What They’re Missing…

Faraway Rock - Mt. Rainier Nat'l ParkHow scriptural is Bruce Ware’s “equal but different” approach to gender roles?  Is the “complementarian” view – women are to be submissive to male authority, period – how the New Testament church functioned?

A portion of a thoughtful, cogent article by Mimi Haddad, Empowered by God, appears below.  The full text appeared in a recent issue of Sojourners magazine.  The article discusses the relative newness of the complementarian view as well as women who ministered throughout history.

Referencing an older female friend who works in Christian ministry at a large, secular, university, Haddad notes how her friend is  “passionate for Chris”, a gifted teacher and preacher.  The friends says:

“My church spends thousands of dollars so I can share the gospel with college students, both men and women. Yet they will not permit me to preach from the pulpit because I am a woman. This is not only inconsistent. What is worse, they are telling me that there is something wrong with being female!”

Haddad relates her experience with three Christian women, all in their 80s, who attended evangelical colleges and churches and remember hearing female evangelists preach in the Midwest “in places that would surprise some of us today.”  Writes Haddad:

One of the women, Alvera Mickelsen, told me, “You know, it wasn’t until 1950 that women preachers were considered ‘liberal.’ Before that, no one thought twice about women preaching the gospel.”

The contrast between the experience of these women and that of many evangelicals in college today tells us that something vital has been lost for evangelicals. While the patriarchal view, which holds that women are subordinate in their role and their very being, has been around for much of history, it was only in the 1970s that a new patriarchal religious strain emerged within the evangelical community: the so-called “complementarian” view, which argues that, while men and women are created in God’s image as equals, women have different “roles” or “functions” than men. By “role” or “function” they mean one thing: that women are to be submissive to male authority.

This dissonance between what women are (created equally by God) and what they are to do (take a subordinate role to men) is a challenge to logic. But is it also a challenge to Christian history and scripture? In fact, what evangelical “complementarians” are missing is the fact that the shared authority and ministry of men and women were embraced in egalitarian ways in the work of the apostles—and in the writings and ministry of the early evangelicals of the 1700s.

What else is “missing”?

In case you missed it previously, let me wrap up this series by posing the following again (Don’t worry.  There’s lots more where this came from.  :):

Did Christ come to exchange one straight-jacketed set of rules and restrictions for another?  Did He die and rise again to enact a spiritual apartheid system in which men reign supreme and women are spiritual wanna—bees, “becoming the image of God through the male”? Is not one’s capacity for ministry based on Christ’s victory at Calvary rather than failure at the Fall?  Is spiritual segregation what New Testament Christianity – for either gender – is all about?

What’s your view?

HIGHLY recommended reading: an excerpt from J. Lee Grady’s masterful work, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women. Get the book for the full version.

***

In the pipeline:

Some special Thanksgiving-themed posts including “Not thinking.  Remembering” (bonus points if you can identify the movie from which that line was uttered), Christmas goodies, and discussions on “institutional” church and spiritual abuse.  And whatever else  the ‘ole gray matter happens to bite off and chew…  See ya soon.

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