You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Mary Kassian gives a helpful overview of the feminist movement and its impact on the evangelical church. We must be aware of both the positive and negative effects of the movement, and how feminism has influenced our thinking and practice. Mary reminds us to hold firm to God’s good and wise design for male and female according to Scripture. She will be teaching again this year at Revive ’17, Adorned: Women Mentoring Women The Titus 2 Way.

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Shepherds and Sisters Interview: Courtney Reissig

courtney-reissigCourtney Reissig is a wife, mother, and writer. She has written for numerous Christian publications including the Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, and the Her.meneutics blog, and is also an assistant editor for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Courtney is the author of The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design and Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God. She also writes regularly at “In View of God’s Mercy”.

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The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 8 of 8)

This series of posts has presented the problem of the emerging generation of accidental feminists. There are an increasing number of young Christian women in evangelical churches who lack a proper understanding of biblical womanhood, identity in Christ, and a mature knowledge of the Bible. Some of the contributing causes to this problem were presented, including the impact of the feminist movement on the church, the lack of older women teaching younger women, and the effect of church elders neglecting to intentionally disciple older women for this task. A brief survey of the state of practice in the church revealed that while much has been done to develop women’s ministry programs and curriculum, very little evidence shows that elders are embracing their mandate to intentionally equip older women to train younger women. Observations on the present state of practice in Canada were presented and field research was proposed that will facilitate the testing of these perceptions. In summary, this series offered a brief overview of a problem in the church that requires further attention. Over the next while, I look forward to doing more research and writing on this topic that I might help direct women to the truths of God’s Word about his good design for their lives. I pray that the Lord will speak through his Scriptures to help churches define and implement a plan for the intentional discipleship of women, considering the roles of elders, older women, and younger women.

In her response to the rise of accidental feminism in the church, Courtney Reissig astutely declares, “Recovering from feminism and embracing God’s idea of womanhood is far more than a throwback to a 1950s television show.”[1] While there have been initial steps made to address this growing concern in the church, there is much more work to be done. This is an extremely relevant project for younger women in particular. For if they are not equipped to become the older women described in Titus 2, the biblical identity of the next generation of women could be in serious jeopardy. Let us pray  that the church in Canada will seek to be rooted in all of Scripture, taking seriously God’s original design for man and woman, and his intentional strategy to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

[1] Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design(Wheaton: Crossway,2015), 16.

 

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 7 of 8)

Determining Reality

In our discussion thus far, the evidence suggests that the intentional discipleship of women according to Titus 2 is not presently an overwhelming reality in the Canadian church. Based on initial informal surveying of the evangelical landscape over the last decade, there are a number of possible contributing factors to why this could be so. There are four main groups that offer insight into some of these potential reasons: younger women, older women, women’s ministry leaders, and pastors/elders.

Many younger Christian women are unaware of their need for godly mentorship, and seek support and mentorship from their peer group in the same life stage. Other younger women desire a role model or mentor, but don’t see any older women who seem willing or available. Ironically, many older women feel they are not wanted or needed by the younger generation who seemingly have the latest and greatest ways of doing things. Furthermore, since the rise of double income households and later retirement, older women have busy work schedules or plans to travel or relax once they have retired. Other older women display godly character and capabilities, but lack the training or confidence to offer their mentorship. Moreover, when both younger and older women find one another and desire a Titus 2 relationship, they feel ill-equipped to know what the next step is, or how it should work out in practice.

At the leadership level, many women’s ministry leaders have drifted away from upholding Scripture as foundational to their practice and offer a variety of social gatherings, book studies, or community service events. Even many who remain committed to God’s Word tend to adopt the traditional practice of women’s ministry to host Bible studies, run events, mom’s groups, and organize retreats. Others have embraced the pre-packaged DVD curriculum that is convenient, but removes the need to disciple faithful women who are able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). Furthermore, many women’s ministry leaders have adopted a biblical vision for ministry among women and named it “Proverbs 31” or “Titus 2” but have failed to see the need to submit to and invite in the teaching and equipping ministry of the elders in their church.

