Christian women, Complementarianism

Solving Misogyny- You’re Doing It Wrong

For the next several weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the
Relying on God and His Word conference, so I’ll be re-running
some popular articles from the archives. I hope you’ll enjoy this one.


Originally published June 8, 2018

If God is the God of Romans 8:28…

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

…then Satan is the god of the anti-Romans 8:28. He wants to twist anything and everything that’s the least little bit good into harm, especially for those who are called according to God’s purpose.

Several very good things have come out of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. Many victims who previously kept silent out of fear and shame have found the courage to tell their stories and begin healing. We’ve had the opportunity to offer them comfort and encouragement through the gospel. Churches have become more aware of how widespread the problem of abuse is and have begun to respond accordingly. In several cases, abusers have been exposed and brought to justice.

Unfortunately, Satan has also used this movement to harm people. False accusations have been made against innocent individuals. Sweeping accusations have been made against Christian men in general. And now, perhaps worst of all, there are rumblings afoot to right the wrongs of real, and imagined, misogyny by “empowering” Christian women and giving us greater, often unbiblical, positions of church and denominational leadership, either as reparations for past mistreatment of women or prophylaxis against future mistreatment of women, or both. (Pastor Tom Buck wrote an excellent article on this yesterday, which I urge you to read for more details {and bookmark for subsequent installments, which I’m sure will be equally stellar}.)

Don’t fall for it, ladies. This is Eden all over again.

In the same way that God created a very good tree, planted it in the midst of the Garden, and put a “do not eat” fence around it, God also created the very good “tree” of Christian leadership, planted it in the midst of the church, and put a 1 Timothy 2:12 fence around it.

God’s restrictions about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were minimal: don’t eat from it. Eve was free to sit in its shade, admire its beauty, fertilize it, plant flowers around it, pretty much anything, except eat from it. And that one restriction is what Satan used to tempt her to sin.

For women, God’s restrictions on church leadership are also minimal: don’t instruct men in the Scriptures and don’t exercise authority over men. That’s literally all there is to it. There are scrillions of ways women can serve the Body of Christ without getting anywhere near that fence. But these two small restrictions are what Satan is using to tempt us to sin. And, unfortunately, this time, instead of approaching Eve in the form of a serpent, he’s approaching Christian women in the form of the sinful or misinformed words and ideas of pastors and Christian leaders. “Did God really say you can’t have that particular position of leadership?”

But there’s another issue at play here that needs some airing out.

Power. Leadership. These are the ideals that are being touted as the way to lift women up. Is that what Jesus taught? Is that the example He set? No. Jesus taught and exemplified humility, lowliness, and servanthood:

But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:34-35

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:12-15

God doesn’t think the way we think. We think that the only way someone can be valued and heard is if she has power and prestige in the eyes of her fellow humans. That’s where this “empower women and give them positions of leadership” idea is coming from. It is a worldly way of thinking.

God’s way of thinking about this is that we are already intrinsically valuable in His eyes because we are made in His image. Being valued by God is so infinitely more significant than being valued by other humans, that how we look to others shouldn’t even register on our radar. Letting go of what other people think of us frees us up to live in the holy gratitude to God that says, “It is my joy to serve You because I love You. I will live like Jesus no matter what I have to give up, no matter how much I suffer, no matter how humbling it is. You are worthy of my self-abasement.”

He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10b

In God’s economy, the way to greatness is to be a slave. The way to fame is anonymity. The way to exaltation is humility. Why are Christian women being encouraged to stand up and demand the seat at the head of the table instead of being encouraged to give up their seats for others, serve those at the table, even clean up after the meal? What do these Christian leaders want for women – that they find favor with man or that they find favor with God? Orchestrating outward appearances, such as giving women positions of unbiblical leadership, is merely attempting to fix the very real problem of women being sinned against by putting another coat of whitewash on the outside of a tomb that’s full of dead men’s bones. You don’t fix one sin by creating another. You clean out the tomb.

In any instance in which women are being sinned against by men, the answer is not to “elevate” women to improper places of leadership. The answer is to exercise biblical church discipline against the men and disciple both the men and the women to humbly serve Christ and the church in accordance with God’s Word. Broken, sinful men do not need to hear what broken, sinful women think about how women should be treated. They both need to hear what the holy, almighty God who created men and women has to say about how women should be treated. And the way God has structured leadership in the church, the responsibility of teaching what God’s Word says about this or any other issue falls primarily to the pastor.

