Follow-up post to "Leadership and Submission in the Home"
Hello again, friends! I hope your holidays have been enjoyable, Christ-centered, and only slightly « insane » (if you have extended families, you know what I mean! 😉 )! With Christmas in the rear-view mirror, it is time for me to make good on my promise to write a follow-up post to « Leadership and Submission in the Home. » A day late, yes, but hopefully it will be « done soon enough if well enough, » as Calvin would say!
Wow. That’s all I can say, « WOW! » …this has been a difficult article to write! I feel like I have spent more time working on this post than on any other thing in these past weeks….and yet here I am, down to the wire and staring at a blank screen!
Mostly, I have been trying to understand, « Okay, what just happened?! »
My blog has dwelt from the beginning on theology, controversies, and my evolving thoughts as I wade through the sea of opinionation in academia and the church. I have had a modest readership and a few responses from friends and family. I thought I knew what the rules were, and what a blog was: recently, however, I been realizing that I have much to learn about online etiquette!
I am reminded of a story told by a professor, who asked his son to make him a web-site to promote a recent book. His son had the site built in a day or two, and in a few more days there were hundreds, then thousands of readers. They formed a community and a busy forum. Within weeks, they were requesting, then demanding that this professor – this professor who thought he was making a site for himself – would contribute to their forum. After all – he owed them!
Ah, the mystery and complexity of the online social ethics!
I believe that I have transgressed an unspoken online rule, and for this I must repent and apologize. This rule is as follows: When you are posting in a « public » forum, you must be a) able to back up your words with research, b) able to defend your beliefs against all takers, and c) be able to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to fielding questions, moderating discussions, and following links to further resources which are presented. Blogging is not « journaling, » but a form of « publishing, » and similar rules apply.
Having re-read Leadership and Submission, I feel that it was not here that my online blunder occurred. Although my words should have been kinder at points, I was wise to limit myself here to only one section of the gender debate (the concept of leadership/authority in the home), to hing my arguments on defendable grounds (personal experience), and to give a clear request for a very specific type of response (seasoned advice).In the comments section, however, things went in a much different direction.
When Leadership and Submission began to be viewed and commented on by an increasingly large number of people, I go that giddy, excited/confused/scared feeling that Frankenstein must have had when his creation rose from the table. « It’s….ALIVE!!! …….now what? » I suppose that I have been building towards increased readership and discussions on my blog from the beginning – now that it was happening, however, I didn’t quite know what to do!
At first, the comments were just what I had requested – short summaries of « what worked for me, » with some comments and corrections. As I began to respond, and then counter respond, and counter-counter respond (etc.), however, things began to change. I was at first motivated by curiosity: it has been a while since I exchanged thoughts with a well-versed egalitarian: I was curious of how they would respond to various arguments. Very quickly, however, the conversation seemed to escalate. Not only were there four very well versed egalitarians responding and counter-responding to my comments, but they were not letting up! It seemed that the more energy I poured into replying, the more responses came back at me.
I was beginning to be swamped, but I hated the thought of having the comments section of my post completely overwhelmed by people posting their disagreement with it! Although I had begun this discussion with a desire to learn, somewhere in there pride reared it’s ugly head and I began to focus more on just « winning. »
In trying to « win » this discussion, I made two grave errors. First, I stopped really listening to the egalitarians who were posting. I did not want to hear their case: I wanted to win! I found myself reading only to find loop-holes, in order to craft frustratingly unanswerable responses. When I had the last word on a thread, I chalked one up to victory.
I deeply regret my combative spirit present especially in the middle section of the threads, because from the beginning, this is not what I have wanted my blog to be about. I really, really dislike debating for the sake of debate, and I hate the fact that I have done just that.
I am very, very sorry to those whom I have hurt in this way!
I made a second error as well – and here I return full circle to the idea of « online-ethics » which I began with. In trying to « conquer » the whole egalitarian position in one foul swoop, I left the narrow bandwidth of knowledge which I could defend with authority, and ventured boldly across the wide topography of the gender-roles battlefield. If I were to track down every point which I touched on, and every counter-point which was presented to me, I think a lifetime would not be long enough to do all of the research necessary to validate my words!
It is here that I think I have erred most grievously, and been punished most severely. (Yes, I have been hurt in this debate, just as I have hurt others)
Certain people have made it very clear that since I have spoken, the online code clearly states that I must follow through: I must follow every link, and I must validate every word which I have spoken, or retract.
Well, as tempting as the research option is, my present schedule prohibits it. For this reason, I feel that my only option is simply to « retract: » whether complementarianism or egalitarianism is correct, I must admit that I have failed to « win » this battle for the complementarian side. Further to being not being very nice, I have also « lost. »
The white flag is up, the battle is over, and that is that.
This leads to the obvious question: where do we go from here?
Although this has been a steep learning curve for me, and it has been difficult and costly (to myself and, I regret, to others), I still feel that it has been immensely valuable. My beliefs have been challenged, my worldview has been broadened, and my thinking has been sharpened by these interactions. I hope that this will only be the beginning of something very profitable for myself and others!
I am moving forward a wiser man, however. After attempting to drink from the fire-hose, I have learned some humility. I will not again bite off more than I can chew, but will divide the debates into narrow, manageable, « bite-sized » slices. I will also moderate the discussions in such a way as to keep our thoughts focused on the ideas presented, rather than fanning out infinitely, as they have done here.
Towards this end, I have mapped out a series of posts which I would like to write, to do real justice to this massive and pressingly relevant topic.
Phase 1: Understanding the Intellectual Landscape
….a) Not all complementarians are the same
….b) Not all egalitarians are the same
….c) Let’s be clear about what comp./egal.’s disagree on!
Phase 2: Developing a Coherent Hermeneutic
….a) Read « The Blue Parakeet, » and re-read « Slaves, Women and Homosexuals »
….b) Do serious research on Christian hermeneutics
….c) Formulate and write a personal hermeneutic, which answer questions like:
……..i. How do we know which Bible-rules to follow, and which ones to ignore?
……..ii. How is context related to the commands of Scripture?
……..iii. Have the biases of church history distorted Bible translations?
Phase 3: Examining the Relevant Passages
….a) 1 Cor. 11:3-12, 14:31-38
….b) Eph. 5:21-33
….c) 1 Tim. 2:8-15
….d) 1 Pet. 3:1-9
Phase 4: Formulate a coherent position about the Bible’s teaching on…
….a) Gender-roles in the home
….b) Gender-roles in the church
….c) Gender-roles in society
I will likely have the first set of posts written within the next two months: it may be years before I work my way up to the final phase, however. I wish I could move faster, but life is life!
Whether you track with my progress over the long haul, or choose to leave at this point, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have participated in the discussions. Iron has sharpened iron here, and I feel that I have really learned a lot from this experience!
May God bless you as you walk in humility and love before Him!
PS – As I have time, I will post answers to the questions raised to me in the threads, just to give closure to those who asked.