Aimee Byrd: Does Christian Culture Sell Women Short?

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This is a podcast episode titled, Aimee Byrd: Does Christian Culture Sell Women Short?. The summary for this episode is: <p>Have you ever felt that Christian culture sells women short by undervaluing their calling and not allowing them to fully utilize their gifts? Do phrases like "women's role in the Church" get under your skin? You're not alone. Today, <a href="https://twitter.com/patrickkmiller_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Patrick</a> talks with Aimee Byrd to explore this very topic. Aimee, the author of&nbsp;<em>Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,&nbsp;</em>shares her theology and how the Church's teaching on gender often negatively affects Christians. Aimee also helps us understand what she means by "gynocentric interruptions" and why this is crucial to forming a more biblically sound theology of gender.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! 🙏</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/truthovertribe_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChooseTruthOverTribe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/truthovertribe_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href="https://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/subscribe?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href="https://choosetruthovertribe.com/?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Recovering-Biblical-Manhood-Womanhood-Rediscover/dp/0310108713/ref=sr_1_1?crid=19LKDT55X1IBJ&amp;keywords=aimee+byrd+recovering+from+biblical+manhood+and+womanhood&amp;qid=1644267134&amp;sprefix=aimee+by%2Caps%2C84&amp;sr=8-1" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/blog_subscription" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
Frustrations from the one-dimensional idea of men and women
03:42 MIN
How teachings on gender from the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has affected us today
04:12 MIN
Gynocentric Interruptions: What this means and why it matters for our theology of gender
03:07 MIN
A biblical female Aimee wishes more Christians knew about
00:40 MIN
Gender hierarchy and a culture of abuse
04:55 MIN

Aimee Byrd: My name is Aimee Byrd and I choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 3: I think what a lot of the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 4: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 5: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Speaker 6: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Patrick Miller: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 7: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican Party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 8: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon.

Patrick Miller: And we choose truth over tribe. Do you? I don't think I'm going to blow anyone's mind if I say that evangelicalism has a sordid relationship with gender, gender roles, all of that. If you listened to our three- part series where we went through the history of evangelicalism, one of the things that we talked about was misogyny and how evangelicals have traditionally thought about gender, very much so in kind of a fearful response to the way that culture was talking about gender, and so in the midst of that, I had a lot of people ask me, " Hey, do you have any book recommendations so I can explore this topic a little bit more?" And my number one recommendation has been Aimee Byrd's Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. She's incredibly thoughtful, she's incredibly fair, and her theology is really just astounding, and so I was really excited to get Aimee Byrd to come and chat with me on the podcast about this topic. If you've thought about gender and the church and how do we orient ourselves, I think you're going to find this podcast really interesting and really helpful. Thanks so much for being on the show with us today, Aimee.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, it's a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Patrick Miller: I want to start with your personal story. You were married young, I was married young too also. You were 21 though, right?

Aimee Byrd: Yes.

Patrick Miller: Okay, I was 23, so I had a few years on. But by today's standards, both are pretty young. You were married young and you had a lot of ideas about masculinity and femininity that were shaped by the church and shaped by your context growing up. So let's just start there. What did you believe about yourself, your gender, about marriage?

Aimee Byrd: Yeah. So I would say probably I was getting conflicting ideas between how I was brought up and then as I was becoming more saturated in church resources. Growing up, I was the oldest of three and my brother was kind of sandwiched between two sisters and my father taught mixed martial arts in our home, so we were treated the same. Like the -

Patrick Miller: Hold on, I got to lean in on that for a second. Mixed martial arts, are you actually a mixed martial artist now?

Aimee Byrd: Not seriously, no. My brother runs an academy for mixed martial arts and my son goes there and I was doing StrikeFit and the kickboxing there. So I was in and out of it in the household, which was a lot of fun. Like it was a great way to grow up and yes, I was in there, but I didn't take it as seriously as my brother did. But I love it, and physically, intellectually, in the church, we had the same expectations. We were never treated differently in like roles or whatever in that way. Even when my sister and I would get into big fights, my dad would have us take it out on the inaudible.

