Wise and Otherwise

Sharing Options

The Bayly brothers are doing good work fighting the encroachments of soft feminism in PCA circles, as you will discover if you check out their blog from time to time. As you should.

My particular line of thought here takes off from something they have mentioned there, which is the idea (current in the PCA) that in the ministry of the church a woman “can do anything an unordained man can do.” In my mind, the issue is not whether we agree with this statement as it stands (which, actually, I do). The issue is rather what does that little phrase “can do” actually mean when put into practice? In our current egalitarian climate, it does not mean what the face value of the words might indicate, but rather means that “women should be doing everything that unordained men are doing, and, furthermore, we need to expand the boundaries of what unordained are getting to do around here, because, speaking frankly, we have a lot of cultural pressures pushing us in the back here.”

The switch from “can do” to “should do” is actually a momentous one, but it is one that I can guarantee that very few will notice. They will not notice because the spirit of our times is egalitarian, and if you are in line with that spirit, you don’t have to explain anything. If you are not in line with that spirit, you have to explain everything, and you have to do it to people who won’t listen.

Anyone who cannot see that this kind of mantra will be used to advance feminism in the church is blind in one eye, and can’t see out of the other. On its face, it does not need to advance that feminism, but that is certainly why it is currently being urged. But let me give an example of how it could be used in another direction. A man gets up to speak at presbytery, and he is speaking to this issue.

“Brethren and fathers, I trust that we are all committed to the obvious principle that a woman can minister in the church in any way that an unordained man can minister . . .”

The presbyters settle in their seats. This is going to be good, and they will be able to go home having emerged a little further out of the patriarchal cave. They begin to feel that egalitarian glow, the one that starts in the toes.

“And so I would like to propose the creation of a committee to examine whether or not we need to begin seriously restricting what unordained men may do. It seems clear . . .”

“Eh, what?” they would all think. This speaker is responding to our shared datum by hauling his borrowed imperative out of some ancient trunk in our ecclesial attic, when he should have been hauling it out of the current zeitgest, wafting toward us from the paper mill. If he had brought it out of the zeitgest, the sunny goodwill of the presbyters would have continued unabated.

As I sit here on the banks, like Bob Dylan, watching the river flow, I confess that I miss a lot. Don’t understand a great deal. But one thing I do know, one thing I think I grasp, is what direction the cultural river is going. Why is it considered insightful to notice something like that?

When we consider the radical sexual confusion that is surrounding the Church, and pounding on the doors in various ways, we have to remember that there are only two ways to go. Some men are wise, and some are otherwise.

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