Although I am known for being a house church advocate I am nonetheless frequently at pains to make clear that there is somewhat more to my burden from the Lord than simply that. Indeed, if I am known by those outside of the house church scene as an advocate of house churches, I am also known by house church folk as a somewhat vocal advocate of what I call ‘biblical’ churches. And of course this distinction is of vital importance for the simple reason that although a biblical church will, by virtual definition, be a house church, the converse, that a house church will therefore be biblical in every other way that matters, is far from being the case. Indeed, a great many house churches are no more biblically based overall than the more traditional unbiblical churches they purport to be distinct from.
No, the issue is not merely being biblical as far as church life and set up is concerned, it is rather obedience to the comprehensive teaching of scripture as our final authority in all matters. I adhere, therefore, to such understanding as I have concerning church life not because I don’t like traditional churches, or because I think meeting in homes is more fun, or better suited to modern western culture or anything like that: No! I adhere to it simply because it is my honest and very best understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. And precisely because it is what scripture teaches, being therefore the Lord’s idea of church life as opposed to anyone else’s, it is obviously going to also be far better in every way than any unbiblical alternative; but even so, I embrace it not because I think that it’s better, but because it is biblical! Whatever the Bible teaches, regarding absolutely anything and everything, should be embraced and complied for that reason alone. It is, ultimately, simply a question of being obedient to the Lord, the teaching of scripture being the only way of actually knowing what He wants, and how He requires us to live!
When I became a believer I not only very quickly realised that scripture is the final authority in all matters, but I was also greatly convicted by the Lord that unless His people are standing on His Word, in clear obedience, specifically, definitely and purposefully at precisely those points where it is being ignored and disobeyed, then we are not actually standing on it in obedience at all. And of course this pertains not only to the surrounding secular culture but also to the Christian church, and it is sad beyond words that many believers are as averse to various aspects of what the Bible teaches as are unbelievers. In fact, as the calling the Lord placed on me to teach His Word became clear, so also did the fact that He was quite specifically requiring me to not only ensure that I teach the whole of scripture – “…the whole counsel of God” as Paul the Apostle referred to it – but to precisely emphasise those specific and particular parts that Christians were, by and large, either ignorant of, or just plain downright ignoring and avoiding. This obviously includes the whole subject of biblical church life and leadership, but includes so much more as well.
So for me, this whole ‘house church’ thing is far more fundamental that just getting church right, and is to do with the foundational principle of our duty to be obedient to the comprehensive teaching of scripture, as opposed to all the picking and choosing so common amongst believers today. Having realised that the Bible is the Lord’s revealed Word, what therefore mattered to me was to do whatever was necessary in order to help believers to the realisation that to say we love Him, yet without at the same time increasing in ongoing obedience to the comprehensive teaching of scripture, is actually a contradiction. Our love for the Lord is shown by our obedience to Him, but we can only obey Him if we know what His commands actually are. And of course thing to underline here three times in red ink is that the only way we can know what His commands are, and I mean here all of them, is through on going study, and therefore an ever-increasing understanding of, the scriptures!
But in case the reader is now concluding that I am one of those doctrinalist-type believers who think that being a Christian is merely about having an intellectual understanding of the Bible and then trying to put it into practise, then let me assure you that I am most certainly not. I know the Lord personally and experience Him subjectively in various ongoing ways, though obviously not as much as I would like to, and depend daily on His supernatural intervention in my life. I know His voice, as He said His sheep would, and He both speaks to me and leads me directly. For what it’s worth, I also speak in tongues and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but of course the main thing to be understood is that although the Lord does indeed speak to us and lead us directly it is nevertheless scripture which is the ultimate bedrock of His revelation to us, and nothing He ever says or does will in any way lead us against it. Indeed, subjective revelation and guidance are safe only to the extent to which we realise that it is only through scripture we can know whether or not something is a revelation or leading from the Lord, or whether it is just us being deceived, whether by our own wayward thinking and desires, or even actual demonic forces, being thus seduced into sin, deception and error. If it ever appears that the Lord is leading you in any way that does not clearly conform with the teaching of the Bible, then you can be fully assured that it isn’t actually Him leading you at all.
I therefore want to throw out both a challenge, and correction, concerning two things that have become increasingly accepted by Christians, but which are nonetheless blatant departures from the God’s Word; and I want to do this especially in regards to Christians in the house church arena! Precisely because I am so burdened that we stick as closely as possible to scripture, I am therefore also keen to ensure that neither I, nor those with whom I stand in fellowship and service to the Lord, become knowingly associated with anything that goes seriously and directly against it. Yet the sad truth is that not only is there serious doctrinal error, and therefore wrong practice, amongst those associated with house churches, there is also blatant and inexcusable hypocrisy amongst some of the leaders who parade themselves under the banner calling God’s people to a so-called return to New Testament teaching and practice, yet who live in a complete denial of the clear teaching in scripture in regard to certain things that clearly don’t suit them.
The first error to which I will be referring is what has come to be termed Evangelical Feminism, and the second thing will be the hypocrisy of church leaders who have been divorced whilst in leadership, yet who refuse to step down from public leadership and ministry because of it. And of course the reason I am homing in on these things is not just that they are unbiblical, and therefore wrong in themselves, but because they are such a terrible travesty and failure of the requirement for Christians to be living in clear and visible obedience to scripture at precisely the points where the surrounding culture is increasingly denying it! These two things are not only utterly contrary to that requirement, they are actually a wholesale compromise and sell-out of biblical truth in a wretched attempt to appease a godless culture that rejects not only God’s order for family life, but the very sanctity of marriage itself! Rather than the shining witness to a godless society we ought to be, the Christian Church – house churches included – are increasingly concluding that scripture is wanting and that modern liberal western culture knows best.
The Irrationality and Cultural Sell-Out That Is Evangelical Feminism:
I call Evangelical Feminism a cultural sell-out because firstly, no one would have ever deduced it merely from scripture, and secondly, because it is as blatant an example of Christians being deceived by, and then actually embracing, the philosophical and ‘politically correct’ thinking of the surrounding culture as I have ever seen. It is, despite the protestations of its adherents, far more to do with trying to make the Christian life acceptable to godless men and women, and to appeasing sinners, than it is with implementing the precepts of a holy God, and therefore of scripture! Indeed, it is precisely because the notion of modern-day feminism is so patently absent from scripture that it cannot be said, with any intellectual integrity whatever, to be in any way derived from it our to have anything to do with it. Secular feminists hate the teachings of the Bible regarding gender precisely because, amongst other things, they see so clearly that it is Patriarchal in its outlook. Evangelical Feminists, however, who also hate what scripture teaches in regard to gender differences, but in complete contradistinction to the secularists, rather just try to make it look like the Bible teaches something that everybody knows really, unbelievers included, that it actually doesn’t!
