Saturday, December 21, 2019

On Gender Roles and Society

The problem with Miller’s approach is there are no such thing as “man-actions,” and “woman-actions.” Both genders can do any action depending on the context! The nature of men and women are not dependent on what action they are currently doing, especially when the same action word can mean different things for both men and women. For example, the leadership of Deborah was one that seek to encourage a man to take up leadership (Barak; Jdg. 4:6-7), while the men in leadership in Israel do not do so. By focusing on actions instead of the manner of how things are done, Miller gives the impression that there is no essential difference (besides biology) between men and women in their natures, which is essentially the egalitarian position. [-DHC, from my review of Rachel Miller's book Beyond Authority and Submission]

The crushing normalcy of egalitarianism pervades modern culture today. Egalitarianism is the air that we breathe, so much so that it take tremendous effort to not think in terms of egalitarian terms. That is likely why Rachel Miller is a social egalitarian, because the church focuses (as it should to a certain degree) most of her efforts on the church and less on how the Bible orders how men and women ought to reflect the glory of God in Creation. The Church rightly teaches concerning Redemption, yet its teaching on Creation is sorely lacking, which is why so-called "soft complementarianism" has emerged in supposed orthodox Reformed circles.

As I have alluded to in my review of Miller's book, I agree that there are no "men" and "women" actions, but that the manner of doing such actions are to be informed by nature which includes gender. (For general purposes, I treat "sex" and "gender" as interchangeable terms.) Some people may think that this implies that a woman can do anything a man can. But such is not what I am asserting. Rather, I am saying that men and women can do all actions, which is different from saying they can do all things interchangeably. The case in point is the action of leading, where I contrasted the action of leading of Deborah to the action of leading of any male leader in Israel. Deborah's leading is a deferential leading, a leading because of a lack of leadership. The correct way of understanding Deborah is not that she wants to lead, but she leads because there is no competent male judge at that time, and Barak refuses to take the lead even after being asked to do so.

Thus, there is a distinction between an action, and the context and persons involved in the action. Unlike many complementarians, I do not like to give concrete applications of what a man can or cannot do. Application of what God has taught concerning gender is a matter of wisdom, not law. The principles however should be taught concerning gender roles, and who one is in his or her nature ought to influence how one acts and behaves in life, including in society. Having said that, there are some issues of which we should have no ambiguity over. To have women in the armed forces in combat vocations is definitely wrong, for how can one think that having the potentiality of women dying in wars to defend the country is ever acceptable? Or how about women being the top ruler(s) in a country? All of these are contrary to the principles of Creation ordered by God, and thus should be rejected by Christians.

In today's fallen, non-Christian world, such things and more have become increasingly common, under the so-called push for "equal rights." As Christians living in secular countries, we submit to the ruling authorities no matter how wicked they are. That does not however mean that we endorse what is happening as something good. Christians must submit to female prime ministers, but we should not think that is a good thing, and we must agree that such a person if she were in our churches should be investigated for possible church discipline. We live as dual citizens. As earthly citizens, we submit to earthly authority, but as heavenly citizens, we testify to the evils of the earthly kingdom, including its violation of the Natural Law given by God.

On the one hand, we must acknowledge the ethical equality of men and women, On the other hand, we must acknowledge the ontological inequality of men and women. Men and women are not the same and will never be the same, no matter what nonsense the world says in her wickedness. All of these we must not only hold intellectually, but also practice as best as we can, living as counter-cultural witness to the Kingship of God in this world, not just in Redemption but also in Creation.

No comments: