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Jumping in for a minute to point out the obvious - the document repeatedly stresses that authority is not be used selfishly.

For example, referencing Romans 15:2-3 and Ephesians 5:2, the document states that with respect to marriage “a head may NEVER use authority to please self.” (Emphasis added.)

This is a model in which everybody is called to crucify self. His sacrifice for her and her submission to him are merely gender-nuanced sides of the same coin.

Sue, my reading of the Bible tells me that there is a place for your righteous anger. But, you hurt your cause when you direct it at folks like Tim Keller.

J. K. Gayle

John, Thanks for this follow up post with the link and the invitation to discussion. Clearly, the Kellers are wanting church members to adopt the church's position although they stress: "If you hold a view that differs from church policy or of the personal approach of the pastor, you should not feel bound to leave."

But how is this "middle ground"? They don't, as you do, label those who disagree with the church's policy as "feminists" but as ones with a "progressive model." How one labels is critical.

Of the "progressive model," the Kellers say that it "obliterates the God-given differences of women and men" and "ignores the Bible’s teaching on the different ways in which men and women may serve in the church."

This is hardly middle ground arguing. First, it assumes what it sets out to prove (i.e. is circular in its reasoning). Second, it a straw-man argument, failing to address the real concerns of those abused by the "traditional model."

An analogy can show what I mean. A Christian slave owner trying to get abolitionists to stay in his church could argue: the "progressive model" is one that "obliterates the God-given differences of slaves and masters" and "ignores the Bible’s teaching on the different ways in which masters and slaves may serve in the church." First, this assumes that abolitionists (i.e. those with the "progressive model") fail to see "differences," whether those are social class at birth, or skin color, or gender, or financial ruin, or whatever marks the slave as slave and the master as master. And if slaves and masters are different, then the difference must not only be recognized but they must also be seen as endorsed by the Bible as reasons for role differences. If there are differences, then therefore there must be differences. Second, these so-called "errors" of the abolitionist distract from the critical issue of the abolitionist with respect to slavery. The abolitionist is not someone who ignores difference. Rather, the abolitionist is someone who sees that difference should not inherently and automatically determine anyone's role relationship with another in the church. Difference (whether gender, race, class) should not allow for one human being to own another. To urge slaves and abolitionists to stay in a congregation in which the pastor and the policy is slavery is not middle ground either. Yes, the analogy breaks down. But the point is that the Keller's logic is neither sound logic nor an argument for "middle ground."


Hi Kurk,

Good to hear from you.

A truly middle ground style of argumentation seeks to address the abuses and the inherent weaknesses and strengths of competing models, in this case, traditional, neo-traditional, and egalitarian marriage and community models.

Tim and Kathy Keller do that. I do that rather often, as I hope you will admit. You instead have a partisan approach.

The difference is this. I'm happy to state and motivate my personal choice of framework. I do so rather often.

But I consider it my pastoral duty, my duty as a historian and an anthropologist, my duty as a human being, to describe and motivate the choice of framework of traditionals and neo-traditionals as emically as possible.

You don't. That's where we differ.


I would also point out that, in terms of sociological ecclesiological space, Tim and Kathy's approach creates an extensive middle ground, in reality.

This is my firm belief: anyone who suggests otherwise is misinformed or is deliberately distorting the facts in order to score ideological points.

If the latter, how boring. If that is what someone wants to do, I recommend they start a TV or radio talk show.

J. K. Gayle

Thanks for the response, John. I think Tim and Kathy Keller's approach goes far beyond anthropology and sociology and ecclesiology. There's theology that cinched the "tie-breaker" analogy for them:

..."the relationship of man to woman in Paul is not based on customs of the times but the relationships within the Trinity itself." And: "A head only exercises authority to over-rule when he believes his spouse is doing something destructive to her or the family."


Does or did this happen in the Trinity?

Did or does the Father, for example, "over-rule" Jesus because he believes his son is doing something or did something destructive to Jesus or to the church?



I am angry at those who follow Keller's explicit teaching that the destructive behaviour to be overruled is that of the wife. The wife is never taught that she can overrule the destructive behaviour of the husband. This is not taught by Keller. Yes, men are taught not to be selfish, but human beings are sinful and selfish, all of us, men included. This is why Keller advocates for a democracy for men to live in, but in the home, rule and submission. Not to have a home to be safe in - can you imagine that? Not to have a bed to sleep in safely.

Keller also speaks to the "greater" responsibility and accountability of the "head" the husband. This must mean that women have "less" responsibility. There is a growing community of women at No Longer Quivering, and it would break your heart. What a heartbreak for our children.

Everyone may suffer abuse, man or woman, egal or comp. But the complementarian ethic is unique in tying submission to male authority to spiritual acceptance by God. It is the aspect of additional spiritual abuse that is so damaging, so soul-destroying.

J. K. Gayle

And the appeal to Jesus is just weird, if it's anthropology, sociology, eccelesiology, or theology:

"Not one of his apostles was female."

Curiously, not one of his apostles was an uncircumcised goyim either. But the Kellers' church lets non-Jews (and why not some non-circumcised) be elders though it prohibits females from being elders on the basis of this argument.



People on various sides of this debate make theological arguments on behalf of particular cultural arrangements they think vehiculate truth. The Bible is full of argumentation of this kind. If you are suggesting that comps and egals declare a Lenten fast on arguments of this kind, feel free. I doubt you will have takers. Anthropology, family systems, ecclesiology - they are all grounded in theology in some sense for a believer.

If you apply the Fast only to your ideological opponents, you end up advocating for a double standard. If you ask me, that is where your train of thought leads.

I would like to declare a Lenten fast on making arguments based on different understandings of the relationship of the Father and the Son in order to ground *either* compism *or* egalism. Stackhouse and Witherington, both egals, have illustrated well the pitfalls of this method. It is a path, even if paved with good intentions, which leads exactly nowhere.

But my proposal isn't workable either. 1 Corinthians 11 stands in its way. I have dealt with this passage at some length before:


Justin R

I think there is something missing in some of these comments\arguments. I think there is an implicit assumption that the "authority" in marriages, whether complementarian or egal, are autonomous. This is too atomistic in my opinion.

For example, in a complimentarian relationship, the husband is not the highest authority over his family, but it the body of Christ (i.e. the Church), and her authority who is Jesus himself.

The husband does not have the final say in anything at all. The Husband is under a (feminine) authority which he is to submit to. In my opinion some of these arguments have weak ecclesiology.



You say:

"Kellers' church lets non-Jews (and why not some non-circumcised) be elders though it prohibits females from being elders on the basis of this argument."

Well duh. Tim and Kathy Keller's Bible also contains the pastoral epistles. Have you removed those pages from your Bible?

Look, Kurk, we are both egals. No disrespect intended, but the style of your argumentation makes it look like the egal position is defensible only with Johnny Cochran style arguments. I know it worked for OJ. But I don't think it's going to work for egalism.

J. K. Gayle

LOL John. Not Johnny Cochran's style, but Paul's:

In his pastoral epistles, Paul argues that the church shouldn't always discriminate based on race, or on male circumcision, or on gender. And he comes to this after calling God "Father" and after coming to know Jesus and his other apostles as only Jews, as invariably circumcised, and as never females. Paul, the former Pharisee, got liberal from time to time.

He might even laugh at prohibiting women from eldership just because "Not one of [Jesus's] apostles was female." He might say that the very first Apostle (i.e., Sent One) was female, the Apostle to the Apostles (as per the synoptic gospels and even John 20); perhaps she's even the one he refers to in that pastoral epistle, Romans (16:6). He might remind bible readers how Luke gives two "elders" as the earliest witnesses to Jesus (in Lk 2): a male and a female (Simeon and Anna). And the "elder" female was actually more official maybe more "ordained" than the male (since Luke tags her, and not him, as the prophet). Yep, I checked. My (feminist) bible still has all its pages.


