bellatrys (bellatrys) wrote,

"God says I don't have to listen to you, nyah nyah!"

I can't say exactly how I came across this guy, other than less than six degrees but not firsthand [hums "It's a small world" until things are thrown] but he is dead typical of the American Conservative Catholic Convert of Academic Sort, right down to the way you can almost come up with his lines for him before he does, after you've read enough. Bog-standard "orthodox" apologetics, with a slightly-larger platform than your average TAC or Christendom graduate gets - and that definite inescapable (like spoiled potatoes or onions in the pantry) sense that he's only really a Christian because it validates his chauvinism, and Protestantism was falling down in that regard--

Folks, I give you Dave Armstrong. Here's an excerpt (emphases mine):

First of all, I would like to highly commend all Christian women who are concerned with upholding traditional teaching on Church authority (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox alike), given the climate of "feminism," phony unisexual "equality" and "anti-male" sentiment we live in today. I know it must be very hard for many intellectually-brilliant and spiritually wise women to abide by this teaching, which is difficult to interpret in the first place. I just wanted to tell all of you - speaking as a Christian male to Christian females - that I sincerely appreciate and respect very much your conscientious attempt to understand, apply and obey this binding biblical teaching.

As a Catholic, I think the Pauline injunctions restricting teaching of women refer to positions of authority and the jurisdication of "binding and loosing," which - I believe - was given to men only. In other words, I am not technically or juridically bound to submit to what a woman may say or teach. I can (and have) certainly learn a great deal, grow spiritually, receive godly counsel, etc., from Christian women far wiser and more spiritual than I am, but as a man I am not bound in any ecclesiological sense. Nor am I bound - strictly speaking - to men, for that matter, who are not ordained; who do not possess the apostolic succession that the priesthood confers.

So women can definitely teach men many things, while not "having authority" over them, just as wives constantly do, though men possess the headship in the marriage. But headship is a leadership of love and service, not of "lording over," as St. Paul and our Lord Jesus instruct. Another way of saying it is that authority and teaching are two different things. Or, one might distinguish between public and private instruction, where the latter is more probably suited for women. Some biblical commentaries make this point with regard to 1 Tim 2:11, citing Acts 18:26 (Priscilla and Aquila) and 1 Cor 14:34-5 as support. Philip's four daughters had the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9).

The situation dealt with in 1 Cor 14:34-5 appears to be simply a cultural consideration concerning politeness, propriety and order, as opposed to an absolute mandate. The latter intuitively seems far too strict to and virtually impossible to be apply without exception. Phoebe is called by Paul a "deacon" in Rom 16:1-2 (whatever that term might be taken to mean). My New Bible Dictionary (p.298) states that the Greek Fathers interpreted 1 Tim 3:11 as referring to deaconesses, not merely deacon's wives (cf. Lk 8:2). The "deacon" in the NT was primarily an office of service, and also of evangelism (Lk 8:2 implies this).

Many of the wisest (and best) Christians I know are women. I think offhand of Elisabeth Elliot and Edith Schaeffer among Protestants, and Ronda Chervin, Kimberly Hahn, Alice von Hildebrand, and - of course - Mother Teresa among Catholics, as well as many personal friends. I have certainly benefitted from insights from all of them. Yet none had any authority over me.

Especially for a Catholic, chatting or informal fellowship can never be "church," strictly speaking, since the Eucharist is always central in our service, and we believe that can only be presided over by a validly-ordained priest. Most Protestants also believe in some sort of ordination or "calling" or confirmation or appointment of pastors. That being the case, then "church" for them would have to be a gathering presided over by an ordained pastor. Thus good, stimulating, edifying Christian fellowship and conversation can occur between men and women, in which women can "teach" men and not violate Church authority, since these activities are not - technically and ecclesiologically speaking - "church."

Don't you feel flattered? Empowered? Complimented? Don't you want to trust to Armstrong's vision of Christian Chivalry as keeping you safer than legal rights and your own wits? Read on, dear reader, and I'm sure all your doubts will be swept away--

(Is that an in-joke, putting Lord Peter up as apotropaic figure to this post? Why yes, Socrates, it is!)

Some of you may be wondering WTF the point is of saying that no women can "have authority over" him when by his narrow definition of "authority" he means something which only an ordained minister whose ordination he considers valid can have, which thereby also rules out 99.99% of the males in the world--? I refer you to the title of the post, for the answer to that...
Tags: bad apologetics, feminism, religion, sexism
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