Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Aimee Byrd)

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

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  1. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Ron, you were probably typing when I was writing it out -- but see my comment #58. I was referencing the reality of an actual discouraging and limiting experience for theologically minded women -- that doesn't mean there's any intention to demean.

    It might help to note also that the references Ms. Byrd was reading on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood with which she took issue were quite probably, some of them, authored by women. (My husband advised me early on to stop reading a book on Biblical Womanhood by a woman that was confusing me. I just don't do well generally with advice books. I feel convicted by everything, implement it to the T in exactly the wrong situations, and don't enjoy reading it as literature.)

    I really appreciate people's willingness to set aside the 'labels' here and try to understand one another. I could be wrong -- but it seems to me that labels rarely help me see someone else more clearly and understand their real convictions and motivations better.
  2. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Ron, you were probably typing when I was writing it out -- but see my comment #58.
    Hi Mere Housewife,

    My #61 was aimed at your #58.
  3. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I'm sincerely glad for your wife, and the woman she is doing that with. Wonderful. Sadly her experience is not everyone's.

    I don't think I need to defend my view of other women. I haven't discounted their words about what they struggle with (whether as young moms or singles, gifted more practically, creatively, or more theologically minded), or assigned poor motivations for that struggle.

    I don't plan to spend hours arguing online about this one. I think it's self-evident. All the best.
  4. Susan777

    Susan777 Puritan Board Freshman

    Ron, I didn’t mean to imply that I have no means of fellowship and growth among my sisters. And I certainly don’t look down on them or judge them because they have different interests. I don’t think that’s at all the issue here. My lament, if you can call it that, is that I have no one to discuss the things I think about with. Growth in Christ-likeness is in no way dependent on one’s theological knowledge base. Thankfully. Your wife sounds like the kind of person I’d love to know. If you or she ever get a group going like you described I’ll come visit, sans cigars!
  5. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    With all due respect, I think that’s a bit unfair. Why would anyone assert that women aren’t afforded equivalent opportunities for fellowship and growth, yet then remain silent when asked to elaborate?
  6. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Susan,

    My post to which you responded was to Mere Housewife. As for this post of yours, the lament you have is not necessarily peculiar to women. I’ve reached out to many egg heads (in cyber world) over the years to discuss some pretty esoteric thoughts that were of particular interest to me. Notwithstanding, my point is that I have yet to find any woman deprived of growth and fellowship in ways that men aren’t. If anything, the reverse might be true if certain men have a greater affinity toward the pedantic.

    My wife would cherish getting to know you. Please shoot me a PM to that end.


  7. wcf_linux

    wcf_linux Puritan Board Freshman

    The character of Jesus Christ as shown in the scriptures has much to challenge both the "nice guy" and the "bad boy". Reading the gospels, I am consistently struck by the remarkable Man they reveal. He heals the man with the withered hand in an attitude of anger mixed with grief at the hard-hearted. He rebukes his disciples, now with gentle correction, then sharply decrying their unbelief. He teaches the crowds with authority, and retreats to the hills to pray. He cleans the temple with a whip of cords; He takes a dead child by the hand saying, "little girl, wake up." A manual laborer in His youth and better spoken than the learned of his day. He will not break the bruised reed, and He will dash the nations like a potter's vessel. He is the man of wisdom, Wisdom itself from before all of the works of God. He is righteousness and boldness and meekness at once.

    Our concepts of nice guys and bad boys are too small to reflect Christlikeness. Both superficial tough guys like Driscoll and over-cautious, anxiously eager to please types (like me) have much to learn at His feet.
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  8. wcf_linux

    wcf_linux Puritan Board Freshman

    I would simply add, without denying any of your points, that many men in the Reformed world who do speak on theological matters do not exemplify masculine fortitude and restraint 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 or highly-visible personalities. :stirpot::flamingscot:

    In other words, (some of) the women are not alone in making all-or-nothing, your side or my side claims.
  9. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Ron I reread and think you are right that my phrasing about spending hours arguing online being unfair: I can also say lots of things better. But I don't think what I said originally is unclear and the exchange was not making it clearer (ie, you were inviting me to do what I already did). Endless miscommunication or even just needing to win an argument is something I want sincerely to avoid. I have prayed God will bless you and your wife this evening, and I hope you have a very good week.
  10. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Sister in Christ,

    I appreciate and respect your desire not argue. I share that desire with you.

