Feminism And The Bible


march_for_womens_lives_1One of the subjects that divides America today is feminism. In fact feminism may divide some Christian denominations.

To be clear, by feminism, I mean “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men” (Oxford American Dictionary).

The question then centers on the last phrase: “equality to men.” Are women “equal to men”?

As much as feminists would like this to be other than what it is, women’s bodies are different from men’s, and therefore men can do some things better than women can. Of course, women can do something men can’t do at all—give birth to children. So on the purely physical plain, women and men aren’t “equal” in strength or speed. Or stamina.

The fastest male runners are swifter than the fastest female runners due to innate factors including muscle mass, higher oxygen intake and lower resting heart rates. That said, some studies have indicated that in ultradistance running — beyond 30 miles (48 kilometers) — the fattier female body can keep moving more efficiently than the muscular male frame since the fat represents more lasting, slower-burning energy stores [source: Maharam]. Estrogen may also offer an advantage of protecting against muscle fatigue, although its effects can vary by athlete and running conditions [source: Crowther]. Those biological benefits may help explain women’s sudden surge in Iditarod races, the grueling Alaskan dog sledding competition, bringing home championships four years straight from 1985 through 1988 [source: Library of Congress]. (Health: How Stuff Works)

Despite the differences, feminism has lobbied for women’s inclusion in the military and in jobs that seem more suited for the male body type.

All this is “extra-curricular,” however, since feminism is supposedly concerned with equal rights in the political, social, and economic realms. By application, women should have the right to vote, to run for the same offices men can run for, and be involved in the political process at every level, with no discrimination or prejudice because of their gender.

Economically, women should receive equal pay for equal work, and we should have the same opportunities for advancement, including promotion to the highest level of leadership.

When it comes to social equality, I suppose women are to be treated with the same respect a man receives, but I have to admit, I’m a little confused here. Women now can be sexually aggressive while at the same time holding the line against unwanted sexual advances. So men can’t be as sexually aggressive as women? Be that as it may, women no longer have to wait for men to open their car doors or any door for that matter. Men can enter in front of a woman rather than stand aside and let her go first. Because we’re socially equal. In the office, men can make the coffee, not just the women.

And in church, in a marriage women are . . . what?

Here’s where the Bible speaks directly to the interplay between men and women.

Up to this point, despite what many people think, the Bible paints a picture of women in society doing things that men do. Not in large numbers, but certainly not forbidden from the roles of military leader, city elder, prophetess, merchant, shepherdess, ruling queen, gatherer, tent maker, converts to Christianity, evangelists. Women were first to the empty tomb Jesus had occupied. Women were filled by the Holy Spirit. In short, women held significant place in Jewish history and in the development of the early church.

Then why this perception that the Bible looks down on women?

Two things come to mind. In the Law detailed in Leviticus, women slaves were not worth as much money as were male slaves. Of course children weren’t worth as much either, so it would seem that the amount of money reflected the amount of physical labor the slave could produce. (Slavery in the Bible is a topic for another day).

Second, Paul taught through his letters that husbands were the head of the home and that women were not to speak in the church. In other words, women and men don’t have the same roles.

Paul never said women couldn’t teach. He worked with Priscilla and Aquila on his third missionary journey, and it was this couple that taught the evangelist Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Paul also included two women in his Philippians letter. Though he corrected them for their lack of harmony, he nevertheless identified them as those who had shared his struggles in the cause of the gospel and as “fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3).

Paul also commended women, such as Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and greeted them in his letters by name, particularly those who opened their home for a church gathering. In addition, he specifically said there was no difference between male and female:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

The Apostle Peter agreed with this point when he instructed husbands to “show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.”

In discussing a different matter, Paul brought home the truth of the equality of women in God’s eyes when he said that an unbelieving husband would be “sanctified” by his believing wife, and conversely that an unbelieving wife would be “sanctified” by her believing husband. (See 1 Cor. 7:14). This sanctifying work needs explanation, to be sure, but for the sake of this discussion, it’s clear there is no difference between what a believing wife and a believing husband can accomplish for their family.

A good understanding of the Bible’s instructions to husbands also helps. Paul says husbands are to love their wives the way Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). There’s no power trip in this instruction, no abuse or bullying or king of the castle. He’s to be the leader, the first one in the trenches, the guy who lays down his life so that his wife can make it.

