Monday, July 17, 2017

“Gender Apartheid” And “Toxic Masculinity” In NAPARC? (2)

The Word of God is holy and inerrant. There is neither “gender apartheid” nor “toxic masculinity” in Scripture but the creational differences and order between male and female are clearly revealed, taught, and applied. The visible church is the earthly manifestation of the eschatological kingdom of God but eschatology does not wipe out nature (creation). It renews it.


In the first part of this essay we looked critically (albeit briefly) at just some of the problems inherent in the categories “gender apartheid” and “toxic masculinity” in the NAPARC world. Please read that introduction before reading or engaging part 2. In it, we also considered briefly the explicit teaching of Scripture that there are two sexes (not genders). We saw that the sexual differences between males and females are not arbitrary but a matter of creation, a category which is largely alien to the late-modern world, which would have us think that sexual differences are mere conventions to be deconstructed at will. As Christians we must re-learn to begin with God’s Word, with “in the beginning” instead of the politics of victimization. One of the most fundamental problems of late-modern life is the radical nominalism—for which Martin Luther is notresponsible—in which we have all been catechized. Nominalism, however, is a cruel master because it denies nature, what some have called “givenness.” The only way out of our late-modern morass is to recover basic biblical categories, nature and grace. As important as nature it does not sanctify it and it cannot save us from sin and the effects of sin. It is to grace that we turn now because grace is the only way to overcome the dialectic of recrimination.

Scripture begins with two sexes (not genders) in a mutual, ordered relationship. Man was made from the earth, by God, and woman from man (Gen 2:7, 18–23). We can see for ourselves from the creation narrative that there was an order. Our sin, willfully committed against God and against his holy law introduced disorder. The curse upon sin disrupted the harmony of the relations between the sexes. Genesis 3:16 says of and to the female, “Your desire shall be for your husband (‏ וְאֶל־אִישֵׁךְ֙ תְּשׁ֣וּקָתֵ֔ךְ) and he shall rule over you (‏וְה֖וּא יִמְשָׁל־בָּֽךְ). Whatever ambiguities there may be in this part of the narrative, it should be clear that sin corrupts the natural order and that harmony and only grace can restore it to any degree before the consummation.

It is necessary to observe and grasp both the creational order as found in Genesis 1 and 2 and how Paul applies that order. He appealed to the creational order in his instructions about how men and women are to conduct themselves in public worship (see 1 Cor 11:7–11; see also 1 Cor 14:34). He noted what we have seen, that the woman was made from man (and thus a wife is not independent of her husband, even in public worship) nor is a man independent of his wife, since men are now, after creation, born of a woman).

He turned to it again in his instruction to pastor Timothy. As in 1 Corinthians 11, he is addressing the conduct of public worship.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control (1 Tim 2:8–15).

The parallel in vv. 8–10 is between the the virtues Paul expects of men and women. Christian men ought to worship together in peace and women in self-control and modesty. Of course it is not that men are permitted to be immodest or women violent but these are things that he had doubtless noticed (e.g., in Corinth) and, as a more experienced minister, passed on to Timothy as issues of which to be aware relative to the churches in Asia Minor.

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