I have been reading a wonderful book, Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership. The authors are Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton.
Loren Cunningham wrote the first chapter entitled “It’s High Time! ” Listen to the hope he exuded:
“In the near future, the red-hot core of the spiritual awakening will be those now entering university and younger, a generation connected worldwide, not just through music and fashion but by common thoughts and by instant communication through the Internet. This connection will help speed the message given by Jesus two thousand years ago.
As I envision this, I see every little girl growing up knowing she is valued, knowing she is made in the image of God, and knowing that she can fulfill all the potential He has put within her. I see the Body of Christ recognizing leaders whom the Holy Spirit indicates, the ones whom He has gifted, anointed, and empowered without regard to race, color, or gender. This generation will be one that simply asks, “Who is it that God wants?” There will be a total equality of opportunity, total equality of value, and a quickness to listen to and follow the ones the Holy Spirit sets apart.”
How I wish I shared Loren’s sense of “it’s all getting better.” Actually, I feel a sense of things turning backwards – at least in the US. I sense a new kind of church community arising, gaining steam in many places, and being seen as the faithful answer to many decades of church decline, hedonism, and unbelief. These are the churches that self-proclaim as being “truly faithful to the Word.” It sounds so good on the surface – new churches, rapidly growing, filled with younger people, Biblically-grounded. But, I have found more than one of these new biblically-focused communities putting much less emphasis on the Spirit’s leading. I have also found them to be newly “woman-resistant.” When I take a close look at their leadership roster, all the pastors are male, the elders are male, and even the deacons are male (if there is that elder/deacon system). The teachings stress the submission of women. Why are these communities blooming – because they seem to be Word-focused (i.e., really serious) – because of music, technology, and cultural connections?
I am truly concerned about this trend. As a pastor, I have had more couples come where they want to have the woman’s obedience to her husband stressed in their wedding ceremonies. I have heard of this from others too. This is seen by people thinking along these lines as a key part of the wholesome renewal for the Church and a means of combatting divorce and chaos in homes – getting women back in line. I am surprised to see a number of younger people “going for it.”