Are complementarians power freaks?

Are complementarians power freaks?

Are complementarians power freaks? On Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Are complementarians power freaks? Complementarians are people who believe God created men to be in authority over women. Tom has written very strong criticism about me saying that I believe all complementaries are power freaks. I am answering publicly through a post because I believe it may be helpful to some to see both sides and answers to comments are not easily found. Seeing the accusation and my answer allows the reader the opportunity to determine which facts hold up to the test of truth. To see the previous parts of this discussion see below:

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Here is the third part of Tom’s criticism.

Tom’s criticism

Cheryl,

I think you should carefully consider what I said. Because the attitude displayed toward those who have faithfully translated the Scriptures was so harsh, so stereotyping, and so based in an ignorance of the facts at hand, that it is not at all unwarranted to suggest bigotry. Perhaps you are so convinced of your point of view that you do not see the unloving attitude you and others posting on this blog have toward those who sincerely take the Scripture at face value in this area. Like many of the issues which divide the Church, it is those who insist on adding to the plain statements of Scripture who are the source and continuance of division. That is what Catholicism is–additions to the Word. That is what Calvinism is–additions to the Scripture. That is what Pentecostalism is–additions to Scripture. The list includes all the denominations. You boil it down, they almost all have some areas where they are sticking the Word of God as-is, but at least some area they insist on adding to it. Your version of God’s teaching on women is the same. You have to add to, interpret, appeal to “cultural matters”, get into the “intent of the human author” etc, etc, etc. Rather than the plain statements of Scriptures. Such as, “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything”; and “I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”; and “Let your women learn in silence with all subjection…and if they will ask anything, let them ask their husbands at home”. Etc.

For someone to take these at face value should not be greeted with the–yes, bigoted–reaction I find here. You really need to take a heart check. Can you not see that the motives of someone who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and who has given himself totally to God, forsaking all, to have a bad motive for simply wanting to believe and practice the Scripture as-is? THAT is what some of the writers on this blog need to consider, and why I really think you should consider your heart attitude–because you are so confident you know the heart motive of a whole class of people. And THAT IS the definition of bigotry. I mean, think about it: what makes for racial bigotry? Its when one racial group views all others of another racial group in a negative way, without knowing them. You know, statements that reveal bigotry a such as: “all whites are greedy”, “all Japanese are bloodthirsty”, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”, “all blacks are lazy”, etc. So what is the difference between these kinds of statements and “anyone who believes woman should be subject to man in the family and in the Church is just a power freak?” Which is the attitude you portray.

I love God. I am just a miserable sinner saved by grace. My life is not my own. His Word is to be obeyed. If he had said, “Men shall submit to women in the Church and not teach”, I would delight in doing that for my Lord. If He had said, “it is a shame for a man to pray uncovered”, I would delight in wearing a covering for my Lord, delight in displaying my obedience to him, unashamed, for all to see. Had He said, “Husbands, submit to your wives in everything”, I would joy that I can serve the One who shed his blood for me and bought me, by dedicating my life to obeying my King by submitting to my husband. If He said to be silent in the meetings of the Church, and I knew the daughters of Philip prophesied, I would be open to the Holy Spirit using me anywhere He would that He has not specifically told me I must not, and I would be confident His power will be all the more displayed as I walk in love and obedience! As a man, I follow my Lord’s command, running my home according to His word, teaching according to His Word. Please examine your heart. You do not know the motives of the people you are talking about, I am confident of that. And I KNOW that your analysis of me as one of those is not true. And I KNOW that you have spoken in ignorance of at least one specific point (the manuscript evidence for “submit” in that verse of Ephesians 5). Something is amiss. Be you a true sister in Christ: grace, mercy and peace be with you, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Tom

A straw man or a valid criticism?

Tom’s concern is that my attitude toward complementarians (especially those who translate the Scriptures) is harsh, stereotyping and is based on ignorance of the facts. Tom’s “documented” evidence that I am ignorant of the manuscript evidence was quoted in part 1 of this series found here. I think that anyone who has a look through my documentation will have to disagree with Tom’s accusation. On person who commented on that post said “Wow. I’m exhausted by your exhaustive research.” It is a massive amount of research, and I believe it aptly proves that it is not I who speak from ignorance.

Tom said:

You know, statements that reveal bigotry a such as: “all whites are greedy”, “all Japanese are bloodthirsty”, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”, “all blacks are lazy”, etc. So what is the difference between these kinds of statements and “anyone who believes woman should be subject to man in the family and in the Church is just a power freak?” Which is the attitude you portray.

I have never said such a thing. Some complementarians are power hungry, but that does not prove the entire group is a power freak on steroids. I would ask Tom to prove that I ever lumped everyone into one category.

