The Burden of Proof
Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church.
A close look at many churches will reveal that a central problem is the lack of biblical maturity among the men of the congregation and a lack of biblical knowledge that leaves men ill equipped and completely unprepared to exercise spiritual leadership.
Boys must know their way around the biblical text, and feel at home in the study of God's Word. They must stand ready to take their place as leaders in the local church.
While God has appointed specific officers for his church — men who are specially gifted and publicly called — every man should fulfill some leadership responsibility within the life of the congregation. For some men, this may mean a less public role of leadership than is the case with others. In any event, a man should be able to teach someone, and to lead in some ministry, translating his personal discipleship into the fulfillment of a godly call.
There is a role of leadership for every man in every church, whether that role is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial. A man should know how to pray before others, to present the Gospel, and to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.
When I read this, I have but one question: Why?
Seriously: What about having external genitals makes a man more qualified or more suited to be a leader, so much so that it becomes a necessary part of his development as a person?
This is the one question no one who espouses gender roles has ever been able to answer.
Of course, there’s the “God made us this way and we’re fulfilling that role in an ideal world,” but there are enough counterexamples (Deborah, Esther, Phoebe, the women at the tomb) and cultural context to argue that God-given gender roles are vague at best and mistakenly and dangerously applied at worst.
I always try to err on the side of grace, especially when it comes to traditional church issues that people I love have been hurt by. To me, it simply makes much more sense for Christians to step back and say “Okay, I don’t necessarily think this is true, and I can see, from the way that this theology has been implemented, that it does not pull people (on the whole) toward a loving relationship with Christ. And so I’m going to stop harping on it, and let people come to Christ as they are, not as I think they should be.”
We seem to forget the role that the Church has played in oppressing and harming marginalized groups in society, and when we subsequently take this oppression as a God-given role for the marginalized to play, we wander into very dangerous territory. We err on the side of “being right” rather than on the side of mercy and grace, which should make us very uncomfortable, as people who claim to have been afforded much mercy.
I will be covering this more fully in a blog post tomorrow, but this must be noted: I have never once been given a suitable response as to why having a certain form of anatomy makes my boyfriend more qualified to be a voice in the church than me, even if it is “is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial … to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.” And until I do, well, my dear, it appears we are at an impasse.