Archive for September, 2011

Remembering 9/11. I Think Little More Needs To Be Said, Really

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

From Methodist pastor and theologian Will Willimon, in Christianity Today’s current issue marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:

“On 9/11 I thought, For the most powerful, militarized nation in the world also to think of itself as an innocent victim is deadly. It was a rare prophetic moment for me, considering Presidents Bush and Obama have spent billions asking the military to rectify the crime of a small band of lawless individuals, destroying a couple of nations who had little to do with it, in the costliest, longest series of wars in the history of the United States.

The silence of most Christians and the giddy enthusiasm of a few, as well as the ubiquity of flags and patriotic extravaganzas in allegedly evangelical churches, says to me that American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat. It was shattering to admit that we had lost the theological means to distinguish between the United States and the kingdom of God. The criminals who perpetrated 9/11 and the flag-waving boosters of our almost exclusively martial response were of one mind: that the nonviolent way of Jesus is stupid. All of us preachers share the shame; when our people felt very vulnerable, they reached for the flag, not the Cross.

September 11 has changed me. I’m going to preach as never before about Christ crucified as the answer to the question of what’s wrong with the world. I have also resolved to relentlessly reiterate from the pulpit that the worst day in history was not a Tuesday in New York, but a Friday in Jerusalem when a consortium of clergy and politicians colluded to run the world on our own terms by crucifying God’s own Son.”

It’s the truth of his words that makes me weep more than the anniversary we mark Sunday.

Prayer For N.J.

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Please, all of you out there who trust in the Lord, spend just a moment asking for peace and comfort for my friend N.J., whose son had been lost in the Alaskan wilderness since Saturday and whose body was found a couple of hours ago by searchers finally able to reach the area by helicopter after a severe storm earlier in the week. I have two sons, and so does she; I cannot imagine, not even a little bit, the horror she must be feeling. My heart breaks for her, and I pray the Holy Spirit would flood her heart with hope, peace, comfort, rest, and love.

It’s a terrible thing. And yet God is bigger still . . .

Our Anniversary

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I got a little tied up last week by the kind of crises that those of you out there who are landlords understand as some of the best reasons in the world to question the sanity of investing in real estate rentals.

Honestly, there’s got to be a better way. Maybe I should invest in Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, who appear to live in the relative harmony not demonstrated last week in our little four-plex community. Goodness.

Anyway, I plan to comment further on Mark Driscoll, as well as to weigh in on last night’s GOP Presidential debate, but for today, let me just publicly thank God that I’ve been married to my best friend, lover, and companion for 27 years today. On a hot September afternoon in Tucson, where, I had forgotten, outdoor weddings really ought not happen until at least the end of October, Jeff and I exchanged our vows in front of a hundred or so friends and family — me in a most un-Bridezilla-like simple white dress and veil, him in a stifling but handsome navy blue suit, and the people around us joyful even in the 90 degree heat. It was magical, and only one person passed out from the swelter — his grandmother.

Thankfully, she was a hearty and forgiving woman.

Anyway, a lot of people, some even at the wedding after the beer and champagne flowed, said we wouldn’t make it. We were too different, our families were too different, our histories were too different, and besides — he’s such a NICE person! It’s distressing to think that people partaking of my parents’ hospitality should be so uncouth while doing so, but I knew, and Jeff knew, that our Savior had brought us together. Forever. Period. Besides, Jeff thought then and thinks now that I’m a pretty nice person, too; I’ve never wavered in agreeing with the rabble that he is, in fact, an uncommonly decent person. And it’s by the grace of God that we would come to see that about each other through the mail.

Yep. Through the mail. Jeff is a mail-order husband.

