Christian women, False Doctrine

Throwback Thursday ~ 8 Unbiblical Notions Christian Women Need to Be Set Free From

Originally published June 2, 2017

Your recent article on prayer really helped me. I was always taught that prayer was a two-way conversation. For years, I would talk to God and wait for Him to talk back to me, but He never did. I thought it was because there was unknown sin in my life, or that I didn’t have enough faith, or that God just wasn’t interested in me. It’s so freeing to know the truth.

Comments like this from readers are always bittersweet for me. It makes me practically giddy to hear from Christian women who have been set free from false doctrines they’ve been taught, but it also grieves me deeply to reflect on the years they spent thinking they were somehow deficient as Christians or doubting God’s love for them simply because they were taught, and believed, unbiblical notions and ideas.

Let’s see if we can dispel a few of those today:

1. Prayer is this big, complicated, mystical thing.
Nope. Prayer is simply talking to God about whatever is on your heart. What’s made prayer complicated is the unbiblical teachings that have grown up around it such as praying in “tongues,” listening prayer, contemplative prayer, sozo prayer, soaking prayer, etc.

8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

2. “Women’s Ministry” equals fluff and silliness.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun from time to time. Hey, we all need to blow off steam, right? But if cookie exchanges and teas and painting parties and dress up parties and sleepovers and makeup parties and fashion shows and movie nights are all your women’s ministry does, it’s unhealthy. And it’s not really a ministry, either. If something is a “ministry” it should exist to point people to Christ and disciple them once they get to Him. Your women’s ministry should include ministry of the Word, discipleship, Titus 2-type mentoring, evangelism, comfort ministry (to the ill, shut-ins, new moms, new members, etc.), serving the church, encouragement, supporting your pastor and elders, and so on.

Mary and Martha and Jesus and Women’s Ministry
How to Survive a Wimpy Women’s Ministry

3. Women’s Bible study- great balls of fire, don’t get me started.
♦ A Bible verse (or half a Bible verse) plus an inspiring story from the author’s or someone else’s life is not Bible study. Bible study is picking up your Bible and studying it.

Bible Study
Bible Studies

♦ If you’re hosting a women’s Bible study, you do not have to use books and DVDs written by someone else. In fact, I would recommend against doing so. Get someone who is able to teach – yes, it could even be a man – and study a book of the Bible from beginning to end.

You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

♦ One reason I recommend against using “canned” women’s Bible studies is that the vast majority of them (95% in my estimation- not an exaggeration) teach false doctrine. When you walk into LifeWay the first thing you’ll see is the best sellers shelf, and the majority of those books are written by false teachers such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others.

Popular False Teachers

♦ If you do decide to occasionally do a book study, you do not have to use one written by a woman. In fact, if you want a book that’s doctrinally sound, you have a much better chance of finding one written by a man than by a woman, sad to say.

A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few MORE Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few Good Men, Again!: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

4. Faithful church attendance isn’t that important.
If you think you don’t need church or that you can skip it whenever something more fun comes along, your thinking isn’t biblical. God thinks it’s important enough for His people to gather regularly for worship that He emphasizes it throughout the entirety of Scripture- Old and New Testament. Get your heiney in the pew every week, honey, and find a place to serve.

7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

5. I am woman, hear me roar.
♦ Beth Moore and many other female teachers who rebel against Scripture by preaching to and teaching men in the church say that they are doing so “under their husband’s and/or pastor’s authority”. Neither your husband nor your pastor has the OK from God to allow you, or any other woman, to teach men in the church. God says women aren’t to teach or hold authority over men in the church, and when God says no, no one has the authority to say yes. Furthermore, there isn’t a single passage of Scripture that allows any man to give any woman this type of “under my authority” dispensation to teach men. To say that it’s permissible for a woman to teach men “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority” is just as biblically absurd as saying it’s OK for a woman to lie, commit adultery, gossip, or steal “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority.” Sapphira sinned under her husband’s authority and look what happened to her.

