robhu
DG: Jesus Treated Women Differently 
13th Aug 2009, 11:51 pm
Ally: book
Over on the Desiring God blog there is a post about how Jesus treated women, which I think is worth reposting:
Fellow complementarians, try framing the gender debate in three categories instead of two.

Feminists and egalitarians love it when everything to their right is cast as one monolithic "complementarianism." But authentic complementarians need to highlight that there is not only sin to the left, but to the right as well. True biblical complementarity is neither feminism nor misogyny. It’s neither egalitarian nor patriarchal. Jesus plotted another course altogether, a third way that viewed gender “in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14).

Jesus had a different flavor of complementarity than many who try to pass under that sometimes unhelpful label. He didn’t cloak male chauvinism in the guise of complementarity, but had a different way of treating women than his first-century contemporaries.

Watch John Piper reflect on John 4:27 (“They marveled that he was talking with a woman”) and how Jesus treated women:


I think what he says is fantastic. It also much more closely represents what is complementarianism (and remember - John is one the founders of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, who defined the term) compared with the crude caricatures people often portray it as.
Comments 
14th Aug 2009, 12:41 am (local)
Complementarianism as I remember it from StAG (they didn't call it that back then, but it was pretty much the same idea AFAICT) is of course better than being the sort of Nice Guy who shoots up a gym because women don't like him even when he wears aftershave.

Still, the reason why I like to Googlebomb the word with a link to Houseplants of Gor (although I've not done so here, because I imagine you wouldn't like it) is because (a) there is still a power structure there which gives men more power (even though it's tempered with the desire to use it protectively), and (b) this odd idea that the whole thing is universal, a template for how men should be Real Men and women should be Real Women (and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri etc. etc.). You know who else thought both (a) and (b)? HitlerJohn Norman.

Of course, if that's how some people want to run a relationship, they're at liberty to do so, subject to the law of the land. Still, some people are going to say "YKINMK", and it's hard to argue they're wrong to do so, either.
14th Aug 2009, 12:56 am (local)
Complementarianism as I remember it from StAG (they didn't call it that back then, but it was pretty much the same idea AFAICT) is of course better than being the sort of Nice Guy who shoots up a gym because women don't like him even when he wears aftershave.
Of course. That's one of several points in the video.

(a) there is still a power structure there which gives men more power (even though it's tempered with the desire to use it protectively), and (b) this odd idea that the whole thing is universal, a template for how men should be Real Men and women should be Real Women (and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri etc. etc.)
I sort of agree with a - Piper refers to this in the video. God intends for men and women to be complementary - of equal value but with different roles. It is sad that the abuse of the roles God has ordained men to have has led to such hurt for women, and that things like feminism were (and are) still needed (although less so now than in the past).

With respect to b, the idea is only odd if you discount the Christian position entirely. If there is a God who created men and women to relate in a certain way and communicated something of that to us in the Bible, then it's not odd at all. Obviously an atheist (or someone who views everything as relative, or...) isn't going to find this anything other than odd (or worse), this needn't be stated.

You know who else thought both (a) and (b)? HitlerJohn Norman.
Yeah - I find this level of 'jokery' cheapens these kinds of discussions, and makes it less worthwhile engaging with you in discussion. I'm often on the edge of thinking that your contributions as comments in my blog are actually more negative in value than they are positive - which is a shame because I think you do have a lot to add to the discussions.

Of course, if that's how some people want to run a relationship, they're at liberty to do so, subject to the law of the land. Still, some people are going to say "YKINMK", and it's hard to argue they're wrong to do so, either.
Well, yeah. Complementarianism is not about imposing your view on your partner (which can happen from the direction of either gender). Complementarians believe they're meant to act out their obligation and role to their spouse regardless of whether the other partner acts as their supposed to. By which I mean for example, that when we are told that Husbands are to love their wife as Christ loved the church, with the kind of self sacrificial love that led to him giving up his life for her - that we are to love our wife as much as we can regardless of how loving they are towards us.
14th Aug 2009, 10:15 am (local)
If there is a God who created men and women to relate in a certain way and communicated something of that to us in the Bible, then it's not odd at all.

I thought you believed in evolution. How did God create men and women to relate in a certain way?

I guess there's also the question of why God would do that and create one sex (which also happens to be the one writing the scriptures) to have power over the other.

