An Example of CBMW Dogma
The summary of the egal. position seems fair enough, if over-simplified. But the summary of the comp. position seems to have been written as though they forgot what they just said about the egal position. Hopefully they’re only reciting the positions and not issuing the comp side as the rebuttal. We’ll see.
Under I-A they start off with the adjectives: “ the male was given the responsibility of loving authority over the female, and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man”. Take away the over-used adjectives and the teaching is much clearer: in spite of there being scriptural grounding for full equality before sin, the woman is asserted to be the underling of the man. They engage in circular reasoning by first presuming that Gen. 2 “bears out” different “expressions” of humanity (no specific verses are cited, since none exist), then presuming that this assertion is what Paul would later read there as well. They change the true complementarity of male and female (like the left and right hands) into the hierarchy of dominance and submission, which somehow is made legitimate by flowery adjectives alone.
Under I-B they build upon this presumption unfounded in scripture and say it is this hierarchy that was distorted: no longer would the man rule benevolently, and no longer would the woman obey sweetly. They repeat their assertion that God gave the male authority over the female before sin, and even say that his ruling over her is good if it’s “rightfully-corrective”. This makes God the one saying that women are like children who never grow up and must have a male authority over them.
Under I-C they naturally take our redemption through Christ, not as restoring the full equality of male and female, but as restoring the happy hierarchy of the superior and kind male over the inferior and happily serving female. They make sure to introduce their invented term “headship” to put a convenient label on this presumption, and repeat that this is what Christ “restored”. Thus their position is that the Fall turned a good hierarchy bad, not that it introduced hierarchy in place of equality. By thus framing the debate in baseless assertions, all discussion built from this point will be fruitless.
Under II-A-1 they admit that scripture says both male and female were to rule over creation together, not each other. Yet they try to shoehorn male preeminence in here anyway, by hinting that since scripture is silent about the nature of that rule, then we have to allow that differences existed. But at best this is an argument from silence. The burden of proof is on the comp position to justify their wish to qualify this rule and segregate it along fleshly lines. They are hoping that all one needs to overlay one’s desired view upon scripture is a technical possibility born of silence.
Under II-A-2 they leave out the context of Gal. 3:28 and imply that it must only refer to how people are saved. But even without context we have the proof here in this verse: it speaks of those who are already in Christ, not how to get there. And among those who are already in Christ, there is to be no hierarchy of any kind (in keeping with Jesus’ “not so among you”), and certainly none based on race, class, or biological gender. Yet it is well known that when they come to 1 Tim. 2:15, suddenly salvation really is different for only women: we must “play our role” in order to be saved.
Under II-A-3 they agree that spiritual gifts are not given along “pink” and “blue” lines, but once again they argue from silence: the scripture doesn’t specify exactly how those gifts are to be used. But even within this artificial constraint we can see that women are not excluded from even “pastor” and “prophet” gifts. But as Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her children”, and these comps will say that women can prophesy to other women. Yet the rebuttal will nip this claim in the bud: Paul expressly stated that women can prophesy “in the church”.
Under II-A-4 they admit that women are to be honored as co-heirs. But they still bypass the force of the statement: this is not only about abuse but about an unqualified honor; there are no restrictions on the scope of this statement. It should hardly need to be said that if one considers another adult human being his inferior for life, based upon nothing but genetics, this is the opposite of honor. Elsewhere scripture tells us all to “esteem [honor] others as better than ourselves”, and “love does not demand its own way”, and “treat others as you wish they’d treat you”. Do men really wish women would treat them as underlings, whether or not this treatment is benevolent?
Under II-B-1 they claim at least four supports for their presumption of male rule over female: (1)creation order, (2)was apparently forgotten, (3)Eve as “helper”, and (4)Adam naming Eve.
