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.


Rodney Sprayberry said...

Good post...about the nature of the BRIDE of Christ :)

Paul Burleson said...


And He desires to be to us as a "Mother hen" too. Matt 23:37 ;)

But, sense He's not a "hen," I think it's safe to say the church isn't a woman either. LOL

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Me thinks you are correct sir!

Aussie John said...


My anticipation after reading the first of these articles is well rewarded.

The ill-considered foolishness of the claims of "feminization" were illustrated to me a few years ago when a woman was nominated to join the diaconate of a local Baptist church.

I was asked to come, as a visiting speaker, to the church. The subject they asked me to address was, and I quote,"Why Women Cannot be Deacons".

My first words, as I remember them,were, "You'll be very interested to know that I cannot find one bit of evidence that women cannot be deacons".

The foolishness of the "feminization" thinking is illustrated in the decision the church made. They decided that she could do the duties of deacon,and attend deacons meetings, but had to have a different appellation.
She was to be "The Servant of Women", but not a deacon! Huh??

Paul! Stop laughing! This is serious stuff!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

You caught me. I'm STILL laughing. That, my friend, is good stuff.


I'm aware it is "since" instead of "sense" and so I've corrected it to make some "since" of it all. LOL

This comment section you guys have got going is hilarious.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


I really enjoyed reading these two posts on the so-called "Feminization of the Church."

Would you give us permission to feature these two posts on our blog - The Wartburg Watch?


Paul Burleson said...


I've responded to Deb with freedom to use this post any way she desires. That is always true for any of you as a reader. I'm honored for a reading of it much less a desire to share it with others.

Your comments are part of what makes this so much fun for me. Thanks.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


Thank you for your permission to share your posts on our blog. You have made some excellent points that need to be broadcast around the world. We intend to do just that because we are blessed to have people in Canada, Great Britain, Africa, and Australia, not to mention many Americans reading what two middle-aged Christian women have to say.

I wish with all my heart that more pastors were like you and your son Wade, and I hope I have the opportunity to meet you someday.

Our 2.26.12 EChurch@Wartburg post is now online, and it features a terrific sermon! :-)


Paul Burleson said...


Thanks, and I've already experienced a GREAT time of worship at EChurch@Wartburg today with praise, prayer and preaching that have been exceptional in every way.
You and Dee are on to something here and I don't think you've yet imagined where all this may go. Blessings on you both.

Rex Ray said...

I’ve said that I wear the pants in the family but my wife tells me which ones to put on.

My mother always said the husband was the head of the house, but the wife was the neck.

Maybe this is a case in point:

A ‘loud-mouth’ (volume) woman started a ‘lecture’ with a preacher in a small café where everyone knew everyone. She proceeded to tell him that it was the church that decided when deacons retired and not the preacher.

Two days later, I was informed that I’d not be ‘forced’ to retire at the age of 80. I may owe her thanks and she’s not even a Baptists.