Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
 
Alastair Roberts wrote a thoughtful response to my First Things article, where I disagreed with Glenn Stanton’s Why Men and Women Are Not Equal. I am thankful for this interaction to my article, and there is much in Roberts’ response that I wholeheartedly agree with. His is the kind of writing on gender that produces real fruit, for which I am grateful to see.
 
 
And yet much of his response is a rebuttal to my writing, which I am a little confused about. He makes three points where I failed in my response. He also believes that I misread Stanton and wrongly critiqued him. 
 
Stanton’s article, which I believe Byrd misrepresents as suggesting that women are the holders of virtue, grounds its case in an account of the empirical nature of men, arguing that men have a particular tendency to certain vices, which social relations with women help to curb. 
 
 
This is where I am scratching my head. I was responding to Stanton’s clear affirmation that, “the most powerful and important influence women have had on our nation’s founding, growth, and success is this: They make men behave. All their other important contributions are secondary.” This is profoundly insulting to read. I recognized familiar evangelical tropes in Stanton’s argument. Even his title, Why Women and Men Are Not Equal, foreshadows his point that women are the more virtuous sex.
 
 
Roberts, on the other hand, does not make this argument, but rather wants to uphold the empirical differences between the sexes and the benefits of recognizing them. To that, there is much that we can agree on. Roberts’ article has far different arguments than Stanton’s. Do men and women have different challenges and strengths when it comes to virtue? Do we learn more about maleness as we see them relate to women? This is worth exploring. But I was compelled to counter Stanton’s claim that one sex is more virtuous than the other---specifically, is women’s greatest contribution to society to make men behave? 
 
 
I would like to respond to the three areas where Roberts observes that I’ve failed:
 
 
First, she fails to attend to the pronounced empirical differences between men and women as groups that Stanton highlighted. 
 
 
Roberts says that while I give the impression that yes, there are differences between the sexes; I downplay this as if our statuses are indifferent, choosing to focus on divinely commanded gender roles. He continues, “Christian teaching, however, is better understood as a clarification and intensification of internal beckonings of being that we experience as men and women within the world, or as the expression of a music for which our natures are discovered to be the proper resonance chamber.”
 
 
I will admit that sometimes I do downplay the differences between the sexes, as I am constantly bombarded with a stereotype rather than true engagement. This is where I see a major weakness in the empirical argument. And I disagree that Christian teaching is better understood by clarifying internal beckonings. How is Christian teaching better understood? By the clear teaching of Scripture. The Christian message, the gospel message of salvation, is outside of us. It is an announcement to both men and women, not to use our virtuous gifting to help the other sex, but of the Son of God coming as our Savior because no one is holy without the Lord. Internal beckonings can get us into a lot of trouble. Even for believers, the Spirit always confirms his leading by the Word. That is how Christian teaching is better understood, by the means of grace God has given his church.*
 
 
But I do agree with Roberts that there are observable differences in the sexes, and that our hormonal makeup affects those differences. This isn’t something I addressed in my article. I’ve written a lot, particularly in two of my books, on how women have influence over men. Studies show that we have a relational gift, that people disclose more about themselves and have more intimate communication when women are involved in the dialogue. Our propensity for intimate conversation helps us to be persuasive to others. But this can also be used in a very sinful way. It can be both a strength and a weakness when manipulated to serve ourselves.
 
 
Roberts points out an obvious proof that men are more prone to aggressive violence: “the vast majority of every single nation’s prison population is male.” Men have higher levels of testosterone that can perpetuate aggression and they are physically stronger, more able to execute that aggression. Again, this can be both a strength or a weakness, one used to cultivate and protect family and society, or to serve their own passions. Men and women are to help one another, as our differences are both challenges and strengths. But I can’t go as far as to say this:
 
Tying men to women and children harnesses men’s energies to the construction and protection of society, where otherwise they might run amok. Where men are not tied to women in such a manner, men often try to prove their masculinity in destructive and socially damaging ways. 
 
 
I guess this is where Roberts is agreeing with Stanton that women make men behave and that is our contribution to society. But this is where his jail argument falls apart. Are these men incarcerated because they didn’t have women to harness their energies? Many of these incarcerated men only have women in their lives, single moms who’ve raised them and likely a girlfriend with babies or a wife. Here are a few statistics I have pulled showing that it is a lack of a strong male figure, their father, which has contributed to their violence:
 
85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.  (Center for Disease Control)
80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average.  (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.  (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.  (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
 
 
So I do agree that marriage, with both a wife and a husband, is beneficial to society. This benefits singles as well, as they too come from a family. And we see this in the cultural mandate. But it isn’t just because of a woman’s influence or virtue, as these statistics show. We need men with virtue to step up as fathers. This is a real crisis in our culture today. There are many women in abusive relationships who are hurt by this assertion that their virtue should influence their spouse’s sexual impulses and aggressive energies. Rather than inward beckonings, we need to uphold and promote law in society. Marriage between one man and one woman is a part of that. So is incarcerating men who are violent.
 
 
 
I do agree with Roberts’ assertion not to be forgetful of nature. This is why I appreciate a real gentleman, men who use their strength in respect for women. Real gentlemen have more than manners when a woman walks in a room, as Stanton endorses in his article. Men with integrity aren’t to pretend to be virtuous when in front of a woman. And a woman needs discernment on whether that behavior is a reflection of virtue that they are exercising, or if they are instead temporarily pretending.  We are not merely sexual temptresses that motivate men to behave. That is not what Roberts or Stanton are saying; however that is a deduction to the reasoning of the power that women supposedly have to change a man’s behavior when they walk into a room. That is a valid empirical observation to the temporary behavior of men around women.
 
 
 
Second, she handles historical understandings of gender roles as if unalloyed ideology, rather than as practical attempts to respond to and address prevailing social realities, realities that arose in part on account of natural differences between the sexes. 
 
 
 
I am going to be most brief with this argument, as I can only cover so much in one article. Sure, historical understandings of gender roles may be practical attempts to respond to and address prevailing social realities, but that doesn’t negate the fact that many have fallen into damaging ideologies to which I was contesting. Rachel Miller has already written a good article on this, and I have reviewed an excellent book on one area where it has affected evangelicalism. I saw a lot of that same language in Stanton’s article, and am verifiably concerned that gender becomes an ideological commodity when we frame our arguments this way.
 
 
 
Third, she restricts her biblical analysis to an unclear term in relative isolation, rather than seeking to ascertain the larger biblical picture.
 
Byrd’s case rests in part upon an interpretation of the Hebrew terms ezer kenegdoin Genesis 2:18. Unfortunately, rendering this as ‘necessary ally’ doesn’t tell us all that much about the way that men and women are actually to relate…  It is far more illuminating to observe the manner in which Scripture describes the relation between men and women functioning and failing. As we study this, the manner in which the woman is the man’s ‘necessary ally’ will become more clearly apparent.
 
 
 
Yes, I did not have the space to expand on this important interpretation, where Scripture shows women’s contribution. But I did introduce it to contrast a biblical description with competing ideologies. There is important work that needs to be done here that can’t be covered adequately in a blog article. I write extensively on it in my next book. And yet No Little Women is written in hopes that many others will contribute, as I scratch the surface demonstrating how Scripture further reveals women functioning as both allies and opponents. 
 
 
Women do have moral suasion over men. But it can go either way. Women are indeed necessary. Our sexuality is necessary. We shouldn’t flatten our differences. I agree with Roberts’ exhortation here. But in a gender neutralizing society, Christians need to turn to God’s Word, over and above empirical observation, to how we are called to contribute.
 
 
John McKinley outlines seven ways in which women functioned as necessary allies in Scripture, and conversely when sin caused them to function as opponents instead. I expand upon and interact with these in a chapter of No Little Women
 
 
Roberts concludes reiterating that he is not claiming that women are more virtuous than men. I wish Stanton did the same. That is why I wrote my original response. Scripture doesn’t tell us who is more virtuous, or to look to a particular sex for this virtue. We are all told to look to Christ for what we so desperately need. Stanton’s assertion then distracts us from these other important discussions on gender that Roberts wants us to have.
 
 
 
*Thanks to E.J. Hutchinson's critique on that paragraph that led me to add some clarification.
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Todd has written a great article about no longer identifying with the complementarian movement due to its troubling teachings, but confidently being able to stand as a confessionalist when asked about his position on men and women and the church. Although most agree that this is a secondary order of doctrine, it does affect the way we worship and so there are some visible divisions in that way. However, because it is a secondary order of doctrine, and because I too stand on the platform of speaking from the confessions of the Reformed church, I do think that I can learn from egalitarians who hold to orthodox positions on first order issues of doctrine.
 
 
Before being accused of changing my confessional stance, I am not saying that I am becoming an egalitarian. I am saying that I can learn and be sharpened from particular writings from egalitarians---even when it comes to writing on gender. 
 
 
And this is a weakness that I have seen among complementarians who demonize all egalitarians as people we should never read. Sadly, many of the topics I would like to learn more about are not written by complementarians. Today I want to introduce one. 
 
