What part can the men play in this? If this is just a movement of women, it will by default become a feminist movement. This is not what we want. However, if the men will join is in promoting women and encouraging them to take their place alongside them on the frontlines, it will become a Kingdom movement. Where are the men who will join us?
On the few occasions when we speak on this subject, we find women coming up to us in tears, deeply hurt by the attitude of the church towards women over the years. Several times more recently, however, we have been in situations where the Lord has led the men in a gathering to repent over the attitude of the church to women. They, often with tears, have confessed, both at a personal and a corporate level, the wrongs done to women, and then released them to go out and be everything God is calling them to be. These times have always been profoundly healing for the women involved.
My husband, Tony, has long been a champion of women. He is a very gifted communicator but he came to realize that the only way I would speak out was if he kept quiet. For many husbands, the best way they will help their wives to contribute meaningfully and strategically is to willingly stand down and joyfully promote their wives’ gifts. At first the women will not do as well as the men would have done, but in the longer term, this will allow the women to take their rightful place as equal ministers alongside them in the Kingdom.
We have some African American friends who God is using in remarkable ways. But they have chosen service as their way of operating within the Kingdom. They have willingly embraced slavery (to Jesus and His body). As women, we have many centuries of service in the body of Christ behind us. We could demand our rights and militantly seize position or prominence as a reaction to the injustices of the past. I do not believe God will bless this. Let’s humbly, and with a spirit of service, move alongside the men into whatever God chooses to bless us with.
The day of women in the Kingdom is approaching fast. We have seen how some men have approached leadership in the Church in the past—competition and rivalry, lording over and putting down, forging ahead while ignoring women. Let’s not go that road. This is a time for us to bridge the gap and bring healing to the body of Christ. Let’s choose to die to our ambition and agendas. We don’t want the limelight or the prominence. And let’s serve Jesus with all our hearts alongside the men and see His Kingdom come.
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4 replies on “What can men do to set women free?”
I am male and I have been interested to read your ongoing discussion of these gender matters, and you will be pleased to know I generally agree with you. I am not an official in a denominational church so I don’t oppress nor am I in a position to change anything there. My wife and have worked as a team of equals since before we were married 43 years ago, so I don’t think there is much needing doing there either. And I note that younger generations where I live (Australia) seem to naturally behave more equally – even when strict teaching confines them to some traditional roles, their hearts don’t seem to be oppressed.
But I think there are other matters which flow from this. If we take this view of gender roles, or lack of them, then we are actually saying something about the Bible and how we interpret it. I think that would be a change in most people’s official doctrines, though less of a change to the doctrine they practically hold. And I think those changes would be right and necessary. But we need to recognise that big issues (for some people) are at stake.
The changes would involve a greater emphasis on the Spirit in guidance and knowing truth, including in Bible interpretation (which would be a big improvement on basing interpretation on close study of esoteric nuances in the Greek), an openness to change rather than holding onto tradition, in effect a setting of the Bible free to be what God and its human authors intended and what the Spirit interprets today. But that will not be a small change, and it will be even harder fought than the one you are suggesting here, and it will take time.
So I suggest our prayer and our practice needs to recognise the depth of what I believe God is doing here, and go with the flow.
Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I completely agree, and pray that God will give us great wisdom as we tackle these sensitive subjects. We are seeking to overturn centuries of tradition and, I believe, patriarchal scholarship. I’m guessing that Australia, like the UK currently, has much less gender bias than here in the States, at least at a practical level because of the increased secularization of society. The freedom of following the Holy Spirit into change in doctrine or understanding, as you say, is of paramount importance.
I’ve been thinking about this question since you posted it.
For me, one thing men can do to set me free is to not tease me about my beliefs about women in leadership. Some men in my house church know this is a sensitive issue for me, and, like school-boys, they tease me about it. For instance, I’ve been using the TNIV for awhile because of the gender-neutral language they use particularly in Paul’s writings. I catch a lot of grief about that because it’s a controversial version of the Bible.
I imagine they tease because it’s a sensitive topic for them, too, and humor is a way to diffuse the tension. So far I’ve rolled with it trying to not stir up anything, but I think after reading all these posts and listening to John White and Tony’s thoughts I might need to ask these guys to stop if/when it happens again. I think I’ve remained silent about it like a woman is taught to do.
Pray about it, but I think it would be good to tackle the subject head-on, at least the teasing part. I wouldn’t be surprised if the men in your house church had no idea that they were causing you problems with their teasing. Now, whether they will agree with your views on women is another matter, but they should at least be sensitive to your feelings about being teased.
Your last sentence speaks volumes! Isn’t that the issue: women have stayed silent on many topics for so long because they have thought that was what they were supposed to do. I believe God is in the process of changing that — not because women are becoming rebellious, but because God is releasing them to be everything he has designed them to be, including in strategic leadership roles.