Men, women, and the resurrection

Bathroom-gender-signIn our discussion about men and women and church leadership, one of the questions that has come up several times is whether gender differences will be an eternal thing. More pointedly, the objection to seeing differing roles for men and women has been that Jesus told us to pray for things to be on earth as in heaven; does a teaching that recognizes gender differences imply that those differences will exist after the resurrection?

I’ve written before about my agnosticism regarding what happens after we die. I don’t have it all down pat the way some people seem to. But I do know that life after the resurrection won’t be like life before the resurrection, at least not exactly. I base that on the following event from Jesus’ life:

“That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:23–30; see also Mark 12:18-31 and Luke 20:27-40)

The Sadducees weren’t merely confused about what would happen after the resurrection. They denied it altogether. But part of their error was failing to recognize that life after the resurrection will be different. As regards marriage, at least, we will be like the angels; marriage won’t be a part of our reality.

Marriage is part of our present life. It’s a big part of the church’s life, according to Scripture. But it won’t be after the resurrection.

On the subject of gender, this is especially telling. I believe that the recognition of gender differences in the church is closely tied with the family and with marriage. If marriage is going to be absent in the resurrection, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see a change in the relationship between men and women.

36 thoughts on “Men, women, and the resurrection

  1. Nick Gill

    The Resurrection, of which Jesus spoke to the Sadduccees, began when Jesus came out of the tomb. So yes, we should expect to see a change in the male/female relationship from the prior age to the life of the age to come (the eternal life that we possess now, even though we have not yet experienced the fullness of the resurrection).

    Your point is one of the key reasons why I believe what I believe about male/female kingdom relationships, and it fits well with the tension in the Apostle Paul’s mind concerning the wisdom and importance of marriage. My wife and I aren’t resurrected yet, clearly, but we are supposed to be living now in a way that reflects and models the way we will live together in the age to come.

  2. Tim Archer Post author


    Under that way of seeing things, Christians shouldn’t marry. If we are in the resurrection age that Jesus was talking about, we should be living like the angels, neither marrying nor giving in marriage.

    That day will come, and relations between the genders will change.

    Grace and peace,

  3. Nick Gill


    The ages overlap. We possess the life of the age to come right now (John 10), even though we have not yet put on our own resurrection bodies (1 Cor 15).

    Jesus is the firstfruits of the Resurrection (1 Cor 15, James 1), and the firstfruits of any harvest signify that harvest time has already begun.

    You are certainly free to remain agnostic on the nature of “this present distress” (1 Cor 7:26)as well, but do you at least see how the distress of the conflict of living the life of the age to come within the bodies of the present age (the already/not yet conflict) fits that idea at least as well as some unrecorded early persecution or some other temporary situation? If the question of marriage was as simple as your comment views things, Paul surely didn’t need to spend an entire chapter wrestling with the place of marriage in the kingdom age. All he would have had to say was, “On the question of marriage, Christians should do it.”

    You’ve got to make time in your reading schedule for Surprised By Hope, as well. While it may not alter your agnosticism, it certainly presents ideas that might set you free from it.

  4. Tim Archer Post author


    Don’t forget that Paul’s advice to Timothy in Ephesus was different than what he said to the Corinthians. The “present distress” that was upon the Corinthians seems to be absent when Paul flatly tells Timothy: “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” (1 Timothy 5:14) That’s different than what he said in 1 Corinthians 7:39–40. The situations were different.

    Grace and peace,

  5. Nick Gill

    I agree that the situations are different. Paul has several more years of apostleship, of teaching and leading and wrestling with Scripture and hearing the voice of God, under his belt between the time that he writes 1 Corinthians (while preaching in Ephesus, 1 Cor 16:8, 19) and the later period when he writes to Timothy, whom he has assigned to stay in Ephesus and continue that earlier work.

    Further, I think his reasoning remains the same in both epistles; he’s just more confident about his conclusion. What is the reason to marry in 1 Cor 7? Sensual desires (v36). What’s the reason to marry in 1 Tim 5? The sensual desires of v11.

