masculine christianity?

There has been a buzz around the inter-webs this past week over the phrase “masculine Christianity.” It’s mainly in response to one prominent Christian leader’s assertion that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel” (John Piper).

One response from Christian leader Rachel Held Evans calls on Christian men to weigh in the on the issue. Good idea. So, here are my two quick thoughts:

First, to modify the phrase above, “God has given Christianity a cultural feel.” Quite simply, history’s cultural values will invariably influence how Christianity is practiced and communicated. On the issue of roles for women and men I definitely think this is the case. Does the Bible use a lot of patriarchal language? Yes it does. But it was written a long time ago in a very different culture. To believe the historically particular text of the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice is to wade through 2000-years of cultural shifts, realizing in the process that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) in every time and culture. Jesus doesn't change, but the times sure do. So should we.

Which brings me to my second, quite unoriginal thought: Jesus is our example. Some may view my first point as simply letting culture determine our Christian faith and practice. Well, no. I’m just saying we need to start with Jesus’ example of engaging culture. For instance, biblical leadership is often a big part of the masculine Christianity discussion. Classic texts are heralded as clarifying male headship in church and family (e.g. 1 Tim. 2, Eph. 5:22-33). But rarely do we hear people quote what Jesus had to say to his band of soon-to-be leaders: “Blessed are the poor in spirit...those who mourn...the meek...those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...the merciful...the pure in heart...the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (Mt. 5:3-10). Profound teaching on leadership and life.

But what about male and female roles? Isn't that teaching for all followers of Jesus? Yes, Jesus’ teaching is for all followers. The way of Jesus - man, woman, leader or otherwise - is for all.

Let’s stop separating following Jesus from leading for Jesus; or from being a man for Jesus; or from being a woman for Jesus. There is only one Jesus we follow - the Jesus that is for all.

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this

Larry S.

David Warkentin said...

You're welcome Larry!

Anonymous said...

I like your comments, but it still leaves the question, why won't some churches permit women to be pastors/priest/reverend ??? If we acknowledge that culture changes, but Jesus doesn't, I would be hard pressed to believe that in today's culture Jesus would maintain the no women rule.

David Warkentin said...

I'm with you Kim! For some churches, they don't think the issue of women in leadership should adapt to cultural changes. They see it as a universal reality. I disagree. Things like power and tradition are far more influential than people give credit when it comes to these matters.

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