Tater Tot Feminism

Tots

Jory Micah had another response to my last blog post, and once again she proved herself able to handle a disagreement in a mature fashion. Kudos on going to an exegetical argument – that’s the place where this discussion can actually get some traction.

One possible confusion, however, is that I think Jory may be interacting with what she thinks is my view on gender roles, but which I myself would never claim. She seems to think that the fact that I disagree with feminism tells her all she needs to know about my position. But I grew up in Moscow, and Doug Wilson is my dad, and to be honest that’s like saying I grew up in Sherwood Forest. Lines are drawn a bit differently here and we don’t fit neatly into categories. People can shout all they want about Doug the Great Misogynist Oppressor, but he started the schools which his daughters attended, and he made sure that we had years of Latin and years of Greek and Physics and Logic and Classical History and Classical Lit and Church History and Philosophy and Apologetics and Doctrine and Rhetoric and Poetry. He raised his girls (who are now raising his grand-daughters) to argue and scrap and think for themselves and study and own businesses and write books and, yes, submit to their own husbands as to the Lord. But he also made dang sure that those husbands were worth submitting to. (I can hear the internet yelling already! Aagh! Courtship model! The injustice! Where are my smelling salts!?!)

But as far as Jory’s article goes, one contradiction jumped out at me right at the beginning – possibly because she put both statements in bold. The first was, “What I did not enjoy was your assumption that my feelings control how I interpret the Bible.” But a scarce three paragraphs later she said, “As much as you and I both don’t want to admit it, our feelings and experiences … will always creep into our interpretations of the Bible.” I’m not sure which one of these actually represents Jory’s view, so I’m not sure which to interact with. But it seems like what she’s trying to say is that we are all impeded by the fact that we see the Scriptures through the lens of our own finitude, and it’s only through careful study that we can transcend our subjective assumptions and move into a place where we are no longer hampered by feelings. Perhaps? I’m going to assume that’s where she’s coming from.

She goes on to say that she does understand that on the surface, Scripture appears to be teaching one thing about gender roles, and it’s only after “years of research” that we can let go of our pre-conceived notions and see the Scriptures for what they really are. In order to do this, she tells us, we need to put ourselves in the apostle Paul’s shoes and understand the context in which he he was writing. I somewhat agree. I teach Classical Lit and Classical History, and I’m constantly amazed by how relevant those subjects are in bringing more light to both the Old and the New Testaments. Nevertheless, the idea that Scripture is impenetrable – or worse, misleading – unless one has devoted years to academic study is a very dangerous idea. One of the great blessings of the Reformation was abolishing the separation of the common man from the Word of God. The Reformers heavily emphasized the perspicuity of Scripture – the understanding that “not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding.” It would be tragic, in my opinion, to regress back into the pre-Reformational notion that only trained professionals should be trusted with the Word of God. And to replace the church hierarchy with the Academy doesn’t make it any better. Claiming that your average Christian is unable to correctly understand God’s Word is – well – medieval. It is vital, in my view, that any Christian woman, in any century, in any part of the world, should be able to open her Bible and find in it clear teaching on how she should live without having to be a PhD candidate.

Jory also asks how I reconcile 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man,” with the fact that I teach high school boys. This, I think, diverts us into a different discussion which is more one of ecclesiology. I have no problem with teaching Anglo Saxon poetry to high school boys, and yes, I have students who are over 18. And that troubles me not one bit. Worse, I recently got up and spoke to the student body of New St. Andrews on the subject of women in education – and the audience contained not only all the male college students, but also all of the male faculty (including my father and my husband). So why do I draw the distinction between that and preaching? Because I don’t believe, as Jory appears to, that the office of preacher is a “human made idea” or that a sermon is just one person hogging the conversation. When the pastor steps into the pulpit (or cultural equivalent) during corporate worship, something very different is going on than the other interactions of believers throughout the week. The Sunday morning preaching – speaking as the oracles of God – is a far cry from, “Everyone take out your paper because we’re going to practice writing iambic pentameter,” or even – to my senior Apologetics class, “Open to Proverbs 26:4 and we’re going to discuss how this applies to Presuppositional Apologetics.” Obviously this brings with it a host of questions about application which would take far longer to thrash out – how about Wednesday Bible studies etc., but that’s a big subject for another time.

