Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Aimee Byrd)

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Reformed Covenanter, Jan 16, 2020.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I hope that I am mistaken, but I do not think what is being advocated here is going to end well. It seems to be part of a push towards increasing acceptance of feminism in conservative Reformed circles (just so long as women are not being ordained). Also, talk of a "female" voice in scripture sounds troubling.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  2. W.C. Dean

    W.C. Dean Puritan Board Freshman

    Recovering from something in the Bible? Yikes. This woman is supposedly "Reformed"?
  3. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Of the women that have risen to prominence in Reformed circles, most seem to be pushing the envelope on this issue. I have been concerned about it for some time, while being repeatedly told I'm overacting and that there is no reason for alarm. But all that I'm hearing points in one direction. And it isn't a good one. I hope more within Reformed Church will wake up to what's happening under their nose.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Men try to be charitable lest they be seen as misogynistic. For the sake of this and also for the sake of "diversity" they allow women writers on their blog or writing staff who appear reformed. Then those women do not focus on writing about being good wives or mothers, but they then pursue trying to correct the men and their old patriarchal ways.

    Forget about writing about how to be a good wife and mother, let's write about why men and women can be close friends. That is Byrd in a nutshell.

    A good test is: if it is a woman writing theology, then avoid her.

    LATE EDIT: Heidi writes a very wise post below giving me a soft correction and I think she is much wiser than I am in her response. My last sentence above is an over-reaction.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  5. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    A couple of thoughts...

    What is meant by the title, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? It seems to clearly suggest that biblical manhood and womanhood is a negative or harmful thing from which we need to recover.

    Another rather concerning thing is found in the series description. It says that in this study, Aimee Byrd will "explore the feminine voice in Scripture as synergistic with the dominant male voice." What does that even mean? What is "the feminine voice in Scripture?" Why would anyone talk like this? There is no feminine voice or male voice in Scripture. There is only the VOICE OF GOD!
  6. bookish_Basset

    bookish_Basset Puritan Board Freshman

    I could be wrong, but having read and listened to Aimee's material pretty closely up until a few years ago, I'm pretty confident that she is specifically referencing the volume Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Piper and Grudem, with this title. Or at least referring to the teachings of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, because I know she's made some critiques of their teachings for (in her view) being informed more by evangelical culture and tradition than by a confessionally Reformed reading of Scripture.

    I can't speak to how she's developed those critiques, though -- I largely stopped following along because I find the provocative tone and argumentation style very frustrating, and personally find that it confuses more than it clarifies.
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  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Ironically, I think she has the same method as some of the hyper-patriarchalist (e.g., "Ungus make woman breed"). The hyperpatriarchy crowd (e.g., Mama Lori, the Pearls, RCjr) wanted to be the polar opposite of feminism.

    Byrd is overreacting to a previous overreaction.
  8. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Hmmmm. ... and avoid Deborah's song of Praise. And Hannah's. And Mary's Magnificat ... She wasn't instructing other women in how to be good wives and mothers, but prophesying to all generations about the character of God (theo-logy?).

    I would think that what is written/said is the test, along with our example. And yes, part of that test -- part of speaking and living according to the word -- is whether what we say and do helps other women to love their husbands and children.

    Something to consider, and I am not saying this smarmily: if this were a largely women-run board and we were having regular discussions about what men are and are not allowed to say and do -- whether they have to produce offspring to be good Christians or fully realised humans, whether it's okay to spank a husband (yes this question has been raised here about wives, and spanking was advocated for by a few ... thanks to the moderators for shutting it down), you all would probably not find this board a very conducive place for your presences. This routinely happens here. I understand curiosity and that Scripture itself raises questions. And I am not calling anyone a misogynist. But it does bear thinking about -- whether you make us feel less human with the casual things you express and the way you constantly question whether we are allowed to think and speak and write and care about the same things as yourselves.

    I agree with Sarah that tone makes a lot of difference for me in a man or woman writer, as well as content. I typically don't read Ms. Byrd because I think the tone is geared more negatively than positively towards other human beings (as with a lot of material here, honestly: and I am light on reading the board). And like many modern male bloggers, I haven't found the content I've sampled to feed me as much as well -- what I'm reading this morning, a translation of Barlaam and Josaphat (I haven't read enough to comment on her substance more than that).
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  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Hmmm...good points.