Tom says I have an unloving attitude. The fact that I desire to correct a faulty interpretation of Scripture is not unloving. Tom may not like that I speak of the freedom of godly Christian women to speak the truth of the gospel, but not liking my view is not evidence that I am unloving. I have not called anyone a bigot.  Tom’s words about bigotry are clear for anyone willing to read them. I, on the other hand, have been open enough to allow a complementarian to post an article on my blog. I have also had a very cordial discussion with a complementarian pastor on this blog as we had a written debate together. Here is the summary of each part of the debate and the links to each question and response is linked in the article. I challenge anyone to look through that debate to see any nloving attitude in either one of us in our debate. Again, Tom is proven wrong.

A valid point

Tom does bring up a valid point that many, if not the majority, of those who believe that women are under the authority of a man, take that view because of the Scriptures. I used to believe that too. However, I came to that viewpoint because I, like others, looked at isolated Scriptures without looking at the context. The view I had was backed up by men who said this was God’s view of women. I had no reason to question until I started to see the contradictions and problems and I needed to know what God really said without contradiction. I freely admit that I was prejudiced against women preaching God’s truth. When a woman was allowed to preach, I felt uneasy. It wasn’t until I was pushed into an in-depth study of the Scriptures, studying the context, the grammar and the emphasis of the inspired words, that I was freed from my own prejudice. Prejudice is a sneaky thing. It can catch you unawares.

I have been blessed with seeing many people drop their prejudice against women when they look deeply into the Scripture in context. I will never forget the time I asked a pastor in Missouri if he would look over my DVDs (Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?) on this subject and point out any of my errors in my reasoning from the Scriptures. I got an email back from him that the DVDs caused him to be convicted by the Holy Spirit of his own prejudice against women. He could see that I came to my conclusion BECAUSE of the Scriptures. This pastor told me that he repented before the Lord because of his own prejudice and he no longer believed that the Bible was against women teaching the truth of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit works on men’s hearts when the Scriptures are preached in truth and in context.

Are complementarians prejudiced?

When children are raised in an atmosphere of respect for all, and that no human was born to be placed under the authority of another because of his/her race, skin color, or gender, the innocence of children overcomes prejudice. However, when prejudice is taught and reiterated in all aspects of society, it because deeply ingrained in our character often without our understanding of how we have been influenced. The world around us is deeply prejudiced against women, and in parts of the world, women are subjugated and mistreated. The sinful human nature is clearly seen through how women are objectified and used. When Scripture is read through that lens, the Bible can be easily distorted. Some of the early church fathers believed and taught some very wrong things about women. Does Tom have any prejudice that he brings to the Bible?

Tom said:

Like many of the issues which divide the Church, it is those who insist on adding to the plain statements of Scripture who are the source and continuance of division…You boil it down, they almost all have some areas where they are sticking the Word of God as-is, but at least some area they insist on adding to it. Your version of God’s teaching on women is the same. You have to add to, interpret, appeal to “cultural matters”, get into the “intent of the human author” etc, etc, etc.

Tom gives no proof that I have added to the Scripture. Instead, I have carefully looked at the inspired words in context aiming to see it clearly as it was written with no contradiction in any passage. If a view understands the word of God in such a way that it has God contradicting Himself, then we can know for sure that we have missed the correct meaning. Also, Tom says it is the “plain statements of Scripture,” but “plain” does not mean easy to understand. Even Peter agreed that some of Paul’s sayings were hard to understand and that the unlearned twisted the hard sayings as they do the rest of the Scriptures.

Tom’s prejudice comes out when he charges me with adding to the Scripture. He has given not a single piece of evidence where I have added to the Scripture. Tom also puts down the grammatical-historical biblical interpretation, where the intent of the author is considered. This grammatical-historical hermeneutical method was the basis of the Martin Luther’s Reformation. It gives us a “way to study the Scriptures with confidence, according to well-established dictates of human language.” See here or here or here for a discussion on this biblical method of interpretation.

Obedience to God?

Tom said:

I love God. I am just a miserable sinner saved by grace.

I do not doubt that Tom loves God.

Tom said:

His Word is to be obeyed. If he had said, “Men shall submit to women in the Church and not teach”, I would delight in doing that for my Lord.

These words imply that Tom believes that the opposite side of his example is true: that women are commanded to submit to “men” in the Church and are commanded not to teach. Where is that command located? And if Tom would delight in submitting to all women and refuse to teach, then how would he obey the rest of Scripture such as 1 Corinthians 14:26, 31 which have commands releasing all to speak so that all may learn and all may be exhorted? Surely, if Tom took this position, he would run into Scriptures that do not make sense with his foundational belief.

