Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Richard Davidson’s Moderate Egalitarianism
I’ve still been working my way through Richard Davidson’s mammoth study of sexuality in the Old Testament, Flame of Yahweh. The book is magisterial; there are not enough superlatives for it in my reading so far. His arguments are well thought out and he deals with the other side in great depth both in the text’s body and in footnotes. Davidson’s ultimate position is summed up about halfway through the book:
Jesus and NT writers began the task of cutting through all the then-current dualistic misogynist interpretations of the OT and the denigration of women, and ancient Jewish sources and practices likewise reveal a trend toward a higher view of women. It remains for the church and the synagogue to complete this task of restoration back to Eden. Divine grace is available to restore the home to the original egalitarian model, while allowing for servant leadership of the husband as may be temporarily necessary along the way to preserve unity and harmony in the family; divine grace will empower the covenant community to utilize and officially recognize the Spirit-endowed leadership gifts of women in the church and synagogue. May the day of complete restoration come soon. (295, cited below)
Davidson’s position is effectively the same as the egalitarian one until you read the middle section in which he advocates that the “servant leadership of the husband” could be a temporary necessity. His position, as argued earlier in the book, is that God mandated this kind of leadership post-fall because of the need for having leadership in the home now that sin has split it. However, even in this case he advocates working towards the Edenic ideal of a truly egalitarian marriage.
Such a position demonstrates, I think, the inadequacy of the current definitions of the egalitarian/complementarian debate. Because we have reduced it down to just two positions, some people who walk the line between the two don’t find a solid fit in either camp. I would characterize Davidson as an egalitarian, particularly due to his advocacy of working towards egalitarian marriage despite his view that a male-headship model of marriage might be a temporary necessity. Yet I wonder if we need to re-categorize the debate in order to more accurately allow for middle positions.
I’ve been greatly enjoying Davidson’s monumental work, Flame of Yahweh, and recommend it to you, dear readers.
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).