Today I was emailed a letter that was just FedExed to Dr. Randy Stinson and Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III on behalf of the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition which is demanding an apology for harm done to Christian women because of the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood. …
In our past discussions on Ephesians 5:21-22, we have been discussing the issues of mutual submission and whether there is authority in marriage. In this post, we will discuss the foundation of humility.
One very important part of the nature of God that is rarely talked about is God’s nature of humility. In fact, God as the humble One is revealed in the Old Testament and also through the revelation of Jesus Christ. …
Our discussions on Ephesians 5:22 has sparked a flurry of comments with literally hundreds of comments later and seemingly no end to the “iron sharpening iron” discussion between egalitarians as well as complementarians. This is the place where the discussion will continue as my blog has a habit of blanking out all of the comments if I let too many accumulate under one post. So, continue discussion with this post and thanks all for your lively and irenic comments on a very hotly debated topic of authority and submission in marriage.
For those who haven’t been following all along, here are links to the previous parts of the discussion on Ephesians 5:22.
When is authority given and when can it be rightfully assumed? These are questions that have divided egalitarians and complementarians in the area of marriage. While egalitarians generally will agree that submission is a characteristic of Spirit-filled Christians who love and respect the body of Christ, and who serve each other with love, complementarians say that husbands are never commanded to submit to their wives because husbands maintain a God-given sphere of authority that requires sacrifice and not submission. To a complementarian, submission is always something given to an authority. Since they don’t believe that a wife has authority over a husband they refuse to submit to their wives. Is this Biblical? …
Yesterday I received two polar opposite views of Ephesians 5:22 by email. One was from “NN” who has responded here in the past. He is a complementarian who has commented on authority in marriage, one of a handful of complementarians who have been willing to give their views on women on this blog in a respectful manner. …
While God is Sovereign, some men believe that they can set a limit on God’s gifts. In the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s doctrinal stand, they believe that God is allowed to distribute gifts to men and women alike with the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-26 but that He does not gift women with the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 or 1 Peter 4:10, 11 for those gifts are for men alone. Randy Stinson and Christopher Cowan writing an article for the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood a work of CBMW write that: …
The comments on the original post have gone over 400 comments and for some reason the original page is not properly loading just by the link so I will need to find out what the problem is. It does look fine when one goes to http://mmoutreach.org/wim and then scroll down to the March 26, 2010 post called “Adam and Eve and the sin nature that comes through the man – how does this affect the issue of women in ministry?” It is loading okay that way so that one can read the post but when one tries to read the comments that page won’t load. **update – It looks like the 175 pages of comments was just too much for the blog post and there is nothing I can do to get the comments to show up. In future I will try to start a second page sooner so that this doesn’t happen again** (Note – Dec 2012: I have updated the blog and I think all the comments are now back.)
In the meantime, the comments can continue on this post.
The dialog has been lively and Mark our regular complementarian blog visitor has been going through his Calvinist proof texts with me as we dialog on John 6 verse by verse discussing sin and free will. Future comments should continue on this new part 2 post.
CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) has set itself up as a go-to organization for those complementarians who have not been able to figure out from the Bible which things are allowable for women and which things are not. But does their counsel exceed the Bible? I would like to present the evidence and then let you decide.
In a sermon preached by J Ligon Duncan III and reproduced on CBMW’s website, Ligon Duncan writes that the “teaching office” of the Church is restricted to men. But what is the “teaching office” of the church? According to Ligon, the “teaching office” is the ministry of preaching and teaching in the church that is undeniably “vested in the men who serve as the elders of the church.” So the on-going preaching and teaching to the body of Christ is to be done by men. The problem really gets sticky for complementarians when it comes to women teaching other women. …
It has been awhile since my Women in Ministry blog has taken a humor break. This one is going to test whether men and women can share a common sense of humor about the blessings of motherhood – i.e. mothering a talkative three year old.
So are you ready to test your funny bone? Click here to watch Potty Break a 4-minute clip about a Christian mother’s real life experience. This animated true story had me in stitches. It so much reminded me of my oldest son who was the talkative one in my family. Here is the description: …
In our continuing topic of common objections to women in ministry, the objection is raised that women cannot have authority in the church since wives are under their husband’s authority. The concern is that if women had leadership roles in the church, then their leadership role would be in submission to their own husbands. So instead of women making individual decisions, their husbands would be the ones making the decisions for them and the wives would be obligated to obey.
