It’s Time for a Schism Regarding Women in the Church

It’s Time for a Schism Regarding Women in the Church November 22, 2013

I don’t take this lightly. I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously. Our eschatological hope is that the church will be one, and that we will all be united in belief, practice, and love.

But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.

The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.

That means:

  • If you attend a church that does not let women preach or hold positions of ecclesial authority, you need to leave that church.
  • If you work for a ministry that does not affirm women in ecclesial leadership, you need to leave that ministry.
  • If you write for a publishing house that also prints books by “complementarians,” you need to take your books to another publishing house.
  • If you speak at conferences, you need to withdraw from all events that do not affirm women as speakers, teachers, and leaders.

That is, we who believe in the full equality of women need to break fellowship with those who do not. The time for dialogue and debate has passed. The Spirit has spoken, and we have listened. It’s time to move forward with full force.

Several schisms have rent the church in the past. They have indeed caused much damage to the body of Christ, but they have also ultimately produced benefit. Little good came from The Great Schism of 1054. Much more good came from the Reformation schism catalyzed by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and others.

Other issues that vex the church have not risen to the level of schism. Gay rights, for example, is an issue being worked through diligently and faithfully by many churches and denominations. They deserve time and grace as they study the Bible, listen to their people, and test the Spirit.

The full equality of women and men, however, is an issue that has long since been settled. Those who continue misogynistic practices in the church are not being faithful to the Bible or the Spirit of Christ, they are perpetuating retrograde and archaic beliefs and are doing great violence to women and men and the cause of Christ.

Having grown up in a church that ordained women, allowed women to lead, and had women preachers, it is honestly shocking to me to continue to run into so-called “complementarians.” I don’t meet them in real life — I just see them in the blogosphere, on Facebook and Twitter. And friends of mine like Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey assure me that they exist.

I don’t know what a schism looks like in the 21st century. It won’t look like past schisms — there’s no monolithic authority like the Vatican for us to protest against. Probably, like so many things in our postmodern society, it will be pluriform — a million little schisms.

It will be difficult for many people. It will cause broken relationships. But we have daughters, and the subjugation of women in the church needs to end in this generation.

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  • It’s an uncompromising stance but I agree. Unity built on inequality is not acceptable.

    • Elisabeth M

      You know… this question of unity is a weird one.

      Why can we not be “unified” while fiercely dissenting? I don’t see unity as agreement.

      Why can’t we say, “Yeah, these are our people,” and also fiercely challenge them on their views?

      I don’t see how that detracts from unity. I also don’t see how breaking – if it means ending the conversation – is useful. I also believe that one should never just stand aside and let an injustice perpetuate, so I agree, Dyfed, that inequality is not acceptable… but I don’t think it has to be the case that we can’t call each other family despite it.

      Metaphor: you’re at Thanksgiving dinner and your uncle makes a racist joke. Do you say: “You’re no uncle of mine,” or, “I’m not a part of this family”? I think it’s more powerful to call him on it from across the table.

      • Jaimie

        It’s not a weird issue at all. Either you’re on the right side of history with cool people like Tony and RHE and Sarah Bessey or you can rot in the dust bin of history with all the other bigots. Make your choice.

        • Chipmunk216

          My upvote assumes this is satire. I can’t always tell.

        • Elisabeth M

          Wow, that was a really vehement response. In me, your words land as: “Don’t ask questions. Don’t think thoughts. Toe the line and shut up.” Which is bewildering.

          Did you think I’m saying I’m not prepared to fight tooth & nail for equality?

          I don’t care about being “cool” like the cool kids.

      • Dan

        The old dictum was “On the essentials – unity, on the non-essentials – liberty, and in all things – charity.”

        I’ve had plenty of theological debates that model what you describe. I do think there are things worth dividing over (Trinity, Christology, and for Protestants in particular, soteriology). What I object to is unilaterally calling all who disagree with Tony on this issue hateful bigots, misogyinists, those who practice subjugation and violence toward women. That rhetoric misrepresents the complementarian position and does nothing more than stir anger.

      • SamHamilton

        I think we can be unified while disagreeing. Lots of churches do that. But Tony is not calling for unity while expressing disagreement. He is telling people they should leave “unChristian” churches. Not just that, he’s telling people they shouldn’t have their book published by someone who also published a non-egalitarian book. He’s telling people they should not appear at public events with people who don’t share his opinion. This is not unity with dissension. This is “breaking fellowship.”

  • ngilmour

    In other words, leave the church if you don’t like it. Business as usual.

    • FemalePastor

      You completely missed his point if this is all you took away from his post.

  • Jon Altman

    The United Methodists settled this (in favor of full clergy rights for women) 57 years ago.

    • Digger

      Is that an argument in favor of allowing women pastors, or fantastic evidence that it is the wrong thing to do?

    • Morton

      And the United Methodist denomination continues to decline into oblivion. Never mind the Gospel, never mind Scriptural integrity, and never mind Biblical teaching & preaching. Be agenda-driven, until you literally drive every believer out of your church.

      • Jon Altman

        I see you have an animus toward “liberal theology.” In 27 years I’ve never lost a member because the United Methodist Church has “liberal theology.” I HAVE lost a good many to the cemetery. The data for the UMC as a whole match my experience. What the UMC DOES do is provide a refuge for “recovering fundamentalists.”

        • Morton

          Apparently there are millions more people fleeing liberal theology than embracing it. Anecdotal evidence aside, statistics are proving that to be true.

  • I could not agree more.

  • Tony this is a tough one. Is there any way for a compromise as you see it or does it have to be such a sharp dichotomy?

    • On this issue, no compromise.

      • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

        It makes me laugh that I am down-voting you. 🙂

      • Chipmunk216

        How does that position allign with your expressed desire to honor and respect the different ecclesial forms of Christianity? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the majority of the Christian world outside of mainline or emergent Protestantism is not with you on this.

        • In the face of oppression, civility needs to be put on hold.

          • Mike Deangelo

            That, sir, is awesome. Does this mean I can scream obscenities at the President every time my health insurance rates go up and I’m forced to violate my Catholic conscience by being forced to pay for contraception and abortion services?

            Just wondering.

  • Steven Kurtz

    Not to quibble, but don’t you have to be an insider to be in a schism? A Roman Catholic or a Complimentarian-Church-Attending Protestant might become one, but if you are not inside, isn’t an opposing view simply an attack on a position held by others? But in any case, it’s already on (the attack, that is), and yes, I agree, that this issue was settled so long ago it seems nearly bizarre that in this time it’s still a live one. Like arguing about slavery – seems both anachronistic and rather soft-headed.

  • Thus the reason we have the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as a divorce from the Southern Baptist Convention. We actually just ran a piece about this at Associated Baptist Press yesterday:

  • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

    “That is, we who believe in the full equality of women need to break fellowship with those who do not.” …If we break relationship every time we disagree, then how do we learn from each other?

    • Read carefully, friend. This is not about breaking “every time we disagree.” This is about breaking over one, fundamental human rights issue.

      • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

        Alright. Fair. Let’s speculate though that not every church who closes the pulpit to women is doing so out of flagrant dismissiveness, but out of some sincerely searched conclusion that this is an appropriate interpretation of scripture related to the topic. Whether or not you agree or not, what is our responsibility to humanize the other here? Does it not involve relationship? (I hate it equally, for example, when conservatives otherize–or break ranks with–YOU for positions you’ve come to out of sincere searching.) Much love…

        • I’m not saying to dehumanize anyone. I’m saying that at a certain point, we need to break. That point has come. It doesn’t make them any less human, but it does make them less Christian.

          • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

            Man, bro. It “makes them less than Christian”? I have such a hard time with that. Aren’t all Christians–on any pole–flawed representations of God/Jesus/theBible? I believe in disagreeing as wholeheartedly as you want to, but people with differing opinions on this subject ALREADY identify with different denominations and traditions. I really struggle with the idea of promoting further division and calling for a break from relationship. I know I don’t want others to break from you or I over the way they might consider us “less than Christian”. We will live to fight it out another day, I suspect though. Have a good day, my friend.

            • Yes, it’s harsh. I understand that. But, on rare occasions, harshness is warranted. I don’t do this lightly.

              • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

                T, I know your communication is often rooted in intellect and academia; in forensics. And I have always appreciated that you make space for someone like me whose communication is…hopefully not void of intellect, but is often a lot more “heart on the sleeve”.

                So be patient with me, friend.

                You watch as the religious landscape once again flames up around women in leadership, and your drive for justice (as well as frustration?) prompts you to write a bold blog post demanding audacious action. I get that drive. I respect it. You know I do.

                What I wonder, though–and push back all you want–is if a call to “break fellowship” is a convenient position to take because not only does it voice a satisfying level of intensity, BUT it also is directed at this big, name-less, face-less corporate group of people. SAYING “we should break fellowship” has little real-life consequences for you or anyone else.

                But, if we accept this line of reasoning–that we should ACTUALLY break fellowship with those who disagree on values we consider central to a Christianity, it isn’t an academic or forensics exercise as you know. It has very personal consequences for everyone.

                Like then we have to put names and faces to it, T. For example, does there come a day when you–who are known to be more progressive than me–look at me and say, “Sarah, I am breaking relationship with you over issue X.” Or “Sarah, I consider you to be less than Christian.”

                (I get none of this is directed at me and I am not upset at all, but I need a hypothetical that means something to you and I don’t want to bring anyone else into this.)

                Does that day happen where you end relationship with me over a belief? You can tell me, but I don’t think it does.

                This is only partially-informed speculating here, so maybe I’m off. But I don’t think you–the real, fully dimensional you–is as comfortable severing ties with everyone who holds a given position with that broad of a brush. I trust you wouldn’t abruptly dismiss me…because a. you have affinity for me and b. you can find compassion and grace for people who you sense are trying to sincerely apply their ideas and beliefs given their current understanding. I think you’d be willing to concede that though you and I are not always on the same page, and though it might not be easy, that there is growth for both of us in staying connected. And that breaking relationship forces us both into rigid corners where we don’t benefit from differing perspectives on any number of things.

                If that is true–at the personal level–here’s the problem I see then.

                I’m not the only Sarah (i.e. moderate Christian) and you’re not the only Tony (i.e. more-progressive) who are friends. You have others besides me in your life; I have others besides you in mine. The Christian landscape is full of others besides us.

                So I am appealing to your heart as well as your intellect here, Tony, in asking you…if it wouldn’t be good for us to break ranks over disagreements why would we suggest it’d be good for the whole of Christianity? If we can have strong opinions, fight it out, and be in-process on any number of beliefs at any given time, and still have a meaningful, growing friendship that stretches us both, than why would we try to strip that learning from the whole? Why would we try to divide where we can grow?

                And if part of the answer is “Sarah, you don’t try to dismiss and oppress people” in the name of any conservative beliefs you hold, than all I am saying is neither does every evangelical church who closes their pulpit to women. It’s too broad of brush. I will continue to give Sunday sermons where asked and I will always defend your right to voice your opinions, but I think calling for breaking relationships works better in a feisty blog post than it does in real life.

                • I take your words to heart, Sarah. I will admit that when I was writing the post, I felt rising anxiety for what I was asking people to do. I realize that this carries real costs for people — way more costs that I’m likely to experience as a result of this call. So I don’t know if what I’m doing in this post is right, but I think it is.

                  Breaking fellowship — though not relationship — with someone over an issue of theology and justice is not to be entered into lightly. But sometimes, rarely, it is justified. Sometimes a surgeon has to cut through healthy, living flesh to remove a cancer.

                  • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

                    Thanks. I, too, put these thoughts out there humbly. These are just the best thoughts I have at the moment, and I feel them deeply, but it’s possible they will evolve over time. And I know that there is probably no singular “break” or “stay connected” response that fits every scenario.

                    So with those pre-cursors on the record, clarifying that we’re talking about “breaking fellowship” and not “relationship” doesn’t fix it for me. The same logic holds: So, not on this issue but on some other one you some day feel similarly anxious about, will you one day come to me and invalidate my identity as a Christian? Will you decline to speak at an event I help plan; at a church where I am a leader? Will you refuse to be part of groups where I am in attendance?

                    I know and trust you and believe the best about why you sometimes choose to communicate via what appears to me to be extreme language. But to me–to me, T–this kind of stuff calls us to remember a gracious and enduringly patient God who humbles himself to keep fellowship with such flawed and deviant humans like me. 🙂

          • Amy

            My god, you’re a judgmental ass.

            • Digger

              I love how this has been elevated to a “human rights” issue. MLK would be so proud.
              And Amy; an ass carried our Lord into Jerusalem. An animal whose only role was to elevate Christ so He and He alone could receive glory. Please do not denigrate the donkey by calling Tony Jones and ass.

              • Russell Snow

                I heard a story about Mother Teresa when she won the Nobel prize. When asked about the adulation she said “When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem and the crowds were cheering, Did the donkey think it was about him?”
                It might be apocryphal, but still a good question.

      • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

        Just for the record, even though I still participate in all kinds of evangelical tradition, I’ve given many Sunday morning sermons at many churches. So I’m not being personally defensive.

        • While I find myself (somewhat surprisingly, given my distaste for anything resembling harsh, schismatic, language) siding with Tony on this one, I think your comments are very much needed in this conversation. As both you (and those like you) and Tony (and those like him) clarify your views, the case for a “break from relationship” (or not) is made clearer.

          • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

            Thanks, Mark.

      • Respecting the human rights and dignity of every person is the whole ball game — this is the law and the prophets.

  • KentonS

    Processing… I’m an egalitarian in a technically complementarian church. (Supposedly women can do anything but be elders, but at the same time they’ve never led on Sunday either.) I’ve spoken out and have been heard, but the statement still reads no women elders. I haven’t thrown in the towel and bolted yet, and don’t see it happening right away, but I’ll hear you out.

    As I’m processing, let me ask, “why now? Why today?” What happened recently that sent you over the edge? RHE’s twitter mess? Richard Beck’s recent post? Piper/Driscoll idiocy?

    • All of it culminated in this. Honestly, I am truly shocked that this still goes on, that RHE needs to fight these battles, and that Richard and Scot need to keep theologizing about it. For shit’s sake, this should be behind us.

      • Agreed. The prophetic urgency you articulate so well here keeps me up late at night.

        I’m at a flagship church in our tradition and it’s at a tipping point, hovering between complementarian and egalitarian in practices and common life. If it tips the consequences would be huge for our churches. But how long to wait on that tip? I have a timeline in my head for when, in my life, I’d have to leave and start an egalitarian Church of Christ in my town.

        • Hopefully sooner rather than later. 🙂

        • Would you consider writing about Tony’s idea on your blog, Richard?

      • Morton

        “Shit’s sake”? Wow – talk about losing a whole TRUCKLOAD of credibility…

  • You write that “much good came from the Reformation schism…” seemingly to justify pursuing a schism. I think it would be better to say that God has brought about much good from tragic event in Christian history, just like God is always bringing his redemptive good from the tragic consequences of a fallen world. However, that does not mean it was/is God’s will for the occurrence of such tragic consequence, be it a schism in the church or else.

    • I’m not saying that we justify a schism because good will come. I don’t think we can ever know the results. We simply have to break and trust in God. But effectiveness cannot be the motivation. A thirst for righteousness must be.

  • Mark Raggett

    Unfortunately the church does not have the unity required to make a schism effective (like it did in, institutionally, in 1054 and during the reformation). We need to demonstrate what it is to be united in the face of non-essential questions before we can use the weight of schism over essential questions.

    • Doug

      brilliantly stated.

  • Amen!

  • It has continued to surprise me how prevalent they are. Even thought I grew up (half) Catholic, and women can’t be priests, the Director of Religious Ed at the church was a woman, and she and the priest worked together on pretty much everything. From my pov, it looked like a partnership. The pastor at the Protestant church I grew up going to was male, but I never once heard women couldn’t do certain things. Then when I started back to church in college, the church I attended had a woman as the associate pastor and women as elders/deacons/whatever. I don’t think it was until I was 24 or 25 that I heard this idea that women weren’t “allowed” to fully participate in the life of the church–and then I have continued to see people believe that over the years, and it’s sad. When I moved to my current town, one of the “qualifications” for choosing a church was that women in leadership were accepted. Even though the one I ended up at doesn’t have any women as elders, I learned that they they have been nominated, but nobody has accepted the nomination because they haven’t wanted to be the first one! Pastors there are all supportive, too, and when I proposed teaching a class on “Women in Leadership” they were all on board, so did that last spring.

  • I said this same thing a couple of years ago. This is not a difference that the supporters of women’s rights in the church should compromise on, and the opponents of women cannot afford to be seen as conciliatory towards us. It’s time to go our separate ways. Though we use the same book and the same words, it’s obvious that we worship very different Gods.

    • Digger

      Actually, I believe that most people who oppose women in the pulpit do so because they believe that is what the Bible is taught. There are very few who are opponents of women. At least half of them ARE women.
      Also, this isn’t a women’s rights issue. Women are absolutely free to preach in any church that will accept them in that role. To claim the mantle of women’s rights is to say that you favor forcing churches to hire women pastors.

    • Thursday1

      Though we use the same book and the same words, it’s obvious that we worship very different Gods.

      This has been very apparent for a while now.

  • John D’Elia

    I agree with you in principle, Tony. Something dramatic needs to be done to put this issue to bed. As a historian of fundamentalism I have a deeply-felt resistance to schism, though. I see the fallout from the last century or so of Protestant conflict as having produced next-to-nothing of significant import, and I don’t know if this would be any better. I do, though, believe strongly that we should continue to work from within these traditions to bring change. For me and for my own denominational tradition (PCUSA), this has been a settled issue for a generation, though not without local difficulties. And now that I’ve said that, can I ask, perhaps in the name of unity-building irony, that you give a little encouragement to the church traditions who have led the way here? You’ve been awfully hard on mainline denominations over the years, sometimes even with good reason. How about a gentle shout out to, say, my home PCUSA church in Burbank, that hired some amazing women during my formative years, who helped grow my faith and model gifted ministry?

    • Yes, John, my own tradition led the way on this. Antoinette Brown was ordained as a Congregationalist minister in 1851. The mainline denoms have been on the forefront on this issue. And I’ve many times publicly praised the denominational bureaucracies for forcing local congregations to take on women pastors before those churches were ready. Good on you!

      • Morton

        …and people are bailing out of these Scripturally bereft, spiritually dead mainline churches by the millions. People who are actually Christians want something more than extremist agendas. They want Scripture, they want Jesus, and they want to worship God. They do not want this ego & agenda-driven nonsense constantly crammed down their throats. THAT is why denominations such as your are dying – and rapidly.

    • SKPeterson

      Growing up in the LCA and then ELCA I would take a different tack and say that the ordination of women began the rapid decline of the ELCA that has only picked up steam as time has moved on. The allowance of a female pastorate has done no favors for Lutheranism in America, nor for orthodox theology or praxis. It has allowed and even encouraged an almost complete abandonment of sound theology. Despite its good intentions,the experiment of women in the holy office has been an abject failure in almost every sense of the term.

  • gimpi1

    “It will be difficult for many people. It will cause broken relationships. But we have daughters, and the subjugation of women in the church needs to end in this generation.”

    Speaking as an outsider, this would make your faith much more attractive. Frankly, I can ‘t put much stock in a belief that says, on one hand, “You are a child of God, redeemed, valued and loved,” and on the other hand,”You aren’t trustworthy, smart or honorable enough to be in any leadership positions because you don’t have a penis.”

    Racial segregation wasn’t ended by “unity,” it was ended by passing laws and enforcing them, even when it was divisive to do so. Gender subjugation won’t be ended in your churches unless those of you who understand it to be wrong push back, hard. It will be divisive. But if not now, when?

    • Yes, on this, I think that we very much need to listen to non-Christians.

      • Russell Snow

        Why? A non Christian has no idea what the church is about. We should listen to God. If He doesn’t speak in one way or the other, why bother?

      • illuvitus

        How about just switch to Universalism? People don’t like those icky Christians who are so adamant about standing for things. Why just ignore all those parts of Christianity we don’t like? Who better at defining Christian beliefs than people who don’t like Christianity?

    • illuvitus

      “Gender subjugation”. How about: “Natural consequences of males being different than females”.

      • Morton

        I, for one, am really really angry that I was not biologically able to give birth! How DARE God make me male, and not able to do that?!?!?

        • Russell Snow

          All right… all right… but apart from better
          sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and
          public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths
          and public order… what have the Romans done
          for us?

      • Eric Boersma

        I didn’t realize that a natural consequence of men being different from women was that every male, everywhere, no matter their age or mental state is automatically more capable of providing leadership, security and guidance than any female, anywhere.

        That’s tripe.

  • JTB

    hi Tony,
    I appreciate your passion on this. As a woman, a theologian, and life long CofCer (that’s Churcha-Christer, verbalized) I want to affirm your anger and the need for justice. And, also to defend why I “stay” within a church denomination that (typically) refuses not only to allow women into leadership and (paid) ministry positions, but to allow women’s voices to be heard and women’s bodies to occupy space “up front” during corporate worship.

    First I want to say that I don’t counsel other people to do what I’m attempting to do. The “stay or go” question is vexing and complicated and there’s no one size fits all answer, I think. But I don’t encourage people to stay in a church environment that has become toxic to them (my husband left years ago and is now happy being an Episcopal priest).
    So, since I don’t counsel other people to stay put as a more righteous or effective response to this injustice, why do I? Because I can, and because at the moment I think I can do more good by staying rather than leaving. It’s a unique possibility given my location and resources and education and network, and so I’m doing my best to utilize these things well.
    But I engage the work, not because I want to reform the institution or change the Church of Christ, per se. I engage in this work because I care deeply about the women sitting in the pews for whom leaving is still an unimaginable possibility, and the little girls who grow up hearing things that make them feel like, and I quote, “Jesus only died for the boys.” There are so many of them. And for those who find the courage to leave, hallelujah: be free in Christ to serve and glorify God with all that you are. For those who are still stuck, I’ll stick around.

    For anyone who’s connected with the CofC and is interested in working toward gender justice in the CofC, is still around and thriving. 🙂

    • I so much appreciate your spirit and the work you do with I serve with the Columbia CoC (Columbia, MD) which even though it can’t be classified as egalitarian, it does affirm and encourage the giftedness of women more so than many congregations of our tribe. One day…

      • JTB

        Thanks! I am excited about taking up an effort founded by heroes in the faith and to try to do right by them and for the church that raised us all…

        One takeaway from this post I can heartily amen is that, whatever we do, we need to do it loudly. If we leave, leave loudly. If we stay, stay loudly.

    • Robyn

      I admire what you are doing. I refuse to attend services at CoC with my in-laws, and I don’t want my children growing up thinking that it’s not even acceptable for a woman to simply exist if it is at the front of the room. May God use you to change hearts and minds.

