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Month: January 2008

Matt Slick's radio station to host "Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?"

Matt Slick's radio station to host "Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?"

Below is what I posted on Matt Slick’s discussion board. I will add the day and time of the airing of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” when the radio station gives me the finalized details.

Scripture warns us not to make a hasty judgment on a matter. When two sides have conflicting interpretations, those who wish to be Bereans should be willing to carefully consider all of the facts from both sides of the issue first in order to avoid making a hasty judgment.

In an effort to allow the hearing of the other side of the story on the issue of women in ministry that hasn’t been given a full hearing on Matt Slick’s radio show “Faith and Reason”, the radio station where Matt hosts his radio program has offered to allow the airing of the 4 DVD set “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” over four consecutive weeks in the month of February. Listeners will then be able to hear and judge for themselves if the teaching on the DVD set treats scripture respectfully and in context. The entire DVD set is 3.5 hours of teaching and will be broken down into 4 segments to air over 4 weeks.

Here in Canada it is a ruling that if one misrepresents a person, they are given equal time to defend themselves and to present their side of the story. In the US, this is also a fair ruling and I greatly appreciate My Family Radio Station in Boise Idaho for agreeing that this is a fair and reasonable solution.

I am sure that Matt will also agree that this is fair and reasonable when Christians have biblical disagreements. It is only when we can hear the full story that we can then be bible Bereans and make the choice for ourselves which side represents a better biblical view.

The dates and times of the airing of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” on My Family Radio are posted below. The DVDs are a very visual verse-by-verse view of the hard passages of scripture on the women’s issue. Although the radio will not do justice to the DVDs in that there will of course be no video or graphics, the audio that will be heard should be thought-provoking.

You can listen live to the audio from my 4 DVD set at the following link. The listen button is at the top right hand side and it will allow you to pick the radio station that you want to listen to for the times listed below. The link is http://www.myfamilyradio.com/cms/index.php Remember the times are Pacific and if you are listening at Eastern time you need to add three hours so instead of 12 noon it will be 3 pm and instead of 4 pm it will be 7 pm.

KBXL 94.1 FM

  • Saturday March 8, 2008 at 12 noon – segment one
  • Saturday March 15, 2008 at 12 noon – segment two
  • Saturday March 22, 2008 at 12 noon – segment three
  • Saturday March 29, 2008 at 12 noon – segment four

KSPD 790 AM

  • Saturday March 8, 2008 at 4 pm – segment one
  • Saturday March 15, 2008 at 4 pm – segment two
  • Saturday March 22, 2008 at 4 pm – segment three
  • Saturday March 29, 2008 at 4 pm – segment four

(Note: after the announcement of the airing of my DVDs, Matt Slick increased his attacks against me to the point that in August 2008 I had a Matthew 18 meeting and traveled twelve hours to meet with him in the Boise, Idaho area.  The link to the public statement regarding the outcome of this meeting is listed here http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2008/09/06/public-statement-regarding-matt-slick/)

The husband as king over the wife

The husband as king over the wife

In part two of this discussion we asked whether God has ordained that a woman must have a priest in the home to represent her to God and God to her. Today we continue our discussion about whether a husband is to have the position of king over his wife in their marriage. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) supports the claim that the husband is to be king over his wife and this view is taught in an on-line book on their web site. The book is called “Building Strong Families” by Dennis Rainey (Dennis is on CBMW’s board of reference) and we are focusing on chapter 4 of this book called “The Husband as Prophet, Priest and King” this chapter authored by Bob Lepine.

Mr. Lepine admits that the teaching about the husband as King has been abused by many well-meaning Bible teachers. Because of this he says that we need to “proceed with caution”. Although a king is thought to be someone who wields power and enjoys privilege and position, Lepine says that the husband needs to go beyond that to be the kind of kingly husband his wife ultimately wants and needs him to be. Lepine then focuses on the king as a warrior and a representative of “his wife and his family in the culture”.

I personally found this part of the chapter to be the most alarming. This patriarchal teaching about the husband as “representative” of his wife and family is lived out by a group called Vision Forum and their leader Doug Phillips. Taking the husband as “representative” teaching to a position of “law”, Doug Phillips teaches that “God does not allow women to vote”. Quoting from Mr. Phillips:

“In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.”

So if the husband is “federal head” then he makes all the decisions and she is forbidden by God to vote. Do you see the problem here? This type of “federal head” concept of the husband as King and representative of the family taken to its logical conclusion makes the husband’s rule in his family virtually unchallenged by anyone. Who then can decide if the husband is being unkind to his wife?

Going back to chapter 4 of “Building Strong Families” Lepine suggests that there will be attacks on the husband’s way of leadership from all kinds of directions. He says that “(attacks) will come from friends and coworkers who, thinking themselves to be wise, have become as fools (Rom. 1:22)” Under the heading Know your enemy Lepine also identifies the wife as someone who will attack the man’s leadership. He says:

There will also be attacks from your closest ally, your wife. While her spirit will welcome the leadership, protection, and provision of a wise king, her flesh will war against her spirit and will seek to thwart your authority. Over time, there will be showdowns as you wrestle with whether to compromise and gain her approval or to stand fast and face her wrath. There will be times when you’ll have to decide whether to serve her or to serve God.”

The advice then is for the husband to stand against his wife. When a wife doesn’t want her husband to vote for her as her “representative” and she doesn’t want his leadership, the husband is to take control of his kingdom and stand up to her anger. He is to lead whether she wants him to take control or not.

Is this really what scripture says? Does the Bible ever tell a husband to take control of his wife or to have a showdown with her wrestling her to force her to a place of submission?

The Bible never once instructs the husband to “lead” his wife. The Bible also never once tells him that he is to be her king or her priest or her prophet. The position of her King is already taken. Jesus is her King and her High Priest and her Prophet. The husband is never granted a place to usurp Jesus’ role. The husband’s role in the marriage is to take the initiative to bond with his wife so that they can have a one-flesh union. In Genesis we find Adam identifying his wife as flesh of his flesh.