The objection comes from the theory that the husband is the ruler of the wife so that any decision she would make in a leadership role outside the home would come under his control. In essence, it is believed that women’s leadership in the church would result in their own husbands leading through their wives and how would that look if he was an unbeliever? …
The 2010 Together for the Gospel conference is on right now as I write this article. The conference this year is called The Unadjusted Gospel and according to J. Ligon Duncan III’s blog post on CBMW’s blog, complementarianism is a necessary testimony of the Gospel that cannot be denied or the witness of the Gospel is damaged. While the T4G conference is affirming The Unadjusted Gospel, at the same time they are continuing in their pattern to adjust the Gospel to add in complementarianism.
Instead of seeing Christians united on the Gospel while having charity and grace on the non-essentials, the T4G conference has once again chosen to separate from other Christians over non-essentials and made complementarianism such a necessity that it is introduced as the fulfillment of Biblical teachings that make this doctrine essential as a witness to the Gospel. …
The path of the last Adam was a path that took Him from Heaven to earth, from the earth to the grave and from the grave to resurrection power on display as our Lord, Savior and King. But a study in contrast with the first Adam shows us the stark contrast to the faithfulness that the last Adam offers us in the place of the failure that we have experienced with our first earthly father.
On March 28, 2010, complementarian John Piper announced that he is leaving ministry for a time because of several issues of pride that were affecting his soul and had taken a toll on his relationship with his wife Noël . Below is what Piper has written about his issues and his next steps. It would be a good time to pray for John Piper. It appears that being a rock solid complementarian is not a guarantee that a happy and fulfilling marriage will ensue. …
On Sunday, March 21, 2010, a meeting was held to determine the fate of principal John Hartwig who had been suspended earlier for engaging in conduct “unbecoming a called worker”. The Baraboo News Republic in Baraboo, Wisconsin documents the letter that was sent to school parents that announced Hartwig’s suspension: …
The question has come up on this blog about whether Adam had a sin nature at the fall that would have been passed on to all of us, and if this is an issue that is important regarding women in ministry. After all, we need to know why it is that only Adam would bring sin into the world and if all of us have something “hanging” onto us from just on man, why is that? We need to know why sin didn’t come into the world through the woman. Is this because she was “under” the man so that anything she did was not placed on her account but on his account? These questions and more will be answered in this post. …
In our continuing topic of common objections to women in ministry, we come to the claim that Eve usurped Adam’s authority when she spoke to the serpent. To deal with this claim, we will be looking at both the claim that Eve rebelled against Adam in the garden and the claim that God gave Adam a responsibility to lead that He clearly denied to Eve.
In chapter 3 of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood written by Raymond C. Ortlund Jrheadship is defined as a right that the man possesses to lead women in a God-glorifying direction. Ortlund writes:
First, the issue is framed in terms of “equal rights.” That sounds noble, but does God really grant husbands and wives equal rights in an unqualified sense? Surely God confers upon them equal worth as His image-bearers. But does a wife possess under God all the rights that her husband has in an unqualified sense? As the head, the husband bears the primary responsibility to lead their partnership in a God-glorifying direction. Under God, a wife may not compete for that primary responsibility. It is her husband’s just because he is the husband, by the wise decree of God. The ideal of “equal rights” in an unqualified sense is not Biblical.
According to Ortlund’s definition of head, women are not allowed by God to have any part in “competing” with men for the responsibility of leading. This is where the idea comes from that Eve sinned against Adam by taking a leading position. According to this complementarian thinking Eve usurped Adam’s authority and his responsibility to lead the relationship. But is this Biblical fact or complementarian fiction? The only way that we will know is to test this truth claim by the Scriptures.
Is there any Biblical text that gives rules and regulations for Eve regarding who she can talk to? Are there also any Biblical texts that show that Eve could not make any decisions on her own without consulting with her husband?
Do women have the right to keep their “good portion”?
“…Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
In the complementarian Christian community, there is a lot of pressure to keep women away from a place that doesn’t belong to them. Because of the teaching that there is a “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood,” and the way we follow Jesus depends on our gender, many have been focused on dividing and protecting the man’s portion as if something has been given to men alone. Is this really biblical? Is there really something that belongs to men alone that need to be held back from women? …
In our discussions on Genesis, there has been one puzzling question. If Adam alone sinned willfully and the woman fell into sin through deception, then why did God punish Eve so severely for her sin?
I would like to propose that we have had a misunderstanding of what happened when God dealt with Adam, the woman, and the serpent. There are only two acts by God that deal with guilt and curses and not three as tradition has taught us. Let’s look carefully at the passage. First of all, let’s look at how God dealt with the serpent:
Genesis 3:14 (NASB) The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;
God speaks of blame by saying “Because you have done this…” and the result of the blame to the serpent is a curse. It isn’t a guess that God cursed the serpent because the inspired text says “cursed are you…”
Adam is also blamed by God in a very similar way:
Genesis 3:17 (NASB) Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.
