“The gifts of the Spirit in the New Covenant are never differentiated on the basis of gender.”
A Christian’s understanding of any alleged roles of men and women in the home and church often comes from listening to a pastor’s rote teaching rather than personal researched learning.
“Be diligent … to correctly handle the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
It seems clear through a casual reading of the Bible–much less robust research–that Jesus Christ treats men and women as equals, a behavior that was contrary to the views and practices of His fellow Jews during Old Covenant days (1500 B.C. to A.D. 70).
Though there’s disagreement among evangelical Bible-believers on this issue, to say someone who disagrees with your view is “preaching a false gospel” is foolish.
Sinners are saved by the Person and work of Jesus Christ, not by a proper, biblical view on the roles of men and women.
So those who wrongly teach that God designed only men to have “spiritual authority” and only women are to have “submissive attitudes” are directly contradicting the infallible teachings of the New Testament which state that Christ alone has all spiritual authority in His Kingdom (Matthew 28:18), that leadership in His Kingdom is humbly serving others out of the power of one’s spiritual giftings (I Peter 4:10), and that all Christians are to “submit to one another” and to”love one another” (Ephesians 5:21; John 13:34).
But being unbiblical and restrictive on the roles of men and women does not mean these people lack the Gospel.
If, however, there is a demand for conformity to a particular interpretation on this issue, rather than granting the freedom to disagree over the role of men and women in the home and church, then we may be playing the fool.
Let me explain.
Spurgeon Says a Fool Focuses on the Non-Essentials
Charles Spurgeon once began a message on the text “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22) with an illustration of three fools.
The first fool, Spurgeon said, is the ship’s captain who goes below deck during a ferocious storm to read an encyclopedia on the nature of Atlantic winds rather than fighting to keep his boat afloat.
The second fool is the wounded soldier on the battlefield who asks the arriving medic all kinds of questions about the size, shape, and model of the gun that fired the bullet which wounded the soldier rather than asking the physician if he’s able to heal him.
The third fool is the religious person who continually argues the subtle philosophical questions about the origin and nature of evil while ignoring the absolute truth that Christ’s blood is able to cleanse his sins (Hebrews 9:14).
Spurgeon said all three fools have one thing in common:
They trifle with subtleties while they ignore certainties.
A fool is one who spends time and wastes energy on matters that shouldn’t matter.
The “role” of women in the church and home shouldn’t matter when it comes to Christian cooperation, mission work, and spreading the Good News to a world in need of deliverance.
Some Christian leaders advocate that God’s design is for men to rule and lead while women are to receive and submit. Fine. But when Christians demand others churches, evangelicals, and missions organizations conform to such beliefs, then they are in danger of “trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.”
A demand for conformity on the alleged roles of men and women is taking a non-essential belief and turning into a measuring stick for believing the gospel.
The Danger of Making the Gospel About Gender
“All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28).
“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17).
An ancient Jewish prayer from the Hebrew Siddur (prayer book) went like this:
“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman.”
“It shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:26).
The New Testament covenant of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ totally turns the world’s concept of authority on its ear.
The world is concerned about position, power, authority, prestige, control, and ruling over others. Jesus Christ teaches His followers to serve, to love, to express their spiritual gifts to their fullest for the good of others, and to never fear what any person in so-called “authority” can do to them because “All authority … has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18).
There is to be mutual equality, respect, and submission within the home between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). There is to be mutual equality, respect and submission of men and women toward one another in the body of Christ based upon the gifts that the Spirit gives to each male and female believer who has been baptized into Christ (Acts 2:15-21; Galatians 3:28).
References to the churches’ teaching ministry and other gifts are found in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 and not one of those passages excludes females from being recipients of any one of those gifts.
Let me say that again in a different way:
The gifts of the Spirit in the New Covenant are never differentiated on the basis of gender.
Paul’s Teaching about Women
“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.” (I Timothy 2:11-12).
Scripture never contradicts Scripture. Therefore, if you believe Paul is giving a general and universal principle that no woman, at anytime or anywhere, may ever teach men or have authority over men, then you believe the Scripture contradicts itself.
All the other Pauline books, including Galatians, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, as well as the other New Testament books written by Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, and other early disciples of Christ, never separate the gifts of the Spirit according to gender.
So how does one understand I Timothy 2:11-12. I give one explanation for this text here, an interpretation that is consistent with the rest of New Testament teaching regarding men and women.
But for a fuller explanation, I’d encourage you to obtain Jon Zen’s book What’s With Paul and Women. After reading Zens, you will never again feel the need to restrict women in the home or in the church.
Spirit-Gifted, Humble Servant Leaders in the Home and Church
One of the advantages of being the pastor of a New Testament church where the Word of God is respected, believed, and practiced is that both men and women lead, serve, teach, and shepherd based upon their gifts.
We believe the concept of positions of power and authority held by “elders” is foreign to the New Testament. The word elder means “older.” Look to your elders for wisdom.
Again, the notion of some raw authority in an office of pastor or elder is foreign to the New Testament. Every believer in Christ is a priest in the Kingdom of Christ.
Our church has a Leadership Team composed of both men and women. I am a pastor, but there is no inherent spiritual authority in me or any “office” I hold.
Jesus Christ alone is the spiritual authority over his people. I serve people. I love people.
I lead people only if they are willing to follow–and frankly, if I do a poor job of serving and loving, they ought not to follow.
One of these days the church of Jesus Christ is going to wake up to the fact that we have so twisted and corrupted the concept of authority and leadership that what we have abandoned the clear and precise teachings of the New Testament.
The ancient Jews kept women in the courtyard and placed a fence around the Temple grounds lest a woman feel compelled to enter the Holy Place. The sacred rituals were performed by male priests. The sacred services were led by male priests.
Modern-day conservative evangelicals and liberal feminists often violate clear teachings of Jesus Christ and seem to wish to resurrect the Old economy of Temple buildings, gender priesthoods, and religious rituals.
Jesus Abolished all the Old Economy (Old Covenant) the New Agreement (New Covenant).
The Temple of God is no longer a building, it is the soul of a believer (I Corinthians 6:19). The priests of God are no longer just male, they are both male and female (Galatians 3:28). The rituals of God are no longer holy days, sacrifices, and feasts, but faith in Christ and love for God and our fellow man (Colossians 2:16; John 13:3).
The body of Jesus Christ is to make no distinctions in race, class, and gender. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that sets the captives free to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts.
To revoke the privilege of a gifted, believing woman from reading Scripture or teaching men, or to have leadership in the home or church is to violate the clear and certain teaching of the New Testament.
Is there room for disagreement on this issue among evangelical Christians?
But if conservative, Bible-believing, Christ-loving, Spirit-filled, graced people demand conformity on over the “roles” of men and women in the home and church, then we are trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.