Broken relationships between men and women exist in every society throughout the world.
But Jesus, through His crucifixion and resurrection, can redeem and restore these relationships.
Relationships between men and women shattered in Genesis 3 at the Fall.
Thus, this spiritual stronghold has been building for thousands of years.
In a series of short blogs, we identity and examine some of these spiritual strongholds that need to be subdued
in order for men and women to relate in a way that honors both God and one another.
Sure, the Bible is true…but what kind of truth is it?
Even when Christians believe that God’s Word is reliable and trustworthy, the enemy still has other modes of attack.
You may know that there are two distinct kinds of truth found in the Bible – Universal Truth and Culture-Specific Truth. It takes godly wisdom to understand each one. Universal truth is true in every generation and situation. It does not change. Culture-Specific truth is true in certain places and times. It can vary.
Let us give you an example.
A certain man in a U.S. partnering church became irate when he learned that we equip women as church planters in Asia. Because he was actively trying to ruin the partnership (making false accusations to church leadership), Chad flew to Virginia. “Let’s use Matthew 18 and gather those you have engaged in this situation.” This man argued that Matthew 18 had nothing to do with non-profits!
While there, Chad explained from Scripture how God had used women to plant house churches. He spoke of Lydia, Priscilla, Phoebe, etc. The others listened respectfully and heard Chad’s heart, and they agreed. Yet, they also feared the wealthy man causing the conflict and confusion.
At the end of the meeting, when Chad was about to leave, Chad added one more thing. “Brothers, I am offended. Not one of you has greeted me with a kiss. You only shook my hands. Paul says to greet each other with a holy kiss. Scripture was disobeyed.” They all looked at him, and Chad began to laugh. “Thank you, for NOT greeting me with a kiss! That’s my point. You know ‘greeting with a kiss’ is a local custom – it’s not a universal truth. It’s obvious that when we interpret the Bible, we have to figure out if a biblical command is universal or cultural. If you misinterpret what is universal or cultural, you could be teaching the Bible falsely.”
To overcome the spiritual stronghold of “misusing Scripture,” believers must have a teachable heart, reliance on the Holy Spirit for discernment, and great humility! (Notice these character traits – teachability, reliance on the Spirit, and humility – all necessary to both interpret and obey Jesus well).
Keeping this article at the level of spiritual strongholds, we see two general tendencies among those who use the Bible, but “miss the mark” regarding men and women serving God out of their giftedness. These errors usually have to do with misapplication, and they fall along a spectrum. On one side is “Liberalism,” and on the other side is “Legalism.”
The enemy loves liberalism! Liberalism takes truths that are universal and says, “No, these ideas may be specifically true for you, but they are not true for me.” Some examples of universal truth include: Jesus’ virgin birth, salvation only through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and we all need a Savior, God created the world, Jesus will return, God designed marriage between one man and one woman, babies in the womb are living humans/persons, etc. Liberalism essentially says, “God’s holy standards do not apply to me in this situation. God’s suggestions are not actually commands. It’s not sin. I can do what I want to do.” The enemy smiles at sin-glorifying misapplication.
The enemy also loves legalism! Legalism takes what is true in one specific culture or time and attempts to apply it as a rule everywhere (as a universal). Examples include: head coverings, jewelry, clothing, greetings, types of food, worship styles, etc. Legalism essentially says, “All the rules in the Bible are to be applied today exactly as when they were written. If you do not follow our interpretation of these rules, you are in sin.” (Yet not many of them follow “Greet each other with a holy kiss.” 2 Cor. 13:12) The enemy smiles at graceless churches.
Overcoming liberalism and legalism requires accurately and carefully handling God’s Word. We believe this starts with both a high view of God and a high view of Scripture where we learn Who God is. A.W. Tozer stated, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us.”
The enemy hates when Christians “rightly divide the word of truth” 2 Tim. 2:15. Humility, teachability, and daily guidance from the Holy Spirit work to subdue the enemy of truth. When both liberalism and legalism contort Scripture, they present a warped gospel that misaligns God’s character.
In biblical passages related to men and women, we see many examples of Christian “gymnastics” that stretch interpretation into misapplication. For example:
Many say a woman shouldn’t preach in church, and they may quote 1 Cor. 14:35 “for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” Yet, women speak on Christian radio and on apologetic podcasts. Is that sinful? Female scholars and inspirational authors write books that Christian men can read. Women also sing aloud in corporate worship and sing solos at church. So, does God consider a woman’s voice “disgraceful” or not? What if the music is turned off and she simply speaks the worship song as a piece of theology? Is that sinful? The Corinthians 14 passage is not about a woman being called a “senior pastor” or “teaching pastor” or any churchy title. So why do some Christians claim women can sing a solo or can give a testimony, but claim this passage simply means she can’t be a pastor? Do you see the haphazardly drawn lines of theological limitation? Are all women in all cultures and at all times to, “be silent in the churches” (14:34) Do you see the gymnastics people do in order for women’s voices to be okay in some situations? Why? It certainly can be contorted and confusing!
Others promote the twisted view that people are NOT sinful, NOT separated from God; we are just “wounded” and Jesus “accepts us we are” (as in, keep on doing what you are doing)! If you have heard this view, it represents a LOW view of God and His Word. It’s not biblical. Jesus spoke and confronted sin many times in the Scriptures. He died because we are separated from God due to our sin, and we need a Savior! All sin of any kind must be confessed, repented, and dealt with. Jesus died for all sins, but we should not continue in them. Having a natural temptation to lust or lie or steal does not make those actions right and honorable. God gives strict guidelines that Christian leaders and Christians must follow in matters of purity, honesty, self-control, generosity, and more. To NOT speak about God’s holy standards is not loving. Jesus identified sin, and He told the woman caught in adultery to “leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Jesus’ answer was clear and loving. Sin is sin, so Jesus and the Bible say “stop it”.
The enemy wants Christians to disobey God’s holy standards. Misapplied truth equals:
– Confused standards
– Fewer harvesters
– No tectonic shifting
– No mountains move
– The Fallen world remains ignorant of God’s beautiful kingdom!
Pray that those involved in multiplying men and women for the Great Commission will trust God’s Word and apply it as God intended. May God’s truth shine brightly. May the mountains of DISTRUST and MISUSE be moved, in Jesus’ name!