The Silencing of Naysayers

Hugh McCann linked to an interesting article on what is happening in Kentucky over the gay marriage decision. It apparently didn’t take long for some in the LGBT community deliberately to target Christians for what they believe. The ACLU’s response to the excellent argumentation in favor of Kim Davis’s position is that no one should be held to a different standard, now that gay marriage is the law of the land. Let’s test that response on a different law.

If abortion becoming legal is the law of the land, then should all naysayers against abortion be silenced? Are we requiring people to agree with laws nowadays? There are hundreds, if not thousands of laws that I would disagree with (if I even knew what half of them were: the federal law-code is ridiculously verbose) in this nation. No one has ever tried to silence completely the naysayers against abortion. That was because it was recognized that this is still a matter of free speech.

We need to remember an important distinction in the matter of law: if there is a ruling on the books that homosexuals may get married, then that means that the state cannot prosecute homosexuals who get a marriage license. That ruling cannot be made into a bludgeon to silence all dissent. If agreement with the ruling is the interpretation that the court goes with in the Kentucky case, then the court will make a fundamental error regarding what the law of the land is supposed to do.

Let’s take another example, one less controversial. If I disagree with a speed limit in a particular place, am I required verbally to agree that the speed limit in that zone should be what it is? In the case of a speed limit, the answer is no. I don’t have to agree that this is a good speed limit. But if I speed, then I make myself liable to the law. In the case of SSM, of course, there may quite conceivably come soon a time when we Christians are going to have to disobey laws of the land, because they contradict what God has commanded in His Word.

The ACLU might come back with this argument: “Ah, but Kim Davis is a government employee, and therefore she is required to uphold the law of the land.” To this, the response is quite simple, and two-fold: 1. Although it is now legal in the US to get a marriage license, that is not the same thing as saying that everyone is required to agree with it. 2. Government employees are not required to agree with the law regarding abortion in order to hold a public office. Why should they be required to agree with the SSM ruling in order to hold office? By their argument, the four justices who wrote dissents cannot be allowed to keep their office. If one reads the article, it becomes clear that the lawsuit had nothing to do with a gay couple being unable to get a licence in Kentucky. There were many other options available to them. The application for a marriage license was only sent Kim Davis’s way AFTER they learned of her stance on gay marriage. This is deliberate targeting. The ACLU argument is very weak indeed.

What Are You Willing to Give Up?

Today’s Supreme Court ruling federally legalizes same-sex “marriage.” It seems obvious to me that we need to prepare our people for persecution, while simultaneously preparing them to speak lovingly, yet truthfully, to the LGBT community. This will not be an easy road. What are we willing to give up? For this decision constitutes America’s attempt to re-define God’s own creation ordinance. This will have massive ramifications that we can only barely glimpse at the moment.

The somewhat provocative title of this post should not be seen as a call to emotional hysteria. All too often, the conversation is characterized by shrill voices on both sides of the debate, thus creating a climate where no one can listen. Evangelicals are rank with fear. Why? And what kind of fear is it? I think we fear to lose the comfortable liberty we have had for such a long time. We fear to lose what is in our bank account. We fear social ostracism. In other words, we fear man, not God. On the other side, we see the LGBT community using emotionally charged words to shout down the opposition. The words “bigot,” “hate-speech,” and “homophobic” are thrown at anyone who does not agree with their agenda. There is no communication going on, only a lot of shouting. The importance of books like Rosaria Butterfield’s masterpiece can hardly be underestimated at a time like this, because no one could possibly accuse such an ex-Lesbian of hate-speech, and yet she also speaks the truth. More books like this need to be written. The most thorough treatment of the exegetical issues is undoubtedly Gagnon’s book. For a smaller, more accessible book (although Gagnon is not too difficult to read), there is now Kevin Deyoung’s book. Butterfield’s book, though, is the most important of the three.

