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Role Modeling Made Easy

01 Dec

Recently, while researching different viewpoints about women in ministry (a subject I have not abandoned, by the way), I ran across a certain preacher who was taking potshots at Wonder Woman. He was decrying her as an invention of the feminist movement, which she is. But he especially took offense at how she acts too much “like a man”. Now, admittedly, I’ve never read the comics, but I would seriously doubt that to be the case. If her costume is any indication, I’d say “butch” is not exactly what the comic creator was going for.

I was discussing this with my mom the other day, and we got to talking about role models for girls in the media. The course of conversation brought up another fictitious fighter, Xena the Warrior Princess (who also received a derogatory mention from the above preacher). She’s another example of the entertainment industry’s attempt to offer girls an alternative role model to delicate wallflowers and fainting damsels in distress such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and the like.

The secular media loves these superheroes, because when it comes to role models, it means girls no longer have to choose between being a princess and kicking tail.  In the past, in movies and stories, girls have generally been cast in the roles of: cute, boring, basically useless sidekick who gets captured and needs rescuing; delicate, lovely princess who needs rescuing (or at least has the handsome princes falling all over themselves to woo her); or — if she’s useful and has the ability to hold her own — the plain, spunky tomboy who nobody falls in love with but everyone likes to keep around anyway, because she’s just “one of the guys”. The message was fairly clear. Dainty and delicate was the way to go if you wanted to be an attractive, successful woman.

From a purely secular standpoint, Wonder Woman and Xena seem a little refreshing after that kind of stuff. This would explain why in more recent years, movie heroines have gravitated more that way. From those two already mentioned, to Fiona of Shrek and Eowen of Lord of the Rings, girls are “empowered” with the message that they can be both devastatingly beautiful and devastatingly — um, devastating.

However, there is a problem. I mean besides the fact that these are fictional characters.

Just as not all girls fit into the mold of Cinderella and Rapunzel in days gone by, not all girls today fit into the mold of Wonder Woman and Xena. It’s a redressed form of the same problem. Society tries to set up this ideal woman — and while you might count it as a win that the ideal woman now can singlehandedly rout a horde of undead ogre-monkeys (or whatever it is they do in comic books), the ideal is just as restrictive and shallow as it has ever been.

I began thinking about how one might go about addressing this problem. For starters, getting some real-life heroes might be a good idea. Getting real-life heroes who loved Jesus would be even better. I began thinking about outstanding women from history, and they come from all walks of life. Some were nuns. Some were scientists.  Some were missionaries. Some were doctors and nurses. Some were artists and writers. Some were revivalists. Some fought in battles. Some were queens. Some were stay-at-home moms. All were heroic in their own ways. All are worth admiration.

But even as I was compiling the mental list, I realized how I was making it way too complicated. By all means, I think it would be good for little girls to know about these women. But at the end of the day, it still doesn’t help anything to ask them to pick a role model, like, “Now sweetie, would you rather be like Joan of Arc, or Kathryn Kuhlman, or Susannah Wesley?” Giving them a wider selection of molds, even really good ones, does not help them fit into any given one. These women are largely famous for what they did, which may or may not match the gift mix of a little girl searching for a reference point for her life.

It then struck me how role modeling becomes really easy. Almost laughably easy, in fact. Too bad it’s not my idea… it’s Apostle Paul’s.

(Eph 5:1) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

(1Co 11:1) Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

It really is that simple. To whom do we point girls (and boys!) as their primary role model? There’s only one Man who perfectly meets that need. It may sound like the cliche Sunday School answer, but if we take it seriously, it’s the only one that truly gives kids the groundwork to grow up into exactly the sort of godly grown-ups they are supposed to be.

Part of the reason this may sound weird to us is this thing called, “the scandal of particularity”. Jesus is uniquely Himself, distinct from any other individual on the planet, and very distinct from anyone living in our modern culture. For obvious starters, He’s God — how much can our kids really aspire to be like Him? He’s a Man — can girls really relate to Him as a role model? He was a carpenter turned preacher — will boys really be drawn to that lifestyle? And certainly none of our kids are going to get any ambitions to someday die for the sins of the world.

Jesus was (and is) a real human Being, who was born in a specific social class, in a specific place, and grew up with a specific kind of education. He had a specific trade, a specific appearance, and had specific and limited life experiences. He never married or had kids. He never had to learn trigonometry. He never had to worry about impure images leaping off of the internet at Him. He didn’t even live to see the age of 35. There are scores of things about Him we could theoretically point to and say, “I can’t relate to that at all.”

(As if we can relate to Xena. But moving on.)

However, it is this very scandal of particularity that makes us actually able to connect with Jesus. He is not some mystical figure with an uncertain history prior to the start of the story. He is a real, living, breathing human being in every sense of the word. We could never relate to an abstract figure who somehow represented “a little bit of the best in all of us”. We can relate to a real Person who is actually, wholly Himself.

And because He is set apart from us in ways we will never physically emulate — i.e. bearing the sins of the world — we aren’t going to get confused about making our personal callings match up with His. There’s no, “Well, I should probably be a warrior because my hero was a warrior”, or, “I should be a nurse because my hero was a nurse,” or, “I need to have a zillion kids because my hero did”. We simply are who we are as we try to emulate Him in the ways we’re actually supposed to. Specifically, we emulate Him in how we relate to God and to other people (which, coincedentally enough, are the First and Second Great Commandments, which according to Him, sum up everything).

