Not only should you not do it, but you’re bad at it too.

Many of us have learned the helpful distinction between power and authority.  We know that might doesn’t equal right.  You might have the power, or the ability, to do something.  That doesn’t mean you have the right, or the authority, to do it.  A man might have the power to beat up on his wife.  But of course, he does not have that authority.  He is under the authority of God who commands him to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25).  A woman might have the ability to get her husband to let her boss him around, but she has no right to do so.  She doesn’t have the authority.  She is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ (Eph 5:22).

It’s interesting that the term for authority used by Paul when he forbids women from exercising authority over a man is a different word the Bible usually uses for authority.  People have tried to use this to argue that Paul isn’t forbidding the exercise of authority over men so much as he is forbidding the domineering exercise of power.  Let’s take a brief look at the two terms.

The term Paul uses when forbidding women from exercising authority over men is authenteo (1 Tim 2:12).  This is the only time in the New Testament this term is used.  The Greek word exousia refers to the right to or authority over something.  Its verb form is exousiazo.  Those who received Jesus by faith, John says, God has given the right or authority (exousia) to be called children of God (John 1:12).  Jesus says that all authority (exousia) has been given to him (Matt 28:18).  Paul says that neither a wife nor a husband have the right, or authority (exousiazo), of or to his or her own body, but the other exercises this right or authority (1 Cor 7:4).  So the terms commonly used for authority or to have authority are exousia and exousiazo.

Now, it appears that those promoters of women having authority over men in the church have a point if you consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:4.  There seems to be a mutual exousia described here by Paul.  But exousia, whether translated right or authority, is something that is granted by someone else.  Paul’s point is simply that the man and the woman are both under the authority of God who brought them together.  Therefore, neither has the right to withhold his or her body from the other.

Such authority (exousia) is something that is established by someone higher up, namely God.  Authenteo is exercising authority whether such authority is given or not.  It’s impossible for my wife to exousiazein over me in the sense of being my boss, since God has not given her such exousia.  But it is conceivable for her to authentein over me.  This is why Paul forbids it.  He knows that it’s possible.  He doesn’t forbid exousia, since it’s impossible to take that for oneself.  It is rather a matter of fact that God either gives or doesn’t give it.  A woman’s exousia in respect to her husband is that she has the right to his body and affection as her head.  Paul doesn’t need to forbid or allow this.  He simply asserts it as true.

This brings me to the main topic of this article.  There is a helpful distinction between authority and power.  One might seem to have the ability to do something, but this doesn’t mean he has the authority.  For example, a husband might have the ability to beat up on his wife, but he in no way has the authority, or right, to do so.  And yet, as we distinguish between power and authority, or might and right, we should note that they can never be separated.

The Scriptures hardly ever use the term power (dynamis) to describe illegitimate power.  It usually describes the miracles of Jesus (Matt 7:22; 11:20, 21, 23; 13:54; Mark 6:2; 1 Cor 12:10, 28; Gal 3:5) or God’s power to carry out and accomplish his authority to save.  Most notably, we see this in Romans 1:16, which describes the gospel as the power of God to salvation for all who believe; 1 Corinthians 1:18, which describes the word of the cross as the power of God to those who are being saved; and 1 Peter 1:5, which describes God’s power as that which is preserving us through faith for the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Now, it is true that dynamis is used to describe powers, which have no authority to separate us from God (Rom 8:38), but most of the time, power (dynamis) describes legitimate power by which God accomplishes his will either outside of us or within us.

So while this distinction between power and authority is helpful, we should be careful not to go too far with it.  Here’s another example.  Perhaps you have heard that there are many women who are perfectly capable (have the power or ability) to be pastors, but God simply doesn’t call them; they don’t have that authority.  Now, certainly, it is true that there are, thank God, many women who are good at confessing the gospel and explaining it.  I personally learn much from the women in my Bible classes who often give great insight.  But if we claim that many women have the power to do the work of a pastor but not the authority, we miss a very important point about power and authority.  Yes, they may have the power to pose as pastors and even explain the Scriptures.  But this power is necessarily corrupted if they are trying to be pastors and exercise authority (authentein) over men.  And not only is it corrupted.  It is incompetent.  True power flows out of true authority.

This means that it isn’t as if power doesn’t matter as much as authority.  Many of us know the great scene from Bo Giertz’s novel, The Hammer of God, in which a pious woman, Katrina, gives a dying old man the gospel, which the pastor, Savonius, was unequipped to deliver.  After she has comforted him with the gospel, she then tells the dying man to ask the pastor for Absolution and the Sacrament.  She directs him to the man whom God has sent.  She had power, the power of the gospel, which Savonius, plagued by rationalism, did not possess.  And yet, she acknowledged that though she may have given him the gospel, as every Christian should, God had not called her to be the man’s pastor.  She did not have that authority.  Savonius had the call.  He had the authority.  This is a great example of the power of the gospel putting to shame the power of a man, and yet extolling the authority of the office.

But should we conclude from this that Katrina had the power to be a pastor even though she did not have the authority?  This is where we should dig a bit deeper.  She had the power of the pastoral office, just as every Christian does.  In other words, she had the gospel in her heart, in her hears, and in her mouth (Rom 10:8).  But did she have the power to be a pastor?  Now, I have emphasized in previous posts that the pastoral office is purely functional.  No function, no office.  There is no such thing as an ontological possession of the office apart from the task of performing the duties of the office.

And yet, at the same time, we should understand that the power of the gospel, which every Christian has — the power of the ministry itself — is a bit distinct from the power or ability to be a pastor.  A woman can’t be a pastor.  It isn’t just that she doesn’t have the authority or right to be one.  She, in fact, does not have the ability to be one.  Certainly, she has the ability and the duty to speak the gospel.  And that gospel she speaks is just as valid and certain in heaven where Jesus Christ, with all his angels, prophets, apostles, and ministers, declares it.  But this is a bit different from having the power to be a pastor.

You see, being a pastor doesn’t simply mean that you are good at confessing and explaining the gospel.  This, to be sure, is the essence of the ministerial office, which every Christian possesses by virtue of faith in this office of the gospel (1 Cor 3:21-23).  But a pastor must have other abilities, which accompany such teaching.  First, he must be a man.  He must be the husband of one wife.  He must be able to manage his household well, not be given to drunkenness and fits of wrath (1 Tim 3:1:2 ff).  A pastor isn’t required to be a man simply because those are the rules.  It isn’t as if we take a disgraced pastor out of office merely because he broke a law, but we all know that if we were to make an exception then he would do a fine job.  No!  If a pastor isn’t a man, then this pastor will not be able to do what God calls pastors to do.  If a pastor does not manage his household well or falls into disgrace, then he will not have the ability to be a pastor.  We don’t exclude those who don’t fit these requirements simply to avoid public stigma.  We exclude them also because they are demonstrably incompetent teachers.

Sure, they might be able to explain the gospel well within their own stations.  But they do not have the ability, they do not have the power, to teach in the way God calls pastors to teach.  A woman might be smarter than her pastor.  She might be able to understand God’s Word better than her pastor.  But one thing she does not have that her pastor has is this.  He’s a man, and she isn’t.  So even if he isn’t as good at teaching, this does not change the fact that manliness is essential to being a good pastor.  Abuse, namely him not being a good teach, does not nullify the fact that being a man is essential to the kind of teaching God requires of this public office.  In fact, it affirms it all the more.

If a pastor is bad at teaching then the church with her ministers should examine him, teach him, and be patient.  If he isn’t as gifted of a teacher as others, then find a place for him where he can make use of the abilities God has given him.  And if he can’t at all teach, then he shouldn’t be a pastor.  But with all this said, manliness is essential to the ability to teach and lead the flock.  This is because teaching is more than simply Words.  It is also an example, as St. Paul admonishes Timothy (1 Tim 4:12), “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

A woman is necessarily incompetent to teach in this way since it is simply impossible for her to give a manly example.  She can, by God’s grace, give a motherly, womanly example, winning over her own husband by the inward beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet 3:1-4).  The older women teach the younger women about the Christian life of a wife and mother (Tit 2:3-5).  This isn’t merely morals and good behavior, but good works as they reflect a confession of the gospel.  I don’t have the ability to teach the younger women in the way an older, wise woman can.  I do, however, have the ability by God’s grace, as well as the duty and authority, to teach younger women as their brother and father.  To be sure, the power of the Word is the same.  But the power in the example is unique to each station.

