by Ericka Stephens-Rennie
About a month back, some people within my faith community started an email discussion about sexuality and female v. male roles and the church. I’m still mulling over much of what was said (and hope to write more here soon), but here’s a taste while you’re waiting.
Part of our discussion revolved around an article entitled “How the Church Emasculated Men.” His answer? Men leave the church because church as we know it is feminine and pushes out all masculinity (people…music…décor…etc.). Furthermore, the author suggests, churches focus on the needs of women rather than men.
The article’s author, Tristan Emmanuel is polemical: “The solution is simple. Start encouraging men in the church to be men – not women in drag.” Emmanuel goes on to note that feminism – a force of evil – is partly to blame for the situation.
And then, today, I came across this article from self-proclaimed “soft complementarian,” Mark Strauss. Strauss describes the debate between the “complementarians” and “egalitarians.” He adds this to the debate:
“As a seminary professor…I also see many churches in crisis, often losing staff and sometimes splitting. But I have never seen a church in crisis because a woman was trying to assert her authority over a man. Rather, the causes are always the same: pride, self-centeredness, desire for control, an inability to get along with others. And in almost every case, males are the primary offenders. The greatest danger to our churches is not creeping feminism, it is human sin and our inability to humbly submit in love to one another. When we start valuing and loving one another like Christ loved the church, I am convinced that these struggles over church leadership will disappear. I don’t see women clamoring to take over the church. I see them looking for the opportunity to exercise their gifts and calling as equals in the body of Christ.”
He also writes something that I have long thought (though he writes it much more succinctly). Namely, that creating a rule structure that is external to God and the Bible doesn’t leave much room for God.
“When it comes to using people for his purpose, it doesn’t seem to me God ever limits his options. If God could speak to Balaam through a donkey, if God could deliver Israel through a whiner like Moses, if God could turn the world upside down with a bunch of faith-challenged disciples, indeed, if God can use me with all my failings, then it would be pretty arrogant to say that God can’t use anyone he chooses.”
What are your thoughts about feminism in the church? I invite you to read Mark Strauss’s whole article, and then leave a comment.