Christianity 201

January 30, 2014

Women’s Role In Marriage

In the early days of Christianity 201, where the motto is, after all, “Digging a Little Deeper;” we weren’t afraid to tackle controversial topics. So today, I am including an article by author Mary Kassian that appeared at the True Woman blog. This is part two of a three-part discussion, the link to part one is below and I encourage you to watch for the third. While you may not agree, there are many scripture links here that are worth clicking. And if you’re single, or male, or both, remember that marriage is often used in scripture as a picture of Christ’s relationship to His Church.  To read this at source, click here.


FYI: This is Mary Kassian’s second post in a three-part series on the complementarian view of male-female relationships—what it is and what it is not.

In the movie The Matrix, the main character, Neo, is offered a choice between swallowing a red pill or a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the Matrix, an illusionary computer-generated world. The red pill would lead to his escape out of the Matrix and into the real world. It was an either/or scenario. He couldn’t have it both ways.

The Evangelical world often frames the discussion about gender roles in “either/or” scenarios. Women are led to believe they only have two choices: They can choose to swallow the red pill of mutuality or the blue pill of complementarity—but not both.

I want to firmly stake the claim that complementarity and mutuality are not either/or concepts. The exact opposite is true. Complementarity embraces mutuality. Complementarians desire mutuality as much as egalitarians do. Our point of difference is not mutuality but rather our respective views on the means whereby this will be achieved.

  • Complementarians claim we achieve mutuality by embracing God-given male-female role distinctions.
  • Egalitarians claim we achieve mutuality by embracing the fact that no such distinctions exist.

The question is definitely not about which viewpoint upholds the dignity, honor, full personhood, and mutuality of woman. They both do. We merely disagree on the route the Bible says we must take to reach the destination. But this disagreement is no small matter.

Acknowledging the Both/And

Complementarians believe God created male and female to reflect complementary truths about Jesus. Role distinction and mutuality in a redeemed male-female relationship reflect characteristics of the Godhead and of Christ’s relationship to the Church. Yes, practically, this involves males stepping up to the plate to head up both individual and corporate church families. But no, this doesn’t logically necessitate wooden, unilateral relationships where men boss women around. On the contrary, complementarity solicits cooperation, togetherness, and mutuality. It calls for a profound reciprocity.

Complementarity solicits cooperation, togetherness, and mutuality.

Instead of either/or, authors of the Bible acknowledge the both/and. When they discuss distinct male-female roles, they almost always frame up the conversation within the context of male-female mutuality. For example:

  • The Genesis creation account emphasizes that male and female were both created in the image of God and that both were given dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26–28).
  • In Ephesians 5, Paul correlates the relationship between a husband and wife to the relationship between Christ and the Church. He advocates distinct gender-based roles but emphasizes the “one flesh” and “one body” nature of the relationship. He emphasizes that “we (male and female together) are members of his (Christ’s) body.”
  • In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul points out differing roles in the Godhead and draws a parallel to the husband-wife relationship: “the head of every man is Christ, the head of the wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (v. 3). He also emphasizes male-female mutuality: “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman” (vv. 11–12).
  • After directing wives to submit to husbands, Peter is careful to direct husbands to honor their wives. He reminds men that women are “heirs with you of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

Complementarians ought to clearly acknowledge the “both/and” nature of complementarity and mutuality when we speak of gender roles. To fail to do this paints an incomplete picture. In male-female relationships, as in the Body of Christ as a whole, our differences ought to be the foundation and catalyst for a profound unity and mutuality.

Complementary and Mutuality in Marriage

In His Word, God has given us some sex-specific assignments. He instructs me to respect my husband as the team leader of our family unit. He instructs my husband to be a good leader—a self-sacrificial, loving one who looks out for the best interests of his wife and family. But He also gives us both a host of instructions about His expectations of everyone. Though we’ve been assigned different positions, there are many clear responsibilities my husband and I have toward one another as followers of Christ. They include the instructions to:

The Game Plan

All of our common responsibilities are to be carried out in the context of relationships in which God has delegated some individuals—like the husband of each family unit—the additional responsibility to provide loving team leadership in his respective corner of the field (Eph. 5:21–32).

Yes, it’s true that some Christian men don’t take their assigned responsibility seriously. Yes, it’s true that men fail. But the same could be said of women. When I read the list, I am conscience-stricken about my own short-comings.

The fact that some people don’t carry through on the game plan doesn’t mean the plan is a bad one. Nor does it mean we should hold a collective mutiny and declare a free-for-all. It just means we need to work harder to execute the game plan in the way God has designated.

January 2, 2014

Salvation is Open to All; Ministry Potential Exists for All

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Keith Brenton, in this excellent article, proposes that the New Testament covenant opens the door to all, not just for salvation, but for opportunities for service.  This article appeared at Blog in My Own Eye under the title Compartmentalization. You can comment on this piece at that link.

Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves. – current Wikipedia definition

By definition, we do this unconsciously. But that is no excuse for not trying to step outside of ourselves and looking at things the way they are, rather than the way we want to perceive them.

For instance, I have a problem with the argument that Galatians 3:28 only refers to “salvation.” Galatians 3:28 is a foundational principle of God’s view toward people generally, outweighing any of the man-made rules and regulations we might wish to superimpose on other scriptures for all eternity. (Rules and regulations for all time, you see, that exclude a woman from leading in public worship or serving God’s church in certain ways.)