The accelerated pace of the sea-change going on now in America requires some comment. I am constantly hearing of people who think that “such and such thing cannot possibly happen in America.” I am not sure that anything is off the table anymore. The changes are easily fast enough now to make us dizzy. I am preaching this Sunday on Revelation 11. A more timely text could hardly be imagined. The two witnesses I take to be the church defined as a legally valid testimony on Old Testament Deuteronomic terms. The persecution rises against them until the church appears dead. The world rejoices. God will then vindicate those witnesses by raising them from the dead. I know that every era of church history has had people saying that the end is upon us. As a good Amillenial, I believe that they are all correct. The end-times are upon us. As Hebrews 1 says, we are in the last days now (“in these last days God has spoken to us in (or by) His Son”). The American church is about to be seriously pruned. We are about to look a lot more like the house churches in China. Anyone got some nice spacious basements?

What are we willing to give up? We are going to have to be willing to give up forever the idea of being “relevant,” at least in the way that many people mean the term. We cannot adopt the world’s way of doing things. Our way of being truly relevant is to speak the truth to people who do not want to hear what we have to say. We need to be willing to give up prestige, money, land, freedom, and life itself. They will be gone in a very short period of time. Our families will be torn apart. The government will take away everything we value. Welcome to the brave new world.

For the latter half of the twentieth century, Satan has been using the carrot to lure people away from the true church, and away from the means of grace. Satan is changing tools. He will now use the stick. Probably very few of us would have recognized ahead of time that the homosexual marriage issue would be the issue by which this change would take place.

As I was talking with one of my elders this morning about these things, it struck me forcefully that we need to pray for our dispensational Pre-millenial brothers. What is going to happen will knock their theology for a loop. They believe that they are going to escape the tribulation by means of the Rapture. Revelation 11 says otherwise. Even if verse 12 is talking about a Rapture, it clearly does NOT occur until after the death and resurrection experience of verses 7-11. At that time, those brothers will be wondering if God is incorrect in what He said, and what else God might be wrong about. They might very well forget to ask the question about whether they understand the text correctly or not. We need to pray for them that their faith will hold firm.

Do not fear what is about to happen. Above all, do not get hysterical, as if God’s grip on the world has somehow slipped. Instead, rejoice that the end is near. Count it pure joy when you experience trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith will produce perseverance. Know that the poor, dead-looking church over which the world will gloat will one day rise up again, in spite of the world. The world will then gape in dread and awe of the church as God resurrects it. SCOTUS may think itself the supreme court of the land. Boy, are they in for a shock!

Persecution in America? Chicken Little vs. the Ostrich

by Reed DePace

In the wake of the two same sex marriage decisions from the Supreme Court I wrote to a group of ministerial friends and acquaintances asking for copies of their church’s marriage policies. I did so because I expect churches and pastors will be facing, in just a few years, at least civil assaults via this issue.

Some reaction to my concern was that I was being an alarmist. Another labeled my concern absurd (def.: ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous; having no rational or orderly relationship to human life).

O.k., maybe like Chicken Little I don’t know an acorn from persecution. Yet, before going gaily on your way, I’d ask you to at least consider the discussion a bit more fully. Maybe the following articles will help:

I do not believe the goal is mere legitimization. No, I think that which is pushing homosexuality across our culture is a greater moral goal, one with two components. This goal is to secure the acknowledgement, in all parts of our culture:

  1. Of the moral superiority of homosexuality, and
  2. Of the moral depravity of any who deny this (and so, must be treated as the worst bigots in history, e.g., KKK, Nazis, etc.).

Think I’m Chicken Little? Stanley Hauerwas, “America’s Best Theologian” (Time Magazine, 2001) began to make just such an argument back in 1993. The Bible is already well on its way to being labeled morally degenerate in terms of its moral condemnation of homosexuality. Already opponents of same sex marriage are shying away from making a moral-based argument.