Paul tells the leaders of the church at Corinth to be men (1 Cor 16:13).  Is he referring to the pastors?  Perhaps.  Is he referring to the heads of the households?  This is likely the case.  It is necessary for those who exercise authority, whether specifically as pastor or as fathers in the congregation, to be men.  Every Christian is taught to do his or her duty according to his or her ability, or power (2 Cor 8:3).  But this power is unique to each according to the station God has placed that person.  A man can nurture his children, wash their clothes, cook them meals, read them stories, and bear their burdens.  But he cannot be their mother.  If she isn’t around, then, of course, there are many things he must do.  But not only does he not have the authority to be a mother, since God doesn’t call men to be mothers; he also does not have the ability to be a mother.  And the same is true of mothers.  They might have to labor more if dad isn’t around.  But it is impossible for them to be fathers.  If they tried then they would be bad at it.  They might be good at trying, but they would necessarily fail at the task.

It is good for us to emphasize the importance of authority, and that while someone might seem to have the ability to do something, he does not necessarily have the authority or right to do it.  And it is also important to point out that while one might not have the authority, God still provides the power when needed.  For example, when the Soviets kill all your pastors and put your husbands in gulags, then God provides to pious mothers the ability to teach their children.  They are authorized as Christians and mothers to confess the gospel, which is the greatest power in heaven or earth.  These are wonderful mothers.  But they aren’t fathers.  And they aren’t pastors.  That’s impossible.  So as we unpack this distinction between power and authority, we must also conclude that power without authority is not only illegitimate.  It is also less powerful.  Might doesn’t equal right.

But we must also add, right gives the might.  Women not only aren’t allowed to be pastors.  They also wouldn’t be good at it.  Not only is it against God’s authorization for women to exercise authority over men.  They are also not good at it.  Men who have been removed from office because of false doctrine or public disgrace might have the ability to explain God’s Word on blogs or in books.  But they are necessarily incompetent teachers of the church.  God knows what he’s doing when he creates men and women with their respective roles.  He knows what he’s doing when he gives the requirements for the office of bishop.

So in summary, if you don’t have the authority to do something, then this means that you also don’t truly have the power to do it either.  You might have the power to do something that looks like it.  But might isn’t really might without the right to carry it out.  The gospel is the power of God because it reveals the righteousness of God for faith (Rom 1:17).  This is the righteousness Jesus fulfilled (Matt 3:15) by fulfilling the Scriptures (Matt 5:18).  So as we each enjoy this saving power in our lives, we carry out our God-given duties according to the strength he provides.  And we confess together that with all the different authority God gives in different stations in life, the greatest authority we have is that of receiving by faith sonship from God through Jesus.

So use the authority of faith to believe and confess the power of the gospel within your station in life.  In this way, you are saved by the power of God no matter how lowly your station is, whether as a mother bearing and rearing children (1 Tim 2:15), a husband doing his duty toward his wife (1 Pet 3:7), or any Christian bearing his cross (1 Pet 2:21).  No matter what your specific authority is in your earthly duties, there is a promise of God’s gospel, his saving power, applied to each of these stations.  And he promises to work it all out for your good (Rom 8:28).  And when you do the duty God has given you, whether as a pastor, a father, a mother, a child, a worker, or a servant of all, then you can be certain that your sufficiency is from God (2 Cor 3:5), and your labors are not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

About Pastor Andrew Preus

Pastor Andrew Preus is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran/St. Paul Lutheran, Guttenberg/McGregor, IA. He is the eighth of eleven sons, with one sister. He received his seminary training at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, ON (MDiv) from 2009 to 2013, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (STM) from 2013 to 2014. His main theological interests include Justification and Church and Ministry. He is married to Leah Preus (nee Fehr), and they have five children: Jacob, Solveig, Kristiana, Robert, and Marian.


Not only should you not do it, but you’re bad at it too. — 25 Comments

  1. This anti-woman as leader sentiment is why I left the LCMS and joined an ELCA church.
    Woman can be ordained ministers, unfortunately not with the Missouri Synod.

  2. @St. Stephen #3

    I don’t agree with Dr. Becker on a lot of things, but he certainly didn’t start the movement to change the LCMS stance on women’s ordination.

    And, btw–as long as the statement, “God made men and women equal, just different” REALLY boils down to (a) all the things women can’t do, and (b) “equality” having the Orwellian meaning of having no power, preaching “the order of creation” will simply drive more people out of the LCMS.

    Can we please have a discussion of sex roles in the church without it being 95% about what women can’t do? Please?

  3. @James Gibbs #4

    I think the problem boils down to the fact that so many have rejected what women “can do” as demeaning. Submission to one’s husband and motherhood in general are despised as condescending consolations to what is regarded as the true prize, namely, Manhood (or as it is interpreted, Power and Authority over others, thus proving that feminist criticisms of Patriarchy are nothing more than envious self-projections). So, what, do we concede such objections against wifehood and motherhood and apologize for suggesting that maybe there might yet be honor to be found in such things? So then, what else is there? Do we start inventing our own assurances that women can still do A, B, and C – and get the list of “can”s to measure up to the list of “cannot”s? Is that the tactic? How do we even determine what women can still do if what God explicitly tells them to do is dismissed as insulting and insufficient? Do we invent new offices like Deaconess and DCE and Preschool Director and Women’s Bible Study Leader and other duties that encourage women to view the home as something worth their efforts in escaping? Or do we extol motherhood as Scripture does, and place all other invented and expedient duties beneath it in value and underneath it in service?

    Another problem with the “God made men and women equal, just different” statement is that it’s not true. It’s a false rejection of a proper dichotomy. Men and women aren’t equal. They’re different. Where does God ever tell us to praise equality so much as though our dignity and usefulness depend on it? Is the hand equal to the foot or the eye to the ear? It’s worth some thought, I think. God doesn’t speak in such terms.

    Men and women share the same inheritance of salvation. How is that not enough? Must we abolish the order of creation too in pursuit of some elusive principle of equality?

  4. @James Warble #5

    Right on, James! The husband and wife are one. This is the mystery revealed in Scripture. But that’s the exact point. Whether we use the word “equal” or “one,” such unity is only realized through faith in the gospel. Sure, we can recognize a faith image of the one flesh union, but only with Christ’s relationship to his church do we truly learn the mystery of this union. So you ask, “Men and women share the same inheritance of salvation. How is that not enough?” Exactly. The world will never be satisfied with what the Bible says about men and women, precisely because the world is not satisfied by the gospel. With that in mind, maintaining the biblical orders of creation becomes for us a matter of confessing the gospel, both the antitype Christ and his church are to marriage and the teaching of the authority of God, but also that we are actually satisfied with the promises of the gospel.

  5. Well, one thought I had in reading comments #5 and 6 is that they both talk about “the order of creation” in terms of wives and mothers. Obviously, there are lots of women who don’t fit into those categories.

    There are married Christian women who never have children. And there are lots of Christian women who never marry, get divorced, or are widowed. Think about how Paul praised Christians who remain celibate in order to dedicate their entire lives to God’s service. The ancient church certainly exalted men and women who dedicated their virginity to God!

    How are verses addressed to married women supposed to guide single ones? Or verses about motherhood to guide the childless?

    There is certainly something to be said for the idea that single Christians, especially women, feel something like the proverbial “third wheel” when the modern church spends so much time and energy on parenting, marriage enrichment, etc. We need to use the gifts of all of God’s people!

    James Warble said “Men and women aren’t equal.” Really? Call me irresponsible, but it always seemed to me pretty self-evident that equal treatment of men and women (of all people, really) is just fundamental fairness at work. Unless I have a clear reason not to, why shouldn’t I afford a sister in the faith the same treatment I afford a brother in the faith? The Golden Rule seems to apply here.

    Mr. Warble, do you think women should be able to vote in congregational voters’ assemblies? Do you think women should be able to serve as congregational officers? As board members? As delegates to district or Synodical conventions? As rostered church workers?

    Should women be able to vote in civic elections? Should women have the same property rights as men? What secular professions should be open to women?

    When you “pooh-pooh” equality as a principle, I wonder how far you think we should take things.

    Just because people support more-equal treatment of women in the church does NOT mean they are “despising” wifely submission or motherhood in general. Does a man who pursues non-domestic pursuits “despise” his role as a husband or father? Then why can’t a woman have interests or activities outside the domestic ones? You seem to be setting up a false dichotomy here.

    You also say “feminists” are motivated by the desire for power and authority. Aside from that being a broad-brush ad hominem attack, may I suggest that most feminists (women and men) are primarily concerned with women being treated unfairly?

    If “feminists” wanting to share “power and authority” is somehow wrong, why is it not equally wrong for anti-feminists to want men to have a monopoly on “power and authority”?

    I really don’t get your statement about “new offices like Deaconess and DCE and Preschool Director and Women’s Bible Study Leader” being “invented” to somehow encourage women to view domesticity as a trap. What on earth is wrong with any of these positions? Maybe you shouldn’t leap to the conclusion you did, and maybe give the overwhelming majority of women who serve God honorably as deaconesses, DCE’s, preschool directors, and women’s-Bible-study-leaders the credit they deserve as women who are serving and glorifying God sincerely! Plus, I’m sure there are male pastors out there who view what they do as “more important” than being husbands and fathers! Getting priorities out of whack is certainly not a feminine monopoly!