Notice again that God says “Because you have…” This is God’s blame and with the blame brings a curse. “Cursed is the ground because of you.” The “you” here is singular masculine, and the ground was cursed because of only one man’s sin. …
Another reason some complementarians claim for denying women opportunities to minister in the church is that it is said that women are more easily deceived than men so men alone are permitted to minister in the church. A good example of this kind of rationale is found here with this excerpt:
But why should Eve’s being beguiled in the Garden of Eden cause Paul to say that women should be silent in church? The answer must be that women in general have a tendency to be more easily duped than men. Because of this tendency, they are not to be teachers, or preachers, or hold an office (which implies authority) in church. …
…we must remember that Paul clearly states that women are to remain silent in church because of the creation order and because Eve was deceived.
Is Paul really saying that women are more easily deceived than men? Let’s examine the text:
1 Timothy 2:14 (NASB) And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
Paul clearly says that “Adam was not deceived” but in 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul specifically lists Eve by name as the one who was deceived:
2 Corinthians 11:3, 4 (NASB)
4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
So is Paul really saying that Eve was created with a “tendency” to be easily deceived? No, that would be reading into the text something that is not there. Rather than describing a flaw in God’s design of the woman that provided for a deceived Eve, the emphasis is on the cunning, craftiness and trickery of the one who deceived her. She was not created as one who was easily deceived. She was deceived through the cunning, manipulative trickery that was a masterful job in deceiving the very first woman.
One of the positions that complementarians commonly hold is that male and female were created with distinct roles so that one (the male) is said to have been given the authority over the other (the female) and the fact that Adam names Eve is used as proof of the man’s authority. CMBW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) records it this way:
Male and female were created by God as equal in dignity, value, essence and human nature, but also distinct in role whereby the male was given the responsibility of loving authorityover the female, and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man. Gen. 1:26-27 makes clear that male and female are equally created as God’s image, and so are, by God’s created design, equally and fully human. But, as Gen. 2 bears out (as seen in its own context and as understood by Paul in 1 Cor. 11 and 1 Tim. 2), their humanity would find expression differently, in a relationship of complementarity, with the female functioning in a submissive role under the leadership and authority of the male.
CBMW’s statement of their position says that Genesis 2 as viewed in its own context will show Adam’s authority over Eve as God’s original design, and this is borne out in the act of Adam naming Eve. Let’s have a close look at the context of Genesis 1-3 to see where Adam could have been given authority over Eve.
In my post on February 17th on Common Objections to Women in Ministry: God’s Design in Genesiswe saw that Adam and Eve were given equal authority over all of God’s creation in the land, air and the sea. If God had wanted to add to Adam’s authority the responsibility to a rule over the woman, Genesis 1 would have been a perfect place to list that authority, but God never gives Adam an authority over his wife in the original design. The authority of rulership for Adam is clearly over animals and the earth, not people. So if God did not give authority for Adam to rule Eve in the original creation, when is God supposed to have given him that authority? Let’s look to Genesis chapter 2 for any evidence of an added authority given to Adam.
Complementarian Arguments – Has the Greek Grammar been refuted?
According to those who have been followed a trail left by our old friend Neopatriarch (who many of you may recall was the young complementarian who used to post challenges on this blog until he left in exasperation when his arguments didn’t make the grade), he has apparently been presently himself recently on several discussion boards as the one who has refuted my exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:11-15. How interesting that he has been refuted time and time again and is still claiming victory. Also how interesting that he has picked me as the one who has the exegesis that has to be refuted. Well, I am quite flattered by all of his attention, and even though he is undoubtedly a very intelligent young man, his attempts to refute my sound argument have only called attention to my argument. I guess I should say thanks.
Let’s have a look at Neopatriarch’s latest edition of his “refutation” of my exegesis. Neopatriarch’s latest revision says:
How is it that there are millions of Christians who all look to the same Genesis account yet find themselves with different and contradictory truth claims from the same account? While many conclude that man was designed in a special way that sets him above the woman with special God-given privileges, there are still many others who conclude that God created both man and woman as equal rulers over creation. We all need to be careful that we don’t just see what we want to see because there is a tendency for each one of us to read our own position into the account. But as Christians, we should desire to value truth above all else for it is God’s design that we want to discover, not mankind’s aberration of God’s design.