Gen 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

In Genesis 2:24, the Bible says “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” For what reason? The reason is because she was taken out of him and he is to initiate a joining of himself with her to be that one flesh union again.

When a husband loves his wife and treats her tenderly and with affection and he sacrifices himself for her, a woman will respond willingly to that kind of love. That is why a husband is not to take authority over her but he is instead to love her and this will bring her willingness to submit to his love.

Right now I am hard at work on our new DVD on the Trinity but when I get a chance to do another post, I would like to respond to some of the questions that were posted on my original 2006 blog article about the husband as priest of the home. There were questions about the wife obeying the husband that I didn’t get to at the time so it should be interesting.

Equal but different deteriorates to an unequal Trinity

Equal but different deteriorates to an unequal Trinity

The term “equal but different” has become a catch phrase in marriage and “women in ministry” issues as it has replaced the pre-1970’s common view of the inferiority of women. In complementarian circles the thought is that women are equal in person but different in role. In the same way the Trinity is defined as equality in essence and status but different in roles. We are told that “different” is not “unequal”, it is just different. For example see this definition of the Trinity (below) that assures us that the status of men and women are equal just as the status of the persons of the Trinity are equal:

In the Trinity we see a pattern of relationships that shows us how it’s possible for equality of being to co-exist with diversity of function. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are equal in status but each has a different function.

But has this new definition of “equal but different” found a way to downgrade Jesus to an unequal place in the Trinity? Apparently so and some are actually using the very passage that affirms the equality of Jesus to make him unequal with God. Let’s see what the bible actually says. In Philippians 2:6 it says about Jesus –

(ALT) who existing in the nature of God, did not consider being equal to God something to be held onto,

In the Amplified Bible, the full meaning is retained:

Philippians 2:6 (AMP) Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

So Jesus had complete equality with God right from the beginning but he did not think that this equality was a thing to be retained, or held onto, but instead he emptied himself of his rights (to an equal position) so that he could become human. Verse 7 and 8 goes on to explain why Jesus did not retain or hold onto his equality with God:

Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

In order for Jesus to be fully human and therefore able to die as a man, Jesus emptied himself of his equal position and the equal glory that he had with God so that he could become man. These verses have been used by apologists to prove to Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus did have full equality with God and it is only in his humanity that he is in a position of humility. Jesus voluntarily gave up his equal rights in order to live as a man in an unequal position. Yet these verses are now being used by those who claim to be evangelicals to prove that Jesus did not have equality with God to begin with.

In 2003 at the Evangelical Theological Society, Denny Burk gave a talk in which he set out to prove that in the Trinity, Jesus was not equal with God even though he was in the form of God.

Listen to these three audio files.

Denny Burk #1 Jesus did not want to become equal with God in every respect

Denny Burk #2 Jesus possessed the form of God but not equality with God

Denny Burk #3 In his pre-existent Trinitarian fellowship with the Father, Jesus decided not to go after equality but to go after incarnation

So Jesus did not have equality with the Father before the incarnation and he didn’t want to attain to an equality with the Father? This sounds to me like he is saying that Jesus is not equal but different with the Father, but unequal and different.

The complete audio file was downloaded a year ago from CBMW’s web site. CBMW’s web site has since taken off the 2003 ETS audio files, presumably because they don’t have any ETS audio files older than 2004. Denny Burk serves as the editor of CBMW’s The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

What we have is a full-blown demotion of the Word of God to a position of inequality in the Trinity.

God's woman: is she needy of a representative priest? Part 2

God's woman: is she needy of a representative priest? Part 2

In part one, (click here to read) we discussed whether God created the woman as needed or needy. In this continuing discussion we ask whether God has ordained that a woman must have a priest in the home to represent her to God and God to her? The complementarian view is a strong “Yes” when asked this question, but is this a biblical view or a view passed on by tradition?

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) makes their view available through an on-line book called “Building Strong Families” by Dennis Rainey. (Dennis is on CBMW’s board of reference.) Chapter 4 of this book is called “The Husband as Prophet, Priest and King” and this chapter is authored by Bob Lepine.

Mr. Lepine states that it is God’s design that the husband is the priest of the home. To prove his point, he produces the patriarchal rule of the Old Testament as proof that God wants men to act as priests in home today. He says, “The patriarchs, who were the family and tribal leaders in ancient Israel, knew they had a duty to lead their wives and children into God’s presence for worship, to remind them of God’s grace and mercy in forgiving their sins, and to intercede on their behalf. Husbands today have the same priestly assignment.” While Mr. Lepine states this as a fact, he gives no New Testament scriptures that say that the Christian husband is the priest of the home.

While there are no New Testament scriptures on the husband being “the priest of the home”, there are also no Old Testament scriptures that show that God ordained the husband to be the priest of the home either. In fact the only reference there is in scripture to a “priest of the home” is in Judges chapters 17 & 18. Micah, an idol worshipper had stolen eleven hundred pieces of silver from his mother and after he returned the silver to her, she made a graven and a molten image with part of the silver and gave them to her son for his use as an idol. Micah made a shrine where he placed his household idols and he consecrated his son as his own household priest.

In Judges 17:8 the story goes on to say that Micah found a young Levite and he also requested that this young Levite be his household priest.

Judges 17:10 Micah then said to him, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.” So the Levite went in.
Judges 17:11 The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons.
Judges 17:12 So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah.
Judges 17:13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as a priest.”

The book of Judges does not say that this was God’s way of ordaining that every home should have a “priest of the home”, but rather noting that there was wickedness and idolatry in the land, Judges 17:6 says “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

So contrary to the tradition promoted by CBMW, there is no instance of a “priest in the home” arrangement set up by God and only one example in the entire bible of such an arrangement and it was set up by an idolator named Micah.