Fencing Off the Forbidden Fruit Tree
Jill in the Pulpit

Ten Things You Should Know About 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and the Relationship Between Men and Women in the Local Church at CBMW

Egalitarians are often so vehement in their insistence that women should teach men and hold authority over men in the church, that they are essentially saying that the only way a woman’s service or leadership in the church can have any value is if it’s exercised over men. I’ve heard many of them turn up their noses at the idea of teaching women and children and other forms of service (that don’t involve teaching or authority over men), in a haughty “we’re better than that” kind of way.

No way.

Have you seen the garbage women and children are being taught in the church under the guise of “Sunday School” or “Bible study”? Women’s and children’s classes at your church are in desperate need of women who are doctrinally sound and able to teach. What about the need to visit church members who are in the hospital or shut-ins? How about record-keeping, working in the sound booth, welcoming visitors, serving on committees, mowing the church’s lawn, participating in outreach activities, fixing a meal, chaperoning youth activities, hosting a visiting pastor or missionary? There’s a ton of important and valuable work for women to do in the church. We don’t have time to worry about teaching and holding authority over men. Let the men worry about that.

Servanthood
Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

6. My feelings and opinions reign supreme.
Uh uh. Not if you’re a Christian, they don’t. That’s how lost people operate. If you’re a Christian, you’re not entitled run your life or make decisions by any opinion other than that of your Master. What He says – in His written word – goes. Period. Regardless of how you feel about it or whether or not you agree with it. That means if a “Bible” teacher you really like is teaching things that conflict with Scripture, you dump her. You love Mr. Wonderful and want to marry him, but he’s not saved? Nope. You’re a woman who’s certain God has called her to preach? No way. Your husband has said no about something, but you want to do it anyway? Forget it.

The Bible is our Authority
Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word

7. If something or someone claims to be a Christian, it is.
I suppose at some point in Christian history, there might have been a time when, if someone handed you a “Christian book,” it was a pretty safe bet it was doctrinally sound. Or if someone said she was a Christian, you could be fairly certain she was truly born again.

Not so much these days.

You cannot take at face value that someone who says she’s a Christian is using the Bible’s definition of Christianity and has been genuinely regenerated. You cannot trust that just because something is sold at LifeWay or another Christian retailer that it’s doctrinally sound. You can’t assume that just because someone is a “Christian” celebrity, writes “Bible” studies, speaks at “Christian” conferences, and has a large following, that she’s handling God’s word correctly (or at all) and teaching you biblical truth. There’s just too much false doctrine running rampant in evangelicalism and too many people who believe and teach it.

Don’t be a weak and naïve Christian woman. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven…” There are many people who draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. It is God’s will for you to be a good Berean and to test everything according to Scripture. We will know the truly Christian from the false by their fruits, not their platitudes.

8. Sugar and spice and everything nice- that’s what Christian girls are made of.
That’s not a Bible verse, but rather and unspoken rule among most Christian women. Somewhere we’ve gotten the idea that Christian unity or love means “being nice” to people. We’re always smilingly sweet and never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or could rock the boat at church.

Are we to be kind? Yes. Are we to do our best not to hurt others? Of course. Should we be making waves over every little thing that rubs us the wrong way? Absolutely not.

But neither is it loving to see a Mack truck bearing down on an oblivious sister in Christ and refrain from yanking her out of harm’s way because it might dislocate her shoulder. It is not unity to see Satan deceiving a friend through sin or false doctrine and not plead with her to turn to Christ and His word because she might think we’re rude. And that’s the situation we often find ourselves in at church or with Christian friends.

Was Jesus – our perfect example of love – being unloving, unkind, hateful, or divisive when He rebuked the Pharisees, cleared the temple, or said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” to Peter?