 
Whenever men or women bring up Phoebe, complementarians get uncomfortable. And the Phoebe argument is a hot button issue when it comes to deacons. So this deacon issue can overshadow some other implications from this part of Paul’s epistle. Michael Bird writes about some of those in his little book, Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts (is that not the best title ever?). In Romans 16:1-2, we discover that Phoebe serves as the envoy of Paul’s letter: 
 
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
 
 
Paul also describes her as a benefactor to him and many others. Bird expands on what the role of a letter carrier was in antiquity, as well as patron-client relationships. He asks some good questions:
 
If the Romans had any questions about the letter, such as: like “What is the righteousness of God?” or “Who is this wretched man that Paul refers to about halfway through?” then who do you think would be the first person they would ask? (20)
 
 
Bird raises another provocative question, suggesting the likelihood of Pheobe reading this letter to the Roman church. I don’t know, Scripture doesn’t tell us. I would imagine an elder of the church would do that. But given her relationship with Paul, and his trust in her to deliver this important epistle, I would agree that she had to at the very least be answering some questions. This is not a church officer role, but certainly involves teaching. Then he drops the doozy:
Think about it, people. This is Romans---Paul’s attempt to prevent a potentially fractured cluster of house churches in Rome from dividing over debates about the Jewish law. This is Paul’s effort to return to Jerusalem with all of the Gentile churches behind him. This is Paul’s one chance to garner support from the Roman churches for a mission to Spain. This is Romans, his greatest letter-essay, the most influential letter in the history of Western thought, and the singularly greatest piece of Christian theology. Now, if Paul was opposed to women teaching men anytime and anywhere, why on earth would he send a woman like Pheobe to deliver this vitally important letter and to be his personal representative in Rome? Why not Timothy, Titus, or any other dude? (21)
 
 
Recently, Bird posted this excerpt from Richard Longenecker’s NIGTC Romans commentary on his blog:
 
Phoebe had been Paul’s patron during his ministry at Corinth, had most likely heard from his own lips the contents of the letter as it was being formulated, and must have had some part in discussing with Paul and other Christians of that area at least a few portions of the letter – and therefore would have been in a position to explain to the Christians at Rome (1) what Paul was saying in the various sections of the letter, (2) what he meant by what he proclaimed in each of those sections, and (3) how he expected certain important sections of his letter to be worked out in practice in the particular situations at Rome. Probably Phoebe should be viewed as the first commentator to others on Paul’s letter to Rome, And without a doubt, every commentator, teacher, or preacher on Romans would profit immensely from a transcript of Phoebe’s explanations of what Paul wrote in this letter before actually having to write or speak on it themselves” (1064-65).
 
 
Yes, too bad we do not have that commentary, Phoebe on Romans. But there is a reason we don’t. Phoebe was not to overshadow the inspired Words of Scripture by any means. But her role in its delivery is not something to downplay. I wrote about it as well in my upcoming book, No Little Women:
 
 
Donald Grey Barnhouse writes, “Never was there a greater burden carried by such tender hands. The theological history of the church through the centuries was in the manuscript which she brought with her. The Reformation was in that baggage. The blessing of multitudes in our day was carried in those parchments.” (quoted in James Montgomery Boice’s Romans, 1913). Again, we see a woman sharing profound theology with God’s people. James Montgomery Boice points out that it was likely Phoebe had others traveling with her given the unsafe conditions for women to travel alone in the ancient world, which makes it all the more significant that she is the prominent one delivering the epistle. Phoebe was probably simultaneously traveling for business of some sort, which is why Paul would also tell the church in Rome to help her in any way she may need during her stay…
 
 
Paul does refer to Phoebe as his prostatis, translated patron. She was likely a prominent woman who assisted Paul with both social and financial means as a necessary ally in his ministry. Being that she is from a church in Corinth by a seaport, she may have assisted many who have travelled through the area with lodging and other means.
 
 
But in addition to Phoebe, Paul mentions eight other women in this section of greeting. “Moreover, five of these women---Prisca (v. 3), Junia (v. 7), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (v. 12), and Persis (v. 12)---are commended for their labor ‘in the Lord.’” (Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 927). This list of greetings reveals something about Paul’s ministry and his relationships. He isn’t one of those theologians who would prefer to give someone a handful of money rather than spending so much of his precious time outside of his study.*  Paul’s ministry isn’t only about the sermons and the writing that he would so valuably contribute. He valued his relationships and depended on the work of many in his ministry. Among the many are women, “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (16:3). We see these women functioning as ezers, or necessary allies, in provisional, hospitable, life-threatening, hardworking, nurturing, and loving ways, not through a peripheral wing of the household, but alongside of the men. This closing section of Paul’s epistle reveals a beautiful picture of the fruit of the ministry of Word and sacrament, doesn’t it? And this is just a small screen shot taken from the farewell closing of one epistle! (From Chapter 4, How the Church Ministers to Every Member). 
 
 
 
These are not women that we should feel uncomfortable talking about. There’s a lot to learn here. I would love for more complementarians to be writing about this.
 
 
* A reference to a quote from John Cotton in Selma R. Williams, Divine Rebel (NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1981), 95.
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
An article was brought to my attention on Saturday that was spreading like wildfire on Facebook. The article, Why Man and Woman Are Not Equal, already had over 11K shares (now it it’s almost up to 13K). The fact that the writer, Glenn Stanton, is the director of family formation studies at the Focus on the Family may explain some of the popularity. But when I read the article, I felt like we are never going to get out of the crazy cycle of evangelical gender tropes.
 
 
Sure, I wanted to agree with Stanton as I first began reading. There are differences between men and women, and we need to value these distinctions against a culture that is dominated by the sexual revolution and wants to paint gender as a fluid concept. And I agree with the title to a point. Men and women are not equal in all things. We are equal in value and worth. Both genders are made in the image of God. But, for starters, men can’t have babies. And they are physically stronger than women. They have greater muscle mass, broader shoulders, and a stronger grip. And although I want to be careful of stereotyping, there are some differences in our hormonal and psychological make-up. 
 
 
The author chose to focus on a particular identifier to reveal that men and women are not equal. And at first glance, women may be happy to read this, as he is certainly elevating them:
 
Women create, shape, and maintain human culture. Manners exist because women exist. Worthy men adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room. They become better creatures. Civilization arises and endures because women have expectations of themselves and of those around them.
 
 
He continues to show how women are the holders of all virtue, contributing to society by “making men behave,” and that “the most fundamental social problem every community must solve is the unattached male,” because wives make men more loving, nurturing, and willing to provide, therefore contributing more to society.
 
 
On Monday Morning I discovered that this article was being shared in my circles on blogs and social media. Poor Andrew Wilson just threw it out there on Twitter with a question for discussion. Hannah Anderson and I took the bait, and bounced off of one another about our concerns. I immediately thought of Sara Moslener’s book Virgin Nation, which traces the sexual purity movement in America, showing how it developed as an ideology linked to national security. This is the sort of branding I was reading in Stanton’s article. And from books like Moslener’s and the further research I have done of the cult of domesticity, I am able to pick up on this language pretty easily now.
 
 
Interestingly, before the first wave of feminism, women were viewed as the morally inferior sex. Because Eve was the first person deceived, women were not to be trusted. But with the turn of the 19th century, gender roles make a reversal. Now all of the sudden women became the morally superior sex. 
 
 
But was society the better for it?:
 
Women exploited their newfound status as moral superiors to extend their power beyond the domestic sphere and control the sexual behavior of men. Moslener connects the reversal of the female status as moral superiors in first wave feminism to the political movements fueled by evangelical tropes of manhood and womanhood…
 
Yet as women gained spiritual, social, and political influence, men began to feel threatened by a feminization of theology.
 
This is when the whole wave of muscular Christianity began to take root. The thing is, when you make either sex the holder of virtue, you are doing a lot of damage. Gender becomes an ideological commodity, a power struggle begins, and then there is an equally disturbing reaction.
 
 
But we already know the truth. Women are also sinners, and men don’t need to marry to be virtuous. Were Jesus and Paul just exceptions? No, “worthy” men are expected to be virtuous on their own. And they are to depend on the One who actually lived a righteous life as they strive for holiness, not on a woman. I will give Stanton a nod in agreement that men may adjust their behavior when a woman comes into the room. Women do that some too. But manners aren’t always virtuous; they can be very manipulative. Men aren’t to pretend to be virtuous when in front of women; they are called to be virtuous at all times. 
 
 
Just think for a moment---if this gender trope were true, why are we letting any men in leadership? But no, this is just Victorian era ideology skipping the record again. When we put the burden of virtue on one gender, these power dynamics go into play. Stanton is trying to replace the equality argument that is used in the fight for societal power today with a virtue argument that has already played out over and over again.
 
 
 
So I ask again, what compromises are we making to advance our own ideologies? Women and men need one another. Singles are also created for relationship in the covenant community, friendships, family roles, at work and school, and in loving their neighbor. And as Hannah pointed out in our Twitter conversation, this kind of reduction hinders real spiritual formation and discipleship. Women don’t need to play the virtue card to get a seat at the significance table. We can’t hijack the language of holiness that way. Men and women both need to sit under the preached Word, as a covenant community. We all need to hear God’s pure and holy law, accompanied by the gospel announcement. We cheapen both God’s common grace to all as well as his salvific work of holiness, calling sinners to repentance, and his work of salvation, sanctification, and glorification when we stereotype in this way. Women are a wonderful sex, but they are a horrible substitute for a savior.
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
 
“Speechless.” That’s what Todd Pruitt titled as the subject of an email he sent with an attached article, ‘Sex Outside of Marriage Makes Me a Fabulous Mother’: Woman Has Unusual Reason for Cheating. And the article breaks it all down, an interview with a 49-year-old mom who is part of  “an ‘ethical non-monogamy’ community – where members openly indulge in extramarital sex with the full knowledge of their spouse.” Well isn’t that an oxymoron---“‘ethical non-monogamy.’ 
 
 
We could read this article and brush it off, shaking our heads that this is just someone in the fringes. Yet, I actually know people who may not be part of an organized community, but do openly indulge in extramarital sex with the full knowledge of their spouse. And I’ve been reading more and more articles like this, where cheaters openly celebrate their lifestyle, actually making a case for others to join them.
 
