Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's NOT Prego!

“It should also be noted that although ROLE THEOLOGY has become central to evangelical patriarchy, NOWHERE does Scripture use the term ROLE or any synonym for it with reference to the responsibilities of believers toward God or one another. At no point do we read that God designed us—and requires us—to ‘PLAY A ROLE.’ No, God’s concern is for each of us to BE a righteous person and to use whatever GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT we have been given for the good of the church and the glory of God” (“Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 319).

The word “role” has been used to “rewrite” the biblical canon and replace the word “gifts.” But there are two reasons why this is a bad idea.
First, “it’s not prego!” which means, “IT’S NOT IN THERE!” There is no word, phrase, verse, chapter, book, or even TESTAMENT that contains the word “role” in it. But the word “role” implies acting, theater, stage, drama…and the word SCRIPT comes to mind. Read these words from Udo Middleman:

“If God is in such control that EVERYTHING ALREADY AND FOR ALL TIMES IS WHAT HE INTENDED, we have no truly grieving God, no man of sorrows, no sadness of Jesus when the rich young ruler walked away without believeing. GOD HAS THEN DESIGNED WHAT IS NORMAL, and implicitly endorses what takes place AT ANY TIME. In terms of ideas or philosophy, and how you see things, IT IS A MODERN VARIANT OF THE SAME OLD PAGAN ORDER, THIS TIME WITH CHRISTIAN VOCABULARY. Life and death are justified, as is my bad temper, your murderous tendencies, your near-sightedness, and your addictions…the commands to LIVE otherwise, to bring one’s behavior in line with God’s Word, would be out of place, MERE THEATER AT BEST…if all of life is LOCKED INTO A SCRIPT, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANY LIVE PEOPLE” (Udo Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” page 149).

When complementarians use the word “role,” they are saying that EVERYTHING a woman will ever become is already spelled out for her. If her life were a script, she’d be given no “first dibs” on her life, how she will play her role, nor what she will do in it.


  1. Regarding the Udo Middleman quote: Let us not forget that Psalm 139 says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely,” and “In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.” Oops, there is the “script” right here!! Contra Middleman, God’s script is not constraining but liberating. The Psalmist did not chafe at this reality, but rejoiced in it as an indication of God’s love. Indeed, God’s “control” of our lives LETS us live; it does not lock us into a sterile, lifeless existence, as Middleman suggests.

  2. For all who read this post:

    This quote from Udo Middelmann was used to attack the Calvinistic point of view which says that God is responsible for EVERYTHING a person does. I used this quote because I believe there's a link between the Calvinist and Complementarian in theological perspective: both believe everything is completely determined, that God requires no morality from His moral creatures, and that, whatever you and I do the next second, including murdering someone or committing adultery (both are examples), we were able to do it NOT because God allowed it, but because God ordained it to be-- thus making God the author of sin.

    With regards to the complementarian view, if God determines everything, then God has determined that EVERY WOMAN-- and I do mean EVERY-- will be only a wife and mother. For those who haven't read Thomas Schreiner's and Andreas Kostenberger's book, "Women in the Church: A Fresh Application and Analysis of 1 Tim. 2:9-15," I highly recommend you read it. Thomas Schreiner, in his work on 1 Tim. 2, states that when Paul writes, "but she will be saved through childbearing," Paul meant that women would be preserved if "they adhered to their God-ordained role." Complementarians seem to match Calvinists-- that everything on earth, including spiritual gifts, are given to an elite few (in the case of complementarians, pastoring, teaching, and preaching are ALWAYS given to men) and that, even though we can't understand why God would do this, we have to accept God's ways being higher than ours. God's ways and thoughts are far better than mine, I'll be the first to admit; but the idea of God giving EVERY MALE the gift of preaching, teaching, and leading contradicts what we know about God in Scripture.

    Yes God knows everything, including our sinful actions...but God has not ORDAINED sin. James 1 disconnects God from evil:
    "No one undergoing a trial should say, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone..." (James 1:13, HCSB).

    God is disconnected from evil. But does God know about it? Yes. He knew Adam and Eve would sin-- but that doesn't mean He approved of it.

    Here's a quote from Middelmann that might clear up the confusion (I think I put this in my post on "Calvinists and Complementarians," but I'll reproduce it here):

    "The first kind of determinism leads to a fatalistic acceptance of whatever is. Here people submit to a larger whole, a unity of being. That determining unity may be GENDER, race, color, or social context. These give a new constraint to people who thought they had been newly emancipated from is in fact a deception by which we often become set apart into a variety of groups of people 'like us,' not free individuals. The group then demands obedience either by nature or expected conformity. The non-conformist is expected to conform in his non-conformism. GENDER, color, and social background TELL HIM OR HER WHAT BEHAVIOR CONFORMS TO HIS GENDER, COLOR, and SOCIAL DESTINY" (212).

    Middelmann's quote here from 212 was to make his point about the earlier quote here at this post. His comment of people as "theater-like" actors and actresses was to show that such an analysis of humankind before their Creator is appalling. God does know everything we are going to do-- but He has not made us all the same. God delights in variety, and has made us to be different. Whether male or female, we are not going to fit in the neat little "box" that complementarians claim we are-- where the man ALWAYS leads and the woman ALWAYS follows.

    I hope this helps.


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