There’s much more to say about the Bible and women. How did Jesus interact with them, for instance? He healed them, witnessed to them, forgave them, comforted them, commended them, counseled them. But He never belittled them or ignored them or treated them like second class citizens.

There’s one other troublesome discussion about women, though—what Paul said about women not having authority in the church. I’ve looked at that at some length already in an earlier post.

When all is said and studied, it’s clear that the gender issues of Bible times and the ones we experience now are a result of sin—the original sin and the sin nature we now must deal with. The Bible, as opposed to the counsel of our culture, gives us God’s perspective which shows us how to navigate the differences and avoid the clash between men and women.

Published in: on January 27, 2017 at 6:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Slaughter Of Civilians


Indiscriminate death, and some discriminate, has been in the news the past few days.

There were the killings in Seattle, where a gunman walked into a building and let bullets fly. Four people died. He then carjacked an SUV, killing the driver. When he was cornered by authorities, he put his gun to his head and killed himself.

That horrible event has been overshadowed by the slaughter of civilians in Syria. Government forces, or terrorist forces supporting the government, stormed into a town at night, going door to door and killing people in their homes. Over half of the victims were children.

In both instances, those who died were in places they believed to be safe, even protected.

One more similar story is on the news. An untold number of babies are being killed for no other reason than that they are of the “wrong” sex. Gendercide, the media has dubbed it–a practice that apparently a number of European countries have outlawed.

For whatever reason, the “in thing” touted by the influencers in our country seems to be whatever Europe is doing. But that’s a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, any number of liberals who would dismiss conversation about “gendercide” on the grounds that it is a conservative-backed concern, apparently are paying attention because the US is lagging behind Europe.

The idea that anyone is even questioning whether or not our government should take a stand against gendercide is astounding. We’re shocked by Syrian militia killing children in their beds, but not shocked by American medical personnel killing babies in theirs? Yes, the mother’s womb is the bed of these helpless infants–the place where they should be most protected, where they ought to be safe to grow to maturity.

When abortion was legalized in America, the feminist movement claimed a fetus was not alive, that it was part of the mother’s body, a bit of tissue. Years later, science has proven indisputably that these babies are in fact alive. Yet the feminist movement clings to the “right” of the woman to give birth, or not, to a baby she has conceived.

There are no moral grounds for this stance, simply legal rights those determined to uphold abortion still cling to. Hence these feminists, in the face of gendercide–which, incidentally, targets baby girls–must now choose, something they’ve insisted they should be allowed to do.

The problem is, either choice undermines who they are. If they take a stand against gendercide, they believe they are opening the door to an end of abortion. But if they stand against those who are trying to bring an end to gendercide, they are opening the door to crimes against women.

For those who believe the Bible, this ought not to be an issue. From the day Cain killed his brother Abel, God has outlawed murder. He also abhorred child sacrifice and condemned all nations, including His chosen people, when they did not care for orphans, widows, the poor, and strangers. In other words, we aren’t to abandon children, we aren’t to sacrifice them, and we aren’t to kill them.

Apparently our government has such a skewered moral compass that we can’t even determine that killing baby girls simply because they are girls is wrong. (See “Gendercide Abortion Ban Fails in the House”).

Published in: on May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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“The Woman’s Role,” An Anathema?


The other day, at the post office, I stood agape watching as a man leaned across a woman bent to pick up the stamps she dropped and handed his envelop to the teller. Where is chivalry? Sadly, more often each day, it’s a casualty of the feminist war on culture.

Feminists have won, let’s face it. Everywhere accept in religious circles, or so says Washington Post Faith columnist Lisa Miller (no relation) in her article “Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.” Certainly feminists have influenced culture, even in unexpected ways, as Mike Duran’s recent article “Chuck Norris Does NOT Exfoliate!” reveals.

What troubles me is that much of this push to bring feminism into the church comes from within the church. The reasoning seems to be twofold. First, women are talented, capable leaders, so the church is missing out by not putting them in places where they can do the most good. And closely connected to this, women who aren’t finding a place to use their skills and abilities are leaving the church. In droves. In fact, the implication seems to be, unless the church gets with the feminist program, there will be no church.

Here’s what Jim Henderson, author of Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? said in an article excerpt of that book:

How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping and forming a spiritual community but were denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the Church, Christianity and in some cases God.