    I think you may be right and I think I may be wrong. Thanks.

    I've seen so much bad content by women bloggers lately that I think I've painted with too broad a brush. Lots of bad male content, too, I must admit. But Byrd tries to ruffle feathers (pun intended). She writes to correct men and a natural response is to react (or over-react).

    My apologies. I have benefited from your writings and have often been corrected by them. I wish you could replace Byrd or some of these other women and put out some high-quality content. My wife has written a few short things, but she's too busy trying to keep me out of trouble to contribute literarily to the world. I think many wives are like the angels, behind the scenes and unseen, but doing most of the work. She is my better half but behind-the-scenes and I am the bumbling front-man representing the team.

    Rereading Jacob's comment is enlightening, "Byrd is overreacting to a previous overreaction." And now I think I am over-reacting to her over-reaction to an over-reaction. I believe reading the online "reformed" feminists tempts me into the camp of hyper-patriarchy, but I despise the hyper-patriarchy folks as much as I do the feminists (perhaps I am growing to dislike everybody like a grumpy old man) and then I read wise women like you and you pull me back out of it and into sanity again.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
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  10. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Oh I'm not a wise woman. Just a very little sister in Christ. And I do know what you deeply believe about our dignity as women and the dignity of all people in Christ because you live that out -- fight for it, have suffered for it and are still suffering. I'm more grateful than I can say for men like you.
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Thank you. My apologies again. My first response was knee-jerk. Your reply was more measured. But gentle (yet it stung as soon as I realized I was wrong). Thank God for the grace of receiving correction.
  12. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I understand that some will be concerned with Aimee Byrd's larger body of work, or her tone. And some will be concerned about slippery slopes and what the many forces pressuring the church today might do with any assertion that the Bible has a high view of women.

    But here's the thing: the Bible does have a high view of women. A very high view. A much higher view than feminism takes. But sadly, much of the supposed defense of biblical values on this issue has actually been more of a defense of cultural conservativism or traditionalism. So some gentle correction of what many evangelicals have said on the matter is in order, and I don't see anything inherently wrong in the video in the OP.
  13. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I'm not worried about anyone asserting a high view of women. To say that is the issue is silly. I'm concerned about those asserting an unbiblical view of women.

    I keep hearing people like Byrd say that much of what we believe about gender roles is based, not on the Bible, but instead on cultural stereotypes. What I never hear them do is get specific about what they mean. What specific beliefs about men and women have no basis in the Bible? What is it we need to jettison from our thinking?

    And @Jack K, I'm sorry, but I do not accept that "much of the supposed defense of biblical values on this issue has actually been more of a defense of cultural conservatism or traditionalism." Much of it? You believe much of what groups like CBMW (the group primarily in view for Byrd and others) have done amounts to nothing more than defend "cultural conservatism or traditionalism." I am not in any way saying they are perfect, for from it. But your characterization borders on slandering many godly, honest, and thoughtful men doing their level best to wrestle with the teaching of Scripture and it's application today.

    I am not a fan of Big Eva and her myriad of para-church organizations. And that goes for the CBMW as well. But with that said, am frankly tired of hearing the CBMW and complentarians in general unjustly maligned and ridiculed. I would have areas of disagreement with many if not all of them on certain points of doctrine or practice. But on those matters relating the Bible's teaching on men and women, I would have to say that they have done an admirable job in defending the Bible's teaching at a time when any semblance of sanity about the nature and role of men and women has been wholly lost. So you'll forgive me for not joining the fashionable chorus of more enlightened nay-sayers. But I believe a much greater threat is presented by the likes of Byrd, Miller, and their ilk.
  14. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I didn't say anything at all that criticized any particular group or teacher. But in retrospect, I will change my "much" to "some." Some of the supposed defense of biblical values on this issue has actually been more of a defense of cultural conservatism. Enough of it that gentle, respectful critique is warranted.
  15. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    In a rush, didn't watch it. However, she has been a co worker of Carl Trueman, who dove in and tacked the "Eternal Subordination of the Son" (ESS) heresy which denies the triune essence of the father and second person of the Godhead, regarding power, authority, rule. Trueman really had a go at it and it was quite the blog war, and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was the chief promoter of it via Grudem and others.

