Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"But, is it correct for a woman to debate? Is it correct for a woman to involve herself in theological argumentation?": My journey on seeking a balanced complementarianism


A dear friend of mine asked me the above question; that is, " Is it correct for a woman to debate? Is it correct for a woman to involve herself in theological argumentation?" Well, as a Bible-believing complementarian (+headcovering) sister in Christ, this has been my question for quite a while and I was so grateful that she opened up the subject and invited me to ponder this issue. Here was her thought;

According to my understanding, those are men's jobs as the leaders of the church. That's partly why a woman covers her head, because she is not the head, the authority, the leader. It doesn't mean she can't read books on those subjects, and discuss them with her close acquaintances and family--it doesn't mean she shouldn't be knowledgeable;

it does mean that she lets the men take responsibility for leading the church in those matters. And when I say church, I mean the body of believers, not the church as an organizational structure or as a building.

And then I shared her view with readers on my Japanese blog and welcomed them to give me feedback. Praise God, it turned out to be a very edifying and educational dialogue for all of us and it truly urged me to re-think and go deeper into the essence of Biblical womanhood. It also gave me a precious opportunity to re-examine our complementarianism with a fresh and critical spirit.

And I joyfully invite you all to share your thought with me regarding this question. As for me, I came to a slightly different conclusion than my dear friend and now I will tell you why.


Although the Bible clearly forbids women to teach nor rule over men (1 Timothy 2: 11-12. therefore we sisters are not to be pastors nor preachers.), it seems to me that it also did not explicitly forbid women to "discuss" the Bible topics in an informal setting. In such a case, it might be safe to make a certain room (meaning, no specific regulation) and to let the Spirit direct each individual as to whether she should engage in a particular Bible discussion (or theological dialogue) or not. c.f. Acts 18:24-26

And I am sure that as we grow more and more in "a meek and quiet spirit" (1 Pet.3:4), we will know the proper way and time to talk or to be silent in each particular circumstance.

The reason why I say this is not from my own interest / desire to engage in theological discussion but rather to seek how we can maintain our complementarianism in both "serious" and "dynamic" way. Serious in a sense that we should obey His clear commands as regards to our submission and obedience. We should submit our headship order without compromise. And I say, dynamic in a sense that we can "fly" freely as birds in the sky within the realm of His boundaries.
And I tell you honestly that the latter idea (="dynamic") was born out of my sincere and honest dialogue with some of my feminist Christian ladies. So you might be wondering; Oh, has Kinuko been influenced by feminism? Has she compromised? No. Not a bit.
However, over the years, I came to realize the pain of our feminist evangelical Christian friends as well. They are usually very talented, intelligent and full of passion for Christ and His Kingdom. Many of them were brought up in somewhat unbalanced complementarian church environment ("fence around the Torah" type of extra human regulations) and could not find their proper place in the Body of Christ.
As a result, they became reactionary and jumped across the other side of the river called; Evangelical Feminism. What a pity! They might have been able to remain in the realm of complementarianism if it was presented in a more balanced way?

So, dear ladies, what do you think? I welcome your feedback with open arms and heart!


Jessica R said...

Both serious and dynamic: I like the way you put it. You know, I had the opportunity to think about this the other day, when I was reading another blog (eyes2jesus.blogspot.com) that I've been following for the past four years. The author is a head-covering, skirts/dresses only, mother of four, full-time housewife. She sometimes writes on topics related to those things. But at other times, she writes on topics related to subjects she is studying in-depth for her own personal growth. So, she's written on the Nephilim, hell, Catholicism, Salvation, the KJV, among other things. I've read many of her articles, and find them very interesting. So, I guess you would call her "dynamic" regarding the way she handles those themes on her blog.

Here's my thought: the reason women are supposed to stay "silent" is because "the woman being deceived was in the transgression." I don't like to think of myself as "easily deceived," since I view myself as sometimes thinking more clearly than some men that I know. However, if I'm going to be biblical, I have to admit that according to 1 Tim. 2:11-15, women are more prone to deception than men. Why? Could it be that they are generally more guided by emotion than by reason? It hurts to even consider it!

