"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The New Testament Equality of Males and Females

When I first started blogging in 2005 I was told that the most effective blogs are those that focus on one predominant theme.

Beginning in 2005 I focused like a laser beam on the unethical attempt by International Mission Board trustees to subvert the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole and impose a doctrinal standard on IMB missionaries that not only exceeded the Baptist Faith and Message, but by its very existence, breached the ethical boundaries of trusteeship and violated the constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was during 2005-2008 (the years I served as an IMB trustee) that I began to see the problems we had in the Southern Baptist Convention went far beyond the International Mission Board. Convention leadership (trustee boards) had left their sola Scriptura convictions, and out of the fear of "liberalism," became fundamentalists--demanding conformity and agreement on tertiary doctrines that had nothing to do with evangelical cooperation on the mission field.

One of those third-tier doctrines was the role and authority of women.

I saw with my own eyes the unethical, unbiblical, and godless treatment of women in the Southern Baptist Convention and I vowed to do something about it.

Do I consider the equality of men and women a first-tier evangelical doctrine?

No; but because fundamentalists among us have elevated "the female subordination of women to men" as a litmus test for evangelical orthodoxy, I now focus on their dysfunctional views of male authority and female subordination to help my fellow Bible-believing, conservative, evangelical Christian friends realize the errors being promulgated.

Female subordination to male authority is promoted by organizations such as The Council for Biblical Manhood and WomanhoodTogether for the Gospel, and The Elephant Room. Mark Driscoll once identified "the subordination of women to men" as one of the four key building blocks of his Resurgence Movement. I

I have addressed the doctrinal fallacies of the Gender Gospel elsewhere, fallacies that plague both liberal feminism and Fundamentalism. In this post, I want to give a few examples of how Bible-believing Christian families, churches, and groups move into dysfunctional, even cultish behavior if female subordination is allowed to be taught and practiced as biblical orthodoxy.

Most people are familiar with the removal of Sheri Klouda as Hebrew professor from Southwestern Theological Seminary by men who hold to female subordination and cringe at the thought of a woman teaching men Hebrew. What many men and women in conservative, evangelical churches don't realize is that there are Sheri Kloudas everywhere--gifted women who are removed from responsible Christian leadership positions and/or forbidden from speaking publicly, teaching others the Word of God, or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to men because they are women
This absurd position is totally contrary to the Gospel, anti-Christian in nature, and the opposite of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. If not stopped, it will plague Christian people with a disease of the soul that is worse than leprosy of the skin. It leads to power-hungry men seeking positions of authority and control, and an almost cultish like god complex. "I am in the image of God. My word is Law. You submit to what I say, and don't dare try to tell me what I should do."  

This anti-Christ doctrine fleshes itself out in conservative Christian homes and churches in various ways. I will give you three examples.

(1). A well-known Southern Baptist pastor recently told his congregation that he decided to move his family to a new house this year. The price of the pastor's old home ($375,000) and the price of the pastor's new home ($500,000) were appropriately not revealed to the congregation. However, they are relevant to this story because the pastor previously told his congregation that they were not to buy more expensive homes, but rather God desired them to set aside that extra money and give it to kingdom causes (i.e. the church). 
Please don't misunderstand me. I advocate freedom for all pastors and all congregations to do as the Spirit leads; even the purchase of million-dollar-homes if that is what the Spirit leads them to do. What I find incongruous is the promotion of a so-called "radical Christianity" by those are actually averse to living radically themselves. People should realize one of the prominent New Testament principles is freedom and Spirit-led living. The problem is when pastors place themselves as an authority over the lives of others to tell them how they are to live, while at the same time doing the opposite of what they advocate. It's much better to be silent on issues the Bible is silent about. 

Anyway, back to the main point.

What most people in this pastor's church are not aware of is that the pastor's new home is within ten miles of his old home. Before the move, the pastor's wife insisted that the family should not move. She had several very good and valid reasons. However, the pastor informed his wife, that as the man in the home--"the one with authority"--he would make the decision to move and overrule any objections he heard. He said moving was "the right thing" to do, and submission to his authority was "the right thing" for her to do.  So the pastor's family moved. I have withheld names, but I do hope the pastor reads this blog and realizes the dysfunctional nature of the argument he had with his wife. Multiply this by hundreds of times in conservative, evangelical homes and you get a picture of the problems created when Christian men have a warped view of their authority.

(2). Lamar Wadsworth wrote to me and told me about his mother's funeral. He wrote:

 "When my mother died, we were not allowed to have her funeral at the Southern Baptist church where she was an active member for over FIFTY years because I had asked two women to read Scripture at the service.  So the funeral had to be held at my home church, the Heritage Baptist Church in Cartersville GA. My church honored my Mother like she was one of their own and gave her the homegoing celebration she deserved. The following November, on All Saints Day--without explanation or comment, my Mother's name was included on the list of members of Heritage Baptist Church who had died in the past year. Bill Leonard said we pulled off the first posthumous transfer of church membership in Baptist history."