Patrick Miller: Wait, what does that mean? Like okay, you guys are going to fight it out, here we go.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, that would be more jujitsu though, so we weren't harming each other. So anyway, in my house, it was like that. And I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and I wasn't really exposed to all the biblical manhood and womanhood stuff in that church but my parents got divorced when I was 15 and my mom left my dad, and it was pretty traumatic for us to go through. So when I married my husband fresh out of college, and he was a little bit older than me, he was 27, but I was 21, he also was the oldest of three in a household where his father left. So we really wanted to do this right and we didn't feel like we had the models at that time to help us. So I pored into the resources for women in the church and marriage resources and things like that because I started hearing this stuff about biblical manhood and womanhood and that's what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a biblical woman and a good wife, a godly wife. And yet as I'm reading this stuff, and one of the big resources came from the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I had this stubbing my toe on some of the things they're teaching about womanhood and femininity in there. I was okay with the submission language, but I was like, " Why is it that we're not supposed to have muscles?" Like I grew up in a physical family. My mom owned a gym-

Patrick Miller: Hold on, can you explain that for our listeners? Because they might be surprised, like, " Why are you talking about muscles all of a sudden and biblical womanhood?"

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, like the first chapter in the book, when it's like kind of defining different roles for men and women, one of the things, it's talking about how women need to be soft and women who strength train might be attractive to men at first, but if we expect our feminine needs to be met, we shouldn't do that and it was confusing language and then he was talking too about men who need to be careful about how they hold their wives' purse in a masculine way or they can't-

Patrick Miller: Like hold the purse out in front of yourself to make it obvious that it's not my purse, this is someone else's purse.

Aimee Byrd: But this is all based on the teaching that to the degree that a woman's influence over a man is personal and directive, it will generally offend a man's good God- given sense of responsibility and leadership and thus controvert God's created order. So that's a quote from the book.

Patrick Miller: You're quoting, yeah.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, that's a quote from Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. So then that plays out in all these weird ways, that women can't have personal and direct guidance over a man. So like what if a man is driving it the neighborhood somewhere and gets lost and horror of horrors, all he can find is a housewife outside because all the women are always connected domestically in the book, but how is he to ask her for directions without her giving personal and direct guidance for... If the mailman comes to my door, how can I exude my femininity and uphold his masculinity? It just became this hyper- focused, one- dimensional way of looking at men and women.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, I remember some examples, I think it's right around the section that you were quoting from, talking about does a man lose his masculinity if he gets onto a bus driven by a woman.

Aimee Byrd: It's also, these questions are bizarre, right?

Patrick Miller: It is. It strikes me as really bizarre. My co- host Keith Simon, he was at Trinity during this time period, where these were being discussed, and Wayne Grudem was a professor there and he describes going to a class where he was teaching on these topics, and they were given a list of roles, of vocations, and at the top was kind of high leadership vocations and at the bottom would be more service oriented vocations. And he asked everyone in the class to draw a line and above that line were the things that only men could do and below that line were the things that only women could do and to this day, he tells the story, he goes I didn't know what I thought at the time. I just knew that whatever this was, this can't be it."

Aimee Byrd: Well you know that is a published material and it's all over the place and yeah, where you see those lines, it's very odd because the way that they're outlined, children have more agency than women if it's a male. It's very, very strange. So yeah, I was starting to be conflicted in the beginning of my marriage by what I was reading from people that I respected, have taught all kinds of good things in the church, and wanting to be a godly woman and what these teachings are saying and my husband really isn't that type of guy. He had a single mom growing up, and a very high respect for women and their agency.

Patrick Miller: So maybe for the sake of our listeners, we've been talking about the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and that might be something that you're here and you're saying, " Well I've never heard of that before." And the simple truth is whether or not you've heard of it, it's probably had an impact on your church and your theology, especially if you're in an evangelical church. And so a bit of background on that. In the late 80s, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, a number of other leaders gathered together a group which becomes the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and they write the Danvers Statement, which again, what's that? Why it matters is simply this, they laid it out as a biblical articulation of masculinity and femininity and it was later adopted by some of the most important evangelical denominations. So you think about the Southern Baptist Convention or the Presbyterian Church in America, and later on, those two, Wayne Grudem and John Piper, they ended up editing a hugely, hugely, hugely influential book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and your book plays on that title brilliantly, when I saw it, I actually laughed out loud. Your book is called Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and I've got a quote here from their book. I'd love to hear you respond to it but this is what they wrote. They said, " At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility, to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man's differing relationships. At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition, to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman's differing relationships." So I'm curious Aimee, how do you think this quote misrepresents biblical womanhood?

Aimee Byrd: Yeah. So this quote pretty much gives women like no contribution as women. It's just to affirm masculinity, to affirm male leadership. So femininity is kind of parasitic to masculinity, which is really sad. I think it's not only harmful for women that we have no agency as women, but for men as well because one- dimensional I'm sorry is bad. Your masculinity is defined on how you lead women and it's completely horizontal. There's nothing vertical about this. There's no Christ in this, and for my view of manhood and womanhood and God's design, it very much starts with the vertical and a story that our bodies tell of Christ's spousal love for his bride.

Patrick Miller: So you said that according to this definition, femininity is parasitic. What did you mean by that?