By voicing our opinions on theological matters, even informally, might we be influencing others towards our way of thinking kind of like Eve influenced Adam to eat the fruit? Of course, we wouldn't do so with an evil intention! But, is it possible that we might unintentionally lead people astray nonetheless? Because after all, that's what 1 Tim. 2:11-15 seems to indicate is the concern. (However, if we were voicing the combined opinion of both husband and wife together, under the husband's guidance, and with his approval, that would probably be appropriate.)

I wonder if sometimes we get frustrated that we can't express ourselves in the way we want to, so much so, that we ignore God's alternatives. For example, when I was younger, I used to love ballet, and wanted to be a dancer. But, it didn't work out. Now, I could have gotten all upset and frustrated about it (kind of like the "dynamic" women you mentioned who couldn't develop their interests--and initially, I did feel upset). Or, I could do what I in reality ended up doing, and recognize that God's best for me was something different. If I had become a dancer, I might never have become a mother to my six children! I consider that to be a mother is much more worthwhile, therefore I gladly trash my unrealized dream in the "dung pile" (Phil. 3:7-14), and embrace another in its place. Might not other women do the same, who have "dynamic" tendencies? Trade their dream in for another, better dream--God's dream for them--instead of stressing out about what they think they've missed out on?
Such a long comment! But I love how you've opened up this dialogue, Kinuko. It really is intriguing! I have so many more thoughts I could share on this; but for now, I'll just post this one.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue with respectful attitude,informal discussion,sharing one's thought with others..I think these are acceptable.Anyway we need humble spirit.

Some feminist christians insist that complimentarianism can cause anti-intellectualism of women.I do'nt agree with this opinion.We should read bible with spirit and intelligence,judge complimentarianism is correct or not.

But as you say,unbalanced complimentarianism may have oppressed many women who hope to use their talent for His glory.I don't know much about feminist gospel,but this reality is also what we have to face to rethink,I feel.
Thank you for sharing.


Kinuko H said...

Dear Jessica and Sanae,

Thank you so much for your response. This inquiry is indeed connected with my own spiritual journey as a woman and I'd like to keep your sayings deep in my mind and heart.I also want to know what our dear fellow sisters are thinking on this issue:)Now allow me to ponder this issue quietly for a while. Thank you so much, Jessica and Sanae!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kinuko, Welcome home!
I guess to answer this question,I would need to ask a few questions first. These women that you spoke of that were in an unbalanced uncomplementarian church setting and they became reactionary, what does that exactly mean? Does that mean that they were in a church that believed that women should be silent and had very strict rules on that to the point of being abusive and then they rebelled? Or were they very learned women that liked to debate the Bible just for the sake of winning arguments? -Ruthie

Kinuko H said...

Dear dear Ruthie:) Thank you for your comment. How have you been? How is Brian? I hope you are all fine.

Well, as far as I understand,the sisters who became reactionary are those who were in the "unbalanced complementarian" church setting,,,which means, to them, they felt their gifts were not fully used or they could not find their proper place in the church,,, this is what they tell me.

Or,,another passionate Christian woman shared with me that though she agreed with complementarianism (*she was a preacher before), she felt the complementarian church she is attending,tends to encourage "men"(though they don't say vocally)to be active both spiritually and intellectually. As a result, (she told me that) there is a certain atmosphere in her church where her fellow sisters are rather passive and do not care to "ponder" or talk about some of the serious issues in the Bible or the Church (which this particular sister really wants to share with.)

Well, Ruthie. I welcome your thoughts, reflections and advices, because I am a new home-maker and I need to be corrected day by day on this spiritual journey. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh so sorry! I meant unbalanced complementarianism in my above comment.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for clarifying that for me, Kinuko, and for asking after my family. We're all well and keeping busy. We've been involved in a number of funerals of family and friends over the last few months. Our 3 eldest sons were asked to share their thoughts at my uncle's funeral, which was difficult for them but such a privilege as well.

