ongoing frustration

From Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
Chapter 3–Male and Female Equality and Male Headship, by Ray Ortland, Jr (p. 108-109)

God’s decree is two-fold.  First, as a mother, the woman will suffer in relation to her children.  She will still be able to bear children.  This is God’s mercy providing the means by which He will carry out His death sentence on the Serpent.  But now the woman will suffer in childbirth.  This is God’s severity for her sin.  The new element in her experience, then, is not childbirth but the pain of childbirth.

Second, as a wife, the woman will suffer in relation to her husband.  The exact content of her marital suffering could be defined in either of two ways.  Either she will suffer conflict with her husband, or she will suffer domination by him.  The form and logic of Genesis 4:7b bear a most striking resemblance to our passage. (*here the author lays out the Hebrew of Genesis 3:16b and 4:7b, footnoting the work of Susan T. Foh’s article “What is a Woman’s Desire?”, in which he states he is indebted to her perceptive study.)

4:7 reads, “Sin’s desire is for you, but you must master it.”  To paraphrase and amplify the sense:  “Sin has a desire, Cain.  It wants to control you.  But you must not allow sin to have its way with you.  You must rule over it.”

How does this parallel statement illuminate the interpretation of 3:16? Most importantly, it clarifies the meaning of the woman’s “desire”. Just as sin’s desire is to have its way with Cain, God gives the woman up to a desire to have her way with her husband.  Because she usurped his headship in the tempatation, God hands her over to the misery of competition with her rightful head.  This is justice, a measure-for-measure response to her sin. (here the author footnotes Romans 1:18-32)

The ambiguous element in the equation is the interpretation of the words translated in the NIV, “and he will rule over you”.  We could draw one of two conclusions.  First, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve.  You will want to control your husband.  But he must not allow you to have your way with him.  He must rule over you. ”

If this is the sense, then God is requiring the man to act as the head God made him to be, rather than knuckle under to ungodly pressure from his wife.  Accordingly, 3:16b should be rendered: “Your desire will be for your husband, but he must rule over you.”  In this case, we would take “rule” as the exercise of godly headship.  the interpretation matches the reasoning in 4:7 more nearly, but another view is possible.

Second, God may be saying, “You will have a desire, Eve.  You will want to control your husband.  But he will not allow you to have your way with him.  He will rule over you.”  If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband.  Accordingly, 3:16b should be rendered: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  The word “rule” would now be construed as the exercise of ungodly domination.  As the woman competes with the man, the man, for his part, always holds the trump card of male domination to “put her in her place”.

But however 3:16 should be interpreted, nothing can change the fact that God created male headship as one aspect of our pre-fall perfection.  Therefore, while many women today need release from male domination, the liberating alternative is not female rivalry or autonomy but male headship wedded to female help. (*here the author footnotes Ephesians 5, calling it “the prescription for God-glorifying human fulfillment”)  Christian redemption does not redefine creation; it restores creation, so that wives learn godly submission and husbands learn godly headship.

~~~

I don’t suppose that part of the woman’s suffering would be that man will now be more inclined to want to cleave to his male headship instead of cleaving to her.

Sigh.

Let the longing of Eve continue.

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on Piper’s complementarianism

I used to pride myself in the fact that I was not one of those apparently many other women who would “bristle” at the sound of “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord”.  Submission, for me, truly was a glad submission.  This is what God says!  This is His design!  This is God’s will for our mutual happiness, peace, and joy!

Things are different now.  I bristle when I hear the word, whenever I hear about authority and submission in the context of a man and woman, husband and wife. There is a noted cognitive dissonance that wasn’t there before.  Something inside of me wants to scream against it.  Something inside of me, deep down, mourns.

I do not fully understand why this has happened.  My husband and I have struggles, but I am happy in my marriage.  Is this my inner feminist finally coming out to rear her ugly head?  That statement alone reveals the places I have been, the ways I have been taught, the messages and information that over the years, I have absorbed.

Is it too much to say that submission is a loss?  A loss of status, loss of power, loss of strength, a loss of unity?  What once was joined together must now remain bluntly separate.  “Your desire will be for you husband, and he will rule over you.”

