope that sufficiently provides for the discussion.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 03:39:00 PM, Blogger Kenny said...

As they say "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I think the practice of having pastors take (only) a year or so of Greek or Hebrew in seminary is probably a bad one, as it leaves them doing things like this, especially if they never actually read the text, but only consult it briefly for preparing a sermon.

My pastor, who doesn't read Greek or Hebrew at all, often says things like "what it actually says is" or "it means in Greek that" and every time he has made such a comment about the New Testament I have found upon looking it up in the Greek that he is essentially correct (though his statements sometimes oversimplify things). I suppose this must mean that he has some resources written by people who actually read Greek and Hebrew explaining these things. Of course, he is often just correcting bad or obsolete translations in the KJV, which is absolutely necessary if one insists on preaching from the KJV.

My point is that this information is often useful to provide in a sermon, but one needs to know when he (generic) has reached the end of his knowledge and needs to rely on experts, which I suppose is what Suzanne means to say by suggesting that pastors should look at the common translations and trust what they say.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 04:09:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, Kenny, I meant that we should sometimes just trust common translations. That doesn't mean we shouldn't question areas where translations disagree. But in this case I think all translations agree that the woman is meet, suitable, fit, corresponding, a match, etc.

And David put it very well when he said,

Adam had plenty of creatures which were completely "other," and which were therefore not "suitable." It was not until he was given someone both like him, yet distinct from him, that he exclaimed "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."

David,

I did not explain my shift from the preacher doing a word study on neged, and simply using what is in the Bible translation. However, I think if you examine my post, you will see that I do shift from refering to the 'lexicon entry', ie. 'oppoisite', to the 'translation' ie suitable.

However, I did leave out a couple of steps - I didn't think of going into that much detail.

BTW Do you think that complementarity is included in the actual meaning of suitability, or is it simply that complementarians believe that women must be complementary to be suitable?

What happens to women with leadership characteristics? Are they rated as unsuitable? (PS You won't offend me here because I don't see myself as having leadership characteristics. I am a bookish sort of person.)

 
At Thu Oct 19, 04:58:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne ended:

But, If Wayne says I can't use this word, I won't use it again.

Well, Suzanne, since your intention was to refer to female mother dogs, there is no problem. My earlier comment noted that it's the *intent* that matters for this blog, as far as I am concerned. In other words, if someone were to refer to you as a feminist bitch, that would be highly inappropriate. You've made it clear that you are referring to dogs, literal dogs, to be clear on that!

I think in the U.S. that the word "bitch" initially is a derogatory word for a woman, for most people. Of course, context makes a difference. If people are speaking about breeding dogs, then the derogatory reference to a woman would not be the first meaning sense to come to mind.

All of this shows why it is so important for Bible translation teams to read their translations aloud. And they should be read aloud to "ordinary" people who have not worked on the translation.

Word conjure up different meanings in different contexts for different people. And that's important when it comes to Bible translation.

We may decry the lose of "good" meanings from the past for words, but we have to face the realities of current language usage.

 
At Thu Oct 19, 05:19:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I'm going to give my thoughts on the word "complementary" as it might be used in the creation account of Genesis.

I do think there is a meaning of the word "complement" which is pertinent to the creation account. It is the same meaning that we use when we refer to any two people who complement each other.

There is an additional meaning of the word "complement" which has come to be very important in the current debates over roles of women and men in the home and church. This meaning has to do with the idea that there are divinely ordained differences between males and females which reflects their complementarity.

I have followed this debate for many years. I have read many books on the topic. As far as my lifetime of study of the Bible has shown me, the idea that women and men have some kind of innate differences that are part of the idea of biblical complementary is not found in the Bible. I realize that that preceding statement will get me called a heretic by some, or starting down the slippery slope by others. What I'm trying to say is that there are no biblical passages which define what it means, psychologically, to be a man or a woman. I don't even find passages which assume such "complementary" psychological differences.

Obviously God made Eve to be a companion for Adam who was biologically a complement to him.

