Friday, February 24, 2012


 Last time I attempted to define the word "feminization" so we could honestly investigate to see if the Church is indeed being feminized. But the question itself was left unanswered, so I will attempt to give a somewhat definitive one now as I understand things. My answer is some may say "Yes," some "Maybe," but I really believe NO." 

Now, before you accuse me of coping out...hear me out. [It may be a bit lengthy.] 

I admitted last time that there is no simple answer if you'll recall, especially in light of so many working definitions in the minds of people. Permit me to walk through my answer with you and then make your judgment as to what I'm saying.

 No... the Church is not being feminized. It's impossible to do such a thing. Biblically, the Church is genderless in nature and cannot be feminized. In Christ there is neither male nor female as stated in Galatians 3:28. That statement is obviously NOT speaking of a physical fact of creation but of the spiritual nature of the Church or all people "in Christ." The Church is a living, breathing, genderless organism that is to be seen as spiritual in nature and cannot be masculine OR feminine. 

We use gender language on occasion to convey thoughts, as does the scriptures themselves, but that verse is showing that NO gender language should be used when describing Her [there it is] nature. To use feminine OR masculine language as an adjective when speaking of the nature of the Church would be a GREAT disservice to the true Ekklesia. This is because the Church is an ORGANISM and not an ORGANIZATION that such language fails. 

This is why common language like "attending church," "going to church" and "how many came to church," may only exacerbate the problem. Someone might say..."Yes, but we're just using cultural language to communicate." No problem there...unless that kind of cultural language destroys or dismisses the true biblical nature of a topic and here, IMHO, it does. 

To illustrate this point, I heard about a deacon who admonished a young man who was wearing his baseball cap on a Sunday morning this way, "Son, take your cap off while you are at church. Remember, you're in the House of God." To which the young man responded, "Sir, this cap is ON the house of God. I AM the church." Manners and cultural niceties notwithstanding, the boy was correct biblically while the deacon missed what the church is really all about.

In the same way, to even use language that says the Church is being feminized is to miss the biblical understanding of what the Church is all about as much as did that deacon.

It may be that someone objects by saying that the statements about feminization are referencing the methodologies and practices of the gathered church. I think that is true. But that is precisely my point. I wish we would NOT identify methods and practices as the "Church." 

The "Church" is PEOPLE whether gathered, scattered, failing, succeeding or just generally one way or the other and cannot correctly be addressed as one gender or the other, one race or the other or one ethnic group or the other. Do you see what would happen if all who are "in Christ" accepted this kind of biblical concept?  It would change our perception and acceptance of one another radically?

Paul addressed himself to the "Church of God in Corinth." It is evident he was speaking to all the people who belonged to God ["of God" is possessive] who were living in Corinth gathered or scattered at the moment. But for him to have said to that group of people, "You are being feminized" or even masculinized [made up word] would have been unthinkable. 

He certainly did say when they were gathered they were acting childish and selfish, but they were Saints acting that way. They were not becoming something other than Saints because of their behavior at all. 

In like manner, the Church is not being feminized and it isn't helpful to use that language. For the world to do that is understandable and forgivable. But for believers to use such language is totally inappropriate given the nature of the Church. The Ekklesia [Church] is the Ekklesia by His Grace and will not change in nature regardless of behavior good or bad and is genderless in emphasis.

In anticipating the charge, "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. 

At your leisure, check and see how all the duties enjoined upon a believer in scripture, whether it is to love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, or whatever, are NEVER because one is a member of a denomination OR even a local church, much less whether they are male or female, but only on the basis of being "in Christ."

That's the nature of the Church. That's what binds us together. That's why the nature of the true Church must never be defined with denominational, racial, cultural, or gender characteristics. The Ekklesia is being built without reference to race, gender or any such thing 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, someone might raise questions about gender issues that they think would make us more effective in reaching men and not just women. But even there I would argue that the basis for that conversation must not be out of FEAR or PREJUDICE which I hear a lot of in the discussion of this topic. 