Whether I’m Chicken Little or not, at the very least the homosexual juggernaut (as another friend labels it) is on the move. Where it stops, and what it crushes along the way may be debatable. It should hardly be a debatable point that it is on an (humanly) unstoppable roll.

Will pastors face persecution via the same sex marriage issue? Christian laymen already are:

Oh, and a church has experienced persecution over this issue.

So what should we do in response? I think there are at least three faith-responses we can offer that we can say are both our Father’s marching orders and carry His promise of blessing in response:

  1. Make reasonable preparations (Matthew 10:16; Colossians 4:5; Philippians 2:15). Investigate whether or not you or church has unnecessary legal exposure in the ways in which you offer services to non-members. Take appropriate measures to remove or mitigate this exposure.
  2. Pray for God to send us into these fields that are ripe for the Harvest (John 4:35; Matthew 9:36-38). The truth is that those in homosexuality are destroying themselves. They, their family and friends are suffering the worst of the effects of the fall, just short of what a Christ-less eternity brings.
  3. Love those who consider us their enemies by bringing them the gospel (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-28): God will surely do in our generation what He has done in the past (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Imagine the joy you, saved from your depravity, will experience standing beside your brother or sister who was once your enemy trapped in homosexuality’s depravity.

I do hope I am just warning about acorns. But I don’t think this is the case. So I’ll see the charge that I’m being absurd and raise a “don’t be naïve!” Or maybe I can put it this way: I’d rather be Chicken Little than an ostrich.

by Reed DePace

Expectations In Marriage

I saw the lectures that form the basis of this book, and so, though I haven’t read the book yet, I can recommend it.

One of the biggest problems facing people who are contemplating getting married is the problem of expectations. We usually expect more from the potential spouse, and less of ourselves. Furthermore, we expect our future spouse to feed our own idolatries. Then, when they do not, we turn on them. Paul addresses these problems and others, advocating a reconciliation mindset full of God’s grace.

The Bride of Christ

(Posted by Paige)

A friend and I were discussing this biblical metaphor this morning, and I thought to cast this question out to all of you as well: Do you think it is in keeping with biblical intent to speak of the marriage of God or Christ to individual believers as well as to the Church corporate?

In his preaching and writing, my friend will speak in terms of both individual and corporate marriage as rich expressions of God’s/Christ’s relationship of union with believers. I am not sure that he is wrong to do so, but I am personally less comfortable speaking of the individual’s “marriage relationship” with Christ (or calling the individual believer the “Bride” of Christ), simply because in both OT and NT usage God and Christ are never (as far as I can see) said to be “married” to individuals, but only to the corporate bodies of Israel or the Church (cf. Is. 62:3-5; Jer. 2; Eph. 5; Rev. 21). On the other hand, there are plenty of relational metaphors available in the Bible that express the individual’s relationship to God and Christ: child, sibling, friend, sheep, servant (even slave), soldier, citizen, etc.

Is the application to individuals of this “marriage” metaphor a fair implication of the corporate picture of Christ’s Bride, or do you think it is beyond the intent of the scriptural witness? If the latter, do you perceive any harmful or misleading influence in speaking this way?

If, on the other hand, you think it is a fair way to picture Christ’s union with the believer, how can it be framed in teaching and preaching so that the individual does not lose sight of the corporate nature of being the Bride of Christ?

Thanks for your thoughts!

The Manhattan Declaration

I know I’m a bit slow to comment on the Manhattan Declaration, but I wanted some of my fathers in the faith to speak out first before I said anything. I had some initial impressions, but wanted them debated before I stuck out my neck. I shall stick it out now.

On each of the three issues, I issue a hearty amen to the position of the declaration. It would be difficult to do otherwise, when these issues are of such paramount importance, and the stance taken so completely biblical. I have picketed abortion clinics in the past, and support doing so now and in the future (as long as it is done legally). I firmly stand for marriage as God has defined it, not as how man wants to redefine it. And, in our context, where the freedom to worship God has been constantly eroded by humanistic thinking, what Christian wouldn’t be eager to say that he wants the freedom to worship the God he loves?

