Taking God at his word

8 Nov

Over the last few months we have been  dealing with the issue of the differences between men and women in God’s eyes.  This is a thorny topic in the modern church. In order to preserve (rightly) the truth that women and men are equal in God’s eyes, people have gone a step further and demanded that we deny all differences between men and women in their roles in marriage and the church.  This is a terrible affront to God’s word, which clearly teaches that men and women are created equal (Galatians 3:28) but with different roles and responsibilities (see for instance 1 Timothy 2). 

However, there is a bigger issue at stake than what we think about whether a woman is able to be ordained or preach to men.  The issue is how we respond to God’s word.  If all Scripture is truly God-breathed then we must submit to it and change our minds and attitudes to fit with it (rather than vice versa).  If we believe that Jesus is Lord we do not have the right to pick or choose which parts of the Bible we accept.  Instead, we have to listen to, believe and obey even those parts that go against our deeply held views.  More than that we have to realise that God’s way is not something to be assented to reluctantly or begrudgingly.  We are not free to say (as I have heard some say), “I know that’s what the Bible teaches, so I’ll believe it, even if I don’t like it”.  This is the attitude of the Pharisees who Jesus condemned.  The Christian believer delights in God’s word because they truly believe that God only wants what is best for his people. 

Where can we find some helpful resources on this topic if we want to think further?  A group of women devoted to promoting Biblical relationships between men and women in Australia (called Equal But Different) have done a great service for us in their attempts to outline the Bible’s teaching on this topic.  Here is a summary of their approach from their website:

Equal But Different accepts and affirms:

1. The goodness and wisdom of God in creating people in His image as male and female;

2. The authority of the Bible in defining God’s purposes for men and women, and how they are to live and relate in His world;

3. The absolute equality of men and women in His purposes with respect to status, honour and dignity;

4. That both men and women are equally fallen before our Creator and Judge, and that both are equally loved and  able to be rescued from God’s deserved wrath through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ;

5. The generosity of God who, through His Spirit, gives gifts of ministry, including leadership, teaching and pastoring to both men and women;

6. That God calls everyone, female and male, to a life of whole-hearted service to Him, and of self-sacrificial ministry to His people and to the world in whatever context He places them;

7. That both men and women are to use their gifts and exercise ministry in a joyful and committed way;

8. That God’s purposes for humanity include complementary relationships between the genders;

9. That men are called to loving, self-denying, humble leadership, and women to intelligent, willing submission within marriage;

10. That within the church, this complementarity is expressed through suitably gifted and appointed men assuming responsibility for authoritative teaching and pastoral oversight; and

11. That we unconditionally reject the use of God’s purposes for marriage as an excuse for violence against women, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

We have found this a helpful resource in thinking through this issue in a Biblical way and hope that you might also find it helpful.

Phil & Victoria Colgan

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