What We Believe About Men and Women
Last Saturday morning we had the final Women’s Gathering of the year. It was a Q&A with my wife, Melissa, and me, and about 60 women of Cities Church. The Q&A was on the topic of Christian manhood and womanhood, meant to wrap up the Fall teaching series by Erica Foster called “The Redeemed Woman.”
We don’t have a recording of the event, but it was a solid two-and-a-half hours of great questions, Melissa’s kindness and wisdom, and my occasional ramblings. Linda Linder opened the gathering with a wonderful prayer for our women and our church (really, you should read it). Overall, the whole time together filled me with great hope. Though the Q&A, in one sense, concluded a teaching series, it also doubled as an introduction for the next one. The pastoral team will begin our next sermon series in the book of 1 Timothy, from January 6 through June 9.
The Bigger Picture
I’m excited about the series, in part, because of how timely it feels for our church. Now that we’re four years in, the message of 1 Timothy seems so relevant to us as a body deepening our pursuit to live together in a way shaped by the gospel. That is a point worth saying about 1 Timothy and the topic of manhood and womanhood.
First Timothy is a letter that has a lot to say about church order. There is way of doing things that God intends for his church. We’re God’s family, and our Father has given us some house rules (1 Timothy 3:15). And they’re good rules — good rules meant for human flourishing because they’re connected to God’s good design. And that’s the real undercurrent here. It’s that the gospel is not only about you and me getting our sins forgiven, but it’s about you and me, with our sins forgiven, being brought back into fellowship with God and the purposes for which he created us. And that is, to resemble and reflect his beauty. That is life in Jesus. We are New Creation emissaries in this old world, and so of course everything God made must be impacted, including our distinct glories as Christian men and Christian women.
Starting with a Spectrum
As a simple introduction to the topic of manhood and womanhood, here’s a snapshot of the ideological spectrum:
We are Complementarians, which is importantly placed in the middle above. It is similar to Egalitarianism in that we wholeheartedly affirm the equal dignity and worth of men and women; but it’s different than Egalitarianism in that we also affirm the distinct glories of men and women. That is, men and women are not the same. That’s true empirically, of course (consider biology, physiology, and emotions), but we believe it’s part of God’s design and so it means something for practice.
Our differences as men and women are not irrelevant, but they’re part of God’s creative beauty. Men and women complement one another, like dancers. Like melodies. Like good food. Like anything that puts different strands together to make something whole and glorious. In fact, isn’t that what all beauty is? And doesn’t it make sense that this is the design of the God who is one-in-three? Who is eternally and transcendently marvelous as the holy union-in-otherness?
It is a great disservice to call Complementarity “traditional.” That’s a shallow word compared to the depths here. We’re talking about Genesis 1–2 depths, shaping the whole universe, flowing from the heart of God.
Considering the Layers
There are layers to the topic. As I mentioned Saturday to our women, because our cultural and economic landscape is so new to world history, we are having to ask questions today that have never been asked before. So it’s takes patience and prudence, and more conversations, which we hope to have.
During the sermon series, the pastoral team hopes to host some Q&A’s after the morning services at the Summit building. We’ve not marked the exact dates yet, but it’s in motion, and we’ll get the word out shortly. I believe it’s going to be a great series for us.