I say it is irrational therefore, not because I think Evangelical Feminists are less intelligent than anyone else, indeed, some of their thinkers are of the highest intellectual calibre, but because it represents a non-rational approach to biblical interpretation – and therefore an actually irrational approach to it – that has never before, in two thousand years of church history, been embraced by evangelical Bible-believing Christians. It is, as I am going to show, quite literally, nonsense!
Theological liberals, who precisely don’t claim to believe the Bible in any literal or historic sense, believing it to be full of myth and mere symbolism whilst yet nevertheless somehow ‘containing’ the Word of God in some way, and who therefore reject any idea of it being infallible, obviously throw out anything in its pages they don’t like on the simple basis that they think it to be wrong. Precisely because it is a predominantly human book, they argue, and not a fully divine one, it is therefore full of errors, both historical and moral, which must be filtered out in the light of (supposedly) more wise current understanding.
Such an outlook is itself irrational in ways that are beyond the scope of this book to detail, but at least they reject what the Bible teaches concerning various things on the clear understanding that it does at least say what it says and that they simply consider what it says in such regards to be wrong. The irrationality of Evangelical Feminists, however, is that they disagree, as do most theological liberals, with the idea of God ordained differences in gender roles, but then, quite unlike theological liberals, and because they say they believe in the infallibility of scripture, have to try to assert that the Bible doesn’t actually teach such differences in gender roles in the first place. In other words, rather than just having the courage, as do the theological liberals, to just be honest and come straight out and say they think Jesus, Paul, Peter, plus all the other New Testament writers, were wrong about gender issues and male headship, they instead twist and distort what the Bible says in order to try and make out that these people they were saying and writing the opposite of what they actually did say and write. Examples would be:
- “Wives submit to your husbands…” (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18) becomes Paul merely saying that there is no need for a wife to submit to her husband except in so far as her husband ought to mutually submit to her.
- Paul’s assertion in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the husband and the Father is the head of Christ, a passage which for two thousand years has been a clear and unquestioned, reference to authority, becomes instead that a husband is the ‘source’ of his wife in the same way in which one might talk about the ‘head’, or source, of a river.
- Paul’s clear directive to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:12) that he didn’t permit women to teach or to have authority over a man is said to be an assertion that there were particular women in Timothy’s situation who were, exceptionally, though for unstated reasons, not to be allowed to teach, whereas women in all other church situations were.
Let me now respond in order to illustrate just how non-rational, how non-sensical, such assertions actually are:
Whatever reasoning is employed that allows for the conclusion that, “Wives submit to your husbands…” means really that wives don’t have to submit to their husbands can also, by very definition, be used to make any command in scripture come out the opposite to how it is actually written. For example, having told the church in Ephesus that wives should submit to their husbands, Paul then goes on to say, “Children, obey your parents…” (Ephesians 6:1) Likewise, having instructed the church in Colossae that wives should submit to their husbands, he then goes on to say, “Children, obey your parents…” (Colossians 3:20.) But of course if the command for wives to submit to their husbands can be interpreted so as to mean that wives don’t actually have to submit to their husbands, then whatever logic or process of deduction employed in order to reach that conclusion can equally be applied to the issue of the stated authority of parents over their children! Using the same reasoning one could conclude that, although the Bible clearly states that children ought to obey their parents, just as it equally clearly states that wives ought to submit to their husbands, it therefore means that children don’t actually have to obey their parents. Yet it will doubtless come as no surprise when I say that I have yet to meet an Evangelical Feminist who believes that children should not have to obey their parents or be under their authority. It would appear, therefore, that for Evangelical Feminists, the undeniable and clear biblical assertion that children ought to obey their parents means exactly what it says, whereas the equally undeniable and clear assertion that wives ought to submit to their husbands means that wives don’t have to submit to their husbands. This is why I say their position truly is non-sense! I am merely pointing out how irrational they are being and that their position makes no sense whatever!
Secondly, the Evangelical Feminists assertion that Paul’s teaching that a man is the head of his wife (1 Corinthians 11:3) means merely that he is her ‘source,’ the headship to which he refers being nothing to do with authority, brings with it a related problem which those who teach this are all too keen to avoid. And of course the problem is that Paul doesn’t just say that a husband is the head of his wife, he also states – indeed, bases his whole argument on the fact – that the husband is the head of the wife both in the same way that Christ is the head of the husband and that the Father is the head of Christ! What we must therefore ask is this: In what possible way is the Father – the first Person of the Trinity – the ‘source’ of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself being the second Person of the Trinity and therefore equally God from all eternity? The idea behind something being said to be the ‘source’ of something else is that it is in some way the originator of it; that is, having brought it into being. Therefore, short of concluding, as logic would dictate, that the Father was Jesus’ ‘source’ in the sense of bringing Him into being, in much the same way that Eve came out of Adam and didn’t exist prior to that point, there is no other way to understand this verse except that stated headship is indeed one of authority and not origination. The Evangelical Feminists assertion that Paul is using the notion of headship to mean source and origination would have to mean he is also saying that the Father, as Jesus’ originator, created and brought Him into existence, something no Evangelical Feminist, precisely because they are still Evangelical, and therefore Trinitarian, would assert. They leave the thing completely unexplained and just duck the issue completely. The husband, they assert, is taught by Paul to be the head of the wife in the sense of being her ‘source,’ yet quite what this means, apart from an attempt to try and demonstrate that Paul’s statement doesn’t actually mean what the words he used actually say – or why he should even have bothered to say it in the first place – is left unexplained, as is his parallel statement that the Father is the head of Christ. Again, I maintain that this is irrational and therefore non-sense! It simply makes no sense!
Lastly, if Paul’s instruction in his letter to Timothy about women not being permitted to teach (1 Timothy 2:12) is merely a one-off, localised, situation-limited affair and not, as it clearly comes across in the text, the statement of a general rule to be universally applied, then the Evangelical Feminists must overcome the following problem. Firstly, as we have already noted regarding Paul’s teaching concerning wives submitting to their husbands, such an approach can be equally used to nullify just about any verse in the Bible one doesn’t happen to like. After all, if what Paul wrote to Timothy in such regard just applied to that situation, then perhaps other verses do as well. Are the verses in Ephesians and Colossians concerning children obeying their parents perhaps merely alluding to some uniquely bad children in those churches, and therefore not universally applicable to children in other churches or at other periods of history? Indeed, can any passage in scripture remain safe once such an interpretative method is employed on verses merely because they teach Patriarchy, or anything else you don’t happen to agree with? Secondly, Paul specifically states in the following two verses that the reason for his rule that women mustn’t be permitted to teach or have authority over a man is to do with what happened at the beginning of human history in the Garden of Eden. If there was ever a verse in the Bible that was precisely not a matter of specific cultural or historical context, then here it is. But how ironic that it’s this verse! Paul states as clearly as it is possible to state, and as unambiguously as he reasonably could, that the reason for women not being permitted to teach or have authority over men in church life is because, “Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (I Timothy 2:13-14) The rule he lays down has nothing whatsoever to do with the culture of the day, or with some specific or unique situation that had arisen amongst those to whom he wrote it. Paul’s teaching in the New Testament that women are not to teach men in the church is quite blatantly because of something that happened in the Garden of Eden some four millennia prior to him teaching it. It is therefore, quite unarguably, completely universal in scope.