However, the concerns of Sproul, MacArthur, Horton, and Challies have all raised some very important issues about particular words and ideas used in the effort to create a monolithic Christian coalition on these issues. And there is where the rub lies. How is the word “gospel” and “Christian,” among other words, being used in this document? Is it a wax nose, twistable by any signer or reader into the shape he wishes? I was forced to come to this conclusion: those words are empty vessels, into which anyone can pour what meaning he chooses. I would much have preferred language like this: “Although we do not agree on the definition of “gospel” or “Christian” or “justification,” we can agree on these social issues.” This, I think, would have allowed folks like the ones linked above to sign this document in good conscience. It is really too bad that these flaws are deal-breakers for the men listed above, and for myself, especially when SOO many men I deeply respect have signed it, and when I yearn to say yes on the particular issues.

Interesting Article on Marriage and Intimacy

This article was interesting to me, and was shocking to me in many ways, this paragraph in particular:

Statistics show that few Americans wait. More than 93 percent of adults 18 to 23 who are in romantic relationships are having sex, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. For conservative Protestants in relationships and active in their faith, it’s almost 80 percent.

We certainly live in a sex-crazed culture. They quote the assistant pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Michael Lawrence) as saying that we are sending mixed messages to young people, telling them on the one hand to wait for sex until marriage, but then turning around and saying that they shouldn’t get married until later. It sets them up to fail, he says. I couldn’t agree more. When Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn, there is a keen realism there that understands the sexual drives of young people. People who are struggling with this issue, then, need to get married. Paul is not saying that marriage is bad, far from it. But the struggle means that the person is not called to be single. It is amazing to me how difficult it is for some people to grasp this concept.

The article also makes mention of the “eharmony philosophy” that the perfect person is going to be dumped into our lap at some point. I prefer Voddie Baucham’s approach. While it is important to see certain things in place, it is also true to say that marriages grow into something wonderful. They rarely start there.

The Best Book on Marriage

My Brother’s Announcement

I rejoice with joy only slightly less than Adrian’s own. (Of course), Susan’s announcement is quite a bit more colorful. Get a load of Adrian’s marriage proposal there: quite amusing.

Women in the Church- 1 Timothy 2:8-15, part 3

II. Hermeneutical Issues

A. Situation in Ephesus
Is it the case that complementarians pay absolutely no attention to the background of the situation in Ephesus, or do not let that information affect their exegesis? Who was Artemis of the Ephesians? Baugh argues against various egalitarian and otherwise commonly held opinions regarding who Artemis was and the situation of the cult, as well the position and status of women in Ephesus. I will not reproduce his arguments here, but only summarize them: Artemis at Ephesus was the regular Greek goddess, not the fertility goddess of the ANE; the cult did not involve cult prostitution, since the priestesses were largely prepubescent; there were educated women at Ephesus, contrary to the suggestion that Paul is merely forbidding unlearned women from teaching. The idea of the mother-goddess being conflated with Artemis is a common but highly speculative opinion, based on the interpretation of the famous statue having many breasts. Baugh indicates that this interpretation is highly suspect. Other examples have been found having such protuberances on male statues of Zeus (see pg. 31). Therefore, the position of the Kroegers (that Paul was reacting against some kind of Amazonian feminism gone awry, and that authentein means “to originate”) is untenable.

