there really is a ‘council on biblical manhood and womanhood’

This morning, I came across something I did not know existed, and I initially thought was a joke. But alas, this incredible discovery is real (although, imho, it is still a joke).

Lo and behold, there exists (and I’m not making this up), a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. They even have a logo.

I kid you not – A Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood!

This is not an Onion article, nor is it satire. It’s a real organization. Their self-description (I kid you not – this is in the very first paragraph on their ‘About Us‘ page) reads:

In 1987, a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches. Because of the widespread compromise of biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood and its tragic effects on the home and the church, these men and women established The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (underlines mine)

Seriously! They formed their organization to “address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches!” And they did so in nineteen eighty-seven! Not nineteen fifty-seven, not eighteen eighty-seven, nineteen eighty-seven!

They go on to say that they stand in “opposition to the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism.” And they make no apologies: they are firmly against the equality of men and women! And it gets better. This group has:

articulated what is now known as the “complementarian position” which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function. In the home, men lovingly are to lead their wives and family as women intelligently are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. In the church, while men and women share equally in the blessings of salvation, some governing and teaching roles are restricted to men. (emphasis, bold, red, quotes, and implied outrage all mine)

The group regularly rails against (surprise, surprise) same-sex marriage (in one article, the legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa is said to be worse than a 500-year flood causing damage to the homes and farms of thousands of people), homosexuality, and feminism.

Here are pictures of those serving in leadership roles on their Board of Directors. (Should I be shocked that everyone but the secretary is a white male?) And here are the council members. (Again, I don’t know whether to be more aghast at the fact that everyone is white, or that the five women serving on the board all have ‘homemaker’ or ‘Pastor’s wife’ listed first as primary occupation, followed only then by ‘author’ or ‘consultant.’ I certainly don’t see the men listing ‘Loving Husband’ or ‘Father’ before their titles of ‘Founder and Chairman,’ ‘President,’ or ‘Executive Director’ in the members’ descriptions. Is it also telling that two of the women don’t even have pictures?)

The group’s latest job, it appears, is to criticize the new revision of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible (the first revision to the NIV in 25 years) because it includes “gender-neutral” language. The CBMW’s review of the NIV is here.

Sigh.

Here’s an observation: if this group had the word “Islamic” in it, and all of the members were citing the Qur’an and the women pictured were in burqas or veils, I’m guessing the members of this same CBMW group would condemn it as Sharia Law fundamentalism suppressing the rights of women. But somehow, because it’s a Christian organization and they’re citing the Bible, this group has no problem suppressing the roles of women, and citing divine authority in doing so.

The use of religion to suppress women is wrong regardless of the religion used to do so. This – THIS! – is precisely why non-Christians hate fundamentalist Christians: because they use scripture to keep women down, when all Jesus ever wanted to do was lift them up.

I shake my head…

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22 Responses

  1. Is there a council on Biblical Douchiness?

    RG

  2. lol. there must be.

  3. You saw, I assume, that they have a journal – open access no less – now in its sixteenth volume:

    http://www.cbmw.org/journal/

  4. nope, i hadn’t seen that.

  5. You only discovered them now?! Lucky you!!

    What really frosts me is when they use their notion of subordination within the Trinity as a model for male/female relationships. Never mind the legitimacy of subordinationism. Finite humans are like an infinite Triune God how?

    Personally I think like one of deacons: “Women are doing all the work; might as well give the title to go with it.”

  6. Bob,

    If you’re so shocked at the existence of this group, then you clearly have had limited dealings with Southern Baptists, at least of the sort whose leanings reflect the leadership. This is absolutely typical of the SBC.

  7. Ugh, I have a copy of the CBMW book, “Recovering Biblical Manhhood and Womanhood” still on my bookshelf (married into my wife’s copy). I don’t think either of us have read it, much, I’ve kept it so I can specifically reference things I don’t like about my old church life. I think your commentary is exactly right, that there are legions within those movements who are blind to the parallels with other movements which they would condemn.

    Interestingly, on the board of directors, etc, you will not find the name of one of the prestigious contributors to this book, Mr. George Rekers, who promoted counseling to “overcome” homosexuality, who provided expert testimony against gay people adopting children, and who “employed a male prostitute as a travel companion for a two-week vacation in Europe.”

    Also this week, one CBMW chairman, CJ Mahaney is “taking a temporary leave” or something to that effect, from his role in sovereign grace ministries, following what looks to be scandalous to a large degree, and revealing of problems stemming from authoritarian, “complementarian,” shepherding-type movements. It was within one of their churches, which we attended, that our CBMW book was obtained.

  8. i’ve heard these arguments time and again by those seeking to maintain a male dominated church leadership. i was amazed at the fact that a foundation needed to be formed to promote this single issue. and you are correct, i am not familiar with the inner workings of so. baptist politics. that said, we have this same mentality in much of the churches of christ.

  9. I see several connections to the PCA church too, and I have books by Susan Hunt, who is on the board. And when I joined the PCA church, I thought I was getting away from all the S. Baptist fundamentalism of my childhood.

