Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Note of Interest

I was really glad to read, over at Carla's blog, that RC Sproul Jr. has apologized and clarified his position. Since it was his post on April 20th that started much of the current round of whether women should blog and what they may write about, I thought that you should all be informed about his new statements. I'll repeat here what Carla quoted, and you can find RC Jr.'s post here:

"I have two apologies to make. The first is comparatively innocuous, and isn’t designed to hinder the reality of the second. I begin with the lesser crime,recognizing that a greater yet looms over me. First, I was insufficiently clear in what I wrote with respect to women bloggers. While reading the first dozen or so people grumble that I was misapplying Paul’s admonition that women should not exercise authority over a man, I simply thought, “Interesting that these folks should fault my understanding of a text I did not quote, while failing to deal with the text that I did quote.” When the second and third dozen followed in the same footsteps, I came to believe that the problem was mine. I jumbled together issues of male and female roles, teaching with or without authority, Internet and in-real-life relationships, and Internet diaries and polemical blogs into one too-brief piece, and made a mush of the whole thing. For that I am deeply sorry. I misused the medium by trying to tackle half a dozen serious issues with an off-the-cuff commentary. Ironically, in short, I hit myself with my own friendly fire.

The more serious confession, however, comes, again without missing any irony, from what I learned in reading sundry responses. I was familiar, before I wrote the piece, with the ministries of Deborah and Priscilla. I am well aware, as is the most ardent patriarch, that the Proverbs 31 woman buys a field. What I failed to grasp was exactly what so many pointed out to me: Titus 2 isn’t designed to be a complete list of what a woman may teach, nor even whom she may teach. Not only did Priscilla certainly bring something more to the table than “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (though I would argue that such isn’t simply a simple, discreet bit of data that we can simply learn and move on from), but I have learned from, been inspired by, and grown in grace through the gifts of women such as Elisabeth Elliot, Nancy Wilson, and, not least, my own dear wife.

What I should have said is this: The Internet, because it allows for decentralized communication, multiplies the dangers that are inherent in our egalitarian age. Once upon a time, parachurch ministries, for all their dangers, had as an advantage that it took some level of financing to get the thing off the ground. That meant, however wobbly, some kind of broad accountability. Now we live in a world where someone with $15 a month can devote themselves to finding thousands of devoted students. Technology has made “Let not many of you become teachers” become a greater danger than it ever had been before. And “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (I Timothy 5:22) hasn’t yet been translated into “Do not add Mr. or Mrs. Self Professed Expert to your list of favorite links hastily,” as it perhaps should be. The Internet, whatever its strengths, makes it easier for people, male and female, to “teach,” albeit without authority, and makes it easier for people, male and female, to sit at the feet of “teachers,” albeit without authority. I sinned in my own lack of care not only in how I said things but what I said. I failed not only to communicate accurately, but more importantly, to communicate biblically. Again, I apologize.

Now, for all those kind folks who cheered me on through this debacle, let me say this: While I am happy now to concede that Titus 2 doesn’t give an exhaustive list of all the things of which a woman may speak, or to whom she may speak them, I’d still like to encourage folks to consider whether they are doing what they are commanded to do before they consider what else they might be allowed to do. If a woman is not first teaching younger women to love their husbands and children, to be discreet and chaste, to tend their homes, then perhaps she shouldn’t be expanding her curriculum to include other subjects. The same is true for men. We too ought to step away from the keyboard if we are not speaking the things which are proper for sound doctrine, that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience.

I do ask for forgiveness as widely as my sin went forth."

As I believe I said here before, I don't know much about RC Jr.; I'd heard of him but am not a regular reader of his blog.

I really appreciate what he says here and am really glad to see that he doesn't believe women's mixed-gender conversation is as limited as it seemed he did. He is a man, and his opinion holds no more weight than someone else's unless it's grounded in the Word of God; even then, it is the Word that holds weight, and not the man.

Last night I had an opportunity to experience the power of a sincere apology that was given to me for a legitimate wrong done to me by a close friend. Never underestimate the sheer emotional and spiritual force of an honest admission of wrongdoing, a contrite apology, and a repentant heart. I am really glad to find out that Sproul is a man of integrity who knows when to just say, 'Wow, I spoke too soon. Here's what I said wrong, and here's what I should have said.' I, for one, appreciate it.