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Are you writing some articles for publication right now, or do you just have these well-thought-out theses hanging around in the back of your mind? I appreciate these very much.

Doug Chaplin

John: "It seems obvious to me that abuse needs to be sanctioned" – In the UK (at least) the most normal use of "sanctioned" is "permitted, approved". I take it you are using it to mean "have sanctions applied to it" but I did a double take on reading this.

Sam C

Heh, I did the same double take and careful re-read...


Sorry about the Americanese. I will add a clarifying comment.



considering how much time I've dedicated to this topic recently, I probably should prepare something for publication. But there are many other things that I'm working on with greater tenacity.

Bob MacDonald

You might find of interest.

Bob MacDonald

hmm the processor skipped half my sentence - probably because I used square brackets - It should read - you might find this long review of interest. !


But I think it would be a huge mistake to outlaw traditional and neo-traditional marriage practices per se. I realize that the school marm nanny-state is the solution according to certain trains of thought.

OK, I'm befuddled. Not only does the second sentence contain both a redundancy and a mixed metaphor, but I was not aware that "traditional marriage" was under consideration for "outlawing." How exactly would one go about outlawing it, John? Would Winston Smith make an announcement while BB monitors the video feed?

It seems to me that you are winning a victory over a strawman. Are you next going to take a courageous stance against genocide, salmonella, and pushing little old ladies into mud puddles?

Let's talk about real policy issues, such as no-fault divorce.



It's a great pity that in point 5 of your observations, which BTW are all worthy of note, that you don't at least say something about the hardline traditionalists (Grudem, Ware etc.) and at least concede that they too, if we use the same polemic, are equally liable to sectarianism. It's your one sided, heavy handedness against egalitarian scholarship that is so distasteful to those of us who defend the egalitarian position.



I agree with you that hardline neo-traditionalists as I would call them are liable to sectarianism. However, since neither you nor I are traditionalists or neo-traditionalists, whatever criticism of their sectarianism we might offer will fall, almost inevitably, on deaf ears.

Card-carrying neo-traditionalists have the best shot at convincing those who hold those positions to refrain from making those positions a matter of status confessionis.

But in my view, egals need to clean house as well. That's my point and that was the starting point of the CT article that started this series off.

As an egal, I have some chance of being heard by fellow egals - at least in theory. But there has to be a willingness on the part of egals to seek common ground with traditionalists and moderate neo-traditionalists. I haven't seen much willingness yet.



you are quite wrong to think that these are not real issues. On the one hand, you have the Archbishop of Canterbury reportedly suggesting that a form of sharia law should be allowed to be administered within subcommunities in GB. On the other hand, you have governments imposing penalties on people who point out that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the teaching of the church. I thought polygamy was prohibited in the US, but maybe not. Child-brides, apparently, bother people more, unless they have famous sisters.

The boundaries dividing what is licit and illicit in some forms of democracy is subject to popular referendum and thus to cultural whim. In other forms, an educated elite decides for the people: such elites have not been shy about imposing their standards on the majority. In either case, religiously justified traditional or neo-traditional practices are under threat w/o adequate constitutional safeguards. But the example of sharia law, or the mere question of the headscarf, illustrates how difficult it is to decide where to draw the line.

On the specific issue at hand, there have been feminists who expressed the view that traditional and neo-traditional marriage arrangements are a form of slavery. It is clear enough that in the republic of their dreams, such arrangements would not be permitted.


It may be a mistaken sort of fantasy to think that equality minded Christians will find common ground within the hierarchy theories of subordinationists of any flavor. Common ground can be found in our inheritance as Christians and in other biblical doctrines such as the Trinity.

If it is concessions that you are looking for, I think there are enough concessions in admitting that some people seem to like an authority subordinate relationship (at least for a while), and no one is going to tell them they cannot choose to live their marriage in that type of arrangement. Whether it is a healthy arrangement or not may be another issue. But I do not think you will get much more in concessions. Those who believe that Scripture does not teach leader/follower marital roles need to be shown that it does teach it before they will concede anything on that issue. And that is a commendable stance for either side to take. That is where we are stuck at, at present…. Isn’t it. <>

BTW, for Sumner to promote the Ephe. 5 as metaphor of ‘head of and body of” (as I read somewhere on your site) is very good. Many equality minded Christians have been pointing that Ephesians relationship out for years.



your link doesn't work.


“But there has to be a willingness on the part of egals to seek common ground with traditionalists and moderate neo-traditionalists. I haven't seen much willingness yet.”

