Date: February 4, 2018
Text: Genesis 1,2; Galatians 3:28; 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Speaker: Clint Nelson
An introduction to a new series: What does it mean to be a Christian woman in 2018? We begin to look at a biblical view of women.
Brown, Daniel A. THE PROBLEM WITH THE PROBLEM WITH WOMEN IN MINISTRY LEADERSHIP. http://ctw.coastlands.org/articles/The%20Problem%20With%20The%20Problem%20With%20Women%20In%20Ministry%20Leadership.pdf
Bruce, FF. Women in the Church: a Biblical Survey. Essay in Christian Brethren Review 33 (1982): 7-14. https://theologicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/cbr/women_bruce.pdf
Johnson, Alan F. (Ed.). How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals. Zondervan (Nov. 6 2010).
McKnight, Scott. The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. Zondervan; Revised edition (June 7 2016).
Pierce, R.W. (Ed.), Groothuis, R.M. (Ed.). Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy. Inter-Varsity Press (Aug. 30 2005)
Stackhouse, John G. Jr., Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender. BAKER ACADEMIC (Dec 17 2008).
- We’re going to begin a study of women today. It’s an important subject because our view of women, regardless of whether we’re a man or woman, impacts much of how we see ourselves and one another.
- Sex and gender is a key part of our identity. It’s a complex subject because like men, women are complex (in a good way). Sin’s curse has broken sex and gender and relationships between men and women.
- But thanks be to Christ, sin will not win and sin’s impact is being resurrected within us to new life – to wholeness – to a new community – to what is good and holy. And sin’s defeat will be fully realized and complete at Christ’s return – when He ushers in a new age – a new world where men and women are completely and eternally free from the stain of sin.
- If you’re believe patriarchy is the way to go, you won’t like me very much. And if you’re a radical feminist, you won’t like me very much. Both camps elevate gender beyond its place in what it means to be human and a redeemed son/daughter of God.
- And if you’re hoping the Bible draws a very narrow path with a definitive list of do’s and don’ts for both genders, you’re going to be disappointed. The Bible draws boundaries, but doesn’t give us a paint by number look at gender. There is a lot of room for uniqueness yet all of it under complete dependence in God’s leading and timing – not our own.
- Today and the next few weeks will feel more like school. I don’t apologize for that. I say that so you can adjust your approach.
- In today’s class we’re going to take the time to ask a lot more questions than answer them and that might bug you, but by doing it this way we’ll clear the stage or prime the pump and set some goals. Today is basically one long introduction. Over the next few weeks…
- We are going to look at gender through the four major chapters of human history (pre-fall, old covenant, new covenant and eternity after Christ’s return).
- We are going to spend some time looking at the origin and destination of gender because those are keys to understanding the middle.
- We are going to look at the controversial/difficult passages that cause division in churches over gender roles.
- We are also going to look at the supremacy of the Gospel over personal rights and freedoms and how that impacts, among other things, women’s rights.
- Finally, we’ll conclude with where the rubber meets the road – what does a Christian man and Christian woman look like today in 2018 in Mission, BC? Long hair, short hair, head covering, dress or pant suit, barefoot and pregnant or Wonder Woman wannabe… CEO by day and Pinterest queen by night… vegan brownie baker or IG lifestyle blogger… we’ll figure that out and transform our thinking as the clarifying and sanctifying Word of God washes over us.
- I hope to conclude this study in 4-5 weeks. And if you’re a male and are thinking, “Yes, I can check out for the next 4-5 weeks!”, you’ve got it all wrong. You are being a coward.
- I don’t say that with intention of hurting you, but to awaken you.
- Don’t you dare sell yourself short that you or our church can afford for you to be less of a man than who God made you to be – don’t shrink back from your God-given purpose of bearing the image of God as a man in 2018.
- I’m not saying you have to agree with how I read and understand the Bible, but for your sake and our sake, please don’t be indifferent, apathetic or lazy.
- Please use your God-given capacity as a human and a man to be all that He created and is calling you to be. To strive for anything less is not only cowardice, but foolish and even immoral.
- So next Sunday, if you’re married, say, “Honey, let me help you with her ponytail and clean up the breakfast dishes so we can get to church early and get a front row seat. I need to learn how I am to see myself in light of God making you.”
