What Value Do Evangelicals Add?

One more thought about David French’s implicit castigation of Al Mohler for deciding to support Donald Trump. It goes beyond French’s own theology of regeneration and good works to his w-w. If he thinks that faith should inform all he does, if that means especially it should determine his political judgments, why is his godly point of view so similar to journalists who don’t pretend to be Christians? Shouldn’t a Christian understanding of human nature, virtue, governance, society and more mean that a believer’s analysis will look different from a non-Christians? Wasn’t that the point of w-w thinking, integrating faith and intellect?

Take the case of Alabama Republican, Roy Moore. In his exchange with Eric Metaxas, French said “America is better off without Roy Moore.” He didn’t say much more than that but it’s not hard to imagine that again Moore came up short in the character balance sheet.

Anyone who tells you that your choice is limited to pro-abortion Doug Jones or an incompetent, unfit apparent child abuser like Roy Moore is simply lying to you. If you are a faithful conservative, you can write in a different name or stay home. You can reject the choice served up by the plurality of Alabama GOP primary voters and simply say, “If you want my vote, you have to do better.”

…There is no comparison between Moore and men like Patton, Jefferson, and King. Their legacies are complicated by their flaws. Moore’s candidacy is unambiguous. There is no positive political legacy to “complicate.” There is only a sordid, ignorant, and revolting reality.

No party or politician is entitled to your vote. Every man or woman who seeks public office has to earn the public’s trust. Roy Moore has earned nothing but its contempt.

This is not that different from David Graham’s point of view at the Atlantic:

The newest allegations against Moore present Republicans with a choice—not only individual officeholders, but the party as a whole, both nationally and in Alabama. Withdrawing support for Moore, and calling for voters not to support him, would be a bitter pill. It’s too late to replace him on the ticket, and although there’s talk of a Luther Strange write-in campaign, a Moore defeat would probably mean the seat goes to Democrat Doug Jones. And yet if the party’s members can’t bring themselves to set aside narrow partisan interest and condemn a man whom they despise, with a track record of bigotry, and with multiple on-the-record accusations of improper sexual misconduct with underage women, what behavior and which candidate can they possibly rule out in the future?

None of what French and Graham write is untrue, nor is it particularly profound or very political, unless electoral politics is really about finding the most virtuous people.

So what value does French add? As a recognized evangelical writer with a law degree and some history in conservative circles, he seems to add the evangelical perspective. What makes it different from writers at the Atlantic is that French appeals to Jesus for his morality.

That is not political philosophy. As Mark Noll wrote almost 10 years ago:

The merger of Jesus and Jefferson that propelled the New Christian Right was neither made in heaven, as in the eyes of its proponents, nor was it a cynical exercise in hypocritical self-interest, as often portrayed by its opponents. It was rather a historically constructed contingency that, judged from a broad Christian perspective, deserves to be both applauded and denounced….evangelical conservative politics has been a movement without a philosophy. … Yet to deal with such complexities—to bring together solidly grounded conceptions of government, employment, education, capitalism, race, history, world affairs, and even Christianity into practical political action—requires political philosophy of the sort that American evangelicals have never possessed. Theirs is not the tradition of Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, or Mater et Magistra. It is instead the tradition of Charles G. Finney, who in the 1830s declared that the problem of slavery could be resolved “in three years’ time” if only slaveholders would recognize that slaveholding was a sin. It is the lineage of Billy Sunday, who in 1919 predicted that Prohibition would empty American prisons and transform the country into a heaven on earth.

The flourishing of conservative evangelical politics in recent American history has done considerable good through the exercise of instinct, anger, energy, and zeal. It would have done much more good, and also drawn nearer to the Christianity by which it is named, if it had manifested comparable wisdom, honesty, self-criticism, and discernment.

163 thoughts on “What Value Do Evangelicals Add?

  1. ““The fact that a person can get a room in a library and hold a Drag Queen Story Hour and get people to come? That’s one of the blessings of liberty.” – David French.

    Darryl,
    I quite cynically believe that David French is just padding his liberal bonafides for his next think tank gig. He’s obviously unemployable at a conservative one. He also doesn’t seem to be good for much besides punditry, so he’s not going to switch careers. Instead, he’s going to switch teams. NRO alumni have a history of back-stabbing the right.

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  2. Well he has a pretty good track record as a lawyer. But whatever the case, he has moved on to the Dispatch from what I gather. Given the way the “right” has treated French, I wouldn’t blame him a bit for back-stabbing the right. As far as his quip about DQSH – he’s right.

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  3. Well he has a pretty good track record as a lawyer.

    Maybe he could go back to law.

    But whatever the case, he has moved on to the Dispatch from what I gather.

    Never heard of it. Good riddance.

    As far as his quip about DQSH – he’s right.

    In your universe.

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  4. For better or worse, we are a pluralistic nation without a shared view of morality. Those with the cultural power hold a view of morality that is antithetical to historic Christianity. Fortunately, we have liberty and one of the blessings of liberty is that the state doesn’t get to be the arbiter of whose moral vision is correct. That means that drag queens get to reserve a room at the library to read a book about Heather’s two mommies and an evangelical can reserve a room at the library to hold an after school bible club. The state has to remain content neutral. Those on the left and the right who want to toss that blessing are opening Pandora’s box. If the state can censor speech on the basis of “immoral” content, I’m pretty sure it is the evangelical student group meeting for a bible study who is going to be censored rather than the drag queens.

    There are two criticisms of David French and his perspective that I find maddening. One is the triumphalist narrative that if we just pulled up our socks and spoke out, we could “win America back”. The idea that if all these mushy conservatives just toughened up, we could turn back the clock to the 1950s. The other is the defeatist narrative that insists that if we don’t win every battle, we’re all going to hell in a hand basket and might as well burn it all down. Both views suffer from an over realized eschatology. Rather than recognize the reality that this side of glory will never be perfect and that it can be better or worse, they adopt an absolutist approach to their policies.

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  5. SDB,

    But the state isn’t content neutral. It forbids some content. Yelling fire and all that. Here it has determined that having a bunch of sexual deviants read to children isn’t a form of child sexual abuse even though sexual abuse can include things beyond physical touching. I’m fairly certain, however, that they wouldn’t allow a bunch of sex offenders to read out loud from a manual teaching people how to abuse others. They’ve made a content judgment.

    But I agree with your second paragraph.

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  6. For what it is worth, and French has done good work in the past, I just think he’s hopelessly naive in the present.

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  7. Robert,
    I think you misunderstand what “content neutral” means. A law banning speech likely to cause public panic regardless of the content of the speech is content neutral. Similarly for “fighting words”.

    A law banning sex offenders from a Library is content neutral. A law banning reading pro-LGBT books is not. There are categories of unprotected speech, but these are very narrow (fraud, fighting words, obscene materials, etc…). The state doesn’t get it perfect, which is why we need folks like David French who has been an incredibly successful litigator on matters of religious liberty and free speech.

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  8. SDB,

    The very existence of unprotected speech of any kind demonstrates that the state is not content neutral. It has determined that some content is unacceptable.

    A state that has already determined that crossdressers may read to children in public has already determined that Christians are unwelcome. Just give them time. French is naive to think otherwise. There is no neutral marketplace of ideas and there never has been.

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  9. Leaving aside the natural law arguments against DQSH, DQSH – as it actually it is – brings children in close contact with chomos. Several of the men who perform at DQSH have convictions, most are on their way to convictions. We should not allow parents to deliberately endanger their children this way. Aside from that, parents may stumble into the library when DQSH is going on and have to leave so that their children are not endangered by chomos. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Normal mothers rightly sense that they shouldn’t allow these creeps around their children. So DQSH restricts access to taxpayer funded public spaces for normal people much like allowing vagrants to make camp in a public park.

    Let’s base our laws on reality, not absurd political theory, please.

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  10. Robert, I think you still misunderstand what “content neutral” refers to in this context. Content neutral does not refer to the the state in an absolute sense – it refers to certain categories of expression that find protection in 1st amendment jurisprudence. Here is a helpful primer. What I hear you saying is that you want the state to expand its power to limit expression in order to ban having children exposed to “bad’ people or “bad” ideas. If you do that, I don’t think its the DQSH that is going to be restricted. It is going to be churches that are censored to “protect the children”. If we want to base our laws (and presumably the checks on our laws) in reality, we have to account for the fact of the ever evolving pluralism in our country.

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  11. @walt
    You’re being absurd. As I already said, a law banning sex offenders would be perfectly appropriate. Indeed, many libraries already require a background check if you are going to be engaging with children. Perhaps people in communities that don’t have that requirement should talk to their city council. The fact of the matter is that expanding the power of the government to restrict expression the way you want to do will not result in banning DQSHs but rather traditionalist religious speech.

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  12. SDB,

    That’s the danger, but allowing DQSH isn’t going to prevent it. I think the opposite, in fact. It normalizes Drag Queens and makes it more likely that the state will take seriously the claims that churches who preach against such things are engaged in hate speech.

    The problem is the absence of a common definition of what a moral good is. Without the common definition, there can be no real rule of law. It’s all might makes right. We’re well down the road to that. French standing up for DQSH isn’t helping the case.

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  13. You’re being absurd. As I already said, a law banning sex offenders would be perfectly appropriate.

    But rather than try to get a legislature to strain out a law like that only to have it die on a governor or president’s desk like so many bills limiting abortion, it would be far better to use common sense and ban DQSH. We don’t need a law for this.

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  14. I don’t know whether the institutions have treated him badly, but a number of prominent conservatives have. Is Breitbart an institution?

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  15. @Walt: part of the problem is the slipperiness of word games. What exactly would you ban? The name? People reading stories while wearing clothes that cross traditional gender lines?

    Banning participation in childrens’ events by level 2/3 sex offenders is the only legally defensible line I could imagine drawing. Do you have other concrete ideas?

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  16. What exactly would you ban? The name? People reading stories while wearing clothes that cross traditional gender lines?

    Good questions. Probably transgenderism itself. Is natural law actually Law or not? If it’s Law, then it needs to be law.

    Ultimately our problem is that we have at least two incompatible cultures trying to live within the same contiguous “United States.” One loosely buys into our American legal system based on natural law as understood from a biblical lens since those from the Christian consensus have the Genesis 1-2 accounts of the Creation of man to inform our God-given consciences. The other side is headed for ruin.

    Having the other side with us is like trying to tread water while holding a bowling ball overhead.

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  17. Are you saying that everything that violates natural law should be illegal? What do you understand natural law to be? This phrase gets tossed around very casually. Are you thinking in terms of the Aristotelian-Thomistic usage?

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  18. Walt,

    Ultimately our problem is that we have at least two incompatible cultures trying to live within the same contiguous “United States.” One loosely buys into our American legal system based on natural law as understood from a biblical lens since those from the Christian consensus have the Genesis 1-2 accounts of the Creation of man to inform our God-given consciences. The other side is headed for ruin.

    Exactly. All of the foundations that make our constitutional order work are gone. We’re running on fumes, and fumes will only get you so far.

    I find it hard to believe that people like David French don’t get this, but he really does seem to be that naive. It’s sad to watch. He really does seem to think that the people who have power on the left are good-faith people who will be convinced if we elect nice people to office.

    A peaceful breakup of the country is probably the best we can hope for, apart from some kind of revival of natural law, which seems unlikely.

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  19. Robert
    I think the view you present is overwrought. Bill’s book on the Civil War is worth reading. It was a religious crisis in a real sense. We had two very different cultures with the same purported foundation, and the only way to resolve the dispute was the application of power. Just 50yrs ago we had a similar divide that came with bombings, riots, and mass protests when we were ostensibly less divided. Kingdoms come and go. Always have, and until Christ’s return they always will, so in a sense you are right that ultimately our constitutional republic won’t last. But I don’t see that our situation is as precarious today as it was in 1860 or 1968. The question is how do we go about making the best of things given our current reality. For all the lament about the failure of liberalism, I don’t see any better alternatives. Those of us who see liberalism as our best option want to do our best to preserve what we can. It isn’t perfect, but liberalism was never a guarantee of Utopia. French has been quite successful at making the case for robust individual rights of conscience. He isn’t batting 1.000, but being over .500 is pretty good. But freedom means freedom for everyone (as Cheney quipped), and that means the right to use public spaces for Bible studies comes with the right to have dqsh. Of course you can have content neutral restrictions like requiring background checks for volunteers working with kids, but it would apply to drag queens and Bible study leaders. Yes you have to keep fighting…there are no final battles on this side of glory…and you will lose some. But there have been a significant number of wins over the past generation. Indeed minority religious practice is more protected today than it was 50yrs ago (and yes conservative protestantism is a minority religion). From tax breaks for private school tuition, to vouchers, to increased rights for homeschooling – nonmainstream religious practice has never been more secure. On abortion, it is more restricted today than any time since 1972, and I suspect that absent RvW, anti-abortion legislation would be a fringe Catholic thing. Since the 90’s the abortion rate has been declining (along with other social ills). Sure, not everything is better, but many things are. The problem as I see it is not politics or the direction of “America”. The main challenge the Church faces today is retaining members and effective evangelism. The problem is within the church. We conservative Protestants waste a lot of energy on extraneous issues in an effort to remove the speck from the world’s eye while not adequately addressing our own issues… Broadly speaking, we are lax on keeping the Lord’s day, cast aside biblical worship as antiquated, fail to deal with sexual sin appropriately in our churches (from missionary schools that are cesspits of abuse, to cover-ups of youth pastors, to the atrocious treatment of young women who have been assaulted, to.,,well whatever it was Doug Wilson did), do horrible at catechism, and can’t even seem to keep our colleges and seminaries on the straight and narrow. The biggest threats to passing on the faith to the next generation are not liberals, thE ACLU, or godless public schools. They are youth sports on Sundays, 24/7 entertainment, and the general busyness of family life. I will never forget the year a PCA church I attended in AZ cancelled Sunday worship because it was Christmas day. The thinking was that we were all at the Christmas Eve service and people needed to be home with their families on Christmas. Drag queens didn’t force this on us. Our PCA church sent a clear message about what “really” mattered.

    French is doing great work litigating on behalf of believers who find the state forcing them to violate their conscience. He and groups like his have improved the situation for believers. We are largely squandering the freedom we have. If we don’t take our faith seriously, why should we expect outsiders to listen to us?

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  20. sdb,

    But I don’t see that our situation is as precarious today as it was in 1860 or 1968. The question is how do we go about making the best of things given our current reality. For all the lament about the failure of liberalism, I don’t see any better alternatives.

    Do we have to agree on this? I propose divorce citing irreconcilable differences. I don’t foresee the two sides persuading one-another and I don’t think something as profane as politics should cause division among brothers in the church. You go your way (take Zrim); we’ll go ours. City-states are possibly the way forward. God speed.

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  21. sdb,

    But I don’t see that our situation is as precarious today as it was in 1860 or 1968. The question is how do we go about making the best of things given our current reality. For all the lament about the failure of liberalism, I don’t see any better alternatives.

    Do we have to agree on this? I propose divorce citing irreconcilable differences. I don’t foresee the two sides persuading one-another and I don’t think something as profane as politics should cause division among brothers in the church. You go your way (take Zrim with you); we’ll go ours. City-states are possibly the way forward. God speed.

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  22. The problem is within the church. We conservative Protestants waste a lot of energy on extraneous issues in an effort to remove the speck from the world’s eye while not adequately addressing our own issues… Broadly speaking, we are lax on keeping the Lord’s day, cast aside biblical worship as antiquated, fail to deal with sexual sin appropriately in our churches (from missionary schools that are cesspits of abuse, to cover-ups of youth pastors, to the atrocious treatment of young women who have been assaulted, to.,,well whatever it was Doug Wilson did), do horrible at catechism, and can’t even seem to keep our colleges and seminaries on the straight and narrow. The biggest threats to passing on the faith to the next generation are not liberals, thE ACLU, or godless public schools. They are youth sports on Sundays, 24/7 entertainment, and the general busyness of family life. I will never forget the year a PCA church I attended in AZ cancelled Sunday worship because it was Christmas day. The thinking was that we were all at the Christmas Eve service and people needed to be home with their families on Christmas. Drag queens didn’t force this on us. Our PCA church sent a clear message about what “really” mattered.
    French is doing great work litigating on behalf of believers who find the state forcing them to violate their conscience. He and groups like his have improved the situation for believers. We are largely squandering the freedom we have. If we don’t take our faith seriously, why should we expect outsiders to listen to us?

    Totally agree with this. I can’t figure out why we have to have a repeat of the early 20th century liberal Protestant collapse in the 21st century like the PCA is doing. Groundhog Day. We look absurd.

    I’m grateful for French sticking up for us in court but I’m also mindful of the Peter Principle.

    Sorry for the treble post. I thought WordPress swallowed my first comment (MODS?!??)

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  23. SDB,

    I don’t disagree that the church is doing a piss poor job, but you’re being naive. In years past, there was some sympathy on the part of elites for basic Christian moral teaching. Where is that now? It is pretty clear that SCOTUS is a hair breadth’s away from ruling that if you are Christian you have no rights of conscience besides what you do within the four walls of your church on Sunday. You can’t even guarantee a good judge when a Republican nominates one, and we well know that Justices such as Ginsburg are looking forward to the day when they can force Christian Cake Bakers to bow the knee to eros or go out of business. Once the Democrats come back into power, we can be sure of a legal system that will not be favorable to minority religious rights. They don’t even pretend anymore.

    The biggest threats are always the church’s failure to catechize. But what happens when SCOTUS rules in ways that make it an increasingly severe burden for the few churches who are faithful to actually meet and pass on their teachings. Yeah, I know the church has faced this before, but let’s not pretend we don’t see what’s coming.

    Sympathy for religious rights? You mean the same sympathy that they showed Brett Kavanaugh when an extremely flimsy accusation is raised against him? All of the major corporations in this country are in the pocket of the Human Rights Campaign. Indiana couldn’t even sustain a toothless religious freedom bill with Mike Pence as its governor once the sexual deviants started whining.

    I’m glad for what French has done, but he’s naive. He really does think that if we are just nice and don’t do things like vote for Trump, the left will give Christians a hearing and let them play at the table. Bull.

    It all goes back to natural law as a foundation. Why was there a war between the states? The south abandoned natural law on slavery is one key reason. Why the riots and problems in the 60s? The radical left abandoned natural law regarding sexual ethics and much of the south and north still held opinions on race that were contrary to natural law. Without natural law there is no common ground to appeal to. It all becomes might makes right; whoever gets the most votes wins.

    We can’t even agree on fundamental biology anymore. People literally think that a woman can have a penis. Peer review isn’t keeping scientists who raise evidentiary questions about the propriety of sex change operations from losing their jobs. You think a free order that allows such things is sustainable?

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  24. “I don’t foresee the two sides persuading one-another and I don’t think something as profane as politics should cause division among brothers in the church. You go your way (take Zrim); we’ll go ours.”

    I’m not following you here. I agree that politics shouldn’t divide the church, but isn’t separating over politics (going your way) just that?

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  25. “In years past, there was some sympathy on the part of elites for basic Christian moral teaching. Where is that now? ”
    Which parts? In the past, elites more or less held to a Christian understanding of sexual ethics, but they didn’t agree on a Christian understanding of other moral issues. Now the elites express more sympathy for “love of neighbor” and less on sexual ethics.

    “It is pretty clear that SCOTUS is a hair breadth’s away from ruling that if you are Christian you have no rights of conscience besides what you do within the four walls of your church on Sunday.”
    I don’t think that is accurate. I think it is more accurate to say that when one’s conscience rubs up against discrimination in the public sphere, prohibitions against discrimination win. There is a fine line between the right not to produce messages that violate one’s conscience and the right of all to be served at public establishments. Should photographers, florists, and bakers fall on the side of producing a content neutral product they must provide to all without discrimination or are they producing creative content? Reasonable people will disagree. Volokh has a very good analysis on this topic. No doubt that on the topic of ss amorous relationships, public sentiment is opposed to the conservative Christian conscience. It is like Jehovah’s Witnesses opposing the pledge in the 50’s or adventists opposing service in WWII. There will be constant pressure to conform (both social and legal), and opposition will come with a price. The best protection we have from the state is liberalism…no guarantees that this will result in our freedom to participate in mainstream society without conforming to their standards on SSM, but it is the best hope we have. When prominent conservative thinkers proclaim that liberalism is not workable, they make it much harder to make that argument.