  6. gal328cofc

    I think we also need to be careful to distinguish between “marrying and giving in marriage” and gender as (possibly) eternal ontological distinction. Marriage-and-giving-in-marriage is an economic arrangement as much as anything else; this verse might not have anything to do with gender at all, and instead reference the economic house holding necessities that marriage arrangements address. In particular, I’m noticing the language of marrying-and-giving-in-marriage, and also that the hypothetical the Sadducees task Jesus with addressing is basically about “whose is the responsibility to take care of this woman?” It’s not about desire–it’s about house holding and obligations to family members to take care of each other. (Even if it were about desire, that too is not necessarily a straight line into the issue of the eternality of gendered ontology.) So I’m raising the question because I think there are multiple interpretive possibilities here–even if we grant that that marriage-and-giving-in-marriage is not a post-resurrection reality, that doesn’t necessarily say anything either way about the ontology of gender.

    I say this while, as you know by now, I still find the notion of eternal ontological difference between genders a very dubious thing! But I don’t think that this particular passage gives us very much to go on.

  7. Tim Archer Post author

    Actually, my argument was quite the opposite. I think what Jesus says goes against the idea of gender relations being the same today as they will be in the eschaton/resurrection/eternity. There will be a change. That change hasn’t happened yet, for marriage is still a part of our lives as Christians. But it will take place.

    The main point is: arguing that there can’t be a difference today unless that difference is eternal doesn’t make sense, in light of Jesus’ statement. I too find the notion of eternal ontological difference between genders a dubious thing; I don’t find it at all dubious to expect that in this life, based on biblical evidence.

    Could I request that you sign with your name and not “gal328cofc”? Your website will still be linked to your name. If you’d like to include the website under your name (like a signature), feel free to do so.

  8. JTB

    Sure, I can comment as myself rather than as if that’s off-putting. But in an effort to keep my personal life stuff apart from the advocacy stuff, email addy and url will go to my personal email and blog as well. I’m not anonymous but I also want to be as careful as possible to stress that is bigger than, and not synonymous with, me.

    Apologies for my misread re ontology of gender! You’re very clear in the post and I was just moving too quickly in my own head, I guess, and not listening well. But this means that we disagree on a much more interesting thing, I think–“arguing that there can’t be a difference today unless that difference is eternal doesn’t make sense, in light of Jesus’ statement” as you put it above. So I’d like to try to unpack that a bit…

    Apart from I still think that this statement on marriage has more to do with family obligation and economics than gender–I’ll drop that for the sake of getting somewhere more interesting– I think the theological arguments that there must be a difference today have to rest on the premise that there’s an eternal difference. This is part of what Nick seems to be pressing on–if there is no difference eternally/ontologically, then why would it be right/good to accept differences in the here and now? Especially when we can point to ways in which those differences are arbitrary and harmful? Especially when the church is called to enact (however partially) the reality of the kingdom of God in the here and now?

    I also want to pause and reiterate here that I personally do not subscribe to a point of view that sees no differences between men and women. There are certainly differences, social built upon biological. But what do these differences tell us? Do they tell us anything about the ability or fitness or propriety of one person or another to represent the image of God? (Rhetorical here, of course). And if these differences are not salient on this point, how can they justify the gendered expectations and power structures that systemically privilege one gender’s point of view and well being over another’s?

    And this brings me to why I think we disagree–if biological/social gender differences don’t make a difference to who we are in terms of theological anthropology, then we have no reason to accept that in the here and now women must simply wait for the eschaton for full recognition of their equality as image-bearers of God. We can do better than that, in the here and now. How we define and treat others in the church is well within our human agency–and in other contexts (rich/poor, Jew/Gentile) described as an obligation to treat others with full dignity and inclusion.

    So it seems to me that justification for current practices of exclusion, silencing, and restriction must rest on a presumption of eternal ontology of gender differences, or it becomes clearly arbitrary and without justification at all.

    I did put that rather strongly, but I am trying to be clear in my analysis so that you know where I’m coming from when I ask with genuine curiosity how you see things differently.

  9. Tim Archer Post author


    The Sadducees’ question may have had an economic base; my main point is that Jesus himself said there would be a major difference between life for us now and life for us after the resurrection.

    I would urge us to remember that unless God tells us why he has done something, our attempts to determine the reason is nothing more than speculation. If we read the Bible honestly, letting Scripture speak for itself, we’ll probably come away with more “Why?” questions than “Because” answers. From the election of Abraham to the concept of people eating bread and drinking wine to remember Jesus’ death, there is much that seems arbitrary to us.

    When God set up a kingdom on this earth, he established an entire nation of priests. Yet within that priestly nation, only those from one family within one tribe could serve as priests. He also selected another family to serve as kings. Were they necessarily the most gifted? I’m not so sure. Are we to suppose that the other tribes were not considered to bear the image of God, merely because they were not chosen to serve in a certain way?