In March 1983, I had been working for about four months in Odessa, Texas, with my BA in journalism tucked in my belt and my reporter’s notebook always at the ready. Mine was the cop beat — crime, vice, and disaster, all day most days, and every day most weeks. In that one year, I saw more dead bodies, more violence, more squalor and injustice and noxious bigotry than I’d seen even growing up in Tucson, and I had only been a Christian a couple of years, maybe three. Jeff, meanwhile, had also come to Christ in the spring of 1980 or so, and he was working 18 hours a day, every day but Sunday, to build a greenhouse and scratch out a nursery business. He lived in a nasty old trailer on site, and I had what was, to me, a posh apartment in the newest section of Odessa. If you’ve ever been to Odessa, you know that’s a little like saying your cockroach has the shiniest shell. It wasn’t much, but it was mine, and my workmates and editors were beginning to see that I had some talent as a reporter and writer.

One afternoon, my mother called and announced that Jeff’s parents were visiting Tucson from somewhere in Washington-State-Near-Seattle, and that their “boy” was “still single and religious in that same way you are.” In fact, the Spirit had worked in Jeff to lead his family to Christ, while my parents, still married at the time, were politically Catholic and politically unchurched, although it was hardly a “mixed” marriage. Jeff’s mother got on the phone and said she’d have him write to me, since my mother had taken pains to tell her how terribly lonely I was in Texas and how violent everything there seemed to be. I thanked her politely, but cringed at the thought of a still-single religious nutcase peppering me with unsolicited letters.

About a week later, a very simple sheet of paper came in the mail, tucked in a hastily-scrawled envelope bearing a Snohomish, Washington, postmark. He wrote:

“Well, our parents know each other. That’s nice. Hope all’s well. Bye, now.”

It’s true that our fathers had been best buddies from junior high on and that the families had kept in contact throughout the years, although all I knew about Jeff, or Jim, or Joe, or whatever his name was, was that he had part of a finger sliced off when he was 9. It seemed so heroic, so exciting, so very Johnny Tremain. But I couldn’t let this maimed frontier woodsman think that I was at all lonely, lacking in friends, or lost in the oilfields of West Texas, so I wrote back something like:

“I don’t NEED you to write to me. I make A THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH and I have a NEW CAR and an apartment WITH A DISHWASHER, and I can date ANY guy I want to date,” and on and on and on . . . Almost a week later, I got this on a single sheet of
5 X 7 yellow notepaper, without which even today Jeff is rendered nearly mute:

“Hmmmmm. The ‘still single’ part makes a lot more sense now . . . “

I was smitten. We wrote almost every day, after I apologized for my haughtiness, and had already talked about the Big Stuff even before our first telephone conversation in August 1983 — a call he had to make twice, because I was so nervous and so thrilled when it rang the first time, I threw up. Like his grandmother, he’s a hearty and forgiving sort who never once said he didn’t know it wasn’t just, ummm, static on the line. There were a couple of months when my phone bill was higher than the rent on my apartment, and it became clear that we needed to meet, having already discussed marriage.

He flew me to Seattle to see him in November, and I got off the plane realizing that I had shared my secrets to, talked about marriage with, and fallen utterly in love with someone whose face, not even in a photograph, I had ever seen. I panicked as I walked through the gate; he said he’d be wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. It was Seattle, Washington, in the early 1980s. Who wasn’t?

But a very handsome man with the kindest blue eyes I’d ever seen stepped out of the crowd, gave me a chaste peck on the cheek, and handed me a yellow rose. I was more than relieved — I was ecstatic. Jeff was every bit as wonderful in person as I’d hoped he’d be, and my five days with him at his parents’ HUGE home in Issaquah were phenomenal. He treated me wonderfully, and I left for Odessa thinking that this was either something real and lasting, or the worst cosmic prank in recorded history.

We got engaged on December 14; I moved up to Snohomish on January 30, 1984 and lived with his cousin while we planned our wedding. We wanted something simple, outside, and beautiful, and the entire event, my dress included, came to about $1200. His parents were ecstatic, as were mine; our fathers beamed beyond what was proper or common to 50-year-old men at that time, but it was wonderful to have their support.