- Now, in order to be more clearly understood, so you can more clearly agree or disagree with me, we’ll have to all see what I mean when I use certain terms. You and your friends might define a word differently, and that is certainly your prerogative, but so you know what I mean, when I use a specific term, I need to share with you how I use certain words/terms:
Sex (M-W): either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures
Intersexuality (M-W): the condition (such as that occurring in congenital adrenal hyperplasia or androgen insensitivity syndrome) of either having both male and female gonadal tissue in one individual or of having the gonads of one sex and external genitalia that is of the other sex or is ambiguous [side note: Intersexuality, in a variety of forms, occurs in about one of every 2,000 births—about the same proportion as cystic fibrosis. —Emily Nussbaum]
Gender (M-W): the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex [i.e. masculinity/femininity – the expression of one’s sex]
Misogyny (M-W): a hatred of women
Misandry (M-W): a hatred of men
Sexism (M-W): prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women; 2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex
Complementarian – This term can be used in two different ways […]. The first refers to an evangelical person who not only believes that the Bible teaches the “difference” or “distinction” between male and female, but that the primary “difference” is that females were created with the “role” to be in subjection to, under the final authority of, and led by males in the home and in the church; the second refers to the “differences” between the genders with-out hierarchy (chain of command) implications as to who leads or is in final authority. This term avoids seeing the genders as identical, interchangeable, or basically the same (androgyny).*
Egalitarian – […] the term to refer to a “biblical equality” between the genders that does not refer to an essential sameness or inter- changeability of male and female. Rather, what is meant is that the Bible does not teach a stereotyped gender “role” subordination of a woman to a man. This is an equality of essential worth, rank, privilege, standing, and full humanity without stereotyped gender functions as part of each one’s basic identity. Love-in-relationship draws out the unique contributions of male and female without proscribed or predetermined “roles.”*
Feminist -Sometimes this term is used negatively or derogatorily, referring to more “radical” feminism that wants to erase all significant differences between male and female (androgyny), promotes the rewriting of history from a female perspective rather than (as it is alleged) by males only, supports the taking over of all authority structures by females and thus replaces maIes in power with females in power. In [our talks], however, this term [will be] usually used positively, referring to the equal worth, justice, privilege, standing, opportunity for service, and leadership of women as women in God’s kingdom program in home, marriage, church, and social structures.*
Head/headship (Gk. kephale) – A thirty-year heated debate over this metaphor’s meaning in first…century Greek still has not been resolved. Ephesians 5:23 (regarding husbands and wives) and 1 Corinthians 11:3 (denoting either man/woman or husband/wife) are the two key passages where the term is used. First, it should be pointed out that the idea advanced that the word used in these passages simply means “boss” or “leader,” as the English word could suggest, is highly debatable. It rarely has this sense in Greek. Second, others have concluded that kephale means “source.” This too is a rare use of the word. A third sense has been more recently advanced, such as “prominent” or “honored” member of the pair. In any event the term does not require male authority over either women in general or wives in particular. [We’ll come to a more Biblical understanding of this metaphor].*
Hierarchy – Literally, this term means the “rule of priest.” In an organizational structure such as a family, social system, business, political, or religious community, it refers to a person who is above others in authority, rank, privilege, and standing. Nonhierarchal […] refers not to all hierarchal roles but to those that are based on gender alone.*
Patriarchy – This term means, literally, “rule of a father.” In a social system, it refers to the required rule of males over females, the control of females by males in personal life, home, marriage, religious institutions, and society. Some distinguish “hard” patriarchy from “soft” by deemphasizing “rule over” women, instead choosing to use terms such as “leader” of women or of wives and the voluntary rather than required nature of the subordination.*
*Johnson, Alan F. (Ed.). How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals. Zondervan (Nov. 6 2010). Pp. 18-19.
- What I’ll do as we go through this series is update a page on our website (parksidechurch.ca/women [plural]) with links and sources referenced each Sunday so you can read or follow-up should your interest be sparked to dig further. I’ll also post my manuscript so you don’t have to feel stressed in note-taking.
- My guess is that within our Parkside family we might have a few radical feminists, the majority would be egalitarians, but an almost equal size contingent of traditional complementarians or patriarchal position (that is the view dad is the boss, mom is his assistant).
- This morning I want to ask a bunch of questions to prime the pump and challenge or affirm our current thinking… Sorry in advance, but your brain may hurt at the end…
- Beginning at the origin of our universe and creation of male and female…
- Why did God create more than one gender?
- Why did he say that is was not good that man be alone?
- Why did God make men and women with different hardware? Is there more to our difference than our physiology? Just as we have fixed biological parts do we have fixed social roles?
- And does the wide spectrum of gender expression we see in society more reflective of God’s beautiful creation or should everything be monochrome (black and white)?
- Why is it that women’s voices are different than men, but some women sing soprano, alto, tenor or bass and same with men? Is that variety is a part of God’s beauty and design or a perversion of the fall?
- Furthermore, why is it that in relationships, it seems opposites attract?
- And could a very narrow or monochromatic view of gender be a factor in boys thinking they are girls and girls thinking they are boys?
