Friday, March 09, 2007

That's what we lawyers, I'm a lawyer ... we call that a counter offer.

James had commented on this situation previously, but in short Dr. Sheri Klouda was hired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to teach Hebrew, but she later received word that she would not be eligible for tenure because the seminary was not on board with women teaching men in theological courses. (my paraphrase of the situation)

She actually was not fired or dismissed, but left to take a position elsewhere. She is now suing SWBTS for "breach of contract, fraud, and defamation." (HT Horhay)

A couple of questions:
1. Does a woman teaching Hebrew in a seminary (to potential pastors) violate 1 Timothy 2:12?

2. Even if wronged by the school, which remains very much in question, should a she sue fellow Christians?

1. Does a woman teaching Hebrew in a seminary (to potential pastors) violate 1 Timothy 2:12?

This is a tough one, for the defense would be that Paul is talking in the context of a church only. Some would even say that he's actually only speaking about authoritative teaching (i.e., serving as an elder (1 Tim 3:1-7)). Some would even say it's okay for a women even to preach to a church service on a Sunday morning, provided she was doing so under the authority of the elders.

Perhaps I'm not seeing all the special nuances, nor have I ever, for it seems to me that it's a pretty emphatic statement Paul gives in 1 Tim 2:12: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."

Questions abound: What constitutes a man? What constitutes teaching? Can she teach him geometry? Can she teach men in a secular school? What about teaching him public speaking (e.g., preaching)?

It's not my call to make in this regard, but I can certainly understand "playing it safe" in light of Paul's prohibition by not having female professors teaching a seminary class, whereby she would be clearly teaching and having authority over men.

(READ how the other five SBC seminaries deal with issues related to teaching and gender.)

2. Even if wronged by the school, which remains very much in question, should she sue fellow Christians?

I certainly don't know all there is to know, but I can't see how one could justify suing fellow believers. Note well, she's not just suing the school, but an individual, Dr. Paige Patterson.
1When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8But you yourselves wrong and defraud--even your own brothers!
-1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Some might say that there is no arbitrator sufficient in this matter, so I would say the Christian thing to do would be to take the hit and drive on, even if one feels wronged. Instead, Christians are airing their dirty laundry before the world, which I'm sure they're loving.

So, in the interest of money, we get bad publicity for SWBTS, for SBCers, and ultimately for the body of Christ. Either way, the court of popular opinion will weigh in on this and deem some Christian as wrong.

Regardless of who wins, the reputation of Christ loses.



At 09 March, 2007 15:53, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

I wonder about the restrictions here.

Is it okay for a man to read a book written by a woman?

Is it okay for a woman to offer a critique of a man's teaching?

If women are not qualified to teach men (who should be able to interact with her critically), then why should we trust them with our children?

If a mother/wife offers commentary in family worship time, has she gone too far?

At 09 March, 2007 16:13, Blogger GUNNY said...

Great questions, Jay, though I would make one caveat.

It's not so much that a woman is not "qualified" to teach a man, but not permitted, at least in the little world according to Gun.

It's not that women are not apt to teach that keeps them from being elders, for example, but that they are not permitted to teach men, per Paul.

I would say that a woman is qualified AND permitted to teach children and other women (Titus 2:3-5).

I assume you endorse Paul's prohition, but there's a lot of question about the proper application of it.

There's a tension where we don't want to prohibit unnecessarily nor do we want to have her violating texts like the on in question.

But those are good questions.

How are they answered in the PCA Book of Church Order? Where do they draw the lines?

How are they answered in the home of Jay the Bennett?

At 09 March, 2007 18:17, Blogger Rev. said...

Dr. Klouda may have been wronged, but this is not reason enough for her to violate the clear teaching found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.

At 09 March, 2007 19:00, Anonymous Ron said...