Can you believe it? A Southern Baptist Church refuses to allow the funeral of one of the members of their church, a member who faithfully attended and gave to the church for over fifty years because the son of the woman who died wanted two women to read Scripture at his mother's funeral. Again, the church is not being named in this post, but for our purposes, we will call it Ichabod Baptist Church for the glory of God is truly gone from it.

(3).  There is a commentary on the Bible "just for women." Dorothy Patterson and Rhonda
Harrington Kelley, professors of "Women's Studies" and "Women's Ministry" at Southwestern Theological Seminary and New Orleans Theological Seminary respectively, are the two women who wrote the Bible commentary "for women."

The back cover gives the purpose of the commentary: "The Women's Evangelical Commentary is designed to equip women to face cultural issues regarding femininity and gender." This is Christianese lingo for "it will help convince all you women that you should teach only women, work only in the home, and find your identity in the man God has given you."

I had dinner with Paige and Dorothy Patterson in their home in Fort Worth a few years ago. I have never written the details about our conversation, nor will I, but what that dinner did for me was to reinforce my decision to focus on calling out the bizarre and unbiblical views of women that are being taught by our seminary Presidents, their wives, and other 'leaders' in the SBC.

If the Spirit of God leads you, women, to never work outside the home and to focus on having as many children as possible while creating a safe environment in your home for your husband and kids, then go for it! If you are led to the seminary to learn the skills of sewing clothes and folding napkins for a proper Southern home, then more power to you!

If you live your life submitting to what you perceive as "the authority" of men, particularly the husband God has given you, then fine! Just don't dare call it biblical. Call it your cultural preference. Why? Because one day when you die you will not have a man you will call your husband. One day when you die you will exercise your gifts in God-given creative work. One day when you die your entire identity will be in Christ and no other man. One day when you die you will be given a new name, a new place to live and a new purpose for eternity--all based upon who you are as a person-- equal to any man God created.

While you are on earth, I hope you find that the teachings of grace and equality in the Bible prepare you for eternity. But if your cultural preference is to find your identity in a man, then just be honest that you feel safer and more secure in the shadow of man's identity, and if equate your submission to God to that of a visible, physical man, then just be honest about what you are doing. Don't call it biblical Christianity. In fact, it's so unbiblical to the Christianity portrayed in the New Testament that it may be people who are as comfortable as you in your cultural preferences will write a Bible just for you.

Oh, wait, that's what this post is about.

May I suggest that the Bible you have from God is sufficient?

For my fundamentalist friends who've elevated the gender gospel to a primary test of Christian orthodoxy, you have forced me to focus my laser on you to help end the dysfunctional churches and homes you are creating.

(This post is a reblog of a 2012 post by Wade Burleson).

17 comments:

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Good post again.

Eve sinned by being deceived, but Adam sinned while knowing it.

Page Patterson’s wife said I obey my husband even when he’s wrong; then he will be the one to answer to God.
Duh

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Excellent article! Brings out the Aussie in me: GOOD ON YOU MATE!

I can only hope and pray that more who call themselves Christian will have the courage to agree with you.

Anonymous said...

What a timely post for my family!

This week our son, who is a "worrier" and wants to do right/follow the Bibles teachings had questions about the whole men/women role. He's taking Bible class in school and they've read and discussed some of the controversial passages.

I had saved your Jan 18, 2007 post
http://www.wadeburleson.org/2007/01/strange-belief-that-woman-cannot-teach_19.html
and we pulled it up and looked at it.

His dad came in during our talk and affirmed/offered insight into our conversation.

Please keep challenging folks to really study the Bible and reject the "women are under submission to men" teaching.
It's sad.

Unfortunately, we see it a lot on the mission field; especially with newer missionaries.


IMB M

Victorious said...

After nearly 40 yrs. of being a Christian, I am still amazed that this topic even needs to be debated. I'm still amazed at the twisting of scripture in an effort to keep women in a subordinate position in any situation. I'm still amazed that women's voices are still being silenced in some churches. I'm still amazed that while many women are holding positions in the fields of medicine, politics, software development, marketing, engineering, education, etc., their gifts and talents are still unwelcome in many assemblies.

Watching this for so long and experiencing it first-hand so many times, I am still amazed that I am still a Christian. Unfortunately, it has caused me to distance myself from many other believers in an effort to refrain from the need to engage in this type of debate and defend the principle of God's impartiality. Boundaries are beneficial in that they keep the good in and the bad out....(from the book "Boundaries") :)

Thank you, Wade, for always presenting the truth of the gospel in this particular topic.

Christiane said...

Hey Rex Ray,

you wrote, "Page Patterson’s wife said I obey my husband even when he’s wrong; then he will be the one to answer to God.
Duh"

wow, so Dorothy Patterson intends to give the Nuremburg defense that she was only following orders? Yikes!

I once asked a speaker who advocated for obedience to husbands this,
'What do you do if your husband asks you to sin and go against your conscience?'

