Errors at The Junia Project – Part 1

Recently a blog article entitled God Sends Both Men AND Women by Susanna Krizo was published over at The Junia Project. This week I would like to review that article and demonstrate the errors in logic and Biblical interpretation. I am not trying to attack the author as an individual, but rather focus on the arguments themselves. The types of arguments employed in the article are often used by people pushing for equal roles for men and women in church leadership. Understanding where the arguments go wrong can help us to both support women who are truly called to Biblical positions and also be faithful to Scripture where certain roles are restricted to qualified men. Before I even begin this 5-day and nearly 4000 word series, let me state up front that I believe both married women and single women can serve as Christian missionaries, as long as their specific missionary tasks and roles are not explicitly prohibited by Scripture.

Now before we jump into the blog article, we need to review some specific background. The Junia Project teaches incorrectly that:

“The Bible teaches that both men and women are called to serve at all levels of the Church, and that leadership should be based on gifting and not on gender” (About the Junia Project, emphasis in the original).

Notice that they use a straw man to imply that their opponents are arguing that church leadership is only based on gender. Not true. Has anyone ever argued that all men are automatically qualified for church leadership positions simply because they are men? I doubt it. And, if they did it would not be Biblical. Rather, the Bible defines requirements for pastors, elders and deacons that include both their gender (males) and their gifts (or qualifications). The Bible does teach that these church leaders must be men (1 Timothy 3:1-13), and that they must also meet numerous important qualifications including:

  1. above reproach
  2. husband of one wife
  3. sober-minded
  4. self-controlled
  5. respectable
  6. hospitable
  7. able to teach
  8. not a drunkard
  9. not violent but gentle
  10. not quarrelsome
  11. not a lover of money
  12. manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive
  13. not be a recent convert
  14. well thought of by outsiders

Is gender included within this list? Yes, absolutely. It is impossible for a woman to be a husband. Is gender the only thing in the list? Far from it! Many (probably most) males do not satisfy all of these requirements. So, it is a straw man argument to say that “leadership should be based on gifting and not on gender.”

sister-wives-seasonThe correct, Biblical, position is that church leadership must be based on meeting that full set of qualifications of which one of the 14 in that list above is gender. On that list, I suspect the only one the people at The Junia Project want to ignore is the “husband of one wife.” Would they be okay with a pastor who was a drunkard or violent? How about a husband of  four wives? Of course not. Well, at least I hope not!!!

The second error in their “About” statement is a little more subtle, but seems to have become ingrained in our modern culture. Notice how they say “leadership should be based on gifting and not on gender.” The unstated presupposition is that gender is not a gift from God. They are making gender to be mutually exclusive from God’s gifts. In reality, our genders—both male and female—are one of our wonderful gifts from God. I certainly rejoice in the God-given female genders of my wife and daughters. Gender was part of God’s original design:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:27, 31).

So, addressing the actual article will have to wait until Day 2. Hopefully my post today will help you spot the incorrect presuppositions that often underlie discussions about gender and the Christian church.

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21 Comments

Filed under Christian Life, Church, Evangelism

21 responses to “Errors at The Junia Project – Part 1

  1. It is always encouraging to know that people are reading one’s blog, isn’t it? Thanks for engaging in a meaningful way with our ideas. Just to clarify, when you say The Junia Project believes gender is the only qualification for leadership you are setting up a straw man of your own. What we believe is that gender alone should not disqualify someone from leadership. And we are not ignoring “husband of one wife” as a qualification. Our studies show that the phrase was actually a euphemism for monogamy in that time period. Your readers might appreciate more background on what egalitarians believe about Paul’s qualifications for elders, based on the original manuscripts (the English translation adds numerous male pronouns that aren’t in the original). This article would be a good starting point and provides additional references for those interested in digging deeper. Looking forward to the series! http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/pauls-qualifications-for-church-leaders/

