If the Christian church and its members do not obey God how can they expect unbelievers to be attracted to him and want to be saved?
I ask this question as on the weekend I picked up a book, ‘Women, Authority & the Bible’, talking about women and their role in the church. It was published 30 years ago yet strangely the arguments are the same today as they are laid out in that book.
This article will not really address the content of the book but simply look at some of the questions and comments posed on the back cover and the one comment made on the front. I will start with the back cover first.
#1. Advocates of more traditional roles for women say the heart of the matter is biblical authority. Those supporting more open roles say the crux is not biblical authority but biblical interpretation and application.
Leave it to those opposing biblical authority to bring the issue into the realm of the subjective and ambiguous. That is their main strategy as they want this issue to be a human sourced one and not a divinely guided one.
They want their opponents’ side of the argument to be fallible and taken from human personal preference in order to think that they are not fighting God and his directions for his church. Instead, they want to think that they are fighting human concepts that are not grounded in the word of God but a male ego problem that desires dominance over all others.
Making this an earthly originated issue allows the supporters of women in ministry to sleep at night thinking they are fighting for equality and justice instead of being disobedient to God and his word. In other words, they want to think they are fighting for a just cause instead of being tools used and influenced by evil to cause disorder and dysfunction in God’s church.
#2. What are the real issues in this controversy?
There probably are many ‘real issues’ in this controversy but there are only about 2 main ones I have seen over the years. First, the key issue is one of obedience. Those who argue for women in ministry and that the church needs to change are not being obedient to God and his instructions.
To make their arguments they go to stories or assumption or implications but not real hard evidence nor scripture. These people ignore certain facts found in the Bible. The first fact is that Jesus did not call one woman to be a leader of his church.
The original 12 disciples and Judas’ replacement were all men. This call and fact did not mean that women could not believe or follow Jesus or receive spiritual gifts and talents. It means that their roles are not including church leadership or certain ministry positions.
The second fact they ignore is that Jesus did not over turn God’s rules for the temple and who could be considered for membership in the priesthood. We do not find one verse where Jesus countermanded God’s OT instruction to Moses.
We also do not find one verse giving approval for women to move into church leadership positions. Neither Jesus nor any of the biblical authors contradicted God and his instructions for church leadership.
The third fact they ignore is that Peter, who seemed to have written after Paul, did not contradict one teaching Paul made about women in ministry. If anyone had the authority to do so, it was Peter and he did not do so.
What we have in this issue is a failure to obey God on the part of those who wish to reinvent what scripture is telling us to do in God’s church.
The second main issue is the problem of being content. Those women who fight against God’s instructions are not content with their roles and that discontentment allows for evil to influence their thinking and their behavior.
This angst over women and ministry has allowed evil to work unopposed in families as well as the church. The participants have had their focus on God and the Bible all the while forgetting that evil has a hand in this controversy.
In all the arguments I have seen and discussion on this issue I have participated in, no one addresses this fact. No one takes the time to see where evil is involved as they blame Paul, God, reduce scriptures to human works and so on.
No one in this issue takes the time to do spiritual warfare to cleanse their discussion from the wrong influence and motivations. Oh they pray alright but their prayers are focused on changing God’s word not seeking the source of the trouble.
A divided and disobedient church works well for the devil as that example turns unbelievers off from Jesus and garners him more souls in his bid to get back at God. This fact does not mean that the opponents to women in the wrong ministry acquiesce and give up their defense of God’s word for his church in order to have ‘peace’ in the church and display a united front.
No. it means that those who are trying to change the church and the words of god need to give up their battle, humble themselves and get right with God so that his church can function as God wants it to.
If women cannot be content with their roles, then they are allowing evil to work its destructive magic in the very church they want to be a member of and serve in. They are also being unwitting tools of evil to ruin the church and its ministry by ignoring God’s instructions and doing what they please.
They may feel ’called’ to the ministry but God does not call people to disobey his instructions. God does not change nor do his instructions for the church.
#3. How can we make sense out of key passages in 1 Cor., Gal., Eph., & 1 Tim.?
The answer to this question is very simple. First, you need to remove all secular ideology and thinking from the conversation. The church is instructed not to follow the secular world yet in this issue, many people of the church seem to ignore those commands and apply secular culture to the operations of the divine church.
How people think that inferior and corrupt thinking can solve a holy and spiritual problem is perplexing. Jesus told us that we were the light to the dark world not that the dark world was the light to the church.
Second, Jesus told us, in both John 14 & 16, to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth; he did not say to follow the Holy Spirit to the interpretation or the popular secular ideology of the cultural times. Culture and interpretation are both change and subjective. They depend upon a majority popularity not the backing of the divine author of the Bible.
On the other hand, the truth never changes. What God wanted for the church in the first century, he wants for the church in the 21st no matter what popular cultural practices are omitted. It is God’s church and he says how it is to be run and who gets to go where.
#4. How can legitimate change be encouraged in the church?
