Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been provoked by something on Twitter recently and tempted to respond with my own provocative tweet. I’m trying to do less of that. While there used to be lamentations that too many people can write whatever they want on a blog post and, besides, people aren’t reading enough books, I enjoyed writing and reading blogs as a sort of public journaling. This is now being replaced by tweets and tweet threads. If thoughts were being condensed by blog-conscious word counts before, they are now further reduced to accommodate Twitter character limits. All we get is the punch line.

As tempted as I am to just throw out my own punch lines, I do want real conversation on some of these big, hot button issues battled out on Twitter. So, while I have been developing my thoughts on men and women and the church through some of my books, for the in between I’d rather think out loud in blog format than subtweets and punch line responses.

And there’s been a lot to respond to. But this week I saw this tweet going around, both positively and negatively shared, that is representative of many others I’ve passed by:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

My punchline thought was, isn’t this the same kind of thinking perpetuated by the transgender movement? Isn’t the whole idea that men could be something other than men, and vice versa, the new, radical thinking of the sexual revolution? Is there a biological part of me that has a vagina and makes me a woman that’s different than my soul and psyche, which needs to make sure it acts like a woman? And what is it that I need to do as a woman to be a woman?

Now, I agree with CBMW that there are distinctions and differences between men and women. And we share some moral values. But CBMW has capitalized on this kind of language, using a word like “role,” which is a theater term meaning “playing a part,” to refer to performed ontological differences between men and women. To be a woman, I must be a certain way, play a certain role. So, when I see the president of CBMW tweeting a line from Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood about men needing to be men and women needing to be women, I know what it means. The definition is provided and elaborated on in the book:

AT THE HEART OF MATURE MASCULINITY IS A SENSE OF BENEVOLENT RESPONSIBILITY TO LEAD, PROVIDE FOR AND PROTECT WOMEN IN WAYS APPROPRIATE TO A MAN’S DIFFERING RELATIONSHIPS.

AT THE HEART OF MATURE FEMININITY IS A FREEING DISPOSITION TO AFFIRM, RECEIVE AND NURTURE STRENGTH AND LEADERSHIP FROM WORTHY MEN IN WAYS APPROPRIATE TO A WOMAN’S DIFFERING RELATIONSHIPS.

We see echoes of CBMW’s teaching of the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ontological “roles” in the Trinity) here in its application for gender roles: men’s roles are active and potent—authoritarian. Women’s are parasitic and subservient. The heart of femininity merely means being masculinity affirmers. I wonder, where is the feminine? What distinct contribution does woman have?

As discussions on metaphysics and trinitarian theology are making a comeback, we also need to retrieve the essential, hylomorphic understanding of the body and soul that recognizes, as Sister Prudence Allen puts it, “the human being as a soul/body composite identity.” There are only two ways to image God as human beings: as male and as female. I think CBMW agrees with this, but their language and teaching on manhood and womanhood betrays them. There aren’t half-men, clueless as to how to earn their man card. There aren’t biologically identifiable women with male souls. We don’t need to force our sexual distinctions under an artificial ontological framework of authority and submission or under cultural stereotypes. I don’t have to act like a woman—I am a woman in whatever I do. We don’t need “masculine males” and “feminine females” as RBMW tells us. God has already created us as men and women, and he has also created us as unique persons. Let’s talk about the meaningfulness of that.

And so this way of thinking makes me very cautious to join in using CBMW’s language to lead the way in talking about the serious issues the church needs to address regarding sexuality. While I might share some of the same concerns as them, I don’t align with CBMW’s teaching on men and women. I’m also still waiting for them to retract their teaching of ESS and their application of trinitarian “roles” for men to be men and women to be women. Our “sexuate installation” (as Julián Marías calls it) as men and women should move us toward communion of persons, where we are not actualized by what roles we play, but in fostering a mutual knowledge of one another which results in dynamic, fruitful reciprocity through the giving of ourselves through our differences. But there is no room for this in CBMW’s definitions of “mature” masculinity and femininity. There’s no dynamism because it’s all about male power, male say-so, and male agency. Complementarianism only boils down to who’s in charge.

I agree that we need to talk about what is meaningful about being men and women. Ironically, I think CBMW’s teaching on this is too thin to be called complementarian. If there is no reciprocity of voices, where’s the complementarity? I hope to reveal something much thicker in book form soon!

*Originally published on June 21, 2019.