Now, as we head off to Nosh in downtown Moscow, I look back and think that somehow God has let the doubters know that what he joins together, not even Keely, or Jeff, even, have ruined. He’s been a father unlike any I’ve ever known to our sons, and my own dad freely acknowledged having learned things from his son-in-law. I have never been Mrs. Jeffrey Mix, and not even Mrs. Keely Mix, but I’ve been proud every day of my life to be Keely Emerine-Mix, and to wake up next to a guy who isn’t perfect, but who’s perfect for me — and who thinks I’m pretty darned wonderful, too.

Yep, Mark, This IS "Demon Stuff"

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

It takes a lot for me to feel even a little bit sorry for Douglas Wilson.

Now, if he were in a serious wreck, or were diagnosed with a terminal illness, or lost someone close to him unexpectedly, I would feel terrible for him — and I pray those things never happen; unlike him, I refuse to pray imprecatorily. But absent those and other horrors, I find Wilson to be a pompous, bigoted, intemperate, boorish faux-intellectual whose difficulties most often come to him via his own recklessness, arrogance, or ignorance, and while I’m deeply pained that these controversies reflect poorly on the Christian faith and its Author, I’m comfortable assigning the blame for them solely to Doug — sola Wilsonia, as it were. When one finds himself bleeding out from a wound inflicted by his own serrated edge, he is hardly a candidate for his critics’ sympathy.

So imagine my surprise that, just last week, I found myself squirming a little at the humiliation Wilson, a devout cessationist — someone who believes the “sign” gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, miracles, and words of knowledge or wisdom no longer exist in the Church — must be feeling just now. In luring the coolest guy in Reformed circles over to the Anselm Club House, he’s got fellow pastor and cessationist Mark Driscoll co-headlining, with Wilson, his son, and his daughter’s husband, a conference later this month.

Which would, at least for the guys involved, be just fine, except that the Grace Agenda and bonhomie of the weekend has suffered a bit of a wrinkle. It turns out that Wilson’s new pal is on record as saying that the Holy Spirit gives him the supernatural ability to “see things” about other people, things like past instances of rape or molestation or adultery (this being Driscoll, they’re almost always, it seems, sexual in nature) that he then shares with them.

If this is cessationism, it’s the most sensational cessationism you or I have ever heard of, not to mention utterly offensive, dangerous, and un-Biblical — and I say this as a non-cessationist, someone who believes the sign gifts DO, in fact, still exist. Here’s Driscoll on stage at Mars Hill, clad in a brown hoodie and a gray Mickey Mouse shirt, presumably so we’re not overwhelmed by his prophetic gravitas:

The layers of danger here are higher than a Sabbath-dinner dessert parfait, and this odd little and exceedingly dangerous predilection of Driscoll’s ought finally to topple him from any position, real or presumed, as a reasonable spokesman for the Christian faith. And they cause no small embarrassment for the seemingly un-embarrassable Doug Wilson, who evidently hasn’t found Driscoll’s myriad other pastoral and exegetical shortcomings terribly disturbing. But this has our Sergeant of Serrated Spin floundering about wildly as he attempts in Blog and Mablog to defend Driscoll, although rarely by name, while assuring the bewildered reader that when his pal uses words like “supernatural,” “I see a picture,” and “from the Spirit,” it’s not REALLY the same thing as what those charismatic whack-jobs do.

Because Wilson, to be Wilson, has to maintain his rigid theology — Reformed, conservative, masculinist, and cessationist. Lord knows Driscoll and he share the first three, and presumably the still-cessationist Driscoll believes, and Wilson believed, that they share the final point. But even I felt a twinge — just a twinge, nothing more — of sympathy for Wilson as he flailed about in Blog and Mablog, trying to explain that, OK, when Driscoll says things like “I can see things, like a screen over their heads,” attributes that (wrongly) to a gift of discernment and (wrongly a hundredfold) then, based on his salacious hunches, suggests that a woman go ask Grandpa if he molested her when she was three, it’s somehow not the exercise of prophecy or the reception of a word of wisdom or of knowledge. That, of course, makes even less sense than Driscoll’s blathering, albeit with much less danger attached.

