MUST-HEAR: A great debate on whether the Bible condones slavery

From Justin Brierley and the Unbelievable radio show, also known as the “If You Like” radio show.

Topic: “Does the Bible Condone Slavery?”

The MP3 file is here.

Details:

The Bible is often criticised for either supporting or not condemning the institution of slavery.  So how should we treat portions of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments that relate to slavery?  Why does the Old Testament contain laws regarding the treatment of slaves? Does Paul condemn or affirm the institution?

Bob Price is a former US church minister whose doubts about the Bible led him to ultimately reject evangelical Christian faith.  He says that the Bible is a book that reflects the time it was written in.  Slavery was acceptable and the early Christians regrettably followed suit, and did not challenge the prevailing status quo.

David Instone-Brewer is a New Testament Scholar at Tyndale House, Cambridge.  He says that, in its cultural context, the Bible goes as far as it can towards an anti-slavery message and that Christians have been at the forefront of anti-slavery movements.

My previous post on this topic is here.

My thoughts

This debate is the greatest debate I have heard in months! This is that Robert M. Price guy who is an expert in the historical Jesus who hates evangelical Christianity and has 2 PhDs. He’s extremely radical. But in this debate he was totally awesome. He was so easy to listen to, and he made perfect sense. Everything he said was moderate and reasonable.

And the Christian guy that Justin lined up was solid and well-prepared. About two-thirds of the time, the Christian they get is some useless pastor with no training. But this time Justin got a great scholar – winsome and informed. He made our side look good.

Related goodness

I noticed that Brian Auten linked to this Tawapologetics review of Rodney Stark’s book on history and Christianity, and it includes a section on Christianity and the practice of slavery. In my home, we have all of Rodney Stark’s books on our bookshelf.

Here are the main points from the slavery part:

  • First, slavery has been an institution in human cultures since before the Egyptian pyramids, all around the world.
  • Second, while European nations did delve into widespread slavery, the Church was hardly complicit in the practice.
  • Third, how monotheism provided the moral framework to condemn and outlaw slavery.
  • Fourth, details on the formation of the anti-slavery movement and Christianity’s involvement in it.
  • Fifth, enlightened secularism had little impact on the abolitionist cause.

I knew some of that stuff already from reading about the history of slavery and the abolition movement in Thomas Sowell books. But if you don’t know about it, you should read the book review.

49 thoughts on “MUST-HEAR: A great debate on whether the Bible condones slavery”

  1. Boy, this is a can of worms for me.
    Do I open it or not?
    Do I open it or not?
    I probably won’t have time to follow up on it.
    But, gosh darn it. It’s just too easy. And too obvious for the honest observer. Emphasis on honest.
    But you know, if I open it, some guy with a chip on his shoulder might make the comment that my comment is ridiculous, moronic, and a lot of other things Wintery won’t let him say —
    But I can’t help myself. It’s just too easy.

    ~Father rule and man-on-top hiearchy has been an institution in human cultures since before the Egyptian pyramids, all around the world.

    ~Christians led the charge in setting women free from unfair laws that kept them in a form of slavery. Quakers were at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement. Susan B. Anthony was a quaker and at the forefront of the woman’ rights movement.

    ~Enlightened secularism had little impact on the treatment of women.

    ~The Bible goes as far as it can towards setting women free from unfair male-on-top hiearchy. And it is up to the modern Christain to figure out that “do unto other as you would have them do unto you” should not only abolish slavery, but abolish the unfair practice of male-on-top hiearchy.

    Note: Be very careful about saying that verses in the NT on slavery were culturally relevant but the ones on women were not. They were practically said in the same breath. Paul was dealing with cultural things in his letters. If you try to separate them, you show you feel you have the right to pick and choose, at your own whim, what is culturally relevant and what is not. And why should you have that right to put yourself at an advantage and deny me that right? Giving yourself that right and denying it to me is not justice, but being arbitrary. How is that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you?

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    1. Finally got round to listening to this, thanks for drawing attention to it WK, it was very much worth the time to listen to. A great example of thoughtful dialogue between born again followers of Jesus and ‘unbelievers’; this is how apologetics should be at work.

      I have to say, Mara, i find your analysis of this issue and the manhood/womanhood issue to be quite shallow and superficial. However, I’d like to make sure I get your view right so I don’t misrepresent you in my mind or have any false ideas floating about when it comes to these subjects.

      Would it be fair to say that you believe that the passages in question represent a temporary compromise with the ‘man-on-top hierarchy’ (your words not mine :P) status quo in the world, just as the regulatory verses with regards to slaves were temporary compromises with the pro-slavery status quo? And then would it be that your view that despite this, that the main thrust of scripture went against both of these status quos as far as possible without detracting attention from the gospel?

