Over the past few years, I have become consciously aware that some serious challenges and tension are in store for the Messianic movement. We are going through some growing pains, and issues are on the horizon that too many are unprepared for. The world at large is certainly not getting any less complicated, and globalization and the mass market mean that old ways of doing things may not necessarily work any more in the Twenty-First Century. Both the Jewish Synagogue and Christian Church are beginning to recognize this—which means the responsibility for Messianics is twice as high as it is for your average Jew or Christian. We need to be a people stirred to action, and guided by the Holy Spirit as we prepare to enter into a new chapter of our development.
This one verse written by the Apostle Paul speaks of a new status for human beings that has been inaugurated via the sacrificial work of Yeshua, as God’s people are to be united as “one person” (NEB), actively accomplishing His tasks in the Earth. At times, we do find Galatians 3:28 quoted among those in our Messianic faith community, but its ramifications are not often fully considered or probed for their significant spiritual power. Current and severe developments in the Messianic movement in our day—with the future steadily looming—require that we take a fresh look at this verse, what its message of equality means for us, and things that we are certainly missing as we seek to be those who are useful in the Lord’s work. This single verse asks us many difficult questions about both Biblical equality and why the Messianic community seems to have less unity and more rivalry.
To many people in today’s broad Messianic movement, the issues involving the place of husbands and wives in the family, as well as men and women in the local assembly, is a done deal. Husbands lead the family, and wives abide by their husbands’ decisions. Men lead the congregation, and women are there to help facilitate congregational functions. Any position about men and women in the Body of Messiah which might invoke terms such as co-equal, shared responsibility, and mutual submission are often viewed as compromise with the prevailing culture at best, or capitulation to liberal theology at worst. You do not just throw around the term “egalitarian” in the Messianic movement, unless you really are willing to experience some blowback.
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.
Having a Torah foundation requires Bible students to encounter some uncomfortable and controversial matters. Ancient Israel was commanded to annihilate the Canaanites. Man and woman before the Fall were equals.
At a recent conference celebrating his fifty years in ministry, John MacArthur was asked a two-word question: “Beth Moore.” His response: “Go home!” MacArthur is well known for supporting a complementarian doctrine that only males are allowed to lead and teach in the ekklēsia, and so Moore, as a woman found teaching a mixed groups of females and males, stands in stark contrast to such an ideology.
I am very concerned about the wide number of Messianic men and women I see in their twenties and thirties (and even forties) who are unmarried. What are they going to do if they are unable to find a spouse?
Complementarians frequently will conclude that “Mankind fell from grace because Adam did not lead, permitting his wife to lead and be deceived by the serpent.” Is this really an appropriate way to consider the Fall of humanity in the Garden?