One thought on “When Complementarians Use the Same Language of the Transgender Movement

  1. Bill Everson says:

    There is no place for honest discussion in the church today, on any topic. Men are supposed to be leaders first and foremost. a billion chiefs and zero indians… all pounding their chests and dancing to the same drum beats. ‘are you a LEADER’–then you’re a real man… are you PROTECTING your family from that EVIL WORLD OUT THERE, then you’re a real man out there. Forget what Jesus said about the radical difference between HIS kingdom, which is an ETERNAL one, that is focussed on ETERNAL matters, not temporal ones-those are the ones HE PROMISED to take care of when we focus on the ETERNAL ones.. I left out one-‘provide for’–that’s really the most important one that is where most men are taught to focus their primary effort in LIFE; on providing ALL THE MATERIAL COMFORTS available in the world to your family; if you don’t then you’re a failure. so MOST MEN focus on simply ‘making the most money they can’ within the limit of what they began doing with NO GUIDANCE from the church about any aspects of the day to day work experience that FEW ‘pastors’ have ANY experience with. They don’t talk about day to day life, because their lives are NOTHING LIKE the lives of other men… and the meaning of the word ‘pastor’ is a purely cultural one that bears NO resemblance to the biblical word ‘shepherd’. Ask yourself what a pastor does… and list the ‘roles and responsibilities’. Then read Hebrews 13:18.. and ask what GOD describes what is THE priority of a ‘shepherd’ in HIS Kingdom?

    the whole premise of complementarianism is that what our WORLD-our CULTURE teaches-or taught, in the generation that fought a world war, sacrificing everything else for survival against a tyrant; men came home to a country that had taken resources from daily life so that the nation and world could SURVIVE to a nation that had core ‘supply chain issues’ across the board; not enough JOBS for all the veterans, not enough HOMES, or vehicles. So a NEW American dream was born, and that generation took the concerted effort that was required for survival during the War to end all wars, that conquered an evil tyrant (actually a few), and put that effort into the focus on ‘material things’ that was necessary to provide the essentials-homes, JOBS, transportation, CHILDREN-men being away meant fewer children were born during the war, TOO… so the NEW AMERICAN DREAM became VERY MATERIAL CENTERED. And RIGHTLY SO, but only for a SEASON.

    but it became the PERMEATING MINDSET of our WHOLE CULTURE…the engagement of women in EVERY vocation EXCEPT SOLDIERING–that was NECESSARY for survival, that showed that the supposed INHERENT DIFFERENCES in what men and women could DO-was FORGOTTEN, and a return to the CULTURAL TRADITIONAL view that was historically VERY RECENT, in a world that had changed radically from a dominant agricultural model, to a new ‘post industrial revolution’ one, where ‘survival’ occupied the whole family’s focus, from sunrise to sunset, to one where the new efficiency of production, brought a different life altogether as the normative.

    This is OUR HISTORY in America; and a fairly recent one; that is almost forgotten in less than 100 years; we still have a handful of veterans from that war around, but they are the youngest ones who enlisted in the later years of the war, and those 18 year olds born in the late 20’s are nearing 100 years old or older, and there aren’t many of them.

    Complementarianism FILLED A VACUUM in our theology–because those who stand in the pulpits in our nation, were NOT SPEAKING about the LIFE that MOST AMERICANS are living, in any way that even OFFERED GUIDANCE to men and women, about what God’s Word SAYS about how we define what is most important as we wake in the morning and set about determining how to walk with God, day to day.

    We’re told to ‘read our bibles and pray’, and at best, given some MORALISTIC, even LEGALISTIC advice-that has made evangelicals seem to be MORE LIKE THE JUDGEMENTAL PHARISEES that the GOD WHO BECAME FLESH and walked among us speaking the GOSPEL OF LOVE in DAILY LIFE to HURTING PEOPLE.

    the church TODAY is NOT KNOWN as an institution that CARES FOR THE POOR or HELPS THE SICK, or MINISTERS TO THE CAPTIVES or FREES THE OPPRESSED.

    what ARE evangelicals known for? Standing and SHOUTING at the EVIL WORLD about HOW EVIL THEY ARE…

    Not AMBASSADORS given a message of RECONCILATION to a world that is HOSTILE TO GOD.

    When someone is HOSTILE to someone you LOVE, and your goal is to be an ‘ambassador of reconciliation’, the LAST THING YOU DO is INSTRUCT PEOPLE ABOUT THE SIN OF EMPATHY….

    When GOD brings a PANDEMIC on the world, a JUDGEMENT meant to OPEN OUR EYES as HIS CHURCH-why has NO ONE said-LOOK-the PEOPLE MOST IMPACTED are those MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR WORLD.

    WE, GOD”S PEOPLE are NOT MINISTERING to the PEOPLE JESUS CAME TO SAVE, it is the VULNERABLE and the WEAK in our world TO WHOM WE ARE SENT WITH THE LOVE OF GOD.

    but we are so damnably seeking POSITION AND POWER IN THIS WORLD, that OUR GOAL is NOT AT ALL to proclaim the GOOD NEWS that the MESSIAH has come to REIGN OVER AN ETERNAL KINGDOM in RIGHTEOUSNESS, JUSTICE and LOVINGKINDNESS.

