Calvin on Men as Heads in General

Recently I got in an online discussion about patriarchy. I was told that “Patriarchy is NOT the historic teaching of the church.”  Whether this is right or wrong depends to a large degree on the definition of patriarchy. In the discussion patriarchy was defined as women submitting to men in general. It was assumed that wives should submit to husbands and that women could not be pastors. But men do not have a headship over women in general. By the logic put forth in other discussions, if this was the case, we would find men ordering women around everywhere they went.

There are several issue at play here. But in this post I simply want to quote John Calvin who clearly does assert that men are heads of women in general. And I doubt this led to the men in Geneva ordering all the women around.  This quote comes from a sermon on I Corinthians 11:4-10.

Now St. Paul is not speaking here of individuals, or of particular households. Rather he has divided the human race into two parts, as was indicated in the previous sermon. So there is the male, and the female. I say this, because even though a man may not be married, he still has this privilege of nature: he is a head. Of whom? Of women, because we are not merely to examine one house, but the order that God has established in the world. In the case of a widow, or of a young woman who has yet to marry, the subjection of which St. Paul is speaking still pertains to them. Why? Because it applies to the entire feminine sex…From this we see the stupidity of some who have expounded this text of St. Paul as if it referred only to married women. For, as I have already indicated, he is not dealing with each individual in particular, but with the general order.

You may disagree with Calvin. I do not. However, that is not the point. The point is a historical one. Calvin clearly did hold to the general submission of women to men. He did not restrict it to wives and husbands only. He says the same thing in his commentary on this passage.

Does this make women less than men? Are they not also made in the image of God? Does Christ relate to men in the same way as women? See this blog post where Calvin affirms that women are made in the image of God and salvation is fully their’s in the same way it belongs to men. In Christ, we are equal and all are made in the image of God. But “in this passing life” [Calvin’s term] there is a need for order. And God created men to rule.

 

Dalrymple Takes Down Woolf

Our CultureTheodore Dalrymple is the pen name of a retired British doctor who worked in a prison and a low-income hospital, as well as in Africa. He is a also a writer, a very good writer. I am currently reading his book Our Culture, What’s Left of It. It is a series of essay on various topics. All budding short essay writers would do themselves a great service by reading the opening and closing paragraphs of each essay. He does a great job of introducing and concluding his writings.

Anyway, I am currently reading the essay title “The Rage of Virginia Woolf”, which  could be titled “The Rage of Every Die-Hard Feminist.” Virginia Woolf is a feminist heroine, whose novels are standard works in literature departments as well as women’s studies departments around the Western world. Dalrymple does not think Mrs. Woolf did much to help advance civilization, despite the love she gets from the intellectual elites in the West. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the essay.

[Mrs. Woolf’s book Three Guineas] is a locus classicus of self-pity and victimhood as a genre itself…The book might be better titled: How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved.

As a female member of the British upper middle class and one of what she called “the daughters of educated men,” she felt both socially superior to the rest of the world and peculiarly, indeed uniquely, put upon.

No interpretation of events, trends, or feelings is too silly or contradictory for Mrs. Woolf if it helps to fan her resentment…As ever wanting it both ways, she complains at one moment of exclusion and at the next, that inclusion is not worthwhile. She is like a humorless version of Groucho Marx, who did not want to be the member of any club that would accept him. What is a joke for Groucho Marx is serious political philosophy for Virginia Woolf.

Resentment playing so large a part in Mrs. Woolf’s mental economy, much of her intellectual effort went into justifying it. She is thus a very modern figure indeed, even though she died sixty years ago. Her lack of recognition that anything had ever been achieved or created before her advent that was worthy of protection or preservation is all but absolute along with her egotism.

For Mrs. Woolf, loyalty to herself was the only real, true loyalty.

It comes as no surprise that a thinker (or perhaps I should say a feeler) such as Mrs. Woolf, with her emotional and intellectual dishonesty, should collapse all relevant moral distinctions, a technique vital to all schools of resentment.

If the good life is a matter of judgment, the war [WWII] proved that all her adult life she had none. My mother, with her wrench by day and helmet by night [T.D.’s mother was a firewatcher at night and mechanic during the day during WWII] did more for civilization…than Mrs. Woolf had ever done, with her jeweled prose disguising her narcissistic rage.