    I repeat my earlier statement: “Can we please have a discussion of sex roles in the church without it being 95% about what women can’t do? Please?” Both comments #5 and 6 focus entirely on “wives and mothers.” Once again, we are talking about “men and women,” but really completely focusing on “putting women in their place.”

  6. @James Gibbs #7

    James, check out my paper on patriarchy. I address the issue of single and barren women.

    To answer your questions about voting etc, women suffrage in both civil and ecclesiastical misses the point of how God adorns women. Of course women should be able to own property. Look at Josh 17:6. But my point is that the roles of husband and wife, father and mother give us our model. So if a guy or gal is single we still model their roles after the vocations. Women should always be given a father or husband figure to whom they can receive representation. Voice does not equal vote. That is to miss the point that even the unbelieving founders of our country understood.

    My congregation has women suffrage. I wish they didn’t. But in the meantime I do my best to teach the unique roles of men and women after the example given to us by God in the estate of husband and wife as well as father and mother.

  7. @Andrew J Preus #8

    Pastor, no offense, but I’m not going to watch an hour-long YouTube. Couldn’t you just tell me briefly your points on single and barren women?

    By “women suffrage in both civil and ecclesiastical misses the point of how God adorns women,” do you mean women should not be able to vote in civic elections? I hope I misunderstood you, and that you don’t mean that the 19th Amendment was wrong.

    How exactly are women without the franchise supposed to “be given a father or husband figure to whom they can receive representation”? Who decides all of this? What about women with no family, or with only dysfunctional male relatives?

    If “Voice does not equal vote,” then why did segregationists in the South resist black voting for so long? Because politicians don’t care about the views of non-voters!

    Does your congregation know you oppose woman suffrage? I’m curious as to their reaction (assuming they know).

  8. @James Gibbs #9

    James, I already summarized my point about single and barren women. I am making a theological point. You are making a political point. The 19th Amendment gives me two votes. I’ll take it. As for whether my congregation knows my position, I am very open in Bible Class about this, and I explain the roles of men and women frequently in class and in sermons. The key is to understand it theologically, rather than as an issue of power. A pastor should be a spiritual father to all. Older women should be spiritual mothers. Older men likewise should give a fatherly example to the younger men. Regardless of whether they are actually fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, every Christian should model and emulate these vocations. This is how the church lives, by faith, hope, and love, not by votes and heavy handedness, either by the pastor, the men, or the mob. Any polity must bow to the model God has already given in the example of pastors, pious fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters in Christ. The so called supremacy of the voters assembly, for example, is an affront to the fatherly and motherly roles God gives without the power and politics of men. My wife refuses to vote at church, because she trusts her husband and her fellow Christians. But like I said, if the government is going to give my household an extra vote, then we’ll use it to resist those who promote godless and murderous policies. And we will pray that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

    I would encourage you to look at this theologically, and not politically.

  9. @Andrew J Preus #10

    I guess I don’t know what your point is about single/barren women. You said you “already summarized” it, but I just re-skimmed your original article, and see nothing about this. Oh, well.

    “The government” didn’t give women the vote–the people of the United States did. And they didn’t give it to their husbands! If a wife votes the way her husband does because she wants to or agrees with him, fine. But we have the secret ballot for a reason. If my wife genuinely disagrees with me, she has every right to vote differently than I do. I am not the fount of all wisdom! Sometimes even Christians have genuine disagreements about things, and that’s OK!

    You keep saying “theological, rather than political.” In the ideal world, politics would never enter into family or church life. We should always strive for harmony in church and family relations. But sometimes there are strong disagreements over what policy to pursue in a church, and voting is how we decide things. That doesn’t mean there is only one right course of action, or that dissenters are wrong, as long as disagreement is civil.

    “The so-called supremacy of the voters assembly” exists for several good reasons. First, in areas not touched on by Scripture, the pastor should bow to the wishes of the congregation. His authority is limited to that of the Word. Second, we live in a democratic society, and voting is a perfectly legitimate way to make group decisions. Third, the voters serve as a check on the possibility of a tyrannical minister. Fourth, the voters are how the congregation extends a call to the pastor. Fifth, voting creates “buy-in” that reinforces agreement with the policies of the church. (If people have no say-so, they are more likely to complain about things.) And I am sure there are other reasons–Walther, call your office! 🙂

    Sorry–I don’t want to live under bishops. “Trust us” hasn’t worked out well.

  10. @helen #11

    Helen, if voting is “exercising authority over men,” then how can Christian women in good conscience vote in civic elections? How could Sarah Palin (a Christian, from what I have read) legitimately run for President? Wasn’t she “sinning,” by your lights?

    So, according to you, we don’t need and shouldn’t have women on boards or doing professional church work. Glad you clarified that.

    As far as women speaking to the elder/Pastor–they can speak all day long if they want to, but the power is still held by the men. The men do not have to listen to the women!

    If a woman cares about what color the kitchen is painted, fine. But there are plenty of women who couldn’t care less about traditional “women’s stuff.” They would like to have input on things like what the congregation decides to spend its money on. But, according to you, they should just lobby the men, and await the men’s pleasure–like a child awaiting Dad’s decision.

    Sorry–I don’t want my wife or daughter to live under male domination. It’s wrong and it’s simply not necessary. As the vast majority of LCMS Lutherans have recognized!

  11. @James Gibbs #12

    I didn’t explain that in my article but in the previous comment.

    Also, I’m not advocating for an Episcopal polity. I’m simply saying that the church doesn’t survive through human power. The polity, whether episcopal or cingregational, must bow to God’s Word, and therefore must respect the institutions God has established. This is why the old Lutheran Episcopal polities would not install a pastor without the congregation’s assent. And Walther had it arranged that congregations be advised and instructed by a neighboring pastor while calling a pastor.

    Again, wrt to suffrage whether civicly or churchly, husbands and wives should agree. We shouldn’t be giving incentives for them not to agree. The bond between a husband and wife is much more sacred than the bond between an individual and the ballot box. I’m not a progressive, so I don’t buy into all the autonomous mumbo jumbo. If the games progressives play ends up giving my household extra votes, then I’m cool with that. I might make use of some policies that have come about by what is often deemed “progress.” But I’m not a believer in it.

    I’m fully aware that God often raises up Deborahs to the shame of weak men, and I’m thankful for such wise women. But I have some shame about it. I’m also fully aware that God chastises his people with a Jezebel or Athaliah. Either way, put not your trust in princes, or princesses.

  12. @Andrew J Preus #10

    Sorry to not watch your YouTube, but the very title (“Patriarchy”) greatly troubles me.

    From “Patriarchy:…1. a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father’s clan or tribe. 2. [A] society, community, or country based on this social organization. 3. [A] social system in which power is held by men, through cultural norms and customs that favor men and withhold opportunity from women.”

    Should fathers rule? Their minor children, yes. But no one else.

    Nowhere does God command in Scripture that a man “rule” his wife. He is commanded to love her.

    My wife is not my daughter. My “rule” over her is a result of the Fall, not the “order of creation,” as even Luther conceded when he said, “…if Eve had persisted in the truth, she would not only not have been subjected to the rule of her husband but she herself would also have been a partner in the rule which is now entirely the concern of males.”

    Paul says wives should “submit” (and there is great debate over what that entails!) to their husbands–not to every man.

    Walter Maier wrote that a man does not have the right to order his wife to vote the Democratic or Republican ticket.

    The much-debated verse in 1 Timothy 2 about “teach[ing] or exercis[ing] authority” refers to the pastoral office, not the entire sacred and secular realms–as the CTCR explained in the 1980s.

    Paul allowed Corinthian women to pray and prophesy in public worship. Anna, the daughters of Philip, and all the women believers present at the first Pentecost prophesied in public. Acts 2:17,18: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy…Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

    In the realm of government, we have the examples of Deborah judging Israel and Queen Esther saving her people.

    And all of these examples are from an age where women were bluntly referred to as chattels, the property of men, and inferior to men–case closed!

    Jesus was thought radical merely for accepting women as disciples and treating them with dignity and respect.

    Pastors are not fathers, except in a metaphorical sense. And parishioners are not children.

  13. @Andrew J Preus #14

    Pastor, I have looked at all your comments, and I am still mystified as to how you have already explained the single/barren-women issue. Sorry if I am having a brain cramp or something!

    As far as church polity, look–Chytraeus said in his On Sacrifice that polity is a matter of human right, since the NT doesn’t prescribe an episcopal, congregational, or any other kind of system. But democratic accountability is something that has historically worked pretty well, so that’s why I think it is wise.

