Just and the Justifier

A Christian Distinctive

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

John Piper and His Stupid Tweets

I refuse to get a Twitter account. First; I find it difficult to even flatulate in less than 140 characters. And having been cursed by attending two of High School teacher John Strebig’s English classes, my stomach churns if I dare proffer opinions without substantiation. Finally, as consequence of a spiritual odyssey, which required the dotting of every i and crossing of every t, in order to navigate to safe harbours; I am inclined to want to stomp on the snake of every objection until the guts of each argument has been thoroughly expelled. Consequently, I am verbose. Why write an eight line poem, or even a two page executive summary when a twenty page dissertation will do?

However, Pastor John Piper provides the best reason to stay clear of Twitter when pontificating great nostrums of wisdom.

To quote from the Desiring God site:

Monday night, in the wake of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, John Piper posted two tweets at 11:00pm (CST).

·  @JohnPiper: “Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” Job 1:19

·  @JohnPiper: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20

These tweets were taken down two days later with explanations you can look up for yourself.
My concern with tweeting has always been that with the limited ability to fully explain oneself in 140 characters, one is prone to make utterances that will be misconstrued; innocently or malevolently. However, it appears that Mr. Piper cannot restrain himself from framing every disastrous event into some moral or spiritual point. There might be some moral or spiritual point. However, although I am a continualist; I am pretty certain that I am not privy to every thought of the Sovereign God.

When that idiot from Virginia Beach ranted about the Haitian pact with devil after the Port-Au-Prince earthquake, in which that buffoon even got the details of the timeline wrong; this quickly came to mind.

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelled in Jerusalem? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.(Luke 13:1-5)

Because of the genesis of sin in the cosmos, a tempest of disastrous consequences has ensued. And like Jonathan Edwards expressed in his infamous sermon; our human condition is consequently as one exposed to sudden destruction and dangling over the pit of hell. We are kept from immediate justice but by the forbearance and long-suffering of God.

However, unless one prophecies ahead of a disaster, the credibility of mapping a particular event as a particular punishment for a particular sin or sinner strains credulity. Post facto predictions are an oxymoron.

Evil occurs even to the ‘righteous’ for reasons too varied to explicate in a Tweet. Therefore, if a theologian feels a narcissistic compulsion to make a point in the aftermath of a disaster, take many a cold shower. Such pontifications are grating to the hurting recipients. As it is the ‘victim’, who is primarily hurting, his/her first priority is not likely to be to care how a theologian is particularly feeling.

Having been one who has suffered immensely over my life, this I can advise to those who seek to give counsel in times of grief.

a)  Do not offer solicit counsel until it is asked for.

b)  If it is asked for, solicit it in private.

c)  If you solicit counsel, deposit your doctrinal headgear at the coat check and speak from the heart.

d)  Better yet, sit in the ashes with the person who is suffering and SHUT THE HELL UP.

 

 

 

Protagorean Arrogance

I often make reference to a stock phrase protagorean arrogance to describe feminist perspectives. The purpose is less to insult than to explain. The notion emanates from observation and excruciating personal experience; whereby one’s interlocutor is so locked up in their subjective mantras that no amount of valid reasoning or evidence can genuinely dislodge them from their pre-existing opinions, even one iota. However, the danger from such persons lurks in their tyrannical impulses, “sincerely exercised for the good of its victims” and “who torment us for our own good, [who] will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”.1 New York Mayor and plutocrat “Big Gulp” Bloomberg comes to mind. They are the enemies of liberty of conscience, the progenitors of ideological and social tyranny, and the begetters of civil wars, from family relationships up to civil societies. For, it is not in differences of opinion that most civic conflagration arises; but when one or all factions seek to impose their worldview and ethic/ethos upon all others.

Protagorean derives from the Greek sophist Protagoras of Abdera (490 – 420 B.C.), who is made famous by his utterance “Man is the measure of all things”.  This radical relativistic notion, that objective reality and the Good is determined by our epistemological ability to ascertain it, was seen in its time as leading to moral/legal chaos and societal disintegration. The astute will also surmise that the ultimate sociopolitical end result of such thought will be civil governance by arbitrary coercion of pure power instead of through consent. The autocracies of Alexander’s and the Roman Empire are artifacts one and two for the prosecutor for such conclusions.

It should not be thought that feminists are the only culprits of this disposition.