So hey, feel free to disagree with Paul if you think he was wrong about this! Conclude, by all means, that he was in error in what he wrote! And yes, just say that Paul and the other Bible writers were misled and misguided concerning gender issues, and that you disagree with them and believe yourself to know better – but let’s not have any silly nonsense about them not actually teaching what they patently, blatantly and obviously did. Either agree with them and live accordingly, or disagree with them and say they were wrong! But to try and make out they didn’t mean what they actually clearly wrote is both both arbitrary and irrational. Indeed, it constitutes a completely non-sensical redefinition of what the words being used actually mean, and what the phrases being utilised actually state as being the case. In regards to theological liberalism Frances Schaeffer brilliantly termed the use of such contradiction in language as being semantic mysticism; that is, the use of words in a spiritual and religious context so as to make them mean something they clearly don’t!
For instance, many liberal theologians say they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but that His bones were buried somewhere in Israel. That is, they believe the statement to be religiously, but not historically or actually true! Again, it is both irrational and non-sensical! But now we have Evangelical Bible-believing Christians doing something very similar, and it’s definitely somewhat of a new and novel development. Think of it like this: If I were to write a letter in which I said that Star Trek is intellectually more satisfying than Star Wars, then by all means take both myself, and my statement, to task. Disagree all you like! But semantic mysticism could take those words and try to make out that what I really meant was that ‘House on Pooh Corner’ is a weightier piece of literature than ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Similarly, if I were to say that I think socialism to be a political disaster, then there could be either agreement or disagreement on the basis of my clear statement. Semantic mysticism, though, could be used by someone who wanted to cancel out my opinion by misrepresenting it and making out that what I was really saying is that socialism is a good thing. This is precisely what the Evangelical Feminists are trying to do to Paul and the other Bible writers regarding their statements concerning gender differences. They are taking the writings of men who were no more Evangelical Feminists than Donald Trump is a Muslim, and trying to make out that they somehow meant the exact opposite of what they actually taught and wrote and were the equivalent of modern-day liberal feminists. When I state that Star Trek is more intellectually satisfying than Star Wars, then that is exactly what I mean, and when I say that I think socialism to be a political disaster then I mean precisely and exactly that. Disagree with my statements all you like, but how ridiculous to make out that I am socialist who prefers Star Wars to Star Trek. In exactly the same way the Apostle Paul, as with all the other Bible writers, not only wrote what he wrote, he actually meant what he wrote, whether concerning gender issues or anything else.
Words mean what they mean, and properly worded phrases convey precisely what they are designed to convey, and especially when it comes to the Bible as God’s inspired and infallible written Word. The problem with Evangelical Feminists, much as with theological liberals, is precisely this semantic mysticism. In such regard they’re like a certain character Alice met on the other side of the looking glass:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “Whether you can make words mean so many different things.” (Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking Glass)
I obviously accept that there are biblical issues that can be legitimately considered to be somewhat open-ended, just as I would maintain that there are passages in scripture on which good men and true might legitimately, and honourably differ by way of both interpretation and application. Calvinists, for instance, as with their Arminian counterparts on the opposite wing of that particular doctrinal divide, think they have certain biblical truths concerning the relationship between election and free-will somewhat sown up, whilst others would conclude that neither does, each being simultaneously right and wrong, but in opposite ways! In other words, there are indeed biblical issues which are not as ‘cut-and-dried’ as some would like to think. Yet who would presume to think someone a fool simply because they held a view that differs from one’s own concerning such ultimately incomprehensible matters?
Equally, does scripture teach in 1 Corinthians 14 that women are to be completely silent during the whole worship and sharing time when a church comes together on the Lord’s day, or does it teach a much more limited silence that is merely to do with the testing of prophecy? I have my own personal understanding, of course, but dare I, given the exegetical difficulties involved in said passage, think badly of those who practice differently? I think not! Likewise, it is as clear as day that scripture teaches that women should have a head-covering during the gathering of the church (1 Corinthians 11), as is it also as clear as day what the purpose of the head-covering is (to show the angels that the women so covered are under their husbands’ authority), but whether Paul is referring merely to long hair as that covering, or to something actually worn on the head, is textually extremely obscure, and I for one, though coming down on the side of long hair, would not want to make an issue of it.
Evangelical Feminism, however, does’t fall into any such category. There is nothing obscure, theologically paradoxical, or even semantically or exegetically obscure concerning whether or not the Bible teaches Patriarchy; that is, the authority of a man over his family as being the head of his wife and household. Two thousand years of Church History has no more settled the predestination/freewill debate than it has either the women’s silence or head covering thing, and I would further add that if (Heaven forbid) there is another two thousand years of Church History still to come (though I am thankful that I won’t be around to see it if there is) then I am sure that such issues will remain as firmly unresolved as they are now. Why? Because it has been the case that millions of godly men and women have always reached genuinely differing understandings concerning them from the self-same scriptures! As already duly noted, there are things in the Bible which just aren’t as clear-cut as we would like them to be!
But when it comes to Evangelical Feminism then what we have is a couple of generations of Christians – the first couple ever, in fact – who have apparently ‘seen’ in scripture what two thousand years worth of Christians have completely and utterly missed. Further, not only are we to suppose that they alone have come to understand what everyone else has, for two millennia, been so blind to in the pages of scripture, we are meant to equally swallow the idea that the historically accepted Christian orthodoxy, that a man is the head of his house and that church leadership is male, is actually the dreadfully sinful oppression of women, of which the Lord God is demanding that the Christian Church come to wholesale repentance. Further, this position, though historically novel, as well as being both radical and revolutionary, is maintained by believers who are completely unable to clearly and unequivocally demonstrate and explain their position from scripture, and who have to instead concentrate their efforts on desperately trying to explain away the very passages in scripture which prove their case false. (Such passages being, of course, precisely why, for two thousand years, Christians have virtually unanimously rejected what we are here referring to as Evangelical Feminism.When I became a believer, thus quickly embracing the Patriarchy so clearly taught in scripture, I had to withstand a lot of pressure, and even rude and ungracious treatment, from fellow Christians whose only argument appeared to be, “I can’t actually show you from the Bible how wrong you are, and neither am I going to debate with you concerning the particular scriptures you keep referring to. I’m just telling you that God is raising up women be to Bible teachers and church leaders, and that your objections to it reveal you to be a chauvinist and oppressor of women who needs to repent.” That’s what I got from the vast majority of Christians in England throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – becoming even more pronounced in the 00’s and 10’s – for not being an Evangelical Feminist. I was for donkeys years literally the only Christian I knew of who didn’t believe that women should be in church leadership, and who taught that wives ought to submit to their husbands; and even then, those I did eventually get to know who agreed with scripture were mostly in the church I helped to start back in the 80’s that my family and I are still part of. (It can indeed be lonely being comprehensively biblical in the modern day Church of Jesus Christ!)