I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be a former pastor, to then be convicted from Scripture about headship, submitting to what Scripture teaches and try to find where best to be used in the Body of Christ.
Coming from a church that believes strongly in headship, we women do not debate or discuss biblical matters in the church. We do have a women's Bible study, and we have women Sunday School teachers that teach the younger children and young ladies, thereby using our teaching gifts. There's a male S.S. teacher for boys about 9 and up. The ladies serve the Lord behind the scenes in preparing food and overseeing the kitchen in conferences and meetings. We have women that clean the church weekly. A woman is secretary for our annual business meeting. Women prepare meals and minister in that fashion to the sick or to families that are in need. Our outreach program is headed up by a mother/daughter team. All these things though, are very much under the approval of our elders. We (men and women) are welcome to write a note to voice a concern that we might have, but ultimately, a decision would be made by the elders in a spiritual matter and by the trustees if something is broken and needs fixing. For example, if anyone (men or women) wanted to put out tracts in the foyer, the tracts would have to be approved for spiritual content by the elders first.
On a personal level, I love hearing God's word taught and digging in to Scripture. If I have a question, though, with something that was spoke on, I will take these questions home and ask Brian about them. I consider this to be biblical discussion. We definitely discuss biblical matters in our home. I bring pretty much everything to Brian to see if he agrees with me or if I'm in error in my thinking. This works for us because I can be very emotion driven in my decision making. He has had to say to me, "I know that's what you are feeling, Ruthie, but what is God's Word saying?" Other times, Brian will ask for my advice, and that's when I need to be in the Word, so that my advice is sound.
The heart of the matter is to obey what God's Word teaches. Look at the examples of the many godly women in the Bible. We need to pattern our speech and conduct after what it teaches. The Bible says that Mary pondered things in her heart. Lois and Eunice taught Timothy the Holy Scriptures. Hannah earnestly prayed. Lydia opened her home to Paul in hospitality. I love the songs of praise that many women sang to the Lord. There's many more examples. There are many ways to be used of the Lord as a woman. I would encourage these female former pastors to pray about where they can be used in their gatherings. If they see a need, talk to a leader about it and see if the Lord directs them to fill that need all in humbleness of spirit.
I have known situations where a learned woman corrected men each Sunday who were preaching God's Word. She either corrected their spiritual content or their grammar usage, and she was very unpleasant about it. There's also been situations where women did discuss spiritual matters and made such a fuss over their point of view being correct that it caused division in their church. I learn more toward women not being present in church business meetings. I've seen more harm than good in the Body where women got a bee in their bonnets and just needed to be heard. Bottom line is, there's good reason why God says that women should be silent.
I will be praying that these headcovering sisters will find peace as they seek to find a way to serve the Lord.
As always, in His love, Ruthie

Kinuko H said...

Dear Ruthie,

How wonderful! It was as though the Holy Spirit was speaking directly in my heart. I was edified by your wise council. Actually, there was one dogmatic issue which I wanted to open up on my Japanese blog, but while I was reading your message, the Spirit gently corrected me and I decided not to do it. "Bottom line is, there's good reason why God says that women should be silent." Yes, Ruthie, this is true. Wow, there are so many things I need to learn and be corrected in my life! Thank you so much again for your wisdom and sisterly love. Kinuko

Caro said...

Hello dear Kinuko ! The question you are talking about is exactly the trouble I had in my heart about my blog. I was talking about biblical feminity and submission in my blog, but at the same time I was writing theological contents and publishing Bible studies for "teaching" people the need of modesty/submissiona/headcovering etc...
In an other hand, both men AND women are called to be prophets. A prophet is not silent. A prophet is burning with a godly vision, and the prophet's mission is to alarm, inform, awaken the body of Christ, with the spiritual truthes God has poured into our heart.

It is not easy to distinguish the right borders.

I believe there should be a godly way for women to fully use their intellectual abilities, and spiritual gifts, without ruling over men.

Kinuko H said...

Dear Caro, thank you so much for your reply. Yes, I totally agree with you. What a great relief and comfort to have such an understanding sister like you, Caro!For this issue, I think we really need a balance and heavenly wisdom so that we will not go to the either extreme. Now I am seeking and I am also asking several people including Ms.Mary Kassian (the author of "The Feminist Gospel,The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church")for their counsel. I will let you know if I get answer from her.

"In an other hand, both men AND women are called to be prophets. A prophet is not silent. A prophet is burning with a godly vision, and the prophet's mission is to alarm, inform, awaken the body of Christ, with the spiritual truthes God has poured into our heart."

Amen! Dear Caro, let us pray together that He will reveal His Will for us. with love, Kinuko