 
This woman, Gracie ‘X’, is open and upfront with her 11-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter about her lifestyle, bragging, “Having sex outside my marriage makes me a fabulous mother. Anything that keeps me happy and gives me energy makes me a better mother.” Her next comment may sound typical, but was the one that stood out the most for me:  
 
“Domestic life can get spectacularly boring and I need a separate adult life. The downside of monogamy is monotony.”
 
It’s interesting she put those two words together: spectacularly boring. It reminded me of something I read in Hillbilly Elegy.  After reading two great reviews* of J. D. Vance’s memoir, I knew I had to read it for myself. I took it along with me on vacation, but didn’t even get to crack it open at the beach. I read the whole thing during the car ride there. Now working as a biotech executive in Silicon Valley, Vance tells his story of growing up in the working-poor class of hillbillies. And it is a page turner. He writes about his mamaw who almost shot a man, lit her abusive husband on fire, and who was also Vance’s safe haven from a drug addicted, abusive mom who rotated husbands on a regular basis. He writes about hunger, shame, and the mentality upon a community that enables “learned helplessness.” He writes with compassion and tough love. Here is Vance’s explanation for writing this memoir:
 
 “I want people to understand what happens in the lives of the poor, and the psychological impact that spiritual and material poverty has on their children.”
 
That impact comes through loud and clear in his writing. But the comment above by Gracie “X” reminded me of a line in the book that stuck out to me. Vance recalled a conversation he had with his uncle who had also escaped his hillbilly lifestyle and poor hometown. The uncle commented that he had “’a typical middle class life.’ Kind of boring, by some standards, but happy in a way you appreciate only when you understand the consequences of not being boring.”
 
 
Make no mistake, Gracie “X’s” children are paying the consequences of not being boring. They are living in spiritual poverty. Once again, it is the vulnerable picking up the tab for those who think they can afford to make their own rules. A monogamous marriage would have been spectacularly boring for Vance. That is the lifestyle that he would like to have with his own wife now. If he has children, I’m sure that is what he wants to offer them as a gift, a mom and dad who are spectacularly boring because they are committed to one another. What a marriage to behold!
 
 
I’m not sure what a happy mom is. Does it take multiple sex partners to be happy? Does it take drug addiction? No, these are enslavement. I am not always happy, but I have the eternal joy of being redeemed from my sin, no longer a slave, and living under the reign of true grace. Gracie “X” is a counterfeit---one that promises fulfillment and excitement but delivers poverty and pain. The counterfeit will never provide true joy and ultimate fulfillment. 
 
 
A woman doesn’t need to get in bed with men to be happy. That is another counterfeit message of Gracie “X.” But a married woman living under the reign of grace is equipped to have a spectacular love life, one that is faithful in the mountaintop moments as well as the valleys of despair. And that is something beautiful to give to her children.
 
 
*Two great Reviews: 
 
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
The quality of Christian books marketed to women is very important to me. So I do a lot of reviews of the good, the mediocre, the challenging, the bad, and the just plain ugly. I review books here on MoS, for Books at a Glance, and will soon be reviewing for Westminster Bookstore
 
Here is a review that has just posted on Books at a Glance on a topical book that is an easy, introductory level read. Maybe you or someone you know is going through a season of waiting. This book could be helpful:
 
Seasons of Waiting: Walking By Faith When Dreams Are Delayed
by Betsy Childs Howard
 
 
This is a great topic for a book.  Most of us go through seasons of waiting for something, but do we wait well? The answer to that question often depends on what we are waiting for, how long it’s going to take, and whether our expectations are fulfilled. Maybe if we had those answers upfront, we wouldn’t be so anxious in the waiting. But the fact that we often don’t get those answers is where the agony of waiting sets in.
 
 
We live in a world with a “What are you waiting for?” mentality, full of selfish ambitions and immediate gratification. And yet some of our best treasures have a waiting room of sorts. Sometimes, that waiting doesn’t see fulfillment on this side of the resurrection.
 
 
A godly spouse is worth the wait, but we don’t get a guarantee that will happen. Are you waiting for a husband? If you desire to marry, why hasn’t God provided that opportunity? Are you waiting for a child? What do you do when faced with infertility? Are you waiting for a place to call home? Isn’t that the American dream? Maybe it is more desperate than this. Maybe you are waiting for God to answer your prayers for physical healing. Is he listening? Maybe you are currently pleading with God to lead your prodigal child or spouse to repentance. Could you have done better? Will you ever know? Will you have to live like this forever?
 
 
These are all chapters in Betsy Childs Howard’s book. She opens with a chapter explaining The School of Waiting, explaining, “Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God” (16). Our waiting isn’t a waste of time. It is a providential way God works for our sanctification. And how we live while we are waiting is a testimony of our faith.
 
 
Read the rest of the review here.
Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Denny Burk, the new president of CBMW, has posted an update on his take-aways from the Trinity debate. I am encouraged to see some of the statements he made in that update, particularly how he affirms Nicene Trinitarianism, identifying with it “all the more fervently (and with greater clarity),” saying, “I believe in eternal generation, a single divine will, inseparable operations, and the whole Nicene package." This is great to hear from the president of CBMW. I also affirm with Burk that Scott Swain and Michael Allen’s works have offered much help to clarify teaching. 
 
 
And yet, I am still uncertain about what he means in some of his explaining on Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son. And I am especially perplexed by his conclusion that CBMW has only existed to promote the Danvers Statement, and for that reason CBMW can remain silent when it comes to the Trinity controversy (starting after this post by their president, I presume). So I would like to briefly question those two claims,and then offer an alternative for what Denny Burk could do as president of CBMW.
 
 
ESS/EFS/ERAS:
 
Burk says:
 
Before this debate, I understood the “eternal” submission of the Son as a mere affirmation that the Bible teaches that the Son submits to the Father in some sense in eternity. It is called “eternal” not because of any ontological inequality of essence or being, but merely because the Bible indicates that the Son submits to the Father in some sort of economic/functional sense in eternity (i.e., before the incarnation and after the consummation). I would have understood it as nothing more nor less than that.
 
 
This perplexes me. From the beginning, critics of ESS have affirmed an economic submission of the Son, particularly making a point to explain the context for how that applies in the covenant of redemption, while firmly insisting that there is no eternal subordination in the ontological relationship within the Trinity. From the beginning, we have been providing very specific quotes from ESS proponents that teach otherwise, asking for a retraction of this unorthodox teaching on the Trinity and affirmation of confessional Nicene Trinitarianism. And yet, Burk was among the first to take to Twitter accusing us of being closet feminists and accusers of the brethren (**correction---when pushed on the 'accuser of the bretheren' comment on Twitter, Burk tweeted in response that it's "unnecessarily inflammatory, and I am sorry for writing it. I will delete it." I shouldn't have brought that one up again.) for this important distinction. So it was a bit strange to read this explanation of how he understood ESS “from the beginning” and square that with how he reacted in the beginning of this debate. 
 
 
While it is good to see Burk distance himself from the EFS of Ware and Grudem, he still wants the big umbrella that would affirm the orthodoxy of their teaching on the Trinity. This is very troublesome, and I will comment more on its impact in my conclusion.
 
 
CBMW
 
Burk concludes that there is no need for CBMW to get involved in this Trinity stuff anymore and paints a picture as if CBMW’s teaching has nothing to do with all this controversy:
 
I am a Danvers complementarian. That view of gender is not and never has been reliant upon an analogy to the Trinity. Biblical complementarianism neither stands nor falls on speculative parallels with Trinity… 
 
CBMW exists to promote the Danvers vision, which is silent on this current controversy. For that reason, my view is that CBMW does not need to be adjudicating the Trinity debate.
 
 
This conclusion is just plain irresponsible. Much of the teaching that we have been critiquing has come from CBMW sponsored events, the latest book by the former CBMW president, and writings from men who are either on the CBMW council or board. In fact, here is a CBMW document from 2001 on their position on the Trinity, 
connecting ESS directly to complementarian position. It contains statements such as these:
 
 
These arguments will be weighed and support and will be offered for the church's long-standing commitment to the trinitarian persons' full equality of essence and differentiation of persons, the latter of which includes and entails the eternal functional subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to both Father and Son.
 
Because the structure of authority and obedience is not only established by God, but it is, even more, possessed in God's own inner trinitarian life, as the Father establishes his will and the Son joyfully obeys, therefore we should not despise, but should embrace proper lines of authority and obedience. In the home, believing community, and society, rightful lines of authority are good, wise, and beautiful reflections of the reality that is God himself. This applies to those in positions of God-ordained submission and obedience who need, then, to accept joyfully these proper roles of submission. 
 
We more readily associate God with authority, but since the Son is the eternal Son of the Father, and since the Son is eternally God, then it follows that the inner trinitarian nature of God honors both authority and submission. Just as it is God-like to lead responsibly and well, so it is God-like to submit in human relationships where this is required. It is God-like for wives to submit to their husbands; it is God-like for children to obey their parents;… We honor God as we model both sides of the authority-submission relationship that characterizes the trinitarian persons themselves.
 
 
You can’t make a claim that ESS and CBMW complementarianism aren’t connected when there’s an official statement on your website connecting the two. And what has happened since then is a building upon this connection. In fact, just as recently as this spring, at CBMW’s last official conference, “The Beauty of Complementarity,” many statements were made connecting ESS/EFS to complementarianism, and not in the way Burk is now trying to frame it within an economic context, but rather an ontological one of authority and submission. Conveniently for the then president Owen Strachan, this conference also coincided with the release of his new book, firmly connecting ESS/ERAS with complementarity---a book that Denny Burk, Albert Mohler, and Bruce Ware all wholeheartedly endorsed.
 
