Men and Women ... But Don't Forget the Men!
It was a great relief reading the Spring 2003 issue of CBMW. I've been really concerned for some time that the great focus of complementarians world-wide spearheaded by Grudem, Piper and friends has been to combat feminism. And what has worried me is that male chavinism seems to be a forgotten topic. The impression that comes across to me - a so-far "open but cautious" in this issue, is that women should and must be dealt with but men can behave how they like.
And to me, that is like a red rag to a bull to the feminists. Oh yes, they will say - the men can behave how they like because we're just told to submit! And what a valid point. The favourite verse of all time for complementarians; "Wives submit to your husbands" is in the context of; "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church". If we take those two together, the man definately has the bigger deal!
So in the CBMW Journal 2003, Steven Tracy, the VP from Phoenix Seminary wrote an excellent article called; "1 Corinthians 11:3 - A Correction to Distortions and Abuses of Male Headship". Some key quotes:
"If feminists have legitimate concerns, they must be fiercly addressed".
"Sadly while biblical complementarians oppose the abuse of male headship, they have been extremely slow to address specific issues of male abuse in a detailed fashion".
Footnoted: "For example, exceedingly few book length treatments of the abuse of male power seen in child abuse, sexual violence or domestic violence have been written by biblical complementarians whereas evangelical egalitarians and theologically liberal feminists have written hundreds of such books".
And quoting Donald Bloesch; "In opposing militant feminism however we must not make the mistake of enthroning patriarchial values that have often held women and children in bondage and oppression".
"He shall rule over you" (Gen 3:16) is no divine proscription but a tragic prediction of sin's effects on the human race".
"Male headship defined as harsh authoritarian domination of an inferior is a destructive heresy that may lead to sinful and immoral actions".
"Feminists rightly criticise the church for failing to protect women".
I am sincerely grateful for this article that goes a long way to restoring something of a balance in the complementarian view. Grudem may protest that biblically defined headship is assumed in his arguments, but in my experience nothing can be "assumed" in teaching, preaching and leadership in a church context. In medical terminology if something is not written down, then it did not happen - I believe the same principle can apply in theology - if something is not said, then it is not necessarily believed.
Praise God for example for C J Mahaney's book; "Sex, Romanance and the Glory of God" that calls men to "touch a woman's mind before he touches her body". More of this material is severely needed.