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Archive for March, 2011

Gender Roles – Mutual Submission?

Can we agree that male hierarchy, gender subordination, or one-sided female submission can lead to abuse more than mutual submission? One-sided submission qualifies as some form of subordination, if you call it “loving leadership” as opposed to self-giving service. Women over the centuries have been subject to abuse at the hands of men. The last thing men need over women is any type of authority. One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions?”

Words are important. Does the Bible teach husbands are to exercise loving leadership over their wives in marriage as opposed to self-giving love? I have seen a great deal of pain come from the notion that the husband is the spiritual leader of the wife. It is assumed husbands must make the final decision when there is an impasse. Normal conflict resolution skills can be used in any dyad relationship. I have never had a decision in 28 years that required one sex being the final decision-maker always. If we cannot be positive the Bible teaches one-sided submission or mutual submission, shouldn’t we error on the side less prone to abuse?

Why would God ordained men as leaders when Jesus’ emphasis was never on authority but service? Even Jesus came to serve not be served. [Mt 21: 26-28] When there is debate concerning the interpretation and meaning of the biblical text, we should favor the viewpoint that is less of a stumbling block to Christians and the most satisfying from a relational standpoint for those seeking God. If we are not positive what the correct biblical interpretation is, we should error on the side of liberty.

Ministry is not about women’s rights or equality but a responsibility to use one’s gifts to serve others. Many women are denied the privilege to exercise their spiritual gifts in the church because of one main biblical passage [I Tim. 2:11-15], which is highly debated among evangelical scholars. Women were never referred to as pastors in the Bible but then neither were men. There were plenty of men and women ministers/co-workers. [Rm 16]  Gifts were never stated to be gender specific. [Acts 2:17-18, I Cor 12, Rm 12] The priesthood of Christians is for men and women. [I Peter 2] It seems too risky to not empower half the church in their giftedness.

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