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Source: (consider it) Thread: Dead Horses: Headship
Custard
Shipmate
# 5402

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
You know, if the reformed traditions accepted the ordained priesthood, they wouldn't need to get their knicks in a twist over Headship... because they could exclude women from positions of clerical authority by the 'imaging Christ' argument.

Except that I for one:
1) don't think the ordained priest is representing Christ
2) don't think he'd need to be male to do so (Christ as priest represented both men and women)
3) being male, and not of a transvestite persuasion, do not wear knickers

Enough dead horses already?

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Psyduck

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# 2270

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Gordon Cheng:
quote:
unless the wearing of trousers or jeans signifies in that context a rebellion against the created order.
(Emph. mine)

quote:
Genesis 2: [25] And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed
How can a dress code be against the created order?

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Carys

Ship's Celticist
# 78

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Having just read the thread through I have various comments.

quote:
Originally posted by Emma.:
My huge problem with it is that *in context* the passages would have been hugely liberating for women.

Household codes of the time usaully had "women must, children must, slaves must.." the main point paul was making is that he was revolutionary. He was suggesting those in authority actually had a responsibilty to those they are in authority over.

As in... not only children must.. BUT ALSO parents. not just slave, BUT ALSO owners..

So that would have been the real punch of the passage.

Similarly the husband head as christ is head.. read that bit that says "ahh but i am not talking about marriage, i am talking about the church". He is using a relevant daily metaphor for his purposes, like sheep and shepherds and all that.To argue backwards is bad logic. Like arguing that sheep should be like christians...

In total, it is those teaching that women should have lesser roles than men in todays society that have missed the point of the passages and arent taking them seriously. IMHO.

Indeed. Reading the first three pages of the thread (i.e. the argument from 3 years ago) I was struck by the fact that people were talking about the women submitting, but very little was said about the men loving their wives as Christ loves the Church. There were a few comments about how men have the harder job, but these seemed to be thrown in from the outside rather than being an equal part of the discussion. This is also something which strikes me about the `evangelical'* fashion for `submissive wives'. It's all about the women submitting and not about the husband being Christ-like. I agree with those who see the potential for abuse in the idea of the `submissive wife' but that's because the Christ-like loving has been lost. Husbands do not have unqualified power over their wives. It is qualified by Christ!

quote:
Originally posted by Emma.:
I'm convinced men and women *are* different, personally. And any 2 people (male or female) will think differently and relate in different ways, so in a marriage obviously different roles will be taken. Surprisingly I personally would love the house"wife" role, and responsibility for kids.

I agree that people are different. I'm less sure about the extent to which men and women are different. Yes, I think that there are male and female tendencies but that doesn't stop individuals not fitting those tendencies. Trying to impose ideas about what's typically male and typically female on individuals seems dangerous to me. Two of my friends are married to each other and I have to say there are ways in which he's more feminine and she more masculine. It works though.

Again, I often feel I have more in common with male Cambridge friends than I did with girls at school. I've just thought about the people I know from Cambridge who I'd classify as close friends and realised that 6 of the 9 are male. That doesn't matter.

quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
I'd be really interested to hear from the people most involved in the thread back nearly 3 years ago -- how their thinking on this has gone on in the ensuing time.

This struck me with one post in particular:

quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
duchess, I agree with the principle of Bible study you espouse. But, when you read Pauls letters "studying what really is meant, the context and everything around it" then the society (and the prejudices, expectations and understanding of that society) of the original recipients of those letters must be taken into account in just the way Louise and others have said. The result of such a study may well be to say that even if the letters in question are inerrant instructions to the churches they were sent that doesn't mean those same instructions are inerrant to us because our situation is so different. In this case that the husbands' headship & wifes' submission is not, in our society, the way marriage should be arranged.

That's not to say that the texts in question are meaningless today. I tend to the view that as the distinct gender roles assumed in the first century have been blurred and are almost non-existant today then so have the headship/submission roles in relationship. A husband and wife should, I think, share headship and submit to each other.

Of course, I'm single so I'm not talking from experience here at all.

I was wondering given that Alan is no longer single what effect that has had on his thinking!

*I put evangelical into inverted commas because it is very much a subset of evangelicalism which goes in for this, but I couldn't think of a succint way of putting this!

Carys

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John Donne

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# 220

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Yes, I was sorta tongue in cheek, Custard. [Smile]

But is this what this whole Headship thing is about? The reformed traditions version of baulking at ovaries in orders?

I don't think it's about the ordering of the household... but I am interested to know the practicalities of how Gordon (or others who practice the biblical model) does it, if he/they wish/s to share.


[Janine, are you sure you're not Greek? It sounds out you have worked out how to wear the trousers while making the man think he is wearing the trousers]

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Luigi
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# 4031

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Am I alone in thinking that if Paul's intention was to clarify things then he choose quite possibly the most inept way of doing so?

I also think we are still waiting for someone who believes in headship to explain what it actually means or is it just something we should assent to and have no idea of how it might impact on our marriages?

At the moment it seems to me the danger is that those defending headship are divesting it of virtually all meaning. Which I think was one of Weed's initial points.

Luigi

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon:
It's very hard to think of examples because most of the time, we wear clothes for fashion, comfort, vanity, perceived attractiveness, functionality and so on. It's unusual to wear clothing to make a deliberate ideological statement; something which may have been going on at Corinth judging by by Paul's reaction to it.

Where I live a noticeable minority of people, usually people under 30, wear clothes that appear to be make ideological statements. This is frequently a rather personal ideology, but the goths, the girl-power grrlz, the skater boiz, the hippies (yes, we've still got some floating around So Cal), the bikers all seem to me to be making ideological statements with their clothes. And some of the hip-hop clothing seems to be intended to do that as well.
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HopPik
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# 8510

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I'm not really into the theological aspects of this thread, I'll leave the trinitarian details to people better qualified than me. I'm just talking about the notion of headship within the family.

Maybe my experience is singular. Perhaps it's just metropolitan professionals, which is what almost all of our friends are, but as far as anyone can judge what is going on in somebody else's relationship, it seems to me that - frankly without exception - the women I know who are living with / married to a man are absolutely insisting on being in control. And the men in their lives are accepting that.

Maybe this is atypical. Or maybe it's a new development, perhaps peculiar to this neck of the woods. Who knows? But it's how it seems to me. Headship here is with the woman.

In our own family - well things are unusual. Uniquely in our own circle, though it is happening more and more, we "swapped roles". I gave up paid work to look after the kids while my wife became the breadwinner. And, being at the domestic core, I found that in fact, if not entirely in control of things, I was seen as crucial... so that in the end, rather than challenge me, children, spouse, would back off. Perhaps this is as it ever was, the homekeeper finally calling the tune, in which case in a conventional family maybe male headship was always something of a fantasy. There's always been a strand in popular myth that women let men imagine they're in charge but really hold all the reins. I can believe that.

How this relates to the friends I've talked about, where typically both partners are at work, I don't know.

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Emma Louise

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# 3571

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custard.. im asgreeing with you again. lots. hmmm.
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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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Carys points out, rightly, that when people talk about headship, they immediately start talking about whether or not a woman has to submit to her husband, what that entails, and so on and so forth. But that's the wrong place to start.

St. John Chrysostom made it very plain, in his homily on Ephesians 5, that the place where one starts talking about roles in marriage is with the husband's love for his wife. He commands husbands to treat their wives with affection, kindness, and great regard. He goes on at very great length about how, whatever they do for their wives, however much they think they love their wives, it's not enough, for no man has ever loved his wife as much as Christ loves the Church, no one has ever done as much for his wife as Christ has done for the Church, and that is the standard that is commanded.

He takes care to ensure that husbands don't think that being the head gives them the right to abuse their wives. In fact, he tells them that if their wives fear them, and give them the obedience that a slave gives a master, they have mistreated their wives and disgraced themselves. He says no husband should ever believe an accusation against his wife from a third party. He says if their wives don't think they spend enough time with them, but too much time with their work and their friends, they should spend more time with their wives.