Aimee Byrd: So if the heart of mature femininity is affirming, receiving and nurturing strength and leadership from worthy men, there's nothing within ourselves that's a contribution. It's just affirming male contribution. So that's what I mean by parasitic.

Patrick Miller: How do we see this playing out today? I mean many people might not be familiar with this council or with even the books that we're talking about. And yet these teachings have so saturated how evangelicals think about gender that it's probably present in our thinking. So what are some of the examples today of how we see this vision of manhood and womanhood alive?

Aimee Byrd: You've mentioned this Danvers Statement and this major book that they've published, which has many contributors in it and I'm not saying, " Hey, these people are bad." They have such good teaching in a lot of different ways, but this Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has put out so many resources. So your women's ministries and your men's ministries in your churches, some of the top- selling resources are put out by people from this council and it's affected us in ways like... And I get into it a little bit in the book, the very teaching that they give of manhood and womanhood had stemmed from their teaching on the Trinity, which was inerrant teaching about who the son is ontologically, and that's a big theological word. But what I mean is in its very essence, they were teaching that the son of God in his very essence is submissive to the father's authority, which is not part of the ancient creed that we confess, the Nicene Creed. And then they would say, and I don't know how they make this leap, but likewise, woman in her being is submissive to male authority. So when they use a word like role, when they talk about men's and women's roles, that sounds fine, like we just kind of absorb that, right? And we hear it and say it all over the church. But when they use the word role, they're taking a word that actually means to play a part. It comes from the theatre, role. They're using this word again in an ontological way. They're using it in a way to say who we are in our essence, and so a women's role is connected to who we are, and that is submissive to men, to male authority. So this has played out like I said in our own doctrine of the Trinity in the church which has been challenged now and thankfully is being corrected in many ways. But right down to Bible translation and study Bibles, so Genesis 3: 16, where it says, " God says to the woman that your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you," the ESV translation, which was headed by all complementarian men, they changed that interpretation there to, " Your desire shall be contrary to your husband." So now that completely changes the way that we view women. All the women in scripture, right up to the bride in Revelation, to our neighbors, our people sitting next to us in church, our co- workers, if her desire is a lust for power over the man, then she must be ruled over, right? She can't be trusted, she's a threat. She's somebody to be suspicious of when she speaks. But we see something very different in Song of Songs, we see desire restored. Here is this book in the middle of scripture about desire and the bride says of the bridegroom, " I am my beloved's and his desire is for me." So now we see that desire is something that we're all called to cultivate as we learn about the groom's desire for us. But getting back to the Bible, the ESV's devotional bibles, like they have one for men and one for women. Which that's just strange right there, like why would we have a men's Bible and a women's Bible, it's already sending a message, right? And then within those Bibles, we see some other messages. For example, the men's devotional Bible's contributors are all men. The women's contributors are male and female teachers, pastors, and authors. And so that makes sense, like we think, " Oh, okay, we can learn from all these voices." But not so in the men's Bible. We don't have men learning from any female contributors. And then the articles themselves that are added in these Bibles send another message. For example, the articles for the women, some examples are the church and women at risk, eating disorders and other self- destructive behaviors, missional living, emotional health, forgiveness, healing and shame. For men, we see something a little more potent, leadership, a man's inner life and why regard self- control as the one essential ingredient to Biblical manhood. Life in the local church, calling, pornography, a man's work. There's not a corresponding one called a woman's work. So it's interesting because women are predominantly addressed in their weaknesses and victimhood in these articles, and men are predominantly addressed as leaders with agency.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, absolutely. It's fascinating, I read your book and I taught a class, and the class I had, it was a class on leadership, but I had everybody write up leadership qualities on a board. And then after that, I asked the class, " Okay, now I want to change our subject. We're going to talk about women's study Bibles. What are the topics that you think are going to be discussed in women's study Bibles?" And I pointed out to the class that these two things don't seem to have a lot of alignment, and is that right? Does that actually fit the Bible's vision of women? I want to circle back to that in a second to talk about female leaders in the Bible, because your writing on that is some of my favorite stuff that I've read but-

Aimee Byrd: Oh, thank you.

Patrick Miller: I want to ask a broader question which is how did evangelicals get so obsessed with defining manhood and womanhood when the simple reality is that the Bible says almost next to nothing about the topic. I'm not saying it doesn't say anything, it's just it's not a topic that it seems deeply fascinated by.

