Monday, August 27, 2012

Sydney submittedness out of control?

If what Julia Baird says here is true about Sydney teaching on women submitting to male headship in every context, inside and outside the church, are things not getting just a teensy-weensy bit out of hand?

LATER: I note and acknowledge here a response in The Briefing. I am not sure that point 4 works that well. Newspaper publishes nonsense one day does not mean that next day's post is ignorable. Not is point 5 up to much: 'nuances' to help society understand what the church stands for? Can't recall Jesus dealing in 'nuances' and expecting people to patiently wait while he worked through them! Point 6 is a good point. So how come the headlines aren't about a service in which the man vows to live and love his wife sacrificially?

In general I think we are missing the most obvious point about Ephesians 5:21-6:9 on husbands/wives, parents/children, masters/slaves. The headline is, BE SUBJECT TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST (5:21). From this headline flows the mutuality of the three sets of relationships, each of which starts out with the 'norm' of the day: 'Wives, be subject to your husbands ... Children, obey your parents ... Slaves, obey your earthly masters ...; only for the responsive requirement to tilt the potential imbalance of one side of the relationship being dominated by the other. 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ... fathers, do not provoke your children to anger ... masters, do the same i.e. good] to them. Stop threatening them ...'

Further, there is a subtle modifier of 'subject' in 5:22 when the mirror and closing verse of the passage reiterates the beginning with 'Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband' (5:33). 'Submit' is such a loaded word today, with a bad history through the ways in which we men have 'subjected' our wives to various ills, including dumping them for a younger woman (my current hobby horse, brothers!). But 'respect' I can live with that. Is there any woman committed to her marriage who does not want to respect her husband?

STILL LATER: Notwithstanding my qualms about the Sydney service, I think a great case is made for it by ++Peter Jensen himself.


Andrei said...

LOL - A left wing feminist journalist who thinks that homilies on "climate change" should resound from the pulpits of churches on Sunday morning takes exception to the New Testament understanding of the relationship between men and women by completely misunderstanding it.

It is all in the narrative, the Bible doesn't say men must dominate their wives it actually says they must love and cherish them and value their wives over and above their own selves.

It is a modern heresy that men and women are interchangeable, they differ only in the trivial matter of plumbing.

It has reached such levels of absurdity that if you think "a mistake has been made" you can often on the taxpayers dime get your plumbing rearranged to present a non functional facsimile of that of the other gender.

And as we fall further down the rabbit hole we end up with the farce of "men" giving birth and then whining that their breast feeding support group does not think that they are the appropriate person to lead their group. Most likely because the "man's" breast feeding problems ultimately are sourced in the fact that "he" chopped off his breasts to conform to his new "gender identity" instead of leaving them intact to feed the infant "he" chose to conceive, the other women might believe that there is not much value "his" experiences can add to assist them with theirs is what's really behind it.

Journalism of course like most of the professions in these enlightened times is female dominated at a ratio of 2 women for every man. And it is great for these female journalists to live in their nice apartments and dine out at the finest eateries with the nicest of the nicest from chattering classes.

But somebody has to do the scut work that keeps their nice empowered world turning, the offices where they type their purple prose clean and to raise the children who will fluff up the pillows and wash their aged bottoms when, as almost inevitably must eventually happen they loose control of their facilities.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself to be somewhat in the centre between the poles of complimentarianism and egalitarianism.

I support (obviously!) the ordination of women. But I do so on purely Biblical grounds and not out of any devotion to Liberal notions of equality.

I think we should expunge the language of equality and rights from this debate entirely. Equality is a cold mathmatical and heartless way to understand gender relations that does not do justice to the complexity of human reality.

Men and women were created to be partners. Thus both lead and both submit. And sometimes one or the other may take the lead in a particular area, or for a particular time.

Thus I disagree with the Sydney Anglican approach and I disagree with egalitarians, and I disagree with both for the same reason. Both are trying to force men and women into a straightjacket that is neither Biblical nor realistic.

However like Andrie I find it difficult to take seriously criticism from a liberal journalist who wants "climate change" preached from the pulpit!

On the other hand I would challenge Sydney Anglicans with my Conservative trump card: If their view had held sway in Britain we would never have had Margaret Thatcher!

Andrei said...

If their view had held sway in Britain we would never have had Margaret Thatcher!

Who, as you will no doubt recall, Shawn, was referred to and still is as Mrs Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, what if the SMH discovers that 'respects' in Eph 5.33 is actually 'fears' (phobetai)?!
No chance, really -they would struggle to find the New Testament, let alone Ephesians.

Father Ron Smith said...

