Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Women are feminine and men are masculine

I was reading this piece which is addressing the trinitarian debate on the "Eternal Subordination of the Son". The conclusion,
Being a wife is a role; being a husband is a role; being a servant is a role; being a citizen is a role. Being male and female are not roles. While our biological sex necessarily shapes the roles we hold (in marriage, a woman will be a wife and not a husband), submission does not stem directly from gender but from a role that exists in the context of relationship. A wife submits to her husband not because he is a “man” but because he is her husband and has committed himself to certain vows and duties in the context of their marriage. The same is true of a servant and master, a congregant and elder, and a citizen and his government. Submission happens in context of specific privileges and responsibilities found in specific relationships bound by specific covenants.

In contrast to the belief that women are ontologically (and therefore eternally) subordinated to men, we believe with Paul in I Corinthians 11:3 that “the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. [Emphasis added]
And she is right that a wife submits to her husband and not to other men. In fact, wives should not submit to men just because they are men. Yet I think the author misses something.
Herein lies the problem. Grudem and Ware argue for submission of the Son on the basis of role. So far, so orthodox. But when they apply ESS [eternal subordination of the Son] to gender, they have tied submission to the essence of femaleness and not simply the role of being a wife. By necessity then, when they talk about the Son’s submission to the Father, it is almost impossible not to hear it as an ontological argument. Why? Because Bible-believing Christians know gender (more accurately, biological sex) to be an ontological category. We know that being female is an identity given by God and intrinsically bound up in the imago Dei. This is the fundamental argument against transgender positions: “So God made man[kind] in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” '

When these leaders emphasize female submission instead of wifely submission, they are speaking of submission as if it were an ontological characteristic. [Emphasis in original]
Now without getting into the trinity debate specifically, it seems to me that leadership is a masculine quality and that submission is a feminine quality. When a woman runs a household (whether servants or just children) she is exercising masculine qualities. And when a man obeys his boss he is exhibiting feminine qualities. All men and all women have both, but a man has more masculine qualities and should not neglect them, and women have more feminine qualities and should not neglect them either.

The problem isn't when men obey appropriately (being feminine) it is when they neglect leadership (lacking masculinity). Likewise, strong women are not necessarily a problem, in fact the attribute can be quite appealing. The problem is in women usurping authority and acting in a rebellious manner.

Therefore the question is not so much: Does submission stem from gender (female) or stem from a role (wife)? The question is more, Why do wives submit and not husbands (generally)? What is it about the roles and why do men and women fit those roles? Is it arbitrary? Or are there qualities that aid and inhibit leadership and submission? Does protection go with leadership? Does putting one's life at risk go with leadership? Does provision go with leadership? Does nurturing go with submission? Does respectfulness go with submission? Etc.

If those qualities in themselves are masculine or feminine, cannot a composite of the masculine qualities that make up leadership also be masculine? Likewise submission feminine? This means that a mother is masculine in relationship to her children when she is leading them. And (male) soldiers are feminine in relationship to their commander. There is nothing wrong with this as the commander is doing the protecting and the soldier is doing the respecting.

Yet women are intrinsically very feminine and men are intrinsically very masculine.

The authors are arguing for the submission stemming from the roles and not the gender without asking why the genders are assigned the roles.

As mentioned, I think (like these authors) that wives are to be submissive to their husbands not to men in general. Further, I would say to complementarians that they need to realise that the egalitarian argument for the high status of women needs to be heard.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The dominion mandate is given to them. It is given to the man and it is given to the woman. Together they are to fill the earth and subdue it. Together they have dominion. Everything in the earth in under the woman as well as the man.

But to the egalitarians I would argue that men and women are not interchangeable sans their genitals. Women are feminine and men are masculine. This will work its way out into society and culture and a culture where this distinction is not present is disregarding how God made us. Women should not be in combat, all things considered. By all means teach your daughter how to defend herself, so that when the army breaks down the walls, or when the criminal breaks in and her husband is away, she may put an evil man to flight. There is nothing wrong with having Jael know more that one use for a tent peg, or a woman being resourceful with a millstone, but you should not send your daughters to the frontline.

Considering other occupations, it is to be expected that more men will be in the dangerous occupations and more women in the caring ones. So the problem isn't any one example of a man being a nurse, or a woman being a cop. Given the habitus of the average person we need strong men to move patients in hospital. We also need lady cops involved in dealing with sexual crimes against women. But if all the cops are girls and all the nurses are guys something is awry. Especially if all the women also put their children in daycare, school, and after-school care from birth to adulthood.

1 comment:

  1. Well written, bethyada.

    I haven't read that book, but it seems that the author is trying to counter the more extreme complementarian view that any woman is to be submissive to any man. By placing submissiveness within the context of role, they remove that possibility, but their framework can't stand with any serious testing.

    I believe also we have some difficulty because we are trying to view the role of man and woman against the secular, egalitarian, modern world. In the time of Christ, the men and women were much more separated in general society. The women sat separately from men in temple and synagogue. Their gender-related roles were well established. If we lived in that type of society this would all be more "natural". As it is we have to live one way at home and church and another way in business, at the market, etc.

    On a somewhat related note, have you ever read GK Beale's "Temple and the Church's Mission"? It's a very interesting read. This is one of the places where I got my understanding about the duties of Adam in guarding the garden.



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