Executive Director’s Column -- By: Randy L. Stinson
JBMW 9:1 (Spring 2004) p. 4
Executive Director’s Column
Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Louisville, Kentucky
“Why can’t we all just get along?” was the final question at a recent gender roles debate in which I opposed Alan Padgett from Luther Seminary. It was part of a breakout session at the national convention of the Evangelical Press Association. I know the woman who asked the question meant well. She framed her question in such a way as to emphasize “Christian unity” over “doctrinal unity” with the point that since egalitarians and complementarians can both be Christians, and since committed Christians disagree on the issue, it should not matter which position one holds.
My mind immediately recalled Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus and his constant reminders to hold fast to the Word and to deal decisively with those who undermine sound doctrine. Paul knew that there is a constant fleshly pull that draws human beings to all sorts of arbiters other than the Bible. When we are going through a hardship, we first call a friend instead of turning to the pages of the Psalms. When we doubt God’s provision for us, we turn to our pastor instead of first going to the words of Jesus. When we are angry, we look for one who will justify us instead of looking to the text of Proverbs. In much of evangelicalism today, we would rather give someone another book instead of pointing them to the pages of Scripture where they can read the very words of God.
This fleshly pull has impacted how the current gender discussion is progressing. Over and over, complementarians continue to restate the biblical position and articulate a compelling vision of God’s beautiful design for men and women. Yet much of our time is spent defending God’s design against the seemingly endless onslaught of new interpretations, new definitions, and new approaches from the egalitarian subset of evangelicalism.
William Webb claims that we need to look outside of the New Testament for a better ethic regarding the roles of men and women. In other words the NT gives us a trajectory to follow that is realized after the NT was written. Kevin Giles claims that we cannot look to the Bible to settle these types of disputes, but that we should look to church history instead. Alan Padgett, at our debate, asserted that not only does the church submit to Christ, but Christ submits to the church by his death for the church. For him, since Christ serves the church, he is submitting to the church. By redefining the word “submit,” Padgett potentially has turned the entire Christian life on its head. How then will we understand the lordship of Christ? To whom is our obedience required? Will we speak of Christ obeying us?
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