Some years ago I had the privilege of accompanying a well-known house church leader and his wife and son to a conference at which both he and I were speakers. I had met him briefly before on a couple of occasions, liked him immensely and was looking forward to several hours of fellowship in the car on the way. However, not only did I discover, somewhat to my dismay, that he was an extremely proactive Evangelical Feminist, but also that he considered his wife to be a Bible teacher and elder as well as himself. We talked a lot and it was eventually concluded (well, it was three against one) that I was an oppressor of women (and I am actually quoting them on that) who needed to repent of the sin of chauvinism. I assured them that neither my wife nor the other women-folk in the church I am part of felt themselves to be in any way oppressed, only to be told in words to the effect of, “Well, they would say that when you’re around, wouldn’t they? They’re just fearful to say anything different. But when we speak with wives when they are away from their husbands, that’s when they feel free to tell us how unhappy they are in their marriages and how oppressed they feel by their husbands being regarded as their head.”
I can only say that my blood ran cold at the thought of this well-known husband and wife team, travelling the world teaching believers about house church, whilst also separating women off from their husbands so they can talk freely with them about how sinful and oppressive their horrible non-Evangelical Feminist Christian husbands are. I am not prone to having nightmares, but had I been I think I might not have slept too well that night!
But because the drive was long, and because I have always considered it to be a good thing to help people take what they say to its logical conclusion – and because sometimes I can just be a bit on the mischievous side – I pushed this husband, father and house church leader to actually explain to me the meaning of the relevant verses in the New Testament with which I was, apparently, so annoying him, and which he just kept desperately trying to ignore. Well, I can be quite persuasive when I want to be – and especially when someone is stuck in a car with me on a long journey – and he eventually admitted that he had no rational explanation regarding them nor answer to them. Yet he nevertheless strongly maintained that I was wrong to believe that women shouldn’t teach, or lead in church gatherings, and that husbands should be the heads of their households, and that I needed to repent. I eventually pressed him to condense his position concerning what we had talked about (he was, after all, stridently urging me to repent of my chauvinism and my sinful oppression of women), and to do so specifically in the light of the verses on which I base my thinking, and so he did. I remember his words to this day and he confirmed everything I have here been saying. “It is obvious,” he said “that God is raising up women into leadership in the kingdom of God. I admit that there are difficult verses in the Bible concerning this, but I believe that in time the Holy Spirit will show us what they mean.”
We have here is the following argument: There are verses in the Bible that clearly state that wives should submit to their husbands as the head of the family, and that church leadership is for men, women thereby being precluded from doing teaching in the church. However, we don’t agree with this, and although we have no rationally satisfactory alternative way in which to understand these clear biblical statements, we are nevertheless not only going to teach the exact opposite of what they say, we are going to condemn and declare sinful those Christians who do understand and teach them just as they are written, and who therefore believe and practice Patriarchy, and call them to repentance. We are further just going to trust that the Holy Spirit will eventually show the Christian Church what these ‘difficult’ verses actually mean.
So there you have it: the utter non-rationality – indeed, the utter non-sense – of Evangelical Feminism! Here is a husband and wife team, both acknowledged house church leaders with an international ministry, who are willing to accuse both myself and others like me of oppressing women, and of therefore being (presumably) both a bad husband and a bad church leader, yet without the slightest biblical rationale or justification for the accusation. Those who, like myself, maintain the orthodox Christian stance of two thousand years regarding God’s differing gender roles and His order for family, are summarily condemned as oppressors of women and urged to repent, even though, as this brother was forced to acknowledge, Christian Feminism has no rational explanation for the verses and passages in the Bible that not only agree with the traditional historic Christian understanding that I hold, but which totally contradict every word they say.
But of course therein lies the problem: the basis of their authority and teaching is actually merely their own subjective opinion, and not the Bible at all! And of course the moment Christians buy into such thinking they rob other Christians of their freedom of thought and conscience before the Lord, and regard their reasoning from scripture to be irrelevant. It therefore becomes a kind of spiritual and doctrinal fascism whereby believers are just expected to agree with whichever extra-biblical and un-biblical beliefs, practices and convictions are becoming the norm, or be labeled as something unpleasant; in this regard, a chauvinistic oppressor of women! It’s exactly the same as the cultural liberals and politicians who, for instance, avoid talking about issues surrounding immigration by labelling anyone who thinks differently to them as being racists. Rational argument is silenced through the tactic of of merely smearing those you disagree with and casting aspersions on them, so as to not have to actually discuss opposing views. After all, who cares what a racist thinks?
I have sometimes ended up at conferences at which I speak surrounded by groups of women challenging me to be more open-minded about them being in leadership and doing teaching, and imploring me to ‘seek God’s heart’ about it, and to be willing to study more about it, and to spend more time in prayer concerning it. My world-weary response seldom changes: “Ladies, just show me what you are arguing for from scripture. Show me from the Bible that women ought to be in church leadership and to be teachers of God’s Word, and on that basis I will gladly accept it as being the Lord’s will and act accordingly.”
But of course what the Bible says concerning it is the very thing they are so desperately trying to avoid, and they want to discuss, argue and debate the issue on just about any and every possible basis except the actual verses in scripture that pertain to it, and which they precisely can’t rationally answer. So it’s avoidance tactics at all costs! Such confrontations invariably end with my challengers mournfully shaking their heads in despair, both bewildered and sad at what a closed-minded deceived person I am. Indeed, a hopeless and deceived legalist who, rather than being open to the Holy Spirit and willing to obey His voice, is prepared only to discuss the matter on the basis of what the Bible says, unable to therefore ever ‘know’ the heart of the Lord.
As already noted regarding that fateful car journey, it is not just women who argue thus either, and Christian men can often be even worse. To further illustrate what it has actually come to in God’s kingdom as a result of all this, during a series of seminars I did in Norway a while back, an extremely disgruntled gentlemen, clearly a genuine believer, used a question and answer session I did to make it as clear as he possibly could to all assembled that he considered me to be in serious error for teaching that church leadership was for men, and proceeded to actually publicly state that nowhere does the Bible teach that wives should submit to their husbands.
Such is the tragedy, and the complete non-sense, of Evangelical Feminism. Christians who are going blatantly against what the Bible so clearly teaches concerning gender differences feel nonetheless absolutely free to accuse those of us who are simply conforming to what it teaches of being close-minded, chauvinistic bigots whose agenda, apparently, is the continued wholesale oppression of women. I put it to you that to say such is to make a very serious and onerous accusation. Indeed, it is actually downright slanderous, slander being a sin both seriously and roundly condemned in the pages of scripture! Yet Evangelical Feminists feel free to bandy such smears and accusations around without the slightest accountability for so doing, and without providing the slightest evidence, be it biblical or otherwise, that such is actually the case. Is someone a racist merely for having questions concerning the extent of immigration? Of course not! Yet as far as these folk are concerned, only chauvinists and bigots – people like me, in fact – would dare to question what they teach concerning gender roles.