It reminds me of the story 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 kind of thinking isn't necessary and isn't helpful to the Body being the Body and it certainly isn't Christian. 

The basic issue I have with all the conversation about "the church gathered" may be whether or not the point or goal of the gathered church IS TO BE one of attracting outsiders [non christians] anyway. If our concern is to NOT BE too feminine or about NOT being MANLY ENOUGH to attract certain people we may have already lost the battle. 

The utter difference of the nature of the church can be lost in our zeal to be attractive to our culture, it seems to me, and I don't think it's the way we are DOING things when gathered that is the issue at all.

Were NON-BELIEVERS to come to our gatherings and find us BEING committed to loving them whether or not they are male or female, anglo or otherwise, moral in their behavior or not, and were they to see our ability for experiencing shared lives based on grace and acceptance, while all the time EXPERIENCING the real presence of God, we would be going far, as Paul put it,  in NOT..."defiling the Temple of God, which you are," [1 Corinthians 3:17]  

With that happening, non-believers visiting our gathered group might not understand us, but they might be strangely drawn to us  so that they would be willing to give the message of our Christ a hearing anyway. That, to me, makes any gender problems a moot issue totally.

That's my bottom line answer, lengthy as promised, to the question of the Church being feminized. "No!" [In my humble opinion.]

Paul B.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I'm going to address an issue with an adapted post from a few years back. It will take two posts to say all I which to say about the feminization of the church.

The "feminization" of the Church is a much discussed topic today. David Murrow has written a very popular book entitled "Why Men Hate Going To Church" and Christianity Today reported that an earlier book by Leon Podles, a Senior Editor at Touchstone Magazine, entitled "The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity," has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. 

You can see the subject is taken quite seriously in many quarters today. The CT report stated that some groups are seeking to remedy the problem with attempts at increasing female clergy and even producing gender-neutral bibles and hymns of all things.  

Well, is the Church being "feminized?" If so, has this resulted in men having little to do with Church life as many people claim? Like most issues, there is no simple or easy answer to those questions. That said, I have a perspective that I hope will help our thinking on this matter. 

But I first have to say that, in discussing subjects such as this, definitions are everything.

I remember witnessing to a teenager one time years ago. I recall asking him a simple question. [At least it was simple to me.]  I asked, "Have you ever been saved?" [Coded language of my generation you understand.] His answer was "oh yes." I was SO pleased. I then asked him to tell me about it. His response was, "I was going under the third time in a river and my brother pulled me out." [He was dead serious...excuse the pun.] 

Needless to say a few definitions were in order for him to understand what I was talking about and I promptly delivered them with a wonderful result of comprehension when those definitions were properly understood. I'm thinking definitions may be as much the problem in our questions on the "feminization" of the Church today as they were to that boy years ago.

For example, if by "feminization" is meant that you will find more women involved in Church life when gathered than you do men, I would have to agree. But I don't know that that is a problem. It seems to me that's been true of the church all along. Even in the NT the women were involved with the person of Jesus in many more ways than were men at times. The tomb situation, the Cross moment, the teaching and washing of Jesus feet are all illustrations of that fact. [Not many men mentioned in those moments.]

That, however, could be more a testimony to the courage of women as a gender and their ability to face the prospect of pain than anything else. Following Jesus often brought pain [and still may in many quarters] and women have shown their endurance ability for pain quite well in child bearing. Men will never experience that, for obvious reasons, and will, if wise, concede the point that women may be stronger than are men where pain is concerned. [That's just a thought.]

Some might mean by the "feminization of the Church" that men, as a gender, are less likely to be involved where relationships are concerned or small groups are being created because men don't talk  or show emotions/feelings as much as do women. But, if that's what is meant, I'm wondering if that might not be an unhealthy generalization based on a false premise. [Perhaps even as my own generalization in the preceding paragraph about pain might be taken as an unproven one also.]

I must say, I've always been suspicious of categorizing men and women with certain assumed gender characteristics as if they were absolutes anyway. You've heard it said of women that they love to shop but men hunt. The difference? Women "look and look and love the looking." With men it is.."I see..I shoot..[buy] I go home." At the risk of destroying any perceptions about Mary and me, [those who know us well know this to be true] Mary is the one who sees..shoots..[and would rather see and shoot [buy] off the Internet] and goes home. I, on the other hand, love to look and look whether I buy or not.. be it cars.. clothes..or garage sales. So, I'm thinking gender characterizations may not be helpful when speaking to this kind of question about the church either.

Then there is the thought that by "feminization" of the Church is meant a diluting of the message of Christ into an easy believism. In other words, the message of commitment and sacrifice is lost and a "feel good" message is being presented and accepted in our day and that turns men off. This is sometimes identified as "psycho-babble" which is a Siamese twin to "feminization" in the minds of many. The assumption here is that women will fall for "easy believism," [as evidenced, I guess, by Eve's proneness to deception] but men don't and most likely won't. They need an "Onward Christian Soldiers' message because that's the male mentality. 

But I would like to ask someone, if this is a fact, why the meetings of the TV preachers, many of whom I believe have diluted the message, are being attended by multitudes of people which, if my TV shows a correct picture, includes tons of MEN in those meetings. Where, of all things, there is the raising of hands, the shedding tears, the closing of eyes, and a singing of "loving Jesus with everything in me." Am I to assume those guys are ONLY "girly men" and no real men are present at all? [I'm being factitious here.]

I think it is part of our fallen nature and the flesh to be drawn to the big, sometimes easy, sometimes feel good, gatherings where a person may not be called upon to give a whole lot in terms of sacrifice. [Not that all those gatherings are that.] I do see a lot of "easy believism" happening all over in Church life today, but it isn't just the women doing it. I think MOST OF US may be falling into that trap in the present day if we cared to examine closely. 

We COULD get men together, if we want to, by emphasizing real "manly things" like hunting, fishing, [though I know women who love those things and men who don't] and singing triumphant songs with soldier lyrics, but we could still wind up with a big, sometimes easy, sometimes feel good gathering, that doesn't cost us a whole lot in terms of a sacrificial kind of thing at all. We will have just changed the content of the gathering.

The REAL problem with this "feminization of the Church" thing is perhaps far beyond any one of these ideas mentioned so far. What is the real problem? I think we have no genuine, satisfactory, biblical idea of what the Church and her life really is about, so we see something that appears to attract women and repel men and call it the Church and assume we've "feminized" the Church. 

I think it may be that were we to "masculinize" [made up word] the Church, we wouldn't solved our real problem either. So, again, what is our problem? One more time_____

I don't think we adequately__biblically__ understand in our day__what the Church really is.

What do I mean? Next time we'll see.

Paul B.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I've been reading a great deal lately about politicians who are saying of one another where the other stands in relation to being a true Christian. The Democratic President, at present, professes to be a Christian. But the Republican candidate for the presidency says that the current President is not, in fact, a true Christian at all. Someone else I read defended the current President and said the Republican candidate is the "pretend Christian" as evidenced by his judgmental attitude. No true believer would do that, those critics say.

They are not speaking about holding to Christian beliefs because both men have stated scripture as the basis for what they believe. They are referring to whether or not the other is a"real Christian." So on and on we go.

Now let's be clear, I didn't vote for the current President and I've not yet decided who I will vote for in the next election. But I do have a question for the two politicians debating whether the other is a christian or not. I have the same question for ALL candidates from whatever political party they might come. Is any one of them a "real Christian"? How would I know? Is it indicated by what they say they believe? Is it even indicated by how they act?