Seems to me that patriarchy doesn't just put women down, it erases their very personhood before God ....

Hope you are doing well. I have recovered from pneumonia and am currently snowed in, but no complaints as all is very cozy in front of fireplace :)

Rex Ray said...

IMB Missionary,

I have three grandsons born in Jerusalem since my son was a missionary in Israel. I’ll print some of a four page letter that Jerry Rankin sent to all missionaries.

Jerry Rankin, IMB President
April 9, 1997
This is an awesome moment to stand before you and attempt to articulate the beginning of a new paradigm in overseas administration and structure. Such expectancy has been created regarding these recommendations that it seems the whole world is waiting with bated breath for what I am going to say…we are preparing a redesign of the way we are organized…the guidance and anointing of God will require a significant shift in attitudes and ways of functioning…put the policy manual on the shelf and focus on the task of winning our world…the real evidence of change will come when a passion to know the Messiah and make Him known with a total abandonment that supersedes concerns of finances, family and personal fulfillment. A confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership whether we necessarily understand or agree.

I believe his letter made missionaries into employees.

More on topic is a letter written to the IMB several years ago by Paige Patterson, President of SWBT seminary, and Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary Louisville, Kentucky.

The letter more or less said they would support the IMB IF all women missionaries were removed from positions over men.

Rex Ray said...

Hey yourself CHRISTIANE,

Good comparison of Dorothy and Nuremburg defence! I was in Germany when those trials were going on. They had earphones and you selected what language you wanted to hear. “Following orders” was their plea but it didn’t do any good.

Glad you’re on your feet again. Last week I got an infection on my face and looked so awful my daughter said I should wear a ski mask, but I needed to go to the bank and figured that wouldn’t be a good idea. Antibiotics have it about well now.

GMurray said...

Thank you again Wade for bringing to the fore again, this subject which in many churches is the defining element so to speak.If its not part of a main belief, its often there under the guise of 'Positional papers'

I am mindful of Gordon Fees comment when asked about whether he believed in women leadership in the church.. If I remember his reply, it was to say '"thats the wrong question'
Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit and not determined by Gender .

Sadly many of the churches today do not believe or practice this.. Leadership is sadly defined by Gender and not the Spirt.

George

Dave said...

Wade,

Please forgive me for posting (mostly) off-topic,...but I just felt a compelling to reach out in agreement affirming what I detect in your heart.

I long to see consistent humility and "brokenness" from the pulpit. My spirit thirsts for the shepherds voice that cracks from desperate self-aware inadequacy and the daily struggle over a fallen human nature. I need to see the finger of condemnation pointing FIRST,...back to themselves, with tearful confession to their brothers and sisters, of their own need for daily deliverance.

I want to believe again, that the institutional church can be more than a non-profit, 501c3 tax exempt religious enterprise, claiming ownership and bearing the name of a mortal being, instead of Jesus.

Your blog is keeping my wavering hope alive, and you are feeding my soul....thank you, sincerely!

Wade Burleson said...

Dave,

You've given me about the best compliment I've received in a long time.

Thank you, sir.

GMurray,

Gordan Fee nailed it, in my opinion. Thank you for this anecdote.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

You said on January 9: “Bottom line, FEELING like I AM the chief of sinners keeps me humble, open and transparent in my Christian walk, but ACTUALLY NOT being the chief of sinners is the reality and experience of tasting God's grace in the Person of Jesus Christ.”

To me that sounds like James in (Acts 15:19-20 KJ) “…we trouble not them [rules]…but that we write unto them [rules]…”

I think of James’ words as double talk.

How do I taste God’s grace if I’m walking with my head down because I feel like I’m the chief of sinners?

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NLT)

GLORY

Tamara said...

Wade - since the subjects are similar, I hope it's ok to ask this here.
Around two years ago you had a great blog post titled Rightly Dividing God's Word: Christians are to serve based on our giftedness, not our gender.
It was so great that facebook just reminded me that I had shared it at the time. But when I clicked the link to reread, I was taken to a page with this message: Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.

Here was a quote I highlighted when I shared:
"Paul quotes both pagan poets and proud Pharisees in Scripture.

Just because you are quoting a passage from the Bible does not necessarily mean you are revealing the mind of God. Serious, Bible-believing Christians recognize that no individual verse or passage of Scripture can be correctly interpreted outside of the textual context and an understanding of the cultural climate of those to whom the letter was initially written."

Thanks!

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George Luter said...

Most SBC churches won't bar a funeral because a woman read something. What they will do is limit the number of women on their "leadership committee" that really runs the church since the deacons have been reduced to a pass the plate body. WMU will slowly be replaced as the WMU women die out by "women's ministries" that do "women" things. Slowly and surely...

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Jack Ragsdale said...

Pastor Burleson.

This blog tells more about you than about the subject you are discussing.

Christ is the subject of our message to the world and it seems you are trying to change the
subject.

Jack

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This was a really great contest and hopefully I can attend the next one. It was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself.. testament