 
Furthermore, Owen Strachan pushed the matter in his conference talk, stating, “The gospel has a complementarian structure.”  The implication is that anyone who does not subscribe to his teaching on complementarity, the one that directly connects ESS to “biblical” manhood and womanhood, is denying the gospel. There were many respected leaders at this conference who could have expressed their concern on some of the teaching going on next to their own. But they didn’t, rather they stood by silently while the entire paying audience absorbed it, sanctified testosterone and all.
 
 
So seeing Burk write that there is no connection, downplaying any relation between CBMW and the errant teaching on the inner life of the Trinity just isn’t true.
 
 
In his post, Burk gives advice to his readers to listen to their critics. This is what I have been begging CBMW to do from the start, not only with the extremely important teaching on the Trinity, but also with the other strange teachings they have published on complementarity.
 
 
What Denny Burk Can Do Now
 
 
I am currently reading Rusty Reno’s The Idea of a Christian Society, and am making huge connections on why Burk’s conclusion here is so damaging. It’s why I have been speaking up all along. Reno makes a case for how the lower class society, or underclass, is picking up the tab for what he calls the “nonjudgmentalism” moral consensus of the upper class. This is exactly what I see happening within the new Calvinist evangelicalism. It doesn’t hurt Denny Burk or Albert Mohler to endorse these books teaching ESS or ERAS, to affirm the orthodoxy of Grudem, Strachan, and Ware’s teaching on the Trinity and complementarianism, and to continue to headline together at conferences. But I see who picks up the tab for this irresponsibility, and it is the regular church-going people who are trying to honor God in their singleness, or as wives and husbands. 
 
 
I have seen it in my own experiences, and I am seeing in all the emails I am getting from women who can’t use a word like career, lest it sound too ambitious; women who have no voice in their church, because the men are the leaders who make all the valuable input; women who are stuck in ministries that teach “True Womanhood,” yet are considered divisive to point out heretical teaching on the Trinity in their book study (even after pointing out a statement that the Trinity consists of “individual and distinct beings"); women who are frustrated because they do not fit into the “biblical womanhood” box of nursery duty and pot lucks and feel marginalized in their own church; and women who have expressed their conflict of desiring to be “good complementarians” while wanting to cry when they read some of the material from CBMW. Worse, I hear from women who are in and who have come out of abusive situations under this kind of irresponsible teaching. I'm not surprised that they end up questioning it all. When our loudest and highest paid complementarian voices advocate such a poor theology and environment for women, Christians want to reject complementarianism. 
 
 
So when Burk and Mohler say that CBMW is all about the Danvers Statement and has no connection with ESS, I am not buying it. Not only that, I am suspicious when I read the Danvers Statement. With all the teaching coming from CBMW linking an ontological role of authority and subordination within the Trinity to womanhood and manhood, I am concerned by what they mean with some of the language. For example, this affirmation:
 
1. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
 
So what Denny Burk could do is listen to all of this critique and think about the people who are affected by all the teaching that has come out of and influenced by CBMW. Good for him that he is seeking more clarity this summer on his confession on the Trinity, but what about all that has already been promoted and endorsed? 
 
 
You can't continue to endorse unorthodox doctrine on the Trinity as a model for manhood and womanhood and be healthy. You can't ignore the voices of many and be healthy. You can't go on Twitter saying we want scalps, are accusers of the brethren, and are closet feminists because we have legitimate concerns about the content of their teaching and be healthy. I am tired of the throat clearing posts that include wonderful statements against abuse and promoting loving leadership from the same people who refuse to directly address, retract, and correct teaching that fuels abuse from their own men. It isn't right.
 
 
I would love to see CBMW clean house and actually be the leaders they write about sometimes, I really would. But I am not going to accept a veneer of concern without real change. At this point it appears that all the proponents of ESS will still be people of influence there. No one from CBMW has made a statement retracting the teaching on ESS/ERAS/EFS, rather they continue even in Strachan's resignation announcement to promote his book that teaches it. They continue to assure us that it is orthodox. And none of Ware or Grudem's writings on it have been retracted either. They are all leaders there still. Nor has there been any explanation or apology for the Sanctified Testosterone teaching or Soap Bubble Submission (although that particular post has disappeared). Nothing. All of that teaching needs to be retracted, with apologies at this point, for CBMW to have any credit in my book. Denny Burk could lead the way in doing that.
Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Denny Burk, the new president of CBMW, has posted an update on his take-aways from the Trinity debate. I am encouraged to see some of the statements he made in that update, particularly how he affirms Nicene Trinitarianism, identifying with it “all the more fervently (and with greater clarity),” saying, “I believe in eternal generation, a single divine will, inseparable operations, and the whole Nicene package." This is great to hear from the president of CBMW. I also affirm with Burk that Scott Swain and Michael Allen’s works have offered much help to clarify teaching. 
 
 
And yet, I am still uncertain about what he means in some of his explaining on Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son. And I am especially perplexed by his conclusion that CBMW has only existed to promote the Danvers Statement, and for that reason CBMW can remain silent when it comes to the Trinity controversy (starting after this post by their president, I presume). So I would like to briefly question those two claims,and then offer an alternative for what Denny Burk could do as president of CBMW.
 
 
ESS/EFS/ERAS:
 
Burke says:
 
Before this debate, I understood the “eternal” submission of the Son as a mere affirmation that the Bible teaches that the Son submits to the Father in some sense in eternity. It is called “eternal” not because of any ontological inequality of essence or being, but merely because the Bible indicates that the Son submits to the Father in some sort of economic/functional sense in eternity (i.e., before the incarnation and after the consummation). I would have understood it as nothing more nor less than that.
 
 
This perplexes me. From the beginning, critics of ESS have affirmed an economic submission of the Son, particularly making a point to explain the context for how that applies in the covenant of redemption, while firmly insisting that there is no eternal subordination in the ontological relationship within the Trinity. From the beginning, we have been providing very specific quotes from ESS proponents that teach otherwise, asking for a retraction of this unorthodox teaching on the Trinity and affirmation of confessional Nicene Trinitarianism. And yet, Burk was among the first to take to Twitter accusing us of being closet feminists and accusers of the brethren for this important distinction. So it was a bit strange to read this explanation of how he understood ESS “from the beginning” and square that with how he reacted in the beginning of this debate. 
 
 
While it is good to see Burk distance himself from the EFS of Ware and Grudem, he still wants the big umbrella that would affirm the orthodoxy of their teaching on the Trinity. This is very troublesome, and I will comment more on its impact in my conclusion.
 
 
CBMW
 
Burk concludes that there is no need for CBMW to get involved in this Trinity stuff anymore and paints a picture as if CBMW’s teaching has nothing to do with all this controversy:
 
I am a Danvers complementarian. That view of gender is not and never has been reliant upon an analogy to the Trinity. Biblical complementarianism neither stands nor falls on speculative parallels with Trinity… 
 
CBMW exists to promote the Danvers vision, which is silent on this current controversy. For that reason, my view is that CBMW does not need to be adjudicating the Trinity debate.
 
 
 
This conclusion is just plain irresponsible. Much of the teaching that we have been critiquing has come from CBMW sponsored events, the latest book by the former CBMW president, and writings from men who are either on the CBMW council or board. In fact, here is a CBMW document from 2001 on their position on the Trinity, 
connecting ESS directly to complementarian position. It contains statements such as these:
 
 
These arguments will be weighed and support and will be offered for the church's long-standing commitment to the trinitarian persons' full equality of essence and differentiation of persons, the latter of which includes and entails the eternal functional subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to both Father and Son.
 
Because the structure of authority and obedience is not only established by God, but it is, even more, possessed in God's own inner trinitarian life, as the Father establishes his will and the Son joyfully obeys, therefore we should not despise, but should embrace proper lines of authority and obedience. In the home, believing community, and society, rightful lines of authority are good, wise, and beautiful reflections of the reality that is God himself. This applies to those in positions of God-ordained submission and obedience who need, then, to accept joyfully these proper roles of submission. 
 
We more readily associate God with authority, but since the Son is the eternal Son of the Father, and since the Son is eternally God, then it follows that the inner trinitarian nature of God honors both authority and submission. Just as it is God-like to lead responsibly and well, so it is God-like to submit in human relationships where this is required. It is God-like for wives to submit to their husbands; it is God-like for children to obey their parents;… We honor God as we model both sides of the authority-submission relationship that characterizes the trinitarian persons themselves.
 
 
You can’t make a claim that ESS and CBMW complementarianism aren’t connected when there’s an official statement on your website connecting the two. And what has happened since then is a building upon this connection. In fact, just as recently as this spring, at CBMW’s last official conference, “The Beauty of Complementarity,” many statements were made connecting ESS/EFS to complementarianism, and not in the way Burk is now trying to frame it within an economic context, but rather an ontological one of authority and submission. Conveniently for the then president Owen Strachan, this conference also coincided with the release of his new book, firmly connecting ESS/ERAS with complementarity, a book that Denny Burk, Albert Mohler, and Bruce Ware all wholeheartedly endorsed.
 
 
Furthermore, Owen Strachen pushed the matter in his conference talk, stating, “The gospel has a complementarian structure.”  The implication is that anyone who does not subscribe to his teaching on complementarity, the one that directly connects ESS to “biblical” manhood and womanhood, is denying the gospel. There were many respected leaders at this conference who could have expressed their concern on some of the teaching going on next to their own. But they didn’t, rather they stood by silently while the entire paying audience absorbed it, sanctified testosterone and all.
 
 
So seeing Burk write that there is no connection, downplaying any relation between CBMW and the errant teaching on the inner life of the Trinity just isn’t true.
 