Jory then goes on to cite the various women in Scripture who did impressive things – and she seems to think that these women are a problem for my position. She even goes so far as to say, “The truth is that you don’t have the answers to these questions because no complementarian does.” I’m sorry, but that’s just silly. Let’s cruise the list and see if there are any answers.

Why did the apostle Paul praise Junia as outstanding along with many other female leaders in the New Testament?

Well first, because they were praiseworthy. And they did good work. For the gospel. And they should have done those things. Good job Junia! But I also think that Jory might have just done a bit of sleight of hand there with the “other female leaders.” That seems to assume what it needs to prove – and perhaps we’re speculating a bit much with no textual evidence if we’re trying to pretend that Junia and the other women were elders and preachers.

Why did he call women his co-workers in Philippians 4:3?

I’m sorry. Is this a trick question? Because they labored with him for the gospel. But it’s a bit naive to think everyone on a team plays the same position. Is the fact that they were co-laborers supposed to be proof that these women were elders and ministers? Is every soldier in an army a general? Is every player on a team the first baseman? Is every part of the body the eye? That just seems weird.

What about all the sociological / historical evidence that women hosted and led house churches in the first and second centuries?

That sounds interesting. What’s the sociological evidence? But further – how would we make the leap from “they did it in the early church” to “and they ought to have done that”? I mean, I can make a very strong case that those early churches whiffed it on a whole number of fronts. (Drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper, incest, etc.)  Why do we think that Paul had to write those instructions to Timothy in the first place? Presumably because it was a live issue that the early church needed sorted. Show me a woman preaching in the second century and I’ll show you a woman who shouldn’t have been.

Jory also makes the claim that the Greek word kephale (head) does not actually imply “authority” in other ancient texts. She has clearly done a lot of work on this question, and I have a feeling that I should read her thesis on it before trying to interact with that precise question since it’s obviously a much bigger discussion. But I can tell her how I personally think the word should be translated and what it should imply. Let’s just pretend the word used in Ephesians 5 for “head” was a hapax legomenon . . .  a one-off. Let’s pretend that we don’t know what it means, we have no other usages of it in the ancient world whatsoever, and the only thing the lexicons can do is point us back to this particular usage. I would argue that the context itself gives us a very clear understanding of what that word entails. Let’s just substitute “x” for “head” and see if we can figure out what it means.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the “x” of the wife, just as Christ is the “x” of the church.”

Hmm. Does “x” imply authority? Well, what is the text saying? Does Christ have authority over the church? Is the church supposed to submit to Christ? Is the wife supposed to submit to her husband? Is that kind of the point of the whole verse? Is this a complicated question? Do I need years of study and a lexicon to figure out what I’m supposed to do here?

Lastly, Jory claims that it’s quite audacious for me to “limit half the church.” But first, I’m not the one doing it – this was God’s idea not mine. And secondly, acting as if this is a limitation is just funny. It’s like just deciding in advance to be surly at the universe and look at everything in the grumpiest way possible. It’s like saying that sunflowers are being unfairly put upon because they can’t grow in window boxes. Or birds are being robbed of their opportunities because they can’t swim. Or men are being cruelly limited in their options because they can’t get pregnant.

There are loads of things I can’t do, and I can’t do them because God just didn’t make me that way. It’s a creational impossibility for me to be a contortionist, for instance, because my joints just don’t work that way. I couldn’t be an astro-physicist even if I wanted to because I flat don’t have the brains. There is no chance that I could be an opera singer because God didn’t give me that voice. And I can’t be a preacher because I’m not a man. But why on earth would I look at all the things I can’t do because of the way God made me (without even consulting me first of all the audacity!) and kick up a fuss about being limited? I’m not limited. There’s SO much in front of me, so much good work for me to do, and life’s too short for me to fit it all in. I can’t possibly get it all done. I could spend my time wishing that God had made me very tiny so that I could have been a gymnast and fussing about how limiting I find it that he instead made me 5’9”, and I could spend my time wishing that God had made me a man and feeling cruelly oppressed and resentful. I could devote my life to insisting that I be allowed to preach on Sundays . . . but all of these are ways that I could just take myself out of the game so that I can sit on the bench and feel sorry for myself and not actually contribute to the mission God gave us. But what I would prefer to do is to actually look at the work he has put in front of me, look at the tools he has handed me, tackle it, and try to make the most of what I’ve been given. The feminist agenda is just a total and complete failure of imagination, and a fussy one at that. There are cultures to build women! Get out there and do it!

