We believe Jesus is Lord. We believe in the authority and inspiration of Scripture. We also believe in the Spirit’s power to illuminate Scripture and help us embody the first-century word in the 21st century. We believe God is raising up men and women to do his work. The argument in this book is based on the authority of Jesus as Lord as the interpretive center of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the glue that holds the biblical story together.
Therefore, our position regarding women in the church does not indicate a wave of “liberal” change. The position contained in this argument does not embrace the gay or secular feminism’s agenda, which seeks to blur the distinctions between masculinity and femininity and leave us with an androcentric vision of human sexuality. That agenda is in obvious conflict with the Genesis vision of the created complementarity of the sexes.
Neither does it affirm the “right to choose” position on abortion as an inalienable right of the mother. Granting a woman full rights over her own body, a central and valid concern recognized by all sensible people, should never extend to granting her full rights over another person’s body, the female or male child she carries in pregnancy. Quibbling over whether the child within the mother is a person in every sense of the word obscures the fact that life has begun in some fundamentally sacred way, and that short of a miscarriage or an abortion will lead to the birth of a person with a name. Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation always reflects the Lord’s passionate concern for the helpless and the powerless.
The claim that having women in leadership would open up the church to having to ordain homosexuals to ministry has no warrant in Scripture. There is one uniform position on homosexuality in Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22. There is nothing compelling us in the story Scripture tells to affirm homosexual acts as actions “worthy of the calling” to follow Jesus. There is not one Scripture declaring homosexual acts to be expressive of a covenant relationship with God. Genesis does not say “God made humankind; gay and straight created he them.” Homosexuality is not present in the creation narrative of Genesis, women are. This is not a matter of playing fast and loose on the texts about women and then doing the same with the texts regarding homosexuality.
But conversely, neither are we to preserve the gender roles of the Industrial Revolution simply to protect people’s sexuality. Maintaining strict social differences, such as “only men work outside the home” and “women nurture children,” will not protect sexual differences. Men who take care of children are not effeminate; women who work for a paycheck are not in danger of losing their femininity. Scripture calls both men and women to bring up their children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. Both also are called to build culture together.
People who acknowledge the authority and inspiration of scripture may disagree as to the role of women in the church. Those who believe women are liberated to do whatever the Spirit of God is raising them up to do in the end times are not into the “secular feminist agenda.” The name calling obscures the issues. Our disagreements reflect differing patterns of interpretation of scripture and different ways of moving from then to now.
The difference is much like the difference between William Wilberforce and the southern pre-civil war preachers on the issues of slavery. Both read the same book. Both acknowledged the inspiration and authority of the bible , but still reached very different conclusions as to the enslavement of Africans.
Examining Scripture in the Spirit will always keep us humble and penitent. Pastoring, leading, discussing, and living out the will of God together in a local church clarifies what the real issues are and allays the fear that we are somehow rebelling against the Lord.