Christianity and Culture

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.

The Solution to the Child/Career Debate for Women

An inspiring article about women in the Afghan army contains the ideal solution to the problem of deciding between children and career — polygamy:

[It was] Laila Ibrahimi[‘s] husband, himself an officer in the ANA, who encouraged her to apply. ‘I always wanted to be strong and serve the country,’ she says. Now 31, she was married at 18 and has had three children, but she is pragmatic about their arrangements: ‘My husband’s first wife looks after them.’

Why Men Should Not Be Ordained

Via Christian Feminism (HT: Inhabitatio Dei) comes this excellent list of reasons:

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.