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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Comments moderated again

I sometimes read blogs like SoloFemininity. This post reflected information that I had often been told by people who work with World Vision but I hadn't seen it in print. Carolyn cited this,
    Seven out of ten of the world's hungry are women.
    - Nearly half of all girls born in the 50 least developed countries will never attend school, sentencing them to a life of poverty and disease.
    - Due to poverty, illiteracy, and the denial of decision-making power, women are becoming infected with HIV faster than men in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
    - Every six seconds a girl under five dies of preventable causes.
    - Of the 800 million who lack basic work skills to rise out of poverty, two-thirds are female.
I appreciate Carolyn's willingness to post this information without editing it. However, when I left a short comment to the effect that I had posted on my own blog on this topic, she moderated out my comment. I wrote,
    Hi Carolyn,
    > I have linked to your post
    on my blog.

In my post I wrote,
    It seems to me that along with sending pharmaceutical drugs, North America should model an appropriate egalitarian stance on male-female relations. Christians should be ahead of the curve on this. Some are, and some aren't.

    If we know to do good and don't do it, then we are contributing to the problem. We know that we should teach egalitarian values. If we don't do it, we are guilty - we become part of the problem.

      So then, if you know the good you ought to do and don't do it, you sin. James 4:7
All I can say is that those who feel that it is misguided for women to have equal prominence and representation, and to make their own decisions, should be very happy with this World Vision report.

All those who voted that women should obey their husbands should have their heart warmed by these statistics.

But a Better Bible would address women and give them equal status with men. It would be careful to address men and women each and every time the Greek refers to men and women. It would say "human" when the Greek or Hebrew says "human". It would not insert things that are not there which give the impression that women must be under their husband's authority.

How hard would it be to produce a Bible that addresses all the "children of God" as equals instead of only the sons?

You can respond however you like. We don't moderate comments.

PS This note is for Lingamish. The Contemporary English Version, CEV, is IMO an a suitable Bible for use in mission work. I haven't given it that much attention probably because it is so uncontroversial. I want to congratulate Lingamish for standing staunchly by his choice Bible. Good for you!

Update: I can see how some might complain about this post. However, I have had two private emails this morning thanking me for it. I want to be very clear that I do not attribute the extreme positions of the "male authority" teaching to complementarians. That is not at all true and I know it. I believe there is a separate cult like group who teach patricentric decision-making and this is damaging women.

I believe that those who actively teach male authority and male-lead decision-making need to take a long hard look at these statistics as well as the work of Lundy Bancroft, who after 15 years working in the court system in the US, identifies a sense of male entitlement as a root cause of abuse. I mean entitlement to make decisions. Reflect on the gross errors made by men, which easily puts them on the same level as women, such as we are. Let's just admit that men are not in any way less vulnerable to human error than women. Let's just admit that women are more likely to be able to identify their own basic needs than the person beside them.

This all relates to Bible translation because Jim Coggins writes on the ESV blog,
    More than four million copies have now been distributed. Ninety percent of sales have been in North America, but overseas distribution is growing rapidly through partnerships with more than 130 Bible societies around the world.
Dr. Packer told me that the ESV was possibly going to be used as a base for a new translation into Chinese. One has to ask why. One has to look at the close association between the men who have worked on the ESV and the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. One has to ask whether we want to live in a world with growing power imbalances or not. Male authority, male representation, male prominence, male only leadership, and male specific Bibles are all a type of power imbalance.


At Sun Aug 12, 04:28:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

It's one thing to have a view about how women should interact with their husbands, even one that is more extreme than the standard complementarian one (and thus one that I would disagree with, as most complementarians do; submission isn't the same as obeying in most complementarians' views). It's quite another to expect that any negative consequences that follow from implementing such a view would be endorsed by the person holding that view. This is like saying that those who approve of affirmative action should enjoy any negative effects that happen to result from it. Well-intentioned advocates of any position accept it because they think it is a good position, not because they like the negative results of implementing that position.

Now it's possible for someone to think women should obey their husbands because the person is misogynistic and is looking for excuses to engage in such a tendency. I agree that such a person might be happy to see these statistics. But surely you can't think that mainstream complementarianism is motivated by such a nasty desire. If you do, then perhaps we should no longer discuss these issues, because I can't engage in serious discussion with someone who thinks that my every motivation for being in such a discussion is evil.

I can understand fully why someone would delete such a comment. My general policy would be to respond with vehemence rather than deleting it, but some people have higher standards for what makes the cut, and I don't begrudge them such a policy. Anyone who doesn't think someone could possibly be motivated by how they happen to interpret the Bible but instead must have evil motivations is like the complementarian who accuses the TNIV of being motivated by radical feminism, something you regularly complain about. I guess you're not innocent of that sort of thing after all.