Indulge me with one more metaphor. God has enrolled you in Le Cordon Bleu and bought you a ticket to Paris. But you’re sulking about it because you’ve seen people who cook tater tot casserole and that doesn’t seem fun to you. In fact, you find tater tots insulting. You have met patriarchy nerds who refused to let their wives cook anything else. You view tin foil pans and frozen tots with disdain. You don’t see why God would insist that you have to cook tater tot casserole for the rest of your life . . . so  you do word studies to prove that you shouldn’t be required to attend Le Cordon Bleu, and you staunchly refuse to go. You have kicked up a mutiny  and are devoting your life to debunking the tater tot, and finding other women who will stand bravely by your side in this fight for freedom.

But who is limiting whose options here? Whose imagination is it that can’t transcend tater tots? Well there are two groups actually, who can’t get beyond the tots. First, the mysoginists – who insist that’s all that women can be trusted with – and the feminists, who fight valiantly against Le Cordon Bleu’s despotic tater tot policies. But I guarantee you that if you would just get on that plane, tater tots would be the last thing you would find.

There’s a world to conquer ladies. There is a culture to build. The men can’t do it alone – just think of the mess they’d make of it. So step into your place in the shield wall and pick up the weapons God has given you. No, they’re not the same as the men’s . . . but as long as you’re fussing about that you’re going to be incredibly ineffective in this battle. Pick up your own weapons, and then don’t leave this life without leaving a mark.

But if you decide to sit this one out, if you decide that you’re not interested in taking dominion the way God has told you to, if you’re going to retreat from your place in the battle, then at least don’t pretend like you’re the one on the front lines.

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57 thoughts on “Tater Tot Feminism

  1. Many not only accuse you of fighting dirty, but at the same time accuse you of denying women the right to be fighters. Lewis may have said battles are ugly when women fight, but he gave Jill her bow and an important place in the very last battle. Man up, ladies! We are daughters of the King!

  2. “It’s like just deciding in advance to be surly at the universe and look at everything in the grumpiest way possible.” Yes! Kicking against the goads of our creature status is so joy-sucking. Wonderful post. Thank you. Again.

  3. Thanks for the response Rebekah. Praying about if the Lord is calling me to respond to this, but if He tells me no, God bless you in your journey sis! Lots of love to you and your fam, even if we are on opposite sides of this debate. See ya out there on the theological battlefield. ❤

  4. Kudos Rebekah! You say things the way I would if I wasn’t always worried about handling feminists with kid gloves. Thanks for showing how it can be done pointedly and with grace.

  5. Excellent work!

    Also: “He started the schools which his daughters attended, and he made sure that we had years of Latin and years of Greek and Physics and Logic and Classical History and Classical Lit and Church History and Philosophy and Apologetics and Doctrine and Rhetoric and Poetry. He raised his girls (who are now raising his grand-daughters) to argue and scrap and think for themselves and study and own businesses and write books and, yes, submit to their own husbands as to the Lord. But he also made dang sure that those husbands were worth submitting to.”

    I find this so motivating as I raise my own daughters.

  6. Well put. There is a much larger world than the one occupied by our assemblies in which we can use the gifts God gave us for his good pleasure.

  7. — Jory claims that it’s quite audacious for me to “limit half the church.” But first, I’m not the one doing it – this was God’s idea not mine. And secondly, acting as if this is a limitation is just funny … It’s like saying that sunflowers are being unfairly put upon because they can’t grow in window boxes. Or birds are being robbed of their opportunities because they can’t swim. Or men are being cruelly limited in their options because they can’t get pregnant. —

    1. It is not God’s idea to limit half the church. His idea, before the curse in Eden, was for men and women to be equal partners. As Jesus has done away with the curse, we are now able to live this ideal if we will. And we should.

    2. Acting as if the curse which was laid on humanity as a result of the Fall of Man and sin in this world is a limitation is not funny. It is appropriate. It was a terrible burden, and what is sad is that a certain subset of Christianity keeps teaching that we are still under this curse.