The best part is He’s still around to give us pointers. We don’t even have to ask ourselves the rhetorical, “What would Jesus do?” We can actually ask Him what He would do. And through the Holy Spirit, He is only too happy to coach us through life’s trials and decisions.

Now is it good for kids to have other role models? Sure. The Bible itself is replete with them. History is full of godly men and women whom it’s wonderful to be provoked by. But at the core, it’s really simple. We aspire to be like Jesus. He is our #1 hero. We win at life when we press in to be more like Him.

Women don’t need to invent a bigger, better, super-hero-ier character for little girls to idolize. Women need to point to the one Man who lived a perfect, complete, relevant life. If the coming generation grows up saying, “I want to be like Him,” we are going to find ourselves among the most dynamic, truly liberated crew of women who ever walked the earth.

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21 Comments

Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Knowledge of God

 

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21 responses to “Role Modeling Made Easy

  1. Tim Visher

    December 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    That is an interesting thought…

    > Specifically, we emulate Him in how we relate to God and to other people
    > (which, coincedentally enough, are the First and Second Great Commandments,
    > which according to Him, sum up everything).

    I think this might be a misunderstanding of how we are supposed to emulate Christ. For instance, in [Ephesians 5.22-25](http://ref.ly/Ep5.22-33) we read that women are to submit to their husbands in everything as the Church submits to Christ in everything. For husbands, we read that their are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, giving themselves up for her to sanctify her, cleanse her, and present her to God without blemish, that she would be holy. We should even leave our father and mother and cleave to them, just as Christ did, coming to earth to win his Bride. None of the later advice is given to the wife. And I think it would confuse the categories to say that as Christians we’re all supposed to obey the commandments to both the wives and the husbands. This doesn’t directly deal with how a woman _alone_ should relate to Christ, or how a man _alone_ should relate to Christ, but it does point out that there are differences. It’s not just, “everyone be like Jesus!” It’s “Men, be like Jesus in this way! Women, be like Jesus in this way!” if that at all. It may even be, “Men, be like Jesus! Women, be like the great women of faith!”…

    I wonder how you’d respond to [1 Peter 3.1-6](http://ref.ly/1P3.1-6) which seems to point women of the faith to _women_ of the faith as their primary example (in this case, explicitly Sarah) instead of to Jesus. I think there’s more complexity here than is readily acknowledged. There’s a complexity to our identity as Christians and our identity as Male/Female beings that would probably be useful to discuss. For instance, in every place where marriage is discussed, different instructions are given to husbands (to be like Christ) and to wives (to be like the Church). But the Church includes both men and women, and so in some way men and women are to both strive to be like Christ, but not in the same way, because then marriage would be an imperfect picture of Christ and the Church. Also, men are told to behave differently in the Church in general (not just as husbands) than women are told to act. Even if you write the ‘women should be silent in church’ injunction as cultural, it still in general points to a principal that men and women are expected to be different in the Church.

    [This post](http://bit.ly/cbmwMutualSubmission) over at the CBMW blog might be interesting to you on this topic as well.

     
    • Amanda Beattie

      December 1, 2009 at 7:04 pm

      I do have some thoughts about this…

      Eph 5:22-25 specifically addresses the relationship between a husband and a wife (to each other… lol). This is why I didn’t bring it up at all in my post, because I was speaking mostly about young girls who obviously aren’t married yet — if they ever will be. I have reservations about applying this passage to all men and all women in all contexts, simply because Paul doesn’t do that. In this specific kind of relationship (which is of course relevant to a whole bunch of people), surely wives should not try to assume the role of the husband. Now I’m sure we could debate a bit about what specifically that looks like, but I don’t want to use this comment thread for that — because that actually has nothing to do with what the post is about. 🙂 Again, my post is specifically addressing young girls who are struggling with questions of, “What kind of person ought I to be?” and the simplest, overarching answer is, “Imitate Christ.”

      You said that your point doesn’t affect how a woman _alone_ should relate to Christ — but that is actually what I was referring to in my post. I am incapable of relating to Christ as a broad class of womanhood, because I am not a broad class of womanhood — I am a woman. The same thing goes for a little girl who is still figuring out who she is in the Lord.

      I would respond to 1 Peter 3 by saying two simple things: 1) This is also explicitly directed to married women. Women without husbands have no way to emulate Sarah in this specific way. 2) Taking Sarah as a role model in no way precludes having Jesus as your first and foremost role model.

      I agree that the Bible gives specific instructions to husbands and wives, and that those instructions are different. I agree that men and women have fundamental, God-given differences. But I would contend that there are enormous numbers of commandments, blessings, instructions, and expectations in the Bible that apply without distinction to men and women alike. In my opinion, Christlike character is clearly one of those universal principles.