He says that whenever a husband speaks to his wife, he should be humble, and speak with words full of grace and kindness. He says that the husband should not seek to control their material possessions, but to consider all things to be held in common. He notes Paul's statement that the husband rules over his wife's body, and the wife over her husband's, and tells the husband to say to his wife, "If I have no power over my own body, but rather you do, how much more power is yours over my material possessions?"

And if, in the face of all this love, the wife is still disrespectful, what is a husband to do? St. John gives the husband only one choice: to love his wife all the more.

As for the wife's submission, he tells the husbands that "when you hear Paul say 'fear' or 'respect,' ask for the respect due you from a free woman." He is clear that a woman's submission to her husband is and must be her free choice -- God commands it, but her husband cannot command it. He can only receive it as a free gift from her, and only if she chooses to give it.

To wives, he says they should respect their husband. But if a woman's husband doesn't love her, that doesn't free her from her responsibility to her -- but it does diminish it. He tells her that she should not stubbornly contradict him. If she does that, she's done enough.

He never tells husbands that they have done enough.

So, in the Orthodox Church, that's what it means to be the husband, the head -- to do everything you can for your wife, and to know that it still isn't enough, and will never be enough.

And in case it's not absolutely clear, during Bridegroom Matins, during Holy Week, the Church sets out an icon of Christ the Bridegroom, to make sure every man understands what it means to be the bridegroom, the husband.

Headship is not about submissive wives. It is about loving husbands.

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by HopPik:
In our own family - well things are unusual. Uniquely in our own circle, though it is happening more and more, we "swapped roles". I gave up paid work to look after the kids while my wife became the breadwinner. And, being at the domestic core, I found that in fact, if not entirely in control of things, I was seen as crucial... so that in the end, rather than challenge me, children, spouse, would back off. Perhaps this is as it ever was, the homekeeper finally calling the tune, in which case in a conventional family maybe male headship was always something of a fantasy. There's always been a strand in popular myth that women let men imagine they're in charge but really hold all the reins. I can believe that.

Not to say that this is how things are in your family, but in general it seems to me entirely possible that a man who is "homekeeper" might be taken more seriously than a woman in the same role.

Male headship is not a fantasy, neither now or in the past. Evidence:

  • My mother is a smart, competent and level-headed woman, and while she is anything beaten down, and while they function as partners in a lot of ways, she has deferred throughout their marriage to my smart, competent but less level-headed and also unbelievably stubborn father. Because that's the way she was raised, and that's just how things are.
  • My grandfather was a traveling salesman who cheated on my grandmother, and she knew it, and she just bore it, because that's the way she was raised, and that's just how things are.
  • The man who is now my cousin's husband asked permission from her father before he asked her to marry him (in the mid-1980s, mind you), because in all of their minds a woman is under the authority of her father until she is under the authority of her husband.
  • A few years ago I briefly dated someone whose explanation of why his non-denominational church would never have a female pastor all came down to male headship. (This was the last date I had with this guy, needless to say!)

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The Undiscovered Country
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# 4811

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This article is a good summary of the biblical arguments for headship and for explaining what it is and what it isn't.

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Custard
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# 5402

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Thanks Josephine - that was helpful, especially given that SJC predates feminism by a very long way and that he seems to have a very healthy view of headship.

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by The Undiscovered Country:
This article is a good summary of the biblical arguments for headship and for explaining what it is and what it isn't.

How would you address the view, expressed several times earlier on in this thread, that the practical outworking of Grudem's position (the husband effectively has a 'casting vote' at times of serious decision-making) only makes sense in the light of huge historical developments granting rights to women, developments which have occured in the face of traditional interpretations of the role and status of man and woman based on the passages he quotes in support of his view?

And would you like to respond to the view also posted earlier in which somemone gives the example of Miss Smith, acknowledged by an office manager 'who makes everything work round here and who I would be lost without', and who despite this verbal accolade is in actual fact treated as an inferior, 'subordinate' in every practical sense of the term? She may have an equal status in principle, but in practice she does not.

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Louise
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# 30

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by The Undiscovered Country:
This article is a good summary of the biblical arguments for headship and for explaining what it is and what it isn't.

How would you address the view, expressed several times earlier on in this thread, that the practical outworking of Grudem's position (the husband effectively has a 'casting vote' at times of serious decision-making) only makes sense in the light of huge historical developments granting rights to women, developments which have occured in the face of traditional interpretations of the role and status of man and woman based on the passages he quotes in support of his view?


As was discussed in my post on page 2 of this thread and the subsequent posts on that page.

L.

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Weed
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# 4402

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quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
Thanks Josephine - that was helpful, especially given that SJC predates feminism by a very long way and that he seems to have a very healthy view of headship.

Do you consider St John Chrysostom's views on women to be healthy? For example,
quote:
And what may be the cause of his setting them under so great subjection? Because the woman is in some sort a weaker being and easily carried away and light minded. Here you see why he set over them their husbands as teachers, for the benefit of both. For so he both rendered the women orderly, and the husbands he made anxious, as having to deliver to their wives very exactly what they heard.
Would you teach a young man that?
quote:
Seest thou the wisdom of Paul, what kind of testimony he adduced, one that not only enjoins on them silence, but silence too with fear; and with as great fear as that wherewith a maid servant ought to keep herself quiet.
I don't dispute what josephine says about the instruction to men in respect of their duty towards their wives, in fact you can see it at the end of the first quote above, but the other side of the coin? Is that all right with you?

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Esmeralda

Ship's token UK Mennonite
# 582

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I don't have time to read the whole thread, and I simply can't believe that this old nag has been resurrected, but there are a couple of things I'd like to say:

  • Try this exercise: take a Bible concordance, for any translation, and look up the word 'headship'. I guarantee you will not find it. A tiny handful of Bible verses which use the Greek word 'kephale' in relation to marriage, have been inflated into a total system for all relations between men and women.
  • Now try this: find me the verse where it says that a man is head of his household. You won't find that one either - there isn't one.
  • Thirdly, ask yourself this: in the relation between Christ and the church, to which Paul is comparing marriage, who is required to make the greater sacrifice - Christ or the church?
  • Fourthly, what is the ratio between the sermons you have heard exhorting wives to submit, and the sermons you have heard exhorting husbands to lay down their lives? And have you ever heard a sermon on 'Submit to one another'? If not, why not?
  • And finally: it seems fairly self-evident that many of Paul's directives regarding female behaviour were designed to stop the church appearing scandalous in his society. Now, which is the scandal in today's society - equality of marriage partners, or a hierarchy over male over female? Surely it is the hierarchy, which our society is scandalized by (and so it should be, when one sees what abuse has been perpetrated in the name of hierarchy). So, what would Paul be saying today, to avoid the church becoming a scandal?


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Custard
Shipmate
# 5402

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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
Do you consider St John Chrysostom's views on women to be healthy?

I don't think that he was perfect, or that what he wrote was perfect. I was merely indicating that that passage from SJC showed that the modern conservative evangelical view of headship was not a post-feminist development, as was claimed recently on this thread.

quote:
Originally posted by Esmeralda:
[*]Thirdly, ask yourself this: in the relation between Christ and the church, to which Paul is comparing marriage, who is required to make the greater sacrifice - Christ or the church?

Christ, without a doubt

quote:
[*]Fourthly, what is the ratio between the sermons you have heard exhorting wives to submit, and the sermons you have heard exhorting husbands to lay down their lives? And have you ever heard a sermon on 'Submit to one another'? If not, why not?
The ratio of the sermons is 1:1, as we preach on Bible passages, not on verses isolated from context. I can remember a good handful of talks on that bit of Ephesians, and every one of them has talked about both duties.

And yes, I have heard a sermon on "submit to one another", often included with the bit about wives and husbands, sometimes as part of the sermon before it in the series on Ephesians.

quote:

[*]And finally: it seems fairly self-evident that many of Paul's directives regarding female behaviour were designed to stop the church appearing scandalous in his society.