But the Bible does not teach anything else about a complementary relationship between a wife and husband, other than stating that the husband is to be head of his wife and the wife is to submit to her husband. Many have assumeed, or extrapolated, from this that husbands (or men, in general) are to be leaders and women are to be followers. But that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible does not teach that a husband is to lead his wife. It says he is to be her head, "as Christ is the head of the church, and gave himself for her."

We should not go beyond what the Bible teaches when it teaches that a wife is to submit to her husband. The Bible, as is often the case, does not detail for us what this submission means in all circumstances. It doesn't tell us what a wife is to do if her husband abuses her. If he demands that she grovel to him, the Bible doesn't tell us whether she is to stand up for the value that she has as an equal person made in the image of God. The Bible doesn't tell us anything about how decisions are to be made between husbands and wives. It says nothing about the husbands making "the final decision." That is a concept which has been extrapolated from what the Bible actually does say and teach.

That's it. That's all the Bible says on these matters. We go beyond the teaching of the Bible when we formulate rules for how we believe husbands and wives should relate to each other.

These matters are important to me as a Bible translator. I want to accurately and clearly translate what the Bible actually teaches. I don't want to leave anything out that the Bible teaches. But I also don't want to add anything to what the Bible teaches.

My own opinion is that those who speak about "biblical manhood and womanhood" often (usually?) are speaking about cultural or ideological patterns for behavior that they are used to or prefer. And their intentions in many, probably most, cases are to be totally biblical. There is no desire on the part of those who formulate gender rules for the home and church to go beyond what the Bible teaches. But every once in awhile, whenever the church faces a divisive issue (and there have been many over the centuries), we need to back up and ask ourselves: What does the Bible specifically teach on this matter?

My wife complements me. I complement my two brothers. My wife and I had two sets of twins. They all complemented each other and continue to do so.

There is wonderful beauty in how God has made us all a little different and gives us as gifts to each other so that we can complement each other in our relationships.

Finally, I am not arguing for complementarianism or egalitarianism in this comment. Personally I wish that we didn't have these categories. I wish we would all just strive to be as biblical as possible and give each other grace to differ in good conscience.

OK, I became verbose. And that means it's something I feel strongly about.

I hope no one is offended to hear a sermon in the middle of the week!

:-)

 
At Thu Oct 19, 07:49:00 PM, Blogger David Lang said...

Suzanne,

Until the word "complementary" became a label for an "-ism," I don't imagine anyone ever conceived of being "complementary" as a negative thing. I would even venture to guess that this is why those who call themselves "complementarians" chose to use that term. In other words, they wanted to communicate the idea that while they see certain complementary yet distinctive gender roles laid out in Scripture, they nevertheless maintain a high view of women as co-bearers of God's image, "co-heirs of the grace of life," etc.

If we set aside the theological and practical baggage which has now become associated with the term, I would answer that yes, I think the idea that men and women are complementary, alike yet distinct from one another, and profoundly made for each other, is the very essence of what the term ezer kenegdo is meant to communicate. I also see complementarity among the three persons of the Trinity, yet I will vigorously defend the Son or the Spirit's essential/substantial equality and unity with the Father. In short, we need not see the idea of complementarity as implying superiority and inferiority, but rather beauty, diversity, and mutual deference.

How we live out this complementarity is, as Wayne so eloquently put it, an open question which we must seek to answer as Biblically as possible. Where I think the complementarians fall down is in their attempts to offer specific suggestions about what roles and activities are appropriate and inappropriate for each sex. Any time we start to pick nits in such a fashion, we always go beyond what Scripture teaches and end up looking ridiculous. If, however, men and women concentrate on loving, serving, deferring to, and laying down their lives for each other in service to Christ, the importance of rules, distinctions, roles, rights, and restrictions all "grow strangely dim."

 
At Thu Oct 19, 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

David,

You write,

Where I think the complementarians fall down is in their attempts to offer specific suggestions about what roles and activities are appropriate and inappropriate for each sex.

What are those roles and activities? I understand the attraction that brings the male and female together, the biologically based functions, and the consequent different capacities dependent on our biological functions.