      I want to stress again that being like Christ, as I view it, and as I wrote about it, has nothing to do with personality, occupation, or gift mix — not any more than it has to do with dying on crosses, absolving sins by our own blood, or letting people worship us as God. This is where the whole “scandal of particularity” thing comes in. Jesus is a Man, He walked the earth in first-century Israel, spoke Aramaic, and never sinned even once. All of those things are markedly different than myself. But those differences are actually what enables me to connect with Him as a Person, not just a heroic literary figure. It helps me to walk out life in a manner “worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10), rather than simply going, “He did XYZ (i.e., had 12 disciples, taught multitudes, worked as a carpenter), so I will do XYZ too”. It lets me learn and grow up into His love and character, not His personality, specific lifestyle, or calling in the Lord. None of us are called to replicate His earthly walk, blow-by-blow. All of us are called to become like Him (2Corinthians 3:18 says that directly, and it is consummated at the 2nd Coming as seen in 1John 3:2).

      I have to admit that I’m not totally following why you brought in the “women should be silent” passage here. I’m not willing to go into it in this context, but for sure I will post on it in the future. 🙂 For now, I can leave you with these points that I hope will reassure you a little bit: 1) I absolutely agree with Paul. 2) I do not dismiss this as a cultural injunction. 3) I believe the text itself clearly lays out what Paul is saying and it is every bit as relevant today as it ever was.

       
      • Tim Visher

        December 2, 2009 at 9:13 am

        > Eph 5:22-25 specifically addresses the relationship between a husband and a
        > wife (to each other… lol). This is why I didn’t bring it up at all in my post,
        > because I was speaking mostly about young girls who obviously aren’t married
        > yet — if they ever will be. Again, my post is specifically addressing young
        > girls who are struggling with questions of, “What kind of person ought I to
        > be?” and the simplest, overarching answer is, “Imitate Christ.”
        >
        > You said that your point doesn’t affect how a woman _alone_ should relate to
        > Christ — but that is actually what I was referring to in my post. I am
        > incapable of relating to Christ as a broad class of womanhood, because I am
        > not a broad class of womanhood — I am a woman. The same thing goes for a
        > little girl who is still figuring out who she is in the Lord.

        I totally see your points. What I was trying to say in my comments when I said that it doesn’t speak directly to how single men and women should relate to Christ as their example was simply that there are differences. I guess I read in your post more of a leaning towards not having distinctions in how we imitate Christ and that’s what I’m getting at. I think that the NT’s injunctions for married people outline a general distinction between the genders and how they relate to God. Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 don’t do this directly as they are specifically about married couples, but I think something like Paul’s commands about speaking in church and wearing head coverings and such are more general and also underline the different roles and examples we may have, or how we are to imitate Christ.

        > I would respond to 1 Peter 3 by saying two simple things: 1) This is also
        > explicitly directed to married women. Women without husbands have no way to
        > emulate Sarah in this specific way. 2) Taking Sarah as a role model in no way
        > precludes having Jesus as your first and foremost role model.

        /me blushes. 🙂

        Totally forgot that 1 Peter was referring to wives as well. I was searching for something that dealt with women in the Church, not just wives, and I didn’t read the whole thing because I thought I remember the reference. My bad. :\

        Perhaps prior to marriage both men and women are supposed to obey their parents as Lord? Drawing that from Ephesians 6.1-4.

        I’d like to make clear here that I don’t believe that ‘authority’ is absolute. I was just discussing with my wife on the way into work that authority is only to be followed when it’s “in the Lord.” If our parents, or our husbands, or our Elders, or government, or whatever is ordering us to do something that is against God’s will then we shouldn’t do it. However, when a command comes from our authority, we should at the very least take it far more seriously than we would a suggestion from a peer.

        > I want to stress again that being like Christ, as I view it, and as I wrote
        > about it, has nothing to do with personality, occupation, or gift mix… None
        > of us are called to replicate His earthly walk, blow-by-blow. All of us are
        > called to become like Him (2Corinthians 3:18 says that directly, and it is
        > consummated at the 2nd Coming as seen in 1John 3:2).

        I guess I don’t totally agree with you on this point. I think that our imitation of Christ _does_ have something to do with personality, occupation, and gift mix. Obviously, we’re all created uniquely and I don’t want to say that every man should be black and wear a robe with no seam and talk in Aramaic. But the Bible definitely connects the calling of a man with the salvific calling of Jesus and the calling of a woman with the submissive calling of Jesus (and the Church). Again, pulling from Ephesians 5 here (which we’ve both acknowledged is not directly related, but I believe it’s tangential), husbands are pointed towards specific aspects of Jesus’s life and ministry and not towards others while wives are pointed elsewhere. Is it the sort of thing where before we’re married we all imitate the more general aspects of Christ’s obedience to the father but once we’re married our calling becomes more narrow?

        > I have to admit that I’m not totally following why you brought in the “women
        > should be silent” passage here. I’m not willing to go into it in this context,
        > but for sure I will post on it in the future. For now, I can leave you with
        > these points that I hope will reassure you a little bit: 1) I absolutely agree
        > with Paul. 2) I do not dismiss this as a cultural injunction. 3) I believe the
        > text itself clearly lays out what Paul is saying and it is every bit as
        > relevant today as it ever was.