Aimee Byrd: Well, I think there's some good intentions behind it, and I know that's why I started reading the resources to begin with is as somebody who came from divorce, in the culture, I was just a fresh graduate of a secular university when I got married. So I definitely saw the sexual revolution happening around me, and so within the church, I think that we were looking to the church for some answers. Some kind of counter to what we're seeing in the culture around us and how can we not only survive this but how can we thrive in it as Christians? How can we love well, and so I think we had these big questions at the time and I think the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood also was trying to step into this. Another thing that they were really trying to combat was what they called evangelical feminism. I guess that that would culminate in female ordination in the church, they saw more of that. So that was a big part of complementarianism as well. So I think that these were the intentions to begin with to address and then it just became such a big organization with big names, so you've got these conferences, you've got books going out, people are reading them a lot. A lot of it is being led by fear though. Fear of evangelical feminism and things like that, but fear does motivate people.

Patrick Miller: It does.

Aimee Byrd: So I think it grew, and then it's like, " Oh, it's this big organization that we need to keep the wheels moving, right?" And so they just keep producing more and more and it gets a little weirder and weirder. That's my best explanation.

Patrick Miller: That's a great historical description of a lot of things in evangelicalism. It just got weirder and weirder. I don't know what happened. But I think that's really helpful. I mean you're drawing out the complexity here which is our culture was wrestling with how do we think about masculinity and femininity? And part of that wrestling came out in some unhelpful things. We can talk about the sexual revolution, no fault divorce and how that's impacted our culture in a lot of negative, hurtful, harmful ways and so Christians are trying to respond and yet the response is often exactly that, it's a response. It's not saying, " Look, let's inaudible Bible actually has to show. Let's be reactive to what's happening inside of culture and take the opposite side." Which rarely leads us to truth. In fact, fear rarely leads us to truth as well, and so I think that's really helpful to paint a nuanced picture here about how this happens. I want to go back to the Bible for a second. One of the problems that I have with the Council's view of masculinity and femininity is that it requires me to wear blinders when I read the Bible. We have to pretend that people like Rebecca, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Huldah, Esther, all the Marys, Lydia, Prisca, Phoebe, Junia, I mean the list just goes on and on and on, that these people didn't exist. Now in your book, you've called the stories of these women gynocentric interruptions. That's the best two words I've ever heard. I tried to get my co- host to let me use it in a podcast and he wouldn't let me use it, he said I'd just confuse people. So maybe just explain, what does that phrase mean? Gynocentric interruptions, and why do these matter for our theology of gender?

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, so I actually took that phrase from Richard Bauckham in his book Gospel Women, which I highly recommend as a read. He's not really popular for that book, he's popular for a lot of other books that he's written. It's a little more academic but it's a great book, and he talks about how the function of the woman's voice in the scripture. And so he calls it a gynocentric interruption because scripture is androcentric in the sense that it's male- dominated, it's written at a patriarchal time. So we all know this, like the charge against Christianity by radical biblical feminists is that, " Hey, the Bible is this patriarchal construction put together by the most powerful men." And we balk at such accusations, but we often are sending the same exact message when we given women separate resources and in the way that we treat women and view women and it's kind of like saying, " You need the male voice to be able to understand this." So he's making a counterargument to that and he is highlighting the function of the woman's voice in scripture and it's so fascinating. He uses the Book of Ruth as kind of a model of it because here we have this story through the woman's voice, and it interrupts really, the woman's voice he says so often interrupts because it shows us the story behind the story. It kind of makes visible what's invisible, it's what we don't get from the male voice alone. And the reason why he uses Ruth as such an example of that is because at the end, you see this patrilineal genealogy, and it's kind of completely different from the rest of the book. It almost makes you jerk because you go from this beautiful narrative to this kind of ... It almost looks like it's cut and pasted there at the end, and he's like, " That's done on purpose. It's to show us like here's the male story, the patrilineal genealogy."

Patrick Miller: So genealogy with all these men in it.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, and he goes, " Here's the male story," and so we're seeing what's behind that story in the woman's voice in Ruth. What he's highlighting is that women are tradents, another interesting word that you might have to look up. But we're traditioners of the faith as well. This wasn't a reading and writing community, right? Stories got passed down and that's how they get put into scripture, and so how do we know about the midwives Shiphrah and Puah? How do we know that story? We know because they told it and it was valued and put into God's story because it is God's story and the inspired word of God. How do we know about what happened with Mary and Elizabeth? Because they told the story. So it's really quite beautiful and fascinating and it really has opened my eyes in the way that I read scripture even. But gynocentric interruption, when the woman's voice interrupts, I did want to say something funny about it too because whenever I say a big word or a new term around my husband, like he usually likes to make fun of me by using that word wrongly throughout the day. And he's really had a lot of fun with gynocentric interruption.

