Many thanks to David Cramer for his blog, posted earlier this week, commending John Piper’s advocacy for the education and the safe return of 276 Nigerian females. Cramer applauds Piper for declaring Christian discipleship gender inclusive, compelling Christians to educate both male and female, based not on the contested passages related to authority (such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15 or 1 Corinthians 14:34-35), but on a broader and perhaps more egalitarian understanding of Christian discipleship as a whole.
I join David in commending complementarians as they support the education of girls globally. However, there is more to be said. These 276 girls (not to mention the 200 million females missing globally) are never helped by religious teachings (Christian, Muslim, or any other tradition) that devalues females and excludes them from leadership roles over men, whether in the church, the home, or society—because of gender. Ideas have consequences. Though Piper endorses female education, he denies them equal authority because they are female and this places them at great risk, in any corner of the world! To be equal in education but unequal in service is a bait and switch which egalitarians reject as unbiblical.
Happy as I am that complementarians endorse female education, even so, the teachings of complementarians marginalize females from the decision-making tables in their marriages, churches, work places and communities. While girls and women are viewed equal in worth (ontologically), complementarians claim that males and females have different roles or purposes (telos). Of course, by roles they mean males hold authority that females are denied. What is the result? Males and females are equal in being (ontos) but unequal in purpose (telos). Bait and switch!…Please do not tell girls or women that they share equally in God’s image; that they are equal at the foot of the cross; that they are equal in the kingdom of God, that they should cultivate their minds equally, unless you are prepared to give them equal authority to use the gifts God has given them. To do otherwise is to bait girls and women with the truth of Scripture as it points to their inheritance in Christ, and then to switch—to deny them the opportunities to walk in newness of life—in using their God-given gifts with equality authority. To advocate for the education of females based on the aims of Christian discipleship is inseparable from God’s aims for men and women created in God’s image—where both shared authority in Eden (Genesis 1:26- 28); and as recreated in the image of Christ who extends equal authority to his disciples, both male and female (John 20:18-23).