        I have the highest respect for your view of the Bible, Amanda, and I didn’t mean to imply that you would take it that way. The you in that statement was meant to be the generic ‘you’ including me. I have no problem with women speaking in Church although I don’t know what to do about that text. I just think there’s plenty of evidence elsewhere that women did speak in church, at the very least in terms of prayer and prophecy, etc. But what to do about that text… I’ll eagerly await your post about it.

        The only reason I brought it in is because it was a passage that I thought was referring to women of faith in general, instead of just wives. However, reading that passage again it also is referring specifically to wives as it says that if they desire to learn, they should ask their _husbands_ at home.

        Is there anywhere in the NT that speaks of unmarried women in the Church with actual commands? Obviously Anna was a widow and Mary hadn’t been married and I think there were some unmarried women in Acts that Paul dealt with, but in regards to actual commands I can’t think of anything except the passages above and all of them are to married people…

        I’ll have to search this out a little.

         
  2. Michael Ledlow

    December 1, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Tim,

    My sister, who just received her sixth chemo treatment for breast cancer, came to KC this past weekend for the IHOPU Student Awakening. She came for healing prayer for her disease.

    At this stage of chemo, she should be extremely weak, unable to digest food, lethargic and cloudy minded. On her way out here, she had to be pushed through the airport in a wheelchair, that is how weak she was.

    However, she received prayer this past weekend, at the IHOPU SA meetings and all of her chemo symptoms disappeared! She ate all of my Thanksgiving leftovers without nausea. She has regained all of her energy. Just this morning, she sent me a text telling me she just ran up and down her townhouse stairs several times without getting tired. This is unheard of in chemotherapy land.

    But, more importantly, her heart and emotions were healed. She threw away her “cancer sucks” wrist band and replaced it with a “life” wrist band. And she threw away her pink “cancer babe” t-shirt. She no longer deals with her disease with anger, but is leaning on Jesus and calling upon the Holy Spirit constantly to continue healing her. Her relationship with Christ has been revitalized. She had lost all faith due to this disease and mistreatment by a controlling pastor in the past. But, that has all changed. She’s living for Christ again!

    How does this apply to this topic? The people who prayed for my sister were young women of differing ages between 19 and 30. They were not quiet. They were LOUD, when they prayed in church. And I think I saw a few of them wearing gold jewelry….

    I think the point that Peter was making in the passage you mentioned was that women not live in fear, but in the love of Christ. By submitting to their husbands, are they not role modelling Jesus, as He submitted to the Father? I don’t think it’s about being quiet or wearing jewelry. It’s about the heart and motivations.

    If I misunderstand your point, Tim, I apologize. Feel free to help me understand where you are coming from if I’m getting it wrong.

    In love,
    Michael

     
    • Amanda Beattie

      December 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

      I was there for your sister’s testimony! So powerful! Praise the Lord for His creative power.

       
    • Dorean Beattie

      December 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

      I saw your sister’s testimony on the webstreaming, and oh boy did I cry! It was beautiful! I’m glad to hear more about it.

       
  3. Tim Visher

    December 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Hi Michael,

    First off, praise God that he has healed your sister. I pray that it would be a total healing and a testimony to his reality.

    The point I’m making is less about the specifics of the passages (being quiet in church, letting your adorning be holiness, not jewelery, etc.) and more about the _difference_ between men and women in those passages. I’m not making an appeal to a change of behavior, but specifically trying to work out why the Bible seems to treat men and women differently and whether or not saying every persons role model is Jesus in the same way, regardless of their Gender.

    This partly goes back to some of Amanda’s previous posts about Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism. I’m responding out of that framework.

    Nowhere in scripture does it say that women cannot be active, vocal, loud prayer warriors or worshipers. Miriam, for instance. But I think we loose a picture that is very precious to God’s heart when we remove or downplay the distinctions between male and female.

    Does that make more sense?

     
  4. Michael Ledlow

    December 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Tim, thanks for the clarification. That does make more sense. I’m tracking with you, now. I wasn’t seeing the whole picture since I only read this one blog post.

    **Mike brushes the chip of of his shoulder and humbly asks forgiveness**

     
  5. brianbeattie

    December 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I think protests of differences to which Tim alludes have been misapplied and regretably used within the Church to squish women by some men who claim to be “well-meaning” and “faithful to scripture”, but who in actual fact are cowards, bullies, self-promoting tyrants. [I am not judging Tim, here, but we know which sort of men to whom I referring).

    Are women excused from the first commandment? The second? How about the great commission? Baptism? Miracles? Does Romans 10:9-10 apply to women and men equally? How about the ministry of the Holy Spirit from John 16? Do women sin, seek forgiveness and salvation from the same Jesus that men do? Do they love much if they are forgiven much? How about women in Revelation 19-22?

    Let’s agree that people are different from each other, with gifts, talents, abilities, and callings appointed by the Sovereign God who created them. Two women are different from each other in this way, as are two men, and certainly any man and any woman.

    If a man, who is born in sin, can be counselled to be an imitator of Christ – God incarnate and sinless, I would say that the leap across the sin divide is far greater, and fundementally no different than a woman facing the same problem and challenge.

    I do not suffer men to speak in church that think of women as unqualified for ministry solely because of their gender – such a man is too disconected from the heart and sovereign will of God to be trusted.