It appears to have not occurred to these folk that the single most important and pertinent point concerning this whole Patriarchy versus Evangelical Feminism debate is that the eternal, personal, holy and almighty God just happens to be…Yes, you’ve guessed it! Male! The one true God just happens to be a ‘He’ and not a ‘She’…or an ‘It?’ Does it not occur to them ever that the very foundation of the created order is therefore that of male headship? That the Lord stands in relationship to everything that exists precisely on the basis that He is the universe’s Creator and Patriarch? Yet Patriarchy is the very thing these Bible-believing folk are so desperately trying to deny! Further, is it not of the most crucial significance that, when the Uncreated One and, therefore, the Creator of all, the very Prime Mover behind everything there is, and the First Cause of all things is revealed in human form, He becomes a man and not a woman? But of course He did! He’s male! It is simply the fact of the matter that God is male and the head of all things! So when Evangelical Feminists try to make out that the idea of male headship is merely a cultural oddity, politely musing as to where such a quaint idea comes from, then here is their answer. It came from the Lord God Almighty, Who is precisely the male head of life, the universe and everything, making Him the absolutely ultimate Patriarch! Male headship is actually built into the very fabric of existence. As far as humanity is concerned being created in the image of this Patriarchal God means that, just as marriage and family life is the foundational building block of human existence, so Patriarchy; that is, male headship, is its methodology. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…” (Ephesians3:14-15)
The very basis of family life is that it comes from the Father. It comes from the Lord God Almighty Who is Himself the ultimate Patriarch in Whose image we are created, and Who is therefore precisely the ultimate example of the male headship that is as foundational to family life as is family life itself foundational to human existence. Is it not interesting that throughout scripture the definition of an orphan is not a child whose parents have died, but a child who is without a father? But of course that must be the definition! God is our Father and not our Mother! The Lord Jesus Christ could not have been the Lord Julia Christ, and the Holy Spirit is also quite clearly revealed in God’s Word to be both exclusively and solely of the male gender. Even the slightest notion that the Lord God Almighty might have been revealed in human form equally as a woman rather than as a man would, I trust, be considered heresy of the highest order in the minds of even the most ardent Evangelical Feminists.
The simple fact of the matter is that, far from being something that has merely been wrongly practiced by various cultures throughout history, and which should be rejected by a supposedly ‘more enlightened’ generation, Patriarchy is at the very heart of God’s creation, being part of its actual nature. It’s not just some arbitrary cultural choice – though just as a man can be operated on and made to look physically like a women, so can Patriarchy, equally perversely, be replaced by something else, whether it be gender egalitarianism or Matriarchy – it’s the very essence of God’s order for mankind and is actually built into us, just as is the fact of biological gender itself.
Just as there are those who wish to make gender and, therefore, sexuality arbitrary, as opposed to being the fixed point that it is; that is, the so-called homosexual, lesbian and trans-gender lobby, so there are those, Christians included, who wish to make gender irrelevant to function in God’s kingdom, thereby denying any fundamental difference between male and female beyond mere biology. If there were no God (but then, what would anything matter at all?), or if the Prime Mover and Creator were genderless, a cosmic ‘it’, so to speak, then such could indeed be argued: but when scripture reveals, as part of the very fundamental nature of the Lord God Almighty that, as well as all that stuff about being holy, loving, just, omnipotent, omniscient etc, He also just happens to be male, then such cannot be ignored or just dismissed as being somehow irrelevant to the question of gender roles. And its relevance, as we are seeing here so biblically and powerfully is that male headship is at the very heart, and is the very foundation of, the universe itself. Indeed, it is its very nature, and nowhere more than in the realm of marriage, parenthood and family life.
This is Evangelical Feminism’s ultimate, and biblically completely insurmountable, nemesis and death blow! The Bible teaches, beyond any possible doubt or reservation, that God is male, and that He therefore became a man! End of story! When it can be shown from the Bible that the Creator is no more male than female, and therefore no more our Father than our Mother, and that the Incarnation could have resulted equally in a baby girl as a baby boy, and that a God-woman could have died on the Cross and taken away the sins of the world, and that Paul the Apostle wrote, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the woman Christ Julia…” (1 Timothy 2:5) then I shall be ready to embrace Evangelical Feminism. In the meantime, however, not only does scripture presuppose, teach and assume Patriarchy (male headship) from beginning to end, we would actually be utterly amazed if it did not, such being totally consistent with the fact that the Divine Creator and First Cause of all things is our Father Who art in Heaven!
I want to return to a point made earlier: Are Evangelical Feminists, as they seem to suggest is the case with non-Evangelical Feminists in relation to their wives, closed-minded bigots whose agenda is the continued wholesale oppression of children merely because they agree with, and practice, what the Bible teaches concerning the need for them to obey their parents? Of course not! It is not narrow-minded bigotry to merely stick with what the Bible says about something, be it the authority of a husband over his wife and family, or the authority of parents over their children. That there are bad husbands who selfishly abuse their headship goes without saying, just as there are bad parents who neither care for nor love their children as they should, but that doesn’t mean the answer to such is to try and change what the Bible says concerning those matters! The answer to bad parenting is good parenting, and the answer to bad Patriarchy is good Patriarchy! Husbands should be the loving self-sacrificial heads of their families, laying down their lives for their wives, just as together with their wives they should be equally loving and self-sacrificial parents to their children.
Am I saying, then, that Evangelical Feminists are bad people? No! I’m not saying that at all! Any given Evangelical Feminist may be a wonderful, or a woeful, Christian. They may be the godliest, or un-godliest, believer you’ve ever met. But such is true of any Christian of whatever biblical persuasion concerning just about anything and everything. Indeed, some of the most unpleasant, unloving and (even) downright malicious Christians I have ever met are very close to my own doctrinal stances. What I am saying, though, is that Evangelical Feminists have been taken in by a very subtle and powerful demonic deception, and that they appear to be resistant beyond all reason when it comes to applying the same standards of biblical interpretation to that aspect of the teaching of scripture as they do to others.
Evangelical Feminism, though I do not say its adherents are doing so intentionally, undermines family life by messing with – indeed, by virtually reversing – God’s order for it, and the notion of a biblical church having women leaders is, biblically speaking, a complete oxymoron. There is more to being a biblical church than merely getting church structure and set up right, and to claim to be biblical regarding church life when an aspect of that life is having women in leadership, thereby undermining the headship of the husbands in the church, is not only a contradiction, it is a counter-productive and spiritually dangerous one. If a church is not honouring the absolute and fundamental sanctity of marriage and family life in every way, then it is actually doing damage beyond measure. I could therefore never be part of a church, however biblically based it might otherwise be, that recognised and embraced women as church leaders and teachers. My conscience just wouldn’t allow it. I will gladly fellowship on a personal level with Evangelical Feminists anytime, and even take great joy in so doing, and not to just be trying to change their minds about the subject either. I am, in that regard, happy to just agree to differ. But I draw the line at ever actually being part of a church that has women leaders, or even ‘officially’ relating to such as an outside itinerant ministry. Such could only be seen as me condoning the very error I am committed to both exposing and refuting.