Maybe only Democrats are really Christian...wait, I mean...Maybe only Republicans are really Christian. can ANYONE really tell whether ANYONE is a "real Christian" or not? Can someone profess Christ and really not possess Christ at all? How are we to know who it is that is professing Christ and yet, in actual fact, is a hypocrite in the doing of it? [Pretending]

It is interesting to me that the scriptures indicate that there are two qualities that will be found in any person who is declaring themselves to be a true believer. Those qualities are faith and love. The writer of Hebrews said,"Without faith it is impossible to please God," [Hebrews 11:6]  But then Paul himself said that while faith would ultimately pass away, love never does. [1 Corinthians 13:8]

So love AND faith are present in a true believer. No matter what we say we believe or how much good we do, it is the presence of love and faith that indicates the validity or realness of a relationship with Christ. [We can discuss monergism vs. synergism later.]

But...and here is the is a certain KIND of love and faith. It is an "unfeigned" kind as described by the NT writers. In fact, in that 1 Timothy verse Paul tells Timothy it must be a "sincere" kind of faith. That word sincere is translated "unfeigned" in the KJV and Darby translation. "Unfeigned" would simply mean.. "non-hypocritical" faith or.. "real as opposed to pretended." 

The same is true of love as Peter declares..."That you love one another with an unfeigned [there it is] love. [1 Peter 1:22] Remember, the word means "non-hypocritical" or "real as opposed to pretended" love.

It is quite significant, I would think, that both Apostles would write about both love and faith to different people at different times using the same word to qualify each, UNFEIGNED or NON-HYPOCRITICAL. If nothing else, this shows that you can PRETEND to be a person of love and a person of faith and not really possess those two qualities at all.

NOW we can understand WHY Paul wrote to the Corinthians these words, "Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts and each man's praise will come to him from God." [1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB] is obvious that ONLY Christ can know what's in a person's heart.  And He WILL ultimately reveal whether a person's love and faith are real or are just pretended. I think it is safe to say in THAT day the truth about every politician's Christianity will be revealed. [Along with all the rest of us as well.]

Maybe the Politicians had better leave that kind of assessment to a different Person for a different time.

Maybe we ALL should.

Paul B.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


There are a couple of reasons I'm doing this post. One is because of the number of e-mails I've receive from people moving to another church congregation and needing some direction about how to decide one way or the other. The second reason is as I read blogs I'm finding MOST of the people I read about who are changing churches are doing so because of problems.

I'm assuming we all know that one must seek the Lord on it and be open to solving whatever one's part of ANY interpersonal problems might be before we move, because of the truth of this old saying, "Wherever YOU go, there YOU are." 

That said, I want to post a personal perspective that I ACTUALLY wrote to a friend seeking insight and, with his permission, will share with my blog readers. I realize, better than anyone, that what I say here is no big deal and I give no absolutes since there aren't any. These are just some personal ideas. What follows is my e-mail to my friend with some slight expansion and adaptation for removal of personal references and added thoughts.


I don't have much insight into moving church membership at all. I'm even questioning the biblical basis for how membership is viewed in most SBC churches at present as well, so you can see why my disclaimer.

That said however, I will say that about five years ago Mary and I were feeling a need to do exactly what you've asked about while at Grace Fellowship in Norman. No particular reason other than we just needed a different direction for us personally, church wise and ministry wise. 

Grace Fellowship is a wonderful and gracious group of people with whom we still share worship experiences and meals together once in a while.We talked, thought, prayed, and heard how Henderson Hills in Edmond Oklahoma, a 30 minute drive from us, was facing an issue that was close to our heart. 

We went to a Sunday service and left knowing we wanted to join them, and did the next week. We may have that sense again and do it again in the future sometime. Who knows! 

You can see I have a real belief that the body of Christ is larger than any one denomination or even a local congregation and I probably think of moving to a new congregation as nothing really THAT significant. I guess that's because I see building relationships is what Kingdom stuff is all about anyway. 