The fourth group consists of the pastors and elders of the church. There seems to be an assumption that women’s discipleship is happening because there is a women’s ministry leader and calendar full of happenings. Furthermore, there seems to be a lack awareness of the role of elders in the intentional discipleship of older women according to Titus 2 and the Pastoral Epistles in general. Perhaps the most troubling concern here is that the overseers of the local church have become distracted from the ministry of the Word by various other matters of the church that are not mandated in Scripture.  Throughout the New Testament, there are seven main functions of elders that emerge: (1) Leading; (2) Protecting; (3) Teaching; (4) Discipling; (5)Disciplining; (6) Praying; (7) Being Hospitable (John 21:15–19; Acts 6:1–7; 11:30; 14:23; 15:6; 20:17–38; 21:17–26; 1 Corinthians 9:1–14; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1–7; 3:10; 4:14; 5:17–25; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Peter 5:1–5; James 3:1; 5:13–15; Hebrews 13:17).[1] It is essential to note that each of these aspects of eldering have to do with the ministry of the Scriptures and the equipping of God’s people. Even the mandate to practice hospitality provides a context for discipleship and modelling godliness. When the biblical role of elders is considered in the context of women’s discipleship, it leads to the conclusion that elders must intentionally lead, protect, teach, disciple, discipline, pray, and show hospitality to older women in an appropriate context, so that they can then train younger women in the same way.

[1]EldersThe Rock Community Church.

 

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 6 of 8)

Hopeful Steps Forward

In the last decade there have been some attempts to address the issue of pastors and elders discipling older women. In 2006, Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt wrote Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.[1] With Duncan’s experience as a pastor and Hunt’s extensive involvement in women’s ministry, they work together to offer a unique and biblical perspective on this topic. Hunt argues that the church needs an apologetic on biblical womanhood as it gives women a framework for women to live out our intended design as helpers.[2] In addition to arguing for the complementarian position as foundational, the book draws five emphases from the pastoral epistles for establishing a women’s ministry: (1) 1 Timothy 2:9-15: Submission; (2) 1 Timothy 3:11: Compassion; (3) 1 Timothy 5: Community; (4) Titus 2: Discipleship; and (5) 2 Timothy 3:1-17: Scripture.[3] Hunt affirms that each of these principles must be done under the oversight and in submission to the authority of the church elders. While this resource gives an excellent start to the discussion, there is much more that could be explored on the intentionality of pastors and elders equipping older women. There has been some further discussion, albeit limited, on this relationship specifically.

In 2010, the 9Marks Journal published an issue entitled, “Pastoring Women: Understanding and Honoring Distinctness.”[4] There are a number of valuable contributions in this installment which will now be outlined. Owen Strachan draws attention to the distinction of gender roles in creation, the fall, and the curse as an apologetic for the function of women in the church.[5] He writes, “Men have been created and commanded to lead the church’s mission, expose Scripture, shepherd, and give oversight. Women have been created and commanded to submit to the church’s mission and to buttress the ministry produced by the male leaders.”[6] In “Why Complementarianism is Crucial to Discipleship,” Jonathan Leeman affirms gender specific discipleship and adds an important emphasis on the intentional equipping of biblical men.[7] He writes, “With faithful Christian men in place, Christian women can more easily adopt a posture of helping, assisting, and facilitating the work of the Word in the church. They do this by following the leadership of worthy men.”[8] This is an important contribution to the discussion on women’s discipleship that merits much further attention in future field research.

In the same 9Marks Journal issue, Deepak Reju keenly identifies the need for pastors to equip women in their congregations to disciple other women in his article, “Discipling Men vs. Discipling Women.”[9] He argues that the church must build a culture of discipleship by teaching on it from the pulpit and other venues, and by inviting older women to these opportunities.[10] Furthermore, Bob Johnson contributes a unique perspective on this topic in the article, “How Pastors Can Equip Women for Ministry.”[11] He outlines three main aspects: (1) why equipping women for ministry is important; (2) what type of church is best to equip women; and (3) how to equip women for ministry.[12] Johnson rightly affirms that it is part of the pastor’s calling to equip all believers, affirms the mandate in Titus 2 to instruct the older women that God’s Word may not be reviled, and argues that there is a desperate need for women in ministry.[13] In summary, this 2010 issue of the 9Marks Journal offered much valuable insight to the topic of discipleship and the relationship between pastors and women.

