Response to John Starke: Gender, Suffiency of Scripture, and Life on Life Ministry

posted in: Bible, Books, Women | 0

My friend, John Starke, who serves at The Gospel Coalition, wrote this article as a response to a book review of How I Changed My Mine about Women in Leadership.  I wholeheartedly agree with everything John said (as I knew I would), but wanted to elaborate on some of his points and maybe state things from a women’s POV who is in full-time ministry.

Disclaimer: Some may say that the “women in ministry” issue isn’t really timely.  I do not find that to be a valid argument.  Anytime we have failing marriages, dysfunctional churches, and church leadership teams that aren’t biblical, then it will be a valid topic for discussion.

Complementarianism is unsatisfying to egalitarians.”  The reason I think it is.  We, all of us, sin-nature, is to put man first.  Sin nature is man focused.  God is God-focused.  To use the Westminster Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  We like to focus on ourselves, our desires, our wants, making our name great (Genesis 11:4).  God’s authority and plan for our lives is that we make MUCH of Him (John 3:30).    Most of the arguments I’ve heard from egalitarians is man-focused.  “I’m gifted in preaching and can’t use it.  I can work just as well as my husband at _________.  Being a mom is not really a satisfying job.”  The underlying theme in all of these is “I”.  The gospel is not about “I”.  The gospel is about Christ.

‘Pastors should take these concerns seriously and labor to answer them appropriately.”  For complementarian pastors and ministry leaders, it is not enough to just say “Egalitarianism is wrong.  The Bible says so.”  You need to know what the Bible says about this and why/how these truths are applicable.  Some content that will decidedly be helpful to you as you learn more about this is: CBMW, Grudem and Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth.  Theologians and pastors such as Dr. Grudem, Dr. Peter Schemm, John Piper, Randy Stinson, and Chris Cowan have all been highly instrumental in my thinking on this subject and I’m grateful for their ministry and knowledge of this subject and the Word of God.

The Bible must be our “go-to” starting point for this discussion.  If we start anywhere else, we’ve started at the wrong point.  And I my boss says, ‘If we are only 1% off now, ten years down the road, that 1% has turned into 40%”.  We don’t want to be 40% off on this subject.  It is too crucial to the understanding of the gospel to a lost and dying world that needs Christ.

So, we take our situations (existential) and we see what the Bible has to say to them.  If I have the ability to speak and write, then what guidelines does the Bible give me in how I can use those gifts.  Am I a Mom?  Then what does the Bible say about how I’m to respond to and respect my husband and how I’m supposed to nurture my children and order my home?  What does the Bible say is important in these roles?

We should conform our worldview and feelings around the Word of God – the norm above all norms.”  Pivotal statement by John.  If you understand this, then the rest will fall into place.

We trust that complementarianism makes sense of reality and can be satisfying to believing hearts.” God’s rules and authority are not for our torture.  They are for our good and His ultimate glory.  Jesus said in the gospels that His yoke was easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  If we are burdened or put-out by these rules and regulations as woman, then our hearts needs transformed by the gospel.  We all stand in need of redemption and sanctification.  Pray that the Spirit would sanctify and transform your heart as you see God’s bigger Truth and how it is completely satisfying.

Here is where we fail, where I fail, as pastors, ministry leaders, women’s leaders, wives, friends: we don’t know how to have a pastor’s heart in this area: a shepherd’s heart: like Jesus who was compassionate to us, knowing we are stupid like sheep and tend to wander away.  We need to have a more compassionate heart to meet women where they are, take their circumstances, and lovingly walk them to the gospel, show them the right ways of Jesus and the gospel and allow them to see that God has such a more glorious path for them to be on. 

This world is full of sin, abuse, neglect, pride, dysfunction – not at all the way the beauty of the original Creation was: walking in the Garden of Eden in perfect harmony with God.  We suffer broken marriages, poorly led churches, men who abuse the authority that God has given them.  My word of exhortation and edification: pray that God would soften your hearts to those who are in need of the truth of God.  These may be non-believers who need to surrender their hearts to God.  These may be women who do not yet see the beauty of God’s design for the home and church as He designed it.  Live life on life with these women (or men, life or life with other men), pulling them aside the gospel, praying that your life and God’s truth would be transformative in their lives. 

God has a Grand Design.  It is based in the gospel.  It is based on His character and not our situations.  He redeems.  He has purchased us.  He has made His plan known through the Bible.  Let’s share life with people, live in authentic community, and bear with our people.  May God use His sufficient and perfect word to transform our lives, hearts, churches, and homes.

For His Fame.

Entrusted with the Gospel: Book Review

posted in: Books | 0

Crossway released a sermon series based on The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 national conference. Just in case you couldn’t attend, you can now read the sermons. Edited by D. A. Carson (who is brilliant and pastoral), this book features such preaching power-houses as John Piper, Philip Ryken, Mark Driscoll, Edward Copeland, Bryan Chappell, and Ligon Duncan (thankful to his years of ministry to/with CBMW). This book shows the reader that good sermons ought to serve as quality commentaries. These aren’t pithy sermons, or topical. They all are applicable to the listener and concerns the text by Paul to Timothy in his second pastoral epistle to him.
My two favorites were by Ryken then Driscoll. But, here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Some people say that doctrine kills, but this way of thinking is completely alien to the apostle, who believed that sound doctrine brings life and health to the people of God.” – Ryken
“It is the Word that the holy Spirit has unbound and unchained for the salvation and the sanctification of the people of God.” – Ryken
“The first is that if we have died with Christ, we ought to live with him, which means our community life, our speech, our interactions and relationships, and our attraction to spiritual things ought to reflect the life Christ gives, not the death that separation from Him reflects.” – Driscoll
“Failure to recognize the urgency of the hour will cause you to waste time on the inconsequential.” – Copeland

All pastors, especially young pastors, need to read this book. Thank you Crossway, Carson, and preachers.