The Scandal of Divorced Church Leaders
Irrespective of my disapproval of Evangelical Feminism I quite readily accept that, however biblically erroneous it is, it can nevertheless be embraced with a genuine innocence. With a certain naiveté even! But the issue to which we now turn is an entirely different animal and I write, without apology, from the viewpoint that those to whom it applies are scurrilous and in actual sin. Christians can embrace Evangelical Feminism and still be godly husbands and wives and faithful and obedient believers, but when we come to consider church leaders who continue in ministry and leadership after their marriages have failed, we find ourselves in an altogether different ball park. There is nothing to be found here of innocence or naiveté, but rather a cocktail of hypocrisy, arrogance and disobedience to scripture that is quite beyond the pale.
Let me make clear, however, that what I am going to be addressing here is the problem of Christian leaders, whether in unbiblical or biblical churches, and whether in local church leadership or wider itinerant ministry, whose marriages have failed, for whatever reason, yet who continue in leadership and ministry even though they are no longer biblically qualified to do so. I am not, therefore, dealing with the subject of divorce and remarriage in general. When a Christian leader experiences marriage breakdown it must be absolutely clear that there is compassion, forgiveness and personal restoration through the grace of the Lord, just as there is for any other believer. Neither am I here dealing with the subject of appropriate post-divorce pastoral care, but purely with the issue as to whether or not a Christian leader should continue in leadership having been divorced. That there is forgiveness and grace for any such one goes without saying. Indeed, I would go further and say that even when believers have illegitimately divorced and remarried, it is only right and proper to honor such marriages as if they are indeed God’s will. You can’t, as it were, unscramble eggs, and to try to do so just makes an even bigger mess than already exists. But the question as to whether or not a man should step down from ministry having divorced is an entirely different thing, and one which scripture covers with great clarity. 
The essence of the qualifications for biblical church leadership is not merely that someone who is being considered as such be able to practically fulfill whatever functional duties are entailed – Bible teaching, the giving of good and wise personal counsel etc – but that they have a long and proven track record of personal godliness and maturity. They must, in every way, be an actual living personal example of what they will be seeking to lead others into through their leadership function, and not merely a purveyor of doctrinal theory. And nothing is emphasized more in scripture in such regard than the absolute necessity for anyone in leadership to have proven and exampled their Christian walk, integrity and faithfulness by being the head of a happy, loving, peaceful and godly marriage and family that any sensible person looking on would desire to emulate.
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5v1-3)
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” (1 Timothy 3v1-5)
“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.” (Titus 1v5-8)
Just how clear could anyone want this to be? Let’s take just two verses out of that lot in order to make sure we really are getting this:
“To the elders among you…Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them…being examples to the flock.”(1 Peter 5)
“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Tim 3v5)
The biblical concept of Christian leadership, whether that of local elders or those with a wider itinerant ministry is, first and foremost, that they be clear personal examples of mature and stable godliness to those who look to them for leadership, and especially in the area of family life. If a man divorces his wife, or is divorced by her, irrespective of whose fault it might be said to be, he is patently no longer such an example. He is therefore obviously no longer biblically qualified for leadership, quite irrespective of how good at talking, teaching, or performing in public he remains. Such a one should, quite simply, step down and resign from whatever leadership functions they are performing.
The tragedy of what we are considering here though is that, however sad it is that a Christian leader should have his marriage fail in the first place, the resulting failure to step down from their leadership function merely compounds the problem by leading them into further sin. Think about it! Firstly, a leader with a failed marriage, who nonetheless remains a leader, is in direct disobedience to the clear teaching of the New Testament that he is no longer morally and spiritually qualified for the task. Though he obviously retains the necessary functional skills, he no longer – and this is of far more importance than the mere ability to ‘perform’ – has the personal and spiritual authority to be considered to be such. In complete contradistinction to what the Bible teaches about church leaders needing to be examples to the flock, he is now, by definition, no longer able to be such to those who look to him for leadership. Indeed, by continuing in leadership such a one actually weakens other marriages by becoming instead an example of the increasingly prevalent view amongst Christians that marriage is not as sacred as the Bible teaches, it being perfectly acceptable to have one break down and then carry on pretty much as though nothing of any great importance had happened. When those who look to such people for leadership go through difficulties in their marriages, they are obviously far more likely to be tempted to cut and run, as happened in their leaders’ marriages, than to instead go through the necessary self-sacrifice in order to stay with their spouses and make things work come what may. ‘For better or for worse!’ is not part of the traditional marriage vows just for fun. Even more terrible, such leaders, having messed up one marriage, often feel free to go ahead and find someone else with whom they can have another crack of the whip. Not for them the rigors of a single life. Oh no, they want to have their cake and eat it too.
Secondly, and this is truly sickening to anyone who thinks biblically, the reason such people often give for not stepping down from leadership and ministry, even though they have a broken marriage behind them and are therefore no longer biblically qualified, is pretty much always because they consider their ministries to be so important, and themselves so indispensable, that they feel it their duty to the wider body of Christ, irrespective of what the Bible says, to continue in their calling. Not thinking of themselves at all – or so they always claim – they continue in ministry purely for the benefit of the wider body of Christ. Or, to put it another way, not only do they have failed marriages, they go on to show themselves to be hypocrites too.
When Charles Stanley, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, and one of America’s most influential evangelical Christian leaders, was divorced by his wife at the turn of the century, having previously publicly taught that he would step down should such ever happen, he stayed on as Pastor saying that he felt he had to continue in order to be ‘faithful to God’s call.’ Further, the church’s administrative Pastor, Rev. Gearl Spicer, said at the time, “It is my biblical, spiritual and personal conviction that God has positioned Dr. Stanley in a place where his personal pain has validated his ability to minister to all of us.”  Or, to put it another way, irrespective of the fact that scripture makes clear that church leaders should be examples of successful marriage and family life, we are now told that the opposite is equally the case, and that someone with a failed marriage is just as able to help the rest of us to follow the Lord, and to have a better, more godly and successful one; a viewpoint clearly not shared by the divinely inspired writers of the New Testament. It is like hiring a thief to teach people honesty, or paying a bent cop to lecture on the ethics of policing. Not only is it bizarre and irrational, it is Orwellian doublespeak worthy of the very worst of the dishonest, self-serving, non-transparent and disingenuous politicians we have become so used to today. And just like those same politicians who themselves break the laws they make for others to obey, the teaching of the Bible, it would appear, applies to non-leaders, but not to the church leaders whose function it supposedly is, through teaching and personal example, to lead the non-leaders into holiness and godly living through obedience to it. This is not only morally wrong; it is also a complete farce! As with Evangelical Feminism, it’s like stepping through the looking glass into a world where nothing makes sense any more. But whereas going through it with Alice is fun, with these guys it’s a complete spiritual and moral nightmare.