That’s especially of note in this particular situation. Why would these Christian leaders further burden women they consider mistreated with any part of the responsibility of fixing their mistreatment? Why aren’t they instead urging pastors to step up to the plate and properly train the men of their churches to regard and treat women in a godly way?

This whole idea of solving the problem of alleged misogyny in the church with an “I am woman, hear me roar” groundswell is backwards, wrong, and – ironically – man-centered. And encouraging women who have already been victimized to act in ungodly ways is just victimizing them all over again, this time, spiritually. As the Body of Christ, we must be Christ-centered. God has given us all of the necessary instructions for handling problems in the church and between Believers in His Word. We need only to follow them. And Him. Let’s do this right, church.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ June 12, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

I honestly teared up a couple of times listening to the Get Up and Eat! with Rachel Jankovic episode of Sheologians. Sometimes I feel like the lone voice in the wilderness crying out for women to ditch the canned Bible studies and simply pick up the Bible and study it for themselves. It was nice to hear somebody else saying it.

 

I love the designs Scripture Type creates for Bible verses and Christian quotes. They have lots of lovely items you can purchase, and they also have a Freely Given page where they post designs that are free to download for use as wallpapers, lock screens, and printable coloring pages. It’s a great way to help you memorize verses!

 

If you found helpful the put off – renew your mind – put on concept for changing behavior from my recent article The Christian Introvert: Putting Off Social Anxiety, Putting On Serving Others, then you’re really going to like Clint Archer’s recent article series over at The Cripplegate. In his Just Stop It articles, he applies the same biblical concept to various sins you might be struggling with:

Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent

Just Stop it, Part 2: How To Repent Of Lying

Just Stop it, Part 3: How To Repent Of Anger

Just Stop it, Part 4: How to Repent of Stealing

Be sure to subscribe to or follow The Cripplegate for any future installments Clint might write.

 

Are you a Southern Baptist (or a curious onlooker) who couldn’t make it to the annual meeting in Dallas this year? Keep up with what’s going on via live stream or at your convenience on demand. And please don’t forget to fervently pray for the SBC. We are facing some serious issues in these days. The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is being held today and tomorrow (June 12-13).

 

One of those serious issues we’re currently dealing with in the SBC is that a vocal few are pushing the idea of electing a female president (Beth Moore’s name has been floated). Pastor Tom Buck has written a phenomenal series of articles dealing with this issue from Scripture. Even if you’re not Southern Baptist, you will find Pastor Buck’s careful exposition of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 extremely helpful in his articles Will the Next SBC Resurgence Include a Redefining of Complementarianism?

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4 

Christian women, Complementarianism

Solving Misogyny- You’re Doing It Wrong

If God is the God of Romans 8:28…

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

…then Satan is the god of the anti-Romans 8:28. He wants to twist anything and everything that’s the least little bit good into harm, especially for those who are called according to God’s purpose.

Several very good things have come out of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. Many victims who previously kept silent out of fear and shame have found the courage to tell their stories and begin healing. We’ve had the opportunity to offer them comfort and encouragement through the gospel. Churches have become more aware of how widespread the problem of abuse is and have begun to respond accordingly. In several cases, abusers have been exposed and brought to justice.

Unfortunately, Satan has also used this movement to harm people. False accusations have been made against innocent individuals. Sweeping accusations have been made against Christian men in general. And now, perhaps worst of all, there are rumblings afoot to right the wrongs of real, and imagined, misogyny by “empowering” Christian women and giving us greater, often unbiblical, positions of church and denominational leadership, either as reparations for past mistreatment of women or prophylaxis against future mistreatment of women, or both. (Pastor Tom Buck wrote an excellent article on this yesterday, which I urge you to read for more details {and bookmark for subsequent installments, which I’m sure will be equally stellar}.)

Don’t fall for it, ladies. This is Eden all over again.

In the same way that God created a very good tree, planted it in the midst of the Garden, and put a “do not eat” fence around it, God also created the very good “tree” of Christian leadership, planted it in the midst of the church, and put a 1 Timothy 2:12 fence around it.