    “The biggest threats are always the church’s failure to catechize.”
    That’s a popular sentiment, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I’m not at all convinced that the central problem is ignorance among the congregants (though that is a problem!). The problems also include the dismantling of the plausibility structures that make the catechesis believable. Setting aside the RC sex abuse crisis, the behavior of Wilson, Gothard, Patterson, etc… cruelly undermine catechesis on sexual ethics (Natural Law didn’t stop a pastor from marrying off a pedophile to a young lady in his church, abusing young girls in his institute, or covering up sexual assault respectively). Why should those outside of the church take Natural Law arguments seriously when her proponents are so flawed. Its not just that these men failed, it is that their institutions largely protected them. On top of that, our practices speak volumes. We say that we stand up for the 10 commandments while we head out to eat on Sunday and stiff the waitstaff a respectable tip. We’ve divided up congregations into groups so small that the typical teenager has a peer group at church comprised of the other kid at best. And we wonder why they seek out social support elsewhere and eventually leave the church of their youth (or the church altogether).

    “Sympathy for religious rights? You mean the same sympathy that they showed Brett Kavanaugh when an extremely flimsy accusation is raised against him? All of the major corporations in this country are in the pocket of the Human Rights Campaign.”
    Well, I’m not sure what sympathy for Brett Kavanaugh has to do with sympathy for religious rights. I don’t recall Gorsuch (one who is at least as strong on this front) getting the same treatment. As far as the HRC goes, there is more to religious freedom than the right not to make wedding cakes for gay couples.

    “It all goes back to natural law as a foundation. Why was there a war between the states? The south abandoned natural law on slavery is one key reason.”
    Wait, what was the natural law argument against slavery? What did Aristotle think about slavery:

    “For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule…”

    “And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life.”

    Here’s Plato’s application of Natural Law:
    “…nature herself intimates that it is just for the better to have more than the worse, the more powerful than the weaker; and in many ways she shows, among men as well as among animals, and indeed among whole cities and races, that justice consists in the superior ruling over and having more than the inferior.’

    Here’s Aquinas:
    “A son, as such, belongs to his father, and a slave, as such, belongs to his master; yet each, considered as a man, is something having separate existence and distinct from others. Hence in so far as each of them is a man, there is justice towards them in a way: and for this reason too there are certain laws regulating the relations of father to his son, and of a master to his slave; but in so far as each is something belonging to another, the perfect idea of “right” or “just” is wanting to them.”

    So the primary architects of natural law in the western tradition didn’t find an incongruity between slavery and natural law, but you claim that the reason the south continued slavery is because they abandoned natural law? Which apologist for slavery rejected natural law?

    You keep asserting that without natural law, there is no common ground to appeal to. I can think of a few alternatives:
    1. Tradition coupled with the precautionary principle.
    2. Utilitarianism
    3. Kantian ethics
    4. Evolutionary ethics (a form of consequentialism or utilitarianism tempered by traditionalism – of course some would argue that this is just modern Natural Law).
    So what is natural law? I posted several links describing it – do those capture what you have in mind? I’d be surprised for someone who is reformed to embrace that thought. It would be helpful to be sure that we are on the same page. If so, then we can talk about how to go from your metaphysical principle to a universal, non-sectarian ethic. I remain unconvinced that something like Natural Law will do much, but maybe I’ve overlooked something. At any rate, do you really think that there has ever been an age in the west when contentious moral questions were resolved without the use of power? We got liberalism out of exhaustion from the wars of religion. The divine right of kings, abolition of slavery, property rights, etc… were won at the point of a sword. Not appeal to natural law. Can you think of a counter example?

    “”I’m glad for what French has done, but he’s naive. He really does think that if we are just nice and don’t do things like vote for Trump, the left will give Christians a hearing and let them play at the table. Bull.”
    I’ve not read anything from French that indicates that this is his thinking. I think his argument is as follows:
    1. The culture is opposed to many things that traditionalists think are important.
    2. This opposition is going to make life more difficult for traditionalists to retain their convictions and participate in the public sphere.
    3. The best path towards ameliorating this situation is the embrace of political liberalism and application of public reason (see Rawls on this).
    4. Traditionalists undermine their credibility when they do things like:
    a. Oppose the construction of mosques – makes it harder for other trads to convince people that they care about religious liberty.
    b. Advocate for various species of illiberalism – makes it sound like appeals to freedom are simply strategic rather than principled.
    c. Vote for a president who embodies all they said about character two administrations ago – makes it sound like they really only care about RealPolitik. Talk about values and character are only political strategies rather than core convictions (e.g., the same effect that supporting Biden and Bill Clinton had on purported concerns about sexual harassment).
    5. There is no guarantee that we will win all the borderline cases, but nor is there evidence that we are on a monotonic path toward greater legal ostracization. Conservative protestants have been a more potent force in the last 50 years than they were in the previous 50.
    6. What we advocate for makes a difference. Personality matters. Falwell Jr. makes it more difficult to succeed on the cases we make.

    None of this implies that if prominent conservatives were all as nice as David French we would win all of our cases. Nor does it imply that 80% of evangelicals supporting Trump spells doom for religious liberty. It is a question of margins and the recognition that the cases at the margin matter. If you want to find a naive outlook, look at those proposing Catholic integralism as an alternative to liberalism. And almost as silly, those who think we could secession of Red America from Blue America. These are the “naive” solutions. My own view is that in the public sphere, our best hope is a robust and consistent support for liberalism. In the church, we need considerable reform. We need to dial back our efforts on climate change, abortion, “creation care”, migrant rights, human trafficking, SSM, and all of these other distractions and focus our efforts on improved catechesis, pure worship, consistent discipline, robust evangelism, and community building within our churches.

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  26. I’m not following you here. I agree that politics shouldn’t divide the church, but isn’t separating over politics (going your way) just that?

    I think there should be new geographical divisions between red and blue. Hard ones – as in “new countries.” This does not have to divide the church, though the issue over which we would divide politically will also affect the church: natural law, or “the light of nature.” The confessions affirm it. Reformed feminists such as Rachel Green Miller and Aimee Byrd deny it. Reformed homosexualists such as Greg Johnson also deny it. Calvin thought natural law – as it pertained to all men whether Christian or not – was primarily located in the conscience. Christians of course can go a step further and look at the account of Creation and the Fall itself and infer things from special revelation about nature itself. Such reasoning allowed Theodore Beza to make comments like this:

    It is true you are the heads of your wives by the command of God above…But remember that God did not draw the woman from Adam’s heel, but from Adam’ side. This shows you that she is truly below and inferior to you, but also that she is beside you, which should make it clear that she is not your slave. Thus, have nothing do with all these arguments full of insults, these blows, these beatings, and other violent acts! I do not call such behavior “mastery” but “tyranny” and unbearable inhumanity in the Church.

    If your view of nature is such that humanity is descended from primordial muck and then gradually apes, then you can’t infer a morality in the same way. If you are a Christian and your view of natural law is that Genesis 1-3 has nothing to do with morality, you end up in a very similar place.

    It’s interesting how the two kingdoms are not as hermetically-sealed as much as we’d like them to be. Politics is a subset of religion and – even within the Reformed camp – there are some big divisions that we seem unable to heal. This is even more true in the USA itself which is an earthly kingdom.

    Confusing enough for you?

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  27. SDB,

    That’s a lot to respond to. So, a couple of things:

    The Reformed confessions all assume natural law. Fesko’s recent book critiquing presuppositionalism pretty well demonstrates that. If you deny natural law, you basically can’t be confessionally Reformed.

    I’m fairly certain that Aquinas said that slavery is not a given in creation but a byproduct of the fall. So, properly speaking, natural law is contrary to at least some forms of slavery. Note also that Aristotle and Aquinas, as far as I am aware, did not

    Having said that, I’m personally not convinced that natural law alone can do anything. It has to be coupled with Scripture for it to be workable long term. It’s not surprising that our country, founded by deists, couldn’t maintain a commitment to natural law. So, while I’m not a theonomist, I’m pretty well convinced that a shared religious outlook is necessary to hold a society together. If I had to guess, we are headed for a Balkanization situation in this country, though how violent things will get is anyone’s guess.

    I agree with you regarding your outline of what French has actually argued. It’s still naive. I did not vote for Trump, but one thing that has become clear to me is that the left has no interest in dialogue and that it doesn’t matter who the right picks. Mitt Romney was accused of wanting to put black people back in chains. That’s all we need to know. The left is decidedly illiberal. The only “hope” on a human level is for the courts to side with conservatives on many of the issues related to religious freedom, but there’s no way to get courts like that without someone who will fight back. And going forward, the right will have to nominate someone like Trump who fights. Hopefully someone not as vulgar, but someone who isn’t a “nice” conservative.

    The vast majority of people in this country don’t care much about principles. They’ll vote for whoever gives them the best standard of living.

    Catholic integralists are naive, for their solution is not workable apart from a mass conversion to Roman Catholicism and for the Vatican to revert to what it was prior to Vatican II. That isn’t happening.

    Plausibility structures for catechesis—non-sectarian liberalism works against this. Non-sectarian liberalism operates on the basis that there is no shared metaphysical foundation to the world. So, essentially, it is saying that we can’t look to creation to discern anything regarding morals and ethics. If what you are taught in Sunday school is contradicted en force in the educational and cultural systems, you are swimming against a very strong tide. You cannot make arguments from the natural world to provide further support for what the church has said, so people feel a disconnect between their lived experience and divine revelation. Non-sectarian liberalism reinforces this by declaring proudly that there is no moral order inherent in the universe. And everything related to such liberalism just feeds into it. Macroevolutionary theory, pluralism, materialism etc. When you tell people the world has no inherent order or purpose, don’t be surprised when people start believing it.

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  28. @Walt, can you expand/clarify. In what way do “Rachel Green Miller and Aimee Byrd deny” natural law, and if they do, why is that problematic to adopting Reformed confessions. The confessions, presumably, are more rooted in Scripture than natural law, correct?

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  29. @Walt, or, are you saying that the Reformed view of women being ontologically subordinate to men (correct me if that’s not the mainstream Reformed view) is more rooted in natural law than it is in Scripture?

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  30. are you saying that the Reformed view of women being ontologically subordinate to men (correct me if that’s not the mainstream Reformed view) is more rooted in natural law than it is in Scripture?

    The Reformed do not believe that women are ontologically inferior to women. They believe that women and men are ontologically equal: “Male and female he created them after His own image.” The Reformed have historically believe that men outrank women at least in the household since Adam was created first then Eve, Eve was created out of Adam’s rib and Eve was created for Adam, not the other way around. The issue of rank is not one of quality (ontological inferiority or superiority) but of office, though this must be filtered through the lens of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5). The Reformed have also argued that there are things that are male and female. For example, we don’t send women off to war because men are obviously more suited to fighting being stronger, larger and more violent. There is a certain telos to our very bodies and the differences between male and female. Anyways, you can see this throughout Reformed writing, though the Reformers would often intermingle appeals to the Old Testament which confused whether they were appealing to theocratic laws or natural law.

    For an example of Aimee Byrd rejecting at least some of the implications of natural law, I’ve seen her argue against John Piper that women could be cops as long as they can meet the requirements of the job. Of course, speaking as someone who was in the military, the physical requirements/standards of the job are always reduced for women and this is true in law enforcement as well. My friends on the sheriff’s department started out in the county jail having to extract non-compliant prisoners with force and violence. Cops often have to wrestle grown men to the ground. Even in the case where women can make up for their lack of physical strength by converting chemical energy (gunpowder) into mechanical energy (a flying bullet), they’re still not mentally suited for the job of combat despite what all the movies tell you. The fact that they have to overcome their lack of physical strength with gunpowder also leaves them fewer options to handle situations with lesser force.

    Aimee Byrd denies nature in other ways, suggesting that men and women in the church can be friends in the same way as men can be friends with men and women with women. Anyone who knows anything about men and women knows this is a recipe for adultery and would look scandalous and suspicious to even unbelievers.

    The New Heavens and the New Earth will certainly be different and I agree that they’ve broken into the present evil age and we should live in light of that fact. However, it’s easy to throw out the present created order if you take that line of reasoning too far, which the Apostles never do. I would suggest that the deniers of natural law within the Reformed camp who’ve become lightning rods are lightning rods for good reason. Personally, I can’t see making myself an offense to a huge fraction of my brothers and sisters in Christ even if I thought I was right. I also can’t see extrapolating the opinions of men like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and Doug Wilson to men of the entire Reformed world. WIlson, Piper, and Grudem are not members of the Reformed camp. They’re doing their own thing. I’m frankly tired of hearing about them over there when we have enough problems in here. These women seem to be dragging personal beefs with men in other denominations into our own against the peace and purity of the church. I’m sure I don’t have to say anything about Greg Johnson.

    I’m willing to be shown where I’m wrong here, but that’s my assessment.

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  31. “The Reformed confessions all assume natural law. Fesko’s recent book critiquing presuppositionalism pretty well demonstrates that. If you deny natural law, you basically can’t be confessionally Reformed.”
    That would come as news to the magisterial reformers who eviscerated Hooker for attempting to synthesize Natural Law with reformed doctrine.

    “Having said that, I’m personally not convinced that natural law alone can do anything. It has to be coupled with Scripture for it to be workable long term. It’s not surprising that our country, founded by deists, couldn’t maintain a commitment to natural law. So, while I’m not a theonomist, I’m pretty well convinced that a shared religious outlook is necessary to hold a society together. If I had to guess, we are headed for a Balkanization situation in this country, though how violent things will get is anyone’s guess.”
    This is a different argument. The point of Natural Law is that it does not require referent to revelation to provide a basis for law and ethics. Keep in mind that Natural Law is not the idea that we have certain innate understandings of right and wrong nor is it a theory about how we might have acquired that innate understanding. It is belief that by understanding the teleos of things in nature, we can derive an “ought”. For example, the teleos of sex is reproduction, ergo non-reproductive sex is unethical (i.e. it is wrong to use a condom). If natural law requires special revelation to derive “oughts”, then you aren’t talking about Natural Law any more. Indeed, there are pure materialists who are proponents of natural law! The claim that we can derive a complete ethical system from observation of nature is at the very least in tension with the reformed understanding of total depravity (indeed the contradiction between the implications of total depravity and Natural Law are a key reason for the denial of total depravity on the part of Catholics). Now if you want to know that we can recognize that a higher power exists and derive some true beliefs about the characteristics of this higher power from observation of Nature, then I have no argument with you. But this isn’t Natural Law and it doesn’t provide a universal foundation upon which to build an ethical system or resolve ethical disputes. I don’t see that the confessions require this either.

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  32. @Walt, thanks. However, I think your statement “women and men are ontologically equal” is inherently at odds with your “men outrank women at least in the household”. I wonder how you’d attempt to reconcile them without having to redefine what “equal” means. Also, it’s not clear how the idea that rank is one of ‘office’ would apply in a marriage anyway. It’s “the two shall become one”, not “and the woman will be subservient to the man”.

    When it comes to the topic of gender, what is frequently attributed to “natural law”, sure seems to be nothing more than warmed-over pagan Plato and Aristotle, and bears no resemblance to Scripture. I’m not Reformed, but I think Byrd and Miller bring a much needed breath of fresh air to the Reformed world. It’s fascinating to see the blowback they’ve gotten.

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  33. Petros – Natural Law is Aristotelian, though I think a lot of folks are sloppy and use natural law to refer to learning anything morally or theological from a source other than scripture. Scripture teaches that there are moral precepts that we just know (e.g., even Pagans know to be nice to those they love) and that there are certain things we can know about God from nature (i.e., that he exists and is powerful). That isn’t Natural Law though.

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  34. “However, I think your statement “women and men are ontologically equal” is inherently at odds with your “men outrank women at least in the household”.”
    Men and women are equal in their standing before God an in inherit dignity because they are equally image bearers of God. Men and women are not equal in form and function and have distinct roles within the church and home. It is similar to the way in which Jesus is equal to the Father, but is subservient to the father or they way in which the lieutenant outranks the sergeant in role even while both are ontologically equal in their standing before God (not to mention the fact that the sergeant may be more capable, hardworking, and knowledgable than the lieutenant to whom he must submit). This business about women not belonging in the military or police force because of Natural Law strikes me as absurd though. The evidence certainly seems to indicate that allowing women to serve as police officers has not led to an increase of crime or that there is a higher rate of firearm usage by women than men among police officers.

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  35. @sdb, if I understand you correctly, I think I agree w/your take on ‘natural law’, which is why I’m not sure why Christians would want to appeal to it for ‘truth’, when we’ve got the inspired Text. I would hope Christians wouldn’t defend Aristotle and Plato’s views on the intrinsic inferiority of women, which probably emanated from the Zeus/Pandora myth that woman was created to punish man and that woman was the source of evil in the world, which hardly bears any resemblance to Genesis.

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  36. Presumably everyone understands the native biological diffs between men and women (eg, women can make babies). However, beyond biological diffs, the argument that there is a Biblically authorized basis for saying men and women are not equal in form/function, or saying that God designed “distinct roles” for the sexes, is exegetically flawed, and has had a deleterious impact on the ministry and witness of the church.

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  37. SDB, Petros,

    In my understanding, “natural law” is just shorthand for the truths that can be discerned from nature.

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  38. Petros,

    The argument that there is a Biblically authorized basis for saying men and women are not equal in form/function, or saying that God designed “distinct roles” for the sexes, is exegetically flawed, and has had a deleterious impact on the ministry and witness of the church.

    What I find interesting is that virtually no Christian from any tradition would have agreed with this before the middle of the 20th century. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it does raise the question as to how much of one’s position on this is driven by exegesis and how much by culture. On both sides of this issue.

    I also find it interesting that we don’t find the Apostles ever telling men to obey their wives or submit to them outside of a very general admonition in Ephesians that tells all Christians to submit to one another. If you apply that Ephesians text to all Christians the way that egalitarians want to apply it to marriage, you end up a church with absolutely no authority structures whatsoever.

    The Apostles were definitely not afraid of being countercultural, but they aren’t countercultural here. One could also make a strong argument that a more egalitarian church just will not get a hearing in a strongly patriarchal society such as we find in the Islamic world. So the idea of a deleterious impact on ministry and witness can cut both ways.

    You also don’t have any clear instances of women serving as pastors or elders in the New Testament.

    I’m a former egalitarian, BTW.

    I haven’t read either Byrd or Miller’s works, but one of the critiques I’ve seen of Byrd’s recent books is that she relies on egalitarian scholarship but just, for some reason, doesn’t carry it through to the logical conclusion for whatever reason. I will say that her idea that men and women can be friends is simply wrong and naive.

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  39. Robert, indeed, church traditional views are interesting, to be sure. No shortage of anecdotes to be found where we’d both say ‘did he/they really believe and say THAT?’.

    The thing is, you can find church order and leadership structures in the NT. A gender egalitarian reading of Scripture (eg, say of Eph 5 ‘submit’) does not necessarily entail complete democratization or anarchy in the church. But note that spiritual gifts in the NT are never gender-normed. In fact, one evidence of the Spirit was that BOTH men and WOMEN would prophesy, and I’d submit that ‘prophesying’ isn’t materially different than ‘preaching’. It’s representing God and declaring His message to His people.

    I agree w/you that missional purposes (esp in a highly patriarchal culture) might inform and influence what egalitarianism might prudently look like. But in western culture, the deleterious impact of patriarchy is immense. I realize one could attribute that to a bad implementation of patriarchalism, or attribute it to stiff-necked hard-core feminists not getting with the Biblical program. Or, in my case, I’ll attribute it to intrinsically bad theology that needs to be critically revisited.