    And letting the same Christians who will have to live with and support (financially and otherwise) a church structure have a voice in its affairs (men AND women alike) seems only fair to me. If voters’ assemblies aren’t prescribed in Scripture, how can it be a sin for women to participate in them?

    Giving women the vote is not “giving incentives for [husbands and wives] not to agree.” First, spouses can always keep who they voted for to themselves (secret ballot). Second, if spouses disagree, that’s not always bad. Third, even if women can’t vote, that doesn’t guarantee agreement between spouses–it just guarantees only the man’s viewpoint will have an impact! Fourth, if two grown adults can’t accept a (civil) disagreement between them on a political issue, they need to grow up a little.

    Who was it that said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary”?

    By “progressive,” do you mean the Progressives of the early 20th century, such as the suffragettes or Teddy Roosevelt? Or do you mean “politically left-of-center”? You certainly don’t have to be leftist to favor woman suffrage!!

    “All the autonomous mumbo-jumbo”–lots of men and women thought, wrote, struggled, and suffered to promote the value of individual autonomy. It’s one of the triumphs of the modern age and a fruit of the Enlightenment. Can an insistence on autonomy to an extreme degree lead someone into sin? Sure. But please don’t deride autonomy as such.

    We no longer tolerate slavery. We now strive to educate each child according to his or her needs. We don’t view young men as primarily cattle fodder for wars that feed aristocratic egos. We don’t force our daughters into arranged marriages, giving them minimal educations. Our own Declaration of Independence teaches that man does not exist for the sake of the state, but the state exists to serve man. Working men and women have rights over against their employers, instead of being at the utter mercy of the wealthy.

    All of these are noble achievements. All are derived from the concept of individual autonomy.

    Do I believe in progress? I don’t believe this world is perfectible. But not for a red-hot minute would I want to live in the time of Luther, when freedom of religion was only a dream, modern medicine was non-existent, parents could with impunity beat their children till the blood flowed, girls outside of a convent received zero education besides domestic skills, feudal serfdom was still prevalent, and legitimate complaints by the common man against mistreatment by the nobility (e.g., the German Peasants’ War) were met with the sword! So–to the extent these evils have been alleviated, I certainly DO believe in progress!

    Where does the OT say God raised up Deborah as judge “to the shame of weak men”? Judges simply says Deborah judged Israel (as did Gideon, Samson, Samuel, etc.). The text says absolutely nothing about Deborah being a “second-stringer” or anything like that. The text simply seems to say at Judges 4:8-9 that Barak, being somewhat reluctant to obey the Lord’s command through the mouth of Deborah, would not receive all the glory he should have, because Sisera would fall prey to a woman (Jael).

    Re: God chastises his people through a Jezebel or Athaliah–sure, God allowed that. But where does the OT say being ruled by a woman was the chastisement there? Isn’t the problem with those queens that they were wicked, not that they were women?

    Didn’t divine providence facilitate the rise of Esther to power so she could save her people from destruction? Didn’t Bathsheba, as Queen Consort of Israel, save Solomon from being supplanted (and murdered) by his older half-brother Adonijah when David was in his dotage?

    Plus, I recall the author of 1 Kings stressing the blameworthiness of Ahab, not Jezebel. (He was king over Israel, was he not?) Elijah told Ahab (1 Kings 18:18), “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.”

  14. I should have typed “cannon fodder” for “cattle fodder” in my comment #16. Sorry!

  15. @James Gibbs #17

    James, I have been in numerous congregations over the decades. Most had women in Voters; if they did, I attended. Mixed voters made good and bad decisions; so did the all male voters. I have never considered voting or not voting a matter of “domination”.

    I understood this to be a discussion of voting in the church.
    Voting in civic elections has been decided by the civil gov’t.

  16. @helen #18

    Yes, both all-male and mixed-sex voters’ assemblies have each made good and bad decisions. Precisely. But those who oppose women voting often argue that “If women get the vote, the men won’t want to ever do anything around the church again.” My own mother made that argument years ago. As if men not doing what’s right is the fault of the women!

    As far as what the discussion is about–well, the original article was really about why women shouldn’t be pastors. Things changed between my comment on Sept. 17 and James Warble’s and Pastor Preus’s comments on Oct. 11.

    James Warble said “Men and women aren’t equal.” Pastor Preus said, “Right on, James [Warble]!” I asked James if he thought women should have the right to vote. Pastor Preus basically said, No, in either church or state.

    The LCMS leaves each congregation free to allow woman suffrage or not. Pastor Preus, James Warble, and lots of “confessional Lutherans” think woman suffrage is contrary to the Bible. That it shouldn’t even be up for debate!

    Of course, voting is a matter of domination. Folks who oppose women voting in church assemblies do so because they think it’s women “exercising authority” in a forbidden way. Voting is power! That’s why black voters in the South were kept from voting in civic elections for so long–whites wanted to dominate them!

    Plus, those who refuse to vote are surrendering power to those who do. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

    Pastor Preus thinks women voting (in church or state) is contrary to “the order of creation.” He views his wife’s right to vote as something she should allow him to control. The fact that she agrees with this doesn’t change the fact that he really doesn’t think women should be able to vote at all!

    So those on BJS who have a bee in their bonnets about women voting really don’t view the issue in any kind of a neutral way. They really think that God commands men, not women, to make every important decision in church and state.

    How is that not male domination? Once again, dominate: “to rule over; govern; control.”

    As far as voting in civic elections–it took decades of work by suffragists for the 19th Amendment to become law. There was fierce opposition! As I said to Pastor Preus earlier, “the government” didn’t decide to give women the vote. The people of the United States did, through the amendment process. And, obviously, it was male voters who had to be persuaded to vote for woman suffrage!

    And–here’s a “meta” point that REALLY concerns me: there are some truly extreme views out there in Lutheran-land.

    Tell the average LCMS layperson that the Bible upholds the equal worth and dignity of men and women, but that God restricts the pastoral office to men, and most will listen willingly.

    But there are many on BJS and other “confessional” websites who think a woman doing ANYTHING in a church service is an abomination before God, that women are straight-up inferior to men (what else does “Men and women aren’t equal” mean?), that the whole feminist movement was fundamentally wrong, and that women shouldn’t even be able to vote in civic elections.

    Those views are, to put it bluntly, nuts!

    That’s why I asked my whole series of questions about the 19th Amendment, etc.

    Sometimes, nice-sounding discussions of “the order of creation” mask some pretty radical views. Sometimes, good old-fashioned sexism is the ultimate motive.

  17. James, before you make judgment on my opinion, try listening to the paper I linked above. Seriously, you might actually appreciate my point of view. The fact that you admit that the word “patriarchy” is a turn off for you demonstrates that you have some culturally conditioned preconceptions.

    Also, my wife opposes women suffrage. She votes in the civic elections only to defend against godless policies, but she would gladly have only men vote, since she and I are always in agreement. To assume that she mindlessly forfeits her choice to me is to demean her intelligence and submission to her husband, as if submission doesn’t imply thoughtful agreement, which God certainly expects from his church (Eph 5: “Wall not as fools but as wise…”). This reminds me of an observation by my dad. He always says that the difference between patriarchy and feminism is that the former, if rightly understood, is theological while the latter is political. This is a good observation. The former is grounded in God’s created order while the latter is grounded in autonomy. I, as my wife’s head and my children’s father, am not autonomous, but I am under the authority of God. My relationship with my wife is not grounded in the power of men, but on the authority and power of God’s Word.

  18. @Andrew J Preus #20

    I am staying home from church today because of illness. So, I listened to your YouTube.

    Some thoughts, mostly in the order of your video:

    1. You said the OT doesn’t reflect the patriarchal culture of its times, but patriarchy is God’s design.

    First of all, does this include some of the less-savory aspects of Bronze-Age patriarchy, such as arranged marriage, concubinage, Moses permitting Hebrew men to make slaves of maidens captured in war, etc.? If “patriarchy is God’s design,” on what basis do we get to pick and choose?

    Second, where does the Bible say patriarchy is God’s design? Yes, we should obey God the Father. Yes, wives should submit to their husbands. Yes, children should obey their parents. But how does any of that say ALL of society should be ruled by men?

    Third, I think many of your examples of “analogical parenthood” (e.g., Paul calling Timothy “my son”) are simply that–analogies, not to be pushed too far. Scripture sometimes uses feminine terminology to refer to God. I doubt if you think that means God is in some fundamental, ontological way feminine!

    Fourth, lots of instances of people “acting like fathers” in Scripture are things either sex could do. Paul “betrothed” the Corinthians to Christ, but you could say the woman at the well “betrothed” her fellow villagers to Christ by her witness to him. That doesn’t mean she was “acting like a father,” or like a mother–it just means she was doing what any believer should.

