Baptist Mag – Different by Design in the Church

12 Mar

The Baptist Magazine in New Zealand seems to have stopped posting their articles online. Therefore, I will post the ones I’ve written over the past few months here.

Different by Design

As a follow-on from last month’s column I want to consider whether there is Biblical warrant to hold to a view where men and woman fulfil different roles and functions within the church. I believe there is.

Let me reiterate, I believe the Scriptures teach men and women are entirely equal in dignity, value, and worth before God. They have both been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and they both have equal standing before God in salvation (Gal. 3:28).

However, this equality does not remove the complementarian role distinctions.

We see God display His wisdom and glory in His church by designing different roles and functions for men and women. In 1 Timothy 2:13, Paul grounds this difference in role and function in God’s order of creation. Just four verses later, Paul clearly teaches that the office of elder/bishop/pastor is to be occupied by someone who is “the husband of one wife” (“a one woman man”) – a male.

In 1 Corinthians 11:11-16, Paul grounds this distinction in role both in creation and in the trinity. There is a functional, authority role distinction in the Trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son. As a result, it is no surprise that God would create humans and design His church to reflect this aspect of His own nature.

As we consider the overall teaching of both the Old and New Testaments it is difficult to set aside the prominence of God ordained male headship as simply an archaic system which is rooted in a particular time and place, but no longer valid today.

Of course the Bible also clearly outlines how these men are to lead. Their leadership is to be humble, sacrificial, and for the good of those God has given to their care. One (of many) aspects of this leadership will involve encouraging, and helping the ladies in their care to develop their gifts and serve effectively within the body of Christ in roles reflecting God’s design. (I will seek to develop this in next month’s column.)

Obviously much more could be, has been, and will be said on this. There are times when this subject is presented in a way that seems to indicate no one today believes men and women ought to fill different roles in the church as designed by God. However, at a minimum, it is clear that one can love Christ, His church (including the women and men which make up His church), and consistently interpret Scripture in such a way where God’s designed, complementary differences are upheld.

May Christ be magnified and God glorified in His church as we seek to follow His design for our good.


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