      • JTB

        Robyn, thanks for your words. And also for your own witness to your in-laws on this! This is how things change. 🙂

    • Elisabeth M

      I agree; there’s value in the dissenting voices speaking from within the ranks. I myself am a convert of sorts, thanks to those same voices.

      The culture I come from was not “extreme” in any respect, yet over the years I absorbed the notion that women were inherently alienated from the divine in ways that men were not. I wouldn’t have put it that way then – I would have argued against it fiercely – but I did struggle with it all the time even then. Just not in those words.

      It is helpful to hear people speak out from within your culture. It’s far more challenging than to hear outsiders speak out, because those are outsiders; they don’t get it, and also they’re antagonistic to our views. When dissent is coming from within your own world, you have to wrestle with it, reconcile it somehow.

      I’m not the only one who’s had that experience. Over the last few weeks I’ve heard others say, here and there, “That used to be me,” and then give credit to dissenters for eventually opening their minds to other possibilities.

      So yeah, I see value in staying. If a person has the grace to stay. If not, then they should definitely go and be well, wherever they need to go to be well.

    • Joe

      Congratulations on your following your heart. Jeremiah 17:9

    • Paige G.

      I’m a C of Cer. I’ve never seen it written Churcha-Christer. I’m going to have to remember that one! Made me laugh.

      I appreciate your words. I have 2 daughters and a son and I struggle with the same thing, stay or go. I want to go, but I think there’s value in staying and serving. There’s value in going also. But I stay for the people who are greatly loved by God even while I don’t get my way. I’m hoping that God will work on my hard heart by teaching me how to remain with people with whom I disagree. Staying or going is a tough choice each person has to make on their own, there’s not just one right answer.

      I’m totally excited to know that is a church of Christ group! I did not know that! Now, off to search their site!

      • JTB

        hi Paige! Come find us. And if you’re on FB and looking for a private support/discussion group around this, send me an email. 🙂

        • Paige G.

          I found the FB group, but I think it’s the public one. How can I find the private one?

          • JTB

            email me; contact info is on website, 🙂

  • cordobatim

    Did I miss the part in Acts 15 where the Jerusalem churched expelled those who wanted to require circumcision?

    I’m glad to be part of a Kingdom that shows much more grace than this article!

    • God also struck down Ananias and Sapphira in Acts. It seems that some issues warrant severity.

      • KentonS

        Did you actually write that? 🙂

        • Are you surprised I quoted the Bible? 🙂

          • KentonS

            LOL! No, I’m just surprised you held up Ananias and Sapphira as the epitome of dealing with sin/conflict in the body of Christ. (Note to Self: Stay AWAY from Solomon’s Porch.)

            • Guest


              • Guest

                (KentonS, I don’t know what “SCHOOL” means, but it sounds cool, and your comment was awesome!)

                • KentonS

                  I understand when you “school” somebody, you dominate them mentally, taking them to school as it were. I did NOT do that to Tony, but I DO really appreciate your compliment.

          • I certainly am.

          • Morton

            I think I’d be SHOCKED if you actually quoted it in a contextually accurate way, rather than as part of an agenda-driven rant.

      • Some Christians do not seem to realize the importance of following God. When we follow God’s leadings in our lives and encourage the same in other’s lives, we have life. The days are brighter even during struggles, because we know we are doing what our Creator has directed. He is thus in control and more able to work things out.

        Not everyone has a “calling” placed on their lives by God. We all have giftings that we should indeed allow the Holy Spirit to move through us in. But those who have God’s specific callings placed on their lives can hardly breathe when they resist God. When we follow human reasonings, we may find some comfort in being out of the fight, but there will always be that quiet sense of drabness and something missing in life. Yes, there will always be struggles, but those struggles will cleanse our souls. And the victories of obeying God and not man, are life achieving. There is joy in obeying God. Why on earth do people want to hoard the rewards of obeying God to men only?

        Mine has been a long struggle. Many have attempted (some have succeeded) to shut me down from teaching and preaching. When I was silenced and could not share the things God put on my heart, no church was fulfilling. When I am free to speak and do as God directs I can then share my joys of serving God and bless others. I am blessed. People are blessed. God moves and speaks. We are all better people for allowing God His way.

        It has taken me a long time to be willing to speak of the struggles, they are so personal. But the joy of serving God has no comparison. Nothing else will do. When we obey what God puts before us, trembling that we are following only God, then there is joy unspeakable in one’s life.

        And who are the fools who would damage not only other’s lives, but their own lives by seeking to stop God.

    • Digger

      Tony isn’t suggesting kicking anyone out, he is suggesting that the offenders voluntarily leave! Let them! Tony’s idea is awesome!

  • Renee Goodwin

    Lots of people have left churches because of their lack of full participation for women. Schism implies making a public statement as you leave, not just silently skulking off and slinking through the doorway of a more progressive congregation. For those who are willing to do this and are able to pay the price, I applaud your bravery. And as always, Tony, I adore your cantankerousness.

  • Thursday1

    Unfortunately for you, this would enormously benefit the complementarians, and hurt people like RHE and Sarah Bessey. They desperately need their credentials as Evangelicals to keep their little industries running (and their voices heard), and so they can’t just separate. Nobody cares about someone who is just another liberal Christian.

    Same with publishing houses and such who need the Evangelical market.

    You kind of just assume that fudging the lines isn’t helping your own side.

    • Thursday1

      I appreciate your bravado though.

    • FemalePastor

      This is one of my concerns as well. I struggle with this myself: do I stay and work for the changes that need to happen? or do I give up, kick the dust off my feet, and go to the churches/denominations that have moved beyond these tiresome debates…

      • That depends. Do you want to remain as a snake in the grass or do you want to be open and honest about how your beliefs stand at odds with those you are hoping to change?

        • SamHamilton

          She didn’t say she wasn’t open and honest about her beliefs, just that she was struggling over whether to leave or stay.

      • I think you’d find a new sense of relief and happiness if you move to a more harmonious congregation. I say this from experience.

        • Russell Snow

          There is a concept of “wrong flock.”

          • Joe

            Well, she believes like pagans, so maybe she should go join them.

            • Russell Snow

              I really don’t understand the desire to go to a church you don’t agree with, stay there and insist they change. Maybe a Catholic should because they believe in one true church, but even then if it is the one true church doesn’t that make their doctrine de facto right?

      • Go. Please.

      • Morton

        This is an interesting conundrum. Ironically, a friend of mine who is a seminary student, is from the Congregational denomination – a denomination that has been destroyed by liberal theology, and is on the verge of extinction. He feels called and led to go back into that denomination, and join a small band of Christians who actually love the Scriptures, love God, love people, and are trying to bring something that’s dead back to life.

        Time will tell if he & his cohorts are able to resuscitate the corpse, or whether they’ll all just go elsewhere.

    • toddh

      Why do you assume separators wouldn’t be evangelicals anymore?

      • Thursday1

        Well, whatever you want to call the different sides, the more conservative coalition, made up of complementarians plus those that don’t think this is important enough to break fellowship over would be the vastly larger group. Heck, even the complementarians on their own would be the larger group, perhaps by a significant margin.

        • Eric Boersma

          The number of people who attend churches that allow for female pastorship already outnumbers the number of people who attend denominations that don’t, assuming we’re just talking about protestants.

          • Thursday1

            You mean all those mainliners who are about to die off.

            • Eric Boersma

              What’s that, now? Wikipedia has Lutherans and Methodists each listed at 75 million members. Baptists make up a hundred million, but the defining characteristic of Baptists is that they’re not allowed to tell other people what to do (that, and a focus on Baptism, which, you know, duh), meaning that we can estimate conservatively that say, 20% of Baptists attend worship at parishes which ordain female clergy. Branches of the Pentecostal and Presbyterian denominations ordain women.

              There are hundreds of millions of people who already attend denominations where women are ordained. At least half of all protestants do.

              Arguing that mainline Christianity is “about to die off” is of course ridiculous, but you know that. What’s perhaps more repulsive is the fact that you seem to be happy about this, like the idea that an entire branch of Christian tradition disappearing would somehow be a good thing. That’s…an opinion, but it’s not a good one. There’s no such thing as a wrong way to celebrate Christ, so long as you’re not hurting other people by doing so.

  • Keith DeRose

    I wonder about what the basis is for the distinction between this issue which you declare “settled,” and the other you mention: “Gay rights, for example, is an issue being worked through diligently and faithfully by many churches and denominations. They deserve time and grace as they study the Bible, listen to their people, and test the Spirit.” I can guess, of course. The stats are somewhat different. But listen to some who have had enough and have already bolted over the latter, and also those who still extend time and grace to those working through the former, and it’s hard, at least for me, to see it as so cut-and-dried. I suspect that, on both issues, some are called to bolt, and some are called to stay and be a force for good from the inside. Or, put negatively, that we all still grant time and grace on the latter, but that we should all bolt over the former, strikes me as very dubious.

    • In the American Pragmatic tradition, I think it is entirely appropriate to make judgment calls on things like this. I’ve made that call. Will others join me? That’s the test.

      • Ray

        I’d say that God tends to work outside of that “American Pragmatic Tradition”. Thus, grace and “hesed.”

      • ha! the test.

    • Elisabeth M

      Yeah, I wondered that too. I think the two issues are fairly similar in that regard.

  • Jennifer Ellen

    I sympathize with your feelings, but the logic is the same used by fundamentalist separatists. I’ve never seen it lead to flourishing. It’s meeting fire in kind. On the other hand, I’ve seen those willing to live graciously in tension win the next generation.

  • Thursday1

    I also have to wonder about your endorsement of a very recent book, one whose main thrusts was about how we “need to disagree beautifully” on this issue. What happened?

    • 99% of the time, that is correct.

      1% of the time, revolution is appropriate.

  • JRBProf

    Schism may well be necessary and inevitable; in fact, I think we are
    in a slow-motion schism already. This is a matter of justice and
    gospel liberation and reconciliation, so we must bend the arc of the
    moral universe without compromise but in sustainable, righteous love.

    so, if one has not grown up in these contexts and if one does not have
    real, living, vital relationships in communion with others who are not
    “there” yet, then one may not be able to imagine the costs to families,
    neighbors, friendships, roots, communities. One may not be able to
    reckon with the spiritual investment of generations, not to mention job
    security, at stake in a call for schism. It’s easier said than done
    for those of us who have some skin in the game.

    To that end,
    please consider the good, hard work of folks like
    ( and One Voice for Change
    ( who are actively, intentionally,
    deliberately and bravely moving within the Churches of Christ to bring
    gender justice to life in our churches. In our particular
    congregational polity, there are no votes to take; just the hard work of
    social change within the culture. This is not leaving a corporate
    body; it is leaving family. As Beck said, there is a tipping point
    coming soon, but for now, we are working really hard.

    • Russell Snow

      “Gender Justice” heh

  • Daniel Mann


    I think we have to choose our battles carefully and not
    confront every expression of hypocrisy. However, some are so egregious that
    they must be addressed for the good and unity of the church – something you say
    you care about. However, you charged:

    “Those who continue misogynistic practices in the church are not being faithful
    to the Bible or the Spirit of Christ, they are perpetuating retrograde and
    archaic beliefs and are doing great violence to women and men and the
    cause of Christ.”

    Indeed, Scripture teaches much about the essential equality of male and female
    (Gen. 1:26-27; Gal. 3:28) and the mutuality of husband and wife (1 Cor. 7:1-10;
    Eph. 5:22-30). However, your insinuation that the church is “not being faithful
    to the Bible or the Spirit of Christ” in terms of maintaining role distinctions
    is Scripturally insupportable. Here are some verses you might consider:

    1 Cor. 11:3 I want you to realize that the head of
    every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,
    and the head of Christ is God. (Note that even though Christ
    subordinates Himself to the Father, this doesn’t imply any inferiority.
    Likewise, the wife subordinating herself to her husband is in no way
    demeaning. In fact, the greatest shall be least!)

    1 Tim. 2:11-14: A woman should learn in quietness
    [of spirit] and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to
    assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam
    was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the
    woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (Note that this role
    distinction was not relative to the churches of Paul’s day but to the
    creation order and the Fall! Also 1 Cor. 14:34-38)

    Jesus Himself appointed no women among His 12! Will you also charge Jesus with misogyny?

    Is the Bible’s teaching on role distinctions injurious to women as you charge? I don’t think so! Instead, it dignifies them (1 Peter 3:7) If you choose to disagree and claim that they must not be any role distinctions among people – child/parent, subordinate/supervisor – that all role-distinctions are demeaning, then you must prove this!

    You claim to be concerned about Scripture, but you show no
    respect for it. You claim to be concerned about the welfare of the church, but
    you consistently tear down the “Bride of Christ” with your charges.

    • Daniel, the 1 Cor verse was likely a later scribal insertion, as evidenced by its placement at different points in the letter in various manuscripts.

      2 Tim is not a Pauline book, and was written in the late first century in Paul’s name by someone who was attempting to put women down.

      Jesus did, indeed, have several women among his closest followers, and he appeared to women before men at the resurrection.

      • Daniel Mann

        How convenient! You don’t like what Scripture says, and so you claim it isn’t Scripture, ala Bart Ehr. who regards 6 of Paul’s letters as forgeries.

        Clearly, you pick and choose what verses appeal to you, like those in John, even though some of your radical clam also reject John! In essence, you are not submitting to Scripture as God’s Word; you are sitting in judgment over it.

        Your comments about Jesus – I’m glad to see you didn’t simply reject the entirety of the Gospel accounts – do not address the issue of role distinctions.

        And even if the church had been wrong about certain books – and you are right about their lack of inspiration – this still doesn’t warrant your harsh and hateful judgments against the church.

        • Andrew Dowling

          I’m assuming you are Protestant. If the Holy Spirit ensured that the Canon included all inspired books, then when did the Holy Spirit depart the Catholic Church? 10 years later? 600 years later? And who got to decide when that happened?

          I’m don’t understand the cognitive dissonance to put such faith that the Catholic Church was right about everything for its first 1000 or so years but then suddenly God exited stage right and those in schism ended up gaining “true revelation” of an inerrant Bible/hyper Augustinism.

          There is a deal of internal and external evidence that several epistles attributed to Paul in the NT were essentially forgeries. There is practically unanimous agreement that the Pastorals were not authentically Pauline outside of conservative apologetics. Just ignoring that b/c of a blind faith in “the canon” is the height of willful ignorance.

      • While I could definitely wish that Daniel hadn’t used the *obvious* passages (implying that those of us who advocate for the full inclusion of women in all forms of ministry are somehow unaware of them — at best — or are actively ignoring them, at worst) I do not think that pointing out the textual difficulties with those passages (that is, that the 1 Corinthians passage may have been added later and that 2 Timothy was likely not written by Paul) is at all a helpful response.

        However those passages came to be included in the canon, they ARE part of the canon, and thus are a part of God’s inspired word. I would much rather have seen how those passages do not mean a blanket condemnation of women in leadership roles. There are many such egalitarian interpretations of these passages out there. Why not use one these instead, rather than tacitly suggesting that the verses aren’t worthy of consideration?

        • Of course they’re in the canon. But the Bible is not flat. All passages are not given the same weight. That’s why women don’t wear head coverings in your church, and why you eat shrimp.

          • Nathan Duffy

            Women wear head-coverings in my Church, per the Bible. Yay us being biblical and not picking and choosing.

          • “Not given the same weight” cannot, for me, be the same as dismissing the passages entirely. They deserve more careful consideration than you gave them (and, as I pointed out, a good many egalitarians have done so).

            Moreover, the examples you give here… we don’t follow those practices because other parts of the canon give us permission not to. Not because of some quirk of how they came to be in the canon that somehow invalidates them.

      • Thursday1

        Though I wouldn’t put it the same way, I appreciate your ability to say that some parts of the Bible can be wrong, rather than come up with baroque explanations for how they don’t mean what they seem to mean.

    • “Role” distinctions are not a part of God’s teachings, but are cultural expectations promoted by humans. The verses you quote are not exegeted accurately.
      1 Cor. 11:3 does not promote eternal subordination in God, for then we would not have One God but three.
      1 Tim. 2:11-15 needs to be read in context with chapter one. Some women were among the men and contrary to the times, needed to Learn! Learning is the subject, not whether or not any woman can teach men. The statement of Adam not being deceived but Eve, was possibly to counter some agnostic teachings of the time. As well, it points out something more obvious, that Adam sinned deliberately, but Eve sinned by being deceived.
      Role distinctions between men and women are humans trying to manipulate preferential distinctions. It does not honor either men or women. It is time to stop resisting the Holy Spirit and let God choose through whom He wishes to speak, lead and serve.

      • Daniel Mann

        Tiro, I don’t see how you can dismiss that these verses teach man/wife role distinctions (Also Eph. 5:22-30).

        What evidence do you have that there shouldn’t be role distinctions, especially in light of the fact that role distinctions are so biblical and needful?

        • I understand what you are saying about the marriage relationship though I would not call them roles to play. Rather, husbands should use their strengths to support and honor their wives and the same for wives. Men and women have differing strengths and should use them accordingly. However, all men are not alike and all women are not alike, thus the ‘roll playing’ idea is an add in that I don’t consider valid. It was not even thought of until the 1600’s when the word was invented.

          This doesn’t factor in with the other questions though.

          • Daniel Mann

            Tiro, Basically, I agree with you – different attributes, different roles and responsibilities!

            • Thank you for hearing me. Probably, in real life situations we would see close to the same thing. My point is that the word role has been used too rigidly in relationships that are only rigid in the respect that wives and mothers are female, and husbands and fathers are male. Other than that particulars are not spelled out. And limiting men and women in what they should put their skills and interests toward is counter productive.
              However, in the church services and ministries anyone can do anything that God calls them to do. Whom God calls He equips.

              • Daniel Mann

                Tiro, It sounds like you are backtracking from your former statement. If men differ from women – and I think that you had acknowledged that – then we should expect role distinctions. If there are parent-child role distinctions, why not also husband-wife? In fact, the Bible affirms certain distinctions.

                • Not backing down. Clarifying.

                  All people are different from one another. But that is to be expected because we are human. It is not necessary to categorize all the differences into roles that bind and prevent adults from achieving their full potentials in Christ.
                  There are parent-child distinctions because children are maturing in their ability to handle themselves as adults. A parent must loosen their guardianship as the child grows older.
                  A wife is not a child that must be instructed and directed. A wife is an adult who is just as capable of receiving instruction from God and the Holy Spirit as her husband is. The marriage relationship is one in which a man and a woman become as one by combining their skills, wisdom and efforts to complement, support and benefit each other so that they live in harmony and unity.

                  In the church, all adults should be considered as having equal potential for God to call and use them regardless of gender, age, race or social status.

                  • Daniel Mann

                    Tiro, I certainly affirm “equal potiential” and equal value of all believers before God. However, I also must wrestle with the numerous verses that inidicate role distinction.

                    While there is the truth of mutual submission, there are also distinctions between the roles of husband and wife. How these play out in detail, I’m not completely sure. However, the Lord has taught me that life and relationship are measured by the extent of our devotion to His Word (John 14:21-24).

  • JAS

    How has this long been settled and by whom? How is being a complementarian anti-Christian? As an example in honor of the anniversary of his departure into the church triumphant, Is C.S. Lewis anathema for creating a fundamentally complementarian world in his allegory in the book Perelandra? Is the majority of Christianity, apart from North American and western European culture, where a majority of this kind theological opinion is held, anti-Christian? Has the church catholic been anti-Christian until the last 100 years or so of Western culture and philosophy? Were the church fathers anti-Christian for not having a female priesthood? Was the Apostle Paul Anti-Christian when instructing Timothy? Was Jesus being duplicitous when he talks about the relationship between himself and the church as husband care for his wife, when we know that the relationship was built on His sacrifice as husband and our submission as wife being the church? Is that view on marriage Paul talks about, continuing to build on what Christ taught all of the sudden invalid? Were the instructions by Yahweh in the Law and the Prophets concerning priesthood wrong when He commanded a male priesthood? Was the distinction of male and female by God in the Garden something that God got wrong and has now progressively been fixing until we have ideas like this today?

    • Digger

      Don’t forget that, unless a person is chosen by God for salvation, they will not have the Holy Spirit. If they do not have the Holy Spirit, they cannot properly interpret scripture. It is tempting for me to say that it isn’t their fault, but I can’t quite get there.
      Great comment!

      • And just how is anyone supposed to know IF they are “chosen by God for salvation”? (Sometimes seems clear to the person, but very often it does not!) And or course, one has even less basis to determine if someone else is “chosen by God…”. Unless we can effectively “be” God and know God’s choices, how can we know who has the requisite Holy Spirit and thus “properly interpret Scripture”? Supposing we grant benefit of the doubt and assume a given Christian (claiming to be chosen by God…) does have the Holy Spirit, how much closer does that actually get us to agreement on his/her interpretation of Scripture in relation to ours, if they differ as they eventually will?

      • James

        Thank you for the most fantastic rationalization for special pleading I’ve ever read.

      • sebastian

        ” unless a person is chosen by God for salvation, they will not have the Holy Spirit.”

        uh huh, no.

    • OhNo

      One could use the exact same argument for slavery, rape and baby killing. Didn’t Jesus challenge, indeed despise, the “old traditions” of the common church in his day? I do believe he caused a pretty big schism himself.

      • Russell Snow

        “One could use the exact same argument for slavery, rape and baby killing.”

        No you can’t, and it is a weak mind that thinks you can. Jesus never advocated any of those things but was quite specific on this issue.

        I am in favor of the schism being discussed, because: ” Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

        • Eric Boersma

          Russel, you seem to be missing the point that for a long time, the same arguments being used to silence women in the church were used to support things like Slavery (in fact, those arguments and the schism they caused over slavery were the reason that modern evangelical theologies like “biblical inerrancy” were invented).

          If you’re going to cling to a White Male Theology, that was invented for and advocates for the privileges of White Males, you must own that tradition.

          • Russell Snow

            I think you are missing the point. Slavery is not the trump card you think it is. Paul describes himself as a slave to Christ. Jesus said the greatest in the Kingdom would be the servant of all. That was in response to an argument among the disciples about who was to be the greatest. Philemon was told go back into slavery because something greater than his rights was at stake. It is better to be a saved slave than a lost emperor.

            My point is that in the Kingdom of God you have no rights. Before God you have nothing. Until you have the life of God in your spirit, you cannot see these things. Arguing a lot about who is the greatest is a sure sign you don’t get it.

            • Eric Boersma

              Slavery is not the trump card you think it is.