    Just to clarify, what I found unfair was that someone would make an assertion that women aren’t afforded equivalent opportunities for fellowship and growth yet not offer a single concrete example of such discrimination.

    Please allow me to share my mind a bit more regarding the claim.

    As for fellowship, all Christians fellowship in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10). This fellowship is a given by God as a gift (Philippians 1:29). As such, God sovereignly determines how much of this sanctifying fellowship each believer will experience. (No unjust discrimination there I trust.)

    There’s also the fellowship all believers partake of through being “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9). (Once again, God is no respecter of persons.)

    There’s also the fellowship we enjoy one with another through the ordinary means of grace. Since this fellowship is so inexorably tied to the ordinary means of grace in the context of the congregation: (the ministry of the Word, prayer and the sacraments), it’s hard for me to imagine it not being available to both sexes equally. (That is not to say that one women in one church enjoys all the same benefits a man can receive in another church. But that would be an unfair comparison. We’d need to compare men and women in the same church.)

    Regarding women being shortchanged in their spiritual growth, I’m even more perplexed. If growth is primarily through the ordinary means of grace, then I don’t see how women can be shortchanged relative to men. After all, growth is but another word for sanctification, and who is our sanctification but Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30)? We also grow through God’s meticulous providence, which God sovereignly appoints according to his good pleasure.

    I could say more but I hope it’s clear that from my finite perspective, men and women are on level ground. Yet I am quite eager to know why some think women are not afforded the same opportunities for fellowship and growth as men. As an elder in Christ’s church, I don’t just want to know. I need to know. My suspicion is, what is being sought is something other than true fellowship and true growth. Please note, I don’t question the legitimacy of the needs, but whatever the needs are, I am confident that all Christians, through God’s divine power, have all we need for “life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).


  11. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Oh dear. This is what I saw coming and why I stepped out of the discussion. This is not an accurate representation of what I said or of the concrete example that was being discussed when I said it.

    I pray God blesses you sincerely. I think it is only respectful sometimes to tell the truth. It's useless to engage where there's no accuracy in representation. I don't think this is a man-woman thing. No one can communicate through having their words twisted.
  12. wcf_linux

    wcf_linux Puritan Board Freshman

    I think he is defining "fellowship" and "growth" as being properly defined in terms of the ordinary means of grace.
    I was at first interpreting his last post the same way you seem to be. See these parts from his last:

    So I think, and Ron can correct me if I am wrong, that Ron was concerned that you were suggesting that women were being kept from full participation in the ordinary means of grace. And you, thankfully, did not have on offer examples of women being kept out of public worship, from hearing the preaching of the word, or hindered from receiving the sacraments.

    However, you were not talking about the ordinary means of grace, but of supplementary forms of fellowship like reading groups. And you definitely gave concrete examples related to those.
  13. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Mad at you. Never :)
    The Bible contains 66 Books. That is a lot of teaching, a lot of truth. Further we have 2000 years of post NT Church history. That history contains significant theological insight, and a lot of theological error. To work through ones theology, and discern truth from error takes a lot of reading. I have recently been watching Youtube clips of a Protestant pastor who converted to Roman Catholicism. He recently did a You Tube Clip "The Catholic Church is Biblical - deal with it". To refute Rome thoroughly one needs to know Apologetics, Church History, The Church Fathers, Theology etc etc. Just to deal with the claims of Rome demands a lot of reading! And that is just one topic.
    Actually I have been wondering about how to share the gospel with our neighbour - Australians - who have suffered much from the bushfires. I would say in response to you read plenty and serve the Lord in teaching, missions, evangelism, caring for the disabled - there are many tremendous opportunities for service.

