Reprise: Women’s Role In The Church—A Consequence Of The Fall


A question on Facebook stirred up the discussion about a woman’s role in the Church and home. Apparently there are two distinct schools of thought: egalitarianism and complementarianism. I’ll be honest. Much of the time I don’t pay attention to the debate. To me Scripture is clear and I’m not the least offended that God saw fit to give me the role as “not spiritual head.”

But some people come at this from a different perspective. My conviction is to see what God’s word says on the subject. A few years back I did some study of one particularly clear passage of Scripture which not only says women are not to be pastors but gives reasons why. So I’m reprising the article (with a little editing) that came out of that study:

I recognize that I am out of step with my culture (like the poor woman in the picture above, off by herself). It’s not an easy condition. I’d much rather be part of the “in crowd,” but reality is, Christianity is counter cultural. One of the things that makes us so is that we believe in grace. We don’t believe we earn our way into God’s kindly treatment of us. We believe that we do not merit His love or forgiveness or the hope of heaven, that we receive His favor only because He loves us and chose to give us what we cannot obtain for ourselves.

Another point that separates us, especially from those shaped by postmodern thought, is that we believe God spoke authoritatively through men of old, a process we refer to as inspiration. The Bible is the result, and we hold it to be God’s public declaration about His person, His work, His plan in the world.

Because it is from God and about God, we aren’t free to pick and choose what parts we like, which things we agree with and want to follow. That means we take the hard things (e.g. “I am the Potter, you are the clay”) along with the easy things (e.g. “I love you with an everlasting love.”)

One thing that has surfaced in the last fifty years as a hard thing for some people is the statement in several places in Scripture that men, not women, are to be in the role of pastor-teacher in the Church. 1 Timothy 2 goes so far as to give some explanation as to why God has ordained men to this role instead of women. One reason is simply the order of creation. The other has to do with Eve’s part of the Fall of Humankind.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim. 2:14)

The Holy Spirit, through the human author of the letter, then alludes to the punishment God gave Eve as a result of her part of bringing sin into the world.

As a reminder, this is what God told Eve:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16)

The first part we have no trouble understanding. And the last part seems all too clear. But what about that “your desire will be for your husband”?

Before I continue, let me point out something that might slide by unnoticed. Before the Fall, there apparently was no husband head or ruler of woman. Adam describe Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. God said they were to cleave to one another. Apart from the created order, there was a unity, a bond that did not subjugate either person. But then sin …

But back to this troublesome “desire will be for your husband” line. I’ve heard some say this referred to her sexual desire, tying it to the pain in childbearing issue. I mean, since women are to experience such pain, the logical answer would be simply to not have children. Except, this thinking goes, there is this desire she has for her husband.

It’s a possibility. Of course the reality seems to be that the desire is more on the side of the husband than on the side of the wife.

I think another possibility is to understand the phrase in light of what follows. “He will rule over her” … but now her desire will be to rule over him. It’s a possibility because the word which means desire, longing, craving is also used of a beast to devour. I take the latter to mean the way a hungry lion tears into a gazelle he’s just brought down.

So the woman’s desire in that connotation would be to stalk a man and tear him from limb to limb!

OK, that’s not a nice picture of women, I agree. But neither is the picture of women wanting to take charge and rule men. Truth be told, sin does not make us nice people.

There’s one more piece to this puzzle. Back in 1 Timothy 2, there’s one of the most troublesome verses in Scripture, at least for women:

But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Tim. 2:15)

What?

But notice, this verse follows right after the one stating that women are not to be pastor-teachers because of Eve’s deception leading to transgression. The Holy Spirit seems to be answering the question, This mess we’re in because of Eve, is there hope?

But what mess? We have the same sin nature as men and are saved by grace just as they are. Childbearing certainly doesn’t save women from the pain of childbearing. And anyway, the subject is who is to have the role of teacher in the church. So it seems to me, taking Genesis 3:16 with 1 Timothy 2:15, that childbearing— being the role of women exclusively—nullifies the something in us that wants to countermand the consequence of sin: that man would rule.

In the sixties when women were “liberated” and childbearing could be regulated to a degree, women then did begin exerting this very desire to be in control. The unique role God gave to women, we undermined.

I could be all wrong in my understanding of these verses, but honestly, I don’t see a Biblical reason why this interpretation isn’t viable. And it seems to fit the facts.

All of that to say, the gender issues of today are a result of sin. But maybe that’s self-evident.

What People Are Saying About The Bible


Chaplain_Lt._Jason_Gregory_reads_bibleI heard a small portion of a radio talk show yesterday covering County Clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses in her Kentucky jurisdiction. The hosts of the show had great fun mocking, not Kim or Christians, but the Bible. After all, they said, it isn’t God’s word. She thinks it’s God’s word, but it isn’t.

If I had a better sense of humor, I’d have laughed at that one. I mean, they were so categorical, as if they had inside information. But sadly, that’s the kind of thing that gets repeated as fact: Yea, I heard it on the radio. The Bible isn’t God’s word. What’s wrong with that crazy lady for believing such a thing?

The hosts went on to say the Bible was written by old men so long ago, it has nothing to do with our lives today. Then there was some line about these old men sitting around in their long robes chiseling out the text in stone.

I guess they think the whole Bible was written the way the Ten Commandments were. Interesting.

And old men. Well, I suppose some of them were old, but some of them, such as David and various prophets like Isaiah, started writing when they were young.

All this makes me realize how Biblically illiterate our culture has become. Even Christians, I fear, are woefully ignorant of what the Bible says. I wonder if this fact might explain why younger generations supposedly don’t want to sing hymns—they don’t understand the Biblical allusions that underpin so many hymns. But put that issue aside.