Tom said:

I would be open to the Holy Spirit using me anywhere He would that He has not specifically told me I must not, and I would be confident His power will be all the more displayed as I walk in love and obedience!

Tom implies that the Holy Spirit has specifically forbidden women to speak forth the truth of God’s word. In essence, women are left trying to figure out all the places where they are forbidden to speak and to whom they are forbidden to speak to so they can avoid disobeying God. The lists of prohibitions for women that some churches have go on and on and on.

God’s commands

Tom said:

As a man, I follow my Lord’s command, running my home according to His word, teaching according to His Word. Please examine your heart.

Tom as a man runs his home according to God’s word? Great. So do women. 1 Timothy 5:14 tells women to be an “oikodespotein” in their home. This is a command to direct a household – to manage and oversee a household as its owner. Screen print of the Greek meaning below:

1 Timothy 5:14 women as home managers on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

I would never think to tell Tom to examine his heart because he claims to follow the Lord’s command to run his home according to God’s word. It does appear that Tom’s prejudice toward women might be showing up in the area of home management.  It is never a male-only command to rule the home in the Scriptures.

Tom said:

You do not know the motives of the people you are talking about, I am confident of that. And I KNOW that your analysis of me as one of those is not true.

Tom, I haven’t ascribed a motive to you. I can’t see your heart. Your prejudice may be showing in the claims that you make for men alone, but your heart motives cannot be seen. If you are willing to dialog from the Scriptures, I would be willing. I can assure you that my heart is firmly for Jesus, His Word, and His Church. If I have been deceived, I would welcome a correction. How about you?

Part 4 of this series is here.

One thought on “Are complementarians power freaks?

  1. I think this post is a good place to share a bit of my journey with your readers. I grew up in a Protestant family with mostly traditional gender roles – husband “breadwinner” and “homemaker” wife. Despite the traditional organization, most of the marriages I grew up around were pretty egalitarian. Obviously the husband was the provider, but he was hardly an authoritarian and most major decisions were discussed and executed with bipartisan agreement. Who “wore the pants” changed from situation to situation. For example, when we were young (pre-teen) my mother did most of the protecting since she had the contacts in the neighborhood and my dad was working all the time (he was a doctor). I saw similar arrangements with both sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.

    My first introduction to complementarianism was when I married into a very conservative, evangelical family. But even there, I found the arrangement to be what I call “complementarian light”. While the men (and often, the women) talked a good game about male “headship” and “leadership”, in practice things were still pretty equal. The men didn’t really lead, at least not in an authoritarian or unilateral way, and the women had plenty of power in terms of running home and family.

    When I first came to study the scriptures in regard to gender relations, I had this mixed bag of experiences muddying the waters. I also got mixed messages from the pulpit, which in our denomination also preached a kind of light version of complementarianism (I think the men were afraid of ticking off the women who actually made stuff happen at church). So I decided to approach the subject with no preconceived notions of how things should work, yet I had this baggage as my only basis. At first, I was trying to fit the square peg of scripture into the round hole of comp-light. You would laugh at some of the ideas I had trying to leave men in at least some control while granting autonomy and leadership to women. In the end, the peg just wouldn’t fit. That is when I made two major discoveries.

    The first thing I discovered, interestingly enough, was your blog. I found it a place where I could discuss these issues in an open and safe way without being attacked by men for abandoning the “calling” and women for not going full feminist. It was a far better forum for discovery and proofing ideas than the Christian forums where I had previously roamed (or trolled, according to some).

    The second thing I discovered were really good online resources for looking into the original languages. This was a mixed blessing, because although they gave me great insight into what the original text said, they also showed me how biased and inaccurate much of what I had read and had preached to me had been.

    Which brings me to the same place where your post is – Ephesians 5 (and by Tom’s association, 1 Timothy 2). I have spent hours and hours researching these passages and learning the grammar of the original languages. My understanding of these passages has transformed over time from a comp-light view to a solidly egalitarian view. I’m not an egalitarian because I grew up that way or because you or anybody else told me to be or convinced me to be. I am one because the overwhelming evidence from scripture leads me to no other conclusion. I know of what Tom speaks because I have been there, done that, and eventually have come to reject it because of the evidence of the text – not the biased and uninspired English text but the original Hebrew and Greek text. If Tom insists on sticking to English translations (or worse yet, only one translation) to inform his view of gender relations, he is going to remain ignorant of the truth. How ironic is it that Paul testifies himself about such ignorance in 1 Tim 1. I stand transformed, as Paul did. Will Tom join us?

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