    — Brian whose chip-on-the-shoulder is somewhat more persistent, and is somewhat more resolutely inclined to stand up for the sisters.

     
    • Tim Visher

      December 1, 2009 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Brian,

      > I think protests of differences to which Tim alludes have been misapplied and
      > regretably used within the Church to squish women by some men who claim to be
      > “well-meaning” and “faithful to scripture”, but who in actual fact are
      > cowards, bullies, self-promoting tyrants. [I am not judging Tim, here, but we
      > know which sort of men to whom I referring).

      I certainly hope that I don’t fit that mold. I love women very much and I want them to walk in the fullness of what God has for them. I love men too and I want the same for them. Unfortunately, the question _is_ one of faithfulness to Scripture and to God’s design. I absolutely agree that this doctrine has been twisted and abused by awful men throughout history, but my response is the same that I did many months ago on one of Amanda’s first posts about this that that is like being embarrassed about being pro-choice because there are people out there who think we should bomb abortion clinics. The very narrow position of believing in the sanctity of life is separate from the people who claim to hold it.

      > Are women excused from the first commandment? The second? How about the great
      > commission? Baptism? Miracles? Does Romans 10:9-10 apply to women and men
      > equally? How about the ministry of the Holy Spirit from John 16? Do women sin,
      > seek forgiveness and salvation from the same Jesus that men do? Do they love
      > much if they are forgiven much? How about women in Revelation 19-22?

      I’m not sure exactly where all this is coming from. I in no way am trying to imply that the process of salvation is different for men and women. Nor do I wish to exclude them from the Sea of Glass or the New Jerusalem or from the ministrations of the Holy Spirit or anything else that you listed. If I said that somehow could you point it out specifically. I’m very sorry if I did. God certainly does not say any of that in any scripture that I’ve read.

      > Let’s agree that people are different from each other, with gifts, talents,
      > abilities, and callings appointed by the Sovereign God who created them. Two
      > women are different from each other in this way, as are two men, and certainly
      > any man and any woman.
      >
      > If a man, who is born in sin, can be counselled to be an imitator of Christ –
      > God incarnate and sinless, I would say that the leap across the sin divide is
      > far greater, and fundementally no different than a woman facing the same
      > problem and challenge.

      Again, that seems to be coming from a fundamentally egalitarian point of view where we are essentially humans before God, not male and female before God. You’re not quite saying that and I don’t want to read too much into what you’re saying but the issue is whether or not God designed distinct but complimentary roles for each Gender (yes, with variations in there) or whether or not the role that we play in this life is fundamentally about personality.

      It’s interesting that you bring the call of the Christian to be like Christ into it because I think there’s an interesting dilemma there. I’ve been having a long ranging discussion with my sister and her husband over my personality that has been very instructive. Simply put, I annoy a lot of people and people generally don’t feel loved by me. I can’t understand that, because I really do care and love people, but I come off as if I’m attacking them. We’re trying to figure out why this is so that I can _change_.

      There’s the dilemma. I just heard an interview with a guy who sounded like my twin and yet he wasn’t a Christian. His response to his personality was to just accept it as it is and find a way to make it work to his advantage. My response is that I’m not living up to the calling the Christ placed on me. If I can say that, then a man who is naturally not inclined to go out and work but would rather stay at home with his kids should be able to say the same thing. As Christians, fundamentally we believe that there is something wrong with us (caused by the fall) that we can correct through the Holy Spirit (sanctification). This _could_ mean that if God created distinct roles for men and women, that people who naturally fall outside of those roles should make an effort to get there through sanctification. Of course, if we can’t agree that God created distinct roles then the whole though process is shot.

      Again, I want to be clear that I do not see women as second class citizens who get to watch as men experience the higher sensations of the Christian life. What I’m saying is that when I read scripture, I see God treating men and women distinctly, having created them for a distinct purpose.

      As an aside, I believe I may have overstated myself too strongly. I did it as an effort to elicit some Biblical evidences for women directly imitating Christ and for an explanation of the passages which point men to Christ and then point women to women. To be clear, I don’t have all this stuff down, but I am certainly leaning strongly towards Complementarianism because I believe it deals more faithfully with the texts. Women must imitate Christ in some way, it’s just not clear to me if it’s in the same way that Men should. I’m just feeling around, so don’t get quite so riled up yet.

      > I do not suffer men to speak in church that think of women as unqualified for
      > ministry solely because of their gender – such a man is too disconected from
      > the heart and sovereign will of God to be trusted.

      I wonder how you deal with Paul then. I get that he was in a different culture, although I think that the better Complementarians correctly identify the fact that appeals to creation, not culture, to establish his points on male/female roles, but despite that he has some very strong things to say about men and women. He says that if a man does not provide for his own household his worse than an unbeliever. He says that he does not suffer a woman to speak in the congregation. He is the primary source for most of the historical doctrines of marriage which hold to distinct roles for men and women. When he shows up to preach in your church, do you want to turn him off? Regardless of whether or not he was in a different culture, he makes categorical statements about the expectations he places on the leadership he raises up and about the Christians he had sway over.

      What are your thoughts on that?

