Paul, Women, and Wives – The Argument

Today we begin a very important series in the life of our church. The title is “Paul, Women, and Wives,” and the objective is to learn and grow in our understanding of the role of women in ministry. During our time together, we’ll be covering a lot of information and  learning about the various viewpoints. So, I encourage you to take notes, listen back to what’s been said each week, and to study these ideas for yourself throughout our time together. If you have questions along the way I want to hear them so please email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

Proper focus on women and their God-given roles is vital for any church, home, and society. In Genesis 2:18, we read,

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” – NASB

The KJV interprets this to say,

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet…” – Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“A help meet?” What is that? The literal translation is a helper who is “meet,” or one who is “suitable for the task.” The task set before Adam and Eve was to rule and reign. It wasn’t good for Adam to do this alone, so God gave him someone suitable for the task. 

Therefore, it does not mean woman is somehow an inferior, an employee, a servant, or “the help.” On the other side of the spectrum, it also doesn’t mean that woman is someone sent as a savior or rescuer to help Adam, who is unable to complete his own work. Again it was not good for him to be alone. Nothing suitable could be found. So God draws from Adam. Of the same kind.

Therefore woman is someone who corresponds to the man in perfect partnership for the task. The role of women is vital, and God made it that way. 

In this series we are focusing on women’s roles within the church, but our time together will help bring clarity in many other areas as well. 

One of the challenges we face at the outset is the glaring tension within the church (both present and historical—not to mention tension within the secular world—over women’s roles. This tension divides churches and households, and even whole societies constantly. Not surprisingly, we were told that this division would occur. Genesis 3:16 says:

“To the woman, He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain, you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” – Genesis‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

Did you notice that all the things listed in Genesis 3:16 are results of the curse? Not one of these proclamations is a God-given prescription for how life was designed to be. If what I’m saying is true, and I believe it is, the implications are truly staggering. We will talk about this and other ideas in the coming weeks. You just have to stick with me.

Whatever position you hold or come to hold concerning women in ministry, or even if you have no position at all and this is all brand new to you, this series is designed to give the overarching ideas and allow each of us to weigh the evidence for ourselves. 

As we do this church, we must allow ourselves to be governed by principles of charity, two of which are that God desires mercy and not sacrifice—especially in the arena of law—and Paul’s call to the Ephesian church in chapter 4:1-6 (the context which follows proves my use of this here):

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians‬ ‭4:1-6‬  NASB1995‬‬

Disclaimer: 

I have no delusions of grandeur with this series—this issue has been argued for eons of time and will be argued for eons more. I know I won’t definitively settle this issue in every individual’s mind. But as a pastor, I do hope to at least contribute to and further a meaningful conversation. My desire is to uncover what is plausible, not just settle for what is possible.

At Pierce Point, I share a responsibility to lead each of you along well-informed paths. The role of women is an extremely practical path that will have observable effects on our church. Views on this subject directly affect at least half the population of God’s Church; as such, they are not to be taken lightly. 

This series is also no mere statement of faith (meaning something believed but left on a shelf like most creeds and confessions). Instead, this is a series and a derivative position which demands action. Otherwise, I’m just politicking, pandering, and posturing.

So as we jump into the fray, we’re going to take a look at the spectrum of ideas that are promoted within the Christian world. Although there are essentially two camps on this subject, neither camp is monolithic—and what I mean by that is neither camp entirely agrees within their own ranks. And neither camp, as far as I can tell, is free of major error.

Two Statements:

  • Complementarians believe that all people are created equal in value and yet are designed specifically for independent roles within the church and society.

 

  • Egalitarians believe that all people are created equal in both value and roles within the church and society.

 

So the debate here, just to be clear, is not a debate over value. This is a debate of practice or function. The debate used to be over value. But we have moved forward in very good ways. 

For example, the synagogue prayer of Paul’s day (and it is in the synagogue prayer to this day) reads, “God I thank you that you have not made me a gentile, I thank you that you have not made me a slave, and I thank you that you have not made me a woman.” 

At this point the women in the congregation would say, 

“God I thank you that you have made me according to your will.” 

   

John MacArthur video: Traditionalist

  • 80% of Americans, 62% of (scare quotes) “practicing Christians,” and 40% of evangelicals are okay with women pastors.
  • 50% of MDiv students are women, and 25% of seminary faculty are women, 11% of seminary presidents are women, and 27% of pastors are women.
  • *strangely, only 41% of graduates actually go into full-time church ministry anyway.
  • “This is an explosion.” This is the women’s movement/rebellion, and the last frontier is the Evangelical church. (Slippery slope fallacy) That last frontier to fall victim to… the rebellion of feminism and cultural-Marxism. (Ad-hominem  and ad- baculum, a.k.a. appeal to fear)
  • He doesn’t believe that it might be rebellion against the Bible. He believes that it might be the most obvious rebellion against the Bible. In his view, it is rebellion. 
  • These women are a “disgrace.” Opposition to the “clear command” of the Word of God. 

N.T. Wright video: Egalitarian

  • Resurrection… (Hasty generalization and an appeal to an irrelevant authority, a.k.a. ipse dixit)
  • The “prime witnesses” are women, which is “counter-intuitive.” (post hoc in statistics, a.k.a. correlation vs. causation fallacy)
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Paul “quotes what is now the shaped up and polished tradition the women have disappeared.” “People aren’t going to believe us if we say he appeared first to these women….” This is a needless pitting of the scripture against other scripture.
  • The first people to be told to tell other people that Jesus is alive again…
  • All Christian ministry flows from the resurrection… women were the first to witness the empty tomb and tell the others… therefore… NOTHING!
  • The problem with the counterintuitive narrative of the Gospel’s versus the 12 Apostles versus Paul’s commendation of women in Romans 16, where he commends twice as many women as men. 
  • “We need to inhabit that story and that way of looking at that story.” Why?
  • The contradictory case for Phoebe. 
  • Watch this. “What we know…” “the chances are, you can’t prove this…” “they might well be the one to explain it.” Therefore the first person to expound Paul’s letter to the Romans was a woman. Do you know that, or are the chances that it might well be? After all, you can’t prove that. 
  • Next, he introduces a pretend challenge that he himself contradicted at the beginning. “Well, Paul didn’t mean that….” But you just said that 1 Cor. 15 wasn’t Paul but tradition erasing the women from the story. Which is it? This is what it looks like when you cut your nose off to spite your face. 
  • Now N.T. Wright does the same thing MacArthur does by dragging in politics and culture. It’s either feminism and cultural Marxism, or it’s too American and western thinking. 
  • And finally, back to the resurrection. Therefore women preachers and church leaders.

 

Conclusion:

“Evangelicals have not yet settled the exegetical and theological issues involved in deciding if churches should place some limits or no limits on the ministry of women in the church. The exegetical issues are complex, and even the most enthusiastic of promoters for one side or the other cannot justifiably claim that the opposing view is beyond the limits of orthodoxy. Nor can one assert that a particular view is the only one reflecting a belief in biblical inerrancy.”

Next week we will be looking at the Biblical evidence for women’s ministry. In doing this we will be looking at many Biblical texts and the arguments people make about them. I hope you’ll join us. 

Again, we must allow ourselves to be governed by principles of charity. God desires mercy and not sacrifice—especially in the arena of law—and Paul’s call to the Ephesian church listen again,

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” – Ephesians‬ ‭4:1-7, 11-16‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

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