    This is also relevant for this thread. One needs to read plenty to discern the truth on Biblical manhood and womanhood. But Pergy, I don't want to hijack this thread, I just wanted to clarify. If you want to extend the discussion i will open a new thread.
  14. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    That is a very fair point.

    I think there is a human psychology behind this: I think it stems from the nature of video clips of preaching and politics (the sound-bites which get heard are the more forceful and dogmatic statements, whereas more nuanced and measured statements are less sound-bite worthy and often less forceful). One example is several Paul Washer clips. He is a gentle pastor who is often very nuanced, but the clips which get rebroadcast are when he says something highly dogmatic and forceful. Because of this dynamic, many pastors or people who want to talk theology often do likewise and throw out all-or-nothing statements because those are the ones which get the likes, etc.

    I also noticed in high school debate classes (for those schools who still do so), when arguing a point, you never acknowledge the good points of your opponent's argument. You never admit if he makes a good point. And we see this today among several professional Christian polemicists who make ministries out of arguing. But in real life among Christians, we should give and take in our discussions and acknowledge the good points in the other person's arguments.
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  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I promise you that I will go and read a book this year (can it have pictures, though?).
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  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Just for the record: if fellowship groups happen at night-time, I am fairly certain that wives will have less of an opportunity for these types of fellowship groups due to many of them having little kids at home who have early bed-times. In the US at our home church, we love them but their Wednesday night services starts at 745pm and we would not get home until about 10pm. That just doesn't work well for young mothers. So, yes, I believe that, in general, there is less opportunity to fellowship for the women of the church, because motherhood takes up so much time and it is easier for the men to get away from the kids. And many young mothers feel lonely and/or overwhelmed and could use some female encouragement. And this might be a blind spot for the male leadership of the church.
  17. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate your desire to be a peacemaker. Since MH favorited your post I’ll assume that she agrees with the essence of what you put forth. I will attempt to address those things.

    So I think, and Ron can correct me if I am wrong, that Ron was concerned that you were suggesting that women were being kept from full participation in the ordinary means of grace...​

    No, that’s not what I communicated. I never communicated that MH thought that she was not able to avail herself to the ordinary means of grace, (or the other things I mentioned such as entering into the fellowship of the Lord upon conversion or fellowshipping in his suffering as a gift from God etc.).

    My point was that if this claim is true - if it is true that women are actually deprived more than men of fellowship in Christ and spiritual growth in the church, then it would stand to reason that women relative to men are deprived of the ordinary means of grace, entering into the fellowship of the Lord and fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ etc. Yet, and as you both well recognize, women are not deprived of any of those things. I agree! But, the implication of not being denied those things is that women are not deprived of spiritual growth and fellowship in Christ by the elders. That’s not to twist one’s words. Rather, it’s to put forth the logical trajectory of the original claim. (By way of example, professing atheists deny God’s existence. The logical implication of their denial is that murder is not wrong. To draw out that glaring absurdity of the implication is not to twist the original claim that God does not exist. Rather, it’s to show the wrongheadedness of the claim. It’s called reductio ad absurdum.)

    However, you were not talking about the ordinary means of grace, but of supplementary forms of fellowship like reading groups. And you definitely gave concrete examples related to those.​

    Correct, she was not talking about those things. The reductio ad absurdum merely brought those things to light. It’s not unusual for someone not to recognize the logical implication of his or her own position. Do professing atheists recognize that their worldview makes cold blooded murder morally acceptable? In the like manner, to deny one spiritual growth is to deny one union with Christ and his body. God binds himself to certain means, not to theological cigar nights.

    What’s also interesting is that most of my post dealt with fellowship, which is a reality for all those who’ve been granted faith. “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3

    I’m sorry but what concrete examples were put forth? I recall one example of a woman being denied access to a study within the context of a NAPARC church. There was also a remark about the Puritan Board and how it relates to men and women.

    Regarding the NAPARC claim, what details were given regarding the subject matter of the group? Yet in response to that vague (not concrete) example, I noted that I was asked to host a study that not just women but men my own age weren’t invited. Similarly, it is quite common for women to have fellowship groups in which men may not attend. How are such segregated groups depriving women or men?

