08 July 2008

Complementarianism, Sin and Fear

One of the most frequent answers I received to my questions regarding the complementarian position went something like this. "Of course you don't like it, the bible says you aren't going to like it so your rebellion to being submissive is expected." That sort of answer infuriated me. The idea that sin is the primary obstacle to understanding the Word of God is a no-brainer. This answer struck me as condescending and dismissive. Which may or may not have been true. It also seemed to assume that I wanted to rebel more than I wanted to understand. I am fully capable of rebellion, obstinacy, pride, arrogance and a list of other besetting sins. No question about that. However, what I really wanted was someone to engage my mind, answer my questions and see my challenges as an attempt to learn. I felt like I was hitting a brick wall. I did become bitter and angry but mostly because I couldn't find a way to get my questions answered. So I left the topic alone.

A while back I broached the subject again with a friend and pastor. He asked me as a nouthetic counselor what I would tell a woman who came to me for counsel. I told him I could recite the 'party line' but that I wasn't able to give answers to objections and that the issue hadn't been resolved in my own heart to my own satisfaction. Hence my return to the topic. It was a great question to ask me. It didn't put me on the defensive but still made me state my position. Then he said something that really made me take notice. He pointed out that in his studies he had noticed that men were given the greater responsibility and exhorted to be kind, merciful and understanding; loving their wives as Christ loves his church. He thought that this was addressed so strongly because the greatest hindrance for women is fear. The struggle with the flesh that predisposes women to rebel against a man's authority also predisposes men to being heavy handed and abusive or vacate their responsibilities as leader completely.

Lights went on at that moment. That was something I could understand. I have written before about the fear in femininity. We women evaluate everything based on its safety. A man who abuses his authority and a man who ignores his position of authority are both safety hazards. Fear precipitates a wide range of emotion and behavior. I wonder how often women who are bossy, rebellious and contentious are really just frightened.

Women jump into bad marriages because they are afraid to live alone. They tolerate abuse because they are afraid their children won't be provided for. "He may beat me Friday night but Monday there will be pork chops on the table to feed my kids." Women alter their bodies surgically because they fear being unattractive to men, the men they want to protect them and keep them safe. They refuse their husbands leadership because they are afraid he doesn't have their best interests at heart. They fear for their safety and security more than they fear their God. Misplaced and sinful fear is the primary stumbling block in obedience.

I still have questions. Priscilla played an important role in discipling Apollos. Lydia is mentioned as being a help in the early church. She is also described as a seller of purple- A business woman of some means and there is no mention of a Mr. Lydia. Deborah was a judge. But those are secondary it is the issue of fear that needs to be addressed. But not tonight, I am in need of sleep.

Psalm 19:9-11
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 60:4
4 Thou hast given a banner to those who fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

Proverbs 14:26-27
26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

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