That is funny, Kurk. One day in your view, Paul is worse than Aristotle. The next day, he is a liberal.

I'm pretty sure you know that Paul was neither.

But today, on the basis of the pastoral epistles, of all things, you wish to portray Paul as a feminist. Now that takes guts.

At some point, interpretation needs to do more than reflect reader-response mood swings. I'm being frank as usual.

J. K. Gayle

John, Yes - frankness isn't your problem. But didn't I qualify and speculate that Paul was liberal "from time to time"? Aristotle (and Greek rhetoric, culture, logic) was a huge person and personality for Paul, I think. But I'm still speculating, learning, as I assume Paul did some, "from time to time":


Fair enough, Kurk. I'm happy to learn right alongside of you.

Your statement implies that Paul was conservative "from time to time." So my question is: Is that allowed in your book? Are Tim and Kathy Keller allowed?



A point made by Sarah Sumner is relevant here – all Christian theologians are in agreement that wives are to submit to their husbands. The only thing that’s up for grabs in this debate is the term used to describe a husband’s relationship to his wife – submission, sacrifice, leadership, or some other word. (As you know from our past discussions, I’m partial to Sumner’s exegetical argument that the best one-word answer is “sacrifice.”)

Let’s set aside the issue of whether comp husbands sin against their wives with greater frequency than egal husbands. Regardless of how one answers that question, it is true that egal husbands sin against their wives.

So, egal wives face the same practical question that comp wives face: A wife’s submission is to be “unto Christ.” What does submission that honors Christ look like in difficult situations?


"So, egal wives face the same practical question that comp wives face: A wife’s submission is to be “unto Christ.” What does submission that honors Christ look like in difficult situations?"

An egal wife believes that the husband must equally submit to her if there is a moral decision to be made about how the children are cared for. She does not submit, on an important matter, regarding the children, simply because this will provide her with reduced responsibility if things go wrong.

Egal spouses acknowledge that if the child is harmed by anything the other spouse does, or does not do, each spouse bears equal responsibility and accountability. There is no such thing as saying that the "head" has more responsibility, and therefore more authority as tie-breaker. Each parent recognizes that they bear equal responsibility before God and in law.

Egals have equal problems. But egals do not attribute the overruling of one spouse by the other to God.


Sue, in practical terms and difficult situations, I see us as having more points in common than points of disagreement.

For example, I would cite Ananias and Sapphira. Enabling a husband's sin is not submission that honors Christ. I believe that we are on exactly the same page with respect to serious situations.

In routine situations, however, we probably see things differently. I see "equal submission" as a euphemism for "stalemate", and I don't see a viable path for resolving stalemates coming out of the egal literature.


In routine situations, however, we probably see things differently. I see "equal submission" as a euphemism for "stalemate", and I don't see a viable path for resolving stalemates coming out of the egal literature.

There is something in this that troubles me and runs through the entire "tiebreaker" concept.....and that is the conception of a marriage as an underlying conflict between two people.....and between two genders. This is simply loaded with the expectation that there is a constant gridlock, or a state of adversarial goal-setting, that is usually present in a marriage and that it can be solved through a means of investing authority in one party over and above the other.

Such a step only furthers conflict on the basis of gender, and while perhaps administratively makes it easier to make decisions, it undermines unity by casting men and women as completely "other" and "foreign" to one another.


Sue, Marilyn, and Terri,

Just a note to say that I'm listening to your conversation with keen interest. I'm sure others are as well.


Terri, I can see why you read my post the way that you did.

I’m of two minds about how to respond. On the one hand, I can think of very few true stalemates in my own marriage. On the other hand, in relationships we move forward or stay still. Growth can be painful, right? So there can be a bit of tension as we work through an issue. I would be shocked, for example, if the typical Christian counselor – egal or comp - holds the belief that an absence of tension is a hallmark of a good marriage.

But, typically, the greatest tension for me is internal because the struggle is between me and God, not between me and my husband. I know what to do, but don’t want to do it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Or, there is tension, and I struggle to see my contribution to it. It's easier for me to see my husband's sin than to see my own.

As for oneness in marriage, I think that a prerequisite is empathy. I believe that gender differences significantly impact how my husband and I relate to each other and that I can’t truly empathize with my husband if I don’t understand how he differs from me.

For example, I’m assuming that we both see emotional and sexual intimacy as attributes of oneness and desirable qualities in a healthy marriage. I think we simply differ in how we talk about the path to getting there.

Let’s look at some common comp practical advice – he has the stronger felt need for sexual release; she has the stronger felt need for emotional release. She is to meet his need; he is to meet her need.

But, what happens when husband and wife do those things? God commands a husband ito cleave to his wife. In the process of doing that – of moving towards his wife to meet a need that the husband many not feel he has – he comes into his own emotionally. Similarly, in the process of obeying God's command to meet her husband’s need for sexual intimacy, she comes into her own sexually.

You seem to see an acknowledgment of gender differences as creating exclusion. I see that same acknowledgment as the starting point for embrace.

I think we desire the same goal - one flesh unity. In light of that, should we be arguing or learning from each other?


P.S. Just caught a mistake in the fourth sentence. I intended to say "in relationships we move forward or backward. We don't stay still."


I don't see an acknowledgement of gender differences as creating exclusions. I have no problem affirming that there are some gender differences.

What I would disagree with is how strongly those gender differences are expressed and what they portend for a marriage.

I simply think that a lot of the assumed differences are caricatures.

When we create a framework in which to place the world, we tend to see everything as being related to that framework. If we have a framework that says men and women are so completely different that they have different desires, needs, and emotional make-ups that they are headed for inevitable conflict....then that's how we will interpret the relationship.

Everything gets categorized as gender differences instead of personality differences, or differences in the way two people grew up.

The comp. tendency to see everything through the prism of gender robs people of the opportunity to see each other as anything other than an incarnation of one of two different races---male or female.

It reads like a diplomatic relations handbook for encountering foreign cultures.

I take issue with several of your presuppositions:

That God "commands" women to appease their husbands appetites.

That God has "made" men and women so completely different.

That women need less sex and more emotion.

That most everybody falls along the gender norms/caricatures drawn in these discussions.

Stereotypes and caricatures help us try to label and deal with things.....but they very rarely have any relation to real life and are not helpful in guiding people who are having a conflict, or trying to partner together to create a family, or build a loving home.

Those things are accomplished, not by pinning down what men and women want as if they want completely different things, but by relating to one another as people and individuals.


"In routine situations, however, we probably see things differently."

It is all a continuum. You cannot separate the two. If the one spouse believes that they have greater authority and wishes to invoke that at any time, there is nothing to be done about it. It is hard to make plans knowing that you can be overruled at any time. You can never accept an invitation or make any plan to do anything without getting permission, which often does not come.

I wish you would read Submission Tyranny or No longer quivering and realize that there is a significant group of women with negative, and seriousy negative experiences. I can see no way that this can be addressed short of the elders putting hidden cameras into the home.

I am not being sarcastic. I don't think the dimensions of this are realized. Yes, it can happen to anyone. But giving male authority the voice of God, is a dangerous weapon, and I think most women are not seen in the bibliosphere because many have given up faith in the church, or in God.

I honestly believe that you are sympathetic, that you live a validated life, and that you have not understood the dimensions of spiritual abuse. I say this with all respect, and I don't hold an unrealistic image of egal lifestyle. I work in a secular setting. But I see few women who carry the damage that this doctrine has done to Christian women.


I agree that there will be exceptions to general advice due to personality, woundedness, etc. It would be TMI for a public blog, but my own soft comp marriage makes allowance for such differences.