      Changing the questions slightly, would it also be your view that there is no gender role distinction whatsoever? That there is no particular role that men should do that women can’t/shouldn’t and there is no particular role that women should do that men can’t/shouldn’t?

      Just a quick answer to those questions would suffice, I want to think through this issue as it is a pressing one and one that I would like to work through a bit more.
      Thanks for all your help- in advance- for helping me understand your views!
      God Bless.

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      1. Sorry.
        Didn’t see this until now.

        The accusation that egals see no gender distinction is quite common.
        I’m not mad at you for bringing it up. I just want to point out that it is a huge straw men comp teacher raise up and beat down which proves nothing.

        I’m sorry that you view my view on manhood and womanhood as shallow. But I guess I shouldn’t expect you to know that I’m a student of the whole Bible, the whole gospel. It take it very seriously, from Genesis to Revelation.

        My view does not pick and choose favored verses, air-lift them out of context, place them all next to each other and proclaim, “this is all there to know on the subject.”

        Comps accuse egals of this so I have avoided, for the most part, this tactic.
        I’ve, on purpose, avoided Galatians and the parts of scripture that name women as either an apostle, a teacher, or a deacon.
        Instead, I have only addressed the favored, air-lifted scriptures thrown at me, like the I Timothy and Peter verses WG likes to put out there.

        So, you have the right to continue to think of me as shallow. But that has more to do with the fact that comp teachers have taught you to think that way about anyone who doesn’t swallow their view hook, line, and sinker.

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          1. Thought I did answer it.
            Went back and read it again to make sure.
            Yep, I thought I did. And if you thought I was mud slinging, I’d hate to see you in a real mud fight. If you see one coming, you better duck and cover.

            I’ll take another shot at answering anyway.

            Gender roles are highly cultural and the Bible really doesn’t define them. Not really.

            A little history.
            Being Complementary was originally an Egal term, but non-egals hijacked and applied it to their doctrine when really their doctrine isn’t complementary at all.
            Men can do anything within the church, hold any position. Women can’t. If it were truly complementary, there would be positions in the church that are restricted to women. One way restriction is the opposite of complementary.

            Now onto the issue of the family.
            True egalism is complementary without heirarchy.

            Of course their are differences between men and women.
            Each culture deals with it differently and assigns roles as they see fit.

            But we are not roles. We are people. When the boxes that a culture or even a church assigns gets in the way of the gifts and callings that God places on an individual, then I have a problem with that.

            And that’s what I’m seeing going on with Piper, Grudem, Driscoll, and all these other men who like their nice little boxes and man-made structures that they have told women to reduce themselves down to.

            So, bottom line, just in case I still didn’t answer to your satisfaction, Anon,
            I believe the verses in question are Paul’s best attempt to get men and women to obey the two greatest commandments of Jesus to the best of their ability within their marriage and keeping in mind the constraints of their own culture.
            And the second question is just kind of silly.
            I’m my children’s mother. I don’t want to be their father. I enjoyed being their mother from conception clear up until now.
            I also love being an aunt.
            I’m looking forward to being a Grandmother someday.
            I’m tired of cooking but I keep doing it because my family needs to eat.
            I also ran the leaf blower yesterday, the one I asked for last Christmas because raking was hurting my back. But I rake/blow leaves because my husband doesn’t seem much interested in it.

            In the home I grew up in, my dad did all the outside work. It was a strange adjustment picking this up. But is it my role to rake leaves, ask for leaf blowers, and run lawn mowers or is it my husband’s role to do it?

            What do YOU mean by role?
            Guess I’d like to know because I’ve already argued past someone else on this blog and rather than continue, perhaps clarification on your part would help me answer better.

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        1. I’m glad that you’re not mad cos the whole point was for me to understand you better in spite of caricatures which is why I asked a question instead of making a statement! :D
          Also, I did not call you shallow- I said that what you said was shallow. There’s actually a big difference. I’m also sure that your intentions are very pure and you honestly believe egalitarianism is a good idea for the church.

          I also absolutely believe that you are a committed believer, who takes the gospel seriously, as you put it yourself. All I’m saying is that I think this view called ‘egalitarianism’ is actually quite harmful both to individuals and to the church, and that holding to it will lead to negative consequences within marriages, feminization of the church, more liberal theology emerging, boys not knowing what to look for in a woman and being confused and ultimately broken marriages. I think that will be the tendency in GENERAL, which is a key point. I’m not saying that every single instance will lead to that outcome, sure there will exceptions all over the place. That’s why anecdotal evidence doesn’t count. There can be exceptions to everything, thus it’s far better to focus on scripture, both in general and specifically. That is to say, looking at the overall gospel picture whilst simultaneously going into depth on the numerous passages of scripture in question.