The question is whether this is one of them...

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Posts: 4523 | From: Snot's Place | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
Gordon, if you're willing to share more about the way you pursue your different roles, can you indicate in which spheres you exercise your husbandly authority?

What you've related seems no different to any other husband and wife. When does crunch time come?

Coot, thanks for asking and as one or two other have asked some similar questions, I thought I might give a brief answer.

As a general comment, although the question of who makes a decision when there is conflict needs to be addressed, it is one of those things where the interest in this issue seems to be unhelpfully focussed and even inimical to developing a good understanding of the nature of headship. I would compare it to two partners in an acrobatic act in a travelling circus being concerned to know where the local hospital was, and how to get there: not insignificant to be sure, but if the focus becomes obsessive and overwhelming, you worry for the safety of those involved the act.

Specifically, it is very hard for me to recall any time in our marriage where we’ve reached an impasse that hasn’t been resolvable by discussion. “I disagree but we’ll do it your way” has been said, but at least as often by me as by Fiona.

If there is an area that is more likely to generate frustration, it is that I am too passive in expressing an opinion or in showing leadership. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion on many issues, as people who’ve read my posts will know. It’s rather that there are whole sections of life where my opinion is not strong enough for me to be bothered working out what it is. Shall we drive or fly? Do you prefer blue or black? Where do you want to sit? I’ve finally realised that the answer “Dunno” may be true but it’s also unsatisfactory. And the issues are not necessarily trivial either. When Mrs Cheng was working out whether to study law, landscape architecture, history, or carpentry, or simply to get a clerical job, she would’ve preferred if I’d said something a bit more than “well they’d all be good, and you could do any of them” (she did landscape architecture).

As I reflect on our marriage, and as I return to the Bible to see what it says, I become more and more convinced that the key to headship is leading by speaking, and that the model for how to lead by speaking is seen at its best by Jesus in relationship to his disciples (hardly surprising, as in Ephesians 5 it is the relationship between Christ and his church that is analogous to husband and wife).

This style of leadership specifically excludes physical violence or coercion, and in speaking, it excludes bossiness, verbal abuse, or refusal to discuss the reasons for what is said. It includes a responsibility that the husband himself, like Christ, submit to the will of the heavenly Father and demonstrate the work of the Spirit in his life—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Because the husband is himself a man under authority, he has no authority to insist that the wife disobey God’s commands.

In my marriage I believe my most significant failure as a husband is not that I am bossy or insist on my way, but rather that I fail to speak and therefore to lead. It’s easy for me to be passive and leave matters undone or leave Mrs C to make decisions. My not speaking is not simply a matter of being uncommunicative or failing to express an opinion; it’s a failure to express my character, concerns, love for my wife (and now three daughters), failure to express desire for her wellbeing, failure to invite her to say what she thinks and feels, failure to help her by revealing what I think is important and really matters — included within that, speaking of the things of God’s character, will and actions — failure to take initiative in things that really matter for our lives and relationships and children and community.

(Can I say at this point that although Mrs C is free to take initiative in these areas, the ultimate responsibility for them is given to the husband; as I read Ephesians 5)

I don’t say that I’m a complete failure in any of those areas; simply that if I have a tendency to fail, it is not by being overly authoritarian and dictatorial (although that would be a failure); rather it is a tendency to withdraw into non-communication. I suspect, without knowing, that a lot of women would complain not that their husbands are too bossy but that they never say anything — about anything.

On the question of what to do when it comes to the crunch and a couple really have reached impasse, even here it is not clear that the husband’s will must prevail. The only biblical example I can think of is 1 Corinthians 7:1-6; which raises the possibility of a scenario where either the husband or wife wants to have sex and the other doesn’t. Here, the advice Paul gives is quite clear that if the husband would like to abstain, and the wife wouldn’t, then the husband must give way and they must have sex. “the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:4). On the basis of this example, it may well be that in other matters the husband shows leadership by subordinating his desires and deciding for the good of his wife, where the dispute is unresolveable by normal discussion.

Like the acrobatic couple obsessed with the location of the nearest hospital in case things go wrong, I am not at all sure that being obsessed with who gets the final say is healthy either as a general discussion, or as a way of resolving a dispute for the good of the marriage.

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Paul Mason
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
It includes a responsibility that the husband himself, like Christ, submit to the will of the heavenly Father and demonstrate the work of the Spirit in his life—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

...

speaking of the things of God’s character, will and actions

This all sounds very noble but the question remains as to whether one's ability to demonstrate the work of the Spirit in the ways described, and the insights necessary to speaking of God's character, will and actions - whether these are somehow more in the grasp of men than women purely because of their gender.

To say that they are seems to fly in the face of what we experience. On the whole I don't meet more men with a better insight into the things of God, I don't find women less demonstrative of the fruits of the Spirit. Do you?

quote:
The only biblical example I can think of is 1 Corinthians 7:1-6; which raises the possibility of a scenario where either the husband or wife wants to have sex and the other doesn’t. Here, the advice Paul gives is quite clear that if the husband would like to abstain, and the wife wouldn’t, then the husband must give way and they must have sex.
But, as I'm sure you know, it's this exact logic, with the genders reversed, that's been so abused in the past with relation to rape within marriage. And although it's possible to state it as you did, it seems to me that because of certain physical considerations (not to be too crude) such a view is always more liable to be misused by the man than the woman - at least in such an extreme way.

quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
He goes on at very great length about how, whatever they do for their wives, however much they think they love their wives, it's not enough

...

To wives, he says they should respect their husband. But if a woman's husband doesn't love her, that doesn't free her from her responsibility to her -- but it does diminish it. He tells her that she should not stubbornly contradict him. If she does that, she's done enough.

He never tells husbands that they have done enough.

...

So, in the Orthodox Church, that's what it means to be the husband, the head -- to do everything you can for your wife, and to know that it still isn't enough, and will never be enough.

And this disparity is because...?

As a man, forgive me, but the idea of trying to live up to something that I know I'll never achieve doesn't exactly fill me with joy. In fact it's this kind of thing, unrealistic expectations, amongst other things, that is a reason why I'm not a Christian today.

And the implication for women is that they are somehow not equipped to the 'never enough' aspirations given to their husbands. Or maybe God just likes women more?

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Gordon Cheng

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Mason:
This all sounds very noble but the question remains as to whether one's ability to demonstrate the work of the Spirit in the ways described, and the insights necessary to speaking of God's character, will and actions - whether these are somehow more in the grasp of men than women purely because of their gender.

I make no such claim! It is a point about where ultimate responsibility lies, not who's better at it. The administrator of a hospital may take ultimate responsibility for the results of brain surgery in the hospital, even if his wife the brain surgeon is better at brain surgery than the administrator is.

quote:
But, as I'm sure you know, it's this exact logic, with the genders reversed, that's been so abused in the past with relation to rape within marriage. And although it's possible to state it as you did, it seems to me that because of certain physical considerations (not to be too crude) such a view is always more liable to be misused by the man than the woman - at least in such an extreme way.
Sure, and "abused" is spot on. Jesus never used physical force to coerce people to his ends, even though:

Matt. 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Interpreting and applying 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 correctly is about paying attention to the New Testament context, not prooftexting it as grounds for physical abuse or rape within marriage.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
Jesus never used physical force to coerce people to his ends

Hmm, I seem to remember a certain incident with some money-changers and a whip.....

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
Jesus never used physical force to coerce people to his ends

Hmm, I seem to remember a certain incident with some money-changers and a whip.....
Symbolism, surely. The whip is only mentioned in John 2:15, and in the same verse the reason implied for its use is "the sheep and oxen".

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
The whip is only mentioned in John 2:15, and in the same verse the reason implied for its use is "the sheep and oxen".