              Slavery is exactly the trump card that I think it is. Slavery is the single greatest tragedy in history. Tens of millions of people were rounded up simply because of the color of their skin and shipped far away from their families and homes where they were treated brutally, tortured, forced to work without ceasing and provided only the barest possible essentials for the entire rest of their lives before suffering a terrible, brutal death. It didn’t just happen in America, it happened worldwide.

              Now, human beings either matter, or they don’t. If you believe that human beings do matter, then there is no excuse for slavery — not one. If you believe that human beings don’t matter enough to keep them from slavery, then I cannot fathom how you could be raised in a Christianity that so horribly denies Christ. And if that’s the case, there’s no point in continuing this conversation, because quite frankly, you’re a monster and I have no desire to know you.

              But if you do believe that human beings matter, and if you do believe that slavery is wrong, then you have to accept the history of the theological tradition you’re clinging to. If you believe that slavery is wrong, you must necessarily believe that in the United States in the mid 1800s, groups of White Evangelical Men perverted the Bible to protect the worst thing human beings have ever done to one another. They were wrong. They read their own presuppositions into the Bible and came away with something that was so horrible it could not have been from God. If you recognize that, you must also recognize that their theological heirs, who are still White Evangelical Men, are using the exact same arguments to continue to protect their privileges over women. It’s possible that after a century and a half of those arguments being wrong and then men who make them being monsters that this time, they’ve finally gotten it right. But it’s not likely.

              My point is that in the Kingdom of God you have no rights.

              Man, that’s a screwed up view of Christianity. It’s also very easy for the person who’s on top of the pile to argue that nobody has any rights, so all those other people who don’t have the same rights you do should just stop complaining about it.

              Arguing a lot about who is the greatest is a sure sign you don’t get it.

              That’s the exact opposite of what I’m doing. I’m pointing out that those who are currently on top of the heap either can’t hear or won’t listen to the cries of pain that they’re causing by those they’re actively keeping down.

              • Russell Snow

                I guess I forgot to put the disclaimer for the carnally minded:
                This post is about spiritual matters: of course in matters of political governance and human rights I oppose slavery in all its forms. Dense people should not be worried that slavery is being supported or excused.

                Now, having that out of the way, I will try to restate what I was trying (and apparently failing) to clearly state.

                1. Calvinism aside, being a Christian is a voluntary act. No one is forcing you to be a Christian. If you feel oppressed, leave. Or go join a church that is more in agreement with your philosophy.

                2. The worst thing to befall anyone is to be lost. A slave who knows Christ is better off than an emperor who doesn’t. God calls on slaves to be the best slave they can be to try and win their masters. Because it is more gain for a slave to save his master than to personally be free.

                3. The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom. There is a King and you are not Him. The King decides these things for His own pleasure. He appoints the parts of the body as He sees fit. The desire to sit on His throne is what made Satan fall. When the King gives an order, our only rational response is obedience. If God decrees that only men are to be pastors I just accept that.

                4. I do not know why God made the order in the church the way He did. Not my department. But I would far rather be chastised for treating the word of the King with too much reverence than too little.

                Now, these are spiritual statements that can only be understood spiritually. Out Lord was crucified by the civil authorities so we should have no desire to reign over civil affairs. Nonbelievers are of course not bound by church doctrine and as believers we should be used to that. But this post declared schism. I say ok, good riddance to bad rubbish.

                If my desire (however imperfect) to follow God’s will no matter the cost makes me a monster in your eyes, then I wear it as a badge of honor.

                • Eric Boersma

                  This post is about spiritual matters: of course in matters of political governance and human rights I oppose slavery in all its forms.

                  Good, I’m glad. What you seem to be missing is that a hundred and fifty years ago, the same people you’re following now were using the same arguments you’re using now to justify the continued existence of slavery as a method of governance.

                  If you feel oppressed, leave. Or go join a church that is more in agreement with your philosophy.

                  I don’t feel oppressed, and I am a member of a church which shares my beliefs (and has for more than a century). But injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, so I oppose injustice among evangelical Christians. I also oppose sexism among atheists, muslims, buddhists, hindus and any other religion you’d like bring up.

                  If God decrees that only men are to be pastors I just accept that.

                  Once upon a time, God decreed that we should keep black people as slaves. Then God decreed that Black people were inferior and needed to sit in the back of the bus. Then He decreed that they couldn’t marry white people. He decreed that we should forcibly expel all Jews from Europe, and then that we should kill them. He decreed that a woman having an orgasm was a sin. He decreed that we must forcibly relocate all of the Native Americans away from their homes so that we could take the land He had given to us.

                  Except God didn’t say that. Horrible, twisted men and women who wanted to do terrible things in the world said that God said those things. And normal people, like you and me, “just accepted that”. The Bible is full of righteous men questioning everything about God. Any time someone tells us God says we should do something, we should compare that command to what we know about God.

                  We know that God is not unjust. We know that God is not unkind. We know that God is not untruthful. Yet, the arguments against ordaining women are unjust, unkind, and filled with lies. What then should we conclude about those arguments? What then should we conclude about the people who are making them?

              • I’m of the pretty explicit opinion that the greatest tragedy in human history is our continuous rebellion against the design and purpose of our Creator, with all the commands and instructions it bears for our very good, culminating in our willful murder of His only begotten Son in the very flesh upon a device of torture for criminals, and this tragedy is turned to joy by the working of grace. But, yeah, slavery, let’s run with it.

                • Eric Boersma

                  You don’t think that slavery is a rebellion against the design and purpose of our Creator? You think that Jesus willfully sacrificing Himself on the cross is a greater tragedy than tens of millions of people being taken against their will into bondage, stripped from their families and then forced to spend the rest of their lives being brutalized and eventually killed simply because of the color of their skin?

                  • And here we have a crystal clear demonstration of why egalitarians miss the general point when people who actually read the Bible and take it at face value point out their flaws in logic. Slavery would be part of that cumulative rebellion, but certainly not its worst aspect. And no one would argue this. But more accurately, as we well know from history and text, chattel slavery – what you just described – isn’t even close to the biblical concept of slavery, let alone the chief working of ill against our fellow man. Paul rightly and properly points out that we are all slaves to sin and can be bondservants of Jesus. It’s a matter of recognizing freedom and who the true master and the just authority from which all else flows, the firstborn (inheritor) of all Creation.

                    Stop elevating man (or woman) to the status of true authority. Try actually trusting what is God’s word.

                    • Eric Boersma

                      But more accurately, as we well know from history and text, chattel slavery

                      Tens of millions of people were sold into chattel slavery. Trying to draw a distinction is silly, because Biblical passages on slavery were used by people like those arguing women can’t be preachers to justify the continued existence of chattel slavery.

                      In fact…

                      people who actually read the Bible and take it at face value

                      Was an idea that was invented specifically to defend the practice of chattel slavery.

                      Paul rightly and properly points out that we are all slaves to sin

                      You recognize that Paul calling people “slaves to sin” was a metaphor, and not an endorsement of slavery or an excuse for its horrors, right?

                      It’s amazing how neither you nor Russell will just own up to that history. It’s not debatable, the hermeneutic you use to read the Bible was invented to justify the existence and continuation of American Chattel Slavery. Instead of simply owning up to that fact, addressing it, pointing out how your arguments are distinct from theirs and moving on, you instead both feel the need to diverge off on a ridiculous tangent about how slavery isn’t really that bad you guys, and plus American slavery isn’t really the same as Biblical slavery (I never said it was).

                      Fundamentally, I suspect this is because you don’t know how (or even if) you are different from the men who defended slavery a hundred and fifty years ago. You’ve written that period of your theological history completely out of your mind (or more likely were never exposed to it at all). If you’re anything like the Evangelicals I’ve met (or the evangelical I personally was), you’re utterly ignorant of the history of your own theology, and you have zero incentive to question it because it serves you and your purposes just fine, thanks. That’s horrible and damaging and does terrible harm to real people in the world.

      • Morton

        You’re claiming that “old traditions” included everything vile and evil? I guess my family’s “old tradition” of gathering together for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal is evil…

    • How about you answer those questions instead of asking them?

      • Digger

        It is pretty easy for even a moderately intelligent person to deduce what JAS’s answers would be, given the tone of his comment. I think it would be of more value for both sides to hear what your answers would be, Tony. Why hear from the student when the professor is in the room?

        • Elisabeth M

          I disagree. Putting the onus on the commenter to wrestle with his questions and come to a decent, reconciling answer is a worthy challenge, and would be a fantastic exercise – one we could all learn from.

          It doesn’t teach much, hearing people expound on ideas they’re already comfortable with – at least, not as much as it does to hear someone honestly wrestling with ideas that are, as yet, difficult and unwieldy.

          I very much would like to hear JAS make a genuine attempt to reconcile his views with the point that Tony has raised.

          • SamHamilton

            That would be interesting, for sure. But it would also be interesting to hear Tony’s answers as well. Why can’t they both answer and “wrestle?”

      • kenhowes

        Well, since you asked that, I’ll answer them. It was settled, and not in your favor, when St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, and wrote to St. Titus the same about a presbyter. So it’s been settled since roughly some time between 63 and 66 AD. (The canonicity of the Pastorals was never called into question until the 18th century; they were clearly in the canon in the second century.) Being complementarian is not anti-Christian. As to the rest, the answer to all is No. But I have a question for you. Are you smarter than 1900 years of Christian pastors, priests and bishops, and than the apostles? I’ll answer that one, too. No, Mr. Jones, you are not.

        As to OhNo, Jesus certainly did NOT despise those traditions that were scriptural. He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law and the prophets. I am come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt. 5:17). The traditions he condemned were the ones that had been instituted by rabbinical authority which permitted people to circumvent those things that actually had been commanded; the great example was that a young man, to get out of having to support his parents, would declare all his property Corban. Caring for his parents was commanded of God; declaring property Corban was not, nor was the priority of such a declaration over the Fourth (if you use the Reformed numeration the Fifth) Commandment. Similarly the traditions of washing were not commanded of God. (Matt. 15)

  • Craig

    Tony’s suggested boycott against publishing houses is excessive.

    If some highly conservative press offers to publish, distribute, and aggressively advertise to their audiences your progressive arguments, then, in good conscience, let them. Likewise, if a reputable publishing house publishes the best scholarly representative of some conservative doctrine–even a heinously regressive one–I see no intrinsic problem with that. It’d be a shame if they couldn’t out of concern for the politics.

  • Craig

    Suppose that the so-called leadership roles, to which only men were invited, were, both practically and theoretically, roles of servitude that lacked any special church authority. This should change the equation. But can the male-exclusive positions be divorced from their distinctive church authority?

  • R Vogel

    This is a very interesting post. Reading the comments, particularly Sarah’s (which are wonderful, thank you, Sarah), I have a few things rattling around my brain.
    What does schism mean for your personally? What does it mean, functionally, for someone who is not part of a traditional that excludes women to split with those who do? Although it is an interesting suggestion, are you the right leader to call for this? Do you have enough skin in the game? (This sounds like I am calling you out, it is not my intention – it is an honest question)
    On the other side of the argument, I wonder how those who are uncomfortable with the call would deal with a church that, say, still made African Americans stand in a particular place in the balcony during services? Would you continue to fellowship with them as fellow Christians? Maybe in 1870, but not today, right? As you said this issue has been settled. How is the church’s treatment of women any different? How long will be stand by and lovingly abide this oppression prayerfully hoping G*d will change their hearts? Sometime the progressive side of the table is just too squishy.
    I am really interested in how you draw the distinction between the treatment of woman and the LGBT community. Women, and even African Americans in antebellum America, were at least allowed fellowship in the church. LGBT folks are denied access, demonized, and often the victims of violence. Is it that you see progress on the LGBT issue, it is not a settled issue as of yet, whereas the role of women has solidified? When does LBGT equality reach that point?

    • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

      Thanks for listening and being part of this discussion.

  • Siri C. Erickson

    Hi, Tony. Thanks for your post today. You inspired me to post a vision of a Good-for-Women Church I wrote a couple of summers ago during my sabbatical. You can view it here. I am looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks.

  • Amy

    Oh God, please do. I would *love* not to have to pretend you’re my brother in anything, let alone Christ.

    • Digger

      I want to meet you, shake your hand, award you a medal, marry you–all of the above! Really, comment of the year in my book.

  • I realize that I’m suggesting the Christian version of the “nuclear option” here. Maybe that’s never warranted. But it seems to me that Jesus, when he cleansed the Temple, used the nuclear option of his day, and it resulted in his arrest and crucifixion.

    • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

      The kind of “nuclear” act Jesus took here led to the sacrifice of his own life, not demanding sacrifice from others.

      • What? Jesus didn’t demand sacrifice from others?

        Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

        • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

          You’re right of course about his followers. He didn’t demand sacrifice from his opponents.

          But the sermon on the mount builds a strong case for sacrificial response to unfairness.

          And when questioned about eating with those others considered less than…

          But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

          And the end of that verse you just quoted…calls us to the cross, right?

          • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

            I’m not even sure I should’ve added the above comment. 🙂 It’s probably counter productive to dissect and proof-text with each other. We’re both familiar with these passages. We just seem to come to slightly different conclusions about what sorts of actions they should inspire from us. Let me keep thinking about it, Tony. I’m considering all of your words here and your offline questions and I would seriously enjoy hearing every pushback or comment you might offer. Until then… 🙂

    • Elisabeth M

      I don’t think he got crucified for turning out the money changers. I think he got crucified because Rome perceived him to be a political threat.

  • Thanks, Tony.

  • So I read some of your work in college for my major…and didn’t really see any of it as all that powerful. Well written, yes. Useful, probably. But I just didn’t connect with it very powerfully. This post changes that. While I struggle with the entire idea of separation (as many others clearly do as well), I appreciate that someone has finally drawn their line in the sand and said “NO MORE”. The fact that you have done so finally makes me believe doing so myself is not necessarily a sinful action. Standing up for myself as a Christian woman, really standing up for myself, can be a reality without shame.

  • Ray

    Then we look like any other group in the world that can’t get along.

    And the church loses its internal and external witness, because sacrifice in the name of an ideology–even an ideology of justice–trumps love.

    I’m an egalitarian too, but we all need to go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice (even if that sacrifice is based on a desire for justice).”

    Just a thought: what if Martin Luther King Jr. & those with him said, “Forget this. We tried. We’re outta here” and left the South to its own demise.

    Thank God there are some who stick in it and with it and have the patience to let God work, even in the darkest hours. The world–and the non-egalitarians–need to see that kind of radical love and faith.

  • Seems to me that you are already in a communion separate from those of us who continue to adhere to the ancient constitution of the clergy. Your schism, and countless others, are already accomplished.

    If all you’re doing is saying, “My church is right and yours is wrong,” then what’s the big deal? We all think that–that’s why we belong to different churches–and occasionally we are tactless enough to say it. I think you’ve separated yourself from the one holy catholic and apostolic church over clerical details and ought to come back–but it sounds a little tasteless just to say so outright, doesn’t it?

    I can’t be a priest in my own church because I’m married (can’t get divorced, either). For some reason that doesn’t offend my sense of dignity. In Jesus’ day Jesus couldn’t be a priest because he wasn’t a male of the tribe of Levi. I don’t remember him expressing any problem with that. It’s not that I think a clergy is unnecessary. We have to have one. But seems to me its composition has very little to do with what being a Christian is about.

    So, I understand that the issue of female clergy is very important to you, and you think I should come out of Babylon. What any further “breaking of fellowship” with me means, though, I wish you would clarify. Am I no longer to be considered a Christian? Should Catholic masses be shunned as unholy? Ought I to say “adios” to my very occasional posting here? Other than saying that you feel very, very strongly about women in the clergy, and others should agree with you, what actual effect does your withdrawal of fellowship have?

    • americanwoman343

      Actually, you just made Tony’s point. Jesus couldn’t be a priest – but he was Prophet, Priest and King. He was making all things new. To the extent that we continue traditions that don’t look like Jesus (no matter how long we may have been doing them), we look more like the Pharisees than Jesus. And that IS a problem.

      • illuvitus

        You don’t think this article sounds more legalistic than the comment?

    • Jesus was nephew of Zacharias, priest, and Elizabeth, recorded as a daughter of Aaron. Given the family lines, Jesus was very likely Judah on one side and Levi on another. There is one abounding theory that the conflicting genealogies of Matthew and Luke are due to a Levirate marriage. As a fulfillment of the Law and indeed a completion of the shadows of the priesthood, I’m not comfortable saying Jesus wasn’t a Levite, merely that he wasn’t a priest.

  • Dan

    Only on Tony’s blog can we read these four sentences in sequence and not be surprised:
    “I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously.”
    “We need to divorce.”
    “The time for dialogue and debate has passed. The Spirit has spoken, and we have listened. ”
    “For shit’s sake, this should be behind us.”
    This from the guy who once said there is no such thing as orthodoxy, said “we’re all relativists” and compared doctrine to a variable strike zone where the ump “calls ’em as he sees ’em”.
    I guess Tony believes in absolutes after all.
    In Tony’s world everyone who simply believes that women and men are not interchangeable and that the “Fatherhood” of God and the maleness of Christ have implications are automatically “misogyinists” who practice the “subjugation of women”, “unfaithful to the Bible” and “anti-Christian”. Ironic that on the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death, in appears Tony would classify Lewis himself as an archaic being who practiced retrograde beliefs that do violence to women.
    I guess the majority of Christians for 2000 years were really just anti-Christian bigots.
    Glad Tony is around to make sure we all know what the Spirit is saying and what Paul actually meant and what the Bible really says. No doubt he has a right to his opinion, but why all the incendiary rhetoric?
    Maybe the agenda isn’t really advancing women in ministry, because Tony makes it clear he grew up in a church that ordained women, allowed women preachers and that he never even meets complementarians in real life. Doesn’t sound like the world is teeming with aggreissive theological cave-men to me. And really, aren’t there plenty of places to go? Isn’t there already a schism on this issue? How do you start a schism when there are a zillion options already?
    So what is the point?
    Only one thing makes sense. The point is to use name-calling, character assassination, intimidation and false witness to try to force more conservative folks to change their mind. Since folks can already find lots of egalitarian churches, the call apparently is to raise an unholy ruckus in conservative churches, to split those churches, to divide and conquer. “Agree with the progressive vision or we will tear your churches to shreds.”
    Since there are already many, many egalitarian option, this seems the only reasonable motive. All in the name of Christian unity.

    Way over the line. Sad to say I’m not surprised.

    • Thursday1

      Since folks can already find lots of egalitarian churches, the call apparently is to raise an unholy ruckus in conservative churches, to split those churches, to divide and conquer.

      Well, the problem is that most progressive churches just plain suck so bad that not even someone like Rachel Held Evans wants to attend them. To be fair, conservative Evangelical churches in the First World aren’t exactly setting the world on fire either, but there is at least some life left in them, so progressives want to take over. Meh.

      • I’m glad you stuck with “most” progressive churches… I happen to go to one that is pretty well the opposite of “suckie”.

      • Morton

        When your extremist theology, aggressive agenda, and Scripture-twisting has killed YOUR church, the only thing left to do is take those things to another church and try to kill it too.

        • WATYF

          It’s the Leftist way. They can’t sustain churches on their own (just look at the mainline Protestant denominations which have embraced “Progressivism” and have subsequently had huge declines in membership), so they have to keep consuming other churches just to propagate their views.

          • Morton

            True. And what is terribly sad is that there are hurting people, with lives devastated by sin, that are hearing angry feminism and environmentalism, rather than the Gospel of grace, and the love of our Savior.

            The church I’m part of is neck-deep in ministering to recovering drug addicts, alcoholics, and other truly broken people. Women who, for the first time in their difficult marriages, are thrilled to see their husbands actively pursuing their walk with God. Men who, for the first time in their lives, realize that Church isn’t about angry women waving fingers at them, but about grace & strength. What’s truly amazing about it is that nobody seems to have time for this kind of nonsense.

            Then we have these nonsensical “egalitarians” who seems to have nothing better to do than sit and rant about how life is unfair. No wonder people aren’t listening to them.

            • WATYF

              It’s just a symptom of living in a decadent society in decline. If we were in a society that wasn’t so fat with wealth and leisure, our focus would be elsewhere. Suffice it to say, my parents’ church in East Africa doesn’t have such issues.

              • Morton

                You are spot-on right. This is the whiny nonsense of spoiled rich white people who have no real crises in their lives, so they invent things to wring their hands over. They’ll fly half-way across the world on 8-day vacations – oooops – MISSION TRIPS, but they don’t go to the homeless shelter and simply spend time with the mentally imbalanced war vet who smells of vodka & vomit, or give of their financial resources to buy meals at the Open Door Mission. And forget about female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa, they have gender issues to rant about on the internet!

            • Eric Boersma

              “that are hearing angry feminism and environmentalism, rather than the Gospel of grace, and the love of our Savior.”

              Have you ever even met someone who goes to a mainline church?

              • Morton

                I’ve met hundreds who USED to! 😉

                • Eric Boersma

                  I somehow don’t believe you.

                  • Morton

                    That’s fine, you don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to believe that the earth is round, either.

                    Let me share the example of two families that are currently in the same church I am. One family came from the Disciples of Christ denomination, the other from a Presbyterian denomination. Both families were drawn by the friendliness of our church, and were dumbfounded by the fact that our pastor actually physically picks up his Bible and reads from it during sermons. Then contextually explains what was just read. Then bases the entire sermon on it.

                    They both came from churches that had women pastors, and said that their previous pastors “clearly were pastors to prove that women can be pastors too, rather than because God had called them to be pastors.” They also talk pretty honestly about how their previous pastors were angry and unreasonable, and how their teaching was based on personal agenda, rather than on Scripture.

                    Of course, I could also use the example of another family who came from a Methodist church. She (the mom/grandmother) was drawn to our church’s youth program quite a few years ago. When they were confronted with the fact that in the New Testament era, believers were immersed into Christ in baptism, she went and ask her Methodist pastor if that was true. His response to her was that, of course it IS true, and that he himself was an immersed believer. She then asked why he didn’t teach that truth to the congregation, and his reason was simple: It’s not what their denomination teaches. She never again set foot in a Methodist church.

                    Would you like me to go on?

                    • Eric Boersma

                      No, that’s OK. It’s pretty easy to spot Baptist urban myths. I mean, you seriously expect me to believe that a person who was happy in a Methodist church decided to leave over immersion?

                    • Morton

                      First of all, I’m not Baptist.

                      Second, she left over the hypocrisy of the Methodist pastor – a man who knew that immersion baptism is Biblical, so he did it himself, but wouldn’t teach the Bible to the people in his church. I suspect he had a pretty solid pension plan to worry about.

                      So why else wouldn’t a Methodist pastor simply preach what is in the Bible?