          I’m sorry that you feel that comps misrepresent egals’ view, and you might be right about that to a certain extent. However, one of the reasons that happens might be the fact that egals struggle to define exactly which roles are gender defined and which aren’t, where to draw the line, etc. The fact that you didn’t answer my question and that I’m still in the dark means that you also actually contribute to this alleged misunderstanding.
          All I ask is that I get at least brief answers to the above questions, even if they are only short sentences!!
          God Bless you!

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          1. Micheal, I don’t know how I’m missing your comments.

            Just saw this one today.

            Guess you saw that you hit one of my hot buttons (shallow) and came back to explain. I appreciate that.

            Another accusation many comps fling at egals it that they don’t honor scripture. That they either twist, manipulate or otherwise explain away the plain meaning with alternate explanations.
            Note: I’m not accusing you of this, I’m just making you aware of this common accusation.

            But the very thing comps accuse egals of doing, they do themselves. I can give examples if you are interested but for now I really just want to address something else you said.

            Micheal: “one of the reasons that happens might be the fact that egals struggle to define exactly which roles are gender defined and which aren’t, where to draw the line, etc. The fact that you didn’t answer my question and that I’m still in the dark means that you also actually contribute to this alleged misunderstanding.”

            It is so funny to me that you say this because what I have noted is the total confusion among comp churches as to where the lines are to be drawn. You go from one extreme to another, even within the same denominations. If a couple are used to the rules in one church concerning gender and move to another area and go to a different church of the same denom, they get shocked, either at more restriction or more freedom in the new church.

            The lines drawn for women range from completely restrictive, (a woman can’t do anything but work in the nursury and Sunday school up to jr high and bake pies)(and check out the link I put at the bottom) to a woman can do anything but hold the position of senior pastor. And all these people call themselves comp. But the line is completely arbitrary, dependent on each sub-culture of that individual church.

            In egal, we have no such problem.
            In egal, the couple has the right to decide what works best for their own circumstances. And, believe it or not, many go with traditional roles of women staying home to raise kids while men work outside the home.
            Others start that way, but find the husband’s income isn’t enough and she works part-time or full-time depending. Others want to make it their goal.

            Plus, in egal we don’t have the problem of gender-specific sins. Sins that are sins for women but not men.
            Example: Equating ordination of women to pedophilia which is what the Pope is saying.

            As far as I can tell, the Bible really doesn’t divide up sin this way. That is, if men do it it’s okay, but for a woman to do it is sin.

            Link promised above. I see a bit of confusion here on Ralph’s part.

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        2. Mara said:

          //I have only addressed the favored, air-lifted scriptures thrown at me, like the I Timothy and Peter verses WG likes to put out there.//

          Mara,

          You really haven’t addressed anything. And discussing this issue with you requires a bit of patience.

          You never really answer any direct questions or scripture quotations. You kind of just dance around the issue and throw out ad hoc explanations for the verses that you don’t like.

          Then when you get pressed on the issue, you all of a sudden “get busy” and disappear for several days.

          It’s no skin off mine what you believe, but I do think that you are causing your family an incredible amount of misery with your rebellious spirit, and much more significantly, are training your daughters to do the same to their future husbands.

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          1. That’s not entirely true, WG.
            I specifically answered two questions on scripture with scripture that you brought up on the Science Fiction thread.
            You either didn’t see it or you didn’t accept it.
            But the answers are there.

            Now you are judging my spirit?
            Are you sure you want to stand in that position over me?

            And you are judging how I am raising my daughters?

            Wow. If only you could be a fly on the wall in my house and my church and see what is really going on. You might not be so quick to make judgments.

            My Pastor, who is comp btw, and like Wintery, he appreciates my voice. He defends it against those who want to silence it through shame or some other less-than-Christian tactic.

            Sorry about being busy.

            Guess I really do just need to drop out for a while and tend to my family that you claim I am causing so much misery.
            Sorry if I have my daughters in too many activities and pursuing too many dreams so that they think twice about letting some sweet-talking boy press them into sex before marriage. (how can you do what you want with a baby on your hip?)

            Jr High girls basketball season is going great btw. My daughter’s team is awesome. They are 11 and 1.
            And my other daughter is hoping to go to state for her flute playing this year. Lessons and competitions do take up a lot of time.