      > – Brian whose chip-on-the-shoulder is somewhat more persistent, and is
      > somewhat more resolutely inclined to stand up for the sisters.

      I do hope that we can discuss this without the chip on your shoulder. Anger doesn’t produce the righteousness God requires and if you’re position is correct I hope and pray that God would be gracious enough to enlighten my eyes to see it. Please understand that as someone who is not trying to subjugate women and is hopefully not a cowardly bully, I’m also trying to defend the sisters.

       
      • Amanda Beattie

        December 1, 2009 at 7:28 pm

        Tim, if I may interject with three quick responses to points you brought up…

        1) You said, “Again, that seems to be coming from a fundamentally egalitarian point of view where we are essentially humans before God, not male and female before God.”

        I am a little confused by this, because… well, we are essentially all human before God. We are also male and female before Him, but male and female are subsets of the humanity that does encompass us all and does bring with it specific, broad obligations regarding how we honor Him and one another, apart from gender.

        2) You said, “I did it as an effort to elicit some Biblical evidences for women directly imitating Christ and for an explanation of the passages which point men to Christ and then point women to women.”

        When Paul instructs the church to be imitators of God, and to imitate him as he imitates Christ, he is writing to the whole assembly. The whole letter, unless where more specifically indicated, applies to men and women alike. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we all are being changed to the same image. Again, obviously that is not speaking of the obliteration of gender differences, but I think it does indicate that imitating Christ is not actually about one’s gender role.

        3) You said, “I wonder how you deal with Paul then. I get that he was in a different culture…”

        Just wanted to point out that so far, nobody has appealed to Paul’s culture as a reason to dismiss his teachings on women. In fact, nobody has advocated dismissing his teachings on women. It seems like you have done a lot of research on this topic, and so are anticipating some common arguments, but it would probably help the comments to stay on topic if we all try not to answer arguments the other person hasn’t made yet (or may indeed make at all). 🙂

         
      • Tim Visher

        December 2, 2009 at 9:31 am

        > 1) You said, “Again, that seems to be coming from a fundamentally egalitarian
        > point of view where we are essentially humans before God, not male and female
        > before God.”
        >
        > I am a little confused by this, because… well, we are essentially all human
        > before God. We are also male and female before Him, but male and female are
        > subsets of the humanity that does encompass us all and does bring with it
        > specific, broad obligations regarding how we honor Him and one another, apart
        > from gender.

        Totally agree with you. Sorry, I wasn’t all that clear. What I mean to say is that I see humanity something like a lowest common denominator of calling whereas our gender _alone_ brings us further into specificity, then whether or not we’re married brings us further, etc. That’s what I didn’t hear in your post but I think I’m hearing it now. You keep saying that there are distinctions between genders but you think there are more similarities then I’m letting on probably because I’m poorly expressing myself. Again, the statement that men should be like Christ and women should be like women of the faith was an overstatement and a poor one at that. I guess I’m just appealing to make clear that not only should we all be like Christ, but that women and men should imitate him differently as well.

        > 2) You said, “I did it as an effort to elicit some Biblical evidences for
        > women directly imitating Christ and for an explanation of the passages which
        > point men to Christ and then point women to women.”
        >
        > When Paul instructs the church to be imitators of God, and to imitate him as
        > he imitates Christ, he is writing to the whole assembly. The whole letter,
        > unless where more specifically indicated, applies to men and women alike. 2
        > Corinthians 3:18 says that we all are being changed to the same image. Again,
        > obviously that is not speaking of the obliteration of gender differences, but
        > I think it does indicate that imitating Christ is not actually about one’s
        > gender role.

        I wonder how that statement doesn’t obliterate gender differences. It specifically seems to be saying that every man and woman is being changed into the same image. This is off the cuff but perhaps that passage is not being understood correctly. Paul obviously sees differences between genders and at least for married couples he instructs them to imitate different things. How would he then say we’re all being transformed into the exact same image. Perhaps this is a lowest common denominator thing as well?

        > 3) You said, “I wonder how you deal with Paul then. I get that he was in a
        > different culture…”
        >
        > Just wanted to point out that so far, nobody has appealed to Paul’s culture as
        > a reason to dismiss his teachings on women. In fact, nobody has advocated
        > dismissing his teachings on women. It seems like you have done a lot of
        > research on this topic, and so are anticipating some common arguments, but it
        > would probably help the comments to stay on topic if we all try not to answer
        > arguments the other person hasn’t made yet (or may indeed make at all).

        Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve been burned enough times by that response that it’s second nature to bring it up. I’ll try to make sure I’m responding only to what’s been said from now on.

         
  6. Dorean Beattie

    December 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    To say that scripture says,“Men, be like Jesus! Women, be like the great women of faith!”, is to say that there is some part of Jesus that women should not emulate. I’m curious what part of his character you would have women discard? And why would God have women discard that part and replace it with characteristics of fallen humans? It is much more supportable that God wants all His children to strive toward excellence, which is only found in Christ.

     
    • Tim Visher

      December 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

      It’s possible that Men are primarily supposed to be like Christ as he fulfilled his Savior role, and women are supposed to be primarily like Christ as he fulfilled his submission to the Father role. That’s just a thought.

