Guardian Angel Book Review

BOOK REVIEW/RESPONSE
By Daniel Botkin

Guardian Angel: What You Must Know about God’s Design for Women, by Skip Moen, 2010. 346 pages.

Reprinted with permission.  Originally found in Gates of Eden Bi-monthly Vol. 20 No. 1. For more information on how to subscribe to Daniel’s Bi-monthly and to view past issues, visit http://gatesofeden.org

FOUR DISCLAIMERS

Before I give my response to this book, I want to state four disclaimers.

1.  The previous article in this issue of GOE, “Theorizing Versus Inferring” was not written as a response to Moen’s book.  That might appear to be the case, because Moen arrives at many of his conclusions by theorizing.  But I wrote the article “Theorizing Versus Inferring” before I ever read Moen’s book, and I had already planned to print it in this issue of GOE.

2.  I do not know Skip Moen and I have nothing against him personally.  He is probably a very nice, likeable, sincere person.  But nice, likeable, sincere people can be sincerely wrong.  I am not suggesting that Moen is knowingly and deliberately teaching error and lies.  I am only saying that Moen is seriously mistaken in his conclusions about God’s Design for Women.  I am disagreeing with his conclusions, not attacking his character.

3.  I am not suggesting that there is nothing good in Moen’s book.  Like just about any book, it contains some truth.  Moen writes about the importance of interpreting the New Testament in a way that does not contradict the Old Testament and in a way that takes the Hebraic/Jewish background into consideration.  This is a fundamental truth which is familiar to most Messianic people.  Even though Moen’s book contains some good things, it is riddled with theorizing, assumptions, faulty logic, speculation, eisegesis, exaggeration, and baseless statements that are simply untrue.

Just because a book contains some truth is not reason enough to swallow the message the author presents.  If a man wants to poison a sheep, he doesn’t feed her straight poison; she won’t swallow it.  You have to offer the sheep some good food laced with enough poison to destroy the sheep.  Moen’s book contains some truth, but it is laced with enough serious error to destroy marriages and congregations if swallowed and assimilated.

4.  Even though I sometimes write about controversial topics, I do not enjoy it.  I feel no need to boost my ego by proving myself right and somebody else wrong.  I only want to show from the Scriptures which view of the woman’s role is Scriptural and which is not.

MY POSITION ON THE WOMAN’S ROLE

My position on the woman’s role in the assembly and in the marriage is no secret to those who are familiar with my teachings on this topic.  I have written about this in GOE 8-6 (“The Woman’s Role”), GOE 13-2 (“Men and Women,  Husbands and Wives”), and GOE 18-1 (“Daughters of Sarah”).  Readers can see the first two of these articles in the archives on the GOE web site, or request photocopies if you want to read how I arrive at my conclusions.  But for now, very briefly summarized, here is my position.

Ministry-wise, I believe a woman, if qualified, is an eligible candidate to fill any position a qualified man is eligible to fill, with two important exceptions: 1) a woman should not be in a position of spiritual authority and leadership over a man, and 2) a woman should not minister in a teaching role that places her as a teacher of men.

I believe it is Biblically permissible for a woman to publicly share testimonies, prophesy, preach the gospel to the lost, and to teach men academic subjects such as math, English, history, or even Biblical languages like Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  But I believe it is contrary to Scripture for a woman to stand before an assembly in the role of a Bible teacher and give Bible instruction to men.  I base this primarily, but not exclusively, on 1 Timothy 2:11f.

In the marriage, I see the wife’s role stated in simple, easy-to-understand terms in the Divinely-inspired Apostolic Scriptures.  The wife is commanded to submit to her own husband and to be subject to her own husband (Eph. 5:22-24), to be a keeper at home and obedient to her own husband (Tit. 2:5), and to be in subjection to her own husband even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Pet. 3:5f).

Of course there can be exceptions to the rule in cases of a mentally-ill husband who is endangering himself and others (like Abigail’s husband Nabal in 1 Samuel 25), or a wicked husband who tells his wife to disobey God.  But under normal circumstances, these are the God-given commandments to wives.

This has been my view of the woman’s role ever since I was a new believer.  I did not embrace this view as a result of books or teachings about the woman’s role.  My view was based on the plain truths plainly stated in the Bible.  I think my first exposure to books on this topic was not until about 20 years later, when I read Elizabeth Rice Handford’s Me? Obey Him? and Samuele Bacchiocchi’s Women in the Church.  Both of these books affirmed my long-held view of the woman’s role in the marriage and in the assembly.  Skip Moen’s book contradicts my long-held view, but it does not persuade me that Moen’s view is Biblical.  On the contrary, it further convinces me that my view is Biblical.  How so?  Because I can see how flawed and flimsy and illogical are all the arguments against the traditional, conservative view that I and many others hold.