I’ll have much more to say about Driscoll’s “spirit-guided” insight into his congregants’ sexual and other sinful histories, but I am unshakeable in my conviction that this practice of his is dangerous. Poor Grandpa, in the example above, if he is, in fact, innocent. Can you imagine the effect on family harmony, not to mention the furthering of the Gospel among unbelievers, when that discussion goes sour? If he’s correct, he’s guessed well; if he’s not, he’s not only NOT hearing from the Holy Spirit — although I absolutely believe he’s hearing from A spirit — but has caused tremendous emotional damage to someone who may not even have sought out his counsel in the first place.

Or how about when, after he gets one of these “pictures” over the head of a woman, Driscoll suggests that she confess during couples’ counseling the lurid details of the adulterous sexual relationship he says the Spirit “shows” him she engaged in? Any potential for disaster there? If he’s wrong, and if her spouse is not a Christian, there’s no blow job sufficiently powerful to turn him around after that. (Remember, Driscoll believes women unequally yoked should augment the teachings in 1 Peter with frequent, robust gifts of oral sex to her reprobate husband). How about when Driscoll tells her, in typically lurid Driscollian detail, about the rape he’s sure she suffered decades before?

After reading the post and watching the accompanying video, you’ll understand why I use women as examples, not men; it seems this “gift” visits Macho Mark to inform him of women’s past sexual experiences more often than not, which is made even more dangerous given Driscoll’s well-deserved reputation for near-obsession with sex and his overtly, coarsely masculinist theology. Wilson gamely writes that he would never cease fellowship with a non-cessationist just because they understand the Spiritual gifts differently. That’s good to know. Unfortunately, he seems entirely willing to NOT cease fellowship with a vicious and vapid man who, even when talking about the things of the Spirit, tends to make you want to admonish him to keep his mind out of the gutter and his hands up on the table, and then look for a bar of soap with which to wash out his smirking mouth.

True Manliness

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Mark Driscoll, speaking of Jesus Christ as tough guy: “I could never worship someone I could beat up.”

Jesus Christ, speaking of Mark Driscoll and other tough guys in Titus 1: “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless — not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not violent . . . ”

Christian social activist Cesar Chavez, wrapping it up nicely: “It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice.”

I once shook hands with Cesar Chavez. He was a short, wiry, gentle man with kindness etched on his face and a devotion to Jesus manifest in his heart. Cesar wasn’t interested in manliness, but Christlikeness; he “took himself down” to lift others up, and he lived with great faith in the One who did it first, and did it best, and did it as “the human one, Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Tim. 2:5,6) — not the “tough guy” Driscoll insists on as the object of his worship.

"The Grace Agenda" — Driscoll Brings His Macho Boorishness To Moscow

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Well, as most of you know, Douglas Wilson, his son N.D. Wilson, and son-in-law Ben Merkle got the coolest guy in school to come over and sit at their lunch table.

Which is another way of saying that the Wilson/Merkle/Wilson Annual Conference On What Masculinist Reformed Guys Think About Sex is ready for its mid-September debut in Moscow as “The Grace Agenda,” featuring Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, which reaches out with Driscoll’s sex-saturated theology on female subordination, a kick-ass, tough-guy Jesus, and the value of the blow job as an evangelism tool for non-believing husbands. If you’re offended by my language, take it up with Driscoll, who’s provoked the ire of many conservative evangelicals for his salacious take on the Biblical Song of Solomon, coarse pulpit discussion of marital relations, and embrace of all things cool, hep, and relevant, no matter how obnoxious. It’s impossible to write about Driscoll and still sound like a lady.