Here’s what the verse says:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Simple enough.

The context in chapter 3 is the issue of faith versus works of the law in salvation.

Fair enough.

Notice, however, that the immediate context is unity and equality.

And, even more importantly, salvation cannot be categorized to include only eternal life to come nor even to eternity AND the 167 hours of each week spent  outside of the walls where worship takes place.

Salvation is as much here and now as it is hereafter and to come. When we are saved, we are bought with a price and given a purpose in life to prepare ourselves and help others prepare for a life to come. It is a lifetime of worship, not an hour on Sunday morning, and it starts now and lasts forever.

Either we are all one in Christ Jesus twenty-four hours of every day, or we are not one in Christ Jesus at all.

The whole gist of Galatians 3 and the rest of the epistle surrounding it is a plea to break the yoke of the law from which we should have graduated into a faith and a relationship with God through Christ which transcends law. We live a life that expresses our desire to worship God all the time and in every way we can. We proclaim Jesus as Lord. We go into all the world. All of the world. All of the time.

All of us.

There is no exclusion clause that says, “Except for women on Sunday morning in front of the gathered saints” or “except for females in the presence of males over the age of twelve” or “except when people of both genders are served and shepherded.” Exclusion clauses are a part of the world of laws, and we’re supposed to be over that.

Over a picture of God as damning tyrant, eager to punish the least infraction of encrypted rules and regulations because we failed to crack the code.

Over the need to behave by rules rather than walk by faith.

Over the craving to achieve our own salvation rather than working it out as a fait accompli through the grace of Jesus Christ and the empowerment of His own Holy Spirit living within us.

You can’t compartmentalize out Galatians 3:28 of leadership in the life of any follower of Christ.

You can’t minimize it as a fundamental principle of God’s expressed relationship to people by categorizing it as a rule whose exceptions prove it.

You can’t resolve your cognitive dissonance that way. If you perceive dissonance between what scripture actually says and what you are comfortable having it say, then what you are comfortable having it say must be re-examined, discredited, and discarded.

Discarding what it actually says is not an option.

And we absolutely must be honest with ourselves by asking and answering the question of ourselves:

Why do I want for scripture to exclude women from certain responsibilities of service within the Kingdom of God?

Is it only my zeal for the word?

Or do I have an agenda there that undermines what the word actually says?

 My own comfort with what I believe? My satisfaction with scripture as encrypted rulebook? My desire to be in control?

I’ve had to be honest with myself about this and come to a different conclusion than I would have reached thirty years ago. It hasn’t been easy.

But it is worth letting go of logically unjustifiable compartmentalization to get to the truth, and get a little closer to what God really wants for me; for everyone:

A life of faithful proclamation of the Story and service to others, uninhibited by race, social status or gender.

You see, that’s not just what Galatians 3:28 is all about, or what salvation is all about.

It’s what the Bible … the word … the Story is all about.

Uncompartmentalized.


Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest spectrum of the Christian blogosphere. An individual article may be posted even if some or all readers might not agree with other things posted at the same blog, and two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading. You might even decide to make some of these a daily habit. Any advertising appearing beyond this point in this article does not originate with C201, nor are we aware of it.

June 13, 2011

Eight Mistakes the American Church Made

The full title of the sermon that J. Lee Grady preached in Nigeria was “Eight Mistakes the American Church Made That I Hope You Don’t Repeat.”  This appeared in the May 2002 issue of Charisma; I tried to find it online, but couldn’t, so the typos are all mine!

  1. We made unbelief a doctrine.  While Christians in China, Latin America and Africa were casting out devils and healing the sick, we were teaching seminary students that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do miracles anymore.  That’s really bad theology.
  2. We tolerated division.  Who needs the devil when Christians are perfectly okay with hating one another in the name of denominational loyalty?  Why should the world listen to us teach about “family values” when the family of God is so fractured?
  3. We cultivated a religious spirit.  We taught converts that Christianity is about daily Bible reading, church attendance and avoiding cigarettes and beer. Genuine faith became drudgery. Christians trapped in dry legalism lost their joy because they though intimacy with God could be achieved by their performance.
  4. We encouraged ‘superstars.’  We elevated ministers to celebrity status and some of them actually believed they deserved the titles, the pedestals, the grand entrances and the first-class seats next to Jesus’ throne.  They stopped modeling servanthood, and has a result the church forgot that Jesus washed feet and rode on a donkey.
  5. We equated money with success.  We taught that biblical prosperity could be obtained by inserting our tithes into a heavenly slot machine.  Lotto fever spread throughout the church, and we found a way to legitimize greed and materialism when we should have been using our wealth to feed the poor, adopt orphans and fund missionary ventures.
  6. We wouldn’t release women in ministry. We let gender prejudice have more control in the church than the Holy Spirit.  He’s ready to send an army of dedicated women to the front lines of spiritual battle — but He’s waiting for us to bury our stinking male pride.
  7. We stayed in the pews and became irrelevant.  We insisted on letting a group of older white men in dark suits represent our faith in the marketplace, and we freaked out when somebody tried to use rap, punk or metal music to reach the younger generations.  Instead of engaging the culture we hid from it.
  8. We taught people to be escapists.  Jesus told us to occupy the planet until He returns. But most of us were reading rapture novels when we should have been praying for our brothers and sisters who were on the verge of martyrdom. They were willing to suffer and die for the cause.  Why can’t we have that kind of faith?