While at GCTS, we attended a lunchbag debate between Lints and Davis on the role of women in the Church. We also attended a special presentation on one side of it by Kathy Keller. We also talked a lot with a lot of people about it. My lovely bride took a class on Women in Mission which strongly argued one particular side of the argument. Kaiser argued for one particular side in his OT Ethics class and then Ciampa argued the same side in OT in the NT. But, never did I really make it a point to look at the argument myself. I know what the above folks would say, but I never dug in and said, “Who do I think has it right on this.”
Similarly, I became a believer and pretty immediately got involved at Fellowship Bible Church in Conway, AR. Our church, like most of the Fellowship Bible churches in the South found most of our pastors from Dallas Theological which is firmly on a particular side on this issue…the same side as the campus ministry I was involved with. Though I grew up UMC, a denomination on the other side of the lines. But, never did I really make it a point to look at the argument myself. I know what the above folks would say, but I never dug in and said, “Who do I think has it right on this.”
In all this time, what I did learn is that people on both sides are passionate about this issue, and that people regularly are hurt, more precisely heartbroken, by the words of those from the other camp. One thing that I knew, and was grateful to God for, at the beginning of looking into this issue was that wherever I landed, I was ready to walk in compassion towards those who differ in opinion. I’ve seen good friends weep over this stuff, so I know to tread lightly.
But, I also know that I can’t avoid the issue just because it would be most comfortable. I think for the last few years, I’ve just acted and spoken like those that I was in the discussion with…egalitarian around my egalitarian friends and complimentarian around my complementarian friends. I was a gender debate chameleon, or a women’s roles Pat. The unsuspecting onlooker would have been quite confused. I was that shirt in your closet that in certain light looks black, but in different light looks navy.
But, I want to decide which, if either, side has it right, and seeing as how there is no time like the present, I started reading a ton of articles from different sides while I watched my son playing outside in the sandbox, and I slowly compiled a list of questions that, if they are answered, you can decide which camp you are in. This might seem odd, but the two sides seemed to me to be dancing around certain key questions and subquestions that if one can discern how they would answer those questions, then that would tell them if they are Egalitarian or Complementarian. I came up with 4 key or primary questions:
- Are men and women created equally?
- Are men and women created differently?
- Are different roles in the family included in the differences between men and women?
- Are those roles also in place within the Church?
Obviously to answer these questions, you often need some subquestions that when they are answered, they help you answer these larger (what I call) primary questions. I won’t list these subquestions here, but will include them in upcoming posts. Some of these subquestions are ones that seem most important to one side of the debate while others are important to the other side, but if you don’t deal honestly with each of them, then you’ve made a one sided decision, haven’t you.
So, in my next post, I’ll start with the first question. I really do hope that as you have input along the way, that you’d share that with me. I’m really excited with the process that I’ve gone through and where I have landed on the issue. It’s been an enriching experience already, and I’m glad to invite you guys to be a part of this process in my life.