Gender “war” might sound excessive. Perhaps if we frame this within the broader “evangelical culture war,” then the word-choice probably makes sense. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I believe that the worldwide church should “Liberate Women for Ministry.” Honestly, the complementarian system holds back the potential for a more beautiful kingdom, filled with 21st century Junia’s and Deborah’s to lead the church forward in her mission. And yes, I say this as a man, called to a pastoral life myself. I think that many of the traditionalist folks who desire “revival” to happen in our day, need to ask: How does our stifling of the gifts of women hold back the potential for revival in our day?
On this issue, I find myself optimistic and yet still concerned. I believe that many people in the broader church now recognize that the egalitarian perspective is most faithful to the Scriptures. A friend of mine, Rachel Held Evans (author of Evolving in Monkey Town and the forthcoming Year of Biblical Womanhood), recently said this on her blog:
I probably don’t say this enough, but I am extremely hopeful about the future of women in the Church. Sure, there are some extra-loud voices calling for women to conform themselves to narrowly defined roles that have more to do with an idealized conception of pre-feminist America than with actual “biblical womanhood,” but I believe these cries represent the last desperate throes of a dying movement. I sincerely believe that, if I have daughters, they will be welcomed as equals in most evangelical churches, and that egalitarian marriages like my own—in which my husband and I work together as a team of equal partners—will become the norm within Christendom.
I really hope this is the case, but on the other side of this discussion we have pastors like Mark Driscoll and John Piper, who fail to read the Bible in its historical context. They want to cling to this power-over view of gender, that limits the roles of women in the church and home. The New Calvinist movement was named one of the 10 Things Changing the World (2009), which, for all the good these churches do – great. However, when it comes to this issue, they are simply wrong. And, if John Piper is correct, this growing movement is turning the gender conversation back toward “complementarianism.” Watch the following clip for his view:
What do you think based on your experiences? Which perspective is more dominant in your context? Why?
- Liberating Women for Ministry?, Kurt Willems (series I wrote, scroll down to find part 1)
- Junia is not Alone, Scot McKnight
- Some great posts about gender, hierarchy, equality, and marriage, Rachel Held Evans
- Driscoll, “Real Marriage,” and Why Being a Pastor Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Sex Therapist, Rachel Held Evans
- In Which Love Looks Like Real Marriage, Sarah Bessey
- Women’s Service in the Church: A biblical basis, NT Wright