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What does the Bible say about women in church leadership?  The complementarian case.

Alright here goes, the theological issue that has single-handedly kept me awake at night more than any other: Women in church leadership (Can women be pastors, elders, etc.?).  Maybe it’s cut and dry for you; it used to be for me as well.  Maybe by the end of reading what I’m about to write, you’ll be awake at night too!  And maybe not.  Whatever the case, please read both of my articles on this topic.  I am publishing them simultaneously with the express purpose of helping one side see the merit in the other and to help address some of the many misunderstandings out there.  The two posts are:

The Accusation from Complementarians: Egalitarians are not Biblical.

The Accusation from Egalitarians: Complementarians are Sexist & Oppressors.

The reason the topic of women in ministry leadership has deprived me of so much sleep is because of my love for hermeneutics and because of my deep conviction that the Bible is God’s word.  If you throw out any of it, how can you trust any of it?  Hermeneutics refers to how we interpret the Bible, taking into account the cultural context, the author, the audience etc. and figuring out how to apply the timeless truth of a passage to today, a very different context from when it was written (i.e. Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.).  Some passages of Scripture require no hermeneutics at all.  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and Galatians 1:6-9 are some homeruns in this category–so clean, so clear, so refreshing.  If only all texts were this way.  In all honesty, as I’ve thoroughly studied the Bible’s women in church leadership texts, I often feel exasperated that both views seem unbiblical!  And then I can’t sleep…

Some quick vocab:

Egalitarian – The belief that women and men are equal when it comes to church leadership.  That women can be senior / lead pastors or elders in the same way that men can.

Complementarian – The belief that women and men are different in function, but complement one another when it comes to church leadership.  Only men can be elders / lead pastors.

There is a relatively wide spectrum within each camp, but this gives you a basic framework so you can follow along.

While there is a related debate about men and women’s household roles, I will be focusing on church leadership roles.  Onward:

The Accusation from Egalitarians: Complementarians are Sexist & Oppressors

Due to their heart and convincing biblical argument, I will attempt to show that to accuse complementarians of being sexist or oppressors is to accuse God and the Bible of this.

Source: Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church by Kevin DeYoung

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Photo Credit: Eugene Connors

Photo Credit: Eugene Connors

I attended one of 300 nationwide protests of Planned Parenthood this morning, along with 175 other people in Lansing, MI.  I’ve never attended a protest before, but after seeing this invitation and explanation from Pastor John Piper and doing some homework on what Planned Parenthood has been up to, I decided to attend this one.  Some key points:


  • This was a protest of the national organization Planned Parenthood, not of our specific Planned Parenthood branch in Lansing.  Our specific Planned Parenthood branch does not do abortions within its walls, it does referrals, but many Planned Parenthood’s do the actual abortions within their own walls.
  • I have always thought that instead of making women who are getting abortions feel bad, resources for adoption and help with their pregnancy and/or raising the child should be promoted to them.  I was pleased that this is what was promoted today, including representation from many local organizations and ministries that do exactly that.
  • Protesting Planned Parenthood: Abortions, Selling Baby Parts for Profit While Getting My Tax Dollars #DefundPlannedParenthoodThe mood of our protest was very peaceful and loving to all.  There was no heckling or shouting.  I was planning to leave if there was.  (The only heckling or hate was from pro-choice folks driving by, more on that later)  In fact where we were positioned, we were in view of cars driving into a large outdoor shopping center, not in direct view of pedestrians walking into Planned Parenthood.  The vast majority of the signs were both informative and moving.  Only one person had a sign with a mangled baby on it from an abortion, something I wish wasn’t there but was glad it was only one rogue sign and not the dominant mood of the protest.
  • The Planned Parenthood protests today were unique in that they are in direct response to the undercover investigation videos that have been released about how Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts for profit.  You can view all of the videos at The Center for Medical Progress’ website.  Here’s one:

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