The necessary radical change in our thinking about gender roles will be difficult given that Masculinity has been re-defined by many in our culture according to feminine (and feminist) expectations. Men are taught to be more sensitive and to relate to one another as women do by opening up and sharing their feelings. They are encouraged to get in touch with their inner wimp and appreciate long walks on the beach at sunset, chick flicks, and candlelight dinners. Hunting and fishing and contact sports are looked upon as barbaric. Men are more angry and aggressive, we are told, because they were raised to bite their lip and hold in their pain instead of processing it. They need to open up more, get in touch with their feminine side, and become androgynous and egalitarian in their thinking about gender roles.
The evangelical church has gotten sucked deeply into this sink hole. The average congregation is sixty to seventy percent female, and the other thirty to forty percent is made up largely of children and old people. The few younger men who are present have been dragged there by their wives, and if you watch you will see them fidgeting, twiddling their thumbs, and staring blankly out the window. They don’t want to be there—and who can blame them? What man wants to stand holding hands with total strangers singing fluffy songs about falling in love with Jesus and listening to twenty-minute sermonettes about little lost puppies?
Right down to the soft carpet, flowers, and fuchsia-colored paint, the average church caters to the nines to the feminine desire for intimacy and security. Wimped-out men’s movements, such as Promise Keepers, far from being a help, have perpetuated a milk-toast kind of masculinity. If and when marriage, family, and gender roles are discussed, political correctness rules the day. If the concept of male headship is mentioned at all in the churches, it dies the death of a thousand qualifications, rationalizations, and outright denials. The interpretive sleight of hand used in this connection is without parallel in the cults.
It does no good at all to offer such watered-down pabulum—in fact it is destructive because it increases the size of the already existing man-vacuum, a void which women are all too willing to fill. The problem is they can’t fill it. God did not ordain that they should fill it, did not create them to fill it, and is not pleased when they circumvent His will in attempting to fill it. Sure, women are smart, often far more intelligent than men. They are often much more competent as managers than men. They are diligent and dependable as workers more times than not. You need not remind me of that—I have been married to a very capable woman for four decades. But she can never be the head or even the co-head of our marriage relationship. God created her to be a helper and not a head. If I were to drop dead today ours would still be a household, but it would be an incomplete household. And a church without male elders overseeing it, while still a church, is incomplete and less than ideal. Selecting female elders because it seems smart or practical is nothing less than rebellion against God. You would be better off with no elders, for at least that situation is not without biblical precedent.
If we really want to glorify and enjoy God and rebuild our faith in Him, we must reclaim the biblical concept of male headship in the home and male leadership in the church. If that rubs you wrong, then take it up with the Lord. He inspired the sacred writers to describe Him throughout Scripture with masculine nouns and pronouns. All the biblical books were written by men. The patriarchs were all men. The heads of the tribes of Israel were men. Jesus Christ was born and lived as a man. The apostles were all men. And God’s Word not only stipulates that church elders be all-male, but also forbids women to teach or exercise spiritual authority over men (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; Timothy 2:11-15).
It is no use arguing that male headship and leadership in biblical times were accommodations to the sexist culture of the day, for Paul appeals to creation and not culture as the basis for male headship and leadership in both of the above-cited passages. In other words, as long as men are men and women are women, the biblical pattern will be in effect. Nor is it helpful to appeal to our pagan insistence on equity and “fairness.” God does not need our approval or permission to insist that we follow the rules as He wrote them. When women object that they feel a leading from God to exercise headship over their husbands or function as elders and pastor-teachers in the church, they need to believe God’s Word instead of their emotions. And save all the “what if?” questions because I will touch on a couple of them in a future post.