One other point needs to be made about sexual egalitarianism, but let me, if I may, move it (somewhat) away from N.T. Wright’s support of women’s ordination.
We need to address, in a more general way, the idea that milder feminism (in those manifestations which are for some reason palatable to evangelicals) is “not about the gospel.” But of course it is about the gospel.
In the first place, milder feminism is like being a little bit pregnant. Two friends who haven’t seen each other in a while meet up for lunch, and one of them delightedly asks, “Oh! Are you expecting?” The reply is never anything like “mildly.” Anybody who believes that concessions in this area (ordination, definitions of marriage, etc.) will not be followed up by further demands, increasingly strident, until we are all in the madhouse together, is someone who has not been paying attention. He has Attention Deficit Theological Disorder (ADTD), a condition which used to get you booted from seminary, but which is now worth a couple of scholarships.
Second, the gospel is all about the reconstitution of humanity in Christ. That is the whole point of it. Christ is the new man, and the Church is His bride, and the Church which was created by the gospel is the model given to Christian women as they seek to understand how to relate to their husbands. The right relation of husband and wife is one of the most profound expressions of the gospel to be found anywhere (Eph. 5:22-33). The image of God included male and female in the first place (Gen. 1:27), sin and rebellion defaced that image (Gen. 4:19), and in Christ it is now being restored (Gen. 3:15). Can I get an amen?
Humanity is of course exalted by this, which means that Christ and the Church are not flattened by it. In the same way, the Christian faith exalts women, which is not the same thing as flattening the roles of male and female. This is a restoration of male and female — which is a Christocentric maturation of masculinity and femininity both. The work of the gospel is a very different thing than trying to turn a first-rate woman into a third-rate man — which, when it succeeds, also succeeds in turning second-rate men into fifth-rate men.
Pomosexuality is the issue of our day, a heresy I have addressed a number of times elsewhere (e.g. here). But ironically, just yesterday I saw a Facebook photo of N.T. Wright, with a blackboard inscription behind him. That text said something like we have to stop reading the Bible with 20th century eyes in order to answer 16th century questions, and we need to start reading it with 1st century eyes in order to answer 21st century questions. Clever, but staying out of Hell is what Jesus would call a perennial question (Luke 12:5), not a 16th century one. But even on its own terms, the challenge fails. The pressing 21st century question is how to avoid melting the whole world down in the morph cauldron of sexual identity confusion, the one we have heated up by our evolutionary assumptions. And what I see the trendy regiment of the new scholarship doing is not answering 21st century questions so much as capitulating to 21st century challenges. You can give me another amen if you want.
A couple last things and I am done. I got some feedback on my earlier use of the metaphor “peer-reviewed circle jerk,” and the feedback was along the lines of “wasn’t that a bit over the top, even for you?” This being a reasonable question, I wanted to mention just a couple of things about it, including my view that the answer is no. Chesterton once said that delicate euphemisms are often employed to whitewash sin, while earthier expressions often express a right view of morality. Well, here I am with Chesterton again, shoulder to shoulder. We are living in a time when there will soon be (if there isn’t already) a circle jerk “community” in the seminaries, and they will soon be pressing to have their sexual identity and choices accepted by the rest of us. As they tell their story, emerging from the painful darkness of the closet, and the withering discrimination of irritated roommates, and all the racism if we can work that in, they will assume the hangdog demeanor of those who have been greatly put-upon. The cue will be taken up by the usual suspects who are in charge of public discourse, and the last vestiges of Victorianism will then be called upon to silence the earthy critics, and to rally around the tolerance monkeys who have embraced the sin.
Okay, last thing. In this thread I have been patted on the head a few times and told that nobody is listening to me anyway, and all I am doing is building polemical North Korean rockets to go splash in the Sea of Japan with. While the sentiment that I am actually a nobody is a view I can endorse with enthusiasm, I will nevertheless go as far as to say that googleanalytics is being kind enough to inform me that thousands of folks in the UK are finding this discussion to be of some interest. And so here is a little shout-out to all my British evangelical readers. I really like you guys. Taking one thing with another, your ribald newspapers over there have trained you not to be scared of things like metaphors.