(if you think similarly to my wife, you’d probably think to yourself: “if you’re not an egalitarian, then you’re no friend of mine”).
But I’ll say it again because if you do think similarly to my wife, you’ll probably like where this is heading.
I grew up in a very egalitarian home. For those of you who don’t know, egalitarianism is the worldview that both men and women are fit for leadership roles in society. CEO’s, Managers, political positions, all of these jobs should be clearly accessible to men and women. Christian egalitarianism would be the belief that men and women are both fit for leading positions particularly in churches and other Christian ministries.
In my childhood experience, I was always exposed to female leaders. My two older sisters and my mom were/are passionate women who lead well. Growing up, I just assumed that everyone affirmed women leadership.
However, when I felt that God was leading me to professional ministry, I went to Bible College and soon realized that wide horizon of theological perspectives that exist.
…and what a wild theological ride THAT was.
For some reason, I couldn’t just hear about a worldview, I needed to either adopt it or reject it. If my professor was Calvinist and gave a well thought out explanation as to why Calvinism is the most sensible worldview, then I needed to be a Calvinist. Rinse, wash, and repeat.
I wrote an earlier post about it, but in essence, I believed something new every day. Today I’m a Calvinist, tomorrow I’m an Open Theist, the day after I’m a Molinist, and then a week from now I might end up being a Calvinist again.
It wasn’t with just topics to do with free will either, it was everything! Church structure, end times, proper hermeneutical methods, stuff like that. But there was nothing more angering to my wife than my inconsistency with my views on women in ministry.
I may have grown up egalitarian, but the waves of differing theological perspectives washing over me pretty much disintegrated any views I had prior to college.
“It’s easy as a man to go back and forth, it doesn’t actually change anything for you!” my wife would remind me.
To my wife’s delight, I became more and more egalitarian over time. However, as someone who wanted to be “true” to scripture, I always didn’t know what to say about these sorts of texts from the New Testament:
- “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:3
- “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” – 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
- “A woman should learn in quietness 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.” – 1 Timothy 2:11-14
Some egalitarians would tell me that since women weren’t educated at that time -which is true- that’s why women couldn’t be leaders. Other egalitarians told me that Jesus allows for freedom from these structures and systems. But what always irked me the wrong way was how Paul compared man’s leadership over women to Christ’s leadership over the church (see 1 Cor. 11:3 above).
How can I have a clear-conscious as an egalitarian when I feel as though Scripture is telling me that as rock-solid as Christ’s leadership is, so male leadership is to be seen the same way. How can I deny those words?
As I continued to work out my own beliefs concerning women leadership, I began to wonder about other “condemned” practices in Scripture, specifically homosexuality. As I began to read the New Testament, what I realized was that there are more verses condemning egalitarian unions than homosexual ones. There are more instances in the New Testament of Paul condemning female leadership than homosexual unions.
“Gay marriage is evil!” I would hear from the egalitarian baby boomer, whose marriage is much more condemned in Scripture.
That’s why I say egalitarians want their cake and eat it too. They want to affirm women in ministry but condemn gay marriage as a God honouring marriage. But these texts that both condemn gay marriage and women leadership are in the same books of the Bible, written in the same literary style, and addressed to the same people.
They’re both categorized as unholy.
They’re both worthy of condemnation in Paul’s mind. There simply is no way around this.
That’s why it’s my personal conviction that Christians need to chose -at least if you want to be true to Scripture. Either adopt a more literal hermeneutic and only affirm traditional marriages with male leadership, or accept women leadership and gay marriage.
I’ve chosen the latter.
I’ve seen too much damage done. Too many lives hurt. Too many relationships destroyed because of condemning gay practice and female leadership. I don’t believe that’s the core of the gospel message. In fact… I believe acceptance of those people is more gospel-focused than ever.
Next Post to continue this theme to come in February 2018!