However, in the gospels, it was women who provided for the disciples from their financial resources. These women might have been older widows with financial means. We don't know. But we do know that the male disciples left their families behind, and were provided for, at least in part by women.

So, I see very few actual roles beyond the biological bearing of children. The headship discussion belongs within marriage, but is not necessarily a gender role, but rather a household responsibility. It clealy did not prevent Christian women from providing for men.

And I am convinced that Gen. 2 means that Adam found a female that matched him. He saw lots of females, but they were of the wrong species. So his exclamation was surely that this female was of the same kind as him.

And, certainly, I don't disagree that he wanted a female. And females are biologically complementary. But does kenegdo mean complementary? That is what I am uncertain about. I am interested in this as a lexical discussion. What do you think?

 
At Fri Oct 20, 06:17:00 AM, Blogger David Lang said...

Suzanne,

I still suspect we're using "complementary" in two different senses. Lexically speaking, I do think that the juxtaposition of the terms "like" and "opposite/across from" could easily be translated by the English word "complementary." Eve complemented Adam, she was suitable for him, she fit with him, precisely because she was both like him and unlike him. She was not an animal (completely "other"), neither was she a man (completely "like"), she was a woman ("like, yet unlike" or, if you will, "complementary").

Any discussion of how Eve was "complementary" to Adam quickly goes beyond the lexical question about the meaning of the phrase ezer kenegdo. I think biological (meaning sexual) complementarity is clearly in view in this passage. By extension, I think you can argue that Eve was to complement Adam with respect to the fulfillment of the "cultural mandate" to "fill the earth and subdue it." Obviously Adam couldn't do the first of those things without Eve, but I think it's at least implied in this passage that he couldn't subdue the earth without her either. The dramatic tension of Genesis 2 is that he gives Adam a vocation which he cannot accomplish on his own, and then provides him with a divine source of "help" by which to accomplish that vocation. (Note that the Hebrew term "ezer" is the word for help typically used in connection with divine activity, as opposed to the more mundane "ezrah").

Now, are specific gender roles spelled out by Genesis 2? Does ezer kenegdo imply social, psychological, or financial distinctions? Not as far as I can see. It seems to me that both the person who wishes to make gender role distinctions and the person who wishes to deny any (or most) such distinctions could find support for their views in this passage. Genesis 2 is foundational to our understanding of male and female, but it's not very prescriptive when it comes to the specific questions the two parties struggle with.

 
At Fri Oct 20, 06:18:00 AM, Blogger Peter M. Head said...

Preachers need to be able to preach on the Hebrew or Greek and thus to nuance and/or correct the ET used in church.
I have found that the ESV needs this fairly often (although sometimes it amounts to chosing to follow the ESV marginal reading, it still needs some justification). It is perhaps possible to cloak some of these along the lines of 'the original emphasises this point' or some such phrase. But what is the best way to suggest an alternative to the prevailing ET?

 
At Fri Oct 20, 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

David,

I am not sure that we are disagreeing in any way. I agree that there is full sexual complementarity between men and women. But, within the church, women are coworkers, apostles (Junia), disciples, providers (Joanna), heads of households (Lydia), prophets (Philip's daughters), deacons (Phoebe) teachers (Priscilla), etc.

In the realm of family, men and women have certain obligations and functions, but in the church, they are siblings, both created in the image of God.

So I disagree that in Christ, men have a vocation, and women are to support men. (not that you said this.) This is refuted by every single woman missionary that ever lived. They didn't go out to support men, they responded to a vocation from God, which paralleled the vocation that men responded to.

It is a very damaging thing to tell a woman that she exists to support man, that this is her vocation in Christ.

However, I don't imagine any kind of androgyny. Pit bulls come in male and female, they are attracted to each other, evidently, and reproduce, they are fully male and female; but in character, a pit bull is a pit bull, male and female are similar in temperament, if not identical.

So Billy Graham's daughter is like him in giftedness and character, although she is female.

