THEN WHY DOES THE CHURCH TODAY?
What does the Bible say about gender authority?
Gregory D. Kirschmann
In our society and even the Church today, the question of authority based on gender seems not only settled, but even beyond question. The adamant assertion is that a female has the right to any position of authority in the home, Church or government that a male does.
Dare dispute that assertion, and you will likely be labeled bigoted, ignorant, a woman hater or worse. You may hear, “What about Deborah?“, or, “There is neither male nor female…“. But interestingly, I have never read or heard a consistent, complete compilation of all the biblical passages that teach or reflect gender relationships by those who support that view. Instead, you find extremely selective, partial passages taken out of context.
What does God’s Word say? Does it really place the husband as the head of the home as historical Christianity asserts? Is formal leadership in the New Testament Church to be held only by men? Is it unscriptural for women to be in authority over men? Is the Body of Christ today accepting a viewpoint and practice that is contrary to the Church of God?
Please understand, this is not about any person’s ability, no matter what gender, to exercise tremendous influence apart from any formal position of authority. This is not a question about the privilege of any gender to be involved in ministry, to be anointed in their service, to fulfill a legitimate God designed purpose, or to be ‘called’. It is solely about whether the Bible asserts a male is the God appointed authority in marriage and specifically assigned to formal positions of authority in the Church (Elder and Deacon).
There is no question that I have faulty filters that can slant my understanding of this issue ~ just as every other person, male or female, also does. That struggle does not remove our responsibility or privilege to address and understand what God says about gender authority. I do so with a holy reverence. I even fight a fleshly fear. This has been a process of deep, long soul searching and study. I still hold this matter before the Lord, looking for greater insight. I trust that the Holy Spirit has been faithful to lead me to a place of correctly interpreting the Bible in a way that upholds the Word in truth and spirit. My desire is to rightly submit to God-established authority. I believe that is the best and only way to honor, strengthen and protect every person, no matter what their gender or position.
As you ponder these thoughts, please keep in mind these things;
1. My focus in this dissertation is only to observe what Scripture says about gender authority. I do not engage in a debate about what theologians say about gender authority. That has been done many times. I simply assert that God would not make His Word so confusing, that we would be easily led astray by an overt reading without human commentary. Nor do I doubt that the Holy Spirit will do His job to guide us in a accurate understanding of what God is saying.
I also do not attempt to define how it is to be practiced. I do encourage a careful, sensitive, but obedient response to whatever Scripture and the Holy Spirit reveal to you.
2. I believe that when we live in the parameters God has established, we are released into full freedom, and not limited in any way from our God-given potential. There is no doubt that woman can exercise leadership with great skill in many spheres of authority. I believe the question that over-rides that truth is, does God allow them to exercise formal authority in their marriage and ministries over men?
I understand that what I am presenting has immense implications. However, if gender authority is what the Bible teaches, and women of Scripture were never hindered in their call by living under gender authority, then how can we do any different?
3. We all, both male and female, are under authority. While we may have certain positions of authority, we are also in the same position as the Roman Centurion, "For I, too, am a man under authority..." Luke 7:8 (NASB). Jesus honored him as having the greatest faith in Israel, simply because he recognized the importance and truth of God ordained authority. A Centurion getting top honors for faith that simply understood Kingdom authority! Among all God’s people, a Roman soldier! Is that not an incredibly potent example of the importance of authority?
The teaching today about gender authority is a recent radical turn-around. Not just from a limited period a couple decades ago, but from the basic doctrine of the Church since the Apostles! Is the doctrine of gender authority a two thousand year old misinterpretation of God’s Word, only until now correctly understood? Or is the present gender neutral authority being practiced today an disturbingly blatant distortion of God’s Word? Is it one of the major symptoms of capitulation to culture by the Western Church? I believe it was Francis Schaffer who said, “Look at a value of society today, and you will see a value of the Church eight years from now.”
Consider the recent best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, now a movie. As Citizen Magazine puts it, “Here in a nutshell is the history of Christianity according to Dan Brown... It’s all been one big sexist plot to empower men and oppress women... Jesus was never God at all. He was a man who married Mary Magdalene, had children with her and left her in charge of the Church... But Peter got jealous of her, as did the men who followed him in later generations. So they buried the evidence of her elevated status, made sure only male-oriented Gospels made it into the Bible... In short, the entire Church has been built on lies.” It must be noted, that this assertion pollutes the entire New Testament and all of Church history with bigotry and far more!
Keep in mind that while this is a fiction book, it is also purportedly based on rejected but true facts and holy writings. Isn’t that the prophecy of 2 Thess. 2:9-12 (NASB) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Or more recently, consider two movies that ironically came out at the same time, “A Night With the King”, and the Spartan epic, “300”. One shows a tender, loving and romantic king, the other, a twisted despot. They both depict the same king, Artixersis from the book of Esther. Guess which one is historically more accurate?
These distortions in society today can only find credence because the Church has already allowed a platform. What birthed this audacious twisting of truth? Could it be that over the last few years the Church has diluted and rejected the teaching of God’s Word regarding gender authority and other important issues? Is it not ‘politically correct’ not only in society, but also in the Body of Christ to accept women in every position of authority, and certainly not to make waves by even speaking otherwise.
There cannot be the vast separation of belief in the Church about gender authority today without one party fitting into the following passage. It should a sober warning to anyone who takes any position about this issue. 2 John 1:9-11 (NASB) Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
It is amazing to me that in the very context of where it was first said, it is again being asked, “Did God really say?“ I ask you to lay down your position about gender authority for a moment. Take a fresh, thorough look at the pertaining passages in context, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in all truth. I love the promise of John 7:17-18 (NASB) “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
I invite you to do a ‘Berean study,’ with God’s Word as your primary text and the Holy Spirit as your partner. Acts 17:10 (NASB) Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.