This post should not have made the cut at this blog either, both because it attributes evil motives to people who do not necessarily have them and because it really is only tangentially related to the topic of this blog, with one statement thrown in to justify its presence here. The willingness of some blogger who writes about women in Christianity to delete a comment that slanders complementarians is not a Bible translation issue. Sometimes you walk that line, but this post clearly crosses it in more than one way.

At Sun Aug 12, 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


There is a misunderstanding here. I wrote this post after, not before, my comment was deleted. Look at my original post at Suzanne's bookshelf. I did not slander complementarians. I only advocated egalitarianism as a life-giving force.

I don't even mention complementarians. I have always assumed that lots of complementarians don't hold strictly to a "wives have to obey" ethic.

This is strictly it - if women have to "obey" then they will be disadvantaged. They will lose their savings. they will be infected with disease, they will have less access to literacy.

Aren't you even concerned about these things? Doesn't it chill you to read these statistics and the World Vision assessment of the reasons?

Yes, I was sarcastic but after, and not before, being deleted.

Tell me how you would approach these statistics.

Really this has to do with Bibles because the ESV is being exported to some of these countries. Dr. Packer even said that it was being used as a base Bible for a new Chinese translation. Of course, this is to make sure that gender neutral Bibles don't get exported.

Don't you see that there is a concerted effort to make Bibles male specific and to spread this as the gospel. I wish this weren't so but I was told this.

What do you think about this?

You are right about the motives. I will strike that out. I have to run now and can't edit the post right now.

But I see people in such pain, I know what this pain - is to be deprived and I have just read Lundy Bancroft's book and his assessment that male entitlement is the root cause of abuse. He says that only in an egalitarian society can we even begin to eliminate abuse. Surely we all, all of us, want to eliminate abuse. How would you propose to do this? Given that we know some of the causes.

At Sun Aug 12, 12:53:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

(long time reader, first time commenter)

Question: When you quote statistics about women in the 50 least developed countries - how many of those are Christian? How likely is it (statistically) that a woman in one of those lease developed country is a Christian?

If you cannot answer that with a "these women and their families are likely to be Christian", then you are attempting to compare apples and bell peppers.

I don't expect those who cannot see God to adopt His way of loving another as oneself.

I cannot expect a man who doesn't love God to love his wife as Christ loves the church.

Women are abused in Muslim countries - the answer is Jesus, not egalitarianism.

Women are abused in "Christian" marriages. The answer is church discipline, the man leading rightly - not abandoning the creation order altogether.

That being said, rejecting male headship because some men abuse women is like banning food because some people are gluttons.

Some people abuse the system. That means the people are wrong, not that the system is (necessarily) wrong.

At Sun Aug 12, 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks, Ellen, for asking.

I have been reading a lot of statistics but they are all ambiguous and likely unreliable in this area. However, what they do not show is that there is any less abuse among Christians than any other group. This is well known.

Among my close family and friends, all Christians, easily one in six has experienced abuse along the lines of rape, beatings, having $100,000 spent behind her back, children denied a university education, sometimes just the girls, sometimes both boys and girls.

These women went to church, two of these men were pastors themselves. You can say "how wrong", but that is how life is - wrong. But we know the answer - teach women that marriage should be mutual, and if it doesn't look mutual then take steps to exit before you are damaged.

These women are now lawyers, hospital administrator, concert pianist, etc. They are not the dregs of society. And the truth is that most of these women are not represented by statistics and have not told their story publicly.

I visited a close friend the other night who is paying out $900.00 month interest on her husband's debts for the last 18 months while waiting for a settlement. I am not saying that women would be any better. But creating a power imbalance is ridiculous because women have the same legal responsibility to pay debts and feed their children as men. They should have equal say in how money is spent.

Can you imagine a woman in court telling the judge that she should not be liable for debts or providing for her children because her husband was her authority. They just need to get on with their life and provide for the children.

I have just been reading Lundy Bancroft, recommended to me by another abused woman and blog reader. He writes,

In reality, the abuse of women - and societal approval of it is a widespread problem in the great majority of cultures.