WHY WRITE A RESPONSE TO THIS PARTICULAR BOOK?

If Moen’s book does not make me doubt or question my view, then why should I write about the book?  It was not really my idea.  Here is how it came about.  A year or so ago, I was asked (by a woman) if I would read the book and reconsider my long-held view of the woman’s role.  Not long after that, I was asked (by a man) if I would read the book and write a response to alert people to the error and deception in the book.  I had no desire to read the book nor to write about it.  However, I heard reports that the book was causing problems in some Messianic/Hebrew roots circles.  So I bought the book and prayed and asked the Lord to help me read it with an objective mind and to be open to any correction I might need.  Here is my response.

MOEN’S VIEW OF THE WOMAN’S ROLE

According to Skip Moen, I and others who hold the traditional, conservative view of the woman’s role are misogynists – a fancy word that means people who hate women.  Moen uses the words misogyny and misogynists at least eight times in his book.[1] (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

According to Moen, the wife’s God-ordained role in the marriage, both before and after the Fall, is to be the following things to her husband:  his priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher (even though Ephesians 5:29 teaches that it is the husband who is the nourisher of the wife), and his provider (even though 1 Timothy 5:8 says “if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith”).  Moen uses these terms, either separately or together, at least 158 times throughout his book.[2]  (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

All these terms sound more like a little boy’s mother than a wife.  I don’t know about other men, but when I got married, I wanted a wife, not a woman who was going to be my new mother.

Moen suggests that the woman is “appoint[ed] as a leader” in the marriage[3] (even though Peter’s and Paul’s Divinely-inspired commandments to wives in 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, and Titus 2 clearly portray husbands as the leaders), and he suggests that the woman is “the stronger party in the male-female relationship”[4] (even though  the Bible calls the woman “the weaker vessel” in 1 Peter 3:7).

According to Moen, the husband “becomes the property of the woman” and he “submits to her ownership.”[5]

Moen claims that Adam (Eve’s “property”) ate the forbidden fruit because he trusted Eve (his “owner”).  “Was it a mistake to trust her?” Moen asks.  “No,” he answers.  “Adam was not wrong to trust her.  A man is supposed to trust his wife in the same way that he trusts God.”[6]

How does Moen arrive at these conclusions?  His view of woman as the gender who is “appoint[ed] as a leader” is based on the fact that there is an Arabic cognate of the Hebrew neqevah (“female”) which can sometimes mean to “single out” or to “appoint as a leader.”[7]

For readers who may not be familiar with linguistic terms, the word cognate refers to a word which is similar or identical to a word in another language.  For example, Spanish and English have many cognates: numero/number, gloria/glory, sacrificio/sacrifice, etc.  These cognates mean the same in both languages.  However, many times cognates do not mean the same in both languages.  Basing a conclusion on an Arabic cognate of a Hebrew word is very flimsy evidence at best.

Why does Moen view woman as “the stronger party” and the “owner” of the husband, and why does he think the wife is supposed to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher, and his provider?  When Moen applies all these terms to the wife, this obviously reverses the traditional, conservative view.  What is the basis of Moen’s claims?  The ‘ezer kenegdo.

‘EZER KENEGDO

Virtually everything Moen teaches about God’s Design for Women (something that “You Must Know,” Moen states in the subtitle of his book) is based on one thing:  Moen’s erroneous understanding of ‘ezer kenegdo, the Hebrew term usually translated “help meet” or “a suitable help” or “a help corresponding to [the male],” etc.  All of Moen’s descriptions of the woman’s role as the husband’s priest and spiritual guide, provider, protector, etc., etc. are derived from his misunderstanding of the ‘ezer kenegdo.  Throughout his book, Moen uses the term ‘ezer and ‘ezer kenegdo at least 225 times.[8]  (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

I realize that when writing about a phrase and its meaning, some repetition is necessary.  But 225+ appearances of ‘ezer (kenegdo) and 158+ appearances of the terms which Moen thinks should describe the wife’s role (not to mention 8+ appearances of the words misogyny and misogynist) is overdoing it.  And I’m not talking about writing style and essay composition here.  I’m talking about the old adage that says if you repeat something enough times, eventually people will believe it, whether it’s true or not.  Rather than automatically believing Moen’s oft-repeated claims, readers should carefully look at the evidence Moen presents to make his claims about the ‘ezer kenegdo.

Moen’s claims about the ‘ezer kenegdo are based on the fact that in the Bible, God is called the ‘ezer (helper) of His people.  In God’s relationship with His people, God is obviously the stronger party and He is the provider and protector and spiritual guide of His people.  Therefore, Moen concludes, “wives are to act toward their husbands as God acted toward His people”[9]; “she is to play the same role with her man as God plays with His people”[10]; “she plays the role of God in the physical interaction on the human plane.”[11]  This totally reverses the imagery of Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5, but no matter.

Moen makes a few sub-claims to try to support these claims about the ‘ezer.  The word ‘ezer is masculine, not feminine.  Moen concludes that since the word is in the masculine form, the woman “plays the role of God” in the marriage.  But a more sensible explanation for the use of the masculine form ‘ezer would be the fact that there was not yet a female human in existence when God stated His intention to build a helper for Adam.  The only human in existence was a male.  The concept of a female helper would have been meaningless until after the female was built, so why use a meaningless term?

But Moen insists that the use of ‘ezer to refer to both God and the woman means that both function as the stronger of the two parties – God in His relationship with Israel, and the woman in the marriage relationship.  “When the Genesis account tells us that God chose the word ‘ezer to describe His purposeful construction of the woman, the connections to His own actions are deliberate,” Moen claims.[12]

“Did God intend Havvah [Eve] to be the protector and provider, the stronger party, in the male-female relationship?  There can be little doubt that these thoughts are implied in the choice of [the word] ‘ezer,” Moen says.[13]

Moen insists that when someone is an ‘ezer to someone else, the ‘ezer is the stronger of the two.  “This word carries the idea of help from one who is more capable.  In fact, the etymology of this word suggests someone who has superior military strength.”[14] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

When we use the word “helper” in English, the helper is usually (though not always) weaker and/or subordinate to the helpee.  A child might be called “daddy’s little helper” or an employee might be called “the boss’s helper.”  But according to Moen, the Hebrew word for helper, ‘ezer, “absolutely does not mean assistant.”[15]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)  Moen believes that an ‘ezer is always stronger than the one being helped.  But is this true?  Not at all.

Moen’s claim that ‘ezer always refers to the stronger of the two is absolutely false, and can be shown to be false by looking at how the word is used in some Bible passages.  There are at least seven Bible passages where the helper/’ezer was weaker and/or subordinate to the one(s) being helped.  In Joshua 1:14, the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan were commanded to “help” the other nine and a half tribes.  In Judges 5:23, a curse was pronounced on the inhabitants of Meroz because they “came not to the help of Yahweh.”  Several verses in 1 Chronicles 12 tell about individuals who were David’s “helpers.”  In 2 Chronicles 22:17, David commanded the princes of Israel to “help” Solomon.  In 2 Chronicles 32:3, the princes and mighty men “helped” King Hezekiah stop the waters.  In 1 Kings 1:7, Joab and Abiathar “helped” Adonijah in his failed attempt to be king.  In Ezra 5:2, the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua had “the prophets of God helping them.”

In all the above examples, the ‘ezer/helper was the weaker and/or the subordinate.  The helpees – Joshua, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Adonijah, Zerubbabel and Jeshua – were the stronger ones in charge of these situations.  The ones helping them were their subordinate assistants, not their equals nor their superiors.  And anyone who could “come to the help of Yahweh” (Jdg. 5:23) would certainly not be coming as an equal or as a superior.  They would be coming as the weaker, subordinate assistants.  These seven passages prove that Moen’s claims about the word ‘ezer are absolutely false.

If Moen’s claims that ‘ezer suggests someone who has “superior military strength” were true, then why didn’t the Israelite women fight the wars and let the men stay home with the children?  Why were the Torah laws that regulate warfare given to men instead of to women?  And why does Peter call the woman “the weaker vessel”?

Virtually everything Moen teaches about God’s Design for Women is based on his ideas about the ‘ezer kenegdo and his utterly false claim that ‘ezer “absolutely does not mean assistant.”  Remove this faulty foundation from Moen’s book and his arguments all collapse, because all his arguments against male headship are built on this foundation.  This becomes evident when Moen tries to re-interpret the many verses that speak about male headship.

“HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE”

After Adam and Eve sinned, God told Eve “he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16).  Moen points out that “Christian interpretation of the divinely ordered hierarchy of male over female or husband over wife is often derived from this passage in Genesis 3.”[16]  To refute this traditional, conservative view of male headship, Moen appeals to his distorted view of ‘ezer kenegdo:  “In my opinion, none of these positions [i.e., positions that affirm male headship] gives full weight to the fundamental concept of woman as ‘ezer kenegdo.”[17]

Moen claims that the statement “he shall rule over thee” is descriptive, not prescriptive.  In other words, God is not prescribing or instituting male headship here, He is merely describing what is going to happen, and “warning” Eve:  Watch out, Eve.  Adam is going to rise up against you and take charge.

“God distinguishes between a curse and an announcement,” Moen says.[18]  But who says male leadership is a curse?  I see it as a blessing for the woman, something that gives her a provider, a protector, a spiritual guide, etc. – all those things Moen thinks the wife is supposed to be to the man.