    2. You absolutely identify “being a man” with being a husband and father; likewise, “being a woman” with being a wife and mother.

    First, you are basically saying the roles of spouse and parent exhaust the meaning of Christian virtue. This goes beyond Scripture, to say the least. If your point was valid, you would expect spousal or parental metaphors to be used exclusively. They’re not.

    Second, once again, we are sending the message (which I am sure you do not intend) that singles and childless couples are God’s “second string.” Paul used up a lot of ink in 1 Corinthians stressing that Christians could serve God as either married folk or single; in fact, he goes out of his way to praise the virtues of celibacy over against marriage!

    3. You say Deborah shamed Barak because he should have “manned up,” and she perceived her role as being “a mother in Israel.”

    First, the text doesn’t say that. It simply says God commanded Barak to go and fight (through Deborah), and he was reluctant to fight. She then says the glory will go to a woman. It never says, “And that’s shameful to you, bro, for letting a WOMAN do your job.” It simply says he would not receive all the glory. The fact that Deborah and Jael are women is nowhere mentioned in the text as being “shameful.”

    Second, what does “a mother in Israel” really mean? Maybe it simply means Deborah happened to be a woman with children, not that she “mothered” her people. The text of Judges states that she judged Israel, and that she prophesied. How are either of those roles gender-specific? They’re not. Ehud judged Israel, and so did Deborah. Moses was a prophet in Israel, and so was Deborah.

    Third, how can we say women can’t even be lectors in church, when Deborah (and many other women in the Bible) were outright prophets of God? Does the Word of God lose its power when uttered by feminine vocal chords?

    4. You make a military analogy to the husband-wife relationship. The 1LT obeys the CPT, and so forth. So, you say, wives should obey their husbands.

    The CTCR report in ’85 explicitly rejected making such an analogy. The relationship between spouses is NOT a “chain of command.”

    5. You said, It’s either patriarchy or chaos.

    First, that’s patent nonsense. More-egalitarian churches don’t have chaos–they just allow certain things you think are bad.

    Second, the LCMS has a long, long history of decrying every step of women’s emancipation as “opening the floodgates of chaos.” All of which turned out to be sky-is-falling rhetoric that didn’t come true!

    Women sitting in the same pews as men, the 19th Amendment, women being day-school teachers, women serving on boards, women voting in congregational assemblies, girls serving as acolytes, women being lectors–every one of these things was condemned as “violating God’s order.”

    5. You quote Isaiah saying “women ruling” is a bad thing.

    First, isn’t it more in line with the analogy of Scripture to say this meant either “weak men” or “foolish women”? God chose Deborah. Joab agreed to negotiate after speaking to the “wise woman” of Abel Beth Maacah. King Lemuel heeded the oracles of his mother, and recorded them. King Josiah sought out and followed the instructions of the prophetess Huldah. Mordecai carried out the directives of his niece Esther. God used women to rule and guide, even back in the OT.

    Second, I think this may be an example of divine accomodation to the (sexist) culture of the OT. My platoon sergeant in the Army (in 1987) called us “woman-weak” if we “fell out” of a platoon run. As if men have a monopoly on strength!

    Third, was David “less of a man” when he took Abigail’s advice? Was he “less of a man” when he heeded Bathsheba’s counsel regarding the succession? Were Peter and John “lesser men” when they ran to the tomb after hearing the Magdalene’s news?

    6. You imply that Galatians 5’s decrying “sorcery” means birth control is wrong.

    First, etymology doesn’t prove meaning. If I call you “Sir,” that doesn’t mean I think you are my father (“Sire”).

    Second, if all you want to do is condemn abortion, just use the Sixth Commandment.

    Third, if you are also trying to say contraception is sinful, I cannot agree with you. But that is an entirely different subject.

    7. You say “the world’s lies” include “feminism [and] fornication.”

    First, if by “feminism,” you mean “using the cause of women’s rights to deny Scripture,” then how could I or any Christian disagree with you? But you don’t qualify “feminism” at all.

    Second, by an unqualified rejection of “feminism,” you are being very unfair, and are disregarding the very real injustices suffered by women throughout our history!

    My own mother (a grown woman of 30!) could not apply for a credit card at a department store back in the 1950s without my dad’s signature–as if she were a kid! When she worked for a Florida newspaper during WWII, a man doing the same job as she, with less experience, was paid more. Both of these things were just plain wrong!

    People often equate “feminism” with “craziness.” But the original feminist movement was about equal pay for equal work, breaking down occupational and financial barriers to women that had absolutely no real justification, and things of that nature.

    8. You equate “independence” with “suspicion the other person won’t do his or her duty.”

    First of all, we live in a sinful world. Yes, I would like my daughter to some day marry a fine Christian man and have children. But, in the meantime, she needs a good education and a decent career to support herself in case that doesn’t happen.

    Second, “independent” checks and balances are one good way to motivate people to stay honest. If I know my wife can support herself without me, I am less likely to abuse her, and she is will be less likely to fear leaving me if I do abuse her. I “trust” the people who care for my mother in assisted living, but relatives visiting Mom regularly help motivate the staff to be trustworthy. An ugly reality. This is why good Christian folk, while handling the church’s money, need audits and other checks and balances to help them avoid temptation.

    9. You pointed to Sarah as a role model for Christian wives. For her faith in God, and her willingness to submit to Abraham, I agree. Peter says so. But there were ugly aspects of that marriage we would never tolerate today.

    First, Abraham twice told Sarah to lie, and potentially allow herself to be trapped into adultery with neighboring kings, all so Abraham would not be killed. Sarah went along with this both times. This is horrible and highly abusive, to say the least! No woman, Sarah included, should have to submit to that kind of degradation!

    Second, Abraham literally threw his concubine Hagar and his own son by her out into the wilderness to live or die. They were only saved by God’s intervention. And this was at Sarah’s behest! Thank God we don’t openly tolerate slavery and sexual exploitation like this in our society!

    10. You spent a lot of time in your paper going over the fruits of the Spirit (and the flesh) in Galatians 5.

    This was the best part of your paper, in my opinion. You explained each vice or virtue in terms of spouses and parents. But, again, Christian virtue is not exhausted by the roles of spouse and parent!

    11. Toward the end, you kept talking about “the doctrine of patriarchy.”

    I have never heard that phrase before in my life. Pieper doesn’t use it, and it doesn’t occur in either Scripture or the Confessions. You make “patriarchy” sound like the very keystone of Scripture, but it’s strange that I have never heard it mentioned before. If it’s so obvious and important, why didn’t the CTCR title their report, “Wives and Mothers in the Church”?

  19. @Andrew J Preus #20

    Pastor, your wife is a free citizen. She can do as she pleases. But not if society conformed to your notions! Then she would have no choice.

    If you and she are “always” in agreement, that’s fine. But I find that a little hard to believe, no offense. Maybe she just decides to keep her mouth shut on a few things. Not that that’s necessarily bad!

    Back when the 19th Amendment was being debated, plenty of women were opposed to it. That doesn’t mean they weren’t mistaken.

    Also, let’s remember this: you (and, according to you, your wife) want only men to have the right to vote. If she doesn’t want to vote, that’s her choice, but I don’t want the rest of her sex to be denied that right, including my aunt, sister, sisters-in-law, nieces, wife, and daughter!

    I don’t think your wife is being mindless. I think she is trying to honor the Word of God (as she understands it). I also think she is mistaken in her interpretation of the Word, obviously.

    I sort of agree with your dad about patriarchy being theological. Besides an outright woman-hater (which I don’t think you are, btw), only someone committed to a certain view of the Bible, or the Koran, or some other holy book, would want men to have a monopoly on power. “Thus saith the Lord” is a powerful incentive to hold to certain views, even in the teeth of other arguments.

    “God’s created order”–see my comment #15 above with the Luther quote. God made Adam and Eve equal partners in Paradise, with joint dominion over the rest of creation. They were both made in God’s image. Husbandly rule was part of the Curse.

    “Autonomy”–see my comment #16 above. It’s a good thing, not a bad one. It doesn’t have to mean “anarchy”!

  20. @James Gibbs #21

    James, thank you for your response. I hope and pray that you get better. It’s never fun to miss church. I will respond the best I can to each point.

    1. My point is not that Moses’ sitz im leben is the norm. My point is that the Word is the norm. Jesus says that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of hearts. The civil law makes concessions for its circumstance. But Jesus tells us that it was not like this in the beginning when God made them male and female, and the two shall become one flesh.

