Thursday, October 25, 2007

Church Discipline Debate #8

A fellow over here asked me if I would participate in an online debate about church discipline a few weeks ago and I said I would. For the next few entries, I’ll be putting up his questions and my answers, just in case they might encourage you.

8) Most believe that in the bible both Jesus and Paul placed an obligation to follow God above the obligation to home for both men and woman. Do you agree with that assessment? For example in looking at the lives of many of the female saints, they disobeyed husbands, fathers and secular rulers in their desire to carry out what they saw as God's plans. [These two sentences split off in first response] Do you agree that woman can be called in this way? And if so how is that compatible with the view of membership as presented?

I would agree with the first part. Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). So if the question is do I obey God or man, the answer is always, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

The problem in the second part comes when you ask, what is God's will for my life or for the life of the wife in a family. The clear things of God are the ground for, and the lens through which we look at the unclear and subjective things claiming to be the will of God. The Scriptures are clear that the wife should submit to her husband (1 Pet. 3:1-6). The Bible says nothing about a man's wife going off to a convent or to start a TV ministry. Those might be nice things to do, but they are not as clear or obvious as how wife is to relate to her husband. If the husband is not trying to get his wife to sin, what he says fits under the authority of the specific passages on how a wife lives with her husband. So if Mr. Smith tells his wife that he wants her to stay at home and teach their children how to love God and serve him forever but she wants to go and be a muckety muck at the local hardware store, she will be in sin if she leaves the home to muck about; even if she claims that it is God's will. It is not God's will to go against what God has clearly laid out in his word. It is God's will to do what God specifically says, which in this case is to do what her husband has said.

[See note above]Do you agree that woman can be called in this way? And if so how is that compatible with the view of membership as presented?

I've lost you here too. Called in what way? To do what? And what does this have to do with membership?

These two sentences were part of the above. So the question is can a woman be called to server god in a way that would necessitate her disobedience to a husband a father or a secular leader? What it has to do with membership is that membership in the church is contingent on female obedience. So if you were agreeing that a woman could be called in this way, the membership rules could end up excommunicating a woman for obeying God's calls. Conversely if you had stated that a woman cannot be called in this way then the question asked what about the female saints who did disobey were they really not saints?

God's gifts never give a woman a reason to sin by not being respectful or submissive to her husband or the leaders in the church that God has placed over them. There have been, and currently are, many women who are living in sin because they have stepped into the holes in their lives left by husbands and male leaders who have abdicated their God given roles. But while the men's lack of leadership is sin, this is not a valid reason for women to jump onto the band wagon and join in the sinning.

When men lead in a godly, loving, and consistent way the women don't see any need to take up the reins and lead. So the answer to women leading isn't yelling at the women, it is yelling at the men. Men need to suck it up and gird up their loins and be godly, biblical men.

There are at least two problems with women filling the void left by their abdicating men: First, they are in sin when they usurp the leadership roles of their men (as I've mentioned above) and second, their jumping into the void almost certainly seals the fate of their men ever taking up the mantle of leadership. Once women get into leadership, men will not lead anymore (if they ever did in the first place). They may not be man enough to lead in the ways God has commanded, but they are man enough not to let their women lead. So, when they abdicate and the women jump in, the men back off and never come back.

So what is the answer? If the men won't lead, the women need to follow 1 Peter 3:1-6 and let the lights go out, the garbage pile up, the water run, etc. Don't take up his slack. Don't fulfill those things in the home that are his responsibility. Go on doing what God has called you to do and make sure that you pay special attention that part in 1 Peter 3 where it says "without a word." This means not a sign of discontent, not a word, not a glare, not a folded arms "hmmph", not a rolled eye, not a burnt toast. Without a word means let your glowing, godly life shine on your disobedient husband or church leader. Continue to look for ways to respect them and be their greatest , even if the house is sitting in darkness because he forgot to pay the electric bill. Let the Holy Spirit of God work on him. And you are not the Holy Spirit of God.

If you try to fix the situation or the man, you will fail at every turn and you will be going directly against the command of God and that is sin.

Someone will point to churches that women pastors and make mention that there are men on their boards, but I have never seen or heard of a church where women are pastors where the men were worth much as men. They might argue with me about that in front of their women leaders, but they wouldn't in private. A man who is being led by his wife has really checked out of the family; he's off watching TV, or off playing with the boys, or out hunting, or into some sort of vial sin. Its just the way God made men and women.

To answer your last question, a woman in leadership over men is not necessarily reprobate. She might be, but she might also simply be a confused and sinful believer.

I hope this helps.

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