Patrick Miller: Oh I can imagine. I can imagine. You know, it's funny. I want to give you pushback. It's not my pushback, but it's a pushback that I've heard from people, and it's how I was taught these passages early on in my faith. I became a Christian when I was 19, and the message was essentially this. Yes, there are these stories where women interrupt as it were, right? Where they take on like Deborah, leadership positions, or like Prisca or Phoebe, they take on these surprising leadership teaching, even preaching roles inside of the Bible, they're prophets. But it's the exception, not the rule, and the reason why the exception is there is because men weren't stepping up and that's the whole point. In other words, these stories get used to reinforce patriarchy. It's a way of saying look, these are abnormal and they're abnormal because the norm is that men should be in charge. So how would you respond to that?

Aimee Byrd: Well, why wouldn't God just call a man? He can call anyone he wants. He can call a donkey if he wants to. So my biggest question would be why are we always thought of as an exception to the rule when there's so much of it in scripture? And let's talk Huldah for example, who is the prophetess that Josiah sends for when he finds the book of the law to see if this really is holy scripture. There were two other prophets at the time. There was Jeremiah and Zephaniah. Why weren't they summoned? Why was it Huldah? The Bible never tells us once that it's because there wasn't a man. We don't hear that about Deborah, that there wasn't a man, so therefore God had to call Deborah. Why are we putting things in scripture that aren't there? Why don't we just take what's given to us in the word of God and be thankful for these women that he's called?

Patrick Miller: One of the points that you made in your book that I think makes this so crystal clear for me is look again, these were written from within a patriarchal culture, where the norm was not to have women who were actors, who were not just subjects acted upon by the men. And so the Bible stands out in this culture as the rare document which shows women again leading and taking initiative and so it seems as though God's actually saying the exact opposite. He's saying, " Look, in those cultures, it's going to be like this. But in my culture, I want to continually give you story after story that resists this patriarchal narrative that says only men are created in God's image, only men can have authority and leadership." No, you're going to meat woman after woman after woman who's going to do the things that this culture says is only for men. So it seems like just a bizarre conclusion in my mind to jump to to say, " Oh, that's the exception, so they don't really count."

Aimee Byrd: Right. That was such a good answer to the question as well.

Patrick Miller: One of my things that I loved about your book is you go through a number of female leaders and heroes inside of the Bible. Who is one biblical female that you wish more Christians knew about?

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, Huldah I would definitely say because we kind of skim over that Old Testament reading, it's in 2 Kings 22 I think. So it's just fascinating because here she is authenticating the word of God, it's the very first instance we have of anyone authenticating a book into the canon scripture. And it's a woman. So whoa. That is amazing. So I'd definitely point to her. But then I even think I want to know more about Junia. I want to know more about what inaudible, I want to know more about these women, Lydia. I can't wait till we get to the other side and we get to learn a lot more about these amazing women.

Patrick Miller: We'll be back to our episode really quick. Look, if you're enjoying the content in here, you want to sign up for our newsletter. We like to write little articles every week that are kind of based on our podcast but they really take one idea that we don't spend a lot of time talking about and expand them. Not to a super long article but to an article you could read in 10 minutes and get a good little nugget out of that's going to help you think about what's happening in our world in a more Jesus- centered way. So make sure to go to choosetruthovertribe. com and subscribe to our newsletter. Obviously you said that we need to in your title recover from biblical manhood and womanhood. So I'm curious, how do you think this perspective that a woman's role is to be deferential to receive the leadership of men and for men to enact leadership, how do you think that harms men and women? Maybe specifically how do you think that harms the church?

Aimee Byrd: I think it harms both men and women, and yes, the whole church in so many ways. I was saying earlier just how horizontal that is. I really don't think it directs our eyes to Christ and his love for his bride. inaudible going on in male- female, and I don't think it's like, " Oh, we need to fit into these roles," so much as it is that our bodies are telling a beautiful story of Christ's spousal love for his bride, and that is the overarching story in all of scripture. So we have scripture opening with a wedding, we have scripture ending with a wedding. We have the major prophets all speaking about Israel in terms of bride and even adultery, right? And then we have Paul saying that this creation of man and woman, this mystery of marriage, that marriage itself is a picture of the mystery, of Christ's love for his bride. So our very creation as male and female is anagogical in some ways. And then we have right in the middle of scripture this whole book full of desire showing us Christ's spousal love for his bride. So I think that what's harming us the most besides all the practical things coming out of it like the abuses that we're seeing that are just horrible, what's harming us the most is we are missing the big picture. We are missing the big picture of Christ's love for his bride, and what we see in the Song is that he's saying, " Let me hear your voice." Twice he said, that's the last words he says to the woman. And so we see in the Song the woman's voice is dominant to the man's. We see that it both opens and closes with the woman's voice. So I think this is what love does. This is what leadership does. It gives power to, so I think that we're missing out on the great beauty of Christ's love for his bride.