B. Creation, Fall, Redemption
The issue of Eve and the relation of her position to the Creation and the Fall is a complicated issue. Keener argues that the subordination of women was due to the Fall, and that therefore it is not prescriptive. However, this assertion does not make sense of the argument made about the temporal priority of the male in verse 13. In Ephesians, Paul notes that the man is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church (never mind now the much-vexed discussion of kephale), and that this was true from the beginning. Actually, the Fall obscured this relationship such that the woman would want to rule over the husband, but that the husband would domineer over her (Genesis 3:16). In Redemption, therefore, it is possible, through a relationship with Jesus Christ, to redeem this relationship back to what it was originally supposed to be. Women need to fulfill their God-appointed roles in order to do so. This is not to say that every woman needs to be a stay-at-home mother. On the other hand, it means that such stay-at-home women ought not to be despised, as they so often are today. The Bible would say that such a calling is the most noble calling to which a woman can aspire.

What of Galatians 3:28? This verse has been used as a grid through which all the other literature in the New Testament on the question of gender relationships has had to pass. But is it to be (ab)used in such a manner? Verse 27 (usually conveniently overlooked by all who quote verse 28) says that the unity is that of being in Christ, and having his righteousness given to us. Verse 24 invokes justification by faith. Therefore, verse 28 is talking about our status in Christ before God the Father. This is said by the same Paul who said that there are different roles for different people in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). Role distinction is not, I repeat, not a sign of inferiority! Just as there is no shame in being a brigadier general as opposed to a lieutenant general in the army, nor is there any inferiority of person, only hierarchy of role, so it is in the family/church.

A word must be said about the relationship of this passage to 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Keener argues that if we are going to be consistent about women in the church not having positions of authority over men, then we have to have them wear head coverings as well. It is disputed, however, whether Paul refers to something in addition to hair, or not. We cannot just assume that head coverings over and above the hair (hair is called a covering (verse 15)) is what is in view. Therefore, Keener’s objection is premature. He seems also to suggest that there is absolutely no cultural relativity in applicability of the Bible in the view of complementarians. This is manifestly not the case. “Greet one another with a holy kiss” is not usually interpreted to be universally binding in terms of its particular expression. Our equivalent today would be hugs or handshakes. However, in 1 Timothy, Paul argues from something that is not culturally bound, namely, the creation order of Adam and Eve, and the headship of Adam as male.

Another issue that must receive treatment is the issue of female prophecy. Several authors note that prophecy is just as authoritative as teaching. Prophecy is allowed to women. Therefore, teaching should be allowed as well. This involves a blurring of the distinction between office and function. Paul is talking about office in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (see the immediately following context). Schreiner’s contention that prophecy is more vertical, and teaching more horizontal does not convince me. Corinthians does not force the conclusion that the prophesying women held an office of prophet. What holds true for all the biblical examples of women teaching or holding a position of leadership is that such examples were exceptions to the rule. In the New Testament, prophecy was supposed to come upon women, because of the prophecy in Joel. Prophecy, therefore, is not a continuing entity in any case. Schreiner argues more convincingly that women could exercise prophetic gifts without disturbing male headship, whereas women could not teach men without disturbing male headship.8

III. Conclusions for Ethics

A. Goal, Motive and Standard of the two interpretations
The goal of the complementarian position (despite immense pressure from the culture to conform to the egalitarian position) has been, and should continue to be faithfulness to the biblical witness about the role of gender in the church. The motive has too often been a desire to keep the reins of power within the grasp of the men, without encouraging women to participate in ministry at all. This has resulted in the current backlash against tyrannical rule in the church, which rule has been based all too often on a view of women as inferior. However, to the extent that modern complementarian interpreters of this passage have discarded such unworthy motives, they are to be commended. Everywhere women are allowed to serve Christ, they should be encouraged to do so.

A great contrast between the ethics of the complementarian position and the ethics of the egalitarian position exists. The goal of the egalitarian position has been either explicitly or implicitly to conform to culture. Culture has the upper hand in hermeneutics in the egalitarian position, and culture interprets the Bible, rather than the other way around. This is demonstrated by the fact that the egalitarian position only became viable after about 1970. The motive might be many things. It is much easier to get a job at a main-line seminary or church, if one holds to egalitarian views. On the other hand, many “evangelical feminists” are not acting out of such impure motives, but are rather seeking to end inequality. The standard has been consistently to appeal to the current cultural situation as the definition of how we are to interpret the Bible. The Bible is effectively muzzled. There is a fear of the radical feminist wing that straight-jackets any opposition to their agenda. One is immediately labeled a misogynist if one holds to any difference in role (regardless of one’s view of the alleged ontological differences). Any difference in role is immediately seen to be an attack on the worth of a woman. We cannot let them win.

