Monday, February 23, 2015

Men and Women in the New Testament: Missing the Forest for all the Trees

Any time there is a discussion about men and women and the Bible, there’s a lot of baggage. Paul is often considered kind of a sexist jerk, and there’s often a sense of resignation, tension or even hostility when we start talking about men and women and the Bible. Part of the push back from defenders of 50 Shades of Gray is that Christians are in no position to point fingers; after all, hasn’t the church oppressed women for 2,000 years?

 I am going to argue that that the Bible offers a compelling vision of how life in Christ shows us how to flourish as men and women for the glory of God.

 The Early Church was flooded with far more women than men. It was so lopsided that Christianity was mocked for being a religion for women and children.  Tatian (AD 110-172) recalls that the Greeks who write against Christianity “. . . say that we talk nonsense among women and boys, among maidens and old women . . .” We don’t hear much about how, for the first 100 to 200 years,  women were deeply involved with the growth of the church. Something was happening in this community that was incredibly compelling to women.

I think we often miss this because of a common problem: we don’t see the forest for all the trees. In other words, we get so hung up on the tree blocking our view– submit, headship, obey, don’t speak in church, cover your head – that we miss the beauty of the landscape. My goal it so help us look at the forest.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Made As Men and Women (Part 2)

In "Made as Men and Women (Part 1)," I noted that God is Creator, Sustainer, Protector and Provider, and He has given to those who bear his image the privilege and responsibility of embodying those things in the world. So while women and men individually often share interchangeable traits and are sometimes able to function effectively in all these roles, the Old Testament gives us a foundational starting point. Men can do a lot of things, but they must commit to making the world safe within the scope of their ability and opportunity. Women can do a lot of things, but they must commit to helping the world come to life and flourish within the scope of their ability and opportunity. (Note: I highly recommend Matt Chandler's series, "A Beautiful Design," if you want to hear some excellent teaching on these distinctions.)

This post will discuss what the New Testament shows about the design for men and women. The next will look at what the New Testament reveals about how we are to do life together in in our homes and in the church. Finally, the last post in this series will show how all of this is meant to bring glory to God.

1) The Old Testament was the start of the discussion, not the end.

The Old Testament is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is however, incomplete.  It was an important step in the right direction, but it wasn’t the end of the journey. I ended last week by noting that in the Old Testament, the way for men and women to recapture Eden was to walk in the “path of life” (Psalms 16:11), which was found in God’s law.  It wasn’t going to change our hearts; it would, however, direct our hands. Fast forward to Paul’s discussion of the Law….

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Made…As Men and Women (Part 1)

If God made us in his image, how are women and men designed to reflect something about God’s good nature, how do we tend toward ruin, and how can we recover the good of Eden? There are so many different ways to approach this subject biblically and practically, and I have chosen one. I pray that it is honest and true, but it will be incomplete and, like everything on this side of Heaven, imperfect. 
The Eternal God placed the newly made man in the garden of Eden in order to work the ground and care for it. He made certain demands of the man regarding life in the garden. Eat freely from any and all trees in the garden; I only require that you abstain from eating the fruit of one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Beware: the day you eat the fruit of this tree, you will certainly die.” 
 “It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a helper for him, a perfectly suited partner”… So the Eternal God put him into a deep sleep, removed a rib from his side, and closed the flesh around the opening. He formed a woman from the rib taken out of the man and presented her to him. And Adam said, “At last, a suitable companion, a perfect partner.
Bone from my bones.
Flesh from my flesh.
I will call  her “woman” as an eternal reminder
 she was taken out of man.  
 Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh. In those days the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed…. The man named his wife Eve (life-giver) because she was destined to become the mother of all living. ” (Genesis 2:15-18; 21-25; 3:21, The Voice)