But I’ll be doing my part nonetheless to welcome him to Moscow by posting — daily, I hope — on him, his ministry, and the Wilsonian-Driscollista take on Christian manliness, the necessity of a rough-and-tough, red-blooded Jesus, and the sentimental, feminized sappiness of the American Church. In some respects, the education is too late. The pastor of the Nazarene Church, where the conference is scheduled to be held, wasn’t made aware of the special circumstances surrounding the groom at the June 11 wedding Wilson officiated there (the groom is a serial pedophile), and when I spoke to him in June, he wasn’t aware that Mark Driscoll was part of the “Grace Agenda” conference he had promised his church building’s use for. That might have been convenient for Wilson, whose own church facility can’t hold a conference, because many pastors, knowing what they know of Mark Driscoll, would prefer several degrees of separation between their churches and him. But a pastor can’t object to what he doesn’t know about . . .

Nazarene Pastor Eby’s lack of diligence in both cases is lamentable, but I intend to make it quite clear that in hosting Wilson and his cronies, he’s not hosting your usual kind of Gospel-preaching pastor; in Wilson’s not having told him about Driscoll, who attracts controversy virtually every time he opens his mouth, our local Arbiter of Manliness was less than forthcoming. Which, I think, is less than honorable. My hope is that Eby is a more diligent, less naive, more educated man after reading this. My greatest hope, however, is that Wilson’s embrace — not that they’d ever, you know, hug or anything — of Driscoll tarnishes both men and reveals them and their ministries for what they are. What they are is not what any Gospel-loving Christian should call “good.”

So fasten your seatbelts, because it’s going to be a quite a ride — vulgar at times, astonishing at others, and dismaying at every turn. We’ll kick off tomorrow with some words from Driscoll about his favorite subject — masculinity, or, if pressed, Jesus-as-the-embodiment thereof — and an opposing quote that puts Driscoll to shame.

If such a thing is possible.

Examining First Corinthians, Marriage, And Roles

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

I received this a few days ago from a correspondent taking issue, respectfully, with my insistence that Paul’s discourse on marriage in 1 Corinthians is a beautiful, more accessible, less-likely-to-be-misapplied Scripture on marriage than the Ephesians 5 verses so often used to encourage wives’ subordination to their husbands — in defiance of Eph. 5:21, which sets the context by insisting on mutual submission. I’m printing Rob’s response in its entirety, with my comments interspersed.

First, though, I want to apologize for taking so long to answer Rob. I wasn’t feeling well and yet had to superintend a yard sale Saturday, and I was wiped out Sunday and Monday. I cleaned up the house and made dinner early Tuesday, and then my Internet service went on the fritz. Now, I’m rested, the house is in great shape, the dinner dishes are cleared, and my Internet is back up. I want to strike now while the iron is hot!

And, with a few exceptions, I’ll be posting tomorrow (September 1) through the 18th strictly on Mark Driscoll, macho-masculinist Christianity, the Wilson/Driscoll “Grace Agenda” conference in Moscow Sept. 16-18, and other subjects and people distressing to anyone who holds a view of Christianity that comports with the person and message of Jesus Christ. But now, on to Rob’s comments, with my thanks –

(ROB) In reading your post on 1 Corinthians 7, I struggle to see your application. Perhaps you could clarify. My understanding of your post is that you take Paul’s teaching on sexual purity and the benefit/costs of marriage in I Cor 7 as a balance to the text in Gal 5, where Paul teaches on marital roles, love and respect. Am I correct?

(Keely) Thanks for your comments. I assume you mean Ephesians 5, not Galatians 5, in your first paragraph; I will also disagree with your contention that ch. 7 deals primarily with marital sex, and correct your view on 7:9, which does not state that people “will burn with passion,” but instead says that IF they cannot control themselves — that is, IF they burn with passion — then marriage is advisable. The condition here is vital to the application and I’m wondering why you maintain otherwise.

(ROB) As I have studied these two passages, both are being written to churches in an emerging Christian cultures. As such, there are frequent admonitions to the Greeks in these epistles to leave behind their former ways and to be inwardly and outwardly transformed; mind and body, evidenced through their redeemed relationships.

Paul’s emphasis in 1 Cor 5-7 deals with “the body” (soma) and its role in our spiritual walk.

