|Normally I don't make a practice of using this blog to follow the discussion on other blogs, but I felt this follow-up was important.|
After being asked to clarify his harsh judgments of an egalitarian woman, Mr. Bayly posted a lengthy reply which didn't answer the question posed but ended:
You will understand, I trust, dear brother that there is a limit to my time, and these words don't write themselves. So please be gracious when I don't respond to every challenge or question posted as a comment.To which the questioner responded:
I understand that and appreciate the answer. However, the matter of calling someone "an agent of the Evil One" seems important enough to clarify so that you are not misunderstood.Mr. Bayly then responded:
So, if I understand you correctly, you are not saying that Ms. Morton is not a Christian. Just that she is wrong in this one doctrinal matter. Yes?
In which case, since we are all imperfect, we would all be agents of the evil one in some area or another since no one has perfect doctrine.
Well, sure, all of us could, at one time or another, see our Lord saying to us, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" But it would have to be one of the most sober rebukes of our lives. Similarly, I would hope that Mrs. Morton would take my rebuke, as an officer of Christ's Church, as one of the most sober rebukes of her life. As for whether or not Mrs. Morton and other feminist rebels against God are Christians, that's not the question I was addressing. But do you think Peter wondered about his eternal destiny when he heard our Lord's rebuke? I can't imagine he didn't.This whole exchange raises a host of interesting questions. One which interests me is the broader issue raised by Mr. Bayly's statement, "Similarly, I would hope that Mrs. Morton would take my rebuke, as an officer of Christ's Church, as one of the most sober rebukes of her life." For the sake of argument, let's assume that a similar situation is taking place between Mr. A, a teaching elder in his church, and Mrs. B, a member of a completely different church.
Mr. A strongly disagrees with the egalitarian position. He believes that anyone who espouses it is an agent of Satan and cannot possibly be submissive to their husbands. He believes this to be a foundational doctrine, an essential doctrine. He believes that, as an "agent of Christ's Church", he has some sort of authority over women outside his church and that his rebuke should carry a similar weight to Jesus' rebuke of Peter.
However, let's assume that Mrs. B belongs to a church that disagrees with Mr. A. Perhaps her church is egalitarian or perhaps they are complementarian but don't consider this issue to be an essential one that should cause division within the church. Mrs. B's elders know her well; they have observed her submission and devotion to her husband; they have observed that her devotion to Christ is what motivates her to relate to her husband in the way she does. Because they know Mrs. B and because they believe that a difference in doctrine over egalitarianism is not a difference in opinion over essentials, they would firmly disagree with this online rebuke of one of those God has entrusted in their spiritual care.
Let us suppose that Mrs. B is in full submission to both her husband and her church leaders. Let us suppose that her egalitarian views have been taught to her by her husband. (This is not unusual. I have been in mind-boggling online arguments where wives, whose husbands were insisting on egalitarian marriages, were told by other men that they needed to "submit" and "insist their husbands lead" -- even if this was contrary to their husband's desires.) Why is some man, claiming to be an "officer of Christ's church", so quick to rebuke a woman so harshly (calling her an "agent of Satan") without any real knowledge of her? Why, while claiming to follow a Biblical view of male-female relationships, is he so quick in his attempts to usurp and undermine the authority of Mrs. B's husband, elders, and pastor?
Let us suppose that Mr. A likes to "throw his weight around". He loves reminding people that he is an "officer of Christ's church", because that sounds oh so much more important than "I'm an elder at a little church that meets in a school." He also loves putting women in their place and enjoys the idea that he has some sort of God-given authority over them, as a male and as an elder, even if he is the elder of a church they've never heard of.
When I was a fairly new wife and, desiring to become better in this role, read a lot of books and listened to a lot of advice, my husband often had to remind me gently, "Honey, you are supposed to submit to me, not to some guy who wrote a book." If only all those guys who write books and blogs really believed that!
For an interesting cross-cultural perspective on how the Bayly's treat other men's wives, read Hannah Im's blog entry. It is an excellent reminder of how far our American culture has strayed from common courtesy and respect.