    Given the patriarchal Greco-roman culture of the Mediterranean world of the 1st century, what’s shocking in the NT is the very prominent role women had. Since the major criterion for being an apostle is that you had to have seen the risen Christ, then, women were the first apostles (the men-folk had all bailed and ran away in fear). Then, you’ve got Joanna/Junia, Phoebe, Prisca, Lydia, and dozens more, where it’s clear they had leadership roles in the church, long before ‘ordination’ was even a thing. I’m sure you’re familiar with the egalitarian arguments, though, so I won’t belabor them.

    I’m sincerely curious on what basis Byrd and Miller maintain their male-only view of pastors. If I had to guess, in time they may choose to leave the reformed world, or, they may get kicked out, I’m not sure which will happen first. But I welcome their contributions!

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  40. However, I think your statement “women and men are ontologically equal” is inherently at odds with your “men outrank women at least in the household”. I wonder how you’d attempt to reconcile them without having to redefine what “equal” means. Also, it’s not clear how the idea that rank is one of ‘office’ would apply in a marriage anyway. It’s “the two shall become one”, not “and the woman will be subservient to the man”.

    What do you make of Paul telling wives to submit to husbands and the man being the head? The analogy of military rank is a bad one since the two become one flesh and the analogy is of Christ and the church and we all submit to Christ, but there’s still a distinction between husband and wife and an order to the relationship. This doesn’t mean women are ontologically inferior, just that there is an order to life in our semi-eschatological state. The Reformed understanding of the fifth commandment certainly bears this out: there are people appointed over us even though we are ontologically equal to them bearing the imago Dei.

    When it comes to the topic of gender, what is frequently attributed to “natural law”, sure seems to be nothing more than warmed-over pagan Plato and Aristotle, and bears no resemblance to Scripture. I’m not Reformed, but I think Byrd and Miller bring a much needed breath of fresh air to the Reformed world. It’s fascinating to see the blowback they’ve gotten.

    When a robber breaks into your house at night, do you deal with it or your wife? Would it be wrong to send your wife? How about combat? Would it be wrong to send your daughter to combat or a matter of indifference?

    How do you know what the Reformed world needs if you don’t understand its teachings?

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  41. I’m a former egalitarian, BTW.

    Same. I’ve found that most of the egalitarian stuff is nonsense and women don’t want their men to follow it. Women definitely have an idea of “masculine” in their heads and are attracted to it and repulsed by men who won’t be men. There are even nonreligious women stepping in to restore gender roles as a way of saving marriages. Read Suzanne Venker.

    I haven’t read either Byrd or Miller’s works, but one of the critiques I’ve seen of Byrd’s recent books is that she relies on egalitarian scholarship but just, for some reason, doesn’t carry it through to the logical conclusion for whatever reason. I will say that her idea that men and women can be friends is simply wrong and naive.

    Lately, it seems she’s been relying on feminist scholarship and narratives, so the drift is evident.

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  42. Sdb,

    The point of Natural Law is that it does not require referent to revelation to provide a basis for law and ethics. Keep in mind that Natural Law is not the idea that we have certain innate understandings of right and wrong nor is it a theory about how we might have acquired that innate understanding.

    Calvin said natural law was primarily located in our inherent sense of right and wrong – God’s Law written on our hearts and minds. This is why even pagans have it though they don’t have the Bible. Societies with a Christian tradition can have a better version of it.

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  43. Walt
    That’s my point. What Calvin advocated is not Natural as described by Aristotle, Aqinas, and in contemporary circles Macantyre, Finnis, Dreher, George, Feser, etc… Calvin believed that God gave us an innate sense of right and wrong, so that we can’t plead ignorance at the last judgement. Non-christian societies can fluorish, develop just laws, etc… because they have an innate sense of right and wrong. It is inescapable, but it is also deformed by the fall. It is also subjective, so you can’t appeal to objective morally neutral facts about nature to solve disputes. Aquinas et al. disagree. They advocate that natural law has an objective status of a set of precepts given by God that man can enunciate and apply to individual actions as a result of reflection about nature. In other words when we have a moral dispute about the morality of non-procreative sex between husband and wife, we can turn to nature to reflect on the teleos of sex and thus determine the morality of having a vasectomy. Someone like Adler would argue that all such moral questions can be resolved (and can only be resolved) by such reflection and all rational people who think logically about it will come to the same conclusion. It is a non-sectarian foundation for arriving at objective universal moral facts (thus the foundation for Maritain’s work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    I dispute that we can derive “ought” from “is”, that there exists an objective universal foundation for moral inferences, or that the adoption of Natural Law could ever function as a non-sectarian referent even in a Straussian sense. I concur with Calvin that we have an innate knowledge of right and wrong, and while deformed by the fall it is not utterly destroyed. Thus it is not surprising that different cultures have similar norms on the basics and thus comparable laws. Referring to this as natural law confuses matters.

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  44. That’s my point. What Calvin advocated is not Natural as described by Aristotle, Aqinas, and in contemporary circles Macantyre, Finnis, Dreher, George, Feser, etc… Calvin believed that God gave us an innate sense of right and wrong, so that we can’t plead ignorance at the last judgement. Non-christian societies can fluorish, develop just laws, etc… because they have an innate sense of right and wrong. It is inescapable, but it is also deformed by the fall. It is also subjective, so you can’t appeal to objective morally neutral facts about nature to solve disputes.

    I think it’s fairer to say that inferences from natural law are subject to disagreement. It’s more of a gray area than the Decalogue. This is what Tuininga argued in his latest book on Calvin and the Two Kingdoms. Calvin thought some of the ancient pagans had better morality than the Christians of his day.

    I dispute that we can derive “ought” from “is”, that there exists an objective universal foundation for moral inferences, or that the adoption of Natural Law could ever function as a non-sectarian referent even in a Straussian sense.

    Well you saw my quote from Beza who derived ought from is regarding the marriage relationship. The “is” he got from what Scripture says about nature. He worked forward to the “ought.” I look at natural law the same way. Pagans have the Law God put on their consciences, but we have special revelation about general revelation and can do better. Pagans marry like Christians, but Christians have a deeper understanding of marriage in light of Christ’s union with the church and the age to come.

    Let’s go back to my old saw. We argued over whether you would send your wife to defend you if an intruder broke in at night. You said, as a practical matter, you’d handle the problem since you’re bigger and stronger unless she was a better shot. Let’s look at it another way. Would your wife say you were wrong to send her if you did? Mine sure would. I’m bigger, stronger, and more violent. She calls me her pitbull.

    I think we derive ought from is whether we admit it or not. The “ought/is” distinction was invented by Hume. He was a smart guy but he was arrogant and arrogance leads to unwarranted novelty, ie “I’m the smartest guy in the room therefore my ideas are right.” I think this idea of his – the “ought/is” distinction should be thrown out on the basis of tradition alone, but there are much stronger reasons.

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  45. You are sneaking in other assumptions to get from “is” to “ought” in your example.
    Premise 1: I’m stronger than my wife
    Conclusion: I should defend her against an intruder

    Does the conclusion follow from the premise? The implication is that the gradients of strength determine who should protect whom. You have to have a justification for why the stronger should always defend the weaker. Is this even true? Is it wrong for a mother to protect her 13 year old son from an intruder even if he is stronger than she? I’m stronger than almost all police officers – does that mean it is wrong for me to let a police officer protect me from an intruder? The Mountain is stronger than anyone – does that mean that no one can protect him? So is it an objective moral fact that a husband should defend his wife because he is stronger? I don’t see it. I do see that people have an instinctual protective response to those they care for, and if one is stronger, one will feel compelled to defend the weaker. This is ingrained and applied via prudence, it isn’t something that we derive by observation of nature to arrive at an objective moral truth. In other words, Natural Law is not relevant (whether it is valid or not). Natural law is a naturalistic justification of norms (accessible to the atheist and theist alike – indeed, many modern day Natural law proponents are thoroughgoing materialists). That is why many of the opponents of SSM thought their arguments were more forceful – they were not grounded in a sectarian reading of divine revelation. Robbie George didn’t have to appeal to scripture or Catholic dogma to make his case against SSM. Of course, not all Natural Law theorists agreed on SSM.

    My point in this thread is that you (and many modern Reformed advocates of Natural Law) have played fast and loose with their terminology. The Natural Law theorists such as Maritain, Adler, George, Finnis, etc… have something very different in mind than Calvin. What Calvin had in mind is not objective but rather than subjective. It is not a basis for resolving disputes about what norms *should* be, but rather an account for why diverse cultures have so many shared norms. When there is a dispute, you can assert that your opponent *really* knows better, but it doesn’t have the ability to compel a change of mind. One’s moral view is ingrained, shaped by culture, and impacted by sin. To arrive at a Christian morality requires conversion and the putting off of the old self for the new. As one is sanctified, one grows in one’s understanding of right action as the power of sin to deform our God-given conscience is weakened.

    Robert likes to throw around the accusation of naivety. I find the view that if we could just get society to adopt Natural Law as a way of resolving moral disputes, we would return to a golden age of moral clarity and that the violent disputes of the Civil War and earlier wars of religion are the effect of people not properly applying Natural Law thinking. It is this view I find naive. No earthly society is perfect or eternal – kingdoms come and go. But we can make things better where we are. Liberalism is the best (not perfect) system for creating the space for the Church to flourish. We should be grateful to men such as French who work to maintain it even if we realize that ultimately our nation will fail.

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  46. SDB,

    Are you ultimately arguing that the only way to solve disputes with nonbelievers is to apply power?

    Of course no earthly society is perfect, but if you can’t appeal to unbelievers according to some kind of shared transcendent basis, all you are going to get in the end is an argument that can be solved ONLY by power. That’s where I fear we are headed with the present iteration of liberalism.

    Maybe that’s the best we can hope for.

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  47. Walt, et al,

    I’ve found that most of the egalitarian stuff is nonsense and women don’t want their men to follow it. Women definitely have an idea of “masculine” in their heads and are attracted to it and repulsed by men who won’t be men. There are even nonreligious women stepping in to restore gender roles as a way of saving marriages. Read Suzanne Venker.

    Indeed. It’s manifesting itself in all sorts of ways. The orthodox church is still overwhelmingly male led. Mainline denominations all ordain women, but their membership is cratering, and women are more likely than men to be traditionally religious. If women really want egalitarianism in the church, they aren’t voting with their feet or wallets.

    There’s a growing crisis of educated women being unable to find a suitable husband. Turns out that such women still want men of a certain status, but the men of that status have such a wide pool to choose from that it’s much easier for them to find wives. Meanwhile, good jobs for non-college educated men have been fleeing the country for decades.

    Women still seem overwhelmingly want men to lead in relationships. They want men to ask them out on a date and not the other way around.

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  48. Petros,

    The thing is, you can find church order and leadership structures in the NT. A gender egalitarian reading of Scripture (eg, say of Eph 5 ‘submit’) does not necessarily entail complete democratization or anarchy in the church.

    It does if you are consistent. A chief egalitarian argument that wives submitting to husband’s leadership is not a valid reading of the command for wives to submit in Ephesians 5 because of the injunction to mutual submission earlier. There is no headship in marriage in egalitarianism based on that mutual submission text even though several texts in the NT speak of headship in marriage. But if that’s the case, then we can’t have headship at all in the church. Thus, the only consistent egalitarians are actually he Quakers, who have no structured leadership.

    But note that spiritual gifts in the NT are never gender-normed. In fact, one evidence of the Spirit was that BOTH men and WOMEN would prophesy, and I’d submit that ‘prophesying’ isn’t materially different than ‘preaching’. It’s representing God and declaring His message to His people.

    I agree with much of this. That is why arguments that women can never teach men a la Piper and Grudem are not compelling. The question is more one of leadership.

    Given the patriarchal Greco-roman culture of the Mediterranean world of the 1st century, what’s shocking in the NT is the very prominent role women had. Since the major criterion for being an apostle is that you had to have seen the risen Christ, then, women were the first apostles (the men-folk had all bailed and ran away in fear). Then, you’ve got Joanna/Junia, Phoebe, Prisca, Lydia, and dozens more, where it’s clear they had leadership roles in the church, long before ‘ordination’ was even a thing. I’m sure you’re familiar with the egalitarian arguments, though, so I won’t belabor them.

    Yet, apart from possibly Junia, and that is a hotly contested case and extremely weak evidence, you don’t have any female capital A Apostles. You have lots of small a apostles. All Christians are a small a apostle because we are all sent by Christ. No female presbyters whatsoever. The only actual recognized NT office of the church in which you might have women in the NT is deacon. There’s no female equivalent to Paul, Peter, or James.

    I am familiar with the egalitarian arguments. They’re basically reduced to: “Hey, look at this isolated example of someone who might have had a church office. Look at how great that is in light of first century patriarchy. Clearly Jesus wanted more than that, but it’s amazing what we could get.” It ends up undermining the authority of Scripture. Those Apostles tried, but they just couldn’t overcome their biases.

    Meanwhile, we’ve got very clear overturns of the Jew/Gentile distinction. Why is God speaking so clearly to that but not to a reversal of patriarchy? I don’t think the egalitarians have a good answer for that. If anything, the household codes in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter assume a more patriarchal structure.

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  49. @walt, wrt to marriage having “an order to the relationship” and “that there is an order to life in our semi-eschatological state”. Can you clarify/expand what it is you mean by “order”? Your chivalrous version of ‘order’ sure sounds like hierarchy (with men being in the superior position, and women in the inferior). For support, you referenced “Adam was created first then Eve”. But by that logic, animals are superior to Adam. Just guessing here, but perhaps you want to appeal to ‘natural law’ because you realize Genesis 1 & 2, or any other Text, is completely unhelpful in concluding what you want to conclude about women being (on moral grounds) excluded from the police or military.

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  50. Petros,

    Paul makes the argument for male leadership based on Adam’s being created first. Further, in the OT, it’s pretty clear that women weren’t drafted for combat and that it is shameful for men when women have to do the fighting (Deborah shames Barak for this). That would seem to indicate that it’s shameful for women to be in combat roles, though it wouldn’t rule out women in non combat roles in the military necessarily.

    Another issue with the egalitarian position is that it seems to divorce the roles assigned to men and women throughout the Bible entirely from gender considerations. But if there is no underlying logic to, say, only men being in combat, then I don’t see how there can be any logic to only men being fathers or women being mothers. I don’t think it is an accident that transgenderism is pushing for acceptance in a society that says there is absolutely no constitutive difference between men and women besides their sex organs.

    Men by nature are more physically aggressive and stronger women. This suggests they were built for physical fighting in a way that women just aren’t.

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  51. @Robert, wrt “The orthodox church is still overwhelmingly male led”. Yes, and unsurprisingly so, given how cultural patriarchy has prevailed. Yikes, women only got to vote in the U.S. inn 1920 after all. “Mainline denominations all ordain women”. Yes, but that’s a guilt-by-association fallacy. “If women really want egalitarianism in the church”. Well, some do and some tragically do not. “they aren’t voting with their feet or wallets.” This is mostly because there aren’t lots of better options (yet) for them either. “Women still seem overwhelmingly want men to lead in relationships” – not sure about that. I’d say most women want an equal voice. Personally, I am put-off by women who want their man to be the spiritual leader so they can sit on their spiritual butt and do squat. But again, this seems like an appeal to some kind of natural law thing (which I find odd), as you can’t get your stereotype about women wanting men to ‘lead’ as anything that’s Biblically prescribed, any more than you can get “men tend to like football more than women” out of the Bible.
    As regards to ‘headship’, you are applying a modern day cultural concept of ‘head’ (as in Walt’s ‘rank’) that is a) not a good understanding of ‘head’ (Eph 5 et al, better understood would be ‘source’, and b) has nothing to do at all with church governance anyway.

    The evidence for Junia is not weak. (Well, there are some lame ways complementarians have attempted to white that out of the Text, to be sure.) Bauckham’s chapter on Junia in his “Gospel Women” is priceless on that topic alone. But the egal case hardly rests on Junia. It jumps off the page from Gen to Rev.

    My main point wasn’t to litigate the comp-vs-egal thing, per se, as much as to inquire how much of the Reformed comp view was predicated on natural law and not Biblical exegesis. Presumably, it’s undeniable that nothing has influenced western civilization more than Greco-Roman culture. I’d submit that the culture that surrounded Plato’s claim of “the general inferiority of the female sex” has infiltrated not only western civilization but, sadly, has hugely infiltrated the church. And that will only change when the church gets back to the Bible, and leaves Plato and natural law on the shelf.

    Yes, “we’ve got very clear overturns of the Jew/Gentile distinction”. Paul overturns that in Gal 3:28. What should be thought provoking is why he goes beyond his essential argument (polemic on Jews/Gentiles) with “there is no male or female”.

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  52. Indeed. It’s manifesting itself in all sorts of ways. The orthodox church is still overwhelmingly male led. Mainline denominations all ordain women, but their membership is cratering, and women are more likely than men to be traditionally religious. If women really want egalitarianism in the church, they aren’t voting with their feet or wallets.

    What I see in a lot of conservative NAPARC churches is a surplus of unmarried women.

    There’s a growing crisis of educated women being unable to find a suitable husband. Turns out that such women still want men of a certain status, but the men of that status have such a wide pool to choose from that it’s much easier for them to find wives. Meanwhile, good jobs for non-college educated men have been fleeing the country for decades.

    The jobs have been fleeing for college-educated men too. For either the college or non-college jobs, you’re also competing with a large number of immigrants. This helps Big Business keep wages low. Anyways, my wife is the only one married of her handful of close friends who are college-educated. They are all too old to start families now. They complain about Peter Pans who don’t want to marry.

    Women still seem overwhelmingly want men to lead in relationships. They want men to ask them out on a date and not the other way around.

    Yep, and even if they verbally state otherwise, look at their actions.

    Are you a fan of Aaron Renn?

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  53. “Are you ultimately arguing that the only way to solve disputes with nonbelievers is to apply power?”
    I think there are other ways to persuade – namely evangelism. We can also debate on the basis of prudence, tradition, conscience, and shared goals. But as we saw with slavery – when people (even fellow believers) do not have shared goals, then yes, the option is the application of brute force. That’s why the magistrate is armed with the sword after all. On the issue of the application of anti-discrimination law to sexual orientation and identity, we have groups with very different views of the good. This can’t be resolved by appeal to objective moral facts (as we’ve seen the utter failure of natural law arguments to persuade).

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  54. Robert, wrt “Paul makes the argument for male leadership based on Adam’s being created first”. No, that is not his argument in 1 Tim 2. If you’re basing your view for male leadership on 1 Tim 2, you couldn’t pick a more disputed Text, and in comparison, the case for Junia is bulletproof. 1 Tim 2 is both context dependent (requiring an understanding of the cult of Artemis) and also is not even prescriptive by Paul (his “I do not permit” is, well, ‘permissive’, and not an edict).

    You seem to read the Text through the lens of your understanding of ‘natural law’ and from observable stereotypical anecdotes. But that’s not exegesis. Eg, in an honor/shame patriarchal culture, it’s 100% to be expected that it’d be shameful for a man to be killed by a woman. That’s a far cry from declaring there is a Biblically prescribed ‘role’ for women in combat.

    That there are biological diffs between the sexes is axiomatic. Females can be moms. Males cannot. Beyond that, neither men or women are monolithic in their personalities, skills, interests, etc. That everyone can observe other stereotypic diffs (eg, physical strength, among other things) should not be the basis for claiming there are Biblically prescribed ‘roles’ for each gender that are morally incumbent upon everyone to have.

    But again, I got initially intrigued in the discussion because of Walt’s and your appeals to natural law. There may be some generic wisdom in natural law thinking, but it should not be the basis for adjudicating comp-vs-egal issues, imho.

