And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 29 July 26, 2009
In this issue:
I’m not talking about Holy Spirit appointed elders in the title of this article (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Tim 3:1-7). Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is a member of “The Elders”, a human rights organization founded by Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Peter Gabriel (Genesis rock band) and Nelson Mandela. In broad terms, this group of former statesmen and global leaders “offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.” (www.theelders.org/elders)
Carter has severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, citing his view that the SBC treats women as inferior to men because they teach Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, because they teach women must be “subservient” to their husbands and because women are prevented from being deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military. According to Carter, religion is one of the ‘basic causes’ of violations of women’s rights (The Elders website). So, according to him, the SBC runs counter to the objectives of The Elders. Mr. Carter wrote,
“This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths”, wrote Carter in “The words of God do not justify cruelty to women” (The Observer, 12July09, http://tinyurl.com/lq4p5x).
The Elders have published the following declaration on Equality for Women & Girls:
“Religion and tradition are a great force for peace and progress around the world.
However, as Elders, we believe that the justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable.
We believe that women and girls share equal rights with men and boys in all aspects of life.
We call upon all leaders to promote and protect equal rights for women and girls.
We especially call on religious and traditional leaders to set an example and change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.
The Elders are fully committed to the realisation of equality and empowerment of all women and girls.” The Elders, 2 July 2009.
God’s word does not justify cruelty to women. (Who could possibly be against preventing discrimination? Nobody I know.) The word of God assigns different roles, functions and authority for men, women, boys and girls. That is not discrimination (cf. 1 Cor 11:3).
It is a gross assumption that having different roles means discrimination. Consider 1 Corinthians 11:3: Does God discriminate against Christ because He is “the head of Christ”? No. Does Christ discriminate against man because “the head of every man is Christ”? No. Neither is it discrimination that “the head of woman is man”. The Elders overstate the issue to win sympathy for their cause. Yes, many women and girls are discriminated against in the name of religion – because men do not respect God’s will for men and women and do not respect the honor they should give them in their God-assigned roles.
The Elders expect us to accept their definition of discrimination because they are the “experts”. That is assumptive, arrogant and intrusive. Their authority is no greater than what they assume for themselves. On the other hand, the authority of Jesus Christ and His word is binding on all people – including The Elders (Matt 28:18). To cry “discrimination” and demand religions change their doctrines and practices based on The Elders’ definition of discrimination is an obvious effort to establish man as the highest authority instead of the Almighty. (Then again, the way men view religion, they are generally free to change their doctrines and practices as they see fit. From that point of view one can understand why The Elders have declared men should change their religious practices and traditions.)
We know with certainty that the Bible does not justify discrimination and cruelty against women. It lifts up women as the crowning jewel of God’s creation, without whom man is incomplete (Gen 2:18).
Some have twisted the word of God to support their mistreatment of women (and of men, for that matter). This does not surprise us. The apostle Peter warned, “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet 3:16).
The Bible teaches man was created first, then woman (Gen 2:21-23). The apostle Paul affirms this, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim 2:13). Would Mr. Carter and The Elders tell Moses and Paul to change their religion on this point? Perhaps.
The Bible teaches, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph 5:22-23). Men should love their wives as Christ loved the church; sacrificially and completely (Eph 5:25). There is no cruelty or discrimination here; only self-serving concepts lead to that conclusion. There are men who refuse to lead in their homes, and there are women who refuse to submit to their husbands. Both are sinning when they refuse to do so. But it is very clear from the Bible that the role of wife and mother that God has given women does not demean, degrade or discriminate. She alone is qualified to meet the task and is honored by her family and God when she does so (Prov 31:27-29; 1 Tim 2:15).
The Bible teaches men are to lead in the church and women are in submission to that leadership (1 Tim 2:8, 11-12; 1 Cor 14:33-38; 1 Tim 3:1, 12). Both men and women are under the rule of Christ (Eph 1:22-23; Col 3:17). Different roles, functions and duties in the local church do not mean some are valued more highly than others. 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 makes it clear that every member of the body is “necessary” (v. 22). Therefore, any doctrine or practice that renders women (or men) unnecessary is false and should be changed to conform to the word of God. But, it is not enough to say that because women are not in leadership roles they are being discriminated against. That is a purely worldly concept and definition.
We will not be pressured by unlearned men and women to change our Bible doctrines and practices to conform to their expectations. We will honor every person, but we will honor God and His revealed will above all others: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Pet 2:17).
Please ask yourself the following questions: If every member of the congregation puts the same value on our assembling together that I do, would we continue to have the following:
* Sunday morning Bible classes?
* Sunday night worship services?
* Wednesday night Bible classes?
* Monthly Sunday night classes?
* Wednesday night singing services?
* Gospel meetings
Now, ask yourself the same question about the following:
* My job on Monday morning?
* Going out on Saturday night?
Get the point? Let us not grow weary; let us stir up one another to love and good works (Gal 6:9; Heb 10:24-25).
"Hatch and Match"
This is the way some are describing the Church of England’s new liturgy to address the issue of families “living in sin”. It has approved a ceremony for its clergy to use – a two-in-wedding and baptism service. Now, couples who have been living together can get married and then baptize their children (or themselves) at the same time. (“Children to be baptised as their parents are married”, TimesOnline, 23July09)
They make no bones about it: they are trying to become more relevant to the way people live their lives; to “meet people where they are”, says Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield and chairman of the liturgical commission that drew up the service (Ibid.). He said this liturgy is actually a way to reinforce the Church’s commitment to marriage.
Sounds to me like a way to accept people living in sin without first calling them to repentance (children first, then marriage). Having sexual relations before marriage is fornication, and without repentance there will be no forgiveness (1 Cor 6:9-11; Acts 18:8; 2:38; 26:20).
Unfortunately, some Christians are content to accept people who remain in sinful remarriages after they are baptized. These preachers preach their own brand of “two-in-one” ceremony: Water baptism becomes a “marriage ceremony” that legitimizes a previously adulterous marriage! Much like one Anglican bishop described the Church of England liturgy, is “nutty” – and unscriptural (Ibid.).
Unscripturally remarried people are living in sin (Matt 19:9). “But you will run them off if you tell them to separate and be celibate” is the warning heard from these compromisers of the faith. They offer a false explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:20 and by it counsel and comfort people to remain in adulterous remarriages after baptism. But, one cannot remain in sin and be saved (Rom 6:1-4).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 07/25/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA