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Published Date: August 3, 2016

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Rejecting Legalism, Embracing Women’s Gifts

One of the biggest flaws in complementarian theology is that it relies on men rather than God to designate leaders and assign gifts. Complementarians forbid women to equally lead in marriage because they are convinced that male headship is God’s clear design for humanity. Some also believe women can’t preach because God didn’t design women to lead.

On the other hand, some complementarians believe that women can preach and lead, as long as they are under the covering of a men—as if the covering of Jesus Christ isn’t enough!

But gender should have no part in determining who gets to lead and/or preach. Scripture says multiple times that the Spirit guides our words. Luke 12:12 says, “…because at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you are to say.” Matthew 10:20 says, “For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” 

Crediting authority and preaching skills exclusively to men dishonors the Spirit. Neither gender nor anything else can override the gifts the Spirit has poured out on the people of God.

In barring women from preaching because of their gender, the church draws a line in the sand and tells the Spirit not to cross it. We build a box and tell God to stay in it. We rely on the strength and virtue of humans rather than the wisdom and power of the Spirit. But God doesn’t stay in our gender boxes and the gifts of the Spirit will not be contained to one people group.

The only factor that should determine whether a person should or shouldn’t preach is whether or not they are filled with the Spirit. A person who speaks from their own desires rather than from the Spirit lacks a direct line of communication with God. Their words come from their own thoughts and understanding rather than divine wisdom. Their “fruit” looks healthy from the outside, but it is rotting on the inside. The Pharisees were like this. They appeared to be holy people, but their hearts were more concerned with superficial or selfish things than with uplifting and loving the people around them.

In today’s world, many well-known religious leaders have grandiose public personas and are adorned with theological degrees, major followings, and multiple Christian self-help books. But on closer examination, the ground beneath some of these leaders’ trees is littered with the rotten fruits of abuse, oppression, and greed.

Influential Christian leaders should speak out against the rotten fruit of leaders who abuse their power, not oppose women called by the Spirit to lead and preach. They should stand against those who preach out of their own selfish hearts rather than out of the Spirit.

Many Christians are outraged by the suggestion that women can lead, preach, and teach at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And yet, this is not where the boundary between those who should and shouldn’t preach should be drawn. It should be drawn between those who are called by God and those who are not.

Instead, the church is distracted over something inanely trivial. When the idea of women being unfit and uncalled to preach is examined through an unbiased lens, it simply does not make sense. 

So why don’t we stop the fight against clearly called women and direct our outrage towards the true contradiction of Jesus’ love: Christians who hurt and suppress in his name.

It’s time we said “enough” to hatred and abuse in the church. It’s time we cast aside the rotten fruit of legalism. It’s time we allowed the Holy Spirit to determine who leads and preaches. It’s time we embraced women’s gifts. 

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