The “Most Damning Piece” of Pulpit & Pen’s Presentation on Karen Swallow Prior: Transgender Restrooms and Egalitarianism

This particular post has some history behind it. See my previous posts for more information.

The Most Damning Piece: Transgender Restrooms

It seems one of the most troubling bits of information J.D. Hall of Pulpit & Pen recently dug up about ERLC Research Fellow Karen Swallow Prior is her view of transgender restrooms. Hall quotes from Prior’s book review of Glenn T. Stanton’s Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth.

The book also addresses some trickier issues with wisdom, humility, and generosity. For example, Stanton’s call to accommodate transgender persons in their use of public restrooms is as commonsensical as it is refreshing.

Hall’s opinion of Prior’s remark is clear.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine a Southern Baptist entity’s research fellow advocating for the accommodation of their restroom preferences? It’s happening, folks. And Russell Moore isn’t caught off guard by that. He revels in it. The former Democratic staffer is continuing his Democratic worldview from the head of the SBC’s ERLC.

Elsewhere he writes,

A great many of our readers and listeners were disturbed at the defenses provided for Karen Swallow Prior’s…advocacy for gender-preference public restrooms as a “commonsensical and refreshing idea.”

In a podcast deceitfully titled “Gay Affirming ERLC,” Hall asks Landon Chapman about Prior’s comment on transgender restrooms. Chapman responds,

I think that’s nonsense. Biblical nonsense. I don’t think it takes a biblical scholar to understand that that is just so far away from biblical truth. And you know – I think I’ve mentioned to you before – to somehow say that it’s common sense, or commonsensical, whatever the word was that she used is not only damning eternally but it also damns our society because homosexuality is not healthy for a society.

After agreeing with Chapman, Hall continues.

Yeah I don’t know how anyone would claim that she was a conservative in any way after that comment To say that a guy who wants to be a girl – that they can go into or should – that it’s commonsensical and refreshing for some dude to sit down in the stall next to my wife doesn’t seem that commonsense to me.

In a response to one of my posts, Hall writes,

Oh, by the way…this “defense” for Swallow Prior, amazingly left out perhaps the most damning piece of our presentation…

“The book also addresses some trickier issues with wisdom, humility, and generosity. For example, Stanton’s call to accommodate transgender persons in their use of public restrooms is as commonsensical as it is refreshing.”

Hmmmm. No defense for that one? Yeah, I think we know why. It’s indefensible.

In the comments of my post, someone else pointed out that I failed to address the transgender restroom concern.

I noticed you didn’t say anything about KSP’s belief that it’s “commonsensical and refreshing” for a grown man who’s confused about his gender to share a public restroom with an underage girl.

I responded as follows.

You are right to notice that I did not mention the “transgender” restroom problem. There are at least three reasons for that. First, I did not have full access to the relevant article, and thus did not believe myself suited to comment upon it. Second, if KSP has been properly represented regarding restrooms, then I do not agree with her, and thus certainly do not feel obligated or inclined to defend her regarding that view. Third, the topic is irrelevant to the claim that she is “gay-affirming.”

Note my second point. If Prior has been properly represented regarding restrooms, then I do not agree with her, and do not feel obligated or inclined to defend her regarding that view.

Guess what?

Prior was not properly represented.

It would appear that she was intentionally misrepresented.

Before continuing, we need to note that the author of the book Prior reviews is Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family. One does not have to agree with everything Focus on the Family says or does to question whether or not something fishy is going on here.

Now let’s take a closer look at what Stanton actually writes.

You can find the relevant section of Stanton’s book here.

Regarding the debate about transgender bathrooms, Stanton writes,

This is really much ado about nothing in terms of actually working out the bathroom deal. LGBT activists on many campuses lobby strongly for what they call “gender-neutral” bathrooms and you can find them marked this way on college campuses. Given my interest in such things, I often take note of them, and they are typically bathrooms to be used by one person at a time. In other places – hospitals, restaurants, malls – they are marked as “bathrooms.” Single-use bathrooms. Other times they are designated with both the male and female symbol, letting the user know it’s open to all.

They work the same way, regardless of what they are called. If the door is locked, you wait your turn. If it is not locked and no one is in there, it’s all yours, regardless of what your gender story is. No biggie. So why would LGBT groups on so many campuses advocate for distinguishing these facilities as “gender-neutral” when it’s obvious that they are? It’s a good question, and to be honest, I believe it has to do primarily with gender politics. It is an opportunity for the campus to be recognized as trans-friendly.

Stanton explains the solution in more detail in a post on his blog.

On top of that, this whole bathroom dust-up is really nothing about what is best for any particular child. It is wholly an issue of school administers coming up against – or in some instances, colluding with – the political and social bullying of gender activists.

There is a very simple solution to this “problem” that has nothing to do with bowing to such radical theories. It already exists in many public buildings in our community and we all use them without the slightest thought.

It’s called a bathroom. A single one-at-time bathroom, just like the ones in these pictures below.

Stanton continues,

They [sic] rules for using these bathrooms are remarkably simple:

1) If the door’s locked, don’t go in.

2) If not, it’s yours.