      Again, I think that I agree with you totally, but then I would qualify and say that the excellence that women are supposed to achieve is different than the excellence men are supposed to achieve, and not greater or lesser.

      However, that being said I would not be willing to say that there are ‘parts of Jesus that men should emulate and others that they should ignore, and vice versa for women.’ At least not yet. I don’t have it worked out enough to say that all the way.

      I hear your point.

       
      • Amanda Beattie

        December 1, 2009 at 7:37 pm

        Just a couple of points on your first paragraph:

        1) Men are incapable of saving anyone. Men and women are in the same boat of sin and futility, and only the Son of God can serve any of us as a Savior. I’m guessing I’m misunderstanding your meaning here — please feel free to clarify.

        2) Men have lots of contexts where they need to submit (to bosses, government, pastors, etc.), and women have lots of contexts where they need to lead (mothering, Bible studies, work, etc.). I would say that both genders equally need to learn from Christ’s submission and His leadership. Again, I want to stress that I am not challenging Paul’s words on marriage. But men and women as individuals are not unilateral leaders or submitters. Everyone has to do at least a little bit of both in a bunch of various contexts.

        And a quick note on your last paragraph — I appreciate your clarifying this, because it was coming across a little confusing in your comments. Thank you for being open to dialogue and for clearing up what you’re saying.

         
      • Tim Visher

        December 2, 2009 at 9:39 am

        > 1) Men are incapable of saving anyone. Men and women are in the same boat of
        > sin and futility, and only the Son of God can serve any of us as a Savior. I’m
        > guessing I’m misunderstanding your meaning here — please feel free to clarify.

        Totally didn’t mean to imply that men ‘save’ their wives. I was primarily calling back to Ephesians 5 where after Paul describes what Christ did for the Church, laying his life down for her to accomplish certain things, he says ‘In this _same_ way, husbands love your wives.’ Again, like your point elsewhere, this does not mean blow-by-blow mirroring, but purpose and calling on a different scale mirroring.

        Does that make any more sense?

        > 2) Men have lots of contexts where they need to submit (to bosses, government,
        > pastors, etc.), and women have lots of contexts where they need to lead
        > (mothering, Bible studies, work, etc.). I would say that both genders equally
        > need to learn from Christ’s submission and His leadership. Again, I want to
        > stress that I am not challenging Paul’s words on marriage. But men and women
        > as individuals are not unilateral leaders or submitters. Everyone has to do at
        > least a little bit of both in a bunch of various contexts.

        Absolutely. Men are the Bride of Christ, Women are the sons of God. Again, harking back to my very first comment, there’s a complexity in that we are both Christians and Humans, Husbands (at least I am) and Wives, male and female. I think the idea is one of degrees of specificity where our identity

         
  7. brianbeattie

    December 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Since Tim mentioned Eph 5:22, I would also call attention to one verse earlier, Eph 5:21, wherein we are genderlessly, rolelessly enjoined to “submit to one another in Fear of God” KJV. Same activity, no gender or role qualification.

    I would also appeal to I Cor 12:4-31. I ask you, to which part of that are all men uniquely qualified and women, married or not, excluded because of their gender?

    — Brian, indignantly.

     
    • Tim Visher

      December 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm

      I am sorry this seems to be making you so upset. Please be patient with me and I’ll do the same with you. I think we’re both pursuing truth and God will be faithful to work it out.

      Did you happen to read the link that I posted above regarding that verse? That does a very good job of explaining the basics of how I think about that verse. Do you think there are any glaring errors in their explanation?

      http://bit.ly/cbmwMutualSubmission

      To be clear, again, women are completely qualified to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In no way do I wish to portray God as having certain gifts for certain genders only. Instead, I am referring to offices and roles in the Church that were designed to display the glory of God. Women may even be gifted by the Holy Spirit for teaching. If they are, the same God that gifted them in that way said that they should not be in authority over men. Does that mean that men should never hear the teaching of women? Certainly not. But it means that they should not hold office over a man. Again, this is by God’s design (if I’m interpreting the scripture correctly) and so we should embrace it, as he understands our makeup far better than we do.

      I hope that assuages some of your frustration.

      Humbly yours,

      Tim

       
      • brianbeattie

        December 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

        @Tim: Of course there is a glaring error in the explanation offered in the link you post. In Eph 5:21 Paul is talking about how members of the body relate to each other, not specifically about husbands and wives – Unless you want to suggest that every relationship in the body is tantamount to marriage, it is a glaring logic error. A man and a woman in marriage relate to each other in a special way – becoming one flesh – that totally changes everything.

        BUT: that is no excuse to diminish the spiritual significance of a married woman. Men do not become more in marriage at the expense of women who become less! A woman does not recieve a second mediator when she gets married (1 Tim 2:5) – she belongs first to Jesus, then to her husband. She is “in Christ”, not “in her husband”. She is still a joint-heir with Christ, a king and a priest (1 Peter 2:9).

        You can observe that people are generally different from each other both physically and in terms of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit that works through believers. Earlier you allowed that ministrations of the Holy Spirit are not denied to women, and wondered why I even brought it up – the answer is that real ministry is the power of God working through a believer – gender neutrality in my previous sentence is intentional. Who does God use? When does He use them? At what point does God ever say, “well, I wanted someone to fulfill my plan in this situation, but she seems to be a married woman and her husband is off watching football, so never mind”?

