Part 4. Demand for an apology from CBMW

The Danvers Statement is the first thing you see when you open the website of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This is their defining statement and everything hinges on this statement. There are 10 Rationales and 10 Affirmations and ALL 10 of them place the blame squarely on women for the situation the church and home finds itself.

So, let’s look at it. And we have got to laugh just a little bit. Their Statement is numbered. My response is in bold. Now, this is long, but you are going to love every one of my responses.

1.) The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity.

   What they are really saying is that the equality for women movement is gaining ground and they must stop it. What they are not saying is that there would have been no women’s movement to begin with if men had been fair and equal in their treatment of women in both the secular and spiritual realms.

2.) The tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood.

   What they are really saying is that women are now taking jobs that used to belong to men. Women are forgetting that their place is in the home. Women should not be supervisors over men or have any position that gives them authority over men. What they are really worried about is that women who have supervised men in the workplace during the day may not be content to be submissive wives when they come home at night.

3.) The increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble, leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing, support of that leadership by redeemed wives.

Back when they wrote this, they threw in the word feminist in order to demonize egalitarians. Among complementarians, the word carried a negative association. It still does. But what they were really saying is that women were tired of hearing about submission and were beginning to speak up.  They have effectively put a stop to that in the churches that accepted The Danvers Statement and, with the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Women and pastors have shut their mouths about women’s equality. Twenty-five years after The Danvers Statement was written and adopted by seminaries and churches, we have seen how it has affected marriages, and the picture is not pretty. This is the perfect description of a one-way marriage—his way.  Everything she does is to support him. He has no responsibility except to be nice about telling her what to do.

4.) The widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women.

   What they are really saying is that woman’s place is in the home and not in the workplace or in church leadership. What they do not say is that women who work outside the home are also vocational homemakers. What they do not say is how churches would run without the female staff of secretaries and treasurers and what responsibility they take upon themselves when they hire women to work outside the home.

5.) The growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality.

   What they are really saying is that equality for women is responsible for the increase in pornography and homosexuality, and if women’s equality is not stopped, these will increase even more. The Apostle Paul did not link women with homosexuality or pornography, but CBMW does.

6.) The upsurge of physical and emotional abuse in the family.

   What they are really saying is that women are being abused because they are not graciously submitting (see their Affirmation #4). What they are not saying is that there is no justification for abuse (see Ephesians 5:28).

7.) The emergence of roles for men and women in church leadership that do not conform to Biblical teaching but backfire in the crippling of Biblically faithful witness.

   What they are really saying is that women cannot have authority over men in church. The rest of the sentence does not make sense, but women are to blame anyway.

8.) The increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical Texts.

   What they are really saying is that they have already interpreted those scriptures to give men headship and authority over women (you can be assured that they are not concerned about any other scriptures), and they do not want anybody upsetting their apple cart.

9.) The consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity.

   What they are really saying is that egalitarians are a threat to CBMW’s authority because they themselves are guilty of what they say others have done. They have used technical ingenuity which restricts the meaning and interpretation of scripture concerning women. They have resorted to the tactic of “accuse others” before they accuse you.

10.) And behind all this the apparent accommodation of some within the church to the spirit of the age at the expense of winsome, radical Biblical authenticity which in the power of the Holy Spirit may reform rather than reflect our ailing culture.

   Say what? I doubt that even the council knows what they meant with this convoluted sentence.

Affirmations (CBMW)

Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:

1.) Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:18).

   What they do not tell us is why they feel male bodies are superior to female bodies, because if women and men are equal as persons, that means they are saying that it is the physical male body that is distinctly superior. Make no mistake about it. They find the maleness of humanity superior.

2.) Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order and should find an echo in every human heart (Genesis 2:18, 21-24; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9; 1 Timothy 2:12-14).

   Thump, thump. The only echo here is when they tell us that men were created superior and women inferior. They have repeated it too many times. There is no justification for teaching that men are called to have authority over women. The created order has nothing to do with it and is a red herring to make it sound good.