He goes to greater length to describe the fact that it exists equally among all religious groups and is more justified among fundamentalists. page. 164 - 165

I can't type out too much more but he mentions male entitlement as a root cause of abuse and concludes his book by saying,

Anger and conflict are not the problem, they are normal aspects of life. Abuse doesn't come from people's inability to resolve conflicts but from one person's decision to claim a higher status than another. ...Teaching equality, teaching a deep respect for all human beings - these are more complicated undertakings, but they are the ones that 388

Bancroft actually has some success, limited, but a little, in reversing abusive behaviours, by telling the men that they have no rights over women. Period. I don't know of any other program that has any success.

Both the police and my pastor told me that there was no such thing as a man who stopped abusing as long as he had the continuing opportunity. This is real life.

And male authority is not like food. A woman can survive an entire lifetime without male authority. She can thrive without male authority as a Christian. There is an equivalent rate of divorce and abuse among conservative Christians as in the general population. So my question is what tangible good does male authority have? and is it worth it if we know that teaching the opposite, equality, would actually save lives.

One can teach mutuality, reciprocity and equal treatment from the Bible very well actually, by quoting " Love your neighbour as yourself." Wouldn't it be amazing if husband and wife treated each other as they would want to be treated, as equal human beings. That is the central teaching of the scriptures.

At Sun Aug 12, 03:29:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Please note that I don't refer to people who self identify as complementarians. I am specifically talking about people who promote a power imbalance by putting one person in a hierarchically subordinate position to another.


I just realized that you are someone I have been wanting to meet for a long time, because we have so much in common. Single, two children, teach special needs and deaf children, etc.

So please respond with vigour. But think all the time of what World Vision is saying. How can one justify male-lead decision-making in view of these stats?

At Sun Aug 12, 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Scripture. What does the Bible say?

We live in a fallen world and the fact that people sin does not make it proper to abandon the Biblical model.

You say that women are abused all over the world, in all sorts of situations and you are right.

if we use the biblical model of a woman submitting to her husband as unto the Lord AND a husband loving his wife as Christ loves His church - AND if churches applied discipline to men and women who do not follow the Biblical model - this is the ideal.

Another question: how have the abuse statistics changed over the last 40 years?

At Sun Aug 12, 03:56:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne, I knew that you wrote this post after your comment was deleted. I'm not sure why you thought otherwise.

People can mean a lot of things by "obey", and a lot of people use it to refer to submission. The NASB, I believe, even translates the submission-term as "obey" in I Peter 2 (but as "submit" in Eph 5). But you seem to agree that your motive attribution is wrong. Since that's my only real complaint, I don't have a lot else to add.

At Sun Aug 12, 05:20:00 PM, Blogger Nathan Wells said...

Suzanne You said, "But a Better Bible would address women and give them equal status with men. It would be careful to address men and women each and every time the Greek refers to men and women."

I want to address something about what you mean by "equal status", in order that some thought might be put into what you have said. I ask this not to start a fight, but because I want to know your thoughts on the matter.

"According to Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights organization, there are currently over 20 million people in bondage." (source

Now some interesting verses:
“Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ,” (Ephesians 6:5)
and “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in every respect, not only when they are watching – like those who are strictly people-pleasers – but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22)
- we get from these instructions to slaves.

And again, “Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” (Ephesians 6:9)
and “Masters, treat your slaves with justice and fairness, because you know that you also have a master in heaven. ” (Colossians 4:1)
- from these, instructions to masters.

So, as Christians (since it is plainly stated that you can be a slave and a master and be a Christian - or is it?), must a slave obey his or her master?
And if they must - how then are they of equal status? Or, are they equal in standing, but not in role?

I'm sure you see through why I am bringing this up - because this has to do with the possibility that it is possible to be equal in standing and yet subordinate in role.

How do these verses on slavery interact with your view of manhood and womanhood in the Bible? Both are major issues in our world today. 20 million slaves in the world - when they get a Bible, what will they think?

Or are these verses to be thrown out since we all know slavery is wrong?

“Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

Thanks for your time - as always, I enjoy reading your posts.


At Sun Aug 12, 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


It wasn't exactly "motive attribution", but I hope, obvious
sarcasm. I was just rereading one of Grudem's books today and it is laced with sarcasm. In fact, I have picked up some expresssions from it unwittingly!

Of course, I don't really think that anyone, even the most patriarchal men, want women to get AIDS! However, I actually know men who have told women to go home and bake pies for their abusive husbands. Unfortunately I have met men like that. This happens.

And truly I am not attributing any of this to people who self identify as complementarian. Really! You must not take this personally, it is the specific teaching of male authority that I hold up as a cause of pain and suffering in the life of women, not any person in particular, who may be entirely innocent.


Life is not ideal. There is no such thing as an ideal marriage. There is no such thing as a husband who is without self interest. If men did love their wives like Christ the church, men still make mistakes, as do women.