But, if marriage is between one woman and one man, I think that gender is very important.

I'm also disappointed by what came across to me as a negative caricature of my remarks.

For exaple, you summarize me as saying "That God 'commands' women to appease their husbands appetites."

To me, those words have a negative connotation, and I don't think they're a fair representation of my position. As I said before on this thread, spouses are not to enable each other's sin. Having said that, isn't it implied that spouses should support a HEALTHY expression of each other's sexuality? But, that includes - among other things - a recognition of gender differences in sexuality and I Corinthians 7.

Here's how I see it. We live in a culture that encourages both men and women to define a variety of non-sexual, non-romantic needs as sexual/romantic needs. When are non-sexual needs being expressed as sexual/romantic needs? Is that ok?

That is one example of a question where I think comps and egals could learn from each other. (However, let me rush to say that I don't see this blog as the place for that particular conversation. Nor do I see myself as having a comparative advantage in contributing to that discussion.)

But to have a fruitful discussion on a topic like that, we have to get beyond bashing each other's positions.

I'm battling a deadline at work, so that's it from me.


I'm sorry if I misrepresented how you felt...I wasn't really thinking of you personally....but the position in general. This is just a discussion to me, not a I haven't meant to plow over you.

What's interesting about 1 Corinthians 7 is the acknowledgment of widows' sexual needs and passions. Even unmarried Paul gets that women have needs! ;-)

Here's how I see it. We live in a culture that encourages both men and women to define a variety of non-sexual, non-romantic needs as sexual/romantic needs. When are non-sexual needs being expressed as sexual/romantic needs? Is that ok?

I'm not sure I entirely get what you're trying to say with this. My first inclination is to say that complementarianism feeds a culture that defines non-sexual needs as sexual/romantic needs rooted in gender. In that sense I don't see how a comp. approach fights against the culture.


Arrggghhh.....I couldn't time and writing quickly:

Sue, I caught your comment as I posted mine above to Terri.

I don’t know what to say about the full quiver movement.

But, I do know that one of the most wonderful, godly families in my mega-church is part of that movement. When I last saw the wife, she was truly overflowing with joy at the upcoming delivery of her 14th child. Knowing this family as I now do, I can’t condemn them. Another godly family in my church is a passionate advocate for one of the most controversial parenting programs in the country. Their adult children are independent, mature Believers. They’re so pleased with how they were raised that they’re next-generation advocates of the very same parenting program. What do I make of that?

All I can do is refer you to numerous earlier comments by John about the importance of passages like I Corinthians 13 to all of us.

Terri, I do think we could learn from each other. In the example I gave, there's a tension for a wife. Her husband's sexuality differs from hers, and it's too easy for her to ignore that difference and let her needs be the arbiter of what "healthy" is. Comp teaching speaks to that. Also, when I see folks who have adopted a separatist position with respect to popular Culture, those folks are more apt to be comp and, because of the separtist position, in a good position to offer an informative critique of culture. Those are two examples of what comps bring to the table.

Egals also bring much to the table. IMO, so many comp restrictions on women in the church, for example, are extra-Biblical. Also IMO, the health and popularity of the soft comp movement is due in part to its willingness to respond to egal critique of comp excesses. I see egals as less willing to learn from comps.

I've learned so much from egals and non-comps: Mary Ann Glendon (on the importance of being sensitive to an emphasis of rights over responsibiities in secular egal culture), Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen (on the Fall), Sarah Sumner (on the exegesis of Ephesians 5) and blog discussions with John Hobbins (on the importance of the whole counsel of Scripture and domain-based authority) come to mind.


Since I think it's important to have first of all complementarian and egalitarian voices in the blogging community represented in a discussion of this kind, I will take the opportunity to paste into this thread recent comments by blogger Jeremy Pierce on a Peter Kirk thread:

(1) I should point out that while my wife and I are complementarians, in most things you would see virtually no difference between how we live and how egalitarians might live. But that’s what you should expect from complementarians who take the biblical language seriously. It never says for husbands to make their wives submit (which in itself destroys one main objection against complementarianism, which is that it gives some power to men that it deprives of women). If a wife doesn’t submit, what is a complementarian woman to do? Love his wife, of course! That argument assumes complementarians are going to take the barebones statement of complementarianism and apply it in a secular, non-Christian ethical framework, and then men will abuse women. The reality is that this teaching by itself isn’t what does that. It’s the secular, non-Christian ethical framework that does that. A humble, loving husband is the only one who can consistently apply complementarianism, and that will generate zero abuse. Anyone else who takes just the comp. thesis apart from the Bible isn’t applying complementarianism itself but the gender structures that feminists have been very good at pointing out, gender structures that in many cases Christians of a complementarian stripe have been fighting against for years (e.g. Promise Keepers were very good at this sort of thing).

(2) One complementarian view does see the gender roles distinctions as based in already-existing factual differences between men and women, but most complementarians do not accept that anymore. In fact, I’m not sure it’s properly complementarianism if you do it that way. The usual way to do it is either (a) the decision to assign role differences is entirely based on God’s choice, which isn’t based on capacities or differences or (b) God made the decision without basing it on capacity differences but then worked different tendencies into men and women in order to fit with the already-decided role differences. In neither case do the role differences have a basis in anything intrinsic to men or women. The differences in the second case come only after the choice is made by God, and in the first case there need not be any significant differences to begin with. So your argument that it’s an ontological difference is based on a misunderstanding of what most complementarians now think. In any case, it’s not an argument against complementarianism but against one particular way of thinking men and women should have different roles.

(3) Complementarianism’s whole point is to occupy a middle ground between egalitarianism and the more traditional views that explicitly treated women as inferior, in terms of intrinsic worth, rights, legitimacy of work outside the home, political participation, and so on.

(4) John: I doubt you’ll find many complementarians who think egalitarianism denies the gospel. They do think that one way of arguing against complementarianism (i.e. that of Kevin Giles and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis) ends up denying a crucial biblical claim about the Trinity, and I think they’re right to think that. But I know of no one who considers it a central enough claim about the Trinity to make it a gospel issue.




You said,

"I can’t condemn them."

I need to clearly state that I have never criticized you, Marilyn, or John's many complementarian friends and relations, nor my own, nor have I criticized anyone for living this way. Period. No, I don't condemn them either.

I am highly supportive of people with large families, where the wife stays home, etc. etc. I cannot think of even one thing ever that I have said againt this lifestyle. Most of my non-Christian egal friends work part time and are nurturing mothers of several children and are supportive and sacrifical wives. They are not full time career women. This is their nature, not their indoctrination.

I am saying that it is wrong to teach the subordination of women as God's will, because then women who are in circumstances where it is clearly wrong and very damaging to their bodies, and to their soul, are put in untenable situations. They simply sacrifice their health and sanity to a false teaching about the will of God. There are women who want many children, and their are women who have been indoctrintated into having more than their body can bear.

I have no trouble with having friends on and off the internet who are comp. Many, in fact. BUT I believe it is sinful to teach subordination in the home for women. This, functional subordination, taught uniquely and specifically to the woman is a weapon, which, when used, is deadly. This is a denial of mutual consent.

I have always defined my terms clearly and explained what I mean. It is the teaching that mutual consent can be overruled by the husband whenever he deems appropriate.



Note Jeremy's paragraph above, which I have numbered (1). From his point of view - and that of David Lang, as you will remember, you misrepresent complementarianism.

In fact, I don't have any comp friends who would not feel misrepresented by your definition of complementarianism.

They do not believe that a husband may overrule his wife "whenever he deems appropriate." Rather, in the context of loving her and laying his life down for her, he is to make decisions.


What is the difference between being the "decision-maker" and "overruling?"