Moen claims that Adam decided for himself, without God’s instruction or approval, to assume leadership in the family.  “We can well imagine Adam’s emotional reaction [after the Fall], deciding he will never again allow himself to simply follow this supposed ‘ezer kenegdo.  From now on, he will make the decisions… Instead of forgiving, Adam assumes control, suggesting that the woman is unfit for the job.  From this point forward, Adam takes the initiative.  He no longer trusts his wife.  Furthermore, Havvah [Eve] must now fight to act as the ‘ezer kenegdo for her man… Adam fulfills God’s descriptive warning in Genesis 3:16 regarding the woman by putting himself above her in an artificial hierarchy of his own making.”[19]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Moen goes further with his wild speculating and claims that when Adam names the woman Eve, “he demotes her to the status of an animal” because he “seeks revenge.”[20]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)  Moen bases this outrageous claim on the fact that Adam also gave names to the animals.  But the Bible says Adam called her name Eve “because she was the mother of all living,” not because he wanted to demote her to the status of an animal as an act of revenge.  If naming someone demotes them to the status of an animal, as Moen claims, then parents who give their children names are demoting them to the status of an animal.

Moen goes even further.  Because Eve’s Hebrew name, Havvah, sounds similar to hivya, an Aramaic word for “serpent,” Moen claims that Adam “gives her a name that will forever remind her of her failure and permanently associate her with the animal kingdom… naming her Havvah reminds her every day of her failure and her connection to the serpent.”[21]

As I said earlier, basing a conclusion like this on nothing more than a cognate word from a sister language is very flimsy evidence at best.  But even more importantly, it contradicts what the Bible plainly says.  Adam’s reason for calling her Eve was “because she was the mother of all living,” not because Adam wanted to “shove her face in her sin.”[22]

PETER AND PAUL

How does Moen explain the God-given commandments to wives in Ephesians 5, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3?  Before he attempts to explain these passages in the latter part of his book, he makes several comments about them in the earlier part of his book. He calls Paul’s Divinely-inspired commandments “those bothersome comments about women in church and wives at home” and “those difficult passages in Sha’ul’s [Paul’s] letters” and “the controversial verses of Paul’s letters.”[23]  Moen does not mention this, but I will.  These passages are “bothersome” and “difficult” and “controversial” only to people like Moen, who do not want to believe the plain truth that is plainly stated in these verses, and want instead to castrate them from the canon of Scripture by interpreting them in a way that neuters the plain meaning.

“Don’t turn to Sha’ul’s [Paul’s] letters,” Moen warns.  “Don’t try to use Kefa’s [Peter’s] epistles.”[24]  Of course Moen eventually has to turn to Peter’s and Paul’s epistles so he can try to re-interpret them to fit his feminist theology.

“We are ready to discuss the controversial verses of Paul’s letters,” he says on page 250.  But not before filling 249 pages with teaching that undermines and contradicts the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s God-given commandments to women.

Everything Moen says to deny the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s commandments to women is, as with just about everything else he says, based on his distorted view of the ‘ezer kenegdo.  “If our views of his [Paul’s] comments about women do not square with what we have learned from the Hebraic mosaic, then we are wrong,” Moen says.[25]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Notice that phrase “what we have learned,” i.e., what Moen has told us in the previous pages of his book.  Everything Moen says to deny the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s words requires the assumption that everything Moen has said about ‘ezer kenegdo is absolutely true.  Furthermore, it requires the assumption that both Peter and Paul understood ‘ezer kenegdo exactly as Moen understands it, that Peter and Paul believed that the woman’s role is to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher, and his provider.  Moen states, “Paul’s appreciation for the design of the ‘ezer kenegdo shapes all his discussion of these issues.”[26]

EPHESIANS 5

So how does Moen explain the commandment to women in Ephesians 5: 22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”?  First he refers to these God-given commandments as “Paul’s infamous statements about marriage,” then he says this must be analyzed “from the perspective of Torah compatibility and rabbinic interpretation.”[27]

Of course what this really means is compatibility with Moen’s feminist views.  “Ask yourself what we have learned from the Genesis account,” he says.[28]  I agree.  Ask yourself what we have learned from a sincere but misinformed and misguided teacher who wants us to believe that an ‘ezer who helps someone else is always the stronger one (something that is absolutely false) and based on this error, wants us to believe that the wife is supposed to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his provider and nourisher, etc., etc.

Because Ephesians 5:22 says “Submitting yourselves one to another,” Moen says that the commandment for wives to submit to their own husbands as unto the Lord is really about “mutual submission,” and speaks about “the biblical view of mutual submission as opposed to the cultural view of submission of the wife.”[29]  If the text really means that wives are actually supposed to submit to their husbands, then “How do we understand the admonition to mutual submission?” Moen asks.[30]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

I will answer that question.  “Submitting yourselves one to another” is not telling husbands and wives to submit to each other.  It is the general introductory statement to the instruction Paul is about to write regarding submission and authority.  We can understand “Submitting yourselves one to another” to mean “Submit to whoever is in authority over you.”

The proof of this is in the following verses and the following chapter.  First, as an introduction, Paul says to submit yourselves one to another.  Then in the very next verse, he starts giving the specifics and tells who is supposed to submit to whom:  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… Children, obey your parents in the Lord… Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh…”  (See Ephesians 5:21-6:9.)

In the midst of these instructions, Paul gives commandments to husbands about loving their wives, to fathers about not provoking their children to wrath, and to masters about the treatment of their servants.  These commandments to people in these positions of authority are not to be ignored nor minimized, but neither are the commandments to those who are in positions under authority.

Moen eventually does half-heartedly acknowledge the husband’s “authority” and the wife’s “submission.”  But according to Moen, it is not God nor the Apostles who bestow this authority on the husband, it is the wife:  “It is her voluntary submission that bestows authority upon him,” Moen says.  “He has it because she grants it to him.”[31]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)  If this were true, the wife who bestowed authority on her husband could just as easily revoke that authority and refuse to submit to her husband, thereby castrating from the Bible the commandment for wives to submit to husbands.

1 PETER 3

What about “being in subjection unto their own husbands, even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”?  Moen mentions this chapter, but he does not quote these verses that use the words “subjection” and “obeyed.”  He simply dismisses these verses by claiming that all of 1 Peter 3:1-6 “targets wives with unbelieving husbands.”[32]  Yes, wives with unbelieving husbands are commanded to be in subjection to their husbands, but so are wives with believing husbands.  If Peter had in mind only unbelieving husbands, he would not have used the example of Sarah obeying Abraham, who was a believer, not an unbeliever.  And of course Paul writes about wives submitting to husbands.

Moen makes much ado about the next verse, which says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge.”  What “knowledge” does the husband need to have?  The knowledge that Peter discusses in this verse?  No, the husband needs Skip Moen’s knowledge about the ‘ezer kenegdo and God’s Design for Women.  “Peter was a Hebrew writing in Greek,” Moen says.  “In order to understand his thoughts, we need to look at the Old Testament, not the Greek culture.”[33]  This is true, but Moen assumes that Peter and his readers understood ‘ezer kenegdo and God’s Design for Women the same exact way Moen does.  “No Hebrew husband could have missed this allusion,” Moen says.[34]

As with Moen’s other arguments, this conclusion requires absolute belief in Moen’s view of the ‘ezer.  Moen says that to see “a divine hierarchy” in 1 Peter 3 “is to ignore everything we have learned about the Torah’s description of Woman,” and a hierarchy can only be seen “if we wrench it free from the ‘ezer kenegdo of Genesis, something Peter would most certainly never do.”[35]

How does Moen’s idea of the husband’s and wife’s mutual submission to one another work in the real world when husband and wife disagree about a decision that has to be made?  “What would happen if we decided together that we would do nothing unless both agreed?” Moen says.[36]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

This might sound like a good idea, and for some decisions this can work.  But it is unrealistic and naive, because a lot of decisions in life have deadlines.  School starts in two weeks.  Public school, private school, or home school?  A wedding invitation has R.S.V.P. by a certain date.  Do we tell them we’ll be there or not be there?  The husband has been offered a better job that will require relocating to a different state, and the company needs an answer in three weeks.  We have to tell them something.  What should we do?

In effect, Moen’s idea of mutual submission makes a two-headed monster of marriage and results in spiritual anarchy.

1 TIMOTHY 2:10-14

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

How does Moen explain this?  First he says, “This is a personal letter of advice and counsel” and “is not like the general letters Paul wrote to congregations” but was written “to help Timothy deal with disruptions in his ministry.”[37]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Yes, this epistle was addressed to Timothy.  But it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Even though it was addressed to Timothy, the main theme of the epistle is church government and order in the local church – not just Timothy’s church, but all churches.

Virtually all Bible believers agree that the words of encouragement, instruction, and warning in 1 Timothy chapter 1 apply to believers in all churches, and that the qualifications for elders in chapter 3 apply to all churches,  and that the warnings against doctrines of devils in chapter 4 apply to all churches, and that the instructions regarding elders and widows in chapter 5 apply to all churches, and that the instructions and warnings in chapter 6 apply to all churches.  But Moen wants us to believe that the instructions about women in the assembly in chapter 2 do not apply to all churches, but only to Timothy’s church.

