Complementarianism is distinguished from egalitarianism for the most part not by the feminist conclusions they draw, but by the method they use to get there. Both have adopted all (egalitarian) or nearly all (complementarian) tenets of modern feminist thought. The difference is complementarians claim to merely to be accurately interpreting the Bible, and it is a simple coincidence that what the Bible teaches fits perfectly with Tumblr Feminism and the Women’s Studies department at the local university.
Thus when Pastor Matt Chandler preaches on toxic masculinity, he presents this not as the latest SJW fad, but timeless wisdom from the Bible. Likewise when Pastor Doug Wilson overturns the meaning of 1 Cor 7, he doesn’t acknowledge that this makes him as woke as a blue haired feminist; he explains with a straight face that when the Apostle Paul wrote (NIV):
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
That he meant Not the Lord, but I, and A wife can separate from her husband if she thinks it is wise. The thing to keep in mind is that complementarians have been doing this from the very beginning, so when they do this it feels perfectly normal.
For today’s example I offer Sheila Gregoire’s post explaining the sin of body shaming women by defining modesty standards. Gregoire clearly has her work cut out for her in this regard. First she has to recast the meaning of Romans 14 and 1 Cor 8 (emphasis original):
In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is making the “weaker brother” argument. Paul says that once we’re in Christ, we have great freedom. We can eat meat sacrificed to idols, for instance, because we no longer have any idols. God is over all.
But if you have a brother or sister who thinks that it’s wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and you glibly do eat meat like that, and they follow you–then you’ve now encouraged them to violate their own consciences. You’ve caused them to stumble.
In other words, the “stumbling” that Paul is talking about is not committing an actual sin, like lusting or stealing or lying, but violating your conscience and your vow to God. So the concern in this passage is that we cause someone to stumble when we undermine their faith.
Paul is not addressing the scenario where a woman may cause a man to lust
Next she explains that a woman only sins by this standard if the woman sets out to make the men around her sin:
So can a woman weaken a guy’s faith by what she wears?
Yes, I think she can. If a woman deliberately decides to exercise her freedom in Christ in front of her male brothers who are really struggling, and does so knowing that they are struggling (which is the scenario that Paul lays out here), she can make him think, “I really can’t get over this sin.”
Not surprisingly, it turns out that we’ve had it all wrong for two thousand years. Now, with the wisdom of the feminist revolution, we know that the Apostle Paul’s warnings in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 were warnings not to body shame women (emphasis original):
What do we do when a woman who is seeking walks into church wearing something really inappropriate, like a skimpy sundress? How do we tell her that she’s a stumbling block?
My response: You don’t! Because in this situation, SHE is the weaker brother. The men are more mature in the faith. It’s her faith that God is most concerned with. He leaves the 99 to find the 1.
What if setting a modesty dress code actually becomes a stumbling block for women because it weakens their faith?
She draws the same conclusion from Matthew 18:6-9 (emphasis original):
In everything, the state of our hearts matter. So if we are deliberately dressing in such a way that we are aiming to entice men to lust, then we are sinning. Period. Absolutely. We should not wear attire with the intention of causing men’s thoughts to wander or with trying to seduce anyone. In that scenario, it certainly is better to have a millstone placed around our necks and be thrown into the sea.
But what if that’s not our intention when we get dressed?
You have to admire Gregoire’s breathtaking ability to twist Scripture. This is up there with her claim that biblical submission means giving your husband lists of chores, and that 1 Cor 7:5 is a license to defraud your spouse:
Let’s assume that it’s the wife with the lower libido for a minute (though it certainly isn’t always) and look at it this way:
If her husband’s body belongs to her, then she has the ability to also say, “I do not want you using your body sexually right now with me.”
Getting back to her wacky explanation that it is sinful for churches to enact modesty codes, keep in mind that her logic doesn’t just work for a woman wearing a skimpy dress to church. Imagine a woman at the local nudist colony who wanders into church one fine Sunday completely naked. She [un]dressed this way not to make the men in the church sin, but because this is how she always dresses. In this scenario if we adopt Gregoire’s interpretation, Matthew 18:6-9, Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 all teach us that it would be sinful to ask the woman to cover up in any way, as this would be the feminist sin of body shaming.
But what about 1 Timothy 2:8-9? Not surprisingly, Gregoire teaches that it doesn’t apply here either:
Here’s what 1 Timothy 2:8-9 says:
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, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Now, in that context, modesty wasn’t primarily about not being sexually alluring as much as it was about not flaunting one’s wealth. You can see that this is Paul’s primary concern because he goes on to talk about things which obviously cost a lot of money (jewelry, certain clothing, hairstylists) rather than about hiding a woman’s figure. This wasn’t about body shaming women; this was about ensuring that Christians were approachable, appropriate, and open to all, so that they were good witnesses for Christ.
Notice that whether you use Gregoire’s hypothetical (a woman in a skimpy dress), or my hypothetical (a nude woman), the message is the same; the Bible strictly prohibits us from asking her to cover up. After all, the nudist didn’t set out to make the men in church sin. Moreover, she spent absolutely nothing on her outfit*, and she is without a doubt approachable and open to all! The only remaining question is whether her outfit is “appropriate”, but as Gregoire has explained it would be sinful to suggest that what she is wearing isn’t appropriate.
Thus conclude’s Gregoire’s sermon on the topic:
And that’s it! The series on body shaming women is now over! It’s been a long week. But I’ve so appreciated your comments, and let me know what you think!
*Making her the most modest woman in the congregation!