There was one article in particular that raised awareness of the specific calling for church leadership, not just pastors, to equip women to disciple other women. In her article, “Wanted: More Older Women Discipling Younger Women,” Susan Hunt identifies the disconnect between the biblical mandate for the equipping of women and the practice in the church today.[14] She writes:

In verse 1 Paul addresses his instructions on discipleship to Titus, the pastor. Since women training women is an integral part of the church’s ministry, Titus must equip the women in his church to do so. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every church leader to see that women are equipped for this calling.[15]

Hunt effectively draws attention to a significant aspect of the role of elders in the church. They are to teach what accords with sound doctrine to the older women in order to equip them to teach what is good to the younger women (Titus 2:1, 3-5).

In 2014 this mandate was assessed by Thabiti Anyabwile as he suggested that elders in the church are failing to prioritize the discipleship of older women in an article entitled, “The Most Neglected Part of the Pastor’s Job Description.”[16] He considers the exhortation in Titus for qualified elders to train their congregants in both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Anyabwile writes:

I’ve come to believe that the most neglected aspect of a pastor’s job description is the command for pastors to disciple older women in their congregations. It’s a massive omission since in nearly every church women make up at least half the membership and in many cases much more. And when you consider how many ministries and committees depend upon the genius, generosity and sweat of our sisters, it’s almost criminal that most any pastor you meet has no plan for discipling the women of his church apart from outsourcing to a women’s ministry staff person or committee.[17]

If this is in fact true, it would offer much insight as to why younger Christian women are falling through the cracks in most discipleship models of the evangelical church.

Arguably the most hopeful development for the intentional discipleship of women happened in the summer of 2015, when The Gospel Coalition released a book and a vision entitled, Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church.[18] Their goal is for congregations to consider how to engage in women’s ministry that is grounded in Scripture within the context of the church, and their prayer is for God to raise up godly women to teach and disciple other women.[19] In the forward, Don Carson states that he hopes some pastors will read and profit from this book and encourage the suggested practices in their own congregations.[20] Furthermore, in the hope that church leadership will get more involved, they are planning to offer regional training programs for women in ministry which are pastor-led and Bible-based.[21]

While many of these resources and visions are leading the church in a scriptural direction, there is one crucial aspect that demands much further attention. The intentional involvement of pastors and elders in the equipping of older women and their oversight of women’s discipleship in the local church is absolutely essential for the church to respond to the emergence of accidental feminism. It is only then that older women will be identified and equipped to teach the younger women what is good and train them in godliness.

[1] Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006).

[2] Ibid, 32-36.

[3] Ibid, 69-144.

[4]Pastoring Women: Understanding and Honoring Distinctness,” 9Marks Journal (Jul-Aug 2010).

[5] Owen Strachan, “The Genesis of Gender and Ecclesial Womanhood,” 9Marks Journal; (Jul-Aug 2010).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Jonathan Leeman, “Why Complementarianism is Crucial to Discipleship,” 9Marks Journal; (Jul-Aug 2010).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Deepak Reju, “Discipling Men vs. Discipling Women,” 9Marks Journal; (Jul-Aug 2010).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Bob Johnson, “How Pastors Can Equip Women for Ministry,” 9Marks Journal; (Jul-Aug 2010).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Susan Hunt, “Wanted: More Older Women Discipling Younger Women,” 9Marks Journal; (Jul-Aug 2010).

[15] Ibid.

[16] Thabiti Anyabwile “The Most Neglected Part of the Pastor’s Job Description,” The Gospel Centered Woman; 28/10/2014.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson, Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015).

[19] Furman and Neilson present an overview of the vision in the introduction, which is then explored more thoroughly in the ten chapters which follow. Ibid, 13-16.

[20] Don Carson, “Foreword,” Ibid, 12.

[21] Kathleen Nielson, “Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: A Book and a Vision,The Gospel Coalition; 08/07/2015.

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 5 of 8)

Assessment: How is the Church Doing?