    • Mary Ann

      The author of this comment fails to acknowledge that you cannot accurately interpret Paul’s letters to the Christian churches, without an understanding of the culture of the times in which they were written. Paul was addressing specific problems within the individual church communities he established. He was NOT setting edicts that apply to all churches at all times. For an in-depth discussion of the issues involved here see:

      • Mary Ann,

        Your web link was broken, so I removed it. As for your comments, I would partially disagree. Understanding the culture is certainly helpful when reading the Bible – not just Paul’s writings. However, many of Paul’s writings were edicts that apply to all churches at all times. And, since all Scripture is God-breathed, we must remember that these are not merely the words of a man named Paul, but the words of God.

        Regards,

        Dale

  2. Tim P

    Hi there: Thanks for the interesting blog. When the Junia Project states that leadership is based on gifting not on gender, they are presupposing that “leadership” is a spiritual gift (Greek: charismata) based on its listing in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (I believe the ESV translates it “administration,” though the Greek nautical term kupernesis suggests leadership rather than what we think of as management or administration). In contrast, nowhere is gender listed as a charismatia, or spiritual gift. Instead, Paul associates gender with nature in Romans 1 (a complex passage to be sure). Both believers and unbelievers have gender, whereas only believers are empowered with charismata. Moreover, the meaning of charismata is closely associated with the word charis, the Greek word for “grace.” Thus, the point of the statement is that spiritual gifts are given to believers on the basis of God’s grace. Grace by its very nature is not merited, whether by works, gender, or anything else external to God’s gracious nature.
    Certainly your appeal to Titus 1 is relevant. However, it is important to point out that this is a list of qualifications for bishops (perhaps obscured by the ESV’s translation of it as “overseer”). I encourage you to read Gordon Fee’s article on the priority of spiritual gifting for church ministry in Discovering Biblical Equality (InterVarsity Press, chapter 14). It seems a huge stretch to say that “bishop” (episcopos) equals all church leadership. Just my initial thoughts. Grace and peace.

  3. Hi Dale! I’m glad that you enjoyed my article on the Junia Project. I have lots more on http://recoveringfrombiblical.blogspot.com/

    I am really eager to hear what you have to say about my article, but before we get there, let’s take a look at this argument that “one woman man” (as it is in Greek) refers to a married man.
    I hope you forgive me for quoting straight from my book “When Dogmas Die: The Return of Biblical Equality,” or I should say, the rough draft of it that I have in my computer (so please, do ignore any spelling or grammar errors, I have dyslexia, and don’t always see them).

    (Beginning of quote)
    “According to Knight [In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood], the masculine language in 1 Timothy 3 is the reason for the exclusion of women from leadership in the church. Yet, the only phrase which is masculine is mias guinakos andra (“one woman man”) found in verses 2 and 12. Knight writes that aner (“man”) is used to distinguish men from women, which is correct, but because Greek is an androcentric language, aner functions also as a generic term and includes women, as seen in Romans 4:6-8

    Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man [anthropos] to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose [hos, neut.] lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose [hos, neut.] sins are covered; Blessed is the man [aner] to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” (Rom. 4:6-8)

    In Psalm 32, which Paul quotes in Romans 4:6-8, the Hebrew word for “man” is ‘adam, which means “a human being.” Similarly, in Matthew 19:5 the word for “man” is anthropos, although Genesis 2:24 uses ‘yish, the Hebrew equivalent of aner. D.A. Carson, one of the contributors to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, acknowledges that “people considered generically are regularly found in the masculine gender in Greek.” James, for example, used aner often as a generic term when writing to all believers.

    The overwhelmingly masculine language of the Bible has caused unexpected problems in traditional theology, one of them being the denial of the resurrection of the female body. Because the body of Christ is called a man (aner) in Ephesians 4:13, and because the saints are being conformed into the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29), some early church theologians concluded that women will rise as men. Augustine denied this because the female is a nature, not a vice, and therefore part of the original creation. He corrected also those who believed adelphos (“brother”) excluded women.