“But schools typically don’t have such restrooms!” you might reply. They do in the teacher’s lounge.

Recall how Chapman described this view as “biblical nonsense” and “so far away from biblical truth” and “damning eternally.” Hall called it “perhaps the most damning piece of our presentation” and “indefensible.” He complains about what it would be like “for some dude to sit down in the stall next to my wife.” The P&P supporter commenting on my post asked “about KSP’s belief that it’s ‘commonsensical and refreshing’ for a grown man who’s confused about his gender to share a public restroom with an underage girl.”

None of those concerns is even close to the truth of the matter.

What makes me tremble – even as I write this – is how gung-ho Hall (and here Chapman) are in striving to find any piece of evidence they can to hurt Prior while flouting God’s explicit command, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20)

Sin is an offense to God and others. Sin is foolish.

The Most Desperate Piece: Egalitarianism

A new video from Hall focuses on Prior’s comments regarding the label “complementarian.” Part of the video is transcribed below.

She did give an answer when I asked her if she was a complementarian because she’s written a post about why she’s not a complementarian or an egalitarian. Because, you know, if you’re nuanced you don’t like labels. You know, it makes what you believe [laugh] just too clear to people. So, she did respond and said, “No I’m not a complementarian, I’m not an egalitarian, I hold to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” which I thought was an odd response because first of all the BF&M 2000 does speak of male headship. It doesn’t use the word complementarian but that is most certainly not an egalitarian document and it’s very complementarian. And I’m pretty sure, I dunno, it’s just a conservative estimate, ninety-percent-plus of Southern Baptists in the pew or pulpit would affirm complementarianism whether or not they knew what the word meant.

And I just gotta ask the question of Southern Baptist leaders, how long is this going to go on? How long is this going to go on? We have someone working at the ERLC who can’t call themselves complementarian, can’t affirm complementarianism. Is it nebulous? Is it vague? It’s not clear that Southern Baptists believe in a complementariam ecclesiology and home structure?

Before delving into why Prior answers Hall the way she does, it may be helpful to ask about the term “complementarian.” Obviously enough, “complementarian” is not a biblical term. So where did it come from in relation to the topic of male headship (and many other such issues)? John Piper explains.

I don’t have a good memory of the timing, but i can tell you what I remember. Wayne Grudem and I were a part of the production of the Danvers statement, which happened in the late 80s in Danvers, Connecticut, and the Danvers Statement is found…at the Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website in which we tried to articulate a vision of how men and women are equally, gloriously in the image of God with that worth and that dignity and yet complement each other in their differences both in marriage and in church and in society in such a way that the flourishing of manhood and womanhood happen best when those complementary differences are honored rather than minimized, and what we saw happening in feminism and in evangelical egalitarianism was a minimizing at best or a nullifying of those differences. And over on the other side we saw a historic abuse of women. A kind of machismo that would define manhood as mishandling or bossing or putting down, and we said well egalitarianism, we don’t see that in the Bible. This abuse and belittling of womanhood, we don’t see that in the Bible, and this goes under various names like hierarchicalism or traditionalism or whatever, and so we said we need another name because we’re just gonna get called traditional otherwise and then there will be no distinction between this. And I don’t remember who thought it up, but it came into being in one of those conversations that why don’t we take the word “complement”, that’s complement with a “e” not an “i”, complement we’re not paying each other compliments, we are completing one another, it’s not good for the man to be alone here’s a woman fit she’s a complement for him. That’s the origin and essence of the term.

Recall that “complementarian” is not a biblical term. Rather, it’s an extra-biblical theological term. According to Piper, “complementarian” did not exist as a theological term prior to the late 1980s. Since the term appears in the late 80s, one might expect it to appear in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. But it doesn’t.

VI. The Church
While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

XVIII. The Family
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

If Hall had discovered that Prior is an egalitarian, there might be reason for concern. But he didn’t. Prior explicitly denies being an egalitarian.

Hall finds it odd that Prior agrees with the BFM 2000, “because first of all the BF&M 2000 does speak of male headship.” The only reason Hall would find this odd is if he went into his discussion with Prior assuming that she rejects male headship. But she doesn’t. She rejects the label “complementarian,” and agrees with the BFM 2000 on male headship.

Speaking of the BFM 2000 Hall says, “It doesn’t use the word complementarian but that is most certainly not an egalitarian document and it’s very complementarian.” Why does Hall feel it necessary to say that the BFM 2000 is “certainly not an egalitarian document”? Who says that it is? Prior certainly doesn’t. Nor does Prior claim to be an egalitarian. In fact, Prior explicitly denies being an egalitarian. She agrees with the BFM 2000.

Let’s review.

Hall is upset that Prior does not label herself “complementarian.”
Hall calls the BFM 2000 “very complementarian.”
Hall knows that Prior holds to the BFM 2000.

So what’s the problem?

Hall might claim that Prior is being inconsistent in not labeling herself “complementarian” even though she holds complementarian views, but that’s no justification for making videos about some horrible conspiracy that is going to plunge the Southern Baptist Convention into liberalism. Moreover, Prior is not being inconsistent anyway. She explains, “the binary is a construct of the 1980’s not the church historical.” It might also be worth pointing out that “complementarian” is a term that carries a lot of baggage (recall how R.C. Sproul answers the question, “Are you a Calvinist?”).