Had Mrs. Woolf survived to our time, however, she would at least have had the satisfaction of observing her cast of mind-shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, and ultimately brutal-had triumphed among the elites of the Western world.

 

Conservative Moms & Stunted Masculinity

Weak Man 1

Earlier in the week I sent this Tweet:

As with most Tweets it lacks clarification and nuance. A friend of my said as much, so I decided to post a follow up explaining what I meant. By conservative, I mean religiously conservative, not politically. The description below will flesh that out a bit.

I have been a pastor in a conservative church in a conservative denomination for almost ten years. I home school and interact with the homeschooling community frequently. I have a wife and six boys. The point I made in my Tweet is one that I have seen in my own home, church, and denomination, as well as other conservative communities. Boys can have a hard time becoming men in conservative settings. The problem is not universal. Many, maybe even most, conservative moms and dads are doing a good job raising masculine boys. But the problem is not rare either.  This is not just the fault of these moms, of course. The culture, both broadly and in our churches, pastors, and dads all share the blame. However, mothers can and do undermine masculinity in boys.

Why did I single out conservative moms instead of liberal ones? Well first that is my audience. I would rather preach to the individuals I know than the masses I don’t know. But also because they have a difficult time seeing the part they play in the emasculation of their own boys. Conservative moms view themselves as going against the flow and fighting against the feminism in our culture. Many of them are stay at home moms or part time stay at home moms who have rejected a career to raise children. Most home school or send their kids to private school. They go to worship and are active in their church. They submit to their husbands. They read their Bible and pray. They dress modestly. These are all good things.  But as Doug Wilson has taught me when you go to algebra class you get equations. When you go to biology class you get problems about dissecting frogs. And when you have conservative Christian mothers you get women who do not see how they could possibly be a blockade to manliness in their boys and husband. They are the ones doing it “right.” These women are the ones least likely to believe they are the problem. I know many conservative mothers who are doing well at raising boys. But in conservative churches this is an issue and pastors ignore it to their own peril.  Continue reading

Why a Conservative Interpretation of I Timothy 2:11-12 is Not Enough

1Timothy

Attacks on Scripture must be defended by exegesis of specific passages. For example, hammering out the meaning of I Timothy 2:11-12 and the surrounding verses is an essential exercise in dealing with men who want to subvert God’s teaching concerning women pastors and elders. But correct interpretation of key passages is not sufficient. Exegesis of specific passages must be placed in the overarching paradigm of Scripture and the created world. Is I Timothy 2:11-12 an extension of the way God made the world, the creation order applied to leadership and teaching in the church, or is it the exception to God’s created order? How we answer this question will probably have more impact on our view of ordaining women than the specific exegesis of the passage.

If we believe that men and women are interchangeable then a conservative interpretation of I Timothy 2:11-12 does not make sense. Why would God restrict women in the pulpit, but no where else? If men and women are interchangeable in the created world as a whole, in places such as homes, businesses, politics, parenting, seminaries, etc. then why would they not be interchangeable in the church? A man can hold to the conservative interpretation of I Timothy 2:11-12, but if his position is egalitarian everywhere else then he is putting a square peg in a round hole. He is saying that God randomly decided women shouldn’t preach while everywhere else men and women are the same. Eventually something has to give. Usually the first generation holds the line despite the incongruity. But the following generation will often smooth out the square peg, which usually means denying the plain teaching of a passage.

But if God made men and women for complementary, but distinct roles in creation then I Timothy 2:11-12 fits with the way God created the world. If men and women are not interchangeable then the conservative interpretation of this passage (and many others such as I Corinthians 11:3-16, Ephesians 5:22-33) is not odd or strange, but naturally flow with the teaching of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation and with nature and created order. It is round peg in a round hole. What Paul says in this passage is what we would expect him to say given the rest of Scripture and the world we see around us.

My point is simple and applies to other areas of interpretation as well, such what is love or marriage in the sodomy debates. We should exegete specific passages, but we must do so using all of Scripture as well as nature, not just the specific passage in question. We should not assume that the correct interpretation of a passage is enough. Even if we get I Timothy 2:11-12 correct, if our paradigm is off then feminism will win. A conservative interpretation of this passage that is not rooted in creation order cannot hold the line.

This is a repost with some slight revisions from May of 2015. 

Book Review: The Christian Family by Herman Bavinck

The Christian FamilyThe Christian Family by Herman Bavinck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.

