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Kentucky pastor and wife faithfully stand for gender roles in church

June 29, 2004

David and Gayle Fee are proof positive that teaching biblical gender roles without compromise does not have to lead to a church split

LEXINGTON, Ky.—David and Gayle Fee are proof positive that teaching biblical gender roles without compromise does not have to lead to a church split.

The issue of gender roles arose recently in the Baptist church David Fee pastors on the outskirts of Lexington, Ky., when he learned that one of his Sunday school teachers was scheduled to work on his job for 12 consecutive Sundays.

The teacher’s wife volunteered to fill in for her husband and teach the adult co-ed class during his absence. When the teacher’s wife informed Gayle Fee of her plans, the pastor’s wife saw an open door to teach the biblical view of gender roles.

"Because the class was a basic doctrine class she encouraged me to teach the class," Gayle Fee said. "That opened the door for me to graciously and honestly share with her why I would not step into that role.

"I shared with her that even though I had teaching gifts, and I’ve studied Greek, Hebrew and Systematic Theology and I knew more than some of the men in that class, God had not given me the scriptural permission to step into that role."

Initially, Gayle spent nearly three hours in a telephone conversation with the women, explaining God’s plan for gender roles in the church from the scriptures.

"I wanted her to understand the biblical teaching that men and women can be equal yet different in roles just like the Father and Son are equal yet differ in function," she said. "I told her that I am no less created in the image of God than my husband, but my calling is different.

"As a woman in my family and in our church I get to show the world how Christ submitted to the Father and how the church is to submit to the Son. That means that as I walk in my God-ordained role I can show others what Jesus is like. I wanted her to understand that roles in the family and in the church are there for God’s glory."

As Gayle unfolded the doctrines from Scripture, the woman enthusiastically warmed to the complementarian view.

"She said, ‘I want to see God bless our church and if I do something that is against Scripture, then He is not going to bless our church,’" Gayle Fee said. "I told her, ‘Let’s study this issue together and continue to talk.’

"The situation reminded me how important it is for those who lead and teach to be able to articulate a biblical theology of manhood and womanhood."

The woman and her husband continued to study the issue from Scripture and then met with David to find a suitable male fill-in teacher for the Sunday school class. After three months passed, David said God drew a man to the church who was a perfect fit to teach the class. The man presently co-teaches the class alongside the original teacher.

"We were all amazed and reminded that when you honor God’s Word rather than being pragmatic, God takes care of His church," David Fee said.

The Fees seek to faithfully expound gender roles from Scripture when the subject arises in the biblical text. Many members of the congregation are beginning to understand and embrace the complementarian position and others are willing to learn, he said.

Both David and Gayle are recent graduates from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in nearby Louisville. And both agree that gracious, patient teaching from the Scripture is key in helping members of the congregation to develop a thoroughly biblical view on controversial doctrines such as gender roles.

"Not everyone is at the same place, so you have to teach the Word with love and grace," David Fee said. "It is a process of teaching. Our congregational makeup consists of individuals at various stages in their Christian walk.

"I am preaching through Acts on Sunday nights and Proverbs on Sunday mornings so when the subject of biblical manhood or womanhood comes up, I preach it.

Gayle has been doing extensive research on the subject of biblical manhood and womanhood and casually shares what she is learning with individuals within the congregation. She is also doing a lot of intentional mentoring of women in the church."

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