by John MacArthur
Satan delights in wreaking havoc on the church. He twists the truth on every issue, creating doctrinal confusion wherever he can.
He has been particularly successful in distorting the roles God has designed for men and women. Over the years, the cultural ideal of gender role equality has seeped into many churches—and Christians have bought into it. In many congregations, men sit back and relax while women preach the Word and lead the church. In fact, it is alarming to see how comfortable Christians have become with adopting the standards of the world.
Meanwhile, society gives hearty approval to the trend. In a chapter titled “To Hell with Sexism: Women in Religion” in Megatrends for Women, authors Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt show how modern culture celebrates feminism:
Women of the late twentieth century are revolutionizing the most sexist institution in history—organized religion. Overturning millennia of tradition, they are challenging authorities, reinterpreting the Bible, creating their own services, crowding into seminaries, winning the right to ordination, purging sexist language in liturgy, reintegrating female values and assuming positions of leadership.
It’s safe to say, that trend in the church—noted more than twenty years ago—has become a settled reality, and it is dangerous on many levels. Feminist theology teaches that God is not male, God does not exist in a trinitarian form, Jesus was a feminist, and the true history of women was edited out of the Bible. Aburdene and Naisbitt assert that once women’s perspectives “attain greater power, [that] will signal revolutionary changes in church policies.” And for years now we have seen a surge in attempts to purge male terminology out of Bible translations.
All this is not limited to liberal churches and denominations, however. Aburdene and Naisbitt note that the organization Christians for Biblical Equality believes, “Women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly, and royal functions” of the church. Evangelical churches are just as susceptible to the feminist onslaught. The fact is, feminism has already gained a foothold within the evangelical community in recent years.
At stake today is God’s perfect design for His church—a design that reflects the principles of authority and submission that allow both society and the family to function. While there is no disputing the equality of men and women as believers in Christ (Galatians 3:28), God specifically calls qualified men to lead His church. Women have unique opportunities to serve the church and are in many ways its warmth and depth, but God’s basic design for leadership in the church is for men to be in authority. To see how He fleshes out His plan for men and women in the church, we need to turn to the New Testament.
The second and third chapters of 1 Timothy are a good place to start. The entire letter focuses on establishing God’s standard for order in the life of the church. That will be our focus for the next few weeks as we seek to understand God’s design for the church and how we can best glorify God alongside other believers.
But for now, we want to hear from you. Have you ever attended a church that had women in primary leadership roles? Have you ever sat under a female pastor? What leadership roles are available to women in your current congregation?
posted with permission
I've continued to study about this and about what God says to wives and husbands in general in the bible as well. Today I started reading John MacArthur's book The Fulfilled Family and have been very impressed with it. Then I came to this part and it just blew me away so I have to share it with you guys of course.
The Peril of Marriage and Family
Our generation is watching the death of marriage and the family as we know it. Among the many factors contributing to its destruction are immorality, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abortion, sterilization, women’s liberation, delinquency, and sexual rebellion. All those things are like strands in a cord that is strangling the family.
There are many opinions about the restructuring of the family. Some sociologists say marriages need to change. They say we need “open marriages” or “non-marriages” and that it really doesn’t matter whether marriages continue as they have in the past. People are groping, without any base of authority, to try to find out how to make meaningful relationships in a disintegrating society.
The Preservation of Marriage and Family
It’s time for Christians to reiterate the divine pattern. Our marriages and families should demonstrate a way of living that is rewarding, meaningful, and fulfilling. That divine pattern should be evident to the world as it looks at Christian marriages and families. Unfortunately, the world’s problem of divorce has also become a problem of the church. But God has the divine standard that can make marriage and the family what they ought to be.
MacArthur, J. (1997). The fulfilled family. Chicago: Moody Press.
The Condition of Marriage in Paul’s Day
When Paul began to preach about the divine standards for marriage, the situation was much the same as it is today.