Love for the brethren isn’t “being nice.” It’s caring so much about a fellow saint that we want what’s best for her in Christ. Sometimes that requires being firm, confrontational, or demonstrating “tough love.” People’s eternities and spiritual health are at stake. How loving is it to stand aside and let a sister waltz into Hell or struggle for years on end in her walk with the Lord because she’s living in sin or believing false doctrine? “Being nice” isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. It’s time we stop being nice and start being biblical.

I Can’t Sit Down, Shut Up, and Play Nice
Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Do you believe any of these unbiblical notions? If so, set them aside, repent, and believe and practice what Scripture says. Any time we believe something that’s in conflict with God’s word, it’s a hindrance to the abundant life and growth in Christ that He wants to bless us with.

False doctrine enslaves. It places a yoke of confusion, anxiety, and “try harder” on the shoulders of those who embrace it. Christ did not set us free from sin so that we might turn right around and become captives to a new, pseudo-Christian type of sin: false teaching. It is for freedom and a healthy spiritual life that Christ has set us free.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds: August 25, 2020

 

Here are a few of my favorite online finds…

 

“As “true” Christian women, we consecrate ourselves to fulfill his calling and purposes for our lives. By his grace and in humble dependence on his power,” we can pursue that which is pleasing to the Lord in these 15 Ways to Honor Christ as Women by Susan Hunt.

 

“At first blush, these two texts seem to settle the matter in favor of the complementarian position. After all, this is the sense adopted in the vast majority of English translations. How could they all be wrong? Clearly Paul does not intend for women to be teaching/preaching within the church, right?” An excellent apologetic on this aspect of complementarianism in Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching  by Denny Burk.

 

“God’s design of the worship of his Church transcends pandemics and culture. This season shall pass and local churches will once again assemble together, embrace one another in Christian love, and celebrate the body and blood of King Jesus through the Lord’s Supper as we long for him to return and make all things new.” Some insightful observations and exhortations in  Josh Buice’s thought-provoking article There Is No Such Thing as Virtual Lord’s Supper.

 

“Abuse does not call for the abandonment of God’s good design, but the restoration of it through the power of the Gospel. The answer for every form of abuse is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Tom Buck handily addresses the issue of abuse eroding biblical headship and submission in this article for Founders Ministries: Complementarianism is Not the Problem.

 

Four pianists, eight hymns (do you recognize all of them?): enjoy!

 


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites on which they appear, or of everything the author or subject of the resource says or does. I do not endorse any person, website, or resource that conflicts with Scripture or the theology outlined in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.
Southern Baptist/SBC

Arrive Prepared: Resources for Messengers to the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention

The 2020 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention
has been canceled due to the Coronavirus.
Click here to read more.


If you’re attending or serving as a messenger from your
church to the 2020 SBC, be sure to bookmark
this article and return to it periodically.
I will update it as needed between now and the Convention.
If you won’t be attending, please pass this along to your pastor and any messengers or attendees you know.

Please send me links to any SBC 2020 information, resources, or issues that should be added to this article.

 

Are you a Southern Baptist who’s concerned about – or maybe not even aware of – the direction the SBC is headed? If so, I’m glad you stopped by. I’m encouraging all of my Southern Baptist readers and followers to serve as messengers from your churches to the 2020 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and make your doctrinally sound, biblically informed voice heard.

At the 2019 Convention, a significant procedural problem was highlighted by the passage of Resolution 9 (more below). It was a resolution that dealt with two complex, and – to many messengers (and even SBC leaders) – unfamiliar issues, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. These highly technical and intricate issues were brought to the floor for a vote near the end of the day when some messengers had already left, others were tired, hungry, and ready to leave after a long day, and when time was limited. Concerns have been raised that, due to some of these factors, many messengers may not have had a solid grasp of the issue they were voting on and its consequences for the SBC.

I’d like to help rectify that situation in some small way by providing you with resources ahead of time that will allow you to #ArrivePrepared at #SBC2020. Convention procedures. Hot button issues. The original text of some of the resolutions you’ll be voting on. If messengers are to vote biblically, prayerfully, and sober-mindedly, they must be given the time to read, process, and pray for godly wisdom regarding the issues. 