So when it comes to having men in church leadership who have divorced since being in ministry, to the problem of their failed marriages we must further add direct disobedience to God’s Word concerning who is, and who is not, qualified to function as a church leader in the first place; to say nothing of the spiritual arrogance involved in this most appalling hypocrisy and lack of personal integrity. It should be said, however, in defense of Charles Stanley, that at least he has had the decency not to remarry, something that sadly cannot be said for a great many other divorced church leaders, house church ones included. I am not saying that I would refuse to have personal fellowship with a believer who was a church leader who had been divorced since their ministry commenced, but I would certainly not publicly co-minister with them or relate to them on a personal basis as being in leadership! Again, it could only be seen as condoning something I believe from scripture to be completely and utterly wrong.
I can only hope and pray that my reader grasps just how serious, and how linked, these two things we are here addressing are. Anyone who fails to see the historic connection between the rise of feminism and the increase in family breakdown and divorce, even amongst believers, must be truly blind. And any Christian who fails to further see the connection between the Christian Church’s acceptance of feminism and the fact that in America the divorce rate is actually higher amongst professing Christians than amongst unbelievers, must be blinder still. What will then follow, as a direct result, will be an increasing acceptance amongst Christians of the legitimacy of, for instance, a gay life style, and even the acceptance of the concept of gay marriage. After all, if practicing heterosexual Christians are seen to consider themselves free to go against what the Bible teaches concerning gender differences and the sanctity of marriage, then why shouldn’t homosexual and lesbian ones be free to do the same? On what possible basis can Christians who twist and disobey scripture regarding heterosexual marriage and sexuality challenge those who claim that the Lord approves of them practicing a gay lifestyle? At the time of writing both the American President, Barack Obama, and British Prime Minister, David Cameron, endorse gay marriage, and if the prophetic significance of that is lost on anyone reading this then I fear it can only be because they are for some reason incapable of thinking perceiving things biblically!
I cannot emphasize enough the need for there to be clear blue water established between those Christians who want to live fully and comprehensively biblically, and those who want to rather compromise with the world and just water down what scripture teaches in order to make sin easier to embrace and get away with. Indeed, it is to want more to be popular and well thought of by the surrounding sinful culture than it is to want to be faithful to the Lord God and obedient to His Word. And nowhere is that clear blue water needed more than amongst house churches where, sadly, some of the very worst of the compromised morally bankrupt Christianity on offer today can be found.
For six thousand years Satan has been attacking family life in an effort to destroy it, and he is now recruiting evangelical, Bible-believing Christians to his cause. We would expect to see the cultural liberals helping him, as we would the theological ones, but now even genuine believers are piling on the bandwagon, armed to the teeth with their Evangelical Feminism, easy divorce and remarriage and church leaders and teachers who pander to both. When even genuine Christian church leaders can get away with such hypocrisy, one really does have to say that the gullible and compromising Christians who look up to, follow and support them really are getting the leaders they deserve. Whether it be Charles Stanley from the traditional historic wing of the church, or someone like Frank Viola from the house church arena, the arrogance and hypocrisy is the same. When it comes to what churches ought to be like in their set up, functioning and practice, the issue should never be merely that of embracing a biblical ecclesiology as opposed to an unbiblical one. It should be about something far more fundamental and important; that is, honesty as opposed to dishonesty, integrity as opposed to hypocrisy, truth as opposed to falsehood, and faithfulness as opposed to betrayal. It should be about being comprehensively biblical as opposed to just picking and choosing according to which aspects of the Bible’s teaching one happens to like and which one doesn’t, and therefore simply ignoring and disobeying them. As someone on the house church wing of things I desire to make every possible effort in order to ensure that people know the difference between those who really are serious about godliness, and therefore about comprehensive obedience to God’s Word – and especially regarding the sanctity of marriage and family life – and those who merely pay it lip service. In such regard it is especially tragic that, whereas Charles Stanley at least had the decency not to remarry, Frank Viola went on to marry for a second time.
We are forced, then, to make a choice, and it is this. One of my favorite books is, ironically, ‘Mere Christianity’ by C S Lewis. I say ironically because although borrowing his terminology, I am going to use it in a completely different way from him. Because what we face today as believers is nothing less than the decision as to whether we are going to be mere Christians, by which I mean those who follow the Lord to a certain extent, but who bend to the opinions of the world and surrounding culture, and who therefore twist what the Bible says about certain things unbelievers don’t like to hear; or whether we are going to be full-blooded, genuinely Spirit-filled Christians, who not only don’t bend when worldly winds of doctrine try so hard to make us do so, but who rather strengthen up, straighten up and emphasize all the more whatever it is Satan is getting the ‘mere’ Christians to compromise over. And if we have leaders, even house church ones, who aren’t on that page, be they Evangelical Feminists, or those who have failed marriages behind them since being in leadership, or maybe even a mixture of both, then let’s just stop following them and supporting them. Let’s stop buying their books, attending their conferences and, of course, giving them money, and get on with the task of following the Lord, fully and biblically, without them.
I know from long experience that there will be those who will write to me objecting to what I am saying here. From that same long experience I also know that some of them will be rude and quite intentionally nasty, seeking merely to demean and humiliate, rather than simply answering what I have written on the basis of biblical reasoning. It is sad indeed that there are so many rude and nasty Christians around. Therefore, before you do write – though if you are planning to write and say, ‘Well done Beresford! Bravo!’ then please don’t wait a moment longer – whether you are intending to be rude or not, please take time to just pause and reflect on the simple fact that all I have done here is to plead that Christians adhere consistently and faithfully to a morality and standard of behavior that has not been called into question throughout two millennia of church history…until now! Yet not only do some Christians want to call it into question, becoming thereby one of the tiniest of minorities throughout Christian history that there has probably ever been, they want to do so in such a way as to infer that those of us who do stand in the orthodox faith regarding these matters, and who stand by what the Bible has always been instinctively known by Christians everywhere to teach, are narrow-minded and judgmental bigots. Yet though strictly the new kids on the block, they nonetheless seek to defend what Christian history has always considered indefensible; that is, feminism, illegitimate divorce and remarriage and the legitimacy of divorced church leadership. In so doing they boldly claim to be the self-evidently true, righteous, genuine and unmistakable voice of God. Indeed, the restorers of a divine truth and the heroes of a movement up there with the abolition of the slave trade! We have a saying here in England, “Go on! Pull the other one! It’s got bells on!”
So if you want to write and tell me that you think I am in the wrong regarding what I have written, then at least be honest enough to accept that you will be writing because you want to justify and defend easier divorce and remarriage, along with the weakening of family life that such inevitably entails, and that your objection is to my belief in marriage’s absolute sanctity. Perhaps you could also explain to me why my beliefs concerning the sanctity of marriage and family life make me in some way a bad Christian, whilst your beliefs, which clearly, and however unintentionally, make the ongoing weakening and breakdown of family life far more likely, make you a good one.