Many women are discouraged. And while some of them, particularly young women, leave the organized church only, others walk away from the faith altogether. (from “Jesus often gave women a platform. Why doesn’t the rest of the Church?” – emphases mine)

Leaving the church because they don’t get to be up front? Or don’t get to perform wedding ceremonies? Or conduct elder board meetings?

I’m sorry, but how genuine a faith can someone have if she comes with an attitude of my-way-or-the-highway? Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell all his stuff and follow nomadic Jesus, not because all people everywhere are supposed to have nothing and wander from town to town, but because the stuff that guy owned was his idol. He cared more about his belongings than he did about a relationship with God.

How can Mr. Henderson miss the fact that these women walking away from church because their desire to lead isn’t met within the body of Christ are just as surely putting their own self-importance ahead of their relationship with God?

What’s more, Jesus let the man who loved his wealth so much walk away. He did not run after him saying, Never mind, just kidding. It was only a test and it doesn’t really matter that you failed. I really, really, really do still want you in my kingdom, so come on back, stuff and all. In fact, maybe we can crash at your place tonight.

Yet that’s the approach Mr. Henderson seems to be advocating when it comes to women who are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Church. He advocates “staying in the room” and having a conversation because we’re supposed to love one another.

But frankly, I’m at a loss. I don’t feel oppressed by my church because I can’t be the pastor. And actually my not being qualified to be the pastor puts me in the company of ninety-nine percent of the men there too. So do they get some kind of special charge, empowerment by proxy, because our pastors are men, not women? How is my need to submit to the pastor different from their need to submit to the pastor?

I don’t see how women in the church are marginalized. We are to disciple one another. Older women are to teach the younger. There’s nothing in Scripture that indicates women aren’t to have key roles in the church.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul mentions two women who were squabbling, but he refers to them as fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. (See Phil. 4:3.) In Colossians he sends greetings to “Nympha and the church that is in her house,” so apparently she had some key role in facilitating the gathering.

When Martha was exasperated with Mary for not helping out in the kitchen, Jesus didn’t scold Mary. He chided Martha for not wanting to soak up spiritual wisdom at His feet.

So too, today. In my church we have women who plan and organize and lead and learn and disciple. But the teaching role belongs to a man. It’s the one thing, and the only thing, I’ve ever seen in the churches I’ve been a part of that limit women.

What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.

Much more to say on this subject, but I’ll save further remarks for another day (when maybe I’ve calmed down some. 😉 )

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (25)  
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Feminism In The Church – What Men Have To Say


To a great extent men are silent on the subjects of feminism in the church and women pastors — unless they favor these things. I suspect there are two principle factors involved in this silence.

First, fewer and fewer pastors are expository preachers. They aren’t working their way verse by verse through a passage of Scripture, thus having nowhere to hide when they come to difficult subjects. Or topics that will empty their pews and reduce their weekly offerings.

Instead many pastors pick and choose the topics they wish to bring before their congregation, meaning they can focus on the subjects that won’t bring angry emails clogging their in-boxes.

Which brings up the second factor — our society all too often makes men look stupid and selfish and power-hungry. For a man to stand up and say that a woman should not be a pastor puts him in the line of fire for accusations of being stupid and selfish and power-hungry.

It’s a risky thing. People might get angry and stop giving or even leave the church.

I for one, want to see more men stand up and say what the Bible says. After all, they aren’t giving their opinion on the matter. They are standing by God’s word, teaching the generations to come.

Scripture is given us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. I’d like to see men stand for the doctrine that contradicts feminism. I’d like to see them correct those who are deconstructing Paul’s words (as if Paul, not God, is teaching in the passages of Scripture about women and our role in church services).

After all, our young men and our daughters take their cues from the godly men in their lives.

Perhaps men who are not pastors or elders are best equipped to teach on this subject. That way no one can accuse them of wanting to protect their own personal role. They, like women should, have accepted the fact that God has a different role for them to play. Not lesser. Not one of no importance. Just different.

As it is, the people who seem to stand against feminism in the church are mostly stay-at-home moms — who don’t have the largest platform from which to be heard.

Mind you, I don’t think we need to join the cultural wars and make this a plank in a political program — no abortion, no gay marriage, and no women pastors. No, no, no. That is not want I’m suggesting.

As I see it, the only thing we need to do is advocate for God’s word, not against anything. We need to put our time and energies into understanding what the Bible says, and not what someone using a kind of retooled higher criticism manipulates it into saying.

