Eternal Patriarchy? The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says, “You Bet!”

A reply to Mark David Walton's article on male and female roles in Heaven

“What, then, of marriage? Although the common assumption that there will be no marriage in heaven may be in error, it is most unlikely that marriage will continue in the new creation in its present covenantal and conjugal aspects. The covenant of which marriage is a type will be replaced in the new creation by the archetype, the marriage between Christ and his church (Eph 5:31-32). Likewise, conjugal relations as we now know them will end. Yet when it is remembered that the intimate relations between the first man and woman were part of God’s original-creation plan, we realize that it is not so much that such relations will altogether cease, as that they will be replaced, transformed into something befitting the new creation.”

 

Deut 4:2  You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

1Co 4:6  I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Mark David Walton has gone and done it over at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Walton’s Facebook page shows him to be adjunct professor of theology at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor of Glenwood Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, TN.  You can view his article HERE.  Ooops!  No, you can’t view it. Because just one day after I wrote this, CBMW scrubbed the article!

A formal statement of apology and retraction would be good from CBMW rather than just erasing.

But although CBMW scrubbed it from where it was on their site, you can still see a cached copy on the WaybackMachine, and here it is at AwesomeScreenshot courtesy of Julie Anne.

Actually, Walton hasn’t just now gone and done it — the article was in the CBMW Journal back in 2006 and a precursor article by him in 2004. What is it he went and did? He went beyond Scripture. Way, way beyond Scripture.  Here are the main thesis points of his article, quoted from it:

1. Resurrected saints will be distinguished as male and female in the new creation [i.e., in the new heavens and new earth].

2. Given that gender identity will remain … will resurrected saints as male and female have gender-specific roles? [Walton says “yes.”] The paragraphs that follow will offer evidence for complementarity among resurrected saints. . . .  to deny the very concept of male headship in the new creation on the false assumption that it is incompatible with creation ideals is, at best, reckless theology.

3. Although Scripture does not speak directly to the question of the effect gender will have on the lives of resurrected believers in the new creation, it does offer sufficient evidence to affirm that gender will continue to be a significant aspect of our lives in the eschaton.

4. Given then that relationships between those married on earth will in some sense remain in the new creation, it remains for us to inquire regarding the nature of those relationships. To put it more directly, will husbandly headship and wifely submission still obtain in the new creation? The egalitarian response, of course, is that all traces of headship and submission will have been removed. The evidence however, argues to the contrary. . . . Because the new creation is, fundamentally, a return to the divine order that prevailed before the fall, it follows that male headship will remain in the new creation. . . . There is every reason to believe, then, that male headship will continue as the divine order for male-female relationships.

In his more brief discussion of the nature of society in the new creation, Walton leads us right up to the edge of understanding that he believes men will still be the primary possessors of authority in the new society.

Walton’s last paragraph actually summarizes the essence of what is horribly wrong with his teaching:

There is so much that we cannot yet know about life in the new creation. We can be confident though, that God must have some very profound eternal purpose for manhood and womanhood. There is every reason to believe that gender-based distinction of roles will remain.

The Scriptures we cite at the beginning of this post indict Walton’s teaching. He has indeed gone beyond Scripture and he has added to it. Why has he done so? To further his fundamental notion that men are to possess authority over women in all of life. As one of our friends noted after reading Walton’s article:

I think that it’s dangerous ground to speculate too much about what Scripture is silent about. My concern with his article is that he seems to be saying that men are inherently worth more than women. These guys swear that they don’t mean that all women should submit to all men, but here is a great example of how they teach that in heaven there is no more marriage (so no submitting to husbands), no more having children (so no submitting to parents), and no more church leadership (assuming that we worship God directly), so who exactly are women to submit to? Aren’t those the categories of leadership that complementarians hold to?  — Rachel Miller

Other related Scriptures which would seem to oppose Walton’s thesis include the following:

Mat 22:29-30  But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

However, it is not our burden to demonstrate that the Scriptures show that eternal patriarchy (which is really what Walton is teaching) is not in God’s plan. We only need to remind Walton, and everyone, that the things Walton is claiming to prove from Scripture are not addressed by Scripture. There are many issues that the Bible is silent upon, and when the Bible is silent, we should be as well. Incidentally, Walton’s primary source for his case (or at least one of his chief sources) is C.S. Lewis! He repeatedly quotes Lewis and then draws his conclusions from the conclusions drawn by Lewis!

Finally, one of the most harmful points that Walton tries to put over on us, is in his application of his inferences drawn from inferences that someone else inferred. Walton says:

To an extent probably unrealized by most of us, our attitudes, actions, and decisions in this life are profoundly influenced by our concept of life — or lack thereof — after death. . . how one understands life in the new creation guides our present-day preparations for the life to come. . . . if Lewis is correct, we would do well to begin ordering our lives in such a way as to acquire a ‘taste’ for things to come.”

So everyone in Walton’s church, and really all Christians, and hey, all human beings, had better get themselves in line right now. That is what he is saying. “Like it or not, this is how I am telling you it is going to be in the new creation forever and ever and ever, so you better start getting used to it now.” Which means of course, all of us embracing male-female relationships as Walton and CBMW see them. All Christians, whether they hold to a complementarian or egalitarian view, should be opposed to this kind of speculation paraded as God’s truth. And I have not even addressed in any detail here what this kind of teaching is going to do in the hands of abusers. “Golly, gee! I have her for eternity! Hear that, honey?” I should also mention that this business smacks of a Mormon new world in many ways.

Jesus said that he who is greatest here will be the least in the kingdom. And whoever is least here will be the greatest. Unless you are a woman? Does Walton’s teaching mean that the godliest woman will be under the authority of the Christian who barely snuck into the kingdom with the smell of smoke on his clothes just because he is a man?

We could have gone into detail regarding Walton’s very bad handling of the Scriptures. Actually he refers to C.S. Lewis as much as Scripture, it seems. But perhaps we should quote one paragraph here that is an example of Walton’s careless handling of the Word:

What, then, of marriage? Although the common assumption that there will be no marriage in heaven may be in error, it is most unlikely that marriage will continue in the new creation in its present covenantal and conjugal aspects. The covenant of which marriage is a type will be replaced in the new creation by the archetype, the marriage between Christ and his church (Eph 5:31-32). Likewise, conjugal relations as we now know them will end. Yet when it is remembered that the intimate relations between the first man and woman were part of God’s original-creation plan, we realize that it is not so much that such relations will altogether cease, as that they will be replaced, transformed into something befitting the new creation.

This is something Walton does several times to try to prove that male and female roles will continue in the new creation. He points to the original Eden and then goes too far in carrying what was true of Adam and Eve over into the new creation. And he speaks rather dogmatically as he delves into these nebulous regions of “ifs.”

If . . . if . . . if . . . C.S. Lewis is correct. If Walton is correct . . .   Doctrines built on “ifs” are built on a faulty foundation. Such doctrines can only be the tradition of human beings, not the Word of God.  Mr. Walton, God has not spoken to these things. You would do well to imitate Job’s learned wisdom and humility:

Job 40:4-5  “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Jeff Crippen is the pastor of Christ Reformation Church in Tillamook, Oregon and has been a pastor since 1983.  Jeff has studied the subject of domestic violence and abuse since 2009.  In 2012 he co-authored a book entitled A Cry for Justice:  How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in your ChurchThis article first appeared on his blog, A Cry for Justice, and is used with permisison.