Friday, October 12, 2007

"FEMINIZATION" PART 11

My personal answer to the question.."Is the Church being feminized today?" is "No..Yes..Maybe." Definitions are everything. The Bible doesn't mean what it says..it means what it means. Our job is to determine it's meaning with careful study of the language, context, and the historical moment in which it was written. What did Paul mean in 1 Timothy 2? What did John mean in John 1? I could go on with the obvious. All of this is to be determined under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we discern in our fallible way where He is taking us as to meaning. Then where He takes us in our eternal/temporal application. That is our job. That becomes our teaching. That behooves us to be double-dog cautious in all we teach/say.

That said..I now cautiously address the question before us. Is the Church being feminized today? I would answer that with a "No..Yes..Maybe."

First the "no" part of my answer. "No" the Church is not BEING feminized. The Church is genderless in nature. "In Christ there is neither male or female."[ Gal.3:28] We know that statement is NOT speaking of the physical fact of creation but of the spiritual nature of the Church or all people "in Christ." The Church is a living genderless organism. Gender language has to be used to convey thoughts to be sure, but that Galatians verse is showing that no gender language can be used as fully descriptive or Her [there it is] nature. To exclusively use masculine language OR feminine language as an adjective in an attempt to speak of the Church would be a great disservice to the Ekklesia. It is because the Church is an organism and not an organization that language such as "attend church" or "going to church" or the "the Church is being feminized" fails to take into consideration the biblical nature of the Church and is a major problem in my mind.

One might say.."Yes, but we're just using cultural language to communicate." No problem there unless that cultural language destroys/dismisses the true biblical nature of a topic and here, IMHO, it does. As one deacon said to a young man wearing a baseball cap on Sunday morning "son take your cap of while you are in the church." The young man answered "sir, this cap is ON the church." Manners and cultural niceties notwithstanding, the boy was correct theologically.

It may be, as one said in the comment section of my last post, that the statements of the Church being feminized are referencing the methodologies and practices of the gathered Church. I think that is true. But it is at this point one would wish those methods and practices would not be identified as the Church. The Church is people whether gathered, scattered, failing, or succeeding in their behavior. So a campaign that says..."Sunday night church, the place to be," misses the theological point a mile and fosters a cultural concept of the Church that is damaging.

It is true Paul addressed himself to the "Church of God in Corinth." It is also true he was speaking to the people who belonged to God ["of God" is possessive] who were present in Corinth. [Gathered or scattered at the moment] But for him to have said to that body of people "you are being masculinized [new word] or feminized would have been unthinkable. He certainly could/would/did say they were acting a certain way in their behavior, [carnal] but they were Saints acting wrongly not becoming something other than Saints because of their behavior. Your actions do not determine your nature but your nature produces actions that can be a reflection of who you are by God's Grace..or a reflection of less than who you are by His Grace. [Flesh] But the Church is not being feminized. The Ekklesia is the Ekklesia by His Grace and will not change in nature.

Now to the charge of..are you not making a mountain out of a molehill here?" I would simply say that, quite to the contrary, this is foundational to the Church being the Church in a biblical way in any given culture. It also gives an ability to relate to people who differ on non-salvation issues theological. Theological precision is not the basis of relationships first and foremost but being the Ekklesia is. All duties enjoined upon a believer in scripture, whether it is to love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, or whatever is NEVER because one is a member of a denominatin OR even a local church, much less whether they are male or female, but on the basis of being "in Christ." That's the nature of the Church. That's what binds us together. That's why the true Church must never be defined by denomination, gender, culture, or any behavior. The Ekklesia is being built and no cultural idea or even hell itself can change that reality in this world.

Now as to the Church gathered and performing certain things like study, sharing, praise, preaching, there are some legitimate gender issues that we must face to be effective. I will address these next time. But even here it is not to be out of fear or prejudice which I hear in a lot of the discussion of this topic. It reminds me of a little kid saying to one of his friends.."you're just acting like a girl" with a smirk on his face as if he's just rendered an adolescent cuss word. That isn't necessary and isn't helpful to the Body being the Body and certainly isn't Christian.

That's my bottomline on a "no" answer. As I said, I'll address my "yes" answer next time.

Paul

8 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

I always appreciate clear concise answers, except sometimes ambivalence is appropriate but then this answer wasn't that, except parts of it were, maybe and on the other hand perspicacity and sagacity sometimes go over my head so they're hard to appreciate and .... uhhhh .... errrr .... hmmmm .... see you got me so messed up I feel like Yogi Berra showing Scooter Rizutto how to snag a grounder after Scooter booted three in a row and Yogi muffed one and told Scooter "You got shortstop so messed up I can't even play it myself."

Or something.

Seriously, good points. I shall await the yes and maybe.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

You're funny. Sometimes the comments are BETTER than the post. :)

traveller said...

Thank you for this well written post. I think you are precisely correct.

My heart is often very sad because of how many followers of Jesus who fail to understand this one quote of yours: "Theological precision is not the basis of relationships first and foremost but being the Ekklesia is."

We like to say relationships are important but we live as if rules and regulations (doctrine) are what is important. We are happy to receive God's grace ourselves but not express grace to others.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

My heart is with yours in sadness. Thanks for dropping by.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Amen, Amen and I am even adding another Amen. These are exactly my thoughts as I read scripture concerning the early church. I sincerely pray that many leaders see this as well in their reading through of the scriptures in a year.

Paul Burleson said...

Debbie,

Thanks for your comment and I'm sorry for the delay in posting it. I've just concluded a four day meeting where I had no accessibility to the Internet. I've just arrived home and read your gracious words. Again, thanks.

Alycelee said...

Paul, Debbie inspired me to think about some things today.
What bothers me more than the 'feminization' of church (whatever that is) is the religionization of the church.
Religion says 1, 2, 3. This is what you should do,
This is how you should do it. This is what you should think. There are nothing specific here, just a herding of God's people as if we all do, say and be the same.
I know I'm repeating myself from a comment I made on Debbies blog, but I''m finding myself saddened by this endless cry from some who say do this, turn this way and only this way.
Marginalizing men? What is that?
Can I marginalize someone? Do I have that much power?
This religion is causing me to run to God.
I don't want religion, I want my Father.
I'm not 'in a group to God' I am distinctive to Him.
My purpose, calling and walk are distinctive to Him. And they are according to God, irrevocable, not male, not female and praise God no man or demon can marginalize that.
God always prevails.
What a relief.

Paul Burleson said...

Alyce,

Great thoughts and points you've made.

I've just concluded two meetings back to back the past ten days with a crashed laptop and no Internet abilities so I will need a few days of rest and thinking to produce my final personal word on this whole issue. But when it comes it will be along the lines of "Yes..there has been some feminization of the Church..thank the Lord."

I TOTALLY agree with your bottomline presented in your comment.