I have just finished reading Wayne Grudem's Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism. Dr. Grudem is Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix, University and a founder of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Grudem's book is eleven chapters long, but he spends only one chapter articulating his views of manhood and womanhood.
In that one chapter Dr. Grudem lays out 83--count them, eighty-three--things that women can or cannot do within a church, encompassing three areas: (1). Governing authority, (2). Bible teaching, and (3). Public visibility. I found Dr. Grudem's list of 83 do's and dont's more than a little bizarre. In the area of authority, Grudem says that a woman can never have any authority over men. Though Grudem says he has no problem with women exercising influence through voting as a member of the church, a woman is never to have what Grudem calls governing influence in the home or church. Governing influence is reserved for men, for men are designed by God to lead, and women are designed by God to follow. The illustration Grudem gives to amplify the above principle is found on page 56, footnote 33:
There is a huge difference between exercising influence through voting and exercising authority through governing the congregation. To take an analogy, an-eighteen-year-old American can vote for president of the United States, but cannot be president of the United States, and authority residing in the office of president far exceeds the authority of any individual believer.The analogy is revealing regarding Grudem's thoughts on women. The Constitution deems an eighteen-year-old to be unqualified to serve as President. Similarly, Grudem believes women are unqualified to lead men. The startling two-fold reason Grudem gives for a woman's inability to lead men is given on pages 38-39. Grudem writes:
(1). Because God gave Adam a leadership role when He created him first and Eve second, and (2). God gave men, in general, a disposition that is better suited to teaching and governing in the church (emphasis mine), a disposition that inclines more to rational, logical analysis of doctrine and a desire to protect the docrinal purity of the church, and God gave women, in general, a disposition that inclines more toward a relational, nurturing emphasis.Grudem is just flat wrong on many fronts; biblically, historically and morally just to name a few. Biblically, a number of bible-believing, Christ-honoring scholars disagree with Grudem's faulty interpretations of the pertinent scriptural texts (search this blog's search engine with words like "authority," "women," and "gender equality" for examples). Historically, try telling Margaret Thatcher she lacks the 'disposition that inclines toward rational, logical analysis' and cannot lead men. Morally, Grudem is violating women by saying something untrue about them, somethng directly contradicted by Scripture itself (see Galatians 3:26-28).
But the point of this post is to reveal Grudem's legalism. If one rejects the biblical truth that both men and women image God, and if one insists that only men can lead and women should follow, and if one believes that women shall be eternally subordinate to men, then one must come up with a whole series of things that a women can and cannot do, a list that is extra-biblical in nature. In fact, the further you get away from Scripture, the more rules one must employ.
On the other hand, those who receive the simple biblical truth that men and women in Christ are equal in terms of spiritual authority and Kingdom ministry will find that no rules are needed.
"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free."