John Shaw is back on the podcast. John started this series with a podcast about the importance of communication. Then two weeks ago, he discussed the issue of race and the church. This week he returns with another timely issue – gender, women, and the church. This is certainly a topic of conversation both outside and inside the church. But we need to ask the question within our own Reformed circle, and especially in our OPC circle: Have we considered carefully our own application of biblical principles on this matter? And maybe more pointed: Are we willing to have our own blind spots exposed, to consider how we can be more consistently biblical in affirming the appropriately high place of women in the church of Jesus Christ?
In addition to the podcast, John has included some questions below to help us think about application, for those who are interested in digging a little deeper. What are some of our blind spots? And how can we address those blind spots with more consistent biblical practice? You can find those questions below, along with some suggested reading and resources.
You can listen here or simply search for “Outward OPC” anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Here are some questions to encourage additional thought and evaluation of our practice.
1) During the podcast, John says that abusers often view the church as a place to hide. First of all, do you believe that is true? Why might that be true? And if it is true, how should that change how we receive complaints about abuse? And how should that change how we care for those who have been abused? Are we willing to listen carefully and patiently to those who have been abused, even when they place some of the responsibility at the feet of the church and her officers? (For some instruction on this topic, consider the resources listed below.)
2) John talks about the importance of affirming the “office of believer.” In other words, everyone who has been saved by the blood of Christ shares equally in the office of believer, and with that office come specific promises, privileges, and opportunities to serve. Take some time to consider how that doctrine, affirmed during the Protestant Reformation, should inform local church ministry. Here are some questions to help:
What are all the ways and where are all the places where men and women, both, can serve in the church?
What about single men and women? What about children?
And how can we encourage, empower, and equip believers to use their gifts and passions in those various places of ministry?
3) Thinking a little deeper about the shared office of believer, do we give enough attention to how we relate to one another as equals (see Westminster Larger Catechism 131-132)? What are the implications of this biblical truth for the relationship in the church between men and women? If so, what are the practical impacts?
4) The Bible commands us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).” With this in mind: What are some of the stereotypes regarding the role of women in the family and in the church that we might have uncritically accepted? How do we distinguish between extra-biblical stereotypes and abiding biblical principles?
While not discussed in the podcast, this would be a good time for sessions, with their congregations, to develop policies on protection and abuse (if a policy does not yet exist), or review and potentially revise policies already in place. There are many good online resources that provide help.
Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church – Diane Langberg
Is It Abuse? – Darby Strickland
Something’s Not Right – Wade Mullen
Diane Langberg’s website – with a whole collection of resources (podcasts, videos, blog, recommended resources) : https://www.dianelangberg.com
Here is one more resource regarding abusers inside the church. You should know, before reading it, that there are some disturbing but necessary details in this article. The question posed by the article (what if they had known?) should challenge Christians and Christian leaders to careful evaluation regarding matters of abuse and protection in the church – matters of biblical significance.