Topic Article #17: Biblical Distinctives Between Males and Females
by Dr. Eugene Clingman, Executive Administrator
Copyright 2006, International Church Council Project
(This article may be freely distributed so long as it is not altered
and the above information remains intact.)
The 16th topic of the International Church Council Project is “Concerning Biblical Distinctives Between Males and Females.” The theological issue paper for this topic was written by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and is called the Danvers Statement. The following article titled “Feminism in the Church,” was written by Eugene Clingman and first appeared in the May 2004 issue of Chalcedon Report (www.chalcedon.edu).
Feminism in the Church
With what sublime dignity God endowed our first parents! Created in the image of God. Not like any other creature. Bone of the same bone, flesh of the same flesh, the one not greater and neither one less than the other. In god-likeness, equal! The same, and yet how majestically different! How unmistakably unique! In form varied, in sensitivities diverse, in physical strength disproportionate. The two but a little lower than the angels, equally exalted in dignity, yet each sublimely unique!…“Male and female created he them.”
War has been raging since the Garden. A war over what is real. The devil said, “Reality is different than what God has told you. God has told you it is one way, I tell you God is mistaken; reality is this which I now tell you.” The same war over what is real and true rages today.
Modern feminism has succeeded remarkably in inculcating into society the idea that men and women are the same. Confusion is rampant; differences between men and women are blurred.
Thanks to radical feminist organizations like NOW, our dear ladies, some barely out of girlhood, walk dusty streets in Baghdad clad in army fatigues, machine gun under arm, returning after watch to bunk with a room full of young men, because, “There are no essential differences.” How far we have strayed as a culture!
The insanity of feminism has spread like leaven to every aspect of our society; the Christian family and the church are not excepted. Called to be the salt of the earth, a significant portion of the Body of Christ has become host, in a growing degree, to this ungodly virus.
Feminism in the Family
In many a Christian family, feminism has enabled the easy abdication by husbands of their created responsibility to lead and provide, causing a double-curse to fall on the woman. Now she bears Eve’s curse as well as Adam’s by taking responsibility as a primary or equal partner-provider with her husband.
The average Christian woman has imbibed the false notion that dignity and fulfillment come with a career and the maximum use of her talents outside the home, and that homemaking and childrearing responsibilities are less meaningful, less dignified, and less fulfilling.
Christian husbands must find God’s grace to create the opportunity and atmosphere needed to lift their wives into their role as their God-ordained helper. God’s glory in the family, in man and in woman, is obscured by the attempt to live a reality that is not reality. Many husbands and wives never know the joys of godly femininity or godly masculinity.
“The true difference,” says the feminist, “is physical only!” We are certain this is not the case. The physical is but a revelation of dynamic differences that pierce to the core of humanness. On every cell of the human body is stamped either, “MALE” or “FEMALE.”
The truth is that the differences between the male and female body are but a signal and a parable of differences at the very center of our beings as male or female. We should inquire carefully how those God-ordained differences ought to reveal themselves in the roles and responsibilities of males and females.
In the creation, God manifested the difference between male and female. God created Adam first – not at the same time as, nor in the same way as Eve. Before Eve was created Adam was given his dominion orientation and assignment, and was instructed how to stay in life – “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:15-17).
Eve was not there during the orientation. God later brought the woman to be a helper in the man’s assignment. Surely if God wanted to communicate to us that Adam and Eve were equal in every way he would have done it differently!
God did it this way because he created Adam to lead, charging him with responsibility to love, care for, provide for, and lead the woman, as she helped him in the fulfillment of the dominion mandate given to them as “man.” God who created sexuality is here defining sexuality.
This passage is foundational to what it means to be male or female. Evangelical feminism claims this passage does not mean what we believe it means.
Evangelical Feminists Say “No”
The evangelical feminist asserts there are no God-ordained or God-created differences between men’s and women’s roles. They insist that women should have the same opportunity and authority to lead in the family and in the church, as do men.
We believe God requires male headship in home and church. In the home the marriage relationship is to be a reflection of Christ the groom and the Church who is the bride, gladly submitted to her loving leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. God also created the man for headship in the Church.
The Apostle Paul wrote lucidly that he wants males (Greek “aner”) to pray, and females (Greek “gune”) to keep quiet, not to teach, and not to exercise authority over men. Paul obviously sets a distinction between men and women, giving men the place of leadership in the Church.
Though women are not designed or ordained to carry leadership or teaching positions over men, there are hundreds of opportunities for service for women. To name a few – teaching children, various missionary service opportunities that do not involve pastoring or teaching of men, and ministries of mercy, compassion and service.
This short article is not adequate to say the many things that should be said in order to clarify and set all in its complete perspective. See the landmark book, published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood titled, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I also invite you to see the theological document “Concerning Biblical Distinctives Between Males and Females” at www.churchcouncil.org, the website of the International Church Council Project.