Why I Changed Lanes On Women In The Pastorate: Part 2
“If equality is the first principle in this paradigm I am offering, the second principle is that since some things matter more than others, lesser things sometimes must be sacrificed in the interest of the greater. What matters most to God, it seems, is the furtherance of the gospel message. In the New Testament, and in subsequent church history, we see that God is willing to do almost anything to get the gospel out to as many people as possible, as effectively as possible. He then wants this message to take root and bear as much fruit as possible. The New Testament indicates also that God expects his people to participate in what we might call this holy pragmatism. “
Stackhouse Jr., John G. (2015-11-08). Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism (p. 51). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
God has accommodated actions and doctrines that were not His best in order to further the spread and acceptance of the Gospel.
“We encounter now, therefore, the principle of accommodation. God works within human limitations— both individual and corporate limitations— to transform the world according to his good purposes. To be blunt, God works with what he’s got— and with what we’ve got. When faced with our shortcomings and sin, God doesn’t just erase us and create a whole new situation. Instead, God graciously pursues shalom in the glory and the mess that we have made.”
Stackhouse Jr., John G. (2015-11-08). Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism (p. 52). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Do we see this principle anywhere in the Scriptures?
When addressing the matter of divorce Jesus is clear that what had been law previously was really a matter of accommodation to hard hearts and cultural bias.
“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
(Matthew 19:8 ESV)
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount we hear our Lord… “You have heard it said, but I say…”
Jesus was continually turning cultural and religious prejudices upside down by how he treated women and people considered unclean and outcasts.
Why then did he not obliterate these distinctions and prejudices clearly?
“Jesus treats patriarchy the way he treats so much else of the law and custom of his time: ambiguously, suggestively, and sometimes subversively, but never immediately, never revolutionarily, except when it comes to the central matter of his own mission and person. On that score, he provokes people literally to fling themselves at his feet in worship or to take up stones to kill him. Jesus puts first things first: the gospel of the kingdom of God, the message of eternal life, brought near in himself. The main scandal of Jesus’ career is properly Jesus— not Jesus and feminism, or Jesus and the abolition of slavery, or Jesus and Jewish emancipation, or anything else.”
Stackhouse Jr., John G. (2015-11-08). Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism (p. 53). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Stackhouse argues (and I agree) that the church can now culturally accept women in positions of authority ( just as the general culture has) without damaging the cause of the Gospel.
If the coming of the kingdom in it’s fullness means that cultural distinctions are wiped away, then as kingdom people we should be on the cutting edge of it’s arrival.
It may well be that patriarchy has been an accommodation to culture and it’s time to grow up into the fullness of what God originally intended.
We’ll do one more post on this matter…