On the surface, many would argue that women’s ministry in Canada appears to be alive and well because there seems to be an active women’s group in the majority of evangelical churches. Most congregations offer Bible study, mom’s groups, women’s events, and retreats. There is an abundance of resources on how to create, develop, and maintain a healthy women’s ministry. The internet offers access to an endless number of blogs, podcasts, and websites for Christian women. In addition, there are a growing number of pre-packaged curriculum studies, in which the teaching comes on a DVD and everything is taken are of. Most congregations would affirm the existence of a program for women in their church. After all, they have a link to it on their website.

To be fair, there has also been some attention given to Titus 2:3-5 for ministry in the church.“Titus 2” has become a familiar term in many evangelical circles for women’s groups, programs, books, and curriculum. Some churches have developed mentoring programs where they connect older and younger women. However, while this has existed in some congregations in days gone by, formal mentoring programs and even informal intergenerational relationships seem to be virtually non-existent in the Canadian church today. Owen Strachan observes, “Churches are in great need of more older women who will disciple younger women for service in the local church.”[1] While many churches are busy and offer a variety of ways to connect through social engagement and Bible studies, it seems that most local congregations are not taking into account the emerging problem of accidental feminists.

There are, however, some Christian organizations who have identified and responded to the need for the intentional discipleship of women. This year Chris Adams, the senior lead women’s ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote a nine-part blog series entitled, “Are We Discipling Women or Just Hosting Them?”[2] In the series, Adams challenges women in leadership to take a fresh look at biblical discipleship and consider ways to be much more purposeful in mentorship and training amidst the busy programming that exists in many congregations.[3]

Other ministries have also developed and promoted resources to respond to issues of gender and identity among Christian women. Since their inception in 1987 with the adoption of the Danvers Statement,[4] The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood continues to offer many excellent resources through their website, podcasts, journal, books, and events.[5] In 1991, the council released a book, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.[6] This collection of essays has become foundational for evangelicals aiming to remain rooted in Scripture while responding to the arguments of the egalitarian movement.

In response to the impact of feminism on Christian women specifically, in 2008 the True Woman Movement began under the leadership of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, with the declaration and signing of the True Woman Manifesto.[7] The movement continues to have an impact on the evangelical church offering web articles, podcasts, blogs, books, and events. Their more recent publications include a Bible study curriculum series written by DeMoss and Mary Kassian, True  Woman 101: Divine Design[8] and and True Woman 201: Interior Design.[9] These curricula include videos and weekly discussion guides on Scriptures pertaining to God’s intentional design for the distinct and unique role of women.

As this brief survey has demonstrated, there are voices promoting a gender specific approach to making disciples. This is good and praiseworthy. Nevertheless, further discussion on this topic is necessary, especially at the local church level. We still see an increasing number of accidental feminists. Gender confusion is rampant inside and outside the church. Fewer older women are fulfilling their biblical mandate to “teach what is good” and “so train the young women” in the seven areas Paul outlines in Titus 2:1-6. Indeed, this “helpmate curriculum” is itself coming under attack from all directions.

The initial problem of accidental feminism has now revealed a more foundational concern, which is that the older women are not by and large discipling the younger women. If this is found to be true, does this not then lead to an even more critical concern, which is that the elders are not teaching the older women that which accords with sound doctrine? Are pastors and elders in the church today prioritizing the discipleship of women? More specifically, are they identifying and equipping older women to be ready and available for the intentional discipleship of younger women? It may be alarming to recognize how few elders are properly equipping older women for this essential discipleship task.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] Owen Strachan, “The Genesis of Gender and Ecclesial Womanhoood,” 9Marks Journal (Jul-Aug 2010).

[2] Chris Adams, “Are We Discipling Women or Just Hosting Them?” 9 Part Series, LifeWay Women’s Ministry with Chris Adams; 15/06/2015 – 05/10/2015. http://www.lifeway.com/womensministry.

[3] Ibid.

[4]The Danvers StatementThe Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.

[5]Our HistoryThe Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. 

[6] John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Roecovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to  Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006).  

[7]What is the True Woman Movement?” A ministry of Revive our Hearts.

[8] Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, True Woman 101: Divine Design: An Eight Week Study on Biblical Womanhood (Chicago: Moody, 2012).

