Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

“Biblical Manhood” that Overlooks and Ignores Women

Biblical manhood that overlooks and ignores women

Tornado damage in Ecke McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2011
(Wikimedia Commons)

The latest blog post from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) is entitled “Biblical Manhood Amid the Rubble”.[1] This blog post, written by minister Jeff Robinson, is about how the Christian men of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama, pulled together admirably and helped their communities after a deadly F5 tornado swept through their cities and left massive devastation in its wake.

After reading this article which is all about how wonderful the men were, I have just one question: Where were the women?

Women are not mentioned at all! Not once. Sadly, the women have become invisible and their efforts not worthy of mention.

The purpose of Jeff Robinson’s blog post was to promote and glorify the CBMW view of “Biblical manhood” which, according to Jeff, is that “biblical” men are godly, vigorous and bold. They use chainsaws and drive trucks. They serve humbly and are loving. And they weep with others who are hurting. Do these activities and qualities constitute “biblical manhood”?

Several women in the Bible could easily be described as being godly, vigorous and bold. Moreover, the biblical injunctions to be loving, humble servants, and to weep with those who are weeping, apply to all Christians, both men and women. (Not surprisingly, the Bible mentions nothing about chainsaws and trucks.)

I am an Australian and we recently went through what has been called the “Summer of Natural Disasters”. These natural disasters included an F5 cyclone, unprecedented ferocious flooding, as well as the more expected but equally deadly bushfires. Many Australians—men and women, Christians and non-Christians, church agencies and non-church agencies—are helping out in whatever way they can. We are all working to help our fellow Aussies who have been hard hit. Can these selfless and hard-working efforts also be labelled as constituting “biblical manhood”?

One of my internet friends, Dawn Wilson, lives in Athens, Alabama, and survived the terrifying tornado. Dawn told me that, in fact, “Many women have helped with the removal of the enormous amounts of rubble. Women have laboured in this back-breaking work right alongside men. Women were not simply ‘cooking and handing out sandwiches to the hungry,’ they rolled up their sleeves and pitched in wherever needed.”

I am genuinely glad that Jeff Robinson was encouraged by seeing the men of his congregation helping the community; however, someone could easily get the impression after reading his article that Jeff is only interested in being a pastor to men. As I said, where are the women? Were the women not encouraging to him? And if not, why not?

It saddens me that the hierarchical complementarian teaching of CBMW minimises the capabilities of women and continually makes a sharp distinction between men and women, dividing humanity into two distinct groups rather than uniting us. Christian men and women working together—working according to individual talents, strengths, personalities and spiritual gifts—can only make our work more effective and bring more glory to God.

In contrast to Jeff Robinson’s deliberately sexist blog post, here is a riveting (non-sexist) letter posted on the Mercy Hospital’s website by Dr Kevin J. Kikta. The letter is about Dr Kikta’s experience of the Joplin tornado and the immediate aftermath. Please join me in praying for the people of these devastated communities.


Footnotes

[1] The CBMW website has recently been gutted and many articles and blogs are no longer online.

[2] Maybe I’m being picky here, but this statement of Jeff bothers me:

“My instincts as a Christian man and a rookie undershepherd [pastor] screamed at me from the depths of Ephesians 5: ‘Your new family in Christ is hurting, you must rise up and lead, provide and protect.’”  (I have underlined “man”.)

It seems to me that the word “man” is unnecessary. Would the instincts of Christian women in the same circumstances have been any different? Hopefully, any Christian, especially those with leadership abilities, would want to rise up, lead, provide and protect, especially at a time of crisis.


Related Articles

The Women who Protected Moses
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
A Suitable Helper
Leading Together in the Home
25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women

3 thoughts on ““Biblical Manhood” that Overlooks and Ignores Women

  1. Amen, Marg. In his alleged attempt to honor the men, he dishonors a great percentage of the workers.

    And IF the workers from his own congregation and other nearby are mostly male, I’d wager a guess it’s because his congregation marginalizes women and discourages their talents from anything except the designated-by-man-not-God “women’s work” areas.

  2. Retha, I also wonder if the women in his congregation were discouraged from helping, and were marginalised.

    The church and the broader community are disadvantaged when the workforce is limited because of imposed or implied gender roles and restrictions.

  3. Unfortunately, many women are content to sit back and let the men “lead”.
    In their mind, it is:

    1. God’s design.
    2. Much easier. No need to ask God for His guidance, to seek His will, to depend on Him, to find out what your gifts are, to serve to one’s fullest ability, to desire the most important spiritual gift (1 Cor 14:1), etc.
    3. They feel content/fortunate/blessed, that they have a husband/ pastor/ elders, who can “lead” them, make all the decisions, do all the preaching/teaching, etc. No need to even have discernment. Just follow.

    This mindset is constantly being reinforced by teachings from Hierarchical Complementarians, especially the CBMW. And more follow, away from what God intended. It is nothing less than tragic for the Kingdom of God.

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