CBMW president juxtaposes world’s view of gender & roles with Scripture’s
June 3rd, 2016 / By: Sharayah Colter | Staff Writer / comments
LOUISVILLE, Ky. Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), said that instead of a culture thriving thanks to movements of feminism and egalitarianism, society is crumbling because of them. In a message April 11 at CBMW’s conference on “The Beauty of Complementarity,” Strachan pointed to the rise in marital separation and divorce and the effects of “hookup culture” on college campuses as just two areas of society negatively impacted by movements of the previous century.
“This is in the age, by the way, of the great social experiment that has seemingly triumphed over the kind of viewpoint that we are talking about in this conference. This is supposed to be when our culture is enjoying the spoils of egalitarianism and feminism,” Strachan said. “Instead, young men and women are experiencing profound heartbreak, are on all sorts of medication, need hours of counseling. And we have to realize this is not a successful revolution.”
In rapid-fire fashion, Strachan offered 10 thoughts on how important complementarity is to human flourishing, juxtaposing things the world says with responses from a biblical worldview.
Of the 10, Strachan first touched on the creation order.
“The world says that there is no such thing as hard and fast manhood and womanhood,” Strachan said. “Complementarity says, in response, the man and the woman are God’s own invention. We have been taught that the age of creation is the preeminent matter in Genesis 1. … But please note this, in Genesis 1, the apex of creation is not [the earth]. It is man and woman. It is male and female. That is the apex of God’s super-intelligent design, his creative work. It’s not the trees. It’s not the Grand Canyon. It’s man and woman. That is God’s masterpiece. What does that tell us about whether manhood and womanhood are important? Does that perhaps signal something to us in our theological systems about how we should think about anthropology?”
Strachan gave three specific replies he would suggest offering to those who argue that issues of manhood and womanhood are trivial and less important in the grand scheme of theological doctrines.
“Now the gospel is paramount for Christians,” Strachan said. “Christ is our head, but even in speaking of that language, I’m using complementarian verbiage. Am I not? If somebody says to you within the church that manhood and womanhood are really not that important—‘they’re nice little doctrines that if you want to kind of geek out and focus on those, we can have a club for people who are hopped up on manhood and womanhood, but the rest of us really aren’t going to focus on that stuff’—you tell them these three things:
1 No doctrine of the Word of God is small. No doctrine. None of it is unimportant. God doesn’t give you a ranking system in Scripture for any doctrine. You don’t have the privilege, you don’t have the right, to rank any doctrine.
2 Humanity is the apex of creation.
3 If we even say, ‘The gospel is foremost in our thinking,’ which is true, which I affirm, it is. What is the gospel but the message—the eternal message—the undying truth that Jesus died for his bride? You could say it this way: ‘The gospel has a complementarian structure. Complementarity is not the gospel, but the gospel cannot be vacuumed out of this complementarian structure. It is not possible for us to do if we will hold to what the Word of God teaches.’”
Strachan explained that the church is not formless nor its shape open to interpretation, but Scripture prescribes how it should operate.
“We recognize the teaching from Scripture on church leadership as a blueprint,” Strachan said. “It is not an office that Paul prohibits women from holding in 1 Timothy 2; it is a function. He does not say women cannot be an elder. He says that he does not permit a woman to teach a man or exercise authority over him. We need to hold fast to this teaching. Brothers and sisters, hear me clearly: My eyes are wide open. We are battling on this point today. We hold this—it can feel like, ‘Oooo, that’s a bridge too far.’ But it is a function. Go back to the Scriptures. Don’t take my word for it. Search them. Is this what Paul prohibits?
“If this sounds too rough to you, then I fear that you may need to work out your submission to Scripture because this is basic Bible teaching when it comes to complementarity. Of course we also must say this, that if women are not teaching in the church, then it is being unfaithful to God’s plan. Women must train women, right, per Titus 2? Sometimes people say to me, ‘As the president of CBMW, do you support women teaching in the church?’ And I say, ‘If women are not teaching in the church, something is terribly misfiring.’ Women are called to train other women, especially in homemaking, discipleship, in building a home, in managing a home—these are things that are highlighted by Paul in Titus 2.”
In addition to serving as CBMW president, Strachan works as associate professor of Christian theology and church history at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Video of his session at the CBMW conference can be viewed at cbmw.org.