Monthly Archives: March 2015

Be careful with the submission caveat

It is so common for complementarians to say, “wives, submit to your husband UNLESS they command you to sin.” That goes for any authority-submission relationship. But if you are ever studying or teaching one of those passages, I would urge you to be very careful with the submission caveat. If you are teaching, say, Ephesians 5: “wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” I would just as well say, don’t teach the exception to that command when you are teaching that passage. Or at most give very, very brief pause to it. Just some things to think about that lead me to that conclusion:

  • The exception is not the point of “wives, submit to your husbands.” If you want to teach the point of the passage, teach men and women what submission looks like, not what it does NOT look like! I cannot stress this enough. Christians (at least in the West) seem to have a harder time understanding what submission looks like. If anything, we need to swing the pendulum right now to help Christians submit. They do not need help thinking about what resistance looks like.
  • Obeying God rather than man is so obvious most of the time that it does not even need to be said.
  • If a woman sins against God because her husband told her to and she has the attitude, “God, you made him leader over me, so it’s not my fault,” what you probably have is a woman who wanted to sin, not a woman who wanted to submit to her husband.
  • Sadly, in a fallen world, sometimes women must follow their husband into sin. Sarah obeyed Abraham (1 Peter 3.5-6), and two of the ways she obeyed him in Genesis was to be an adulteress (Genesis 12) and to be willing to be an adulteress again (Genesis 20). In our day, this is simply a case by case thing where you need the help of pastors to think through this. One example: if a non-Christian husband says, “skip church today, let’s go have fun.” It would be a sin for that woman to forsake the assembly, but she might follow in order to keep peace, be submissive, perhaps win her husband over without a word. The godly woman hates missing worship, missing gospel preaching, missing the Lord’s Supper, missing fellowship and prayer with the saints, missing the name of Christ being exalted publicly, yet out of submission to the Lord, she could submit to her husband.
  • Most cases where women are wanting to resist a husband’s authority are not that black and white, in which case, submission should be the default. What it probably amounts to in most cases is not that a woman wants to please the Lord, but that she simply does not want to submit, which ultimately means she does not want to please the Lord.

Again, these apply to any authority-submission relationship. Just some things to think about. Thankfully, perfect submission does not save, only Jesus, the perfectly Submissive One, does that!

Do not ever permit women to teach men

“I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” (1 Timothy 2.12) That verse makes us unpopular. I do not permit women to teach men at our church. Ever.

That makes me unpopular even among complementarian churches. The response to that is often something along the lines of, “Well, do you let women talk in a small group?” or “Would you let women teach children?” or “What about Priscilla and Aquila?” All those questions miss the point of 1 Timothy.

Our fallen minds often respond to that verse with “well, what can women do?” Figuring out what women can do is not the point of 1 Timothy 2.12! The point of this verse is to tell us exactly what a woman must not do, namely, teach men.

I suspect the reason it makes us uncomfortable is because we do not understand what the teaching function of the church is. In our culture, we are so used to seeing someone go in front of the church, open up their bible, explain what they think it means, and explain how it applies. And as they do that, we are thinking to ourselves, “I like that. I agree with that. I do not agree with that. That’s not what I was taught growing up. He’s a good teacher. He’s a not-so-good teacher.” We are so used to not submitting to the teacher!

But we are supposed to obey our leaders and submit to them. Not many of us are supposed to become teachers in the church because it is such a weighty task. Anyone who teaches in the church is supposed to have the crowd hanging on their every word and saying, “yes, feed me, I want to yield to your teaching.”

Many Christians in America are so used to being their own sole authority in interpreting the bible. We have no concept of submitting to the bible teacher. The teaching office is so low in our minds that it makes us think, “why can’t a woman do that?”

But Paul knows the authority that opening up the Word for people brings. So, in that light, Paul did not, I do not, and you should not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over men. Ever. Thank God that women are saved through childbearing, not by being masculine.

It is a sin to not gather on the Lord’s Day, part 4

There are strong theological reasons for thinking that God made the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, a New Covenant ordinance. In other words, God ordained the Lord’s Day as the day for Christians to gather and worship under the gospel:

  1. The Lord’s Day is specifically about worship, not specifically rest- the only reason I bring this up is to say that the Sabbath seems to be specifically about rest, not worship. Sabbatarians will say that Christians are to rest in order to worship. Perhaps. But that is not explicit in the OT. Worship gatherings are commanded outside of the Sabbath Day and the Sabbath commandment is specifically a command to do no regular work. The Lord’s Day, however, is specifically a day Christians gather in response to the resurrected Christ, to honor and worship Him. What early Christians did not seem to do is change the day off of work from Saturday to Sunday; they only changed the day of worship.
  2. The Lord’s Day is about new life- when Noah got on dry ground, he made an altar; when Abraham got Isaac “back from the dead,” he offered worship; as soon as the disciples see Jesus rise from the dead, they worship. Worship is the only appropriate response when a Christian thinks about all that the resurrection accomplished on their behalf.
  3. The Lord’s Day is about a New Creation- in this way, the Lord’s Day could perhaps be seen as a fulfillment of the Sabbath. God did rest from creation on the seventh day. But as many great theologians are beginning to point out, there is no evening and morning on that seventh day in Genesis 2. Moses wanted us to conceive of the world still being in a “Sabbath Day” from that first creation. When does that seventh day end? When God begins creating a new creation. And that started officially the day Jesus rose from the dead. It is very intentional that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. It is a new week. It is a new creation.
  4. The Lord’s Day is about the Day of the Lord- where do early Christians get the language of “the Lord’s Day”? Perhaps, and perhaps obviously, it comes from the language of the “day of the Lord” in the OT. That day, in books like Isaiah and Malachi, is a day of victory and judgment. It will finally be fulfilled on the day Jesus returns. It found its foundational fulfillment, though, in the coming of our Lord Jesus, culminating in his death and resurrection. When Jesus rose from the dead, the first Christians understood they were beholding the risen King, God-man, Messiah. The Lord’s Day is a day that points to future judgment and future salvation.

Let us not give up meeting together.