Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering 50 Crucial Questions

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POSTED 04 JANUARY, 2018

Anyone who receives a broad-based theological education today, will quickly find that there are a number of issues upon which scholars, congregational leaders, and laypersons not only disagree about—but will starkly divide over. One of the biggest, divisive issues in contemporary evangelical Protestant theology, involves women in ministry. There are Christian denominations which support females serving alongside of males as co-leaders of the assembly, ordained as pastors, and there are other Christian denominations which strongly oppose females serving in such a capacity. When it comes to marital relationships, there are those who support marriages where husband and wife are co-leaders of the family, and there are others who believe that a husband leads the family while the wife follows.

More books, articles, analyses, refutations, counter-refutations, blogs, and op-ed pieces, have been composed on men and women in the Body of Messiah, than one frequently knows what to do with! Over the years, I have gathered and collected many pieces of information on debates over women in ministry, husbands and wives in marriage, and the differing and complex feelings of people involved—which have certainly overwhelmed me at times. As someone who likes to be well-informed and logically sort through the different perspectives involving a debate like how males and females should relate to one another in the community of God—I have had to definitely pace myself and choose my words carefully. Like many on both sides of the discussion, I have been affected by emotionalism, and cannot say that I have never been offended by some of the positions I have seen represented or opinions expressed.

Evangelical Christian complementarianism is an ideology,[1] which on the whole, has been responsible for seeing many capable females being restricted from not only high leadership positions in the Body of Messiah, but also placed into a secondary role in the family. Evangelical Christian egalitarianism has helped to see many capable females raised up as leaders and teachers,[2] and has also greatly enhanced the effectiveness of many marriages where husbands and wives share leadership responsibilities and look out for each other as equal partners. Each position, for sure, thinks that their point of view is the one which is more Biblical. Certainly, there are many different interrelated topics and issues associated with males and females in the Body of Messiah, regarding sexual conduct, dating and courting, as well as divorce and remarriage. However, the considerable bulk of discussions involving men and women concern leadership and teaching within the ekklēsia, and how husbands and wives are to relate to one another within the family. Has a complementarian ideology truly aided the community of faith, or is an egalitarian ideology something especially worthy of consideration?

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reproduced from the publication Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering Crucial Questions

Anyone who receives a broad-based theological education today, will quickly find that there are a number of issues upon which scholars, congregational leaders, and laypersons not only disagree about—but will starkly divide over. One of the biggest, divisive issues in contemporary evangelical Protestant theology, involves women in ministry. There are Christian denominations which support females serving alongside of males as co-leaders of the assembly, ordained as pastors, and there are other Christian denominations which strongly oppose females serving in such a capacity. When it comes to marital relationships, there are those who support marriages where husband and wife are co-leaders of the family, and there are others who believe that a husband leads the family while the wife follows.

It is no secret that in both Conservative and Reform Judaism, as well as in many evangelical Protestant denominations, that both men and women can be ordained as either rabbis or pastors. For certain, both men and women can serve side-by-side within the leadership structure of various local synagogues and churches, as both facilitators and teachers. In stark contrast to this, most Messianic congregations are led entirely by males, few females serve within the leadership structure of the assembly, and almost no females would be expected to give a teaching on Shabbat. This is then widely reflected in the marriages of many Messianic men and women, where the husband is the leader of the family, and the wife is expected to follow and defer to him. In terms of congregational and familial leadership, the broad Messianic movement is a virtual carbon copy of complementarian Protestantism, where male leadership and authority is upheld as the ideal.

The Messianic community is hardly one-hundred percent complementarian. There are many people who attend male-led and male-directed Messianic assemblies, who keep their opinions to themselves. More frequently than not, those who are egalitarian leaning, are younger people. When such young men and young women ask legitimate questions from the Holy Scriptures, they are often patronized, ignored, and silenced. A refusal to address the concerns of what is commonly labeled the “Millennial generation,” could very well lead to seeing many young people in today’s Messianic movement leave at a later time. This resource, Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering Crucial Questions, engages with both Christian complementarian as well as common perspectives regarding gender roles witnessed in the broad Messianic community. It reflects an emerging egalitarian philosophy, where the gifts, talents, and skills of all Messianic men and women can be employed within our congregations and fellowships.

354 pages