~~~

My current mental obsession is reading about complementarianism.

The whole thing started back in the 1970’s.  Caught in the wake of feminism’s so-called second wave, conservative evangelicals became increasingly concerned with the infiltration of feminism into the church.  It is important to understand that for conservative evangelicals, the word “feminism” or “feminist” carries with it, for good reason, an ocean liner of baggage.  With society telling women they no longer had to settle for being held back, and the church members beginning to ask more questions like why women weren’t allowed to be pastors, evangelicals rightly inferred that the integrity of the inerrant Word of God was at stake.

Two camps ensued.  You started to see books and two-inch thick manifestos like John Piper’s and Wayne Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (a book I have read and reread for years), in which Piper and Grudem officially claimed the term “complementarian”.  The reason I say claimed instead of coined is because some people insist that Piper and Grudem stole the word from the other camp who would become known as egalitarians.

Complementarians believe that man and woman are equally created in the image of God.  In addition to their equality in human dignity and worth, complementarians also affirm the distinctions that exist between the two genders and the subsequent “roles” God set forth in His Word.  These roles and distinctions are commonly described in terms of authority and headship, with the man as the head of the home, and men as the ones to serve as pastors in the church.  In contrast, you have those who are called egalitarians.  Egalitarians also believe that man and woman are equally created in the image of God.  They affirm there are distinctions between women and men.  The difference is that egalitarians do not believe these distinctions place any kind of “role” limits on one or the other in the home or church.

~~~

I once told my husband that I didn’t think I could handle it if it ever came out that John Piper was involved in any kind of scandal.  While I don’t agree with every word he’s written, I believe his heart is pure and true.  Over the past five years or so, I have watched as Protestant church leaders continue to topple.  Affairs have come to light.  Abuse cover-ups have happened in places of high leadership.  Men once prized and respected have stepped down from their positions or been asked to leave.

There are certain men you just believe in.  There are certain men where you can’t help but feel this unshakable confidence (however naively) that this could never happen to them.  John Piper.  Tim Keller.  Those are the only two men I can think of.

There’s been talk in recent months about what many refer to as “The Billy Graham Rule.”  At the beginning of his ministry, as he stood on the brink of unprecedented fame, he and his friends dispersed to their separate hotel rooms to pray.  When they came back together, together they penned what they would jokingly refer to as “The Modesto Manifesto”.

People say the Billy Graham rule was penned out of fear.  Fear of women.  Fear of temptation.  Fear of “having the appearance of evil”.  I could not disagree more.  Men have been wrongly accused before, and women have wrongfully reached for men before.  The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is a prime example.  The Proverbs are full of warnings to men about adultery.

Billy Graham did not fear women.  I wouldn’t even say (though he might beg to differ) that he feared himself.  Billy Graham feared God.

No, not everyone is in his position.  I don’t think a hard and fast rule must be widely applied to all married men and women everywhere.   But marriage is important enough to have safeguards.   We shouldn’t laugh or scoff at such things.  The Lord looks on the heart, and the heart of Billy Graham was tied with the Psalmist’s, “I sought the LORD and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears.”

~~~

Complementarians believe in marriage.  One man.  One woman.  One God uniting them together into one.  Submission is more than just a reordered fixing of the fall’s malfunctions, more than God’s first use of the law to curb a woman’s “sinful” and sinful resistance to man.  Submission is the way she displays God’s image, sharing in the cross of Jesus the Christ.  Submission tells the story of Hope for the world.

I don’t mean to be dramatic.

This is what God says.

This is His design.

This is God’s will for our mutual happiness, peace, and joy.

owning my roles

Before I continue with any more blogging, I feel as though I owe C.S. Lewis an apology.  Several blogs ago (on gender reconciliation) I referenced something I’d heard C.S. Lewis had said, and I did so with, be it ever so slight, disdain in my voice.