    3. All the examples of birds who can’t swim and men who can’t bear children are not relevant here: they are physically designed so they cannot do those things; a woman is not physically designed so that she can’t lead or teach. She is perfectly ABLE to do so. God intended for most birds to fly rather than swim and most males not to bear children … there is no such physical evidence he intended women not to teach, lead or preach.

    And as for your X factor … there are is more than the word “boss” or “authority” which will fit there: helper, servant and source come to mind. Jory has made the case (and you would do well to read her thesis) that by studying and understanding these passages in their context and in light of the Gospel and words of Jesus, we can know that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

  8. Great response! A very thorough take-down of the feminist position. Somehow feminists believe that if they don’t occupy the upper echelons of the church then they are mindlessly adrift in a sea of Patriarchy-unable to use their gifts, which your response thoroughly eviscerated.

    Another observation: I noticed that Jory is full of sugar-coated praise for women responders, but for me (and other men) it was “you’re a pest” and “hater!” which is odd since I was seeking to find common ground even though we had differences. Even after striking a reconciliatory tone with her she threatened me with blog excommunication. Not sure why (too much raw dude for her? Ha!) We all need to grow, I suppose (Phil 1:6). : )

  9. Ingrid,

    I thought your response to Jory on her blog was excellent. It was thoughtful and well-written and yes, a little long, but she could have responded to at least one point you made, but elected not to for some reason. I have found some of these feminists to be vicious little prairie dogs (not saying that about Jory) but have noticed her responses to me and other men have been a little terse.

  10. It’s not “limiting half the church” … it’s limiting 96% (just a guess) who are never ruling or teaching elders. (I don’t have a dog in the fight as whether women belong on the diaconate, and deeply respect people with both opinions).

    I absolutely believe, as a woman, that I could be President, a judge, a congresswoman, a cooking instructor, a dance instructor, a physics instructor, etc, etc. I personally would not take solo charge of a Bible or Apologetic class for high school boys or older, including teaching seminary or college classes. (of course my expertise is pretty much dance and cooking, so that isn’t an issue!)

    Just my three cents.

  11. First, let me say I am glad you and Jory are having a relatively polite discussion about this moving forward. I Already mentioned on your original post that I think you have a lot in common with many femenist thinkers even though you are perfectly within your right to decline to call yourself one! I was struck by your mention of how it is dangerous to assume that only scholars can interpret the Bible. This idea was VERY emphasized in my education growing up so I’ve been able to spend many years considering the idea of how the reformation and it’s ideas should affect the church today. While I agree with you– it would be sad if we reverted to printing the Bible in a special language that only a few could understand– I do think that the idea that individauls should be able to simply open and understand every single aspect of Biblical teaching automatically is also dangerous. Time and time again, we have seen human teaching and tradition use what the Bible “clearly said” to justify rather terrible things like racism and slavery. While the gospel message is clear and simple enough for anyone to understand, I believe it is essential for the church to continually and critically consider how we interpret and apply scripture. And not all of us can get M-Divs so I am personally gratefull for those who do a lot of the research leg-work. We as a church will not be made perfect until we as people are made perfect so the day we stop critiquing how the church uses scripture is the day we halt God’s abilit to grow us at all. We are called to be disciples– learning and growing in our understanding of God and his word is an essential part of that. I think perhaps you were being unfair in that critique since I am quite sure you yourself have spent a lot of time researching these topics and I have never seen Jory tell someone they had not right to speak because they weren’t AS educated– only that her extensive research has informed her oppinion. I am a big proponent of how scholarship can benefit the church and I think she is a prime example.

  12. Rebekah,

    You say that preaching and teaching are two different things. You go to great lengths, as a matter of fact, to illustrate the difference.

    A clear reading of 1 Tim 2:12 is ” I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man.” In Greek, the word translated as “teach” is διδάσκειν. If Paul had meant “I permit no woman to preach,” would he not have used κηρύσσειν? The distinction is obviously present in Matt 11:1 where the two verbs appear side by side.

  13. Greg,
    Thanks for the comment. The cynical side of me was tempted to think that perhaps she called you names and decided my post was too long to interact with (even though I really didn’t expect a response) because we were both offering evidence about complementian churches that doesn’t fit the narrative. But I don’t purpose to know what is in her head /heart… Just noticed the connection.