            Oh, and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend is wonderful. He spoils my daughter with his kindness and giving heart and has Christian values about waiting for marriage that I so appreciate. She knows he’s a gem and appreciates him and tries to keep her head in the midst of his generosity so that she doesn’t take advantage of him.

            I think you need to talk to Don for a while.
            Perhaps he can engage you in the way you prefer and give you the time your arguments deserve.

            Sorry I’ve been such a bad and inconsistent debater.
            Maybe I’ll join the discussion again when I have more time.

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          2. You know, thinking about this again, WG. If I hit a hot button with my bringing up what the Pope had to say, I’m sorry.
            His words are just one of many examples out there.
            Perhaps his words weren’t the best ones to bring up.
            sorry.

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          3. Mara,

            Thank you for your prompt reply. My response follows:

            //You either didn’t see it or you didn’t accept it.
            But the answers are there.//

            Your answers were unsatisfactory, and you never replied to my rebuttal of them.

            //Now you are judging my spirit?
            Are you sure you want to stand in that position over me?
            And you are judging how I am raising my daughters?//

            I don’t want to be your judge. I have too many issues of my own to deal with before worrying about anyone else’s. I was basing my comments off of what I have read from you in the past. Even though you sort of made your family situation fair game by talking about it on here, I should be more sensitive to it. I meant no insult however.

            I got more personal than I should have with my comments to you, and for that I apologize.

            //You know, thinking about this again, WG. If I hit a hot button with my bringing up what the Pope had to say, I’m sorry.//

            No need to apologize for the Pope comment. I am not Catholic, and it didn’t bother me at all. Really I am not easily offended, so don’t ever worry about offending me. Please always be as honest and blunt as you like.

            Please don’t get the wrong idea about me. I am not interested in any type of culture where women are dominated and cowed into obedience by men. I actually have a non-dominant personality and don’t like to tell anyone what to do. My wife, who is an active duty Captain in the U.S. Army, will often get irritated with me for not being more of a leader and making decisions for the family. Her military background and familiarity with the chain of command, her family experiences with her own father and mother, and her religious beliefs cause her to have this type of mindset and expectation of me, and she gets disappointed with me when I am overly passive or wishy washy. But she has done a great job in supporting me and helping me overcome my faults with this issue.

            So its kind of funny that I end up arguing for the complementarian position. Not out of any desire to dominate anyone, but only because I believe that is what the Bible truly teaches. And having been in two drastically different situations (first wife wanted to dominate, second wife wants me to be the leader) I have a unique perspective.

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          4. I’ve listened to you and another guy talk about their marriages where the wife vetted them well during courtship and then lets them lead after the wedding. I think I would be so happy if someone cared enough about me and trusted me such that she would want to listen to me, to help me, and to follow the direction that I set for the family. I am beginning to think that men really need to be in that leadership position in the home in order to be attracted to marriage at all. And I think women need to develop ways of testing men for that role.

            “My wife, who is an active duty Captain in the U.S. Army, will often get irritated with me for not being more of a leader and making decisions for the family. Her military background and familiarity with the chain of command, her family experiences with her own father and mother, and her religious beliefs cause her to have this type of mindset and expectation of me, and she gets disappointed with me when I am overly passive or wishy washy. But she has done a great job in supporting me and helping me overcome my faults with this issue.”

            Wow. I think you must me the happiest guy in the world. Most of the women I know try to dominate me and they attack me for my flaws with their girl friends instead of trying to help me to grow. This in spite of my significant strength in Biblical roles, etc.

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          5. No, WG, you never did respond to my last reply on the Sci-Fi thread. I just went there to check on them to make sure. You missed them. No big deal since it did take me a few days to get to it.
            And if you want to declare them unsatisfactory then you argue against reason and the original language of the Bible.

            The reason I thought you were Catholic is because of what you said about Jesus building His church on the rock, the rock being Peter. That is a Catholic position, not a protestant one.
            I addressed that on the sci-fi thread at the bottom of the thread.

            WG:”So its kind of funny that I end up arguing for the complementarian position. Not out of any desire to dominate anyone, but only because I believe that is what the Bible truly teaches. And having been in two drastically different situations (first wife wanted to dominate, second wife wants me to be the leader) I have a unique perspective.”

            I understand that you feel this way and respect it.
            I disagree but respect it.
            I also am quite aware that the men with the non-dominant personalities are the ones that could actually pull off the comp theory. It’s the Alpha males that scare me.

            You have to follow what you believe the word is telling you.
            Just as I have to follow what I believe the word is telling me.

            Mostly I want men to dig a little deeper and not just fall insync with the party line. The party line is flawed.