I read an interesting thread recently where women were discussing how free they felt as they became more egalitarian. They no longer felt that being female put them at risk in a power relationship, so they felt free to become more feminine. That is, egalitarian women enjoy femininity because it is freeing and equal. It is not worrisome and restrictive. No more worrying about when the man is going to pull the trump card so femininity is positive.

Much nicer to be equal and feminine at the same time. Shall I try to post in pink sometime? Do I sound androgynous or masculine on this blog?

The women who are upset and conflicted are most likely those who feel that they are not accepted as equals. They suppress their femininity in order to be accepted as equals. Not much fun in that.

So when I sound upset, that is because I think someone is saying to me that women cannot respond to the same vocations from God that men can. That is a putdown which really hurts.

 
At Fri Oct 20, 02:13:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

I find Suzannes use of the word "vocation" to be, at very best, problematic. Vocation rises and falls dependant upon exactly what the user deems qualifies as a vocation. Some may consider role to be a vocation, others would consider an "office" in the church to be a vocation, others would consider specific gifting and the utilization of that gift as a vocation. We should name our goal and speak in terms of that. Anything else is problematic. It would be nice if we all could agree on what qualifies for a calling (some would argue that the filling of an "office" is not a calling, but a "man" (generic) appointed function), but that won't happen anytime soon. Diversity, of course, provides flavor to our discussions.

I can't help but think that the women providing for the Lord's ministry is involved here due to my use of the passage a few days ago. Thankfully, I attached no particular opinion or interpretation to the whole passage. It can be taken in many different ways, some more flattering than others. Ambiguity has served me well here.

I read an interesting thread recently where women were discussing how free they felt as they became more egalitarian. They no longer felt that being female put them at risk in a power relationship, so they felt free to become more feminine. That is, egalitarian women enjoy femininity because it is freeing and equal. It is not worrisome and restrictive. No more worrying about when the man is going to pull the trump card so femininity is positive.

I have no idea why this was included in the discussion, because it seems completely irrelevant to me. Why irrelevant you may ask? Well, the atheist may claim (and hold entire discussions) on how their withdrawment from the idea of God has allowed them to experience their humanity and freedom (without the oppression of a fearful and just entity) at a level hitherto unknown. Yet, this does not argue for the universal consent to be done with God. These atheists no longer felt that being finite put them at a distinct disadvantage in relations with God. They felt free to become "more human". Atheists enjoy humanity and the evolved world because they deem the discarding of God as freeing (no more infinite and unapproachable justice with which humankind MUST come to terms). Being human, to these atheists, is no longer a burden (justice) or in any ways restricted on account of imagination: No more worrying about when God is going to pull the trump card of accountability to him, so atheism has become positive. No human wants to be controlled, and therefore atheism, or the withdrawal from the subscription to the idea of an uncreated, creating, being with which we must come to terms, makes for the most positive reflection upon "man".

Experiential evidence is weak. The Christian, according to revealed Biblical truth, should be the most free of all peoples. And yet, there are times when we can admit, as Christians, that we feel as if the whole weight of majesty is upon us. And there are times when our finite, limited, understanding impresses upon us a lack of freedom when compared to "the world" (see the newest post on BBB), yet it is not so. Though our understanding and experience may writhe with the hot apnea of ignorance, yet we must trust him.

Many feminists and egalitarians (and just people with an opinion in general) take for granted the time in which we live. This is a time in which total equality of the sexes is possible. This shocks me, because the freedom spoken of by Paul was IN SPITE of the circumstances, not by them. Because of Christ you are free, even should you be, by vocation, a slave, yet you are free. I advocate equality in my marriage, NOT because my wife and I are equal in all properties, attributes and methods of our being, but because we have true freedom in Christ. We wear our freedom "on our sleeves", but even if we were not able to, due to the cultural circumstances, yet the truth would remain. We live in a blessed time, where equality can be newly expressed, but we must realize that the Biblical truth on this matter is that our freedom exists whether it can be expressed outwardly or not!!!