In this narcissistic, subjectivist age, the adage has morphed into I am the measure of all things. In a discourse of a generation back, the interlocutor who disagreed with you might declare a Kierkegaardian sentiment that what is true for you is not [necessarily] true for me. Nowadays, that same disagreeing interlocutor will tend to subscribe to the view that since what you say isn’t convincing to them; it is not true for you neither. Consequently, instead of acknowledging liberty of conscience differences of opinion, these interlocutors must coerce others to their way of conduct or thought.

Same-sex proponents operate in this way. It is not sufficient that they live their relationships and call them and others to call it whatever they please. Behind the movement is this intention to isolate and marginalize their ideological and sociopolitical adversaries and coerce these others to publicly concur with their politically correct cant through threat of subtle legal and socioeconomic reprisals.

However, the more insidious kind of protagorean arrogance is that which emanates without deliberate intent to deceive. Same-sex advocates probably know that they are pushing the envelope against liberty of conscience to the extent that they can get away with, until they meet rock hard resistance and push back. The evil of protagorean arrogance is that in the unwitting unknowing, these Lilliputian zealots lack any boundaries in violating the rights of others. They will not likely stand down.

I bear witness of this tyrannical impulse. A fifty-something grandmother constantly questions and countermands her daughter’s instructions and discipline of the daughter’s daughter in the presence of the latter. It would often take the opprobrium and intervention of the wider family to arrest this busybody from publicly undercutting the authority of the daughter. However, when that opprobrium and intervention was less present, the grandmother would resort to her old tricks. The matriarch’s self-righteous certainty trumps the rightful authority of others to govern their own lives and those of their wards.

Having been herself a mother at one time, one would have thought that the grandmother would have innate appreciation of a parent’s desire and right to steward their own child. And there are times, when the situation is of such severe nature and clearly pre-defined to warrant intervention. If however, every minutiae of difference of opinion becomes a federal issue, it indicates that the protagorean arrogance borders on both the lawless and the tyrannical.

This psychosocial phenomenon is highlighted to explain an astonishing lack of psychological insight by modern women; feminists in particular. Some have convinced themselves that the differences between the sexes are mere social constructs (Second Wave Feminists). Men really ought to be thinking like women. And if males don’t; from the protagorean vantage point of such women, it must derive from an ethical deficiency rather than a gender-based proclivity to approach existence from a different vantage point. Alternatively, there are the Third Wave Gender Nationalists, who acknowledge that differences in gender proclivities exist, but that the attributes of their side are superior to that of the other.

Thus, like Hitler’s Youth, they must indoctrinate and ideologically emasculate boys to the superiority of feminine traits even before they become men. They deem themselves alone as being competent enough to define and arbitrate the nature of masculinity; which often amounts to little more than servicing women’s every need and fetish, just like in their romantic novels. Such will deign to denigrate the masculinity in masculinity. As evidenced in the Slut Walks, such believe that they should be free to trample on the sensitivities of others and to encumbrance all others. Others must rearrange their lives so to accommodate these sluts alone. For, they alone are right. The cosmos is neither geocentric nor heliocentric. Nay. The cosmos orbits around their itsy bitsy opinions and interests.

And the lack of psychological insight is blinding them from perceiving the encroaching and overwhelming social counter-reaction by new generations of young males. While the obtuse Hanna Rosin is declaring a triumphalist feminine victory in “The End of Men”; I see a different dynamic, bubbling up from the ground up and terrifying to the status of women in the generations to come.

The pertinent point is the obliviousness in these women’s lack of psychological insight; the arrogance in this unreasoning stupidity. It doesn’t seem to occur to such persons that the real Truth is somewhere out there, to which they themselves are not likely to have ownership, to which they like all others must strive. Or that their gender counterparts might be a necessary counterbalance to the excesses of their gender proclivities; as would be the case of female proclivities mitigating male excesses.

©Copyright John Hutchinson

NOTES

1C.S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, The Twentieth Century: An Australian Quarterly Review, 3(3), 1949, p 5-12.

Sexual Liberty and the Sufficiency of Scriptures

According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue.1

The first indictment in Paul Washer’s sermon Ten Indictments Against the Modern Churchis the practical denial of the sufficiency of Scriptures.2 His purpose of the principle was to castigate “seeker-friendly” churches for using social science to rope outsiders into populating the pews. Even Denny Burk, who has deploys the Feinburg grid, has published articles to assert Scriptural sufficiency as a corollary of inerrancy (“We have an obligation to show our churches and indeed the world that God’s written Word is sufficient to address these issues”3)

Read more…

Worship

Yet I will show you the most excellent way.1

I heard another sermon message today, with one of its themes referencing worship. And as usual, I find it disappointing, even wrong-headed; although, this particular manner of presentation is common in Evangelical churches.