Look at Grudem, he is willing to claim that Gen 5:2 was always translated with "Man" and not "Adam" in every Bible known to him. But actually it wasn't done that way until 1952 - that was the first. Now imagine if you were going to submit to someone like that and you depended on someone who made errors like that to balance your check book, for example, or do your taxes for you - instead of doing it yourself. You would be in deep trouble with the law very soon.

I am actually not attributing anything negative to men, nothing at all. Men are like women - human. It is the power imbalance that is evil.

And church discipline is just not up to helping out because the first thing an abusive husband does is tell his wife that she is not allowed to tell others private things about their married life.

Anyway, as I say, I know the elder personally who thought the woman should bake pies. Do you really think that women should live in pain until men and the church achieve perfection, or should we initiate mutuality and reciprocity. Shouldn't we live by the command to "Love your other as yourself?" What is wrong with that command by the way? It is many times repeated in the scriptures. It is the most repeated and the most ignored teaching in the entire Bible.


That's a great point. In my opinion a slave should feel that he or she is living in a state of grave injustice. A slave should want to be free. But the slave must act within what is safe and possible.

However, a Christian should not be a slave owner. A Christian should either free his or her slaves, or act in some way that is in the very truly best interests of the slaves. A Christian should either be an activist against slavery, enable freedom or support and act against slavery in some way. It would not be enough to simply say "At least I don't beat my slaves." That is not the Christian way.

Likewise Christian men should offer equal treatment to women. That is what I think it means to be a Christian man. It is to know that you have the power to overrule and yet you decide not to, because that is the Christ-like thing to do. A Christian of any status will seek to honour and treat others as equals. In an intimate and paradigmatic Christian relationship, such as marriage, this should be acted out in its ideal form as mutuality and reciprocity. Of course, in other relationships people are not equal. But a husband and wife should seek to marry someone who is their true intellectual equal and then behave towards each other in that manner as a testimony to Christ's teaching about giving up power.

At Sun Aug 12, 09:11:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...


You said, "I did not slander complementarians."

With all due respect, you make a regular habit of this. It is your specialty. In fact, I'd say that you so often misrepresent complementarians that you are either unwilling to understand their position or something worse. I was aghast when I read this statement: "All those who voted that women should obey their husbands should have their heart warmed by these statistics."



At Sun Aug 12, 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I really didn't think that anyone would self identify with that statement. I purposefully did not use the term complementarian and I think there are plenty of complementarians who read that and weren't uncomfortable. They thought - well that isn't me, I am a nice guy - and they probably are. That is what I think.

However, thank you for sharing how this sounded to you.

I am still concerned that male entitlement is a root cause of disease and suffering for women. Doesn't that concern you?

At Mon Aug 13, 03:49:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne, in this case I agree with this other Jeremy. I do think the natural way to read what you said is that you were saying complementarians should delight in this suffering. (Whether it's sarcasm or not, that seems to me to be the natural way to read it.) You do often enough present complementarian views in terms that are more extreme than the view held by its best proponents, using language that sounds as if you think you're discussing the standard view. So when you speak of those who believe wives should obey their husbands, it's not surprising that people would take you as referring to complementarians in general.

If I saw a complementarian saying what you said in this post, I would still object pretty strongly, but I wouldn't think the person was referring to all complementarians or to a mainstream position. I'd just say that that one line is offensive to those who think wives should obey their husbands who do not think wives have no role of self-determination at all. But you do have a habit of referring to the mainstream complementarian view in terms that do not reflect that view. Perhaps a way to avoid this kind of misunderstanding is to make explicit statements that you're not talking about complementarianism in general but about a more extreme view. That seems to have been your intent, and making it clear will surely help your readers to see it more clearly.

At Mon Aug 13, 05:28:00 AM, Blogger DaveW said...


I am with you on this. Actually I go further. I am very disturbed by

a) the attempts to manipulate scripture to promote male authority

b) the bullying that happens to prevent the experience of women be heard

c) the denial of the dangers of teaching male authority, sadly something that I have seen the results of in my own ministry

d) the unwillingness to engage with evidence, such as we see here. that inequality in power and authority is dangerous.

e) the unwillingness to recognise the revolution in reading scripture that resulted in the abolition of the slavery. That revolution is taken for granted generally and it clearly showed the need to interpret individual verses within a wider framework/understanding of the gospel. In the case of male authority a huge case is built on a very small number of verses and conveniently ignores far more.

Just wanted you to know that others do agree with you.