- Why didn’t he create three or four or five genders? He could have. Why two?
- Why is Genesis 1 & 2 (before sin) so vague in Adam & Eve’s roles – what did masculinity and femininity looked like before sin entered the world?
- Why does in Genesis 1 God give the charge to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” to both man and woman… why wasn’t that said privately just to Adam?
- What kind of an interpretative weight should we give to Genesis 1 and then Genesis 2 in understanding humanity, gender and the rest of Scripture and our future? Does the start of a movie not give proper context to the middle and even the end of the story?
- Why is it that the system of patriarchy is pronounced by God as a direct result of sin entering Adam & Eve?
- Why did God create more than one gender?
- And then instead of wiping us out and starting over, why did God extend mercy in the form of time and opportunity knowing that it would allow such atrocities to occur as recorded in the Old Testament? That for thousands of years women would be treated as property of their husbands and in many cases no better than the animals?
- Why did God allow polygamy in His chosen people?
- And if God’s ideal design for gender roles is found in patriarchy – I mean, it was so prevalent in His chosen people and even used for good in such a dark and cold times – then why ever allow exceptions like Miriam the prophetess?
- Or why, before the people demanded a King to lead them, when they were ruled by judges did God allow Deborah – a wife – to sit over Israel as the prophetess and judge?
- Or when Hilkiah the high priest found the lost Book of the Law in 621 B.C., King Josiah chose to inquire of the Lord from the prophetess Huldah, wife of Shallum, who then advised both the high priest and the king about their future.
- And then what about Jesus? He didn’t call any women to be part of the 12. What’s with that?
- And if Jesus not only chose 12 men, but 12 single Jewish men, then by that logic does that discontinue the possibility of gentiles being church leaders or even married Jews from being church leaders?
- But then why did He promise the Holy Spirit to be poured out on sons and daughters?
- Why did Jesus challenge the Pharisees view of divorce that treated women like dogs and say that a man was never to divorce his wife except for sexual immorality?
- Why did Jesus allow women to be a part of his times of teaching, talk to the Samaritan woman the way He did, or even see fit to use women as the primary witnesses to His resurrection?
- And if a woman can’t teach a man, then why did God include women’s voices in Scripture (indirectly and directly)? Is not Miriam or Mary’s songs authoritative over a man? Does a man not learn the testimony and questions and discussion of women as recorded in Scripture? Is not “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.”? (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
- And then in the days of the early church… why does Paul’s letter to the Galatians paint an ideal picture where social limitations are no more in the Kingdom of God – ” neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28b)?
- Why is Priscilla mentioned as a prominent leader in the early church?
- Why did Philip the evangelist have four daughters that prophesied in church if women are to be silent?
- Why was Junia included as a part of a prominent team of apostles?
- Why does Paul recognize Phoebe as a deacon and protector and ruler over Paul himself?
- Why does Paul recognize Nympha and the church she led?
- And what about the writings regarding slavery in the NT – we read those texts in light of temporary or local contexts? Perhaps those verses that tell women to be silent in the church should be viewed as a temporary and/or local context issue? And what about head coverings, long hair and holy kisses?
- And if we read the Bible as traditional complementarians, we are left to writing a long rule book of what women can and can’t do in marriage, family, church and society and dozens of exceptions, etc. – It begins to sound and look a whole lot how the Pharisees read and practiced the Scriptures.
- And if there is a long list of what women can’t do in Scripture, then what is it that men can’t do? Or is it that men are allowed to do everything, but only women are allowed to do some things?
- Who is the chosen lady that oversaw a church that John wrote to?
- And speaking of John and the revelation he received, why is gender such a non-issue when we look behind the curtain unto Heaven?
- And as Jesus told us, if there are no marriages or childbearing in Heaven, then what on Earth will women do if their job is to be barefoot and pregnant?
- Why is there so much singing in Heaven – all peoples, nations and tongues? Can men and women’s voices blend together in way that sounds so much more awesome than apart?
- And what is the point of Christ? To keep society, marriages, the way it is or bring us back to how it was meant to be? To reverse the curse?
- Those are only a quarter of the questions I could have asked! Although those are my favourite ones to ask.
- I’ll endeavour to answer them in just the next few weeks! And in some of the more leading or rhetorical questions, I’ve already have.
- And at times, I might be cheeky and I’m sorry about that – it’s meant to stir not provoke.
- I believe Scripture is clear and that Scripture provides a way forward where both men and women bring what God has gifted them with to level ground and in that the image of God is more clearly seen through us – as men and women worship and work together as a visible demonstration of what Heaven will be like.
- Thanks be to Christ! Even though we are flawed and rarely treat one another as we should, He has made a way.