    “Second, where does the Bible say patriarchy is God’s design?” You answer your own question. We should obey God the Father. Wives should submit to their husbands. Children should obey their parents. But your next question I think reveals some misunderstanding of my position. It’s simply impossible to expect that all society should be ruled by men. In fact, in many cases, this would be wrong. I point out in my paper that patriarchy means matriarchy. Mothers rule because fathers rule. This gives shape to our lives. So for example, it would be wrong for a man working as a cook at a restaurant to insist that the boss’s wife submit to him. No, in fact, he must respect her as his boss’s wife.

    My point about analogies is that they are models. The office of father provides a pattern of virtue for all men. And the same for mothers and women. Of course, this can be pushed to far, and I’m not advocating for a list of rules to hammer down every possible duty imaginable. But using these as a model is going to necessary result in certain parameters (for example, women not being pastors). That wisdom is a feminine noun is not the same as God instituting fathers and mothers as the prime vocation for men and women. In fact, it is quite appropriate that a feminine characteristic would glorify God. I made this point in my paper about the gentle and quiet spirit and submission, which Jesus himself does even in his exalted state.

    Paul was a spiritual father to the Corinthians. That’s why he said that. The Samaritan woman was not a spiritual father. She was a spiritual mother and sister. But she was not put in charge of the souls of the Samaritans. Also, fathers are the ones traditionally understood to betroth their daughters to their husbands. I didn’t ask my mother in law for my wife’s hand, and I don’t know anyone who did. I asked my father in law.

    2. I am saying that what God instituted with Adam and Eve include all Christian virtue. This is not to be understood that you cannot be virtuous if you are not a father or a mother. But it does mean that you can’t be virtuous if you do not seek to imitate your pious father and mother. Fathers are a unique role model for sons, and mothers are a unique role model for daughters. Obviously, because of our sinful flesh, no one can exhaust the meaning of Christian virtue. But God’s institution certainly exemplifies it.

    Paul praises celibacy. He makes clear that not all have this gift. This is the gift of not having sexual urges. And those who have it are given a special blessing in order to devote their lives to the service of the Lord. This is obviously, personally, more of a blessed life. But Paul also says that men and women should marry lest they burn with passion. He does not praise the single life as we know it too often today. And nevertheless, even for those who are single, their lives should still emulate what God has instituted. It’s not about married people being more important that single people. It’s about God’s institution of marriage and fatherhood/motherhood being models for all Christians, not just those who are actually married and parents.

    3. You write: “You say Deborah shamed Barak because he should have ‘manned up,’ and she perceived her role as being ‘a mother in Israel.'”

    “First, the text doesn’t say that.” Yes it does. Judges 5:7. “It simply says God commanded Barak to go and fight (through Deborah), and he was reluctant to fight. She then says the glory will go to a woman. It never says, ‘And that’s shameful to you, bro, for letting a WOMAN do your job.’ It simply says he would not receive all the glory. The fact that Deborah and Jael are women is nowhere mentioned in the text as being ‘shameful.'” “It will not be to your glory, because God will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” That’s what she says. It will not be to your glory. She doesn’t say, “you will not receive all the glory.” No, she says, “It will not be to your glory.” Why? Precisely because God will give the enemy into the hand of a woman. Deborah is clearly rebuking Barak.

    Deborah was a mother for her people. She sat under the palm of Deborah, giving wise counsel and judgment. God often raises up pious and wise mothers. This does not mean that we should arrange it for women to be in positions of authority.

    “Third, how can we say women can’t even be lectors in church, when Deborah (and many other women in the Bible) were outright prophets of God?” My wife is a prophetess. She speaks the Word of God, and it is as powerful as anytime I speak it. For now, she speaks it to our children. If God saw necessary, he would raise her up to speak it to more. We say that women can’t be lectors because Paul says that they are not permitted to speak or teach in the church (1 Cor 14:34; 1 Tim 2:12). “Does the Word of God lose its power when uttered by feminine vocal chords?” If you really think that is what I am saying, then re-read my article above.

    4. You make a military analogy to the husband-wife relationship. The 1LT obeys the CPT, and so forth. So, you say, wives should obey their husbands.

    The CTCR report in ’85 explicitly rejected making such an analogy. The relationship between spouses is NOT a “chain of command.” The CTCR is a council of fallible men. That military analogy was not made merely to make the point that women should obey their husbands. It was made simply to make the point that when a wife submits to her husband she is exalted, just as a lieutenant is exalted in his rank precisely in submitting to the captain.

    5. Wives not submitting to their husbands is chaos. Fathers not telling their children that they need to come to church, but instead listening to their children’s preferences is chaos and terrible for their souls.

    “Second, the LCMS has a long, long history of decrying every step of women’s emancipation as “opening the floodgates of chaos.” All of which turned out to be sky-is-falling rhetoric that didn’t come true!” Really? It didn’t? Women pastors, homosexuality, abortion, no-fault divorce, rampant fornication and cohabitation. These are all grounded in the premise that the father (and thereby the mother also) is not the authority in the home.

    “First, isn’t it more in line with the analogy of Scripture to say [Isaiah] meant either “weak men” or “foolish women”? God chose Deborah. Joab agreed to negotiate after speaking to the “wise woman” of Abel Beth Maacah. King Lemuel heeded the oracles of his mother, and recorded them. King Josiah sought out and followed the instructions of the prophetess Huldah. Mordecai carried out the directives of his niece Esther. God used women to rule and guide, even back in the OT.” All of these examples are women whom God raised up to give wisdom. Would that God give more of them! And he certainly does, and we would do well to recognize them. That doesn’t mean that they are to be reading the lessons, preaching and teaching at the regular assemblies. They should, however, be honored, and people should ask them questions and glean wisdom from them. I have seen people do this with my mother who has been even asked to speak on being a Christian mother. But she would never dream of getting up in the regular assembly of the church or taking over decision making roles of a congregation. Remember what Deborah did. She told Barak what God had commanded him to do, and she urged him to take charge and lead the army. She never fought with him. A wise woman encouraging her pastor and elders to do their duty would be exercising the same wisdom.

    Also, you do know that men are stronger than women. We can agree on that. A woman’s glory is not in her “strength.” It is in her gentle and quiet spirit. St. Peter tells husbands to honor their wives “as the weaker vessel.”

    “Third, was David ‘less of a man’ when he took Abigail’s advice? Was he ‘less of a man’when he heeded Bathsheba’s counsel regarding the succession? Were Peter and John ‘lesser men’ when they ran to the tomb after hearing the Magdalene’s news?” You’re confusing bossing around with giving wise counsel. Abigail wasn’t bossing David around. She was respecting him as her king. Same with Bathsheba. I listen to my wife’s advice often, because she is a wise woman. But she doesn’t boss me around. She trusts me to make final decisions. And she reminds me of what God says. And we both bow to his authority.

    6. “You imply that Galatians 5’s decrying “sorcery” means birth control is wrong.” I am suggesting this as a possibility. In speaking against planned barrenness, I go to the beginning, “Be fruitful and multiply,” and I try to attack what is usually the source of the issue, especially when people say something like, “I need to have my career established before I can have kids.”

    “Second, if all you want to do is condemn abortion, just use the Sixth Commandment.” I agree. But don’t you mean the fifth? Although I would say that abortion is an attack on the sixth as well, since it is an attack on the sexual bond and purpose, namely procreation.

    “Third, if you are also trying to say contraception is sinful, I cannot agree with you. But that is an entirely different subject.” I’m not entirely sure all of the moral implications WRT contraception. I do know that not wanting children is sinful. I know that a married couple choosing a career and other material stuff over God’s gift of children is the height of materialist yuppyism.

    Feminism has contributed nothing good for women. Any abuse you can point out of women in years past is due to the corruption of patriarchy, not the lack of feminism. And there is no proof that women are better off over all than they were before the sexual revolution. Yes, of course there are certain advantages women have today, for which I am thankful. But I reject the idea that feminism, and not simply a compassion for women, has contributed to this at all. That’s like saying that Naziism contributed to Volks Wagons and interstates. It’s an incidental thing. Godly patriarchy is good for women.

    7. “My own mother (a grown woman of 30!) could not apply for a credit card at a department store back in the 1950s without my dad’s signature–as if she were a kid! When she worked for a Florida newspaper during WWII, a man doing the same job as she, with less experience, was paid more. Both of these things were just plain wrong!” It’s convenient for me that my wife doesn’t need my signature for stuff like that. That’s just a hassle. There are a lot of things to be said about wage-gaps. I’ll say that it’s better for mouths to be fed than for individuals to be paid what they imagine they’re worth. Not commenting on your mom’s situation. I’m just saying that there is a lot of other stuff to consider with that whole issue.

    The feminist movement was about rejecting a father’s rule and a husband’s protection and instead finding father and husband in the state.

    “First of all, we live in a sinful world. Yes, I would like my daughter to some day marry a fine Christian man and have children. But, in the meantime, she needs a good education and a decent career to support herself in case that doesn’t happen.” I’m not at all opposed to women getting an education. But a decent career is overrated.