At Mon Aug 13, 06:36:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

DaveW, I know too many people who came to their complementarianism reluctantly but because they were convinced that it is what scripture teaches. So I'd say to you what I said to Suzanne. What you said implies that complementarianism is purely from the desire to keep men in power, without regard to what scripture actually teaches. It implies that the exegetical and hermeneutical work complementarians have done is not genuinely intended to get to the bottom of what scripture teaches and what God wants but that it is purely for the sake of maintaining male authority. I know this is not the case for me, and I know it is not the case for most complementarians I know, certainly for many complementarian scholars.

This kind of rhetoric, like Suzanne's comment that she has now retracted, is very hard for me to see as consistent with a loving, Christian attitude toward those you disagree with. You may disapprove of the view. You may think it's not what scripture teaches. You may think it has harmful consequences. But do not try to tell me that people who hold such views are all doing so for such base purposes as what you suggest. I cannot reconcile such claims with Christian morality.

At Mon Aug 13, 09:43:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


There are many egalitarian teachings that I haven't even heard of and probably some of them are weird but do any of them exact this cost of pain and suffering and disease.

Now, why do I think that the teaching of the male authority movement is not Biblical. Mainly because so many of the premises as stated by the Danvers Statement, about men having strength and women receiving it are completely and totally extra-biblical. In fact, I believe that there are many complementarians, most of those here, and Waltke who self identify, but when I ask a specific question, using a statement from the Council o Biblical Manhood and Woamanhood they immediately agree that that is not in the Bible.

So we must come to the scriptures alone and realize that there is a movement that has nothing to do with the scriptures, that is importing notions like male representation back into the scriptures. This is dangerous. It supports the denial of women's own decision-making and it exacts an enormous cost of lives, and it is non biblical.

Let's see scriptural complementarians take an open stand against this becasue in the meantime women and children are dying. If you don't take a stand against it then you must be happy with the status quo. I am not. I am talking about real pain, real attacks, real deprivation, real depression and despair.

Let's pull together on this and go to the scripture. Is not " Love your neighbour as yourself" a standard and should it not extend between men and women?

What cost is there to putting this as a priority? What cost is there to treating women as equal?

As to what you say about exegesis. I have never yet read a complementarian exegesis that is not highly dependent on error. So I have assumed, maybe falsely, that the author wants to find the conclusions, that he/she has set out the conclusions first. I am constantly astonished at the consistency of the errors or wishful thinking.

Egalitarians are probably the same but I don't read much egalitarian exegesis, I know what I think, my life depends on my believing in my own ability to make decisions.

At Mon Aug 13, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Dave Warnock,

Thank you. What astonished me the most was that Carolyn admitted that she considered editing out the line about the denial of decision-making. Then she moderated my comments. Why can't complementarians dialogue with the truth. She was completely unwilling to engage at any level.

At Mon Aug 13, 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy P,

Forget you are a complementarian for just one minute and think about women in Africa. What should be taught in view of AIDS?

At Mon Aug 13, 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Complementarians are constantly having to explain that their view isn't this more extreme one, because egalitarians are constantly treating them as holding such a view. So they regularly take a stance against that kind of view. I myself posted about this about a year ago. I've mentioned it lots of times, but that was really the only point of that one post.

At Mon Aug 13, 06:58:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

But Jeremy, that is exactly why I didn't mention complementarians. I wrote "All those who voted that women should obey their husbands should have their heart warmed by these statistics."

If denial of decision-making power costs lives, then those who deny decision-making power to women have to face up to this. If you are not one of those people then you should be acting against that kind of teaching. You could be one of those "soft patriarchs" who provides for his wife and protects her. (I don't know what single women get out of complementarianism, that has yet to be revealed to me, but married women might benefit very much from the right kind of complementarian husband.)

As I said I did not mention complementarians. If you would like to define complementarianism and explain how it differs from the extreme view that I present that would be most welcome. But I specifically did not mention it.

If you use the "find on this page tool" you will find that it is you yourself who brought mainstream complementarians into this discussion not me. I am surpised that you yourself feel under attack. I just assumed you would not be one of those people who gives orders and expects to be obeyed. I don't think you are like that so I don't quite see why you are taking this stand.

What do you think should be taught to women worldwide to improve their physical and economic conditions?

At Wed Aug 22, 06:28:00 AM, Blogger David McKay said...

It is pleasing to see a complementarian point of view getting an airing on this blog.

I accept the right of the blog owners to present an egalitarian point of view, but am gratified to see these sensible, articulate posts from fellow complementarians.

I had previously formed the view that our views were not acceptable on this forum.


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