Saturday, February 14, 2009


Some people have been blogging about the Complegalitarian blog. I was one of the first posters on the blog but soon resigned. I was immediately convinced that it was counter intuitive. I did continue on and off to comment on the blog. However, after being subjected to a series of attacks involving false statements made about me, I left completely for some time. I also appealed to the moderator to have it closed since I was not comfortable with the premise.

Then I received an email from another commenter there expressing concern regarding the exegesis of Eph. 5:21. This is one of the statements made on complegalitarian with regards to this verse,

    I construe Ephesians 5:21 as it was always construed, so far as I am aware, until quite recently. That is, “one another” is understood not strictly but loosely to refer to some among the aggregate submitting to others in the aggregate rather than all in the aggregate submitting to all in the aggregate.
My particular difficulty with this is that the verse was not to my knowledge construed this way. I am not aware of anyone who construed it this way before Wayne Grudem.

Here is Clement,

    “So in our case let the whole body be saved in Christ Jesus, and let each man be subject (ὑποτασσέσθω) to his neighbor, to the degree determined by his spiritual gift,”1 Clement 38.1
Here is Chrysostom,

    Let there be an interchange of service and submission. For then will there be no such thing as slavish service. Let not one sit down in the rank of a freeman, and the other in the rank of a slave; rather it were better that both masters and slaves be servants to one another;—
He clearly indicates that this verse explicates mutual relations and not simply the reinforcement of the hierarchical value of the submission of some to others.

Here is Calvin,

    God has bound us so strongly to each other, that no man ought to endeavor to avoid subjection; and where love reigns, mutual services will be rendered. I do not except even kings and governors, whose very authority is held for the service of the community. It is highly proper that all should be exhorted to be subject to each other in their turn.
Here is Adam Clarke,

    Submitting-one to another] Let no man be so tenacious of his own will or his opinion in matters indifferent, as to disturb the peace of the Church; in all such matters give way to each other, and let love rule.
And here is BDAG,

    “Of submission in the sense of voluntary yieding in love. 1 Cor. 16:16, Eph. 5:21 … 1 Clement 38:1″
One of the main tenets of Christianity is usually to have an attitude that God is not a "respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34) At least that is how I was raised. If Eph. 5:21 means that some people are to submit to other people, then it sounds like a different religion than the one in which I was raised. Not that that was perfect by any means.

In any case, this is why I went back to comment on Complegalitarian. I would be interested in knowing if there were commenataries which suggested that Eph. 5:21 means that in the church some submit to others. Otherwise I will continue in the belief in which I was raised on this matter.


Mike Aubrey said...


If its good enough for Chrysostom, its good enough for me.

Mike Aubrey said...

Here's the whole text for Chrysostom:

“Submit to each other”, he declares, “in fear of God.” If you submit because of rulers, money or honor, how much more should you submit because you fear God? There should be an exchange between slavery and submission so that there is no true slavery. No one should sit in the rank of the freeman while another sits in the rank of the slave. Instead, both the master and the slave become slaves to each other. It is so much better to be a slave like this than free any other way. Let me explain:

Suppose there is a person with a hundred slaves who would never serve any of them. But suppose there was also someone with a hundred friends, regularly serving each other. Which one would have the better life? Who lives more happily and comfortably. For one of them there is no anger, no irritation, no angst, or anything else of that kind, while for the other there is only anxiety and fear. In one case, they are forced, but in the other, all choose freely. In one case, they are constrained, but in the other, they serve and enjoy mutual benefaction and reciprocity.

And that’s God’s desire; that is why he washed the disciples’ feet. But there’s more! If anybody carefully studies this issue, they will find there is indeed an exchange between the slave and the master! Surely your pride won’t suffer by accepting such an exchange of service? When a person makes himself available for service, you must provide for him physically: food, clothing, and shoes. This, I tell you, is the way you should serve, because if you do not follow through on your end, the slave won’t either. He’ll be free and no law will constrain him nor will food convince him. And what’s more, if this is the case for slaves, what’s so unusual about it being the same with freemen?

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I was hoping you would comment. If anyone would know, it would be you. Anyway, that is what the fight was about on complegal. I hope it is over for now.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Mike,

I posted that passage on complegal. One of the 336 comments on one post.

Peter Kirk said...