Patrick Miller: Yeah you know, one question I would love to ask someone who holds really firmly to this vision that the Council lays out for biblical manhood and womanhood is how did you learn how to be a bride? Because if listening to a woman teaching, to a woman helping you understand somehow jeopardizes your masculinity, well I don't know how to break this to you, you, mister, have never been a bride before, and not all women have been brides either and yet if I want to learn what that means, what that entails, don't I have to listen to my sisters in Christ?

Aimee Byrd: Right, and it doesn't mean to make women smaller, you know?

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. Another point you make in your book is just about gifts, and that we're missing out on the gifts of women if we don't allow them to step into the roles that the Bible leaves open to them, to all the gifts that are open to them, and I know I've experienced that tremendously. I mean it's funny, we talked about this, the Trinitarian heresy that you brought up earlier. I don't know if I ever believed that heresy but I also don't know if I ever had any strong thoughts about it until we brought on one of our female staff members who got an MDiv at TEDS and she started talking to me about this and I just had never even thought about it, it wasn't even on my radar, and I was so grateful to her because frankly, she corrected me. My head and my mind were in the wrong place and if it weren't for her gifts of teaching, of learning, I would have just stayed in that same mindset of, " Oh yeah, the son is eternally subordinated to the father." And so I mean I've seen this in my own life. I need the gifts of women in my life to mature in my faith, and I've been tremendously blessed by them. One thing you just brought up a second ago is that this can also lead to forms of abuse within the church, this is something that's being explored widely now and I'm actually really grateful for that. I don't think we need to be afraid of looking at our warts, that's the only way we can repent and learn and move forward. But we've had a number of authors on this show who have explored this sordid relationship of evangelicalism with gender, Kristin Kobes Du Mez and Beth Allison Barr, and in both their books, they've highlighted how gender hierarchy inside of the church often creates fertile ground for domestic abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, even sexual abuse. So I'm just curious, I mean have you seen that same pattern? Do you think this vision of masculinity and femininity is in some way to blame for some of those things happening?

Aimee Byrd: The way that it's taught, yes. I would agree with them in a lot of ways. So complementarianism, and here's something I'm trying to highlight in the title of my book too when I say recovering from biblical manhood and womanhood, some people would be like, " Oh, shudder, she wants to recover from the Bible." But that word biblical doesn't make it so, right? We can use it as an adjective, but what I'm really trying to highlight is that it's not biblical. So complementarianism is this movement that like you said started in the late 80s, so it's not that old, and it's a movement. And I think we need to be very discerning and remember that. That doesn't mean everything within it is bad, but that means that we do need to look at it critically and so in looking at it critically, at this point and I think that the evidence is overwhelming that the way that their definitions, the way they define masculinity and femininity, the way that they define roles and what that word even is is something like a permanent fixed thing in our being, their anthropology of men and women is all so flawed. Their views on the Trinity, which some of that's being corrected and a lot of it's just being like they're rearranging the furniture and giving different terms to the same teaching. And especially the way that they view authority. I think all of those, I'm not saying their intentions are abuse, but I'm saying that it creates a culture where abuse can really flourish, if that's even the right word you can use. So I do think that in that sense, complementarianism, I agree with them. I have some differences, still, in how I look... And I'm still working through a lot of that as far as pastors in the church being men, and so I want to be able to distinguish between our biblical conviction of maybe male pastors and the system and movement of complementarianism.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's really helpful.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, I think it's hard to do though. Because we are swimming in the water of complementarianism in churches that uphold male headship. So it's very hard to distinguish between, and I think that we're really going to have to do that, but for male headship in the church, my argument is not so much based on 1 Timothy 2 or some of these, just pull out this verse in scripture.

Patrick Miller: Bible sound clips?