As we search diligently in the creation account in Genesis, we look for how God conveyed His design differences to the attention of the first man and woman. Did the man know that he had been designed differently? Did he know that his design gave him special privileges that were withheld from his wife because she did not have the same design? And was it conveyed to Eve that she was not on the same level as Adam? According to Ray Ortlund, God gave the man a special mission, and a special “call” to accomplish and the woman had a special mission to please him. …
Another common objection to women in ministry is the claim that when women speak and lead publicly it dishonors men.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) speaks of this as dishonoring the “calling” of men:
We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. This primary responsibility is to be carried by the pastors or elders. Therefore we think it is God’s will that only men bear the responsibility for this office. (pg 64 online version)
One thing that we can notice from the quote above is that CBMW says “we think it is God’s will…”. The fact that they don’t know for sure is telling. …
One of the first objections to women in ministry is the fact that Jesus chose only males as his twelve apostles. If Jesus only chose men for this special “class” of people who were to be His witnesses of the resurrection, then didn’t Jesus show by this act that He does not allow women to minister in the church as men alone are to have a special position of authority?
I would like to suggest that Jesus deliberately chose men as part of the group of 12 who were to be witnesses to the resurrection since these men were to be witnesses to the world while Jesus assigned women to be the first witnesses to the church. …
The bride of Christ has been given gifts but are teacher and pastor two gifts or one?
God has given many gifts to the church, and the main purpose of the gifts is to edify the body of Christ so that God will ultimately be glorified. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that we are to strive to excel in the gifts that will build up the church.
1 Cor 14:12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. ESV
While Paul encourages Christians to excel in building up the church, most complementarians do not believe that women are allowed to build up the church by being gifted as teachers. How can they disallow the Holy Spirit’s ability to Sovereignly decide who receives the gifts? …
The following article was sent to me this morning by Mabel, a follower of this blog. The pastor of the church that had its charity status removed in Canada also contacted our ministry as we went through the same kind of persecution from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) regarding their disallowing as “charitable” the work of ministering Jesus to the cults. They allow people to preach Jesus in their own congregations, but if one is persuasively bringing Jesus to those who are lost in the world of the cults, the government of Canada see this as an “uncharitable” work and will actively move to withdraw one’s charitable status. The consequences of the removal of charitable status means that all ministry money and equipment must be given away or the government taxes it at 100% rate. It was a very difficult time for us as we had to purchase back our own equipment and stock just to continue in ministry.
Last year I blogged about Dr. Barb Orlowski’s research on spiritual abuse. Barb contacted me during a time when I was going through a very difficult period in my own life, and she was very helpful to me in both her active listening and in her own decision to contact the District church leaders that she knew personally to act on our behalf. Her intervention resulted in an investigation that dealt with the abusive situation. While the cause of the abuse was ultimately removed, I had to privately go through my own grief and deep sorrow. I was raised as a preacher’s kid and had always seen the church as a place of safety. As a result of the spiritual abuse, the idea of the church as a safe place was no longer that same place of safety to me. Time does a great job of helping us heal, but I am not yet sure when I will come full circle and be back to where I started. Spiritual abuse is that devastating. I have never made any of the details public although I am currently working on a DVD project that is a result of the things I have learned as a direct result of the abusive situation I endured. God certainly is able to work all things out for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. What seemed like evil to us can and will be used for good by God who holds us in His hands. …
I have been notified that my Women in Ministry blog has been picked as one of the top 55 pastor bloggers on the online Christian Colleges websitehere. My blog is listed up women pastors. Also, my blog has been picked up as a biblioblog by biblioblogtop50.wordpress.com and this biblio blog site. It is nice to see that the issue of women in ministry has received notice.
I have a great concern tonight for my Pastor. Pastor Jim Reimer and two of our worship team along with a group of teens from our local high school flew into Haiti around noon today. They were intending a two-week ministry trip, however, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti around 5 pm.
We are praying for Pastor Jim and the team not knowing what has happened to them and whether they are safe or not. Please join with me to pray for God’s protection on these members of the body of Christ during this very difficult time.
**Update Jan 13th 2010**The news media has reported that the team made it two hours away from the airport before the earthquake hit and everyone is safe. We will continue to pray for our pastor and the team that they will be greatly used in their mission and will make it home safely.
**Update January 15, 2010,** An email from Pastor Jim came through. …
Paul’s use of “I am not allowing” in 1 Timothy 2:12 has caused a lot of speculation regarding his reasons for disallowing certain activities. In this post, we are going to look at this phrase very carefully.
