Wednesday, November 12, 2008

True Masculinity & Femininity

Throughout Scripture, God reveals Himself using masculine terms. Egalitarians say this is another way for humans to understand God, just as He compares Himself to animals and inanimate objects. The main problem with this view is that God created males and females in His image. He did not create Himself to be like human beings. Rather, God created masculinity to augment some of His attributes and created femininity to such display others.

This does not imply that God is male or female. God is not established by gender, but by His simultaneous plurality and unity. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (emphasis added). As made in the Trinitarian God’s image, males and females are equal yet different.

Referring back to Ephesians 5, God has given men headship over women, just as Christ has dominion over the church. Men are not given freedom to interpret this headship position on their own. They are instructed to follow the pattern of Christ. While complementarians disagree with much of the feminist movement, most do not hold feminists as the ones who are ultimately responsible.

Rather, they attribute the feminist movement to the negligence of men to practice humble headship like Christ. One theologian notes, “I believe that if Christian men had been the servant leaders in the home, rather than conceited chauvinists, the feminist movement would have died a quick and easy death…I am tired of hearing that feminists are responsible for the breakdown of the family. We need to put the responsibility where it belongs – on the heads of homes.”

Women are just as guilty of not being obedient to their created purpose. “God created woman to directly reflect the man’s headship authority by recognizing it, revealing it, submitting to it, receiving it, and supporting his leadership.” More often, women end up ignoring it, resenting it, rebuking it, disobeying it, and discouraging male leadership.

Appalling feminists everywhere, I Corinthians 11:7 describes women as “the glory of men.” But where is the egalitarian objection that Jesus was sent to glorify the Father? Each time a groom beams as his bride walks down the aisle, Christians should be reminded of the Father’s words from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Each time a woman gives birth to a child, this miracle should serve as a reminder that eternal life can only come from the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Egalitarians dismiss many of the gender-related passages with an “ad hoc” argument, meaning that they believe these passages were written out of historical circumstance and only refer to the original audience. Due to the mention of head coverings, I Corinthians 11 is a passage egalitarians often disregard theologically. However, because of Paul’s use of the Trinity, an omnipresent deity, there is no way to interpret this as simply cultural wisdom.

While most complementarians agree that this passage does not indicate women today must wear a hat at all times, the cultural implications should remain. “Wearing a head covering communicated a submissive demeanor and a feminine adornment.” Therefore, as women pray or prophesy in public, they must communicate their support for male headship with appropriate conduct and mannerisms.

Teaching Scripture within biblical parameters includes more than just following the Titus 2 mandate of only teaching women. Women should seek to be earnest expositors of God’s Word without emasculating their God-given feminine characteristics. Women were created “to be reverent in their behavior” and embody an “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Titus 2:4-5 lays out the curriculum for older women to teach younger women to work at home and love their husbands and children, while pursuing purity, wisdom and kindness to uphold the commands in Scripture. This does not mean women are to deliver emotionally driven and spiritually shallow messages. Simply, there are some things God knew pastors, as men, would not be able to teach from the pulpit with the same effect as a biblical woman who has been there.

My Sources:

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

"God, Gender, and Biblical Metaphor (Chapter 16) by Judy L. Brown," by H. Wayne House in the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

20 Controversies that Almost Killed a Church by Richard L. Ganz

Men and Women: Equal Yet Different by Alexander Strauch

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper

For further discussion on the difference between prophecy and teaching, see Wayne Grudem, “Prophecy—Yes, But Teaching—No: Paul’s Consistent Advocacy of Women’s Participation Without Governing Authority,” The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 (1987): 11-23.


Bill said...

I have found that one of the greatest fears of the "older" women in the church is that they are out of touch with the young women of the new generation. They are afraid their voice will be viewed as "old."
It would be wonderful if the "experienced" women of the church had a forum to pass along their wisdom to a younger generation.
I may just suggest this to our women's ministry team.

Michelle Myers said...

As a younger woman in the church, let me be the first to say that I highly value the counsel of women truly seeking the Lord. I may only be 23, but I have been alive long enough to know that I don't have everything figured out. Experience is a great teacher. I can't put a price on the lessons I've learned from women who invested in me. All I can do is attempt to pass on what I have learned so far to those who are younger than me.

Proverbs 7:4 says, "Say to wisdom, 'You are my sister,' and call insight your intimate friend." Wisdom knows no age. Whether a God-fearing woman is simple a few years older or old enough to be your great grandmother, she is your sister!