When and where is the Convention being held?

Tuesday, June 9 – Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Orange County Convention Center
West Concourse
9800 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

Get more information, including the meeting schedule, discounted hotel rates, and childcare, at the SBC 2020 Annual Meeting Website

What is a messenger, and how do I become one?

A messenger is a member in good standing at a church in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention who is approved by her church to attend the annual meeting and vote on the items presented during during the business sessions. Contact your pastor to find out how to become an approved messenger for your church.

More details and requirements for messengers and churches

Messenger pre-registration form/instructions for churches

What is a resolution, and how do I submit one to be voted on at the SBC?

A resolution is basically a public statement in favor of or opposing a particular issue, and frequently calling for some sort of voluntary action from Southern Baptists on that issue. The best way to understand what a resolution is is to read through some resolutions from the past. You can check out resolutions from all the way back to 1845, and get an idea of which issues the SBC was facing at the time and how Southern Baptists just like you thought the SBC should respond. Messengers vote for or against resolutions, and resolutions either pass or fail. It is important to understand that because of SBC polity, resolutions that pass are non-binding on the local church. In other words, your church is free to follow or not follow each resolution as your pastor and/or congregation sees fit. You do not need your pastor’s permission or approval to submit a resolution, but his input and guidance could be very helpful.

Past resolutions

How to submit a resolution

Members of the 2020 Committee on Resolutions

2020 Resolutions and Motions

These are items messengers may have the opportunity to vote on at the Convention. (Parliamentary procedure or committee action may preclude a vote.) I would love to publish the text of, or information regarding as many votable items as possible so messengers can read, inform themselves, and especially pray about how they should vote.

If you know someone who will be submitting a resolution or making a motion at the Convention and would like to have it published here,
please contact me as soon as possible.

Resolutions

This is the original text of these motions that will be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions. Please bear in mind, the Committee on Resolutions has the authority to “reword” these resolutions in any way they choose and then present the edited version to the Convention for a vote. This was a major issue with Resolution 9 last year. The Committee “reworded” the original resolution so much that the edited version ended up saying basically the opposite of the original version. The Committee also has the authority to decline to present a resolution for a vote. When you arrive at the Convention, please carefully read the versions of the resolutions you are given before voting on them.

On Beholding the Majesty of God submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR

On A Reformation of Corporate Worship Practices submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR

On God’s Good Hierarchical Design submitted by Jared Longshore, Associate Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, FL

Motions

Motion to Rescind Resolution 9 (2019) (more information below)

Motion to approve the first Sunday in February as the annual George Liele Church Planting, Evangelism and Missions Day, (to begin in 2021)

Possible motion related to the ERLC Task Force (see “The ERLC Task Force” under “Hot Button Issues” below)

Who are the nominees we’ll vote on for SBC President?

It can sometimes be hard to find out the names of specific nominees until the nominations are actually made at the Convention, because “campaigning” for the office of SBC president (or any other position of leadership) has historically been considered to be in poor taste from an etiquette perspective. However, in the last few years, those who are planning to make a nomination for president sometimes announce their intentions and the nominee on social media, in their state SBC newspaper, or elsewhere.

These are the potential nominees I’m aware of. If you know of others, please let me know so I can list them here. You wouldn’t vote for a U.S. Presidential candidate without finding out about him and his positions. It’s even more important, from a spiritual perspective, to find out about the SBC presidential nominees and their positions.

Dr. Albert Mohler– President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, former SBC pastor, instrumental in the Conservative Resurgence, theologian, author, blogger, podcaster

Randy Adams– Executive Director of the Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho) Baptist Convention, former SBC pastor, former leader in the BGC of Oklahoma. Read Randy’s blog to learn more about his views. Announcement of nomination and goals here, here, and here. Facebook  Twitter

(For more information on the nominees, please Google them or visit their social media pages.)