  14. I have enjoyed following this conversation and want to thank both you and Jory for taking the time to engage well with each other. I also want to thank you for your careful explanation of what complementarian femininity looks like for you, and as a passionate feminist I am thrilled to see such a beautifully progressive picture of how you were taught and are teaching others to live out their God-given callings. I love to hear that girls are being taught to lead, think, work, and contribute to culture, politics, business, and society. This is not the historic picture of complementarian practical lived theology (as I understand it), but I find it to be a very hopeful picture. I feel like I have a much better understanding of your perspective now and I appreciate it more, even if I continue to disagree with you significantly.

    Also, for the record, may I humbly say that I’ve been told I am a knock-out preacher. Most birds can’t swim, but I am a woman who can preach. You don’t have to believe me, but I am living proof anyway.

  15. I really enjoyed this! I also feel totally intimidated by your educational upbringing–WOW! If I can give my girls even a fraction of that foundation they’ll be okay! Thanks for posting!

  16. I think we are missing the point when we argue that “I’m a woman and I can preach. See, I have a mouth and a Bible!” But, more precisely, the argument is that women “may not” preach. I have no doubt that there are many women who have the skill, the passion, the knowledge, etc. Surely, there are many older, Titus 2 women in the church today that have a higher level of biblical knowledge than their 40-something year old pastors.
    But the argument as to why women “may not” preach is so much more then a debate over the word “head/authority” in one verse. The argument, as it always seems to, goes back to the beginning when Eve was deceived.
    Do we, fellow Christians, believe that God commands things for our good and his glory? Do we believe in Isaiah 61- that God wants to bless us with a beautiful headdress instead of ashes? Do we believe that a woman staying “silent” in the church is for our (women’s) good, even for our own protection?
    Do we believe that loving, honoring, and obeying our husband is for our own good? Do we believe that men going to war is good for us and that, likewise, women staying home and bearing children is also good? In fact, is it not beautiful, what God has called us to do as women? I’d dare to argue that what God has in mind for us is always better than what we have in mind for us.
    So, going back to Eve, was it not better for us, as women, that Adam took the fall for original sin? Was Adam not given to Eve for her own protection?
    Dear sisters in the faith, do you really believe that godly men who love the Word want to keep us from preaching? Or is it that they are trying to protect us from ourselves and from the burden of the pastorate? Are they attempting to keep us faithful to God’s Word? Could not their motivations be for good and not for evil?
    God has blessed me to trust God and those whom He has put as an authority over me. For that reason among many others, I have chosen to pursue “silence” in the church.
    God has a beautiful headdress for us when we give ourselves over to his calling for us in this life. Truly, when we allow men to be men and women to be women, society flourishes, children are built-up, and more importantly, God is glorified.

  17. I found it quite interesting that Jory leads and ends with emotional appeals in both responses, while she said didn’t enjoy reading Rebekah assuming that her feelings control how she interprets the Bible.

  18. God’s divine order and roles for men and women go back further than the fall. One only has to read the verse that follows 1 Timothy 2:12, and read 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 which is in context to 1 Corinthians 11:3. And the go-to verse of Galatians 3:28 is referring to salvation, not gender roles. Gods design certainly doesn’t imply that women are in any way inferior to men. I personally believe this issue is far bigger than a gender role one. I see the issue as one dealing with authority in general. Our culture is on the verge of anarchy simply because neither male or female want to submit to any authority whatsoever. You see it in every relationship. Man to God, women to men, children to parents, students to teachers, civilians to police officers and on and on. Great article, great conversation.

  19. Rebekah,
    I’m usually a quiet blog lurker, but this time I thought I should speak up – thanks for another excellent post! I enjoy your clear-headed, humorous, and practical perspective, whatever your topic is. A couple of my favorite parts this time:
    “It is vital, in my view, that any Christian woman, in any century, in any part of the world, should be able to open her Bible and find in it clear teaching on how she should live without having to be a PhD candidate.”
    “But why on earth would I look at all the things I can’t do because of the way God made me (without even consulting me first of all the audacity!) and kick up a fuss about being limited? I’m not limited. There’s SO much in front of me, so much good work for me to do, and life’s too short for me to fit it all in.”

    Amen! Thanks for the encouragement!

  20. I would also add, seeing clearly that the roles of men and women were set forth by God when He CREATED woman from man to be his helpmate supersedes the “cultural” argument that is so often used to add confusion to the mix.