                    • Eric Boersma

                      Second, she left over the hypocrisy of the Methodist pastor

                      That’s not hypocrisy. It would be hypocritical if the Pastor preached that you shouldn’t get a full-immersion baptism, and then while preaching that, went out and got a full immersion baptism.

                      Now, I don’t know what this woman’s pastor preached, because you’re asking me to defend a second hand story from someone you may or may not have met once upon a time. With that being said, the official position of the United Methodist Church is that sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all equally valid methods of baptism, and that the choice of the method used is up to the person who wishes to be baptized. The UMC believes that it’s likely that all three methods were used in the Early Church and that there’s no clear biblical teaching on which method is preferable. You can read more here:


                      With that said, your claim was that you had met “hundreds” of former mainline church goers who’d left the church due to “angry feminism and environmentalism”. When called on it, you presented three stories with zero corroborating detail, none of which had anything to do with feminism or environmentalism.

                      Perhaps more significantly, though, you have never actually attended a mainline church yourself, to see what they’re all about. You’ve condemned an entire sector of Christianty — hundreds of millions of people — to a non-Christian existence based off precisely zero personal experience. I attend a UMC church (which is quite mainline) and I have a very liberal pastor, and I’ve literally never heard a message that has anything to do with feminism or the environment, and it is far and away the least angry church environment I’ve ever been a part of.

                      Making up lies about people you’ve never met is pretty much the definition of anti-Christian.

                    • Morton

                      So now I’m a liar?

                      I gave you several EXAMPLES of friends of mine who left mainline churches. How many DOZENS more examples would you like me to give? But what does it matter? You’re just going to say they are “uncorroborated” anyway.

                      But here’s my question to you: Are you going to actually try to deny the FACT that the UMC, DOC, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and other mainline denominations are in a free-fall? Are you going to try to deny the FACT that if you don’t return to the Gospel, your denomination is going to become extinct?

                      By the way, have you EVER so much as set foot in a church that’s actually alive and growing?

                    • Eric Boersma

                      So now I’m a liar?

                      It would appear you are.

                      How many DOZENS more examples would you like me to give?

                      You said you personally knew hundreds of people who’d left mainline churches. 17 dozen examples of people would suffice.

                      You’re just going to say they are “uncorroborated” anyway.

                      Well, yes. That’s the problem with making things up on the internet. Sometimes, people aren’t going to believe you. Especially when you make up things that are obviously false.

                      But here’s my question to you: Are you going to actually try to deny the FACT that the UMC, DOC, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and other mainline denominations are in a free-fall?

                      Yes. Mainline churches are currently experiencing declining membership. As are evangelical churches and Catholic Churches. If growing membership is really your barometer for a solid religious experience, you should convert to Islam because they’re growing like gangbusters.

                      Are you going to try to deny the FACT that if you don’t return to the Gospel

                      Nothing like poisoning the well. I believe that my church has a solid grasp on the Gospel, thanks. In fact Gospel (Greek for “Good News”) is the same as Jesus shared: we want you just the way you are. This message is repeated at least once in every service.

                      your denomination is going to become extinct?

                      Yes. This is ridiculous. Church memberships have declined at large and small levels literally since there has been a Church, yet Christianity is still alive and kicking. I have no true investment in a denomination living or dying. Wherever there are people living for Christ and for the People He loves, I’ll be there. Who cares what the name over the door is.

                      By the way, have you EVER so much as set foot in a church that’s actually alive and growing?

                      Of course. My current church is both alive and growing. It’s the most alive, growing church that I’ve ever been a part of. It’s also the most Christian church I’ve ever been a part of. It’s also United Methodist and Mainline protestant.

                    • Morton

                      And none of these things you have just said are true. That makes you a liar.

                      See how easy that is?

                      By the way, the 3 examples I gave you each involved families of 7-13 people. Perhaps you should do your math homework.

                      And perhaps I could tell you about an entire Presbyterian congregation (100+ members) in Minnesota who bailed on the Presbytery for the specific reasons I mentioned? It’s a group of people who actually read their Bibles, and came to the conclusion that they could no longer abide the heresy & gender-bending that was being forced on them by the Presbytery. They gladly lost their manse, considering it a small price to pay for being able to simply be Christians. They have an annual celebration, the first Sunday of every October, to celebrate their being rid of the Presbytery.

                      That makes over 200 people I’m talking about. Would you like for me to continue?

                      Mehh, never mind. Your mind is closed. I am a liar, and all these people are a figment of my imagination. After all, you’ve said so – and you’ll continue to say so long after your denomination no longer exists.

                    • Eric Boersma

                      And perhaps I could tell you about an entire Presbyterian congregation (100+ members) in Minnesota who bailed on the Presbytery for the specific reasons I mentioned?

                      You know them all? Personally? Because that was your original claim — that you’d personally met hundreds of people who’d left mainline churches due to environmentalism and angry feminism. Also, that’s a pretty big deal — I’d imagine there was a newspaper story somewhere that you’d like to share? I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

                      You seem to be awfully committed to something that was clearly untrue and could’ve been walked back with a simple “I was exaggerating”. Moreover, you could do yourself a short metric ton of good by taking a month and visiting a few local mainline churches so that you can stop spewing your hate and actually understand even a little what they’re like.

                    • Morton

                      Yes, I actually DO know them all – and was actually part of that congregation until we moved to a different state.

                      Right now I have neighbors that left a nearby DOC church (and started coming to the church I attend) because the LESBIAN PASTOR preached that the Bible is not actually true. That’s another family.

                      Now… CLEARLY you are wrong. Dead wrong. But you’re also pretty thick-headed, so any facts you don’t like are simply dismissed out of hand.

                    • Eric Boersma

                      Wait, now your story’s changed. First, you had never set foot in a mainline church, now you were a member of a Presbyterian congregation when it left the Presbyterian conference over…something that you still haven’t really specified?

                      This is my problem with what you’re posting. Everything is anecdotal, short on details, completely unverifiable and shifting from post to post. What’s more, you’re logically inconsistent: you’re holding up your former-Presbyterian congregation and people who’ve left mainline churches as great folks, who followed their conscience and listened to God and found the truth, but you’re condemning anyone who’s leaving your particular version of the church as leaving for gender bending and angry feminism and environmentalism and poisoning the Bible.

                      You’ve come to the conclusion that the only way someone can interact with God is the way that you personally interact with God. That’s the main problem that I have with people like you. You’ve come to God in a way that works for you, and that’s awesome. But instead of saying “This is how I interact with God”, you’re saying “This is how you must also interact with God”. And in so doing, you do harm to people who don’t have the same experiences or viewpoints that you do. That’s where the damage comes from, and that’s why I’m so critical of your attitude towards the church. Because you’re hurting people.

                    • Morton

                      Where did I say I’ve never set foot in a mainline church?

                      And why are you putting words in my mouth and telling me that I’ve said what I’ve never said?

                      Truthfulness is not your long-suit, is it?

                    • Eric Boersma

                      I asked if you’d ever met a person who attends a mainline church. You said you’d met “hundreds who used to”. Using that answer when you yourself personally attended a mainline church for [unknown amount of time] is…disingenuous. I’ve reiterated the point that maybe you should go to a mainline church to see what they’re all about three different times now, and at no point have you objected to that, which could have been easily done if you’d simply pointed out that you used to attend a mainline church. I asked for a quick newspaper link to corroborate your story about the Presbyterian church leaving their denomination over…again, something you haven’t specified.

                      This is my problem. You’re talking in deliberate half-truths, misleading people to believe that what you’re talking about is in fact the Gospel Truth when in reality it’s simply a manifestation of your twisted point of view. When asked to provide any evidence of your point of view that could be verified by an outside party, you’ve failed five different times, now.

                      But hey, you know. Keep Lying For Jesus. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, half-true, kind of true or totally made up as long as it reinforces your tribalistic urges.

                    • Morton

                      Hahahaha – this is hilarious! In a completely twisted, stupid and dishonest way, but hilarious none the less.

                      I’m done. You’re free to return to your own delusional little world, where you make up reality as you go. Tootles!

                  • Russell Snow

                    I was raised in the Disciples of Christ. We had pastors who denied the resurrection physically happened. After reading “If Christ be not raised from the dead, we are men most to be pitied,” I left. So I am one of the ones Morton is talking about.

                    • Eric Boersma

                      I was raised in the Disciples of Christ. We had pastors who denied the resurrection physically happened. After reading “If Christ be not raised from the dead, we are men most to be pitied,” I left. So I am one of the ones Morton is talking about.

                      Cool. Everyone is at a different place on their spiritual journey, and everyone needs to find the church home that’s right for them. I’m glad that you found a church home which is right for you.

    • Thursday1

      It is indeed very interesting that this is where our host draws a hard line, and not on any of the stuff in the Apostles or Nicene creeds.

    • Sven2547

      Only one thing makes sense. The point is to use name-calling, character assassination, intimidation and false witness to try to force more conservative folks to change their mind.

      This is really, really funny coming from a guy who wrote several paragraphs attacking Tony, but barely scratching the surface of his arguments.

      • Tanner

        On the contrary, Dan quoted alot of what he said, and yes, the past 2000 years, I guess the church was anti-christian… Hey… come to think of it… So was Saint Paul…

        • Russell Snow

          I feel kind of sorry for this Tony guy. It must suck to believe in a religion whose basis is a book he considers wrong. Got to smack some cognitive dissonance into the ol’ noggin.

          • Morton

            And here we see the conundrum of extremist liberal theology. “I’m basing my eternity on something I’m determined to prove is not true!”


            • WATYF

              It is a rather peculiar behavior.

      • Dan

        Tony didn’t really make any arguments in the above post. He simply declared that complementarians are misogynists and that it was time for a schism. It was he who used phrases like “violence”, “subjugation”, “anti-Christian”. It was he who mischaracterized the position of millions of Christians.

        • I’ve made the case in many posts, dating back to 2004. Welcome to this blog.

          • Dan

            And I’ve read your blog for a few years. I do not object to your right to hold the egalitarian views you have espoused for quite some time. I object to what you wrote here in this post, specifically slandering all who disagree with you as anti-Christian, as haters of women, advocating subjugation and violence. False, unfair, slanderous.

            • Shannon Montgomery

              Dan, speaking as a woman who grew up in a church that split from the Southern Baptists because the SBC was too liberal for them, I actually *do* believe that those who don’t see me as their equals are haters of women, advocating subjugation and violence, and there’s very little more unChristlike than that.

              • Joe

                Shannon, your position is unscriptural, unChristlike, and unsustainable. You can believe it if you want to, but that doesn’t make it true. We will be very happy when you and all the other false Christians who don’t read their Bibles are gone. So best wishes and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

              • Joe

                Congratulations, you believe in something that isn’t supported by scripture. Good luck with that.

  • pslinger

    Apparently Mr. Jones’ ideology takes precedence over sound theology.

    • Morton

      That’s the mark of liberal theology. Nothing has changed in the last 200 years. Well… A lot of denominations that have embraced it are dying or are already dead, but that’s not really change.

  • Walker


  • Jonenred

    The Heresy of Protestantism on display. No wonder they have 25,000 denominations.

    • Nathan Duffy

      “We’re going into schism… not sure what or who we’re schism-ing from but, gosh darn it, schism! Oh, and we’ll never turn anyone away from the chalice, so we’re still (in our eyes) in communion with the whole planet but … schism!”

  • Karen Gonzalez

    spoken like a true Enneagram 8!

  • I recently took this step and I can tell you, attending a church that doesn’t ordain women is like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer — it feels so good when you stop.

    • Great analogy. Right on.

    • Amen. Some Christians do not seem to realize the importance of following God. When we follow God’s leadings in our lives, we have life. The days are brighter even during struggles, because we know we are doing what our Creator has directed. He is thus in control and more able to work things out.

      Not everyone has a “calling” placed on their lives by God. We all have giftings that we should indeed allow the Holy Spirit to move through us in. But those who have God’s specific callings placed on their lives can hardly breathe when they resist God. When we follow human reasonings, we may find some comfort in being out of the fight, but there will always be that quiet sense of drabness and something missing in life. Yes, there will always be struggles, but those struggles will cleanse our souls. And the victories of obeying God and not man, are life achieving. There is joy in obeying God. Why on earth do people want to hoard the rewards of obeying God to men only?

      Mine has been a long struggle. Many have attempted (some have succeeded) to shut me down from teaching and preaching. When I was silenced and could not share the things God put on my heart, no church was fulfilling. When I am free to speak I can then share my joys of serving God and bless others. I am blessed. People are blessed. God moves and speaks. We are all better people for allowing God His way.

      It has taken me a long time to be willing to speak of the struggles, they are so personal. But the joy of serving God has no comparison. Nothing else will do. When we obey what God puts before us, trembling that we are following only God, then there is joy unspeakable in one’s life.

      And who are the fools who would damage not only other’s lives, but their own lives by seeking to stop God.

      • Walker

        “God’s leadings…our Creator…obeying God…God put on my heart…God moves and speaks…allowing God…etc, etc.” Of which god do you speak? The true God, who has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or some other, one that suits your tastes, or has led you into cozy places? (Also, nice job of holding onto “men” when it can be used as a negative thing!) And as for being “silenced”, one ought not speak unless called to do so, called from without and sent to do so.

        This is sheer enthusiasm, and ought to be rejected as such. So too for the central post. This is what we get when the Word is treated as naught but a wax nose, to be shaped to fit the fashions of the day. Enthusiasm is, as always, at the root of the problem.

        • Making assumptions about people one doesn’t know is not wise. I received a calling on my life about 43 years ago, confirmed by others.

          At this time in my life I am a valued deacon of my church, speaking, preaching and teaching at the request and appreciation of the leadership and my fellow Christians.

          Following God’s leadings is important to do.

          Please do not bother to answer me.

        • Making assumptions about people one doesn’t know is not wise. I received a calling on my life about 43 years ago, confirmed by others.

          At this time in my life I am a valued deacon of my church, speaking, preaching and teaching at the request and appreciation of the leadership and my fellow Christians.

          Following God’s leadings is important to do.

          Please do not bother to answer me.

          • Walker

            Have a great day!

          • illuvitus

            Muslims say similar things. Its too bad that “callings” come from two sources…

            • I think that reply is called hate mongering. You sure that is what you want to promote?

              • illuvitus

                Muslims -do- say exactly what you said. They think they are doing God’s will. So just thinking God is leading you to do something and actually -having- God lead you to do something are two distinct things.

                The question is evidence, and the Bible is very clear on how the church is to be structured. Christians haven’t really had a problem with this, until this post-feminist era of ours.

                So the question remains: Which source of “callings” are you listening to? The world, or heaven?

                Call it hatemongering all you want. Name-calling doesn’t do a damn thing.

                • Eric Boersma

                  Christians haven’t really had a problem with this, until this post-feminist era of ours.

                  Er, there are frescoes of women presenting Catholic Communion dressed as priests that date from ~230AD. Women leading the church predates the Nicene Creed. I don’t think you can really argue that we’ve been in a post-feminist society for the last ~1800 years.

                  • illuvitus

                    That’s not actually true, and any knowledge of church history would reveal it not to be true. Sensationalist claims are usually nothing more.

                    “This is an elaboration that has no foundation in reality,” said Barbara Mazzei of the Pontifical Commission on Sacred Archaeology told Reuters.

                    “This is a fairy tale, a legend,” added Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent of religious heritage archaeological sites owned by the Vatican, suggesting that such interpretations are “sensationalist and absolutely not reliable.”

    • Melinda Cadwallader

      Me too, Nina. Whew!!!! Xoxoxo

    • Yeah, those scriptures sure do hurt!

  • Rebecca Trotter

    A few years back, my family was looking for a church and went to visit a couple of non-denominational churches in our town. I knew that both of them held complimentarian views, but I wasn’t looking to be named pastor and there’s always disagreement, so I decided not to make it a deal breaker. But over the course of a month, every time I was in church or meeting with people from the church, I had this little voice in my head which kept saying, “get up. Leave.” I ignored it until one day it was literally screaming at me, “get up. Leave.” Fortunately I was attending alone that day, so I did get up and leave.

    As I walked out, an enormous peace washed over me. I realized that it had been the Spirit in me telling me to leave and the verse which says, “whoever, having put their hand to the plow looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom” came into my mind. God had lead me out of complimentarianism and into freedom many years ago. Trying to go back into a setting which still taught what I had been freed from by the hand of God was like putting my hand to the plow and then looking back.

    I agree with Tony that the time for talk is over. The arguments have been made and at this point it is simply a choice to cling to the ways of men (patriarchy being as common as dirt in human relations) rather than to embrace the superior vision God has for his Kingdom. However, I don’t see where declaring a schism is the way to go. Personally, I think we just need to tend to our own gardens and trust God to deal with the rest.

    For some people – particularly women – coming out of complimentarianism is just too hard. Doing so may mean sowing serious strife in their families and breaking relationships with churches and people they depend on. Some people’s faith is too enmeshed in it and may not survive letting that teaching go. Our they are simply not capable of changing their minds due to forces of personality or character. Some people are going to grow in God best in the setting they are in and I respect that.

    OTOH, I won’t attend a church which doesn’t allow women to use the gifting God gives them. I wouldn’t attend or speak at a conference which didn’t. I don’t know about the publication thing. But frankly, at this late date I have a hard time taking people who still hold to the ways of the world rather than the way of a Savior who praised a woman for taking the position of a disciple and who sent a woman to proclaim the gospel to men for the first time seriously as Christians. When I meet someone who is a complimentarian, I see someone whose marriage is to ideology and not to the Living God. Which I suppose is uncharitable, but it’s the truth of how I see it.

    So I guess I support refusing to participate with those who deny the gifting of women. I don’t think we should be making accommodations for their weakness. But I don’t think it’s wise or necessary to break fellowship with our weaker brothers and sisters. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of people have already rejected the ancient, universally practiced teaching of putting women under men. I think we’re best off Just proclaiming the Christ who gives us life and sets us free without regard for all the huffing and puffing coming from complimentarian camps.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this, Rebecca. It’s a great story of your strength. I agree, the time for talk is over.

      • Morton

        You need to start your own church, and make sure that nobody who dares disagree with you join it. Seems like a pretty fair solution.

    • Jonenred

      ..says modern day feminism, which gave us 55 million dead unborn babies…

    • Morton

      Have you noticed, Rebecca, that Christians are bailing out of liberal egalitarian churches by the millions? Don’t you have to wonder if it might be because they’re craving the Gospel, but are having feminism force-fed to them? Why does Jesus always seem to take the back seat to personal emotions and agendas?

  • Shirley Taylor

    Amen! Amen! Amen! It time to for a schism. Who will go with us?

  • Josh

    “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35, ESV)

    That Paul guy was such a bigot, wasn’t he?

    • DaisyFlower

      Gender complementarians choose to interpret Paul’s words in such a way they make him sound sexist and bigoted concerning women, yes, Josh.

      • Josh

        Please help me by showing my how this should be interpreted, DaisyFlower.

        • DaisyFlower

          @ Josh. Certainly. Start by visiting the site “Christians For Biblical Equality” and reading their free articles (under resources) and books such as “Good News For Women” by Rebecca Groothius, and start paying attention to the examples in the Bible of women who taught and led men with God’s approval, such as Junia the Apostle, Priscilla, and Deborah of the Old Testament, Christ’s comments about how his followers should not lord authority over each other (which is what gender complementarians practice, insisting that male authority be lorded over women), and that there is neither male nor female in Christ, Jesus. etc.

      • Dan

        Blanket statement that is not accurate or fair.

        Plenty of complementarians interpret this verse by pointing out that in the same letter women were in fact praying and prophesying with Paul’s blessing. Therefore, the key is Paul’s reference to “order” and “peace”. Apparently there was something disruptive about the way these particular women in this particular context were asking questions. The gist of it is “don’t disrupt the service, wait till you get home”. Out of context, this passage can be made to sound pretty anti-woman. In the context of everything else in the New Testament, it takes on a more balanced meaning.

        As someone else pointed out, only Levites could be priests in the Old Testament. That said nothing about the equality or inequality of those in the other eleven tribes. The only thing complementarians universally insist on is that genders are not interchangeable, “father” and “mother” are equal but not the same and one or two specific offices are for some reason left to the masculine gender. I personally think it is probably related to the identification of God with “Father” and of Christ with “Son” and of church with “bride”. The gender images matter even though “in Christ there is neither male nor female” – that is, male and female are of equal value.

        Agree or disagree, fine. But Tony’s equating complementarianism with misogyny, violence and oppression is just not at all helpful. Using words like “sexist” and “bigot” toward those who are simply trying to be faithful to the apostles’ teaching is false, incendiary, not fighting fair at the very least.

        • Digger

          Well done. It saddens me every time my obedience to the Bible is misinterpreted as hate. I don’t know if this upcoming statement is hypocrisy or merely good discernment, but I strongly believe that no person who accuses me of sexism or bigotry for interpreting scripture plainly has the Holy Spirit in them. I could understand them saying my interpretation was in error, but to attack me hatefully lacks the love of Christ. Without love, I am quite certain the people who launch those accusations are set on a course for destruction–NOT salvation. It is a sad situation.

          • SKPeterson

            Many people fail to recognize that while the office of the ministry is 100% off limits to women, it is also off limits to 98+% of the men.

            • There are no offices or ministries off limits to certain members of the Body of Christ. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to choose those through whom He will move. It is not our job as the recipients of God’s Grace to choose for God. It is only our responsibility to receive those who come in the name of the Lord and the unction of the Holy Spirit. We are to honor and respect those through whom God chooses to speak, regardless of their skin color, their gender, their nationality, or their social status.

              • SKPeterson

                Yes, there are limits. There have always been limits. I suspect that the fact that these limits exist is the real issue; people don’t like having limits, so they argue for a relaxing of this, or of that, or a redefinition of that limit over there. God didn’t really mean for that to be a limit now did He? Why it must have just been that old patriarchy getting in the way again.

                For all of His upsetting of the cultural norms of His time, Jesus did not call any women to the ministry of preaching. None. It just did not happen. There are calls and there are calls, so to speak. Just because “you” feel some longing does not mean it is the Holy Spirit. To argue otherwise is to willfully ignore the Bible.

                • Yes, of course there are limits. Those limits affect everyone, not select groups of adults. And the limits are all relevant to sin. When you can show that teaching and preaching truth is a sin, I’d be interested in seeing how that works.

                  To my knowledge the ministries of teaching are not gender specific. Ephe. 4:11-12 Also, all of the five fold ministries involve teaching and preaching. There is no “ministry of preaching”. Preaching is just teaching in a different platform. There is no where in 1 Cor. 12 where the gifts and ministries are divided into blue and pink groups. If in fact, there was a limitation, that is where it would be.

