Pulpitless Persuasions V: Women and the Church; An Introduction
Someone has to do it. It’s truly arduous to fight against the torrent of popular opinion, to think for oneself, and to slice through the foolishness of modern thought. Before we lose all our sensibilities we should consider that some of the ideas of past generations were based on the honest realities of life. History can teach us. We often reject our ancestors’ ideas out of turn because we assume ourselves to be “enlightened”. Maybe, just maybe, they knew better than our befuddled contemporaries.
The arguments laid out in a previous post regarding egalitarianism were based upon such thoughts. It’s a troubling thing to observe over several years egalitarianism’s campaign of human equality moving into common thought. It has become an untouchable political reality, and a socially accepted premise to discussion. In media, social networks, and yes even in the church, it’s as if we are to accept the idea that men and women are thoroughly and completely equal. Now it seems is that time in human history when the evil of egalitarianism should awake from hibernation to enact an equality that has never before existed. It is in reality but a tenet of a godless faith. It’s the present day moral equivalent of the Tower of Babel.
It has found its way into Christian thinking. Christians, unfortunately but unexceptionally, have allowed egalitarianism to move the church toward a “progressive” role of women. One typical example is…
The Church of England finally voted yesterday to let women become bishops – to the anger of many traditionalists. The move was passed by a comfortable majority at a tense gathering of its parliament, the General Synod, in York. It ended 14 years of hand-wringing and faction-fighting, delighting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and almost all of his fellow bishops. The decision freed the Church from the risk of intervention by politicians.
The Church of England is marking a new era in its history as the Rev Libby Lane becomes the first woman to be ordained as a bishop… The consecration marks the conclusion of a decades-long wrangle over the role of women in leadership in the established Church, the last great institution of British public life to open itself to full gender equality. Church leaders hope it will mark a moment of reconciliation between traditionalists and reformers on the issue.
This is but one piece of anecdotal evidence of the change wrought in the church. The fact that its influence has reached major Christian denominations shows its insidious extent. The attempts to placate feminist egalitarianism eviscerate the church. Compromise begets more compromise until the church of Jesus becomes nothing more than a social club. Any hope for reconciliation is mere fashionable modern liberal sentimentalism rather than adherence to the Word of God.
Their vision of equality of the sexes is but a fabricated notion outside of the Christian faith. The bible doesn’t speak of it. Church history doesn’t know it. In the last 100 years or so, however, feminism has become a social force with which to be reckoned. It’s been a matter of either the church clearly delineating the roles of the sexes or capitulating to the popular culture, with lately more the latter than the former.
Men and women are distinctly men and women. They are equal in their human condition, in their depravity before God, and in their respective need for redemption. They are, however, distinct in a plethora of ways, not the least of which is physiological. They are each created by God with traits and attributes which compliment the other (see Elmo’s Rule 8). Ungodly egalitarianism seeks to undermine that natural distinction.
To be clear, women have a long history of contribution to the Christian church. The issue raised here is not one of the general participation of women in the church. It is that through egalitarianism’s call women have usurped the proper authority within the church. In that, women have become a detrimental influence. Essentially, women aren’t to be in authority or exercise leadership over men. This is the biblical stance. Curiously, one particular instance of scripture addresses leadership thus:
Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Say to the righteous that [it will go] well [with them], For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! [It will go] badly [with him], For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead [you] astray And confuse the direction of your paths. – Isaiah 3:9b-12 (Bold my emphasis)
Verse 12 might suggest “women” be interpreted either literally or figuratively, that is to say, it could literally mean women or speak in terms of “women” as in effeminate men. In either case, however, it is clear to be at variance with the LORD while leadership by men of character is in doubt, and the consequences are certain. This current sort of leadership has led the contemporary church astray. The reciprocal causes also precipitate the effects. Men who stay within churches which allow women leaders are ultimately driven toward emasculation. As egalitarianism takes hold and leadership roles become disordered it is often as much a matter of men relinquishing their proper role as it is women beguilingly assuming it.
In a view perhaps now considered more paternalistic, Jewish rabbis proverbially recognized the role of women as:
God had not formed woman out of the head, lest she should become proud; nor out of the eye, lest she should lust; nor out of the ear, lest she should be curious; nor out of the heart, lest she should be jealous; nor out of the hand, lest she should be covetous; nor out of the foot, lest she be a busybody; but out of the rib, which was always covered
Some consider the present day status of the equality of the sexes as improving. However, it is maintained that the egalitarian ideal still hasn’t yet been realized. What then is that ideal? It is an unbiblical mirage. The answer is ultimately when men are subjugated. Egalitarianism seeks an obliteration of God ordained gender roles. They seek not a validation of homosexuality or transsexualism, but a fundamental quasi-sexuality in which there is gender fluidity. It all stems from the fallen condition of humanity alluded to by God at the beginning of man and woman.
Masculinity in modern America has become a distorted. Feminist egalitarianism has marginalized the proper, biblical role of men. Nevertheless, scripture and experience can teach us what those of antiquity well understood if we will turn our minds away from the modern popular ethos. As one stated recently, it’s time to valorize masculinity. It’s unfortunate that the hydra of political progressivism or correctness manifesting its feminist head has corrupted the church.
The typical knee-jerk response to these claims usually draws the false implication that men are somehow superior. In the Christian world-view, however, authority is delegated by God and doesn’t imply any superiority. There is no lesser dignity of the woman to man. It is simply of a different kind. This is but one area of modern thinking which not only fails to grasp the biblical distinction, but mischaracterizes it to disseminate a falsehood. The sexes are distinct in their thinking, feeling, motivations and proclivities. Gender differences are as our Creator intended. There is that misguided sense of fairness which society and the culture seeks to inculcate upon the genders which emasculate men and gender-bend women. Fairness is a childish illusion. For example, some will accuse others who don’t allow women pastors of gender discrimination. However, gender discrimination is but the pejorative of feminist egalitarianism, wrongly elevated to morality. Everyone discriminates. Discrimination is not necessarily moral or ethical. The fact is that there’s no such thing as gender equality. It is an irrationality to usurp the God ordained role of the sexes while denying the many obvious mental, emotional, and functional differences which exist between them. Women aren’t intended for authoritarian roles, particularly in the church, and those churches which adopt egalitarianism do so to their own detriment.
As an aside to the suggested feminization of men in Isaiah 3:12, the condition of women and their natural inclination toward authoritarianism provides some understanding as to why the charade of homosexual marriage persists. Modern homogamy (homosexual marriage) has essentially been seeded out history’s recent egalitarian fruit. Curiously, homosexuals decry inequality when denied the privilege of marriage, but when given the opportunity to practice it they mimic the traditional dominant/subordinate marriage relationship. In such relationships the traditional roles of men and women are obfuscated by homosexual mental, emotional, and particularly, spiritual deviancy. In a similar fashion, feminist egalitarianism has obfuscated the clear roles the Creator God intended.
Some in major Christian denominations continue to adhere to a historically orthodox position of women in church leadership, that is to say a limited role at best, as demonstrated by the traditionalists response from the Church of England article above. Egalitarianism through the societal shift of popular culture, though, has put pressure upon the church to change its thinking and policy. Popular culture is certainly no repository of truth. Truth is or should be found within the church and not co-opted from without. The church loses by shunning a historically proven, classically orthodox position and adopting the post-modern egalitarianism of the day. At the very least, anecdotal experience from contemporary society alone should be a sufficient teacher that women in church leadership means trouble.
The paradigm that is the modern Christian church isn’t a scriptural one anyway, and is susceptible to encroachments of authoritarianism. An authoritarianism peculiarly pernicious when undertaken by women in church leadership.