I’ve never been a C.S. Lewis fan.  He already has plenty of fans, why should I become yet just another one of them?  In the past, I’ve attempted books like Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man and struggled to stay with them.  I just don’t think that much about those things.  I have read The Four Loves and LOVED it.  I have never (yet) read the full Chronicles of Narnia.  I have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, parts of The Magician’s nephew, and parts of The Last Battle and did appreciate his way of making “deep” and “deeper” magic out of deep theological truths.  I’ve reached for The Screwtape Letters and some of his poetry, but never really made a lasting connection.  What I’m saying is that I’m not one of these people who can say they’ve read, studied, and immersed themselves in the majority of his fiction and non-fiction work.  However, I am now unashamedly a fan, not in a madly in love fan-girl sense, but in a “Well, duh. How could I have been so stupid?” sense.

C. S. Lewis is a phenomenal writer.  His ideas are clear, and he writes of human thought and experience in a kind and disarming yet “nailed it” sort of way.  I recently read Surprised by Joy, and it was one of the most delightful reading experiences I’ve ever had.  I don’t recall ever smiling so much while reading a book.  Such was the oddity, I even began marking the pages with smiley faces 🙂 every time he made me smile.  I now have an answer to the question, “What is your favorite book of all time?”  Prior to Surprised by Joy, I have never been able to easily answer that question.  The Bible, yes–but no one, including me, ever really likes that answer.

Here is what C.S. Lewis actually says:

“The last stage in my story, the transition from mere Theism to Christianity, is the one on which I am now least informed.  Since it is also the most recent, this ignorance may seem strange.  I think there are two reasons.  One is that as we grow older we remember the more distant past better than what is nearer.  But the other is, I believe, that one of the first results of my Theistic conversion was a marked decrease (and high time, as all readers of this book will agree) 🙂 in the fussy attentiveness which I had so long paid to the progress of my own opinions and states of my own mind.  For many healthy extroverts self-examination first begins with conversion.  For me it was almost the other way around.  Self-examination did of course continue.  But it was (I suppose, for I cannot quite remember) at stated intervals, and for a practical purpose; a duty, a discipline, an uncomfortable thing, no longer a hobby or habit.  To believe and to pray were the beginning of extroversion.  I had been, as they say, ‘taken out of myself’.  If Theism had done nothing else for me, I should still be thankful that it cured me of the time-wasting and foolish practice of keeping a diary. (Even for autobiographical purposes a diary is nothing like so useful as I had hoped.  You put down each day what you think important; but of course you cannot each day see what will prove to have been important in the long run.)”

~Surprised by Joy, p. 284-285

 

 

 

memorial day

In loving memory of A.M.C,
November 11, 2003-May 21, 2018

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation;
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.

Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.

Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy.

Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

*Psalm 62, Stuart Townend and Aaron Keys

homeschool philosophies (part 2)

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To continue on with what I was saying, I’m starting to wonder, that if I keep with my goal of the kids keeping up, I might actually end up holding us back.  I have no regrets with how we’ve done things, but as I evaluate the past and look ahead to the future, I feel ready to move in us a different direction.

I want to pour over books and unit studies on states.  I want more class discussion and less class distraction (the LEGOS are everywhere).  I want to take our read-alouds to new and higher levels, incorporating oral and written narrations as a given.  I want to sweat through the complicated work of communicating.

What makes homeschooling so incredibly attractive to me is the great flexibility we have in what we can learn and all the ways we can learn it.  So much of my school life I cannot remember.  Once I got into junior high and high school, school was just the hoop you needed to jump through in order to get to the social experiences.  I put forth minimal effort into learning, retaining, or applying myself to giving back the gifts offered.

In many ways it feels like I’ve been given back the time.  I’ve been given another chance at learning.   Mere Motherhood, a memoir I read by a homeschooling mother of thirty-plus years put it this way which I thought was absolutely perfect, “Joseph Pieper tells us that leisure is the basis of culture.  Most homeschool moms would laugh at the idea of leisure, but that is essentially the gift homeschooling gave us–the leisure to learn”.