Mother's Day brings out the Christo-feminists again...
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. -- 1Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV)
Here is another one of those thorny subjects most simply go with the crowd on rather than facing the truth about what God says. Instead of dealing with clear, concise, directive scriptures -- with explanations, people would rather engage in scriptural gymnastics, historical/cultural massaging and psychic cold readings of people long since passed to excuse what we all know the bible says. This is a subject that gives me no joy as I know many women who do preach and preach well. The existence of a gift or ability however does not mean that one must operate in that realm. God wanted me to speak for example because He knew I didn't want to do it and that I would need to rely on Him more than at any other point in my life. As we see Mother's Day around the bend we can expect the usual suspects to write articles about the oppressive male dominated church holding women back. The sad thing they never see is the only thing do is encourage women to be disobedient to the Word of God. The above linked article seems to be the first of the season and is written by J. Lee Grady. I have read many things from Grady that are spot on but this is just one area he is simply wrong. I pray we have an open bible as we reason together.
"This past week, I've been in Singapore, a nation known as "the Antioch of Asia" because of its thriving churches. Some Western ministry leaders come to Singapore to learn the secret of their church growth. Is it cell groups? Is it their administrative savvy? Is it their openness to the Holy Spirit? All those things have helped--but many people ignore the fact that women have played a prominent role in the success of churches here. A few days ago, I had lunch with Naomi Dowdy, who came to Singapore as a young Assemblies of God missionary in 1975. She began pastoring a small church, but in four decades, it grew to more than 5,000 members. Today, Trinity Christian Center has more than 8,000 members and is led by Dominic Yao, the man Naomi trained to be her successor. Naomi Dowdy's success is being repeated by younger women in Singapore today. Last weekend, I spent time with Haziel Minoza, a dynamic church planter who leads the Filipino congregation of 5,000-member Cornerstone Church, which is led by Pastor Yang Tuck-Yoong. Haziel has already planted 10 Filipino congregations, and her passion is to train more leaders. I'm so grateful that Naomi Dowdy and Haziel Minoza were given the opportunity to function in their spiritual gifts. Countless people found Jesus Christ as a result. Yet in the United States, many women still feel still resistance if they volunteer to lead anything other than a women's Bible study. Why is this? During the 20 years I've been a vocal proponent of women in ministry, I've observed seven reasons why conservative evangelicals limit women in the church:" -- J. Lee Grady
And for twenty years Grady has been mistaken with the same tired and inaccurate reasons. The sad thing is the buy in to the purpose driven fallacies of church growth. The bible teaches us that God grows the church -- not the pastor, male or female. I am sure these women he speaks of are fine people who lead with diligence and zeal but guess what? That still doesn't change what God has said. Salvation is a work of the Lord not the pastor. Let's examine these seven reasons he thinks the western church is not as liberated as the Asian model.
"We misunderstand Scripture. Conservatives who bar women from leadership typically cite 1 Timothy 2:12 or 1 Corinthians 14:34 (NASB) ("women are to keep silent in the churches"), and yet they ignore verses affirming women's spiritual gifts. Deborah, who served as senior leader of ancient Israel, is ignored, and New Testament women leaders such as Priscilla, Phoebe, Euodia, Syntyche, Junia or the daughters of Philip are dismissed. We also conveniently forget that Peter announced on the day of Pentecost: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17b, MEV). Scripture calls certain women to leadership rather than banning them from it." -- J. Lee Grady
Yeah, no. This is the primary mistake Grady and Christo-feminists make. They conflate two different issues. The key verse today is the Timothy verse he cites and it cannot be clearer. This is a directive scripture with no ambiguity. Those who would say they disagree with my interpretation must realize that I am not interpreting it -- I am reading it. I do not permit. That is what it says. I did not write it -- God did. Because God sees all time He knew full well that many would try to excuse disobeying this scripture so He does something He does not do often -- He spells out His thinking right after it! He tells us why He has decreed this as His order! It is because Eve was the one deceived. Ironically I have heard churches preach that both Adam and Eve must have been deceived but that flies in the face of this verse. So what has God prohibited women from? Teaching men and exercising authority over them within His church. That's it beloved. They can move in the gifts of the spirit. They can prophesy. They can do everything else except this one prohibition. Can you see the irony in that Eve's deception was in not believing what God said about the one prohibition in the garden? Do we have spiritual eyes to see anymore or do we just want what our flesh wants? So let's go through the examples Grady uses to excuse ignoring the key verse.
Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche -- all three are referred to as co-laborers or fellow workers. There is no additional information provided. So what should we glean from these verses? That they were co-laborers and fellow workers. That's it. No one is suggesting women cannot work alongside men
Phoebe -- Phoebe had been a tremendous help to many, including Paul. Not a leader in the church. She may have been involved in many charitable acts as well. There is zero scriptural support that she was a leader in the church. The word "servant" used here is translated "diakonos"; which is where we get the word deacon. This has led many to proclaim she was a deaconess! Except the word deacon would not be created until centuries later. The word here simply mean servant.
Junia -- Junia is always presented in these arguments as a female apostle. The truth is that this Junia was in all liklihood a man to begin with since Paul refers to him as his kinsman but it does not matter because he was not an apostle:
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. -- Romans 16: 7 (ESV)
The verbal gymnastics you need to perform to turn this verse into making Junia an apostle is staggering. All this verse says is that to the apostles, Junia was well known.
Philip's daughters -- all the text says is they prophesied, which women are permitted to do.
Deborah. So we come to the single representation of female leadership in the 6,000 + years of recorded biblical history. There is no question that Scripture states she was a judge and a prophetess. But beloved we must reason together. She is the outlier in Scripture, not the norm. Many have speculated that her rise to be a judge, the only female judge in the 400 years of judges, was a testimony against the men of Israel. That God had to turn to a woman to lead. I see no value in devaluing her role and her contribution to the people of God. The larger point is that in the entire canon of Scripture she is the only example of a woman in a leadership position, exercising authority over men. You cannot build doctrine upon that, especially in light of the very clear instructions that are in Scripture regarding the role of women. So I am sorry Mr. Grady but nowhere does scripture call women into leadership or teaching over men in His church. Nowhere.
"We are bound by religious tradition. Martin Luther was a prophetic voice to the church when he exposed religious corruption and heresy. Yet he was still so bound by his own 16th-century bias against women that he believed God created females only for the purpose of childbirth. Many conservative Christians still hold antiquated ideas about female inferiority. This explains why so many churches didn't allow women to wear pants or makeup a few decades ago, and why women today are still expected to serve only as cooks or babysitters in some denominations." -- J. Lee Grady
Grady is dabbling in hyperbole here. Nobody is suggesting that women only serve as babysitters and cooks. It is also not a matter of inferiority. It is a matter of what roles God has set up for each of us in His church. Notice that he never refuted the Timothy verses because he knows he cannot. Instead he is forced into a game of whataboutisms. What about Phoebe! What about Junia! Yeah, what about the clear directive scripture you have in your hand?