 
In his post, Burk gives advice to his readers to listen to their critics. This is what I have been begging CBMW to do from the start, not only with the extremely important teaching on the Trinity, but also with the other strange teachings they have published on complementarity.
 
 
What Denny Burk Can Do Now
 
 
I am currently reading Rusty Reno’s The Idea of a Christian Society, and am making huge connections on why Burk’s conclusion here is so damaging. It’s why I have been speaking up all along. Reno makes a case for how the lower class society, or underclass, is picking up the tab for what he calls the “nonjudgmentalism” moral consensus of the upper class. This is exactly what I see happening within the new Calvinist evangelicalism. It doesn’t hurt Denny Burk or Albert Mohler to endorse these books teaching ESS or ERAS, to affirm the orthodoxy of Grudem, Strachan, and Ware’s teaching on the Trinity and complementarianism, endorse their books, and to continue to headline together at conferences. But I see who picks up the tab for this irresponsibility, and it is the regular church-going people who are trying to honor God in their singleness, or as wives and husbands. 
 
 
I have seen it in my own experiences, and I am seeing in all the emails I am getting from women who can’t use a word like career, lest it sound too ambitious; women who have no voice in their church, because the men are the leaders who make all the valuable input; women who are stuck in ministries that teach “True Womanhood,” yet are considered divisive to point out heretical teaching on the Trinity in their book study (even after pointing out a statement that the Trinity consists of “individual and distinct beings"); women who are frustrated because they do not fit into the “biblical womanhood” box of nursery duty and pot lucks and feel marginalized in their own church; and women who have expressed their conflict of desiring to be “good complementarians” while wanting to cry when they read some of the material from CBMW. Worse, I hear from women who are in and who have come out of abusive situations under this kind of irresponsible teaching. I'm not surprised that they end up questioning it all. When our loudest and highest paid complementarian voices advocate such a poor theology and environment for women, Christians want to reject complementarianism. 
 
 
So when Burk and Mohler say that CBMW is all about the Danvers Statement and has no connection with ESS, I am not buying it. Not only that, I am suspicious when I read the Danvers Statement. With all the teaching coming from CBMW linking an ontological role of authority and subordination within the Trinity to womanhood and manhood, I am concerned by what they mean with some of the language. For example, this affirmation:
 
1. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
 
 
So what Denny Burk could do is listen to all of this critique and think about the people who are affected by all the teaching that has come out of and influenced by CBMW. Good for him that he is seeking more clarity this summer on his confession on the Trinity, but what about all that has already been promoted and endorsed? 
 
 
You can't continue to endorse unorthodox doctrine on the Trinity as a model for manhood and womanhood and be healthy. You can't ignore the voices of many and be healthy. You can't go on Twitter saying we want scalps, are accusers of the brethren, and are closet feminists because we have legitimate concerns about the content of their teaching and be healthy. I am tired of the throat clearing posts that include wonderful statements against abuse and promoting loving leadership from the same people who refuse to directly address, retract, and correct teaching that fuels abuse from their own men. It isn't right.
 
 
I would love to see CBMW clean house and actually be the leaders they write about sometimes, I really would. But I am not going to accept a veneer of concern without real change. At this point it appears that all the proponents of ESS will still be people of influence there. No one from CBMW has made a statement retracting the teaching on ESS/ERAS/EFS, rather they continue even in Strachen's resignation announcement to promote his book that teaches it. They continue to assure us that it is orthodox. And none of Ware or Grudem's writings on it have been retracted either. They are all leaders there still. Nor has there been any explanation or apology for the Sanctified Testosterone teaching or Soap Bubble Submission (although that particular post has disappeared). Nothing. All of that teaching needs to be retracted, with apologies at this point, for CBMW to have any credit in my book. Denny Burk could lead the way in doing that.
Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Yesterday I wrote about the state of our culture revealed by the spokesperson for one of our presidential candidates saying Marlania Trump’s published nude photos are nothing to be embarrassed about because she is beautiful. I then made a contrast with another woman who heard the opposite when she wanted to use her body for a weekend fling. She was rejected because her body was too wrinkly, yet was still able to stand naked in from of the mirror unashamed.  Please read that article in conjunction with this one.
 
 
But hey, everyone can get in on the 15 minutes of fame now without having to wait for a Playboy contract or even a guy willing to take you out for the weekend. Sure, celebrities are leading the way, but 46-year-old moms and teenagers alike are now encouraged to take pride in sharing their naked selves with the world. In their article for The Weekly Standard, Judith Miller and Ann Marlowe highlight Kim Kardashian, who kicked off a whole slew of celebrity support sending the message that they can be proud to post their naked bodies on social media for all to admire. The authors conclude, “Sharing nude selfies is just the latest form of ‘empowerment,’ or exhibitionism, at the expense of self-respect.”
 
 
What is it that makes women want to expose themselves in such desperate fashion, demanding strangers to venerate their bodies? And why do they have to keep assuring everyone that there’s no shame in it? Are their beautiful, naked bodies their glory?
 
 
But there is shame. 
 
 
It’s right there in Geneses 3. Before the fall, we read, “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). But after they sinned, their eyes were opened to the fact that they were naked and needed a covering. Once they sinned, they couldn’t bear their nakedness. We’re not talking about a casual relationship here either. We’re talking about the very first married couple. Were they merely ashamed of their nakedness before one another? I don’t think so. Clearly, they shared their nakedness in sexual intimacy later. But this shame of being exposed is not only before one another, it is before the whole creation, their God, and even the angels. Man’s glory has been corrupted because man turned from the true glory of his Maker and his Maker’s goodness to seeking his own glory to rule by his own goodness. 
 
 
And so even now, we see more attempts to recapture that counterfeit glory. As soon as you try to exploit beauty, you’ve corrupted it into something to consume. Sure, sinful hearts find pleasure in that corrupted beauty. Naked flesh becomes the object of desire rather than covenant union with the person. But we know it isn’t right. We all know. We know that true beauty does not need marketing and advertisement. We know that obnoxious appeals for attention are desperate. We know that a truly beautiful woman doesn’t need to tell everyone she’s beautiful---with words or naked pictures.  
 
 
Beauty is not something we acquire over others. It is something that we share with others in an appropriate way.
 
 
There’s no shame in beauty. But because we are still sinners, we still need a covering. We cannot be naked and unashamed. For those of us in Christ, our clothing, just like the animal skins that God made for Adam and Eve to replace their fig leaves of their own covering, points to our ultimate covering of Jesus Christ’s blood over our sin and his righteousness accredited to us. 
 
 
Unveiled Glory
 
 
The ultimate glory that we seek is to behold the face of Jesus Christ, our bridegroom. The Christian’s expectation is the beatific vision and there will be nothing more beautiful to behold in eternity. We shall see Jesus Christ as he is in his unveiled glory.
 
 
This brings me back to the sharing of our nakedness, our sexual intimacy in marriage. As Scripture tells us that our marriages here are a picture of this much greater marriage, we gain more understanding of why there is no shame in the pleasure of sexual intimacy in marriage. In this intimacy there is a different kind of unveiling between a wife and a bridegroom, one in the context of a marriage where this husband is to also give himself up for his bride. Christ has cleansed us with his own blood, and our husbands are to cleanse us in keeping God’s word. 
 
 
Holiness and purity are beautiful. And so is grace. In the covenant context of Christian marriage, we experience all of this. We strive for holiness. We offer grace. Our nakedness is a perpetual reminder of our need for redemption and our longing for incorruptible, resurrected bodies. And our union of flesh, our “knowing” one another so intimately, and the pleasure that brings is mysteriously fascinating. It should never be cheapened. But as wonderful as that is, we long for the consummation of our much greater union with Christ.
 
 
Our nakedness should humble us, not empower us.
 
 
And so back to these nude selfies. They don’t glorify the woman; they cheapen her. When women publish nude pictures of themselves, they are succumbing to a longing for acknowledgement of a beauty that is exceptional and unique. But the effect is the opposite.
 
 
Again, I turn to C.S. Lewis, who is one of the few who have written so remarkably on the topic, before even knowing about the future of sexual exploitation in selfies: 
 
Are we not our true selves when naked? In a sense, no. The word naked was originally a past participle; the naked man was the man who had undergone a process of naking, that is, of stripping or peeling (you used the verb of nuts and fruit). Time out of mind the naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man; not the man who has abstained from dressing but the man who has been for some reason undressed. And it is a simple fact—anyone can observe it at a men's bathing place—that nudity emphasises common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual. In that way we are "more ourselves" when clothed. By nudity the lovers cease to be solely John and Mary; the universal He and She are emphasised. You could almost say they put on nakedness as a ceremonial robe—or as the costume for a charade. (The Four Loves, 104, Kindle Edition, boldface mine.)
 
 
But in the act of love we are not merely ourselves. We are also representatives. It is here no impoverishment but an enrichment to be aware that forces older and less personal than we work through us. In us all the masculinity and femininity of the world, all that is assailant and responsive, are momentarily focused. (103)
 
 
Which woman do you want to represent---every other desperate woman who sacrifices her body as a quick object to gratify a man’s lust, or a covenant bride to the husband who sacrifices his own life for her good?
 
Sexuality is still mysterious to us. Lewis again articulates the wonder and baseness of it all:
 
For I can hardly help regarding it as one of God's jokes that a passion so soaring, so apparently transcendent, as Eros, should thus be linked in incongruous symbiosis with a bodily appetite which, like any other appetite, tactlessly reveals its connections with such mundane factors as weather, health, diet, circulation, and digestion. (100). 
 