Worship is not just something that happens automatically. We choose to make it happen. It is a decision we make.

There is an element of truth in the above statement. The first step on the descent towards depravity in Romans 1 involves the failure to honour God or be grateful. However, intimated in the above comment is that worship is some self-propelled act generated ex nihilo. It can be appreciated that one ought to praise and honour, regardless of circumstances. It is less credible to expect genuine praise and honour, regardless of knowledge of God that one is persuaded of.

Read more…

Sex-Selective Abortion

Pro-life advocates and anti-feminists must muse with certain schadenfreude at the irony and dilemma facing feminist women in regards to sex-selective abortion. God is in His heaven!

On no account can feminists support a motion to condemn or ban such abortions without backing down on principle. What other restrictions would then become rationally justified? They would be and appear inconsistent, selective and self-centered in the ‘quest for justice and rights’. However, many sisters must wonder about the love for the sisterhood by these zealots.

Long range; pro-choice feminists are promoting a decline of potential number of future sisters, just as stronger waves of masculinism and anti-feminism gather storm. Seeds of their own destruction?

 

Ruminations on Same-Sex Marriage

In 1986, after taking a few courses on computer programming and having created a payroll app on a Commodore 64, which cut ten to fifteen hours from my payroll job, I was given opportunity to work on a hopelessly buggy customized accounting application in some now obscure language. After a week or two of perusing the endless spaghetti code without any modularization into subroutines, I realized that the easiest and least costly way of fixing the thing was to throw it out (eventually) and start from scratch.

The nature of the arguments made against same-sex marriage is much like that. It is not that the position is wrong. It is that the basis of the opposition is rationally incoherent and unsound, and perhaps even unscriptural. Most of the reasonings derive, as best as I can determine, from Roman Republican morality and a Roman version of Stoicism.

The problem lies in the accumulation of theological claptrap and traditions of men that have obscured a solid and sound rational argument. To fix the mess first requires a dressing down of many of these theological innovations. However, one will then need to contend against opposition from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the informal magisteriums of the various Protestant/Evangelical sects. One must scathingly tear down the existing straw supports buttressing marriage in order to build a solid brick argument.

This is not to suggest that any degree of pristine and near-perfect reasonings will convince one’s interlocutors or adversaries. As the song says; “We hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest”1. As Christ demonstrated, perhaps our first query with those, who challenge the orthodox Biblical position, ought to deal with their heart motivations. The evidence is overwhelming in these last generations, that intellectual and ethical/legal arguments and empirical evidence are mere tools of self-interest, easily disposed of when they get in the way, by a population that doubts or does not care about the Truth or the Good. And in observing the quality of moral reasoning by those in my online Stanford University course on Justice, I am terrified for my children’s and grandchildren’s future.

However, in perusing the transcripts of the Proposition 9 trial; even though the liberal argument, advocated by the presiding judge Vaughn Walker (with little need of lawyers), was empty and superficial; the pro-Amendment argument was just too full of holes and easy to shoot down as well.

I visited a self-professed Evangelical’s take on the issue, and like the accounting package, I found attempting to debug his arguments would be so overwhelming, that is best to start from fundamentals and work up. This is a work in progress, perhaps deliverable next year. However, these considerations might help others in constructing a valid framework of argument.

If a universal natural law, as it pertains to human nature, exists; then violating that law will have natural consequences, independent of civic, ecclesiastical or divine penalties; independent of the ability to notice those consequences. (The Roman Empire was shocked when Rome was sacked in 410 A.D., although hindsight makes obvious this eventuality.)

The existence of this natural law is independent of the ability to subjectively appropriate it. (I repudiate the long-standing Christian nostrum, whose derivation is more Stoic than Biblical, that natural law (moral law) is innately known. We do have an unavoidable subjective faculty of judgment between good and evil. However, the Scriptural basis for this faculty to be loaded with content is unwarranted and leads to all kinds of inconsistencies and absurdities. The rational arguments and empirical historical and sociological evidence simply defies any correspondence to this theological innovation of moral nativism.