God’s restrictions about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were minimal: don’t eat from it. Eve was free to sit in its shade, admire its beauty, fertilize it, plant flowers around it, pretty much anything, except eat from it. And that one restriction is what Satan used to tempt her to sin.

For women, God’s restrictions on church leadership are also minimal: don’t instruct men in the Scriptures and don’t exercise authority over men. That’s literally all there is to it. There are scrillions of ways women can serve the Body of Christ without getting anywhere near that fence. But these two small restrictions are what Satan is using to tempt us to sin. And, unfortunately, this time, instead of approaching Eve in the form of a serpent, he’s approaching Christian women in the form of the sinful or misinformed words and ideas of pastors and Christian leaders. “Did God really say you can’t have that particular position of leadership?”

But there’s another issue at play here that needs some airing out.

Power. Leadership. These are the ideals that are being touted as the way to lift women up. Is that what Jesus taught? Is that the example He set? No. Jesus taught and exemplified humility, lowliness, and servanthood:

But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:34-35

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:12-15

God doesn’t think the way we think. We think that the only way someone can be valued and heard is if she has power and prestige in the eyes of her fellow humans. That’s where this “empower women and give them positions of leadership” idea is coming from. It is a worldly way of thinking.

God’s way of thinking about this is that we are already intrinsically valuable in His eyes because we are made in His image. Being valued by God is so infinitely more significant than being valued by other humans, that how we look to others shouldn’t even register on our radar. Letting go of what other people think of us frees us up to live in the holy gratitude to God that says, “It is my joy to serve You because I love You. I will live like Jesus no matter what I have to give up, no matter how much I suffer, no matter how humbling it is. You are worthy of my self-abasement.”

He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10b

In God’s economy, the way to greatness is to be a slave. The way to fame is anonymity. The way to exaltation is humility. Why are Christian women being encouraged to stand up and demand the seat at the head of the table instead of being encouraged to give up their seats for others, serve those at the table, even clean up after the meal? What do these Christian leaders want for women – that they find favor with man or that they find favor with God? Orchestrating outward appearances, such as giving women positions of unbiblical leadership, is merely attempting to fix the very real problem of women being sinned against by putting another coat of whitewash on the outside of a tomb that’s full of dead men’s bones. You don’t fix one sin by creating another. You clean out the tomb.

In any instance in which women are being sinned against by men, the answer is not to “elevate” women to improper places of leadership. The answer is to exercise biblical church discipline against the men and disciple both the men and the women to humbly serve Christ and the church in accordance with God’s Word. Broken, sinful men do not need to hear what broken, sinful women think about how women should be treated. They both need to hear what the holy, almighty God who created men and women has to say about how women should be treated. And the way God has structured leadership in the church, the responsibility of teaching what God’s Word says about this or any other issue falls primarily to the pastor.

That’s especially of note in this particular situation. Why would these Christian leaders further burden women they consider mistreated with any part of the responsibility of fixing their mistreatment? Why aren’t they instead urging pastors to step up to the plate and properly train the men of their churches to regard and treat women in a godly way?

This whole idea of solving the problem of alleged misogyny in the church with an “I am woman, hear me roar” groundswell is backwards, wrong, and – ironically – man-centered. And encouraging women who have already been victimized to act in ungodly ways is just victimizing them all over again, this time, spiritually. As the Body of Christ, we must be Christ-centered. God has given us all of the necessary instructions for handling problems in the church and between Believers in His Word. We need only to follow them. And Him. Let’s do this right, church.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: I Have to Preach Because No Man Will Step Up

 

I’ve recently met a woman who is a “pastor” of a church. When asked why she is preaching to men, her response was this:

“Men will not teach. None will stand up. We started as a congregation of women and slowly some husbands came, as well as their sons. But none will take responsibility. So if I do not speak truth and stand up, who will?”

This was in another country I recently visited where men do not take authority, nor do they desire it. Women are primary in every area.

This is a difficult situation to be in, and I do sympathize. I’ve been in church and family situations in which men were not being the godly leaders they were supposed to be. It’s very frustrating. Even more so in the case of your friend, because Scripture prohibits women from stepping in and taking over when a man will not lead the church.