So...if you guys as a family are for it, and you aren't creating any problems where you are that you're running from...go for it... if you would like to... is my view. 

I know you are NOT looking for anything that is perfect or without problems, knowing you the way I know you. We all know when we move we are just really moving to experience new members of the body of Christ with a different set of issues and growth needs. 

Sometimes we're a help to them and sometimes it's more for us, but we enjoy it along the way whichever it might be. Any healthy relationship has a reciprocity about it I believe. It is never ONLY one way.

 [You can have a relationship with a surgeon where he/she is the only one giving, but that isn't what I call a healthy relationship in the sense of the word as I'm using it here. Thank goodness they know how to give what's needed... relationship or not...right?] 

So my simple suggestions would be...

1..Leave in love with the people left behind so you can return and enjoy fellowship once in a while.

2..Go in grace and acceptance of any new people and love them where they are, warts and all.

3..Always view the church as an ORGANISM instead of as an organization so that you never cut off or isolate yourself from ANY other group, but will always be able to maintain relationships with God's people wherever you find them.

Let me know how things go.

Paul B.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


I read a major writer recently who based much of his position that women were NOT to be leaders of men on the fact that the gospels show that Jesus DID NOT call a woman to be one of the original twelve. He called only men. He's right. Jesus did not have a woman among the original twelve. But does that tell the whole story of our Lord's attitude toward women? I think not. You would need to be honest about the whole picture given in the gospels to fully understand our Lord's view of women in leadership I would think. That whole picture is rather telling.

To do just that, I'm going to share some insights that are not often thought about, or worse, are purposely not mentioned by those making a case against women being in leadership based on the original twelve. It might be wise to begin by reminding all of us that there IS NO recorded restriction in the gospels concerning women in leadership either. That in and of itself is not sufficient to draw a hard conclusion since building a biblical position from silence, on anything, is never wise, but it's worth mentioning.

You would think that with their culture the way it was in regards to women, as seen in the fact that women were not permitted to teach men in the Synagogue,  [Or to testify in a court of law for that matter.] and they CERTAINLY were not permitted to travel around with a Rabbi in an itinerant ministry, it would have to be of great significant that women were permitted to do BOTH by our Lord. You do recall that it was to a woman that Jesus gave instructions at the tomb when He said, "Go to the brethren, and say to them, I'm ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." [John 20:11] That smacks of teaching to me, at least as some would define it in our day.

Then, Luke 8:1-2 also clearly states this, "And the twelve were with him AND certain women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, [several are named] and MANY OTHERS." This passage is reporting how Jesus went into cities and villages with His followers which included a list of women who ministered with their substance. This traveling ministry was certainly an "in your face" kind of thing in that day regarding the place of women.

Talk about a contradistinction, there you have it. Our Lord's view of the value of women in ministry was far removed from one that did not permit such things. To say otherwise may be giving too much weight to a simple fact that one was not named in the original twelve. Maybe He was keeping the beginning of His ministry [this is pure speculation of course] close to the Jewish illustration of the tribes of Israel! Who knows!! But to say that fact shows that women are NOT to minister or teach men is way beyond the pale I believe.

Then don't forget that the narrative in the gospels also includes the two incidents of Anna's proclamation of Christ to all present in Luke 2, which would have included men, as well as, the incident of the woman at the well in John 4 proclaiming to EVERYONE in her city the same Christ who knew all things about her. These two incidents evidence that what was transpiring in the message and ministry of Christ was also breaking down racial barriers as well as gender barriers. The woman at the well was giving her message to people outside Judaism remember. [Samaritans]

One other thing needs to be said. What I'm about to draw attention to is not the gospel material, obviously, but it is so close it bears mentioning. Remember the book of Acts opens [You recall  Luke wrote the Acts narrative also] with the 120 disciples in the upper room and another list of women is said to be with them. [Acts 1:14] Then, the scriptures tell how "they" cast lots and appointed Matthias to take the place of Judas among the apostles.