You argue that the "Christian thing to do" is for Klouda to "take the hit". Perhaps. But was the seminary's bringing her on faculty on a tenure track and then reneging for no reason other than her second X chromosome the "Christian thing to do"? Given that the seminary is the authority here, shouldn't *it* be expected to behave more "Christianly"? Who's really "airing the dirty laundry": a woman who feels she's been wronged by an institution and is seeking legal recourse through the only avenue available to her, or all the Christian bloggers and journalists who are using their public platforms to judge situations they're not even a part of?

Paul criticized the Corinthians for trying cases in court, but I wonder what he'd think of us modern Christians trying our cases on the Internet...

At 09 March, 2007 21:12, Blogger Lance said...

Don't know if you caught the 9:00 news tonight, but a woman named Pandora is out on the streets looking for a lid that seems to have been taken from atop her box.

At 09 March, 2007 23:01, Blogger Jade said...

Hmmm, I actually asked such a question on the bulletin board that we both post at Gunny...only that I only referred to teaching non-theological topics (e.g. english, science, math, etc). But no one answered my question. :) I just got silence.
But why is she suing when she stated in James' posting that she wasn't bitter? Apparently she was because now she's suing. I agree with your quote on 1Cor 6:1-8.

At 11 March, 2007 21:01, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

In the world of Jay Bennett, the prohibition is that women are not permitted to assume the office of elder.

In the immediate context, Paul seems to be especially conecerned with official authority in the church. Immediately following the 1 Tim 2 passage is 1 Tim 3 where he goes into detail about qualifications/responsibilities for elders and deacons. The responsibilities of elders are teaching and ruling. I find it interesting that those are the exact same things Paul prohibits in 1 Tim 2 "to teach or have authority."

So . . . long story short, I think Paul is prohibiting women from holding the office of elder (teaching an ruling in an official capacity) in the church. I do not think he is prohibiting women from teaching men. I have a tape of John Piper explaining the passage the same way when he was ased the question at a brown bag at DTS back in 2000.

[Unfortunately, Piper was also asked about his eschatology, to which he responded, "I tell people if they want to be saved they have to become a Jew!" I don't know if there is a connection, but I suspect that is why he hasn't been back in 7 years.]

Piper did say that he felt women should teach in a different manner from men when teaching men. In other words, they should not teach with forceful imperatives (preach) but should simply inform, etc. So there should be a difference in the manner a woman teaches men based on the nature of the created order. God has created men to assume a more authoritative role in communities. That is simply the nature of things.

With regard to my questions:

I would say that it is okay for a man to read a book written by a woman and, hopefully, receive instruction from it. However, if the book is written for both men and women, the author should be sensitive to that fact. She should write in a way in keeping with the fact that she is a woman.

It is okay for a woman to offer a critique of a man's teaching. But again it should be done in a way that respects the authority the man is responsible to bear by virtue of his manhood.

Of course, I think some women are more than qualified to teach both men and children, and there is nothing about their womanhood that restricts them from doing so.

And finally, I think a mother/wife should feel comfortable offering commentary so as to teach her family in family worship. However, she should do so in a way that respects the authority of her husband as head of the family.

The PCA as a denomination does not allow women to any official office of the church. The BCO 7-2 says with respect to the offices of elder and deacon (the only recognized church offices), "In accord with Scripture, these offices are open to men only." Individual churches MUST abide by this rule. However, whether a woman ever has the right to teach men is, I think, left to the discretion of each particular Session.

At 12 March, 2007 00:31, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for sharing, Jay.

Just for confirmation, are there any activities you would limit to the office of elder only?

For example, would you prohibit a woman from administering the Lord's Supper or baptism, not essentially because she's a woman, but necessarily because she's not an elder?

I have heard some make the distinction between a woman teaching men certain subject. For example, math or science is all good, but theology is right out.

I'm assuming it machts nichts for you?

At 12 March, 2007 19:16, Anonymous Ron said...

Perhaps the clear teaching of 1 Cor. 6 is not quite so clear.

At 12 March, 2007 22:49, Blogger GUNNY said...

I don't buy into his thesis, it's happened before with good results, ergo, if it was okay then to sue, it's okay now.