(1) If order indicates superiority, then Man was under the authority of the animals. If reverse order indicates superiority, then male was under the authority of female. If they insist upon an exception just in the case between humans, they commit the fallacy of “special pleading”. Not one scripture ever cites order as an indication of priority in God’s eyes, and in such cases as Isaac and Ishmael, David and his older brothers, and many others, we see a clear pattern of God uplifting the lowly— which is to say, God goes against society’s traditions. And again, it is circular reasoning to presume that this alleged rank by chronology is what Paul was reading in Genesis.
In lieu of the omitted point (2), we can note their reliance once again on implication: that Adam was allegedly told by God to instruct Eve. This has absolutely no grounding in scripture; it is another argument from silence. No one denies that Adam was to guard (not merely “keep”) the garden, and the comps here admit that Adam failed to guard Eve from temptation. But by His actions in confronting them afterwards, God indicates that Eve was held responsible for her own sin, and Adam was never rebuked on her behalf. Otherwise, why the alleged curse upon Eve? By comp logic the curse should have all been on Adam alone, were he the federal head of Eve.
(3) They admit that “helper” is used not only of Eve but also of God, but they try and put words in Paul’s mouth by ripping a verse out of context. That context clearly concludes with “but all come from God” as an unmistakable refutation of any supposed hierarchy by virtue of chronology. In addition, the words “a sign of” are not even implied in the Greek, and the authority mentioned there is the woman’s. It is she, not a man or the church, who has authority over her own head and must decide whether or not to cover it. Paul had just explained the dilemma facing believing women: if she did not cover she might, depending upon the society, be considered having loose morals and thus bring reproach upon the faith. But as the glory of another, she should not cover; this was the point Paul was making about glory.
(4) Naming, like chronology, is never cited in scripture as an act of authority, and we should note that the woman Hagar named God as “the one who sees me” (Gen. 16:13). Even in the case of parents naming their children, this is more an act of legality than authority, and the child will grow up and no longer be under parental authority. This assertion is completely groundless, both scripturally and logically. The comp position continually presents not scripture but it’s presumptions and interpretations as justification for its views.
Under II-B-2 they say that since Adam was confronted first though he technically sinned second, that this must indicate his authority over her. Here again we have another implication that scripture never confirms. They also skip over the scripture that says “their eyes were opened” after they both sinned, and ignore the fact that God confronts Eve separately for her own sin. And they ignore the common rhetorical device known as a “chiasm”, where an argument is built up to its central point and then traced back in reverse order. The order in Gen. 3 is man-woman-serpent-woman-man, so we look for the central point in the middle where God address the serpent, not at the beginning where He addresses the man.
With this in mind, we also note that while God uses the phrase “Because you have done this” to both the man and the serpent, He never says any such words to Eve. She was “beguiled” into sinning, while Adam sinned with his eyes wide open and “listened to the voice of his wife” as she was tempted. But remember that God had only said that one thing would change if they ate the fruit: they would “die”. That this “death” was not spiritual but physical (unless we consider death as a broken relationship, common in the ancient culture) is indicated by what would have been the antidote for this death: the Tree of Life. And a close look at the Hebrew tells us that only the male was forbidden to eat of it, and only the male was responsible for the ground being cursed, because only the male was taken from it. Why this added penalty? Because Adam extended his sin in a way that Eve did not: he blamed God for giving him Eve!
Another important point is that God never ordered Eve to leave the garden with Adam, and only predicted that she would choose to do so. He also told her of the consequences of that choice: that Adam would rule over her. He did not say that Adam would rule harshly or more effectively; this rule was in the future and depended upon Eve’s choice. So this rule did not yet exist, and thus was not part of creation before sin.
Under II-B-3 they continue to build upon their interpretations and presumptions to claim that sin only made the hierarchy bad, instead of beginning any hierarchy at all. They speak of “the curse of the woman” but no such curse exists; not even Adam was cursed, but only the ground from which he alone was taken. They also blame Eve for Adam having to “assert his rule over her” and appeal to the matter of Cain to support it. But sin, unlike woman, is an evil entity, and in any case it desired the man himself, not some alleged rank or rule over others. Clearly Eve would “turn toward” her husband and follow him out of the garden instead of remaining with God, and this was a terrible blunder— one comps today wish all women would commit. They clearly show their belief here that men’s sin, whether by abuse or passivity, is women’s fault.