                  You are quite right that “longings” to do something does not qualify as a commissioning by the Holy Spirit. Graduating from college with a degree or PH.D. does not qualify as a calling either. Too many men today are working as a pastor/shepherd as if it were a well paying job, when in fact God never equipped them to be there. And also, many women who have been validly called and equipped by God to teach, preach and lead the Body of Christ have been passed over for men not so called. IMO that is why churches today are floundering, boring and not fulfilling experiences. We have decided to take over the Holy Spirit’s job, limiting His influence in our lives.

            • DaisyFlower

              @ SkPeterson. That’s a bit beside the point.

          • DaisyFlower

            @ Digger. Your ‘obedience’ or, more accurately, your personal interpretation of what the biblical text says? And yes, your views, your interpretation is sexist, and limits women, causing some of them to leave churches and the Christian faith altogether. Your views about women, your adherence to this particular interpretation, have very damaging consequences to the body of Christ.

        • Elisabeth M

          I wrote a reply to Guest’s comment that has to do with this… I’d be interested to hear your response.

          • Josh

            Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:11-15, ESV)

            Here’s a second passage to a completely different location (because, you’re right, I don’t want to pull things out of context)
            There are many more passages that support a viewpoint of a supportive role for the woman. Interpreting Galatians 3:28 to say that Paul is there supporting women having leadership roles is not only taking it wildly out of context, but also putting it in conflict with several other NT passages.

            As much as I may personally love having women in up-front head of the church roles, the Bible and nearly 2000 years of tradition don’t support this viewpoint.

            • Elisabeth M

              Oh, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t at all suggesting that Paul was “really” trying to say he supports women in leadership roles. That obviously isn’t there in this passage. But, I do think it’s important to look closely at what his purpose was (i.e. his reasoning), and I really don’t think his main priority was to cement women’s secondary position. As far as I can see, his main goal in this passage was to create order and prevent distractions in church services.

        • DaisyFlower

          Wow that was a very long post. American Gender Complementarians choose to interpret Paul through a sexist, 1950s American secular lens. Not all Christians interpret Paul’s comments in a way that suggests that no women may ever lead or teach.
          There are examples in both Old and New Testaments of women leading and teaching men, such as Deborah, who was a judge of Israel. But those examples don’t fit the Complementarian stereotype of women being cookie- baking wives and stay at home mommies only, so such passages and biblical women are ignored, explained away, or downplayed.

  • Elisabeth M

    Wow, thanks for putting that out there Tony.

    A schism is tricky given that the church is not under one governing body. There’s one for Orthodox, one for Catholics, then a bit of a mess for Protestants.

    But if our authority is the larger community of which we’re all a part… then yeah, maybe a schism is still logistically possible.

  • Guest

    As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35, ESV)

    Can we address Paul’s heresy?

    • BPR

      Can we address your heresy of calling Paul a heretic?

    • Elisabeth M

      So, Paul knew this church. And this church had a problem. And they wrote to him about that: dude, the women there in the back (where they had to sit back then, behind the divider) are talking during the service and it’s making it hard for the men up front to listen. This sucks and it’s disruptive. So Paul says, “Hey people. Let the women keep silent back there behind the divider.” And they listened to him, because they loved and respected him as a dad, whose word was enough to settle a problem.

      He wrote that specific letter to address a specific problem that was happening at that specific church.

      It’s important to read this passage remembering that their culture was very different from ours. We do not require women to sit in a separate section in church. (Why not? It’s biblical.) Women were not anywhere near as involved as women are here and now, in 21st century America. (Why do we allow them to be? It’s not biblical.)

      Rather than attempting to transplant their particular views and approaches straight into our churches, what I try to do with this passage is this: ask, how did Paul respond to the problem he was facing? and, what can we learn from that?

      One thing I see in this passage is that orderliness was very important to Paul. That when someone’s getting in the way of other people’s participation, it’s important to address that. That sometimes a pragmatic solution is good enough.

      I really don’t believe that it’s contextually appropriate to lift Paul’s instructions to that one church regarding that one problem and apply it to every church from now on, across the board. Paul didn’t send every letter he wrote to every church he was involved with. If he were writing today, I highly doubt he’d be telling all American churches to follow the instructions he sent to Corinth.

      I think he’d be telling us to put aside our theology wherever it conflicts with serving people’s needs.

  • As someone who stands on the opposite side of this issue than you, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • billykangas
  • I will add my thoughts here, and expand on them elsewhere.
    Other’s have pointed this out, you, Tony, don’t really seem to be in a position to call for schism. You readily admit you don’t actually know those with whom you are calling schism. Though you are in fellowship with those who do know and are still in fellowship.
    I can understand your frustration though at the persistence of this dispute. My denomination officially settled this issue in the early 1970’s. Though, unfortunately it took a long while for that decision to trickle down to our congregations, and took awhile before my denominational leadership began insisting that congregations consider women the denomination ordained in their call process. So, I also understand the calls for patience and that these things take time. Also, I’m not sure how I would personally respond to this call since my denomination ordains and now seeks to support the women it ordains in being placed in congregations even those who have never called a woman as a pastor, but which has both egalitarians and complemetarians together in one denomination that ordains women.

    Lastly I’d say there is no means for you nor anyone else in the current state of Christianity to say definitively what the Spirit has said to the church on this nor any other matter. The reality (and there is then perhaps a bit of irony in your call for schism) that Christianity is now still in fragmentation, the schisms of the past you mention have not been healed. Your call for schism then is not so prophetic as you’d like to claim it, but more a statement that you are already in schism, which was the truth anyway as we all are, already due to the unhealed schisms of the past. The Ecumenical movement has stalled and mostly failed, though up and until the current controversies over women and human sexuality we had become more tolerant of the opinions that lead us to schism. For reasons you mention we are less tolerant of teh issues we in our time find central and essential. and so it perhaps reveals that our supposed “unity” or movement towards it was simply that we no longer believed in the centrality of the issues that moved others in our past to schism.

  • Brenda Erickson

    I think its time to be gracious with one another and to accept that in this life, especially in secondary and non-fundamental (not central or core) Christians will read scripture, take it seriously, and come to different conclusions. This is one of those issues. Let’s be loving. IT will all get sorted out in the end. For now, we may have to live in the tension. Calling complementarians misogynists is not accurate. It’s not about subjugation, but interpretation. I grew up on one side of this debate and now am on the other. I can see where each side is coming from and we need to let the Holy Spirit speak to each of us. This is an “in house” debate among people who love Jesus. We need to have vibrant dialogue in a loving way.

    • BT

      I agree on the need to love each other and be reasonable, but I can’t call this a secondary issue. It’s too important.

      How do I encourage my friend to return to the church? She is an accomplished executive, mother, and entrepreneur. Yet, when she enters the church we say she has nothing to offer beyond serving other women or children.

      She has moved on to other things – the church could not accept what she had to offer.

      For me, it’s an issue of evangelism. That’s primary.

      • Russell Snow

        If I wanted to join the National Organization for Women, but insisted that they abandon feminism as a prerequisite, you would think me daft. The only reason to join the church is that you believe Jesus is God and you want to be obedient to Him. You have to leave your culture behind.

        • Eric Boersma

          Is the National Organization for Women claiming that they speak with the Voice of God and that if you don’t follow their rules you’re going to spend an eternity burning in conscious torment because God wanted people to be feminists?

          I’m not sure you want the Church to be on the same level as NOW. That’s the whole point of saying it’s an issue of evangelism. If saving souls is the most important part of Christianity, but Christians adopt rules which exclude people from being able to be saved, then either (a) saving souls isn’t actually the most important thing or (b) Christians adopting those rules are sinning against God by excluding people who might otherwise be saved.

          You need to decide if the people currently being marginalized by the Church are either unimportant, or if your insistence on clinging to rules is worth the sacrifice of their immortal souls.

          • Russell Snow

            I was just using an example of an organization you didn’t want to change. Why join an organization just to try to rewrite it’s core beliefs?

            The same Bible which talks about Hell and Heaven also talks about the relationship between men and women. If you don’t believe it to be true about the male – female thing, why should you listen to it about Heaven and Hell?
            If the Bible is the voice of God it is the voice of God. Your opinions about the parts you don’t like don’t matter. I didn’t put the stuff in there about men and women, God did and if a convert cannot accept that, they are not really a convert, are they?

            • Eric Boersma

              The same Bible which talks about Hell and Heaven

              The Bible says basically nothing about Heaven or Hell.

              talks about the relationship between men and women.

              Er, not really. I mean, there’s a little bit of stuff in there, but basically none of it is intended to be universally applicable to every man and every woman throughout history.

              If the Bible is the voice of God it is the voice of God.

              The Bible isn’t the voice of God. That’s heresy.

              Your opinions about the parts you don’t like don’t matter.

              But apparently yours do. Nice double standard you’ve set up there.

              I didn’t put the stuff in there about men and women

              That’s debatable.

              if a convert cannot accept that, they are not really a convert, are they?

              Yeah, you’re pretty much a pharisee. You’ve decided what you think the Bible says, picking and choosing things to suit your argument. You then decide that all the things you ignore don’t matter and that if someone can’t follow your specific, direct rules, they’re not really a real, true Christian, and are still going to hell. That’s literally the exact attitude that Jesus was so pissed off about.

      • rdrift1879

        Why does your friend think so little of women she cannot serve them with joy?

        • BT

          On behalf of the women I know, you get a virtual dope slap.

        • BT

          She thinks highly enough of men to feel like she has something worthy to offer them and that men are worth spending her energies for.

          • physphilmusic

            If she thinks going to church is about getting herself into “worthy” positions, that’s a wrong state of mind to begin with, even for a man.

            • BT

              Of course that’s true. It’s more about being allowed to be yourself and not having to amputate half your being in order to fit someone else’s idea of who you are supposed to be. She’s a leader. Leaders lead.

  • Why don’t all the irritating liberals just join the Episcopalians and then the rest of us can not talk to you ever again? I think that is the best solution for Christianity in general. Liberal Protestants, especially those of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic provenance, and Uncle Toms who sympathise with you are ruining Christianity. If we isolate you in a ghetto known as the Anglican Communion, which nobody takes seriously and then end all “ecumenism” with such an entity, we would be far more free.

    • Jules Grant

      This summarises how I feel at times. I’m sick of Liberal Christianity in general. Christianity does not “change with the times”. The Faith is timeless, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

      As for Anglicanism, it’s not entirely horrible, but it’s certainly getting there. Much of the Anglican Communion has a serious case of itching ears.

      • Barbara

        Really, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Yes, perhaps that is the only answer to Christian schisms, divisions and bickering – more divisions. That way we will be less challenged to love our neighbor, and those different than our social groups. 🙂

        But I get it that it can be difficult to find some sense of fellowship and mutuality in the Spirit with those who do not actually listen or have thoughtful dialogue.

  • BPR

    “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

    • Guest

      How DARE you use those hateful words in an enlightened setting such as this you BIGOT! You SEXIST? You MISOGYNIST! Oh–wait. Sorry, that’s just scripture, isn’t it? I repent from my absurd, hateful, tool-of-Satan ways. Please accept my humble and heart-felt apology.

    • “if anyone”. ei = if, whether. tis = whoever, whatever; anyone.

      “mia gunaikos andra” = “one woman man”. This is an idiom signifying faithfulness. I believe it is a play on the introduction of: “this is a faithful saying”. In other words, it is a faithful saying that anyone desiring the work of overseeing is desiring a good work. And those who so desire must be blameless and faithful (in marriage relationships) as faithful toward God in other areas of their lives.

      Hope this helps.

      • SKPeterson

        An extraordinarily loose and unhelpful eisegesis of the passage there tiro. Good job. I also see that you say “marriage relationships” implying that even the direct implication of marriage being an exclusively one male-one female institution is done away with as long as there is “faithfulness.”

        • Interesting. It is really mind boggling that you could interpret a “one man woman” phrase, which is directly relating to marriage as something contrary to marriage. One cannot get more “one male-one female” than “one man woman”. Perhaps, you should monitor your coffee intake when you read here. 🙂

          • SKPeterson

            Maybe I misunderstood your point, but if you are saying “one woman man” instead of “man of one woman” then you are reading into the text that is different and maybe you need to check your coffee. The passage is about fidelity, but within the bounds of a one man- one woman marriage, but with the direct implication that the pastor/presbyter/overseer is to be a man who only has one wife – although it is somewhat unclear whether this is a once in a lifetime deal or a one spouse at a time admonition, i.e. bigamy and polygamy are forbidden. From the context I would hold the latter, but I have seen others argue for the first interpretation.

            • aaah. Let me clarify. The Greek is “mia gunaikos andra”. The translation of that is “one woman man”.

              Yes, it is about fidelity. We use the same idiom today when we say “he is a one woman man”, or she is a “one man woman”. When no specific gender is in mind then it defaults to: “one woman man”, with the feminine implied. That is basic grammar.

              Those who think according to their own cultures rather than the Greek, have had some trouble deciphering what that means. Some have thought it means that those desiring the work of ‘episkopEs’ (overseeing) must be men only. Some have thought it meant that they must be married only once and never divorced. Some thought it meant that they must be be married and not single. Some have thought it meant a man could not have more than one wife.

              However, not all of the apostles were thought to be married. I strongly suspect it is simply about the very important characteristic of fidelity and faithfulness.

  • Celestial Chapel

    An active sex role schism is the best solution to the current heretical behaviors of our misguided brethren, save it does not go nearly far enough. We first need to establish a correct understanding of Biblical authority and scriptural interpretation across all those obviously wrong minded schisms that have plagued the church since Acts. The self-evident answers to topics like predestination, transubstantiation, child baptism, papal authority, appropriateness of instrumental worship, proper color of the sanctuary carpet and fellowship hall bathrooms, etc. must also serve as motivation to for us all to awaken the devilishly minded of the deathly consequences of their error. It is the best expression of Godly love to cast off the burden of an unequal yoke in hopes the shock of our separation will bring the fallen to their senses. This article has inspired me to this end. I look forward to the day – I hope soon in coming – when I can at last be a part of a pure holy church, free of the stain of ridiculous controversy. On that day, I will surely delight in the fact that the meeting of the resulting like-minded fellowship will comfortably fit in my bed on Sunday morning, saving me the trouble of travel and silly small-talk with other so-called believers. I not sure where my spouse will attend, but rest assured, I will not tolerate her continued perversion of the truth either!

    • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

      I saw this coming…but the last line still made me smile.

  • The most fallen possession is closer to God’s design for man than malicious egalitarianism. Possession is what God gave me (which I usually (mis)use selfishly and sinfully), whereas equality is what government and society give me, and they give me something that does not belong to them. (The desire for) Equality is from the Devil because it comes entirely from envy.

    – Fr. Alexander Schmemann, The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983, page 330-331.

    • Eric Boersma


  • Twoznek

    This article demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of complementarianism. Saying carte blanc that it is misogynist and subjugating women is insulting, naive and unbiblical. Further, it adds to the vitriol too often present.

  • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

    Are you kidding me? This comment is outrageous. God have mercy on all of us for the moments when discussions of faith prompt such hatefulness.

    • Suegirly

      You are correct. That comment is hateful. So is the article.

  • rozdieterich

    I apologize if my failure to read all the comments is causing me to repeat a point that’s already been made.

    I’ve only run across this “a pox on all their houses” approach once in my long acquaintance with people from many denominations. That was in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church where they refuse to fellowship with churches who don’t share their precise beliefs (or even with churches who believe ‘rightly’, but who themselves fellowship with so-called unacceptable churches). This practice of radical “separation” distinguishes them from the great majority of any denominations anywhere. Congratulations on re-inventing fundamentalism.

    And shame on you, by the way, for this incredibly uncharitable and supercilious temper tantrum.

  • jonnyvee

    Jones changes, God does not. Therein lies the schism.

  • I don’t understand what the author is asking for. Aren’t there plenty of denominations that already affirm and practice women’s ordination? Aren’t the people for whom this is really important already affiliated with such groups? Aren’t any of the mainline Protestant groups already separate church bodies over this issue? Hasn’t the split already happened? (hint: the answer is yes.)

  • tim barone

    I’d be really impressed if Tony actually could fairly state the complementarian point of view… I doubt he actually understands it. I was egalitarian until I started to read the comprehensive argument that runs throughout all of scripture. I think people often take this too far or misuse the idea, which might be what Tony is reacting to. But after YEARS of study, it is my conviction that scripture and history both point to male headship in specific areas of life; not to subdue women, but to honor and serve them in the way God has commanded. We should be somewhat critical of any argument that basically says… “THAT’S AN OUTDATED THOUGHT AND NEEDS TO PROGRESS” likely, Tony is motivated far more by the cultural tides of individual, progressive, evolutionary, western thought than by the wisdom of God’s Church interpreting his Word.

    • Trust me, I understand it completely. And it’s dead wrong.

      • tim barone

        You have not written one word of actual theology in this post… Why should we trust that you understand this? You appear to trying to create schisms with no backing from scripture or the history of the church which you claim as your own. Trust me tony, you’re dead wrong.

        • SamHamilton

          But “the spirit has spoken.” That ends the discussion.

      • Josh

        Very well thought out reply

      • Morton

        This is actually funny. In a very sad sort of way, but funny none the less.

  • Jules Grant

    Egalitarianism is key to me. Women and men are equal, and both deserve respect and rights, equal rights. I am also a devout Anglo-Catholic who belongs to the Orthodox Catholic Church. The Orthodox Church is staunchly against egalitarianism, and espouses complementarianism.

    I disagree with the Orthodox Catholic Church over complementarianism. That said, I refuse to leave the Orthodox Church, even if I disagree at times. To do so would be to become a heretic. I prefer to remain Orthodox and change the Church (meaning the Orthodox Catholic Church) from the inside out.

    Imitate Saint Athanasius. He, the Father of Orthodoxy and a champion of Trinitarianism against the Unitarian heresy, stood firm against the priests, bishops, and archbishops which espoused Arianism. Though the whole Orthodox Catholic Church seemed to side with heresy, he sided with orthodoxy. He sustained the Orthodox Catholic Church. If he had abandoned his Church or lost his faith, he would have allowed the heretics to have the victory.

    When we leave our denominations because of heresy (I use the word heresy lightly here, don’t take it too seriously), we let the heretics have victory. Instead, we must be light in darkness, we must stand firm in orthodoxy and illuminate our churches with the light of truth.

    I am not saying that if you are a Lutheran Anglican but worship with Roman Catholics you should continue doing such. Such is terrible for your spiritual health. If you, however, share the same faith but slightly different beliefs than your fellow congregants, remain and be the change, for if all the light leaves a dark room, everyone will be lost. Christ refused to do such to us, even when we were in sin and error. He served as the light and showed us truth.

    • Andrew Dowling

      “Imitate Saint Athanasius. He, the Father of Orthodoxy and a champion of
      Trinitarianism against the Unitarian heresy, stood firm against the
      priests, bishops, and archbishops which espoused Arianism. Though the
      whole Orthodox Catholic Church seemed to side with heresy, he sided with
      orthodoxy. He sustained the Orthodox Catholic Church. If he had
      abandoned his Church or lost his faith, he would have allowed the
      heretics to have the victory.”

      Who decides what is heresy? Those who win the fight for power. Athanasius if anything else knew how to ruthlessly arrange himself into positions of power.

      • Jules Grant

        Depends on who you ask on who decides heresy. All will say the Ecumeunical Councils, some will say the Orthodox Catholic Church, some will say the Church of Rome, some will say individuals.

        To me, denying a woman ordination should be treated as heresy. The bishops and archbishops of the Orthodox Catholic Church believe different. The Church of Rome believes that non-Church of Romans should be considered heretics, and that she decides what is heresy and what is not. The Ecumeunical Councils, which were not ruthless and a fight for power, unlike popular opinion, decide what is heresy, because the Church Universal said so.

        Athanasius was a hero of the faith, the Father of Orthodoxy. As far as him being “ruthless”, opinions on him vary, and he being an orthodox saint and archbishop or ruthless politician are irrelevant to my argument. My point is that we must be willing to be against the world, against heresy, even if that means our isolation. Athanasius surely did that, and was victorious.

  • Morton

    This is just silly.

    • Sue

      Your name is silly.

      • Morton

        Wow. Brilliant comment.

        What’s actually silly is that somebody is over emotional, under theological/doctrinal rant about women’s roles in Church, and is actually calling for division. Frankly, Tony Jones (whoever he is) has lost any and all credibility in my eyes. He’s the kind of Christian that creates problems where there are not problems. Ridiculous.

        • Sue

          You create problems Morton…you.

        • Morton, you are missing the fact that we are discussing the division that already exists. Some women and men are tired, not satisfied with the division that says women cannot do this and thus and misuse Scripture to get their way.
          But the other question is that when such a division that already exists is one that refuses to allow half the Body of Christ to walk in their gifts, ministries and calling, how does one work with them when they do not except such a division. The schism being suggested above should rather be viewed as walking away from the present schism back into the oneness experience that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have presented to us and are waiting for us to embrace.

          • Morton

            I am not missing anything, actually. My question is this: Do you simply ignore the clear Scriptural language of Elders being men? If you do, how do you justify simply ignoring it? And if you say those Scriptures were cultural, then what else was merely cultural? And how do you make that distinction, short is simply and honestly admitting that it’s a distinction made primarily by personal preference?

            • I suggest you do further study and consult with people who can research some of the Greek language. All ideas that Paul was suggesting that elders/overseers be men only is read into the Scriptures from a mind preset to not want to see women used in those ministries. It is nowhere stated in Scripture.

              • Morton

                I would suggest that you NOT assume that I do NOT have a terminal degree in such studies. I would also suggest you STOP flippantly blowing off Scripture you don’t happen to agree with. I just could be that it’s YOU that’s wrong.

                • Morton, degrees do not impress me. What impresses me is when someone is able to read the Scripture in it’s grammatical and cultural context. Just because an English translation adds the word ‘man’ does not mean it is in the original language. The Greek reading of 1 Tim. 3 is absent of any leaning toward men only. It employs tis which is “anyone”. Anyone means anyone male or female, NOT any man. None of the Christian characteristics required are physical requirements that only men can fulfill.

                  • Morton

                    Are you KIDDING me? Both ἐπίσκοπον (episkopon) and πρεσβυτέρους (presbuterous) are male nouns. Get that? MALE nouns. Period. In addition, 1 Tim 3 & Titus 1 speak of Elders being the HUSBAND of one WIFE. Now… feel free to “interpret” Scripture as you please, in order to fit your own agenda. But don’t even TRY to force that nonsensical hermeneutic on me. If, on the other hand, you want to have an intelligent BIBLICAL discussion that does not include swearing and bullying (that excludes the writer of the original silly blog), but DOES include integrity to the text, I’m game. Until then…

                    • LOL the only time the gender means anything in the Greek is when it is referencing to an obvious person. Same in Hebrew. You are thinking English. 🙂

                      If you look up the word presbuteros or presbuteron in the Greek, you will find that it references an office of service and is thus non gendered or inclusive. When referencing a particular person there are feminine and masculine endings that come from the masculine or feminine person it is referring to. Otherwise, the masculine is the default when the gender is unknown.