First, Bavinck wrote (1908) as some of the great transitions in family life and society were taking place. This included the movement away from an agrarian culture, the advancement of women’s rights, increase in divorce, the allure of Marxism/socialism, the industrial revolution, and the push of evolutionary theory. This book gives you a window into the mind of a great Christian theologian during a period of drastic change.

Second, Bavinck sticks to principles while acknowledging that application can change. For example, he notes that women are working in various fields. He says that may be inevitable. But then he goes on to say that women should obtain jobs that line up with their central vocation, being wives and mothers. He also encourages women to be trained as housekeepers first and then in a vocation second. In keeping with this idea, he says that once puberty hits women should be educated differently than men. He keeps motherhood and being a wife at the center while acknowledging certain realities of modern life. He also does a good job of acknowledging that sin exists in all ages and yet each age does bring unique challenges.

Third, there was a lot more discussion of the state and society than one might think in a book like this. He discusses how dangerous the state takeover of a child’s education is. He also says that the state educating children allows a woman to leave the home more easily. He also discusses private property, communal property, and the movement into the cities.

Fourth, he is unashamedly patriarchal. He calls women to obey and submit to their husbands. He says husbands are the masters of their homes.

Finally, he is a great writer. Part of this is due to the translator, Nelson Kloosterman,  since Bavinck originally wrote in Dutch. Many sentences and paragraphs are a joy to read not just because of the content, but because of the way he says it.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is quite different from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Daddy Tried by Tim Bayly

Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of FatherhoodDaddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood by Tim Bayly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pastor Bayly has been a great influence on me over the years through his blog and I am grateful for this book. Fatherhood is so misunderstood and maligned in our culture. With warmth, love, wisdom, and the occasional punch Pastor Bayly takes us through what fatherhood is and who our good Father is. I love books where the author just believes what the Bible says. Too many nickel and dime the Bible until it means very little. Also the book “steeled my spine” as Dr. Frame says in the endorsement. I came away sorry for my sins as a father, grateful for the grace of Christ, and ready to dig in and get to work with courage and trust in God.

I really enjoyed his chapter on discipline. I have nine children with a tenth on the way. Discipline is hard and time consuming. It is easy to get slack in the task. His reminder that discipline is love was sorely needed.

His chapter on fathers in the gates was convicting as well. I make too many excuses for not being involved in the community. Pastor Bayly exposes those and encourages us men to find ways to get involved in our community.

Finally, I loved the tender affection for God and others that is woven throughout the book. Christians fathers should be known for their love, their physical affection with their children, their wife, and their friends. We should be known for our tears and our passion. Pastor Bayly doesn’t just exhort us to Christian affection, he shows it in the way the book is written. I can imagine that many of these ideas have been spoken dozens of times in pastoral counseling, over coffee, or after church in the parking lot. He shepherds us fathers as we read. I highly recommend it for all fathers, sons, grandfathers, pastors, and elders.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 4.1 is quite different from 4.9.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

View all my reviews

Women Staying at Home Not Sinful…Yet

 

FireChristianity Today continues to play the whore with our Babylonian culture.  The Atlantic just published an article where they interviewed Katelyn Beaty, the managing editor of Christianity Today, about her new book A Woman’s Place.  The article was written by Jonathan Merritt, in case you are wondering. Apparently Ms. Beaty has moved from considering work outside the home as a option to work outside the home as mandatory. Here are a few quotes from the article.  All the sentences with quote marks are from Beaty. The big block quotes are from the article.

Her new book, A Woman’s Place, claims to reveal “the surprising truth about why God intends every woman to work.”

Now you might think the “work” means work outside the home and inside the home, right? Right? Surely  bringing up immortal souls made in the image of God day after day is work? No. Let me translate this: “God intends every woman to work outside the home.”

After carefully studying the scriptures, she concluded “there is a very strong biblical argument for the notion that women and men are equal in worth and dignity.”

Ah yes, that careful study of the Bible where we find things that have always been there and then twist them to mean things they have never meant so that we can push our own agenda which will destroy families, women, children, culture, and churches. Apparently, she has never read any book by anyone who holds to traditional male/female roles. If she did she would know we all affirm this and have for quite some time. But alas, the echo chamber of  feminism requires you to read “equal in worth and dignity” as women are men and men are women. Glory only comes when we are all the same. And then comes the great slap at all mothers everywhere.  Continue reading