Saturday, May 12, 2012

Excerpts from Driscoll sermon on 1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2:11-15, 3:2
part 5 of 1 Timiothy
Pastor Mark Driscoll, February 1, 2004

He [Paul] goes on, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man; she must be silent." he continues, not with a cultural argument. Some people say, "Well, that's just cultural. That was old school." He goes really old school. He goes all the way back to Adam. He roots this, not in culture. Some people will say, "Well, that was their culture, this is ours. Things are different now, because we're in a different culture," and again, culture's not the authority, creation is. This is a matter of creation. Because it's creation, it's binding and enduring over all cultures. That's why women in all cultures still have painful childbirths. It's cross-culturally binding. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve." When we read that, we say, "What does that mean? He was made first." It's important. With the culture that the concept of the first born was a huge issue, it's even a title given to the Lord Jesus. The first born had responsibility for the rest of the family. They had primary responsibility. God made Adam first, established him as head, as leader, as first, and then after him came Eve and he was responsible for creation, he was responsible for the woman. So that society--if any of you from an eastern, a far eastern culture, the oldest child has responsibility for the rest of the children. Here, Adam was made first. He's got responsibility for the rest of his family. He was made first. God made him first for a reason.

And "Adam was not the one deceived." He went into it eyes wide open. "It was teh woman who was deceived and became a sinner." Now this verse--if the other one didn't get you, this one will. We won't have near the parking troubles we had this week next week. We'll have all kinds of space. Next week, we'll be meeting in a phone booth at the 7-Eleven around the corner. This verse says that Eve was duped. She was deceived. 2 Corinthians 11, Paul says, my fear is that jsut as Satan, through his craftiness, deceived Eve, he's gonna deceive you too. Now through the history of the church, this--the theologians have always taken this to mean that women are more gullible. A lot of you say, "I'm not!" Well how would you know? Just think about it. Chrysostom, Erasmus, Gill, Knox, Luther, Wesley, Calvin--they all believed--they all taught--Aquinas--they all taught that this verse was teaching that women, when it comes to the highest authority of leadership in the church, that they will be more gullible. Meditate on it. 

This sermon is a bit more than eight years old but looking back on it this Mother's Day weekend it strikes me that the approach seems incomplete. That Adam was made first and from that is considered to have headship is not a new idea and Driscoll's articulate this idea a few times.

But a generalization about the gullibility of women backed up by name-dropping a few famous theologians isn't the same as explicating a text.  The trouble is, further, that there are plenty of stories within the scriptures where the man was more gullible or foolish in some way than his wife, who demonstrated a greater capacity for shrewdness. I'll touch later upon an ambivalent discussion of wisdom or craftiness but first I want to take a tour through a few case studies.

Abram passed his wife off as his sister twice to avoid getting killed by a guy who wanted to take Sarah as his wife.  Who came up with the plan for Abram to have sex with Hagar and thus secure an heir? Sarah.  Sarah went along with Abram's plans but also came up with her own plan. Considering how long the promise went without her own son Isaac being born Sarah was coming up with the best plan she could for the time.

Let's consider that it was Rebekah and not Isaac who heard that Jacob would be the one who received the blessing and promise rather than Esau and this despite Esau being the technical firstborn and his father's favorite.  Rebekah helped Jacob receive the blessing from Isaac by taking advantage of Isaac's blindness.  Isaac comes across as blind at more than one level and possibly a bit hard of hearing and not very swift on the uptake. Then in a fine dramatic irony Jacob himself is duped by his double-crossing uncle Laban.  Moving on a bit Zipporah prevented Moses from dying at the hands of the Lord because Moses was not circumcised. Naomi shrewdly understood how to guide and observe the relationship between Ruth and Boaz to secure the financial and social standing of what was left of Elimelech's household. Deborah advised an important battle during the period of the judges.