[9] Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, True Woman 201: Interior Design: Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood (Chicago: Moody, 2015).

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 4 of 8)

To continue our discussion on a biblical theology of the discipleship of women, we will now look at the Great Commission. Jesus instructs his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

While this text is often used to emphasize the evangelistic component of Christ’s exhortation, it is crucial that the component of discipleship is not overlooked. Once disciples have been made, they are to be taught to observe and obey all of the Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled and commanded. This pattern is evident throughout the Bible: orthodoxy and sound teaching must lead to orthopraxy and godly living.  For example, Romans 1-11 (orthodoxy), Romans 12-16 (orthopraxy) and Ephesians 1-3 (orthodoxy), Ephesians 4-6 (orthopraxy).

The Bible provides extensive instruction on how the church ought to fulfill the Great Commission. In many instances, discipleship is gender neutral. For example, men and women share salvation in Christ, the command to love God, and the command to love others. Yet the Bible also teaches that there are gender specific applications of scriptural truths. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote the letters 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus to provide instructions on how to establish a healthy church. There are many insights in the Pastoral Epistles on gender specific discipleship. In the book of Titus specifically, Paul starts by giving guidelines for the qualifications of elders. He then proceeds to describe what the overseers are called to do. In Titus 2:1-6, he writes:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

Paul gives instructions to Titus and the elders of the churches in Crete to identify and equip three groups of people: older men, older women, and younger men. It is important to note that the younger women are not overlooked, but that it is the older women who are instructed to teach and train them in godly conduct. Furthermore, it is the elders who are responsible to equip the older women for this role by teaching them what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Paul gives a clear exhortation to the qualified male overseers in the church to identify and teach the older women in the church to prepare them to instruct younger women in godly conduct. He proceeds to emphasize seven main areas of training: to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self- controlled, to be pure, to be working at home, to be kind, and to be submissive to their own husbands.

Further study is needed to develop a biblical theology of the discipleship of women, which I hope to research and write more about in the upcoming months. There is much more that Scripture gives insight to on this issue apart from Creation before the Fall, the Great Commission, and the Titus 2 mandate given to elders. These passages do however, offer an initial framework for women’s discipleship. If the Word of God gives ample direction on this subject, how is the Body of Christ doing at putting it into practice?

 

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 3 of 8)

The Need for a Biblical Theology of Womanhood and Discipleship

In order to develop strategies for the intentional equipping of women by the local church, further study is needed to define a biblical theology of womanhood and a biblical theology of discipleship. Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger have made a substantial contribution to a full biblical theology of womanhood in their recent book, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey.[1] This work effectively presents the broad overarching pattern of the distinct roles of men and women from Genesis to Revelation.[2] While this is an excellent start for the area of womanhood, further study such as this is needed to understand and define a biblical theology of discipleship, which would include direction for the intentional discipleship of women. For the purpose of this discussion, the following three passages will be considered to introduce this topic: Genesis 2:15-25, Matthew 28:18-20, and Titus 2:1-6.

In Genesis, God created humanity in two genders. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This account teaches that men and women are equal image bearers of God, were blessed equally, and given equal authority over Creation: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). Affirming the equality of men and women is a critical starting point when exploring a biblical theology of manhood and womanhood.

Even so, Genesis 2 clearly demonstrated that God created humanity in two genders, each for a distinct purpose and function. While both Adam and Eve were created as equal in value and as image-bearers of God, there are specific roles given to each of them: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” and entrusted him with the single law to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-16). Next, God created woman to be in relationship with the man and to help the man when he spoke, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). The helpmate purpose here cannot be underemphasized. Woman was created to help man as an equal partner over all of Creation, yet the law was entrusted to Adam that he might lead and teach it to his wife. As Adam was to lead and exercise headship over Eve, so she was to help and exercise submission to his authority.

These specific functions for man and woman were given by God before the fall into sin. It is the introduction of sin, and the curses which follow, that have distorted the sovereign Creator’s good design for male and female. As Christians, it is essential that the Word of God is the sufficient and supreme authority on manhood and womanhood and not the surrounding culture. Therefore, discipleship of women must take into account this distortion and implement strategies to teach and equip women to function according to God’s original plan for humanity.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] Andreas Köstenberger and Margaret Köstenberger, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

[2] Ibid.