Sigh. So, while I am glad that we can have these discussions (or arguments) about the outward expression of our freedom, I find it far more important that, despite our outword circumstances, we are truly free in Christ. Circumstances could change at any moment. I could find myself the servant of an oppressive diplomat in some far off and foreign country. I could, at any moment, be thrown, unjustly, into jail in order to rot for the rest of my days. And yet my freedom shall remain, for it was purchased by Christ, whose sufficiency is unapproachable.

 
At Fri Oct 20, 03:57:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I can't help but think that the women providing for the Lord's ministry is involved here due to my use of the passage a few days ago.

Sorry Matthew,

I am not always able to follow where you are going with your comments, so I often don't respond to them. Did you mention Joanna?

I have been reading Bauckham's Gospel Women which has a rather significant chapter on Joanna. That is why I mentioned her.

Peter,

There are certainly good reasons to nuance a prevailing ET.

I was just being picky about the sermon I heard because the pastor was using it to make sure that we were aware that no woman was ever going to preach in our church on a Sunday morning again even though they used to.

Let's just say he read out the riot act. Along with making sure we all knew to be submissive and not teach and not exercise authority, etc. etc.

The part that gets me is when he said men are given a task by God and women are made to support. No one seems to find that insensitive!??

It is not so much about the freedom to do things, but somehow it sounds like a teaching that women aren't considered worthy by God to be given a task or a goal in life apart from helping a man.

 
At Sat Oct 21, 12:21:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Suzanne: It is not so much about the freedom to do things, but somehow it sounds like a teaching that women aren't considered worthy by God to be given a task or a goal in life apart from helping a man.

This reminds me of a book I read recently about the Messianic Jewish movement and the fundamental seperation of Jew and Gentile. The authors opinion, himself a Jew, is that there is no division present anymore between Jew and Gentile, but that in Christ Jesus all have been made "one new person/man". Culture and ethnicity remain, but it is not what makes a person a Christian or follower of Messiah.

I encourage everyone to read the book, it is an interesting read, and anyone with a heart for both unity and reaching out to people in general will find it interesting. The book may miss some marks, but which one doesn't (obvious answer need not apply)?

Stan Telchin, "Messianic Judaism is Not Christianity: A Loving Call to Unity". It is rather light reading, but who cares! It is still interesting and it goes, more or less, along the lines of unity or worthiness that Suzanne desires so much. Except, instead of male vs. female worth, it is Jew vs. Gentile worth.

 
At Sat Oct 21, 01:27:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Matthew wrote: "I find Suzannes use of the word "vocation" to be, at very best, problematic. Vocation rises and falls dependant upon exactly what the user deems qualifies as a vocation."

I tale your point. So let's put this more bluntly. If a man (not generic) believes himself called to be (for example) a preacher or a pastor, and if his church confirms this call and it seems right in all kinds of other ways, the man will be encouraged to train and then serve as a pastor or preacher. Should the same be true of a woman? Or are there certain roles which must be a priori not permitted for a woman? That, I suppose, is the basic issue underlying what Suzanne is saying about vocation. She and I do not accept that there are any roles of this kind which are not open to women. Others do not agree. Do you?

 
At Sat Oct 21, 01:46:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

She and I do not accept that there are any roles of this kind which are not open to women. Others do not agree. Do you?

I still haven't decided how to differentiate between a gifting (which is obviously given) of the Holy Spirit and an appointed "office". I have not decided, yet, whether the office is, in fact, a gifting or calling; or whether it is merely Church appointed, and therefore human made. If an office is human made, then humans can appoint whomever they wish to be appointed, or whomever the Lord prompts them to appoint. Be it male or female. The giftings are the clear territory of the Spirit, and him alone.

One thing we deal with here is our modern relationship with the Holy Spirit. It simply does not reflect the early believers relationship. How can we expect to be led in the same manner, when the relationship is universally recognized as having shifted? And that, not for the better.

It's not just, "what can men do and what can women do?" But rather, what does the Lord require of us? We do not concede authority to the Holy Spirit on many of these subjects, but rely on "solid" reasoning and "common" sense or a sense of Justice. I am not speaking of dumb, "What saith the Lord?" reasoning, I'm talking about clear New Testament reliance on the Godhead. We concentrate on issues such as "Who gets to be a pastor and dominate a congregation". All the while, the roots are withering.

