Brethren Under Fire by S. M. Hutchens

Brethren Under Fire

The Days of Avoiding Giving Offense Are Over

With only a few exceptions out of scores of appearances in the New Testament, the word "brothers" (adelphoi) refers to men and women collectively. And yet the common practice in the modern churches (I write this on a Sunday when I have had to hear an expansive bishop do it a half-dozen times), even those with orthodox pretensions, is to avoid this biblical use as an offense to women, as though identifying them as "brethren" were a transgression against their dignity and merit.

Surely there is no fault in referring to men and women severally on reasonable occasion.But heavily balancing church language against biblical language in these matters clearly serves the egalitarian heresy, which effaces the headship of the man over the woman and the biblical doctrine of her comprehension in him—as wicked and unspeakable as this doctrine is to the anti-hierarchalism of the modern way of thinking and the apologetic religion that apes it—and upon which reference to both sexes with masculine grammatical markers rests theologically. In Christianity and Orthodox Judaism—both inescapably patriarchal faiths—the woman is primordially contained within the man, and as such, her sex is related to his in such a way that her fundamentally derivative life is found in his federal priority, so that general references to men are also to women.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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