On Sunday I preached about what is one of the hottest, most contested, divisive topics in American Christianity: Masculinity and the Church.
The Church, since its inception, has always had issues to deal with, hot topics to address, moral and societal issues to take to task. In fact a large portion of the New Testament is the apostle Paul (and others) aiming their wisdom and leadership at prescriptively addressing these issues. Read Galatians… ‘nough said.
For us, for Creekside, no matter what the issue at hand our response should always be the same: we should return to Scripture, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and discern a way forward with grace, humility, and diligence. I think this approach requires a great deal of work. I don’t think ignorance and opinion should exist in Christians; if you are going to have an opinion, it better be a prepared one, and it better be willing to listen and interact with other’s opinions. We owe it to each other (and to God) to discuss hard issues with depth and complexity, to hear the other out, to be informed, to be persistent and vigorous in our Biblical reading and application. There is no easy way out. If you want to chime in, do the work, read your Bible, read your Bible in the vigorous conversation of other Christians.
The rest of the world dispenses their opinion at will, showing no regard for the thought or knowledge of the ones they are aiming their opinion at. The rest of the world is un-anchored from a central guide. We are different, we must be different.
With that in mind, if your blood stirred a little bit this week whether for or against, I encourage you to go deeper into the conversation. Read or listen to something. Read something that is obviously on the other side of the fence from where you are. Don’t just listen to it so that you can knock it down, listen to what is at the heart of being said, compare it to what you are hearing from Scripture and the Holy Spirit, talk about it with other Christians, be gracious.
With that in mind I’d like to pass on some resources that discuss some of the topics that I brought up this last Sunday. Not as much to sway opinion as to show what faithful and respectful Christian conversation looks like, because Christians often fall into the trap of arguing like we don’t belong to the same family.
Here is the link to the article from Christianity Today discussing the “Masculinity Movement” in the evangelical church. I’m not endorsing or un-endorsing the opinions in this article. I’m saying it is a good conversation piece. It does an appropriate job of trying to represent the concerns of certain authors and groups, and then it picks its fight not by denouncing them whole-sale, but by offering a new perspective, with Biblical support that challenges the underlying assumptions of those authors and groups.
Another hot topic, one that I addressed as somewhat of a side note (unfortunately) is the topic of women in ministry. Truthfully, our Church is a little more established in its thinking here, so I can be confident that what I said stands not only on my own work of faithful discernment of Scripture but on the work and discernment of others in my denomination and tradition. That said, I realize that not everyone who comes to Creekside on Sunday is there with me, and many probably haven’t deeply formed an opinion about the topic because it simply hasn’t come up. This is a topic worth discerning for all Christians because we have the power to support or destroy the identity of person by the way we affirm or dis-affirm God’s call on their life. A real person. We owe it to that person to help them listen to God’s voice. If either of those positions describe you, in disagreement or ambivalence, you should know where our denomination stands, and that we have some good resources at hand:
“Called and Gifted” … An approachable question and answer style pamphlet about women in ministry with an accompanying video.
“A Biblical and Theological Basis for Women in Ministry” … A short and down-to-brass-tacks theological treatment of the subject. (Check out the careful/thoughtful treatment of difficult Scriptures.)
Our denomination has done quite a bit of diligent work here. Feel free to search the CovChurch.org website, you’ll find links to a host of articles and discussions. I’m proud to be part of a larger church body that shows the thoughtfulness and commitment to scripture and community discernment that the Evangelical Covenant Church does.
We are Christians. Our identity is in Jesus and nowhere else. That means we live different, talk different, and argue different than everyone else on earth. Grace and peace as we discern together scripture and the voice of God in our midst.