Some people agrue that their calling or gifting is to be a bishop, etc. I have not decided on this yet. It is one of my studies that will come in the future, but for now, I simply do not have the time.

Assuming that the "Church" was in one accord with both the divine and earthly members, these issues would be much simpler.

 
At Sun Oct 22, 06:36:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Matthew, you wrote: "One thing we deal with here is our modern relationship with the Holy Spirit. It simply does not reflect the early believers relationship. How can we expect to be led in the same manner, when the relationship is universally recognized as having shifted? And that, not for the better."

What do you mean by this? It is not "universally recognized" in that at least I don't recognise it. At least I don't think I do. I recognise that Christians in many churches have lost the close relationship with the Holy Spirit which characterised the New Testament church, but that in other churches (to varying extents, and certainly not without some abuses) that close relationship does exist. I also recognise that we no longer have quite the same full inspiration of the Holy Spirit which was given to the scripture authors, but that is a different matter, and was something quite exceptional even in its own time. But I don't accept that there was any kind of relationship between normal early believers and the Holy Spirit which is not open to us today and to be expected by any believer. To put it another way, the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to operate today as they did in New Testament times. If you want good arguments for this, look at the archives of my own blog Speaker of Truth. But actually one of the best arguments is one that springs from your own comments, that if the Holy Spirit is not operating today as he was during New Testament times, much of the New Testament teaching is rendered irrelevant to the church today.

Meanwhile I entirely agree that we should submit to the Holy Spirit's guidance as to who should be selected for jobs like pastor, and I should have written that more clearly before. However, that guidance can come through human reason, and we should expect that reason to allow us to rule out as unsuitable certain people, primarily those living in open sin and unwilling to repent. But I don't believe we should rule out people just because they are women. Do you?

 
At Sun Oct 22, 09:38:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

But I don't accept that there was any kind of relationship between normal early believers and the Holy Spirit which is not open to us today and to be expected by any believer.

I don't accept it either. I fully agree with you that a like relationship is open for us today, and may even be expected by every believer.

To put it another way, the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to operate today as they did in New Testament times.

I agree 100%.

If you want good arguments for this...

I don't want good arguments, as I fully agree with you.

But actually one of the best arguments is one that springs from your own comments, that if the Holy Spirit is not operating today as he was during New Testament times, much of the New Testament teaching is rendered irrelevant to the church today.

I agree with this implication, although I deny that it was implied by myself (at least, purposely). I can demonstrate:

One thing we deal with here is our modern relationship with the Holy Spirit. It simply does not reflect the early believers relationship. How can we expect to be led in the same manner, when the relationship is universally recognized as having shifted? And that, not for the better.

This is the statement over which you have tripped. And I can understand why, I worded it badly, and you drew an obvious implication from it that I HAD NOT INTENDED NOR HAD IN MIND. Allow me to clarify.

I meant that our "modern" relationship with the Holy Spirit is being neglected, and therefore deprecated (I also mean that people do not regard the Holy Spirit as they should, and I find this unfortunate). I mean this in general, not the truth in all communities. I think we SHOULD expect to be led in the same manner and that we SHOULD expect to see the NT gifts exercised! However, the basic relationship with the Holy Spirit has, lets not say shifted, but been NEGLECTED or changed in many of our minds. This, of course, is never for the better.

Does this make more sense now? I can see how you drew those conclusions from what I said, but I want to make it clear that those conclusions are not mine, and I did not mean them by what I said. I reject the decision by many modern Christians to assume that God no longer works as he did in the New Testament or Apostolic times.

What do you mean by this? It is not "universally recognized" in that at least I don't recognise it.

I do not "recognize" what you thought was being implicated either. I hope my explanation above has cleared it up for you. My wording was understood by me, but I myself am a context that cannot be easily investigated over the internet. So, frequently, what I say, is easily understood by me, though the implications of the words I have chosen seem less than obvious to those with whom I am conversing.