Somewhere along the centuries, the idea of true ownership has been lost and God’s stewards no longer act like real stewards but have usurped God’ ownership place and taken it for themselves. They feel that they alone get to dictate what takes place in the church relegating God to a mere observer.
The people who want woman ministers look to God to be a person who rubber stamps their decisions instead of humbly giving up what they desire in order for God to correctly lead them.
Any change to the church must come from God not from people dissatisfied with their roles in the Christian life. God will not change his instructions at this stage of life thus anyone who comes to church leadership proposing these type of changes are not acting upon the direction of God but evil’s influence.
It doesn’t matter how much they claim God is the source and wants this change, such change cannot be done based upon the word of a single or group of people. Such suggestions must go through the correct biblical process whereby the spirits are tested, they are compared with scriptures to ensure they are in line with actual biblical instruction and fall within the character of both God and Jesus.
We do not make changes because secular culture demands change, we do not make changes because the unbeliever demands change nor do we make unauthorized changes because certain believers want to do something different.
We make changes when directed by God to do so. He guides the church for he is the only one who knows the hearts of man and what will reach those unbelieving hearts. We also do not make changes because people are discontent with their roles.
A good steward follows the instructions of his master; he does not seek to alter those instructions to appease selfish desires or personal preferences.
#5. How can we keep in mind that the decisions we reach affect living, breathing human beings?
The answer again is very simple. Encouraging people to obey God and his instruction is not a harmful or sinful endeavor. Pointing out the correct path for people to follow is being the light unto the dark world that Jesus taught us to be and by being that light and providing the correct biblical guidance we have nothing to worry about.
We please God not man even in this issue and by pleasing God by fulfilling our correct stewardship duties we have done nothing wrong. If people get upset over being denied their selfish and sinful ways, then so be it. We cannot please everyone thus we need to please God above all.
If they leave the church, then that is okay. We do not get brownie points from God by how many members we have in a given local congregation. We will get ‘well done thou good and faithful servant’ if we stand with God and stop those seeking alternatives to God’s instructions from ruining the church.
Seeking to save people from their sinful pursuits is not a bad thing and if people decide they cannot worship in a church that excludes their sinful ideas from entering it then so be it. They have the right of free choice to move on to a lesser congregation, one that is not so much concerned with pleasing God, to import their false ideologies.
We are not responsible for their choices. We are responsible for our own and if we let these type of people remain and wreak havoc upon the church then we will give an account for those decision to God and receive our just punishment for our failure to be good stewards of what he has given us.
God excludes sin from his presence and his kingdom, we cannot contradict that act. We need to properly keep sin out of the church by correctly following biblical instructions on how to deal with those who oppose God’s biblical order for the church and the family.
#6. What does the Bible teach?
We already know what the Bible teaches. The problem is with those who cannot accept that teaching and then seek to subvert them in some way in which they can call legitimate even though those methods would not meet God’s criteria for being legitimate.
While problems exist on both sides of the issue, they can be solved by going back to John 14 & 16 and learning how to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth. Then we humbly accept that truth and move on as the issue is decided.
We do not keep struggling for 3 decades to change the truth because we do not like the answer we received. That again is disobedience to God and his decisions. We honestly look at the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and do not seek to subjectively interpret or eisegete its words but pull from their context the real truth and become united with each other because the truth has been found.
#7. Some of today’s leading evangelicals seek to break through a critical impasse.
It is not a real impasse but a problem of stubborn and selfish wills on the part of those who do not accept God’s instruction and role for women in the Christian life. But to be fair, those who object to those roles do have some serious points they raise that draw attention to how people are being treated in their search for answers or a solution to this problem.
Those who side with God cannot be proud of all their actions, words and instructions to others on this problem. Many of these are made out the wrong bias, prejudice, personal preference and have no foundation in the complete word of God.
Those that side with Paul and God forget that there are many other verses, found all over both the OT and NT, that both apply to this issue and how it is governed. “Doing unto others’ does not mean that we allow all forms of alternative thought into the church because we want our biblical thought to be accepted in the congregation.
It means that we will stop others from sinning because we would want them to stop us from sinning.
To solve these damaging and problematic issues found in the church, we need to get to the root of the problem and see if it is evil influencing the discontent or if God is raising up people because the church has one aspect of his instructions wrong.
We need to clarify all the influential factors and identify them so that we know what to do biblically in response. Then when we have done this we do not condemn, judge or attack those who support the sinful propositions but seek to bring about their repentance so the world can see that the church obeys God correctly and become attracted to him.
If the unbelieving or alternative believing people want threaten to leave the church, let them go. We gain nothing by appeasing or compromising with them but we will lose a lot if we do appease & compromise.
The people who seek after installing women as ministers and other positions of church leadership disobey God and are wrong in this issue. They go against God not man’s traditions and they are sinning if they go too far.
There is nothing wrong with discussing the issue and seeing what God says about it but there is something wrong when people ignore what God has said and begin to practice the sinful alternative.