When I mentioned No Longer Quivering it was to mention to you a blog, where a great variety of women are recounting the lives they had under the subordination of many different patriarchal systems. Most of them have no more interest in Christianity.

But please do not undestand from this that I dislike large families. You do not know my story in terms of the size of my family, nor do I know yours. Let us remain mutually respectful on this account.

Please try not to jump to conclusions, but only judge what I actually say, and do not class me with some group of feminists that you may be familiar with in your university milieu.

I protest against those (whatever their name) who teach and preach that marriage is not a relationship of mutual consent.


Decision-making and overruling are two different things.

Regardless of framework, decision-making in a healthy marriage involves, on significant enough issues, consultation.

In a domain-based hierarchy, overruling is sometimes necessary when there is a difference of opinion. It can come from either side, even if, as a point of departure, one expects it to come from the upside.

No matter what configuration of relationship overruling occurs in, it has gone bad if it takes on a legalistic cast. That's why decision-making, and overruling, in the case of a difference of opinion usually works out fine in an egalitarian framework, which has no designated tie-breaker.

Here is an example I remember vividly.

While pastor of the tiny little Methodist church in Udine Italy, I preached at the Cathedral to I don't know how many thousands of people, almost all Roman Catholics, guest of the Archbishop. However, the details of the event, and the one following, in which the Archbishop preached in the Methodist church (to the 100 or so people who could fit in its hall) were determined by a planning committee made up of trusted men and women of the Archbishop and myself and others on the Methodist side.

The service in the Cathedral went well. A collection was taken, which netted a ton of money, enough the pay the annual salary of someone at the time!

It had been decided in the planning process that the offering would go to the work of the Italian Protestant churches with undocumented and inadequately documented immigrant workers and families. But the Archbishop proposed after the event that the money be split 50-50 with 50 per cent going to the Caritas. I was about to say "fine" when a priest went over, took the offering, and gave it to me. "No, Your Excellency," he said, "It was decided that all of it is going to i valdesi (the Waldensians)." The Archbishop allowed himself to be overruled by the priest.

Comp husbands I know are quick to offer examples of how they defer to their wives in all manner of circumstances. And comp wives are quick to offer examples of how they trust their husbands and honor their initiative. Among excellent egal marriages, is it any different? Not that I know of.


I liked the comment that Don made on my recent post. He wrote,

"I agree hierarchical marriages can glorify God, but it seems to me that they do so in proportion to the husband NOT using the power to make final decisions when depends on his spiritual maturity. As an egal, if my wife told me that she really could not decide and for me to make a decision, I could do so, assuming a decision needed to be made, and it could also work in the reverse. In egal land, the spouses can decide how to make their marriage work without conforming to supposed "roles" that go beyond the physical constraints of reality. Husbands are to nuture kids and wives lead kids (as well as vice versa) according to the Bible.

The main reason to abandon hierarchical thinking in the family in the family would be when it is harming your spouse."


I would like to invite you to drop in on my blog some day, since I sometimes have difficulty loading my comments on this site. Sometimes my network is too slow. Thanks.



For readers who might not guess it, here is the comment thread of which you speak:

On that thread, Jeremy Pierce does a fine job a humanizing complementarianism in the face of many attempts to demonize it. The kind of complementarianism he defends is what I see a number of young couples opting for.

I'm happy to see that Don acknowledges that complementarian marriages can glorify God. But he exhibits the stereotypical approach so many egals have to authority and power: it is thought of as something that, the less you use it, the better. It is thought of as something negative in itself.

Authority is not negative in and of itself. On the contrary. When a husband or a wife exercises authority, regardless of domain, regardless of who has primary responsibility in that domain according to a prior arrangement by mutual consent, it is an immensely positive event if it is "authority on behalf of," the only type of authority the Bible legitimizes.

The main reason at the moment for young people to abandon egalitarianism even if that is what they grew up with is the stereotypically egalitarian fear of delegation and negative attitude to authority per se such that, for example, hierarchy is thought of in exclusively negative terms.

In my view, this is a large part of the reason soft complementarian resources dominate the marriage and family advice market.

Not long ago, I was browsing the University book at Northwestern University in Evanston IL, a secular university. The best-selling prominently displayed marriage book advice was a soft comp resource.


You have frequently made this connection. But you have cited nothing, nor given examples that male authority means that there is more authority overall in the family. Mothers have historically been exemplary authority figures in the family and often still are.

This argument of yours is odd in this context, because the reason that I cited Keller in the first place is because he draws quite different conclusions than you do.

Keller states that in society we need democracy because of sin and abuse. He is firm about that. But he then says that in the home, between husband and wife, we need "rule and submission." He is speaking of male rule and female submission, not domain-based delegation of authority.

This is what Keller says,

"Christians are for democracy because we believe in sin. Many folk believe in it for the opposite reason. Rousseau believed in democracy because he thought that people were so wise and good that no one is fit to be a slave. Of course, Christians wish for no one to be a slave, but we believe democracy is good because no one is fit to be a master!

Because of sin, people misuse absolute authority. Thus it is clear that monarchy, wise and good kings, would be a form of government that very much fits the Trinitarian pattern. God is a King, not a President, and our spiritual lives are based on monarchy. So why don’t we have Kings? The answer is that we have to abolish monarchy due to sin. We have to treat all people as equal.


In summary, the pattern of rule-and-submission is greatly muted in society because of sin. People abuse authority, so politically, all authority must be elected authority—and all individuals must have access to places of authority."

This is from Keller's paper that you link to. So, I see little difference between Keller and egalitarians when it comes to authority in society. The difference is that Keller believes in rule and submission in the home, between husabnd and wife. However, he does not explain why the same principle of "treating people as equals" in society does not apply in the home.

I believe that Keller is saying that we have to treat all people as equal in society because of sin and abuse; but in contrast, in the home, we must assign rule to the husband and submission to the wife. Although he says that rule/authority is to be on behalf of the wife, he does not explain why this principle of authority of behalf of is not adequate in society as well, given that there is sin equally in society and in the home.

The question is why Keller supports democracy in society because of sin, but not democracy between husband and wife, even though he acknowledges that there is also sin in the home.

Unlike your characterization of the egal/comp split, Keller is a social egalitarian, and a hierarchist in the home.

Ègalitarians are egalitarians in both society and in the home. Keller, like egalitarians, believes in authority in society organized on egalitarian principles with safeguards and access for all to authority. However, he does not hold to these principles for the home.

Only egalitarians believe that because there is sin between partners in the home, authority must operate according to democratic limitations and equal and reciprocal accountability. Keller rejects democratic principles for the home.

Gary Simmons

The main reason at the moment for young people to abandon egalitarianism even if that is what they grew up with is the stereotypically egalitarian fear of delegation and negative attitude to authority per se such that, for example, hierarchy is thought of in exclusively negative terms.

John, I'm confused by this sentence. Are you saying that those raised in an egal home have a trend of experimenting with a soft comp model [simply because it's rebelling against the way their parents were, since their parents showed a negative view of compism]?

Perhaps teenagers are that arbitrarily contrary, but... surely I'm misunderstanding (or misunderestimating) you here.



On the contrary, I have given, over the years in discussion with you and others on these threads and others, numerous examples of how traditional and complementarian templates work out in practice for the benefit of husband and wife alike. If necessary, I am happy to exemplify again. Let me know.

In the past, when complementarians exemplified from their own lives, for example David and Marilyn on complegal, the response from many commenting egals either lacked charity or claimed that the self-identifying comps were covert egals.

The result: conversations that reflected badly on varieties of egalism that, if all goes well, is mature enough to acknowledge *in theory* that complementarian and traditional marriages can glorify God, but *in practice,* when they are reported as being God-honoring, God-glorifying relationships, they have a very hard time believing it.

