Is Andrew Wilson a Hard Complementarian, a Soft Complementarian or a Feminist? It’s Time for an Answer

Typical of the liberal-humanist media, Elder Andrew Wilson and Alastair Roberts (both from England and both alpha males) have been persecuted for simply pointing out that feminists do not understand true biblical equality, that ladies should not be in the military, and that women should not be CEOs:

The entrance of women into new spheres has often led to a weakening of the social power of those spheres, as women are often more vulnerable and easily exploited and less agentic and assertive in their typical modes of behaviour than men. As these social spheres and institutions were typically not designed merely for the empowerment of those within them, but for serving some broader social end and empowering society more generally, the loss of this power is a serious concern: the power structures of a social institution are weakened merely in order to include more women in its upper echelons.

They rightly argued that “many women would be much better served by robust and accessible universal healthcare” which is exactly what the church provided before the onslaught of tax-funded, Big Government, Obamacare. What is joyous to behold is that Elder Andrew may be bearing the fruits of repentance because only a year ago he talked about the “equality of men and women” without scare quotes. Not only does he now use scare quotes, he properly sees so-called secular “equality” between men and women as “an empty concept”.

So far, so hard complementarian. And there is more hard complementarianism–even in Elder Andrew’s feminist phase!

Essentialist feminism, which denies any essential differences between men and women other than the reproductive organs they have, does enormous although subtle damage to men, women and children. Marital feminism, which opposes any distinction in the parts played by a husband and a wife in marriage, is counterintuitive, ethnocentric and (more importantly) unbiblical, and often emasculates men and exasperates women.

Could. Not. Agree. More. So-called metrosexual Biblical Egalitarians, and even some soft complementarians (or so I’ve heard), sometimes share the cooking, change diapers, permit their wives employment, allow their wives to worship with uncovered heads, and they even carry effeminate manbags. This does not happen in Africa and is therefore ethnocentric. Tell me, who are the real racists now? My wife has, guided by His grace, chosen to do the feminine tasks and to submit to her loving husband. Tell me, who are the real sexists now?

Elder Andrew, an internationally respected authority on feminism, has also shown more of its flaws from a Bible perspective:

Anti-biblical feminism, whereby the scriptures are seen as chauvinistic and consequently stripped of their moral authority over our lives when it comes to sex and gender, simply expresses the age-old problem of rebellion against God’s rule, which goes right back to the garden, in a modern costume.

Absolutely! Ellen DeGeneres, Susan Sarandon, Brangalina, Jane Fonda, Hillary, and the rest of that lot are modern day Eves. Wake up America! Elder Andrew has some more sharp words for these hipster lesbo-feminists.

And then there’s the increasingly common and somewhat odious too-cool-for-school feminism, which works hard to present itself as hip and ironic in contrast to the prissy habitus of classical (let alone biblical) femininity, and then directs pointed snark at various scriptural passages, labels those who still live by them as sexist, and actively seeks to marginalise, scandalise and patronise both the men and the women who attempt to live out what we might call biblical sex roles (as, we might remember, well over 90% of Christians in history have).

Preach it Elder Andrew! What is wonderful about the Bible is that it is anti-Big Government and so when the intolerant liberal Post-Modernists get snarky they misinterpretate the point. I have the free choice to sell my daughter into slavery but I do not have to (Exodus 21:7-11). As I have exegeted previously, wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24), as the church submits to Christ, employee to employer, and a slave to their master (Ephesians 6:5; 1 Peter 2:18). This is all about a love, care and protection for the lady–and, as Elder Andrew shows, for society. When I ask my wife about my sermons, she freely admits that she appreciates the Holy Word more because she keeps her mouth firmly shut (1 Corinthians 14:34) and tries her best to listen.

Yet what worries me about Elder Andrew is that a year ago, in his pre-scare quote days, he talked about “vital, bold, heroic feminism, that takes the full equality of women with men and applies it to marriages, workplaces, churches and societies where men abuse women”. Is this feminism in the Hillary sense or femininsm in the hard complementarian sense (e.g. looking after your wife and protecting her from the workplace)? I think Elder Andrew’s latest offering shows that his hard complementarianism is stiffening.

But I am still puzzled.

