We hope to challenge you in thinking deeply about what it means to follow Jesus in all of life. For today’s challenge we are talking about the increased cultural implausibility of our faith, particularly around male, female, gender, and marriage. When it comes to biblical teaching on male, female, and gender is our faith plausible? Special guests are Melody McSparran and Tom Nelson joining host Bill Gorman.
This is Episode 2 of theFormed.life Podcast, where we hope to challenge you in thinking deeply about what it means to follow Jesus in all of life.
Overall gender confusion in our culture and exposure of unhealthy patterns in the church At the same time, increased tension between egalitarians and complementarians (Define terms). Complementarians tend to see men as leading in the church, while egalitarians see women and men as both leading in the church without distinction.
When you are stuck in a debate, perhaps a different question needs to be asked: Rather than starting with “Who’s in charge?”, we decided to ask “How are men and women designed to relate to one another?”
From there our team decided to embark on a biblical theology of male in female in the Scripture and here is what we found: Rather than an emphasis on human authority in Scripture, God’s creational design in Genesis emphasizes the relationship or synergy between male and female.
Now it is important to keep in mind that there are faithful, Bible-loving Jesus followers who disagree on this. So a humble and gracious posture is vital in this conversation.
As we did this biblical theology, we saw that men and women are designed to be in complementary alliance as members of God’s family.
“Complementary alliance” is a two-fold idea. God says in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” The Hebrew word translated “helper” here is a word most often used for God himself in Scripture.
The woman is the essential ally that is to come alongside the man so together they may rule and reign over creation. Secondly, she is corresponding to him, or complementary to him. They are both image bearers of God, but bear that image distinctly according to their gender. Therefore our team thought the term “complementary alliance” captures this fundamental ideal in the Creation account.
However, the consequences of the Fall fractured this design, and God clearly describes the consequences for the humans relationship; but male domination and female frustration were a result of the fall, not God’s original design.
With the starting point of understanding God’s design of Complementary Alliance, we are then in a position to ask how this looks in the church.
First of all, we need to grasp that the overriding metaphor to describe the interactions in the church in the New Testament is a family, where God is the Father. He is in charge and has given all authority to His Son.
In a family, all are needed and necessary members, but not all function the same. Fathers are not mothers and brothers are not sisters. Each is unique, and each brings a unique contribution.
Therefore as the church establishes leadership structures, it must always hold this family dynamic in mind. While leadership structures could look a lot of different ways (and do!) in churches, the importance of functioning as a loving family must always be foremost.
We have brief sketches in the New Testament but not a laid-out formula of leadership structures. That is why we need grace when we differ.
So, why do we have male-only elders at Christ Community? Elders serve as guardians or watchmen, bearing an extra weight of responsibility on behalf of the family. They are rather like the fathers of the church, protecting it and guarding it. That is not to say that all do not have a responsibility of protecting and guarding the gospel and the church. We do. It’s just that the elders bear the ultimate responsibility in our polity.
And like a healthy family, there are places of leadership for women in our church as well. Women should be seen exercising their gifts in all capacities, including pastoral ministry and preaching and teaching when applicable. Indeed, Christ Community has women pastors, women leading in areas of financial responsibility, in worship and many other areas.