Egalitarianism and the Role of Women in the Church

“The central disease in the sexual revolution is the egalitarianism that drives everything else. Because it begins by setting aside portions of the plain Word of God, it ends by us discovering that the hidden intent the entire time was to dispense with the entire Word of God. And when that happens, there is no law to convict and no gospel to save.” — Douglas Wilson

From the beginning, the enemies of God have not directly attacked God Himself, but instead have attacked His subjects, using deceit to convince them that Scripture is not true, that God is not who He says He is. They do this in order to foment rebellion against Him. Satan sought to convince Eve that God was not good and that He was a liar (Genesis 3:1-7). The medieval Catholic Church sought to convince people that salvation rests not in God but in the church. The Deists of the 17th and 18th centuries sought to convince people that God was a benevolent but distant creator who has left us to fend for ourselves. All of this was geared toward making humans believe, like Eve, they can be like Him.

More recently, the enemies of God have become bolder by proclaiming that God does not exist at all.  Now, humans don’t need to strive to be like God; since He doesn’t exist, they can strive to be Him.

Of course, the problem with convincing people that God doesn’t exist is that the evidence of God’s existence—creation—surrounds us (Romans 1:19-20). In an attempt to counter the evidence, then, His enemies make up stories under the guise of science that eliminate the need for God the Creator. Two prime examples are the multiverse and evolutionary hypotheses; if an inert world can spawn itself from nothing (the multiverse) and subsequently spawn life from its inertness (evolution), then there is no need for a creator to account for creation (Genesis 1:1-26).

Yet there is another problem for those who would suppress the truth of God’s existence. His eternal power and divine nature are clearly perceived not only in creation because it exists, but also in creation’s functionality—who but God could design such a complex and well-functioning world! And about the most fundamental aspect of creation’s functionality is that related to men and women, in particular the distinction between them: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The problem for the enemies of God here is twofold: in order to eliminate the evidence of God the Creator with respect to the existence of men and women, not only do they have to eliminate the internal (spiritual) distinction between men and women, but they must also eliminate the external (physical) distinction between men and women.

Thus we have the nations raging and the people plotting in vain (Psalm 2:1) against God by turning to egalitarianism: there must be no distinction between men and women (except when distinction is convenient). Women can be men in the pulpit and boardroom, men can be women in the bedroom and locker room. Or, better yet, by visiting the doctor men can actually become women and women can become men. “See, there is no distinction,” they say. “And thus no God.”

So as the church takes up the issue of what roles women have in our worship, ministries, operations, and community, we must do so in the context that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle, with the world using egalitarianism in its attempt to eliminate any of the God-designed distinction between men and women. We also undertake this in the context of the church being prone to being taken “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world” (Colossians 2:8), rather than being salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

We see this even today as egalitarianism has for some time been creeping into the church. Thus we have a spectrum of different approaches among which we have to discern even in the one area of worship: many denominations today allow the ordination of women so that they may lead worship; many churches don’t go that far but allow women to read Scripture and/or lead prayers in worship; some churches split the difference by allowing only ordained men to participate in either of those; and many other churches still allow men—but not women—to read and teach.

So we must ask ourselves, what does the Bible say about the role of women in the church in regard to these and other practices? The answer to this question is much clearer than most would claim when we believe what the Bible says. And it becomes even clearer by putting this conversation in the context of the assault on God and the church’s tendency to succumb to the spirits of the world. Though the citizens of the world hate clarity, those of us in the church must overcome our natural tendencies and strive for clarity, for in it we find the very Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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