According to Lepine, the husband’s priestly duties in the home start when the spiritual responsibility for a young woman is passed from her father to her husband and these priestly duties are a “necessary function” of being called a husband.

Where are the scriptures for this spiritual role passed from father to husband? Where does it say that a husband must take on a priestly duty for his wife? I would respectfully say that this is a tradition that may sound Christian, but it isn’t biblical. I would also respectfully say that this tradition can be harmful in several ways. Let me explain as I go through Bob Lepine’s explanation of what the husband as priest in the home is responsible for.

Lepine says that the man is to “assume responsibility to oversee the spiritual condition of his wife.” The husband is responsible as a priest and prophet of God to hear from God and then as a “bearer of the word of God” pass these words on to his wife. He must be the resident theologian because it is his responsibility to teach the Bible to his wife. The husband, Lepine says, should tremble at this assignment because they should recall that false prophets in the Old Testament were stoned. With all of these responsibilities, a husband must “determine for his wife and his family what is right and true.”

The first harm that comes as a result of the view that makes the husband fully responsible to hear from God on behalf of his wife, is that this is a heavy burden forced on the man which is not found in scripture. Where does scripture say that the man is responsible for hearing what God has to say to the woman? What a heavy burden to think that one may be severely punished by God (think about the picture that Lepine gives of stoning) if they fail to be a correct “bearer of the word of God” to his wife! This burden is not one that God has laid on the shoulders of the husband.

This tradition has also been responsible for many men concluding that God does not speak to women directly but only through the man. No wonder so many men feel a spiritual superiority to women. There may also be a temptation to a spirit of pride with the man thinking that he has been set up as a type of intermediary between God and his wife. While Mr. Lepine states that “there is no intermediary between man and God except for the man Christ Jesus” his continual emphases that the man’s responsibility as “one who speaks for God” to his wife in essence makes the wife a needy spiritual person who must have a prophet/priest speak to her on God’s behalf. How many women have been harmed thinking that they are not capable of hearing from God on their own? The greatest harm that I see from this is that women will not grow up in Christ as fully mature Christians, but will stay under the limits placed on them by the highest level of spirituality that their husband attains to.

A fully mature Christian will not be dependent on another person’s hearing from God, but will hear God’s voice for herself. When we keep a woman dependent on the spirituality of her husband, we are treating her as a dependent child all her life. Her sons may grow up and be spiritually mature, but somehow she is treated as one who cannot be depended on to hear from God on her own. One of the most harmful “fruits” of this faulty tradition follows with Bob Lepine’s advice to the husband regarding his wife’s sins.

Mr. Lepine says the husband has been given God’s call to be the one who confronts his wife’s sin and the one who calls her to repentance even if it rocks “the domestic boat” and even if it incurs his wife’s wrath. Pointing out his wife’s sin may seem harsh and judgmental, but Lepine assures husbands it is not unloving and is a necessary part of the priest/prophet function of the husband. Lepine says that the husband must not “fail to confront his wife’s sin because he has a soft view of what it means to love her.” As a priest/prophet the husband “will not think it loving to ignore or overlook our wives’ ongoing patterns of sinful behavior.” Instead he suggests that one of the keys to a happy marriage is confronting sin in your mate and he quotes Proverbs 27:6 “the wounds of a friend are faithful”. Ultimately he suggests that even if this does not produce happiness in marriage, that happiness in marriage should take a back seat to the “higher calling” of a husband and that is making sure that the wife is conformed to Christ’s likeness. Lepine does concede that many men struggle with their priestly duty of representing God to their wives because they are afraid “we’ll be exposed for what we don’t know, or for the shallowness of our own spirituality, or that we’ll be convicted of hypocrisy by a wife who knows too well that we don’t always practice what we’re preaching.”

Is this what scripture teaches? What Mr. Lepine is suggesting here the husband taking the place of the Holy Spirit and the confrontation that he says is a “higher calling” is nothing less than emotional abuse. Scripture does not tell husbands to “confront his wife’s sin” but to be gentle, loving and patient. Paul tells us in Colossians:

Colossians 3:19 (ISV) Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Peter tells us that love “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) and neither Peter nor Paul tell husbands that it is their duty to be confronting their wives over their sin. Instead Paul tells men to love and cherish their wives as they do their own body.

Ephians 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
Ephians 5:29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

And James tell us that mercy and gentleness are wisdom from above:

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Instead of confrontation, Peter tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way and nowhere does he say that husbands are to be responsible for confronting their wife’s sin. Instead Peter says that if a husband does not treat his wife in an understanding way that his own spiritual life may be jeopardized.

1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Peter goes on to encourage husbands as well as all others to be harmonious, kindhearted and sympathetic:

1 Peter 3:8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:10 For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
1 Peter 3:11 “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.

Is a husband to be a spiritual overseer for his wife, keeping watch to continually expose her sin? Scripture gives no such instruction and those who follow CBMW’s advice through Bob Lepine may find unnecessary conflict and stress in their home. Instead of the man called to be “the priest of the home”, the scripture is clear that he is called to something far different. The husband is called to give of himself for his wife and be the one who joins himself to her.

Ephesians 5:31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.

It is the husband’s responsibility to give himself up for her and to come to her to join himself with her. The result of a biblical view of scripture will be harmony, gentleness and oneness. The result of the doctrine of the “husband as priest in the home” is a heavy burden on the husband that the scripture never lays on him. It also results in a childlike reliance of the woman on the man for her own spirituality.

For further reading, click here to read an earlier post on the husband as the priest in the home.  Or click here to go to part three of this series.

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

I am very pleased that Stan Gundry has given me permission to post his story about how he changed his view from a staunch complementarian to an egalitarian. I would also request that if you have a story about your own journey from prejudice to freedom in Christ regarding women in ministry that you email me at mmoutreach [AT] gmail [DOT] com or use the contact tab at the top to reach me. I also have Stan Gundry’s personal email address. If anyone is interested in contacting him, you can leave a comment asking for information or you can email me directly or use the contact form and I will contact you back.