I read, for example, one article that refers to Paul’s admonition to women in 1 Corinthians 14 as “the classic bondage scripture.” Somehow, when I start an article that talks about a portion of the Bible that way, I lose confidence that the author reveres God’s Word or believes that even the hard things are true, whether he understands them or not.

I’m also not inclined to give much credence to an argument that ignores other passages of clear teaching such as 1 Timothy 2:11-14. The Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible, and the various passages of Scripture we’ve looked at in the previous posts on this subject ( “Feminism In The Church”, “Feminism In The Church, Continued”, “Women As Leaders Of The Church?”) are remarkably backed up by the Old Testament when God established the system of worship for the Israelites, choosing only men to be priests.

Interestingly Aaron and Miriam at one point challenged Moses’s authority as the leader of God’s people:

And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?”

God made it clear that Moses was His choice to lead His people by striking Miriam with leprosy. Not Aaron and Miriam. Just Miriam. (See Numbers 12).

It’s my belief that women wanting men’s roles is actually a consequence of the Fall, but that’s a matter for another day. For now, I want to go on record as saying I’ll happily stand beside any man who teaches even the unpopular parts of God’s Word. That’s what I long to see more of in the Church.

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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Feminism In The Church, Continued


In some ways, the previous post on this subject was more about the influence of culture on the church than it was about feminism in particular. After reading the comments to that article, I thought perhaps I should address feminism more specifically.

First, my closing paragraph to the previous post may have come across too harshly. I know more than one woman working as a pastor, and I wouldn’t say any of them is covetous of the role of men. In each instance I believe they feel they are doing God’s work, and the pastorate gives them the best opportunity to accomplish this.

Rather, I was referring to the attitude of a nebulous collection of women who believe as the culture at large does — that to be equal with men, women must do all things that men do (with the exceptions of fathering a child and bathrooming in a standing position).

These women who are true feminists have brought their beliefs into their particular church denominations, resulting inevitably in a movement in their direction. Hence, scholars have reexamined the verses that have long been understood to exclude women from the pastorate. Consequently, without adopting the whole feminist package, some women believe that the new interpretation does indeed make way for them to take this leadership role.

In addition, I’ve heard of women on the mission field who, because of the lack of any man knowledgeable in Scripture, have assumed the pastoral role until such time as a qualified man is available. Were those women sinning by stepping into the gap? Should a fledgling church be without teaching because no man is available when a women is?

Those are hard questions, and I might answer them differently today than I would have some years ago.

What comes to mind is fugitive David standing before the High Priest, lying about his need for food, and subsequently receiving the portion meant exclusively for the priests. Sin? Jesus used this very story to justify His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry.

If it had been anybody else besides Jesus! But no, He who was with the Father when He struck down Uzzah for touching the ark as it nearly tipped over, who said He came to fulfill the Law, seemed to give David a pass for eating the bread of the presence and giving it to those who were with him:

Mark 2:25-26 – And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (emphases mine)

The operative principle seems to be need over law. After all, that’s why the Jews were allowed, even expected, to pull an animal out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen in. Need.

Bringing this line of thinking back to women and preaching, it seems to me that need might create a mitigating factor that would allow for a woman to act as a pastor.

But let’s face it — in the US there isn’t often a lack of available men to take on the role of pastor.

I’m not here to judge who is or isn’t serving out of need. I’m more interested in the attitude that we in the church are developing that seems to support the idea that a woman ought to be up front just as surely as a man is.

It is this position of leadership, I think, that is at issue.

In case you missed it, in one of his comments to the previous post, Patrick brought up an interesting point — what’s the difference between teaching in a church building and doing what I do here on this blog from time to time? After all, aren’t a preacher and a blogger who writes about spiritual things both elucidating Scripture?

It’s a great question. If we understand “Church” to be the body of believers, not a building, and women are to be silent in the Church, then it seems we are never to speak of spiritual things. But we know from Scripture, that isn’t so.

There were women who served as prophets, for example. And Mary the mother of Jesus offered one of the great praise psalms of all time. The Proverbs 31 superwoman ( 😉 ) included teaching in her repertoire: “She opens her mouth in wisdom,/ And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

The point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 14 when he said women should be silent, seems to me to be uniquely connected with what happens in a church service. After all, most of the chapter deals with how to have an orderly service. Women speaking in that context also is in juxtaposition to submitting to their husbands.