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  55. My main point wasn’t to litigate the comp-vs-egal thing, per se, as much as to inquire how much of the Reformed comp view was predicated on natural law and not Biblical exegesis. Presumably, it’s undeniable that nothing has influenced western civilization more than Greco-Roman culture. I’d submit that the culture that surrounded Plato’s claim of “the general inferiority of the female sex” has infiltrated not only western civilization but, sadly, has hugely infiltrated the church. And that will only change when the church gets back to the Bible, and leaves Plato and natural law on the shelf.

    This is the Rachel Green Miller thesis. She is not a historian nor is she trained in theology. She is not a minister. I don’t understand what made her think she was qualified to write this book. As a layperson of similar training, I certainly wouldn’t feel qualified.

    Her thesis seems to have found most traction in the non-Reformed camp judging by her book reviews on Amazon. To the extent that Reformed people reviewed her book positively, some are ReVoice (there’s the “voice” motif again) speakers like Misty, then there’s Francis Chan, then some within the “Reformed” camp who are not ministers (Valerie Hobbs, Aimee Byrd and their gang) but seem to have a significant social media presence or if they are ministers, always seeking novel interpretations of Scripture which appear to be ironically Biblicist.

    If you want to see a thorough debunking of the idea that “natural law” is Greco-Roman and Platonist, read Matthew Tuininga’s latest book on Calvin and the Two Kingdoms. There are at least 3 essays on this topic and gender relations in this past week of the Aquila Report.

    Anyways, you’re not Reformed, so this is an intramural debate between us.

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  56. wrt to marriage having “an order to the relationship” and “that there is an order to life in our semi-eschatological state”. Can you clarify/expand what it is you mean by “order”? Your chivalrous version of ‘order’ sure sounds like hierarchy (with men being in the superior position, and women in the inferior). For support, you referenced “Adam was created first then Eve”. But by that logic, animals are superior to Adam. Just guessing here, but perhaps you want to appeal to ‘natural law’ because you realize Genesis 1 & 2, or any other Text, is completely unhelpful in concluding what you want to conclude about women being (on moral grounds) excluded from the police or military.

    I feel myself getting sucked into debate with a liberal here. I would say pick up a copy of the Westminster Larger Catechism and Johannes Vos’ commentary on Kindle and read through the questions and commentary on the 10 commandments, especially the fifth. You can also read Calvin’s Institutes or any of his commentaries on the controversial passages regarding men and women. You think the Reformation is mired in Greco-Roman ideas so there’s no point in continuing this.

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  57. @Walt, I confess to enjoying an occasional presby-vs-presby cage match. In sum, my current takeaway is that to you, natural law (however it gets defined) carries a lot of weight and rightly informs your comp view. Ok. Now, back to the regularly scheduled intramural debate!

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  58. Robert,
    I might also add that the use of force to resolve disputes has been a universal characteristic of cultures. The puritans and royalists didn’t resolve their dispute in the days of Cromwell on the basis of natural law. It took force. The American colonies and British empire didn’t resolve their dispute over governance on the basis of natural law (both sides appealed to a version of it in their dispute) – it was decided by war. Even groups with the same outlook (PCA and OPC) haven’t been able to resolve their dispute and unify. We share a commitment to the same confessional documents and view of scripture yet still find it necessary to divide (much less other conservative protestants). Division is the way of the world and a result of the fall (and Babel). There is no getting around this. The question is not how to make a perfect union, but how to make a better one. I haven’t seen anyone propose a better solution than liberalism (in the classical sense of course). No doubt that nations come and go, but it seems to me to be far more wise to do our best to maintain the best but imperfect system than throw our hands up and lament a lost state (that never existed). Where I part company with Deneen et al. is that they seem to think liberalism is the problem. Perhaps it is a victim of its own success, but that suggests to me that the should seek to reform it and strive to sustain it for as long as possible. It’s like exercise. Sure I am getting older and weaker and eventually I’ll die. But between now and then I want to stay as fit as possible rather than give up because eventually it is all for naught. There is a lady in our church in her 90’s who does weight training (her son in law is a Rippentoe acolyte). She deadlifts a bar with a couple of plywood cutouts as weights. Sure she is only deadlifting ~45lbs, but she is fitter than what she would be if she didn’t do it. Yeah, we all know that there is nearly a 0% chance that she will still be alive at the end of the decade, but so what? She is able to get up from the pew at church and sing without assistance. That’s not nothing. What I hear you saying is that exercise is naive because you are going to age and die anyway. I don’t think I’m going to find the fountain of youth, rather I am trying to make the best of what I can right now. Tomorrow has enough worries of its own. I think the same with politics. Our nation is temporal and will cease to exist in its current form some day. Maybe after the next election or maybe it will last 1000yrs like Rome. Who knows? Working for religious liberty and classical liberalism makes life better today. Not perfect but better. The kind of criticism of French and liberalism more generally that I hear makes us worse off.

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  59. The problem with complementarianism is that it extends legitimate Biblical headship in the family and in the church over into all of life, where no such headship obtains.

    The problem with egalitarianism is that it denies headship of man in any area, in an effort to not land in complementarianism.

    Robert: Paul makes the argument for male leadership based on Adam’s being created first.

    Yes, he does. But he leaves out the middle term that explains the principle he’s appealing to. He doesn’t explicitly connect why “being created first” (and Eve sinning first) should be related to male headship in the church. Let’s look:

    1 Tim: I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    First, scope: Is Paul saying that women should not teach men *anywhere*, or within the worship service? The example of Priscilla answers this question. She instructed Apollos together with her husband Aquilla on the technical details of the gospel.

    Second, reason: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who having been deceived came into transgression.”

    What is the argument? Is Paul positing a natural deficiency on the part of Eve because of being formed second? Or because she was deceived? Calvin thought so, and argues such in his commentary. He appeals to the text in Timothy and to the created order in Genesis to argue that man is naturally head over woman by virtue of creation and further, as punishment (his word) for Eve’s sin. But I think he was mistaken. Uncharacteristically, Calvin misses the subtlety in both Paul’s argument AND in Genesis.

    Genesis: Adam is made an authority over his wife. He is not made to have authority over all women. He is the federal head of all humanity, but there is no record that in his long life, he acted as an authority over all women. Calvin’s reasoning, if taken at face value, would have us hold that all men are in authority over all women. And indeed, many complementarians take exactly that position.

    Yet this would nullify the queenship of Esther, the leadership of Deborah and Miriam, the instruction of Apollos by Priscilla, the instructions in Proverbs to listen to the wisdom of one’s mother, and the 5th commandment for sons to honor and obey one’s mother. If a son is naturally superior to his mother, and she is subject to him as a punishment for Eve’s sin, then he has no cause to respect and obey her. Yet he is commanded to do so.

    The subtlety in Genesis is that Eve is subject to Adam her husband – not to all men.

    Timothy: The subtlety in 1 Tim is related to this. Adam was created first. Eve sinned first. And yet, we did not become sinners through Eve. Why not? Because she was not our federal head.

    The text literally reads: “And Adam was not the one deceived but the woman having been deceived came into transgression” (καὶ Ἀδὰμ οὐκ ἠπατήθη, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἐξαπατηθεῖσα ἐν παραβάσει γέγονεν.) (see eg Mounce for this).

    The text is NOT saying that Eve became a sinner by being deceived. There is a related Greek work parabates that means transgressor, and it is not used here. The NIV and ESV actually paraphrase here and make it seem that Paul is saying Eve became a transgressor. Instead, the text says that Eve “came into transgression” – committed a sin.
    The point is that Eve sinned first. And the missing term in Paul’s argument is

    …yet we became sinners through Adam and not Eve

    Adam was created first; Eve sinned first. How did we become sinners? Through Adam, not Eve. This proves that in the matter of sin and salvation, man is the head over woman.

    And this point is driven home: “she will be saved through childbearing.” Which childbearing? Not her own, but the birth of Christ.

    This passage is all about federal headship, NOT about women’s fitness for some task or another. Petros, there’s your difference between ontology and rank: the federal headship of man over woman obtains only within a specific scope, not as a universal property deriving from the nature of man and woman.

    The headship of man within the church is a picture of the headship of Christ over the church in exactly the same way that the headship of man within the marriage is a picture of the headship of Christ over the church.

    Outside of the family and church, there is no such symbolism. Women may lawfully be queens. They may lawfully lead armies. They may lawfully fight, though it may be unwise. They may instruct people in the gospel, outside of the worship service. They may even be prophetesses.

    Complementarians miss this point, trying to import headship into “all of life.” As a result, they end up pushing single women into a desert wasteland.

    Egalitarians miss this point and spend all their time trying to refute complemantarians.

    Both of the them need a good dose of federal headship and two kingdoms!

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  60. You are sneaking in other assumptions to get from “is” to “ought” in your example.
    Premise 1: I’m stronger than my wife
    Conclusion: I should defend her against an intruder
    Does the conclusion follow from the premise? The implication is that the gradients of strength determine who should protect whom. You have to have a justification for why the stronger should always defend the weaker. Is this even true? Is it wrong for a mother to protect her 13 year old son from an intruder even if he is stronger than she?

    Natural law is looking at things in a general sense. The existence of corner cases and exceptions does not nullify it. Should the stronger defend the weaker? I think the question answers itself. To whom more is given, more is expected. Generally men are much stronger, especially in the upper body. A mountain of data confirms this which is why women in the armed forces and police forces are always clamoring for a reduction in physical standards or attacking their relevance. Generally, 13 year-old boys are stronger than their mothers. In most cultures, 13 year-old boys would be expected to defend their mothers.

    I’m really looking for what Aimee Byrd would call “a gynocentric interruption”: the female voice. What would your wife say if you sent her down to deal with an intruder?

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  61. Jeff,

    I actually agree of most of what you wrote. It’s not at all going to satisfy egalitarians.

    I’m not willing or trying to implement complementarianism across the board into the secular kingdom. I think much of the attempts to do that by people like Piper are just stupid.

    Nevertheless, I do think there are principles that have application even in the secular kingdom. There is an underlying logic in nature to certain things.

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  62. Petros,

    Beyond that, neither men or women are monolithic in their personalities, skills, interests, etc.

    Sure. Yet across the board, men tend to be more aggressive, women tend to be more nurturing. Give boys barbies and they use them as swords. Give girls action figures, and they play very differently with them than boys do. I see this in my own house, and we’ve not tried to stress traditional gender roles. Exceptions prove the rule.

    That everyone can observe other stereotypic diffs (eg, physical strength, among other things) should not be the basis for claiming there are Biblically prescribed ‘roles’ for each gender that are morally incumbent upon everyone to have.

    Not in any way? You are basically saying that there is no purpose to God’s making men, as a rule, physically stronger than women. And just apply that to other things for both sexes.

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  63. Walt,

    Yes, I enjoy Aaron Renn’s writing. He’s definitely touching truths available in natural law/general revelation.

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  64. @Jeff, I appreciate your methodology and thinking, and actually agree with your pt about 2K. In a good way, you make your appeal to Scripture (egads, Walt may accuse you of being a biblicist), even though I disagree very much with your take on 1 Tim 2 and on this idea that ‘headship’ entails a hierarchical/authority spin to it.

    Setting that aside, just glad to see you weren’t trying to appeal to natural law or to men being physically stronger than women. What some commentators in this thread seem unable to grasp is that yeah, maybe it’s both prudent and noble for a stronger person to defend a weaker person. But, to extrapolate that to be some kind of version of “this is why God universally ordained men to have authority over their wife or in the church”? No wonder dear Byrd and Miller are at their wits end taking ill-informed potshots from the reformed community.

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  65. Jeff,

    The problem with complementarianism is that it extends legitimate Biblical headship in the family and in the church over into all of life, where no such headship obtains

    I think the idea is that God made the first wife and woman at the same time. I would expect wives would submit to their husbands and daughters to their fathers but not to other husbands and fathers unless they were magistrates. However, in the old household economy that existed until just yesterday historically, I’m not sure there were any “free range women” who were not husbands or daughters (or slaves or servants) in the sense that we think of it today.

    I think this prompts another question: should men rule in the house and church but not civil government? This seems kind of inconsistent to me. However, there are the examples of prominent women in the New Testament and of course Ruth and Deborah, but I think the idea with Ruth and Deborah was that there were no qualified men around since Israel had degraded so badly. On the other hand, there is also the example of the Queen of Sheba. There is no indication Solomon thought she was an illegitimate rule. Several Reformers argued that the legitimacy of civil government comes from the people, especially for lesser magistrates, so I suppose men can follow a woman if they want.

    That said, the idea of sending them into combat with men is simply nonsense on a stick for a large number of reasons. Show me the historical precedent of this. Also, if they can’t fight, putting them in charge of a military without combat experience is also absurd, though it has been done with men. Not wise either way.

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  66. @Robert, “You are basically saying that there is no purpose to God’s making men, as a rule, physically stronger than women.” No, I’m not saying that. Of course, we can and should appreciate God’s design and purpose for everything in the created order. It’s quite another thing to leverage a stereotype into a universal truth, since there are exceptions. What’s more egregious, though, are attempts to leverage the biological diffs between men/women into rationalizing the comp view of women being subordinated to their husbands, and women being excluded from church leadership. At the least, if one wants to hold to a comp view (biblically misguided as I think it is), hold it on the basis of Scripture. Sola scriptura.

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  67. Walt, just curious. I’ve heard about the famed benefits of presby church governance. Would you recommend that the OPC restrain/discipline Byrd for her writings?

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  68. @Walt, I can’t resist. “I think the idea with Ruth and Deborah was that there were no qualified men around since Israel had degraded so badly.” Yeah, that’s an idea, but a bad one. Funny, King Josiah could have picked and summoned from the likes of Jeremiah, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, possibly Joel and Obadiah, and even maybe a young Daniel and Ezekiel. But, who was consulted? It was Huldah, the prophetess, who was God’s mouthpiece!

    For careful readers, the Text is LOADED with these unexpected gynocentric interruptions into the patriarchal culture! For those who have ears to hear, let them hear….

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  69. I’ve been enjoying this parlay back and forth between the 3 or 4 of you. If permitted, I’d like to throw a question into the mix since it more less applies: When considering Gen. 3:16 there have been several approaches to that curse/promise statement from God. One simplistic view is that the woman will desire her husband, sexually or otherwise, even though he dominates, another view is that God more or less set up a kind of straw man where this comp./egal. balance comes into play for mankind’s future, yet a third view is that a proper interpretation of the Hebrew word translated as “desire” really means “overwhelm” or similar, which points to yet another component of the curse whereby the woman, instead playing only the supportive role, will seek superiority over the man. In these end times it seems that we certainly have enough evidence to support this last interpretation. Any thoughts on this matter?

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  70. For careful readers, the Text is LOADED with these unexpected gynocentric interruptions into the patriarchal culture! For those who have ears to hear, let them hear….

    Sure, after you learn something about Reformed theology. I’ll get into it with you when you’re finished learning and become Reformed, in which case your problems will handle themselves without my intervention.

    But, to extrapolate that to be some kind of version of “this is why God universally ordained men to have authority over their wife or in the church”? No wonder dear Byrd and Miller are at their wits end taking ill-informed potshots from the reformed community.

    Where is the wisdom in being frustrated with the people in your denomination and making them frustrated with you? We’ve been the same way for a long time and don’t see the reason to change. These gals are trying to change us. How well does it go over when you try to change other people? There are already a ton of other denominations where they’d fit in perfectly.

    Walt, just curious. I’ve heard about the famed benefits of presby church governance. Would you recommend that the OPC restrain/discipline Byrd for her writings?

    I can’t see how laywomen who do not hold an office of the keys and have no specific theological training are qualified to write on theology. I can’t see how laymen are either, which is why I don’t buy theology books that aren’t written by at least church officers with some sort of academic qualifications in the topic on which they’re writing. Call me old-fashioned, but I think you have to have training and qualifications in a topic to write on it. Same rules for men as women, I’m afraid. I think they should either be restrained or advised to seek a different denomination with different rules if they’re truly conscience-bound to write on these topics.

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  71. George, the most important thing about Gen 3:16, which you rightly noted, is this” “points to yet another component of the CURSE”. The “you will desire to control your husband yet he will rule over you” brilliantly captures that gender conflicts are a result of the CURSE, NOT part of God’s design (Gen 1 & 2). No part of Gen 3:16 should be understood as demonstrating a divine edict for men to rule over women in a hierarchical sense. The idea of a God-ordained hierarchy is foreign to God’s original design, and, foreign to His redemptive purposes (Gal 3:28).

    That men, due to their physical prowess, wound up dominating culture is true, of course. In a subsistence world (that is, most of human history up until the last couple hundred years), where you need to grow something or kill something to eat, it’s unsurprising that men’s physical characteristics would push them into the ‘role’ of food-provider. And, in a pre-modern world w/o birth control, most women would be making and feeding babies for a solid 20 yrs of their prime adult years, with practical consequences on their ability to take societal leadership roles. So, again, all this is culturally normed, not biblically normed. The “it’s always been a certain way for all of human history therefore it must be true” – aka appeal to natural law – represents Biblical malpractice.

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  72. George, the most important thing about Gen 3:16, which you noted, is this” “points to yet another component of the CURSE”. The “you will desire to control your husband yet he will rule over you” brilliantly captures that gender conflicts are a result of the CURSE, NOT part of God’s design (Gen 1 & 2). No part of Gen 3:16 should be understood as demonstrating a divine edict for men to rule over women in a hierarchical sense. The idea of a God-ordained hierarchy is foreign to God’s original design, and, foreign to His redemptive purposes (Gal 3:28).

    That men, due to their physical prowess, wound up dominating culture is true, of course. In a subsistence world (that is, most of human history up until the last couple hundred years), where you need to grow something or kill something to eat, it’s unsurprising that men’s physical characteristics would push them into the ‘role’ of food-provider. And, in a pre-modern world w/o birth control, most women would be making and feeding babies for a solid 20 yrs of their prime adult years, with practical consequences on their ability to take societal leadership roles. So, again, all this is culturally normed, not biblically normed. The “it’s always been a certain way for all of human history therefore it must be true” – aka appeal to natural law – represents Biblical malpractice.

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  73. One simplistic view is that the woman will desire her husband, sexually or otherwise, even though he dominates, another view is that God more or less set up a kind of straw man where this comp./egal. balance comes into play for mankind’s future, yet a third view is that a proper interpretation of the Hebrew word translated as “desire” really means “overwhelm” or similar, which points to yet another component of the curse whereby the woman, instead playing only the supportive role, will seek superiority over the man. In these end times it seems that we certainly have enough evidence to support this last interpretation. Any thoughts on this matter?

    George,

    No idea. My Hebrew’s not any good nor have I read any of the egalitarian or complementarian literature. That text seems to be something of a Rorschach test for a lot of people. I’m sure we can all agree that male-female relationships have been broken by the Fall.

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  74. Petros,

    On gynocentric interruptions I’ve seen more left wing commentatos apply the same basic principles to Jesus’ comments on the eunuchs being born that way as an interruption that validates transgenderism and homosexuality. In other words, one of the reasons why I had to stop being an egalitarian is that I saw how the consistent application of egalitarian interpretative principles leads to affirmation of sexual deviancy. Conservative egalitarians avoid this, but in my opinion they are not applying their hermeneutic consistently. I’m glad for the inconsistency, but there’s an undeniable tendency among egalitarians to eventually reject historic Christian teaching on sexuality as well.

    The slippery slope is real, and I don’t personally see how the egalitarian hermeneutic can stop it.

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  75. George,

    The reading of Gen. 3 that says women want to usurp male authority is based largely on the appearance of the same verb in Gen. 4 for sin’s desire to master Cain. It has a pretty weak exegetical basis. If that is a general temptation for women, it would have to be proved on other grounds, I think. No doubt there are women who attempt to do this, but it’s not true of all women, at least in my experience.