I gave up on Complegalitarian months ago. I still skim read the posts, but never the comment threads these days. Although I am still listed as an author I don't think I have posted since last August, and in fact only once in over a year. I got fed up with the same people talking past one another about the same old issues.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I should have stayed away myself. The premise is flawed. I really don't want to associate with people who think it is okay to keep women under authority. If men want this they should go to a pet store and get a goldfish.

I am astounded at men who want to get along with those who think of women as "under authority."

Its been a tough haul for me to realize that I have no place in the wider bibliosphere anymore. Its okay in the end but its an ajustment.

Wayne Leman said...

The premise is flawed. I really don't want to associate with people who think it is okay to keep women under authority. If men want this they should go to a pet store and get a goldfish.

Suzanne, that is not the premise of the Complementarian blog. Instead, it was created precisely to be a safe place for egalitarians and complementarians to share their differences, lovingly and graciously, without any compromise on what one deeply believes. Unfortunately, there have been far too many commenters who have not followed the commenting guidelines. As you know, I have done everything I could think of to improve the safety on the blog, and it truly has improved. It is healthier today than it was a month ago or a year ago. I have used WordPress moderation features to cut down on inappropriate comments.

I still believe that Christians who disagree should be able to show the world that they are Christ's disciples by showing love for one another, even when they disagree. If we keep shooting at each other we will have little left as a witness to the world that Christianity has sometime positive to offer. My vision for the blog has been a positive one, not a place to tear down. As you know from my many emails with you, I have hurt with you as you have interacted on the blog. And I have done everything I can think of to make it healthier to reduce that hurt.

The fault is not with the concept of the blog, or its premise. We need more blogs where we can build bridges between us, and fewer blogs which are ideologically monolithic allowing no feedback or gracious disagreement.

Sue said...

I don't think it can be done. I protested several months ago, and thought it was time to close. I think the most recent post is no contribution to the debate either.

I know you made a tremendous effort to make the blog a safe place. I just don't think it was possible given that at least one person felt free to comment on other people's views, beliefs, family and so on without citing anything, just going on gut feeling.

When exegesis hit the same level of "I think it is right, so therefore it is right" I had had enough. I did stay to make the point that about Eph. 5:21 because I hate to see the word of God deliberately misrepresented. But closing the blog would have had the same effect only faster.

I am really sorry about the whole thing.

Sue said...

Some people like it I do know that. But for me, it was just a free for all, for one persona dumping on me personally, as well as insisting that whatever hairbrained exegesis people came up with was the traditional exegesis. No checking or anything like that.

Then I hear that a bunch of people got an email reprimanding them for the tone of their contributions. I had that treatment in the past. The whole thing was bizarre.

Anonymous said...

It's been good for me. I've liked it. I've struggled with it at times, been frustrated at times, frustrated other people at times (heh), but over all, I feel like it's been an experience that has contributed to my spiritual growth. It's hard...but hard doesn't mean bad.

But I understand, Sue, that your situation is different as your experience was different.

I recently had a horrible, and I mean HORRIBLE experience on a blog with some people that I'd thought of as friends who completely misunderstood some things I was saying and then said some things about me that I could hardly believe, and, heh, I still can't go to their blogs.

I know they are nice people, I know they mean well, but I truly am just too shell-shocked to even set foot near them. Even small interactions, like seeing their blogs on your sidebar, are difficult and, to be honest, because I'd have to see their blog names I found myself avoiding YOUR blog. Silly, I know, but true (obviously I'm working to overcome it-lol).

It's so weird. And I'm generally really thick skinned, but there's something about being accused of things that aren't true, repeatedly, publically, and authoritatively, that is just beyond offensive. So I really understand, in the sense that when one has recieved a very personal attack, the entire situation is just so different.

As far as complegal goes, I think it's worth the effort. It's a very hard effort. But I think it's worth it. If it doesn't pan out, it was at least worth the work. I think, anyway.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I will have to edit my blogroll or maybe just delete it altogether. I stopped blogrolling any blogs that link back to the biblioblogging community for that reason. I don't link to compegal. In fact, I removed a bunch of friends blogs like yours a while back because they lead back to compegal. It was too painful for me. I would never have come back there if someone had not emailed and asked me what Eph. 5:21 really means.

I am happy to see that compegal has been good for you and I know other people feel this way. But for me it will always be a place that was used to lie about me. I suppose with time I could get over that.

I don't think people take lying seriously enough.

Anonymous said...