    I would also caution against the chronological snobbery that allows us to think that people in the first century just weren’t ready for this truth, that Paul merely was making concessions in his teachings to these people. Just as I would encourage us all to see that both men and women have received the same Holy Spirit, I would encourage us to remember that these people also had that same Spirit. If making differences based on gender is sinful, then Paul and many others throughout history have been guilty of great sin.

    Somehow we have to separate the biblical ideal from what has been realized. Yes, many women have been abused and mistreated within the church, and that needs to change. But I believe that women can be respected and treated as equals in Christ without abandoning the principle of male leadership that we see across times and across cultures in the Bible.

    Grace and peace,

  10. JTB

    Maybe it would help if I disclose that I don’t tend to engage in theologizing as a search for answers–certainly not definitive ones. I tend to theologize as a search for a way to faithfully live out the tangle of relationships that define being human and define being, well, me. So I tend to do all theology in a mode of speculation, of tentativeness, knowing that it’s constructive and, importantly, it’s always ongoing construction. And the test is pragmatic, in philosophical terms–which in theological terms I think of as “fruitfulness.” What does it produce? Does my always unfinished, always tentative, always fallible theology under construction produce ways of living that enable me to be the human-in-relation (to God, others, world, self) that help or that harm?

    So this forms the reason why (and I think we’ve bumped up against this divergence previously?) that, in this instance, I can’t accept divine sovereign arbitrariness as the end of the discussion. Sure, there’s lots in the biblical text that seems arbitrary and maybe even IS arbitrary, and I may never understand it. And if it’s about what dimensions to construct the altar in Leviticus, fine. But when sovereignty is invoked to justify harm–and women are harmed by exclusion, silencing and restriction (again, should anyone doubt this, go read some of the narratives at or rude truth)–then it’s not about the inherent epistemological limits of humanity. It’s not about whether or not sometimes God acts inscrutably. It’s about whether God is with the vulnerable, or against the vulnerable. And the biblical witness is clear on that. God is a champion of the poor, the captive, the oppressed. So if God’s inscrutableness is invoked as a reason not to challenge harmful practices–then I call BS.

    Forgive the passion there. Also, I’m not assuming that you’re defending harmful practices–though I suspect from your last paragraph that we probably have some differences on what practices count as harmful (?). So I’ll ask: What are the ways that women have been abused/mistreated within the church? What are the ways you see that being adequately addressed while retaining a “principle of male leadership?”

    [There are some other things in your reply that we might also take up–the continuity/discontinuity of present and eschatological reality, for instance, or the way Paul gets (paradoxically!) cast as culture-bound misogynist or champion of gender equality…but I’m having a hard time putting all that into one comment, and I’ve got to knock it off for a bit to pick up my youngest from preschool.]

  11. Rafael G. Sustaita

    We need to keep in mind that relationships today, including those of men and women, are not divinely condoned but rather man created. I see all relationships, including those of men and women, as restored in the resurrection to their original created purpose and existence of harmony, service and well-being. It’s important to note that what Jesus says to the Sadducees in Matthew was more a condemnation of what marriage had become in the Jewish communities and not necessarily a prediction of existence beyond the resurrection, although it cannot be discounted. As all things are restored in the resurrection, relationships are just one component of our eternal existence.

  12. Tim Archer Post author


    I like most of what you say about theology, though I push back a bit at allowing pragmatism into the discussion. I understand what you’re saying, but I also think that we are incapable of fully knowing what “works” and what doesn’t. At certain points we have to trust. Seems like faith is more about being willing to follow when it doesn’t make sense than when it does. Religion has to be about us pleasing God, not God pleasing us. If that’s BS to you, well….

    I would encourage you to look at the Old Testament examples I mentioned. I wasn’t talking about dimensions of the altar. I’m talking about God saying that for centuries 99% of his people couldn’t serve in certain ways. That made them no less image bearers, no less worthy, no less a part of God’s people. And it wasn’t based on talent.

    We live in a culture that has created a Sunday-based, assembly-focused church that glorifies the preacher and those who get up in front of the congregation. And that has skewed this whole discussion, from beginning to end. That’s why we think “preacher” when we read about women apostles or deaconesses, and we think “senior pastor” when we read a translation that talks about someone as a minister.