    In my opinion, the woman’s desire for her husband and his continued rule over her are probably blessings to ameliorate the curse. Similarly, that man will still bring food from the ground even when it’s hard to do so is a blessing in the middle of the curse.

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  76. Speaking of natural law/general revelation, I do think we need to look at the Western world and seriously question how good the influence of feminism/female leadership/equality has been in the secular kingdom. No doubt there have been some positives. But over the last century, birth rates have plummeted and the increased presence of women in the workplace is one of many factors leading to wage stagnation. Supply and demand.

    Women now have “equal rights” and instigate divorce more often then men do. Single mothers in poverty. In some cases this is a necessity because of abuse, but in most cases its frivolous irreconcilable differences.

    Is a breakdown of traditional roles in the secular realm the only reason to blame for all of this. Probably not. But I think we’re foolish to discount it.

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  77. Robert, I assumed the word “interruption” merely entailed a “surprise”. If someone said “1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 6, 7” one would conclude that the “9” was an unexpected interruption in the sequence. So, for reasons mentioned, it’s to be EXPECTED that men would dominate any ancient near east narrative. When the unfolding narrative of God’s redemption (Gen to Rev) includes a LOT of women playing key roles, perhaps the biblical author intends this as a literary device to interrupt our reading and shine a spotlight and get our attention. Sadly, most western readers tend to miss these interruptions entirely.

    As to your concern about a weirdo hermeneutic about eunuchs in Mt 19 leading to transgenderism and homosexuality, that’s beyond bizarre to even respond to. But it has nothing to do with some unique egalitarian hermeneutical principle. That’s a very false and ill-informed charge, so perhaps you can elaborate. The egalitarian hermeneutic entails the same generic solid historic/grammatical/socio-rhetorical solid principles that should be applied rigorously by anyone, sans appeals to natural law and sans appeals to Calvin (yeah, tough for presby’s to do, I realize), who brutally maintained a view that women were intrinsically inferior.

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  78. Robert, wrt “seriously question how good the influence of feminism/female leadership/equality has been in the secular kingdom.” Like just about all of history, the answer to that is “It’s a very mixed bag!”. Lots of GREAT stuff (my amazing crazy-smart daughters have opportunities that would have been unthinkable a hundred years ago, and Thatcher certainly was a great leader of the UK, etc). And lots of bad stuff, too, I’m sure.

    Whether it’s a good or bad thing in culture, though, is irrelevant to being theologically faithful to the Bible, unless your goal is just to reinstate Ozzie/Harriet as the gold standard. The more troubling question you might ask is “what has been the impact on the witness and ministry of the church by its diminishment and discouragement of the use of leadership and teaching gifts by women in the church?” You’d be foolish to discount the answer to THAT question.

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  79. @Petros:

    What then do you make of Paul’s command in 1 Tim 2?

    Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

    Regardless of the reasoning in vv 13 – 15, what is he commanding?

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  80. @Walt: It seems like there are two parts to your reasoning about women in combat:

    (1) Statistically, women are not physically able to be in combat, so
    (2) They should not be allowed to.

    But what of the few that are able? It would seem like your reasoning would only extend to women or men who can’t meet requirements.

    I get (and agree) with your point about dumbing down requirements. But supposing requirements remain at whatever levels are needed to “fight, win, prevail”, how do we get to a moral imperative that women should not be in combat ever?

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  81. Jeff,
    Combat readiness depends on a lot more than just strength. It depends on durability, cognition, and emotional readiness. The Army has already prepared scientific reports on the superiority of men in terms of strength and durability for combat. Women cannot live in holes like men can. They suffer from stress fractures far more often. They need more sleep. They are on-average smaller. Then there are the cognitive and emotional differences documented by Louann Brizendine in “The Female Brain” that make women unsuited to combat. Then there’s the laughable idea of sticking men and women together in tight quarters away from wives/husbands. What’s going to happen? What will the effect on morale and discipline be? I can tell you because I saw it when they started putting women on ships in the Navy when I served. It was a joke. Then when women are in danger, men try to protect them instead of doing their jobs. It’s in their nature. We already know what’s going to happen.

    In fact, I’d say it has already happened. The feminization of our military is already so far along that I’m going to tell my sons they should stay out of it so they’re not made into hamburger in some mixed-sex military debacle . If there’s a draft, I’m going to help them dodge it. It will sadden me if more American women end-up like Jessica Lynch, but who can separate fools from their folly?
    cmrlink.org/issues/full/what-really-happened-to-jessica-lynch

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  82. Petros,

    But it has nothing to do with some unique egalitarian hermeneutical principle.

    At the risk of oversimplifying things, the egalitarian principle ends up being “Let’s find any example whatsoever that we can find of a woman exercising something that might possibly be some kind of leadership over men so that we can ignore straightforward statements like as ‘I don’t permit a woman to teach or have authority over man.'”

    My background includes studying under a highly recognized feminist biblical scholars on the left. I’ve read more feminist theology than I care to admit, including Elizabeth Johnson, Ruether, Fiorenza, and many others. The entire modus operandi is looking for “interruptions.” Their hermeneutic is not fundamentally different than an egalitarian such as Ruth Tucker. The only difference is that Tucker thinks the text has inherent authority.

    Queer theologians find “queer” interruptions.

    IMO, the hurdles to proving that the biblical text supports female leadership in the church and the home are insurmountable.

    Lived experience also shows this. Women generally grow to resent passive, compliant men who never show leadership qualities even if they marry them. Orthodox Christian women, from every tradition, Reformed, Wesleyan, Arminian, Baptist, by and large don’t want women to be their pastors. Any denomination that embraces female pastors en masse is cratering in membership. At some point we just have to recognize that as much as people talk about women’s rights and leadership in ministry, when push comes to shove, people don’t want it. Even in the secular world, women tend to gravitate not to executive positions but to helping positions given the choice.

    If the traditional view is such a hindrance to ministry, why are women far more likely to be traditionally religious than are men?

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  83. “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

    Jeff, I’ll give you my shorthand version on the argument of 1 Tim 2:11,12. (Space constrains me from giving you an exhaustive bibliography and footnotes.) Far too many drive-by comp readers think of this as their definitive go-to Text, when they hardly realize it doesn’t help their case.

    1) The situation at Ephesus. Tim had to face any number of pastoral challenges with false teachings (1:3-11, 19,20; 4:1-16; 6:3,4,20,21). Ephesus had roots with women Amazonian warriors. The cult of Artemis (its temple being one of the 7 wonders of the world) dominated the city. It was a female-dominated cult, and there’s evidence that to join required proof of killing someone.
    2) As you probably know, it is “a woman” (singular), not “women” (plural). So, there’s some basis for construing this as Paul trying to help Tim with one single loudmouth, untaught, woman new convert from the cult, and hence, not a universal admonition about ‘all’ women for all time. But nonetheless, let’s suppose Paul biffed on using the singular, when he really meant to say “women” (plural).
    3) Paul, contra the Jewish view that “better the Torah should burn than be taught to a woman”, and contra the general Greco-roman restrictions on education not being available to women, asserts “Let women learn!”. So, Paul’s all in favor of women learning and not silently sitting idly by.
    4) Contra comps, who think the “submissiveness” is to be to men, better to understand this as having a submissive spirit to the authoritative Text. While men should have a similar posture towards learning, one can surmise that women converts from the feisty Artemis cult might need to be especially reminded to be submissive.
    5) “I do not permit”. You can look up all the variety of optional words/grammar Paul had at his disposal, but his use of “I do not permit” entails merely a temporal situational admonition. The burden would be on comps to demonstrate otherwise.
    6) “to teach/exercise authority”. Realize that the word “authority” (authenteo) is used exactly ONCE in the entire NT. Right here. So, the only way to figure out what it means is to look at extra biblical literature. Get a few lexicons and discover that authenteo refers to a uniquely autocratic brutal type of authority as in “one who with his own hand kills either others or himself”. Cross-ref this to #1 above with domineering Artemis priestesses. But realize authenteo is a type of authority that is so un-Christlike that no man should ever use, either!
    7) Put the pieces of the puzzle together, and you’ve got Paul telling Tim “hey, in the cult of Artemis, women priestesses would brutally exercise authority and dominate the place, but this shall NOT be so in the church. You’ve got a lot of false teaching there, Tim, that needs to be corrected. Having said that, I DO want the women to learn, submitting themselves to the Word of God! But, until they do learn, better that they be quiet!

    That’s the short-hand version. It’s a fascinating text to study.

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  84. Robert, maybe that’s the egalitarian principle you learned, but it’s not normative, and it’s not mine. Crying “you’re a liberal!” or “it’s a slippery slope” or “I know someone who has a weird idea about eunuchs” isn’t legit engagement with real scholarship or exegesis. And, I’m 99% sure you have the chops to do the latter. Too bad you didn’t study with Walter Kaiser, Walter Liefeld, Richard Bauckham, Ben Witherington, and others. These guys aren’t/weren’t libs. But, you can still read their excellent works!

    I could write a lot about how the typical comp hermeneutic is hugely inconsistent and blind. I’ll retract that if you tell me you and your pastor are aghast if a woman in your church braided her hair or wore pearls (1 Tim 2:9). But, somehow, I’m guessing you aren’t aghast. Ask yourself why.

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  85. Robert, I’m told that presby circles are kinda small. So, I’m not sure what to make of your lived experiences, versus mine and others’. But I do know that you comps have a self-fulfilling thing going for you. You folks teach male hierarchy, you model it, and if even a good OPC’er like Byrd bravely ventures out of her turtle shell, there’s a presby firing squad ready to take her out. So you say even women don’t want women pastors. But realize you’ve no way of really knowing that, because you’ve totally pre-biased the survey.

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  86. My background includes studying under a highly recognized feminist biblical scholars on the left. I’ve read more feminist theology than I care to admit, including Elizabeth Johnson, Ruether, Fiorenza, and many others. The entire modus operandi is looking for “interruptions.” Their hermeneutic is not fundamentally different than an egalitarian such as Ruth Tucker. The only difference is that Tucker thinks the text has inherent authority.

    Let me see if I understand this. Aimee Byrd is using feminist concepts and terminology when she says she’s looking for “gynocentric interruptions” in the Bible but says she is just re-discovering what the Bible really says about female roles in the church. I thought it was weird that she’d use the term “gynocentric interruption” in a Christian book but I didn’t know where it came from. I thought it was some sort of insider language. I guess I was right. Maybe she got the idea from Bauckham 4 years ago but then again she referenced a feminist book in her new book. Why would you do either if you were trying to persuade pastors that you were making important points within the bounds of orthodoxy? Judging by the reviews, she has confused several of the people in her target audience:
    goodreads.com/book/show/50979333-recovering-from-biblical-manhood-and-womanhood

    All these terms floating around like “ReVoice” or “voice” or posture shift” or any of the SJW terms over in the Keller/Big Green Letters camp seem to just be re-packaged cultural Marxism from academia. I studied STEM so I wasn’t exposed to much of this.

    This is just going to be a repeat of the early 20th century with a slight twist and the same results. I’m with Machen – we need a separation.

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  87. “ Natural law is looking at things in a general sense. “
    Have you read any serious scholars on Natural Law such as Finnis or George? Here is a nice article that includes the contrast between Calvin and Aquinas:

    Click to access 88049.pdf

    Key excerpt:

    Human conscience has a very particular status as it acts as mediator between man and God—enabling man to submit his wrongdoings to God’s justice. It is thus a superior form of scientia, which obtains solely between man and
    that of which he acquires knowledge in the external world. Calvin separates natural moral law from biblical precepts and makes it
    stand for innate knowledge of right and wrong. It is this innate knowledge that enables nations who do not know the Bible to have legal systems….[for Aquinas] The term natural law applies specifically to the way in which rational creatures participate in the eternal law of God. This is particularly important as it implies that to
    Aquinas the term natural law applies in its strict sense not to the natural tendencies and inclinations of man on which his reason reflects but to the precept that his reason enunciates as a result of this reflection. This definition of natural law, which allows human reason a certain amount of autonomy in the moral realm, is absent from Calvin’s work… Thus, despite similarities of terminology, Aquinas’ and Calvin’s concepts of natural law turn out not to have a great deal in common. Aquinas assigns to natural law an objective status of a set of precepts given by God that man can enunciate and apply to individual actions as a result of reflection…. Calvin puts a particular emphasis on natural law and makes it into a standard placed in man’s conscience by God. This standard means that man can do no other than reveal the moral content of his actions to God. Calvin’s concept of conscience implies each man’s dependence on God in a one-on-one relationship, which would have been inconceivable to Aquinas.”

    The main players in discussions about Natural Law are Thomists. When you read about Natural Law as a way of resolving disputes, this is what they have in mind. It is at the very least in serious tension with Calvinist anthropology.

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  88. @Petros: May I push back a bit? I’ll give one round and leave off – I don’t want this to become an Epic Thread.

    (3) Paul’s all in favor of women learning and not silently sitting idly by.

    Agreed. Add to that adorning with good works, and women teaching women, and you have a strong argument against passive femininity in Paul.

    (1) / (6) Ephesus had roots with women Amazonian warriors. The cult of Artemis…dominated the city … Realize that the word “authority” (authenteo) is used exactly ONCE in the entire NT … authenteo refers to a uniquely autocratic brutal type of authority as in “one who with his own hand kills either others or himself”.

    You’re in the wrong century. See egalitarian Marg Mowzcko, “The Meaning of authentein in 1 Tim 2:12, with a Brief History of authent- Words.” Key points:

    The noun authentēs, with the meaning of ‘kin-murderer,’ was mainly used in Classical and Atticistic Greek. The noun was used with a broader sense of ‘murderer’ in the Hellenistic period, and it typically included a nuance of ‘perpetrator.’ In the literary Koine Greek of the Roman period, the range of meanings increased and included ‘master’ and ‘mastermind’ as well as ‘murderer.’… In the Greek corpus, the verb authenteō refers to a range of actions that … involve an imposition of the subject’s will, ranging from dishonour to lethal force.

    We do agree, though, that authentein is pejorative, unlike exousiazo. I would suggest “usurp” as the best understanding here, unless we want to take the position that Paul actually needed to forbid women to kill men in church.

    And in fact, “usurp” fits very well with the understanding that Paul’s focus is headship rather than ability. A usurper takes on an authority not lawfully given to him (or her), because of the ability to do so.

    (2) The use of singular over against plural is not a “biff”, nor a Clintonian euphemism for “that woman,” but a common idiom to mean “any.” This is routine in legal documents in English, math textbooks in English … and Scripture in Greek.

    Eg:

    “For what will it profit a man …” (τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος…)
    “If a man tells his father and mother, ‘Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’…” (Ἐὰν εἴπῃ ἄνθρωπος…)
    “Anyone who looks at a woman…” (πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα)

    Put in evidentiary terms, the use of singular over plural has very low value for your case because it is so commonly used as a generic. It is much more likely to be used as a generic than a euphemism.

    That value is further reduced to an argument against your case because Koine Greek has a way to euphemize, using the word “tis.” Jesus uses it, Luke uses it, and Paul uses it in 1 Tim:

    “in order to instruct certain men not to teach heterodoxy” ἵνα παραγγείλῃς τισὶν μὴ ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν

    So I would rate this argument weakest of the six, resting on a false grammatical premise. “A woman” argues against your point.

    (5) but his use of “I do not permit” entails merely a temporal situational admonition.

    That is a lot of weight to place on a generic present tense. As you probably know, present tense in Greek can range from a one-time action to an ongoing state of affairs. I’m not saying it’s grammatically impossible that Paul meant a temporal situational admonition. I’m just saying that there’s no grammatical support for saying it is temporal rather than ongoing.

    AND, 1 Cor 14 looms large here where Paul addresses women speaking in church with the same instruction and the same present tense. Was Corinthian society also amazonian? Did “a woman” have a winter home in Corinth?

    (4) Contra comps, who think the “submissiveness” is to be to men, better to understand this as having a submissive spirit to the authoritative Text. While men should have a similar posture towards learning…

    This point lacks bite. I would not disagree that ultimately, women (and men) are to have a submissive attitude toward the authoritative Text – even ultimately, to the author of that Text.

    That doesn’t really resolve the issue in the next verse: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

    The woman could be commanded to be submissive to the Text and not to the man, but she is still commanded not to teach or exercise (“usurp”) authority over a man.

    Given that “a woman” is generic, Paul’s instruction here differentiates between men and women on the basis of their sex, grounded in creation / fall arguments.

    Even if we were to grant a temporal situational admonition, ad argumentum — it isn’t an egalitarian temporal situational admonition at all. And combined with 1 Cor 14, it doesn’t even look like a temporal situational admonition.

    Well, that’s the pushback and I’ll sign off with this thought.

    Every interpreter has to worry about his baggage. “Am I importing my cultural assumptions into my reading?”

    For a Confessionalist, the danger is to make the tradition serve as premises for the exegesis, rather than as a check on the exegesis.

    For a non-Confessionalist, the danger is to make non-traditional sources serve as premises for the exegesis, possibly being unaware of their role in his/her thought.

    You’ve suggested to us that a hierarchical reading of 1 Tim 2 might simply be a way of justifying a non-Biblical Ozzie-and-Harriet approach to the church. OK, fair question to ask. I hope that I’ve shown here how a hierarchical reading need not imply 20th century American mores.

    But the fair question for you is, What cultural assumptions make an egalitarian reading of 1 Tim 2 plausible? Is it possible that you have accepted a premise that hierarchy automatically implies ontological superiority and inferiority? If so, could that assumption be driving the reading?

    And if Yes, would you be willing to consider that there are many gender-free situations where a person of superior quality is under the authority of an inferior?

    And if you grant that, then perhaps you might consider getting off the complementarian – egalitarian number line altogether.

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  89. Petros,

    But realize you’ve no way of really knowing that, because you’ve totally pre-biased the survey.

    I’m just looking across the board at Christianity, under which I’m lumping all traditions, Reformed or otherwise. If people were eager for female leadership in the church, the mainline would not be cratering and it would be a widespread phenomenon in those evangelical churches that do allow it. But even in those churches, such as the AoG, that allow for female elders/pastors, it’s very uncommon.

    Why aren’t women flocking to churches with female leadership? Could it be that they just don’t want it, no matter what they say?

    I agree that some versions of complementarianism (a word I don’t particularly like) want to go back to Ozzie and Harriet. We have to be careful about imposing cultural norms on the biblical text. But as far as I can tell, people say they want egalitarianism but their lives don’t mirror it. Could it be that egalitarianism has only been a live option for a few decades. Perhaps. I guess we’ll see. I will also say that the church has a hard time attracting and retaining men, and rightly or wrongly, widespread female leadership is not going to help with that.

    I grew up in the egalitarian ELCA. Even there, at least at the time, 30 years ago, male pastors were preferred. I think female pastors are more widespread today, but the ELCA is cratering. And I can’t think of a denomination that has endorsed in theology and in practice widespread female leadership and has remained orthodox. Maybe there is one and I just don’t know it. The churches that were tending to unorthodoxy and have moved back to Scripture, such as the SBC, also have largely set aside female pastors. Correlation isn’t causation, but those trends should cause us to ask questions.

    Carl Trueman, hardly and Ozzie and Harriet complementarian, once made a comment that I found pretty insightful, namely, that those churches that accept female elders/pastors but reject homosexuality look like they are specifically targeting homosexuals in a way that raises the question as to whether homophobia is involved. His point was that the hermeneutic that gives you female elders/pastors, consistently applied, leads to homosexual approval.

    From my reading of the text, women should be teaching other women. They should certainly be teaching men in a private capacity a la Priscilla and Apollos. They should preach the gospel to men and to women in their workplaces and neighborhood. I’m not even sure that 1 Timothy 2 forbids all teaching of men in a public or group capacity. It seems pretty clear to me, however, that there should not be any female elders. You just can’t find any in Scripture. Installing female elders would be massively countercultural in the first century, especially in settings where the church was largely Jewish. The Apostles aren’t afraid to overturn cultural norms like circumcision and dietary laws. Why aren’t they ordaining female elders wherever they go if that is Christ’s intent? Did Paul or Peter miss something?