3.) Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall and was not a result of sin (Genesis 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9).

   God created Adam first. Ok. That is understood. Women get that. What women do not get is why being created first gives the right to rule over the one created second. What cannot be found anywhere in the Bible is the scripture that explains why women need to be ruled over, either before or after the Fall.

4.) The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Genesis 3:1-7, 12, 16). In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility. In the Church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitation on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.

   They call men ‘sissies’ and blame it on the Fall.  That is school-yard bullying. And they hope no one will notice that they are the ones who give men all the power, thus feeding men’s inclination to rule over women, even though it is common knowledge that power corrupts. They say that the relationship between men and women in the Church is distorted because sin makes men love power or neglect their spiritual responsibility. That is ridiculous! Adam never once showed any spiritual responsibility! He did not have to because the scriptures do not say that Adam was given any spiritual responsibility over Eve. Go back and read the scriptures they give. They could not find a single scripture that backed up what they teach, but they used those scriptures anyway thinking no one would notice.

   God said “Adam, where are you?” Silence from Adam as he and Eve hunker down beneath a fig tree. Finally Adam says, “I heard you but I was afraid and I was naked. The woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Try to find where Adam, from the time he was formed, demonstrated any spiritual responsibility. Eve did, though. She admitted to God, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Repentance. She did not blame Adam for not showing spiritual responsibility. She did not say that his loving, humble headship did not rise to the occasion.

   Because Eve was a strong woman, one who shouldered the responsibility and repented of the sin, the Church has used this against her ever since. Eve took charge. That is the distortion they are talking about. Men are to model themselves after Adam who ratted out his wife, hid with her, and acted like she was something that God had foisted upon him.

   They want us to believe that Eve’s sin inclines women to resist being limited in their “roles.” They are worried that women might want to use their spiritual gifts of leadership in preaching and pastoring. This attitude is a bunch of hogwash that diminishes both men and women. This teaching diminishes men by not holding them accountable for their actions (like Adam’s), and diminishes women by telling them that they cannot stand up and give spiritual leadership (like Eve did).

5.) The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:1; Galatians 3:28). Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:21- 33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1Timothy 2:11-15).

   Well, of course that is one big distortion of all those texts, starting with Genesis and ending with Timothy. Adam was created first, and that is the only thing he had going for him. Is that enough? He demonstrated no loving, humble leadership, no bravery, no protection or support of Eve.  Nothing—only that he got here first. There is not one example of headship in any of those verses they quote.

   Colossians 3:18-25; 4:1 is a reminder for families to live in peace with one another: wives, husbands, children, slaves and masters (3:15). The oft quoted Ephesians passage finds Paul having to tell the men to love their wives. Women have been told for centuries that they are the ones who must be pure and without stain (sexual sin) or wrinkle or any other blemish (Eph 5:27). These men had to be commanded to simply love their wives, as they would their own bodies, which meant they should not mistreat their wives.

   There is nothing about roles in those scriptures. Role is a word meaning to act a part in a particular situation. Roles can and do change. God did not assign roles. Man assigns roles depending upon what outcome is desired at the time.

   According to the complementarian interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12, men are not required to have any leadership qualifications whatsoever, except male genitalia. That is not very flattering, and not what Christianity should be centered around.

6.) Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.

That is a made-up, distorted, theology. Redemption in Christ has nothing to do with male and female relationships. Redemption is about healing both men’s and women’s relationships with God.

In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7).

   A better statement by the Council would have simply read: “Husbands and wives should respect and love each other and raise their children to love the Lord, as they themselves do.” However, they did not do that. That would have endorsed female equality and would have negated the entire Danvers Statement.  So let’s continue with what they did say.

   The simple reading of these scriptures instructs wives to submit to their husbands. The Council apparently realized there was a problem with this and decided to pretty it up. Leadership is not mentioned in the scriptures they give. And, even though men are told to love their wives and not harm them, in actuality, a husband can be in love with his wife and still physically and emotionally harm her.  Another problem is that these scriptures do not instruct women in how to accept the authority of her husband, which is not surprising since these scriptures do not give a husband authority. It says only for wives to submit.