I'm often on the edge of thinking that your contributions as comments in my blog are actually more negative in value than they are positive - which is a shame because I think you do have a lot to add to the discussions.

I don't think I've made many comments on your LJ lately. You didn't like me criticising Anne Atkins with the silly hat icon? Anyway, I will try to refrain from joking in future.

Unjokingley, then, complementarianism perpetuates sexism, albeit an attenuated sort where it's done in the name of protecting women. Still, that "protection" seems patronising: there are situations where men need caring for, and situations where women need caring for, yet the emphasis is on the latter, the assumption being that women are weaker or less able to make good decisions.
14th Aug 2009, 10:40 am (local)
I thought you believed in evolution.
Yes I do believe in evolution, I believe that it is the means that God used to create humanity, as I think you did - and (I believe you said) most of the people at StAG did when you were there.

How did God create men and women to relate in a certain way?
I think you're reading my statement in a way that is subtley different to how I intended it. Let me decompose it a bit. I think that God created men and women, and (as a separate but related point) I think that God intends for men and women to relate in a certain way.

I guess there's also the question of why God would do that and create one sex (which also happens to be the one writing the scriptures) to have power over the other.
The image of the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage in the Bible is compared with that of Christ and his church. Christ is head of the church, he has 'power' over it - but his leadership is a servant leadership, he submits himself to the church to such a degree that he sacrificed his life for her. Leaving this out of any explanation of complementarianism leads to a heavy distortion of what complementarians believe (which is why I think it's good to listen to all the things Piper says for instance rather than cherry picking sentences here and there and being outraged at them in isolation). It has always seemed a good idea to me to argue from a position where the person you disagree with would happily agree with your characterisation of their position - in all the things you've written about complementarianism in the past I doubt any complementarian would think you've fairly represented them.

I don't think I've made many comments on your LJ lately. You didn't like me criticising Anne Atkins with the silly hat icon? Anyway, I will try to refrain from joking in future.
You haven't made any comments recently because I haven't posted recently :P It's not joking that I have a problem with (hey - I joke constantly), it's the interesting things you do say being lost in the noise of silly jokes or the hiding of unreasonable comparisons by comedy. For instance complementarianism isn't at all like Gor.
14th Aug 2009, 02:13 pm (local)
I think that God intends for men and women to relate in a certain way..

Is there a reason why God intends that? I suppose I thought your argument was that God design humans so that things would work better if men and women related in that way, hence my question about how you think that fits with evolution. But it seems that isn't quite what you're saying.

in all the things you've written about complementarianism in the past I doubt any complementarian would think you've fairly represented them.

I've not mentioned complementarians much. When I have, I'm usually mocking complementarianism's inherent sexism rather than debating whether sexism is a good thing. I think mocking sexism is a good thing!
14th Aug 2009, 02:21 pm (local)
Is there a reason why God intends that?
I suppose there could be a lot of reasons.

It could be that people are happier if they work like that, it could be that things get done in a better way if those principles are followed, it could be that things about gender roles fit better with many people's emotions, it could be that God wants mankind to mirror some of his divine attributes - and this way of men loving their wives sacrificially that is detailed in the Bible mirrors Christ and the church.

Maybe some of the above, maybe other reasons - I just know that God says that's how we're supposed to relate, and it makes me angry when people (like you) say that what God says about how we are to relate is the same as what is written in the Gor books.

When I have, I'm usually mocking complementarianism's inherent sexism rather than debating whether sexism is a good thing. I think mocking sexism is a good thing!
I wondered exactly what sexism meant, so I asked WP:
"Sexism, a term coined in the mid-20th century, refers to the belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other. It can also refer to hatred of, or prejudice towards, either sex as a whole (see misogyny and misandry), or the application of stereotypes of masculinity in relation to men, or of femininity in relation to women."
Complementarians do not think that women are inferior to men, they think that men and women are equal in value with different roles which are complementary. Certainly there is no hatred of women.
15th Aug 2009, 02:16 am (local)
It seems odd to adopt an entire stance on relationships without knowing why. There are situations where trusting someone else and doing something they said without knowing why would be the only way to do it (for example, in an urgent situation where there wasn't time to explain, or if the explanation was just too complicated), but they don't seem to apply here. The bit of reading around I did starting at WP's complementarianism article suggested that complementarians link it to creation and doing as God designed, but maybe there aren't a lot of non-creationist complementarians.