No, no, Suzanne, I didn't mean anything about your blogroll. Please leave it untouched. I shouldn't have even mentioned it. I was just trying to express empathy, in that I understand, probably in a much smaller way, how painful it can be to be misunderstood and then judged and juried by people that you genuinely like and wish could hear you.

Sue said...

I am really glad that some people feel that it is good. It is a venue for this kind of discussion. Perhaps I was the only one who had untrue things said about them. I think the problem is that I was the only identifiable woman in the group and this made me more vulnerable. I was very sensitive to the fact that stories were made up about my family since I am a real person with a real family.

If I had always been anonymous then I would not have felt so vulnerable, I probably would have been able to laugh at it. But when someone looks up dirt on every author and delivers it and then creates dirt about me to get some quotable dirt on me I suppose, I am very wary.

Other than this small problem the forum was probably fine.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Suzanne, how are you doing?

I appreciate your concerns.

I believe in Wayne's mission statement. I believe it is a noble endeavor.

Well, as concerns Chrysostom, I think that he needs to be read in context. In fact, I think that he speaks a lot like the CBMW!

He sees mutual submission - as many Complementarians do - but he also sees the hierarchy in the marriage relationship. The husband has authority over his wife as Christ does over the church, His bride.

A great little book I read is On Marriage and Family Life. It is a complation of Chrysostom's homilies on the subject. You may not like the book, because it helped me become a confirmed Complementarian. :-) He answered a lot of the questions that I had.

Anyway, I did a little review of the book if you are interested. What I have not done is put in quotes from him to back up what I am saying. I may do that sometime.

I also reviewed another book entitled On Living Simply. He saw mutuality in terms of each one fulfilling his or her role for the good of the other. That's how I see it, after having read his homilies on the subject of marriage.

You may understand it differently, and that's fine. He was a patriarchalist and a hierarchichalist, keep in mind.

I think I spelled that word wrong. It looks like one too many "ch." Oh, well...

Here is a quote.:

"In a family the husband needs the wife to prepare his food; to make, mend, and wash his clothes; to fetch water; and to keep the rooms and furniture in the house clean. The wife needs the husband to till the soil, to build and repair the house, and to earn money to buy the goods they need. God has put into a man's heart the capacity to love his wife, and into a woman's heart the capacity to love her husband. But their mutual dependence makes them love each other out of necessity also. At times love within the heart may not be sufficient to maintain the bond of marriage. But love which comes from material necessity will give that Bond the strength it needs to endure times of difficulty. The same is true for society as a whole. God has put into every person's heart the capacity to love his neighbors. But that love is immeasurably strengthened by their dependence on one an other's skills."

I'm not saying this to revolutionize your way of thinking. I don't feel a need to do that. I just found this man's writings to be a tremendous blessing. Maybe you will, too.

I believe that all of his homilies are online somewhere.

God bless, Suzanne, and please take care,
Mrs. Webfoot

Mrs. Webfoot said...

I think that Chrysostom erred, though, in not encouraging slaves to get their freedom. Of course, in his time, a slave was nothing in society. If he were freed, what would he do?

Then, that society was so dependent on servants, it would have collapsed withouth them. They were the ones who knew how to work!

I still think that he erred when he interpreted 1 Corinthians 7:21,22 to mean that slaves should not try to gain their freedom, but rather stay in their place.

I think he was wrong, even though he spoke Greek as his native tongue.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

And I believe in equity for both slaves and women.

And yes, I am aware of Chrysostom's patriarchal writings but that does not alter the exegesis of Eph. 5:21. Does anyone believe that it means "some submit to others?" That would be a handy translation. Those on top simply prove that the Bible affirms their on-top-ness and the on-bottom-ness of others. Really - how convenient is that? Self-serving, and a contradiction to 1 Cor. 13.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Well, the relationship of slave to master is very different from that of husband to wife.

It's apples and oranges, except that both are hierarchical.

The slave is told by Paul to get free if he can. The husband and wife are told not to leave one another. It is a one flesh union.

Yes, there are circumstances because of sin. I'm not sitting in judgment on anyone by any means. There are things that kill a marraige - adultery and abandonment.

Hey, thanks for letting me post.

God bless, Suzanne,
Mrs. Webfoot

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Isn't a one flesh union broken by more than adultery and abandonment? Couldn't we agree on violence also? What about coercion and lying? What about selfishness and cruelty? i don't know where to draw the line myself although I know where I drew the line.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

You are welcome to post here, BTW.