And now…sit back and enjoy this very compelling testimony by Stan Gundry.

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

to

Woman Be Free


My Story*

by Stan Gundry

*Copyright © 2004 by Stanley N. Gundry. All rights reserved.

I have agreed to tell my story for two fundamental reasons. 1) I want to give tribute to the person who opened my eyes to a new paradigm through which to view scripture and who did not allow me to be satisfied with the easy answers. These were answers that had been drilled into my head as a youth and were assumed throughout my college and seminary training. 2) Arguments alone often do not convince. This is especially so with theological and exegetical arguments on this subject that for many has so much emotional baggage associated with it. So, when people come to me asking questions and searching for answers on the “women’s issue,” I often just tell them my story–where I have come from, where I have landed, and how and why I got there.

Arguments in which both sides launch aggressive offenses and structure fortress-like defenses can be unnecessarily adversarial. I am not suggesting that such arguments have no place, but let’s acknowledge that their value is vastly over-rated.

Stories cover the same territory, but they are testimonials–and it is hard to argue with someone’s testimony. Some who hear my story may think I became a biblical egalitarian for inadequate reasons; but more often than not, the response has been, “That makes sense. You’ve given me something to think about.” (1.) And a new story begins, or at least takes a new turn in the road.

Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

My story begins with a book prominently displayed on my father’s bookshelf. Norman C Gundry was a Fundamentalist Baptist pastor who represented some of the best and worst of that tradition. He graduated from the two-year course of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (then known as BI, but now BIOLA University). He and my Mom, Lolita Hinshaw, married in 1932. Within two years they were on their way to Nigeria as missionaries. After three years in Nigeria they returned to the States on regular furlough so my mother could deliver her second child (me) and so my father could receive a much-needed medical check up. Because my father’s hearing was being destroyed by quinine, the drug of choice to treat malaria, they were unable to return to Nigeria. Throughout the years leading up to World War II and during the War, my father was a “tentmaker,” eking out a barely adequate living, first as a warehouseman and then as a farm hand. On Sundays he would preach in small rural churches and Sunday Schools.

During this time, he gradually came to the conclusion that he was a Baptist, a Fundamentalist, and a Separatist. As is so often true of those in that tradition, he was legalistic and rigid to the nth degree. But he also loved God, loved people, knew his Bible exceptionally well, and had a fervent desire to be “true to the Bible.” He was remarkably free of narrow, idiosyncratic views of biblical teaching, with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was “the place of women” as he would have put it. His views on this subject were so extreme that they would almost make Wayne Grudem seem like an egalitarian by contrast. He made sure that the women in his congregation, and especially his wife, knew and kept their “place.”

A fitting metaphor for my father’s view of the place of women was the title of a little paperback book prominently displayed on his bookshelf. Just to the right of his study desk was Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers, authored by the well-known Fundamentalist evangelist of the second third of the twentieth century, John R. Rice. (2.) The title said it all. Bobbed Hair–women as a sign of their submission and obedience to men were not to cut their hair. Bobbed hair was a sign of rebellion against husband, father, and God. Bossy Wives–the man was the head of the wife and the home, and the wife was to keep her place and obey her husband in all things, even if the husband was unsaved. Women Preachers–heaven forbid the thought! Eve had led Adam astray in the Garden and ever since women had been the source of false teaching and the temptresses of men! Obviously they should not be pastors or teachers of men.

My father kept extra copies of Rice’s book on hand to give to those he thought needed its instruction. The summer I left for college, I received my copy, along with a subscription to the paper Rice published, The Sword of the Lord. I confess that I read neither of them. I did not need to; I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by my father’s teaching and modeling. My mother never cut her hair (at least not that anyone could tell), and though the women in my father’s congregation were less compliant, my father regularly alluded to their rebellious actions from the pulpit. Women could hold no offices in churches my father pastored, could not preach, teach, or otherwise lead men. Women could “testify” on Sunday evening; pray publicly at the mid-week service, but not on Sundays; could participate in special music, but could not lead congregational singing or a mixed musical group; could teach Sunday School classes containing boys, but only until they became teenagers. Yes indeed, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by word and example and really did not need that copy of Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers he gave me as I packed my bags for college.

Asking Questions

I suspect my father was fairly confident that the apple would not fall too far from the tree. But if that was the case, there were three things that he did not count on. He did not reckon with the possibility that I would meet and marry a wise and strong woman who thought for herself, asked hard questions, and would not be satisfied with canned answers. In fact, he probably did not consider that I might actually think for myself on this matter, or assumed that if I did, I would come to the same conclusions he had. But my father also failed to realize the consequences of another rather radical idea he had instilled in both of his sons. He taught us to test everything by scripture–to be “true to the Word” to use his phrase, to follow that out no matter where it might lead.

I don’t remember precisely when I began to realize that the woman I would marry might challenge everything I had been taught about the place and role of women. Perhaps it was when we discussed deep philosophical and theological questions in the college library, and she just assumed that she was my intellectual and spiritual equal. Perhaps it was when she questioned why the president of the small college we attended would call on two or three of the young women to lead in prayer in chapel, when it was apparently sufficient to call on only one of the young men to pray. Over time it became clear that Patricia Lee Smith was a seeker after truth and she would pursue that path no matter whom it made uncomfortable, whether that was the college president, me, my father, my mother, or anyone in the male church hierarchy.

One event stands out as a defining moment and a turning point for Pat. It would also have profound implications for me, though I did not realize it at the time. It was November 1964, one year after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was my second year as pastor of a small, rural Baptist church. Our church had invited a pastor from Everett, Washington to lead a weeklong Bible Conference. He had the reputation of being an able Bible teacher. One evening we entertained this well-known pastor for dinner. The conversation over Pat’s spaghetti and meat sauce started out on a congenial note. Chuck was an out-going conversationalist who laughed and joked easily–that is, until Pat asked her question. She started out by saying that she’d been curious about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and she wondered how he interpreted it.