 
At Sun Oct 22, 09:55:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

My wording was understood by me, but I myself am a context that cannot be easily investigated over the internet. So, frequently, what I say, is easily understood by me, though the implications of the words I have chosen seem less than obvious to those with whom I am conversing.

Yes, Matthew, that is why I don't respond to your comments any more. It seems as if you have something interesting to say, but I am never sure what it is.

 
At Mon Oct 23, 06:30:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Perhaps a reminder is in order that complementarians do not necessarily believe in inherent differences between men and women that ground distinctions in gender roles. Some do believe that, but some explicitly deny it, e.g. D.A. Carson. Carson thinks the distinction is grounded not in any differences of abilities but in a choice by God for two genders. When a man and woman come together in marriage, then man is stewarded with authority in the marriage and in the family. When a congregation of believers comes together as a manifestation of the church gathered around the throne of God in heaven, several men are selected as elders with authority over that congregation. Carson does not think that gender roles extend beyond those two things, and he thinks neither is grounded in inherent differences between how God created men and women.

 
At Mon Oct 23, 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Jeremy,

My whole post was in very bad taste anyway.

But it is interesting to think back to how Aristotle said that women were naturally akuros 'without authority'. Does that Bible also say women are akuros? I guess not because Lydia and Nympha obviously did have authority. So a single woman/widow, as head of a household, has authority, but a married woman does not.

Is that how you interpret it? Woman alone has authority, but in relationship to man she does not? There is nothing intrinsic in this, nothing natural, so what is the basis? Maintaining order? What about slavery? That is also order.

Headship only works for those women in relationship, it doesn't mean anything to a single woman. I am just thinking of this because we had a dynamite single woman missionary speak this Sunday, but not in the service, in the lounge afterwards.

 
At Mon Oct 23, 02:08:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Suzanne,

Yes, Matthew, that is why I don't respond to your comments any more. It seems as if you have something interesting to say, but I am never sure what it is.

You excel in insults.

I find your comment to be distasteful. My meanings are confused as often as any other writer, yourself included. Case in point, this entire post.

Should I now consider your comments not worthy of my own replies because you push agendas more than any of the other contributors on this blog? I think not. I believe you deserve to be fairly heard and responded too. Something you are obviously not equipped to do yourself.

For you to insinuate that everything I say, though it may have meaning to me (somewhere in my airy head in your opinion, no doubt!), may rarely be understood by others is fairly moronic.

I fail in communication only as often as the average person. You, on the other hand, thoroughly excel at pushing agendas and insulting others.

I now officially withdraw myself from ANY further interaction with this blog or its contributors (particularly those with a nack for insult).

 
At Mon Oct 23, 07:35:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

knack

 
At Wed Oct 25, 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Matthew, thanks for clarifying that you in fact more or less agree with me. (Sorry to be slow acknowledging this, I have been away from easy Internet access, now back home.) I did wonder if that was your meaning. But if so I struggle to understand your general position. If what you mean is that you think there is something fundamentally wrong with how the church selects people for "offices", I understand your point and partially agree with it. But what is the relevance of this to the issue at hand? It was you who brought into the discussion the concept of "office".

Please don't leave us. But please don't be so touchy either. As you have agreed, you have not been as clear as you might have been in some of the comments you have made. That is not a problem, as long as you accept requests for clarification and don't get upset about them. You do indeed have interesting things to say. Sometimes you do need to explain them more carefully, but that is a usual thing with these kinds of complex issues, and the point of these comment threads is to discuss and clarify them.

 
At Thu Oct 26, 01:36:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Peter,

Your welcome (in reference to my clarification).

But what is the relevance of this to the issue at hand?

I believe Suzanne mentioned something above about callings or "vocations". Those are rather vague, and some, such as J. I. Packer, would prefer to split a few hairs and differentiate between "offices", "callings", "gifts", etc. See Suzannes comments in order to know exactly what mine were about.

But please don't be so touchy either.

Ah, I am most sorry. Suzanne chose a really bad week to be snippy. From her comment, she may as well have just said, "Yes, Matthew, you are a moron who can't carry a single thought. What were you saying?" With graduation approaching, debts piling up, insomnia issues and a personal faith crisis, Suzannes less than loving comments pretty much lit the fuze on the fire cracker. Her request for clarification was... ambiguous, at best.

