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Dr. Tom Schreiner Preaches on Gender Roles in the Church

November 28, 2008
By CBMW
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Dr. Schreiner has been the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1997 and the Associate Dean of Scripture and Interpretation.  Dr. Schreiner also serves on the Board of Reference for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

This past Sunday, Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner preached on the distinctive roles God has given to men and women in the kingdom at the Unity and Diversity Conference. The event was sponsored by Grace Reformation Church of Woodland, California. His expositional sermon is entitled “Who Does What?” taken from 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

He began by highlighting the stunning confusion in our society regarding manhood and womanhood as evidenced by 48% of Californians recently voting against Proposition 8 which upholds a biblical view of marriage.  The reason for this confusion, in part, is because churches have caved in on teaching the distinctive roles for men and women, boys and girls. Which has, in principle, left them weak on the biblical prohibition against homosexuality.

Scientifically, empirically, and experientially we know men and women to be different. Women tend to be more nurturing, better at forming closer relationships and are better than men at encountering life with both sides of their brain. Men tend to do better at abstract thinking – men can focus on singular questions well. Women are more intuitive, sensitive, and insightful than men – in general. Women tend to enjoy the process; men drive to conclusions. Men fixt things, women experience things. Women have more white blood cells and more endurance than men. Men have increased brute strength and higher ability for burst energy.

When it comes to spiritual matters, articulating the biblical differences between men and women requires both courage and love.

Both sexes are totally equal in Christ: co-heirs; both fully made in the image of God; both fully accepted in Christ. This equality, Schreiner says, is similar to the equal relationship of deity between God the Father and God the Son.

Males are told to pray in 1 Timothy 2:8. However, Paul also acknowledges women praying in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Schreiner points to the cultural features of his text in 1 Timothy 2. The reality of the cultural features points to the centrality of the principle of prayer in Paul’s mind. Further Paul exhorts men against anger toward each other, especially in the local assembly.

In verse 9 the women are exhorted to adorn themselves with proper adornment – behavior and dress. The principles are both modesty and sensible.

Evangelical feminists hold to the view that women can serve as pastors. Some support their view from 1 Timothy 2:9 which speaks of women not braiding their hair, wearing gold or costly attire. Bible-reading feminists would say that conservatives are inconsistent. Conservatives forbid women preaching, but allow women to wear jewelry and fine clothing and sport hair-dos. This is however, not inconsistent, when we realize the point Paul is making: ostentation often reveals inward immodesty. Complementarians are therefore, consistent in 1 Timothy 2:8-10

Women learning in quietness and submissiveness means at least that Paul thinks it is good for women to learn. But the main point for Paul is the submissive attitude women must model. Verse 12 teaches the same quietness of verse 11. There is a quietness God requires and provides in women that quells any impulse to usurp spiritual authority from a man.  Women can teach women and children.  But the function is chiefly in view. Sunday school classes, small groups, seminary classes – wherever the Bible is taught to men – a woman should not be the teacher.  Not because authority is bad. Both teaching and exercising authority are good things in and of themselves.

Is the principle of women not teaching with authority overmen applicable today or merely cultural? Evangelical feminists often insert ideas of women teaching false doctrine or being uneducated. However, the reason for Paul's command comes in verse 13, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”  Paul appeals to creation. Not to the Fall, nor to sin. But to God’s design before sin.

Schreiner concludes with a strong word of exhortation to men, in that Adam was held responsible for the sin of the garden. And he likewise exhorts women to give evidence of their salvation by their perseverance and faith. 

This sermon stands as a strong example of careful expository preaching on one the most important issues of our time, from one of the most difficult passages of Scripture, by one of the most gifted pastor/scholars of our time. I highly recommend it.

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