    So, I’ll ask again, what specifically are the elders in Christ’s Church not doing that hinders the spiritual growth and fellowship of women in the church relative to men?

    After making such an assertion with no concrete examples or arguments to back it up, we were met with: “I don't think I need to defend my view of other women.” And then this, “It’s self-evident.” Well, as my wife said, “It’s not self-evident to me.”

    It really comes down to two questions regarding extracurricular type studies. Are there cases that women were denied the freedom to teach other women? Secondly, if there are no women in a church equipped to teach, are the elders refusing to teach women?
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  18. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you so much Kevin. I much appreciate all you have said here, and it is a blessing that you and Susan understood what I was saying and expressed that clearly.

    I want to say again that I don't think this particular state of things comes about through any disrespect -- I was not citing it as one of the more serious problems -- though not listening to women about their struggles, misrepresenting, imputing simple statements of reality to sin can be a serious problem.

    Pergy thank you for your whole way of reacting with hearing and honor. Also for what you added about your wife. Ruben and some other guys at our church are actually going to babysit for some fellowship time for the young moms soon. I know they can struggle to focus in church too with a pew full of little ones, or to have sustained time at home for devotions.
  19. bookish_Basset

    bookish_Basset Puritan Board Freshman

    If I may, since I've talked a lot about this both with Heidi and with wcf_linux (i.e., my husband :) ) --

    I think one reason this is a difficult discussion is that it's often hard to pinpoint *specifics* that leaders are or aren't doing. Sometimes it comes down to perceptions that may or may not be completely fair. By way of example, I guess I can talk about my background a bit. I wasn't raised in a NAPARC church and got my theological degrees in decidedly non-confessional-Reformed contexts. So when I joined a NAPARC church, even such things as having gender-segregated Bible studies were a novelty to me. I soon found women's Bible studies and one-on-one discipleship opportunities to be a great blessing. Also, our church at the time was absolutely filled with seminarians, so it seemed fairly natural to me that most of the "extra" theological discussion happened among men. I wished that it were easier to find other women who wanted to discuss the confessions or weightier theological works, for example, and even wrote some materials for the church toward that end. But it made sense to me, in that context, that theological study was seen as more of a "male" thing.

    So when we moved and began visiting a different church, I was so excited to hear that there was a group for ordinary laypeople to gather and discuss Calvin--it sounded like a dream come true. So when I asked the person in charge if I'd be welcome, it was a bit deflating to learn that it had been founded as a group for men. He assured me that it wasn't anything against women, and I believed that. In fact, as Kevin and the pastor later explained, the fact that it's a theology group was seen as kind of incidental when it was started--the specific book being studied was more of a hook to motivate men to actually get together outside of church. But for me, it felt like encountering another obstacle. It didn't discourage me from coming back, precisely because it was such a wonderfully means-of-grace focused church -- which is absolutely the most important thing. And I don't anticipate that, if I joined this church and asked for help in starting an equivalent group, that any obstacles would be put in the way. (Though, to offer one specific -- I would be especially thankful if an elder started such a group, to be honest. If gathering to study something like the Institutes is seen as a natural and important way to mentor men in their various roles, then is there any particular reason that studying Calvin shouldn't be seen as a natural way to mentor women, too?)

    Since coming into NAPARC circles, I have perceived that studying theology is regarded as an interest more typical of men than of women, and that a woman who desires more rigorous theological education is seen as more of a curiosity, rather than being simply what we should expect in a Reformed church as a matter of course. Again, these could be unfair perceptions on my part. I would not be surprised if non-ordained men feel the same way sometimes, for example. And I can only speak from this very limited experience. But even though I don't agree with all her approaches to talking about it or suggestions for addressing it, I do think this perception is what writers like Aimee are getting at with their critiques.

    I don't know if this helps clarify, Heidi, or just muddies things more.
  20. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

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  21. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

  22. Susan777

    Susan777 Puritan Board Freshman

  23. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    He hits the nail on the head...