            Some men preach comp out of arrogance, some out of fear. Neither should be present when studying these scriptures.
            But rather men should approach the scriptures without preconceived notions.

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          6. “I also am quite aware that the men with the non-dominant personalities are the ones that could actually pull off the comp theory. It’s the Alpha males that scare me.”

            I could not agree with you more. I’m not an alpha male, and I withdraw when women will not let me lead them. It’s very frustrating to me when they don’t understand that I am trying to build them up for bigger responsibilities and they try switch my priorities for theirs. I feel like I don’t want to get involved and make any sacrifices for them.

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          7. Wintery: “I am beginning to think that men really need to be in that leadership position in the home in order to be attracted to marriage at all.”

            So if men can’t be in charge they are going to take their ball and go home?
            Sorry, but that’s what it sounds like.

            You know the book you told me to read?
            I’m reading it.
            And it’s really good in so many ways.

            But…

            One part that jumped out at me was where the Russian guy said that many Russians converted to Christianity because they experienced 70 years of seeing atheism not work.

            Sorry, but my mind works this way so I have to mention this. Many women are rejecting compism because they have have 5, 10, 15, or 20+ years of practicing it and watching it not work.

            When they went to the teachers to ask what they were doing wrong the teachers just kept telling them to try harder or submit more. So the women went and tried harder and/or submit more. And it still didn’t work. So they had no choice but to chuck it and try something else.

            Just saying…

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          8. I am glad that you are reading that book, and it’s the perfect book. I don’t see how you can be egal and yet still read books that I suggest. My friend Richard has an egal wife and neither he nor I have ever been able to get her to read anything. After he married her, he managed to get her to read a third of a C.S. Lewis book. Can you imagine? That’s why I worry about egal women.

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          9. About Richard’s wife.

            I’m sure it’s the same for egal as it is for comp.
            Some men are comp for the wrong reasons. Some are sincere in their view of wanting to follow the Bible.
            Egal doesn’t always mean obstinant.
            In fact, early on when I was first deciding whether to cross over, one of the things that impressed me about the egal sites was the spirit there.
            However…
            I’m also quite aware that some women are egal ONLY because any FORM OF authority bothers them, not because they have searched the scriptures and found out what it really means.

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          10. Mara,

            Thanks for your latest responses. My reply follows:

            //
            The reason I thought you were Catholic is because of what you said about Jesus building His church on the rock, the rock being Peter. That is a Catholic position, not a protestant one.
            //

            I was merely quoting the words of Jesus in that passage (Matthew 16:17-19). The point being that Peter was going to be part of the foundation of the church. This point is reiterated in Ephesians 2:20 where Paul says:

            “19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone”

            The point being that the teachings of the Apostles are relevant for Christians today, and you can’t simply dismiss them because you happen to disagree with what they say. Jesus makes the Apostles part of the foundation of the faith.

            I’m not really sure how this would be a Catholic or a Protestant issue. But if anything, I’d tend to think that your position (that apostolic teachings can be ignored or minimized if they conflict with modern cultural values) as liberal and unorthodox.

            //You have to follow what you believe the word is telling you.
            Just as I have to follow what I believe the word is telling me.//

            That’s fine, but your way leads to conflict, misery and unhappiness, and your kind of selling yourself short. Worse yet, you may pass on this legacy to your children, which would be a real shame.

            One of the real demonstrations of this is how you seem so utterly consumed by this issue, and I honestly never give it a single thought except when you bring it up. It’s just one of those things that make you go hmmmmmm…..

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          11. WG: “That’s fine, but your way leads to conflict, misery and unhappiness, and your kind of selling yourself short. Worse yet, you may pass on this legacy to your children, which would be a real shame”

            You make a very broad assumption here.

            The only reason I bring it up here is because when I stumbled upon this blog I saw how much Wintery blamed women for this, that, and the other thing.
            He’s doing much better now and qualifying his statements better. And we are narrowing it down to the specifics of what we disagree on.
            Otherwise, I mostly agree with his conservative stance. Therefore why should I give him heck over what I agree with?
            (Besides, I may be wrong, but sometimes I think he likes it. It livens it up a bit around here. And I think he gets that I mean no disrespect.)

            If it isn’t that big of a deal to you then I would agree that mostly you have a good head on your shoulders concerning it.

            The only reason it has become a big deal to me is because it is becoming a bigger deal in many circles. And it is the comp teaching that is causeing misery, conflict, and unhappiness. I’m watching the fall-out, both on-line and in the lives of the women around me who idealistically bought into the comp teaching.
            They went into their marriages full force to do it ‘God’s way’ as taught by piper, grudem, and the like.
            It was these women who were sold short and who are now disillusioned and struggling with what the Bible actually meant in the apostles teachings. And they are discovering blatant bias in translations and comp teachings that is ticking them off. Some of them are tossing it all out. Others are cutting through the garbage to get to the heart of the gospel message and what it means to be a Christian.

