In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the fictional language imposed upon the characters by the totalitarian government is Newspeak. This language consisted of specific vocabulary and simplified grammar approved by the government that met certain ideological requirements and was meant to limit not just the speech of the masses, but their very thoughts. Newspeak imposed itself upon every facet of self-expression and free will so much so that those who are familiar with the book will remember the eventual criminalizing of ideas as “thoughtcrime.” It’s no wonder books like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World are at the top of book sales in these past few months as we’ve seen an uptick in propaganda promoting the idea of limiting words, phrases, and yes even ideas. Thoughtcrime has become a recurring joke on social media, but it rings true in a terrifying way. Even big social media platforms like Twitter have begun indoctrinating the masses with Newspeak words and phrases that are meant to include, but in actuality hinder creativity, freedom of expression, and create and sow division among people groups of different ethnicities, religions, and ideologies.
Egalitarians base their argument for indifference with respect to gender in society, the home, and the pulpit on the idea that men and women are created equally. This post series has argued that when it comes to creation order and its implication for ‘gender roles’ in the church, Southern Baptists do not all differ from the world or from egalitarians. Recent rhetoric regarding women teaching, and even preaching, to men in the SBC, is of some concern. It seems like everywhere we turn, we find ourselves covered up in egalitarian patterns of thought.
In his 2006 article, “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians are Winning the Gender Debate” (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, vol. 49, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 569–76), Russell D. Moore describes how, “Egalitarians are winning the evangelical gender debate, not because their arguments are stronger, but because, in some sense, we are all egalitarians now.” (576) The current state of the SBC is even worse than Moore predicted. In fact, Moore seems to have not only given up on resisting what he calls a feminist movement, but may have contributed to it.
There’s a common misconception going around in some circles that anyone who professes Christ yet believes women can be called to the pastorate or preach to men cannot be a true Christian. This is demonstrably untrue. When people believe that women can be preachers called by God it doesn’t necessarily mean those people aren’t Christian, it just means they’re wrong.
But what do the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention think? Southern Baptists reached an agreement about this issue a long time ago and they believe it’s not only theologically incorrect to have women preach, but sinful for women to take up the role of preaching as it goes against explicit commands given in God’s word. This is why women preaching in the Southern Baptist Convention is such an obviously divisive issue.
In part three of my critique of Jen Wilkin speaking on what pastors need to know about women, I will be focusing on Wilkin’s claim that women should be dignified with pay that reflects their service and workload.
Is there anything inherently wrong with wanting women to be rewarded well for our hard work, expertise, and unique perspectives? Of course not. Being a good steward includes stewarding resources for wages as well as shepherding and discipling those women to serve in ways women can do best. Women have specific strengths that can contribute mightily to discipleship and the well-being of any church. If there is a woman or multiple women in your church or ministry who contribute their creativity and wisdom in ways that glorify God, it is an altogether good thing to take note of those women and if possible, pay them for that work. In 1 Corinthians 9:9-14 Paul writes to the Corinthian church and urges them to provide for those who sow spiritual things among them, namely their leadership. Just as the priests in the temple shared in the sacrificial offerings as their food, it is important we now see those who work bountifully in the church as the same. Provision for them is not only acceptable, it is good and commanded by God.
In this second part of my critique of Jen Wilkin’s talk given at the Acts29 Regional Conference, I will focus on the feminist agenda behind much of Wilkin’s words. Wilkin starts off by listing:
“What do we need from women as a church?”
- We need women’s unique perspective.
- We need women’s relational capital.
- We need women in visible leadership. (Here Wilkin qualifies her statement to say as visible as your church’s complementarianism will allow.)
I’m not going to cover the first two points of this question because I think it’s fairly obvious that what Wilkin has to say about women in these is not only true, but helpful. We do need female perspective in the Church and we do very much need their relational capital. Women tend to have very special relational skills which are evident if you’ve spent any amount of time around groups of women. Instead, I’m going to focus on her third and most hyperbolic statement so far.
Last week, Jen Wilkin, a well-known Christian author and Bible teacher, made a troubling statement at the Acts 29 Regional Conference concerning Women in the Church. About two and a half minutes into what she had to say, Wilkin claimed, “Women’s bodies, every 28 days, tell them a parable about the shedding of blood for the renewing of life.”
Our culture hates humility and femininity, so you can imagine what the culture thinks of humble and feminine women. I personally have suffered from the consequences of my own sinful desires to be in control of my marriage, and to be constantly thought strong and proud. I gave into the desire to see myself as the head of the family, I bought cultural lies about feminism and shed many tears over the constant tug-a-war my heart and spirit played concerning my longing to sin versus personal conviction about that sin. In eight years of marriage, my husband and I have fought endlessly over this struggle. Looking back, I am thankful God created him with a gentle and calm spirit, that our warring was mostly me in sin, with him graciously and mercifully standing in the way to keep me from further sin and leading me back to truth. In those years, I wore myself down spiritually and emotionally day after day engaging in things that wreaked havoc on me as a Christian and as a woman. It was only in the last year that I realized God was using all of those moments to painfully strip layer after layer of pride, resentment, and doubt surrounding my heart. The good news is God sanctifies His people despite our depravity. He will not allow any of His children to remain in sin, and He will use our faithlessness to point us back to His perfect faithfulness.
Recently someone said that perhaps it would be best for local churches to give the Southern Baptist Convention “the boot” while going on to live in harmony with one another. Naturally, as a church planter’s wife in a state that is less than 3% evangelical Christian and whose family depends heavily on financial support we raise from several SBC churches as well as financial support given to us by the North American Mission Board (NAMB), this struck a nerve.