    In the Tenth Commandment, all of Israel was told not to covet their neighbor’s wife (Exod. 20:17); in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 Paul writes that it is not good for a human (anthropos) to touch a woman and in 1 Corinthians 7:25-28 he again writes that is it good for a human (anthropos) to remain as he is: the one bound the a wife should not seek to be freed, and the one who is unmarried should not seek a wife. In all cases women are included, although the language is masculine. Because Greek is an androcentric language, it is not possible to exclude women from masculine language; it is only possible to exclude men from feminine language. In 1 Timothy 5:9, the same phrase is found in the feminine (henoos andros gunee) because Paul is writing exclusively about women. In 1 Timothy 3:1-2, the office of bishop is open to anyone (ei-tis), and therefore the masculine gender is necessary, but it does not exclude women.

    Ei-tis is used 62 times in the New Testament but it is never used in a gender exclusive manner. It has been suggested that mias guinakos andra is equivalent of monogamy, but it is a false assumption, for monogamos is a Greek term (monos “single” and gamos “marriage”) and both Greece and Rome were monogamous societies wherefore Paul did not have to forbid polygamy. But he did have to exhort both men and women to remain faithful to their spouses, wherefore the one who wished to become an overseer had to have a disposition of faithfulness. Considering that, at least, Paul and John were unmarried, and because Paul wished all to be as he was, i.e., celibate (1 Cor. 7:7), it is unlikely that marriage was a requirement. Therefore it is better to understand mias guinakos andra as “faithful.”
    (End of quote)

    This program that you are using didn’t allow for footnotes, but if you want to read the whole story with the references, I am more than happy to send you my book absolutely free. You know where to me find me.

    • To Susanna and all who have commented – unfortunately my very busy schedule this week does not allow me to respond to all of the comments. I have, so far, approved all of the comments despite my disagreements with some and the violation of my comments policy for others. If/when time permits, I will try to respond.

  4. Don Johnson

    The phrase sometimes translated as “husband of one wife” is also applied to deacons, but Phoebe was a diakonos, so this means the meaning of the phrase in quotes cannot exclude females, whatever it means.

    Furthermore, this phrase has been found on tombstones in Ephesus where it is ascribed to both the husband and wife, so from that information it means “faithful spouse”.

  5. Heather

    I’m just curious- do you believe that church leaders, as you describe in your list above, must be married men? Can single men be pastors or elders of a church?

  6. greghahn4

    The straw man you created jumped out at me too, but I see Gail already pointed that out. So yes, I’m looking forward to your series!

    Some background information on the “Husband of one wife” being on gravestones throughout Europe in reference to either gender is found here: http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/2006/07/scholarly-and-fundamentalist_25.html

  7. Kaye

    Dale, do think that it is permissible for single men to be elders?

  8. Tenerife

    “It is impossible for a woman to be a husband.”

    The office of widow/female elder is described in I Timothy 5:9–13 with requirements of a spiritual nature, one of which is having previously been a “WIFE of one HUSBAND.” The only other group charged with that exact qualification are the male elders. That Paul is not speaking of widows in general but a special group within such a class can hardly be doubted because no other demographic is expected to meet such spiritual qualifications in order to receive aid.

    http://www.faithdefenders.com/church-life/WomenEldersintheEarlyChurch.html

  9. Mabel

    When the 10 commandment includes one that says ” do not covet your neighbor’s wife”, no-one thinks it is directed only to men. The main point is in not coveting, not in the gender of the coveted object. All would agree that a woman ought not covet her neighbor’s husband. As for the qualification of husband of one wife, the emphasis is in monogamy, not in the male gender. Few believe that single men cannot be elders, and married men must have more than one child, since his “children” must be obedient to the parents. Few also would disqualify or fire an elder if one of his children is not obedient.

