An Empowering Reply to an Encouraging Inquiry

Dear Sister,

For the message you recently sent me I am downright grateful.. It was encouraging. I pray that you will find this empowering.

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 9.33.23 AM.pngRegarding women preaching, you’re correct, the current quake finds its epicenter in Beth Moore’s tweet that she would be preaching on Mother’s Day (reportedly at North Point Church where Andy Stanley is). On the heels of this, was news of her invitation to Truett Seminary for their National Preaching Conference”, being listed as a “Guest Preacher.” Many have been supportive of Moore, even out of reformed camps.

Frankly, I’m glad the cat is out of the bag and that she isn’t pretending to do anything otherwise than preach. She’s been flying under the radar for far too long. Calling a missile a bird might fool some, but now there is no excuse. Will we stand on the side of Biblical orthodoxy or join those attacking it?Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 9.25.47 AM.png

Additionally, I would add that my biggest concern with Moore isn’t that she is a woman. She would be disqualified if she were a man. Mysticism, emotionalism, and poor exegesis permeate her teaching. You mentioned your past experience in the heretical Word of Faith movement and how this all sounds eerily familiar. I believe the Charismatic movement has been subtly making major inroads in Baptist circles for decades (i.e. the soft prosperity of The Prayer of Jabez). We came to a fork in the road way back and chose the wrong path. This is just the latest incident demonstrating that we haven’t turned around. Another disconcerting mark of her teaching noted way back was the use of word studies to find the broad semantic range of a word as leverage for eisegesis, that is, reading her desired meaning into a text. I don’t think Moore’s intent is to be unfaithful to the text, but that is the result.

Regarding the trajectory of the denomination, my biggest concern is how deeply this is tied to feminism, #MeToo, cultural marxism, and intersectionality as driving forces in the culture. The current is strong, and I’m afraid we’re not acting like salmon anymore. I agree, we need to hate all evil acts of abuse, but when you use the devil’s tools to destroy the devil’s works, you need to know you’re just playing around in his toolshed. We’ve come to another fork, and I think the disaster is going to be more severe. If at first fork we chose a path leading to false teaching, we’re now pondering one that leads to apostasy.

Yes, historically it has always been the orthodox belief that the office of elder is limited to qualified men. The main “Biblical” argument for including women is to recall the small number of prophetesses we find in the Scriptures. While there obviously are female prophets, we never find a woman who is “king.” Though Athaliah makes a run as queen and Jezebel is essentially pulling all the strings, these are not exactly positive role models. Nor do we find women acting as priests. The function of teaching is tied to the priests and Levites more than the prophets. The prophets preeminently spoke God’s word, rather than teach it. Also, in this vein, when Paul gives instructions concerning women prophesying in the New Testament, she is to do so manifesting that she is under a head, (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2–16). This connects to Paul’s prohibition of a woman teaching men or exercising authority over a man in the church (1 Timothy 2:12).

The novel spin being put on 1 Timothy 2:12 today, making room for women preachers, is that it should be read as a hendiadys, that is, two words joined by a conjunction to express a single idea. If what was banned was a woman “teaching and exercising authority over a man” as a single idea, then a woman could be permitted to exercise the function of an elder, teaching, while being denied the office. This is what some are calling “soft complementarianism.” I think it’s rather a hardened compromise.

But this anticipates the question you asked, what of those men who teach in the assembly who are not elders? While it’s understandable that the question arises, as it is deployed by opponents of the Biblical view, it is a smoke screen. When a non-elder preaches he isn’t violating any prohibition. Let me demonstrate with a question. How is one to know if a man is qualified when one of those qualifications is being “apt to teach” if he is never able to teach until he is an elder?

Truly, all teaching in the church should be under the elder’s oversight, as part of his promoting truth and guarding against false teaching. When the elders permit a woman to preach, then automatically, in the very act, they and the woman involved have already violated the Scriptures, however orthodox the sermon may be.

