A core value I pray all Calvary Chapel pastors maintain is the principle of male leadership in the church and in the home. Yet I can hear someone say, “Oh, don’t be a stick in the mud. Can’t you see times are changing, what’s so wrong with a woman having a place of authority in the church?” Pastors today, and over the next few years – even Calvary Chapel pastors – are going to feel the pressure to compromise in this area.
Again, I can hear the complaints, “Even Augusta National Gold Club has admitted two female members. If a staid, venerable institution like Augusta National can adapt to the times, so can Calvary Chapel!” Well, such an accommodation may fly at the Masters, but it’s not par for the course in the Church. Our Master laid down a pattern. From the beginning of time, in the home and in the church, the Creator ordained for men to lead and women to follow.
When God created mankind, He did so male and female. The man and the woman were equal in value and status. They both were made in God’s image, and have a place of service in the Church! Women can occupy many different roles in the Body of Christ. However, “equal” does not mean “same.” God made us with distinction. He gave diverse roles to men and women.
Realize, masculinity and femininity are not just the outcome of our society’s nurturing, and educating, and the conditioning of the sexes. Male and female are the result of creation. Gender matters to God! Not only do the Biblical roles for male and female nurture and order society, they speak vital truths about God’s very nature.
From the first page of the Bible to the last, God reveals Himself in the masculine gender. He is never once called “God the Mother” or “God the Daughter.” He is always “God the Father” and “God the Son.” His people – Old Testament Israel, and the New Testament Church – are spoken of as feminine, but the Godhead is invariably portrayed as masculine. Throughout the Bible, God consistently uses gender to display His relationship with His people. Israel was God’s wife. The Church is the bride of Christ. This is why any violation of gender roles – any confusion between male and female – doesn’t just effect the individual and families involved, it mars the picture that God is painting of salvation. Marriage is a sacred snapshot. And God is serious about His wedding photos!
One of the most exciting spectacles in college football is performed by the Ohio State Buckeye Band. It’s called “Script Ohio.” It’s been a tradition since 1936. Before a packed stadium of 105,000 Buckeye fans the marching band spells the word “Ohio” on the field. The climax comes when one of the sousaphone players dots the “I”. He struts to a tuft of grass marked out by the drum major, then bows to the crowd. And if you’re watching this from the sidelines – from ground level – the band’s movements look chaotic and confusing. It’s only when you’re high in the bleachers, or in the blimp, that you see what is being spelled out on the field. And this is true with gender. We are actors in a divine drama. God has a role for women to play, and a role for men to play. By each gender’s faithfulness we spell out heavy, eternal, spiritual truths. But these roles can only be understood and appreciated from God’s vantage point. You have got to get above human logic.
Christians need to realize God has a purpose for the sexes that is embodied in the roles He has assigned to men and women, and far more than 105,000 fans are looking on. In discussing these matters with the Corinthians, Paul says we are providing lessons to the angels. The heavenly host sits in the bleachers, and watches the symbolism our relationships express on the field. When a husband loves his wife, or a man stands up to lead His church, he illustrates Christ’s care for His own. When a wife follows her husband’s leadership, or a sister in the church falls in line behind the pastor and elders, she teaches the world our attitude toward Christ. But when men don’t lead, or women refuse to let them by picking up the mantle of leadership themselves, it distorts and dilutes the Gospel message. How can we possibly think this no big deal to the Lord who saved us? God teaches big truths through gender!
And don’t let anyone tell you that the New Testament passages on male and female were meant only for ancient cultures. That’s patently false. Whenever the New Testament explains gender roles, it takes its readers back to Genesis. In 1 Timothy 2:12 when Paul writes, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man…” he immediately references the parents of us all, Adam and Eve. Male leadership is a creation principle, not a cultural accommodation. Gender transcends culture. Here is the issue, are we truly Bible-driven, or do we just use the Bible at our own convenience, and to support our own agenda?
Several years ago Chuck Smith was asked a question about this subject on his call-in radio show, “Pastor’s Perspective.” Pastor Chuck’s response was simple: “All we have to stand upon is the Word of God… Either it’s God’s Word or it’s not God’s Word… It’s either our guide or it’s not our guide… I don’t have to agree with it, I just need to follow it.” It really is quite simple, do we trust God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom? The opinions of men are fleeting and fickle, but God’s Word is timeless. Hopefully, we will remain committed to God’s way, regardless of how politically incorrect it might become.
In the days ahead, I am sure our biblical convictions regarding gender will be questioned, and criticized, and tested. The more mired down the Church gets in this world, the less it sees life from heaven’s perspective. I hope and pray that we, as Calvary Chapel pastors, will hold fast to God’s Word, and may our tenacity be evident in our approach to gender roles in the home and in the church.