At least that's what I came away with. He seems to clarify that in the comments section, however.

But even then it's kind of a pray about whether or not you should sue and go with your conscience.

"I propose that I am consistent in my interpretation of I Corinthians 6 -- each and every person must weigh for themselves what the will of God is in filing a suit in federal or state court -- for I do not see an absolute and eternal prohibition in this text."

That's another issue with its own slipperiness, but I can imagine everyone determines the "will of God" in his or her favor.

N.B. The author of the post sees the burden on the person to subjectively determine what he sees is not objectively determined in the text and that is the basis of his taking to task those who see no lawsuits as the "will of God" (emphasis his).

Doesn't that seem quite adrift from what Paul said, "What Saint Paul really said?" (HT to the Bishop)

With regard to his instances:
1. How was suing that university the same as suing a Christian? I guess I didn't see the parallel.

2. The church stunk up the place with how they handled a child molestor.
"Christa Brown should be given credit for potentially protecting our SBC children."

Well, that's an interesting word potentially. Would the writer say the same if she brandished a gun and shot the man dead. How does the end of potentially protecting children validate what she did? How did it right her wrong? I might have been inclined to have Joab take him out, but I would be the first to admit that's not the right thing to do.

3. How was that good for the reputation of Christ that the secular courts decided who was right and who was wrong? He seems to like it when the courts get it right. Would he be as keen when they get it wrong?

As I see each example, it appears to me that he's merely showing that people have a valid reason to sue.

Even if you go along and assume each person in question was wronged, what has been shown?

Paul doesn't say in 1 Cor 6 that you shouldn't sue if you've not been wronged? It seems to me the opposite is true. Even to those who have been wronged, is it not better to be wronged? The answer is "Yes," both for the individual and for the reputation of Christ. The individual suffers and gains a better appreciation of the Savior who suffered for us. The reputation of Christ is not tarnished.

It seems to me the inherent message in the post is, if you're wronged, take 'em to court. In 1 Cor 6 I see the reverse. I see Paul's "post" saying, even if you're wronged, don't take 'em to court.

"Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?"
-1 Cor 6:7

I'm happy enough to see some gray with regard to an institution suing an institution, but this post did nothing for me by way of convincing me that our sister, Sheri Klouda, is justified in suing our brother, Paige Patterson.

Taking what may be considered extreme examples (e.g., racism/slavery and child moletation) to try to establish a point for the far less than extreme is a suspect way to go for argumentation anyway.

However, I did find the reading of the comments interesting. ; )

At 13 March, 2007 07:44, Blogger Rev. said...

Perhaps the teaching of 1 Cor. 6 isn't quite so clear. Then again, perhaps the Bible isn't clear on the matter of salvation (Christians have various interpretations of this... Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, for example), abortion (just examine the 1973 SBC resolution on the topic and compare it with recent resolutions) or homosexual practice (ask a member of the Metropolitan Community Church if they agree with the SBC interpretation). All in all, I'd say the Bible must be pretty ambiguous. Who even knows what Jesus really said? Perhaps the Jesus Seminar is right... we should just concentrate on our ethics and not so much on the text. Then again, if the text doesn't matter, then the ethics don't exist.

"If God doesn't exist, then all things are permissible."
- Dostoevsky

At 13 March, 2007 12:06, Anonymous Ron said...

Wow, Rev. You're absolutely right. If I don't see 1 Cor. 6 as being completely clear and unambiguous (which I obviously don't, since I disagree with your authoritative interpretation) then it logically follows that I may dispense with the entirety of Scripture after all.

With that, I'm off to apostasize, folks. Y'all have fun!

At 13 March, 2007 17:21, Blogger Rev. said...

Which part of 1 Cor. 6 is unclear and ambiguous, Ron?

Are we talking about an "authoritative interpretation," or just the plain reading of a straight-forward text?

At 13 March, 2007 17:27, Blogger Rev. said...

Ron, I may have come on too strong, and for that I offer an apology.

