One of the more delightful responses to a recent book by a seriously troubled, yet all too explicably popular, demagogue:
Sometimes the questions people ask or judgments they imply can make us chuckle, don’t they, my darling?
– Well, who is in charge here?
– Yes, but if push comes to shove, who is the leader?
– But then who is the spiritual head of your home?
That poor misguided dear Suzanne McCarthy has got her bloomers in a twist again, insisting that the girls should be able to play in the treehouse. Luckily we have the likes of Michael Heiser and John Hobbins to slap her down. Hobbins writes:
Said [“complementarian“, ptui] churches motivate their position with care and acumen, as anyone familiar with the debate knows.
The slave-owners of the antebellum south likewise motivated their position “with care and acumen”, basing their position — that persons of African descent were fit only to slaves — on the carefully exegeted Biblical principle of the curse on Ham’s children.
The sin of “complementarians” is the greater in that they condemn not merely a significant fraction of the human race, but precisely one half, to a lifetime of slavery.
Absolute literal slavery. For one human being to be subordinate to another in every aspect of behavior and dependent upon his merest whim for her status before God Almighty is to be worse than a slave.
There are some issues where it is NOT all right to agree to disagree.
To argue that those men who abuse their wives are misusing their God-given authority and do not represent the ideal is like arguing that Stalin and Mao do not represent the ideal socialist. That may be true, but it is irrelevant. By their fruit you shall know them, and those who espouse and transmit an ideology are responsible for the fruits of their teaching.
Hobbins makes much of the Christian-sounding ideal of “tolerating” complementarians. Just like we need to tolerate slavers. And the priests of Huitzilopochtli‘s quaint custom of disencardiacizing a couple dozen peons before breakfast.
He also makes much of the desire of complementarians to follow “tradition”. Much like the church before William Wilberforce followed tradition.
There are no words vile enough to express my disgust.
The clueless demagogue Mark Driscoll (but I repeat myself) has recently threatened spouses who fail to adhere to the sacred doctrine of Leave it to Beaver with hellfire and church discipline (which is worse, I wonder?).
John Stackhouse all but calls him an exegetical imbecile.
Ben Witherington brings some much-needed context:
The household Paul has in mind has slaves (see [Titus 2] vss. 9-10) which in itself makes the situation totally different from the modern Western household, unless of course you’ve hired illegal immigrants to do the grunt work at home and are paying them under the table. Then there could be some analogy. But any home that had domestic slaves such as this situation, had the slaves to do ALL THE HOUSEHOLD WORK, including minding the children and helping them with their school lessons. In fact there was a particular household slave used for the latter — the paidagogos which does not mean pedagogue, though that is where the English word comes from, but rather means the child-minder of younger children, the nanny, who among many jobs walked little Publius back and forth to school and helped with the homework.
The wife, in this case, the young wife, did NONE of these jobs on a regular basis, in such a household. She supervised the management of the household. In fact, she was the de facto head of the household. What did the husband do?
On a normal day, he handed out the list of jobs to his slaves and clients between 6-9 in the morning, and then he went out to the forum or agora to chew the fat, make business or political contacts, play backgammon, go to the baths and gymnasium, get a hair cut etc. In a situation like this, it was the wife, more than the husband who was not merely the bread baker but the head of the household, making sure their [sic] would be bread on the table. The man’s job was to go out and establish the public reputation of his family through dialogue, meals, going to games. etc. Both husband and wife ‘provided for the family’ in such situations, and in a high status marriage, like those Paul is most concerned about in the Pastorals, very often the women had more money, social status, and business acumen and contacts than the men — which is why a smart man would marry her in the first place. Anyone who has been to Pompeii will have seen the homes in which the front lower level of the house is the family business, for example serving food. On a day to day basis it was more likely to be the wife and slaves who ran the family store front business, while the husband ran around making contacts, playing games, eating with friends and the like.
The problem with fundamentalist nutcases like Mark Driscoll (following in the footsteps of James Dobson et al) is that they are not advocating a return to a Biblical culture, they are advocating a return to a mythical fantasy-land that never existed in any time in history, let alone anywhere in the Bible. The family values displayed in the Bible leave a lot to be desired.