The incompetence or disingenuity of humanity may not even be able to subjectively appropriate a detrimental natural consequence.

Except for a few states in ancient Greece (i.e. Sparta), marriage was considered a private estate with minimal civic regulation until the high Middle Ages. The Roman paterfamilias was up in arms over Augustus’ attempt to interfere with the Estate with his Julian Laws, which fell largely to disuse. Marriage came increasingly under ecclesiastic governance until the Reformation and Enlightenment (16th-18th Centuries).

Calling it an institution, implying a primacy of its social and civic role and thereby justifying extensive and intrusive social and civic regulation, is contrary to Scriptures and reason; since marriage existed before both ecclesiastical and civic institutions. When Isaac ‘married’ Rebecca in his mother’s tent, we can be sure that the tent didn’t have sufficient room for a presiding rabbi and bureaucrat. The God of Scriptures called that marriage. And  unless the God of Scriptures is mutable after all, church and state are not required for true marriage.

The idea of procreation as the primary purpose of marriage largely derives from a functionalist and austere Roman Republican morality. The logic of marriage as vehicle for procreation is so full of inconsistencies and incoherence that non-Christians are correct to contemptuously scorn those ‘Christians’ who attempt to justify opposite-sex marriages on those grounds. We need to utterly and scathingly destroy any pretensions that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage.

I would suggest that marriage’s purpose is for the benefit of its spouses; which in its pristine state, is the best relationship between two conscious beings possibly conceived; and is a shadow copy of the Trinity’s interrelationship and that being sought between Christ and His Church.

Making the Estate of Marriage subservient to purposes beyond itself (family lineage, ecclesiastical concerns and pathologies, civil agendas) grievously interferes and  intrudes on the Estate and invariably weakens the marriage and the raison d’être to be married. History has demonstrates a proportionate correlation between external control and internal health of this relationship. 

Western history demonstrates, as shown in the Proposition 9 trial, that state definition and regulation has caused unceasing travesty and atrocity to the private super-friendship relationship.

Any singular definition and understanding, imposed by the civil authorities, are usually wrongheaded, and invariably provokes considerable civic agitation. The question becomes: are the questionable benefits worth the civic discord and contribution to potential conflagration.

The argument against same-sex marriage will be found in the radical differences in natural and endemic proclivities of each sex. This is an assertion well challenged today, even though the scientific and historical anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea.

Secondly, the complementarianism that is bandied about by the CBMW, a complementarianism of roles is Biblically and rational insupportable. Rather, men and women represent a complementarianism of intrinsic natural proclivities. These proclivities are not rigid absolutes or immutable.

Each gender has a psychological insufficiency in itself that requires the complement of the other. Therefore, the opposite sex spouses need to discover, accept, embrace, mitigate against the excesses of the other and incorporate unto themselves that of the other in order to become the fullness of humanity (or Christ).

In that same-sex couples are not intimate with those qualities found in the other sex; they have less ability to detect, let alone incorporate those qualities into themselves. Indeed, historical and sociological record indicates a general disdain by homosexuals for the attributes of the other (i.e. ancient aristocratic Greeks, modern feminist lesbians). Same-sex coupling is prone to exaggerate the excesses of the same gender, rather than mitigating them.

The sociological record in Europe (i.e. liberal Scandinavia/Norway) demonstrates that same sex couplings are less stable. Divorce rates with gay males are 50% higher than opposite sex couplings. Lesbians are 167% higher. (These are state-wide statistics.) (Apparently, the Netherlands is showing the same outcomes). Instability for same-sex relationships are a common historical constant. The relational problems are endemic.

Same-sex relationships, at least amongst males for certain, invariably become polyamorous. Boredom is one constant complaint (i.e. Dan Savage). Polyamory has its own set of psychological deficiencies and grievous social consequences.

Even so, neither society nor the state should forbid same-sex relationships; nor give undue additional financial support to such couples (that which is above that given to opposite-sex) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace. Nor should society or the state give legal and social sanction to same-sex relationships (or any marital relationships) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace.

NOTES

  1. Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer, 1968.