[total tangent] sorry for this DP, but this detail is just one of many little reasons that add weight to the claim for John as eyewitness; and so an early date for authorship of John's gospel[/total tangent]

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mousethief

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None to the point. He overturned their tables. That's physical force, whether you think he used the "scourge" on the people or just on the animals.

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Paul Mason
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
quote:
Originally posted by Paul Mason:
This all sounds very noble but the question remains as to whether one's ability to demonstrate the work of the Spirit in the ways described, and the insights necessary to speaking of God's character, will and actions - whether these are somehow more in the grasp of men than women purely because of their gender.

I make no such claim! It is a point about where ultimate responsibility lies, not who's better at it.

Well I'd hoped you'd been making such a claim as that would at least make sense to me. The idea that the responsibility always goes to the man because he's better at it makes more sense than the idea that it goes to him simply because he's a man.

quote:
The administrator of a hospital may take ultimate responsibility for the results of brain surgery in the hospital, even if his wife the brain surgeon is better at brain surgery than the administrator is.

But the Administrator's responsibility is a function of his or her ability - in administrating. If the Administrator was appointed because of their gender we'd rightly be shocked. Also one hopes that in matters of medical opinion they'd defer to more knowledgeable colleagues.

Actually now that I think of it, if we apply your example then we're saying that women may be better 'doctors' (whatever the skill or ability we're discussing) but men are always better 'administrators' (better suited for responsibility).

Again this is not borne out by experience.


quote:
quote:
But, as I'm sure you know, it's this exact logic, with the genders reversed, that's been so abused in the past with relation to rape within marriage. And although it's possible to state it as you did, it seems to me that because of certain physical considerations (not to be too crude) such a view is always more liable to be misused by the man than the woman - at least in such an extreme way.
Sure, and "abused" is spot on. Jesus never used physical force to coerce people to his ends, even though:

Matt. 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Interpreting and applying 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 correctly is about paying attention to the New Testament context, not prooftexting it as grounds for physical abuse or rape within marriage.

My point is that 1 Cor 7:1-6 is an unhelpful way to look at the relationship between our bodies and our partners. I'd be much happier if Paul had said that mutual agreement was best in decisions about love-making rather than this thing about our bodies not belonging to ourselves.

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HopPik
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
Not to say that this is how things are in your family, but in general it seems to me entirely possible that a man who is "homekeeper" might be taken more seriously than a woman in the same role.

Hard to tell, I mean how many families do any of us really know well enough to have an idea how things work when the doors are all closed and the curtains drawn? Very few in my case. And what little I do know of the reality of other peoples' family lives compared to what they SAY suggests to me that most people are hopelessly blinkered when it comes to telling others how things are, even when those others are close friends. And I'm sure I'm no exception, so it would probably be wise to dismiss anything I've said on this subject!

All I can say is that my own limited, imperfectly understood and very probably unrepresentative experience doesn't bear out what you say here.

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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
Do you consider St John Chrysostom's views on women to be healthy?

I think if we compare the views on women that were common during St. John Chrysostom's time with the views expressed in his homilies on marriage, the remarkable thing is not the occasional remark about women being weak and in need of support -- that you would expect.

But who would expect this? "A servant can be taught submission through fear; but even he, if provoked too much, will soon seek his escape. But one's partner for life, the mother of one's children, the source of one's every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will? Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church."

Or "Your wife is God's creation. If you reproach her, you are not condemning her, but Him who made her."

He tells married men that, if they have sex with someone other than their wife, they are committing adultery. That seems to have amazed his listeners -- they thought it was adultery if a married woman had sex with someone not her husband, but didn't consider it so for a married man. St. John rejects the double standard, saying, "Your wife did not come to you, leaving her father and mother and her whole household, so that you could take a cheap servant girl in her place. It was not in order to start a thousand battles that you took a companion, a partner for life, a free woman with equal honor to yourself."

St. John Chrysostom wasn't thoroughly modern in his opinions regarding women -- it would be odd indeed if he had been, given that he lived in the fourth century. But if you compare his teachings to the common views of his time, especially his insistence on a woman's freedom, they were truly radical. And they do not in any way allow for an idea of "headship" that is focused on authority, on who gets the deciding vote, on who is a wimp and who is a usurper.

Marriage, in Orthodoxy, is a path of salvation. It is the place where most of us learn to love and to be loved -- which is what salvation is all about. It isn't about rights, or authority, or casting votes. It is about holiness, about becoming by grace what God is by nature.

It seems, from reading St. John Chrysostom and other Orthodox writers on marriage, that in general, a man is more likely to need to learn how to love, a woman is more likely to need to learn how to receive love. Thus the general teachings focus on that. But because marriage is a path of salvation, there aren't any hard and fast rules about how it must be. The only thing there must be is love.

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Laura
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So, how does Christian headship work in practice?

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The Undiscovered Country
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by The Undiscovered Country:
This article is a good summary of the biblical arguments for headship and for explaining what it is and what it isn't.

How would you address the view, expressed several times earlier on in this thread, that the practical outworking of Grudem's position (the husband effectively has a 'casting vote' at times of serious decision-making) only makes sense in the light of huge historical developments granting rights to women, developments which have occured in the face of traditional interpretations of the role and status of man and woman based on the passages he quotes in support of his view?


Headship can only be properly understood in the wider context of the roles of men and women under God. There are many ways in which the church over the centuries has been unbiblical in regarding women as being of lesser status and, in the 19th and 20th centuries, treating headship as being somehow connected to women not going out to work. Society in general has inevitably been even more unbiblical in how it regarded women. This is not an argument for going back to either church or society's 'traditional' views of the roles of men and women. It is an argument that a full, rounded biblical view of men and women-treating them both as equal and both with equal gifting and callings within the context of headship-has in fact very rarely been put into practice and it is that which we need to develop.

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John Donne

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Actually I've been thinking of the Col 3:18 and other verses. The 'submit' is offered from the wife's perspective. ie. It says:
quote:
Wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
It doesn't say 'Wives submit to your husbands, and husbands dominate your wives'. Can anyone comment on the culture of the day - I could see this verse was so that believers didn't give cause for criticism or scandal to the unbelievers - thus not so much to be a reflection of the Divine Order. Also this verse doesn't require husbands not to consult their wives or let their wives make decisions - and in fact if they didn't allow such, they could be accused of failing to love or being harsh.

Contrast Eph 5:22
quote:
Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
That is far broader than the Col. verse. Submitting to your husbands as to the Lord - now that is *everything*, a complete surrender: 'your will not mine'. And then stated as such.

Again, of course, just because wives are required to submit, doesn't mean the husband has to make them submit in everything... or anything for that matter! It doesn't say 'Husbands exercise authority over your wives as Christ exercises authority over the Church', but only delineates the husband's duty to the wife in terms of the love of Christ for the Church.

How complete should the Christ-husband Church-wife allegory be?

I think the way you describe you and your wife's interaction sounds lovely (really); but this isn't the impression the Dr. Dobsons of the world give to the rest of us about how these verses are to be understood and practiced!

I guess this is more Kerygmania material - what of these 2 letters, can they be dated? Were there especially troubles in Ephesus were the wives were dominating the husbands to the scandal of the Church?

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Weed
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Gordon,

A reply to an earlier post I haven't been able to get around to before now. I drafted this before your description of your own marriage which I thank you for. As Coot says, it sounds lovely, but I don't quite see how it would be different without the view you take on headship. Sounds like a great Christian marriage between equals to me.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
Now in your earlier response you have quoted the immediate context to show that there is also a link to the natural order of things; and so there is. But the natural order of things is not just about hair-wearing! It’s about submission. So Paul supports the latter (submission), insists on the former (hair style) in a situation where all churches are following the same practice— and then leaves later readers to figure out application in their context.