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          12. About Richard’s wife.

            What kind of books is he asking her to read?
            If it’s one that goes over the top ten reasons why wives should submit to their husbands I might refuse to read it too. Unless of course my husband would agree to read a book like “10 Lies the Church Tells Women” by J. Lee Grady. And even then I wouldn’t consider it a fair exchange, though would do it anyway just to get him to read a book I wanted him too.

            BTW, so far, “On Guard” is awesome. I’m glad I let you talk me into it.

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          13. We are talking about books like On Guard, Lee Strobel books, C.S. Lewis, etc. Just basic apologetics books.

            I’m glad that you like the book. Lots of people are using that book to set up classes in their church to learn the basics of apologetics.

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    2. Mara said:

      //Be very careful about saying that verses in the NT on slavery were culturally relevant but the ones on women were not.//

      Mara, if your trying to draw some type of parallel between the verses in the New Testament that establish the man as the head of the family and verses “condoning” slavery you are barking up the wrong tree.

      The NT is very clear, and there aren’t any verses in the New Testament that condone slavery. Quote the contrary.

      I Timothy 1
      [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully, [9] as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;

      I Corinthians 7

      [21] Were you a slave* when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. [22] For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is *a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is *a slave of Christ. [23] *You were bought with a price; *do not become slaves of men.

      So there you have it. The New Testament is pretty harsh concerning the topic of slavery and trying to equivocate the leadership role of the father, or as Mara puts it, the “man-on-top hiearchy” with slavery is asinine and boggles the imagination.

      It is true that Paul instructed slaves to be subject to their masters if attaining freedom wasn’t possible. But he did this to protect the lives of the Christian slaves as revolting or trying to escape would lead to certain death, and not in any way to condone the practice of slavery, which he equated with lying, murder, and homosexuality in his list in I Timothy.

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      1. Ain’t no verses that say a man is “head of the family” this is pure comp mythology and needs to be rejected as unScriptural.

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          1. 1 Corinthians 11:3
            1 Peter 1-6
            Colossians 3:18

            I don’t think this authority as the tie-breaking vote applies to menial stuff, only to the man’s responsibilities as spiritual/moral leader. I hope Mara doesn’t beat me up too much. I’m arguing for a leader, and the time to check the man for tyrannical tendencies is during the courtship. Is the man capable of getting buy-in without being a bully? The courtship will tell.

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          2. In Eph 5:23 Paul is using a head/body metaphor of unity between the husband and wife and the family is not even discussed.

            In any case, one can see plainly in Eph 5 what Jesus as head of the church/body does and that is lovingly serve his wife, so a husband can lovingly serve his wife.

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          3. The word authority is not even used, this means you are supplying the idea from outside the text.

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          4. I think that wives should be careful who they marry, and then freely choose to submit to their husbands, after they’ve had their say during a disagreement. That’s why women have to marry men who listen, deliberate, and relent to superior reasons and evidence. Because if not, then submission becomes tyranny.

            Hopeful, now Mara isn’t going to pounce on me. I’m a complementarian, and it doesn’t mean ordering people around arbitrarily and capriciously.

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          5. I think everyone should be careful whom they marry and that sometimes a husband will submit and sometimes a wife, following Eph 5:21. And if someone wants to have their way, they are not showing love per 1 Cor 13.

            I see the comp position as not being fully Biblical, choosing to emphasize some verses and not take the full import of others by taking some verses out of their context of book teaching unit, subject throughout the Bible and cultural context of the time the text was written. So I encourage comps to be more fully Biblical.

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          6. Wintery, I’m not going to pounce on you.

            I never came here thinking that I was going to change everyone’s views from comp to egal.

            All I ever really wanted to do (outside of making people aware of how comp is being used to abuse in some cases) was to get people to realize that the comp position isn’t necessarily the ‘slam-dunk’ some teachers portray it as.

            Nor is egal the evil entity that some teachers claim.

            That’s all.

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  2. Amen, Mara. I see that kind of cherrypicking in so many of the comments here asserting a Biblical mandate for male domination. In a book as long as the Bible, with as many authors as it had, and with as many contradictions, everyone gets to pick the narrative that supports their world view.

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  3. “male-on-top hiearchy”?