    Certainly, knowing that your wife can take all your stuff and leave you broke certainly can deter guys from abusing their wives. But I would hope the fear of God and love for their spouse is enough to do that for Christians.

    9. You pointed to Sarah as a role model for Christian wives. For her faith in God, and her willingness to submit to Abraham, I agree. Peter says so. But there were ugly aspects of that marriage we would never tolerate today.

    “First, Abraham twice told Sarah to lie, and potentially allow herself to be trapped into adultery with neighboring kings, all so Abraham would not be killed. Sarah went along with this both times. This is horrible and highly abusive, to say the least! No woman, Sarah included, should have to submit to that kind of degradation!” So Peter was wrong? I’m not following. Read Luther on this. He has some interesting insight. Abraham was perhaps doing his best to save both himself and his wife, fearing that she would be killed with him if he said she was his wife. Also, Hagar was Sarah’s idea. Yes, I agree. Some ugly business. All the more reason to admire Sarah for her great faith!

    “Second, Abraham literally threw his concubine Hagar and his own son by her out into the wilderness to live or die. They were only saved by God’s intervention. And this was at Sarah’s behest! Thank God we don’t openly tolerate slavery and sexual exploitation like this in our society!” Abraham listened to God’s promise (Gen 21:12).

    “10. You spent a lot of time in your paper going over the fruits of the Spirit (and the flesh) in Galatians 5.

    This was the best part of your paper, in my opinion. You explained each vice or virtue in terms of spouses and parents. But, again, Christian virtue is not exhausted by the roles of spouse and parent!” Thank you. I enjoyed that the most as well. But again, I’m not sure what you mean by exhausted. That spouse and parent have used up all the Christian virtue that there is nothing left for any other Christian who is not a spouse or parent? Is that what you think I’m arguing? I’m arguing precisely the opposite. Namely, that spouse and parent, as institutions of God, exemplify Christian virtue for every Christian man and woman, not leaving anyone out just because he or she is not in the marital estate.

    11. I have not heard many people use this term either. I would also call it “The Doctrine of Headship.” This is certainly biblical.

    Thanks again for your comments. Here is the overarching assumption I have seen throughout it all. I find that you think “patriarchy” and immediately think “oppression” or “abuse.” I understand this. My attempt is to turn this unfortunate depiction on its head. Men should be encouraged to be fatherly and husbandly leaders in their churches and communities. Men and women should not be pitted against each other. When we confirm patriarchy then we also confirm matriarchy. They both go together, and they are good for all society and the church.

  21. @Andrew J Preus #23

    Thanks for the well-wishes and prayers.

    I’ll use the same numbering for my responses.

    1. I’ll agree with you that many of Moses’ laws made concessions to human weakness (e.g., allowing slavery). But even Luther said Adam and Eve were equal “in the beginning.” Jesus’ quoting of Genesis was to argue divorce was wrong, not about any so-called “order of creation.”

    Also, I think it is too easy to say, “Well, ancient patriarchal societies did a lot of bad things, but the principle of patriarchy is still valid.” Patriarchal power is inherently dangerous. When men possess a monopoly of power, it is too easy for women to be mistreated. C.S. Lewis said somewhere that we must have equality “to protect us from each other, since we are all fallen.”

    If all you mean by “patriarchy” is fathers being the head of the house, I have no quarrel with you. But it would be better to choose another word. Rightly or wrongly, “patriarchy” means “fathers ruling,” and the common meaning of it is “all of society,” like the “patriarchal” societies of the ancient world. I heard you in the Q&A after your paper. I can identify with your frustration with how what you say may be distorted by others. But I think it is still wise to be as winsome as possible.

    I still think analogies can only go so far, and that there are lots of Biblical analogies that have little to do with spousal and parental relationships. But—enough on that.

    2. Yes, parents should be the prime examples of virtue to their kids. But that doesn’t mean every virtue is a parental one. My Dad always treated other people fairly. But so did my Mom. Being fair to people has little obvious connection with being a spouse or parent!

    When Paul praises celibacy, he never connects the virtues of serving the Lord as a single person to parenthood. He just says singles have the freedom to devote their entire lives to the Lord.

    Unless you define every Christian virtue as having an inherently “parental” element (which would be a bit of a stretch), there is simply no reason to try to connect the entire life of faith for every single Christian to marriage and parenthood! Maybe we should turn it around, and say that parents and spouses need to apply God’s commands to all Christians to their specific (and non-universal) vocations!

    3. Whether or not Deborah (or Barak) considered it shameful for Barak to “lose credit” to Jael because she was a women would simply be a reflection of their patriarchal culture, like Abimelech in Judges 9. The text doesn’t have God express or agree with those sentiments. He simply says (through Deborah) that “a woman,” not Barak, would get the glory. (Although, it’s interesting that Barak is named in Hebrews 11, while neither Deborah or Jael is!)

    You say we should not put women in positions of authority. God certainly did when he chose Deborah! She judged Israel! He raised up Esther to be Queen of Persia, and used her to save the Jews from massacre!

    As far as your wife being a “prophetess,” I don’t think that’s what the word normally means in the Bible. A prophet or prophetess is a man or woman through whom God speaks by direct, special inspiration—“Thus saith the Lord.” What your wife does is teach the Word to your children, for instance.

    And, again, you can’t say prophetesses simply spoke “at home” or in some other, non-public setting. Luke 2 says Anna “spoke of [the Christ child] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”—right there in the Temple! And please don’t tell me “only in the Court of Women” The text says “all”—surely, not only women were hoping for redemption! And, from what I have read, the Court of Women was normally full of men, too. Also–the Court of Women was a rabbinic institution, anyway—Moses’ law knew nothing of it.

    2 Kings does not state where Huldah was when she prophesied to Josiah’s delegation.
    At the first Pentecost, the Spirit-inspired prophesying by the disciples was certainly in a public place, since it aroused a major hubbub! And Peter quotes Joel, which says sons and daughters.

    Paul certainly spends a lot of time in 1 Corinthians 10 talking about proper decorum for women in the public services while they were praying and prophesying.

    So, it is a little hard for me to understand how women lectors can be wrong!

    It also seems to me that Paul telling women “not to speak in church” can’t mean what many want it to mean, since there are way too many instances of God allowing women to prophesy in very public settings, including the Temple and in the services at Corinth, wherever they may have been held.

    4. The CTCR is made up of fallible men, true. But so is every group which tries to interpret the Scriptures, including the conference at which you gave your paper! 🙂

    Sorry to disagree with you, but subordinates in the military are NOT “exalted” by obeying their superiors. They’re just doing their jobs. When my squad leader told me to “Move it, Gibbs!”, I did not feel even the TINIEST bit exalted! 😉

    5. You don’t have to have “patriarchy” to have orderly families. Plenty of egalitarian marriages get along just fine. Not believing in “patriarchy” does not have to equal letting children run wild, or not teaching them Christianity!

    If you want to re-define “patriarchy” as “orderly, Christian families,” then of course you are right by definition. But obviously I think there is more than one way for Christians to live in their families.

    “Women pastors, homosexuality, abortion, no-fault divorce, rampant fornication and cohabitation” are all the result of letting women sit with men in the pews? Of letting women teach day-school? Of women lectors? Pastor, come on—that’s just silly.

    You will probably say, “The mindset that produced those things also produced that list of horrors.” Well, let’s just look at each horror you cited, and actually examine the history of the reforms I cite, and see if we can draw plausible connections or not. Let’s NOT make sweeping statements about “philosophy” and jump to conclusions!

    To pick just one—women teaching day-school. The LCMS used to say only men could do that, since they are “teaching God’s Word.” OK—how long have women been teaching day-school? Has the LCMS moved any closer to women pastors? How do women day-school teachers undermine fatherly authority? My daughter’s Lutheran teachers certainly backed me up in raising her, and did a fine job of teaching her the basics, as well!

    “Homosexuality”—how is that the product of the lack of patriarchy? No one knows what causes some people to become gay. I have seen model Christian families produce gay sons and daughters. It’s tragic, but it sometimes just happens, for reasons only God knows. Allowing Mom to do X in the church is not going to turn Junior gay!

    5.2 Our numbering system got mixed up, somehow. This is your 2nd #5.

    My question is this: if women are so full of wisdom, why should they be so silent in the church, always and forever?

    (I have seen some advocates of “‘women’s silence” actually argue that women are inherently inferior, less intelligent, more easily deceived, etc. I’m glad you don’t argue that!)

    Again, look at Deborah the judge of Israel. Look at all the prophetesses, including the women of Corinth. God approves of women speaking publicly!