Truth About Men: Tracy Byrd

posted in: Uncategorized | 6

As most readers know, I love country music. But, I also try to think through country songs. Tracy Byrd’s new one (and friends): The Truth About Men made me think yesterday. Seeing the video (which I won’t post due to some material that I will not post on my blog) made me sad for the state of affairs among men in this world. Unfortunately, Christian men are NOT immune to these things. Not all of these things are sinful, but just read the lyrics (more thoughts later):

We don’t like to go out shoppin’,
We don’t care what’s on sale.
We just want to sit with a bag full of chips,
Watchin’ the NFL.
When you come over at half-time,
An’ say: “Does this dress fit too tight?”
We just look you in the eye with a big fat lie,
An say:”Uh, uh: Looks just right.”

Well, that’s the truth about men.
Yeah, that’s the truth about us.
We like to hunt and golf on our days off,
Scratch, an’ spit, an cuss.
It don’t matter what line we hand you,
When we come draggin’ in.
We ain’t wrong; we ain’t sorry,
An’ it’s probably gonna happen again

We hate watchin’ “Steel Magnolias”.
We like “Rambo” an’ “Die Hard 4”.
Jump up and down like fools when we see the new tools,
At the Home Depot store.
We don’t really wanna take you to dinner,
At some fancy restaurant.
The only reason we do is ’cause we know it leads to,
The one thing that we all want

Well, that’s the truth about men.
Yeah, that’s the truth about guys.
We’d rather play guitars and work on cars,
Than work on the problems in our lives.
An’ though we might say it to you,
Every now and then,
We ain’t wrong; we ain’t sorry,
An’ it’s probably gonna happen again.

Well, if you want to know what we’re all thinkin’,
It’s nothing too complex.
It’s just somethin’ cold for drinkin’,
And a whole lot of s-e……

Yes, that’s the truth about men.
Yeah, that’s the truth about us.
We like to hunt and golf an’ drive around, lost,
Scratch, an’ spit, an’ a whole lot of other disgustin’ stuff.
It don’t matter what line we hand you,
When we come a-crawlin’ in.
We ain’t wrong; we ain’t sorry,
An’ it’s probably gonna happen again.

We ain’t wrong; we ain’t sorry,
An’ it’s probably gonna happen;
Sure, it’s gonna happen;
You know it’s gonna happen again.
An’ that’s the truth about men.

You know it, son.

I want to give you a comparison:
John Piper’s definition of biblical manhood: (this does not involve not playing golf, or watching the NFL, or having sex with your wife):


And if you need better descriptions: 1 Tim 2, Titus 1, Eph 5 – those are better qualifications.
Ladies: how can we as women encourage Biblical leadership and character to the men in our lives? For more on this topic: read Gary Thomas’s Sacred Influence and Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal.
I am very thankful for the men in my life who live differently than this model that Tracy Byrd sings about. They live with God as their focus, encouraging their wives, treating other women as sisters in Christ. Thank you for giving me good role models and standards.

On Complementarianism

posted in: Women | 0

Jonathan Leeman has a fabulous article in the new 9Marks journal on relationships between men and women (complementarianism/egalitarianism). I was just able to teach on biblical womanhood at a youth camp with my church. Honestly, one session went extremely well, one session could have gone better. I wish I had some of this before I went. This discussion can get confusing if not presented and articulated well, especially when not knowing where your hearers are coming from. Always be ready with a biblical answer – and always submit to the authority of Scripture and Christ when speaking on this. That is how I’ve worked on my conversations. I try not to share my opinion – because why does my opinion ultimately matter. But, the only lasting perfect words on this subject is from Scripture.
Thanks to Dr. Burk for highlighling this article and for the men at 9Marks for putting this together and for CBMW for being around for so many years giving us good resources on this topic.

Jonathan Leeman has an excellent essay in the latest 9marks journal. In short, he argues that Complementarianism is crucial to discipleship. It’s worth reading the whole essay, but I want to highlight one section that I found particularly helpful. It will frame the way I engage the “borders” from now on. He writes:

‘Too often, the discussion about complementarianism gets stuck at the borders. For instance, people get marooned on matters like whether it’s appropriate for adult women to teach high school men. Where’s the line, they ask. But focusing on the borders of what’s licit is a bit like the dating couple who asks, “How much can we do with each other physically? Hold hands? Kiss?”

‘There is a place for such questions, but what’s needed first is a positive statement about how to promote biblical masculinity and femininity among young men and women. The dating couple, instead of asking, “How far can we go?” should instead ask, “How can we serve one another and best prepare the other for marriage?” In the church, likewise, we should ask, “How can we best help these high school women become mature women, and these high school men become mature men?” But that’s a question a church will never think to ask if it doesn’t have a positive vision for Christian masculinity and Christian femininity in the first place.

‘So let’s try again: Is it okay to have adult women teaching high school men? Well, frankly, I’m not entirely sure if it’s licit or not, but I do know I want those high school men to learn what it means for men to take initiative and biblical leadership in the church. And I do want the women to learn what it means to love, affirm, and support male leadership in the church. Therefore, I’m going to be very careful about what models I place before them. In most circumstances, I’m going to have Bible-loving, initiative-taking adult men teach the group as a whole, while having mature women support and assist that ministry.’

This entire issue of the 9marks journal is devoted to the complementarianism and is titled Pastoring Women: Understanding and Honoring Distinctness. Go check it out.