 
Be humbled. Be holy. Be thankful. And honor the weight of your neighbor’s glory. 
Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
 
…publicly expose it in nude, crass poses for money and status? This is what Melania Trump did. And in defense of the pictures The New York Post released, Jason Miller, spokesman for the Trump campaign, responded that there’s “nothing to be embarrassed about. She’s a beautiful woman.” Judith Miller and Ann Marlowe wrote a piece for The Weekly Standard lamenting the complete lack of shame in our culture today, that we would even think about having a first lady who posed in a pornographic manner to sell sex. The whole thing made me think of another woman I wrote about before.
 
 
If I said your body is too wrinkly to turn me on would you…
 
 
…be embarrassed now? This is what happened to a 59-year-old woman after her hopes for a weekend fling were crushed by physical rejection. I reflected on the naked truth of this woman’s situation two years ago and my response to that is the same as to Melania Trump culture. I’ve reposted it below, because we first need a good theology of beauty before critiquing its counterfeit. Tomorrow I hope to reflect a little more on shame, beauty, our teenagers, and social media:
 
 
I read an article the other day that captures a lie that many men and women believe about beauty and love. A 59-year-old wrote it, but this is the same problem I see in 18-year-olds.
 
 
The article starts out with a brave, naked, woman really looking at herself in the mirror, trying to just get honest with herself after a cold rejection. You see, she had met someone on the Internet and he seemed like a good match. He made an effort to make the drive to meet her in person. She describes him as gentlemanly and interested in the same active lifestyle as herself. So she was looking forward to getting to know him better by spending the weekend together.
 
 
They get in bed together. Naked. He doesn't really make a move. (Did I mention that this wasn't a "Christian" article?) All her attempts at "intimacy" were dodged over the three nights and four days together.
 
 
Confused after returning home, this woman had to know what the deal was. So she calls him up to ask. He answers matter of factly:
 
 
"Your body is too wrinkly," he said without a pause. "I have spoiled myself over the years with young women. I just can't get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can't deal with your body."
 
 
He then proceeded to offer her suggestions on how she could distract from her age, dress in a way in which he was attracted, and maybe move their physical relationship forward. Thankfully, this woman had enough sense to drop a man that can't appreciate her for who she is. The article ends after she recognizes her aged but fit body, naked in front of three mirrors, and concludes:
 
 
As I looked in the mirror -- clear-eyed and brave -- I claimed every inch of my body with love, honor and deep care. This body is me. She has held my soul and carried my heart for all of my days. Each wrinkle and imperfection is a badge of my living and of my giving of life. With tears in my eyes, I hugged myself close. I said thank you to God for the gift of my body and my life. And I said thank you to a sad man named Dave for reminding me of how precious it all is.
 
 
And yet I was left feeling very sad for this woman, not because of some jerk named Dave whom she did very well to kick to the curb, but because of her expectation for being loved and accepted as beautiful. I'm not all that surprised when I hear of 18-year-olds who expected to hold a man with their bodies, and yet find themselves objectified and rejected. But a 59-year-old should know more about beauty and love.
 
 
I think we all, men and women, fall for this lie: that beauty is something to be consumed. We see something beautiful and we think that we must have it exclusively. And we want to be that something beautiful that others will want. And so we lower our standards. We reduce beauty to smooth skin and measurements, or as we age, to a certain level of maintenance and pride.
 
 
The thing is, we all want to be more than beautiful. We want to be in the beauty. C.S. Lewis puts it this way in his essay, "The Weight of Glory:"
 
 
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words---to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
 
 
There are few opportunities on this side of eternity where we get a taste of this experience with beauty. But I believe Christian marriage is one of them. It comes from a sacrificial, sanctifying love through the years. It comes through moving past the youthful, original attributes that attracted us to one another, to a mature appreciation of the scars that mark the progression of our love. You will NEVER get this in a weekend getaway or a one-night stand. That jerk, Dave, was really only articulating the consequences of both his and this rejected woman's search for beauty. Lewis nails it:
 
 
But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.
 
We are blessed to see beauty all around us. Through our lifetime, we are blessed to share in the beauty. But:
 
 
Someday, God willing, we shall get in...
Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning.
 
If we have the proper eternal perspective, we long for that beatific vision and our own glorification when our unity in Christ will be consummated and we will be like him. Like Lewis, I challenge you to think of how this reality changes the way we treat our neighbor:
 
 
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. 
Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2016 by Aimee Byrd on Housewife Theologian
Brothers and sisters, the recent discussions of the Trinity and of complementarianism have revealed among other things the theological and historical shallowness of much that passes for state-of-the-art theology and social thought in Protestant circles. We really must do better. This week I’m sharing two guest posts that model depth of thought and positive engagement that surmount the stereotypical evangelical method with a deeper, more holistic approach to personhood. 
 
We first heard from a Reformed woman on singles and the church. Today I am going to share a Roman Catholic perspective on women and the church, asking the reader to take notice of the depth of thought and positive engagement with her church's teaching that Catholics typically use in engaging issues of personhood, specifically as they relate to issues of gender difference, marriage, singleness etc.  We post it here not because we agree with all that she says -- we do not do so, particularly her theology on Mary --, but rather to set before Protestant readers what can and should be done in engaging the pressing issues of our day in these areas.
 
 
Catholic Integral Complementarity
by Luma Simms
 
 
Note: Dear reader,  In light of the recent discussion on complementarity, the Nicene understanding of the Trinity, and the Eternal Subordination of the Son, I write here a simple description of Catholic integral complementarity. This is not a theological treatise with philosophical and theological proofs. Nor should this essay be taken as an aim at proselytizing the reader. I write it in good will, as your sister in Christ and as a Catholic convert from Protestantism, and from these very circles in particular. My hope is that this basic description of Catholic integral complementarity will help inform the intra-Protestant discourse on the topic. I ask that you read it charitably with an eye to glean understanding of this viewpoint and not only to refute. It is one thing to claim on paper or teach that women have equal dignity with men, it is another to build a culture which makes that gospel truth thrive; and yet another to read me, a woman, through that respectful lens—as you would respectfully read a male author. Lastly, please note that when I write Church in this essay, I am referring to the Roman Catholic Church and her Magisterium. 
 
 
The first, and most helpful thing to understand about the Roman Catholic Christian faith is that the theory of integral complementarity, is predicated on a foundational idea about man and the world God created. From this foundational idea others spring forth. Without understanding this “Catholic difference” nothing Catholic makes sense. George Weigel has written, “while Catholicism is a body of beliefs and a way of life, Catholicism is also an optic, a way of seeing things, a distinctive perception of reality.” Although it can be described in a variety of ways, I have found Weigel's the most helpful. 
 
 
He writes:
 
You can call it the 'Catholic both/and': nature and grace, faith and works, Jerusalem and Athens, faith and reason, charismatic and institutional, visible and invisible. You can call it the “sacramental imagination”... You can call it a taste for the analogical, as distinguished from some Protestants' taste for the dialectical.” [Emphasis in the original]
 
 
Therefore, in order to grasp how Catholics think about biblical complementarity and the complementarity even within the natural world God created, one must get this Catholic both/and thing. The Catholic both/and, in turn, rests on a fundamental Catholic understanding, one of the pillars of Catholicism: It is that grace does not destroy nature, but perfects and elevates it—transforming it, even in the here and now.
 
 
A HIGH VIEW OF WOMEN
 
One can not talk about Catholic integral complementarity without first talking about the Catholic Church's high view of women; and one can not talk about the Church's high view of women without first talking about Mary. Given the Protestant allergy to Mary (including my own while still a Protestant) I will keep this short and to the point. But first I would like to respectfully repeat that this is not a disputation, it is only an explanation.
 
 
Rejecting the Nestorian claim that Mary, the mother of Jesus be called the mother of Christ because she is only the mother of Jesus' human nature, the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus in 431 re-affirmed the Nicene Creed, that, 
 
 
We confess the Word to have been made one with the flesh hypostatically, and we adore one Son and Lord, Jesus Christ. We do not divide him into parts and separate man and God in him, as though the two natures were mutually united only through a unity of dignity and authority.
 
 
And, 
 
[B]ecause the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with the flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh (for 'the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and the Word was with God', and he made the ages and is coeternal with the Father and craftsman of all things), but because, as we have said, he united to himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb.
 
 
Thus Mary was called Theotokos (mother of God). Over and again in the Church's 2000 year history we see that advancement in understanding Mary (or what the Church has called Marian dogmas) came in reality because the Church had to defend against heresies. The focus of these theological battles was always Christ.
 
 
The second idea which has direct bearing on the issue of complementarity for Catholics is that Mary is the New Eve, or The Second Eve. This is not a new-fangled doctrine. From the earliest times, from the Fathers, John Henry Newman has written, this has been “the prima facie view of her person and office.” And as Irenaeus wrote: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith.” Many Church Fathers can be quoted, but this is sufficient for the present. 
 
 
And so the Church's high view of women begins first and foremost because of her high view of Mary, the mother of God and her role as the second Eve. “Thus in the Blessed Virgin the figure of ‘woman' is rehabilitated” said Pope John Paul II. “Blessed is she who believed,” Elizabeth said of the Virgin Mary; the Church has always believed that Mary was the first disciple, the exemplar disciple. But not an Apostle, she never claimed apostolic powers for herself. Nor has the Church ever assigned apostolic powers to Mary. But rather through the directive of Jesus while on the cross she becomes the mother of all disciples: “Woman, behold, your son!” And to the disciple “Behold, your mother!” 
 
 
The reason that Mary is “full of grace,” the Church has said, is because of Ephesians 1:3-6 (Redemptoris Mater, no. 7-11). Here is how John Henry Newman puts it:
 
"Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary?
 
"Does he [the objector] not believe that St. John Baptist had the grace of God—i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence.
 
“We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her son.”
 