    The WORLD puts the CHURCH to shame, taking up the mantel GOD GAVE US…

    ONCE A YEAR we think about the poor-during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we donate food.

    what did we do when the poor were in miles long food lines during the pandemic-we were in the suburbs were you could have food delivered from an abundance of stores ready to deliver to the comfortable, upper middle classes who live in the suburbs. but there were food deserts in our cities and then pharmacy deserts… when the vaccines became available.

    the elderly took the largest toll-‘honor your father and your mother’, the first command with promise-NATIONALLY VIOLATED… think about that for OUR future, and take heed, we’ve been warned…

    the PRIORITIEs inherent in COMPLEMENTARIANISM are NOT AT ALL BIBLICAL.

    what ARE our priorites; Jesus said it SIMPLY. ‘Love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength’, and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.

    the ROLES of men as defined by complementarians have defined have NOTHING TO DO with LOVE of EITHER the God of the Bible, or any neighbor, including those in our own families…

    And other ‘roles’ of men that are STRICTLY CULTURAL, are voiced as well.

    JESUS came to bring us LIFE. HE ALONE is the WAY to walk, the TRUTH to walk in and the LIFE to pursue.

    What JESUS DID, that we are shown in ALL FOUR GOSPELS, is NOT at ALL a ‘man LEADING, PROTECTING and PROVIDING.’

    JESUS is the PERSON we are called to follow, as MEN AND WOMEN, together. the COMPLEMENTARIAN ROLES in NO WAY show us JESUS… (maybe that’s what I should have started with).

    But my goal was simply to say-“HEY, THINK A MINUTE about our OWN RECENT HISTORY-complementarianism is ROOTED IN THE WORLD’s VIEWS-from OUR RECENT HISTORY.

    And besides, our WALK IN LIFE WITH GOD is NOT DEFINED by the ‘tradition’ that MAKES SENSE AND MAKES US FEEL COMFORTABLE because it’s ‘what our RECENT ancestors-only ONE maybe TWO generations back, seen through ROSY COLORED GLASSES TO BOOT-did.

    if we consider what REAL tradition was, where men and women worked from sunup to sundown to SIMPLY PROVIDE ENOUGH FOOD TO SURVIVE ON, that tradition, while it might be necessary to living, did not define the FOCUS of living.

    And we’re WARNED that when TRADITION becomes a substitute for BIBLICAL TEACHING, we re FOLLOWING THE PHARISEES, not JESUS.

    what does JESUS define as our priorities in CONTRAST to the ‘tradition of the Pharisees’ that seems to be DOMINANT among evangelicals, today-the CRITICISM of OTHERS in a HARSH JUDGEMENTALISM that is NOTHING LIKE the CALL OF GOD to be AMBASSADORS?

    Here is what Jesus said to them, rather harshly, I might add:

    23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:23-24

    2 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places. 44 Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.”
    45 One of the lawyers *said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.” 46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Luke 11:42-47

    Both passages are in a larger context.

    How do we love our neighbor-Jesus tells us simply-don’t neglect the ‘weighter provisions of the law’-know what God’s Word TEACHES. in the KINGDOM we now inhabit, the kingdom JESUS reigns over, HE reigns in JUSTICE, MERCY and faithfulness, or in Luke, in ‘justice and the love of God’.

    JUSTICE matters to GOD in the NEW KINGDOM Jesus established by HIS DEATH, the shedding of HIS Blood for OUR sin, and through His Resurrection that gives us NEW LIFE in HIM.

    Walk through Matthew and LOOK at the teachings of Jesus about HIS KINGDOM over which HE NOW REIGNS in in which WE are not CITIZENS.

    We are citizens of heaven, NOW!

    WOW!

    What does it mean to be transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into teh Kingdom of HIS GLORIOUS LIGHT, given the Holy Spirit to INDWELL us and TEACH US about JESUS, applying the WORD He inspired to enable us to KNOW the LIVING WORD of God and walk in HIS Ways.

    LOOK AT the actual LIFE OF JESUS and ask “What did JESUS engage in that showed GOD”S LOVE to a hurting world?

    WE are called to be ambassadors who SHOW GOD”S LOVE to the SAME HURTING WORLD that JESUS came to SAVE!

    How do we walk in love-JESUS SHOWED US.

    Is that what ‘complementarianism even TALKS ABOUT? How SILLY to think that LEADING, RULING AND PROVIDING for Your FAMILY, has anythign to do with PROCLAIMING JESUS to the world around us..