    We have also lost the concept of servant when we talk about leadership. That doesn’t help, either.

    We can follow many bunny trails, which is one reason I try to take things slowly on my blog. There will be time for most, if not all, of the bunnies to be chased.

    Grace and peace,

  13. JTB

    We may be incapable of “fully” knowing what “works” and what doesn’t. In fact I’d go further and say that we are incapable of fully knowing anything, period. Human knowledge is not full knowledge, all stop. So this is not my criterion for a proper epistemological basis for moral action–it can’t be, because it’s unattainable. So what do we do, then? We take our partial knowledge and act out of it the best we can–which is why theologizing must be always incomplete and tentative and ongoing. It is certainly a leap of faith in the most basic sense. And an act of trust: I trust that, regardless of the errors which will inevitably be built into my best efforts at theology, God’s grace is sufficient. If it were otherwise…theology would be too terrifying a task to contemplate.

    So we don’t disagree on any of that, I take it, which means that we part ways here: “Seems like faith is more about being willing to follow when it doesn’t make sense than when it does. Religion has to be about us pleasing God, not God pleasing us. If that’s BS to you, well….”

    In the face of limited, partial human knowledge and at the same time the unrelenting necessity of moral action even within the context of limited understanding, my best attempt at being faithful to the God revealed in the Bible is one that claims that we don’t have to understand everything to understand that God is a God of love, of liberation, of justice, of self-sacrifice, of grace. I don’t have to understand everything to claim, with confidence, that religious practices which harm are not pleasing to God. And this is where I suppose we definitively part ways. This is not, emphatically not, about making God please me instead of me pleasing God. That’s not where I’m calling BS. I’m calling BS on the assumption that religious doctrines and practices which hurt people, people in our own churches, are pleasing to God. This isn’t an “oh God’s just inscrutable like that” thing.

    This is also–as I believe I’ve said before–not about “women preachers.” If that were it, I wouldn’t care so much. The phrase I’ve used over and over in these discussions is, “exclusion, silencing and restriction.” This is more than just whether women can stand up in front on a Sunday and use a mic to make an announcement, read Scripture, pray, or preach. This is about what we’re teaching our women and our girls–and our men and our boys–about the value of what it means to be a woman in the eyes of God, the church, and other people, and what we are teaching them is harmful, because it upholds the same damaging messages of lesser value, of sexualization, of objectification, that women and girls get everyday in other areas of our culture. The church can, must, do better than this. This is about the global problem of gender injustice and the witness we could bear to world about the worth and dignity of all human beings, but we can’t speak a prophetic word about oppression, sexual slavery, rape or mutilation because we don’t even recognize the women in our own pews as worthy of equal empowerment and respect. We are failing–each other, our world–and we are most definitely not pleasing God when we say “well we just have to trust that the way we’ve always done things is what God wants even when there are those pointing out that it makes no sense and hurts people.”

    So, yeah, BS on that. But that’s not me balking at pleasing God and seeking to please only myself. That’s me earnestly seeking to please God, and explain why this is my sincere best effort at doing so.

  14. Tim Archer Post author

    “but we can’t speak a prophetic word about oppression, sexual slavery, rape or mutilation because we don’t even recognize the women in our own pews as worthy of equal empowerment and respect”

    Now I’m firmly and passionately calling BS. Extremism will not bring you to where you want to go.

    First off, any lack of respect for women is wrong. If that’s being taught in the church, it has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

    If the rest of what you are saying is true, then none of the prophets in the Bible could speak with a prophetic voice on the subjects you mentioned. And that’s ridiculous.

    When you’re ready for a reasonable discussion, we’ll pick it up again. If passion will drive you to make more and more extreme statements, we’ll never get anywhere.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  15. Wendy Cayless

    Oh wow, Tim, what’s with not liking Jen’s argument? Sounds to me like just another example of exclusion, silencing and restriction. She can only participate in the discussion when she tones down the discussion to something you are comfortable with? It’s ironic you don’t see that you are doing exactly what Jen is objecting to! No wonder women don’t participate much in most of these blog discussions.

  16. JTB

    I’m unsure what you think is extreme about what I’ve said, or why being passionate (which I am) makes anything I’ve said unreasonable. If you’ll help me out on that, please?