But that is ok, I have calmed down recently thanks to Christ, countless hours of writing, and a loving wife. I do not harbor any grudges.

Sometimes you do need to explain them more carefully, but that is a usual thing with these kinds of complex issues, and the point of these comment threads is to discuss and clarify them.

Yes, reviewing my comment that was difficult, I can see that it does make sense, unfortunately it is ambiguous enough to be understood with slight variance dependant upon the readers own understanding of the issue. The presuppositions of the reader actually change the intended meaning of what I wrote. I think I know how the Biblical writers probably felt on occasion. I must be careful about this. Saying something that seems as clear as daylight, may actually be understood in an entirely different way depending on what deck of cards the players are bringing to the table.

I will gladly explain or clarify my comments, as long as I may beg some slight patience from Suzanne. Dismissing me outright does not feel fair to a discussion such as this. But, that is her decision, and without it, I suppose I can cope anyways.

Suzanne insulted my pride. Unfortunately, my pride was at an all time high then. Something we, as Christians, always need to keep an eye on.

Ah, and yes, if Suzanne finds any spelling errors here, well, I didn't check it, so don't have a field day, like "nack" above.

 
At Thu Oct 26, 02:28:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thank you, Matthew. I hope you and Suzanne can now be at peace.

You wrote: "The presuppositions of the reader actually change the intended meaning of what I wrote." I don't suppose you quite meant that - unless I suppose you are being deliberately ambiguous. You intended what you intended. But what we readers understand depends on our presuppositions, and can be quite different from what you intended. Yes, the Bible writers must have had the same problem! Paul obviously did with the Corinthians. Fortunately by the miracles of electronics we can exchange clarifications with one another in minutes rather than months.

 
At Thu Oct 26, 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Mathew,

When I say that I am not sure what your comments intend, I attribute much of that lack of comprehension to myself, and my own insomnia, which I have previously written about.

That is, I don't wish to respond to a comment which I may have misunderstood, so I have felt that it would be better to not respond to keep things safe. But I don't want you to think that I am ignoring you, I just assume sometimes that I don't have the right background knowledge about you to interpret your remarks.

And if you find any spelling errors, or much more likely typographic errors, in my posts you are welcome to have a field day.

And, yes, I guess I do want to push my agenda, that women are equal and should function as equals. I don't want to be ambiguous about this.

Matthew,

Please don't take emotions from blog interaction back into the rest of your life - it is simply not worth it - I am not sitting in judgement on you - I have no role that way. Instead of reading blogs, watch a sitcom instead. That's what I do. It is much more companionable.

Take care.

 
At Thu Oct 26, 12:21:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

When I say that I am not sure what your comments intend, I attribute much of that lack of comprehension to myself, and my own insomnia, which I have previously written about.

That is, I don't wish to respond to a comment which I may have misunderstood, so I have felt that it would be better to not respond to keep things safe. But I don't want you to think that I am ignoring you, I just assume sometimes that I don't have the right background knowledge about you to interpret your remarks.


Thank you for this clarification. I suppose I am the one who should have requested a clarification about your comments, to make sure that I had understood them correctly before allowing myself to react.

And, yes, I guess I do want to push my agenda, that women are equal and should function as equals. I don't want to be ambiguous about this.

As you well know, I agree with this agenda, just not always with the way it is pushed.

Please don't take emotions from blog interaction back into the rest of your life...

Actually, I did the opposite. I allowed my "life" emotions to affect my demeanor on the blog comments.

Instead of reading blogs, watch a sitcom instead.

Heh. I am not much of a T.V. person. I get most of my consolation from my books. Ah, but I do watch "britcoms" on the weekends. I find them most agreeable!

Thanks for clearing everything up and being understanding.

As for Peter's comment, "You intended what you intended. But what we readers understand depends on our presuppositions, and can be quite different from what you intended."

You, sir, are absolutely correct. You hit the nail on the head.

 

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