Such unbelief appears to be an artifact of very negative personal experiences within a complementarian marriage overtaken by sin and sickness, an experience which is then projected on the complementarian marriages of others. In the name of preventing dehumanization, the healthy relationships of others are dehumanized. IMHO a completely inexcusable pattern.

There must be a less violent way of upholding egalitarianism. It is this that I try to model on this blog.

You say:

"Mothers have historically been exemplary authority figures in the family and often still are."

As you know, you are preaching to the choir. I have consistently sung this tune to comps and egals alike. I so so wish the mostly egal young mothers I pastor would learn to be exemplary authority figures again.

The default situation right now is that they give up on being an authority figure right about the time when it is needed most: the teenage years of their children.

The problem is that parents of this generation cannot learn what it means to be a positive authority figure from their parents who often parented according to discredited libertarian models. Their grandparents look on in disgust but in most cases have long given up on teaching anyone anything. The root problem is the allergic reaction to the exercise of authority per se in the ambient culture.

Re: Tim and Kathy Keller. I'm not convinced you understand Tim and Kathy Keller's point of view. I am struck first of all by the fact that you erase Kathy from the picture by speaking only of "Keller." You reduce her to a non-entity. I'm hoping that was inadvertent but if it wasn't, please explain.

It is as hurtful as the shopworn strategy of some feminists who like to make statements which begin with "women" in which "women" becomes a placeholder for women who think like them and excludes all other women.

How quickly the oppressed take on the role of the oppressor. This is a sore point for me. If you want to discuss Tim and Kathy's point of view in greater detail, I'm willing, but only in a context in which she has not been depersonalized.

You say:

"Because of sin, people abuse absolute authority."

Theistic egals, comps, and traditionals concur: absolute authority belongs to God alone.

What that means is that the authority of God expressed in his commandments overrules a mother who abuses her authority and mistreats her children, ragging on them constantly or worse. Since it is so easy for a mother to abuse her authority - who is going to stop her - should it be taken away from her? It does not follow.

To put it another way, a mother's authority is similar to that of a constitutional monarch. Yes, there are strands of egalitarian family advice that have sought to do away with this model, and substitute it with a "democratic" model. The results, on the ground, have been more negative than positive.

Between husband and wife, the exercise of domain-based authority is different again. Unless it is loveless - and completely unbiblical, it functions in the context of large but not unlimited scope given to the principle of mutual consent. That is, mutual consent is given at the higher levels: it's your responsibility to take care of finances, for example. The delegation creates an enormous amount of freedom, of "letting go" for both delegator and delegatee.

If, instead, the responsibility for a particular domain were equally shared, or made the primary responsibility of the other, the actual decisions made, for better or worse, would have been different. Delegation necessarily creates a situation in which decisions are made which do not have your whole-hearted consent on a decision-by-decision basis.

As I have often argued, life-enhancing teaching on these matters involves the acknowledgement of two things: ontological equality needs functional subordination, and functional subordination needs ontological equality.



No, I didn't have teenagers in mind. Though I am absolutely fascinated watching how teenagers these days will choose a situation of complete anarchy for themselves (many parents seem happy to oblige), only to turn around and choose a situation with a strong hierarchical structure, like a sports team that places very high demands on their time, their commitment to excellence on the field, in the classroom, and in interpersonal relationships. I know coaches who are surrogate parents in every sense of the word.

Or they sign up for the military.

I had young couples in mind. When couples classes get going in my context, among young couples whose culture is almost always egal by default, without exception they go for soft comp resources designed to help wives be more submissive and husbands more loving in a context of mutual respect and with the goal of integrating marriage and family life into a larger walk with God.

Young couples today all too often were raised by parents who thought the democratic thing to do was think of the family as a debate society where every one had an equal vote. Too often that worked out, in practice, to everyone doing whatever they pleased.

If authority per se is understood as a negative, how could it be otherwise?

Young couples are looking for positive models for the exercise of authority. Models that allow them as couples and parents to structure their lives by mutual consent in less anarchic fashion than what they grew up with.

Let me know if I have not been clear enough.



You rightly point out that Kathy Keller also wrote this. I had accessed the paper through another site which put only Tim Keller's name on the paper. However, it was an oversight on my part to not notice her authorship - perhaps a sexist one, but more likely reflecting my physical shortsightedness.

I am sorry that you see women in your environment as not being authority figures. I have learned a lot about having authority with teenagers and young adults from my nonchristian and egal friends. I really can't comment on your experience since it has no commonality with mine.

There is typically a wide difference in family functioning between rural and urban, as well as socioeconomic base. I don't feel that we can get into all that, but I suspect the difference lies more in that realm.

I do not see egalitarianism between husband and wife associated with any lack of authority over children. One symptom which speaks against your theory that egalitarians do not beiieve in postive authority, is that evangelicals have a very high rate of teen pregnancy. This is unknown in the families of my colleagues and associates. However, it was quite common in the families of my fundamentalist upbringing. Perhaps some form of complementarianism leads girls to subconsiously seek motherhood early.

There is also a huge difference in teen pregnancy (both births and abortions) according to our respective countries. Perhaps, if I extrapolate from this data, I would say that Americans do not have an adequate view of authority with their teenagers. I don't know, but I would seek the answer there and not in egalitarianism.

Clearly you describe a social setting that is foreign to me. I would suggest that greater egalitarianism is a better preparation for both sexes for adulthood, and this is what I see around me. I see intelligent young men and women seeking appropriate ways to be adult, but my neighbours tend to be university professors, and typically atheist. They have gentle but firm routines and lovely children.

I find this notion that egals do not have a positive view of authority in the family to be so completely outside my experience that I can't interact with it. You provide no data, no examples, no suggestion beyond your conviction that somehow being egalitarian in husband and wife relations must have something wrong with it. I just don't know what it is.

Regarding the rest of your comment, it does not relate to me. It was Tim and Kathy Keller who said,

"Because of sin, people abuse absolute authority."

I used quotation marks to indicate that they were the ones who said this.

In any case, you are not interacting with the relevant points in the Kellers' paper that I bring up, but you repeat the same conviction that you have about egalitarians and authority. You are not acknowledging that the Kellers are social egalitarians because of sin and abuse, but recommend rule and submission in the home, even though they acknowledge that there is sin in the home. And please do not make the comparison that the mother and child relationship of authority validates the husband and wife relationship of authority.

I notice that you don't really interact with my comments, and to tell the truth, I understand. We come from two different realities.



Thank you for explaining your oversight.

You say:

"I would seek the answer there and not in egalitarianism."

I think the risks and benefits talked about in the comp-egal debate often have their true origins in neither complementarianism nor egalitarianism. My complaint: you are not being consistent enough in this sense.

You jump to attribute all sorts of evil to complementarianism, but are cautious about attributing anything negative to egalitarianism. This is not a credible procedure. It brings disrepute to egals if they are unable to point out both strengths and weaknesses in egalitarianism as they see it around them.

If they only point out its positives, as you do, it is safe to assume that, in place of bridge-building dialogue, a power-play is underway.

I would much prefer engaging in multi-factoral analysis. But until I see you doing this across the board, I can only assume you have a very big axe to grind.

I see now that you were quoting the Kellers with respect to absolute authority. But surely you agree with them on this point. If not, please explain.

I will continue to make comparisons between the authority a mother exercises on behalf of her children, and the authority a husband exercises on behalf of his wife - this happens in one domain or another regardless of framework, not because there are not essential differences - there are, and I refer to them often - but because there are also essential similiarities.

That's the point that egalitarians of your stripe seem unable to acknowledge: domain-based authority no matter who exercises it, besides being an efficient means of organizing life, comports terrible risks.

Every day somewhere in the world, an employer rapes an employee. As everyone knows, the intimate relationship often begins on consensual terms. But, like many marriages regardless of framework, it becomes something else. It turns into a nightmare.

