When ’Biblical’ Means ’Shut Up’
Time once again to remind ourselves that there are entire organizations dedicated to keeping women in the place designated for them by men. They say “no, by God” (or, “NO, BY GOD!!”), but that has never been successfully established. And by labeling their opinions and interpretations “Biblical” they hope to stifle all opposition as ungodly and rebellious.
I speak primarily of course about council members for the infamous CBMW, on the occasion of the one-year anniversary this past Sunday of the Freedom For Christian Women’s Demand for an Apology (more info here). And one cannot help but notice that every token woman on that council is first or primarily described as a “homemaker” or “pastor’s wife”. Gotta keep those wimmin folk in the kitchen! Of course they do other things like write and teach other wimmin folk, and rake in some significant cash for their “Christs” (Eph. 5:22) in the process, but they’re still “homemakers” above all and never pastors themselves but only auxiliaries of them. A place for every woman, and every woman in her place.
The irony of their organization’s title still escapes them, for the terms “manhood” and “womanhood” are nowhere to be found in the Bible. We see men and women both having courage or timidity, both having harshness or tenderness, both crying and laughing, and other aspects of the human nature men and women share. There is no “men rule, women drool” in the pages of the New Testament— another term poorly grasped by male supremacists. Is it really a New Testament when the only thing changed for women is that they have less freedom to speak in assembly, less opportunity or gifting to have public authority, and less ability to escape an abusive husband than women of the Old Testament? Are these Southern Baptists oblivious to the double standard of finally apologizing to US blacks for condoning slavery in the past, while refusing to apologize to women when the arguments for both sins are identical? Or are they deliberately choosing to keep a tight grip on the last refuge for men who love to be first in line?
They have been confronted about poor teachings on the Greek text on more than one occasion yet forge ahead as if exposure of their linguistic incompetence might mar their careers. But like the current holder of the title of US President who is more concerned with re-election than the good of the country, the CBMW Council seems more concerned with holding power and role-playing than the good of the Body of Christ. Their teachings have often been cited by abusers in the churches as justification, and many pastors have sent women back to their abusers because they either must have caused it by insubordination or should “suffer for Christ” with willing and glad submission (one resource). While there may be a few abusers claiming to be egalitarian, nobody ever cites egal. teachings in defense.
Since the SBC has apologized for the sin of white supremacy, there is no excuse for organizations like CBMW to exist, much less to continue propagating the sin of male supremacy. Calling it Biblical is like putting cream cheese frosting on a brick and calling it a delicacy. This tactic is identical to that of various cults who tack the name of Jesus on teachings that couldn’t be more opposite from those of the real Jesus. There is simply nothing Biblical about “manhood and womanhood” role-playing games.
But can such organizations and their members be changed? Are we to keep trying to reform them? Personally, since I also reject hierarchy between the contrived clergy and laity classes, it’s my conviction to start from scratch and model the Body of Christ apart from them instead of trying to change them from within, because if others are likewise convicted to keep doing so, we also need someplace for people to go if they are convinced that the old, traditional paradigm is wrong.
Either way, and more likely together, we all can make a difference— even if it doesn’t bear fruit for another hundred years. We have to try, even though the first American “feminists” were devout Christian women who campaigned also against slavery on the same grounds. But if not, we take comfort in Jesus’ promise that “last will be first, and the first will be last” in the coming kingdom (Mt. 20:16, 20-28).