    As far as I can tell, I’ve said,

    1) I think God is a God of love, grace, justice,
    2) we have sanctioned doctrines and practices in the name of God which hurt people,
    3) a God of love, grace and justice is not pleased with religious practices that hurt people,

    and 4) yes, everyone always gets something wrong and we have to act out of our best understanding, faith and trust anyway, which is, I trust, what we’re both doing.

    I do realize with some regret that I feel a little permanently bruised on that part of my soul where the accusation “you just want to please yourself, not God” always hits. It’s very hard not to react when that bruise gets hit again. It’s probably the most common and hurtful thing that women hear when they engage in this discussion–that assumption that we’re just looking for a piece of validation, and it’s all about what we want for ourselves. Please, if there’s nothing else gained from this exchange, please extend the women in this struggle the respect of not putting that insult to injury on them to bear. The women seeking to serve the church are, truly, seeking to serve–and with more determination and willingness to sacrifice, just in the act of recognizing and naming that desire to serve, than any man in our churches ever has to face. It is not selfish. It is not prideful. It is sincere, and it’s about loving God and the church so much that they’re willing to put themselves out there as a target for scorn and risk exile over it. It is anything but self-seeking.

  17. Tim Archer Post author


    The part about pleasing self or pleasing God was specifically addressed at the pragmatism issue, not the women’s issue. It’s about using the subjectivity of “what works” (from our point of view) and limiting God to that. It’s an argument I regularly face when discussing non-violence, for example. If turning the other cheek “doesn’t work,” then it can’t be godly, right?

    OK, on your points. I agree with #1, with the caveat that this is God’s justice, not man’s. #2 is also correct, on multiple issues. #3 I also agree with, to a point. (not thinking about the women’s issue, per se, just knowing that such a teaching has been used by those who say, “Being in an unhappy marriage is hurtful to me, so I know that God sanctions my divorce.”)

    Maybe I misunderstood your point about “equal empowerment.” Did I understand you to say that unless we teach that men and women can do exactly the same things in the church, we have no “prophetic voice” on social issues concerning women? That’s what I objected to, quite strongly.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  18. Wendy Cayless

    Tim, your comment surprised me. Jen’s comment wasn’t extreme at all. She was being reasonable. My daughter experienced the results of this kind of “role of women” teaching. And the church we attended was VERY liberal by USA CoC standards (we had women preaching from time to time and women elders) but women were still expected to fit into neat and restrictive stereotypes and not step out of the good little Sunday School girlie stereotypes. And it harmed her. Deeply. I doubt she will ever be back in a church again. LISTEN to what women have to say. Don’t shut us down.

  19. Tim Archer Post author

    Wendy, it’s not like I put her on moderation. I asked her to refrain from extreme comments which hinder discussion. I felt like passion was getting in the way of a discussion.

    Remember that reasonableness should be a two-way street. Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean calling a timeout in a discussion with a woman is gender bias. If you’ll look through the history of this blog, it’s something I’ve done numerous times. And… GASP… every other time that I can remember, it was with a man.

  20. JTB

    If pragmatism doesn’t communicate well, we can drop it; I meant it specifically in the philosophical sense, not a sort of “Dr. Phil howzat workin for ya” sense. But as this is a theological discussion let’s stick with the theological: fruitfulness. When Jesus speaks in Matthew 17 about identifying “false teachers” he doesn’t talk about doctrine; he talks about fruit–essentially, look at what they do. This is what I mean. Let’s look at what our doctrines produce, what our practices do. If they hurt people, then there’s something wrong in our understanding, something wrong with our theology. It’s a check on our unwarranted confidence in our inherited beliefs, and a check on the way that sometimes theology becomes abstract and floats free of actual embodied lives. So when I say “what works” or invoke pragmatism, what I’m invoking is a philosophical tradition of thought which reminds us that however pretty and complete and coherent our system of thought/belief/theology is–there’s a “so what” that it must be accountable to, and the “so what” is, I believe, “does this help me to faithfully live out the call of Christ to embody love, justice, peace in the world?” If it doesn’t–if a belief, however enshrined in tradition and embedded in practice, produces indifference, apathy, willful ignorance, distrust, withdrawal from others, whatever, then that’s like a neon blinking sign that there is something wrong in my theology, and to live faithfully I must go back and reconstruct.

    And this is why I react so strongly to your counter that well, there are some things that don’t make sense and we do them anyway. As I understand my call to live faithfully, that is the wrong reaction to a harmful practice or a system of injustice–particularly if I myself am directly implicated or involved in that practice or system. I believe the faithful reaction is to go back, rethink, reconstruct, knowing that because our understanding is indeed always limited and partial, that we got something wrong somewhere and it has resulted in harm.

