More thoughts guaranteed to raise your blood pressure. From Christ is deeper still: Top-line thoughts from the Raleigh Boot Camp.
I am wondering what the correct technical word is for a pile of dog poo like this. Ah yes, I know, complementarianism!
Let us start by looking at 1 Corinthians 16:13 in a range of Bible translations:
- Today's New International Version (TNIV): Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
- The Message (MSG): Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute
- Revised Standard Version(RSV): Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
- New English Bible (NEB): Be alert; stand firm in the faith; be valiant and strong.
- New Jerusalem Bible: Be vigilant, stay firm in the faith, be brave and strong.
- New Living Translation (NLT): Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
- The Source: Keep your wits about you! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be mighty!
- New International Version - UK: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
- English Standard Version (ESV): Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
- King James Version (KJV): Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
A short pause for a comment that, as is so often the case, the KJV will be completely mis-understood by most people: "quit like men" will not be taken to mean be courageous or anything similar. My teenage son said it means you have to beat everyone up and then fire a rocket launcher at them.
Now my main point. The original text (literally "be men") is a picture, a common expression. To take this as an instruction to have a masculine ethos is quite simply a misuse of language. Clearly it is intended to mean "be courageous" which is entirely consistent with the other demands. Be Alert. Stand firm. Be courageous. Be strong.
It is incredibly insulting to the memory of extremely courageous women to claim that this is a masculine trait. Just take the second world war as an example. As a pacifist one of my Great Aunts drove around much of North Africa in a Red Cross ambulance during the second world war (I have always thought driving an amulance around a rapidly changing war zone is highly dangerous). Many women demonstrated great courage in rescuing Jews and providing routes back home for them and people who had escaped from concentration camps or escaped crashed planes. Others served in the resistance and special operations, while others set a fine example in concentration camps. Many rose to face new challenges that they had always been told were beyond them in factories, fields, transport etc etc.
Anyone who has seen a woman go through another pregnancy after a previous difficult and/or dangerous birth has seen great courage in action.
In short to claim that this simile justifies a masculine ethos for the church is plain ludicrous. It also gives a dangerous edge to the idea of being courageous and one that disenfranchises at a stroke 50% of the worlds population.
It is about time we had a competition. So come up with your short and theologically sound alternatives to "A church should have a masculine ethos". Answers in the comments please and the best can enter one of the bus slogan competitions.