The natural order of things may not be "just" about hair-wearing but according to St Paul there is a natural order way of wearing your hair that is different according to whether you are a man or a woman.

quote:

So the cutural studies stuff is helpful but not essential, and has its own pitfalls too

(for example: one pitfall is a greater temptation to assume that I've got the culture nailed down, now that I've done my archaeology degree; thus dignifying my cultural insights with too much weight in the interpretive process)

My point is that there is enough cultural information to be found in the text for us to be getting on with. Could you name one substantial piece of interpretation that hinges on extra-biblical knowledge of how shepherds operated in first century Galilee? Could you name one substantial piece of interpretation that requires knowledge of first century marriage practices? I mean, knowledge that is not already there in the bible.

Of course there's always a danger in using your brain when reading but the important thing is to know when you are bringing things to the text and when the text itself supports it. Tell me, do you have a mental picture of the buildings and landscape of the bible? How much of that comes from seeing pictures and photographs?

However you ask for substantial pieces of interpretation that depend on a knowledge of shepherds or marriage practices. I thought I'd already given them and Emma has improved on my latter example but I'll go one better than that and give you an example of the extensive and crucial use of extra-biblical knowledge, and that's in translating the original text of the bible. We have dozens of translations, each one an attempt better to convey what was originally meant and to be closer to the spirit of the original. Isn't it odd if the translator is allowed to refer to other literature of the time to get at the meaning of the original but the reader of the translation isn't?

quote:
But I would counter that no-one can pay careful attention to Ephesians 5 and the way Christ treated his church, and come away thinking that it is automatically right to deny mortgages or employment to women—much less be violent towards wives— simply and only on the grounds that they are to submit! That in itself is a textual distortion.
Don't you know that for the best part of 2000 years the admonitions in the epistles have been used to justify such behaviour towards women?

quote:

Note also how we have various indications that Christian discipleship means radically standing against prevailing cultural norms, no matter how bizarre this will appear. Eg.

quote:
Luke 22:25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.
Luke 22:26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
Luke 22:27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

If the husband is in any sense a leader in the marriage, then here is an example where the husband may not simply pick up prevailing social mores and apply them to the marriage, but must do the exact opposite.
The Pope was lauded as having been the perfect servant of the church. That doesn't mean he wasn't the boss and everyone could ignore what he said.

quote:

So, we must struggle with the principles stated by Paul and how to rework them into their contemporary application. We are not free to insist that Paul was simply endorsing a slightly more enlightened version of first-century culture, as a cultural model that must be ossified into the church for all time.

Thanks. That will do for my argument about the difference between conservative evangelical treatment of scriptural references to headship and homosexuality.

quote:
I think I am still waiting for you to define what you mean by "inferiority". You have given examples; examples which I deny are what the bible had in mind when it teaches submission. But you still seem to be insisting that submission will and must equate to inferiority. True, or have I got that wrong?
I think you're not. You asked me a question about inferiority within the Trinity and I answered as best as I could.

Inferiority is a handy word in an argument, isn't it? It can mean both a plain statement of fact as to the relationship between boss and underling (one a superior and one an inferior), or when talking about an inanimate object that has more functions than another, and both those meanings are devoid of value judgements. It can also mean of lesser worth which is why, although we may still use the word superior at work (and supervisor and superintendent) we tend not to use the word inferior in case we are mistaken as to what we mean.

To submit (= place under) means one is the boss and one is the underling. Good Christian people will deny that implies any value judgment or any inequality but that doesn't get over the fact that one can tell the other what to do and expect to be obeyed. To say that one person has all the personal qualities needed to take an authoritative decision but can't be allowed to simply because of their gender is no better than deciding the same on the basis of the colour of their skin.

There comes a point, and I thought I'd made it before, that all the words about women being the equal of men whilst at the same time being subject to them ring hollow. From what you are saying, given a local church where there are only two possible leaders, one an effective, spirit-filled female and one an ineffective male who barely knows his way round the scriptures God not only prefers the crappy man but insists on him over the woman. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

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Gracie
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quote:
Originally posted by The Undiscovered Country:
Headship can only be properly understood in the wider context of the roles of men and women under God.

The Undiscovered Country, what do you mean by the "roles of men and women under God"? Do you mean you think there are fixed roles and if so what are they? Or do you mean "the roles open to men and women under God"?

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Callan
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Originally posted by Weed:

quote:
There comes a point, and I thought I'd made it before, that all the words about women being the equal of men whilst at the same time being subject to them ring hollow.
I think the arguments are an attempt to put a round peg into a square hole.

Social roles in agrarian societies are ascripted. Which means, pretty much, that you are born into your place in the pecking order and have not much chance of changing it. Within agrarian societies, generally, women are born into a subordinate role to that of men.

Most of our religious texts come from this sort of social arrangement and consequently reflect the subordination of women. They generally reflect other ascripted roles as well. Hence the notorious Biblical condonation of slavery or Luther's indignation at the peasants revolt. One could multiply examples.

Now at some point in the middle of the eighteenth century we began to move into an industrial society. Industrial societies don't do ascripted roles. This first affects social status - hence the revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and then moves on to affect gender and sexuality.

For a number of reasons societies are more conservative about gender than they are about social status and consequently religions cope better with the shift away from ascripted roles, although you can find any number of nineteenth century religious tracts from any number of churches saying that the poor should know there place.

What you get in the field of gender is a kind of 'saving of appearances' the most traditional Christian is unable to maintain the secondary status of women in the way that patristic writers (or any other denizen of the kingdom of agraria) could. Consequently you get an affirmation of the feminist tenet that women are equal, on the one hand, and a 'special' reason based on an interpretation of revelation as to why this equality should not manifest itself in the ecclesial sphere. What you have, effectively, is a kind of compromise between the values of the kingdom of agraria and the republic of industria. This allows the church (any church) to insist that it is continuing to teach what it has always taught whilst, Janus like, avoiding the appearance of being neanderthal in the sphere of gender relations.

The same applies to the "I am a feminist but..." arguments one finds on a certain thread in the Graveyard of Deceased Equines.

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Leprechaun

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# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:


To submit (= place under) means one is the boss and one is the underling. Good Christian people will deny that implies any value judgment or any inequality but that doesn't get over the fact that one can tell the other what to do and expect to be obeyed.

Weed,

It is really evident that you are absolutely determined to see this pejoratively. You may, if you wish take the idea of submission to mean inequality, despite the adherents of that position assuring you it is not. All I can say is I consider Tony Blair my equal even though I must do what he says in a far more binding way than you would see in any church or family relationship. I could choose to see the fact that I submit to Tony as a sign that he is superior to me, but only if I was determined to see my own self worth defined on the basis of the power I wield.

I don't. So he isn't.

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Callan
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# 525

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But that takes us back to the ascripted authority bit. Blair's authority doesn't rest on the fact that he is white, male, straight or middle class (although being realistic none of them hurt)but because he has a mandate from the British people and is first Minister of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

What Weed is objecting to is an institutionalised ascripted role for people based on their gender. All societies have people in authority, even the church. Generally, however, in industrial society, that authority derives, at least ostensibly, from merit in some kind of form. If Tony Blair continues to have the same authority on May 6 this will be because he has persuaded a large part of the electorate that this is a desirable outcome.

However the next Archbishop of Sidney, we can predict with a high degree of certainty, will be male. As will the next Dean. As will, unless a miracle happens, the clergy in that diocese be. Now, like the Order of the Garter, this privileging of maleness as a necessary ground for wielding authority has no damn merit in it. It is arbitrary. We know that men are not intrinsically wiser, kinder, more holy, cleverer, better at liturgy, better at pastoral care etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam.

So why male headship unless females are somehow ontologically inferior?

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
Gordon,

A reply to an earlier post I haven't been able to get around to before now. I drafted this before your description of your own marriage which I thank you for. As Coot says, it sounds lovely, but I don't quite see how it would be different without the view you take on headship. Sounds like a great Christian marriage between equals to me.