    I believed it because I am complementarian, and I just assumed that Piper and Grudem could not possibly be teaching something so erroneous/heretical. I am so grateful for the work Patrick/Ask Mr R put into the subject here. It was very helpful. And yes, that doctrine was used to squash women especially in Sovereign Grace Ministries, whose "Apostle" Detwiler promoted it heavily.

    Give Aimee time. It isn't easy to try and think all this stuff through.
  16. JennyGeddes

    JennyGeddes Puritan Board Freshman

    Maybe I am overreacting, but for some reason her use of “MY discipleship” bothered me. It just seemed like such an odd thing to say. “My discipleship”.
    In fact, I almost want her to define discipling.
  17. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    While I am no fan of ESS or EFS (though I am not convinced that it is heresy either; more like a serious error that tends to heresy), nor am I particularly enthralled with complementarianism (I see it as too biblicist and wrongheaded because it does not ground gender differences sufficiently in nature), I would largely concur with the spirit of what Pastor Sheffield has written.

    It is one thing to criticise the erroneous theology underlying ESS and to bewail the weakness of some aspects of complementarianism, it is quite another to use such weaknesses as a pretext for bringing further concessions to feminism into the Reformed world.

    I do not think this assessment of Mrs Byrd is unfair, as I recall her arguing in one Mortification of Spin podcast (ostensibly against the Patriarchy movement) against what seem to be natural and traditional gender roles in society. Hence, it seems to me that her position tends towards feminist egalitarianism with the exception of women's ordination. The underlying methodological error here is that such people assume the Bible's prohibition on women's preaching is merely a positivistic command rather than one grounded in what natural law teaches about the differing roles of men and women.
  18. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Well if we're honest, we'd have to acknowledge how a great deal of what constitutes "cultural conservatism" has its roots in biblical teaching. So why don't we be specific. What aspect of complamentarianism (a la CBMW) is based on cultural conservatism and not supported by scripture?
  19. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I would also point out that many of the women in the Reformed world who do speak on theological matters do not exemplify feminine meekness in how they express themselves. Far too many of them come across as overly dogmatic and they tend to take an "all or nothing" approach to theological questions and when judging particular theologians. Case in point: Just because Wayne Grudem is wrong about ESS does not mean that he is wrong about everything in relation to male headship.

    In making these observations, I am not saying that there is no place for women discussing theology with men (the great Apollos, for example, was corrected by a woman), but Christian ladies must maintain natural and biblical standards of femininity when doing so.
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Also, cultural standards of conservatism should not be lightly set aside - assuming that they are requiring nothing sinful of us - especially in a context where Marxists and Feminists are out to destroy the Christian-influenced societies in which we live.
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  21. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    I'd be curious as to what Byrd meant by the phrases, like female literature, etc. That caught my attention too.
    But, I do have to ask, have you read Byrd et al.?

    I truthfully share many (most?) of the same concerns. Let me unpack those a little bit. I will share a little bit of what I have struggling with as well from what I read or liste listened to by CBMW advocates.

    Most of the identity of the sexes (I refuse to use the word gender) in the big Eva world has turned on the idea of either specific of general roles.
    As we know they are based upon 1 Tim. 2, Eph. 5, 1 Peter, 1 Corinthians 14, etc. These in turn, have become not only the foundation in big eva, but the entirety of what a man is and what a women is or can be. Such roles are then extrapolated to fit into the whole of life. So it is roles that make the person not the actual sex? Michael Foucault and John Piper make strange bedfellows indeed.
    Men are to leaders, hard, protective
    Women on the other hand are to be soft, gentle, submissive, nuturing, keepers of the home.
    There is nothing wrong with these inherently rather they become limitations upon the whole person as what they always have to be and always maintain. These traits become an end unto themselves and are to never mix within a person or is implied that they musn't. So are the fruits of the Holy Spirit effeminate? Or is "biblical manhood and womanhood" a second blessing? Sure seems that way.
    These tend to be more commonly aligned with Victorian values than anything inherently Christian.