 
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has written:
 
The angel's greeting makes it clear that the blessing is more powerful than the curse. The sign of the woman has become the sign of hope; she is the signpost of hope. God's decision for man that becomes visible in her "is more powerful than any experience of evil and sin, than all the 'enmity' that marks the history of men." 
 
 
This high view of Mary, which leads to a high view of women, never eclipses her son. But in fact it is seen as deepening and enriching our knowledge of our Redeemer. And here we come to our first set of both/and. A high view of Jesus and Mary, leads to a high view of men and women. 
 
 
In Catholicism one does not have to downplay Mary, her person, her role, her life and contribution to salvation history; she stands “'at the center of [the] salvific event' which is God's self-revelation to the world,” writes Weigel. There is no competition here. Jesus is God incarnate, he is the one and only Mediator; there is no salvation outside of Christ. None of this, however, means we need to relegate Mary to the role of a surrogate womb. Honoring her does not take glory away from him, it does not dishonor him. Dishonoring her, dishonors him. As John Henry Newman put it: “Why not honour Our Lord in our respectful mention of his Mother? Why, because some Christians exceed in their devotion, become irreverent?”
 
 
It is the result of the Cartesian worldview that this either/or competition creeps in. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger says it thus:
 
An exaggerated solus Christus compelled its adherents to reject any cooperation of the creature, any independent significance of its response, as a betrayal of the greatness of grace. Consequently, there could be nothing meaningful in the feminine line of the Bible stretching from Eve to Mary. Patristic and medieval reflections on that line were, with implacable logic, branded as a recrudescence of paganism, as treason against the uniqueness of the Redeemer. Today's radical feminisms have to be understood as the long-repressed explosion of indignation against this sort of one-sided reading of Scripture.
 
 
“She [Mary] is not allowed to hide herself behind her Son in false humility,” Hans Urs von Balthasar has written. And again, “the Church begins with the Yes of the Virgin of Nazareth.” Balthasar makes it clear in Women Priests? A Marian Church in a Fatherless and Motherless Culture, that the Church, founded by Jesus Christ, ushers in a new cosmos, one in which there is a balance of the feminine and masculine. He writes:
 
Because of her unique structure, the Catholic Church is perhaps humanity's last bulwark of genuine appreciation of the difference between the sexes. 
 
 
Pope John Paul II, acknowledged that throughout history across many world cultures and at times by the Church herself, “women's dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude.” Not only did he apologize to women for whatever part the Church played in treating women as second-class citizens, but he called for a “time to examine the past with courage, to assign responsibility where it is due in a review of the long history of humanity.” Women throughout history, in spite of their heroic and substantial contributions to society have been underestimated and ignored. In his many writings on women he acknowledges all this and more, he worked hard to re-assert the equal dignity of women, calling the Church and the world to “uphold the dignity, role, and rights” of women by working for full integration of women into the social, political, and economic life of a democratic state. 
 
 
We come now to another both/and regarding women; that is the Catholic Church's call to advance the dignity of women in all areas of life, in what Pope John Paul II called “a new feminism,” and keep the significant difference between men and woman. More on this below. This high view has consequences, most significantly in that the Church does not look askance at women. This is the consequences of the “blessing” being “more powerful than the curse.” In other words, women are a blessing and a necessary part of the Church and the world community, not a threat and a curse to be suspect and restrained. 
 
 
CATHOLIC INTEGRAL COMPLEMENTARY THEORY
 
Catholic integral complementary theory rests on two theological foundations: The human person is created in the image and likeness of God, “a being at once corporeal and spiritual,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it, and that man is of a single nature—matter and spirit are united. “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the 'form' of the body.” Thus the Church holds that man is an embodied soul created in the image and likeness of God. 
 
 
Catholic hylomorphic anthropology and philosophy, then, stands against the Cartesian view that the mind is separate from the gendered body. Moreover, René Descartes' metaphysical claim that the locus of an individual's identity lies in the sexless mind, making the physical body superfluous, has bequeathed us much of the “gender fluidity” we see in our culture today. As significant, this Cartesian dualism gave rise to what Catholics call fractional complementarity (male and female are significantly different each providing a fraction of the whole) in some Protestant circles, or what is sometimes called “hierarchical complementarity,” a complementarity which is curbed by a one-sided submission—that of the woman to the man—which inserts a kind of polarity in the relationship giving prominence of the man over the woman, and opening the door to the sinful inclination of the man to dominate the woman. 
 
 
On the other side of the spectrum there is radical feminism which pushes for a unisex gender theory, and somewhere along this spectrum is egalitarianism which neglects and downplays the specific diversity between men and women—the thinking being: if the mind is sexless, and the male and female mind are equal, then why can't women be just like men?
 
 
The Catholic response, has been to reject all of the distortions of ontological complementarity of man and woman discussed above, for what is termed an integral complementarity. A complementarity which neither neglects the fundamental equality of dignity of man and woman, nor the natural created order, nor the significant differences between man and woman. Again, there is the Catholic both/and: Man and woman are fundamentally equal, there is a natural order of the husband-wife relationship, and there is significant diversity between them.
 
 
One of the issues Pope John Paul II takes up in his magnificent Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body is to delve into all the ramifications of Christ's words when He said: “From the beginning.” This helped and continues to help the Church think deeply about what God intended for the husband and wife relationship “from the beginning.” And to articulate well its integral complementarity. The Church understands the women's movement, there is something deeply wrong in the way women have been treated, and continue to be treated, the Church has said. The Fathers of the fourth century spoke out against this (see footnote 33 in Mulieris Dignitatem), and the Church today continues to speak out against the discrimination of women. This mistreatment is due to the sin of our first parents, the sin which fractured their communion—original sin. “Original justice [was] destroyed, the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination” (CCC 400). “Burdened by hereditary sinfulness, they bear within themselves the constant 'inclination to sin', the tendency to go against the moral order which corresponds to the rational nature and dignity of man and woman as persons” wrote Pope John Paul II. 
 
 
The consequences of man's sin, and the language which describes the future relationship between husband and wife, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen. 3:16), is a serious threat, especially for the woman, “since domination takes the place of 'being a sincere gift.'”  And “at the same time it also diminishes the true dignity of the man.” The Catholic interpretation of Gen. 3:16 (which is done with an eye toward Matthew 5: 27-28) is layered and complex, addressing shame, concupiscence, corruption of the consciousness of the unitive meaning of the body, the corruption of the spousal meaning of the body, and the insatiability of the union. I risk a distillation for our present purposes: man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self to the other. But the “unity of the two” was broken, man and woman are now obstructed by their deep interior shame and concupiscence from the deep spiritual and bodily union they were to have with one another. They are now “threatened by the insatiability of that union and unity, which does not cease to attract man and woman.” They aspire to what they had but are now obstructed by their concupiscence from attaining it. The woman experiences this insatiability for their union acutely, and the man dominates her. But since they are both plunged into the threefold concupiscence of 1 John 2:16—the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, they both exhibit this threefold concupiscence in their relationship with one another. 
 
 
Writing in Mulieris Dignitatem:
 
This "domination" indicates the disturbance and loss of the stability of that fundamental equality which the man and the woman possess in the "unity of the two": and this is especially to the disadvantage of the woman, whereas only the equality resulting from their dignity as persons can give to their mutual relationship the character of an authentic "communio personarum.”
 
 
Sin diminished man (as male and female), it darkened his intellect and weakened his will, but it did not destroy the image and likeness of God in the human being. Jesus Christ and his Gospel transforms the husband-wife relationship, setting them free to live according to His calling. 
 
 
However, as Weigel writes, “the liberation of women from these patterns of domination can never be a liberation against. It must be a liberation for, one that safeguards the distinctive vocation of women and men that results from what the Pope calls their 'personal originality.'” We see then that our understanding of freedom plays a crucial role in the response against injustice; it dictates our moral choices. Men and women are set free by Christ from the old curse. Both must ask what freedom is for. The Church embraces Thomas Aquinas's freedom for excellence, over and against William of Ockham's freedom of indifference. (This plays a crucial role in understanding complementarity see bibliography below for more on this.) As Pope John Paul II pushed for continued freedom for women, he nonetheless gives them a warning in Mulieris Dignitatem:
 
 
[E]ven the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words "He shall rule over you" (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the "masculinization" of women. In the name of liberation from male "domination", women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine "originality". There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not "reach fulfillment", but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness. It is indeed an enormous richness. 
 
 
 
The four principles of Catholic integral complementarity are: Equal dignity (Gen. 1:26), Significant difference (Gen. 1:27), Synergetic relation (Gen. 1:28, 2:24), and Intergenerational fruition (Gen. 5). I am not going to give an extended rationale for this categorization here; please see the bibliography at the end for further theological and philosophical support.
 