  21. 1. I don’t see that Jory is saying that the “ordinary” Christian can’t be trusted with interpreting the Bible. The arrival of the Internet, freely available online study (much of it free) and online tools like BibleHub and BibleGateway have created, I would argue, the opportunity for a 2nd reformation, if one would only grasp it.

    2. Paul commends the Bereans for “searching the scriptures” to confirm the teaching they received. This is the charge for every believer.

    3. While I agree in general with “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense”, the plain sense doesn’t make sense in this case, because Paul teaches in one epistle that we are to mutually submit, then in another seems to say that only women must submit. Paul also seems to forbid woment to speak, but also speaks of women who prophesy. Instead of cherry-picking the verse that fits with our perspective, we should search out the matter.

    4. Rebeckah chose “oracles of God” to describe preaching. This is actually more the role of prophet, and indeed there were women who were prophets. Huldah, Anna, Philip’s daughters, to name a few. So, maybe use something else to describe preaching, if you are trying to say women need not apply.

    5. The “early church” argument only works when it supports what you like, eh? When countering the egalitarian position, proponents are quick to trot out the “whole of Christian history” as supporting their view. But we trot out something that seemed normal and was never condemned by any of the apostles or in any of the epistles, and we get our hands slapped. Hmmm.

  22. “Our culture is on the verge of anarchy simply because neither male or female want to submit to any authority whatsoever. You see it in every relationship. Man to God, women to men, children to parents, students to teachers, civilians to police officers and on and on. ”

    Jeremiah, do you believe that ALL men should have authority over ALL women? A wife and husband don’t have the same kind of relationship that children have with their parents: a wife is her husband’s partner and co-equal, not somebody beneath him (I have no problem with men and women being different). But leaving aside marriage, I’m asking as a single woman: do you think that all women, everywhere, are required to submit to all men?

  23. Bekah, thank you for being the voice for those of us who have had the unfortunate brush with feminism. Your responses have been both brilliant and scripturally grounded. There is no question that misogyny leaves deep wounding in its wake. But my husband is great at reminding me to never count out the Holy Spirit in another person’s life. And I have seen a man who struggled with misogyny for YEARS hear confrontation on the issue and repent. It was a day I never, ever thought would happen. So, not only can God rescue women from feminism; He can rescue men from misogyny. That’s good news for all of us.

  24. Phiippa, I’m not a proponent of chauvinism or feminism. I believe both stances miss the mark of God’s clear intentions declared in the scriptures. I believe the Bible makes it pretty clear that men are to be the spiritual leaders in the home and in the church. Do I believe all women are to submit to all men? Absolutely not. Again, submission by no means implies that the person submitting is inferior to the one in authority.

  25. Thanks for a clear reply, Jeremiah, I appreciate it. I’m egalitarian but I don’t lump all complementarians together in the ‘uber-patriarchy’ camp.

  26. Brilliant response Bekah! The interchange has really gotten down to the meat now, and provoked far more sane and thoughtful comments. Y’all have really gotten folks to think!

  27. Isn’t odd to say you can’t preach because God made you a woman, yet this while blog post is you preaching.

    You obviously have the education and talent for it, its not like not singing opera because you haven’t the vice for it. You do have the talent and necessary skills to be a preacher, and you do so–just not in the church in a pulpit, I guess.

    That is not God’s will, since He made you with the will and talent, but an arbitrary choice. It doesn’t make sense If the fruit of the tree is good, why cut it down? That’s what complementarians do. Even if a woman is a good preacher, knows the word, she is not allowed to preach.

    Christ said there is no man, no woman, no gentile no Jew, no slave no master…they are the same to Him, so why are you making distinctions?

    Just does not make sense and does not seem to come from God to me.

  28. Sorry for the typos. For some reason I can’t see the text while I’m typing it, only after its posted, and there is no editing option.

  29. I don’t often comment on blogs, but this was a really helpful post, thank you. I found your points clear, succinct and cogent, and they’ve clarified my thinking on the topic of women not teaching/preaching in church.

    My next question is something you touched on above – where should we draw the line with women teaching outside the church (both in secular settings like schools and universities, and in Christian settings like small groups)? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and what principles guide your decision making.

