Monday, November 24, 2008

Gender Roles in the Local Church

Last night I taught from 1 Timothy 2:8ff in our evening worship service, "Night Light". In the context of the local church or congregation (1 Timothy 2:8; 3:15), Paul instructs Timothy regarding gender roles. In Eden God set forth the blueprints for manhood and womanhood. Ever since mankind fell into sin those blueprints have been perverted and confused. The church is to be a display of God’s glory. Through faith in Christ and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives the edenic roles of manhood and womanhood are restored. That is the heart of Paul’s instructions regarding how men and women are to function in the ministry of the local church.

Men are to lead out in prayer, worship, and church unity (verse 8). Women are to be adorned in godliness, they are to grow in God’s Word, and they are to reflect biblical submission toward male leadership in the church and home (verses 9-12). Paul’s instructions to men and women are not built off an issue that was specific or sensitive to the Ephesian culture. He grounds these guiding principles on a trans-cultural argument from Genesis 2. Both male chauvinism and secular feminism are perversions of biblical manhood and womanhood and should not be the influence on how men and women serve in the local church. Paul writes these instructions so that men will not abdicate their biblical responsibility of headship. He also writes these instructions so that women will not abuse their freedom to learn Scripture (unheard of in the first century outside Christianity) by usurping the spiritual leadership and authority of Christian men. Paul is provoking men to lead out as they are called and he is guarding women from being burdened (or burdening themselves) by taking on a role which the Lord never intended for them to carry. This is not an issue of value- men and women are equally created in the image of God but they are distinct in function and responsibility both in the home and in the church.

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