SBC 2020 Hot Button Issues to Be Aware Of

Abuse in the SBC Not only is the abuse issue itself likely to be addressed, be aware that the egalitarian movement within the SBC is using the abuse issue as a vehicle for pushing egalitarianism further into the SBC. Just one example: At the 2019 Caring Well conference on abuse, Beth Moore reportedly said that “having too few women in power has directly contributed to the sexual abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention.” (This conference, where Beth Moore was not corrected for her many egalitarian remarks, was hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC.)

Egalitarianism- Increasingly, SBC pastors are allowing women to preach the Sunday sermon in their pulpits, teach co-ed Sunday School and Bible study classes, and preach at co-ed conferences. The current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear, has close friends who are female pastors, and has not only spoken glowingly of Beth Moore but publicly defended her when John MacArthur suggested she should not be preaching. For years, the majority of LifeWay’s best selling women’s “Bible” study authors and conference speakers, including Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, Lysa TerKeurst, and Jennie Allen, among others, have continued to preach to men at conferences and during the Sunday morning worship service at local churches. If things continue on their present trajectory, the SBC will likely codify approval of women pastors into the Baptist Faith and Message within just a few years.

Resolution 9- If you don’t know what Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality (CRT/I) are, you must inform yourself and learn why they are dangerous, unbiblical social constructs that all Christians should repudiate and reject. In 2019, the heavily edited Resolution 9 presented CRT/I as a “helpful analytical tool,” and messengers voted to pass it. This year a motion will be made to rescind Resolution 9.

The SBC Pastors’ Conference Each year a conference for pastors is held immediately preceding the SBC annual meeting. This year’s Pastors’ Conference speaker/performer lineup includes a number of doctrinally unsound people. The most problematic are…

Wayne Cordeiro who pastors a Foursquare Gospel church. This denomination was founded by female preacher, heretic, and faith healer, Aimee Semple McPherson. It encourages women to be pastors, and there is a female “pastor” on staff at Cordeiro’s church.

Hosanna Wong who is herself a “teaching pastor”.

Jim Cymbala whose church’s statement of faith declares that they adhere to the false teaching of the second (separate from salvation) baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Phil Wickham who is affiliated with Bethel Music.

David Hughes whose wife is co-“pastor” of his church, and who is heavily into seeker-driven evangeltainment, even incorporating sexually provocative themes like Victoria’s Secret and Game of Thrones into his church’s materials and worship services.

You can read more details about each of these in Pastor Gabriel Hughes’ article, What In the Wide World Is Going On with the Southern Baptist Convention?

The SBC Executive Committee, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando, and president of the pastor’s conference (ergo, responsible for inviting the lineup) and others in SBC leadership have been contacted by numerous SBC pastors and other Southern Baptists protesting these egregiously unbiblical speakers and performers.

Due to this reproof, the SBC Executive Committee has voted to make their providing venue space for the Pastors’ Convention contingent upon Dr. Uth amending the lineup of speakers and performers. They have given him until March 30 to do so.

View the entire lineup of speakers/performers at the SBC Pastors’ Conference WebsiteDavid Uth has invited feedback and questions about the Pastors’ Conference at SBCPC2020@firstorlando.com. (Be polite and godly. State which church you’re a member of. If you’re a pastor, state this, and whether or not you’ll be attending the conference.)

The ERLC Task Force– The SBC Executive Committee has voted to form a task force to investigate the activities of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) “in response to ‘ongoing concerns’ cited by EC members, state leaders, and other Southern Baptists that the ERLC is not adequately fulfilling its Convention-approved ministry assignments.”

