Monday, September 25, 2006

A hair-raising predicament


Bill Curry said:


Do women wear hats in your church, or do you ignore/rationalize away the stupid passages in the Bible like like I used to?

9/25/2006 3:45 PM
Anonymous said:

I'm wondering if the women in your church dare to speak...or do you ignore that verse too?

How about the verse about men having long hair?


I'm sure you have some nifty rationalization as to why those verses no longer monkey boy, dance!
9/25/2006 4:28 PM


1.Since I’m not a church officer, I’m not responsible for church discipline.

And since I’m not a woman, I’m not responsible for what the women do.

2.Notice the duplicitous character of Curry’s wife-beating question—a duplicity aped by the anonymous commenter as well.

Are they posing sincere questions or not? It is insincere to ask a question, then poison the well by dismissing any answer in advance of the answer as a way of “ignoring” or “rationalizing” away the “stupid” passages of Scripture.

This way of framing the question is deliberately prejudicial, and just another illustration of the intellectual frivolity and duplicity of unbelief.

3.I realize that Curry would like to keep everything a simple-minded as possible since the only objections he can offer to the Bible are simple-minded objections.

But Paul’s own discussion is highly nuanced.

3.Paul’s argument, by his own admission, involves both timeless and timebound elements.

In terms of the timeless elements:

i) At a minimum is the timeless distinction between men and women.

ii) At a maximum is the ordinary or general principle of male headship.

Egalitarian scholars opt for (i) to the exclusion of (ii).

In my opinion, both elements are present, although Paul is also concerned to emphasize the interdependences of the sexes.

4. In terms of the timebound elements:

i) Fashion, both now and then, is a semiotic system, projecting social and sexual identity. Fashion is a form of sign language‚a cultural code language. A fashion statement is a statement of social status or countercultural status, as well as a statement of eligibility (or not.)

Up to a point, this form of nonverbal, symbolic discourse varies in time and place. Let’s remember that Paul is explicitly dealing with a shame culture where the dress code is indicative of a specific honor-code, or infractions thereof.

ii) Although Paul affirms the natural principle of male headship, he also and elsewhere affirms the duty of Christians to honor those in authority.

In the Roman Empire, one’s place in the pecking order was assigned by social class rather than gender.

A Roman noblewoman would outrank a slave boy or male commoner.

When, for example, Paul had his audience with Agrippa and Bernice (Acts 25-26), he would have been the social inferior of Bernice.

So there’s a practical tension between the created order and the social order in a fallen world.

Hence, the timeless element of male headship also has a timebound aspect when we contrast the timeless norm with the exigencies of life in a fallen world.

And that includes the norm of governance. So there’s a priority of norms.

5.Conversely, there’s a timeless aspect to the timebound elements.

For example, if a woman wants to attract a man, she will dress in a way that accentuates her feminine assets.

Likewise, there are cross-cultural ways in which a man may be effeminate.

So even our social constructs have a basis in the natural order, except where they go out of their way to be abnormal and unnatural.

6.The question Paul is dealing with in 1 Cor 11 & 14 is the culturally appropriate way to exemplify a culturally universal norm.

Although the way in which the principle is exemplified is in some measure culturebound, the underlying principle which it serves to exemplify is cross-cultural.

Sexual differentiation is timeless principle, while the way in which sexual differentiation is signified through fashion is in some degree, but not altogether, timebound.

Likewise, male headship is a timeless principle, but there also times when that must defer to a social order in which some women are in positions of authority over men, viz. a queen, queen mother, noblewoman, &c.

7.Let’s keep in mind that Paul is dealing what is natural and socially suitable for men as well as women.

8.Let’s also keep in mind that Paul is probably talking about wives in particular rather than women in general.

9.Moreover, Paul draws a distinction between the way a woman qua woman should conduct herself, and the way a woman qua prophetess or supplicant should conduct herself.

10.Furthermore, Paul is talking about the public sphere rather than the private sphere.

11.But given the further fact that NT churches were house-churches, that created the potential for a clash of social values as members belonging to different social strata or subcultures within the far-flung Roman Empire intermingled. Upstairs rubbing shoulders with Downownstairs; East meets West.

12.As to what a woman can do in church, that depends, in part, on a comparison and contrast between a NT church and a contemporary church.

As I said before, NT churches were house-churches.

But in the age of denominations and independent churches, the authority of the pastor varies with the polity of the particular denomination or individual church.

Moreover, modern-day pastors have no real authority outside the confines of the church.

By contrast, a NT pastor might well have been a real authority-figure. To take a later example, St. Ambrose was a Roman aristocrat and jurist before he became a bishop.

13.In my opinion, pastoral authority is only as good as pastoral exegesis.

14.In principle, I think that a woman could function as a teaching elder or pulpit supply, although that is hardly the norm.

However, she could not properly function as a ruling elder, for that would put her in a position of authority over men, which is unnatural according to Scripture.

15.A contemporary parallel would not be bareheaded women in church, since hats obviously don’t hold the same significance for us as they did in 1C Corinth, but, say, a woman in a bikini walking into church.

16.Oh, and before the Debunkers accuse me of sexism because I subscribe to male headship, I’d just observe that the DC is a boys’ club. The Secular Outpost is another boys’ club. (They have a token woman to keep up egalitarian appearances, but she never does any posting.)

So let the reader measure the Debunkers’ feminist rhetoric against their patriarchal practice.


  1. Why wouldn't you want to be accused of sexism? Its God's way, is it not?

    How crazy that the 'giver of life,' the woman, should dare to assume to have any authority of a man. How could her tiny brain be up to such a daunting task?

    Men are such wonderful rulers, as the world around us can attest.

    Zip it women, men rule!

