Addressing Gender Roles in the Church

March 15, 2019

Controversy over gender roles is an unavoidable danger to churches today.  Opinions across the spectrum are flying across social media, and church members are being influenced.  People are gathering online into factions around whichever pundit says what they want to hear.  The resulting factions are forming inside congregations as well as between congregations.

Forming factions in the church is sin (Gal 5:19-21).  Those who promote division are self-condemned. (Titus 3:11) Christians are instructed to avoid such people. (Rom 16:17).  But still, the factions grow larger and the divisions deeper, as each person finds teachers who say what they want to hear. (2 Tim 4:3)

As an elder in the Lord’s church, what am I supposed to do about it?

  1. Focus on my own congregation (Acts 20:28)
  2. Teach the scriptures.  (2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:9)
  3. Silence false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 1:11, Titus 3:10)

In large part, churches are in this situation because their membership has not been taught what the scriptures say on the subject of gender roles.  In the absence of a biblical foundation, the church is being influenced by the loud voices of the surrounding culture. As the apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders,  even from our own number men are arising to draw people after themselves, using the controversy over gender roles to build their own following.  The flock is vulnerable to the wolves because they were not taught the scriptures.

The responsibility for addressing this falls upon elders.  Paul set the example of teaching the whole counsel of God to the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:27) and he called the Ephesian elders to follow his example. He reminds elders in every era that it was the Holy Spirit who appointed us as overseers of the church which Christ purchased with his blood.  He charges us with protecting the flock against the savage wolves that would be coming.

Paul sent Titus to appoint elders in each congregation in Crete in order to teach sound doctrine and to refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9) Today’s elders have that same charge.  We must not stand by on the sidelines while the wolves ravage the flock.  Elders cannot pass the buck on the issue of  gender roles.  The buck stops here.

One of the qualifications for eldership is that the we must hold to the trustworthy message as it has been taught (Titus 1:9).  As elders, we are not free to teach according to our own preferences, nor the preferences of the flock. We must not deviate from what the apostles taught in the first century.

In my congregation, we have recently completed a month-long series on the subject.  Previously it had been about ten years since we had addressed the subject directly to the church.  That was too long, especially given the pressures coming from the culture around us.

Elders are the overseers who must watch over the church as men who must give an account (Heb 13:17).  Elders must be men of courage.  It’s time for elders everywhere to speak up and defend the trustworthy message that was taught by the apostles on the subject of gender roles.









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