1. The Jews
The Jews had developed a low view of women. To them, women were servants. In fact, when a Jewish man would get up in the morning, he would pray, “God, I thank You that I’m not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. Amen.” In Deuteronomy 24:1 Moses says that if a husband found uncleanness in his wife, he could divorce her. Some rabbis interpreted “uncleanness” as adultery and said that was the only grounds for divorce. But others said that “uncleanness” could be anything from spoiling the dinner to not being as pretty as another woman. Basically the two views among the rabbis about the proper grounds for divorce were: (1) adultery only; and (2) for any reason at all. When those two choices were offered to the people, which do you think they accepted? By the time of Jesus and Paul, the Jews were divorcing their wives on whim.
2. The Greeks
The Greeks were worse than the Jews. In the Greek world, there wasn’t a legal procedure for divorce, because it wasn’t necessary. Wives only cleaned the house and had legitimate children. Demosthenes, an Athenian orator and statesman, said, “We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; and we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately and being faithful guardians for our household affairs.” Because Greek men found their pleasures outside of marriage, fornication and prostitution were rampant. And according to historians, Athenian society was also dominated by homosexuality, lesbianism, and pedophilia (the sexual abuse of children).
3. The Romans
The Romans were even worse than the Greeks. Divorce was not the exception but the norm. Jerome, an ancient writer, tells of one Roman woman who married her twenty-third husband—and she was his twenty-first wife! Marriage in Rome became nothing more than legalized prostitution. In other words, you could get married when you found someone you wanted, stay until you got tired of her, dump her, and then marry someone else. Rome also had a rampant women’s liberation movement. Women didn’t want to have children because they thought it hurt their looks. Woman wanted to do everything men did, so there were women wrestlers and women fencers. According to Juvenal, the first- and second-century Roman satirical poet, women joined in men’s hunts “with spear in hand and breasts exposed, and took to pig-sticking.” Then he went on to write, “What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a helmet, abjures her own sex, and delights in the feats of strength?” (Satires 1.22–23, 61–62; 6.246–64).
That was the condition of marriage when Paul wrote: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Eph. 5:22, 25). He was not saying, “Now, I just want to mind you of what you already know.” He was calling them to a new standard of living. He was telling them to live in a way they knew nothing about.
The Enslaved Woman
By John MacArthur
Now, Lydia was really a liberated woman. Only one thing actually really liberates. Jesus said in John 8:36, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free for real," and He added the word "for real." It would have been great to say, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free." But when it says, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free for real," it assumes that there are gonna be some people who think they have freedom but don't. Right? Only Christ can make you really liberated. We hear all about women's lib and, you know, nowadays, women's lib has gotten to the point where they'd even like to get rid of God. I heard a woman's lib proponent speaking on television the other night and she made some quote about God and she said, "You know, God, she does this." That's interesting. The only true freedom available is available in Jesus Christ. Right? Now, if you're gonna tamper with God, you're gonna have problems. Let me read you an interesting article that came to my office two days ago.
Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem...you must know them...probably are not spending much of their time in Sunday School, but the women's liberation movement is having its effect there nevertheless. Some of the more liberated church women are taking a closer look at just what is in those Sunday School lessons and are subjecting the editors to a little conscience raising. From the earliest years, they and their male sympathizers assert children are indoctrinated with sex role stereotypes contained in stories from the Bible. Now, the article goes on. I'll skip some of it. It comes down to this statement. Denominations involved in sponsorship of this study were the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Reformed Church in America, United Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church USA, Southern _______. They're involved in this study of whether or not the Bible is propagating sex role stereotypes. Let me give you the quote of what the study has discovered. Quote, "This study has discovered sex role stereotypes to be pervasive in every aspect of these curriculum materials. There is a primary underlying concern, which may be seen as one basis for our whole society's concept of female inferiority. It is this: the masculine patriarchal image of God." The women's lib movement is assuming if we get rid of God, we can get rid of the hang-ups. You know something? The absolute opposite is true. "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free for real." There is no freedom outside of that. There is no freedom in eliminating God and turning Him into a woman. Lydia was a liberated person because of what Jesus Christ did in her life. And at that point, she was free to be what God designed her to be.