The first thing that we can note is that Paul is not appealing to an existing law. Paul does not say “God’s law is not allowing” as if God had already set up a law that restrained women from using their spiritual gifts. Paul also does not say “God does not allow you to let a woman… ” as if Timothy is under a law that he may have been disobeying. What Paul clearly says is “I am not allowing…”
What is even more curious is that there is no other verse in the entire Scripture like this one. Nowhere does a man of God state that he doesn’t allow something. God’s prohibitions are never put in the personal will of the man of God. They are always by God’s authority. So why did Paul use his own authority in 1 Timothy 2:12? …
While many say that women cannot receive from God something that will benefit men (as they believe that all wisdom that God has for humanity must come through the agency of a man) may I remind us today that the Wisdom of God brought God Himself into the world through a woman. The vessel that He used that was meant to bring benefit to all of humanity was a lowly servant who was a woman.
Some people today refuse to accept God’s gift that comes through a woman. Their pride will not allow them to benefit from anything that they believe is beneath them. They practice hardening their hearts because they do not want to see and do not want to hear what originates from a woman. God cannot use a woman to preach and teach the gospel to the church, for God has limited Himself to only men who by virtue of their maleness, are fit to receive God’s special gifts. They teach that only males as teachers and gentle shepherds of God’s people. To them, God’s best is always a man. God’s best is the wisdom of a man. God’s best is the strength of a man. To them, God cannot and will not use what is foolish or weak or insignificant, inferior, common or despised. God limits His work through the chosen gender, and God surely sanctions male pride because He created them as first class citizens of the kingdom. Is it not the complementarian message that it is through males alone that God can fully express Himself in wisdom, power and leadership? …
One of the problems with the definitions that complementarians provide is that the definitions aren’t complete enough on the surface to reveal the underlying hierarchical nature. However, when one pushes to get the answers to some difficult questions, the picture becomes a lot clearer. The clearer picture shows the complementarian stand to be a male bias inside the pretty outer package of complementarian wording. However, when the veil is pulled back, a contradictory view is shown which views an inequality in God’s design of humanity. In addition, their man-made restriction is also placed on God Himself in how He is allowed to express Himself through half of humanity. Let me give a few of examples of the pretty package and then we will dissect the statements. The examples are all from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). …
The November 17, 2009 CBMW blog post by John Starke that we started to evaluate last post, is an amazing “piece of work” that exalts the 17th century writings of a Puritan named Richard Baxter who attempts to put women in their place. Starke continues to summarize Baxter’s writings:
2. Discontentment. There is something about the sinful heart that is always wanting something other than the place in which God has placed him or her. When something other than God is the desire of the heart, it begins to desire more than the portion granted. The sinful cravings of the heart are deceitful and can justify sin or can explain away divine instruction. Baxter’s appeal to wives is to find your contentment and treasure in Christ and you will recognize the joy in resting in his purposes. (emphasis is mine).
It is important to realize, when reading Baxter and the Puritans, that there was no guarded language when speaking of how the Christian household ought to look like. They simply assumed the clear, biblical teaching of a husband’s authority in the family and a wife’s joyful submission. So then, at one level, Baxter’s direction for women wouldn’t sound too different than John Piper’s or Wayne Grudem’s.
However, Baxter, in a way that Puritans are known for, approaches the heart of the wife. What would cause a wife to rebel against the biblical mandate to follow the leadership of the husband? Baxter gives a few reasons:
1. Failure to believe God’s will is best. God’s design for the Christian family, which includes the structure of authority and submission, is best! God is wise and we, as sinners, need divine wisdom. He writes, “Who are you to assess God’s Word in a way different than his own qualifications.” What Baxter means is, we are to allow God?s Word to explain itself in its own terms. We must not explain away difficult, but clear, instruction. As Christians, we must trust God’s counsel for the home. Failure to trust God’s will can only bring turmoil and unrest.
According to Baxter, we as sinners need divine wisdom. And where does that wisdom reside? The wisdom for the wife and for the home apparently resides in the husband who exercises God’s will through the man’s own authority. Is this really the “clear” teaching of God’s word? Let’s test this by the Word of God in Proverbs 31. In verse 10 we see what is defined as an “excellent wife”. Let’s consider verses 10-12:
Prov 31:10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
Prov 31:11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.
Prov 31:12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.
Instead of setting the wife up as one who finds divine wisdom alone in the man, these verses show that it is her husband’s heart that finds trust in her. Notice that it doesn’t say that her husband takes authority over her or that she has no wisdom from God on her own. Proverbs lists her as a woman who is wise and who uses her wisdom to do good for him.