I thank God for your recognizing the rightness and goodness of God’s order and recognizing the lies of the world and your desire to mortify them as they seek to take root in your own heart. “Feminism” is a peculiar word for that which is an attack on the feminine, saying that if womanhood is to have any value, it must be equivalent to manhood. I’ll allow Douglas Wilson to colorfully reiterate the point: “Ironically, we call this attempt by some women to be more like men “feminism,” which is a bit like calling an attempt by cats to be like dogs felinism.” And thus we have already tilted the hat to gender confusion in the church.

In reply to the accusation of belittling women, I believe the Biblical view bebigs them. Womanhood, motherhood, and sisterhood are glorious things in which women are immeasurably superior to men. Chesterton nailed the disparity when he said, “Nothing can ever overcome that one enormous sex superiority, that even the male child is born closer to his mother than to his father. No one, staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes.” Equal in value, dignity and worth? Certainly. In roles? Heaven forbid!

Yes, the serpent is whispering in Eve’s ear again as you suggest, and the blame still lies with Adam, but at least in the Garden his sin was one of passivity. Now he is actively inciting his wife with snake’s crafty lies. “Become like me, and you’ll be like God.”

Dear sister, I thank God that you are feeding on that which is far more nourishing and empowering, the Word of truth.

The Splendor of Submission (Colossians 3:18)

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” —Colossians 3:18–19 (ESV)

These verses have always been startling, but for different reasons. In Paul’s time, the jolting word would not have been “submit,” but “wives.” Some think that Paul is capitulating to the culture; a fall leaf easily blown about by the wind of his age. No, Paul is a salmon tenaciously swimming upstream to deposit something precious. True, contemporary Hellenistic household codes also focused on authority and order in the home, but they only addressed men. They thought men alone worthy of address. This was Aristotle’s position. Funny how Aristotle is held in esteem as wise while Paul is ridiculed as a fool. Paul addresses women, and calls for them, with the authority of the Christ who rose to the heights, to submit to their husbands.

“Well, what progress,” the feminist sarcastically retorts, “so nice to be addressed as a human being.”

Roll eyes. Carry on.

Whereas children and slaves (yep, I’m not even going to play at taming that down to ‘bondservants’), are called to obey, women are told to submit, as though to emphasize the voluntary nature of the act.

Ladies, submission to your husband is a strength that comes out of you, not a weakness that is beat into you. A submissive spirit is a distinctly feminine glory to be worn like a wedding gown or a queen’s robe. Submission is your pomp and glory, not your shame. Submission is like a wedding ring; it is a sign of marriage and a beautiful one. Not having submission is as shameful as not having a ring*. The absence of either should cause others to wonder, “What kind of man does she have?”

The submission Christ calls for is not to men in general, but to one’s husband. He has authority, others do not. Submission puts women in a place of protection. Submission is not a prison to break out of, but a castle to rule in.

“Feminism is mixed up,” Chesterton says, “with the muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands (emphasis mine).” Feminism tells women they are free when slaves, and in bondage when they are queens.

Submission is not ugly and weak. It is glorious and powerful. Solomon captured the splendor of feminine glory when he wrote, “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners? (Song of Solomon 6:10)”

Submission is the garment of Chris’s bride. Do not treat the royal robes of Christ’s bride as rags. Do not put them on as shame.


*I only want to cause offense, um, conviction in the right way, so by way of disclaimer, this was only meant as an illustration non-ringbearers.

Where’s Your Glory? (Exodus 38)

He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting (Exodus 38:8 ESV).

Who were these women? How did they serve? This was clearly something that was perpetuated (1 Samuel 2:22), so what was it? I have no clue. It is easier to tell you what they didn’t do than what they did. We know that they were not priests, but there are endless other ministries they could’ve performed. There are roles and ministries that only men should do, notably that of elder or priest. There are also roles that only women should do, notably the high and honorable roles disparaged by our culture known as wife and mother. Also, there are many ministries that both can do. Complementarianism does not make less of women. It glories in men being men, women being women, and both being made in the image of God. In John Piper’s little book, What’s the Difference?, he lists 80 kinds of ministry open to women.