        I am very suspicious of the “office” arguments – I don’t find it generally in scripture apart from official jobs in a specific church organization; today it seems to me mostly an intellectual convention to try to describe some instance of God engaging in a long-term (to us) consistent empowerment of someone to accomplish God’s purpose in that life for that time. The problem I have with it is that people love their titles and love to misuse evidence of blessing to gain other benefits. I have seen people aspire to the “office” of prophet or apostle, as though it is some sort of political activity – they hope to gain the right to speak whatever they will and have it automatically sanctioned without question because of their “office”. They want to say “Listen to me because God is more potent in me than in you.” They conveniently forget Mark 10:42-45. If your church has a staff position of “prophet”, and you’re it, fine, but how many folks in the church claim the office of prophet just ’cause they like the title?

        Complementarians seem to love the idea that a man in the “office” of husband is automatically the most worthy opinion, and can direct his wife with God’s approval, when the truth is that a godly husband serves his wife sacrifically. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

        Here is the RED FLAG word: you said, “it means that they should not hold office over a man”. The purpose of an office is to rule? NO NO NO NO NO – it is to serve! Look at that waitress serving your table at Chili’s – do you object that she is in the office of food deliverer over you?

        I am passionate about this because immature men use this scripture to bully women. The sermon unfailingly ends up “therefore, women should not talk back to men, and should never even try to minister to a man over the age of 13, are not qualified to preach, or lead a sunday school class that includes men, and certainly are unqualified to challenge this teaching from the pulpit! When women pray, they need their husband to be their priest, and need the covering of their husband before God, or else they’re some sort of Jezabel!” It is profoundly unjust, self-serving, ignorant, irrational, and downright mean. I believe it totally misses God’s heart, and abuses the pinnacle of His creation.

        I’m telling you, if we men would get it through our collectively thick skulls that real godliness is not in who respects us, but who we can make ourselves nothing to serve, the doctrine that men and women are spiritually different would be a lot less popular with us. When I see men of the church wandering around with their own eyes plucked out, I’ll know we’ve finally gotten the real message…

         
  8. Amanda Beattie

    December 1, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Wow! I had no idea this would be a post that would generate so many comments! Maybe it would help if I clarified a couple of my points from the post.

    1) I am not saying that it is wrong to, as a woman, have female role models. I’m not even saying there’s no benefit to that. I actually mentioned that towards the end of my blog. It is good and beneficial, and I think there is great wealth to be gleaned from the older women teaching the younger.

    2) I am most certainly not advocating a blurring of gender lines. I am not saying “women are just like men so they can emulate Jesus in a manly way” — although I admit I’m not entirely sure what that would even look like.

    3) Paul told the general assembly of the church to be imitators of God, and to imitate him as he imitated Christ. If Paul told that to everybody, regardless of gender, it seems to me like a safe starting ground for everybody, regardless of gender.

    4) My main point is that the primary thing girls — as well as boys — need to glean from a role model is the character and godliness of a person. Obviously it’s not going to get any better than the Son of God Himself. What we do for a living, and how we conduct ourselves in relation to our personality and gender, are secondary manifestations of a heart that is right with God. If you get the godliness (Christ-like-ness) part down, the rest will come as an irresistible result.

    Tim, I have a few responses to your posts above, but I will do that via an embedded reply. 🙂

     
  9. Dennis Collet

    December 28, 2009 at 3:20 am

    I see no other way to enter this dialog without just jumping in with two feet, so here I come..
    As one born again by the sacrifice on a cruel Cross, of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour, I am sometimes saddened by what might easily be construed as comflicts between believers, (a very dangerous pastime if these writings should be seen by someone struggling with the truth and only finding division). I would ask a kind eye of the heart to the following apologetic. There is one thing that runs continuous through this text, and that is a common belief in Christ Jesus. After this there often seems to be a tetch of legalism, mixed with interpetive attempts to understand some if not all the biblical writings of the apostles, and more directly with people like Paul and Peter. I have nothing negetive to say about the views of these direct Apostles, but I do have a suggestion that might smooth most of the waters that want to toss us in one direction or another.
    I would like us to try a little experiment in open hearted belief by, (just for a short time) eliminating every biblical follower of Christ,and to listen only to the heart and words of Christ Himself. The Sciptures are a long document, and the New Testament has so many examples of the early Church heading in a hundred different directions,(whats so odd about that, it was a “New” Church, embodied in one man, the man Christ Jesus).
    After much study it has come so clear to me that the only opinion that we really need to hear, is the one our Lord and Saviour gives us from his own lips. I can’t find “anywhere” in the Scriptures where, no matter the question, Jesus doesn’t have not only an answer, but the exact answer. What has come from the mouth of the King of Heaven and Earth, needs not to make any excuses for the somesometimes “opaque” views of those early followers who often admit that they really aren’t quite sure of the way to handle things. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,” “Look full in His Wonderful Face”, And the things of earth shall grow strangely dim”, “In the light of His Glory and Grace”. THANK YOU JESUS

     

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