Moen admits that this prohibition of women teaching men “could mean a singular class noun, that is, a reference to all people in the class ‘woman.’”[38]  But Moen refuses to understand it this way.  Why?  Because he thinks this understanding “stands in opposition to the instructions and narrative of the Tanakh [Old Testament],”[39] which really means in opposition to Moen’s view of the ‘ezer.

Moen claims, without any proof, that  “Paul’s remarks are most likely directed at one particular woman.”    “In other words,” Moen says, “Paul may be saying, ‘Let this woman,’ a particular woman whose name is withheld, not be allowed to teach… A woman in the congregation was teaching heretical views.  She is to be forbidden to do so.”[40]

There are two reasons to reject this theory.  First, because it is a mere theory without a single shred of evidence.  It is eisegesis.  But more importantly, because it ignores the very next verse, which tells us the two-fold reason for the prohibition.  Paul does not say “because she is teaching heretical views.”  Paul says “because [“For,” Greek gar, ‘for this reason, because’] Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Regardless of how you want to understand (or not understand) the connection between the prohibition and this two-fold reason, this is the plainly-stated two-fold reason the Bible gives for this prohibition.  And the two truths stated in this two-fold reason are just as true today as they were in Timothy’s day, because they are statements of unchangeable historical and Biblical facts.  Adam’s primacy in creation and the woman’s deception and transgression are the stated reasons for not allowing a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over a man.  You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to understand the connection, but this is what the Bible says.  When the Bible gives a reason for a prohibition, it is presumptuous and dangerous to invent a different reason to justify transgressing that prohibition.

MOEN’S UNMENTIONABLES

There are three important passages about women that Moen does not explain nor even mention.  One is Titus 2, which commands wives to be “keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands” (vs. 5).  Another is Isaiah 3:12, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.  O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”  This shows that when women rule over men, it is a reproach that can result in error.

Probably the most significant passage Moen does not explain nor even mention is Numbers chapter 30, which gives a husband authority to nullify a vow made by his wife.  If a man makes a vow, no second party can nullify that vow, it says.  But if a woman makes an unwise vow, she can be rescued from that vow by her husband.  This is extremely important, because if Moen’s view of the ‘ezer as the man’s spiritual guide, boundary-setter, rescuer, protector, etc. were true, then the wife would be the one who could nullify her spouse’s unwise vows.  Numbers chapter 30 contradicts everything Moen says about the woman’s role as the husband’s ‘ezer.

STRETCHING AND DISTORTING THE HEBREW TEXT

Moen seems to know more Hebrew than the “just enough Hebrew to be dangerous” crowd, but he really stretches and distorts the Hebrew text to try to make it support his ideas.  Moen relies very heavily on “Hebrew Word Pictures,” a process that combines the pictographic meaning of each individual letter in a word to force it to make a statement.  I discussed the flaws and fallacies of this approach, which is based more on folklore than on philology, in “Just Enough Hebrew To Be Dangerous” (GOE 19-3).  Moen appeals to “Hebrew Word Pictures” and pictographs just about every time he introduces a Hebrew word, at least 33 times.[41]  (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

When discussing the Hebrew word for “woman,” which Moen transliterates as ish-sha, he uses pictographs as a basis for a lengthy, detailed explanation about “the doubled [Hebrew letter] Shin” and how this “doubled Shin” allegedly “offers some explanation and some insight” into the role of the woman.[42]

The main problem I have with this is not just Moen’s use of pictograph-based definitions, but in the fact that I cannot find a doubled Shin in the Hebrew word for “woman.”  I looked at the text in five Hebrew Bibles, three Hebrew lexicons, and two Hebrew dictionaries,[43] and I cannot find the word spelled with a doubled Shin anywhere.  All ten of my sources spell the word with a single Shin.  If it is spelled with a doubled Shin, it does not appear where it should appear in any of my dictionaries or lexicons, and it is not given as an alternative spelling with the single-Shin entries.  Maybe Moen has a Hebrew source that spells it with a doubled Shin, but I’ve never seen it spelled that way and I can’t find it spelled that way.

I realize anyone can make a spelling error.  But if this is indeed a spelling error on Moen’s part, it reveals very sloppy scholarship, because “woman” is a very common Hebrew word.  That in itself would not be a big deal, but to go into a long, detailed claim about some hidden “insight” based on an apparent misspelling makes me question Moen’s credibility, especially when “woman” is what his book is all about.