Last year, Elder Andrew claimed that he heard that “84% of women in one African country said privately that they had been physically beaten by their husbands”. The question is, what does Elder Andrew think about this in terms of the bigger picture? Elder Andrew claimed that “Marital feminism, which opposes any distinction in the parts played by a husband and a wife in marriage, is…ethnocentric”. Is it ethnocentric to criticize the behavior of African men, including Bible-believing ones? I thought Africa was how we defended our arguments now! After all, the Whole of Africa and most of the Globe believe in miracles (unlike liberal America and intolerant Europe) and so biblical miracles really happened too. If we start thinking as Elder Andrew did, does this not mean preaching the resurrection is in vain (1 Corinthians 15.12-19)? It might even give the non-believer the impression that we are just using Africa and ethnocentricism tokenistically to support our arguments when they seem intolerant or weird!

Book review: Spencer, Salty Wives

My attention has been drawn to this new book which I will now review.

F. Scott Spencer, Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows (Eerdmans 2012)

Engaging feminist hermeneutics and philosophy in addition to more traditional methods of biblical study, Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows demonstrates and celebrates the remarkable capability and ingenuity of several women in the Gospel of Luke. While recent studies have exposed women’s limited opportunities for ministry in Luke, Scott Spencer pulls the pendulum back from a negative feminist-critical pole toward a more constructive center.

Granting that Luke sends somewhat “mixed messages” about women’s work and status as Jesus’ disciples, Spencer analyzes such women as Mary, Elizabeth, Joanna, Martha and Mary, and the infamous yet intriguing wife of Lot — whom Jesus exhorts his followers to “remember” — as well as the unrelentingly persistent women characters in Jesus’ parables.

This book probably has pros and cons. My view is that it is valuable but should be used with care because it might have traces of a softer complementarian position. Let me explain why.

  • Luke does not send “mixed messages” about women.
  • Eerdmans is good but it isn’t as trustworthy as IVP.
  • I’m not particularly happy that the author has felt the need “to engage” with feminist hermeneutics and philosophy, even if it restores the more constructive hard complementarian center. That sort of thinking can be safely ignored, not “engaged”. Would you “engage” with Hitler, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or the anti-gun nuts? No, thought not.
  • I am happy that the author has criticized the exposing (and “exposing” is exactly the right language) by Liberal Bible Scholars that Luke was a feminist and believed that women had “limited opportunities for ministry”. Luke was a hard complementarian who loved women through his medical ministry.
  • I am happy that more traditional methods of biblical study are used. Frankly, too many Liberal Bible Scholars have ignored J. I. Packer for far too long so it is good to see him being used in a book that will be read by them. Of course, hard complementarians never stopped using Pastor Packer. Some soft complementarians claim they never stopped but then they don’t have a problem with ladies teaching women so I doubt it every much.

But I’m particularly endorsing this book  (with all due qualifications) because “salty wife” is how I describe my wife after what I have done to, all over and sometimes in, her when I colonize her in the martial bed (on which see Pastor Mark Driscoll with Mrs Mark Driscoll and Jared C. Wilson and The Gospel Coalition). And she has never once complained.

– Pastor Randy Hawk

To the Brethren in The Gospel Coalition: Where art “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc.”?

Now Christmas Day is over, it is time to reflect on the year. And what a year 2012 was!

For my reviews of the year I avoid the secular liberal media and turn straight to The Gospel Coalition (TGC). However, for some reason TGC’s “ten of our most popular articles of 2012” doesn’t even mention THE obvious TGC article of 2012 by Jared C. Wilson (“The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc.”) which included Pastor Douglas Wilson’s important reaction against those (e.g. egalitarians, soft complementarians and other feminists) who have forgotten biblical concepts of true authority and submission. As he described martial sex: “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts”. This article was hugely popular and widely discussed on the internet so why didn’t it make the Top Ten?

The only reason I can think of is a technical hitch because I can’t find the link anymore. I hope this gets fixed soon and that the article gets restored to the Top Ten immediately (we all want to know if it came first!). This is tactically important because unbelievers might claim a (hollow) victory by suggesting that the Wilsons and TGC actually succumbed to Liberal Humanist pressure and removed the link themselves. I know this latter suggestion is not possible because of Matthew 24.24: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect”.