    I’d also be very interested to hear your thoughts on what career paths/job roles you think would be inappropriate for unmarried Christian women to pursue (I say ‘unmarried’ because presumably a married woman will be looking after her children rather than pursuing a career). This is something I’ve wondered about a lot, and would like clarity on in bringing up my daughter.

    Thanks again:)

  30. Lucy, Rebekah has already answered your question about women teaching outside the church. She teaches Anglo-Saxon poetry to teenage boys. Scripture is completely silent on secular roles for women, so it’s a moot poin. Which is why many complementarians have no problem with women teaching and leading in secular roles.

    As for ‘unsuitable’ careers for unmarried women, I can’t imagine what those might be. I would, for example, wish only to see a female doctor about gynaecological problems – wouldn’t you?

  31. Oh, Bekah – couldn’t resist the old argument from authority, could you? Well, mark me down as one who is less than impressed with your “impressive” classical education. You no doubt have western classical philosophy down pat, but you know what you’re missing? Everything else. I’d bet my life savings that every moment of your education was built off the foundation of western Christian reformed theology, and that any time you interacted with a different philosophical or religious perspective, it was to the end of deconstructing it with your massive Western Logic system. That must have been fun for you.

    Unfortunately, this brand of “scholarship”, in which you start from an iron-clad premise that can itself never truly be questioned or examined, is deeply flawed and never, ever breeds true scholarship. A person who learns this way is not truly learned. They are educated in a very specific and very narrow fashion, to be sure – but they are not learned. A person who learns this way fails to truly engage with ideas, because said ideas are always approached with a very specific agenda in mind.

    Just something to keep in mind next time you try to point to your educational background in order to give credibility to your argument. You’re no doubt a pro and what you know – but what you know and understand is extremely limited from a global, historical perspective.

  32. Paul’s letters to Timothy (1&2) were written for the purpose of instructing Timothy on how to lead the church at Ephesus through a heretical crisis. Read Acts 19 and you will see the what was going on in Ephesus when Paul left Timothy there. Research the history of Ephesus and how it was the home to the shrine of the pagan goddess Artemis (confirmed in the NT Acts 19). Simply read Paul’s own words at the beginning of the letter (1 Tim. 1:3-4). It is clear from the literary context that Paul is writing to address the heresy that is threatening to destroy the church and distorting the gospel. Paul did tell Timothy to limit the women of Ephesus but it was for that specific church and that specific time in order to weed out the women who were attempting to syncretize the gospel and the pagan worship of artemis. 1 Timothy 2:12 was not meant as a directive for all people for all time. If it was then women should also stop wearing gold jewelry, braided hair, and ought to purchase their clothing only from Walmart lest they wear anything too expensive (2:9). And lastly, the word that our Bibles translate as “authority” is the greek word “authentein.” And its the only time this strange little word is used in all of the New Testament. He usually penned the word ‘exousia’ for authority in other letters of the NT so why would he choose “authentein” here? Because he was not speaking of a regular and healthy exercise of authority. He was speaking about something else that women were doing in Ephesus, namely a domineering over men that was characteristic of the pagan worship of the goddess artemis. Ephesus is known in human history as home to the temple of artemis one of the 7 wonders of the world. Stop citing 1 Timothy as if it’s Paul’s instructions or God’s design for all time because it’s clearly not.

  33. @Emily

    Major eye ball roll…seriously? Your canon is definitely punchy, and I like a girl who can have impact. But yeah…I think you seriously need to recalibrate.

  34. Excellent post, I’m afraid Jory is not always so polite in my experience, and that of some female friends that she has interacted with. But when someone says “God told them to start this ministry” you know you are already in trouble, similar to her response here: “Thanks for the response Rebekah. Praying about if the Lord is calling me to respond to this, but if He tells me no” It’s really a subtle way of saying ‘God is on my side.’ I found her thesis to be pure eisegesis, it’s quite sad that a passionate woman can be so misdirected. Thank you for being a sound voice against false teaching.

  35. @ Allie- um….how, exactly? Care to share more? As someone who has, off and on, read this whole family’s writings for years now, I can say that this entire brood often argues from the perceived “authority” of their educational background – and it is maddening. I wholeheartedly wish that more of their readers would remind them that the western canon does not represent The Summit Of Education. Her hubris when speaking about her education is incredible.