    And a woman can advise a man, but she can never, ever have power? That is reserved for men alone? We can praise her wisdom all day long, but if men ignore her, that’s just how the cookie crumbles? It just doesn’t make sense, taking all of Scripture together.

    Most men are physically stronger than most women, yes. Although the health teacher at my school is decades younger than I, and works as a personal trainer besides. I have no doubt she could best me in a fight! But she’s a nice lady–a Christian, too! 🙂

    The woman in Proverbs 31 was certainly commended for her strength. “She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong…Strength and dignity are her clothing…”

    “Gentle and quiet spirit”—that to some extent reflects the cultural ideals of the time. Greco-Roman men wanted wives to be beautiful, chaste, domestic, and submissive, like poor Lucretia. Peter, like Paul, was urging Christian women to win their unbelieving husbands over to the faith by being “model wives.” He also told them to avoid gold jewelry and braided hair. But this only goes so far.

    Was Deborah “gentle and quiet” when she urged Barak to go to war? Was Huldah “gentle and quiet” when she pronounced doom upon Jerusalem? Was the Samaritan woman “gentle and quiet” when she ran back to her village, and buttonholed every neighbor with the exciting news that the Messiah had come? Were the female disciples at the first Pentecost “gentle and quiet” when they proclaimed the mighty works of God in foreign tongues?

    And, yes, God is gentle. Sometimes. He certainly wasn’t to the Egyptian army at the Red Sea! He certainly didn’t treat his servant Job gently! Jesus certainly wasn’t gentle when he cleansed the Temple, or when he rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the Law!

    There is a time and a place for gentleness. No one has to be like that, always—even ladies! We often confuse a cultural norm of femininity (girls and women shouldn’t raise their voices, shouldn’t be “pushy,” shouldn’t be assertive) with what the Bible says about women.

    6. You’re right—I meant the Fifth Commandment. Brain cramp on my part!

    I agree with you that, barring a really serious reason, it’s wrong for a married couple to deliberately remain completely childless.

    You concede that the feminist movement has corrected many abuses, but argue that patriarchy, rightly conceived, would have fixed them, too.

    Patriarchy didn’t. How long were women supposed to wait for the men to fix things? And what on earth is wrong with establishing women’s rights to equal pay, etc. by law?

    Patriarchy leaves women at the mercy of men. Women will be treated well, as long as the men are moved to treat them so. Feminism says men and women should be treated equally by guarantee of law.

    Just as monarchy is a great form of government—as long as the king is a good guy. But what if his successor isn’t? Better to safeguard justice and people’s rights with democracy and equality!

    7. The credit-card thing wasn’t “just a hassle,” Pastor. It was degrading for my mom! And it wasn’t primarily about my dad’s inconvenience!

    And I’m not talking about the so-called “wage gap.” I am talking about a specific, blatant injustice. My mom was paid less than a man doing the same work, just because she was a woman! That is wrong, Pastor!

    And, again—the whole tarring of the entire feminist movement as rejecting fathers and husbands is absurd. Plus, again—what about single women? If the law doesn’t protect them, who will? Their non-existent husbands? Their fathers, even though these are grown women?

    8. “A decent career is overrated”—not when you are single woman who has to support herself! Christian women who work are not just marking time until their princes come riding. In the old days, employers justified lesser pay for women by saying, “Honey, you’re just going to get married and quit—that man next to you needs that money more.” It makes me understand how some feminists got so angry with that kind of stuff!!

    I’m not talking about fearing my wife will “take my stuff.” I’m talking how housewives in the previous generation had no means of supporting themselves, and often that was a major factor in why they put up with abuse!

    9. I’m not saying Peter was wrong. But wifely submission does not mean a woman should let herself be taken into a king’s harem!

    Sorry, but Luther had horrible ideas about women, although he seems (from what we know) to have treated Katie better than he sometimes talked.

    He once said women had broad hips to sit at home with, and men had narrow hips and broad shoulders, and “accordingly possessed intelligence.” He also said girls mature faster than boys because “weeds grow faster than roses.” 🙁

    I think that, whatever he said in his commentary, he was bending over backwards to make Abraham look good. Plus, look at Genesis–in both instances (Pharaoh and Abimelech), Abraham explicitly says he was afraid they would kill HIM.

    The Hagar business—first of all, the very fact that Abraham slept with her, his wife’s slave, was degrading to Hagar. She had no choice in the matter! Today, we would call that sexual exploitation.

    I also have a hard time believing Sarah was this great “woman of faith.” Peter says she hoped in God, so I guess she did. But what is recorded in Genesis? She followed Abraham to Canaan. She had no choice about that—she was his wife, and that was a patriarchal society. She lied twice about being Abraham’s sister (at his behest). She laughed when the Lord told Abraham they would have a son. There’s just not a lot there, frankly!

    Kind of like Peter calling Lot a “righteous man,” although, other than being practically dragged out of Sodom by the angels, almost the only actions of his we know are (a) his offering his virgin daughters to a rape gang (to spare his male guests the same fate), and (b) his getting so drunk that he committed incest with those same daughters!

    I have to concede that Abraham, in sending Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness, was obeying God’s command at the time. But Hagar wouldn’t have even been in that predicament if Abraham and Sarah had not misused and abused her! God was bringing good out of evil, not calling evil “good.”

    10. I was simply saying that you explained how the fruits of the Spirit would work in a marital/family relationship. Good stuff, as I said. I’m simply saying the reverse isn’t true: that every Christian should always model their conduct on that of a spouse or parent. You can explain and live out most Christian virtues without reference to family relationships.

    The Bible compares believers to pottery, and God to the potter. It compares us to sheep, and God to the shepherd. It compares us to various things that are not analogous to the family. The nuclear family is not the universal model for all Christian callings you want it to be.

    It seems to me that you want to universalize the family analogy so that you can then turn around and argue that patriarchy applies in every area of life. Godly fatherhood is a noble and beautiful thing, I agree. But it is not THE organizing principle of human society, nor need it be.

    11. What I meant by saying the phrase “doctrine of patriarchy” is a novelty is to say that, perhaps, that is a warning sign that we are perhaps innovating in doctrine as well.

    I think part of your closing statement is very fine: “Men should be encouraged to be fatherly and husbandly leaders in their churches and communities. Men and women should not be pitted against each other.” I agree with you, properly understood!

    Thanks for the dialogue and the courtesy!

  22. @James Warble #5

    The Deaconness is not a “made up office.” The following is from the entry in The Lutheran Cyclopedia:
    At a very early period women were also admitted to the Diaconate. In Rom. 16:1, Paul mentions Phebe as a deaconess (ousan diakonon, a deacon or servant) of the Church at Cenchrea; and it is the opinion of many of the best commentators that the directions given by him in 1 Tim. 3:11 refer not to the wives of the deacons, but to women deacons.
    The Female Diaconate spread with the growth of the Church and reached its highest development in the fourth century. According to the “Apostolic Constitutions” faithful and holy women were to be ordained as deaconesses because the Church had need of them in many necessities; the bishop was to induct them into their office by the laying on of hands and prayer, in the presence of the presbytery, and the deacons and deaconesses; and they were to instruct the female catechumens, render the necessary external assistance at their baptism, minister to women in sickness and distress, relieve the saints in prison, prepare the bodies of women for burial, be doorkeepers at the women’s entrances to the churches, assign women their places at worship, facilitate communication between the bishop or presbyter and the female members of his congregation, and in general engage in such works of charity and relief as heathen opinion would not allow the men deacons to do.
    After the fourth century, with changed conditions and the growing corruption of doctrine and life, the Female Diaconate began to decline; and long before the Reformation, save among the Waldenses and the Bohemian Brethren, the deaconess office was completely lost.
    Though not the first to desire its restoration the revival of the ancient office was, under God, brought about by the Rev. Theo. Fliedner, at Kaiserswerth-on-the-Rhine. Here, on the 13th of Oct., 1836, he opened an institution designed to give Christian women willing to become deaconesses the necessary religious and technical training, and in which, as distinguished from the congregational diaconate of the Early Church, they were to form a closely associated community or sisterhood. This first Deaconess Mother-house, most modestly begun, has had a marvellous growth, and in its fundamental principles has served as the pattern for the many similar institutions that have since come into existence. In 1898 the number of Mother-houses belonging to the Kaiserswerth Union was 80 with 13,309 Sisters, engaged in 4,745 fields of labor in all parts of the world. In addition to these over 1,000 deaconesses belong to Homes and Houses (Method. Epis., Prot. Episcop., Interdenominational, etc.), in Europe and the United States, that have no connection with the Kaiserswerth Union.

    Jeremiah F. Ohl, “Deacon and Deaconess,” ed. Henry Eyster Jacobs and John A. W. Haas, The Lutheran Cyclopedia (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1899), 150.

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