I really wasn’t planning to make a full response to the boys over at that blog that shall remain nameless. My general approach with them is “don’t feed the trolls.” However an astute reader, Kassandra, has written an impressive reply that addresses the brothers and their concerns with my post on Biblical Patriarchy. Here is her reply in full, posted here with her permission.
Interesting post from Bayly. Completely unresponsive to yours, of course, but the patriarchy set are often like old-fashioned communists. In response to any argument as to the flaws in their theory and its unpleasant consequences, they’ll usually settle for calling you a capitalist, short-hand for self-deluded, power-hungry oppressors of mankind. I find this sort of response unpersuasive, unhelpful, and irritating.
I first got bogged down in Bayly’s spurious “I met this minor theologian that you quoted in passing as making a point with which you agreed, and he was a feminist.” Ugh. No one cares what this fellow we’ve never heard of said at dinner…with nuns (Why mention the nuns? As they say, if there’s a nun over the fireplace in the first act…). Why didn’t Bayly address Bloesch’s thought? He was cited for his idea, not as someone we can all agree is an authority. So what if he’s a feminist? Even a feminist might stumble upon a good idea every once in awhile, like a blind pig. What Bloesch says appears to be true, feminist or not. But labels, and their misuse, are the sin qua non of Bayly’s post.
Bloesch’s claim is pretty modest–some men are tyrants that leave their families in “servile dependence and submission.” A claim that humans abuse power seems modest enough. No one who bothered to read a bit of Proverbs and a minor prophet or two could seriously claim that abuse of the people one has power over is not wrong. It is therefore perplexing that instead of telling us why the patriarchy movement is not subject to such abuse, or no more subject to abuse than usual, Bayly settles for labeling everyone involved a feminist, as if that settles the question.
On this point, I have bad news for Bayly. Outside the patriarchy movement, those of us who think the gals shouldn’t be church officers and should be submissive to their own husbands are pretty much never referred to as feminists. By anybody. Especially actual feminists. Slapping a label on someone that doesn’t suit is the essence of Bayly’s entire post.
Interestingly, Bayly labels Sproul Jr. and Doug Wilson complementarians, while you, with your more generally accepted version of complementarianism, must be a feminist. While I’m sure both chaps claim to be complementarians, they are also leading lights of patriarchy. If they were totally in the camp with the rest of us lesser complementarians, they wouldn’t have to have a separate name. Which they gave themselves. This “have my cake, eat my cake” predilection is also something FV is predisposed to. Teaching something rather different while insisting on keeping the old label is not just confusing, it can be fraudulent. Slapping a Gucci label on a Walmart handbag doesn’t make it a Gucci bag.
I particularly enjoyed Bayly’s nonsense about your being “inconsistent” because you recognize some authority relationships as valid and others as invalid claims to authority unsupported in Scripture. To make this point, he grossly mischaracterizes your argument as one that implies inequality any time an authority relationship exists. This is rather like saying that because I believe I have a duty to submit to the President of the United States that I also have a duty to submit to the local mob boss. Not everyone who claims authority claims it validly. False claims of authority, because they cannot be claimed on the basis of Scripture, are often based on vague references to nature and inherent inequality. Valid claims of authority don’t need the trappings of inequality because they are supported by the text.
If Bayly believes the claims of patriarchy as to all male authority in civil society are valid, he needs to support the claim, not just attack your Reformed bona fides. Again, using labels in a way no one else seems to use them, he appears to imply that you can’t be Reformed unless you agree with Knox and Calvin about everything. The Reformed Baptists would be surprised. Generally, when the rest of us refer to the Reformation, we’re predominantly talking about the radical shift in soteriology and ecclesiology of the period, not haircut regulations (seriously) and not theories on government (in which the Reformers were much-surpassed by their successors a century or two on).
Support for patriarchy’s claims about civil authority would preferably come from Scripture, not the Reformers (medieval theocratic government models haven’t aged well, even the Protestant ones). I’m afraid Knox and Calvin, impressive beards aside, are not our Apostles (or popes). Reformers are not infallible, not sinless, not always right. Luther, also a Reformer with a capital R, said some downright vicious things about, and advocated some downright vicious actions against, Jews. Take from the Reformers what is good, what stands the test of Scripture, or of time and prudence if Scripture is not implicated, and leave behind the wicked, the culturally dictated, and the downright silly (haircut regulation falls squarely in this category).
The most disturbing thing over at Bayly’s blog, though, was not his silly post about how disagreeing with him (or Doug Wilson) makes you a feminist. Far more disturbing was the January 19 post, where he felt the need to point out that women are, in fact, moral agents…twice. In what sort of subculture is this a point worth making and not just assumed without discussion? Perhaps the kind that treats women as less than fully human.