Well, this is something, at least. It is a marriage between equals. And I'm the head of the household. It seems to me that you acknowledge here that a conservative view of headship can work out in a way that doesn't demean the wife. Or is it your claim that I've misapplied the Bible?

quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
Of course there's always a danger in using your brain when reading but the important thing is to know when you are bringing things to the text and when the text itself supports it. Tell me, do you have a mental picture of the buildings and landscape of the bible? How much of that comes from seeing pictures and photographs?

I keep seeing bitumen roads and motorbikes, and people dressed like they stepped off the set of Life of Brian [Biased]

quote:
an example of the extensive and crucial use of extra-biblical knowledge, and that's in translating the original text of the bible. We have dozens of translations, each one an attempt better to convey what was originally meant and to be closer to the spirit of the original. Isn't it odd if the translator is allowed to refer to other literature of the time to get at the meaning of the original but the reader of the translation isn't?
Both translator and reader are free to range around doing their cultural studies thang, as I keep saying. It's just that their conclusions are necessarily tentative; liable to be over-ridden not just by new cultural findings but by careful re-reading of the text in the light of the rest of Scripture.

quote:
Don't you know that for the best part of 2000 years the admonitions in the epistles have been used to justify such behaviour towards women?
A problem which I explain in terms of

*sin and/or

*an over-generalisation about what has been supposed to be done in the name of Christianity while ignoring examples where Christianity has stood against the culture and/or

* a judging of the last 2000 years of culture by the narrow standards of feminism in the late 20th century, which may themselves be open to question as to their rightness.


quote:

quote:
Originally posted by me:

So, we must struggle with the principles stated by Paul and how to rework them into their contemporary application. We are not free to insist that Paul was simply endorsing a slightly more enlightened version of first-century culture, as a cultural model that must be ossified into the church for all time.

then riposted by you:
Thanks. That will do for my argument about the difference between conservative evangelical treatment of scriptural references to headship and homosexuality.

Very naughty indeed Weed. You slid past the bit where I argued that the reason for this conclusion came from other parts of the Bible that addressed the subject of leadership; so making it appear as if I was appealing to a cultural reason for changing the interpretation of the text. Full marks for trying, though!

quote:
originally posted by Weed:

Inferiority is a handy word in an argument, isn't it? It can mean both a plain statement of fact as to the relationship between boss and underling (one a superior and one an inferior), or when talking about an inanimate object that has more functions than another, and both those meanings are devoid of value judgements. It can also mean of lesser worth which is why, although we may still use the word superior at work (and supervisor and superintendent) we tend not to use the word inferior in case we are mistaken as to what we mean.

Yes, we are certainly beginning from different ends of the definition. You believe that someone becomes inferior/superior by virtue of occupying a particular role; or having or lacking certain abilities; or having a particular level of authority; essentially a functional definition which then reflects back onto the essence of the person. I begin from the point of view that all are essentially equal in the eyes of God, and that equality can't be compromised by the having of different abilities, roles, or levels of authority.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
But that takes us back to the ascripted authority bit. Blair's authority doesn't rest on the fact that he is white, male, straight or middle class (although being realistic none of them hurt)but because he has a mandate from the British people and is first Minister of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

What Weed is objecting to is an institutionalised ascripted role for people based on their gender.

I understood Weed to be objecting to this is because it by necessity means that women are inferior. What I was pointing out is that unless one sees superiority or inferiority ontologically or otherwise based on the power one wields this isn't necessarily the case. I can see the issue of discrimination merely in terms of why some people should be denied roles that others can have. What I was objecting to was Weed's insistence that if someone tells someone what to do they are necessarily superior, cos it quacks like a duck or whatever. I just don't accept that analysis.

In short, saying "I don't see a reason for the distinction" (the ascripted authority bit) I can accept as an argument although I don't agree with it. Saying that it necessarily implies the inferiority of the submitter I don't accept, for the various implications that would have for the the people I obey every day.

On the question of - "if it's not inferiority what is it?" - I do think this is where it crosses over with the Trinity thread.
It's diversity, not inferiority, as there is within the entirely equal parts of the Godhead.

But I'm pretty sure now Weed doesn't accept that, and I know neither of you are likely to accept that that diversity is manifested in men and women's roles in creation in that way. To me that just seems self-evident, but I realise that's not an argument. Ho hum.

ETA - I have just read Gordon's last paragraph and it was exactly what I was trying to say but much better.
The valuing of someone from what they do, or are able to do, or are allowed to do, to me seems profoundly un-Christian, but I daaresay I haven't understood it properly.

[ 11. April 2005, 14:04: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
I think the way you describe you and your wife's interaction sounds lovely (really); but this isn't the impression the Dr. Dobsons of the world give to the rest of us about how these verses are to be understood and practiced!

The problem, of course, is that the Dr. Dobsons of the world are hardly the world's foremost authorities on how the Holy Scriptures are to be understood and practiced. The man is neither a bishop nor a priest nor a saint. He's a writer, a speaker, and a child psychologist. I have absolutely no respect at all for his abilities as a child psychologist -- I wouldn't let him anywhere near my children! -- and only grudging respect for his abilities as a writer and speaker. Since he can make a decent living writing and speaking, he's got to be at least fairly good at those things. But that doesn't mean that he knows what he's saying when he writes and speaks.

So forget Dr. Dobson and his ilk. They're primarily cultural conservatives, trying to defend and restore the lifestyle epitomized by the family in the "See Spot Run" books, and to defend it, they read it into the Holy Scriptures and therefore say it is God-ordained and what we all must do.

They're wrong.

Marriage is not about who's the boss. It is about holiness. The purpose of marriage is not good order. The purpose of marriage is salvation.

Laura, to answer your question and to say what Christian headship ought to look like in practice is rather like saying what Christian fasting ought to look like. I could give you a general description of how it's supposed to work (and I thought I had), but the general rules are simply a framework of what the Church has worked out as being best for most people most of the time. But because it is an ascetic labor, something undertaken for ones salvation, each person practicing it might do it a little differently -- and that wouldn't mean they were wrong, but only that they are at a different place in their life, with different needs, and a different path to walk.

The role of the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. That's where headship starts. Not with who gets to rule over whom, or who gets to cast the deciding vote.

I don't know why it starts with the man. I could speculate that it's because the relationship between Christ and the Church started with Christ, and his love for us. Since marriage is an icon of the relationship of Christ and the Church, the starting point is mirrored in the relationship of the husband and wife.

And, as I said, this is given to us for our salvation. Not so that we can learn how to get our own way, but so that we can become like God.

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
It is a marriage between equals. And I'm the head of the household.

If it's a marriage of equals, what room is there for a head? If there is a head, then one of you is unequal. Or do you use the word "head" in a different way to the bulk of the English speaking world?

Of course, in a marriage both partners are equal but different. There may well be, and probably is, a difference in ability such that if (for example) there needs to be some wiring done then it makes sense to let the person more capable of that get on with it. But I can't think of anything bar breast feeding babies where there is an inherent difference between husband and wife that would make it normal for one sex rather than the other to fill any particular role.

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Dave Marshall

Shipmate
# 7533

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Isn't this all really a hangover from a time before "civilisation" when survival was primarily dependent on physical attributes? Men tended to be larger, women were extra vulnerable through pregnancy and while giving birth and nursing, so men were physically able to dominate and impose their will.

Now we live in a society under rule of law that forbids violent imposition of will, women have been able to demonstrate that our physical differences do not infer necessary difference in capability in any other area of personhood. That sections of Christianity still cow-tow to the I guess understandable if indefensible reaction of some men to the loss of preferential access to power, devising these bizarre justifications that somehow this is part of God's plan, is an afront to the God-ness in humanity and the nature of our Creator. It's defending the indefensible.

Time to grow up and move on, I think.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:


Now we live in a society under rule of law that forbids violent imposition of will, women have been able to demonstrate that our physical differences do not infer necessary difference in capability in any other area of personhood. That sections of Christianity still cow-tow to the I guess understandable if indefensible reaction of some men to the loss of preferential access to power, devising these bizarre justifications that somehow this is part of God's plan, is an afront to the God-ness in humanity and the nature of our Creator. It's defending the indefensible.