    We aren’t going to settle this issue in a combox, but these are some of the things that led me to reject the egalitarian position.

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  90. Jeff, Mowzcko’s understanding of “authenteo” is essentially the same as mine, to wit, that this “authority” is an abusive unthinkable type of authority, and not an authority that any human being (even a man!) should assume. Since you’re a consumer of Mowzcko, you’ll know that she is persuaded that indeed Paul IS talking about a single woman. You might re-read her argument for that position. Realize that singular or plural, it’s not consequential to my argument.

    Sorry, you can’t get ‘headship’ out of 1 Tim 2. And again, a much better understanding of ‘head’ has nothing to do with authority anyway. “Head” has the meaning of “source”, as in “the waters of Mt Carmel are the ‘head’, or ‘source’, of the waters flowing into the Jordan River”. Eve didn’t come out of the dirt, as Adam did. The ‘source’ of Eve was Adam’s rib, not dirt. This has nothing to do with authority. In fact, the sense of Gen 2:22 is that Adam is saying “FINALLY, at last, someone my EQUAL is here!”.

    Realize that the “one man” of Rom 5:12 is not Adam. It’s “mankind” (men and women – ‘anthropos’). Among other things, Paul reaffirms there that God lays the blame for sin entering into the world on both men/women, contra the Greek myth that Pandora let sin into the world.

    If 1 Cor 14 looms large, the comp case is even flimsier than I have thought it was. But, best to pass or it will become an epic thread.

    Much of the NT is in a pastoral setting, with real life situations/circumstances that the gospel is being applied to. Paul is NOT locating “not teaching” in creation. He’s locating it within the specific problem of domineering and untaught Artemis priestesses coming into the Ephesian church who were teaching strange doctrines. Why the comp hermeneutic leads to thinking that there is a universal timeless prohibition on women teaching but not a universal timeless prohibition on women wearing pearls is a gross inconsistency that comps should ponder.

    But as far as teaching and Gen are concerned, realize that when Adam received the command directly from God to not eat the forbidden fruit, Eve hadn’t even been created yet. So Eve did not get the command directly from God. She only knows, second hand, whatever Adam ‘taught’ her. So when Eve talks to the serpent, and mis-states what it was that God had said, it’s equally or more likely that it was because Adam was a horrible ‘teacher’ as it is that Eve was a bad learner.

    In the pre-fall world Gen 1 & 2, there is only gender equality and mutuality. Both Adam/Eve were created in God’s image. Both were given shared responsibility to ‘rule’ the earth. Adam didn’t have primary responsibility, with Eve in a supporting role. God wanted “the two will become one”, not “the woman will serve the man”. Usually comps ignorantly want to read into Gen 2:18 that Eve was some kind of junior assistant ‘helper’, yet alas, God too is our helper (Deut 33:26, et al), and He is not our junior assistant.

    I appreciate your closing questions for reflection. However, let me submit that the comp vs egal case is entirely predicated on whether you can find a God-created authority/hierarchy in the genders in Gen 1 & 2, or not. I only find equality and mutuality. Gen 1 & 2 is the primary fork in the road. After that, 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2, et al, become far easier to understand.

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  91. Walt,

    One of the chief egalitarian principles is to look for gynocentric interruptions. Liberal egalitarians and conservative egalitarians tend to agree that patriarchy, even in its mildest forms, is inherently bad and that it hopelessly clouds large portions of the Bible. Liberal egalitarians say that given that, the patriarchal portions of Scripture must be rejected out of hand. Conservative egalitarians won’t reject the text out of hand to their credit, but the assumption is more that God just couldn’t or was for some reason unwilling overcome the patriarchal bias of the biblical writers, so he undermines patriarchy by giving us a few countercultural examples.

    Leftist feminist scholars are explicit about what they are doing in using interruptions to show us what parts of the texts are really inspired. More conservative egalitarians use similar principles, but they still want to affirm the inspiration of the whole. I don’t think it’s a stable position that can produce confidence in the biblical text over the long term, though I do not doubt the faith of conservative egalitarians or think that they disbelieve the Bible is God’s Word. I just think they are inconsistent.

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  92. Petros,

    Realize that the “one man” of Rom 5:12 is not Adam. It’s “mankind” (men and women – ‘anthropos’).

    That destroys the parallel with Christ. The obedience of the one man that saves us must then be both Christ and all of humanity, or at least all humanity in him. But Paul is clear that our obedience doesn’t save anyone, not even ourselves.

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  93. The main players in discussions about Natural Law are Thomists. When you read about Natural Law as a way of resolving disputes, this is what they have in mind. It is at the very least in serious tension with Calvinist anthropology.

    sdb,

    As usual, we’re talking past one-another. I’m well-aware of Calvin’s definition and am using his definition. As it pertains to our discussion, it still doesn’t let you off the hook regarding Hume’s unbiblical “ought-is” distinction as the fifth commandment – written on our consciences – makes very clear.

    I think I’m confusing some terms though. Calvin’s natural law was grounded in the conscience while his political theology was grounded in the Bible’s account of Creation and conscience. I think I melded his political theology and natural theology, which I shouldn’t have done. Either way, I think classic liberalism is dying with the death of Christendom.

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  94. Liberal egalitarians and conservative egalitarians tend to agree that patriarchy, even in its mildest forms, is inherently bad and that it hopelessly clouds large portions of the Bible.

    Then they belong in a non-Calvinist system:

    The two kingdoms framework also guided Calvin’s analysis of institutions that he regarded as creational, yet temporal and corrupted, such as gender. In the spiritual kingdom there is equality between men and women, he argues, while in the civil order, men and women have distinct roles, women being in subjection to men.119 Thus Calvin acknowledges a tension between Paul’s declaration in Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is neither male nor female and his statement in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that while a man’s head is Christ, a woman’s head is her husband. When he says that there is no difference between the man and woman, he is treating of Christ’s spiritual kingdom [de spirituali Christi regno], in which individual distinctions are not regarded or made any account of, for it has nothing to do with the body and has nothing to do with the outward relationships of mankind [externam hominum societatem], but has to do solely with the soul – on which account he declares that there is no difference, even between bond and free. In the meantime, however, he does not disturb civil order or honorary distinctions, which cannot be dispensed with in ordinary life. Here, on the other hand, he reasons respecting outward propriety and decorum – which is a part of ecclesiastical polity [politiae ecclesiasticae]. Hence, as regards spiritual connection [spiritualem coniunctionem] in the sight of God, and inwardly in the conscience, Christ is the head of the man and of the woman without any distinction, because as to that there is no regard paid to male or female, but as regards external arrangement and political decorum [externam compositionem et decorum politicum], the man follows Christ and the woman the man, so that they are not upon the same footing [gradus], but on the contrary, this inequality [inaequalitas] exists.120 In his sermon on Galatians 3:28, Calvin puts the distinction in eschatological terms, noting of the various relationships of civil order, including that of man and woman, that “when we come to the heavenly life, let us assure ourselves that all worldly things pass and vanish away, as the world and its fashion passes.”121 In the kingdom of God, as Douglass summarizes Calvin’s position, “all differences of sex and social status will be destroyed and spiritual equality made manifest.”122 On the other hand, Calvin regards gender and patriarchy as being rooted in creation. The woman is a kind of “appendage to the man” and is joined to him on the condition that she obeys him. Since “God did not create two chiefs of equal power [aequa potestate] … the Apostle justly reminds us of that order of creation in which the eternal and inviolable [aeterna et inviolabilis] appointment of God is strikingly displayed.”123 A woman “by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey, for gunaikokratia (the government of women) has always been regarded by all wise persons as a monstrous thing.”124 Calvin believed this principle was revealed in nature by “universal consent and custom” as well as “common sense.”125

    Tuininga, Matthew J.. Calvin’s Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church: Christ’s Two Kingdoms (Law and Christianity) (pp. 165-166). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

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  95. Robert,

    Leftist feminist scholars are explicit about what they are doing in using interruptions to show us what parts of the texts are really inspired. More conservative egalitarians use similar principles, but they still want to affirm the inspiration of the whole. I don’t think it’s a stable position that can produce confidence in the biblical text over the long term, though I do not doubt the faith of conservative egalitarians or think that they disbelieve the Bible is God’s Word. I just think they are inconsistent.

    I think these things get you to the same place. Saying something is inspired but then finding a novel interpretation that agrees with your cultural assumptions and butchers the text will get you to the same place as saying it’s not inspired.

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  96. Wrt “We’ve been the same way for a long time and don’t see the reason to change.”. Yep, sadly, that’s pretty much what southern presby’s were saying about race in the 1960’s.

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  97. Wrt “We’ve been the same way for a long time and don’t see the reason to change.”. Yep, sadly, that’s pretty much what southern presby’s were saying about race in the 1960’s.

    While you’re working on your study of the 5th commandment, study the 9th as well. I have no time for passive-aggressive revilers.

    Robert,
    Rev. Preus does a great job explaining how liberals strain out gnats and swallow camels with their lexical studies:

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  98. Robert, when you ask “Why aren’t women flocking to churches with female leadership?”, the answer can be found in your own posts, to wit, that yes it’s true that most churches with female leadership are liberal. If you’re a solidly conservative evangelical man or woman, the reality is that there aren’t tons of good church options out there. Yet.

    I’ll readily admit that challenging and changing the patriarchal status quo and changing the patriarchal status quo in church is tough. Old habits and ideas die slowly, particularly with rampant biblical illiteracy. It’s possible for institutions to get stuff wrong for a really long time. The Jews ignored the Passover for hundreds of years (2 Kings 22). Copernicus and Galileo were branded as heretics. The church in the U.S. south clung to its racism. Etc.

    You can’t find gender hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2, because it’s not there. God’s redemptive purposes in history are to ultimately reverse the curse of Gen 3. Ultimately, there will be a new heavens and new earth where an Edenesque Gen 1 & 2 will be re-created. The church should model, now, that future eschatological reality, which includes there being no hierarchical distinction between male and female (Gal 3:28).

    I love Carl T. But if he really said “the hermeneutic that gives you female elders/pastors, consistently applied, leads to homosexual approval”, then dear Carl couldn’t be more ill-informed or wrong, and he should stay in his church history lane.

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  99. Robert,

    I grew up in the egalitarian ELCA. Even there, at least at the time, 30 years ago, male pastors were preferred. I think female pastors are more widespread today, but the ELCA is cratering.

    We already know how this all ends: in Nadia Bolz-Weber. Why not join a denomination with Nadia Bolz-Webers aplenty if treatment of women is so bad in the NAPARC?

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  100. Petros: I love Carl T. But if he really said “the hermeneutic that gives you female elders/pastors, consistently applied, leads to homosexual approval”, then dear Carl couldn’t be more ill-informed or wrong, and he should stay in his church history lane.

    Hold up, isn’t that a church history argument, that denominations who adopted the first hermeneutic also adopted the second, as a result of the first?

    I’m neither agreeing nor disagreeing with his argument, but tracking change-over-time and cause-effect are the middle of the historian’s lane.

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  101. Jeff, obviously, what I dispute is any assertion (by Carl or by Robert) with the “if consistently applied”, an egal hermeneutic will lead to rationalizing homosexuality or transgenderism. That’s not doing history. That’s theological crystal ball gazing about what might happen in the future, and appears to be a cheap attempt at guilt by association. I also fundamentally dispute there is such a thing as a distinct “egal hermeneutic”. There are only good hermeneutics, and bad hermeneutics. (But, I still love Carl.)

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  102. BTW, kudo’s to dear (brave!) Carl for teaming up with Byrd on their weekly podcast, and for endorsing her writings!

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  103. Petros,

    You can’t find gender hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2, because it’s not there. God’s redemptive purposes in history are to ultimately reverse the curse of Gen 3. Ultimately, there will be a new heavens and new earth where an Edenesque Gen 1 & 2 will be re-created. The church should model, now, that future eschatological reality, which includes there being no hierarchical distinction between male and female (Gal 3:28).

    Genesis 1–2 gives us a VERY limited picture of the pre-fall state. I know people like Carolyn Custis James try to ‘ezer their way to equality by talking about how the same term is used of God, but that’s just shoddy exegesis. Jesus and ordinary humans are both called kurios in Scripture, but we don’t think that makes merely human kurioi something different. And if you follow James, she and her husband are moving very far left.

    Yes it’s true that most churches with female leadership are liberal. If you’re a solidly conservative evangelical man or woman, the reality is that there aren’t tons of good church options out there. Yet.

    We’ve had decades of time. Yeah, change is slow, but if there were a real demand for female pastors among the rank and file, you’d have no problem funding female church planters or sending women to conservative seminaries for ordination. That isn’t happening. It could be that people just can’t get over their sexism. Or it could be that men and women simply on the whole don’t want female elders and pastors. The culture tells them that they are supposed to want that, so that’s what people say, but in practice they do something different.

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  104. Jeff and Petros,

    I don’t think Carl is making a historical argument but a sociological one. His point is that a culture that embraces the modern feminist movement also embraces homosexuality and that you can’t make a coherent case to the culture for one without also making one for the other.

    In other words, embrace female elders but not homosexuality and the culture isn’t going to think you are more enlightened than those who reject both, and they will suspect you of homophobia because you are singling out homosexuals. This is especially true of those churches for whom the last straw was homosexual ordination, like the recent mass exodus from the PCUSA. Why is that the tipping point but not biblical inerrancy or women in the pulpit or Christology?

    And really, if there is no connection whatsoever between gender and leadership, why does there need to be a connection between gender and licit sexual behavior/relationships. We’re all fully equal people, right?

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  105. Walt,

    We already know how this all ends: in Nadia Bolz-Weber. Why not join a denomination with Nadia Bolz-Webers aplenty if treatment of women is so bad in the NAPARC?

    And why is there a dearth of churches with solid female elders/pastors between NAPARC and Nadia Bolz-Weber? Major conservative Reformed seminaries such as RTS allow women in their Mdiv programs, after all. It’s easier than ever for women to get theological training.

    The reason is that by and large, orthodox evangelical women don’t want to be pastors or elders, and orthodox evangelical men and women don’t want women pastors or elders. I’m starting to sound like Aaron Renn if he were to focus on ecclesiology…

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  106. Robert, as regards to sociological predictions or analyses, yours or Carl’s, that’s not my concern one way or the other. I really don’t care about “what people want”, or why they want it. But I’m curious why you seem to care a lot. My contentions are only theological/biblical ones, and then, let the sociological chips fall where they may.

    FYI, and PTL, there IS a growing cadre of conservative evangelical women scholars that hold the authority of Scripture in highest esteem: Lynn Cohick, Sandra Richter, Cynthia Westfall, et al. Or for an oldie, Morna Hooker at Cambridge. That’s not a complete list, but you should know that the list is 100x longer today than it was 20 yrs ago. (They may not be crusty-presby’s, but then, it’s hard to survive the patriarchal presby firing squad.) On my end, I see the Text enjoining the use of one’s spiritual gifts. Per se, I don’t care what gender the pastor/teacher is, but I do care that they’re gifted at what they do, and there’s plenty of lame men around.

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  107. Robert, there’s nothing shoddy at all about Ezer. Quite the opposite! Dr Walter Kaiser (you can google his qualifications if you don’t know him) is a preeminent Hebrew scholar. He weighs in (excerpted from his website):
    “Adam was regarded by his Creator as incomplete and deficient as he lived at first without the benefit of a proper counterpart. He was without community. God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). So, as Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 expressed it, “Two are better than one….” Accordingly, in order to end man’s loneliness, God formed “for Adam [a] suitable helper” (Gen 2:18)-or at least that is the way most have rendered the Hebrew word ‘ēzer.
    Now, there is nothing pejorative about the translation “helper”, for the same word is used for God, but it is also variously translated as “strength”, as in “He is your shield and helper [=strength] (‘ēzer)” in Deuteronomy 33:29; 33:26.
    But R. David Freedman[v] has argued quite convincingly that our Hebrew Word ‘ēzer is a combination of two older Hebrew/Canaanite roots, one ‘-z-r, meaning “to rescue, to save,” and the other, ģ-z-r, meaning “to be strong,” to use their verbal forms for the moment. The difference between the two is in the first Hebrew letter that is today somewhat silent in pronunciation and coming where the letter “o” comes in the English alphabet. The initial , or ģhayyin, fell together in the Hebrew alphabet and was represented by the one sign ע, or ‘ayyin. However, we do know that both letters were originally pronounced separately, for their sounds are preserved in the “g” sound still preserved in English today, as in such place names as Gaza or Gomorrah, both of which are now spelled in Hebrew with the same letter, ‘ayyin. Ugartitic, a Canaanite tongue, which shares about sixty percent of its vocabulary with Hebrew, did distinguish between the ģhayyin and the ‘ayyin in its alphabet of thirty letters, as it represents the language around 1500 to 1200 B.C. It seems that somewhere around 1500 B.C. the two phonemes merged into one grapheme and, thus, the two roots merged into one. Moreover, the Hebrew word ‘ēzer appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament, often in parallelism with words denoting “strength” or “power”, thereby suggesting that two individual words were still being represented under the common single spelling. Therefore, I believe it is best to translate Genesis 2:18 as “I will make [the woman] a power [or strength] corresponding to the man”.

    And, though Kaiser doesn’t emphasize this, this fits beautifully in the construct of why there was a need for Eve. The idea wasn’t just that Adam was a lonely guy who needed a soulmate. The idea is that Adam, alone, was insufficient in himself to rule His creation, and he needed some extra firepower! In the wisdom of God, it took two genders to bear His image, and two genders to fulfill His calling to rule His creation, with shared and mutual responsibility!

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  108. What seems evident from a lot of the presby posts is your visceral FEAR of liberalism. I applaud you guys for that legit concern, and I join you in it. But, you just gotta get beyond Calvin and the 16th century, who understandably was a product of his patriarchal culturally-bound times, and also move past weirdos like Nadia Bolz-Weber. Maybe read a little Richard Bauckham, who is totally conservative, and an absolutely brilliant scholar. If nothing else, you’ll understand why Byrd cites him.

    Ok, time for this eeee-guy to get out. Please resume your regularly scheduled intramural presby cage match.

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  109. Petros,

    I know Kaiser well. Here he’s just off base. Even if the etymology of the word is correct, the etymological fallacy has just been committed.

    The idea wasn’t just that Adam was a lonely guy who needed a soulmate. The idea is that Adam, alone, was insufficient in himself to rule His creation, and he needed some extra firepower! In the wisdom of God, it took two genders to bear His image, and two genders to fulfill His calling to rule His creation, with shared and mutual responsibility!

    I agree. None of this negates male leadership in the home or church.

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  110. Petros,

    . I really don’t care about “what people want”, or why they want it. But I’m curious why you seem to care a lot. My contentions are only theological/biblical ones, and then, let the sociological chips fall where they may.

    I care because one of the allegations is that women aren’t being used, are being overlooked, are being abused on a widespread basis. If that were actually true, I would expect women to en masse be looking for female leaders. They aren’t. That says something about the cogency of the egalitarian position.

    Of course the exegetical arguments are decisive. But the traditional Christian position is routinely slandered as somehow making it impossible for women to minister and as leading to abuse. If Byrd, et al were content merely to make exegetical arguments, that would be one thing. But they aren’t.

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  111. Robert, Kaiser commits no etymological fallacy. He’s not imposing 21st century meanings on a text thousands of years old. Not sure where you get that idea. Just the opposite. The word ‘ezer’ is used 21 times in the OT, and 18 of those times ezer refers to God as ezer. Eve as Adam’s ezer hardly means she is some kind of subordinate junior partner. Methinks you’ve got this completely backwards – it is YOU who are ascribing a 21st century meaning of ‘helper’ onto the text.

