Last Sunday night we began a series of lessons entitled, “Questions We are Asked”. The focus of this series is to look at doctrinal teachings of the church that the world finds strange or even downright offensive. I am hopeful that this series will encourage all Christians to have a better understanding of what we believe and why we believe it. I also hope that newer Christians and our young people will be more adequately equipped with the knowledge of God’s will for His people and His desire for their obedience. It is my hope that all of us will be able to better fulfill Paul’s command in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
The topics we will look at in this series touch on a variety of doctrinal points all of which we are occasionally challenged to defend our position. It is important that we are confident in our understanding of what God’s Word says about these issues. We shouldn’t view such “controversial” topics as subjects to be avoided. In fact, just the opposite! These questions we are asked should open doors for us to share the truth with people who have been blinded by false teachings and the darkness of worldly beliefs. By arming ourselves with knowledge, we become greater servants of our God!
This Sunday night we will look at one of the most controversial doctrines (at least in the eyes of the world) that the New Testament teaches: the model of male leadership. There are few things that get people in our modern culture more fired up than when they perceive discrimination. And let’s be honest about it: most of the world thinks that the Lord’s church treats women as 2nd class citizens. We are accused of being chauvinistic, or being stuck in a bygone era, of being hateful and out of touch. In a world where a woman may well be the next President of the United States, how can we possibly justify not allowing women to preach or serve in leadership?
Of course, the answer is that the New Testament church of the 1st Century clearly did not allow women to serve as elders, deacons or preachers. Such is our command, example and necessary inference. We seek to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent, and on this subject the Bible speaks volumes. It is clear that 1st church did not have women serving as leaders. The qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 make it abundantly clear that these roles were reserved for men. Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2:11-14, along with several other Scriptures, make it equally clear that men were to be the preachers and teachers in the church. And let’s face it; these facts drive some in our world today absolutely batty. They argue that such standards reflect the attitude of a long ago culture that no longer is appropriate for our more enlightened, more refined society of today. Sunday night we will see the fallacy of such an argument.
We expect for those in the world to attack us regarding this, and other, doctrinal positions. This is nothing new and it will continue until Jesus comes back. However, there is a growing movement in the church to turn our backs on New Testament teaching and give in to the pressure brought on by worldly philosophies. More and more elderships are succumbing to that pressure and are listening to a so-called “new hermeneutic”; a new view of Scriptural interpretation based on modern reasoning and logic. These are concluding that the Biblical teaching on women’s leadership roles was culturally biased and does not reflect our modern views.
Make no mistake about it, this pressure will continue and will become even stronger. All of us should be praying for elderships to remain strong and true to the Word of God and not give in to that pressure. We also have the obligation to understand what the Bible teaches on this subject and why it teaches it. I hope that our lesson Sunday night will help us all to see God’s design for male leadership and exactly what that means. Because the truth is that Jesus and His church do not see or treat women as inferior to men. In fact, it is the church that belongs to Jesus that has brought men and women into true equality, for we are all one in Christ!