I do not think, however, that 1 Cor. 6 is an unclear, ambiguous passage. My point of bringing out the other issues is that "personal interpretation" is used by many to side-step clear statements and teachings in Scripture. At what point do we draw the line? At what point does a passage become "unclear"?

At 14 March, 2007 14:26, Blogger GUNNY said...

Okay, a little levity.
(HT Ron)

A nice commentary on our country's propensity to be more than a bit litigious.

Weird Al's "I'll Sue Ya"

I sued Taco Bell
'Cause I ate half a million Chalupas
And I got fat!

I sued Panasonic
They never said I shouldn't use their microwave
To dry off my cat

Huh, I sued Earthlink
'Cause I called them up
N' they had the nerve to put me on hold

I sued Starbucks
'Cause I spilled a Frappucino in my lap
And brrr, it was cold!

I sued Toys'R'Us
'Cause I swallowed a Nerf ball
And nearly choked to death

Ugh, I sued PetCo
'Cause I ate a bag of kitty litter
And now I got bad breath!

I sued Coca-Cola, yo
'Cause I put my finger down in a bottle
And it got stuck!

I sued Delta Airlines
'Cause they sold me a ticket to New Jersey
I went there, and it sucked!


If you stand me up on a date
If you deliver my pizza 30 seconds late

I'm gonna sue, sue
Yes, I'm gonna sue
Sue, sue, yeah that's what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna sue, sue
Yes, I'm gonna sue
Sue, sue, yeah I might even sue you!


I sued Duracell
They never told me not to shove that double-A
Right up my nose

I sued Home Depot
'Cause they sold me a hammer
Which they knew I might drop on my toes

I sued Dell Computers
'Cause I took a bath with my laptop
Now it doesn't work

I sued Fruit of the Loom
'Cause when I wear their tightie-whities on my head
I look like a jerk

I sued Verizon
'Cause I get all depressed
Any time my cell phone is roaming

I sued Colorado
'Cause you know, I think it looks a little bit too much
Like Wyoming

I sued Neiman Marcus
'Cause they put up their Christmas decorations
Way out of season

I sued Ben Affleck
Aw, do I even need a reason?


If I sprain my ankle
While I'm robbing your place

If I hurt my knuckles
When I punch you in the face

I'm gonna sue, sue
Yes, I'm gonna sue
Sue, sue, yeah that's what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna sue, sue
Yes, I'm gonna sue
Sue, sue, that's right I'm gonna sue you


I'll sue ya!
I'll take all of your money
I'll sue ya!
If you even look at me funny

I'll sue ya!
I'll take all of your money
I'll sue ya!
If you even look at me funny

I'll sue ya!
I'll take all of your money
I'll sue ya!
If you even look at me funny

I'll sue ya!
I'll take all of your money
I'll sue ya!
If you even look at me funny

I'll sue ya!
Ha-ha ha ha-haa
I'll sue ya!
What'chall think of that?

I'll sue ya!
Ha-ha ha ha-haa
Boo ya!
I'll sue ya!


At 15 May, 2007 03:45, Blogger Mike Desmond said...

This interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 finally explains a lot about my home town, long known as the "Odometer roll-back capital of the world."

We had/have some of the most crooked used car dealers you will find anywhere. For whatever reason, a lot of them are deacons and other high mucky-mucks in their local churches (it is a heavily southern baptist area).

Despite the many people who have been ripped off by these shysters, you almost never see legal action.

Apparently, 1 Corinthians 6 explains why: 'tis more virtuous to get 'rooked' by a brother in Christ--and meekly bend over and be defrauded--rather than rely on the 'unwashed heathens' outside the church community to protect and defend your rights."

Heck, now that I think of it, this logic totally vindicates Cardinal Bernard Law and the other Catholic hierarchy that conspired to smoke-screen all the child- molesting priests for decades, right?? Obviously, it was, by definition, "right and proper to handle this type of thing 'internally, within the church community'....and once the church decided to do the wrong thing, then heck, that was that---we can't take it out to the unwashed heathens!!"


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