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 2 of 8)

An Emerging Generation of Accidental Feminists

This is Part 2 in a series which is exploring the problem of an emerging generation of accidental feministsAn important question must be considered at this point: how does one become an accidental feminist? Mary Kassian provides great insight to this problem in her book, The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture.[1]  In her study, she takes a critical look at the waves of feminism and their impact on all aspects of society, including the church. Kassian writes:

We are entering into an era in which feminist precepts are largely accepted by default.  This has profound implications for the evangelical church. In the past, the feminist agenda was pursued by a small but radical group of theologians devoted to the cause. But now the agenda is being furthered by pastors and theologians who would not consider themselves feminist at all and who would, in fact, be quite aghast to be labeled as such.[2]

Throughout her book, she presents the argument that the rise of evangelical feminism continues to have much influence on the identity and practice of Christian women. Further study was done by Margaret Köstenberger in her 2008 book, Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?[3] She takes an in-depth look at three waves of feminism in the 1830s, 1960s, and 1990s, with a particular interest in how each has interpreted Scripture to build a case for evangelical feminism in the church.[4]

What then are the results of feminist ideology seeping into the church? When Christians unknowingly embrace the values of the surrounding culture, they become confused and increasingly hostile to the truths of God’s Word. This appears to be true of the Church in Canada. Kassian rightly observes, “In the past, people in the church were complementarian until they volitionally decided to be egalitarian. Now, for the most part, they are egalitarian until they volitionally decide to be complementarian.”[5] It is apparent that the majority of the Canadian church has adopted the values of evangelical feminism which maintains the equality of men and women in value and salvation, but also the sameness of each gender in function and role.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] Mary Kassian, The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005).

[2] Ibid, 288.

[3] Margarget Köstenberger, Jesus and the Feminists:Who Do They Say That He Is? (Wheaton:Crossway, 2008).  

[4] Throughout her book, Köstenberger gives an extensive overview and evaluation of radical, reformist, an evangelical feminist thought on the topic of Jesus and women. Ibid.

[5] Kassian, The Feminist Mistake, 288.

 

The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 1 of 8)

In her revolutionary 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan wrote about “the problem that has no name.”[1] She describes widespread unhappiness among suburban housewives who expressed a lack of fulfillment in their traditionally feminine roles in the home. Over fifty years later, a new problem among Christian evangelical women has emerged. This time, the problem does have a name, The Accidental Feminist.[2] In her 2015 book, Courtney Reissig describes the evolution of the feminist movement and how its values have crept into the thinking and practice of the church. She argues that many Christian women today are confused about their identity and role.[3]

This is a troubling reality in the evangelical church today.  Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood observes:

This is 2015. Families are struggling. As one would expect, many young men and young   women lack a road map   a script   for their lives. When you’re in this confusing and confused state, you don’t have answers to the most basic questions about your life. This is true of your fundamental identity, which includes your manhood or womanhood.[4]

This lack of clarity on gender roles has been evident in my own experience, which includes growing up in the church, leading women’s discipleship, and being a pastor’s wife. The majority of younger women who I have interacted within the church lack a proper understanding of biblical womanhood, identity in Christ, and a mature knowledge of Scriptures. The adoption of cultural values and a frightful lack of discernment is a widespread and growing concern. We are seeing the emergence of a generation of accidental feminists.

There is much exploration needed to determine the causes, impacts, and solutions this problem. The following series of posts will consider the following: how young women have developed this problem; the need for a biblical theology of womanhood and discipleship; a brief survey on what has been contributed to address this problem; observations on the present state of practice in Canada; and suggested field research that could be conducted to test these perceptions. My hope is to explore these topics in greater depth in order to use the Scriptures to help churches define and implement a plan for the intentional discipleship of women, considering the roles of elders, older women, and younger women.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), 63.

[2] Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design (Wheaton: Crossway,2015).

[3] Ibid, 15.

[4] Owen Strachan, “How Does the Gospel Shape Manhood and Womanhood?” in Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice, eds. Jonathan Parnell and Owen Strachan (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 12.