Aimee Byrd: Yeah. First of all that's a very tough passage of scripture to interpret and I think that there's different plausible interpretations to it. But the way I see it is it's more representational, and I'm going back to this bridegroom and bride thing again. I think liturgy is anagogical. I mean look at it. Baptism is a picture of what Christ has done for it, right? The Lord suffered, the Eucharist, is a picture. But real spiritual things are happening in these sacraments. But it's anagogical. It's a symbol. It's a symbol with spiritual meaning and not just meaning but something is actually happening in that. So the liturgy of worship itself is symbol in that way. So I would say too that the pastor is the symbol of the bridegroom in a sense, like the best man. That's what the early church fathers would say, that a groom hasn't come back yet but he sent his best man to give us the gifts to the bride. So I think that Pope John Paul II, his teaching is pretty good on this. He says the bridegroom is masculine, that Christ is the bridegroom, and it's showing us an order of love, and this is why I think it's important. The order of love is that Christ is the first to love, the first to give, and the first to sacrifice. And I think that's what the headship of the church should be doing. So I do think that in that situation, we're going to see something totally different than just like this top- down hierarchy of authority. What are leaders authorized to do? What is the head authorized to do? To be the first to love, the first to give, the first to sacrifice, and giving us the gifts of Christ's word and discipleship. So as a man, and Pope John Paul says this, as a man, Jesus revealed the dignity of the daughters of Abraham, the dignity belonging to women from the very beginning. So I think we're going to see a very different picture than what we see in complementarianism in this way. If the very dignity of the woman is measured in this order of love, it's reciprocal, like we see in the Song of Songs. Like she's wearing and fructifying and returning that love. And so I think we're going to see a picture like we see at the end of Romans 16, with men and women shouldering a lot of the ministry together. I think we're going to see a picture like what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 11, where women are a part of the service, they're praying, they're prophesying. How does that translate today? So when we think about this word authority, it's not telling people what to do, it's being authorized to love in specific ways.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So let me see if I'm tracking with you here. It seems like if someone comes to the conclusion that only men can be pastors because there's something ontologic, there's something about what it means to be a man, that they're the only gender equipped for leadership. You would strongly disagree with that perspective.

Aimee Byrd: Absolutely.

Patrick Miller: And yet what I hear you saying, maybe this is an okay place to use role and I'm curious, is that the pastor really is playing a role in a story, in a drama that's unfolding and the role that he's playing in that drama is like you said the best man or the bridegroom or a stand- in for the bridegroom, and because Jesus in his humanity is a man, he is masculine, that makes a man kind of suited for the role in the exact same way that we wouldn't expect Hollywood to cast a woman in the role of a man, maybe that's changing more and more today, but generally speaking, that's what we expect. That's the logic behind it. In other words, it's a storied symbolic logic, it's not an ontological, this is what men are, this is what women are logic.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, and I think that's powerful too. I think it's very powerful and I think that's what we see throughout scripture is this analogy and this symbol, because God is preparing our souls for love, and there's so much more that we have to learn about that. So I do think that that would look very different in the worship service than it does now in complementarian churches, and that's what I'm working through more. We even see that with Paul. It amazes me that the longest section we have prescriptively about worship, we have women praying and prophesying during worship.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Aimee Byrd: So what do you do with that? What's more biblical?

Patrick Miller: Yeah, I'm really curious to get your take on that. I tweeted that I was going to be interviewing you and I asked if anybody had any questions and one of the responses I got on there, this is from Lark, she said, " The compounding trauma of purity culture plus biblical manhood has made me want to give up on complementarianism altogether. Is there really any reason to stick with women not being given authority?" And on some level, that's a pragmatic question, right? She's saying, " Look, my experience has been so miserable in the way that this has been lived out that I'm just at a point where I'm ready to move past it. Maybe damned be whatever the Bible or anything else says," and there's part of me that actually really resonates with that. Because there has been so much harm. I mean when you look at how people on that Council treated things like domestic abuse and the normalizing in some cases of men abusing women, I mean that causes tremendous harm. And so I really have a hard time resisting that, and yet on the flip side, I think you're laying out an argument here that says there's something that will be lost if we go that direction entirely. So how do you identify a church that maybe is only ordaining men that is still allowing women to exercise their gifts, to be a part of the leadership process? How do you find a church that that's holding these two things together when it seems today like that's really, really hard to find.

Aimee Byrd: I think it is really, really hard to find. I can't really tell you how to find one. I think that that's what we should be looking for, and even in the way that we're thinking about this, it's not just like, " Oh, we're allowing the women to do this, but we're seeking them out because we need them." Like because they're actually part of the Body of Christ, and I think that there are some doctrines that we need to recover from the ancient church, like Augustine taught about what he called the totus Christus, the total Christ. Christ does not exist without the church, and the church does not exist without Christ. And Christ is the head and we are the body. We want to use this word head and say, " Okay, that means you can tell everybody what to do and you have this kind of all- over authority to tell everybody what to do." But it's so much more representational as well. I mean Adam was a representative of mankind, he was the federal head of mankind, and so his sin brought us all under this depravity of the fall. Christ as the second Adam is representative of the true bridegroom, right? Like he's our mediator. So a head is representational of the whole body, and so where do we see that in the church? It's not just, " Oh here, we have these leaders who do everything and we just kind of absorb it all as a congregation, whatever that is." But there should be something much more active and dynamic in the whole body in the church. So it's not just allowing women to do certain things and then where can we draw lines that they can't go above, whatever that nonsense is, but that we're actually prayerfully digging into scriptures together and valuing the contribution of laypeople in the church, men and women, because they are disciples and disciples are to be teaching one another. We're to be promoting one another's holiness, we're to be helping in this preparing our souls for love. And that's hard soul work, and so I think that the whole dynamic of the church is different in that paradigm.