But in addition to the fact that the Bible is very clear that your friend is not to preach to men, she’s doing a terrible job as “pastor” on several other counts:

✢ She doesn’t believe God’s Word.

✢ She doesn’t trust God enough to obey His Word.

✢ She doesn’t fear God enough to obey His Word.

✢ She doesn’t believe in the necessity of prayer, or in God’s provision, enough to ask Him to provide a pastor.

✢ She’s not teaching her “congregation” to cry out to the Lord and trust Him to provide. Instead, she’s teaching them to take matters into their own hands when they need something, even if it means disobeying God’s Word. (Kind of like Sarah did.)

✢ She’s teaching her “congregation” that they it’s OK to disobey God if it’s difficult or inconvenient to obey Him.

✢ She’s teaching the women that they don’t have to submit to God’s design for biblical womanhood.

✢ She’s teaching the men to continue to be lazy and shirk their God-given duty to lead. Why should they when a woman is all too willing to step in and do the work for them?

She asks, “If I do not speak truth and stand up, who will?”. My answer to that question is, “That’s God’s business to take care of, not yours.” Her business is to obey Him and trust Him to work out everything else. And besides, she’s not “standing up and speaking truth”, she’s standing up and speaking or demonstrating all the untruths I enumerated above.

My counsel to this woman would be to immediately step down as “pastor,” stop preaching to and instructing the men, and publicly repent to God and to everyone in the church for her sins of disobeying God’s Word and setting a bad example for the church. She should inform them that she will no longer be preaching but that she will be praying for God to raise up a pastor, either from among the men of the church or from outside the church.

The men and women can, and should, meet to pray and sing together every Sunday. One of the other women (the former “pastor” needs to sit out of leadership for a while) can certainly teach a women’s Bible study class. But if the men want a Bible teacher or pastor, one of them is going to have to step up and do it. And the women need to be sure they’re holding their ground and refusing to step into that role. What a godly testimony of obedience they will be to the men! Hopefully, it will shame the men over their own disobedience.

God doesn’t give anyone permission to disobey Him just because it’s hard or inconvenient. It was the hardest thing in the world for Jesus to go to the cross, but He did it anyway because He was obedient to His Father. He was willing to die rather than disobey. That is the example she needs to follow.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:4

In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
Psalm 37:5

When we face tests of our faith, it is not time to take the easy way out and sin, it is God stretching us and giving us an opportunity to trust and obey Him so He can use that situation as a vehicle for growing us to greater maturity and Christlikeness.

This lady, and the rest of the church, has the opportunity here to cry out fervently to God to provide them with a pastor and then trust Him to act on their behalf.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-11

Which would bring more glory to God and be more of a testimony to His greatness: for this lady to have taken matters into her own hands and sinned, or for her and the rest of the women to obey God, for everyone to pray and trust God for a pastor, and then to have the awesome experience of God answering that prayer?

There’s nothing amazing, especially in that culture, about men being lazy and women stepping in and picking up the slack. Why have a Christian church that is supposed to be following the all powerful God of the universe be just one more example of that? Instead, they could have an incredible testimony of God providing a pastor and changing the hearts of the men of the church to take responsibility and lead. What kind of an impact would that have on the surrounding culture? How many doors might that open for that church to share the gospel?


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Basic Training: Obedience: 8 Ways to Stop Making Excuses and Start Obeying Scripture

Basic Training: 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblically


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should women give testimonies and reports, lead prayer and worship in church?

 

I was wondering about having a female missionary giving a talk on her mission field in place of the sermon for that Sunday. Also we have had a female worship leader saying the prayer at the end of the service.

When we consider women’s roles in the church, it’s good to think about these “real church life” types of situations and how best to handle them according to Scripture. A couple of resources here at the blog that might be helpful to those thinking through these issues are my Rock Your Role series- especially, Rock Your Role FAQs.

There’s a lot to address in this reader’s question, so let’s break it down into several smaller questions.

1. Is it ever OK for another sort of presentation to take the place of the Sunday morning sermon?

Well, it’s not anathema or anything. The Bible doesn’t command a certain order of worship on Sunday mornings (for that matter, it technically doesn’t even command that we meet on Sunday mornings, but that’s a bucket of worms for another day), but as we read through the New Testament, it’s apparent that preaching and Bible teaching were the centerpiece of the New Testament church’s worship meetings. I think that’s a good example to follow.

