Accommodating Culture

So the KEFC voted a couple days ago to knowingly affirm a logical contradiction.

It seemed that the biggest barrier to recognizing the incoherence of ‘equal in being and different because of being’ was that doing so would be an instance of the church accommodating culture.

The purpose of this post is to show that it is too late. The cat is out of the bag. The church has accommodated culture, and it is a good thing.

I pointed this out in the meeting, but of course it was rejected, not because of any compelling reason, but apparently because of an unwillingness to consider it in the first place.

The example that I used to show that the church had already accommodated the culture is the simple fact that complementarians do not practice what they claim to believe.

1 Corinthians 11 (one of the central passages used by complementarians to subjugate women, so they must think it is true) clearly teaches that women ought to cover their heads when they pray and prophesy.

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

There are two ideas that are directly relevant to the discussion of men and women in the church.

  1. Women were expected to pray and prophesy in the church. Prayer, speaking to God, and prophesying, communicating God’s message to other people, constitute the entire duties of the priesthood.
  2. Extremely few modern complementarians obey what this verse commands.

Why don’t complementarians practice the clear and direct command of scripture? Why don’t we shave the heads of women who pray and prophesy with their heads uncovered? Because it is obvious that the requirement is culturally irrelevant. We don’t practice this because we have accommodated culture.

Interestingly, there was one comment at the meeting that proves this. One person offered the following reason to explain why we don’t require women to wear head coverings: liberal slide. At least he was being consistent.

But it gets worse. On the issue of men and women, complementarians have accommodated culture in very significant way, and they promote and celebrate the accommodation.

The central argument of complementarians is that men and women were created equal. They like to pretend that the church has taught and recognized this from the beginning, but they are wrong (Further evidence that they are wrong).

Throughout history, women have never been considered to be equal to men. They have always been inferior to men in status, ability, intelligence, trustworthiness, and character among other things.

Recently, however, cultural forces have recognized that men and women are actually equal. When complementarians promote this idea, they do so by accommodating culture.

Furthermore, 1 Timothy 2 provides another example where complementarians seem to pick and choose which parts of the New Testament they will obey.

Verses 9-10 are clearly culturally relative, they say…gold, pearls and expensive clothes can be found in virtually every modern (North American) church setting. It is the principle that is important, they say.

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

But verses 11-12 are true in the most simplistic understanding and for all time and in all cultures.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

The inconsistency is telling.

But wait! 1 Corinthians 14 requires women to be completely silent (I wonder how they do that when they prophesy and pray?)…

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

I know of zero complementarians who actually practice this (although, at the meeting the number of women who were in attendance was vastly greater than the number of women who spoke to the issue).

The accommodation has already happened. We accommodated culture by recognizing the equal worth of men and women, and it is good, even if it is late due to our own negligence.

When the foundational assumption with respect to men and women and equality changes, then the conclusions to which we come necessarily change.