Instead of treating the question seriously and deserving of a reasonable answer, he rudely and abruptly demanded, “Why do you want to know?” Though I had no good answers to Pat’s question about the passage either, even I was shocked by the dismissive nature of Pastor Chuck’s response.

At that moment Pat realized Chuck did not know how to interpret that portion of scripture, and he did not want to talk about it. Yet he was willing to restrict the role of women in the church based to a large degree on one of the most difficult passages to understand in the New Testament. Pat resolved to search for the answers to a matrix of questions surrounding this issue and to share the information with other women, questions like:

  • If women are not to be the leaders and teachers of men, how does one account for Deborah, Huldah, Phillip’s daughters, and Priscilla’s role in the instruction of Apollos? (3.)
  • Why is it that Paul instructs women to be silent in one place and acknowledges with apparent approval that women publicly pray and prophesy in another? (4.)
  • Doesn’t the prominence of women among the followers of Jesus and in the Pauline Epistles suggest something significantly more than women leading and teaching children and other women? (5.)
  • How is it that in the church the benefits of Galatians 3:26-28 apply equally and in very tangible ways to men, Jews, Gentiles, slaves, and those who are free, but not to women?
  • If a woman is to obey her husband, is she not responsible directly to God for her actions? Is he in effect a priest, an intermediary between her and God? Is she to submit and obey even when his instructions are morally wrong or contrary to her understanding of God’s desire for her? (6.)
  • Aren’t husbands and wives to mutually submit to one another as all believers are to submit to one another, and how does this qualify the presumptive one-sided submission and obedience of wives to husbands? (7.)
  • Are all women to submit to all men?
  • Is the husband to be the leader of the home even if the wife has better leadership skills, or the husband is disabled, or the wife has greater spiritual insight and sensitivity?
  • Just when does a boy become too old for a woman to legitimately continue to teach him, and if women really are not to teach men, isn’t it odd that women are allowed to teach them in their most formative years?
  • Does it make sense that God would endow women with gifts but disallow women the privilege and responsibility of using those gifts to their fullest, or for that matter disallow men from the benefits of those gifts? (8.)
  • In fact, doesn’t the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers give the lie to the view that women are to submit to and obey men? And of all Christians, shouldn’t Baptists and others in the believer’s church and congregational traditions who claim to most consistently live out that doctrine, as well as the doctrine of soul liberty, extend those doctrines to women, acknowledging women as equals in all respects?
  • And isn’t it more than a bit inconsistent for women to have an equal vote in congregational decisions, especially in the selection and/or discipline of male church leaders, if in fact they are to submit to men?

Looking for Answers

I am quite sure Pat already had most of these questions in her mind as she looked across the bowl of spaghetti at Chuck. But he cut her off before she got a chance to ask them. My suspicion is that this man who later went on to become first a seminary and then a college president cut her off because he did not know what to do with 1 Timothy 2. Not only that, he also knew he did not have good answers to the questions he feared would follow. This not-so-pleasant encounter with Pastor Chuck in 1964 was the catalyst that prompted Pat to get really serious in her search for answers. (9.)

I was not much help to Pat, especially in the early years of her research. While I (eventually) acknowledged the legitimacy of her questions, I had few answers, except of course to say that if the Bible says a woman is to submit to her husband, then of course she is to submit. And if the inspired words of Paul are that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men, then of course that settled the matter. And whatever prominence women had in the New Testament, it was nevertheless clear that they were not to be pastors or elders.

Pat was no more satisfied by my rote responses than she was with Chuck’s brush off. But through her own reading, research, and study of Scripture she gradually began to make her own discoveries and form her own conclusions. In 1968 we moved to Wheaton, Illinois, and I accepted a faculty position at Moody Bible Institute. Frequently in the evenings after I returned home from the long commute to Chicago, she would share with me what she had discovered others had written and bounce her own ideas off me. Sometimes we’d debate the issues late into the night. Pat’s a night person, and the later it got, the more cogent her arguments seemed to me, and eventually I would reluctantly agree, or give an inch or two, only to have second thoughts the next morning and recant a good deal of whatever I had conceded the night before. My reservations about where she was headed and wanted to lead me would resurface when I awakened. Why? I wish I could say that my only motive was to be faithful to the Bible. That certainly was a key element in my thinking. But in retrospect, I have had to acknowledge less honorable motives that can be summed up in one word–fear.

Fear. Fear of where it would all lead–could Pat be right and what seemed like the rest of the church wrong? Fear of losing my job at MBI, though there was no credible basis that I was aware of for that possibility. Fear of being taught by a woman, or worse yet, fear of admitting I had been taught by a woman, my wife.

This last fear was the most pernicious and enduring of all. I remember with great shame an episode in the early 1980s, well after I had become an egalitarian, indeed after I had been forced to resign from the Moody faculty for supporting my wife’s egalitarian views as expressed in Woman Be Free. I had been invited to Houghton College to debate the women’s issue with a gentleman who held the traditional hierarchical view. Even back then I normally refused to engage in point by point argumentation of the issues. I simply told the story of how I had become an egalitarian and what I had found compelling that changed my mind–but with one huge omission and distortion. I failed to acknowledge Pat’s key, indeed pivotal part in my journey to biblical egalitarianism. Why? Fear. So I want to say with unambiguous clarity now, Pat started me on this journey and was my teacher along the way.

