By Jack Wilkie
Far too many Christians try to “ride the fence” in today’s world. They get caught between clear biblical teaching and what culture pressures them to believe and so they attempt to strike some sort of compromise. The same happened often in the Bible, and one such example came on the day of Elijah’s challenge against the prophets of Baal. In 1 Kings 18:21, as the people gathered near to see who would prevail between God and Baal, Elijah challenged each of them: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
It’s time for true Christians to challenge those who are riding on the fence and ask them, how long will you hesitate between two opinions?
Feminism is one of the most controversial terms in the world today. It’s a movement that has experienced multiple waves and is currently in its most radical form. At its base is supposedly the claim that men and women are equal – which is obviously a principle that very few would reject – but it’s how that principle is used that makes the belief troublesome.
For the feminist, what generally follows the idea that men and women are equal is the belief that such equality means men and women are the same and should be seen as the same in the society in general, in the workplace, in the home, and, yes, even in the church. As a Christian, it’s not very hard to see the flaws in such thinking. Genesis 2-3, Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and other passages all speak clearly to God’s desire for differentiated roles for men and women in the home, with 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 speaking to their roles in the church.
The world doesn’t have to agree with the Bible; in fact, we should fully expect them to disagree with the beliefs we hold to be true from the Scriptures. It’s when the church starts listening to the world instead of God that we have a problem, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Some congregations are proudly proclaiming that they’ve thrown off the “antiquated” restrictions on women serving in worship and are opening the door to open participation in worship and leadership in the church, regardless of gender.
Yet the Bible is pretty clear on how God intended for men to lead in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15 aren’t difficult to understand… unless you want them to be. If you come to those texts and try to shoehorn a feminist worldview into them, then you’ll find them to be unclear. But if you’re letting the Bible speak for itself, the issue won’t cause you any confusion.
The church has the same duty now that it has always had: shut out every outside influence and let the Bible guide us. The world’s understanding of foundational issues like love, morality, and truth are built on a foundation of ever-shifting sand while the Bible continues to be proven right. Why, then, are a number of congregations letting themselves be swayed by the world’s understanding of men’s and women’s roles? They can’t even figure out what defines a man or a woman.
Beyond misunderstanding the Bible, though, those who would bring feminism into the church are forgetting two important points.
Previous generations had some things right.
We’d be wise to realize that our innovations aren’t always an improvement on the past. Every generation fancies themselves the smartest and most advanced, but the idea that we’ve discovered something about gender in the last 20 years that 2,000 years of Christians were too stupid to understand should make us stop and reflect. Were previous generations perfect in how they handled male-female relationships, marriage, and roles in the church. No, but their failings occurred when they strayed from the Bible.
In today’s world every belief that previous generations held is being overturned, and quite frankly it’s leading to absolute madness. Our parents and grandparents got some things right, and one of those is the obvious fact that men and woman are different and that the two are created to fulfill different purposes.
We aren’t smarter/more loving than God.
As is the case with homosexuality, those who advocate the church “get with the times” and abandon the Bible with regard to gender roles are making one of two claims: they believe either they are more loving than God, or they are smarter than God. They think they’re more loving in that they say their teaching of women’s roles shows far more respect and appreciation for women than the Bible’s gender role teachings do. And, they think they’re smarter when they believe that they have a broader, more developed understanding of men and women than God-inspired writers.
Sorry, but we can’t out-love or out-smart God. As our creator, He knows us better than we’ll ever know ourselves and if He tells us that men and women were made differently and for different roles, who are we to argue?
Either you’re allowing God to dictate your life or you’re not. Jesus died for the church, which makes Him its head, which means He gets to make the rules. He has clearly defined the roles He wants men and women to take in the home and in His church. The world may not like it, and they may continue to claim that we are hateful or out of date. What we can’t have are people with a foot on both side. It’s time to get off the fence.
Read the other articles in the “Get Off the Fence” series here