I'm just about ready to wrap up my blogging on Christian leadership. There is so much more to say, but it's about time to venture on to other subjects of Christian living. I'm sure we'll come back to leadership in the future.
I believe that God is perfect. That may sound like an obvious theological supposition for a pastor, but I think an honest and comprehensive survey would prove unpleasantly surprising. So many ministries that claim the name of Christ, that call themselves evangelical, that purport Biblical sufficiency and inerrancy, demonstrate quite the opposite virtually every Sunday from the pulpit. They preach and teach a message more culturally crafted and socially acceptable than Biblically accurate. If God is perfect then His revealed word must be perfect as well. And His expressed command in everything from salvation to leadership must be followed. These are not suggestions. The Lord's distinct definitions for divinely orchestrated institutions like the family and the church, and how they are to be led, are not arbitrary. They are binding, unilateral, divine injunctions that we must obey. Simply put, He said it; we have to do it.
I wish American Christianity would take this simple approach to every aspect of living, including spiritual leadership. Several years ago Tamara and I attended a church that was intentionally departing from the Biblical definition and mandate on leadership. Women were preaching sermons to the entire congregation, were being appointed over men in direct authority, and were being ordained as pastors. When I registered my complaint with the senior pastor on clear scriptural grounds, I was rebuffed, ignored, and eventually "counseled" by the head elder. Apparently I wasn't being a "team player."
The final straw for my family and me came on a Sunday when one of the elders took the pulpit, and decided of all things, to preach on Eph 5:22, which says rather succinctly, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Paul anchors the command on the fact that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. This is really very straightforward and has been historically interpreted as literal and "right off the page." Orthodox Christianity has never equivocated the meaning of this verse. The Lord gave us the family's chain of command so that its authority and structure would be clearly defined. Even God Himself sustains headship within the trinity, as Jesus submitted to the Father's will in all things.
Somewhere beyond the pale of orthodoxy and observable reality (in a galaxy far, far away), this elder explained a new and contemporary understanding of Eph 5:22. He taught that the verse did not say what it appeared to say, but that it was defined by the closing phrase of the prior verse in Eph 5:21, which says, "submitting to one another in the fear of God." He contended that we are all to submit to one another equally, and therefore the verse commanding wives to submit to their husbands could just as easily be read "husbands submit to your wives." It was not, he assured us, gender specific, but an example of mutual submission as portrayed throughout the Bible. (Is there any example of the church exercising authority over Jesus? - or Jesus commanding the Father? - no)
In one fell swoop, this rogue elder removed the man from his unique place of leadership in the home as either husband or father. The man and his wife and his children were all now equally submitted to one another. Ostensibly, if my young daughter told me it was time for me to go to bed, then I would have to submit to her, because though I am her father, I have no more authority over her than she has over me. We are all equal in authority and headship. He also removed (probably unwittingly) Jesus from His exclusive place of leadership over the church. Paul, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, connected the two. If the man is not the authority over his wife then neither is Jesus the authority over His church.
We left that day, and though we didn't know it at the time, the Lord was using that departure and the subsequent spiritual training in our next church to bring us into the ministry. It turned out in our case for great good. But what about those who stayed behind, sitting under that type of androgynous Biblical teaching? What does it do to the family and the church when men are systematically removed from their obligation to lead? Well if you look at the Christian landscape across the nation, the answer becomes clear. We have become culturally relevant but Biblically irrelevant. We blend in nicely with the flow of modern secular thought and practice, sliding along gracefully with politically correct doctrine and feminist ideology, but sadly we are becoming sterile to affect this world for Christ and the kingdom of God. We are too often bereft of Godly leadership.
God is perfect and not surprisingly, His word is perfect too. His model for leadership in the home and leadership in the church cannot be redefined or altered without terrible consequences. Men, we have to lead. Don't subscribe to or abide in ministries that tell you otherwise. Open your Bible, read, and lead!