Under II-B-4 they again presume Paul’s reasons for citing Genesis, they again repeat their addition to scripture (“a sign of”), they repeat their presumption that a woman is only a “helper” to men, and they still ignore “but all come from God”. And if we follow their pronouncement that these principles are timeless because of Paul’s appeal to Genesis, then a wrong understanding of why Paul appealed to it will perpetuate a timeless error.
Under II-B-5 they admit that Paul’s seeming prohibition on women speaking cannot be taken by the “plain reading” view, but they also admit that they can’t make up their minds about what Paul actually teaches here. Some say Paul must mean women can’t have authority in a “church” setting (whatever that is— ref. “where two or three are gathered”), while others say he must mean women can’t “function in the elder role of judging prophecies”. The latter is itself a disputed presumption; the context is not clear on who the “others” are, and there is nothing to indicate that prophets must play an “elder role”.
Under II-B-6 they gloss over the Greek to change “a woman” to “all women”, ignore the rare words “authentein” and “teknogonias”, and disregard the context of the letter which is all about false teaching. We’ve already addressed the other arguments in this point.
Under II-B-7 they state that a wife is to obey her husband as she obeys the Lord, but how can anyone not admit that this is idolatry? The sentence fragment “wives to your own husbands as to the Lord” has no verb but gets it from the general principle for all believers in the verse before it: submit to one another. They also presume the much later meaning “boss” in the word “head” and then read this presumed authority into the text. And if one reads the context, it is never the divinity of Christ that any believer should model, but the love and humility of Christ. Paul’s mentioning of all that Christ did for the church is simply to illustrate the extent of His love for her, not to say males should be little gods to females. “Not so among you…”
Under II-B-8 they use the traditional “weaker vessel” interpretation of somehow implying that women are not only weaker physically but also spiritually and emotionally. But the context indicates the social issue of women being utterly dependent upon men for support; the mentioning of “co-heirs” brings this out. So Peter is talking about the woman’s limited ability for self-support and thus her vulnerability in that society. The Christian husband is to treat her not as society told him but as his equal. This is not at all about a man having a God-given right of rule which he is to use as a benevolent dictator. And if the man has responsibility for the woman, what can we deduce from the incident of Ananias and Sapphira?
Parents are temporarily responsible for their children, and secular authorities are not responsible for any citizen that moves to another country. But the person who claims rule over another adult for life is claiming superiority of being and essence. It is a logical impossibility for anyone to be “equal in essence, but unequal in function” for life. So by saying the husband is responsible for his wife for life, they are saying she is not his equal in being. No amount of adjectives or excuses can negate this fact.
Under II-B-9 they commit the Arian heresy: that Jesus is a lesser god. This is the logical conclusion to which we are forced if there is permanent hierarchy in the Trinity. And how is it even possible to map three to two? Where is the Holy Spirit in this analogy? And while scripture maps the relationship between Christ and the church to husband and wife, it never maps it to father/son. To do so is to either make the husband/wife relationship incestuous, or to make the Father and Son two separate gods of two separate wills, since you can’t have one will submitting to itself. And I have elsewhere delineated the fact that the alleged “roles” of the Persons of the Trinity overlap significantly; they are not clearly drawn. This is an absolutely cultic error.
Under II-C they begin by presenting their groundless assertion as scriptural fact: that “sin has produced in woman an illegitimate desire to usurp the rightful authority God gave to man”, and add that God is seen in OT history to favor “male-headship”. But as we’ve already seen, God instead has shown a consistent pattern of doing just the opposite. And if we argue that God’s issuing of rules for how Israel should regulate slavery do not amount to divine sanction of slavery, then we must also argue that God’s issuing of rules concerning women do not amount to divine sanction of society’s restrictions upon women.