I’m a little leery of anything taking the place of the Sunday morning sermon. If I were a pastor (which I know we’re all glad I’m not) I would probably consider scheduling special presentations such as a lengthy mission report, choir presentations, dramas, etc. during the Sunday evening service, the midweek service, or another day. If the mission report could be shortened to 10 or 15 minutes, perhaps it could take the place of other parts of the worship service, or the service could (gasp!) be lengthened a few minutes.

If the mission report has to take the place of the Sunday sermon, the optics of a woman giving the report are a little iffy, because it gives the appearance that she’s delivering the sermon. If a man could give the report, or if the pastor can at least take a teaching moment to verbally clarify to the congregation (for visitors and others who may not understand what the Bible says about women preaching) that the woman giving the report is not preaching or delivering the sermon, that would be helpful.

2. Is it OK for women to give mission reports or personal testimonies during the worship service?

(For the purposes of this question, I’m going to assume that whatever kind of mission work the woman is doing is in compliance with Scripture. Also, the reader did not ask about personal testimonies, but I’m throwing that in because the two are similar in nature.)

I don’t see why either would be a problem biblically, as long as she doesn’t veer off into preaching, exhorting, or instructing the congregation (which I have seen happen), because that’s the biblical prohibition, not that women are never to open their mouths in church. I once heard a pastor say that when someone is going to give his or her testimony in his church, he has the person write out what will be said and then goes through a “dress rehearsal” of the testimony with the person where he can offer advice or editing. This is a really good idea, not just because of women (and men) who tend to veer off into preaching, but to correct any false doctrine the pastor wasn’t aware the person held to, to keep the testimony from going too long, etc. This would work for mission reports too.

I would encourage women who give reports or testimonies to check in with your pastor well in advance and ask if he has any advice, parameters, or concerns with what you might say. Focus on the fact that you are giving a report on, or testifying to, what you have personally seen, done, experienced, or learned. It’s fine to talk about something God has taught you through His Word or read a verse you found helpful in your situation. What’s not fine is to turn things around and tell the congregation what they need to do, learn, think, or believe. I know we’re constantly driving home the point that when it come to church, the Bible, doctrine, etc., it’s not about you…it’s not about you…it’s not about you. In this case…it’s about you and your story – giving all glory to God, of course.

3. Should women lead prayers during church?

I would discourage it, not because it’s necessarily a violation of Scripture for the woman, but because there seems to be a tragic dearth of male leadership in the church in general. So many men are either too lazy or too afraid to lead, or they see very few examples of what leadership by a godly man looks like. I think it would be great for the pastor to sometimes ask men who need to learn leadership skills to dip a toe in the water by leading a prayer during church, and at other times ask a spiritually mature man to model leadership skills by leading prayer during worship. Sometimes, these kinds of situations aren’t about women’s roles, but men’s needs.

4. Should women be worship leaders (lead the congregational music)?

(Let me just take a moment to say that my husband has been a minister of music for about thirty years, so I do have some experience in this area.)

No, women should not serve as the worship leader. The primary reason I say this has more to do with the position of minister of music – a term I think we need to get back to – than the role of women in the church.

Overseeing the music ministry of the church, selecting music for worship and the teaching of biblical truths, being in charge of half of the worship service, and leading the congregation in worship is not some inconsequential thing that can be shuffled off to any Tom, Dick, or Harry who happens to have a nice voice. It is a pastoral role. As the pastor shepherds the congregation through the exhortation of the preached Word, the minister of music shepherds the congregation through the worship, praise, declaration, and imploring of the words we sing. Preaching is when God speaks to us. Singing is when we speak to God. And we need a pastor to teach and lead us to do that biblically.

By biblical definition, women are not to be pastors or hold that kind of functional authority over men in the church. Therefore, women should not hold the position of minister of music or “worship leader” (singing in the choir or on the praise team, singing solos, playing an instrument, etc., under the leadership of the minister of music, is, of course, fine). By the same token, men who do not meet the biblical qualifications of pastor or elder should also not hold the position of minister of music. Placing biblically unqualified people in pastoral positions is not only disobedient to Scripture, it exposes the church’s low view of, and lack of reverence for the lofty act of worship.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.