(KEELY) I agree that ch. 5-7 deal with issues of the physical body, but also within the Body of Christ; that is, how its members treat one another. In fact, I think the corporate expression of Christian conduct here is more clear than the individual admonitions to abstain from previous pagan behaviors, although, of course, no one would argue that individual conduct doesn’t affect the Body. Further, the “drumbeat of mutuality” in the first 15 verses of ch. 7 are not only exceedingly clear for us today, but also for this Church in its own emergent culture — and the message of mutual love, mutual power, mutual subjection, and mutual benefits and responsibilities in marriage was utterly revolutionary to both pagans and to the Church coming out from among them. It shouldn’t be revolutionary to us 2,000 years later, and it surely ought not be overlooked by those who favor marital, gender-based hierarchy.

(ROB)It matters how we eat (6:13), and particularly who we have sex with (6:15+). This was quite important, as the Greeks thought in mind/body dualistic terms, and the new Christians needed a holistic understanding. Clearly something was broken if a man was married to his MIL (1 Cor 5). Paul opines that the optimal condition for people in ministry, especially during troubled times, was to remain celibate (7: 7, 35, 40). Next, Paul provides a logical argument for the necessity of marriage, especially shocking to our modern ears. He states that there is a problem with “immorality” (7:2), and that people will “burn with passion” (7:9). The solution? Marriage, where the wife has the right of the husband’s body, and vice-versa. Sex in marriage satisfies desires and enables believers to avoid immorality (7:5).

(KEELY) Again, Paul does not say people WILL burn with passion and so, therefore, marriage is a “necessity” (your word, not his). He says that marriage, unlike celibacy, burdens the believer with distractions in their Kingdom living that single people don’t have, and he only prescribes marriage for those people who ARE “burning” with lust and passion and unable to control themselves; he never forbids marriage, but neither does he command it. You seem to betray a decided bias for marriage as a norm, if not a near-imperative, and I find that complementarianism is a belief system that not only favors but requires “marriage-as-the-norm,” perhaps because it severely limits women’s choices, which I presume are, for the Christian woman, Spirit-led in God-given autonomy.

(ROB) This is where you lose me; I agree that there is “mutuality” (your word) in 1 Cor 7 in the sharing of bodies. But how does this change the distinct and “complementary” (a word you dislike) roles found in the relationship of marriage, as described in Ephesians 5? Both texts clearly discuss marriage, but the emphasis and line of thought in Eph 5 is quite different.

(KEELY) There are eight examples of “as for the husband, so for the wife; as for the wife, so for the husband” in the first 15 verses of ch. 7, and while the context is marriage, where gender relations are most immediately and intimately played out, Paul makes it clear that the reciprocity, mutuality, and lack of hierarchy based on gender is the Christian ideal for marriage. So, frankly, does Ephesians 5:21-28, but only if v. 21 — “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” — is considered as the context-setting introduction to the verses that follow. Certainly wives are to submit to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives. But, as I’ve said before, would you really argue that ONLY wives are to submit if that logically leads to the idea that ONLY husbands have to love — and particularly with verse 21′s command that spouses submit ONE TO ANOTHER? If the submission is unilateral, so is the love; neither example of unilateral conduct is tenable logically, nor is it in keeping with a reasonable hermeneutic. To suggest that Ephesians 5 and the gender relationships it speaks of is an easy, confusion-free, crystal-clear passage is perhaps only believable when spoken among other complementarians, and even they surely must wrestle with how far the husband’s responsibility to present his wife as a clear and blemish-free specimen of sanctification, which elsewhere in Scripture (and remember the first rule of hermeneutics, “the unclear is explained by the clear”) is confidently spoken as the providence of the Spirit.

(ROB) In essence, 1 Cor 7 basically makes allowance for sex in marriage to avoid sin through collateral claims, whereas Eph 5 describes a mutual sacrificial blessing through the complementary exhortations to love and respect, and roles of headship and yielding.

