I was very nervous a couple months ago when our sermon series in 1st Corinthians took us to the topic of homosexuality. I’m nervous again.
In our passage for this coming Sunday, Paul brings up a situation in the church at Corinth about women and their role in worship. It seems to me that the role of women has been one of the most discussed and most debated issues in recent years.
I’m not interested in taking sides or being negative about one side or the other. The way I see it, both of the primary two points of view are motivated by a heart to honor the Lord. Or at least I think their foundational motivation could, and perhaps should, be understood that way. Of course, plenty of people carry their point of view like a weapon, and use it as such. I don’t want to perpetuate that kind of damage in the least.
Here’s a brief description of those two points of view:
- Complementarianism – Women are to complement men. God ordained this. Both are equally loved in his eyes. In marriage and in the church, though, men are to lead. We might not understand why God would want one gender to complement another, but we can trust that God’s way are best. This view stems from reading certain New Testament passages as universally binding. Thus, if this view is held, it should be held humbly and lovingly by the men and women who hold to it.
- Egalitarianism – Men and women are equal in every way. God created both equally in his image, and he loves both equally. In heaven this expression will be the norm, and so now on earth we can and should work toward gender equality, in society, marriage and in the church. This view stems from seeing certain New Testament teachings as only pertaining to certain first-century churches. This view should also be held humbly and lovingly.
As you can see, proponents of either side can have a heart of love for God in their view. I think that is very important to see.
Paul was writing to a society steeped in patriarchy. Women were seen as possessions. What would he say, when he heard reports of women exercising a freedom that was counter-cultural? Would he cheer them or chastise them? What is the main concern Paul has for the Christians in Corinth? Might there be a principle that could carry over to our church, our era?
So, trepidatiously, I invite you to hear a sermon about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 this coming Sunday at Faith Church.
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