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CBMW leader addresses gender roles at annual SBTS collegiate conference

March 2, 2006

Randy Stinson told students that the Bible is clear regarding the roles men and women are to play in the home and in the church. The Bible is not quite as muddy on the topic as many in the evangelical world insist.

When men and women faithfully fulfill their biblically-ordained roles in the home and church, they are giving the world a picture that reflects the character of God, Randy Stinson told an audience of college students during the sixth annual "Give Me An Answer" collegiate conference last month at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) told students that the Bible is clear regarding the roles men and women are to play in the home and in the church. The Bible is not quite as muddy on the topic as many in the evangelical world insist, he said.

"The Bible is very clear on a number of things regarding gender issues," Stinson said. "I am taken aback by the confusion on this issue in the culture, confusion over something as basic as what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman."

Much is at stake in the debate, Stinson said, particularly an accurate portrayal of the character of God. In Scripture, we learn that God has ordained complementary roles for men and women as part of the fabric of creation, Stinson said. Ephesians 5 makes it clear that when men and women function in these roles in the home, they are reflecting the gospel itself along with the character of God, he said.

"In Ephesians 5, the mystery that is being revealed is this relationship between man and women," Stinson said. "This relationship—the way it was in the garden before the fall—was always intended to be a picture of Christ and the church, to point people to Christ.

"This isn’t about us. It is about God. This order is reflecting something about God. This is not about ‘who’s the boss?’ It is about Christ and the Church and the gospel. Yes, it does involve authority and submission, not in the sense that it is oppressive, but in the sense that it paints a picture."

Stinson told students that the Bible’s depiction of complementary gender roles is particularly offensive to most in the culture and some in the church because it involves a structure of authority. But to understand a hierarchy within the home and church as oppressive and restraining to one or both genders is to misunderstand the biblical teaching, he said.

"Authority is a bad word today," Stinson said. "People don’t like authority. Unfortunately, for those people, the Bible has a lot to say about authority. The Bible has given us clear structures in the home, the church, and in society and the Bible says authority structures have been given for our good. In my estimation, it is the imprint of God on everything. Authority and submission are given by God and the church."

Stinson unpacked the Bible’s teaching on gender roles in the home and church, showing how a complementarity of the genders is in view from the beginning in the first two chapters of Genesis. The apostle Paul builds his case for male headship in both the home and the church by grounding his teaching in Genesis, he pointed out.

Gender role confusion is a product of the fall as Gen. 3:16 makes clear, he said. Before the fall, both the man and woman were submitting graciously to God’s complementary design, he said.

God’s design for the home and church is also reflected in the relationship of the persons of the Trinity, he said. The Trinity is a model of equality, difference, and unity. The members of the Godhead are co-equal, co-eternal, equal in essence, and yet each member plays a distinctive role in redemption with the Son submitting to the Father.

It is the same within the home and church, Stinson said; while men and women are equal in essence and value and each are equally made in the image of God, both genders are given equally important roles to fulfill to the glory of God.

"This does not violate their full equality," Stinson said. "What you have in the Trinity is equality, difference, and unity. There is order even in the Godhead."

Within the church, the Bible restricts women from teaching or exercising authority over men, Stinson pointed out. However, all members of the body are gifted and all gifts are of equal value in the service of the church. But the Bible—in passages such as 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 11—sets clear parameters for how gender roles are to play out in the church, he said.

This structure is the same for both the home and the church, he said. Men are to serve as the spiritual leaders in the home and as elders or pastors that lead the church. This does not denigrate the value of women nor does it keep them from serving in many vital roles that are key to the health of the church, he said.

"Everybody has a place in the body of Christ," he said. "And one place is not more important than the other. It does not reflect your value before God. Your value is not determined by how many accolades you get and how public your role is. Every part of the body is important.

"The two clearest institutions in the Bible are the home and the church. It only makes sense that God would put clear structures in place and make clear what He wants and how He wants those things to work together. Let’s not underestimate structure. How you structure things many times will determine how well things will work later on and how it honors God later on."

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