Time to grow up and move on, I think.

Yes. Indeed. I believe in headship because I find emancipated women immensely threatening. [Roll Eyes]
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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
It is a marriage between equals. And I'm the head of the household.

If it's a marriage of equals, what room is there for a head? If there is a head, then one of you is unequal. Or do you use the word "head" in a different way to the bulk of the English speaking world?

Of course, in a marriage both partners are equal but different. There may well be, and probably is, a difference in ability such that if (for example) there needs to be some wiring done then it makes sense to let the person more capable of that get on with it. But I can't think of anything bar breast feeding babies where there is an inherent difference between husband and wife that would make it normal for one sex rather than the other to fill any particular role.

I don't think I'm using the word headship differently, no — I've been at pains to sketch out what it means in previous posts. It is different only in the sense that (as Jesus said about leadership) it is not a matter of lording it over people 'like the Gentiles do'.

What I resist is the idea that equality is a function of merit or role or ability. Equality is a function, rather, of having been created by God in his image, having the same access to the gospel of salvation, and being called 'sons of God' (yes, the women too—as you would know, it's a technical term).

Thus, you and I and the late Terri Schiavo are — in every sense that actually matters — the equal of Kerry Packer, Rupert Murdoch, Tony Blair, Erin the friendly editor, and George W. Bush. This is inalienably and unalterably true because we are created in the image of God. It matters not at all that some of those mentioned boss around thousands and even millions of people, and you or I boss around nobody. We are still equal to them, because God says we are.

It's ontology, not function. Thus there is room for a person to be head within marriage and for both to be equal, at the same time.

[ 11. April 2005, 17:25: Message edited by: Gordon Cheng ]

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Weed
Shipmate
# 4402

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Callan, I agree with everything you have said and I liked your post on ascripted authority a lot.

quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
It is really evident that you are absolutely determined to see this pejoratively. You may, if you wish take the idea of submission to mean inequality, despite the adherents of that position assuring you it is not. All I can say is I consider Tony Blair my equal even though I must do what he says in a far more binding way than you would see in any church or family relationship. I could choose to see the fact that I submit to Tony as a sign that he is superior to me, but only if I was determined to see my own self worth defined on the basis of the power I wield.

I don't. So he isn't.

How do you get the idea I'm determined to see it perjoratively? I spent so long on the paragraph about the word "inferior" trying not to give the wrong impression but it looks as though I failed. What's happening now is precisely what I was warning about. When you use the word "inferior" you must mean equal; when I use it I must mean "of less value". I'll write something at the end of this about what I actually believe.

Secondly, I don't have to do anything Tony Blair says. You may be mistaking him for Parliament.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
A reply to an earlier post I haven't been able to get around to before now. I drafted this before your description of your own marriage which I thank you for. As Coot says, it sounds lovely, but I don't quite see how it would be different without the view you take on headship. Sounds like a great Christian marriage between equals to me.

Well, this is something, at least. It is a marriage between equals. And I'm the head of the household. It seems to me that you acknowledge here that a conservative view of headship can work out in a way that doesn't demean the wife. Or is it your claim that I've misapplied the Bible?
Alan's made the point I would have made in reply to this.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
quote:
Originally posted by Weed: an example of the extensive and crucial use of extra-biblical knowledge, and that's in translating the original text of the bible. We have dozens of translations, each one an attempt better to convey what was originally meant and to be closer to the spirit of the original. Isn't it odd if the translator is allowed to refer to other literature of the time to get at the meaning of the original but the reader of the translation isn't?
Both translator and reader are free to range around doing their cultural studies thang, as I keep saying. It's just that their conclusions are necessarily tentative; liable to be over-ridden not just by new cultural findings but by careful re-reading of the text in the light of the rest of Scripture.
I have no problem with that. All my conclusions are work in progress and I'm always ready to revise my ideas given further information. I understood you to say that the method of bible interpretation you approved of didn't allow any considerations extrinsic to the bible.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
Don't you know that for the best part of 2000 years the admonitions in the epistles have been used to justify such behaviour towards women? A problem which I explain in terms of

*sin and/or

*an over-generalisation about what has been supposed to be done in the name of Christianity while ignoring examples where Christianity has stood against the culture and/or

* a judging of the last 2000 years of culture by the narrow standards of feminism in the late 20th century, which may themselves be open to question as to their rightness.

You take my breath away. I'll have to think how to reply to this because it seems to ignore history completely.

quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
quote:
then riposted by you:
Thanks. That will do for my argument about the difference between conservative evangelical treatment of scriptural references to headship and homosexuality.

Very naughty indeed Weed. You slid past the bit where I argued that the reason for this conclusion came from other parts of the Bible that addressed the subject of leadership; so making it appear as if I was appealing to a cultural reason for changing the interpretation of the text. Full marks for trying, though!
But you had, surely? You said that the bits about hair were only relevant because in that culture they were a sign of submission in the case of women and authority in the case of men. You said that submission was the principle but that had to be interpreted according to the culture. Where have I misrepresented you?

quote:
originally posted by Weed:
quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:
Inferiority is a handy word in an argument, isn't it? It can mean both a plain statement of fact as to the relationship between boss and underling (one a superior and one an inferior), or when talking about an inanimate object that has more functions than another, and both those meanings are devoid of value judgements. It can also mean of lesser worth which is why, although we may still use the word superior at work (and supervisor and superintendent) we tend not to use the word inferior in case we are mistaken as to what we mean.

Yes, we are certainly beginning from different ends of the definition. You believe that someone becomes inferior/superior by virtue of occupying a particular role; or having or lacking certain abilities; or having a particular level of authority; essentially a functional definition which then reflects back onto the essence of the person. I begin from the point of view that all are essentially equal in the eyes of God, and that equality can't be compromised by the having of different abilities, roles, or levels of authority.
Then you, like Leprechaun, have got me totally wrong.

This is what I believe. First, that God loves us all equally and infinitely and we all have equal worth in his eyes. We are commanded to love others as God loves us, which means that we must value everyone else equally as well. If you take women as a whole and men as a whole there are differences between the sexes. On the other hand if you take any one man and any one woman the generalities about who's better at this skill or that, who's stronger and who's weaker etc, are no use at all because there's great diversity at the individual level.

We all have a Christian duty, I believe, to make the most of the talents we have been given and to put them to use in serving others. That's the way we serve God. I believe God deserves the best we can give him and so do our fellow human beings. I believe that jobs and positions of authority should be given to the person on merit regardless of race, creed, colour or gender.

I believe that should go for positions in the church and that's what I've always been used to. In my home denomination there is a record of a church meeting over a hundred and fifty years ago at which some people objected to the fact that women were allowed to be ministers. The record simply says, "Their rendering of Timothy was not accepted", and that was that! It appears never to have been raised again in the history of the church.

I believe that within a marriage the parties should work out between themselves what roles they adopt. I cannot believe that God wants a weak and ineffectual man to be in a position of authority, overriding what his wife considers the right thing to do, simiply because he is a man. If two people want to adopt that model between themselves, fine, but please don't say that everyone must on the grounds that it is Christian doctrine. Pace josephine, how the doctrine has been described on this thread isn't how the West at least has understood the epistles for almost 2000 years. You've taken the "submission" bit out in all but name and thereby have removed all the meaning from the word. Even to retain the idea of submission, if not the reality, is, I believe, a distortion of the good news of the gospel. Jesus was a radical and his followers still haven't realised just how radical he was. The epistle writers did the best they could in their own culture and its limitations but we can do so much better and the Church ought to be out there leading from the front.

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Weed

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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I find it interesting that nobody has brought out the fact that when Paul says the man is the "head" of the wife, the word he is using is not arche (leader, ruler) but kephale (physical head).

In all places in the LXX where the Hebrew "Rosh" is translated as "arche" the context clearly is talking about a leader or ruler; and where it is translated as "kephale" the physical head of the body is being referred to.