I wondered exactly what sexism meant

Complementarianism seems to fall into the "less competent" (or at least, acting as if women were less competent for mysterious reasons), and the "stereotypes of masculinity/femininity" aspects of sexism.

I doubt anyone finding themselves at Houseplants of Gor from the couple of links I've put up to it would think "aha, Paul thinks that complementarianism is just like advocating female slavery". Houseplants is a send-up of Norman's apparent conviction that these roles for men and women are good and natural and right, and in fact give people fulfilment they cannot find in egalitarian societies. This also seems to be the conviction of complementarians, although luckily they don't share Norman's ideas of what the roles are.

You're angry at mocking religion. I'm a bit angry (though not very angry, because it's clear from my reading around LJ that I'm Not A True Feminist) at using "God told me to do it (but didn't say why)" to license sexism (albeit of a form which is better than shooting up gyms).

I think that, say, removing those links would be giving religion an exaggerated respect it does not deserve (since I don't think anyone would expect me to do so if complementarianism were a political position, say). I'm happy enough to use the joke to indicate that I don't respect complementarianism.

Edited at 2009-08-15 02:20 am (local)
15th Aug 2009, 09:53 am (local)
It seems odd to adopt an entire stance on relationships without knowing why.
If a friend of yours worked in a nuclear power station but wasn't a nuclear physicist would you lambast them for wearing the safety clothing and following the procedures of the scientists and engineers who created the power station? Would you say it was odd for them to follow what the creators said without unpicking why themselves? No, that would be ridiculous.

Primarily I want to have a complementarian marriage because I think the principles of complementarianism are what the Bible (i.e. the creator) wrote down for us as guidance on how to do things. I have some ideas about why those things are (I listed some of them).

The bit of reading around I did starting at WP's complementarianism article suggested that complementarians link it to creation and doing as God designed, but maybe there aren't a lot of non-creationist complementarians.
Complementarian theology would say that there are aspects of the creation account in Genesis which bear here, but their understanding would not be limited to that - they would see the principles they espouse running through the whole of the Bible leading to specific statements about marriage being given in the epistles. I have no idea how many non-young-earth creationist complementarians there are, but Evangelicals don't cut Genesis 1-3 out of their Bibles if they believe in evolution, so I don't see how that would have a significant bearing on their views.

Complementarianism seems to fall into the "less competent" (or at least, acting as if women were less competent for mysterious reasons), and the "stereotypes of masculinity/femininity" aspects of sexism.
Some complementarians may think that women are less competent at certain things than others, I don't know - but at least when referring to leadership within the church CBMW repeatedly point out that their reasoning is not based on giftedness or capability, but on how they think that God wants them to relate. So I don't think it's about competency. Consider the example of the Levites - they were the tribe of priests in the Old Testament, and people who took their place as the priests got zapped by God because they weren't mean to be doing it. Why did God pick the Levites? Were the other tribes incapable of being priests? I doubt that's why, but whatever the reasons were they weren't about capability.

If sexism is referring to stereotypes then complementarianism isn't undoubtedly going to have to be referred to as sexist because I suspect that stereotype is a code word that allows one to argue that anyone that does not hold to the current majority view is a sexist.

If you want to know what complementarians must minimally believe (according to CBMW) then take a look at The Danvers Statement.

You're angry at mocking religion.
I'm annoyed that you have a particular way of misrepresenting people which you pass off as comedy. I engage with people quite a lot about Christianity but you're the only person who consistently annoys me - perhaps you just know how to push my buttons (or do so unintentionally). I want to discuss things with people here, but I find doing it with you very draining. Perhaps the best thing would be if you just didn't comment here anymore.
15th Aug 2009, 01:44 pm (local)
I would expect the power station physicists to be able to explain the safety procedures in a way that the non-physicists could understand, if the non-physicists were interested. The non-physicists might not be, of course, but personally, I'm generally interested in why I ought to do stuff.

I think you're right to say that some hierarchies are made for convenience rather than indicating who is more competent. Nevertheless, when the hierarchy is made so that a class of people who have historically got the rough end of the stick always just happen to be the ones on the bottom, and the people who wrote the rules just happen to be on top, you do wonder about the people who wrote the rules.