   For centuries men have allowed no exceptions to these scriptures, and if these scriptures are followed as written, it means wives are to submit to their husbands in any and all situations, and to any and all men who are husbands, redeemed or not, and harsh or not.

   Men and governments have used these scriptures against women and have allowed wives to be abused, both physically and mentally. Many husbands abuse their wives based on these scriptures. There are instances of pastors telling women that they must submit to certain levels of abuse, including physical abuse, because women are to submit to their husbands.

   Wives do not need to be under the authority of a husband-leader.  What man wants a wife-child as a companion? The woman Adam was given in the Garden was a companion fully grown and fully responsible. It is our children who need leaders—the leadership of both mothers and fathers.

In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men (Galatians 3:28:28; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

   They do not deny that women can receive salvation; it is just that women’s salvation comes with restrictions. According to Bruce Ware, who helped write this, a woman’s salvation comes first by accepting the “role” he says God gave her, and then by accepting God.2 This is where they tell women that they cannot do this and cannot do that in church. Of course each church decides exactly what this and that means. One rule of thumb is to see what the church considers “important” work, and that is for men; the rest can be done by either women or men.

7.) In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission—domestic, religious, or civil—ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Daniel 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20; 5:27-29; 1 Peter 3:1-2).

   According to the CBMW, the woman is supposed to determine if her god-husband is asking her to sin. This puts no accountability on the husband. It all becomes her problem. This same woman, who has to be led, now has to be able to recognize and determine if what she is being led to do is a sin.

8.) In both men and women, a heartfelt sense of call to the ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Timothy 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.

   If a woman is called to preach or serve in some other leadership capacity, she must deny that call because, according to the Council, God cannot call a woman to preach. Now they are telling God what He cannot do.

9.) With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Corinthians 12:7-21).

   Look at the hypocrisy and condescending attitude here. They are willing to allow women to go out into the gutters of the streets where the homeless, drug addicts, and criminals are, but will not allow them to serve behind the safety of a pulpit.

   They will send women to foreign mission fields where the people are darker and do not speak the same language. A woman said after the SBC missionary commissioning service of her granddaughter, “How can they send girls out to these dangerous places?” Yet they do. But they will keep the white, English-speaking churches for males. Jesus saw the whole world as a field to harvest and called for laborers. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37). Would Jesus send the women out into the dangerous parts of the field while the men get to choose safe places to serve?

10.) We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.

   What this really says is that it all hinges on the women. All women must submit to males. The male headship man does not bear any responsibility, or accountability. Everything is about women submitting. You see, when a woman submits, it automatically gives a man “Male Headship”—without him doing a thing to earn it or deserve it. And it does not hold him accountable if he decides to sin against his wife.

So says The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as written by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. While they quote many scriptures, none back up Male Headship or a husband’s authority over his wife.

Jesus is not quoted in any of the scriptures given by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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2 Responses to Part 4. Demand for an apology from CBMW

  1. I know this will not surprise you, but there are EVEN MORE flaws in their arguments.
    1) In their short ref. to a few verses, they take the text of Scripture out of its immediate context in each case, which is never a good idea. It is quite possible to come to incorrect conclusions by taking text out of context as it does not follow the flow of the immediate context’s discussion. In fact, doing this in some cases leads to immoral conclusions.

    2) They misuse the Reformation concept of the clarity of Scripture. The Catholic church claimed that the Reformers could not even be sure they were saved! The Reformers replied that the way of salvation was so clear in Scripture that they were sure, but also admitted that other parts of Scripture were not as clear. In other words, the idea of the clarity (AKA perspicuity) of Scripture had a specific limited meaning which they extend way beyond what it meant in history.

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    • Thanks for these, Donald. I am not a scholar and I am sure there are lots of flaws in their arguments. Seminaries that are supposed to be turning out scholars, lapped this Danvers Statement up and stand by it. The main purpose in all their Rationales and Affirmations is to put a thumb on women and keep it there. They have succeeded.

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