Further, if you want to suggest that I am in some way undesirable because you want to defend leaders who betray their marriage vows and families, yet who nonetheless feel their ministries to be so important that the Church of Jesus Christ simply can’t be expected to get by without them, than please be honest enough to admit that such is your position. But again, please explain to me from scripture why such a viewpoint is a good one to have, and why it makes you a desirable Christian, whilst those who hold the same convictions on the matter that I do, are to be considered in some way undesirable and bigoted. Also, if you want to correct, or even actually rebuke me, for speaking up for the notion of holding to standards that have been considered by Christians to be the biblical norm for two thousand years, but which you have decided no longer apply, then please make it clear that that is why you wish to take me to task, and that it is not for any other reason. And then please explain to me from scripture, and I do mean from scripture and not any other sources, why it is folk like me who need to be corrected and not you. Finally, if you want to set me straight because I believe that personal holiness, integrity and obedience to the Lord matter more than being a good Bible teacher, or a good evangelist – or a good anything else for that matter – then please, just say that; but please, please, please don’t dress it up so as to make it sound like something else. Just make it clear that such is your objection. But make it clear too in what way scripture backs your position, as opposed to the position I have outlined, and why it is me, and not you, who needs to be put straight concerning it!
So yes, please feel absolutely free to write to me and disagree with what I say, and to take me to task all you like. I have no objection whatever to honest and open debate, and welcome it from all sides. Just make it clear though that your objection is that I am holding to things in the Bible which you want to get round because they are in some way offensive to you. But please, don’t let’s have the standard stuff Evangelical Feminists throw at those who believe as I do about us being unloving, judgmental, ‘out of step with what the Holy Spirit is doing’ and ‘not knowing what the mind of the Lord is concerning women in leadership.’ If your objection is that I am teaching things from the Bible that you don’t like, then fair enough, just bite the bullet, be honest and say that. Indeed, it would be honorable to do so precisely because it is so honest, and I would greatly respect you for it even whilst disagreeing. Just don’t disguise it as being something else though, or try to confuse the issue with the false spirituality and reasoning that maintains that God leads His people contrary to His Word, and which then attacks those who hold to the biblical positions you don’t like on that basis.
And don’t try to get round what I am saying either by putting me down to being one of those puritanical, legalistic types who thrive on any possible opportunity for self-denial or the opportunity to spoil other people’s fun. I am, for one, a massive Star Trek fan. Neither am I, for instance, teetotal. Further, I like going to the beach and just love having fun in any way, shape or form that my conscience is clear the Lord wouldn’t object to. No! These are not just some secondary issues over which I am trying to be a killjoy! We are here talking about things that are absolutely basic to Christian discipleship and which are biblically totally fundamental. My plea is not to be equated with that of a spiritual party-pooper who objects to people enjoying themselves, or them going to the cinema, or playing games, or hunting, or enjoying sport. I am not here objecting to such things as dancing, playing cards or listening to music. No! I am objecting to the denigration of established Christian standards at their most fundamental level, and to the increasing and wholesale compromise and sell-out of what the Bible teaches concerning God’s order for family life. Indeed, of the very sanctity of marriage itself. I am simply asserting that Christians are wrong to disagree with what the Bible clearly teaches, whether it be concerning marriage, family life, church leadership or anything else. I am saying that to divorce, outside of being the innocent victim of unrepentant adultery, or being deserted by an unbelieving spouse, is wrong, and that to then compound it by illegitimately remarrying makes it even worse. I am saying too that Christian leaders are wrong to continue in ministry if their marriages have failed, and that they should rather show integrity and humility and stand down. These are things in scripture that are both crystal clear and foundational, and which should be therefore non-negotiable.
Let me sum up! God is for family and loves it with His whole heart! Satan hates whatever the Lord loves and is therefore completely against it! So, hey! Guess who’s inspiring the thinking of those Christians who want to downplay the sanctity of marriage and who contradict God’s order for family life? Guess who’s behind the thinking of Christians who want to make divorce and remarriage easier and more acceptable? And guess too who’s behind the idea of having church leaders who have divorced since being in ministry, or who have, even worse, divorced and then actually remarried? Then, finally, guess who’s backing those Christians who are gullible enough to keep on following and supporting them? Acts 20v27  This doesn’t, of course, mean that I always get it right. Quite the contrary! One of the ways in which I describe my walk with the Lord is ‘the ongoing process of discovering what I’m wrong about.’  The assertion that there should not be any difference in function between men and women, outside of pure biology, and that husbands are not in authority over their wives, and therefore not the head of the family, the marriage relationship being regarded as fully egalitarian.  I use this word not as an insult, but simply in the sense that Evangelical Feminists adhere to a position that makes absolutely no sense. It is, therefore, quite literally non-sense!  For instance, if the Bible isn’t God’s revealed infallible Word, then who cares what it says anyway? Further, if scripture merely ‘contains’ the Word of God, as opposed to actually ‘being’ it, then on what possible basis can anyone say where it is right or wrong? If the Bible writers were wrong about certain things they teach, then on what basis can we know that they were wrong, and on what basis can someone say that they, in contradistinction to the Bible writers, are correct? Moreover, if one of the contentions of theological liberalism is that the Bible writers were misled about certain things because of their cultural conditioning, then on what basis do these Bible critics assume they are not likewise merely being conditioned by the culture in which they live? This really is as irrational as it gets! Indeed, it is a prime example of intellectually capable thinkers actually thinking incapably, and for the simple reason that they don’t want certain things in God’s Word to be true because it doesn’t suit their sinfulness. For a more detailed treatment of the philosophical and theological background to theological liberalism see my book, ‘Learning to Whistle!’ which is available through the Amazon Kindle store.  But of course now we are now hitting up against the exact same irrationality of theological liberalism, because if you think Paul was wrong on this, then on what basis do you decide what else he may or may not have been right or wrong about? After all, if some parts of scripture are wrong, such as Paul’s teaching about women, and others right, how could you ever know for sure which is which?  I obviously reject the equally unbiblical notion of chauvinism, as I do the historic twisting of scripture in such regard that has so sadly featured throughout church history, and which has been used to justify the denigration of women in general. Sadly, the Early Church Fathers, as well as the Reformers, contributed to this denigration, believing women to be inferior to men. They were actually as unbiblical in their thinking on the subject of women as Evangelical Feminists are, only on the diametric opposite wing of the argument.  For a definitive treatment of the error of Evangelical Feminism, as well as being a comprehensively biblical death blow to it, see ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’, Edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Crossway Books. See also the equally devastating ‘Evangelical Feminism: a New Path to Liberalism?’ by Wayne Grudem, Crossway Books. If I can be said to hurling a few hand grenades at Evangelical Feminism, then these two books are are the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.  For a full treatment of my own personal understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning divorce and remarriage, an audio talk entitled, ‘Divorce and Remarriage’ (GT 29) is available through our church website. Click here to listen.  See: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/september4/30.47.html and http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2000/06/A-High-Profile-Divorce-The-Cost-Of-Biblical-Faithfulness.aspx