Perhaps people are de-sensitised to it a bit because sweeping statements about gender are part of every day conversation ("men, eh?"). Let me try another analogy (which I stress is an analogy before you think I'm accusing complementarians of racism as well as sexism). To me, complementarianism is analogous to this: "Black people are equal to white people in status and dignity and made in the image of God. Nevertheless, it is God's desire that black people should submit to the loving, sacrificial leadership of white people. Complementarianism means finding a third way between modern equality and the racist abuses of the past." Clearly, in this racial complementarianism, there's no racism, right? Racial complementarian white people don't hate black people, and God could, perhaps, just as easily have picked black people as leaders.

I'm annoyed that you have a particular way of misrepresenting people which you pass off as comedy.

Except that I've said that I don't think complementarians are just like Goreans, and I don't intend my readers to think that either. What I intend to do is mock an immoral doctrine (which I largely do on my own LJ, not here, where I'm slightly more careful).
17th Aug 2009, 01:54 pm (local)
I would expect the power station physicists to be able to explain the safety procedures in a way that the non-physicists could understand, if the non-physicists were interested. The non-physicists might not be, of course, but personally, I'm generally interested in why I ought to do stuff.
What you said was "It seems odd to adopt an entire stance on relationships without knowing why". I told you, I know why - I do so because God says to do things that way. In the analogy I do it because the designer of the power station tells me to do it that way. I think I know some of the reasons why (which I listed above) - but I haven't dedicated the time to get more detailed or certain answers because it's not necessary for me to do so. I trust that the 'designer of the power station' knows what's best.

Nevertheless, when the hierarchy is made so that a class of people who have historically got the rough end of the stick always just happen to be the ones on the bottom, and the people who wrote the rules just happen to be on top, you do wonder about the people who wrote the rules.
As you well know, Christians (who are the only people this stuff applies to anyway) think that the scriptures have dual authorship, being written by both God and men. What you really have to wonder about is why it is that the men (like Jesus) did treat the women so well, in such a different way compared to their culture that other men would 'marvel' at such actions.

Clearly, in this racial complementarianism, there's no racism, right? Racial complementarian white people don't hate black people, and God could, perhaps, just as easily have picked black people as leaders.
What an incredibly inappropriate analogy. There haven't been any examples of loving sacrificial leadership by white people, but there have been many such examples between Christian men and women in marriage. You didn't pick white people and black people at random. Despite claiming that you're not accusing complementarians of racism, you're hoping that there's some resonance with the terrible racism of the past by using such a horrific analogy - which you cement by linking to a poem that was written to justify white imperialism. I've repeatedly asked you not to do this kind of thing - everyone else seems able to disagree and debate in a reasonable fashion, but you've not listened - so I'm sorry but you've lost your privilege to comment here.
17th Aug 2009, 06:50 pm (local)
What you really have to wonder about is why it is that the men (like Jesus) did treat the women so well, in such a different way compared to their culture that other men would 'marvel' at such actions.

Maybe the culture men like Jesus came from had a holy book that was written by a more sexist god.
14th Aug 2009, 10:40 am (local)
the assumption being that women are weaker or less able to make good decisions.
I don't think the assumption is that - the assumption (which is correct) is that the Bible states that God intends for men and women to relate to each other differently. This might be reflected in our physical characteristics, but that's not the cause of the reason for why we are meant to relate in that way.

With respect to men needing caring for sometimes - well yes, definitely - and the complementarian stuff which I read, because it places such a high emphasis on what the Bible says rather than our own human generated wisdom that we believe that men and women are meant to love one another - particularly in marriage.

Perhaps there is an emphasis on men needing to 'do' more than women - certainly men are the ones who are called to love as Christ loved the church (which seems to me to be a more difficult and 'higher' requirement) - and men clearly need to be told more about what they need to do. Look at the bit in Ephesians 5 for instance:
21And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

25For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30And we are members of his body.

31As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
One of the striking things in that passage is how much more is said to the Husbands about how they are meant to be self sacrificial in love - the husbands get told a lot more, is it because they are called to something more, or because men need more correction to live in a Godly way? I suspect both, and the abuses against women in history definitely confirm the latter.

It is Bible passages like this one that lead men like C.S. Lewis to write:
The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church—read on—and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25).

This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the church has no beauty but what the bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely.
The chrism [anointing, consecration] of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man's marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of the bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence.
As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labors to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a King Cophetua who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears. (The Four Loves, 105-106)


Edited at 2009-08-14 10:41 am (local)
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