Puritan Board Sophomore
I’m seeing a strong foundation for a good review. You should have at it...
A few thoughts. And I may be offering really ignorant views about one or more of these since I've never really read much specifically complementarian stuff.
1. Several years ago, after reading some material by a complementarian woman who has been involved with CBMW from the start, I was struck by the extent to which there was agreement with second wave feminism. I'd have to go back and try to find it again, but that was my takeaway, for what it's worth. My understanding is that the word "complementarian" was coined because there was no suitable substitute for patriarchy. And what they're selling (or at least some of them) isn't patriarchy. Some of the women may oppose the classic "have it all" feminist mentality in the sense that you must strive for that, but do they oppose the idea that a particular woman might want to have it all? To me, those who are into things like quiverfull, homeschooling, and family-integrated churches have gone beyond comp into patriarchy since those are all rather traditional things. Complementarianism is a late 20th Century thing that wants to keep women out of the pulpit on the basis of a few Bible verses but which doesn't want to appear to be too radical and out of step with society otherwise. (I suppose ESS is a way of trying to get beyond the proof texting.)
2. Is ESS really essential to CBMW's efforts? Hasn't that only come to the fore in recent years? Wasn't Ligon Duncan the head of CBMW about 10-15 years ago? Was it being pushed back then? (I'm assuming he's against it.)
3. I don't see how what the likes of Byrd (and maybe even Pruitt, although it has been a few years since I've followed them closely, and he has said he doesn't agree with her on everything, but I'm not sure if he's said where they actually disagree) aren't engaging in what amounts to biblicism with their stance against women in ministry. That despite the fact that they would probably decry biblicism elsewhere, especially when it is Baptists and dispensationalists harping on a few proof texts. Practically everything else has been conceded to the feminists. (He says he's against androgyny when it comes to clothing or "outward adornment." So I guess there's that. Although what he (and most of us) consider to be gender appropriate clothing is probably a broader thing than it was in the past.) Basically, what it seems to boil down to for "thin complementarians" is that gender roles or whatever you want to call it pertain to church and home and practically nowhere else. It seems that there is a refusal to argue from natural law or the natural order and that their case is based on maybe a couple of Bible verses that refer to things like "husband of one wife" along with their confession, maybe. Is Mrs. Byrd against "house husbands?" Is Rev. Pruitt?
I can tell you that most people look at women in boardrooms, in Governor's mansions (remember the enthusiasm for Palin?), and maybe even in the White House one day soon and they will think that the idea of a man ruling the household and the church is, at best, a holdover from a bygone age and one that needs to end. Are we to believe that a woman President is going to submit to her husband in the household? I suspect that in the end it will be patriarchy or "thick comp" on one side and various shades of egalitarianism on the other.
I have my doubts that "thin complementarianism" will exist in another generation. All of the "action" is with various charismatic and pentecostal churches these days. We're told that everybody else is plateaued or declining. And with few exceptions, charismatic and pentecostal churches are egal. (I'm not sure that it matters that at least some of them are for women preachers based on "prophetic" gifting that shouldn't be quenched rather than explicitly feminist views.) Will the Southern Baptists be far behind now that Beth Moore is openly cheerleading for women pastors? It seems to me that either there will be a split, or they will get "woke" on this issue. Those kinds of women's classes have probably served as a sort of safety valve that has kept women from demanding women pastors. For a lot of people, on a practical level, that kind of study is more important than public worship is. What would happen in many of the churches if the pastor were to come in and give lessons instead?
4. Remember when women in combat was an issue in the early 1990s? Are many people even bothered by that anymore? And a lot of girls "doing everything the boys can do" is pushed by the fathers.
5. If we're going to judge a book by its cover, I'd think that few people who are anywhere close to being confessionally Reformed (or even just conservative) are going to be cheered by some of the endorsements for "Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" that are prominently displayed on Amazon. McKnight and Beaty are feminists. I'm not sure about the other two, but the people she is trying to reach (presumably, people in NAPARC type churches and conservative evangelicals in general, such as Southern Baptists) may not get fired up about them either.
6. Would those who ignited the ESS controversy a few years ago had pursued the controversy to the extent that they did if they didn't also disagree with other things that CBMW teaches?
7. I've never been a John Piper fan. And I think he's gotten it really wrong with some pronouncements and opinions through the years. But I can appreciate him wrestling with the issues and taking some heat rather than just pointing at a handful of Bible verses as justification for keeping women out of the pulpit and living like a feminist otherwise.