    Is God not allowed to set roles for the sexes? Does the Bible institute domination of women or does it explain the proper roles of men and women? That is the greater question. Personally, I’m still undecided about ordination, but ordination is not necessary for evangelism. I think what needs to be determined is whether or not women are thinking of themselves first over what God may (or may not) have preferred, if not outright mandated, regarding the role of women in the church. It’s easy to insist that men have given themselves a right. A lot harder to show that’s the case. Sounds much more like boo-hoo-poor-me victimhood than fact.

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  4. Might not males be understanding some puzzling Bible passages to give themselves an advantage?

    The heart is wicked and this possibility always exists. Kings did it and slaveholders did it, might not some men be doing it now?

    It is not a question regarding whether some passage MIGHT be interpreted to give men an advantage, it is whether that passage MUST be interpreted in that way and it turns out that many scholars show that is far from the truth, that the disputed gender passages can be interpreted in a way that does not put men on top of women.

    So it becomea a choice regarding which was to understand these verses. And some sadly continue to insist on male supremacy.

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  5. Hah.
    Nice try Marshall.
    You know I hit it out of the park. You just don’t want to acknowledge it.

    I appreciate you openess on ordination.
    I don’t appreciate the boo-hoo-poor-me victimhood comment. But I attribute that to you not understanding where I’m coming from.

    I don’t have time to explain this now. Have to take my daughter to the dentist.

    Shalini, I appreciate your gracious comment on the “men in the poor house” thread. If I have time I’ll respond over there. If I don’t, just know I saw it and agree with you that I don’t acknowledge the good in these men enough.
    I do it from time to time.
    The fact is, if I didn’t think these men to be of exceptional quality, I wouldn’t waste one more minute of my time here.

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      1. (Smile)

        I have a few egal friends who go to blogs that are completely hostile to the egal position and challenge the blog owners openly.
        And the blog owners come back with all sorts of hatred and name-calling.
        And my friends are fine with that, expect it, but continue to charge in.

        I can’t stand those kinds of atmospheres and avoid them like the plague. I don’t like what I become in those situations.

        I’d much rather have an intelligent argument with decent people who will at least give me a listen. I accept the fact that I won’t convince most of the people most of the time. And I’m open to learning something from their point of view.

        It’s a much better exchange imHo. ;)

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        1. I’m sorry to hear about their personal experiences on this. It’s a shame that a few spoil the debate when a lot of the major theologians that I know of seem to have a consensus on this issue.
          I also know some people, who actually knew me very well before the issue of egal/comp came up and suddenly became very confrontational when we were discussing it as a big group and basically tried to humiliate me because of it in public. That was not nice. And they are leaders in youth ministries and lead camps all round the world.
          But I’m mature enough now to know that that has absolutely no significance with the exegetical issues at hand so I forgot about it until now.
          The difference between an awkward, edgy debate and a great one is when there is christlike humility on both sides which a lot of the time we don’t seem to see. Doesn’t mean one side is more legitimate than the other, though. It’s just a shame more than anything else.

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          1. If you think there is a consensus among evangelical theologians, that claim just means you have not been reading both sides. I think that is a good idea on any of these areas where there are debates, following the principle of Prov. 18:17.

            If you study both sides, you will see that comps are CHOOSING to interpret some gender verses they way they want to and egals are doing the same. I would only be comp if there were no choices involved and there are, as I think the egal reading is closer to the other principles of the Kingdom.

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          2. When people attack you for asking questions instead of answering your questions, you know you have asked the right questions

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          3. There are also other general rules to debating that I think you and I both would agree on and that would be not misrepresenting your opponent- on purpose or otherwise.
            I hope you don’t think that I said there is a consensus among evangelical theologians. You might want to read my little comment again, hopefully more sympathetically this time.
            I said, “a lot of the MAJOR theologians that I KNOW OF…SEEM to have reached a consensus.” Now that is very different, would you not agree?
            It was a lot more cautious than saying the former. Do I really need to name names?
            C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Jim Elliot, Elisabeth Elliot, John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, Don Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Terry Virgo, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Doug Wilson, John Frame, Paul Washer and I could go on and on…those are the MAJOR theologians/pastors/thinkers that I KNOW of, who SEEM to have reached a consensus.

            I don’t think comps are choosing some verses at all. I see comp in action right from creation, just like Paul did. I see comp in action right through the Bible, right up to the NT rules and advice for the church as well as to individual leaders. I do not see a single indictment of comp, either on a general level, or on a personal level.
            How many inerrantist, evangelical, mainstream and well-known theologians do you know of who reject complementarianism Don? Can you give me a list?

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          4. I did read what you wrote and your qualifiers, you created a self-fulfilling claim by your own defs. but it also pointed out that you have not studied both sides much.