Under II-C-1 they continue to walk in this presumption and ignore God’s obvious preference for those society deems the least important.
Under II-C-2 they admit that Jesus continued this habit God showed in the OT, but can only cite the 12 apostles’ maleness to claim, again by silence, that Jesus promoted “male headship”. Yet they forget that the 12 were mapped to the tribes of Israel, and that this group of 12 was never perpetuated in the church; never do we see any instructions as to the need for 12, much less that they be male— or Jewish, or non-English speaking. It is fallacious to only pick one quality as eternally binding.
Under II-C-3 they simply repeat their earlier interpretations, but add the famous “husband of one wife” argument. Again we appeal to the context, which is not about the sex or ethnicity or class of the elder, but character. It hardly needed to be said that women in that time were expected to remain faithful to one husband, while men were expected to have many courtesans. So only the men needed to be told about the need for faithfulness to one wife. We should also note Paul’s use of “likewise” whenever he talks specifically about women, and that his need to address women separately was more likely due to the men not thinking women would be held to the same standards. The comp interpretation is hardly as “obvious” as they claim.
Under II-C-4 they ignore the fact that the husband is never called the head of the family, but only of his wife, and that head meant “source” and not “boss”. In fact, it is the wife who is called the “house despot” in 1 Tim. 5:14, and there is no fine print exempting the husband from her rule. As for the ref. to 1 Peter 3, please see my article on who exactly is to do the fearing.
Under III-A they begin their opinion of the rebuttals to the comp position by trying to compare the egal teaching against permanent hierarchy between adult believers with the temporary heirarchy between parents and children or employers and employees; this is the old “apples and oranges” fallacy. They cannot seem to distinguish between matters of being or essence and matters of society. Again, children can grow up, citizens can move away, employees can start their own companies, but women cannot stop being what they are, so this is a matter of being or essence, not “role”. They also perpetuate the Arian heresy by making Jesus “eternally subordinate” to the Father, regardless of scriptures such as Phil. 2:5-11 which distinguish between Jesus’s divinity and humanity.
Under III-B they can only appeal to their circular argument: that Paul must have had hierarchy in mind when he appealed to Genesis. But to boldly claim as they do that “the complementarian stands with Scripture’s interpretation of itself on this issue” is to slam the door on the whole debate, because they assert their interpretation as scripture. This is not only conceited but blasphemous. They cannot assert the point of debate as a “given” in the arguments. One wonders why they bother pretending to analyze the debate at all.
Under III-C they claim that there was in fact a curse on Eve and ignore the fact that God never told Adam he had to rule better, along with other points already made above.
Under III-D they attempt a revisionist historical view of the OT, but add that the apostleship of Junia is “highly disputed”. This is only the case if one is ignorant of the Greek scholarship on Rom. 16:7; please see Epp’s Junia, the First Woman Apostle for more detail. And as for their claim that Deborah was God’s last resort in Israel at the time, they should be aware that God never says or implies such a thing. Here we have explicit divine sanction of a woman as a national leader with authority, and the comps dismiss it as the opposite. The only “difficulty” here is the desperate attempt to deny what God has done, citing non-existent “overwhelming evidence to the contrary”.
Under III-E they flatly deny that “head” meant “source”, in spite of much evidence to the contrary; see this series of articles. Their interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:3 is a good example of their misinterpretation: they ignore that the word “God” is NOT the same as “Father”. The Trinity was the source of the incarnate Christ. And if this is hierarchy by order, Paul certainly could have made it clearer by saying God-Christ-male-female.
The article ends abruptly with a simple claim that their made-up word “headship” is the very Word of God on the matter. If they truly do appeal to “lexical, exegetical, and contextual reasons”, let them demonstrate this by dropping their presuppositions and just letting scripture speak, before forming any conclusions. This they claim but have not demonstrated at all.