But all this is beside the point I want to make. The emphasis here is not that these women served, but that the women who served gave their polished bronze mirrors for the construction of the basin.

Imagine you’re a slave. You’ve had very little and feel worn for your hard service. You see the Egyptian women with their mirrors, concerned with their beauty. They’re silk and you’re burlap. But, because of Yahweh’s victory, Israel now has the mirrors, along with jewelry and fine fabrics. What do you expect them to do with them?

These women, specifically these women who serve at the tent, give up their mirrors. Egypt no longer cared to see herself for her glory was destroyed. Israel didn’t need to see herself for her glory was another. By giving up their mirrors and serving at the tabernacle, these women are saying they’d rather behold God’s glory than their own.

I have little doubt these were among the most beautiful women of Israel because of what they did.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:1–6 ESV).

Scriptures like there are only as hard to embrace as mirrors are hard to let go of. If you find these words hard, ask yourself, “Where’s my glory?” The example laid down for you by these women isn’t to be less beautiful, but more beautiful. Bask in Jesus’ light and you will radiate. Peter gives Sarah as an example here, a woman who was praised for her beauty.

Douglas Wilson once debated an atheist from Beverly Hills. One thing he accused the Christian faith of being was misogynistic, yet, at dinner one evening, he turned to one of Douglas’ friends and commented that he had never seen so many beautiful women as they had in their community. How is this so? Because Jesus’ beauty treatment for His bride is unsurpassed. Because Jesus commands husbands to love their wives into beauty, just as He does the church. Enthralled with His beauty, we need not be concerned for our own.

Fertile Femininity and the Impotent Feminist (1 Timothy 2:9–15)

Femininity is under attack and there is too little masculinity to protect it. Feminists are the ones who are actually anti-women, desiring to erase that which is particularly and gloriously feminine in women by trying to make them men. Part of the genius of their ploy is neutering men so as to eliminate any resistance. “Make the men women and we can make the women men.” It is serpentine—both crafty and destructive. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman… .”

Gender, sexuality, manhood, and womanhood are where the battle lines are drawn for our times. Bruce Ware captures this well,

Today… the primary areas in which Christianity is pressured to conform are on issues of gender and sexuality. Postmoderns and ethical relativists care little about doctrinal truth claims; these seem to them innocuous, archaic, and irrelevant to life. What they do care about, and care with a vengeance, is whether their feminist agenda and sexual perversions are tolerated, endorsed and expanded in an increasingly neo-pagan landscape. Because this is what they care most about, it is precisely here that Christianity is most vulnerable. To lose the battle here is to subject the Church to increasing layers of departure from biblical faith. And surely, it will not be long until ethical departures (the Church yielding to feminist pressures for women’s ordination, for example) will yield even more central doctrinal departures (questioning whether Scripture’s inherent patriarchy renders it fundamentally untrustworthy, for example). I find it instructive that when Paul warns about departures from the faith in the latter days, he lists ethical compromises and the searing of the conscience as the prelude to a full-scale doctrinal apostasy (1 Tim 4:1-5).

This means that when we come to a text like 1 Timothy 2:9–15 we mustn’t cringe in embarrassment; we must glory and rejoice. We must remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and, that a glorying in Biblical manhood and womanhood is a rejoicing in the Lord. This joy isn’t one that we must fain or force. Femininity is a glorious, beautiful, graceful, and strong thing, and when a woman embraces it, she outshines the world’s perversions the way the sun outshines a lightning bug.

