Daily Archives: September 26, 2006

Biblical or Chauvinistic?

A hotly debated issue in many churches these days is the role of women in leadership. You can find a number of different camps on the issue. Some churches move toward reform where women can have any role that a man has. Other fellowships give women the freedom to minister in most roles except for the top leadership spots, such as an elder or pastor. Still, other churches opt for a more traditional view where women are not allowed to publicly teach men or in any way have authority over men.

Women’s role in churches can become a very emotionally charged issue for all sides. It can be easy for things to get out of hand. Before you know it, one group sees the other with a very jaded perspective. One group might classify the other as out of touch with society or a proper contextual understanding of certain Scripture passages. I have even see factions develop where one group thinks of another as chauvinistic.

The opposite sentiment can develop where one group sees itself as the traditional defenders of God-mandated order or specific guidelines established by Scripture. Just as political disagreements can quickly turn into a war of rhetoric, the same thing does happen in church squabbles from time to time.

I believe there tend to be even more foundational concerns that are below the surface of the contemporary discussion on the role of women. These include: disagreements over what is contextual and what still applies today when it comes to Scripture, setting aside personal rights for the good of the church, recapturing what it means to submit and honor authorities, dealing with emotional hurts caused by poor leaders, restoring Biblical servant leadership in churches, and motivating men to take more active roles in leading churches and their families.

One of the most important things is to have a discussion not a violent debate. Preserving a sense of mutual respect and oneness in Christ must be a high goal. Sometimes more than the conclusion reached by a particular church, what people do along the way can either help or hurt the kingdom of God.

Churches should seek to understand why people seek change and then carefully consider all sides through petitions before God, listening prayer, studying Scripture and honest discussion. Ultimately, what a fellowship does is up to its view of Scripture and context.

Christians should be slow to call each other names and draw up battle lines. How we handle our disagreements is a clear sign to the world how much we truly love God and each other. While we do have to reach decisions and everyone might not like it, deep division does not have to be the outcome. 

Figuring Out Who’s the Devil

If you ask Hugo Chavez, he will tell you that U.S. President George W. Bush is the devil. If you ask Dr. Jerry Falwell the same question, he might say Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. While I happen to disagree with all of the aforementioned people in one way or the other, I am pretty sure that none of them are Satan. Chavez’s comments were petty grandstanding. Falwell’s comments were not quite as directly offensive, yet they were inappropriate coming from a man of his spiritual position and maturity. Name calling is for grade school kids not religious leaders or heads of state.

In all fairness, Dr. Falwell was using an expression of speech he did not call Senator Clinton the devil. His point was that the religious right would strongly oppose her if she ran for President. I think that he is right because we all know that her move to the “center” is more a political parlor trick than a real change of heart. Of course, many conservatives do the same thing when it comes election time too. They just happen to be moving from a different fringe of the political spectrum.

Chavez directly called President Bush the devil. He made a joke about still smelling the smoke because the President has spoken at the same spot where Chavez gave his address to the U.N.

In the end, both of the comments were inappropriate. Dr. Falwell should have known better. He should have expected the media to blow his comment out of proportion. I don’t expect much from Chavez although his offer of low cost heating oil for poor people in the Northeast is a very nice gesture.

What makes me upset about the whole thing is how much emphasis people put on words and not actions. I guess that I am just as guilty as the next guy because I am blogging about it. The media talks about these things because we like the street fight more than the real substance of the issues. It makes for more entertaining TV.