I’ve got some wonderful, godly male friends and acquaintances on social media. I’ve learned from their wisdom, referred people to their churches, and had a great time joking around with them.
But every now and then there are men who stumble across my social media accounts or blog or podcast, seemingly drunk with biblical ignorance, who clearly don’t think women should have any sort of a voice when men are around – or at all, I guess. In my mind I call them the “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys, because that’s what it feels like they’re saying to me, and to women everywhere.
One of the errors of the Pharisees’ legalism was that they stretched the boundaries of God’s laws farther than God intended them to go. This is why, when we see Jesus and the disciples walking through the fields and picking kernels of grain to eat in Matthew 12, the Pharisees accused them of “doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath”. Because this was, ostensibly, “harvesting” and “threshing” – working on the Sabbath.
But as Jesus went on to explain to them, this kind of unbiblical overreach of the fourth Commandment was never God’s intent. The Sabbath was a gift of rest meant to benefit God’s people, not to oppress and enslave them to nitpicking, nor to keep them from enjoying God’s blessings.
Today, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, and antinomianism, rather than legalism, is the false teaching du jour. Antinomianism stretches the boundaries of God’s grace farther than God intends it to go. That’s why we have to spend so much time teaching and explaining that the Bible prohibits women from being pastors and elders, and from preaching, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding authority over men inside the biblical boundaries of the formal gathering of the church body. Because, for the antinomian, practically anything, anywhere, goes.
But the “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys help us to see that the same type of legalism the Pharisees practiced – though not as prolific – is still alive and well today. They stretch the boundaries of God’s command for the role of women in the church gathering to all other venues in which women might have a voice – to anyone, about anything. Some even say women aren’t permitted to teach other women and children, which is clearly at odds with Scripture.
The God who consistently values women holistically – their skills and talents, their intelligence, their contributions and hard work – throughout Scripture never intended this kind of unbiblical overreach of His commandment regarding the role of women in the church. This command was a gift meant to benefit God’s people, not to oppress and enslave women nor to keep us – or our brothers – from enjoying God’s blessings, especially the blessing of each other.
God consistently values women holistically – their skills and talents, their intelligence, their contributions and hard work – throughout Scripture.Tweet
Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that there’s a difference between the “set apartness” and formal structure and hierarchy of God’s house for worship and instruction, and the informal, unstructured “family time” around the table, around the living room, around the Twitter machine. And we forget that these two different environments serve two different purposes.
Worship and instruction are vital and primary. But we are the family of God. Brothers and sisters. Siblings. We need each other. The give and take. The back and forth. The jokes and laughter. The sharing, advice, support, encouragement, and yes, even the occasional, biblically appropriate brotherly or sisterly reproof. We’re to relate to each other as family – especially during “family time,” which is different and discrete from worship and instruction time.
We are the family of God. Brothers and sisters. Siblings. We need each other.Tweet
How dysfunctional would a family be if, during informal times of fellowship all of the sisters were prohibited from taking part in the discussion, sharing thoughts, offering insight, setting an example, and even proffering loving words of correction?
Normal, healthy, natural families don’t operate that way. And God uses the natural family as the metaphor for the way He relates to us: Father to child, the way we relate to Him: child to Father, and the way we relate to each other: brothers and sisters.
We’re to love one another and draw strength and help from one another, not amputate half of us from fellowship. When legalistic men unbiblically silence women…
…they’re out of alignment with the God who values women.
God showed us that women are valuable by purposefully and intentionally taking the time and effort to craft a woman in the first place. He could have stopped with Adam, but when He finished forming man, for the first time in Creation, He said, “It is not good…”. And the crowning glory, the final masterpiece of His world, was woman.
Throughout Scripture, from Sarah, Hannah, Esther, and Deborah, to Mary, Anna, Priscilla, Phoebe, and so many more, we see God using women to glorify Him and further His Kingdom.
Jesus and the epistles instruct men to love and protect women, to respect women, and to treat them with honor and dignity.
The God who sees women as a valuable part of His creation, who requires the respect of their worth, would never shut them out of family life, treating them as though they don’t matter.
…they are rebelling against God’s complementary Creative design.
Why did God say at Creation that it wasn’t good for man to be alone? Because he needed a helper “fit for him,” or “corresponding to him”.
Yes, God was speaking of that particular man, Adam. Yes, God was speaking of all husbands yet to come. But there’s a very real sense in which God was also saying, “It is not good for male humanity to be alone on planet Earth. Therefore, I’m going to make women as well.”.
Mankind needs the complementarity of womankind. He’ll be strong where she’s weak and she’ll be strong where he’s weak. He will fill out Creation with masculine beauty that she can’t contribute and she will fill out Creation with feminine beauty that he can’t contribute. He’ll see things from one perspective, and she, from another. It’s like two gears in a machine that fit together perfectly and work together perfectly, yet each doing its own distinct part.
God wasn’t finished with Creation when He created man. Something was still missing that God wanted to supply, and He filled in that hole in Creation with woman.
God wasn’t finished with Creation when He created man. Something was still missing that God wanted to supply, and He filled in that hole in Creation with women.Tweet
And when you basically tell women, across the board, to sit down and shut up, you’re denying and suppressing God’s Creative design for women… and men.
…they are crippling the church’s ability to carry out the “one anothers” in a healthy way.
Love one another. Comfort one another. Forgive one another. Serve one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.
Because men and women complement one another in our strengths and weaknesses, we need both men and women to minister the one anothers to each other in the church. Otherwise, the balance is completely thrown off. Without the compassion and nurturing God has uniquely wired into women, a man’s “Comfort one another,” could turn into, “Suck it up and rub some dirt on it. You’re fine.” “Forgive one another,” might become, “I’ll forgive you….but first I’m going to punch you in the mouth.” Without the dispassionate objectivity and firmness more common to men, women’s comfort might turn into enabling, and forgiveness into being a doormat. And how can a woman properly bear the burden of a man who’s struggling with lust, or a man the burden of a woman facing infertility?
We minister to one another together. We need both halves of the church for it to be healthy and whole.
We’re family, folks. We sisters need you brothers, and, yes, you brothers really do need us sisters – even you “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys. That’s not feminism, it’s not rebellion, it’s not sin…it’s family. When we understand and embrace this, we’ll discover what a precious gift God has blessed us with.
The gift of each other.
Rock Your Role series