Actually, I’ve seen more willingness from equality minded Christians in making concessions than I have in traditionalists of any flavor. I don’t think I’ve heard one subordinationst say that a Christian is free to choose what sort of marital orderliness they want. Its either their way or heresy or ??

“there have been feminists who expressed the view that traditional and neo-traditional marriage arrangements are a form of slavery.”

John, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to be calling fellow Christians “feminists” unless they have chosen that designation themselves. It is regularly used as a derisive title.

As to whether it has been said in those words or not may be questionable. Switch out the “are” for “can be” and I’d agree. If two people want the “leader-follower” relationship then it may or may not be slavery in form. And some people like to relate in dominate submissive ways anyway. Then it would be a sort of willing slavery. But when women are coerced into subjugating themselves to an arrangement that hurts them, it can be slavery in those cases and quite damaging.


Hi Tiro,

the kind of concession an egal like you or I might make to a traditionalist or neo-traditionalist is to affirm that a leader/follower marriage arrangement does not contradict scripture so long as both husband and wife love one another according to the teaching of 1 Cor 13.

The concession that a traditionalist or neo-traditionalist might make to an egalitarian is to affirm that an egalitarian marriage, despite its imperfect representation of a divinely instituted order, may nonetheless mirror God's love very effectively.

A non-polemical stance toward both traditionalist and egalitarian marriage arrangements animates the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church. In my view, any church that wants to be catholic rather than sectarian will follow this path of wisdom.

That Protestants instead choose to create church bodies based on excluding either traditionalists or non-traditionalists on this and related issues is an old, old, story, and an ugly one. That's how I see it.

By the way, I am aware that RCism is very sectarian on a range of other issues. For the moment, however, I beg you not to be confused by that reality such that the potential good of a catholic spirit no longer stands out.



Maybe in your neck of the woods, "feminist" is a derisive title. It's not in mine. Thank God for feminists. I mean that. My goodness, if you put me in a room with a (self-identifying) Christian feminist like Mary Stewart van Leeuwen and a nerdnik neo-traditionalist of the vegetable variety, believe me, the vegetable comp would be outnumbered three to one.

I long to see traditionalists, moderate comps and moderate egals make common cause on a variety of issues. Why not start with issues like abortion, no-fault divorce, and condemnation of spousal abuse?


“the kind of concession an egal like you or I might make to a traditionalist or neo-traditionalist is to affirm that a leader/follower marriage arrangement does not contradict scripture so long as both husband and wife love one another according to the teaching of 1 Cor 13.”

I can agree with that and have.

“By the way, I am aware that RCism is very sectarian on a range of other issues. For the moment, however, I beg you not to be confused by that reality such that the potential good of a catholic spirit no longer stands out.”

I was raised RC, when the nuns wore long robes and carried longer than average yardsticks. I don’t mind them, they’ve improved over the years. I can visit; just don't want to live there. ☺

“I long to see traditionalists, moderate comps and moderate egals make common cause on a variety of issues. Why not start with issues like abortion, no-fault divorce, and condemnation of spousal abuse?”

Those are good places to start, although I’m not sure about “no fault divorce”. I think it would be a mistake to require spouses to verbally castigate one another in order to get away. Course I’m thinking of secular divorce in that.



I understand your diffidence about opposing "no-fault" divorce. Still, something like South Africa's "truth and reconciliation" model brings a measure of healing to broken marriages. The "no-fault divorce" model, furthermore, has worked very poorly in practice. Current procedures for assigning custody of children are also a mess.

I distrust those who defend the status quo of divorce, family, and child custody laws. They do not live in the same world I live in on a far too intimate basis.

Bob MacDonald

Hope this works, Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Reviewed by Gerrie Snyman, holds this nugget:

they all read the text in the same way by masking ideology as if the text proclaims that very ideology to a tabula rasa reader,


Thanks, Bob, for the link and the quote. The quote is right on.

It is essential to honest exegesis to move forward on the basis of the following default assumption, that the text says something that is unlike things we have already said and thought.

A priori, we must be prepared for the possibility that the biblical text does not confirm what we already hold to be true.

In theory, one might expect atheist exegetes to be better than believers at not projecting onto the ancient text their own issues and agenda. However, it does not work out that way, if the exegesis of Hector Avalos is any guide.

The trouble is, atheists are not disinterested readers. They are simply readers with a different set of interests vis-a-vis the usual ones of believers.

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