            If you want to see others who deny comp. see the list at CBE and there are MANY. But if you just study those who already agree with you, guess what, you make it harder on yourself to see their mistakes.

            Lewis actually became more egal with time, but his most famous works were written before then; but if you want to check out his evolution, see MSVL’s recent book.

            There is no comp in action since creation, that is just a man-made tradition which in this case ends up negating Scripture and which Jesus said to reject such things. If you wish to learn how to take off your blue lenses when reading Scripture, I can help you, but if you do not wish to do this, it is your choice.

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  6. Michael asked:

    “Would it be fair to say that you believe that the passages in question represent a temporary compromise with the ‘man-on-top hierarchy’ (your words not mine :P) status quo in the world, just as the regulatory verses with regards to slaves were temporary compromises with the pro-slavery status quo? And then would it be that your view that despite this, that the main thrust of scripture went against both of these status quos as far as possible without detracting attention from the gospel?

    Changing the questions slightly, would it also be your view that there is no gender role distinction whatsoever? That there is no particular role that men should do that women can’t/shouldn’t and there is no particular role that women should do that men can’t/shouldn’t?”

    The Bible was written in a world that assumed patriarchy and slavery. God works with people and with peoples plural where they are at, moving them into the Kingdom step by step. In the Tanakh, but also in the Apostolic Scriptures the idea is presented that people are equal.

    On roles, only a woman can bear and nurse kids and only a man can impregnate a woman. And there are some diffs in the brain that happen during fetal development that could result in basic diffs the brain halfs are less connected in males.

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    1. Right, so there are definitely some gender role distinctions, such as child rearing. Do you think it’s a shame that men can’t also give birth, that it would be kind of cool if both men and women both could in turn give birth? Would it be good if God had made it that way?
      Or do you think that the way that works is God ordained, that you are very happy with the way it works and that it is a good thing?
      What other gender role distinctions are there, if any? Where do you draw the line?
      Do you think that complementarians don’t believe women to be equal to men? Do you think that the fact that men don’t have the right means that men aren’t equal to women? Do you think that because women have an ability that men don’t, that men are inferior to women?
      What do you think those biological differences in the brain reflect? If the brain is closely connected to the mind/heart and soul then surely that implies that there are also differences between men and women on an emotional and spiritual level too, and not just the physical?
      Just some questions there to get you thinking.

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    2. There is a mother’s role of child bearing, and a parental role of child rearing.

      I do not think it a shame that men cannot give birth. I think it is good as God made humans, male and female. I am very happily married, I enjoy being male and my wife enjoys being female.

      Each couple can draw their own lines on how they want to carve up the responsibilities of a family. The follows the basic Christian principle of freedom in Christ. Each spouse is to submit to the other, sacrificially love the other, respect the other, etc.

      I think comps BELIEVE that they teach that women are equal to men, but they have deceived themselves in an Orwellian way. Comps teach that one can be ontologically equal but permanently functionally unequal to another, which makes no sense.

      Both genders are equal in the eyes of God and should be in the eyes of humans. God did accomodate to societies that did not do this, but one can see the difference between accomodation and the goal of the Kingdom.

      I think that it is quite possible that the gender brain diffs lead to the generalization that women tend to be better at holding many ideas in their mind while men tend to be better at focusing on one thing.

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  7. Speaking of roles.

    Is being an astronaut a male role or a female role?

    Who would make a better astronaut?

    Men, of course.
    Right?
    Wrong!

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2009-10-14-astronauts-women_N.htm

    Which if you think logically about it makes sense because:
    “They reasoned women were smaller and breathed less oxygen,”

    Also, they tend to be more flexible in small confined spaces.

    Of course, instead of putting women into tin cans and sending them into orbit, they did that to men and buried the fact that one woman, “in particular
    Jerrie Cobb, ‘really had the right stuff.’ Cobb passed all tests and far exceeded Mercury 7’s average in flight time and endurance.”

    But are these women bitter that the door was slammed in their faces?
    No.
    Said one woman, “It was wonderful to be part of that time.”

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    1. I would say it’s not relevant to gender. The picking was probably largely more political than anything, considering they were all white men.

      And being an astronaut, I’d say, is much more than about being smaller and breath less oxygen.

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      1. I know.

        But if you actually read the article, the women, on average, out-performed the men in most of the tests.

        I read another article on the same thing and it said that one of the guys who promoted this said that, in space flight, that men needed to stop thinking that it takes a football player when really a ballerina would do better.

        No big deal. Those were the times. But it’s good to note every now and again that cultural preferences aren’t always right.

        Remember the Tuskegee Airmen

        http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/

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