  10. Bob, I’m almost glad to know that you weren’t aware of these guys. Sadly, the Piper/Grudem crew has been spewing this kind of vitriol for nearly twenty-five years, brainwashing women into believing it’s the only way they can be pleasing to God. A few years ago a member of our own church heritage (CoC) told me I should take time to “ask God for more patience, humility, and submissiveness.” He was twenty years my junior. Any attempt at conversation on this subject is perceived as a “feminist attempt to insinuate women into male leadership roles.” It doesn’t matter how humbly or kindly or reasonably you try to speak to these folks, the honest truth is that they don’t want you to speak at all if you’re a woman. There was a lot of condescending, patronizing head-bobbing but little else. I am no longer with that church. At 61, I’d had enough.

    Never mind that modern scholarship and Christian development have given us a fuller understanding of those NT passages that seem to restrict women, the fact is, we should simply KNOW BETTER. . . in our gut. Arrogantly and stubbornly excluding women from participation in so many aspects of church life violates the very heart of the gospel, that Christ died for all. It prevents the true unity to which we are called. It can damage an individual’s spirituality and prevent them from forming a closer relationship with God. It prevents far too many talented women from using their spiritual gifts in God’s service. It hinders the spread of the gospel in a modern world that sees the exclusion of women as discriminatory and insulting. In short, it’s just plain wrong.

    And, yes, the same principles apply to the gay and lesbian community!

  11. Isn’t “Complementarianism” used to justify Male Supremacy via “God Saith”?

    And when combined with Christian Reconstructionism/Theonomy/Taking Back Christian America, doesn’t it sound like “Handmaid’s Tale as How-To Manual” or “Just like Shari’a, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”?

  12. For a while I have not been able to decide whether the Biblical Council On Manhood and Womanhood is a source of endless amusement or frustration for me.

    After you read their literature and hear them speak enough about the equality of men and women before God but difference in role and function (e.g., men: authority, leading, teaching, preaching, decision-makers; women: submission, following, nursery, kitchen, home, cleaning/laundry)…it’s difficult not to consider the following to capture the gist of their position: separate but equal.

    Yeah…I think we know all about the ‘glory,’ ‘equality,’ and ‘justice’ of that approach…

  13. Another great example of Poe’s Law.

    If you’re looking for more fuel for your evangelical-gender-issues rage, check out “Girls gone Wise”. It’s a website giving advice to girls and young women, and it made me die a little bit inside when a friend linked to it the other day.

    ps-first time commenting – love the blog!

  14. thanx eric. welcome. and thanx (methinks??) for the link. i’ll check it out.

  15. I wonder if they give out “Biblical manhood cards?”
    If so I am revoking all their “man-cards!”

  16. [...] instead promised to create a new website where he will attempt to better articulate his “complementarian” position of using “biblical authority” to continue to suppress discuss the roles [...]

  17. My Little Pony as rebooted by Lauren Faust has six vastly-different archetypes of femininity in its six main characters: Take-charge Applejack, cocky and competitive Rainbow Dash, “free spirit” hyper-excitable Pinkie Pie, studious and intellectual Twilight Sparkle, elegant artistic Rarity, and shy/nurturing/girly Fluttershy. All are young adults, two own their own businesses, all but one are self-supporting (and that one is a graduate student on an internship). Fluttershy’s the closest to the “meek and submissive”, yet she still has an inner strength that comes out in life-or-death situations.

    You mean finite Lauren Faust can come up with more variations and archetypes of the Feminine than infinite God Almighty through this Council on Biblical Manhood/Womanhood? (Though God through cage-fighting fanboy Mark Driscoll seems to have only one archetype of masculinity — “I Can Beat You Up!”)

  18. How refreshing to read a blog that’s actually appropriately surprised and outraged! In many circles CBMW’s stance is considered the “true biblical” stance based on a “plain reading” of the text of scripture– and egalitarian Christians are on the defensive, accused of disrespecting and rebelling against the will and word of God, and trying to show that theirs is a viable Christian stance.

    It is the “complementarians” who claim they are on the moral high ground, defending the integrity of Scripture against the deviancy of modern culture. Egalitarians are considered to be “compromising with the world” and “swayed by modernity” into following a slippery slope of deception.

    The “very heart of the gospel” to these people is the “biblical order” of roles which they claim to be established by God from Creation onwards. It has very little to do with the unity of the Spirit or the inclusiveness of Christ’s sacrifice. I’m very happy to read a blog where these things are given the importance they are due.

  19. They started in response to the group Christians for biblical equality. Cbeinternational.org. You’d love them!

  20. [...] “Robert Cargill: There really is a council on biblical manhood and womanhood“ This morning, I came across something I did not know existed, and I initially thought was a joke. But alas, this incredible discovery is real (although, imho, it is still a joke). Lo and behold, there exists (and I’m not making this up), a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. They even have a logo. I kid you not – A Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood! This is not an Onion article, nor is it satire. It’s a real organization. Their self-description (I kid you not – this is in the very first paragraph on their ‘About Us‘ page) reads: In 1987, a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches. Because of the widespread compromise of biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood and its tragic effects on the home and the church, these men and women established The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (underlines mine) Seriously! They formed their organization to “address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches!” And they did so in nineteen eighty-seven! Not nineteen fifty-seven, not eighteen eighty-seven, nineteen eighty-seven! [...]

  21. It’s easy to bash biblical complementarianism. It’s even easier to caricature it. It’s easier still to reject it philosophically and/or emotionally.

    Though the word was coined in the 1980’s, it’s incredibly difficult to demonstrate that Jesus and/or the biblical authors rejected the concepts of complementarianism.

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