    LOOK AT ME–how GREAT I’m DOING fulfililng this UNBIBLICAL MANDATE–and be drawn to JESUS.

    NO, NO NO! looke at JESUS, i’m following Him-see HIS LOVE–in me, becuse that’s what I’m called to, a walk of LOVE as HE enables me to love YOU.

    what do ‘roles’ have to do with our WALK of LOVE in the power of God’s indwelling Spirit?

    READ what the GOSPELS teach. Look at PAUL and HIS EXAMPLE. a WIDOWER is the PRIMARY example we’re given of HOW TO BE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS.

    How can we say that ANY of the three roles of ‘complementarianism’ have ANYTHING to do with following Jesus when a WIDOWER is our MODEL of how to be a follower of Jesus?!

    and Paul does NOTHING that is ‘masculine’; Paul does NOTHING that EITHER a man or a woman can FOLLOW HIM in doing.

    If MASCULINITY requires walking in the THREE ROLES that ‘define biblical masculinity’, then WHY did PAUL say it would be BETTER to be SINGLE, and that SINGLENESS is a GIFT enabling a FOLLOWER to more fully engage in following JESUS?

    a WIDOWER is OUR PRIMARY EXAMPLE of Following JESUS.

    Complementarianism cannot even be CONSIDERED as a theology relevant to those who are called to follow JESUS.

    We need another reformation; indeed. One that returns us to looking at JESUS to define what it means to be a true follower. and the LIFE OF JESUS in ALL FOUR GOSPELS, is there for ALL OF US to see, learn from, and FOLLOW as those who are called to be HIS FOLLOWERS..

    Aimee, thanks for letting God use you by using your gifts, and helping me see in an area where I did not see clearly… but see Jesus in the Light we are given in God’s Word, to see.

    Cultural blinders-(evangelical culture) limited what I saw.

    God used you in a major way to help me gain clarity and that continues-I have referenced Paul as our primary example in God’s Word, of what a FOLLOWER of Jesus looks like, biblically. JESUS, of course, is shown to us as THE example of how to FOLLOW Him.

    Neither JESUS nor PAUL fulfill ANY of the three ‘masculine’ roles complementarians define.

    Jesus OBVIOUSLY did not-he had NO earthly wife, though we are HIS BRIDE.

    But He is bride to both men and women, and no differently.

    He is our example to see and follow; yet in complementarianism-where do we even SEE Jesus lifted up as our PRIMARY example of how to WALK IN LOVE as God abides in us, and we in Him?

    What Jesus ENGAGED IN, gives us a definition of what THE ONLY PERFECT MAN engaged in, in life.

    and it was NOT ‘providing’; in STARK CONTRAST to ‘LEAD (in authoritarian manner, if you actually LOOK at how ‘complementarians’ lead) Jesus defined that in HIS KINGDOM, leaders don’t even ‘exercise authority’ over others-HIS WORDS… ‘provide’-JESUS provides for us-when we ‘seek first HIS KINGDOM and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS’… another passage to spend some time in that I won’t go into here.

    Jesus said a LOT about HIS KINGDOM and HIS REIGN in a KINGDOM NOT OF THIS WORLD.

    that ‘not of this world’ says a LOT to the ‘dominion’ movement and its many variants in evangelicalism today. But so does our call to serve in the BIBLICAL role as ‘ambassadors’ as both men AND women, today.

    Read your post today; came back to this one, which I had not read. I am more a ‘blog’ responder than a tweeter; I can’t convey in a tweet what I’ve just covered touched on at a basic level here.

    these things require a venue of frank and honest discussion with our bibles open and our hearts submissive to God’s Spirit as our teacher, to us in community, as each of us contributes what God has gifted us to bring to the building up of the Body, together.

    We need to ‘meditate’ on God’s Word, and engage in bringing the bible into our lives; in a communal way, that we’ve seemed to have forgotten how to do. we live in a world that isn’t easy to navigate, where there are obstacles, even land mines, everywhere. where people around us are badly hurting, and too many in our churches are struggling with hard things, alone..

    May God open our eyes and may we seek His Face, and may God truly REVIVE HIS CHURCH for HIS GLORY. May God grant ME to see Him bring Revival, before I am taken home.

    If He wills to do so. HE will revive His Church.

    but He is patient; He will wait for a new generation to be born, if this one remains stubborn in its sin.

    His Will is never thwarted. He is eternal; the span of a generation or two-or four hundred years, is but a metaphorical blink of the eye to God…

    Thanks for providing a place to ‘think out loud’ where more than a tweet is allowed. Doing so helped me see things more clearly.

    Bill Everson

    Bill Everson

    Like

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