The Purpose of Sex (Excerpt)

Many proffer notions as to what constitutes the purpose of sex; what constitutes the divine telos of Eros. And in this, one must clarify the nature of Eros. In my youth, I recall with continentalist resentment, the European castigation of North Americans for reducing Eros to mere sexuality. Lamentably, they may have a point. A recent Atlantic Monthly article is reflective of a common American opinion (“eros, Greek word for passionate, sexual love”1). However, as Plato indicates in his “Symposium”; C.S. Lewis delineates in his “The Four Loves”; Nygren expounds in his “Eros and Agape”; and Shakespeare intimates in his sonnets; Eros extends well beyond its physical manifestation. It is desire and delight to be in the presence of and attached to the sublimely beautiful and excellent; however that is defined; but pristinely, at the level of mind, heart and character. From there, in the context of spousal lovers, Eros flows down to sexual passions. A decadent society is one that begins at a lower base of understanding and appreciation. It is a reason why I cannot be bothered going to Stratford (Ontario) for Shakespeare’s romantic romps. Read more…

Pseudo-Social Activism

On Christianity Today, (not my favorite magazine), there was a real missionary, Rachel Pieh Jones, complaining about the ersatz Western social activist of today, who do their most piddly to advance the great causes of our times; who obtain the subjective satisfaction of making a difference without actually doing so; who celebrate with flag-waving and tee-shirt branding zealotry, without risk, effort, sacrifice and muddied feet.

In Nicholas Kristof’s documentary Half the Sky, actress Meg Ryan also thought she was doing her part to highlight child trafficking in Cambodia, but then declines to go on a brothel raid. She says she doesn’t have the “adventure” gene. I appreciate her honesty. I have less appreciation for her ignorance. What did she think fighting sex trafficking would be like, if not going to brothels themselves? Her reticence is symbolic of goodhearted people who have forgotten about risk.1

I could continue to wax poetic; except such equally fluff opprobrium would quickly self-direct. What did tickle my eclectic mind was her witticism “My beef was roaming Main Street yesterday”.

If my generation cares so deeply about global issues of justice and poverty that they are willing to change eating, clothing, and living habits, where are they? A significant challenge for nonprofits and ministries remains recruiting people who will commit to serve long-term outside the United States.1

I have heard similar complaints by church missionaries about the loss of commitment and courage by increasingly effeminate Western Christians. I myself would (and am available to) go into the field except as long as it wasn’t France. And although I might be willing to go to Islamic countries; in that I am evidently opinionated, a cost/benefit analysis would likely deter the sponsoring agency from sending me there.

However, my problem with these para-Christian organizations is that they have waylaid their primary mission of transmitting the Gospel and Full Counsel of Christ; with the social beneficence as a handmaiden to support the central message. Instead, they have become just social services, adorned with god words. For me, the enduring benefit, even in this life, is found through becoming a conduit by which other people are changed from the inside out into eventual external and social manifestations.

  1.  Rachel Pieh Jones, You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice”, Christianity Today, May 14, 2013, accessed http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/you-cant-consume-your-way-to-social-justice.html on May 18, 2013.

A Mediating Interpretation of Man’s Rule over Woman in Genesis 3:16 (Part 2)

 It is common motif in Protestant/Evangelical circles to speak of sound doctrine as being a narrow path with possibilities of falling into either the right or left ditch. I prefer to consider the dynamics of planetary orbits as a more appropriate and informative metaphor. Planets or moons trek within a narrow range around a larger body. Should they veer too far off-course, they are threatened by gravitational collapse into the larger object on one hand; or spinning out of control into the void on the other. There is a healthy tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces.

Most (if not all) sound doctrines appear to require a similarly healthy balanced tension. The Sovereignty of God (a.k.a. Calvinism, or perhaps one might prefer Spurgeonism) navigates between the push and pull of Arminianism and HyperCalvinism. Beyond these landmarks, one is clearly in dangerous heretical territory. Similarly, a true Complementarianism is situated between the shoals of feminist egalitarianism and the shores of hierarchical male control.

History often demonstrates a sociopolitical implementation of Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”). The virulence of modern feminism has provoked an equally ugly masculinism; the attitudes of each feeding off each other until the alienation and polarization reach extremes. (A similar dynamic is manifest in the culture wars.)