When the angel of the Lord visited Samson's parents he came to Samson's mother.  When the angel appeared again and Samson's father asked what kind of life the boy should live the angel instructed the man to listen to what the angel had told the wife. Abigail interceded to prevent David from killing the household of Nabal and shedding blood.  Skipping ahead quite a few stories when Josiah's reform movement was beginning the court consulted Huldah.  Suffice it to say there are more than just a handful of stories in which women proved to be wiser and more considerate of the Lord than the men in their lives. If women were considered to be more gullible in some general sense it was not unpacked all that well how and why this inference was made.

As name-dropping go Driscoll felt free to mention Luther and Calvin as being right (implicitly) about the gullibility of women while dropping them like hot potatoes on infant baptism. The trouble is that even if it were true all these dead theologians agreed on one subject this would not preclude a man like Driscoll himself from being gullible, lacking discernment, and being too easily impressed by credentials and titles that he should ignore.

"But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." Now, some of you read that and you go, "What, if I have a baby I get to go to heaven?" No, it's not quite that easy.  Takes a little more than that. You become a Christian through faith. Trusting in the Lord Jesus, his death, burial, resurrection for your sin. Your faith works itself out with love. You love God and your neighbor. Holiness,  you hate sin and change your life. Propriety, you live your life for Christ. That's how you're saved. Justified. Brought into relationship with God. Your sanctification, ladies, your process of growing in your relationship with God is in large part done through childbearing. Accepting that God has created you to be a mother.  It's interesting, there's one thing that men can do that women can't do. That's be an elder. There's one thing that women can do that men can't do and that's to bear children. Each of us has something that is unique and special that God has given us, and in our culture we hear that and we go, "What kind of gift is having children?"  ... 

Here we might find one of the better distillations of the idea of motherhood as a kind of sanctifying sacrament, for want of a better term. But what about those women who never marry? What about those who marry but are infertile? What about those who become widows having not borne children? If the way a woman's sanctification is in large part worked out is through childbearing

Now I don't doubt there will be plenty of other people who can look at the above paragraph and consider that there are myriad practical difficulties with the claim that a woman's sanctification is in large part done through childbearing.  There are actually two different levels of problems with this at a theoretical level.  Who is doing this sanctification?  Is it God? Is it the woman? Is it both? Is it both God and the childbearing woman plus the children? I don't recall how many kids Mark and Grace had at this point but the sheer theoretical nature of this abstraction in the above paragraph now seems hard to miss.  Even if one could settle for certain which agents are involved in what way in sanctifying a  woman who has had children the practical question even at that time would be "What about unmarried women?" Another would be "What about married women who can't have children?" If you haven't heard or read through the above sermon there's no practical application in it.  It's basically just a string of assertions where childbearing and sanctification go.  Now, to be sure, Driscoll would go on at various points to "unpack" these ideas in later sermons but the core puzzle has remained largely the same.

Now obviously I linked to Wendy's observation that it is sentimentalism that places wifehood and motherhood as the greatest goods a Christian woman can pursue earlier this weekend.  I'm going to out on a limb and suggest that (since we both were, at one point, immersed in Martian culture) that this may be an example of a kind of sentimentalism. Driscoll wouldn't seem like the kind of person to bask in such sorts of sentimentality at first but it would seem that he's got a stronger propensity to it than some might give him credit for.  Now children are a blessing from the Lord and it's good to raise children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.  It's just that, to borrow an observation Paul made to another church about semi-related topics, not everyone has this gift and in particular not all women.

Since this is Mother's day weekend and all and I'm an unmarried man I figured I'd not just link to Wendy's observation that motherhood is not, in fact, the greatest good a Christian woman can pursue, but that there's a kind of sentimentalism associated with Christian motherhood that forgets that the unmarried woman, let alone the unmarried man, don't have those same sorts of experiential "tools of sanctification". I have over the last twenty some years heard people say "Boy, you really find out how selfish you are once you get married."  This often turns into "Boy, you really find out how selfish you are once you become a parent." Oh that's wonderful!  Who wouldn't want to find out in ever-increasing waves how joyful it is to discover how selfish you really are? ;-)

Well, for all you moms who have found out, as the Christianese verbiage puts it, how selfish you are then I guess thanks for being "selfish" enough to spawn some of us who blog about Mother's day.

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