  2. Anonymous:

    Considering that we are all merely lumps of meat resulting from an evolutionary accident, who cares about advancing the human race? Why not just take egalitarianism to its fullest extent (pervasive homosexuality) and eliminate women from the planet completely? C'mon, man, your worldview's begging for it!

    My worldview, on the contrary, contains a God who intentionally created both men and women in his image with the purpose of revealing his glory. He has designed it so that Christ's relationship with his bride would be reflected in our marriages, and that through the family unit he would spread his gospel.

    But if you take divine, creative design out of the equation, there really is no purpose in families, or in furthering the human race at all. Indeed, apart from God’s common, restraining grace, people like you (and me apart from grace) would completely extinguish the world within a 24 hour period.

  3. I'm glad you have no problem pointing out that your god is a sexist, as are you.

    The arrogance of men, to think themselves as 'head' over women.

  4. ColonelMustard9/26/2006 6:16 AM

    Why the false dichotomy of:

    1. Woman hating sexist


    2. Bag of meat

    There are other options, you know. Just because you subscribe to a bronze-age story doesn't mean its the only option, or the correct one.

  5. It's interesting that those who use the sexist argument against Christianity never do so in a balanced way. I wonder; are their bibles missing at least 60% of the verses, or do they simply choose to ignore it's whole counsel.

    Wait, let me try.

    First I'll simply gloss over the biblical portions exhorting husbands to love their wives sacrificially. I mean it's utterly incomprehensible that a wive would (or should) submit to her husbands headship if she knew that she enjoyed a higher priority in his life than he himself and that every decision he made was for her good. I mean there is just no way.
    (Yes, that is the biblical ideal and I would grant that in practice it is not always so)

    Next I'll gloss over the prominant woman in the church who had pivotal roles. In my argument I would never bring up the wife and business woman in Proverbs 31?

    Except I'll harp on the wives submit part and frame my argument with misogynistic language. Yea, that should do it.

    See this is easy....

    Colonelmustard, if you would oblige, please define "correct one". What is the underlying standard for making such a judegement? Is this an absolute standard we all can subscribe to? :)

  6. That's hardly the dichotomy I set up. I set up a dichotomy between the Christian worldview and a naturalistic worldview.

    The Christian worldview has a basis for husbands and wives loving each other and honoring each other as equals. The naturalistic worldview does not have such a basis. The Christian worldview has a purpose for the family unit and the furthering of the human race. The naturalistic worldview doesn't.

  7. The arrogance of men, to think themselves as 'head' over women.

    The arrogance of men, to think they can draw breath apart from the sovereign will of God.

  8. "The arrogance of men, to think themselves as 'head' over women."

    The arrogance of men, to think themselves as 'head' over cockroaches.

    If we're guilty od sexism, you're guilty of speciesism

  9. Sorry Paul, you 'loose' again.

    Who said that men are 'head' over cockroaches?

    From whose perspective?

    They are a far more durable organism that humans are, and most likely will be around much longer than we.

  10. Should we step on cockroaches?

    Should we eat broccoli? Should we eat humans?

  11. YoungEinstein9/26/2006 2:20 PM


    Why is there a 'should' in your questions?

    You have the illusion of freedom to select yes/no on any of those questions you pose, and each comes with its own response...cause and effect.

    Have fun!

  12. Have fun!

    Do I really have the choice?

  13. YoungEinstein9/26/2006 2:32 PM

    I'm not sure, Evan, but I think you have the illusion of making a choice.

    So...from your limited perspective, have fun! (even if you really can't choose to do so!)

  14. from your limited perspective

    Why is my perspective limited, rather than your perspective of my perspective being limited?

  15. Youngeinstein wrote:
    Why is there a 'should' in your questions?

    Good point.

    There is no should. As such, there is no "should not" either.

    I declare it's hunting season on Young Einstein. After all, there's no reason why we shouldn't kill him, right?

    By the same token, there's no "should" when it comes to sexism, racism, or any other ism (it's only an illusion of freedom of choice, which is itself an illusion illusion). So why not?

    Might makes right. Viva la youngeinstein!

  16. YoungEinstein9/26/2006 3:10 PM

    Calvindude...I'm glad somebody gets it! Bravo!

    There isn't any COSMIC should involved in whether or not its open season on myself...its about time somebody on this site understands this.

  17. Then I'm going to need your name and address so that I can have some fun.

    Duck season!
    Wabbit season!

  18. "Sorry Paul, you 'loose' again.

    Who said that men are 'head' over cockroaches?

    From whose perspective?"

    So you think exterminators should be stopped? Why can we bug-bomb cockroaches, but we can't recognize women's submissive role? Why not exterminate women and cockroaches?

    Anyway, the two gropes I mentioned were "men" and "cockroaches." You replied, "by whose perspective?" Interesting, since when did cockroaches have "perspectives." Indeed, what are "perspectives" on physicalist assumptions? Can you use the language of physics to describe a "perspective?" So, since there are no "perspectives" on your terms, then in your worldview we can exterminate cockroaches and women, or neither. I await your answer, worm lover.

    "You have the illusion of freedom to select yes/no on any of those questions you pose, and each comes with its own response...cause and effect."

    I find the above so funny! :-) Just liek Dan Berker, this bag o' meat says "freedom" isn't real but yest we have an "ilusion" that we are free. Notice that the bag o' meat has no problem living according to an illusion. You see, that's why I can't be an atheist, don't want to buy into illusions.

    "There isn't any COSMIC should involved in whether or not its open season on myself...its about time somebody on this site understands this."

    This is also funny. There is no COSMIC should, but there's the "illusion of should."

    Despite the unclearness of the statement, what bag o' meat is saying, along with Barker, is that the way things REALLY are is that there are no ethics but we'll, AGAIN, choose to live according to an ILLUSION.

    Well, as you told Evan, "have fun!"