                      Greeks had different ideas about gender. The Holy Spirit is referred to as ‘it’. In Hebrew the Holy Spirit is referred to as ‘feminine’. So, is the Holy Spirit a ‘she’, or an ‘it’, or perhaps not gendered and that is the best they could do to acknowledge the Holy Spirit is a ‘person’ and part of the Godhead.

                      Frustrating isn’t it. 🙂

                    • Morton

                      Dead wrong. Liberal theology – always driven by an agenda – is such horrible theology. It leads desperate people to go to great lengths to explain why the Bible is not saying what it is actually saying, despite the FACT that Greek words DO and DID have specific meanings and definitions. I feel badly about whatever has driven you to this kind of theology, but it’s still bad theology, driven by a horrible hermeneutic. It also forces you to ignore the fact that an Elder is called to be HUSBANDS of one WIFE.

                      Are you now going to try to explain away why ἀνήρ (anēr) actually does NOT mean “a male human being” and γυναικὸς (gunaikos) actually does NOT mean “a woman, wife, my lady.”?

                      This – THIS is a perfect example of why I will not be a part of an egalitarian cult. Complete and total denial of Scripture is the norm, a result of an obsessive agenda.

                    • Proper exegesis of Scripture does not rest on one word pulled out of it’s contextual home. And then calling it the “plain reading” does not legitimize it either.

                      Obviously, you didn’t understand a word I said. And that is fine. Far be it for me to try to change the mind of someone who has something important to gain from their position.

                    • Morton

                      I gain nothing from my position, except the peace the comes from knowing that I am NOT twisting Scripture to fit my own agenda.

                      And to say that I am taking one word out of context is a complete fabrication. I am actually the one who IS reading it in its context, and forcing you to face the fact that words DO have fixed definitions that you cannot change, simply because you don’t like the definition.

                      The meanings of the Greek words are clear. The gender references are also clear. I am not making up anything, nor am I twisting Scripture to fit my agenda. You are the one doing that, and it’s obvious why.

                    • LOL seeing as how our dialogue has shifted into I’m right and you are wrong, with no real intent of discussing the verses and words in question. I guess we are done.

                      As I said, I’m not really interested in changing your mind. I’ve know many Christians like you throughout my Christian walk. However, I pray for many blessings on your life and leave you IN Christ our Lord and Savior.

                      Just please don’t move into my neighborhood. said with smiles.

                    • Morton

                      I have repeatedly used Scripture, both in English and in Greek, and included the definitions of said words. I have repeatedly used it in its context.

                      You, on the other hand, can only respond with things like, “LOL.”

                      I understand that you don’t like what Scripture actually does say about this whole thing, but that doesn’t change Scripture. Sadly, your arguments are completely lacking in Scriptural integrity, and based in personal agenda.

                      That said, I will glady stay where I am a member – in a church where real women LOVE the fact that their husbands love the Lord, love the Church, love their families, and are more than willing to be the spiritual vanguards. A church that is alive, and is loving people to Jesus. A church that has no desire to re-write the Bible to fit personal agendas. A church where women teach. Yeah, I’m pretty happy hear.

                    • Morton, using Scripture does not equate naturally with using it rightly, which I firmly do not believe you are doing.

                    • Morton

                      This is actually funny. I have repeatedly referred to Scripture, in its proper context, and verified the proper definitions of the original language.

                      You, on the other hand, have added nothing but opinions, conjecture, and things like, “LOL!”

                      Then you have the audacity to tell me I’m wrong. I can honestly say, I pity the church you lead. The few people there must be STARVING for lack of Scriptural teaching.

                    • Yes, Morton. On the subject of women chosen by God for various works and ministries of the Holy Spirit, you are absolutely misreading Scripture.

                    • Morton

                      Another attempt, by you, at comedy.

                      But I’d strongly suggest you STOP putting words in my mouth, and claiming I said things I’ve never said. That is what most of call lying.

                      Now… How about some Scriptures to back up these wild allegations and this agenda of yours?

                    • I didn’t state your beliefs. You believe that women are not to occupy any position of leadership or ministry that involves leading or teaching men. Correct? And yes, my research of Scripture through many years has found that belief system to be inaccurate. I’ve posted many of those Scriptures on here already. Go look under my profile.

                      And now I really don’t have time for your games, Morton. Perhaps, another time.

                    • Morton

                      Stop being so arrogant and condescending – and stop telling me what I believe and have said, particularly when I haven’t said it. Perhaps some time reading, rather than knee-jerk responding, would be helpful.

                      And yes, I’ve seen the desperate lengths to which you have gone, to try to twist clear Scriptural teaching from 1st Timothy 3 & Titus 1, and you have failed miserably. Your hermeneutics are horrible, because they are agenda-driven, rather than Scripture driven.

                      Perhaps you could admit that what Scripture actually says is less important to you than what you want to believe and do.

                    • Morton, in case you didn’t notice, I am not into the extreme bullying, accusatory and verbal bashing that you are so proud of.

                      When dialogue is respectful, honoring and actually discusses Scripture, I’m all for it.

                    • Morton

                      So far, all you have done is condescend to me, and try to bully me. You’ve not even backed up anything you’ve claimed with Scripture – which is precisely what I have repeatedly done.

                      Sorry, but I’m not standing for it.

                    • Rumplestiltskin away……

                    • Morton

                      Seriously – this is what your “debate” has dwindled to? You can’t refute Scripture, you can’t refute the Greek nor its definitions, you claim I’ve said things I’ve never said. This has to be kind of humiliating…

                    • (( smiling and shaking head))

                    • Morton

                      There truly are people I pity.

                    • Tim Bushong

                      “Morton, degrees do not impress me.”

                      But earlier you said:

                      “I suggest you do further study and consult with people who can research some of the Greek language.”

                      But would those be the very people with…degrees?

        • Oswald Carnes

          You’re the kind of christian that makes me look forward to hell.

          • Amy

            I sometimes wonder if you’re not already there, Ossy.

          • Morton

            Another brilliant statement.

  • disqus_mOwsUIp5h3

    A few honest questions–looking for an answer, not a fight: How do you respond to the texts from 1 Cor. and 1 Timothy where Paul says women should remain silent in the church and backs it up with his authority as a divinely inspired apostle, as well as the natural order of creation (before the fall)?

    Secondly, do you hold Scripture to be divinely inspired (all God-breathed and useful for teaching, etc.)? If so, again, what is your response to these texts? And if not, then what is the point of Scripture, and how can we trust anything it says?

    Thanks for your post.

    • perhaps a more thorough reading of 1 Cor. 14 will show that tongues speakers and those who prophecy were asked to be silent as well. But most of us notice the context there is that they are to only be silent regarding speaking when there is no interpretation and allowing others to share their gifts as well. In a similar way, women/wives were only to silent regarding their spoken questions to their husbands during the meeting. They should rather ask them at home.

      Similarly, 1 Timothy is about believers (men and women) who got into disputes over subjects they were not well informed in. (sound familiar?) vs. 1:3-7 Certain of the men involved were openly rebuked. vs. 1:19-20. The rest were admonished to stop fighting (men specifically – 2:8 ) And the women involved were to Learn! This learning was to be done in the manner of a student with quietness (same word in 2:2). They were to be learners and not seek to authentein. Authentein has been a difficult word to translate as it was only used once in the NT. But it generally has to do with domination or taking authority that did not belong to one.

      None of these Scriptures had anything at all to do with women teaching the truths of Scripture in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

  • Celestial Chapel

    Gotta ask – was this just a very clever troll?

  • Melinda Cadwallader

    Thank you. On behalf of all women whose nurturing, matriarchal gifts and talents have been overlooked, patronized and ostracized by “ambassadors of Christ” , thank you. I have often wondered how this ludicrous behaviour continues to plague THE church. the simple presence of an HR department keeps businesses and community leaders accountable for chauvinistic actions, yet our “virtuous” pastors and ministers remain exempt. Time to bust the Christian bubbles and expose the liars, wolves and pigs.

  • Melinda Cadwallader

    Oh, you mean “taking a STAND for what you believe is right”??..(Martin Luther).By removing yourself from those who continue to justify these behaviours, you may not”change”anyone else but yourself, and believe me, that’s far greater joy. And the freedom you experience will play out in your life, and you will influence others by who you are, rather than what you believe. Impact is made from action, not thought.

  • Tony, this post, like others, only reveals more of your arrogance. While it appears that you’re on the “right side” of the issue, this really is about you propping yourself up as an ecclesial authority mandating something from people/groups that is both practically absurd and relationally damaging. This is in keeping with your tendency towards line in the sand, with me or with the terrorists intimidation tactics, and your lust for traffic (which this post seems to be getting lots of). I’m sad that some folks can’t see that bullying on the right side of an issue is still bullying, and your brash exhortation for people you don’t know to go and be relationally destructive is, in itself, abusive.

    A humble leader calls for a million little conversations and deep discernment of specific situations, even while taking a stand on an issue.

    An egotistical leader calls for a million little schisms.

    • jeux999

      and your need to defend the status quo is pretty sickening! things need to change & if you aren’t part of the solution…guess what?

      • Snorkel Strap

        You’re part of the precipitate?

      • Morton

        What if what you call “the status quo” is actually right, and YOU are wrong? D’Oh!

    • SamHamilton

      Well said. I’m part of a church that allows women to hold any position. I’m more in line with Tony’s views on this than the more traditional view. But this blog post is exactly what so many people dislike about protestant Christianity. Instead of agreeing to have a big tent where we can all worship, Tony’s trying to divide people into good Christians and bad Christians. Hmmm…where have I seen this before… The irony.

  • josiah johnson

    Do you really want to use Calvin and Luther as guiding
    inspirations? May I remind you that these men made the Apostle Paul look like a
    radical feminist?

    Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude.
    – Calvin

    The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. –Luther

    I understand that you’re using them because they apparently did some good. But, why not the familists or the quakers? Is their relative egalitarianism outweighed by their heretical views on the trinity?

  • Russ Westbrook

    I’d be glad to make a swap with you. We’ll take all the actual Bible-believers who want to be obedient on this issue, and you can have all our rebels who are infected with the Feminist spirit of the age. We can call it square.

    • BT

      You mean we get to send you all the fundies?


      (Sorry – I had to. The thought entered my brain and amused me for a moment as it passed through. I had to share.)

      • Russ Westbrook

        Yep; we’ll take your “fundies” (i.e. converted people) and you can have all our liberals (i.e. unconverted people). A win/win for everyone- but we keep the Holy Spirit and you get the prince of the power of the air, so we think we benefit more in the lone run. 🙂

        • BT

          Just note – I am both left of center and converted. I have an egalitarian marriage and a future pastor for a wife. And I am still your brother in Christ.

          Go figure.

          • Russ Westbrook

            You could also declare yourself to be a poached egg; and I would have just as much belief in the veracity of your statement.

        • Russ, it looks like you have demonstrated a strong schism already in place, but one that tries to force the women to embrace. If women do not embrace the schism you have embraced then they are labeled with the harshest terms of unworthiness you could muster: that of being both not Christian and not “proper” women.
          It should be no surprise that many women are tired of your schism, which is one that devalues women as not fully able to be used by God.

          • physphilmusic

            It’s quite interesting how the so-called “egalitarians” always claim that any conservative women are in it because they are forced by their husbands. By such assumptions egalitarians remove the agency of women to form their own opinions. Who is the real misogynist here?

            And I laugh at your accusation that dissenters are “labeled with the harshest terms of unworthiness”. Anyone can see that’s true for both sides of the debate. If you’re in a liberal church and you don’t support their views on egalitarianism, you get to be called a misogynist, outdated sexist pig – which is surely the liberal version of “harshest terms of unworthiness”.

            • Actually, that isn’t accurate. I’ve been in the midst of both “sides” of this issue for 44 years. The majority of name calling has been squarely on the shoulders of those who claim women cannot do this or that. My view is that while those who believe God chooses and not men are the greater sufferers in the discussion, those mutuality minded believers seem more capable of embracing Christians from both sides of the debate.

              Note BT’s comment below.

              • physphilmusic

                They “seem more capable” and “nicer” because you agree with their opinion. That’s confirmation bias right there.

              • physphilmusic

                Also, this very post – using language and tones of condemnation which is very similar to those used in more general left-liberal screeds – is evidence that liberal Christians are not above using typical smearing rhetoric in order to accomplish their goals.

          • Russ Westbrook

            Nah; we are simply disciples of Jesus following His Covenant directives in His Word. We are the Church Militant and the Church catholic, and we will be here until He returns. YOUR temporary spirit of the age will pass however; and be replaced with the next wave of attack from the world, the flesh and the devil, whatever that may be.

            • My temporary “spirit of the age”? Please speak plainly. Are you accusing me of not believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior? If so, why would you do that?

              • Russ Westbrook

                Feminism is a doctrine of this time and place; it will fade, as all false teaching ultimately does. The Scriptures (such as I Tim 2, in this case) will remain for all time however. As to whether you are a believer………. I can say I sincerely hope you are. I can also happily say such judgments don’t rest with me, so I can defer the responsibility for the call. But on the other hand believers, well, BELIEVE. They hear the voice of God in the Scriptures, believe and obey what they find there, and receive them as the very Word, truth, and Covenant of God. One cannot read I Tim 2 and then read this article, and come away with any sense that;s where the author is.

                • It is always easier to slander the person with whom one disagrees than do the Christian charitable thing of respectably and humbly discussing issues. I have been a believer for 44 years, but thank you for your concern. I am not a feminist nor any other “ism’s”. The Lord
                  Jesus, the promised Messiah, who is my Lord and Savior has been incredibly good to me in my life, saving my life a few times, healing me and freeing me of
                  many things. It is not wise to accuse God’s own people.

                  I have watched over the years of those whose claim to doctrinal understandings does not rest on thorough and proper exegesis of Scripture. I have watched many more powerful brethren than you claim many things
                  and seek harm toward those who do not agree with them. Sometimes, they have actually done some harm to God’s elect. But that is not a good place to be
                  in. And I have also watched many of them fall hard because of their cold hearted arrogance. But I am certain that God will not give up on them. They have until they die and every day God will chase after their hearts to soften them and get them to see all people the way that God’s deep love sees them.

                  That said, , 1 Timothy is about believers (men and women) who got into disputes over subjects they were
                  not well informed in. (sound familiar?) vs. 1:3-7 Certain of the men involved were openly rebuked. vs. 1:19-20. The rest were admonished to stop fighting (men specifically – 2:8 ) And the women involvedwere to Learn! This learning was to be done in the manner of a student with quietness (same word in 2:2). They were to be learners and not seek to authentein. Authentein has been a difficult word to translate as it was only used once in the NT. But it generally has to do with
                  domination or taking authority that did not belong to one.

                  None of the Scriptures you use to shackle women toward silence had anything at all to do with women
                  teaching the truths of Scripture in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

                  • Russ Westbrook

                    How can you even convince YOU with such nonsense? The Scripture is quite clear in I Tim 2 that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the Church of God. It doesn’t take my 11 1/2 years of higher ed in theological studies (which became four degrees in the field) to be able to read.

                    • Sorry, but I know many excellent scholars more studious than either of us, who do believe such.

                      And let me say this. Once one has tasted the true deep goodness of the Lord who loves us beyond anything any human can give, one is very unlikely to go back to the bondages the world has to offer. Once one has been set free by the Truth, nothing can persuade one to live the dying again.

                      Your interpretations fall flat and offer nothing to women. Jesus Christ gives us Life, hope, and a future worth living even in the midst of turmoil.

                    • Russ Westbrook

                      A. You don’t know me; ergo you have no idea how “studious” I am or not; B. Your “many excellent scholars” are compromisers; and C. to equate the Holy Spirit’s words with “the world” and somehow posit them to be at odds with “Jesus Christ” is a dark, dark place to be my friend. I pray God graciously gives you to you submit to the word of God I am however no longer willing to debate you.

                    • Russ, you don’t know me either, nor my many excellent scholars. Thus, to accuse one of compromising and to be equating the Holy Spirits Words with the world is simply to be an accuser.

  • BT

    I read this and thought, “But haven’t we effectively already done this?” My denomination has recently come over to the egalitarian side, but surely those lines are already fairly well drawn.

    Am I wrong? I would like to be. I’d like to think there are others ready to move forward on this.

  • BT

    Here is an example of what we are missing out on.

    “I would have given her [the Church] my head, my hand, my heart. She would not have them. She did not know what to do with them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother’s drawing-room; or if I were tired of that, to marry and look well at the head of my
    husband’s table. ‘You may go to the Sunday School if you like it,’ she said. But she gave me no training even for that. She gave me neither work to do for her, nor education for it.” Florence Nightingale in a letter to Dean Stanley, 1852.

  • LRC

    Anyone who believes in separation of the Church obviously has little idea of who Jesus Christ is.

  • John Osborn

    Calling for Schism when Christianity has already split into tens of thousands of denominations over issues like this and is continuing to split strikes me as rather pompous and melodramatic. You are calling for Christians to do exactly what they’re already doing and have been doing for centuries (splitting off into different churches with both sides considering the other less Christian and themselves the true Christian), and trumpeting it like you’re calling for something radical and earth shaking. There will continue to be schisms in the church as surely as the sun rising in the morning, and both events will continue to have nothing to do with self-important proclamations.

  • KateHanch

    Unfortunately, as I know from experience, the establishment of egalitarianism in churches doesn’t solve the problem of patriarchal structures. We need to rethink our ecclesiology behind the structures of churches that takes into account how power is used. I wonder how female clergy would think about the schism. Did you ask?

    • I would like to know the answer to your question, too. I’ve written a fair bit about a more egalitarian ecclesiology, including my dissertation. And I think that both Jürgen Moltmann and Kevin Giles have made a convincing case that a hierarchical trinitarian theology has resulted in the ecclesial hierarchy that subjugates women.

      • KateHanch

        That is true, and I appreciate your writing about egalitarian ecclesiology–hierarchical Trinitarian theology is harmful (and unbiblical). I’m wondering what women you might consult to help consider power dynamics that undergird current manifestations of ecclesiology. I was able to read your abstract for your dissertation. Egalitarians generally espouse equality in theory, however, when it comes to leadership, few have female senior pastors (such as Jacob’s Well in KC and larger UMC churches). How might leadership and practice be transformed in light of Galatians 3:28?

        • The tragedy of mainline Christianity is that, while they believe in women in ministry in theory, the profession is still dominated by men. At least in theology, that’s starting to change. I hope it does in the clergy as well. (Or, better yet, get rid of clergy altogether, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

          • IMO it is not necessary for there to be equal amounts of men and women in leadership. There only needs to be equal support of both, and the resistance to women in leadership needs to stop. There likely will never be equal amounts of women. Women generally have more to do in life and lean toward busying themselves with marriage and children.

          • BT

            Beyond the mainlines, you see it in other denominations as well. Assemblies of God ordain women with about 16% of their certificate holders being women but just 3% or so of churches having female pastors.

            Essentially, the church reflects the gender bias of the culture at large. We should be leading and forming culture, but instead we follow it from behind.

      • BT

        So Tony – what did you do to be so loved? I read a lot of the comments, but rarely see someone generate such strong negative reactions. One would think you kicked someone’s puppy and called their mum ugly.

  • Steve

    If you believe that complementarianism doesn’t teach the full equality of men and women then you are either misunderstanding it at best and at worst are subjecting God to your cultural views. My guess, after reading the post is that it is some of both.

    • Complementarianism does not teach the FULL equality of men and women. I was raised in this traditional thinking before it was called “complementarianism”. The foundation for complementarian thinking is patriarchalism which is based on male dominance and preference. The founders of C wanted a softer patriarchalism. Thus, C presented the concept that one could be equal in creation but unequal in life. They called it “equal but different”, but they meant equal in value before God, but having those roles for women that are to be lifelong. Thus, only men have FULL equality, full opportunities to become like Jesus, while women must be confined, controlled, and relegated to certain unequal lifelong ‘roles’. This is not full equality by any means.

      • Steve

        Yes, I understand the opposing egalitarian view very well. And, I have read some very compelling writing which was incredibly well presented and well thought out. And, I am sorry that you had such an awful experience growing up. But, I also think that the abuses of a particular orthodoxy regarding this issue, does not mean that there is not a legitimate point of view on the comp. side. My problem more than anything with this thread is that the venomous tone that was set in the post itself was picked up by many making comments. I get where the anger might come from, given the prior abuses of history in some churches, but to promote the view with such arrogant air of superiority and elitism towards the opposing view seems to be just as abusive as the complementarians you sight from your youth. Look…I am a pastor. I am a complementarian. I love people. When women give me some feedback or challenge something I taught….I take it seriously. My wife is not some mousy housewife that says, “yes dear” everytime I say something. She was a lobbyist and ran political campaigns and is far smarter than I am. When she speaks to me I listen. I can’t calculate the degree to which I have been sanctified by her wise counsel. But, from my own prayer and study concerning the whole counsel of God, I affirm the doctrinal position of complementarianism. I hope you can see that not everyone on my side of things is a sexist. Thanks for your challenge and for your passion for the church. I wish you God’s abundant blessings to you and yours.

        • Thank you for your gracious reply, Steve. My first suggestion to you is that you need to do more studying. My calling is not to shepherd a church, but rather to speak forth God’s Word. One of the first things I needed to understand was this issue. I was researching it with the Lord before complementarianism became a byword. Through the years I see God’s compassion for each individual more clearly. God wants each and every believer to become like Jesus. God gave the manifestations of the Holy Spirit to all to be distributed amongst all believers not divided by age, gender, race or social status. God gives us gifts of gifted individuals of every nationality, both poor and rich, black and white, male and female. No one is more special than another and no group is prohibited from the potential of being used by God. The Holy Spirit chooses, not humans.

          I know and count as my friends a lot of people who claim the complementarian tag, the Baptist tag and other “tags”. I believe you are a decent man who is only trying to do what he believes is right.

          I do not claim any labels other than Christian first and foremost. I am not angry. I have been set free from the burden of all this “stuff”. God uses me as He sees fit. Because I am willing and do not listen to what men think I should do, but do my best to only hear and follow God’s directions, I have had many wondrous experiences with God and have seen Him do many just awesome things in front of me. God is good. I hope that all men and women can see how Jesus came to set them free from the various bondages humans would like to bind us in to keep us away from the good works that jesus wants us to do in Him.

          And just in case you wondered, my pastor is one of my best promoters. He gives me many opportunities to be used of God in the church. It is a win/win situation.