    While I do not believe that a seven-minute video has the power to bring down an entire denomination, I have studied enough ecclesiastical history to know this: When women seek to begin a “discussion” in the church, bad things tend to happen. Consider Aimee’s conclusion:

    “My biggest hope for anyone watching this video series… is for church officers to be leading discussions about these questions brought up in the videos and about what I teach on communicating God’s word and sharing communion in God’s word.”
    Some readers are probably old enough to remember the “discussions” that began in the Christian Reformed Church in 1970. These discussions led to study committees “to help the churches make all possible use of women’s gifts” and moved the CRC slowly-but-steadily toward women’s ordination and even a version of gender-based affirmative action in 2015.

    It would be well worth your time to read the full chronology that is posted on the CRC’s website. You might also want to take mental note of some of the key words and phrases that were used during the CRC’s 45-year-long “discussion”; as they are the same words and phrases being used today in the PCA and, it would seem, soon enough in the OPC.

    Aimee is probably not seeking to be ordained as the OPC’s first woman minister, but that is where these “discussions” tend to lead and my prediction is that the OPC will probably follow the well-worn path of progressivism to final perdition. That is, unless the teachers of the church are men enough to say, “No thank you” to Aimee’s invitation to come into their churches and begin this discussion.

    Emphasis mine.
  24. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I've been thinking about this (since the thread lives on ....) I think we have to say what we find worth saying for those who listen with integrity -- definitely not for applause, definitely not to 'win' (what does that even mean, if we have to ignore good points and distort reality to do so?). We can't change the hearts of those who don't listen that way. We can only try to be an example of that -- to embrace truth ourselves wherever we find it (which I think will often leave us not really cheering on one side of a popular mobbish reaction or another, even though both sides will probably make good points) and try to speak honestly to one another without contempt.
  25. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes. I think it is vital that - especially on a board like the PB where we are all ASSUMED to be batting for the same team - that we do not divide up into camps or take sides, but truly hear one another and assume the best in their responses. I often just want to "win" but "winning" is really not "winning" if it comes at the expense of a true brother or sister. I have been guilty of this in the past but, when faced with a gentle answer, it often stops me dead in my tracks and melts me more than a snarky harsh reply does and I am left defenseless and ready to finally hear the other side.

    Just as when the Lord saved me...I am undone by kindness more than force or rebuke and left totally in awe by tenderness and have no armor against that. It was the gentleness of Jesus that I saw in the Gospels that drove me to tears and awe. And your response above had that effect on me when I was over-stating some points.

    If someone hurls insults at me on the streets, I am unmoved and not even phased, but if I hear a soft and gentle hymn in the church proclaiming the gentle tenderness of Jesus, I can hardly believe his goodness, and this absolutely blows me away as if it were the first time I ever heard such things. Since I have been very sick and depressed I have avoided some church services with such songs because I am afraid that I cannot keep my composure but will break down, instead. There is a power to kindness and gentleness that brute force can never know.
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  26. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you for that reminder Pergy. It's so easy for me to turn to snark.
  27. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    To be fair, and I am speaking as a critic, I think that she means she is fleeing from the teachings of a movement that, in her eyes, wrongly claim to be advancing something "Biblical" rather than from something that actually is biblical.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I am the snark-master sometimes. I like to troll. I must stop (unless they clearly now I am joking).
  29. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Problematic part about 1 Cor 11. The Greek word there can mean wife or woman and he makes it woman instead of wife. Trying to say all women are submitted to all men is for sure his own opinion that plenty of the Reformed would reject.

    I wear a head covering before the angels as a sign of submission to my husband, which the passage as it appeals to Adam and Eve seems to be clearly talking about. When guys try to say that all women submit to all men, well, you get backlash, with good reason. Wives submit to husbands, and both of them submit to church and civil authority.

    This is the kind of thing people like Aimee may be reacting to, although I don't know for sure. I would strongly suspect Aimee knows what she is talking about and is reacting to some unbiblical attitudes and practices. It doesn't mean anybody is on the route to female elders and pastors....I think such insinuations are both premature and slanderous.
  30. Andrew35

    Andrew35 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm sure you're correct; but from a purely polemical point of view, it's a strategic blunder.
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