    I have seen these definitions become almost creed like, and expanded upon into specifics. A number of the advocates seem to find many commonalities within the red pill and pick up artist communities (Google them at your peril). Or at least, I have seen very similar things being promoted with the phraseology "that's just the way things are," " real world, " "all women like bad boys, " etc. Hard not to find this disturbing when it is championed among Christians based upon real or perceived attractions. (Mark Driscoll has left his mark; he's not the only one either.)
    As a guy this troubles me very greatly. I do not see myself as some big burly, outdoorsy, shoot from the hip ask questions later kind of guy. I was taught that it is not only rude but provocative and unChristlike. So many of the definition s for manhood from these people, so many of the necessary traits, do not come across as Christlike, compassionate or gentle. I'd like to think I am a 'nice guy' and not a 'bad boy.' When I read many of these things, I wonder, so am I not attractive, especially personality wise? After all, reading these things, I am told women are attracted to men who are this and that (many times these traits are not inherently good or easily used with evil in mind.) So am I less of a man or not a man at all because some checks are not marked off?
    I fit many stereotypes, many I don't. On both of these kinds of traits, there are habits that I have to mortify because they are not inherently good and sometimes just evil. On the flip side, many traits I possess, I believe are good, stereotypical or not that I have to vivify to bring more glory to God.
    Now there is another branch basically just teaches that masculinity is responsibility, etc. Common sense you know. This raises the question: is the feminine nature irresponsible? Or they meant to be irresponsible? If not, then I am not quite sure why these sorts of teachings are filed under the guise of masculinity or in a sex segregated way. Are not these kind of teachings general discipleship?
    Unfortunately, I see much of this sort of stuff is an overreaction to the transgender movement that makes all of this so appealing.
    Its an easy answer to a complex problem.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  22. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Plainly listening to this video produces very little I would find troubling. A concern might be a comment near the beginning that smacks of eisegesis (what we take to the scriptures) but I'd have to watch the series she's referencing to know if that becomes a problem.

    I've not read her work because I read very little of the "how-to" or "about" books of Christianity. I've been well served by reading works that help me rightly divide God's word and the more academically defined topics of theology.

    I absolutely see culture and tradition informing what some in the church have seen as normative. When I first came to Christ, I was rightly challenged about the feminism that fueled my upbringing. That left a vacuum that could easily be manipulated to assume a post-World War II view about the ideal woman that was largely created to get women out of the workforce to free up jobs for returning veterans. (Picture someone in heels vacuuming who is too vacuous to handle the simplest of difficulties.) It took me years to sort it out.
  23. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Remember that the OP’s concern is “what is being advocated” by Aimee Byrd and that it “seems to be part of a push towards increasing acceptance of feminism in conservative Reformed circles (just so long as women are not being ordained).” I agree with that assessment and concern. The issue raised by the OP has nothing to do with a woman speaking out or writing a book, but with what’s being promoted by her.
  24. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    My ideal woman growing up has always been "Ma" Caroline Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. And I found a woman like that. But I don't think our Western Culture is currently capable of producing any more role models along those lines.

    Daniel's comment about the lack of "feminine meekness" is spot on.

    The video clip by Byrd cannot be judged in isolation, we must look at the whole of her work.

    I was particularly troubled by her book on Why Can't We Be Friends (I think is the name) about why men and women should cultivate deep friendships with one another. Yes, there are sisterly and motherly women in my life who are friends, yet of all the many topics possible to write about, this "need" in the church to have boys and girls become close buds isn't even on the radar. How is this topic even close to being a pressing issue in our own day? In fact, many problems come from careless intimacies with the opposite sex (though friendships are possible in certain situations).

    It all comes down to Pence becoming Vice President and Byrd being mad at the Pence/Graham rule. That seems to be the impetus for the book. Another over-reaction. She has to correct us men who admire the Pence/Graham rule (although I am not one of those, for the most part, if a woman needs help, you go with her or take her or help her, even if this puts you alone with her. That is basic kindness). Hence, Byrd is shown to primarily write as a reaction against men, and she doesn't really ever cultivate a theology of femininity on its own, but only AGAINST others (i.e. against men, which shows a fundamental nature of rebellion).
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  25. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    While readily admitting to exceptions, as a general rule, I believe women should be homemakers...