          Really! I highly recommend that you listen to what
          some other believers are thinking about this subject.

          One I recommend is Wade Burleson. Also CBE.

      • BT

        Separate but equal being inherently unequal?

        • That is the end result. One cannot be basically beneath, restricted, confined by reason of something one cannot change (gender) and yet be equal. Now if they said something akin to “equal but different” and those differences not meld into life long glass ceilings, that is workable. After all everyone is different and that is a good thing.

  • NDaniels

    Let us be honest, those who deny that every human person, from the moment of conception, has been created In The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a son or daughter, separates themselves from The Word of God, from The Beginning.

  • Sofia

    Oppression propagates violence. Thank you, Tony.

    • physphilmusic

      When you realize that violence of all kinds is suffered disproportionately by men much more than women, watching statements bewailing “violence against women!” makes you want to laugh. Yes, we live in a man’s world – a world where men are expected to protect women even at the expense of their own lives, but never the other way around. A world where violence is only decried if it is against women, yet women claim that they are “equal”.

  • I don’t want schism in the church. I want insurgency and subversion. I want to hear a Roman Catholic priest preach on the equality of women during the mass. I want Rachel Held Evans to take over an Orthodox Presbyterian Church and preach equality on a Sunday morning.

    King didn’t schism over racial equality. He invaded the establishment and demanded it. Why can’t we do the same thing in the church?

    • SamHamilton

      Well said!

    • Amy

      Please, oh please, oh pretty please let her come to my Orthodox Presbyterian Church and try to “take over”.

    • john smith

      “I want someone to repeat my own ideas back to me over and over, forever and ever.”

      That sounds very insurgent and subversive.

  • raymond

    Why are there two genders to humanity? Do men and women have unique gifts, and separate intelligences? How about if we just forsake the social, emotional, physic, and visionary gifts of women, and do it for centuries and millenniums? What sort of a world would men create? Look around. It’s a man’s world after all. Get a good look while you are looking, because we are quickly destroying the world that was freely given to us and it was, is, and will forever be, priceless. Look really quickly because our world is on the brink of total annihilation.

  • raymond

    It’s a man’s world. Look around. See what man has built all by himself. The mystery is why men keep bragging about it.

  • raymond

    You can delete all my comments, or you can alter the world that man alone has built. You won’t get it both ways. Standing in the way of truth will only lead you further down the road away from yourself, and unity with ALL humanity. Women are not the enemy. Believing in exclusion is.

  • raymond

    Btw, called God a Father is clue number one.

  • Y. A. Warren

    “there’s no monolithic authority like the Vatican for us to protest against”

    This is not the common media perception. The pope is still referred to as the head of the Christian Church and given much publicity as such. The schism must start with the public rejection of the Vatican as a “Christian” religion by other religions who sincerely follow Jesus as their Christ. The time for being protest-ant has passed. It is time that the many Jesus following churches act as fully formed adult families of worship through humble service.

    • Andrew

      Claiming that Catholics aren’t Christians would not be a new thing for protestants. It’s been going on for centuries, sometimes at sword point.

      • Y. A. Warren

        I didn’t mean to imply that the people of the RC religion are uniformly not Christian. I mean to make a case that what the Vatican has claimed as their authority over Christianity is not Jesus-centered. Pope Francis seems to be struggling with this truth, but I’m not sure he will be able to transform 1,500 years of perversion by politics in his lifetime.

  • war.critic

    Y’all are in a very small bubble. If the rest of the world’s Christian community should happen across this like I did they’ll laugh good-naturedly and pat you on the head like the silly children you are.

    • Because so many Christian churches in the Global South oppress women makes it even more important that we speak up.

      • war.critic

        Ha ha ha. Silly man. Go to the global south and sit and humbly watch and listen instead of standing in such arrogant judgment with your Western blinders. The Christian women I’ve long worked with in Africa would kick the ass of any church that they found actually oppressive and find this schtick incomprehensible and silly. It makes sense here because our gross (and temporary) affluence have denatured us. They don’t share our luxuries or the resultant delusions.

      • Andrew

        So you’re going to persuade them by excommunicating them? That makes no sense. Are you sure you’ve thought this through?

      • war.critic

        What? You don’t like post-Modern blather, judgment, and condescension turned on you? You’re not the only one who can blithely speak for the hopes and dreams of billions of strangers you know… 😉

    • Oswald Carnes

      So you’re saying most Christians are condescending assholes?

      • war.critic

        Funny. I was actually implying that Tony is a condescending asshole. Apparently, though, he found the ensuing conversation too threatening to the underlying presuppositions of his power narrative to publish.

        • Your comment was caught in the moderation queue because of the language that you use. I’m not censoring you.

          • war.critic

            My lauding of African women’s ability and willingness to kick ass got flagged but not Carnes’ calling me an asshole. Okay, Tony…

            Stop oppressing me!!!

  • scotrhodie

    Another self-appointed pope. Add your bullying memo to the millions on the Vatican’s desks. And cc the Ecumenical Patriarch if you’re not too emotionally spent.

  • That’s cool. I decided a long time ago never to attend a church that promotes feminism. Get a move on.

  • Beefy Levinson

    Somehow my heart will go on.

  • niko

    Here’s an article giving the traditional and biblical arguments for a male priesthood.

  • Abby

    “But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who
    are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.

    The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church.”

    “The time has come. . .” Tony, haven’t you already done this? Along with many others who hold to “opinions” like yours?

    “. . . living the way that Jesus laid out for us. . .” Can you show exactly how Jesus called a woman to be a disciple/apostle? Rather, women accompanied Jesus and the disciples to serve them. Women attended to the needs of Jesus and the disciples. Jesus encouraged women to learn. Women “testified” to things they saw or heard, but were never called by Jesus to be one of the twelve, and were never “sent.” Not one woman.

    The role of a Pastor is an “office.” There are many ways that women can serve in
    the church. But Pastor is not one.

    Don’t you use a different Bible? Your “opinion” rules out the “substitutionary atonement” of Christ. His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. This atonement runs all the way through the Bible from beginning to end.

    What about universalism? There is no hell either? – even though it was Jesus who talked about it more than anyone else.

    Really, how can you “decide” to change the words of the original writers of the Bible? Your “opinions” are not part of the closed canon of Scripture. What Scripture says determines doctrine. You are determining a doctrine and trying to use Scripture to support your preconceived determination.

    I have to say, no thank you. I will be taught by men who are trained, called, and ordained into the “office of the holy ministry” of the orthodox, historic Catholic (one) church. This church is the Body of Christ. And He is the head. These men will come to Scripture honestly. And let God be God.

    You and many others have been separate for a long time now. You separated yourselves. I feel sorry for you and the ones who are following you. You are misleading them. I hope and pray that you would return and “actually” “live the way Jesus laid out for us.” I really hope and pray for you.

    What is so dangerous about the truth? It is more dangerous to be without it.

    • Far fewer women have served in leadership positions. But there have always been women leaders. The first three leaders that God chose were two men and one woman. Micah 6:4 In fact, I brought you up from the land of Egypt,I delivered you from that place of slavery.I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you.

      There was also Deborah, a prophet and Judge of Israel. Huldah, the prophet alive at the same time as Jeremiah and Zechariah was chosen to guide the King how to direct the people back to God. Esther and others are also considered leaders by Jews.

      In the NT we have Anna, Mary, Phoebe, Junia, Priscilla, Eudia and Syntyche and others. One can put their head in the sand, but it doesn’t change the facts. And the facts are that God has called and equipped women to be leaders, teachers and preachers throughout ancient and modern history. I don’t see God stopping any time soon.

      • Abby

        Judges, leaders, teachers — are NOT Pastors. Pastors have very specific and appointed duties given by God Himself. God won’t be stopping, this is true — because He never started letting women be Priests/Pastors in the first place.

        Only women who don’t want to subscribe to Scripture have assumed this role for themselves.

        • Right. Judges, prophets, apostles, evangelists all have a wider range of responsibility and authority than a pastor. And women have been all of those.

          • Abby

            Name one apostle/evangelist from Scripture that was a woman.

            • Junia, Rom. 16:7

              Abby, do you really believe that our Creator, the God of the universe, the creator of all things creating out of nothing, is not able to cleanse a woman’s soul so that the Holy Spirit could use women as a vessel to do the works of God?

              • Abby

                “Andronicus and Junia/Junias — my kins — men — were in Christ before me.” How do you propose there is a woman here? Much less to say that either one or both were apostles. Because neither of them were.

                A woman can do works of God. But not as Pastor/Priest.

                God can absolutely do anything He wants. So why does He not allow a woman to be in that role?

                • Until 1250 there was no dispute that Junia wasn’t a woman apostle. One of the early church fathers, by the name of Chrysostom, wrote “”O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!”” Some manuscripts even translated it as Julia. But it wasn’t until a man coming from the prior belief that such ministries were reserved for men contrary to actual Scripture, that he decided to change the manuscript to read Junias. However, there is not one name of Junias in all history of the times. The name Junias did not exist. Junia was a woman’s name. Junia was a woman apostle.

                  There is no scripture where God has proclaimed that He would not use a woman as a pastor or in any ministry of leadership. In fact that would go against what God has already done in the OT with Miriam, Deborah and Huldah. God doesn’t make exceptions to what is right.

                  Also, the word translated as ‘kinsmen’ , suggeneis, means relatives and is gender inclusive just like our words relatives and kinsmen.

                  • Abby

                    The passage says that they were “in Christ” before him (Paul) — meaning they were Christian before him. These two were fellow prisoners. Were women — even Christians — ever put in prison? Chrysostom’s quote does not give “her” the designation of apostle. The Eastern Orthodox of all time have never and do not allow women to be priests.

                    Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah were not Levitical priests in the OT. We don’t even know what Miriam was — besides a singer? Huldah was a prophetess. So was Anna in the temple. God gave them special insight into His word. They were not Rabbi’s and did not teach in a synagogue. And still not priests.

                    • Abby,

                      “Were women — even Christians — ever put in prison?” Yes, they were. Read Acts.

                      Chrysostom wrote: “”O how great is the devotion of this woman that she should be counted worthy of
                      the appellation of apostle!”
                      Appellation means title, designation.
                      He is acknowledging that she was called an apostle.

                      Miriam, Deborah and Huldah all held God appointed
                      responsibilities that were more expansive than Priests. Both Judges and Prophets appointed Priests under God’s directions. Only God appointed Prophets and Judges. Miriam was a prophet, who also led worship.
                      Rabbi’s did not exist until the 400 years of prophetic silence, and were teachers. They were not positions appointed by God, but by men. Prophets and Judges both taught the Law, the Torah, to the people of Israel.

                      Also, in the NT we do not have priests, but are all (men and women) considered priests. 1 Peter 2:9

                      If a person is worthy to be called to the more expansive ministries and responsibilities, are they not therefore already able to do the less expansive and less responsible. We don’t know why, to our knowledge, the position of Priest was not held by women in ancient times, but it was the only one God did not use women
                      in. All other ministries have been held by women as well as men.

                      Abby, perhaps you should consider going to seminary and studying for the ministries of preaching and teaching. With a little training on how to exegete Scripture you could do a lot of good. I think you have an interest that may have been put there by God.

                    • Abby

                      “Epiphanius (315 – 403 AD), in Index of Disciples says, “Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became Bishop of Apameia of Syria.” In Greek, the phrase “of whom” is a masculine relative pronoun (hou) and shows that Epiphanius considered Junias to be a man. And in a Latin quotation from Origen (died AD 252), in the earliest extant commentary on Romans, says that Paul refers to “Andronicus and Junias and Herodian, all of whom he calls relatives and fellow captives” (Origen’s Commentary on Romans, preserved in a Latin translation by Rufinus, ca. 345-ca. 410 AD, in J.P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 14, col. 1289). The name Junias here is a Latin masculine singular nominative, implying that Origen, who was one of the ancient world’s most proficient scholars, thought Junias was a man.”

                      The Orthodox honor “Saint Junia” — not as apostle. Nevertheless, it is not a settled interpretation that “she” was a woman. And/or what her ministry in the church was other than she was a helper in the ministry.

                      A Pastor/Priest is able to administer the Sacraments and be “in the stead of Christ” when giving Absolution–pronouncing forgiveness of sins. A Pastor is trained to teach and preach correctly. A Pastor is called and ordained by a church body to do these things.

                      You are correct, I am not an exegetical expert. I would never go to the seminary to become a Pastor. I have read the whole Bible more than once. I witness, almost daily, to other people. And I have been a teacher. I teach from materials written by experts in the church who are trained men. I would never teach both men and women. And my teaching is more of a co-learning/studying with a group of women or children. I would never even call myself a “teacher.” God’s word is to be read and learned by all people.

                      And in all my studying and “teaching” I came to determine long ago, from Scripture, that only men are called to be Pastors in the church.

                      God is meticulous enough with the word that He has given us. I believe He would have made it very clear — without question — if women were allowed to hold this particular Office of the Keys. He would have made it crystal clear. What you have tried to show me doesn’t convince me in the least.

                      I am not trying to be disrespectful. There is plenty of work for women to do in the church. There is plenty of work for me to do in my own home with my own family and friends. I don’t need to try to be something I am not.

                    • Theodoret(393-458) Bishop of Cyrrhus wrote: “Then to be called ‘of note’ not only among the disciples but also among the teachers, and not just among the teachers but even among the apostles”

                      John of Damascus (675-749) wrote “And to be called ‘apostles’ is a great thing… but to be even amongst these of note, just consider what a great encomium this is.”

                      Joseph Fitzmyer found sixteen Greek and Latin commentators of the first Christian millennium who understood Rom. 16:7 to read as Junia (sometimes Julia). there was even some query as to whether Junia was a wife or sister. I believe more instances have been found now.

                      Elden Epp in his book “junia the first woman apostle” writes about Epiphanius.
                      “The Alleged exception in Epiphanius arose from an electronic search of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae for all Greek forms of Iouvia – by Piper and Grudem, which turned up only three instances beside Rom. 16:7, namely a Iouvia in Plutarchs Life Of Brutus; the Iouvia reference in Chrysostom; and Iouvias ‘of whom Paul makes mention’ in Epiphanius, where the relative pronoun is masculine, indicating a male Junias. However, as Piper and Grudem themselves confess, in commendable candor, “we are perplexed about the fact that in the near context of the citation concerning Junias, Epiphanius also designates Prisca as a man mentioned in Romans 16:3, even though we know from the new Testament that she is a woman. So, although Junias is represent in Epiphanius as male which (ruling out the Origen/Rufinus instance) would then be the only such occurrence in in late antiquity – the credibility of the witness is tarnished, with the result that this alleged exception is highly suspect.”

                      To date no reputable instance of the name Junias , as a male, has been found.

                      As well, Piper and Grudem are not well read in Greek, the early church fathers, or early history. I suggest Epp and Giles.

                    • Abby, you are right. It is unlikely that you are called to teach. Those who have such a calling hunger and thirst for the Word. They do not read only human estimations and interpretations but delve into the Word as if they could not live without understanding every little jot and tittle. They find the original languages and search what they can for themselves. They do not listen to one group. Fact is a real teacher is compelled by the thirst for Truth to hear all angles, sorting through the seemingly obvious until they find the threads that weave throughout the whole Bible without snaring.

                      I have all of Piper’s and Grudems books. Read all of Grudem’s. Wouldn’t recommend most of them. Piper in his early years had some good stuff. But what they say about women in the Bible is despicable and does not fit the whole of Scripture. In my estimation their teachings on women give death and damage to both men and women.

                      If you really love God’s Word read it for yourself. Learn how to properly study. Find books that help you sort the original languages, culture and history. Learn how to study inductively and in context. A few beginning suggestions:
                      New International Dictionaries of NT and OT.
                      Vines Complete Exposition Dictionary (easier)
                      Liddel & Scott Greek English Lexicon
                      Nelsons’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary
                      Kay Arthur’s Inductive Bible Study (easier)
                      How to Study the Bible For All It’s Worth – Fee

                      I’d start with Kay Arthur and then Fee. My living room is mostly library. And I’ve probably 50 different English translations to review. God’s Word is indeed an awesome book to study. And finding the right tools is key.

                    • Abby

                      “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

                      Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”
                      1 Corinthians 14:33-38

                      If you believe women can be Pastors, you are using, or creating, your own Bible. And are outside the continuum of the historic Catholic church.

                    • perhaps a more thorough reading of 1 Cor. 14 will show that tongues speakers and those who prophecy were asked to be silent as well. But most of us notice the context there is that they are to only be silent regarding speaking when there is no interpretation and allowing others to share their gifts as well. In a similar way, women/wives were only to be silent/quiet regarding their spoken questions to their husbands during the meeting. They should rather ask them at home, likely so as not to disturb the overall spirit of the meeting.

                      And, no 🙂 not making my own Bible. I am reading the Bible with deep respect, seeking to know the fullness and trueness of what is written, rather than taking a verse out of it’s context and making assumptions on what it means.

                    • Abby

                      The “Office of the Holy Ministry” is all about the Atonement. The blood Atonement of Jesus Christ. It began in the OT with the sacrificial system under the Levitical priests. It continues in the NT under the established system of Deacon/Elder/Pastor. This Atonement has the power to forgive sins. Jesus gave this power to His disciples after His resurrection and sent them to do this work:

                      “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:19-23



                      Women are not eligible for this Office. The Eastern Orthodox, The Roman Catholic Church, and many others retain this historic Apostolic confession. And have for all time.

                      The women you named are not part of this office. It is shown nowhere in Scripture.

                      Since you deny Christ’s substitutionary atonement, it is not
                      a big stretch to deny Scripture’s validity in this – the ordination of women – and several other key areas as well. And since substitutionary atonement is denied, it doesn’t really matter if a woman serves the sacraments – because the forgiveness of sins doesn’t exist there – as Christ Himself said it does.

                      It does not exist – that a woman can be a Pastor. This supposition is invalid. And it is so clear all the way through the Bible.

                      Only by intentionally rerouting one’s thinking based on what they want God to be and say is it possible to think otherwise. And just because we want it to be so does not make it so. It reminds me of a very early question, “Did God really say?” Well, yes He did.

                    • It does exist, Abby. Women have been leaders, teachers, shepherds, apostles, prophets, evangelists and will continue to do so even though your church has woven together a doctrine against it. The priestly office was abolished when God rent the veil in two. Those who take up a priestly office do so today following the Catholic copying of the Levitical priesthood, which exists no more.

                      Many are simply not interested in what denominations have put together, whether Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Lutherans, Orthodox or whatever. Each weaves it’s own story for it’s own purposes. I am much more interested in what Scriptures actually teach.

                      thank you for the dialogue. I’m sorry that you felt led to resort to false personal accusations in order to support your churches teachings.

                    • Abby

                      “I’m sorry that you felt led to resort to false personal accusations in order to support your churches teachings.”

                      I can see how it sounds like I did that. I apologize.

                    • Thank you Abby. 🙂
                      It is good to remember that women do not have to mimic men’s bad habits. We don’t have the testosterone rushes to support it. Meant in a light hearted way. 🙂

                    • rpankey


                      Dear one, since you’ve cited us, I’ll chime in here.

                      It is true that female priests have been as unimaginable a concept to us from the beginning as would be a male mother. But what you’re saying is problematic.

                      Regarding your history: The Orthodox were never forced by certain doctrinal innovations that took place in Rome to “forget” that Junia was a woman. She has always been depicted as such in our iconography. And, yes, many Christian women were imprisoned, tortured, and martyred by the Romans and others, often far more cruelly than were Christian men. We love them and greatly admire what the ancients called their “manly courage.”

                      Was she an apostle? That I don’t know. We don’t give her that title so far as I know and her story is vague. We do, however, give a number of female saints the title Equal to the Apostles. A few examples of these are St. Photini (the Samaritan woman Christ met at the well and who later was an evangelist and martyr in Carthage), St. Mary Magdalene (who was directly commissioned by the Risen Christ to preach to the Apostles themselves and later preached throughout Italy), and St. Nina (whose preaching converted the entire nation of Georgia in the third century). I very much recommend you look each of these glorious women up on the Orthodox Church in America website. You are right to distrust the “historical reconstructions” that are bandied about in these debates. We, however, remember these great women. And their lives demonstrate a very different imagination of what it is to be a woman in the Church than you seem to have been given.

                      I commend you, though, in seeing the falsity of Mr. Jones’ view and in resisting it. But still, you seem to share some presuppositions that result in a confusion that is just the flip side of the same coin.

                      Please forgive me.

                    • Abby

                      I have seen many women honored by the Orthodox Church as saints and other titles. I receive a bulletin from one of the churches weekly. My point was not to diminish any of this — but only to say that the Orthodox never allowed a woman to hold the Office of a Priest and to administer the Sacraments. Women are not even allowed to go behind the wall of iconography in the Orthodox church because of Christ’s body and blood. Is this correct? Junia is regarded and titled as a Saint among the Orthodox.

                      Orthodox women serve in a variety of ways. I’ve seen them read Scripture publicly from time to time. They teach Sunday School to children. Only the Priest teaches the adult Bible study if there is one. And the Eucharist IS Christ’s Body and Blood.

                      When you say these women “preached” — are you saying they were fulltime Priests of a church and that they administered the Sacraments? That is what I don’t see. As far as women speaking/testifying/witnessing/serving, yes.

                      That is what the problem is here. That women are allowed to hold the Office.

                      And thank you for speaking. No forgiveness needed.

                      A woman Priest would be as “unimaginable as would be a male mother.” I like that analogy!

                      I hope you have heard that I am not denigrating the scope of what a woman CAN do in the church. There is not time to do what could be done by qualified and trained women. But there are our families and friends to consider as well.

                    • rpankey

                      Seven months later? Oh well.

                      They were evangelists/apostles (i.e. preachers and teachers). In the most striking example, Christ himself sent St. Mary to preach to the 11 disciples. But correct, they were certainly not priests.

                      And that’s what I meant about your argument being “problematic.” The Orthodox/Catholic/Anglican office of priest is not the same thing as the Protestant office of pastor. There’s not any function a Protestant pastor performs that is not open to women in our churches so reading the required (by definition) maleness of the priesthood onto the office of pastor strikes us as very odd. The problem (and confusion here) is not that some Prot. churches are allowing women pastors. It’s that none of them have the priesthood.

                      Not that I’m arguing in the slightest for Jones’ loony-bin approach. Just pointing out that this has become such a fight because the shape and terms of classical Christianity do not map well to the Protestant world. Looking back from that perch tends to lead to anachronisms on both sides.

                    • Abby

                      “this has become such a fight because the shape and terms of classical Christianity do not map well to the Protestant world”

                      “seven months later …” I was surprised to see you!