(KEELY) You are aware, I hope, that “head” in Ephesians 5 — kephale — is more likely translated “source,” as in “God is the source of Christ,” as Christ “proceeds” from the Father. Paul could have used the words he uses elsewhere for master/servant or “obeying” relationships, and yet he doesn’t. Christ as the “head” or “source” of the Church, particularly given the body imagery Paul uses so freely in his Epistles, could be seen as the “literal head” of the “literal body” knit to him in love. This is consistent with the first male, the man A’dam, as the “source” of the first female, Ish-sha, or the one who proceeds from him. Paul simply doesn’t use the many Greek words at his command in describing the hierarchy of the relationships portrayed in Ephesians 5, not between Jesus Christ and Yahweh, and not between women and men. Unless, of course, you’re a subordinationist, someone who flirts with the Arian heresy by insisting that in his eternal Being, and not just in the Incarnation, Christ is subject to the Father in the Trinity. Further, this passage is one that discusses Christ’s emptying of himself — his servanthood and even submission — to his people; it seems clear that the parallel here, absent the “master/servant” language Paul avoids, is the husband’s revolutionary and counter-culture (and counter-intuitive!) sacrificial pouring out of himself for his wife, not the wife’s “obedience” paralleled with Christ’s.

(ROB) I think that it’s been well summarized elsewhere — distinct in role, equal in value.

(KEELY) It’s difficult, if not impossible, to argue that while women are ontologically equal to men (“in value”), they have “different roles” which are always subordinate. If the feature, characteristic, etc., of one person is the only ontological feature that requires that person’s eternal, fixed subordination to the other person, there clearly IS something about that characteristic — here, gender — that causes them to be considered not equal. Logic commands this, unless logic can be circumvented by toying with orthodox Christian trinitarian theology by suggesting that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is eternally, functionally subordinate to the Father, while remaining eternal and ontologically the same. And that’s why neo-subordinationism has become so attractive to complementarians such as Wayne Grudem and John Piper and the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood — what logic and common sense doesn’t countenance can be made workable with an appeal to the sacred mystery of the economy of the Trinity. Tragically, this perversion of the doctrine of the Trinity not only does violence to the Trinity, but also is a false entry into legitimate debate on women and men in the Church.

(ROB) This is why Eph. 5 remains a beautiful text for the wedding, while 1 Cor. 7 more often has a role in marriage counseling (where couples are withholding).

I’m sure that I just invited a storm of typing with that last paragraph. Your previous blog posts quite cover your belief that Eph 5 is “murky,” with alternate Greek word meanings and such. We clearly will disagree on that point ‘til kingdom come. Instead, I am looking to know more about why you take 1 Cor 7 to apply in its context to more than just sex and fidelity.

(KEELY) Because the context is marriage, the starting point in the home for gender equality and mutuality, and the application goes further from there. First Cor. 7 is not just about sex or “withholding,” but the points Paul makes on marital sexuality all stem from a theology of egalitarian, mutual, reciprocal and non-hierarchical relationship between the husband and the wife — proceeding even further in his letter, and in others, as he insists that ALL believers are to joyfully practice sacrifice and submission to ALL other believers, for the good of the Body and its testimony to an unbelieving world. That testimony is now contaminated, in the eyes of a watching world choking on patriarchal violence, by wrongful teachings about men and women and their roles in home, church, and society. We clearly disagree, and likely will forever. But I wonder if you could tell me what egalitarian books you’ve read, or if you’d be willing to look into research like “kephale/source, or where in Genesis you see God commanding Adam to require subordination from Eve before the Fall. And while I truly would love answers to these questions, I don’t know that I’ll get them from you. Nonetheless, Rob, I appreciate the respectful tone you’ve taken, and I pray blessings on you and yours.

Thanks For Sharing This, Caroline!

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

“Christianity is a lifestyle — a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we made it into a clever ‘religion,’ in order to avoid the lifestyle itself. One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain, and still believe that Jesus is their ‘personal Lord and Savior.’ The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.”- Richard Rohr

I don’t know that I’ve read such a cogent and concise analysis of the ills besetting Christiandom in decades — thanks to my dear Caroline for posting it on her Facebook!