A similar dynamic occurred in my now moribund marriage; whereby a wife, who did not effectually respect the governance of her husband unless it agreed with her opinions, provoked the husband to insist on protecting his prerogative to govern, in a much more harsher and manipulative manner than would have been preferred; to protect the marriage and family from a variable lawlessness and chaos. This statement, which hardly can be proven to outsiders, is meant less as a public airing of dirty linen than explaining the parallel psychological dynamic behind such literature as the “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” or the Danvers Statement. Threatened by a new force in the social galaxy, it is not uncommon to see a pendular overreaction to the phenomenon. I believe that these CBMW documents overstate the Complementarian case. And I suspect, that just as in the larger society, these Christian men are taking a harder line as consequence of feminism.

While Hanna Rosin (“The End of Men”) and her ilk, might exalt and fantasize of a future of female supremacy…

What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences.1

… I have observed a different social dynamic; with subterranean masculinist forces amassing and starting to make their presence known. While the feminists and liberal egalitarians conduct their gender and genderless war through the organs of government and society, an increasing virulent and angry masculinism will respond, apart from the organs of government and society. My fear, for my four-year granddaughter with whom I am in love, is that her future will be actually worse off, in general and as a woman, than that of my grandmother’s.

While there may be an official societal push and formal genuflection toward gender equality; underneath the surface, males are negatively reacting against the tilted prejudices of an unequal and unjust legal regimen and the prevailing feminist perspective and hypocrisy, which denigrate their men’s natural and honourable proclivities. If men are becoming less ambitious, it is because, failing to be given their proper place as head of the family, they will understandably abdicate their responsibilities. If the marriage rate is declining, it is because males have wizened up to the injustices of family courts. Legal marriage is only for the men who are gullible or into masochism and self-flagellation. Men seek ways to avoid legal jurisdiction and intrusion into their erotic relationships.

History has been down this road before. The harsh masculinist hierarchy of the Roman Republic, established by Romulus, started to lose its luster as the males exploited their prerogative after the Second Punic War. The civic equality, conducive for social cohesion, peace and military strength, required a strict monogamy. Adultery and divorce were relatively infrequent. Although men were given that extra luxury of extra-marital liaisons; until slaves poured into the society after the Second Punic War, men had fewer opportunities.

The harshness toward woman and abuses by males in the Roman Republic after the Punic Wars, set off a corresponding reaction among Roman women. There was a pseudo-feminism, which liberalized and equalized legal rights to some measure. However, by the late 1st Century A.D., men were beginning to profusely lambaste the equally lascivious vices of their women (i.e. Seneca, Juvenal). And this budding equality was nixed, well before the triumph of Christianity in the 4th Century. The effete civility of the upper classes, which held to greater gender equality, languished under a less ‘civilized’, harder male who came to dominance in the middle of the 3rd Century.

The divine ordained impetus in men to rule would eventually win out if the world does not come to an end before that time. These are psychological elemental forces of nature, so to speak, that the secular liberal minded reject as social constructions. Their ignorance is their eventual loss. However, in the meantime, gender relations will continue to worsen.

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Rachel Held Evans might see the New Testament Scriptures as beholden to the cultural and ideological mores of their time; resurrecting the historical relativism of neoliberal theology within Evangelical circles; as she pursues her egalitarian agenda above the things of God. But I am totally persuaded that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God”2, regardless of the immediate intentions and purposes of the human authors. As a student of history, I have consistently observed consistently, the fulfillment “that You [God] might be justified in Your sayings, and might overcome when You are judged”3. And whenever those, who have purported to speak for God, fail to interpret Scriptures faithfully and scrupulously abide, historical travesty always eventually shows their folly.

As stated in the prior post:

There is no evidence that Christ Himself overthrew this existing hierarchy and chain of command. Acknowledging the universal realities of raw male physical superiority, the greater drive within males to control and command, the willingness for males to set aside their passions/emotions in quest for such control and command, the divisiveness of sin and the problem of a conflict-resolution or decision-making between a marital commonwealth of two; the New Testament merely ordained the best possible structural framework and ethos to operate within this universal objective reality.

There is hierarchy in heaven. The most obvious inequality will be between Creator and creature; God and humanity. As C.S. Lewis complains in his sorrow in “A Grief Observed” (also mentioned in the movie “Shadowlands”), a relationship of power between an infinite God and human being is so overwhelming, that we become like vivisected rats. A real satisfying relationship, based on those terms, is impossible. It would be that horrid hierarchal model, whereby humanity cowers in terror before the capricious mercy of a capricious God without real say. It may be a relationship model; certainly justified on the basis of objective realities of power and virtue. However, how satisfying to either party is it?