                      I understand. But being that I am Protestant … then my thinking is flawed from your interpretation. But I believe we are agreed on the male only priesthood aspect. We have a lot of other problems with our semantics than with just this issue also — but I would say not much that is really important 🙂

                      Anyway, I respect the Orthodox wholeheartedly. My son is one. My husband came from the Antiochian Orthodox church. His grandfather came to America from Damascus, Syria. In the town where he settled here, he established two Orthodox churches which are thriving today. I attend quite often, especially special services. I attend a Bible study here and there if they have one.

                      I am Lutheran, and my husband joined the Lutheran church as well. He became very active in our local congregation and eventually worked for our denomination’s headquarters.

                      Someone told me once that the Orthodox are closer to us (Lutherans) than they are to Roman Catholics. I know both of the priests of the churches I mentioned above. Both would love to have me join. One recently encouraged me to email him once a week to ask him theological questions — since everytime I am with him I hit him with one. I’m considering taking him up on his offer.

                      God bless you, rpankey. I love the Orthodox Christians!

                    • Russell Snow

                      If your argument boils down to the gender of a name in a greeting, you are hanging by a thread. All the scriptures that specifically discuss women argue against women pastors. If you have to go to the Greek to support your point you are reaching. Looking at the original language is great to expand your understanding, but if you are trying to justify reading the verse as the opposite of how everyone else translated it, you are reaching. If you are saying the translators are mendacious that is a pretty serious charge.

                    • Abby

                      I am not saying the translators are lying. I believe Scripture specifically disallows women pastors. Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind. I was only apologizing to tiro for “assuming” ways that he may be deconstructing Scripture. Even if he is doing what I said, I don’t actually know that by what he said in his posts. I was assuming it by virtue of Tony’s comments in this post and by the things Tony himself denies in Scripture.

                    • Russell Snow

                      I was actually agreeing with what you said. I see how I was confusing. My bad.

                • Digger

                  Even if Junia/Junias was a woman–and we can’t be sure either way, merely calling her an apostle does not mean she was an Apostle. Jesus was even called an apostle, as was Timothy, Barnabas, and others. The word has a generic meaning as well as an official title meaning. We know Timothy was a deacon, not a apostle.
                  Also, when it says she was well know among the Apostles, that doesn’t mean she was an apostle. I am well known among probate judges, but I am not a probate judge.
                  Finally, if she was an apostle, why would Paul need to go to Rome to impart the saints with spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11) if there was already an Apostle there to do the work?

            • Tami Schroeder Crolla


  • Delwyn Campbell

    Well, CLEARLY God is using you! You have more wisdom than the 12 apostles, the prophets, and Jesus Christ, Himself (or is it herself?). The gates of Hell will not prevail against His church – yours, however, will be a footnote in history, along with the rest of these unbiblical, world-loving, and false-Gospel muttering associations that call themselves “churches.” “”May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.”

  • Richard Tallent

    Any sentence that starts with “The time has come for a schism…” is simply on a bad path. Schisms do not change people’s hearts. They don’t attract the lost. They do not result in iron sharpening iron.

    There are thousands of issues of differing conscience in the church. If we were to split on each of them that we are passionate about, we would end up becoming millions of theological islands, each with a total population of 1 self-righteous fool.

  • Verity3

    Tony, PLEASE do not consider internet complementarians to be representative of comps as a whole. I have gone to church with real-life comps, and I can testify that many love Jesus, and their sisters and brothers, but they sincerely (and wrongly) believe God’s Word calls them to take a stand for gender roles. In fact, it’s sort of hard to read it from an egal perspective when the comp one is drilled in by everyone around you. (Especially when the misreading is supported by a common misinterpretation of a first century Greek idiom by 21st century English speakers.)

    I wish I could believe comp doctrine is limited to the American South. But it is gaining ground in urban centers across the country, and even overseas. I think if you were interested, it would not be too difficult to track down local complementarians who are true Christians. The time for dialogue is NOT past.

    • john smith

      Please explain your “Greek idiom” statement.

  • shevrae

    I am a woman who grew up in a church that ordained women, allowed women to lead, and had women preachers, but I have come to the conclusion that complementarianism is a more biblical approach. I do not feel this conclusion leaves me subjugated or undervalued compared to men. We exist. 🙂

    • Eric Boersma

      If another woman came to the conclusion that complementarianism wasn’t the more biblical approach, would you believe that she should abandon those feelings and take up a complementarian lifestyle?

      If your answer is no, then you’re not a complementarian. You’re a feminist. That’s the point of feminism — to point out that women are people too, and that there are a multitude of different religious and marriage environments which can be valuable. What’s right for you is not right for me.

      If your answer is yes, you’re a misogynist.

      • shevrae

        I see no reason why my conclusions must result in a need to force other women to act according to my beliefs or shun then for not adopting them. If I would not coerce a non-believer for the sake of their eternal soul, why in the world would I pressure a sister in Christ over the lesser issue of headship? My viewpoint on the more Biblical approach – that is, the approach more in line with God’s design for relationships – does not preclude those who disagree from Salvation, or even from being used by God (Romans 8:28).

        I would encourage a sister with questions or concerns in this area to do the same thing I did – study Scripture, pray for God’s guidance, and search out opinions and information from other trusted believers. She may come to a different conclusion than I did, but I do believe that would make one of us correct and the other incorrect – or we could both be wrong. We may not know which until we are face-to-face with our Lord and Saviour. In the meantime, I believe we should treat one another with grace.

        So while I appreciate your generosity in offering me two whole terms with which to define myself (and the burden of all of the implications of those two terms), I am afraid I will have to decline.

  • Shannon Montgomery

    Thanks for this. But given your surprise about the existence of complementarians, I can only assume that you not only have never lived in the South but haven’t really spent much time down here. Speaking as a woman who grew up here and still lives here (for the moment), you’re lucky.

  • Jeffrey Bayle

    If we believe the Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In faith we hold the Bible to be inerrant in the original writings, God-breathed, and the complete and final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While still using the individual writing styles of the human authors, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided them to ensure they wrote precisely what He wanted written, without error or omission (2 Peter 1:21).

    Then the scriptures say, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13-14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors over men, which definitely includes
    preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority.
    If we believe the bible to be without error, then this sums it up. A common misconception is that the bible is subject to interpretation…NO IT ISN’T! God is constant, He does not change, Malachi 3:6, and therefore neither does His Word. It means what it means!
    I will say that while I believe it is wrong to oppress women, God has a specific plan for his church. This does not mean that women can not serve in the church, but are rather called to serve in other fashions, and are not permitted, by scripture, to be pastors and having spiritual authority over men. I hold scripture to be my final authority on ALL things, not the words of men!

  • PaulBot 1138

    Finally, after 2000 years of wayward wandering in the wilderness, a great prophet arises in Tony “That Guy Who Writes That One Blog” Jones to steer Christianity away from the ignorant teachings of Francis, Benedict, Aquinas, Paul and Jesus and into the truth! How fortunate that Mr. Jones has been blessed with such wisdom as to correct the misunderstandings of the Christian faith by those who first received and championed it!

    There’s a name for people who call out the phrase “the time has come for a schism”: heretics. The primary difference between Jones and Arius will be that, in 100 years, people will still remember Arius.

  • re “complementarians.” I don’t meet them in real life:

    I have met them in real life, quite a lot of them in the Southeast USA. In fact, MOST of the evangelical/non-denominational bodies (and people in them) I have encountered are of this mind. It is refreshing, but rare for me to find one that is “egalitarian.”

    re “Gay rights:” I *do* see changes here, even among evangelicals, but the changes seem to be happening more on the individual level than at the level of entire congregations and evangelical denominations (it’s not *safe* for people to even explore non-traditional ways of considering this issue). What I have seen numerous times is that, God’s Spirit affects change by confronting a believer with someone they like/love/respect who happens to be in the LGBTQ+ community. Then they need to reconcile the reality of the person they know before them, with the theory and traditions they have around their theology. Dealing with this issue is an exercise in *extreme vulnerability* and is major “humility practice” for those in whom God’s Spirit is moving. I do not see it happening on the congregational or (evangelical) denomination level until this process brings groups to a “tipping-point.”

    Disclosure: I am a (long time) married Christian woman of transsexual experience. To most(?) in the Evangelical church, I am more threatening than someone who is merely gay or bisexual (gender identity is NOT sexual orientation, BTW). I am a paradox to believers and pre-believers alike, trans and non-trans people: Christians assume that I cannot be in a right relationship with Christ – yet they see Jesus in me. LGBT (and especially trans) people cannot understand how I can love a God that (they are told) despises us – they too see Jesus in me. God loves and blesses individuals in both groups through me…

    …In much the same way as Jesus healed the man born blind (John 9) in HIS time, and in HIS way, and HIS purpose, so God is bringing me where He wants me through the “scandal” of my gender transition and “transgender marriage.” He is demonstrating His power in me, just as with the man born blind. Likewise, I did not ask (or sin) to be transsexual any more than the man asked (or sinned) to be born blind. Just as they did in the man’s case, God’s people grossly misunderstand me and what God is doing. But agree with me or not, condemn me or embrace me, God is being glorified in this and people are being drawn to Christ. We will see how it all falls-out in eternity.

    Blessings & Joy!!

  • Morton

    I’m curious why my reply to “tiro” was deleted. Was it because, using Scripture and Greek references as my case in point, I completely discredited Tony’s entire rant?

  • illuvitus

    There is no fact more obvious than that men and women are different.
    If you want a schism in the church to oppose this plain fact, go right
    ahead. Just don’t call yourself a Christian, please. Takes too much time
    to explain to people that “Christian” can also mean “Non-Christian
    Anti-Realist A-Historical Delusional Liberal”.

    We’ll keep civilization. You can keep barbarism.

    • Eric Boersma

      There is no fact more obvious than that men and women are different.

      Reading. Do you do it?

  • Doug

    Not sure that promoting (actual) disunity for the sake of (fictional) unity will go down particularly well on “that day”.

  • Morton

    I see how this works. Any reply Tony doesn’t agree with – despite it being a reply containing Scripture and original language definitions – is simply deleted. Some church you’re running here!

    • Guest

      I also posted over an hour ago, and it has yet to show up on here. I posted with Scripture references, and with respect.

      • Your comment was in the moderation queue. And I was at my son’s hockey practice. No one is trying to silence you.

        You might remind yourself that this is just a blog.

        • Jeffrey Bayle

          my apologies then, I am new to the blog.

  • Sean Kelly

    Mr. Jones, I would normally disagree with you on most topics, but I
    have to congratulate you on this post. I
    do not buy all of your arguments, but your conclusion is compelling. I hope this message of yours finds the widest
    possible audience – I plan on sharing it with as many people as I can at my own
    church. There are some there who are
    sympathetic to your view, and I hope your words will give them boldness to
    bravely strike out on their own. I’ll
    actually miss a few of them.

  • alan

    I fully agree …. time for the sword to fall and the half believers to go there way to their false church… bye

  • Ruth Shaver

    The issue is much more basic than whether women can/should hold leadership positions in churches (which, yes, absolutely, thank you, God, for my call!). The issue is at heart about interpretation of Scripture: do we hold it as instructive for us today but not limited in time and place (that is, as the absolute authority on all questions of Christian faith for all time until the Second Coming), or do we hold it as a light to guide us as we make decisions for the continuation of the Christian faith based on what we now know that was not known (and in fairness, couldn’t be known) at the times and places the various contents were written?

    Paul himself expected that the Second Coming would happen very soon, so he certainly wasn’t expecting his occasional and very specific letters to congregations in response to their individual and specific issues to be the manual for congregational organization and leadership 2000 years later. I somehow think that his female church sponsors would be appalled by the additions to 1 Corinthians about women keeping silence and asking their husbands to clarify what was said in church. I wonder where 1 & 2 Timothy were composed after Paul’s death to be so adamantly against female leadership. Does that make 1 Corinthians or 1 & 2 Timothy irrelevant? No. But it also doesn’t make them absolutely authoritative for the 21st century.

    • Morton

      In other words, we’re free to pick and choose what Scripture we adhere to, based on whether or not we like it. By rights then, should we not also be picking and choosing from the pseudepigrapha, the didache, and perhaps throw in some of the spurious extra-canonical writings as well?

      If what Paul wrote about gender roles in the Church “don’t count” because we don’t like them, what – in the Bible – DOES count?

      • Russell Snow

        It counts if it “trendy.”

    • Jeffrey Bayle

      The idea of 1&2 Timothy, and Titus, being forgeries, holds little to no water. Here is a dissertation on it. There is actually more evidence to support that they are Pauline Letters sent to close friends.
      Again I will say that God does not change, neither does His word. I hold the authority of the scriptures to be absolute! Matthew 5:18, 2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:21.
      I do not support the degradation of women, There are simply rules listed in the bible which I believe should be adhered to. There are instances where a woman can do things a man can’t.

    • BT

      Or said differently, does the biblical message and the ethical development embedded within it end with a first century standard, or is within it a discernible narrative that points to something still higher that can be achieved?

      • We’d have to have achieved the lower ideal first before this could be taken seriously. If Christians were adhering to Jesus’s commands like on the sermon on the mount, even granting many used hyperbole to make a point, it would be a different argument, but collectively we’re far from achieving the basics as a body.

    • pslinger

      If you reject the authority of parts of Scripture, you reject the authority of all of Scripture. And it follows that since Jesus is the Living Word (John 1:1,14), you are not rejecting ideas that you believe to be obsolete, you are rejecting Him. Not exactly a secure position to take when it comes to your eternal salvation…

    • Russell Snow

      A serious question: why do you bother? If God cannot be bothered to give us clear instructions, why be a Christian? If the Book is not reliable in all its parts, why even read any of it’s parts? I am not being snarky, I really want to know.

  • Inane Rambler

    If the tenets of feminism trump the Word of God for you, by all means, leave the Church entirely.

    • Hannah_Thomas

      No offense but its statements like yours that cause the disunity. You sound like a politician. You do realize that right? They make up some strange term, and have people ‘rally’ around it. The concept is normally ‘out there’, and isn’t even close to rational..but I guess it works right?

      Tenets of feminism? (giggles) whatever that is! I realize that people get ‘trained’ to respond like that, and is truly sad. It causes so much lack of unity, and stops all debate and conversation. I guess that is the point though right? Yet, its straight up disrespectful. You can’t quote one verse of scripture to validates you being ugly to someone like that. WELL unless your good at twisting them.

      I doubt the author will leave not the church ‘entirely’. Maybe find a group that listens, and doesn’t throw out silly comment like yours.

      • alan

        Debate?? Conversation??? Sounds like the writer has gotten way “past” that. Cya

        • Hannah_Thomas

          What debate or conversation can you have when you get ‘irrational’ responds like, ‘If the tenets of feminism trump the Word of God for you, by all means, leave the Church entirely.’? Most people do tend to walk away when they get tired of talking to the wall.

    • pslinger

      The parable of the wheat and the tares comes to mind…

  • Stephen Enjaian

    This post is from the same person who once said, “So for me personally, talking about absolute truth is a nonsensical way to talk, and Christian theologians shouldn’t talk that way.” Jones begins with “for me personally” but ends by presuming to tell others what they shouldn’t do. So how does he manage to write such absolutist drivel here without believing in absolute truth? How is one supposed to take him seriously?

    Jones wants his standards to apply to everyone except himself and his friends. He is a very confused individual. Perhaps it is best that he gets the schism he wants, so others don’t mistake his brand of pick-and-choose Biblical interpretation for the real thing.

  • Asher Jacobson

    Could you track back the biblical reasoning you used to get to this position?

  • Digger

    This very website–Patheos–hosts fundamental evangelicals as well as progressives. Tony Jones, you submit articles to a website that also publishes articles by “complementarians”; you need to leave this website!

  • Getreal

    This article sounds like it was written by a natural man, in which case there is no unity with such a one in the first place.

  • Syttende Mai

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15

  • Allan477

    Years ago, when “inclusive language” was first becoming popular, one pastor I knew pointed out that, if God wanted us to use inclusive language, he would not have revealed his word to us in Greek and Hebrew, in neither of which is inclusive language even possible. I still hold to that view.
    If those who want more inclusion choose to leave, let them go. But I find most are unwilling to go unless they can take the Church’s monetary endowments with them. That, they have no right to do. Those endowments were left to a Church which was based on the male-dominated Holy Bible, not on the latest, inclusive fashions.

  • Allan477

    One cannot but notice that those churches which ordain women to the pastoral ministry–the Episcopalians, the United Methodists, etc.–today have probably half the active membership they had fifty years ago. On the other hand, those that refuse to ordain women are growing.

    • An Ordinary Guy

      Sorry but your data is incorrect. The fastest growing denomination in the world ordains women, and has for years.

  • linda

    this blogpost is a great example of mansplaining! whatever happened to following the lead of the Holy Spirit? i know a Spirit-filled female pastor that was led to worship with her husband at a complementarian church. she wasn’t crazy about it but believed God wanted to use her there to teach others about women’s roles in the church. i was part of a complementarian church that was fantastic and only left at God’s leading and later God showed me he is for women in all ministry roles. God doesn’t do things in the ways of man, Tony. remember the parable of the wheat and the tares? while that was about believers & unbelievers the point is that God does things in his time & his ways which frequently look nothing like how we would like things. seriously, this sort of hermeneutic you are practicing is why so many of us who were part of the emerging conversation felt we had to leave it. i say all this as a christian feminist.

    • reflect, the problem is though that people can discern the Holy Spirit saying a number of things to them. We have to test it against scripture and tradition to make sure it is Him. Private revelation must be balanced with the Word or otherwise we’ll fall prey to people who are mistaken or worse, deceiving.

      There are many cases where people may need to make a judgment call on whether or not scripture applies to a specific situation, but we can’t just say “well, God told me!” without at least studying the scriptures first.

      • linda

        i totally agree with you and would never suggest anyone rely on personal revelation alone. that would be quite foolish. in this post tony seems to be saying the only way to follow God’s leading for women’s equality in the church is by everyone doing the same things. that is a great example of one-size-fits-all modern thinking that i would hope tony would have left behind awhile ago since he is/was a part of the emerging conversation that deconstructed a modern hermeneutic.

  • gabrielsyme

    What better illustration of the fissiparous nature of liberal religion?

    Every man his own pope. At least, so they would be, if that weren’t, y’know, misogynistic. But “every person their own gender-neutral magisterial authority” doesn’t write as well.

    Also, I’m struck by the impressive lack of charity shown to fellow believers. I suppose that’s almost inevitable when calling for schism, but it certainly doesn’t give me any sense that this is a genuine movement of the Spirit.

  • Inane Rambler

    Here, I’ll be happy to help you guys out:

    Woman does not possess the image of God in herself but only when taken together with the male who is her head, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned the role as helpmate, a function that pertains to her alone, then she is not the image of God. But as far as the man is concerned, he is by himself alone the image of God just as fully and completely as when he and the woman are joined together into one. –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

    As a servant of Satan I’d like to thank you for doing his work in God’s name.

    • This is of course what happens when a thinker like St. Augustine is quoted entirely out of context, I suppose for the fun of it, and the evident distress intended. I had started to try to put it in context, but I then wondered, “What’s the point?”

      Those who care can read the section of On the Trinity for themselves, see the passages from Genesis and Paul that Augustine is reconciling through the common patristic method of figurative reading, and will see, at the end, that, no there is no denial that women are created in the image of God.

      For those not so inclined to expend the energy following Augustine’s careful and subtle reasoning, I would have you read his tribute to his mother, St. Monica, in the Confessions, and then tell me that doesn’t think that women bear the image of God.

  • Inane Rambler

    I do hope all of you leave though. The faith would be stronger if the unfaithful would leave. Most of y’all are only Christian because you grew up in the church and don’t have the courage to become Atheists or Unitarians (but I repeat myself).

  • I want to say one thing. Despite your position on this, I am glad you believe in the faith. I read your earlier post where you took a lot of heat for insisting upon a physical resurrection where other liberals were fine with it being symbolic. One of the things that has always made me wary of progressives is that too often in the name of their pet issues, they are willing to toss out the core doctrines of the faith. That you try to maintain both should be applauded, and arguments against this should be as one brother to another.

  • Dagnabbit_42

    But, Tony, you’re already in schism.

    What difference would one more split make?

    I mean, I see that you’d feel better.

    But since it wouldn’t make any other difference, why act as if it’s a bold thing?

  • AnneG

    Tony, this is my first encounter with your blog. Would you consider yourself more of a Manichaen or a gnostic?

  • Cincinnatus1775

    We’ve already had many thousand schisms, so surely there’s a nominally Christian community out there for you, Tony. No need to reinvent the wheel. Want bells, smells and women priests? Try the high church Episcopalians. They’re already blessing same sex unions, too. Have at it. As for the “good” that came from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli(!?) et al, 500 years and thirty-some-odd-thousand denominations later that looks more like decomposition and decay than healthy, vigorous growth.

  • This is a strange post. Tony – I remember meeting you once. I was a fundamentalist back then. You words to me were: Have an open mind and just know you might not always be right. I laughed you off, then went to talk with my friends at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College about why you needed to be separated from.

    I’m no longer a fundamentalist.

    But I want to caution you in the same way you once cautioned me. Sometimes Schism isn’t always the answer. Sometimes Schism and separation pushes people away from the Kingdom of God. Schism is a two-edged sword. It can be used by fundamentalists against people of more progressive theological persuasions. Schism can also be used against fundamentalists and anybody else.

    The point is – Schism and separation seems to be against that fire you used to have.

    Remember – the Kingdom of God is a downward and outward thing. It’s not about separating and breaking fellowship with others. It’s about coming together in the community of Christ with a holistic and missional desire to make the world a better place.

  • jenny

    Totally agree….

  • newenglandsun

    I gotta hand it to you Tony. Telling the truth like it is. In fundamentalist fashion, mind you. Let’s elevate minor issue and ignore central parts of the Gospel such as the Trinity, the Eucharist, the atonement!

    “If you attend a church that does not let women preach or hold positions of ecclesial authority, you need to leave that church.”

    What Tony Jones says, “if you attend a Church that doesn’t teach women should be preachers and leave it and enter into the anti-Trinitarian denomination that does allow women preachers!”

    Glad to be in a Church though already where it was the WOMEN who gave us one of our most precious doctrines. What Church is this? What doctrine is this? Oh crap, Tony Jones hates it!

    “The nun Bridget [of Sweden]…spoke in her writings about appearances to her of the Mother of God, Who Herself told her that She had been conceived immaculately without original sin” (St. John of Maximovitch, The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God, 48).

    That’s right. It’s the Catholic Church and it’s the immaculate conception which women contributed to.

  • John Miller

    Is male/female equality in church leadership “settled” in the same way global climate change is “settled?” As in “not so much?”

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