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Russell Moore and O. J. Simpson’s View on Gender Roles

June 12, 2007

I wanted to commend a resource that is extremely valuable to my wife and I. It is a organization that constantly teaches us, challenges us, and encourages us. Some of you are fully aware of it and others may have never even heard of it. It is The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). They also have a journal the JBMW, which is highly anticipated in our household and is the topic of my post. I have recently just finished their new Spring 2007 • Volume XII • Issue I. It was a fantastic issue and I wanted to comment on a few things, but before I do I wanted to mention that all previous issues are made available on their website and highly recommend the most previous one – Fall 2006 By Women For Woman. That issue was an extreme encouragement to my wife (and me as well). Ok, on to Spring 2007.

There were seven articles written in the last issue, but I wanted to comment on three (though they were all worth the read). First, I wanted to comment on Russell Moore’s O. J. Simpson is Not a Complementarian: Male Headship and Violence against Women. For some reason, every article I read of Moore has the most provocative title possible. Anyway, Moore confronts the accusation from Egalitarians that Complementarianism promotes spousal abuse. Moore argues that men who justify their abuse using evidence in Scripture referring to male headship are heretics. In fact male headship, Moore argues, is the exact opposite. “The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the Apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). I love Moore’s bold statement:

We must explicitly tell the women in our congregations, “A man who hits you has surrendered his headship, and that is the business of the civil state in enacting civil justice and of this church in enacting church discipline.” Church discipline against wife beaters must be clear and consistent. We must also stand with women against predatory men in areas of abandonment, divorce, and neglect. We must train up men, through godly mentoring as well as through biblical instruction, who will know that the model of a husband is a man who crucifies his selfish materialism, his libidinal fantasies, and his wrathful temper tantrums in order to care lovingly for his wife.

The biblical understanding of headship in Complementarianism does not promote spousal abuse, but spiritual growth and the proper picture of the gospel.

The second article I wanted to comment on was Ephesians 5:21 in Translation by Wayne Walden. This one was a bit more technical and it would probably help if the reader had some NT Greek background, but nevertheless I think that one who has little or no background in Greek would still gain from the article’s argument. The problem that Walden is facing is the problem of a proper translation of Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” The problem scholars face with this verse in commentaries and sermons is ‘How do we apply this verse when very shortly Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ?’ The Egalitarian would argue that since Paul says we should submit to one another, then husbands should submit to their wives in the same way wives should submit to their husbands – a mutual submission. Therefore, ridding husbands of any headship in the church or home. (You can read my article on “Headship” in Ephesians). Walden, however, argues that this is not a proper understanding of Ephesians 5:21 nor is it a proper translation. The “to one another” in the verse does not necessarily have to be “mutually reciprocal.” Meaning, that since the proceeding context begins a section showing who each person is in actual submission to (wives to husbands, Church to Christ, children to parents, slaves to masters), Ephesians 5:21 is not going to mean ‘masters be in submission to your slaves’ or ‘parents to their children’ simply because it says “submitting to one another.” Rather, Walden argues, the “to one-another” means “be-ing in subordination among yourselves” implying that we are to “Obey whom you are supposed to.” This of course is not going to fly well with Egalitarians, but I do think Walden creates a good argument for how we should apply Ephesians 5:21 to the rest of the passage.

The last article I wanted to comment on was A Review of Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent The Doctrine of the Trinity by Kevin Giles by Jason Hall. Jason Hall reviews Kevin Giles book and evaluates his argument that a Complementarian Evangelical view of the Trinity is heresy and is simply another form of Arianism. Giles argument is that the view that Jesus is “eternally subordinate in Person to the Father” makes him logically “eternally subordinate in nature” and therefore is just another reproduction of Arianism. I will not try to duplicate Hall’s evaluation and argument against Giles because of space and technicality, but basically Hall’s conclusion is that Giles has a misunderstanding of the Arianism heresy and he mis-characterizes his opponent’s argument.

If you do not subscribe to JBMW, I would whole-heartedly commend it to you. It is one of my favorite (and practical) scholarly journals I read.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve McKinzie permalink
    June 13, 2007 2:54 pm

    Thank you for recommending Walden’s article. You rightly note that he argues that the phrase ‘ “to one another” in the verse does not necessarily have to be “mutually reciprocal.”
    I would only point out that Walden’s position is the only one that really makes sense in the broad scheme of the epistle. When egualitarians contend for some sort of mutuality from the verse, they violate an obvious context. Paul would have us be submissive to one another — as Walden contends in a broad framework. It is as if he is saying, if you are a slave, submission looks like this. If you are a child, it resembles this. If you are a wife, here is how it works.

    He could have added (but didn’t) if you are a citizen, do this, or if you a member of a congregation under elders, here is how you submit. Submission for Paul is part of life. In a human context, it never, never implies inferiority. Rather, we have roles to play. That’s all. Go to it. Thanks again, Steve

  2. jbstarke permalink*
    June 13, 2007 5:24 pm

    Mr. Mckinzie – Thank you for the comment. I think you are right about Walden’s perspective being the only one that makes any sense of the context. And it makes sense in Paul’s submission to one’s government (Rom. 13) and elders. Submission certainly is a part of everyone’s life, especially the believer. Thank you for pointing that further application out. God bless!

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