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  112. Robert, I see progress. If you believe “Genesis 1–2 gives us a VERY limited picture of the pre-fall state”, you’ve undercut undercut your own position. Comps (including possibly Jeff) want to rationalize their (poor) exposition of 1 Tim 2:11,12 by saying that Paul is arguing from creation in 1 Tim 2:13,14. If what you say is true, please instruct all the comps out there to revise their (wrong) view of 1 Tim 2:13,14, since it appeals to Gen 1 & 2, which is “VERY limited”.
    Now, I don’t think Gen 1 & 2 is limited at all. Jesus didn’t think so either. Jesus went to Gen 2 (Mt 19) to explain why God’s not a fan of divorce. In a way, His teaching on divorce is a great analog to our discussion here. Divorce, like patriarchy, was a concession to the culture of the day. It was NOT part of His original pre-fall design for things. (It’d be interesting if a ‘natural law’ might weigh in and say divorce was normative, since it was/is so common across cultures.)
    Compared to all other ancient near east literature on cosmology, on gender, on the source of evil in the world, et al, Gen 1 & 2 stands as a brilliant rebuttal. It’s not limited.

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  113. Robert, also good you agree that “exegetical arguments are decisive”. And, that’s why everything stands/falls with Gen 1 & 2. Either God designed in some kind of gender hierarchy there, or He didn’t. I’d be happy to further engage with 1 Tim 2 or 1 Cor 14 or whatever else, but comps gotta find hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2, or their house collapses.

    On the sociological bit, this thread itself is a testament to why you’re not seeing “women en masse looking for female leaders.” First, most human beings don’t enjoy being ostracized. To express a whiff of desire for female leadership (or desire by a woman to use her own teaching/leading gifts) is to get crucified as an unsubmissive lib by the patriarchal church establishment. You could similarly ask why the #metoo and #churchtoo movements were so long in coming. The answer, of course, is that women were legitimately fearful of the repercussions if they spoke up! Cf Paige Patterson, among dozens of others. And secondly, what happens when you’ve grown up in an environment where everything that you were taught in church was that God Himself appointed men as being senior in rank, you saw only male leaders, and if you grew up hearing demeaning comments from those male leaders towards any woman who was deemed to not have “a submissive spirit”….and you’re surprised women aren’t “en masse” rising up? Again, kudo’s to dear Byrd/Miller for their courage. A lot of presbys don’t seem to want to even listen to them, and would rather brush them off as ‘libs’. A lot of disincentives there, Robert.

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  114. Petros,

    The etymological fallacy is ascribing meaning to a word based on its constituent parts or history. The classic is “ekklesia” meaning “called out ones” based on “ek-” and “kaleo.” That’s exactly what is happening in the ‘ezer example you cited. It’s using constituent parts of the word and the history of its usage elsewhere to determine what it means in Gen. 2.

    As far as sociology, no one is stopping the people who want women in leadership from starting their own churches. There is just a very limited market for it. Maybe that will change. I doubt it.

    I didn’t say Gen. 1–2 is irrelevant; my basic point is that there is so little there that egalitarians and non-egalitarians can’t justify their position there. You have to look elsewhere as well. The text tells us almost nothing about Adam and Eve’s relationship or how they interacted with each other.

    The glaring problem for the egalitarian position is that we don’t have any female elders in the NT. None of the 12 were women. Jesus did lots that was countercultural for women; He didn’t do that. If Christ is dissatisfied with churches led only by men, if the new humanity made in Christ means that women can lead churches, He did a very bad job of communicating it.

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  115. Robert, I remain unclear about this fallacy of which you speak. Your end objective needs to be, of course, to demonstrate that being an ‘ezer’ entails being, or having, some kind of junior subordinate role. Sorry, unless you just want to have your own private definition for ezer, I’d challenge you to derive any hierarchical subordination out of ‘ezer’. The word “helper” in English at times does imply that, and that’s unfortunate. But, if I was struggling to push a dead car up a hill, and Schwartzenegger came by to ‘help’ me, it does not entail him being weaker than I am or subordinate to me. Again 18x out of the 21 occurrences for ‘ezer’ in the OT, it’s referring to God as our ‘ezer’. The main point remains – you gotta find hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2. Exactly where would you look to find God’s pre-fall design for the genders, if not to Gen 1 & 2?

    Again, I’d just say you have no way of assessing a market for something that a) few people have ever seen in real life, and b) is consistently taught as being virtually heretical. I wouldn’t be expecting any woman to suggest having a female elder in Walt’s church anytime soon.

    Is it your view that Jesus did a horrible job by not condemning or speaking to the issue of slavery in the Roman Empire? If not, maybe you’re inferring a bit much by saying Jesus was somehow ok with the cultural status quo of hierarchies in gender?

    There’s no glaring problem. Let’s see. Seemingly Timothy and Titus are pastors. Exactly how many other ‘named’ elders in the NT are there? I can’t think of any. Talk about limited data pts to draw inferences from.

    You’ve previously conceded that prophesying and preaching are functionally the same, as both represent God and His Word to God’s people. You’ve got Anna, Philipp’s 4 daughters, and obviously a few women at Corinth who prophesied. To Paul, the gift of prophesy was #1 on his list! (1 Cor 14:1). How is proclaiming God’s Word not being in leadership?

    As it is, you’ve got plenty of women disciples following Jesus around. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. Mary, the wife of Clopas. Joanna, Susanna, Salome, Mary “and many others”! Luke 8:1-3. Mark 15:40,41. I’d say any one woman would be scandalous, and Jesus took them all, and likely women were part of the 70 He sent out.

    Then, you’ve got Lydia (Philippi) and Nympha (Laodicea) having their homes be church centers, again with plausible leadership roles. You’ve got the socially outcast Samaritan woman being an evangelist to Samaria, with success that would make Billy Graham envious. That Saul bothered to imprison women (Acts 8:3) necessarily entails, in a surprising way, that women were having an outsized impact for the gospel (no one would otherwise bother with women). You’ve got Euodia and Synteche, who “worked hard with Paul for the spread of the gospel”. Mary Magdalene was the very first apostle, and Paul volunteered that Junia (aka the Joanna of Luke 8 and Luke 24) was “outstanding” among all the apostles (Rom 16:7). You’ve got Phoebe, the deacon, delivering Paul’s letter to the Romans. Romans is arguably the most dense theological treatise Paul wrote. Dare I quote NT Wright: “the letter-bearer would normally be the one to read it out loud to the recipients and explain its contents. The first expositor of Paul’s greatest letter was an ordained woman.” It’s hard to overstate the impact of Gal 3:28. There were enormous differences between Jews and Gentiles. And there were crazy inequalities between slaves and free people. And there was a huge gap in status and power between men and women. So, when the Galatian church first read that Paul was telling them that none of these differences should exist in the church, the Galatians probably thought Paul had lost his mind.

    In the patriarchal world of the NT, all of this would be shocking!

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  116. ” Either way, I think classic liberalism is dying with the death of Christendom.”
    Yep. Or to put it another way, in the longrun, we are all dead. We are pilgrims in this world, and by definition everything temporal will pass away. That includes the USofA. But just as doing our best to care for our decaying bodies is the prudent thing to do, we should seek to preserve the best of our culture. For a wide variety of reasons, I don’t see secession as practical, but folks far more knowledgeable than me disagree. Who knows.

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  117. Jeff
    You mention that you aren’t a comp. How would you characterize your view? I’m deeply skeptical of the egalitarian arguments for a variety of reasons not least of all that they are being driven by secular trends in the broader culture. On the other hand, I think the comps way overplay their hand especially when they apply their position to secular realms.

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  118. SDB,

    But just as doing our best to care for our decaying bodies is the prudent thing to do, we should seek to preserve the best of our culture.

    Sure. The question is whether you can actually persevere liberalism without preserving Christendom. Correlation isn’t causation, but the simultaneous decay of both is something to behold. This is where the issue with DQSH comes up. If we aren’t willing to preserve a culture in which such a thing is unthinkable, how are we going to preserve liberalism?

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  119. Petros,

    How is proclaiming God’s Word not being in leadership?

    People teach God’s Word all the time without being leaders. I can learn from my children about the Bible without them being my leaders. If I proclaim the gospel to a non-believer, I’m not leading him. Small groups teach one another. Sometimes the leader isn’t even the teacher. I’ve been in small groups where I have taught but I haven’t been the leader.

    My point in ‘ezer is that one thing you cited was an attempt to figure out that the word doesn’t mean “subordinate” based on the root of the word and its use in other cultures. That isn’t sufficient to prove anything. Ekklesia doesn’t mean “called out ones” because it comes from Ek and kaleo.

    A better tactic is to talk about how it is also used of God. But that doesn’t prove anything. “Lord” is used of non-divine beings, but we don’t impute any significance to that. But honestly, I don’t think ‘ezer proves anything either way except that the helper provided is suitable to help the man carry out his task. It doesn’t prove egalitarianism and it doesn’t prove non-egalitarianism. My case for male leadership isn’t based on what ‘ezer means. I don’t think Gen. 1–2 proves things either way. All it shows is that men and women were made for each other and are to work together to fulfill God’s mandate for humanity. It says nothing about leadership either way. I only brought up ‘ezer because that is one of the most popular arguments against non-egalitarianism, but it’s shoddy exegesis.

    The fact that men and women share spiritual gifts doesn’t prove anything either. When you look at qualifications for church leadership, gifts aren’t mentioned. The closest you get is “able to teach,” which isn’t the gift of teaching. All that matters are character qualities, which both men and women can share, of course. But wives can’t be the husband of one man. Why, if Paul thinks women can be elders, are there not qualifications given for female elders? Did he forget that? And when he speaks to the issue of women in leadership and teaching in the church, it’s only to teach other women.

    As far as slavery, Jesus and Paul evidently believed that you can be a slaveowner and a Christian in at least some forms of slavery. They show almost no interest in changing the status quo. It’s not especially clear that they even want to. That’s not an argument against abolition or a call to reinstitute slavery once it’s abolished. Just an observation.

    The list of names shows the glaring weakness of the egalitarian position—you have to find people who might possibly but we’re really not sure at all had a leadership role in order to defend female leadership in the church because there are no texts that allow for such and several that very strongly speak against it, at least in certain cities. I’m familiar with the arguments. I wrote a paper defending female ordination many years ago using them. Finding such examples to show how the Bible is not intensely patriarchal in its harshest forms is one thing; using them to make a case explicitly spoken against is something different. Fundamentally, the hermeneutic is the same approach as the one that radical feminist biblical scholars use, and I know where that leads. I’m glad it doesn’t do that in your case, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

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  120. Robert, glad you agree that you can’t find a God-ordained gender hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2. That makes you a 1 in a 1000 comp. Most do try to find it in Gen 1 & 2, and one place they attempt to find it is in an understanding of woman being man’s ‘helper’, as in a junior subordinate helper. This winds up to be a critical point when it comes to 1 Tim 2. Since most comps lack contextual understanding of 1 Tim 2, they compound their error by saying the alleged prohibition on women teaching/exercising authority is rooted in creation (Gen 1 & 2). So if you can’t find hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2, a comp can’t say Paul uses that as a supporting argument in 1 Tim 2. (And to repeat, the ‘authority’ in 1 Tim 2 is a horribly abusive ‘authority’ that Paul would never endorse for any Christian to wield – it just so happened that it was an appropriate reprimand to the uniquely abusive authority wielded by women in the Artemis cult.)

    The list of names is not a weakness. It’s a lengthy list that compares favorably with the very limited number of male names. But perhaps the root problem is that 21st century readers don’t understand the cultural patriarchal world of the Bible. Given the culture, that you’d find ANY women at all is the thing comps should wrestle a bit more with. That so many had hugely prominent roles in God’s redemption is a message worth listening to.

    Fwiw, I’d encourage you to hear the stories of the most recent generation of women who’ve gotten their Phd in Biblical studies and contributed some amazing scholarship. If you had to guess, what % of them got any encouragement from their church community? If you had to guess, what % of them overcame a LOT to persevere to pursue their calling? If the answers don’t bother you or other comps, that’s disappointing. Again, Byrd/Miller, people who aren’t even advocating for female ordination, get excoriated. Like, that’s a good thing in the comp world? And, there’s no connection between these ladies’ experiences and comp teaching?

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  121. Comps should do a bit more work on 1 Cor 7. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (vs 4)

    It is the most explicit Text in the Bible on (lack of) gender hierarchy. To know anything about the cultural world of the sexual mores of the broader Mediterranean world, much less Corinth, is to know how culturally gender-shocking 1 Cor 7 is. For Paul to say the wife has authority over the husband’s very body? A lot of readers would have thought Paul had lost his mind. Readers with ears to ear, will understand Paul.

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  122. @SDB: It depends on definitions, I suppose.

    My position departs from typical complementarianism in these ways:

    (1) I hold that gender roles are intended as symbolism or types of the relationship between Christ and the church, and are not inherent in the nature of being male and female generally.

    For example, male and female birds do not have God-ordained “roles”, even though they have statistical patterns in mating and child-rearing.

    So I am generally skeptical of arguments in the form “Men are usually this and women that, so it is God’s will that all men are this, and women that.” So in general, I give a large amount of latitude for how gender roles play out within marriage and church – as long as the Scriptural framework holds.

    Most comps I’ve seen want to drill down into supposed God-ordained details of headship.

    (2) I hold that gender roles are limited to the spheres indicated in Scripture. There is no extension of “headship of men” into government or the workplace.

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  123. @Petros: The big gaping hole in your triumphalist critique is that Paul *does in fact* make arguments on the basis of Genesis 1 – 3 in order to get to “headship” (which includes btw Eph 5).

    Unless you’re saying he’s wrong, you have to include those arguments as part of your exegesis.

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  124. Sorry, should be sharper: Paul in 1 Tim 2 argues *from* Gen 1 – 3 to *I do not permit a woman to each or authentein over a man*

    Agreed that authentein is stronger than exousiazo – but why is he dragging Genesis in here if it “truly” teaches egalitarianism? Where are those Amazon women you promised? I wanted Amazon women.

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  125. Jeff, thank you for helping some other guys understand that speaking of stereotypic ‘gender roles’ is unhelpful to them desperately wanting to assert male superiority as being God-ordained.

    Wrt ‘headship’. You seem to invoke this word as a go-to term to support gender hierarchy in some way. Perhaps that works if you understand ‘headship’ in 21st century terms, as it often does imply authority. The best scholarship on ‘headship’ (kephale), however, is to understand it as “source”. Again, as in Adam (his rib) is the ‘source’ of Eve, implying essential similarity, not hierarchy. But, if you want to go with your ‘head’ as in ‘the general is head of the army’, that’s not how Christ operationalizes Himself. His ‘headship’ is one of service, as His expectation of his followers. “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”

    Yes, Paul invokes Gen 1-3 in 1 Tim 2. He does so as part of his anti-Artemis cult polemic, where women thought THEY had supremacy, and Paul was re-setting that understanding. Much more could be said about the cult of Artemis as situational background.

    What do you think are the 2-3 most compelling Biblical reasons for someone to adopt a comp view?

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  126. b, sd, you say this is part of French’s argument:

    3. The best path towards ameliorating this situation is the embrace of political liberalism and application of public reason (see Rawls on this).

    I wish he would do that with Trump and get off his moralistic high horse. Not that I approve of Trump. But so many people are in that lane.

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  127. b, sd, your knowledge of French’s treatment comes from what source? I don’t doubt it. But he talks about it a lot.

    Back to the original topic, is it manly for French to whine about this?

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  128. ” b, sd, your knowledge of French’s treatment comes from what source? I don’t doubt it. But he talks about it a lot.”
    I have in mind the distortion of his record and views by the articles in FT, The Federalist, Coulter, and alt-right trolls. I agree that his moralism is not helpful.

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  129. @Walt

    Well, I guess I read his response different from you:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/david-french-response-sohrab-ahmari/

    If you were a public figure how would you respond to having your and your wife’s social media accounts flooded with memes about your child being the result of an affair while you were deployed? I don’t think publicly shaming figures who consort with such movements is whining, but perhaps you have other examples in mind?

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  130. sdb,

    What did you want me to take away from that French essay? Seems like we’ve already discussed all those points and there’s no point beating a dead horse.

    If you were a public figure how would you respond to having your and your wife’s social media accounts flooded with memes about your child being the result of an affair while you were deployed? I don’t think publicly shaming figures who consort with such movements is whining, but perhaps you have other examples in mind?

    Are you talking about this Atlantic article?

    Next, in 2013, Kathryn Joyce, a writer and journalist who studies and reports on American evangelical Christianity, published a book called The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption. It was a blistering attack on the evangelical adoption movement, claiming that the adoption industry was rife with corruption and that Evangelicals were in the grips of an ominous “orphan fever” motivated primarily by a desire to evangelize orphan children. The book received significant coverage. Joyce wrote essays in The New York Times Sunday Review and Mother Jones. She was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air.

    It strikes me as moralizing about his adoption. Many people think that flying to China or Africa to adopt is weird and it’s definitely expensive so you have to be in the upper middle class or higher to do it. It can look like you stepped over everyone in your own backyard to make a statement about your own virtuousness, which is something celebrities do with their foreign adoptions. Obviously he wasn’t doing this but he definitely comes from an elite class of people where, in some respects, he has more in common with a guy like Thomas PM Barnett who did the same thing or Brangelina who did also. A family did something similar at the evangelical church we attended. They got the church to fund it then they left the church. They were weird. An elderly evangelical manager of mine did it and he was kuku.

    I don’t follow French so I don’t know what he was saying about adoption prior to this. He probably should’ve kept his family out of his public writing and off social media if he valued their privacy. He seems to have trouble knowing when to keep quiet, like when he defended DQSH. When he fails to control what he says, he doesn’t seem to understand or can’t accept that punditry and rhetoric operate under different rules. He’s fighting a quixotic two-front war to save what he sees as classic liberalism, except that now he’s doing it with no allies and one side doesn’t believe in any rules and the other side who sees the obvious problems with him. It’s no fun being the man in the middle.

    I’m sorry he got trolled on the internet, which is in no way a representation of normalcy or what normal people think. The good thing about the internet and social media is that you can turn it off and go outside.

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  131. @Petros: Again – not complementarian.

    What are the passages that best argue my view?

    1 Tim 2. Regardless of invisible Amazonians, Paul is definitely stating that in *this* church, women should not teach or authentein. You have argued that men should also not authentein – but I notice you haven’t yet argued that men should not teach. Hence, in *this* church, Paul is not taking an egalitarian stance. And his justification makes no mention of circumstance.

    Eph 5. “Wives, be subject to your husbands as the church is to Christ.” (note here, connected directly with headship). Notwithstanding the “submit to one another” — an also valid, overlooked concept in some circles — the submitting of wife to husband plays a particular symbolic role that the husband does not reciprocate.

    That is, vv 21 and 22 together articulate a mutual but non-equivalent submission

    1 Cor 11. Set aside the debate whether the head coverings are a culturally relative symbol of a culturally relative truth, or a culturally relative symbol of a universal truth, or a universal symbol of a universal truth. No matter which is the case, Paul treats men and women in Corinth in a non-egalitarian manner: διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς “because of this the woman is to have authority on the head” There is some mutuality (“neither is independent of the other”), but there is not absolute equality.

    All three of these passages point to instances – indeed, the only three instances I know of – where Paul articulates a theology of women in relation to men in the church. Each time, the women are treated in a non-egalitarian way.

    This means that any other statements that might have an eqalitarian reading (eg “… there is no male nor female, but all are one in Christ”) need to be understood in such a way that does not outright contradict what Paul states in the three above.

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  132. Petros,

    I just want to echo Jeff and note that the chief problem with the egalitarian reading of the passages he cites is that it proposes reasons for Paul’s teaching that Paul himself does not propose and that it reads texts as contradicting one another, particularly the mutual submission vs husbands submitting to their wives in Eph. 5.

