Bayly Knows Not His History Nor His Theology

As promised, I’m going to address a particularly despicable assertion by Tim Bayly in the conference literature for “Sexual Orthodoxy.” That frenzy of feminophobia, held in Moscow last weekend and sponsored by the men of Anselm House, featured a number of discussions of dubious academic or ecclesiastical value, all to develop Covenant integrity in the all-male pastorate and diaconate of “obedient churches.”

Based on the printed schedule of conference topics posted on the Christ Church website, it failed, as any conference on “sexual orthodoxy” with contributions from members of only one sex would have to. I would likely have picketed in front of the University Inn if I had been in town, just to provide a little gender balance in the midst of the same-sex bluster inside, but alas and alack — it wasn’t to be. On the other hand, Tim Bayly’s description of his discussion on abortion is one for the ages, the kind of arrogance that leaves a taste, and ought to be answered for, long after the carnival leaves town.

Here’s what Bayly wrote in the conference schedule:

“Abortion: The Blood Sacrifice of Egalitarianism — If we are not trusting in the blood of Jesus Christ, there will be a need for blood from elsewhere.”

This little gem came on the heels of his take on patriarchalism, which features the witty observation that “just because it angers feminists does not make a practice biblical . . . ” That’s just snotty and deserves no real response; I include it here simply to show that the arrogance of his abortion talk isn’t an anomaly. (Remember his take on male “women ministers”?) By his own description of his contempt for egalitarianism, Bayly makes clear that he’s not just witty, not just sarcastic, but entirely mean-spirited and utterly unfit to address matters of gender, sex, community, or much of anything else.

“Egalitarianism” is the belief in the inherent equality of value and promise between people, leading egalitarians to work against social and political institutions that discriminate between people based on ontological preferences. In the gender debate in the Church, “egalitarianism” describes those who believe that the New Testament mandates equal opportunities to serve, based on giftedness, between men and women; we argue that the transformative message of the Gospel, as described in the Word and modeled by Jesus, prohibits the Church from barring women from its offices and practices. I’m in a charitable mood, so I’ll assume that when Bayly condemns “egalitarianism,” he’s speaking against the latter definition and is not really an opponent of racial, social, and class harmony between people groups, although he wouldn’t be the first Wilson associate to run in that direction. Nonetheless, I’m going to address Bayly’s remarks in the context of ecclesiastical egalitarianism, since keeping the ladies in their place and making men out of mice was the focus of last weekend’s conference.

Bayly suggests that egalitarian men and women in the Church don’t trust in the blood of Jesus, as other evangelicals do, and this has brought about the scourge of abortion in our nation. This is as absurd as it is offensive. It tells me Bayly knows nothing about true Biblical egalitarianism and the circumstances that make abortion seem reasonable to women in dire straits, and has a less-than-stellar grasp of New Testament theology. This makes me wonder why he’s a pastor and why he’s considered an important voice in the egalitarian-complementarian battles in our churches. I’ve known many complementarians — those who believe Scripture demands separate and unequal roles for women and men in home, church, and society — who aren’t obnoxious, aren’t such obvious male supremacists, and aren’t so blissfully ignorant of women’s legitimate concerns regarding the masculine hermeneutic that permeates the Church’s teachings on Scripture. On the other hand, I have never met an evangelical egalitarian, male or female, who is anything less than fully pro-life.

It’s because of the high value we egalitarians place on Scripture, combined with the high value we have for women’s giftedness and service, that we hate abortion. We follow in the footsteps of our evangelical feminist foremothers and forefathers who fought against abortion and other threats to life — child labor, slavery, domestic violence — with every Spirit-infused fibre of their being. We know that the early feminists, most of whom were committed Christians, hated abortion — and hated abortion because it destroyed life in and outside the womb. These women, and the men with whom they found respect and commonality, fought harder against abortion than I imagine Bayly has for anything in his pastorally-privileged, male-honoring life, and it’s beyond outrageous for him to suggest, and to suggest so viciously, that egalitarian women and men have, through their efforts to usher in a more just and equitable, God-honoring society, somehow ushered in the tide of abortion he and I both decry.

Secular feminists don’t like being reminded that the women they admired for their work for women’s suffrage and equality were almost entirely pro-life and at least nominally Christian in their theology. They’re wrong, but they haven’t flooded into my town to spread a noxious gospel of disdain and disinformation. That Bayly would find common ground with the secular feminists who reject the evangelical religious underpinnings of the 19th- and early 20th-century suffrage movement is ironic, to be sure. But these merry men — Wilson, Bayly, Wilkins, Merkle, and the scores of other CREC psalm-singers who follow them — would do well to examine both the Scriptures and the historical and contemporary egalitarian movements they hold in such contempt. They may continue to disagree with the Biblical egalitarian position; they may embrace even more robustly the complementarian view that favors them. If they’re honest, however, they will repent of their foolishness and disdain and apologize for smearing an entire group of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

But these guys aren’t honest in their theology. They’re not searching for common ground or trying to make peace. They have decided who the enemy is, and in doing so have swung wide the doors for the real Enemy of the Christian Gospel to prowl around their testosterone-infused ministries and their male-aggrandizing theologies. That women have suffered immensely because of it clearly doesn’t matter to them. It does, however, matter to Christ Jesus, himself human, who shed his blood for the lives of those left out of the clubhouses of power they’ve ensconced themselves in.

On the cou

One Response to “Bayly Knows Not His History Nor His Theology”

  1. Ashwin says:

    Ms Mix wrote “But these guys aren’t honest in their theology. They’re not searching for common ground or trying to make peace. They have decided who the enemy is, and in doing so have swung wide the doors for the real Enemy of the Christian Gospel to prowl around their testosterone-infused ministries and their male-aggrandizing theologies. That women have suffered immensely because of it clearly doesn’t matter to them. It does, however, matter to Christ Jesus, himself human, who shed his blood for the lives of those left out of the clubhouses of power they’ve ensconced themselves in.”

    You have returned to writing political commentary. It is very sad. You are using the name of Christ to score cheap political points.

    Feminism is futile. Patriarchalism is futile. The suffering of women will not be alleviated by making the patricians look like windbags. Only Christ can offer the comfort they need.

    Do not sling mud at your brothers in the public place where the mockers are. Why is there dissension in the Body in Moscow? You, they and we should all trust in the redeeming power of the Living Lord. Christ is Alive. This means something. He Lives. Act like He does. Take your complaint to Him. See if He does not answer.

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