Moen makes other non-credible claims based on the Hebrew text.  He claims that when God clothed Adam and Eve with coats of skins, “He installed them both as the world’s first priests.”[44]  This theory is based solely on the fact that when Aaron and his sons were clothed with their priestly garments, the same Hebrew words for “clothed” and “coats” are used.  “In other words, this phrase is used exclusively for those whom God dresses as priests,” Moen says.[45]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

That’s really stretching the text.  The word “clothe” (lavash) is a very common word, and people in the Bible are clothed with all sorts of things: coats, armor, rags, scarlet, strange apparel, filthy garments, rough garments, even with shame, cursing, desolation, and more.[46]  So the Hebrew word for “clothe” is certainly not used exclusively for clothing priests.  And the Hebrew word for “coats” is certainly not used exclusively for priestly coats.  The word “coat” (k’tonet) is used for Joseph’s coat, Tamar’s coat, Hushai’s coat, Job’s coat, and the Shulamite’s coat.[47]

OTHER MISCELLANEOUS CONCERNS

Moen’s book is riddled with illogical arguments and inconsistencies too numerous to list.  He claims that the requirement that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” can only be understood correctly by inserting the words “if that person is a male.”[48]  But you only need to add to the Word of God this way if your view contradicts the plain meaning of the inspired text.

Moen not only adds to the Word of God, he also suggests that it is permissible to take away from the Word of God.  When discussing 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”), Moen says, “This may be an insertion into Paul’s letter, placed there by those who wished to assert predominance and foster hierarchy within the church.”[49]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)  Why does Moen say this?  Because he thinks this verse  “flies in the face of all that Paul says about equality under the Messiah.”[50]

So if you read something in the Bible that you can’t explain in a way that harmonizes with your personal views, Moen apparently thinks it’s okay to reject it as a later insertion by wicked scribes, and ignore what it says.

Of course Moen brings up the tired old arguments based on the Christian Feminist’s Favorite New Testament Trio:  Phoebe, Junia, and Priscilla.

Phoebe is called a diakonon, a word that simply means “servant.”  But Moen insists it means that “Phoebe held a position of some distinction.”[51]  This is very likely true, but that does not make her a teacher of men nor a “pastor” as one writer says.[52]  If being a diakonon (“servant”) makes someone a pastor, then every believer is a pastor, because we’re all supposed to be servants.

Moen claims that Junia was a woman apostle, even though the text says only that Junia, along with Andronicus, was “of note among the apostles,” i.e., that Junia had a good reputation in the eyes of the apostles, not that Junia herself (or himself) was an apostle.  Yes, Junia might have been a man, not a woman.  Even Moen admits that Junia’s gender is debatable: “this [the Greek name Junia] could be a contraction of the masculine Junianus.”[53]  If Junia’s gender is uncertain, why insist that Junia was a woman apostle?

Moen, like other Christian feminists, thinks that the appearance of Priscilla’s name before her husband’s name has some special significance.  Paul writes “Priscilla and Aquila,” “naming her before Aquila,”[54] as if this means that Priscilla was in some way the stronger of the two.  But Acts 18:2 says “Aquila… with his wife Priscilla” and Acts 18:26 says “Aquila and Priscilla.”  When two names are listed together, the order does not necessarily denote rank nor status nor strength.  We usually see “Moses and Aaron,” but three times we see “Aaron and Moses.”[55]  We often see “Paul and Barnabas,” but six times we see “Barnabas and Paul (or Saul).”[56]

THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH AND THE SPIRIT OF JEZEBEL

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh.  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5f).

As every day brings us one day closer to that great and dreadful day, the spirit of Elijah works to turn our heart back to our fathers – not only to our biological fathers who begat us, but also to the forefathers of our faith, the Patriarchs.  In the Messianic Movement we see many believers returning to a patriarchal world view, which is actually the Biblical view.

When the spirit of Elijah is working to turn us back to a patriarchal view, you can be sure that the spirit of Jezebel will be working equally hard to turn God’s people away from a patriarchal view to a feminist, matriarchal view.

Moen, like Jezebel, despises male authority and the patriarchal view.  He says that “the biblical model is clearly not patriarchal” and “male dominance and patriarchal thinking is not part of the biblical pattern.”[57]  (Emphasis Moen’s.)

But let’s face it, folks.  The Biblical view is patriarchal.  Even Moen admits that the Semitic cultures of Biblical times were “patriarchal” and “unquestionably male dominated.”[58]

If we are going to base our views on the Bible, we are going to have a patriarchal view, and this view will lead to the inescapable conclusion that male leadership is the Biblical norm.  Women are equally important, but male headship is the Biblical norm in the family and in the assembly.  Like it or not, these are the facts.

Satan wants to destroy foundational truths, because “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3).  One of the very first foundational truths about humanity is gender distinction, “male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27).  Satan has been trying to blur the distinction between male and female, waging war with a two-pronged weapon.  The two prongs on that weapon are the modern-day feminist movement and the homosexual movement.  These work side by side, hand in hand, for the common goal of blurring the foundational truth of male and female distinction.  It is no coincidence that many of the Christian feminist arguments that Moen and others use are remarkably similar to the arguments that I have read to try to justify homosexuality.  I’m not suggesting that Moen approves of homosexuality.  He probably condemns it.  But if his feminist views can be justified by the arguments he presents, then the homosexual views can be justified by the arguments they present, because the arguments are remarkably similar.

