Saturday, March 28, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: part six of seven

VI. The True Issue: Deception


Is the issue over women leadership in the church really that big a deal? Is there a common denominator that can be discerned within this recent controversy? Raymond Ortlund, mentioned previously, made note that the occasion of the fall had taken place on the occasion of a sex role reversal. Paul’s instruction to Timothy as recorded in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 was directed precisely at refuting false teachings and practices. According to Roy B. Zuck, the meaning of the word “to teach” in verse twelve is used approximately one hundred times in scripture, and in only three instances does it refer to the teaching of individuals.[1] Ann Bowman concludes that Paul was clearly explaining that women are neither to teach nor exercise authority over men in the “worship assembly,” and are directed, has Paul had previously stated in verse eleven, to receive instruction with an “inner attitude of quietness and submission to the truth of God’s Word (and His chosen teachers).[2] Both scripture[3]and history, repeatedly give witness to the ease at which believers may be self deceived.[4] Therefore Paul’s point is that if such role reversals caused the fall, it clearly could wreak havoc on the church if repeated – “The woman must not be the one who leads the man in obedience to her.”[5] To do otherwise, is to be yet again - deceived.


The argument that there have been many women, who have visibly blessed the church while ignoring Paul’s prohibitions, is nothing more than the ends justifies the means argument, and secondly ignores the fact that God continues to give blessings despite our mistakes.[6] According to Rekers, when the church begins to deny the biblical distinctions between men and women and their respective roles in both the family and church, it is in essence denying the very image of God.[7] Where women desire “freedom” to lead and teach men in public worship, the subtle reality is an outright rejection of God’s clear commands, which inevitably leads to more rebellion. Some may proudly hold the banner up that reads “Motherhood – Just Say No!,” [8] others may peruse the “perfect job”, in essence “feminism” is indeed a “social movement” and it demands it all. [9] These demands, fueled by an “egocentric type of feminism” may indeed be the greatest danger to the church in the days to come.[10] Perhaps as the secular world continues to portray the “fulfilled” woman as the woman who pursues it “all”, women begin to accept this world view and inevitably carry its philosophical tendencies into the church.

What may be called the “traditional view” of women and men’s roles may perhaps be better understood as a “biblical worldview.” Litfin notes that this view is not some Napoleonic artifact invented by “traditionalists” seeking security in their own contrived ideas; but rather the very concepts of authority and hierarchy are from God, not men.[11] Litfin writes:

Clearly, then, the biblical world view is inimical to radical feminism, requiring feminist of both secular and liberal Christian stripe to reject in favor of perspectives more conductive to their purpose. God, if he exists, is redefined, usually toward the impersonal. Revelation, if it exists, is viewed as an ongoing thing, discovered in the unfolding of human experience. The concept of an original divine will for creation is rejected in favor of a more fluid, evolutionary vision of reality. Notions of hierarchy, authority, and submission to authority are ridiculed and in their place appear and appropriate set of “god words” hailing egalitarianism, human rights, and transcendence of sexual distinctions.[12]

Is it a coincidence that the fall in the garden happened upon questioning the authority and clarity of God’s word, fueled by a crafty set of “god words” appealing to the flesh? Do male and female roles really matter, or is God’s word simply unclear; therefore we should continually seek and discover new truths as our human experiences dictate? Furthermore, should the church for the sake of unity, dismiss this issue as irrelevant or not as important as abortion, slavery etc...? Or should we fear God as we seek His truths? Isaiah 66:2 – “To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”


[1]Ann L. Bowman, “Women in Ministry: An Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” Bibliotheca Sacra 11, no. 2 (April 1980): 200.
[2]Ibid., 203..
[3]See Rom. 16:17-18; Eph. 5:6; Col. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Cor. 3:18; James 1:26.
[4]Ibid., 205.
[5]Ibid., 206.
[6]George W. Knight III, “How Should Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Work Out In Practice?” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 355.
[7]George Alan Rekers, “Psychological Foundations for reaing Masculine Boys and Feminine Girls” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 311.
[8]Dorthy Patterson, “The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 370.
[9]Ibid., 371.
[10]Craig L. Blomberg, “Not Beyond What Is Written: A Review of Aida Spencer’s Beyond The Curse: Women Called To Ministry,” Criswell Theological Review 2, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 421.
[11]A. Duane Litfin, “Evangelical Feminism: Why Traditionalists Reject It,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 136, no. 543 (July-September 1979): 267.
[12]Ibid., 269-270.

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