  10. So do you exclude single men from church leadership based on “husband of one wife”?

  11. I’m a man who argues for biblical equality. Two things I note that may or may not be useful. If I recall correctly, the word for child is teknon, which may indicate a child from the late teens until about thirty years of age. We might reasonably expect that an elder has a positive relationship with his children when they have grown old enough to know what obedience and the Gospel mean to them.

    Secondly, it seems to me that sex and gender may overlap but are not always co-extensive. In other words, male and female is a slightly different thing than man and woman, especially in contemporary English usage of the terms.

    Very interested to see where this discussion goes!

    In peace,
    Rob

  12. Hi Dale, while it is certainly true that many of Paul’s writings were edicts that apply to all churches at all times, no NT writer uses the Greek word epitrepō in a universal edict.

    Andrew Perriman (1993) notes that the use of epitrepō in the New Testament, in every case, is ”. . . related to a specific and limited set of circumstances . . .”

    John E. Toews (1983) notes that the use of epitrepō in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), is likewise usually related to a specific and limited situation rather than a universal one.

    Kevin Giles and other scholars have made similar observations. More on this here: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/1-timothy-212-in-context-4/

  13. Hey Dale, I really appreciated your observation that gender is a gift. I had never really heard it that way before. I’m glad this article caught your interest. I see that the commenters might be a little overwhelming, but there seems to be a worthwhile discussion in the making. I read another post recently about how we need to hear both sides of the discussion so that neither side gets carried away in what it says. It’s right here: http://millennialpastor.net/2014/01/06/evangelical-drama-needs-mainline-experience/
    Thanks for joining the conversation. It’s a subject worth discussing.

    God’s grace in all its abundance to you,

    Erika

    • Hi Erika,

      Unfortunately, as I noted in another comment, the point of my series was not to argue against the position, but to point out that the means employed to state that particular position were faulty. I had no desire in this series to join the complementarian/egalitarian “conversation”, but rather was using this particular article to demonstrate bad methods of argumentation. Everyone in the comments wanted to argue the conclusions and I wanted to argue against the basis of the arguments themselves.

      For example, Mormonism is most definitely a non-Christian religion. However, I should not use appeals to emotion, logical fallacies, or faulty data to try to convince others of that. If I did so, both the Mormons AND the Christians should point out my faulty methods of argumentation.

      Regards,

      Dale

      • Aha, well, I guess you fooled a lot of into thinking you were actually invested in the results of disproving those arguments. Oh well.

        But you do make a very good point in saying that we shouldn’t be so quick to accept people’s arguments whether or not they are well supported. I think in this situation the conversation here occurred mostly because of differing view on the Bible and how to interpret it. People got distracted by the points they disagreed with and then forgot the point you were trying to make.

        I, for one, would really appreciate the same breakdown of a more conservative essay. Also I have been wondering if you would write about men you disagree with and not only women. I have noticed an unsettling number of christian women (beth moore, sarah young, rachael held evans, junia project, to name a few) called out on your blog and very few christian men.

        I am interested in what you have to say,

        Thanks,

        Erika

      • Erika,

        I do not choose to write about men or women based upon their gender, but based upon how they are impacting the people and the church around me. I have seen the influence of Beth Moore and Sarah Young and thus chose to read their books and write extensively on them. I think I become aware of more false teaching coming in via women writers like Moore and Young because (1) women tend to read more books than men, (2) women post on Facebook about the books they are reading and (3) women talk more about what they are reading in church and more often ask me my opinion on various books and authors.

        As an example of a book written by men, I have a partial review of the Blackaby’s Experiencing God completed, but have just never gotten around to finishing it. It is a terrible, terrible book. However, I have not seen evidence that people near me are reading it, so it has been pushed to the back burner. Maybe your comment will give me the impetus to get it finished just so people do not think I am biased against women.

        Regards,

        Dale

      • Excellent. I didn’t think you would be biased against women. And it makes sense that women do talk about and ask opinions of what they’re reading more. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
        -Erika