Still, it does not follow (against hard-line Marxism) that the employer-employee and the husband-wife relationships are to be abolished.

This is the reason that religions like Christianity are, in practice, relatively structure-neutral. Thus, from a biblical perspective, marriage regardless of framework is a dangerous enterprise outside of a commitment to something like 1 Cor 13.

The Golden Rule doesn't cut it because so many people are into self-abuse. That legitimates their abuse of others.

As for "the different realities" business, I don't think that explains much of anything.

My experiences run the gamut; I would think yours do, too.

I have witnessed the tenderest and most beautiful marriages among unbelievers, and the most oppressive and awful marriages among strong believers.

I have witnessed beautiful marriages among traditionals, comps, and egals. I have witnessed the opposite in all three categories.

I assume your experience is just as broad. Perhaps you omit from consideration those parts of it that don't fit into the narrative you are constructing.


I am not arguing for abolishiing either husband-wife or employer-employee relationships. I am saying that their needs to be reciprocal accountability built in. This exists in a democratic accountability, in employer-employee relations and in all other relations in our society, including clergy and laity.

A person can be reomoved from power, unelected, or the individual who dissents can leave the situation freely, move from one job to another, or from one church to another. Not without difficulty in some cases, but these safeguards are built in.

The way complementarianism is usually taught, it is combined with shaming those who divorce, and sometimes excommunicating those who remarry. NOt only is the tie-breaking authority given to only one spouse, the husband, but there is no way to get out of it, until one displays the damaged flesh as a testimony. That God wants women to put up with this, until the violence is physical, is a spiritual abuse of women.

Anyone at all can be abused, but they are not asked to accept the abuser as an authority in their life, sanctioned by God. It is the spiritual dimension of this abuse which is unique to the male authority doctrine. I wish to call it this, because I don't want to capture all complementarians by any means. It is those who sanction male over female authority, male authority and female submission who cause so much psychological damage in addition to the damage caused by natural human frailty.

It is C. S. Lewis who said,

I am a democrat [believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

C. S. Lewis, 1943
(“Equality,” in C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, ed. by Lesley Walmsley [London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000,] p. 666)

I reject male authority because I see no man fit to be master also. It is not a matter of saying that egalitarianism is good. How could it be, when the people who practice it are not. But it is a matter of accepting that anything else is worse.

SLavery is worse than poverty, being under authority is worse than having to be responsible for yourself. Life is never ideal, but certain things, like slavery and the subordination of women, while not identical, have this in common - they can make a relationship with a sinful master or husband, so much worse. And who is not sinful?


If passages like 1 Cor. 13 were enough, we would not needs laws at all. But we still need lawa, and those who profess Christianity transgress the laws at about the same rate as anyone else.


Sue, I appreciate your honesty.

As you know, I am not against law. The "magisterial" Reformation has always backed the use of the law - though not without limits, with Calvin rightly allowing for revolution under certain conditions - by the state. The distinction between law and gospel becomes all the more important when that is done. I don't see you making that distinction.

Since the God Jews and Christians worship is the same one who, in the Old and New Testaments, invites worshippers to work out their salvation within traditional frameworks, the traditional husband-wife template, the traditional parent-child relationship, the traditional master-servant relationship, etc., I assume you will have nothing to do with this God.

Am I missing something here? How do you square your statements with historic Christianity?

It's one thing to affirm, as I do, that Christianity *is compatible* with a variety of cultural frameworks, in the subject matter at hand, with a variety of traditional, complementarian, and egalitarian frameworks.

It's another thing to say that *it isn't,* which you sometimes say, or that it is, and therefore *you reject it,* as you say on other occasions.

My impression is that you don't care one way or another about much of anything except your consistent tactic of generalizing from your personal experience of complementarianism in order to denigrate complementarianism tout court, and those who choose it in the process.

Many people you know, online if nothing else, are complementarians who make no bones about their commitment to that framework, and who describe the way it enhances their marriage. People like Marilyn or David on complegal, or Jeremy or Michael Patton on various threads.

Complementarianism as usually taught would be, as of today, books by the likes of complementarians Emerson Eggerichs and Gary Chapman. The first author, as you know, is the one Marilyn thinks very highly of. See this link:

"Complementarianism as usually taught" is not as you represent it. You caricature it. In the process, you represent an ideology of egalitarianism I find unacceptable. It traffics in the indiscriminate demonization of others.


The difficulty with calling my comments caricatures is that I cite articles which I either place on my blog, link to, or if I feel I cannot link, I expect people to find by google. In the case of the Kellers I put the article on my blog.

The further difficulty is that I expect people to interact with the articles, but they don't. So, really, to call my citing this or that person, a caricature, is juat a representation of your own lack of reading the articles of even the citations themselves.

Whatever you say about the God of the OT is immaterial. I could say to a raped slave,

"My impression is that you don't care one way or another about much of anything except your consistent tactic of generalizing from your personal experience of slavery in order to denigrate slavery tout court, and those who choose it in the process."

And I am sure that there was a slave or two who chose slavery rather than poverty. There might have been many who were well treated. But we don't allow slavery just because a few people found it attractive.

You have to have more support for complementarianism than its popularity. Otherwise you make it sound like a TV show.


I am not denigrating those who live in this paradigm and more than I denigrate Marcus Tullius Tiro, by saying that slavery is wrong.



Good grief. This is what you said about "complementarianism as usually taught," on this very thread, a thread which starts with a link to a piece by Tim and Kathy Keller from 1989 you brought up:

"[Complementarianism as usually taught involves] shaming those who divorce, and sometimes excommunicating those who remarry. Not only is the tie-breaking authority given to only one spouse, the husband, but there is no way to get out of it, until one displays the damaged flesh as a testimony."

Where do you cite Eggerichs, Chapman, or Thomas (the best-known complementarian writers I can think of off the top of my head) to back up these obvious and highly inflammatory caricatures? Where in heaven or on earth have Tim and Kathy Keller said what you apparently wish to impute to them?

Where have you shown any interest in careful contextualization of teaching of NT authors for that matter? Just as you assume that Ephesians' advice to masters and servants amounts to legitimizing a master's rape of a servant, you assume that complementarian teaching is tantamount to more of the same. For the sake of others who wish to read your highly inflammatory take on Ephesians 5-6, you can provide the link to your post to that effect if you wish.

The linguistic register you end up falling back on is identical to the one used in partisan political advertisements. They are known as attack ads. It is demeaning. Stop it.

For the rest, this is where we differ. I'm convinced that there are very good reasons why Eggerichs, Chapman, and Thomas are so popular. You do not.

Perhaps you can explain the reasons why they are so popular, from your point of view. If possible, in a way, that does take the people for whom they are popular for fools.

To get you to say anything charitable about anyone who is not an egalitarian after your own heart is very difficult. I do not envy your self-chosen role of being fire and tinder in these debates.


As for the God of the OT, whom you apparently regard (like Marcion, but for different reasons) as some kind of ogre, he was of course, the God of Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

You really landed yourself in a deep hole with the statement: "the God of the OT is immaterial."



The inflammatory things you say about non-egalitarian paradigms to an audience that includes well-adjusted traditionals and neo-traditionals are very hurtful to them. Nothing could be more obvious.

You are telling them that a paradigm they find to be life-enhancing is a form of poison. In the case of neo-traditionals, the paradigm is one they have chosen in place of another.

It is very galling. The comparison you make with Tullio what's his name is irrelevant.


When I wrote this,

"Whatever you say about the God of the OT is immaterial."

I meant it in the sense of "Whatever one says about the God of the OT is immaterial."

That is, one's view of the God of the OT is immaterial. Americans are against slavery, regardless of whether their view of the God of the OT. That is the import of my statement.