Bet let’s not fret over a mere hyperlink! There are some great memories from 2012 and TGC. Few of us will ever forget articles such as “How to Win the Public on Homosexuality“, “Don’t Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever” (by The Wife of Tim Keller), “Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Missions Trips“, and my personal favourite, “Gay Is Not the New Black“.

– Pastor Randy Hawk

Could John Piper’s Advice on Wife Abuse Lead to Soft Complementarianism? Perhaps.

John Piper (and a woman)

John Piper (and a woman)

John Piper has been an outstanding defender of Biblical norms for men and women, standing as a bulwark against the great tide of recent liberalism and postmodernism. In a recent blog post at desiringGod, brother John discusses cases in which the physical discipline of a wife may cross the gray line into the realm of unacceptable and un-Christian violence. Brother John has previously advised that these matters be kept within the boundaries of the family or church. He advised that a wife might see fit to endure “being smacked one night” and then to seek help from the church:

But John now sees certain cases which permit a woman to call law enforcement agencies without challenging the headship of her husband. But is he right, or is this a dangerous concession to liberal thought?

John rightly points out that submission is a principle not only of a wife’s relationship to her husband, but also of “children to parents (Ephesians 6:1), citizens to government (Romans 13:1), wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22), employees to employers (2 Thessalonians 3:10), church members to elders (Hebrews 13:17), all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21), all believers to Christ (Luke 6:46).” And so, some of these duties may come into conflict from time to time, needing to be resolved with the wisdom which is found only in the Scriptures and from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I note that John doesn’t mention the submission of slaves to masters (Ephesians 6:5), but that is another area which the Bible commands submission. I am not questioning the decision in the past of U.S. slaves to rebel against their masters, but I will note in passing that this should have been decided on a State-by-State basis and was never within the constitutional jurisdiction of the Federal Government and is just another instance of Big Government imposing its beliefs on individuals.

That aside, brother John is right that a wife should not go to the police for the odd slap. I mean to say, imagine if Mrs. Hawk had gone to the police on the few occasions that she has spoken out of turn to me in our forty-three years of marriage, when I did no more than brush her with the back of my hand (and it hurt me to do so, more than it hurt her)! I would be locked up now with the real criminals! Never did I step over the line into wonton violence.

Where John should be careful, however, is in saying that it is acceptable for a wife to call the police on her own husband. Here is how he approaches this issue of a husband who has been excessively violent to his wife, whether in discipline or in lashing out to her:

A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church…. Recourse to civil authorities may be the right thing for an abused wife to do. Threatening or intentionally inflicting bodily harm against a spouse (or other family members) is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, punishable by fines, short-term imprisonment, or both. Which means that a husband who threatens and intentionally injures his wife is not only breaking God’s moral law, but also the state’s civil law. In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.

I acknowledge this is a curly question. But I am not convinced by John’s argumentation. Until the late Nineteenth Century, it was perfectly legal for a husband to physically discipline a woman in this country, provided it was not excessive in the way that the Muslim excessively disciplines his wife (or wives!) today in the Middle East. So on his reasoning, as soon as the Federal Government and its liberal courts opposed even the mildest forms of physical disciplining (and in so doing undermined both male authority in the household and the Constitution), we also have to set aside the Word of God when it affords authority to the male in the Christian household. Can this be right? Back when it was legal to administer moderate physical discipline to a wife, would John Piper agree that a wife had no recourse to law enforcement and should have merely been submissive back then? And so are we to make obedience to the Word of God subject to the passing of unconstitutional, humanistic laws? As is well known, liberals have used legislation in order to undermine the authority of males and the family unit for over a century now, all in the name of Humanism. But who is the greater authority: God or the State?

Brother John bases his argument on human law, but there is at least some doubt as to whether these humanistic laws are contrary to the protection of individuals offered in the Constitution, and therefore they may not be laws at all.

John admits that a woman may “turn the other cheek” to her husband’s physical discipline, and in so doing follow the Word of God. He rightly describes this as a “path of love open to those who are persecuted”. But then he muddies the waters by giving other options, including fleeing. But where is the submission in fleeing from the leader of the household?

Let me be perfectly clear, I am just as concerned as John Piper to “make it part of the culture of manhood in the church that the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women.” Yet this should not mean abandoning the divine sanction for male leadership in the household or disobeying the biblical injunction for physical discipline.

– Pastor Randy Hawk