Saturday, February 14, 2009

But one equal communion and identity

Discussion over complementarity and equality in male-female relations has been ongoing 'for ever'. John Hobbins recently announced his retirement from a blog dedicated to the subject. And Henry Neufeld blogs about the event here.

From its beginning, I stayed away from this conversation. I think my position is close to Henry's and little different from John's. Sometimes I think I have left the safety of the 'obvious' interpretation of certain scriptures and that my Lord will eventually show me the intent of the passages more clearly - then I say 'what! and shore up my insecure maleness or something?'

The subject seems too difficult for me and my only thoughts are that equal balance I find in the opening of Genesis together with the personal joy of my bridal reading of the Song. The radical advocacy of Paul to equality is clear in 1 Corinthians 7 - surely a passage which the unregenerate self will abuse more than any other. The unregenerate concentrates on the will to power and cannot read the words 'no power over'.

There is no salvation in the obvious. There is no value in convincing others by rational argument. Not by imposition, nor by violence, it is not my way, says the Lord, but in my Spirit - and where is that best seen but 'in the beauty of the lilies' al-shoshanim? (See Psalm 45 and 69 but particularly 80 - and note the bridegroom of blood that is implied. This word merits a post on rare words in the Psalter. Some day...)

Henry has some words on blogs and comments that I also agree with. I enjoy comments that people make on my blog, and I wish there was more time for the learning that comes through interaction in extended conversation, blog to blog. (But not disagreeable disagreement.) Henry and John are still both on my reduced aggregator - where before I had too many alligators all chomping for my attention. I think I will change my pattern of blogging to greater interaction - such as this post. Let's see where it leads.


Sue said...


Thanks for your thoughts. While many people say that rational discussion will not change anything, that seems to me defeatist. Here are some of my thoughts.

A person who is in a bad situation needs information desperately. They need to know that there is more than one way to interpret the Bible. And they need to know that they are free to interpret it differently from the "authority" in their life.

For women, sometimes this is the husband, and for men sometimes they are spiritually abused by a teaching in the church. I have seen enough of this too.

But one of the ways to help someone is to make information available and to share feelings, so that person knows that others share their feelings, feelings which belong to being human.

I needed to here that if a woman submits to abuse she guarantees that the abuse will be intensified. I needed to be told that. It was the one single thing which most changed my entire life. The strongest thing in my adult life was the lack of freedom I lived with daily. I needed freedom to think and act otherwise.

So, if someone suppresses this truth then they contribute to the bondage of other human beings. This does not mean that all of us have to fight every time we are in an abusive situation. But we need to know that the act of submitting feeds sin rather than alleviating sin. We need to know these truths.

Then we can act and decide. Perhaps most of the time it is better to submit in the moment to save oneself from injury. But then the next act must be to exit. The submission is only a delay, because it means the next interaction will engage deeper abuse and deeper submission.

Those who are brainwashed into thinking that they should submit or that the response is their fault, are living in a delusion and need to hear other voices.

You never know when someone is listening, when the word will be spoken that provides a mental release for someone else. I don't think suppressing various opinions helps any. Not that you meant this. But I think rational argument is important. I have learned a lot during this interaction on compegal Not always the way I wanted or even what I wanted but still I learned a lot.

Bob MacDonald said...

Suzanne - thanks for the comment. I respect the need for information - yes. Though it might never be sufficient by itself, it is necessary in part. So I don't negate the appeal to Scripture - as I have done, but that is really an appeal to the mystery of the intervention of God in a situation (whether the situation is good or bad).

I agree too that other voices are very important - and as you note, one does not know where the seed of a freeing idea will fall - one may not even know that it is freeing to someone.