But you now claim that I said that "the God of the OT is immaterial."


BTW, This is John Piper,

"Therefore Christ’s word governs her life. And Christ has many words besides “Be submissive.” “Be submissive” is not an absolute, because her Lord has other things to tell her, so that if the husband tells her something that contradicts what the Lord tells her, then she’s got a crisis of, “To whom do I submit now?” And clearly she submits to Jesus above her husband. The reason she is submitting to her husband is because of her prior superior submission to the Lord.

So if this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly (group sex or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin), then the way she submits—I really think this is possible, though it’s kind of paradoxical—is that she’s not going to go there. I’m saying, “No, she’s not going to do what Jesus would disapprove even though the husband is asking her to do it.”

She’s going to say, however, something like, “Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can’t go there.”

Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church."

Note that the wife has to be smacked in order to get help from the church. No mention of the police. Piper thinks church discipline is the answer.

Piper also does not permit remarriage after divorce. This is not a caricature.


On a Tim and Kathy Keller thread started in response to a link you offered on another thread on this blog, you now wish to change the subject to John Piper?

No thank you. If you want to start a thread in denigration of John Piper, do it on your blog. Or argue about John Piper with bloggers who treasure his teaching (not my case; perhaps I have not read enough of his writings; the last time you tore into someone I naively assumed was God-awful, further research showed that you were decontextualizing). See how far you get.

As for your statement:

"Whatever you say about the God of the OT is immaterial. I could say to a raped slave."

It's not particularly clear.


"Whatever you say about the God of the OT is immaterial."


This phrase is quite clear. I did NOT say that the God of the OT was immaterial.

In any case, the comments have digressed and you have not even looked at the Kellers' paper where they espouse social egalitarianism and rule and submission in the home. I would guess that you are not going to now.


Perhaps you don't realize how unclear your statements can be. First you say:

"Whatever you say about the God of the OT is immaterial. I could say to a raped slave."

Then you say:

"[O]ne's view of the God of the OT is immaterial."

Then you seek to clarify by saying:

"Americans are against slavery, regardless of whether their view of the God of the OT."

This is also unclear.

I have no idea what you are trying to say.



I didn't address the point that you now want to come back to because Marilyn and Justin addressed it adequately in their contributions to this thread.

Marilyn pointed out that, contrary to your repeated misrepresentations and caricatures, complementarianism (as she understands and practices it - and, without a doubt, as Tim and Kathy Keller understand and practice it) differs far less than you suggest on a practical level from sane versions of egalitarianism. If that is the case, there is, practically speaking, no difference in risk-level between sane complementarianism and sane egalitarianism. That is her argument, which renders the democracy comparison moot. You need to address it. Marilyn's words:

"Sue, in practical terms and difficult situations, I see us as having more points in common than points of disagreement.

For example, I would cite Ananias and Sapphira. Enabling a husband's sin is not submission that honors Christ. I believe that we are on exactly the same page with respect to serious situations.

In routine situations, however, we probably see things differently. I see "equal submission" as a euphemism for "stalemate", and I don't see a viable path for resolving stalemates coming out of the egal literature."

End quote.

No matter how often comps point these things out to you, you plow ahead in your demolition derby as if nothing of the sort had ever been pointed out.

I am convinced that Marilyn is right on this score. Jeremy Pierce and David Lang have emphasized the same thing over and over again. From their point of view, decision-making in sane versions of complementarianism is, with the partial exception of stalemate situations, indistinguishable from decision-making in sane versions of egalitarianism.

I point the reader to a series of posts by Marilyn on this blog, for example:

I realize that you are reacting to a complementarian marriage gone bad - your own. What complementarians keep on pointing out to you is that within the framework they know and love, they give and receive all of the things you long for, but never had.

At the same time, these complementarians have never said anything like, "you are going to hell because you are no longer a comp," "since you are an egal, chances are, things will go bad for you," or similar drivel.

You might repay the courtesy, and refrain from suggesting that if someone is comp, chances are, they will be abusive if a male, and abused if a female.

You might show a minimum of respect for the stories of salvation and wholeness that occur within many God-honoring non-egalitarian marriages.

All of my comp friends show that kind of respect for the stories of salvation and wholeness I tell as occurring within my egalitarian marriage. It's the least I can do to treat them as they treat me.

You might think again about what the golden rule implies in this context.

Justin makes another point:

"The husband does not have the final say in anything at all."

I would add, for the sake of egalitarians who sometimes idolize their joint decision-making:

"The husband and wife do not have the final say in anything at all."

I would lay it down as a rule: as soon as either spouse or both spouses arrogate to themselves final say, all is lost.


Normally when someone misread someone they just apologize annd move on.

You say,

"I would lay it down as a rule: as soon as either spouse or both spouses arrogate to themselves final say, all is lost."

But Eggerichs is specific that the husband has "final authority" and "because the husband has been given the greater responsibility he must have the greater authority." He is clear that "when somebody has to call the shots, the husband is responsible to do it."

Gary Simmons

Let me know if I have not been clear enough.

Crystal clear, John. Thanks. I doubt many even realize that what they crave is structure. They crave to "find their place." Yet this can only be done through constraint to a non-individualistic framework.

Resident Aliens mentions something on that topic of how our individualistic society ultimately just makes us lonely and unfulfilled.



My objection stands. I mean no harm by it. In the examples quoted, you did not express yourself clearly.

Re: Eggerichs

As usual, you fail to contextualize. "Final authority" as Eggerichs uses it in the passage you cite has a restricted meaning. It does not mean that the husband can ignore God and his commandments, the authority of which is higher. It does not mean that he can exercise any kind of authority except in the context of loving his wife as deeply and completely as Christ loved the church and laid his life down for the church.

I have used Eggerichs' book in an marriage enrichment class consisting of 100 per cent egals. They had no trouble understanding the spirit of Eggerichs' advice. I don't hear them expressing themselves exactly as Eggerichs does. Nor do I express myself exactly as Eggerichs does. But they did not misread him to say the things you suggest he does.

I have no idea why you so consistently misread complementarian authors.


Thanks, Gary.

On that note of clarity, I hereby declare this comment thread closed.