Imagine coming up to a group of builders using hammers to drive screws and screwdrivers to drive nails. “No. You’ve got it backwards. That isn’t using them according to design.” The foolish builders say that design, function, purpose, and roles are relative and to be determined by self. Using a hammer for a screwdriver opens the door to using a wrecking ball for a hammer, and then it won’t be long before the house comes crashing down. When men are men, and women are women, it is then that they are most glorious because it is then that they are most godlike, functioning according to design, imaging forth the Designer.

Femininity is a powerful and glorious thing; something in which women are far superior to men. In a unique way that men are not able to, Christian women get to model for all humanity the grace, beauty, and glory of the submissive quietness of Christ’s bride. Submission and obedience don’t kill, they give life. When Adam and Eve rebelled and did what they wanted this house came down, and it came down because Adam didn’t step up and protect Eve’s femininity; he sat in his recliner, did nothing, and ate the food that he let her eat, and that he let her bring to him (Genesis 3:6). Freedom is a fish in water; a man under God. Under authority, man flourishes. When a godly woman is under a godly man under our gracious God, she is a glorious living parable of this truth.

This kind of beauty is attractive and powerful. It makes men want to be men. It will produce men who will bleed for such beauty, and, like our Savior, bleed to beautify it.

Headship Is (1 Timothy 2:8)

When there are problems in the church, start with the men. When there are problems in the church, men are always responsible for them; either because they caused the problem, or failed to address it. If men haven’t caused the problem, they must deal with it. If problems are not dealt with in this way, you intensify your problems. When men have failed in the church and women have stepped in to fill the void, this hasn’t solved any problems, but caused larger ones. When women lead it doesn’t help men be men, and thus, it doesn’t help women either. Women can’t help men to be men when they try to be men.

Men are women’s biggest problem (outside their own sin), but right behind men is feminism. Have feminist and egalitarians championed some righteous causes. Certainly. But this wasn’t because they were feminists. Did Nazi scientists make breakthroughs beneficial for mankind? Certainly. But this wasn’t because they were Nazis. Feminism is problem for women because it amplifies men being a problem for women.

We have so feminized the church that it is as attractive to men as a feather boa. Men failed, women stepped in, and now there aren’t any men, only mothers and boys, mothers who perpetuate the boyhood of boys. The women do while overgrown boys sit on their duff playing video games. Oh, but their video games without x-rated material, supervised by upright mothers! Right.

The reason why a disregard for gender fundamentally fails is because headship is. When Scripture speaks of husbands being heads of their wives, it doesn’t come as a command, but as a statement of fact.

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior (Ephesians 5:23 ESV).”

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3).”

Headship is stated as an indicative fact, not an imperative command. Irrevocably, men dominate. That is to say they have a headship that affect all that is under them. Douglas Wilson gets at this well,

“Because the husband is the head of the wife, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife. This is how God designed marriage. He has created us as male and female in such a way as to ensure that men will always be dominant in marriage. If the husband is godly, then that dominance will not be harsh; it will be characterized by the same self-sacrificial love demonstrated by our Lord—Dominus—at the cross. If a husband tries to run away from his headship, that abdication will dominate the home. If he catches a plane to the other side of the country, and stays there, he will dominate in and by his absence. How many children have grown up in a home dominated by the empty chair at the table? If the marriage is one in which the wife ‘wears the pants,’ the wimpiness of the husband is the most obvious thing about the marriage, creating a miserable marriage and home. His abdication dominates.”

In conclusion, let me say a few words to ward off any naysayers and gender benders. First, if you erase male/female distinctions you open the door wide to homosexuality and transgender endorsement. Second, if you have a problem with submission, you have a problem with the godhead as seen in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Third, just as in the godhead, having different roles in which one submits to the other does not mean that men and women are not equal in value, dignity, and worth any more that the Son is less God or less worthy of worship than the Father. Finally, I leave you with Chesterton’s short poem, “Comparisons.”

If I set the sun beside the moon,
And if I set the land beside the sea,
And if I set the town beside the country,
And if I set the man beside the woman,
I suppose some fool would talk about one being better.