"We don't give the Holy Spirit full control. Paul the apostle wrote: "There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28b). He understood the amazing equality of the Holy Spirit, who gives spiritual gifts to "each one" (1 Cor. 12:11b)--not according to gender, class or race but according to God's choice. God chooses whom He wills; He does not qualify based on human criteria. This means we must affirm the valid gifts and callings of our sisters. If God calls an Esther to lead, we should not hide the scepter from her." -- J. Lee Grady
God does not give gifts that would violate His own Word, period. That does not mean that there cannot be women with great oratory gifts but such people exist outside the church as well. Let me address the Galatians verse cited since it is a favorite argument of Christo-feminists. Barnes Notes explains it better than I can summarize:
It does not mean that no respect is to be shown to those in office, or to people in elevated rank. It does not mean that all are on a level in regard to talents, comforts, or wealth; but it means only that all people are on a level "in regard to religion." This is the sole point under discussion; and the interpretation should be limited to this. It is not a fact that people are on a level in all things, nor is it a fact that the gospel designs to break down all the distinctions of society. Paul means to teach that no man has any preference or advantage in the kingdom of God because he is a rich man, or because he is of elevated rank; no one is under any disadvantage because he is poor, or because he is ignorant, or a slave. All at the foot of the cross are sinners; all at the communion table are saved by the same grace; all who enter into heaven, will enter clothed in the same robes of salvation, and arranged, not as princes and nobles, and rich men and poor men, in separate orders and ranks, but mingling together as redeemed by the same blood, and arranged in ranks according to their eminence in holiness -- Barnes Notes on the Bible
"We are afraid of "feminizing" the church. Some insecure Christian men complain that there are already too many women making decisions in the church. One author even demanded that flowers be removed from church altars because they are feminine! My response: The same God who created deer antlers and buckskin also made carnations and orchids. Genesis 1:26-28 says God created male and female in His image. Only when we have men and women functioning in their full capacity in the church will we see His image fully manifested. It took both Abraham and Sarah to give birth to Israel; God wants both genders involved in His work." -- J. Lee Grady
Really? So now God cannot even have His image fully manifested unless this vision of Grady's comes to pass, despite what the bible actually says! I am not going to address the silly examples he gives to prop up his side. Obviously flowers are allowed in church. You would probably not however have so many flowers that the aisles become blocked or people could not see the pulpit. Why? Because that would not be orderly and God is a God of order. Flowers have their roles as do men and women. Both genders should be involved in the work of the kingdom just the designated work.
"We associate women leaders with a liberal agenda. In the United States, many of the women who hold political office do not reflect Christian moral values. For this reason, some people automatically associate women preachers or pastors with a radical feminist agenda. This is unfair. In America's past, some of the greatest leaders of social change were women who held Christian beliefs--brave women like Harriet Tubman, Phoebe Palmer and Sojourner Truth--but they would have been uncomfortable with today's liberal agenda. We need an army of women leaders who will speak as prophets on the national stage." -- J. Lee Grady
This is a mess now. First of all, we should never be comparing ourselves to the world. Most Christians believe correctly however that the feminist agenda starting in the late 1960s has led to the moral decay of the family and this country. Either way however that has nothing to do with the management of God's church and it does not change the key verses.
"We don't see enough positive examples of female leadership. In the early Pentecostal movement, it was not uncommon to see women preachers traveling across our nation planting churches and conducting evangelistic campaigns in roadside tents. Women preachers, including Aimee Semple MacPherson, Carrie Judd Montgomery and Myrtle Beall made a huge spiritual impact on their generation. Today, while there are significant numbers of women pastors and missionaries in Pentecostal groups, the most prominent Christian women featured in mainstream media are Bible teachers who reach women only." -- J. Lee Grady
Actually the most prominent Christian women in mainstream media are all false teachers. Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer and Paula White are not bastions of sound doctrine. This point however about the history of AG is often thrown out as a talking point but we need to realize that just because previous generations were disobedient does not mean we should also be so.
"Some Christians hate women. It's sad but true. Misogyny is alive and well, and sometimes it is even preached from pulpits. In one prominent evangelical church in El Salvador, the previous pastor often joked about women and trivialized adultery. It's no wonder domestic violence thrives in that country. Until some brave men have the guts to challenge the sexism of the "good ol' boy network," abuse will remain a problem among Christians. The church in Asia is blessed to have women like Naomi Dowdy and Haziel Minoza on the front lines. On this side of the world, I pray we will affirm and celebrate all women who have been called by God to lead." -- J. Lee Grady
Once again, Grady brings on the most extreme and absurd examples to try and prop up his unbiblical stance. Whatever happens in El Salvador is not relevant to this discussion. It certainly does not change what scripture says. I do not hate my sisters in Christ. I love them enough to tell them what the bible actually says. It is far easier to take Grady's position and appeal to our aggrieved sense of being wronged. No woman has been called to lead in the church Mr. Grady and you know that because the bible says so. We will celebrate Mother's day this coming week and we ought to remember all of those women who served admirably and faithfully in the church but stayed within the confines of scripture in doing so. If we truly love our sisters in Christ we should never be afraid of telling them what the bible actually says.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 9, 2019
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.