Thursday, February 21, 2008

Response From Dr. Bill

Below is a communication I received from Dr. Bill Maier (Focus on the Family Vice President and Media Spokesperson) in response to my blog post entitled Advice That Can Get a Woman Killed http://womansubmit.blogspot.com/2007/11/advice-that-can-get-woman-killed.html
~~jocelyn andersen

Hi Jocelyn,

My name is Bill Maier, and I’m a clinical psychologist at Focus on the Family in Colorado. I saw your blog posting about my response to a “Weekend Magazine” listener who had been abused by her husband. Your criticism regarding my “confrontation” advice was right on target and I’ve revised the column accordingly.

Here’s a link to the revised page:

http://listen.family.org/askdrbill/A000000380.cfm

I want you to know that I’ve challenged the evangelical church to acknowledge the issue of domestic abuse during several Focus on the Family radio broadcasts. Here’s a link to our web page devoted to the topic of physical and sexual abuse (from our TroubledWith.com) website:

http://www.troubledwith.com/AbuseandAddiction/PhysicalVerbalAbuse.cfm

Thanks for your commitment to this critical issue.

Bill

Friday, February 08, 2008

Were Gender Roles for Men and Women Established Before the Fall of Mankind?

The importance of understanding what gender roles consisted of, if indeed there was such a thing as gender "roles" before the fall of mankind, cannot be underestimated when attempting to achieve an understanding of gender roles from a biblical perspective.

Evangelical leaders know this, and that is why the gender "roles," as seen in the first two chapters of Genesis are a frequent source of discussion and debate.

Understanding gender roles, as defined before the fall, is important for the simple fact that the entire body of conservative evangelical theology concerning this issue rests on what is contained within the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. And even though the biblical evidence is vigorously denied by many, the record shows that gender roles were radically different before the fall of mankind than after. In fact there is no biblical record of gender "roles" [as we understand them today] before sin entered the kosmos.

According to Pastor David L. Brown Ph.D., God has ordained a rigid caste system in regards to gender roles in which men assume the leadership "role" in the church and home, and women are to assume the support "role." He cites Genesis 2:18 and Genesis 2:20 as the basis for his conclusions. Brown contends that the scriptures which say there was not an "help meet" to be found for Adam ( so God was compelled to create one for him), prove the support role of women was established before the fall of mankind, and that Eve was created for the sole purpose of being an obedient, submissive, support person for Adam.

The writings of Pastor Brown reflect the general consensus of conservative, evangelicals in regards to gender roles within the Christian Church and home. "If man had not sinned," Brown declares, "he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness."

Pastor Brown has some serious flaws in his theology concerning original (un-fallen) gender roles in the following areas:

  • He assumes that the use of the words help and meet (meaning proper [or appropriate] help) in conjunction with the creation of woman implies she was created for the purpose of subordinate obedience to man
  • He assumes that the man was originally created to rule over other people, most especially his wife -Vs- receiveing a mandate to rule over the plant and animal kingdoms only.
In Psalms 33:20, the shepherd/prophet/king David, declared that the Lord was his "help." In this verse, he used the same Hebrew word "help" that was used in Genesis chapter two concerning the woman in relation to the man. Does this imply that David was to rule over God with wisdom and love? Or that God was to obey David with humility and meekness? God was to be a submissive, support person in helping David succeed? Is it possible that the word "help" can be used without any connotation of subordinate subservience? We see it used it that way many times in scripture. God indeed was David's help. And the scriptures are clear, that he is our help as well. But he is certainly not our subordinate servant.

The word "help," in Genesis chapter two in regards to the woman, has no implication of subordinate servitude whatsoever. And the word that follows it, "meet," simply means "proper" or appropriate. The argument can be made that Adam was also an appropriate help for Eve, for the simple fact that they were both humans.

In Genesis 2:20 (one of the verses used by Brown to prove that women were created to serve men), we are told that Adam gave names to all the cattle and all the fowls, but there was no appropriate "help" to be found for him. Why? Because there was no one else like him on the planet. The implication of this verse is clear; each of the animals, both male and female, already had an appropriate help--its own male or female counterpart. But the man did not have an appropriate help. He had no female counterpart. On the other hand, the woman came into being with an appropriate help already in place--her human counterpart, the man.

Was mankind (males in particular) created to rule over other men and women? The bible says humans (both male and female) were created in God's image and that both were instructed to have dominion over all the rest of His creation. We see no command given, in either the first or second chapter of Genesis, in regards to mankind ruling over any other human being. It is simply not there. The female human was given the same benefit as the male human concerning the privilege of subduing the earth by being given dominion over the plant and animal kingdoms.

Neither Genesis 2:18 nor 2:20 proves that the present gender role distinctions defended so fervently by conservative evangelicals were ordained of God before the fall. The rigid gender role, caste system, we see enforced among evangelicals today are nothing less than the result of sin. They have not been mandated by God but, rather, by men.