But I have run ahead of my story. Throughout the rest of my time as a pastor and in my early years on the faculty of MBI, I continued to be troubled by the questions Pat was raising. Over time I came to accept the urgency of the questions and eventually her questions truly also became my questions, and more than a bit more slowly, some of her answers began to become my answers. But I remained troubled by many of the “problem passages,” those passages that had seemed to clearly reflect a predominant pattern of male leadership of the people of God in both testaments and those that seemed to explicitly teach the submission of women to male leadership in the home, church, and perhaps even in society.

In this early phase of my journey it was really Pat who was the researcher. She discovered God’s Word to Women (Katherine Bushnell) (10.) and The Bible Status of Woman (Lee Anna Starr) (11.) She would bounce her ideas off me, occasionally asking me to check out something in the Greek or Hebrew for her. Gradually she began to find answers; a bit more gradually–no, a lot more gradually–I began to accept some of those answers as possible answers to some of the questions that prevented me from embracing the full equality of women, an equality that did not recognize gender as a disqualification from spiritual privilege or any aspect of Christian ministry.

Understanding the Big Picture

In the early 1970s I began to view and understand the Bible less atomistically and more wholistically, and this was a shift that would profoundly affect how I understood the texts related to the women’s issue. And for this too I am indebted to Pat. One of her great strengths is that she has the ability to think synthetically–the ability to have a grasp of the details and then stand back and look at these details, many of which may appear to be disparate, and bring them together in a congruent whole. That is what I observed her doing with the body of evidence related to the women’s issue in scripture. And as we discussed these matters together, I began to see that the passages that were barriers to my moving to a fully egalitarian position needed to be understood in terms of the big picture. It is the big picture that establishes the context for understanding the difficult passages. If one has the big picture right, it is acceptable to admit that for some passages there are several possible interpretations. It is alright to say, “I don’t know, but here are some possibilities.” This insight from Pat was the piece that began to put the rest of the puzzle together for me.

By 1974 in my lectures and discussions with students at Moody Bible Institute, I was affirming a view that was essentially egalitarian. I had come to believe that though it was important to understand isolated texts on their own terms, it was nevertheless futile to believe that the debate between egalitarians and traditional hierarchicalists could ever be settled by debating the exegesis and interpretation of individual texts in isolation. For me, the more significant question had become, how is the grand sweep of biblical or redemptive history to be understood? What is redemptive history all about, and how do the relevant texts fit into that?

When examined with that question in mind, it seemed to me that hierarchicalism, if consistently held and applied, was its own undoing. This view holds that women are by God’s design inherently disqualified from leading and teaching men. It goes against the creation order itself. (12.) But if that is indeed the case, scripture contradicts itself, because women throughout the biblical narrative did lead and teach men, with God’s apparent approval and blessing. Further, if the hierarchical view is correct (submission to male leadership/authority and silence), certain things should follow. Women should be allowed absolutely no public roles within the church, whether that be in worship, prayer, or any other form of public speaking such as teaching, preaching, or prophecy. They should not be allowed to participate in congregational decisions. Nor should they ever be allowed to teach a male, even in settings that are not public. Why? Because it is essential to the very nature of being female. If it is not essential to the nature of being female, the whole hierarchical edifice begins to fall apart because that is the foundation on which it is built.

Relatively few hierarchicalists follow the implications of their foundation to its consistent and logical conclusion. To do so would be the demonstration of the absurdity of the premise. It would be clearly inconsistent with the many indications of scripture that women did in fact do the very things that the foundational premise of hierarchicalism implies they should not do. How then do they deal with the biblical indications of women in these unlikely roles, and how do they justify even the limited participation of women in similar roles in their own churches? The devices are ingenious but hardly convincing even if one accepts the premise. Some instances are viewed as exceptions to the rule, allowed by God because men did not step up to the challenge. Or, women can prophesy, but not have the office of prophet. Or, women can teach, but not authoritatively. Or, women can teach and preach, but only with the permission of or under the authority of her husband, or of men in general. These explanations strike me as contrived and desperate attempts to save the system and to preserve the benefits of male privilege that are built upon it. It’s no wonder that hierarchicalists cannot agree among themselves on just what a woman may do and under what circumstances. As Pat pointed out recently, the only thing that hierarchicalists agree on is that it is the men who get to tell women what they can do.

If the foundation of hierarchicalism is that the creation order itself establishes that for time and eternity women are subject to men, they also see this order reinforced in God’s word to Eve immediately after she and Adam disobeyed God’s command in Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Instead of understanding this and the other aspects of the so-called curse on both men and women as the natural consequences of human sin, hierarchicalists understand this particular result of the Fall as reinforcement of the divine ideal for humankind–male rule and female submission, in other words, patriarchy. This is the filter through which hierarchicalists view the rest of the Bible, including those passages that would otherwise seem to imply or explicitly support full equality, and, contrary to the patriarchal conventions of the biblical world, are examples of women leading, teaching, prophesying, or ruling.

Yet this is the polar opposite of what was already hinted at in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the serpent that Eve’s seed would crush his head. As the NIV Study Bible so aptly puts it, “The offspring of the woman would eventually crush the serpent’s head, a promise fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan, a victory in which all believers will share.” From Genesis 3:15 onward, the overarching theme of all scripture is the defeat of Satan, the redemption of humankind, and the reversal of the effects of the Fall. This includes not only the restoration of the divine/human relationship, but also the restoration of broken human relationships in general and male/female and husband/wife relationships in particular.

When I began to view the Bible and redemptive history in this manner, the big picture began to emerge that helped me put the pieces of the biblical puzzle together as it related to men and women. Starting at the beginning in Genesis 1-3 we are clearly and unambiguously told that both were created in the image of God. They were created for fellowship with God and with one another. Though Adam was created first, Eve was created of the very stuff Adam was made of, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, a “suitable helper,” one that corresponded to him. And lest we think Eve the helper was a flunky assistant, the text uses a Hebrew noun (‘ezer) that is elsewhere used to refer to Yahweh; in fact, four times the Psalmist refers to the LORD as “our help and our shield.” (13.) As full and equal partners Adam and Eve were responsible to tend the garden, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to subdue the earth and to rule over the creatures. In other words, together they were given stewardship of the earth because they were equals. And because they were equals, they were each fully responsible directly to God to obey his commands. Thus, when they each sinned against the command of God, each was accountable directly to God for their transgression.