However, an egalitarian model, based on God giving equal power and authority to His creatures to that which He holds Himself, would be a formula for disorder, chaos and great evil. It would lend to the possibility that Satan rules. Or it might lead to a narrative like the overthrow of the Titans, as recounted in Greek mythology.

Having considered all the possibilities, the wisdom of the Christian God proposes the necessity of relationship with an asymmetry of power between His creatures and He (for cosmic security as one reason); but one in which the welfare of all parties are equally balanced. The power and authority of God is wrapped in principles, faithfully upheld, so that man has nothing to fear from a capricious and inscrutable God of arbitrary rule. The opinions of His children matter (i.e. Abraham arguing over the fate of Sodom, Moses after the Golden Calf incident) and are even permitted practicable expression; even if He reserves the right to overrule. That liberality is even useful for the teaching of His children, the principles of righteousness, justice and wisdom. Although Sovereignty of God operates in the background, the relationship operates on relational terms (trust, fidelity, honour, respect, love), and not on principles of power. 

This is, more or less, the model that is proposed between husband and wife; not merely because of its echo in the spiritual realm; but because it provides the best of all possibilities with regard to the best of relationships. The male head does not merely dictate the terms of the relationship, without genuine and meaningful input from the spouse, like Hellenist patriarchy of the worse elements of Roman paterfamilias. Besides, there is far less differentiation in power between spouses than between God and creature. The overall abilities, if both spouses are allowed free rein, differ in their emphasis but amount to equality of overall value. (And if that is not is the case, the mission criticality of the contributions of each spouse, makes the relative importance of each a moot point.) It is the protagorean arrogance of gender nationalism, the thinking that the attributes of one gender are superior to the other, that leads to disdain of the Other and to inequality.

Ancient Hellenism, in diminishing and denigrating the emotive, passionate and psychological, which they attributed to women, was greatly diminished by the considerable loss of female contribution. The governance of men is crippled when dependent on intellectual rationality alone; a leading reason why the Greeks, despite all their philosophical speculations on politics, could not retain enduring, relatively peaceful and orderly societies. Similarly, a marriage without input by both parties generally produces inferior ultimate outcomes to that in which the views of both are expressed, respected and even allowed to be genuinely incorporated in final decisions and conflict resolution. The exception only occurs when one or the other party or both are complete and genuine fools or excessively selfish, malevolent etc. The problem, with this proviso, is that one or the other party erroneously thinks that the other is that fool. (And ironically, it is often the actual fool that thinks the other is that fool.)

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The greater problem in marital relationships, in relationship to marital governance, is not with regard to the relative input of both or who has final say. The more profound deficiency is the extreme individualism, that atomism, which is a hallmark of Western culture. Each spouse tends to perceive governance and decision making as a negotiation between separate self-interests. However, governance within a Christian marriage is absolutely contrary to this mindset. The married couple is a voluntary “collective” or commonwealth. It is the interests of the whole, to which both share in its benefits, which ought to be the object of concern, and which dictates the weighing of matters in any decision. God really meant that husbands and wives are to die to their individual interests (marital baptism) and become equal elements of a virtual person, that one flesh, that unity. The personality of both spouses re-emerges; but as separate faces of this unity.

There is to be a general overall vision, purpose and set of ethical principles, to which both spouses are generally agreed, and to which all decisions are made within that context. The couple will differ as to how that vision and purpose can be achieved. But this variance differs from a difference in self-interested and conflicting purposes. Whereas, the individualistic self-interest model encourages an adversarial relationship, the commonwealth model ought to place both participants on the same side. And it is possible to allow one spouse or the other to get their full desires in any given situation; because it is perceived to contribute to the best well-being of the commonwealth as a whole.

The famous Ephesians passage speaks of this perspective. Whether husband or wife ascertain the reality; what affects the one, has residual effects on the other.

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.4

And although only the husband is mentioned with regard to this unity in this passage; the deductive logic of the passage, infers that that which helps or hinders the husband, will likewise help or hurt the wife. It is not uncommon for modern women to ignore their obligations to stand by and protect the husband, even though it serves their own enlightened self-interest. Like the viral clip by Mark Driscoll that is rankling the Evangelical egalitarians and the outside world, women consider it a moral duty to publicly rip into their husbands. Sad to say, I find Western women treat their men like in their romance novels; where the whole purpose of the heroine is to subdue the wild beast of a man to solely serve the purposes of the heroine’s needs and fantasies.