There appears to be no reason to think the women didn't have a voice or say in that decision.  I won't make the same mistake as do those who oppose women in leadership based on no women being among the twelve and advocate that because of silence. But to say they DIDN'T have a voice in the decision of Matthias is to reflect the culture around that young church rather than the practice of our Lord Himself, as has been pointed out. I think it safe to think they did.

If you think otherwise, you would need to also explain how in Acts chapter two when the Holy Spirit filled those members of that young church on the day of Pentecost and they began to speak in other tongues [languages] and the crowd thought them drunk, Peter stood to explain what they were seeing and he said "They are not drunk...this is what was spoken of Joel....that your sons AND DAUGHTERS will prophesy...." [Acts 2:14-17]

So the ladies could be present but not participate? I think the scriptures speak of a different thing entirely and this is JUST the gospels and two chapters of Acts.

[My wife and I just returned from an all day driving trip where we discussed this post a great deal. She reminded me that it seems to her that Pentecost may have very well been a dividing line where the Holy Spirit drew a clear line in the sand, with regards to women in ministry, that may not have been as clear in the gospels in the context of Israel. Though, of course, it was abundantly clear Jesus viewed them differently. But since Pentecost, boy, things have been quite different concerning God's purpose for women in the New Covenant. I think she may be on to something.]

All this said, I know there are two places [1 Tim 2:12/1 Corinthians 14] that could be seen as telling a different story. I have my view on what those two passages are saying and what they mean, but you CAN'T honestly look at those without holding what has just been said in mind. If you do you would not be letting scripture interpret scripture. But that's a post for another day. 

Today, I simply want to register my thoughts that the narrative of the gospels will not permit me to think that the fact that there were no women among the original twelve is sufficient, by itself, to hold that Jesus believed that women could not teach, lead and minister, as can men. Jesus revealed Himself to have a totally different idea than that.

Paul B.

    Friday, February 03, 2012


    Several years ago I was going to a meeting in a city [Houston] where the church facility was located in an urban section that was not the best kind of residential area at all. I passed many people in need as you can imagine. As a result this thought took root in my mind and a couple of years ago I penned this poem from those thoughts. 

    I'm no poet and certainly don't believe that confrontational evangelism is the ONLY kind of method for true evangelism at all. BUT, I do believe that REAL evangelism WILL somehow impact these kinds of needy people. However, all too often, I believe, we wait for it to be through someone else. That conviction of the Spirit came to me and I wrote about it, for what it's worth.  Today, I've revised the original slightly and this is what I came out with, as I say, for what it's worth.

                      THE BAG LADY

    I saw a bag lady the other day and
    thought how disgusting can a person be.

    But gently, yet firmly, came a reminder
    from His Spirit living in me.

    He said to remember that she was once 
    someone's child, a thing now hard to see.

    I realized it could be that she grew to womanhood
    not knowing any love that was personal and pure.

    Maybe along the way she felt terrible pain
    for which there just seemed to be no cure.

    Choices came and ugliness and emptiness
    are the price that she has paid to be sure.
    But His Spirit reminded me that our gospel
    tells of a God-Man who can transform even her life.

    He is the only One able to set a person free
    and bring an end to all the obvious strife.

    This God-Man has wonderfully proven all that 
    by loving and giving to me this eternal life.

    I saw a bag-lady the other day and
    realized she is every one in sin's dark night.

    But Jesus came and endured the Cross that 
    through Him life could be made whole and right.

    I knew were she to hear this gospel of grace
    it would change even her twisted terrible plight.

    So I asked Father to send someone to tell her
    of His Son and how He brings cause to rejoice.

    And Father, as she listens, I prayed,
    may she hear Your love ring out in their voice. 

    Father wasn't long in answering my prayer for 
    someone to go as He gently, but clearly said that... 

    I was His choice.

    Paul B.