    [Women are] To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.—Titus 2:5.

    But if I may gently ask, Is that a biblical idea? or is it rather the product of a “post-World War II view about the ideal woman that was largely created to get women out of the workforce to free up jobs for returning veterans”?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I think she is responding to the image of June Cleaver. While I do like the idea of vacuuming in high heels and always deferring to the husband, her character was a bit vacuous. They were also a suburban family and only had 2 kids. She is happily married, devoted to her husband, and always adorned nicely even while doing housework. But wearing pearls while cleaning....that is a little much. She is an ideal of sorts, but also a caricature as well. And she did not really ever give solid advice to her husband, but only smiled and was mostly silent. She sometimes appeared helpless or stupid without the help of her husband. That is not really a proper help-meet.

    While modern women could do well to meet June Cleaver halfway and at least get out of their pajamas to go to Wal-mart, I can understand why there would opposition to June Cleaver being the womanly ideal.

    Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, on the other hand, is the ideal woman! She got down and dirty working in the garden and with the farm animals and they lived on the frontier instead of the suburbs, and she made biscuits and corn-bread about every episode. And she often gave advice or discussed concerns with Pa.
  27. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Perhaps she is. But you will forgive me if I refuse to believe that June Cleaver (and the stereotype associated with her) have the slightest bearing on what we are discussing here.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I think the connection is that the idealized woman often portrayed post-WWII was not really a realistic woman or a Proverbs 31 woman. And so there is room to criticize that cultural notion (there is ALWAYS room to criticize culture because it is never wholly aligned with the bible). I mean, after all, husbands and wives all slept in separate beds in those 1950s sitcoms.

    I would hardly suspect sister Jean Withnell on this board of being a closet feminist, and her critique is valid. Though I would gladly exchange the culture of the 1950's for this present evil age. While flawed, the 1950s was much closer to Scripture than 2020.

    But I do believe writers like Byrd use June Cleaver as a foil or a useful example to over-react the other way and push for their own distorted view.
  29. Andrew35

    Andrew35 Puritan Board Freshman

    That was also my wife's criticism of Why Can't We Be Friends?

    She bought it eagerly after enjoying Byrd's Housewife Theologian; but this time, it seemed to be addressing a perceived problem we had never noticed. One that was completely irrelevant to our lives or our experiences in the church.

    As you mention, it felt largely like a response to the Pence/Graham rule (and maybe Doug Wilson). Which neither of us had ever heard of (and we had barely heard of Doug Wilson). And we were perfectly content in our former ignorance of all of the above: Pence/Graham rule, Byrd's corrective, and Doug Wilson.

    Would that we could all now return to that blissful, Edenic state...
  30. BottleOfTears

    BottleOfTears Puritan Board Freshman

    I think if you are wondering why people are accusing you of over-reacting, it's probably because of sentances like this. The Bible is written by actual humans. Luke used sources. You can't read a book by Paul or John and say their personality or background doesn't affect how they write. None of this undermines Scripture being the word of God.

    I too find the use of phrases like "feminine voice" rather vague and unhelpful, but your reaction seems to force a chasm between the human aspect of scripture and the Divine. I am not for a second suggesting that you are wishing to do that. I just think that these sort of reactions that advocate (or seem to advocate) unscriptural ideas actually make the writings of Mrs Byrd and others that more appealing.

    That's why the best way to argue against things like this is to acknowledge the errors, like ESS, that are pointed out and provide clear teaching where questions are being asked.

    It is pretty clear to me that rather silly articles come out from time to time on TGC and Desiring God that make strange claims about what is manly or not manly. Then people like Aimee Byrd read these and rightly critique them.

    The way to help this situation is to provide clear teaching on anthropology that avoids ESS and other errors, and to be charitable to those who are making mistakes in reaction against such things.

    I find it rather ironic that people are rightly questioning the vague statements made in this video, but then turning around and using words like "feminism" and saying they "don't like the direction this is going in". It is clear Mrs Byrd has questions, but calling her a feminist and making ominous declarations isn't helping the situation.
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