I recall the story, or at least the official story, about David Frum, as speech writer for George Bush Jr. I am not a particular fan of Frum. And I am no greater fan of Bush than I am of Obama. White House rules dictate that speech writers do not acknowledge their particular contributions to the President’s speeches. David Frum kept his bargain. His wife did not, boasting of her husband’s coin of phrase; obviously hoping to reflect in his glory. It became known that the ‘axis of empire’ phrase came from Frum’s hand. And Frum soon lost status and position in Washington. And his wife would have shared in that diminishment.

Decision-making, in order to prevent battle-of-wills, war-of-attrition deadlock and acrimony, sometimes requires an executive decision to be made by one party; the males in Christian ethics. However, the acknowledged irritation by women about getting the shorter end of the stick, so to speak, can be largely neutered if both have goodwill differences of opinion as to their common interests and both appreciate that the other differences of opinions are a product of goodwill. (Having an overall constitutional purpose in the marriage for context also helps.)

In American conservative circles, this might smack of socialism. However, the fundamental flaw of socialist collectives is that they coercive. One does not choose to be part of the collective community. However, in a Christian marriage, it is a voluntary commonwealth. And if both parties are on the same page, their marriage ought to be more successful in general to marriages in which the spouses are at cross-currents.

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The wife should respect the husband and defer ultimately to his authority. But FOOL is the man who doesn’t bend over backwards to accommodate the wife’s concerns and counsel. Theoretically, a good session of bouncing back ideas and arguments between spouses ought to produce a superior solution than that, which either party proposed in the first place.

There was an experience with my two oldest sons, when they playing soccer in their early teens. In their league, there was a team from Owen Sound, who would soundly thrash every other team by scores of 10-0 etc. I used to get irritated having to travel by car for 2 hours both ways to get to Owen Sound just so my kids could revel in this humiliation. (Their team was in 2nd or 3rd place, I believe. That was how superior Owen Sound was in ability.)

My son’s team gets to the semi-finals, only in order to meet this Owen Sound team. Our sons’ team is two men short. The coach couldn’t show up. So one of the parents, with whom I did not particularly like, takes over and establishes a defensive plan; a plan that I thought was pitch perfect, considering the circumstances. However, the boys had some other ideas. And the substitute coach listened to them and incorporated some of the ideas; even though they were probably inferior in and of themselves. However, the buy-in by the teammates helped to inspire them to put up an excellent execution of the altered plan. The team kept Owen Sound to a 0-0 draw (or 1-1, I cannot remember). They got thrashed the following day in the finals. But a moral victory was achieved, which far outweighed the trophies.

The husband should make ultimate and final decisions. But the executive decision making should be kept a to minimum. If one considers what it feels like to be a subordinate in a corporate or other realm and having to put up with following the orders of what one deems, often justifiably, as folly or inferior to one’s own ideas; one should retain that psychological insight in understanding the wife’s position.

And in truth, if a wife resolutely honours the office of the husband; unless the husband is a control freak and incapable of trust, she will oftentimes get to dominate most of the decisions. He has no need to assert his authority. He only cares to be able to do so when he feels the issue is critical. And having final authority doesn’t prevent the husband from delegating whole swaths of authority to the wife. Has not God done the same?

Let the husband rule. But let the husband rule lightly; proportionate to the relative merits of each spouse. And it is for this reason that I find the rigidity of ‘marital roles’, promoted by the Danvers statement and by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) so problematic. It is neither Scriptural nor wise. As Christ spoke in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30); he/she who can be trusted, can be trusted with much. The noble woman of Proverbs 31 was such a person.

© Copyright John Hutchinson

NOTES

 

1.        Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men”, Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2010, accessed http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/308135 on May 14, 2013.

2.        2 Timothy 3:16

3.        Romans 3:4

4.        Ephesians 5:28-30

 

 

A Mediating Interpretation of Man’s Rule over Woman in Genesis 3:16 (Part 1)

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)

In an earlier blog entry regarding Genesis 3:16, I argued that the Biblical basis for Adam’s headship before the Fall, based on proof texts provided by the Danvers Statement, was scant at best. Indeed, the Edenic narrative implies that male dominion over female occurred after the Fall. And even if that Headship had existed prior to the fall; in the general unity between spouses, it would have been a moot authority.

Article 3 of the Danvers Statement states:

Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin. (Genesis 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9)

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