The Fall turned everything topsy-turvy. After the Fall, the relationship between man and woman is quite different than it was before the Fall. It morphed from one of equality and complementarity to one of male domination and patriarchy, and that is the backdrop to all that follows in the Bible. But as alluded to earlier, immediately after the Fall the story of redemption begins, and part of that story is the restoration through time of what had been, and what still was God’s desire for the world and for humanity. God, though, does not in one instantaneous snap of the fingers restore what the Fall had destroyed and distorted. Instead, in his dealings with humankind God accommodates himself to the realities of the fallen world. Patriarchalism, the result of the Fall, remains, and it is accommodated in God’s relationship with and rule of his people Israel–the patriarchs, the judges, the prophets, the priesthood, the monarchy. But it is mere accommodation to the reality of the times and culture; it is not a reflection of the divine ideal for humanity. When the Old Testament and Old Testament history are viewed from the perspective of this big picture, the Old Testament women who break the patriarchal paradigm–Deborah, Jael, Abigail, Huldah, Esther, and the wise and virtuous business woman of Proverbs 31–are not embarrassing exceptions to some divinely instituted patriarchal creation order, as hierarchicalists are compelled to say. Instead, each of these women is an affirmation that the Fall is not the end of the story, that patriarchy is not the divine ideal, and that restoration of what originally was is coming once again.

The Incarnation is the central and decisive event of redemptive history. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Of course Jesus was a male. But more significantly he was human (flesh) so he could be the savior of all of humanity. He who crushed the serpent’s head and took the curse upon himself, repeatedly broke the patriarchal conventions of his time by honoring women and welcoming them into this band of disciples. By his life, death, and resurrection he got the victory over Satan and all the forces of evil, he died in our place and bore the punishment for sin, he conquered death and gives us resurrection life, and he provided for us the supreme example of love and obedience. So, in Christ right relationships are restored and in him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” “All are one in Christ,” and, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3: 28-29). It could hardly be more clear that patriarchal order is not the ideal.

Nevertheless, the full realization of the divine ideal awaits the end of history when redemptive history is consummated. In the church of the New Testament era, there were still plenty of accommodations to the realities of the fallen patriarchal order–the Twelve were all men; and however one understands the polity of the New Testament church, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the elders, pastors, or bishops were likely all men. But if we keep our eye on the goal toward which redemptive history is moving, the apparent limitations on women evidenced in the New Testament are best understood as temporary and ad hoc.

In other words, when the big picture of redemptive history is kept in mind, the New Testament is seen as a huge leap forward toward full restoration of what was lost or distorted in the Fall. When I came to understand Scripture in this manner, the problem passages that had troubled me, and that are so often used by hierarchicalists to justify the submission of women, are understood as ad hoc accommodations to the fallen patriarchal culture. And the many scriptural examples of women doing what allegedly they are not supposed to do can be given their full evidential weight of how God, as an “equal opportunity employer,” really values women.

Resolution and Confirmation

My journey to biblical egalitarianism was essentially complete. While I did not, and do not now, claim to have the final answer to every question or difficult passage, I was convinced the framework sketched above was clearly a superior way to account for the varieties of biblical evidence. It has an elegant simplicity that is consistent with the authority of biblical texts. I find it far easier to live with the unresolved problems of egalitarianism than the problems of hierarchicalism, problems that seem to me to be far more serious, calling in question the very unity of the Bible.

But there was one more piece to my journey that is important, though seemingly small and unrelated to anything that had happened up to this point. It was the final piece that confirmed for me that I was on the right path.

In early 1974 I was preparing for a doctoral field exam in American church history by reading selections from some of the more important primary source documents representative of that history. When I came to the early and mid-nineteenth century, I was immersed in the literature surrounding the questions of slavery and abolition. The defenses of slavery by leading theologians and churchmen from the southern states were especially fascinating. Whether the men were from the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Congregational, or Roman Catholic traditions, the biblical and theological arguments in defense of slavery were essentially the same.

Abolitionism was said to be anti-Christian. Defenders of slavery claimed that abolitionists got their ideas from other sources and then went to the “Bible to confirm the crotchets of their vain philosophy.” Scripture, it was repeatedly argued, does not condemn slavery. In fact, scripture sanctions slavery. In his parables, Jesus refers to masters and slaves without condemning slavery as such. In the New Testament, pious and good men had slaves, and were not told to release them. The church was first organized in the home of a slaveholder. That slavery was divinely regulated throughout biblical history was evidence that the institution was divinely approved. When scripture, as in Galatians 4, uses illustrations from slavery to teach great truths, without censuring slavery, it was considered more evidence that the institution had divine approval. The Baptist Declaration of 1822 did accept that slaves had purely spiritual privileges [as Christians], but they remained slaves.

The defenders of slavery within the churches all claimed the Bible as their starting point and all developed their defense by appealing to scripture in much the fashion I have summarized above. With one voice southern churchmen defending slavery charged that to reject slavery as sinful was to reject the Word of God. (14.)

I had heard about this line of reasoning before, but to actually read it for myself was an eye-opening experience. I was appalled and embarrassed that such an evil practice had been defended in the name of God and under the guise of biblical authority. How could churchmen and leading theologians have been so foolish and blind? I had been reflecting on these readings several days, then on one, cold, Chicago-gray wintry day as I crept home on that parking lot known as the Eisenhower Expressway, it slowly began to dawn on me that I had heard every one of those arguments before. In fact, at one time I had used them–to defend hierarchicalism and argue against egalitarianism. By this time I was close to home and I still remember the exact spot on Manchester Road just west of downtown Wheaton, Illinois where it hit me like a flash. Someday Christians will be as embarrassed by the church’s biblical defense of patriarchal hierarchicalism as it is now of the nineteenth century biblical defenses of slavery.