    If “all are one” in Christ Jesus in Gal. 3 means what egalitarians say it means, then there is no justification whatsoever for anything Paul or Peter say about women submitting to or even obeying their husbands. They basically end up theologizing ad hoc. If all are one in Christ Jesus means equal authority, then at least within the church, you would expect Paul and Peter not to tell people to submit but to live out this equality. You could expect them to say, “Christian wives submit to your non-Christian husbands, but Christian wives and Christian husbands have no differences with respect to authority.”

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  133. “Many people think that flying to China or Africa to adopt is weird and it’s definitely expensive so you have to be in the upper middle class or higher to do it. ”
    That certainly isn’t true. The upper middle class are those with incomes from 100-350k. My cousin is a stay at home mom, and her husband teaches at a small Christian school. They adopted a little girl from China. Their income is in the lower-middle class (30-50k). Another cousin of mine adopted an orphan from Ethiopia. He is a music minister at a church and she is a pre-school teacher at a church school. They are solidly middle class (50-100k). As far as weird goes, the fact that a celebrity did it or you know a weird person who did it doesn’t mean much. If you want to talk about weirdos, look know further than the complementarians like Tim Bayly, Douglas Wilson, or Mark Driscoll…ewwww

    Anyway, I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go. From what I can tell you reject secularism and a concomitant commitment to classical liberalism in favor of some flavor of religiously based society with robust legal(?) and cultural norms on the roles of men and women inside and outside the church. Your best hope for your ideal society is seceding from the US and forming implementing some kind of government established on some concept of Natural Law. Is that a fair summary of your views? I certainly could have misunderstood you, so feel free to correct me. If this is a fair summary of your views, then all I can say is that your view has as much hope of gaining traction as the Catholic Integralist project. You can’t even get the majority of members of the PCA to adopt your view, and you think there is a constituency for secession and formation of a new nation on the basis of your concept of natural law? I think the efforts of the ADF, Fire, etc… are much better spent.

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  134. That certainly isn’t true. The upper middle class are those with incomes from 100-350k. My cousin is a stay at home mom, and her husband teaches at a small Christian school. They adopted a little girl from China. Their income is in the lower-middle class (30-50k). Another cousin of mine adopted an orphan from Ethiopia. He is a music minister at a church and she is a pre-school teacher at a church school. They are solidly middle class (50-100k). As far as weird goes, the fact that a celebrity did it or you know a weird person who did it doesn’t mean much. If you want to talk about weirdos, look know further than the complementarians like Tim Bayly, Douglas Wilson, or Mark Driscoll…ewwww

    A lot of normal people think flying all the way across the planet to adopt is both expensive and weird. It’s ironic that this latest evangelical trend coincides with a trend in celebrities doing the same thing? Correlation/causation? Chicken/egg? Even weirder is embryo adoption – an exclusively-evangelical trend. Evangelicals seem to always agree and amplify.

    This, incidentally, is one of the major problems with French – he doesn’t know how weird he is. HIs sensibilities are those of his bubble, not normal people, hence his comments on DQSH. His schtick is probably fine in the courtroom where you get to argue how many angels fit on the head of a pin, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near the levers of policy or punditry.

    Anyway, I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go. From what I can tell you reject secularism and a concomitant commitment to classical liberalism in favor of some flavor of religiously based society with robust legal(?) and cultural norms on the roles of men and women inside and outside the church. Your best hope for your ideal society is seceding from the US and forming implementing some kind of government established on some concept of Natural Law. Is that a fair summary of your views?

    I’m fine with secularism as far as it represents a separation of church and state. I’m not in favor of state churches like in Europe. I am in favor of classical liberalism but deny that you operate from its original definition. You are mostly operating from Rawls’ concept of “public reason” which I deny is feasible at this stage. Even classical liberalism functioned only in a well-defined cultural context which means we need hard physical separation from the insane and those who want to overthrow it. The modern liberals would probably have to end up on your side of the wall. I am obviously in favor of natural law as Calvin defined it. I think you should read Tuininga’s book and see that he’s mostly making my case, not yours.

    Great. Now I’ve answered your question. Where’s the answer to mine? What would your wife say if you sent her downstairs to deal with an intruder? Being an egalitarian, is this something you two would “Rock, Paper, Scissors” over?

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  135. Jeff, not sure if you have a measure of incredulity about the connection between Amazons and Ephesus, but if you do, let me submit: “A number of historians credit the City’s founding to the Amazons. Strabo mentions the Amazons as both founding and naming Ephesus. (Strabo Geography 11.5.3-4; cf. 12.3.21). The later historian Pliny also mentions the founding of Ephesus by Amazons (Natural History 5.31.115). Pausanius claims that Amazons founded the sanctuary of Artemis (4.31.8/7.2.7)….according to Pliny, Statues of Amazons stood in the sanctuary of Artemis from the classical age to the Roman Period (Pliny NH 34.19.53).”

    The point isn’t that there were Amazonian warrior women in Paul’s day. The point is that there was quite likely an Amazonian-warrior residual ethos in Ephesus that was influential. There certainly was an Artemis-cult issue in Ephesus. Since 1 Tim addressed huge issues in false doctrine, this cultural background is important to any interpretation of what’s happening 1 Tim 2.

    One (of many) gaping holes in comp hermeneutics is that most comps don’t care if women braid their hair or wear pearls in the 21st century. On what principled basis can a comp say the restriction on braiding hair and wearing pearls is culturally and temporally bound and not a timeless teaching by Paul?

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  136. sdb,

    Did you see Carl Trueman’s latest?

    Darel Paul’s “Under the Rainbow Banner” in the June/July issue of First Things might be one of the most important and incisive essays the magazine has published. As Rod Dreher notes, it is a terrific piece of cultural analysis. It goes to the heart of our current moment, when individualism, freedom, and recognition are moral imperatives. And yet, as Paul hints, these things are not necessarily compatible, even in our world of kaleidoscopic identities and confected communities. Rather, they are bringing us to the point of lowest common denominator chaos.

    You can’t have a functioning society with chaos, and it’s the magistrate’s job to prevent chaos. Ergo, he cannot enable people whose only goal is chaos.

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  137. Jeff, correct, I’ve not “argued that men should not teach”. The “teach” and “exercise authority” phrases are not distinct, but are ideas that should be melded into one thought. The idea is that unlearned women (men, for that matter, too, but the specific issue in Ephesus was with women) should not use brutal authoritarian brow-beating teaching methods. It’s not more complicated than being a specific Pauline reprimand for a specific situation.

    Wrt Eph 5. For Paul to affirm wifely submission is merely to affirm that in this one regard the gospel is not at odds with the patriarchal culture. You agree that the umbrella directive is towards mutual submission to one another (both genders), and THAT is the surprising counter-cultural thing in the passage. Again, as to ‘head’, I’d read that as in ‘the church emanates from its ‘source’, that is, from Christ.’

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  138. Jeff, ok, your comp view does narrow things down quite a bit, in a good way. Nice to dispense with appeals to natural law and issuing injunctions against lost men not asking for map directions from a woman!

    Wrt “need to be understood in such a way that does not outright contradict what Paul states in the three above.” To that I’d respond I can just as easily assert that your 3 texts need to be understood in such a way as to not contradict Gal 3:28 and 1 Cor 7 and Acts 2:17, et al. This begs the bigger picture question of what Texts should ‘control’ the interpretation of other Texts, and that’s where we’d differ.

    To that end, 1 Cor 11 (and 14, too) are perhaps the MOST disputed texts in the NT, for a variety of reasons. It’d be tempting to get into that, but will pass for now. As to 1 Tim 2, I’ve provided what I consider to be a culturally informed, non-comp understanding of what’s happening there. And, I’ve outlined why the headship of Eph 5 does not entail the gender hierarchy that comps say it should. The upshot is that 1 Cor, 1 Tim, and Eph 5 cannot bear the exegetical weight that comps put on them to rationalize their position.

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  139. Robert “If “all are one” in Christ Jesus in Gal. 3 means what egalitarians say it means, then there is no justification whatsoever for anything Paul or Peter say about women submitting to or even obeying their husbands.” That makes no sense, because Paul also told slaves to submit to their masters. In a cultural world where slavery was a ubiquitous institution, the best testimony for a Christian slave would be to ‘submit’, not rebel (even if he could legitimately argue that slavery was intrinsically not a God-ordained thing). So, too, for a Christian woman in a patriarchal culture the best testimony would be to ‘submit’, just as secular women did, as Paul wasn’t advocating that the gospel entailed cultural revolution of marriage. This is why, it seems to me, if you can’t find hierarchy in Gen 1 & 2, the comp house collapses. All the passages that may even ‘hint’ at hierarchy in the NT are better understood as cultural accommodations, just as Jesus explained about divorce being an accommodation.

    Wrt “You could expect them to say….Christian wives and Christian husbands have no differences with respect to authority.” YES, thank you, and that’s EXACTLY what Paul argues in 1 Cor 7. Paul couldn’t get more fundamental to the core of things than 1 Cor 7.

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  140. Petros,

    In a cultural world where slavery was a ubiquitous institution, the best testimony for a Christian slave would be to ‘submit’, not rebel (even if he could legitimately argue that slavery was intrinsically not a God-ordained thing).

    The problem is that he is calling Christian slaves to submit to Christian masters as well as non-Christian masters. He’s not commanding Christian masters to release Christian slaves. The issue of testimony doesn’t arise at all in that context of Christian masters and Christian slaves.

    YES, thank you, and that’s EXACTLY what Paul argues in 1 Cor 7. Paul couldn’t get more fundamental to the core of things than 1 Cor 7.

    So you must be arguing that Paul in Ephesians 5 is not addressing Christians wives and Christian husbands but he is addressing only how Christian wives are to behave with respect to non-Christian husbands. That’s the only way you can make your reading of 1 Cor. 7 not contradict Eph. 5. But there’s no way that Paul is addressing only Christian wives and non-Christian husbands. He commands husbands to love Christ as he loved the church.

    If Gal. 3 breaks down all authority based on gender or social status into full equality of authority, Paul never could have told Christian wives to submit to Christian husbands or Christian slaves to submit to Christian masters. It would never be acceptable within the church for that to happen. Outside the church as a witness to the culture, yes. Inside the church, not at all.

    There’s a reason why more liberal scholars reject Ephesians and Colossians as Pauline. If you read Gal. 3 as breaking down all layers of authority into equality, it’s the only way to make Paul a consistent thinker.

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  141. I’m not an egalitarian. I think there are prescribed roles for men and women in church. My wife would probably tell me to do it myself, not sure what my personal family situation has to do with anything. I’m a particularist. I don’t think you can extrapolate to large social trends from anecdotes. My wife’s friend is married to a paraplegic. Pretty sure she would be the one to climb out of bed and check things out. My mom is a decade younger than my dad. They are at the point in their life when she now takes care of most physical things. You want to draw a moral rule from general trends, but then you are left with countless exceptions to this moral rule. Why? This is a path to legalism. Prudence gets you to the same place…the stronger should care for the weaker…without manufacturing a moral law. Your line of reasoning takes you to the absurd conclusions of Catholic teaching on sex between married couples (for example).

    Calvin’s view on Natural Law is fine as far as it goes. I agree that all humans have an innate knowledge of morality. We do not need to figure it out by reflection on Nature. Non-christian societies can fluorish (eg., Ancient Rome or Japan) because they have innate knowledge of right behavior. But a common subjective knowledge of morality does not provide a basis for resolving moral disputes. Calvin’s theory for why non-christian societies can flourish and why those who sin without knowledge of God’s revelation are still culpable is not a blueprint for establishing a foundation for adjudication of moral disputes. I’d be very surprised if Tuninga says otherwise, I suppose I should read his book.

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  142. Petros: The point is that there was quite likely an Amazonian-warrior residual ethos in Ephesus that was influential

    Not doubting that. But what evidence is there that this residual ethos is what motivated Paul? He says nothing of it, and his justification goes in a completely different direction.

    I’m questioning whether there is a sufficient basis to invoke the warrior ethos as an explanatory key for 1 Tim. Nothing has been presented so far.

    In re: wearing pearls – I take it you didn’t read the sermon linked above?

    In re: authentein and teaching as one thought. Possible, but 1 Cor 11 goes even further AND without the explanatory power of a warrior woman ethos.

    Thanks for the dialogue. My shot clock is expired.

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  143. Gal 3:28 tells us we are all saved the same way…through faith. I don’t see how this entails egalitarianism. In fact, the force of the comparison is the contrast in the distinction among these groups on this side of glory.

    1 Cor 7 tells us that one aspect of marriage is satisfaction of sexual desire, so we should not deprive our spouse. It doesn’t entail anything that I can see about the propriety of distinct roles of men and women.

    Acts 2:17 tells us that the spirit will be poured out on men and women and both will prophecy. It says nothing about roles in the offices of the church.

    The modern reinterpretation of Paul.and Peter may be correct, but it isn’t obvious. The fact that these exegetical insights were discovered after dramatic shifts in culture as regards women indicates that this is not a pure exegetical insight but rather a culturally driven one. That doesn’t prove that feminist scholarship is wrong, but it does cry out for humility and tentativeness not in evidence among the advocates I’ve read.

    Perhaps the biggest problem I see with egalitarian arguments are the Christological ones. Christ is fully equal to God in essence, glory and power, but he has a distinct economic role. He came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. He obeyed the Father. He submitted to the Father. He petitions the Father on our behalf. The opposite is not true. Insofar as the egal cannot accept equality in being but distinction of function we have a problem. Similarly for the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is not the source of the church (that would be the Spirit), he is the leader of the church. The role of the church and Christ are distinct. Insofar as marriage reflects this relationship, we should expect some economic difference. This of course isn’t dispositive, but it does suggest that the egal case is not as airtight as you boast. I don’t see evidence that these distinct roles carry into secular society, so I am not a very good comp, but I have found that the egals overplay their hand.

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  144. I’m not an egalitarian. I think there are prescribed roles for men and women in church.

    What about the home?

    My wife would probably tell me to do it myself, not sure what my personal family situation has to do with anything.

    My only point is that women are not egalitarian in the home when it really counts and they will resent you for demanding equality in serious matters. I think, therefore, that there is an “oughtness” to your maleness at least some of the time. At least, women think so.

    I’m a particularist. I don’t think you can extrapolate to large social trends from anecdotes.

    Rather than anecdote, can you extrapolate from data? Do you use heuristics in your life?

    My wife’s friend is married to a paraplegic. Pretty sure she would be the one to climb out of bed and check things out. My mom is a decade younger than my dad. They are at the point in their life when she now takes care of most physical things. You want to draw a moral rule from general trends, but then you are left with countless exceptions to this moral rule. Why? This is a path to legalism. Prudence gets you to the same place…the stronger should care for the weaker…without manufacturing a moral law. Your line of reasoning takes you to the absurd conclusions of Catholic teaching on sex between married couples (for example).

    It’s not that hard. A quick conversation and the application of common sense (prudence) and wisdom will settle most things where there are corner cases. This is part of Calvin’s natural theology.

    Calvin’s view on Natural Law is fine as far as it goes. I agree that all humans have an innate knowledge of morality. We do not need to figure it out by reflection on Nature. Non-christian societies can fluorish (eg., Ancient Rome or Japan) because they have innate knowledge of right behavior. But a common subjective knowledge of morality does not provide a basis for resolving moral disputes. Calvin’s theory for why non-christian societies can flourish and why those who sin without knowledge of God’s revelation are still culpable is not a blueprint for establishing a foundation for adjudication of moral disputes. I’d be very surprised if Tuninga says otherwise, I suppose I should read his book.

    Calvin said that it was located primarily in the conscience, but also drew conclusions from other data (the created order) and common sense. I posted an example from Tuininga’s book above. He also said that the magistrate was to govern by the rule of love of neighbor and that he should preserve order (Romans 13). You seem to ground your political theology ONLY in public reason (Rawls) which certainly agrees with part of Calvin’s natural and political theology, but not all of it. What happens when public reason collapses or seeks only chaos? That’s the question before us now, I think. This is where you and I turn away at sharp angles.

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  145. Zrim,

    The error is in thinking that Trump is somehow worse than anyone who came before him. Is it better to bomb innocent schoolchildren and talk nice about it (Obama, Bush) than to be rude and crude?

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  146. You’ll all be glad my shot clock is expiring, too.

    Jeff, fwiw, the Amazonian historical connection to Ephesus is only supplemental to my case. The cult of Artemis had its own dominant-feisty-feminist ethos. And, fyi, knowing more about that cult informs a lot of other things Paul addresses throughout 1 Tim – it’s not limited to 1 Tim 2.

    Sdb, the biggest problem you see is not a problem for the egal view, but it is for a comp view. Egals happily say there are a number of economic diffs in the genders. The rub has to do with the comp idea that men are ordained to have certain ‘authority’ that women do not, but that at the same time men and women are theoretically ‘equal’. This is logically untenable unless you redefine ‘equal’. And by analog, when it came to the Trinity, this is where the Grudem/Ware view that ‘yeah, the Father eternally bosses the Son around (hence, the Father has ‘authority’ that the Son doesn’t have), but no worries, the Father and Son are really equal’, devolved into the ESS heresy, because you can’t have the Father bossing the Son around and still claim equality in the Godhead.

    The comp view of 1 Cor 7 seems to be the oddity of ‘the husband is the authoritative head, except in bed’, treating the bedroom as if it’s a marginal exception to the general rule that husbands have this intrinsic great authority over their wives. What you’re missing is that in a culture where men could freely visit their paramours w/o consequence (and one can only imagine what life was like in Corinth), that Paul is advising that wives have authority to say ‘no hubby, you may not!’. And in a culture that frowned on women initiating sex, Paul is saying to wives that they can authoritatively tell their hubby to step up. The non-hierarchical mutuality in 1 Cor 7 is more profound than comps seem to realize.

    Robert, I’d just say you’re reading far too much into “wives submit” of Eph 5 to establish some kind of God-designed hierarchy, and you’re failing to account for the dominant-feisty-feminist ethos at Ephesus, which makes it unsurprising that Paul would give a bit more emphasis to the “wives submit” thing in the context of everyone submitting to one another.

    I’d be more in favor of humility about it all, except that comps hold the seats of power and squash women in non-humble ways, which at times does incent egals to speak louder, in hopes to be heard. If nothing else, one could hope comps would realize their case isn’t so ironclad, and would make them more circumspect prior to squashing women.

    Ok, now my time’s expired. Farewell.

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  147. @Walt
    Right – if your political opponents are not arguing in good faith, then of course public reason is not a sufficient basis for adjudicating disputes. All that is left at that point is the application of power. As Ghandi supposedly said, what works for disputes with the British empire doesn’t work with the Nazi’s. You agree that we disagree sharply about where we stand. I think it is still possible and desirable to make a case for classical liberalism and persuade a durable majority of people to sign-on. I don’t think we will win every dispute, but the alternative is to throw our hands up in despair and claim that liberalism doesn’t work in a pluralistic society. That isn’t productive in my estimation. Of course, our political order won’t last forever – none will, but it is worth preserving as long as possible even if it means the mainstreaming of DQSH and the requirement that commercial vendors provide products for gay weddings the same as they would for straight ones. Maybe the mass riots are a sign of things to come and the only option to restore order is an authoritarian regime. Maybe a country as large and diverse as ours is ungovernable. I doubt it, but I’m not political scientist.

    My bigger concern is the health of the church. I think it is in a very precarious state in the west generally and the US in particular. Conservative protestants have largely lost sight of our core mission and have spent the last 50yrs trying to be “relevant”. To paraphrase Hank Hill, we haven’t made the culture better, we’ve made the church worse. This is why something like the Benedict option appeals to me. The church should be a counter-cultural institution focused on word and sacrament, not fixing the political order. Rather than commenting on immigration, abortion, SSM, taxes, defense, schools, etc… we should be building an alternative structure in our society that is an ark among the chaos of the world. Our hope is not in getting the right political class, forming a more perfect nation, etc… Our hope is in the resurrection. We should live like it.

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