Over the past several years, many Southern Baptists have grown concerned over the (far too numerous to list here) progressive, left-leaning positions and actions which the ERLC, under the leadership of Dr. Russell Moore, has taken on social and political issues, most notably: filing an amicus brief on behalf of Muslims attempting to build a mosque, creating an animal rights video that likened animal rights to the rights of pre-born children, hosting/sponsoring the MLK 50 Conference (honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.- a serial adulterer, who denied Christ’s resurrection and virgin birth despite claiming to be a Christian), and endorsing the Revoice (“gay Christian”) conference.

Because of these, and many other issues that suggest a liberal drift in the ERLC, a number of SBC churches have withheld or diverted their financial contributions to the Cooperative Program in protest, to the tune of at least $1.5 million, triggering the EC’s decision to form the task force.

The executive officers of the ERLC wrote a public letter of protest against the task force, essentially claiming that the EC is overstepping its authority and that it is the responsibility of the ERLC trustees (on whose watch the liberal drift has taken place, and who have stated they have complete “confidence in Dr. Moore’s leadership and in the effectiveness of the Commission’s ministry”) to hold the ERLC accountable.

In their letter of protest, the officers stated that they have instructed the ERLC not to comply with the task force “until messengers [at the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting] have an opportunity to signal their belief that such a task force is appropriate and legitimate.” This may indicate that someone in leadership at the ERLC is planning to make a motion at the Convention to dissolve or denounce the task force. You may have an opportunity to vote on this motion so it’s extremely important that you inform yourself on the issues and arrive at the convention prepared to vote intelligently.

Where can I get informed on the issues and keep up with the latest SBC news, so I’ll #ArrivePrepared at the Convention?

Watch the cinedoc By What Standard, filmed mostly at the 2019 SBC annual meeting. It is a good overview of CRT/I, egalitarianism, and other issues.

Connect with Founders Ministries and start reading. They have already addressed a number of these issues and seek to keep Southern Baptists informed.

Subscribe to The Sword and The Trowel podcast and listen in as Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore bring you (among other interesting topics) the latest SBC news.

Join the Conservative Baptist Network, a new, grassroots movement of pastors and Southern Baptists who want to see the SBC return to biblical fidelity. (Attend their launch event on June 8 at the Convention if you can.)

Subscribe to Baptist Press, the news agency of the SBC.

Follow pastors Tom Ascol and Tom Buck on Twitter. They always know what’s going on and what the biblical response should be.

And keep coming back to this article. I will continue to update it with news and links between now and the Convention.

Movies

Movie Tuesday: By What Standard?

…it seems like evangelicals, including Southern Baptists, are in danger of loosening their commitments to…basic, Christian commitments. Dangerous ideologies like Critical Theory and Intersectionality are gaining inroads into the thinking of some leaders, churches and organizations.

These ideologies are even being promoted among some evangelicals as reliable analytical tools that can assist our understandings and efforts in gospel ministry.

The result is that, in the name of social justice, many unbiblical agendas are being advanced under the guise of honoring and protecting women, promoting racial reconciliation, and showing love and compassion to people experiencing sexual dysphoria.

By What Standard? God’s World, God’s Rules is a documentary that presses those questions by showing how godless ideologies are influencing evangelical thought and life.

If you’re a Southern Baptist – especially if you don’t know what’s going on in your denomination outside the four walls of your own church – you desperately need to watch this documentary.

Because our local churches are autonomous, many Southern Baptists think, “It doesn’t really matter what’s going on at the national level of the SBC as long as my church is doing well.” When you watch, you’ll see why that’s such a dangerous attitude to take. The insidious and sinful concepts of critical race theory, intersectionality, egalitarianism, and other false doctrines have made their way into our SBC seminaries,  where your next pastor is currently being trained, into LifeWay, where your next Sunday school, women’s Bible study, or VBS curriculum is coming from, and into the national leadership of the SBC, which represents us and our denomination to the world.

But even if you’re not Southern Baptist, these concepts are almost certainly slithering in to your denomination or church as well.

Be ready by informing yourself.

Click here to watch By What Standard?.