“Complementarian” is not a biblical term.
“Complementarian” is not a historical term.
“Complementarian” is not a confessional term (BFM).

Hall has no argument here. Prior is well within her rights to affirm the Bible and BFM 2000 (which includes a statement about the office of pastor being limited to men) while refusing the complementarian label because it is not a historical term.

What should be made of Hall’s questions?

And I just gotta ask the question of Southern Baptist leaders, how long is this going to go on? How long is this going to go on? We have someone working at the ERLC who can’t call themselves complementarian, can’t affirm complementarianism. Is it nebulous? Is it vague? It’s not clear that Southern Baptists believe in a complementariam ecclesiology and home structure?

How long is what going to go on? Keeping an ERLC Research Fellow who affirms the BFM 2000? Why does Hall think of this as a problem that needs to be addressed? Why is he calling on leadership in the SBC to take care of someone working at the ERLC who affirms the BFM 2000? Because she doesn’t adopt extra-biblical, non-historical, thirty-year-old labels that Hall likes? Hall keeps claiming that Southern Baptists are complementarian, yet their own statement of faith does not make that claim. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but exactly who does Hall think he is to tell Southern Baptists what they believe? Why is he attempting to add to the BFM 2000 and then hold others accountable to his addition? Prior affirms the BFM 2000. Why are we not praising God for providing a Research Fellow like Karen Swallow Prior who adheres to the biblical teachings on pastors and families expressed in the BFM 2000?

Prior avoids the label “complementarian.” That does not make her a liberal. Hall is looking hard for problems where there aren’t any.

meme

This was never about Karen Swallow Prior. This is about J.D. Hall and his insistence that the SBC is increasingly theologically liberal. That may be the case, but if it is, nobody can see it because of the manner in which Hall approaches his audience. Hall is out to fulfill his own prophecy about the SBC. He is being dishonest along the way. Prior could apostatize tomorrow and these points would still stand.

I am not complaining about Hall’s “tone,” although many of his friends have complained about his tone to me. I am complaining about the fact that Hall is falling, picking up speed, and nobody is there to help him. I am pointing out that there is a dishonest man in your midst. I am pointing out that many of you, for whatever reason, refuse to address the problem. Do you really care so much about sin? What about the sin right in front of you?

Why do you think I am writing this post? I have no history with Karen Swallow Prior, J.D. Hall, or Pulpit & Pen. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m not getting anything out of this. And yet I see someone who claims to be a brother attacking and misrepresenting someone who claims to be a sister while people stand around and mock everything about the situation. Note how Pulpit & Pen silenced one gentleman for daring to point out these same problems. That’s not a Christian response to criticism, that’s a cultish response to criticism.

Hold your own accountable. Stop messaging me to thank me. Start speaking up yourself. Not only might J.D. Hall listen, repent, and be forgiven before it’s too late, but the SBC might be more inclined to listen to you too.

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9 thoughts on “The “Most Damning Piece” of Pulpit & Pen’s Presentation on Karen Swallow Prior: Transgender Restrooms and Egalitarianism

  1. This point was well argued. However, JD ‘s rebuttal to your rebuttal still stands, claiming you overplayed your hand and misquoted sources. Clarity absolutely matters, especially regarding the specific issue of SSM. Until JD’s points are refuted, this post seems a bit like a rabbit trail.

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    1. JD identified this issue as his most damning piece of evidence, so it’s certainly not a rabbit trail. Moreover, this is about JD’s blatant misrepresentation of a sister in Christ. That’s established in this post. He needs to repent.

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  2. This seems a bit like a rabbit trail to me. JD made some very valid counter-points regarding the sources you claimed he manipulated, KSP’s vagueness, her selfie, etc. Why did you approach this side-issue that even you acknowledged was off-subject? I was hoping to see a rebuttal, and since you didn’t, JD’s rebuttal of your rebuttal still stands unopposed.

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  3. I just want to know how old these guys are. Because they sure like to talk down to people who may in fact have more life experience, scholarly ability, or maturity than themselves, particularly if said people are female or of a different political/cultural background. It’s all about being right regardless of facts or reality. The lack of humility is astounding. That any of such guys considers themselves competent to counsel and shepherd God’s people when they cannot even get facts right and do not value character, is amazingly disturbing. Much must change. Some have repented but the rest of those involved must be called to it. We must all search our hearts. This constant accusation must cease and this apparent lack of trust in God’s Holy Spirit to guide His people into all truth without their authority must be put aside. Otherwise, we are indeed seeing the birth of a new hate cult much like Westboro.

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    1. Having calmed down a lot since recording my thoughts above, I want to apologize for my tone in commenting. I do believe that there is a lot of youthful arrogance in what is going on over at that blog and behind the scenes in their Pulpit Bunker, but I could have said this better. Having said that, I also know my reaction stems from this not being the first time Pulpit & Pen have attacked an individual or group personally and/or without empathy, and I fear- more for their sake now- it may not be the last.

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