There are any number of false ideas about the Bible that have surfaced because one county clerk has determined to apply what the Bible says to her life and her circumstances. I’ve spent time at different venues in the last two days countering the equivalent of “The Bible doesn’t say homosexuality is wrong.”

One person said the New Testament, which was the only part of the Bible Christians needed to be concerned about, didn’t say anything about homosexuality being wrong. Someone else thought that if the passage didn’t use the word homosexual, it was not speaking against it. Another person made it clear that the Bible was complex and no one could actually be sure what it meant and different people would likely have different interpretations.

So, 1) not the word of God; 2) only part of it speaks to Christians; 3) silent on the subject of homosexuality; 4) too difficult to be of practical use; 5) meaning different things to different people.

I could be wrong, but I think the radio hosts also called it a myth.

And of course, all these claims are false.

Along with these varied comments, a number of other Christians are debating what the Bible says about obeying our government. Which principle is at play here—render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and obey those in authority over you, or we ought to obey God rather than men? Various people have cited Daniel as an example of civil disobedience along with the apostles who would not stop spreading the gospel.

These people are taking the Bible seriously and are making a genuine effort to determine what we as believers ought to do, according to its principles, in such a circumstance as Ms. Davis’s.

I’m glad for the wrestling and struggling and the sincere desire to know what God has to say on this subject, even when people don’t reach the same conclusion. The point is, the Bible is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. People who read it with the intend to find out what God thinks are way ahead of those who look at it as a myth or too confusing to guide our lives today.

I couldn’t get those radio hosts out of my mind. It was obvious they were totally ignorant about the Bible. Why, then, were they mocking it and dismissing it so readily?

My only thought was that they had already dismissed God, so they had no interest in finding out if the Bible might actually be His word. Because if there is no God, or no personal God who would want to communicate with the people He made, then of course the Bible is a myth or made up by humans. What other choice could there be?

Hating on the Bible, then, is actually an expression of their rejection of God, just as surely as the rejection of those who ignore His commandments.

So people who toss out parts of the Bible because they don’t like what it says—about homosexuality, the way wives and husbands are to treat one another, the role of women in the Church, the place of suffering in the life of a Christian, and more—are also turning their backs on God.

The truth is, God didn’t inspire some of the Bible, He inspired all of it, and how we handle it reveals our heart toward Him.

Published in: on September 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm  Comments (8)  
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The Eternal Word Of God


Bible-opening-859675-mI was just listening to some of the RZIM sponsored debate between Imam Dr. Shabir Ally, a Muslim, and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian, taking place at Wayne University. The topic was whether or not God is a triune being.

In the interrogation phase of the debate, Dr. Qureshi quizzed Dr. Ally about the Muslim understanding of the eternal nature of the Quran—was it created or has it always existed. This apparently has been a great source of debate in Islam. As part of his answer, Dr. Ally said he’d like to turn that question around and ask Dr. Qureshi if Christians consider the Bible to be eternal or created.

I’d like to hear that answer myself. Lots of verses in Scripture tell us God’s word is enduring. Isaiah, for example, which Peter later quoted, says, “The grass withers, the flower fades/But the word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40:8).

At the same time, we know that God inspired men to write Scripture and they were addressing first an immediate audience for a particular purpose from their own communication skills using their own personality.

So David, who spent some years as a shepherd, wrote “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1). In the same way, Paul, the itinerant preacher, wrote letters to the churches he visited and said things like, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans, and you for your part, read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Col. 4:16).

From such passages, a person could easily conclude that the Bible is created. Except Jesus Himself said that not one “jot or tittle” of the law would be changed:

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:18)

Later Matthew recorded Jesus as saying, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” Certainly there is an everlasting quality of God’s word. The great Psalm centered on God’s word says, “Forever, O LORD,/Your word is settled [stands firm] in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).

I suspect then that the answer to the question, is the Bible eternal or is it created, is, Yes. Yes, the Bible is eternal and yes the Bible was created by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the agency of men. Here’s how Peter explained it:

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Peter also warned against false teachers but reminded those to whom he wrote that they were to remember “the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles” (2 Peter 3:2). He went on to equate Paul’s words with Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).

So here’s the thing: Moses, the prophets, David, other writers of the Psalms, all referred to God’s Word, spoken by His servants or written in the Law. Jesus referenced the Law and the Prophets as pointing to Him, as unchanging. The New Testament writers noted the work of the Holy Spirit in giving God’s word, contrasted the truth of God’s word with the false message of false teachers, and equated the message of truth they proclaimed with the established Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets.

They didn’t have any doubt that the true word of God was established in heaven and was living and enduring.

Consequently, they weren’t questioning whether, say, Adam was a real man or not. Dr. Luke, who said he “investigated everything carefully from the beginning” (Luke 1:3b) proceeded to give Jesus’s genealogy, ending with “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38).

Now in the twenty-first century, however, we have people who “know better,” and leave comments declaring “The creation story is neither factual nor historical. There was no literal Adam eating from a literal tree some literal fruit.”

Let’s see. On one side, Jesus who was there at creation, whose Spirit revealed to the prophets that they were not serving themselves but a future generation of believers (1 Peter 1:12ff), whose spirit inspired the writing that listed Adam in Christ’s genealogy . . . on the other, the vain thinking Paul referred to as “philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world” (Col. 2:8b)?

I don’t think it’s even a close call. Why would I believe the baseless view created by someone “inflated without cause by his fleshly mind” (Col. 2:18b) instead of the sure, unshakeable word of God? I’ll take the testimony of Omniscience every day.

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 6:22 pm  Comments Off on The Eternal Word Of God  
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