Previously, I pointed out that as women have taken leadership positions in many of our mainline churches, men have silently removed themselves from the picture. Interestingly enough, this has brought about a gradual move by many churches to liberalism – largely due to fundamental differences in the way men and women see the world.
Men tend to prioritize rules first.
Women tend to prioritize relationships first.
We see these tendencies from the school playground to the gridiron and yes, to the Church. When a dilemma rises, men tend to consult the rulebook first. Women tend to consider eachothers’ feelings first.
How does this apply to the church? Well, when a decision is brought up for debate (i.e., same-sex marriage) men tend to go straight to the rulebook – the Bible – and end the discussion there. Women, however – in an effort to preserve relationships – tend to seek a solution that keeps people happy.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are four things that need to be made perfectly clear:
1) I’m not blaming women for the decline of the mainline. Men withdrew and women stepped up.
2) I’m not saying that women are more prone to heresy than men.
3) I’m not saying that rules don’t matter to women – they just typically matter less than relationships do.
4) I’m not saying that women should never lead in churches. Since the beginning, women have played a vital role in the local church.
Here’s my key point: liberalism rises not when individual women take on key leadership roles, but when groups of women come to dominate church leadership without the moderating presence of men.
A healthy church needs the influence of both men and women. It needs rule people and relationship people. When one cohort dominates, you end up with crushing legalism or limp liberalism. Jesus clearly despised the former and judging by the decline of the mainline, He doesn’t seem too excited about the latter.
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