The definitive argument of this sort on the complementarian side (distinguishing between role and worth) is that of Charles Hodge. Jesus Christ is not one iota inferior to God the Father. He is God. And yet, there is a difference in role, one of subordination. Subordination is necessary in the world as a whole, for the world to “work.” Therefore, there is no dishonor at all in women being subject to male headship. Earle Ellis notes that only in the modern period are class distinctions viewed as evil per se.12

IV. Conclusion
If there is any more pressing issue in the conservative church today, I am at a loss to find it. Consistently, even in the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the issue of whether women should be allowed in ministry crops up just about every year in general assembly. A friend of mine recently said that it was only a matter of time before the GA voted to allow women into the ministry. I hope earnestly that he is wrong. I would be disappointed to have to leave the denomination in which I was baptized as an infant, and in which I grew up physically and spiritually (PCA). But the denomination would have left its moorings in the historic view of male headship as symbolized by Christ and the church, as well as any claim to see abiding principles in the Bible, rather than totally culturally determined “advice.” In this case, the slippery slope argument does work. Denominations that ordained women eventually ordain homosexuals, since Romans 1 and Leviticus 18 also become culturally relative. It is impossible to stop on such a slippery slope, as so many denominations have more than adequately demonstrated. Let us rather seek to be faithful to God’s Word.

1 See the irritatingly patronizing comments of Keener in Two Views, pg. 55.

2 See Köstenberger, Schreiner, Baldwin, 1995, pp. 13-52.

3 See Kroeger and Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman, 1992.

4 op. cit. pg. 63.

5 op. cit. pg. 62; see also Liefeld, 1999, pp. 109-110.

6 See Garland, 2003, pg. 505.

7 Women in the Church, pg. 129.

8 Women in the Church, pg. 130.

9 See Yarbrough, in Women in the Church, pp. 170-171.

10 See further Mounce, 2000, pg. 148.

11 Quoted in Women in the Church, pg. 255.

12 ibid. pg. 255.


Note: many more resources were consulted than are here listed. These were found to be the most relevant to the study at hand.

Commentaries on 1 Timothy:

Clark, Gordon H., The Pastoral Epistles (Jefferson, MD: Trinity Foundation, 1983)
Knight, George W. III, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992)
Liefeld, Walter L., The NIV Application Commentary: 1&2 Timothy/Titus
               (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999)
Lock, Walter, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1924)
Marshall, I. Howard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles
             (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999)
Mounce, William D., The Pastoral Epistles (Dallas: Word, 2000)
Quinn, Jerome D. and William C. Wacker, The First and Second Letters to Timothy
             (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000)

Other books and articles:

Bauer, Walter, Frederick William Danker, William Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich,
              A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian
              Literature, 3rd edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)
Beck, James R. and Craig L. Blomberg, editors Two Views on Women in Ministry
            (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001)
Garland, David E., I Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003)
Gruenler, Royce Gordon “The Mission-Lifestyle Setting of I Timothy 2:8-15.” JETS 41
             Fall, 1998, pp. 215-238.
Köstenberger, Andreas J, Thomas R. Schreiner, and H. Scott Baldwin, Women in the Church (Grand Rapids:  Baker, 1995)
Kroeger, R.C. and C.C. Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992)
Piper, John and Wayne Grudem Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
               (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991)
Wilshire, L. E. “The TLG Computer and Further Reference to AUQENTEW in I Timothy 2:12.” NTS 34 (1988) 120-134.

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