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Submitting to Feminism

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by Cameron Buettel

 

It is no coincidence that the rise of feminism in the twentieth century paralleled an unprecedented push for female clergy in Western churches. With the shifting views and priorities of the culture, the timeless biblical truths of male headship and church leadership were suddenly under attack.

 

Sadly, many churches and denominations have looked for ways to accommodate feminism. Some eagerly leapt aboard the egalitarian bandwagon. Others were slower to cave in to cultural pressure but eventually waved the white flag of surrender. The legion of female pastors filling pulpits today is the legacy of the evangelical syncretists who were willing to marry feminist ideology to Scripture.

 

That capitulation stands in opposition to the clear teaching of Scripture: that wives should submit to their husbands as unto Christ, while their husbands are to love them as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:22–33) and that women are prohibited from teaching men in Christ’s church (1 Timothy 2:12–14). Both of those passages, read in their context, have clear universal application—the latter tying its basis back to God’s original design in creation and the former to God’s design in salvation. In other words, biblical manhood and womanhood is a reflection of creation and salvation. And there is no biblical precedent to overturn God’s design.

 

In reality, no honest exegete of Scripture can come to any other conclusion. It is difficult to think that anyone could lock himself in a room with a Bible and arrive at some other interpretation of the God-ordained roles of men and women. In that sense, egalitarianism is one of the most obvious examples of the culture’s corrupting influence on the church.

 

And yet there seems to be no limit to the hermeneutical gymnastics some scholars are willing to perform in order to make Scripture say what they want. Here are just two examples.

 

Inventive Reinterpretation

 

Craig Keener is a respected New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament at Eastern Seminary, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. The following excerpt displays his fundamental approach, which allows him to dismiss the clear meaning of 1 Timothy 2:9-15:

 

In any case, here Paul also forbade women to “teach,” something he apparently allowed elsewhere (Romans 16; Philippians 4:2,3). Thus he presumably addressed the specific situation in this community. Because both Paul and his readers knew their situation and could take it for granted, the situation which elicited Paul’s response was thus assumed in his intended meaning. [1]

 

Only a rudimentary understanding of Bible interpretation is necessary to spot the gaping holes in Keener’s arguments. In the quote above, Keener points to two passages where Paul affirms women in ministry. Remarkably, without evidence Keener assumes and declares that such ministries included teaching—in doing so, he actually points women away from the kinds of ministry the apostle encouraged them to pursue.

 

Moreover, Keener makes several logical leaps to recreate the historical situation which was “assumed” by Paul and his readers. Further in his article he claims that women were being misled by false teachers and subsequently promoted that teaching in the church. Therefore, says Keener, Paul was not establishing universal principles. Instead, he “provided a short-range solution: ‘Do not teach’ (under the present circumstances); and a long-range solution: ‘Let them learn’ (1 Timothy 2:11).”

 

There are at least two problems with such an approach. First, the historical situation is invented. While Paul speaks about the influence of false teachers, he makes no mention of its effect on women specifically. Second, the grammar of Paul’s instruction does not allow for the “short-range” and “long-range” distinctions. These two commands are parallel with Paul’s other commands in the surrounding context, none of which have temporal limitations. This is to say nothing of the fact that immediately following the prohibition against women teaching and having authority over men, Paul details the universal qualifications for shepherds—one of which is “the husband of one wife.”

 

In short, in order to set aside the clear meaning of the text (which is consistent with Titus and other equally clear passages), Keener simply invents history and reinterprets the text in light of his assumptions.

 

Outright Rejection

 

Gordon Fee is likewise a widely respected New Testament scholar among evangelicals and has written many truly helpful books and commentaries. But even he is determined to drive the square peg of feminism into the round hole of Scripture’s clear teaching. When Fee’s award-winning commentary on 1 Corinthians discusses Paul’s insistence for women to remain silent in the church meetings (1 Corinthians 14:34–35), he brushes it aside by trying to argue that Paul never actually wrote it:

 

Although these two verses are found in all known manuscripts, either here or at the end of the chapter, the two text-critical criteria of transcriptional and intrinsic probability combine to cast considerable doubt on their authenticity. [2]

 

Fee cannot imagine Paul making such a statement and insists that another writer must have inserted it into the text at a later date. His scholarly language hides an unscholarly and dishonest approach to the text. While it is true that scholars debate the authenticity of the text, it is also true that there is an overwhelming consensus that they belong in Scripture. Fee seems to take advantage of the debate for the convenience of his theology. As another scholar writes, “Few [scholars] place the weight that Fee does on a textual variant.” [3]

 

Frankly, that’s a dangerous precedent to set when dealing with passages of Scripture that confront or contend with popular opinion and cultural norms.

 

Submitting to Scripture

 

When we as believers encounter portions of the Bible that clash with our deeply-held convictions, we need to humbly assume that our convictions are wrong—not Scripture. And we need to carefully consider what benefit there is in following pastors and teachers whose ministries rest on the dismissal of inconvenient parts of God’s Word.

 

For leaders who would kowtow to the pressures of society, it is disingenuous to espouse an inerrant and authoritative biblical text while playing fast and loose with its contents. Oil and water do not mix, and neither does God’s Word with ungodly ideologies. The true student of Scripture must be willing to listen and submit to it rather than correct its author when He violates our modern cultural sensibilities.

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Wondering if as Christians , why does it seems we avoid the word 'submission' ?  Most of us well gladly say we should be in submission to God. The Scriptures go deep into our daily living.   

Believing in the whole of Scripture knowing they work together here are the passages that come to mind. 

 

Pro 31:10  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 
Pro 31:11  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 
Pro 31:12  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 
Pro 31:13  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 
Pro 31:14  She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 
Pro 31:15  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 
Pro 31:16  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 
Pro 31:17  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 
Pro 31:18  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 
Pro 31:19  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 
Pro 31:20  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 
Pro 31:21  She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 
Pro 31:22  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 
Pro 31:23  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 
Pro 31:24  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 
Pro 31:25  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 
Pro 31:26  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 
Pro 31:27  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 
Pro 31:28  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 
Pro 31:29  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 
Pro 31:30  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 
Pro 31:31  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. 

 

Clearly this woman does not look/read like the "barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen." type so many would have the world believe is the Scriptural  picture of a Christian wife.  

 

Eph 5:21  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 
Eph 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 
Eph 5:24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 
Eph 5:26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 

 

Notice the message does not stop at verse 22  
 

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TDNT: In marriage Christianity demands the subordination of the wife (Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pt. 3:1, 5 [v.6: kyrios]) but also unselfish love from the husband such as that shown by Christ for the Church (Eph. 5:25, 28; Col. 3:19; 1 Pt. 3:7). (1:362-363, anēr, Oepke).

 

Husbands

a. Are you ravished with love for your wife (Proverbs 5:19)?

b. Do you attempt to love your wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)?

c. Do you hold any kind of bitterness against your wife (Colossians 3:19)?

d. Do you have a special honor for your wife in your heart (1 Peter 3:7)?

 

Wives

a. Barring sin (Acts 5:29) are you willing to submit to your husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24)?

b. Do you have a godly fear for your husband (Ephesians 5:33)?

c. Do you treat your husband as the God appointed master of your marriage (1 Peter 3:6)?

d. Do you have a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) speaking the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26)?

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