This is the same sort of endemic patriarchalism that belongs to the middle-ages - reflecting Sydney's fear of women preaching, teaching and presiding at the Eucharist. No wonder the rest of Australia looks askance at Sydney's backwardness.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I support (obviously!) the ordination of women. But I do so on purely Biblical grounds and not out of any devotion to Liberal notions of equality." - Shawn -

Are these the same 'biblical grounds' on which the Sydney diocese refuses to ordain women to the priesthood. I must say, I find your appeal to the biblical ethic somewhat erratic. Or is there a special reason here for your appeal to the rationale of women priests?

Peter Carrell said...

I hope you are not questioning the English Standard Version translation, Martin :)

Anonymous said...

I reserve the right to question all translations (including my own). :) Not that 'respect' is a bad word; I'm just not sure if it carries the same weight as 'reverentia' (< vereor, 'I fear'). The 'fear (phobos) of the Lord' (cf Eph 5.21) is something more than 'respect'.

Anonymous said...


There is nothing erratic about my appeal to Scripture. I leave that particular vice to you.

Just to he clear I made up my mind on this issue long before my wife was considering ordination, so your insinuation is incorrect.

For the Biblical basis for women in ministry I refer you to N.T Wright's conference paper on the issue: 'Women's Service in the Church; The Biblical Basis' which is available at the Fulcrum web site.

Oh and "patriarchy" is not the problem. The feminist myth making on that subject is worthless pseudo-history.

Anonymous said...

Also, as much as patriarchy is not the problem, feminism is not the answer. Like all forms of Cultural Marxism, post sixties feminism has been a disaster for women and the West.

Bryden Black said...

a repeat from the earlier thread:

One of the beautiful features of von Balthasar’s Trinitarian theology is his insistence on a form of kenoticism through and through for each and every Person. That is, Phil 2:6-11 (in the context NB of 2:1-5 and 12-13) reveals truly the divine nature/form in essence, not as some exegetes have it, only the human being Jesus.

Thereafter, “male and female” in “the image and likeness of God” reflect, in their own way too, this mutual “lifting up” (ala Fourth Gospel) of each other, the human ectype finding its true prototype in the Trinitarian Deity . That is, in Christ Jesus we may see the effects of the Fall (following Gen 3's curses) genuinely remediated, reinstating Gen 1 & 2. Which is just what Ephesians would have us see writ large, following the NT Catechetical Form, since 5:8-21 explicitly picks this up having introduced it in 4:17-24. Unfortunately many an English translation wrongly begins a new paragraph at 5:21 when it properly concludes the string of participles (vv.19-21) indicating the results of “letting the Holy Spirit fill” us (“you” plural originally) at v.18b. This “mutual submission” is then explicated via three sets of key 1st C social relationships.

Frankly, this thread and the later one re “submittedness” highlight what happens when a fuller, richer biblical scope is not permitted.

Janice said...

I read Peter Jensens's article. He wrote, "There is nothing new in this - it is the same as the Australian Prayer Book which has been used for decades.

Where different promises are made, the man undertakes great responsibility and this is also the wording of the book, as it has always been. ...

My greatest interest in the draft service the diocese has prepared is the high standard being proposed for men.

When a husband promises to love his wife as Christ loved the church and give himself up for her, he is declaring his intention to be a man of strength and self-control for her benefit and for the benefit of any children born to them.

The current 2nd form APB marriage service, at the beginning, includes these words:
So Saint Paul teaches that the husband must love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and that the wife must give due honour to her husband.

The promises made by bride and groom are identical:

N, will you take N to be your wife/husband, to live together according to God's law? Will you
give her/him the honour due to her/him as your wife/husband and, forsaking all others, love and protect
her/him, as long as you both shall live?

The current 1st form does not mention anything about a husband having to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. The promises made by bride and groom are as follows:

N, will you have N as your wife, to live together, as God has ordained, in the holy
state of matrimony? Will you love her, cherish her, honour and protect her, in
sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her, as long as you
both shall live?

N, will you have N as your husband, to live together, as God has ordained, in the holy
state of matrimony? Will you love him, obey him, honour and protect him, in sickness
and in health and, forsaking all others,be faithful to him, as long as you both shall

According to an ABC interview with a couple married using the new vows, "The husband vows to honour and protect his wife and she promises to honour and submit to him as the church submits to Christ. It'll replace a woman's promise to obey her husband."

If the only change replaces the woman's promise to obey her husband I suppose we can presume she still promises to love, honour and protect him etc., just as he promises to love, honour and protect her. The groom's only additional promise is to cherish his wife. I fail to see how that is a promise to undertake "greater responsibility".

So it's as I said before. When the Diocese asks the groom, "Will you love her and give yourself up for her, as Christ gave himself up for the church?" then I will consider the possibility that they're interested in something other than the subordination of women.

Peter Carrell said...

Well said, Janice!

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Janice, for your explicit posting here. I, too, suspect that Sydney is very interested in the subordination of women. Hence their unbalance in matters of priesthood and the reservation of teaching and governance roles in their diocese to the male of the species.