 
COMPLEMENTARITY CARRIES WITH IT RECIPROCITY
 
The Catholic Church understands Ephesians 5:22-33 within the context of the entire 5th chapter. This means “wives be subject to your husbands” is held in that Catholic both/and with other verses in Ephesians 5 and balanced with the rest of Scriptures, especially Jesus' treatment of women in the gospels. So it is never an either/or, and it is never separated from “be imitators of God...walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...walk as children of light...be filled with the Spirit...addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs...be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives be subject to your husbands... Husbands love your wives...let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
 
 
Complementarity, therefore, in the Catholic understanding, is never untethered from reciprocity. When Pope John Paul II analyzes this section of Scripture in his monumental Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body he writes:
 
What is at issue here is a relationship with two dimensions or on two levels: reciprocal and communitarian. One specifies and characterizes the other. The reciprocal relations of husband and wife must spring from their common relation with Christ. [This reciprocity is rooted in the “fear of Christ”] The author [he is referring to St. Paul] speaks about the mutual submission of the spouses, husband and wife, and in this way shows also how to understand the word he writes afterward about the submission of the wife to the husband. … This relationship is nevertheless no one-sided submission.... Husband and wife are, in fact, “subject to one another,” mutually subordinated to one another. The source of this reciprocal submission lies in Christian pietas and its expression is love. [Emphasis in the original]
 
 
Love excludes every kind of submission by which the wife would become a servant or slave of the husband, an object of one-sided submission. Love makes the husband simultaneously subject to the wife, and subject in this to the Lord himself, as the wife is to the husband. The community or unity that they should constitute because of marriage is realized through a reciprocal gift, which is also a mutual submission. Christ is the source and at the same time the model of that submission. [Emphasis in the original]
 
Patriarchy in the Scriptures is descriptive not prescriptive. A one-sided submission—as in “he will rule over you”—infects the “communion of persons” which lies at the very nature of marriage. Pope John Paul II writes, “marriage, in its deepest essence, emerges from the mystery of God's eternal love for man and humanity: from the salvific mystery that Christ's spousal love fulfills in time for the Church....marriage in its very essence stands Christ's spousal relationship with the Church.” The Church teaches that love is a self-gift, you love by giving yourself as a gift to the other. It is a false dichotomy—one which Pope John Paul II especially pushed against—to claim that in order to fight against the destruction of marriage, and the damage of the sexual revolution and radical feminism we must re-stress the husband-wife hierarchy with emphasis on the wife's submission. That was one of the problems which partially gave rise to modern radical feminism. See the work of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, Catholic philosopher Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M., and St. Edith Stein. Much could be said on that one point alone. But let us go on.
 
 
I understand there can be some misunderstanding here since St. Paul specifically says that Christ is the Head of the Church. Indeed the Church submits to Christ as her Head, because the Church is the Body, never the Head of Christ. Yet at the same time, one can say reciprocally, he submits to her through his self-sacrificial love. Christ came to serve the Church and give himself up for her. That is the reciprocity the Catholic Church teaches for husband and wife. The wife submits to her husband by respecting him and the husband reciprocally submits by his self-sacrificial service and love. See Pope Leo XIII's Arcanum (On Christian Marriage), Pope Pius XI's Casti Connubii (Chaste Marriage, On Christian Marriage) Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Women) for more on this topic.
 
 
And this brings us to the natural created order of husband and wife. The Church teaches that Adam was created before Eve. The marriage of our first parents, Adam and Eve, was corrupted after they sinned. Thus giving us the sinful patterns of abuse, domination, and objectivization. But this is precisely where supernatural grace comes in—grace perfects and elevates nature—and “transforms marriage into mutual self-giving and mutual submission,” as friend and Catholic philosopher Dr. Bryan Cross has put it. 
 
 
I would like to add one more point to this section and that is the submitting one to another never does away with the significant difference between the man and the woman in Catholic integral complementarity. Again it is not either/or, it is both/and. Husband and wife mutually give themselves as gift to the other, submit one to another out of love and fear of the Lord, their relationship is perfected by the grace of God sanctifying them, and they maintain their significant difference, they continue to be ontologically and metaphysically different.
 
 
DIVINE LIKENESS
 
During her 2000 year history the Church has been cautious about analogizing too much between the Holy Trinity and man and woman in marriage. After all, this is the same Church who gave the world the Nicene Creed (which it confesses every Sunday in its liturgy), the indefatigable Athanasius and the Athanasian Creed, and the ecumenical councils. Having fought many heresies to defend the Trinity, the Church has been circumspect in this area. The closest the Church has come to making such a comparison is Pope John Paul II's writing about the communion of love within the Holy Trinity.
 
From Mulieris Dignitatem:
 
[Regarding the truth of God's oneness and unity in the Old Testament] Within this fundamental truth about God the New Testament will reveal the inscrutable mystery of God's inner life. God, who allows himself to be known by human beings through Christ, is the unity of the Trinity: unity in communion. In this way new light is also thrown on man's image and likeness to God, spoken of in the Book of Genesis. The fact that man "created as man and woman" is the image of God means not only that each of them individually is like God, as a rational and free being. It also means that man and woman, created as a "unity of the two" in their common humanity, are called to live in a communion of love, and in this way to mirror in the world the communion of love that is in God, through which the Three Persons love each other in the intimate mystery of the one divine life. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God through the unity of the divinity, exist as persons through the inscrutable divine relationship. Only in this way can we understand the truth that God in himself is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16).
 
 
The image and likeness of God in man, created as man and woman (in the analogy that can be presumed between Creator and creature), thus also expresses the "unity of the two" in a common humanity. This "unity of the two", which is a sign of interpersonal communion, shows that the creation of man is also marked by a certain likeness to the divine communion ("communio"). This likeness is a quality of the personal being of both man and woman, and is also a call and a task.” 
 
 
So we see here that the Church doesn't start with human marriage relationship (human communio) and project back into the divine, rather the one analogy, so to speak, which can be safely made is that the divine communio is the prime communio. The Church does not make a direct link between man and God the Father, and between woman and one of the other members of the Holy Trinity. 
 
 
Pope John Paul II cautions regarding analogies to the Holy Trinity. He writes in Mulieris Dignitatem:
 
[T]he language of the Bible is sufficiently precise to indicate the limits of the "likeness", the limits of the "analogy". For biblical Revelation says that, while man's "likeness" to God is true, the "non-likeness" [Cf. Num 23:19; Hos 11:9; Is 40:18; 46:5; cf. also Fourth Lateran Council (DS 806)] which separates the whole of creation from the Creator is still more essentially true. Although man is created in God's likeness, God does not cease to be for him the one "who dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tim 6:16): he is the "Different One", by essence the "totally Other".
 
CONSEQUENCES OF INTEGRAL COMPLEMENTARITY
 
The description I have given above of Catholic integral complementarity is a simple sketch. Within the Church this doctrine is more complex—touching on and interconnected with the fact that marriage is a sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage, the Church's position on the dignity and sanctity of all human life (unborn, disabled, the aged, the poor, the incarcerated, etc.), celibacy, the vocation to religious life, Mary the mother of God, apostolic succession, the priesthood, and of course, the Church's teaching on the morally appropriate way to regulate birth.
 
 
I have described Catholic integral complementarity as it is promulgated by the Church, this does not mean that the Catholic Church is perfect or that it doesn't have its own progressive wing. Catholic integral complementarity has not become a slippery slope leading to woman priests, etc. Although some within the progressive wing did push for ordination of women, the Church has spoken definitively on this matter. For those interested please see Pope John Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone).
 
 
The Catholic Church keeps a glacial pace, working in 50 and 100 year increments, so she tends to be slow to respond sometimes, which in reality can be a good thing. Nevertheless, the Church is always reforming (semper ecclesia reformanda) but with continuity, never a rupture from the past. Again that both/and. Blessed John Henry Newman, well versed in the history of ecumenical councils, along with his work on the development of doctrine has helped, and will continue to help the Church grow more faithful to God's divine truth. “For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her,” Dei Verbum.
 
 
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you how your brethren in Christ in the Roman Catholic Church approach this subject. It is not my place nor my desire to involve myself in the current intra-Protestant discourse on complementarity and the doctrine of the Trinity. I will relay only one personal note here: In my ecclesiastical journey, I never experienced such respect as a woman as I have in the Roman Catholic Church and in the culture which she strives to build. I hope this essay has been helpful to the reader.  Peace to you in Christ Jesus.
 
 
 
Bibliography
 
Arcanum (Secret; On Christian Marriage) Pope Leo XIII; Casti Connubii (Chaste Marriage, On Christian Marriage) Pope Pius XI; Catechism of the Catholic Church © 1994; Dei Verbum (God's Word, Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation, a Vatican II document); Familiaris Consortio (On The Role Of The Christian Family In The Modern World) Pope John Paul II; Gaudium et spes (Joy and Hope, The Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, a Vatican II document); Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) Paul VI; Letter Of Pope John Paul II To Women Pope John Paul II; Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel; Lumen Gentium (The Light, Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, a Vatican II document); Man and Woman He Created Them: The Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II; Man-Woman Complementarity: The Catholic Inspiration by Sr. Prudence Allen, R.R.M; Mary, the Second Eve, by John Henry Newman; Morality: The Catholic View, by Servais Pinckaers, O.P.; Mulieris Dignitatem (On The Dignity And Vocation Of Women) Pope John Paul II; Mulieris Dignitatem Twenty Years Later: An Overview of the Document and Challenges by Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M.; Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone) Pope John Paul II; Promise and Challenge: Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity, And The Church edited by Mary Rice Hasson; Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer) Pope John Paul II; The Collected Works of Edith Stein, by Edith Stein translated by Freda Mary Oben, Ph.D.; The Sign of the Woman, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger; To The Disciple He Said, 'Behold Your Mother' Pope John Paul II General Audience of Wednesday, 23 April 1997;  Witness To Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel; Women Priests? A Marian Church in a fatherless and motherless culture by Hans Urs von Balthasar.
 
Luma Simms writes on culture, family, philosophy, politics, religion, and on the life and thought of immigrants. Her work has appeared at Crisis Magazine, First Things Magazine, Public Discourse, and The Federalist. She is the author of Gospel Amnesia: Forgetting the Goodness of the News. Her educational background includes a B.S. in physics from California State Polytechnic University Pomona. She studied law at Chapman University School of Law before leaving to become an at-home-mom. At Chapman Law, Luma, was research assistant to Dr. John C. Eastman, which included work for The Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. She also clerked for Superior Court Judge James P. Gray of Orange County, California. Luma lives in Arizona with her husband and five children.