For me, that was the piece that once and for all put Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers in the waste basket. And it confirmed my determination to stand with Pat as she completed the book that would eventually be published by Zondervan as Woman Be Free. (15.)

_____________________________

  1. I prefer to the use the phrase “biblical egalitarian” to designate the position I hold, though at times I simply use the term “egalitarian.” I believe it is the most accurate and descriptive because I believe this view is biblically based and because the essence of the position is that all individuals are equally created in God’s image. Consequently, they have equal worth, privilege, and opportunity in God’s Kingdom without reference to gender, ethnicity, or social status. I use “hierarchicalism” or “patriarchal hierarchicalism” to designate the opposite view. I am aware that those who hold this view prefer to be called “complementarians.” That term was invented in the mid-1980s allegedly to portray the position as holding that men and women are complementary to one another. The problem is, though, that egalitarians also believe that in the body of Christ all believers, including men and women, are complementary to one another. So the term does not apply uniquely to those who would now claim exclusive ownership of it. It is difficult not to think that the term was invented as a euphemism to avoid calling attention to the real essence of the position–that men are in hierarchical order over women who are to submit to men. In any case, I use the term hierarchical because I believe it is the most descriptive and accurate term to designate this view.
  2. Originally published in 1941, this book is still available from Sword of the Lord Publishers.
  3. Judges 4-5; 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22; Acts 21:9; Acts 18:26.
  4. 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12.
  5. Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 4:2-3.
  6. Ephesians 5:21, 24; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6.
  7. 1 Corinthians 7:4; Ephesians 5:21.
  8. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
  9. I know the reader is tempted to think that “Pastor Chuck” was Chuck Swindoll. I assure you it was not.
  10. First published privately by the author in 1921.
  11. First published in 1926 by Fleming H. Revell.
  12. For instance, see Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 461.
  13. Psalm 33:20; 115: 9, 10, 11.
  14. Documents representative of the pro-slavery arguments as summarized here are contained in H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, American Christianity, Volume II, 1820-1960 (New York: Scribner’s, 1963), pp. 177-210.
  15. Patricia Gundry, Woman Be Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977; still in print from http://www.suitcasebooks.net and may also be ordered from http://www.amazon.com and http://www.equalitydepot.com, the online Book Store of CBE).
The original woman – needed or needy?

The original woman – needed or needy?

The foundation of the dispute between egalitarians and complementarians is the creation account found in the book of Genesis. How each side views the creation of woman defines the view of woman throughout the rest of scripture.

Even before God created the woman from the side of the man, God spoke words that define who the woman is and her purpose.

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

There are three things here that stand out.

1. The man alone is “not good”.
2. The woman was created as a “helper” for man.
3. The woman was to be “suitable” for man.

The man’s creation alone is said to be “not good” out of all of God’s creation. The man had a need that God was going to meet for the man through the creation of the woman. The word “helper” in Hebrew does not suggest a subordinate role, as the NET Bible translator notes say that

In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper”, the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.”

The last thing that we can see from God’s words is that the woman is to be “suitable” for man. Again the NET Bible translator notes say:

The Hebrew expression literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable (for)” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea…The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God has invested in him.

The Hebrew word for “suitable” has the meaning of “in front of” as well as “corresponding to”, so we see that the woman was created with everything that God has invested in man plus she has what he doesn’t have so that she is able to provide what he needs, thus in the literal word translation, the verse says:

And-he-is-saying Yahweh Elohim not good to-be-of the-human to-be-alone-of-him I-shall-make for-him helper as in-front-of-him.

Unfortunately some have taken God’s words and have twisted them to re-define the woman as a needy being instead of the one who meets Adam’s need. How is this re-defining accomplished? Complementarian leaders teach that:

1. The woman “needs” a leader who will make decisions on her behalf.
2. The woman “needs” a spiritual leader/priest who will represent her to God and who will also represent God to her.

In essence by making the woman a “needy” human being, if she is without a man to meet these “needs” a woman would not be able to fulfill her God-given “role” and without a husband or a spiritual leader/priest to interpret God’s will to her she is not even able to minister fully to other women. This puts women in a secondary or inferior spiritual “role” so that her place of teaching is inferior to the man’s.

While many complementarians are willing to admit that women are allowed to teach the bible to other women, when this belief is carefully examined, they have to admit that a woman’s teaching is inferior to a man’s teaching. By making a woman “needy”, some complementarians have gone so far as to teach that a woman can never be the best spiritual mentor even for another woman. John MacArthur teaches that the deepest and greatest spiritual source for a woman will always be a man:

Click here to hear John MacArthur audio clip #1

Her significance in the world is then only through following the man’s divine direction:

Click here to hear John MacArthur audio clip #2

Whether complementarians want to admit it or not, this in essence teaches that a woman is spiritually inferior to a man. She cannot provide the deep spirituality that a man can and a woman who has women mentors is missing something spiritually unless she has a man providing bible teaching to her.

What this does is leave a woman as needy – needing a man to provide for her spirituality. But this is not biblical. A woman has everything that man has spiritually and nothing is missing. Paul responded to men who thought that women were to be excluded in the giving and receiving of God’s word. Paul said:

1 Cor. 14:36 What? Was it from you that the word of God went out? Or did it come to you alone?

Paul is saying that the word of God has not come to men alone as the Judaizers taught. Women too are to learn because God’s word is given equally for them. The practice of many Jews to exclude women regarding learning of God’s word is not God’s way. In the same way, Paul says that God’s word did not go out from men only. God has also used women to spread his word speaking through them as prophet, judge and teacher.

In the next post we will look at the other assertion that says that woman is “needy” in that she needs a “priest” in the home to represent her to God.

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