Patrick Miller: I agree, in your book, you talk about Lydia as an example and how Paul talks about Lydia's people. The only conclusion you could really draw from it is, " Hey, here's someone who's planted a church inside of her house alongside Paul and others and Paul's still calling it, it's not First Presbyterian, it's hey, you've been down to Lydia's."

Aimee Byrd: Chloe's household. I mean the house churches that we-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, Chloe's household. I got that wrong, sorry, yeah.

Aimee Byrd: The households that we have named that are houses of worship are mainly women's. That's interesting too, like what do we do with that? Does that mean that she's just making the communion bread or what's going on there? What do we do with all of that? I think that there's a lot that we still have to learn.

Patrick Miller: And it seems to me that we've lost some of the creativity of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Aimee Byrd: Yes.

Patrick Miller: I mean here's two men, again living in a... If we call our culture patriarchal, then we need to call that like super, mega, absolutely, over the top patriarchal culture, and yet they are creatively making spaces for women to lead, to teach, to have significant roles right alongside men in ways that would have been shocking. And it's almost like we've lost the shock because we've become somewhat used to having women in positions of leadership in our culture, so we read that and we just kind of glide over it. We need that same creativity in the church, especially if we're going to be committed to the view that only men should be ordained as pastors. I mean if that's what Paul was committed to, it did not mean that only men were leaders in the church. His letters just say too much to the opposite and so I'm excited to see-

Aimee Byrd: And teachers.

Patrick Miller: Oh go ahead.

Aimee Byrd: Yeah, and teachers. I was just adding to leaders and teachers.

Patrick Miller: Yes, absolutely. Well I've really appreciated this conversation with you today, Aimee. I hope that anybody listening to this will go read your book, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It's one of my favorite books that I've read this year, I've read it twice now, that's always my mark of a really good book if I'll go through it two times. So I would just encourage you if you're listening to go check out that book. How else can people follow you, track with what you're doing right now, Aimee?

Aimee Byrd: So I have a website, aimeebyrd. com, and my name is spelled a little different, it's A- I- M- E- E- B- Y- R- D. com, and then I'm also on Twitter. My handle is @ aimeebyrdpyw, for peeling yellow wallpaper.

Patrick Miller: I was wondering what that was, now it makes sense to me.

Aimee Byrd: There's too many Aimee Byrds on Twitter, so I couldn't just go normal.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, to add something, that's hilarious.

Aimee Byrd: So I had to add something. So I used to have it with an acronym for my first book, but now I think it's more appropriate for peeling yellow wallpaper.

Patrick Miller: I love it. I love it.

Aimee Byrd: It's an active thing.

Patrick Miller: Would you mind praying for our audience?

Aimee Byrd: Oh. Well that would be an honor. Thank you. Heavenly Father, thank you for this opportunity to be able to talk today. I'd pray that our words were glorifying to you, Lord, that whatever wasn't Lord wouldn't seep into the hearts of the listeners, but that you would take what is and plant that seed in all of our ears, in all of our conversations, and in our eyes, how we view one another, Lord, how we love one another. That as men and as women, that our primary goal would be to promote one another's holiness, to point one another to you, Lord, and to see you in each other. And in that way, we would see your creativity and your beauty and your love for us. I pray that we continue to point one another to what is ahead, where we will be, our ultimate hope and goal which is communion with the triune god and one another, and that our discipleship and churches would help one another on that path. In Christ's name we pray, amen.

Patrick Miller: Amen. Thanks so much for being on the show with us today. Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review, and make sure it's at least five stars inaudible just be honest. Reviews help other people find us. At the very least, you can share today's episode. Maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain and if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.

DESCRIPTION

Have you ever felt that Christian culture sells women short by undervaluing their calling and not allowing them to fully utilize their gifts? Do phrases like "women's role in the Church" get under your skin? You're not alone. Today, Patrick talks with Aimee Byrd to explore this very topic. Aimee, the author of Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, shares her theology and how the Church's teaching on gender often negatively affects Christians. Aimee also helps us understand what she means by "gynocentric interruptions" and why this is crucial to forming a more biblically sound theology of gender.


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Today's Host

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Patrick Miller

|CO-HOST
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Keith Simon

|CO-HOST

Today's Guests

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Aimee Byrd

|Author