In my last post, I presented one of the best sermons that I have ever heard on Ephesians 5, regarding the evidence of Spirit-filled lives for both men and women. This post is on the opposite of the Spirit-filled life which is an influx of worldly infection through male-centered pride. The outgrowth of this infection is the teaching that encourages men to focus their efforts on taking the “lead” over women, putting them under their authority and control. They are taught that women were made to be led and when men don’t take leadership over women’s lives, women will not be able to fulfill their “role” in Christ. Recently I heard a teaching where young Christian men were rebuked for taking the authority over their girlfriend’s by deciding for them what university courses they would register for. The speaker chastised the young men and told them that they were “not yet” responsible for making their girlfriend’s decisions. They needed to wait until they actually became their husbands and then they had this authority. It is no wonder that many women are surprised with an entirely different man on their wedding day than who they thought they were marrying. The teaching that men are responsible for the entire home including their wife and her spirituality has caused many young men to subjugate their women in order to fulfill their calling and for the wife’s “own good”. The spiritual harm that has resulted from the teaching that the man has the mandate to rule his wife for God, has caused untold pain and suffering and a stifling of the woman’s ability to seek after God for her own life. She is no longer in control of the exercise of her own gifts and calling – he is.
This alternate “Christian” worldview results in man-centered pride and arrogance which breeds dominance and spiritual abuse rather than Christ-centered living through the filling of the Holy Spirit. Wade Burleson has written an excellent article where he identifies several organizations that are guilty of promoting unethical, unbiblical, and godless treatment of women. I have listed three movements below and made my own comments on their historical push for male rule.
1. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
No organization has worked harder to spread the message of male only leadership in the home and church than CBMW has. Be Strong and Show Yourself a Man was the theme for their 2005 Conference at Denton Bible Church. To CBMW, manhood is connected to the Kingdom of God and the Bible gives us the mandate to raise “masculine” sons and “feminine” daughters.
2. Together for the Gospel.
T4G has spearheaded a view of complementarianism that has gone so far as to include their view of male leadership in the gospel so that not having a clear view of complementarianism is said to damage a Christian’s witness to the gospel. Their Article XVI reads:
We affirm that the Scripture reveals a pattern of complementary order between men and women, and that this order is itself a testimony to the Gospel, even as it is the gift of our Creator and Redeemer. We also affirm that all Christians are called to service within the body of Christ, and that God has given to both men and women important and strategic roles within the home, the Church, and the society. We further affirm that the teaching office of the Church is assigned only to those men who are called of God in fulfillment of the biblical teachings and that men are to lead in their homes as husbands and fathers who fear and love God.
We deny that the distinction of roles between men and women revealed in the Bible is evidence of mere cultural conditioning or a manifestation of male oppression or prejudice against women. We also deny that this biblical distinction of roles excludes women from meaningful ministry in Christ’s kingdom. We further deny that any Church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel.
3. The resurgence movement and Mark Driscoll.
Mark Driscoll has influenced a lot of younger Christians to accept limitations on the “roles” of women. Mark has adopted Bruce Ware’s view that a person’s view of gender roles will reveal their view of God, the Bible as God’s Word, and how the Bible is to be interpreted. Mark’s view is that complementarianism, or male rule in the home and church, is vital for the well-being of God’s people, and his job, as well as other New Calvinist’s job, is to present fresh ways of saying this “old truth”.
Wade Burleson concludes that complementarianism leads to power-hungry men seeking positions of authority and control, and an almost cultish like god complex. “I am in the image of God. My word is Law. You submit to what I say, and don’t dare try to tell me what I should do.” He gives three examples of where complementarianism has hurt women.
1. A Pastor moved his family to a more expensive home against his wife’s will. Wade writes:
Before the move the pastor’s wife insisted that the family should not move. She had several very good and valid reasons. However, the pastor informed his wife, that as the man in the home–“the one with authority”–he would make the decision to move and overrule any objections he heard. He said moving was “the right thing” to do, and submission to his authority was “the right thing” for her to do. So the pastor’s family moved. I have withheld names, but I do hope the pastor reads this blog and realizes the dysfunctional nature of the argument he had with his wife. Multiply this by hundreds of times in conservative, evangelical homes and you get a picture of the problems created when Christian men have a warped view of their authority.
2. A long-time member of a baptist church was not allowed to have her funeral in the church since her son wanted two women to read Scriptures at his mother’s funeral.
3. There is a commentary on the Bible just for women. Wade’s blog gives his whole rant about how culture is bringing in “bizarre and unbiblical views of women that are being taught by our seminary Presidents, their wives, and other ‘leaders’ in the SBC.”
The complementarian movement has been one of the causes of division in the Church today that has caused godly, gifted women to leave many evangelical churches in order to be faithful to use their gifts in ministry. Please pray with us that God will bring wide-spread repentance to those who have used their authority and control to hold back God’s female “sons”. May there come a time that we will all be in unity with no more men seeking after position, power, authority, and control. Jesus said it is to be “not so among you”.
Luke 22:25–27 (NKJV)
25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’
26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.
27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.