    If this isn’t a strong enough warrant to question inherited belief and practice on some point, then what is?

    Perhaps the phrase “equal empowerment” was a little scary? It wasn’t meant to be. I am a little less able to consider my words today with an unexpectedly sick toddler on my hands and a church reception to prepare for tomorrow night. Again, I’m not primarily thinking in terms of what women do or don’t do in church. I despise the phrase “women’s roles.” It’s about what we teach impacting the formation of who women are, and who we teach them to think they can and can’t be. Maybe this old post of mine will help elucidate that, since I’m short on available time today:

    The connection to the global problem is, I think, fairly simple. Women in many parts of the world are voiceless. They are literally, in some places, seen and not heard, and not even seen in public without male escort. They are politically voiceless. They are deprived of any forum in which they can make their needs known or expect them to be valued and met. We see this as fantastically unjust–and yet, we accept essentially the same situation within our churches even in the midst of a democratic culture which (however slowly) has accepted that yes, women should have a voice in what affects them. It’s not just in our worship assemblies that women’s voices are absent. Women are typically excluded from participating in decision making processes that affect the future of the church they’re a part of, even ministries that they effectively lead. They are not present in the rooms or at the table when these decisions are made. They have no voice there. How is this different from any other system that routinely and on principles excludes women from participating in the making of decisions that affect them? And how can we join in supporting women in Saudi Arabia or Egypt in advocating for their voices to be heard when we don’t honor the voices of the women in our midst?

    Bottom line is, this matters. And it matters in a way that no one can understand until they take the time to listen to the people that this has wounded. Wendy’s right: the first step to getting anywhere here is to listen to the voices that have never before been a part of the conversation. But that in itself, sadly, seems dangerous to a whole lot of people, because, I guess, there’s a tacit realization that listening would mean having to acknowledge the depth of harm we’ve all been complicit in, and then, of course, we could no longer avoid the necessity of change.

  21. James


    Let me jump in here and say that your admonition to “avoid extremism” and be “reasonable” instead of “passionate” is, first of all, coated in sexism itself. Winning arguments with women by calling them passionate and extreme instead of “reasonable” is the oldest trick in the book, and it has no place here. Second, your comment is cheap and deflects the argument. Instead of answering her, you call her names. It’s inappropriate and uncalled for.

    I agree that bits of what she says can SEEM extreme if you’ve never considered them before. I admit they would have seemed that way to me at one point. But when someone expresses a view that takes you aback, the right answer is to stop and consider it, consider where they are coming from, and consider that perhaps it just seems extreme because you haven’t heard her voice before.

    In the future, opting not to respond is far better than shutting someone down by calling them extreme and unreasonable.

  22. Tim Archer Post author

    OK, I’ll try and sort through this. Some points:

    • The concept of Jen’s comments being based on passion was introduced by her, not by me.
    • The concept that if we do not agree with Jen’s position we lose our ability to speak out against rape and abuse of women is extreme. That’s the statement I’ve objected to. I’ve specifically said that. No one has addressed that, choosing to instead accuse me of sexism and using cheap tricks.
    • None of what I’ve said to Jen is anything I haven’t said to others in other discussions, except maybe the part about passion. It was my mistake to echo her words.
    • I’d like to move on. I’m not through discussing this issue. I’m just through with this comment thread. It’s a shame.

    Grace and peace,

  23. JTB

    To clarify: I asked that you “forgive the passion” in an earlier response to signal that I did not intend to cause offense. I do not believe that being passionate is the same thing as unreasonable.

    To dig into the ways I see connections between rape culture, silencing, and abuse would be, I think, a long discussion but a potentially fruitful one. I’d be up for it.

    Thanks for being willing to initiate and host difficult conversations, Tim.

  24. Tim Archer Post author


    I’m very pleased to discuss with you. More than frustrated with the “drive-by” commenters who merely stop by to heap on abuse and not contribute anything of value to the conversation. Hopefully they’ll get distracted with something else.


  25. Tim Archer Post author

    I will say, however, that I still find that one statement to be unreasonable, unless I totally misunderstood you. If you’re saying I have to hold to your position to be able to speak with a prophetic voice, then I passionately disagree.