So what’s Paul really saying? It seems to me, his point is that women shouldn’t interrupt the service with their questions or overstep their husband’s authority.

What are we going on about then regarding women and pastors?

Scripture sets out the clear qualifications of a pastor and then of elders. One such requirement was that each must be the husband of one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 and 3:12 and Titus 1:6). Not a lot of room there for a woman.

This post is longer than it should be already, so I’ll save for another day why it is important that we look at the bigger picture to understand the importance of this issue.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
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Feminism In The Church


Before I launch into what might prove to be a controversial topic, let me tell you that I’m taking part in the Christian Carnival once again. The host this week is All Things New. You’ll find a list of article titles and links in subjects varying from apologetics to devotionals.

The one I submitted this week is Groaning. If you’re not up for a controversial post today, perhaps you’d rather read “Jesus should not be first in your life” or “Gracious Sovereignty” or any of the other fifteen articles available for your edification.

For those of you sticking around, here goes.

– – – – –

Times, they are a-changin’, you may have noticed. This is true in any number of fields, but not less so in the Church. For example you have those of the emerging church persuasion who accuse the Church of being out of touch and irrelevant (sorry, that was from the era when I was a young adult) stagnant and dull. What we need, they say, is to abandon the traditional church in favor of ongoing conversations. We need to re-image Christ, to look at him in light of who we are.

This kind of thinking may explain why our cultural proclivities seem to be creeping into churches — even my Bible-believing evangelical body. We are not immune. No one is. And for that reason, it is important for us to continually examine Scripture to see if these things are so.

The “things” I’m referring to today is feminism in the Church.

Of necessity we need to define terms. When I use “feminism” I have in mind the belief that women are equal to men in all respects, if not superior. Hence there should be no distinction in role or function between men and women.

One blogger wrote “we overwhelmingly are affected by the outside world’s view of women and their role in the church and society rather than that of Jesus or the Bible.” (Interestingly, the majority of this article gives a justification for taking the teaching of Scripture about women and their role in the church and placing it in a cultural context.)

It is this place that we give to the thinking of our culture that disturbs me most. Seemingly we are playing the “keep up with the Joneses” game, and the Joneses are those that make up the mainstream of our culture.

I believe this is the kind of false teaching that the New Testament writers warned against. Paul said to the Colossians that he was laying down doctrine about Christ “so that no one will delude you with persuasive arguments,” and that they were to “See to it that no one takes you captive with philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Today we seem all too happy to give in to the persuasive arguments of those who discount Scripture. We seem happy to be captivated by the traditions of men.

I found a fairly clear look at the “BIBLICAL role of women in Christianity” that coincides to a large extent with what I understand the Bible to say. My aim here is not to analyze each point and each Scripture.

Rather, I believe, as another blogger said beautifully in “Christianity v. feminism,” that “Christianity allows women to be women. Allows them their femininity. Allows them their freedom.”

But the culture has said, No, Christianity has taught men to oppress women and keep women from doing and being all they can be.

I don’t doubt that down through time there were religious leaders who taught error in regard to women’s roles. However, that’s true about error in a lot of areas, such as indulgences and renting pew space.

We ought not look at tradition, as Paul said in Colossians, whether that tradition comes from religious or irreligious people. We need to align our beliefs with the sure Word of God.

The Bible is not murky about women and our role. We are equal with men in ministry (see Philippians 4:3b “…these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life”), equal in salvation (see Galatians 3:28 “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”), and unique in our role (see 1 Cor. 14:34a “The women are to keep silent in the churches”). Not less than but different from men.

Athletes understand this perhaps better than anyone else. In football there are “glamor” positions — quarterback, running backs, and receivers. But without linemen, the guys who literally do the heavy lifting, those in the glamor roles go nowhere. The quarterback gets sacked, the running backs get thrown for a loss, and the receivers never see the ball.

The point is, women are biologically different from men and as Scripture reminds us, we came into the creation process after Man. In God’s perfect plan, He therefore assigned men to the “glamor” positions in the Church. Not all men, of course.

Some men are to be pastors and elders, and other men are to be parking lot attendants. Are the latter to be filled with envy because they don’t have the glamor positions? Clearly not.

Why, then, should we assume that it’s OK for women to covet the glamor positions? And covet is exactly what it is.

Our culture has told us we should have something Scripture says is not meant for us. Ooooohh, sounds so Garden of Eden-ish, doesn’t it?

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (21)  
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