In closing, let me say that Moen makes one very good point about women generally having “a keener sense of spiritual awareness.”[59]  I agree.  Women often seem to be more spiritually alert and able to intuitively perceive things easier than men do.  Then Moen adds an important statement:  “For this same reason, she is more vulnerable to spiritual deception.”[60]  I agree.  And this is probably the most important true statement in Moen’s book.  It should serve as a warning to women who read Moen’s book.



[1] Pages 1, 2, 14, 155, 157, 158, 288 (2 times).

[2] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times one of these terms was used.  Pages 1(6), 11(4), 12(4), 29(2), 55 (2), 56, 74(5), 75(2), 75(2), 82(3), 91(4), 103(8), 108(2), 111(4), 112(2), 114(5), 115(3), 124(4), 128(6), 137(3), 164(2), 165(2), 166, 167, 168, 169(3), 180(6), 181, 189(3), 190(3), 191, 211(2), 227(12), 229(4), 235, 239(4), 240(4), 263(3), 291(4), 294(2), 295, 302, 311(5), 323(7), 324, 342(4), 344(5), 346(4).

[3] Page 54.

[4] Page 103

[5] Page 226

[6] Page 181

[7] Page 54f

[8] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times ‘ezer (kenegdo) is used on that page.  Pages iii(3), iv, 3(2), 4(2), 11(2), 65, 74(3), 75(2), 78(2), 82(3), 83, 90, 94, 98(4), 99(6), 100(6), 101(3), 102(4), 103(4), 104, 105, 106, 107(2), 108(3), 109(4), 110(2), 111(4), 112(2), 113(2), 114(4), 115(5), 118(2), 123(4), 124(2), 125, 126(3), 127, 130, 131, 132, 133(3), 137,138(3), 139, 140, 141, 150, 156, 158, 160, 161, 162(2), 164, 166(2), 167(3), 168(3), 169(4), 170(2), 176, 180(4), 181(2), 182, 183, 187, 189(2), 190, 191(2), 193(2), 195(2), 198, 200(6), 201(2), 210(2), 212, 214(2), 218, 222(2), 227(3), 228(5), 229(2), 232(3), 235, 236, 239, 240, 243, 251, 256, 257, 258, 263, 265, 270, 277, 282, 288, 291, 294(2), 300(2), 302, 303(2), 306, 307, 311(2), 323, 325(3), 326(5), 328(3), 329, 336, 337(2), 344(2), 346.

[9] Page 227

[10] Page 101

[11] Page 344

[12] Page 102

[13] Page 103

[14] Page 100

[15] Page 108

[16] Page 139

[17] Page 139

[18] Page 141

[19] Page 169f, 193

[20] Page 193

[21] Page 194, 202f

[22] Page 202

[23] Page 21, 85, 250

[24] Page 237

[25] Page 239

[26] Page 282

[27] Page 293

[28] Page 294

[29] Page 295

[30] Page 162.

[31] Page 299

[32] Page 252

[33] Page 253

[34] Page 254

[35] Page 256

[36] Page 311

[37] Page 271

[38] Page 273f

[39] Page 274

[40] Page 274

[41] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times pictographs are referred to on that page.  Page 41, 46, 47, 48, 49, 62, 64, 66, 68, 88, 89(2), 90, 94, 95(2), 102, 117(2), 120, 144, 172, 173, 174(2), 175, 179(2), 187, 206, 259, 305(2).

[42] Page 90

[43] Stone Tanach, Hertz, Plaut, Zondervan, Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures; Strong’s, Young’s, Gesenius; Ben Yehudah, Bantam

[44] Page 211

[45] Page 211

[46] 1 Sam. 17:5, Prov. 23:21, Prov. 31:21, Zeph. 1:8, Zech. 3:3, Zech. 13:4, Job 8:22, Ps. 109:18, Ezk. 7:27

[47] Gen. 37:3, 2 Sam. 13:8, 2 Sam. 15:32, Job 30:18, Song 5:3

[48] Page 289

[49] Page 285

[50] Page 284f

[51] Page 286

[52] “I Suffer Not a Woman: Was Paul a Male Chauvinist?” by Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min., M.A., www.eddiehyatt.com/article20.html?bare

[53] Page 287

[54] Page 286

[55] Ex. 6:20, Ex. 6:26, 1 Chron. 23:13

[56] Acts 12:25, 13:2, 13:7, 14:14, 15:12, 15:25

[57] Page 126

[58] Page 218

[59] Page 115

[60] Page 115

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