  26. JTB

    No, I did not mean to imply that anyone must agree with my position in order to speak prophetically. I assume that prophets are pretty much as human as anyone else, and don’t speak from a position of purity but from a place mired in the same complicity and complexity as the rest of us…Also since I don’t tend to think in absolutist terms and it was a little befuddling to see my statement interpreted in an all-or-nothing way–though I’ll grant that certainly that comment could use some nuance and you’re right to point that out. So, brand new day, let’s add some nuance!

    Certainly, you can object to obvious trauma like abuse, assault and rape even if you hold to a hierarchical complementation view of gender (not attributing this to you–just by way of example). One could even object to these things from a perspective of women as property–after all, damaging someone’s property is bad. The problem is, of course, that from this perspective it’s not bad because it hurts the woman but because it causes injury to whatever male she belongs to. This is obviously problematic, because what we need is an objection to abuse, assault, rape and other gendered oppressions that comes from a respect and care for the women who are injured by them. And this is where I think our practices of exclusion, silencing and restriction harm our witness against other more obvious and traumatic forms of gendered oppression. These practices do not value women as full equals in the eyes of the church. These practices implicitly teach women that their voices are unwelcome in godly spaces: in worship, in the elders’ meeting, even sometimes in Bible classes. These practices implicitly teach women that God does not want to hear their voices raised in prayer the way God wants to hear men’s voices raised in prayer. These practices implicitly teach women that they cannot trust their own spiritual and moral formation to the same degree that they trust someone else’s, because men are appointed spiritual leaders and not women. These practices teach women that God made them different from men and that difference means that they can’t do all the things that men do, and the things that men do are the things that are ultimately more important–things that impact everyone, while women do things that only impact women and little children.

    And no, that’s not rape. But it is harmful. And when we are teaching women (and men!) these things about who women are, our objection to abuse, assault and rape is undermined by the fact that we don’t, in our practices, honor women as equally valued, equally respected, equally imagers of God. We can still object to it–but it’s not as strong a witness as it ought to be.

    And this doesn’t get into the ways that Christian purity culture and rape culture intersect–which is a whole other way to unpack this that is terribly important, but I really have to go. :( I do still have lots of cleaning and cooking to be doing before this evening but I will check back in when I can.

  27. laymond

    There is no doubt in my mind that I to will be classified as one of those drive-by commenters heaping on . But it seems to me that Jesus did not hesitate to send a woman to tell the men that the savior had risen from the tome, that Jesus had died on the cross, and had risen from death just as he had promised, to save those who would follow him. Is this not the same message a woman minister would be conveying today if she were to stand behind the podium and deliver a sermon, even with Tim setting in a pew. I don’t believe Jesus would object, even if Paul does.

  28. Wendy Cayless

    Laymond, the Samaritan woman (John 4) went forth proclaiming that Jesus was the real deal and was the Christ (she was the first to do so). Did Jesus stop her? Why did John include this detail of her proclaiming the gospel if it were not significant?
    Mary (Martha and Lazarus’ sister) sits and learns at Jesus’ feet. This would have been unheard of in Jesus’ time. Jesus taught her, irregardless of her gender (or perhaps because of her gender, to set an example that there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus.)
    Until we filter all Scripture through the lens of the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus, we are misinterpreting the Word of God.

  29. Tim Archer Post author

    OK, Wendy… help me out. Why in the world are you arguing with someone who is agreeing with you?

    Laymond, that was no drive by. You made a positive contribution to the conversation… and got jumped for it.

  30. laymond

    Tim, I guess I have been “jumped” so much that I don’t recognize it when it happens, :) I didn’t see Wendy’s comment the same way you did. I saw it as agreement, with more examples of Jesus calling on women to carry the word. I guess only Wendy knows for sure.

  31. Wendy Cayless

    Quoted from
    In his book “Luke for Everyone”, NT Wright says that Mary of Bethany “was behaving as if she was a man” by sitting at Jesus feet. Wright goes on to say, “. . . to sit at the feet of a teacher was a decidedly male role. ‘Sitting at someone’s feet’ doesn’t mean (as it might sound to us) a devoted, dog-like adoring posture, as though the teacher were a rock star or a sports idol. When Saul of Tarsus ‘sat at the feet of Gamaliel’ (Acts 22:3), he wasn’t gazing up adoringly and thinking how wonderful the great rabbi was; he was listening and learning, focusing on the teaching of his master and putting it together in his mind.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.