Prejudgment, Proof Texting, and Theological Nonsense

Complementarian teaching in my view is such poor theology, it is quite frankly mock-worthy. Not that people who hold to such views are bad or stupid people. For many it is an issue which attaches itself to the issue of the authority of the bible, indeed, of the validity of their faith. The fact they have chosen such a bizarre issue as a test of orthodoxy is a topic worthy of another blog post altogether. My point is that this is an issue that has strong emotional attachments for some, therefore it is actually difficult for such people to genuinely look afresh at what the bible has to say on this topic. Let’s give out generous grace to the people who feel this way. No doubt all of us have massive blind spots on some topic or other.

But the ideas themselves require no such grace, and Rachel Held Evans has written a cracker of a satire on her excellent blog. I have reposted a section of this article for your reading pleasure, the fine tradition of Complementarian mockery displayed here and here.

The Crisis of Biblical Masculinity in the Church

It has come to my attention that we are facing a crisis of biblical masculinity in the Church today. An increasing number of men are neglecting the roles God clearly outlined for them in Scripture (Genesis 3:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Timothy 2:8) in favor of blatant cultural capitulation. I’d like to focus on three biblical principles that many modern men, out of total disregard for Scripture, continue to ignore: sweating, kissing, and hand-raising.

1. Sweating:

Take a look around our culture and you will see millions of men who earn a living by working in climate controlled office buildings. Such work may be mentally strenuous, but far too often, it can be accomplished without even breaking a sweat.

The curse of Genesis 3 clearly describes man’s primary activity as difficult physical labor. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,” God declares in Genesis 3:19.

David, who is described as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) was a shepherd (1 Samuel 16:11), who clubbed wild animals to death (1 Samuel 17:35-25). He was also a warrior (1 Samuel 18:27) and a king (2 Samuel 12:30).

The men of Scripture—Abraham, Isaac, Sampson, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul—are men of action whose occupations centered around physical labor like farming, shepherding, carpentry, tent-making, and fighting animals with their bare hands. (Note: any exceptions to this trend should be immediately discounted as irrelevant anomalies.) Nowhere in Scripture is a man of God described as sitting at a desk in an office building from nine to five. Nowhere.

So men who wish to honor God with their lives and humbly submit to His will should make physical labor their primary occupation, and resist the urge to give in to our culture’s glorification of “white collar” work, which is a departure from biblical principles of masculinity.

Now, some men will say they find office work more stimulating and rewarding than manual labor, or that it provides more financial security in their particular situation, but these men are more interested in pursuing selfish ambitions and wealth than submitting themselves to the Word of God. Our culture’s rampant obesity epidemic among men can be clearly traced to this departure from God’s perfect design. And it threatens to undo our whole society, negatively affecting our children and generations to come.

2. Kissing

It may surprise many men to learn that one of the most common instructions found in New Testament Scripture is for Christians to “greet one another with holy kiss” (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 11 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14). In 1 Thessalonians 5:26, Paul specifically instructs men to do this.

Yet despite the fact that this is one of the most repeated directives of Scripture, one is hard-pressed to find men kissing one another on the cheeck in churches today. This is because those who do not take the Bible seriously claim these clear teachings of Scripture have a “cultural” component.

But let us not forget that God’s word does not change or pass away (Malachi 3:6, Mark 13:31) and also that studying the Greco-Roman cultural context of the New Testament is kind of a pain. We are therefore obligated to take God at his word, whether these instructions make sense in our culture or not.

3. Hand-Raising

I Timothy 2 stipulates the responsibilities of men and women in worship.

Thankfully, 1 Timothy 2:12—“I do not permit a woman to assume authority over a man”—continues to be rigidly applied in many churches today without regard to its original context or intended audience. However, the instructions 1 Timothy 2:8—“I want men EVERYWHERE to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” (emphasis mine) is taken as a sort of suggestion that need not be directly enforced in the modern church.

Often I have been to churches where women are properly silenced, but men do not even bother to lift their hands during prayer! Furthermore, some of these men are known to engage in public disputes around theology—often on their blogs—which this passage clearly condemns.

And it’s not just the rules for worship in 1 Timothy 2 that men have chosen to disregard. These days, little attention is paid to 1 Corinthians 11:14—“Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him”—even though the language used here is the same used in Romans 1:26, which many Christians are quite fond of citing when condemning other people.

In summary, if staying true to the Word of God means applying its instructions to women literally, without regard to their cultural contexts or original intended audiences, then faithfulness requires we do the same for men.

It’s only fair.


Janet Woodlock said…
The truth is, you can find way stronger biblical support for things like kissing, slavery, and polygamy if you go hunting for it, than you can find for women's silence... bah humbug I say!!!!

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