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    notice and comment on open access material relating to the ancient world, by Charles Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
  • Balshanut
    top-notch Biblical Hebrew and Semitics blog by Peter Bekins, Ph. D. student, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati OH, faculty member, Wright State University (archive)
  • Believing is Knowing
    Comments on things like prophecy, predestination, and reward and punishment from an orthodox Jewish perspective, by David Guttmann
  • Ben Byerly's Blog
    thoughts on the Bible, Africa, Kenya, aid, and social justice, by Ben Byerly, a PhD candidate at Africa International University (AIU), in Nairobi, Kenya working on “The Hopes of Israel and the Ends of Acts” (Luke’s narrative defense of Paul to Diaspora Judeans in Acts 16-20)
  • Berit Olam
    by a thoughtful Matt Morgan, Berkeley CA resident, grad student in Old Testament at Regent University, Vancouver BC (archive)
  • Better Bibles Blog
    Discussion of translation problems and review of English Bible translations by Wayne Leman, Iver Larsen, Mike Sangrey, and others
  • Bibbia Blog
    A Bible blog in Italian and English by former students of the PIB and PUG
  • Bible Background research and commentary
    by Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Bible Design & Binding
    J. Mark Bertrand's place
  • BiblePlaces Blog
    a spotlight on the historical geography of the Holy Land, by Todd Bolen, formerly, Assistant Professor at the Israel Bible Extension campus of The Master's College, Santa Clarita CA
  • Biblicalia
    The riches of orthodoxy brought online by Kevin Edgecomb, a seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Brookline MA)
  • Biblische Ausbildung
    by Stephen L. Cook, professor of Old Testament / Hebrew Bible at Virginia Theological Seminary
  • C. Orthodoxy
    Christian, Contemporary, Conscientious… or Just Confused, by Ken Brown, a very thoughtful blog (archive). Ken is currently a Dr. Theol. student at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, part of The Sofja-Kovalevskaja Research Group studying early Jewish Monotheism. His dissertation will focus on the presentation of God in Job.
  • Catholic Bibles
    a thoughtful blog about Bible translations by Timothy, who has a degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum) and teaches theology in a Catholic high school in Michigan
  • Chrisendom
    irreverent blog with a focus on the New Testament, by Chris Tilling, New Testament Tutor for St Mellitus College and St Paul's Theological Centre, London
  • Claude Mariottini
    a perspective on the Old Testament and current events by a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicagoland, Illinois
  • Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot
    by Tyler Williams, a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and cognate literature, now Assistant Professor of Theology at The King's University College in Edmonton, Alberta (archive)
  • Colours of Scripture
    reflections on theology, philosophy, and literature, by Benjamin Smith, afflicted with scriptural synaesthesia, and located in London, England
  • Complegalitarian
    A team blog that discusses right ways and wrong ways Scripture might help in the social construction of gender (old archive only; more recent archive, unfortunately, no longer publicly available)
  • Connected Christianity
    a place to explore what it might be like if Christians finally got the head, heart, and hands of their faith re-connected (archive)
  • Conversational Theology
    Smart and delightful comment by Ros Clarke, a Ph.D. student at the University of the Highlands and Islands, at the (virtual) Highland Theological College (archive)
  • Daily Hebrew
    For students of biblical Hebrew and the ancient Near East, by Chip Hardy, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago
  • Daniel O. McClellan
    a fine blog by the same, who is pursuing a master of arts degree in biblical studies at Trinity Western University just outside of Vancouver, BC.
  • Davar Akher
    Looking for alternative explanations: comments on things Jewish and beyond, by Simon Holloway, a PhD student in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies at The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Deinde
    News and Discussion by Danny Zacharias
  • Discipulus scripturae
    Nathan Stitt's place
  • Dr. Claude Mariottini
    balanced comment by a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, Lombard IL
  • Dr. Platypus
    insightful comment by Darrell Pursiful, editor at Smyth & Helwys Publishing, on the New Testament faculty of Mercer University
  • Dust
    A diary of Bob MacDonald's journey through the Psalms and other holy places in the Hebrew Bible
  • Eclexia
    The heart and mind of this Bible and theology blogger sing in unison
  • Eat, Drink, and be Merry
    The journey of a grad student with a love for ancient languages at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (archive)
  • Elizaphanian
    Rev Sam tussles with God, and limps away
  • Emerging from Babel
    Stephen investigates the potential of narrative and rhetorical criticism as a tool for expounding scripture
  • Evangelical Textual Criticism
    A group blog on NT and OT text-critical matters
  • Evedyahu
    excellent comment by Cristian Rata, Lecturer in Old Testament of Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Seoul, Korea
  • Exegetica Digita
    discussion of Logos high-end syntax and discourse tools – running searches, providing the downloads (search files) and talking about what can be done and why it might matter for exegesis, by Mike Heiser
  • Exegetisk Teologi
    careful exegetical comment by Stefan Green (in Swedish)
  • Exploring Our Matrix
    Insightful reflections by James McGrath, ass't. professor of religion, Butler University
  • Faith Matters
    Mark Alter's place
  • Ferrell's Travel Blog
    comments of biblical studies, archaeology, history, and photography by a tour guide of Bible lands and professor emeritus of the Biblical Studies department at Florida College, Temple Terrace (FL)
  • Fors Clavigera
    James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, thinks out loud.
  • Friar's Fires
    an insightful blog by a pastor with a background in journalism, one of three he pens
  • Gentle Wisdom
    A fearless take on issues roiling Christendom today, by Peter Kirk, a Bible translator
  • Giluy Milta B‘alma
    by Ezra Chwat and Avraham David of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, Jerusalem
  • He is Sufficient
    insightful comment on Bible translations, eschatology, and more, by Elshaddai Edwards
  • Higgaion
    by Chris Heard, Professor of Religion, Pepperdine University
  • Idle Musings of a Bookseller
    by James Spinti of Eisenbrauns
  • if i were a bell, i'd ring
    Tim Ricchiuiti’s place
  • Imaginary Grace
    Smooth, witty commentary by Angela Erisman (archive). Angela Erisman is a member of the theology faculty at Xavier University
  • James' Thoughts and Musings
    by James Pate, a doctoral student at HUC-JIR Cincinnati
  • Jewish Philosophy Place
    by Zachary (Zak) Braiterman, who teaches modern Jewish thought and philosophy in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University
  • kata ta biblia
    by Patrick George McCollough, M. Div. student, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA
  • Ketuvim
    Learned reflection from the keyboard of Jim Getz
  • Kilbabo
    Ben Johnson’s insightful blog
  • Kruse Kronicle - contemplating the intersection of work, the global economy, and Christian mission
    top quality content brought to readers by Michael W. Kruse
  • Larry Hurtado's blog
    emeritus professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • Law, Prophets, and Writings
    thoughtful blogging by William R. (Rusty) Osborne, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies as College of the Ozarks and managing editor for Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament
  • Lingamish
    delightful fare by David Ker, Bible translator, who also lingalilngas.
  • Looney Fundamentalist
    a scientist who loves off-putting labels
  • Menachem Mendel
    A feisty blog on rabbinic literature and other Judaica by Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator at the Academy for Jewish Religion and adjunct instructor at Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • mu-pàd-da
    scholarly blog by C. Jay Crisostomo, grad student in ANE studies at ?
  • Narrative and Ontology
    Astoundingly thoughtful comment from Phil Sumpter, a Ph.D. student in Bible, resident in Bonn, Germany
  • New Epistles
    by Kevin Sam, M. Div. student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon SK
  • NT Weblog
    Mark Goodacre's blog, professor of New Testament, Duke University
  • Observatório Bíblico
    wide-ranging blog by Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica/Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, Brasile (in Portuguese)
  • Observatório Bíblico
    Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia, para Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica / Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, SP.
  • Occasional Publications
    excellent blogging by Daniel Driver, Brevard Childs' scholar extraordinaire
  • old testament passion
    Great stuff from Anthony Loke, a Methodist pastor and Old Testament lecturer in the Seminari Theoloji, Malaysia
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog
    A weblog created for a course on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, by James Davila (archive)
  • On the Main Line
    Mississippi Fred MacDowell's musings on Hebraica and Judaica. With a name like that you can't go wrong.
  • p.ost an evangelical theology for the age to come
    seeking to retell the biblical story in the difficult transition from the centre to the margins following the collapse of Western Christendom, by Andrew Perriman, independent New Testament scholar, currently located in Dubai
  • PaleoJudaica
    by James Davila, professor of Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland. Judaism and the Bible in the news; tidbits about ancient Judaism and its context
  • Pastoral Epistles
    by Rick Brannan and friends, a conceptually unique Bible blog
  • Pen and Parchment
    Michael Patton and company don't just think outside the box. They are tearing down its walls.
  • Pisteuomen
    by Michael Halcomb, pastor-scholar from the Bluegrass State
  • Pseudo-Polymath
    by Mark Olson, an Orthodox view on things
  • Purging my soul . . . one blog at a time
    great theoblog by Sam Nunnally
  • Qumranica
    weblog for a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, taught by James R. Davila (archive)
  • Ralph the Sacred River
    by Edward Cook, a superb Aramaist
  • Random Bloggings
    by Calvin Park, M. Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA
  • Resident aliens
    reflections of one not at home in this world
  • Revelation is Real
    Strong-minded comment from Tony Siew, lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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