Complementarianism

Putting on the “You Can!” of Complementarianism

It never really hit me until I started teaching the book of 1 Timothy how many instructions in the pastoral epistles pertain to women, and how weighty those instructions are. The pastoral epistles are the “policy and procedure manuals” for the church, and, far from relegating the ministry of women to nothing more than crafts and tea parties while the men do all the “important” stuff, you come away with the impression that a healthy, well-balanced church actually depends on godly women working hard to carry out the ministries that God has uniquely created and gifted us to fulfill, alongside men fulfilling their own ministries.

These epistles don’t view “woman’s work” around the house of God as trivial or menial, but as a high and holy calling. Vital. Necessary. Honorable.

But is that the lofty perspective of the biblical role of women that the local complementarian church is conveying to its female and male members? Are we, especially those of us in women’s ministry, proactively teaching that the calling of motherhood or the task of discipling other women or serving those in need is qualitatively just as imperative and noble as the calling of pastor or elder?

Intentionally or not, the egalitarian movement has maneuvered biblical complementarians into constantly playing defense. Their offensive squad keeps moving the ball forward by offering women a no holds barred buffet of powerful and prestigious ministry positions. Our defensive line correctly and biblically pushes back with, “No, the Bible says women are not to ‘teach or to exercise authority over a man’  in the church setting.” But often, only two or three members of our offensive squad are dressed out to play, and they never get off the bench and into the game. And as any football fan knows, you have to have a good defense and a good offense if you’re playing to win.

Egalitarians offer women “you can,” but all too often all we complementarians have offered godly women yearning to serve is, “you can’t.” Where is the big, beautiful, biblical showcase of complementarian “you can”?

Not long ago, I was teaching a group of ladies the biblical process of putting off the old self and putting on the new self in Ephesians 4:20-32. We explored how interesting it was that every “don’t” in the passage was coupled with a “do.” We don’t just put off lying, we put on proactive truth-telling instead, and so on. Nature abhors a vacuum in the physical realm, and it would seem this is true in the spiritual realm as well. When we subtract the ungodly, we must replace it with the godly. If we don’t, something will rush in to fill the void that’s been created, and that “something” isn’t usually biblical or fruitful. 

So how can we shift the perspective in our churches from “you can’t” to “you can,” and create an atmosphere, not merely of “put off,” but also “put on”? How can we get our offensive team suited up, on the field, and moving the ball toward the goalpost while at the same time retaining a strong defense?

We can, so to speak, make complementarianism great again. 

As I studied 1 Timothy 5, I was struck by Paul’s description of women who are “truly widows.” These are women who have spent their lives being busy and intentional about the work of the Lord in their homes and in the church. They adorned themselves with the good works proper for women who profess godliness, and they were honored and revered for it by the church. I didn’t come away from this passage with the feeling that these women were frustrated, oppressed, or seen as “lesser” by the church because they weren’t allowed to teach or exercise authority over men. I came away from this passage thinking, “Those women were awesome. That’s the kind of woman I want to be.

What would the climate in our churches look like if women’s ministries and the church at large recaptured that same reverential posture and purposefulness toward biblical womanhood? If, instead of teaching the biblical role of women strictly as, “You can’t eat the fruit from this apple tree,” we followed that admonition with a grand tour of the Garden, focusing on the delicious fruit of the pear tree, the cherry tree that needs a good pruning, the fig tree just waiting for the right woman to come along, harvest its fruit, and make some preserves, the banana tree that needs an expert in fertilizers, and the orange tree dying for someone to water it?

In my experience, what happens in churches of that climate is that – just like the godly widows of 1 Timothy 5 – women are so busy and fulfilled tending the other trees of the Garden, that they have neither the time nor the desire to go apple picking. 

May our churches strengthen themselves and grow to more robust spiritual health by proactively encouraging Christian women to joyfully throw ourselves into the godly “good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” – the biblical “you can” of complementarianism.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Servanthood

The Servanthood Survey