According to John Temple Bristow, the only other place kephale is used metaphorically in ancient Greek writings is for the "point man" (such is the modern terminology for the same thing) in a military squadron -- someone who is of the same rank as the other people in the squad, but goes first and hence gets shot at first, is the one to step on the land mines, etc.

Not sure if this helps or hinders the convo any but felt it should be brought up.

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scoticanus
Shipmate
# 5140

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I find this thread unreal - like stepping into the pages of Alice in Wonderland!

It doesn't accord with anything in my own experience.

My family were all actively practising mainstream Christians, mainly Scottish Episcopalian and (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. In the three generations of them I can remember on both sides, none of them spoke of, or even (as far as I'm aware) thought of, "headship". Moreover, I've never heard the subject so much as mentioned by any of my Christian friends or acquaintances, or by anyone at all in my Christian life. It's always seemed to me about as daft and outdated an idea as most of the ritual prohibitions of Leviticus.

As I remarked on another thread, my mother (born in 1929) and my grandmother (born in 1892) would have laughed themselves silly at the very thought that they were in any way subordinate to their husbands. So, most definitely, would my wife!

Posts: 491 | From: Edinburgh, Scotland | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
I find it interesting that nobody has brought out the fact that when Paul says the man is the "head" of the wife, the word he is using is not arche (leader, ruler) but kephale (physical head).

Well, I never mentioned it because I didn't know that. It is useful bit of information.

I like the analogy with the "head" being the squaddie who takes the lead position, rather than (say) an officer. I still don't see any reason why that has to be the husband and not the wife.

Which brings me back to Gordons post ... "It's ontology, not function". But, what is the ontological difference between a man and a woman in a relationship? I can actually see some very limited possibility of functional differences due to definite physical differences (the husband can't give birth to children, nor breastfeed them) or ability and experience (that isn't gender dependant). But ontologically?

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
[qb] I find it interesting that nobody has brought out the fact that when Paul says the man is the "head" of the wife, the word he is using is not arche (leader, ruler) but kephale (physical head).

Well, I never mentioned it because I didn't know that. It is useful bit of information.

I like the analogy with the "head" being the squaddie who takes the lead position, rather than (say) an officer. I still don't see any reason why that has to be the husband and not the wife.

Exactly. Some people are better fitted to take the lead position in some situations. The idea that it would always be the man makes me wonder how people advocating headship think women who never marry make it through life.
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Weed
Shipmate
# 4402

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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
I find it interesting that nobody has brought out the fact that when Paul says the man is the "head" of the wife, the word he is using is not arche (leader, ruler) but kephale (physical head).

I thought there had been a thread in Kerygmania on it some months back but I haven't been able to find anything either there or in Limbo. I've a vague recollection of people talking of head as in the source of a river.

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Weed

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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In an attempt to summarize, here are the key questions raised so far, to my mind:

1) Is there a fundamental biblical concept of a husband's headship with respect to his wife such that it should be timelessly applied independently of cultural developments?

If so

2) what discernible affect does this concept have on how marriages work?

3) does this rest on a still more fundamental concept of submission without subordination in the Trinity?

And, as a bonus (but tied up with 3) above)

4) Does submission imply or entail inferiority (being less than equal)?

To start with

3): The Godhead as an example of submission

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but after reading the Trinity and Subordinationism thread, it would appear, somewhat to my surprise, that even the most headship-favourable Shipmates are loth to draw a direct parallel between the submission of the Son to the Father and a wife's submission to her husband (witness Gordon Cheng's declaration here on that thread):

quote:
the point of contact as regards our image-hood means that we (humans) are fundamentally relational in nature, and that relationship is ultimate reality. That's about as far as I'd want to take it with confidence[/url]
Gordon goes on to suggest that 1 Cor 11:3 might go beyond this, but so far the consensus seems to be that the Trinity is just too far beyond our understanding to form a reliable basis on which to extrapolate anything very meaningful in terms of husband/wife relationships.

In addition, don't we need to bear in mind that the Son and the Father are sinless, and we aren't? Submitting to someone perfect is a whole different deal to submitting to someone who's not – and surely that should suggest caution in using a trinity-based argument in favour of headship in marriage?

4) Submission and equality

The headshipmates [Big Grin] insist that submission does not compromise equality. Given that appeals to the Trinity seem to have been put on the back burner, doesn't that run into trouble right here:

quote:
Ephesians 5:24:
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Would it not follow in this case that the Church is equal to Christ?

2) What difference does headship make?

After having read the whole of this thread, I'm with those who say that I can see very little practical difference between the "egalitarians" and the "headshipmates" in terms of how their marriages work.

1) What's the biblical evidence for this concept?

I think it's fairly safe to say we're mainly talking about Paul's writings in 1 Cor 11, Eph 5, and perhaps 1 Tim 2. Gordon Cheng, you have had a good go at explaining why head coverings are a local cultural adaptation, the abandoning of which does not call into question the timeless headship principle. You appear to be on solid ground if one considers verses such as 1 Corinthians 11:7-9:

quote:
…man (…) is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
but what do you make of Paul suddenly going back on himself in the verses 11-12?

quote:
In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
and then throwing appeals to eternal principles to the winds with an exasperated verse 13

quote:
Judge for yourselves
before finishing with an almost sulky verse 16

quote:
If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God.
Just to make things worse before I leave this passage, doesn't the argument specifically in favour of head coverings in verses 9-10

quote:
neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
sound suspiciously like a "creational argument" of precisely the thought headshipmates think should not be discarded as merely "cultural"?

To conclude: I was once a staunch Grudem/Piper man on these issues. The whole story of how I came to call that into question will have to wait, but suffice it to say that I now think that to attempt build such immutable principles on such difficult passages, given the attested historical abuse of such positions by men, and a whole load of other evidence, is surely the last kind of area in which we should presume to advance with dogmatism.

[PS my kephale hurts!]

[PPS Weed, if anyone can find serious scholarly support for the idea of kephale meaning source, I'd be surprised]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Gordon Cheng

a child on sydney harbour
# 8895

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Just a comment on "kephale", pulled from the Grudem paper that The Undiscovered Country linked (Thanks TUC, it's a good summary of the position):

quote:
Egalitarians claim the word ‘head’ doesn’t mean authority but ‘source’ (ie Adam was the source of Eve). The Greek word is ‘kephale’. I got a list on computer of a wide sample of occurrences of the word kephale in the ancient world – 2,336 examples. In most it just means physical head, such as one soldier cutting off the head of another in battle. I found at least 50 examples of one person being the head of another and it’s always an authority relationship eg the General is the head of the army, the Emperor is the head of the empire. Never in all of Greek literature is there any place where person A is said to be the head of person B and is not in authority over that person.

I have a private letter that I have had permission to publish from Peter Greer from the Bodleian Library in Oxford where he has been working as a lexicographer for 52 years. He is the greatest living expert on ancient Greek words. I met him last week. He says in this letter the meaning for kephale as ‘source’ does not exist.

Grudem is about as fussy and punctilious a scholar as they come on details like this. The source of the "kephale = source" misunderstanding was traced, possibly by him, to a single unsubstantiated footnote in the work of a leading evangelical scholar (I think I know his name but I won't take the risk of getting it wrong here), subsequently cited without checking by a large number of people since. That is, until Grudem did his thing with the 2336 examples of the word 'kephale' in ancient Greek literature. All I can imagine is that when Grudem and said scholar meet in heaven, said scholar will slap him upside of the head for being such an annoying little git for having chased this issue through [Biased]

Also in that article that TUC linked, you will find the argument 1 Corinthians 11:3 used to linking the doctrine of the trinity to the question of headship and submission.

I will be away on conferences for a few days and need to do some prep too, so the flow of my responses on this thread will slow down a bit — apologies in advance. Eutychus, thank you for your helpful summation of the issues to this point.

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