    Heck, her hubris in this post, when talking about her entire family – “lines are drawn a bit differently here and we don’t fit neatly into categories” – is just WOW. The Wilsons – The Family Who Doesn’t Fit Neatly Into Categories. The narcissism is strong with this bunch.

  36. I see. So, you are, in fact, claiming that women are ontologically different from men despite all complementarian claims ever that women are only economically different, not ontologically so? If not, then you may want to either take a biology refresher or retract that entire section about how women can’t teach because birds can’t swim (actually, you might want to do either/both of those anyway, because yikes!).

  37. Hi Emily, I’m taking a collective look at the whole and while I understand that Bekah’s education may get under your skin…I couldn’t see what it had to do with the subject of her first post though. It seems like we have gone a long way from the message in that original post. And personally, since I really enjoyed that what she had to say, I was disappointed that you went after her like she was onto you. Perhaps you have never experienced a ‘chump’ situation as Bekah described…but I have. And when you have been under an ‘authority’ which is unbiblical and extreme the easiest thing to do is to totally flip and hit the other end of the spectrum. The Femina blog has constantly portrayed an example of balanced feminine Christianity. If Bekah was severe in her first post you might try and understand her firmness was against control freaks who will manipulate you to follow their agendas… and if you think their agenda stinks, it’s easy to want to sacrifice yourself and hurl yourself into the hands of an equally detestable feminist culture JUST to make a statement! Believe me- many of my peers who were just as ‘deceived’ as I was have done it. Perhaps you have felt this too? Unfortunately I glean from your words that you are probably just annoyed at the Wilsons for being…right? I know…when we feel like that it’s easy to want to find some mud and throw, throw, throw…but seriously. The truth does offend. The Wilsons aren’t the only ones allowed to get it right. We can too! Let me encourage you to keep an open heart to the Word of God and let Him lead us into all truth.

  38. I haven’t figured out what the two camps are fighting about.

    I do not see testimonies in chaste conversations coupled with fear, nor the older women teaching the younger to love their husbands and children, to be discrete, chaste, keepers of the home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of GOD be not blasphemed; from either camp.

    Maybe someone here could teach the other camp about Sound Doctrine and individual interpretation; all requirements in the BIBLE? How about Charity and stewardship within solicitations? Maybe we could teach that until you are ready to give up the world, take up your cross and follow HIM; you can never follow HIM?

    Both sides indiscriminately removes posts; breaching others rights and squelching the Holy Spirit; self justified by their individual ideologies. You can do and justify anything if you try hard enough; but this has nothing to do with HIM.

    Most of this has nothing to do with HIM; or serve any of HIS purposes for us. We are here for HIM; HE died not only for, but because of us. Such a Great Gift in Love was a bridge, not a crutch . The obvious and apparent; we ate the apple, broke the law, HE sacrificed his SON and that still was not enough. We know what has, is and will happen; HE told us. There is no room for speculation or excuses.

    “22 And some have compassion, making a difference. 23 And others save with fear; pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1). Maybe it is time we start doing as commanded? Especially if we read the first of the Chapter?

  39. @ Rick – just read it. If I ever need to induce vomiting by way of the written word, I now know to which text I’ll be turning.

    As for me and mine, we continue to prefer education served without the heaping, poisonous side-order of colonialism 😉

    @ Allie – insert eye-roll gif here. Yes, it must be that I categorically disagree with Bekah because deep down I am convicted of her truthiness. Because that is how disagreement works.

  40. This post is helpful, thanks! Checked your link to that patheos site. Only got through a few paragraphs, but my 2 year old is asking “why you laughing mom?” I don’t know your dad, but even I can tell that what they are saying is ridiculous. It’s like they decided they were going to target him and then started looking for reasons why.

  41. Well done, well argued. My own view is that the apostle Paul learned from the other apostles the things that they learned from Jesus. Therefore on the subject of women in the church, their gifts and roles, Jesus in fact did say things even though Jory argues that Jesus said nothing about it. However even if that is not the case, the apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the holy spirit not only gave a command that women should not teach in church ( which only applies to church), he then goes on to give the reason which is that it was Eve who was decieved and not adam. I find that people like Jory ignore that and when it is pointed out they distract by talking about adam and his sin, but Paul was saying that women are more intutive. In fact Jorys whole arguement is in itself proof that what Paul said was true. I also think that the true motivation behind Jorys arguement has nothing to do with Gods will but with personal ambition.

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