This message was delivered October 5, 1998 in Riga, Latvia, at a Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church conference titled "Gender Theology: Questions, Problems, Perspectives." At the time, as well as serving as Sr. Pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd (now called Clearnote Church, Bloomington), I was Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Latvia had won her liberty from the Soviet Union late in 1991 and the Latvian church was facing very hard times, financially. The Lutheran World Federation was promising to help, but there were strings: before they made any financial commitment, they required the Latvians to hold a conference that openly explored the question of wether or not women could exercise authority over men as church officers. The Latvians were resistant to the idea, but needing the money, they agreed to hold the conference.
The Clarity and Simplicity of Scripture's Order of Creation
October 5, 1998
It is a great joy to be here with you and to think of how impossible this time together would have been just a few years ago. How good it is to be able to cross borders so freely--without even the necessity of a visa--and to be able to join together in fellowship and worship with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
But then too, I am particularly pleased to be able to speak to you on the subject of Biblical manhood and womanhood. Here it may be appropriate to insert some biographical information, but first please allow me to clarify my own vocabulary:
- 'Complement': "something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect; one of two mutually completing parts" (Webster's).
- 'Patriarchy': literally, "father rule."
- 'Egalitarian': "a belief in human equality" (Webster's).
So when I refer to the different positions taken by Christians today concerning what Scripture has to say about manhood and womanhood, I will use these terms:
First, the words 'complementarian' or 'patriarchal' will be used to indicate the Church's historical position which calls for a distinction in roles between men and women in the government of the Church and home; and particularly to the necessity of men holding positions of authority.
Second, the word 'egalitarian' will be used to indicate the position held by feminists today when they call for women to hold leadership positions of authority equally with men.
Now for some personal history: Although today I myself believe in the Church's historical, patriarchal position, it was not always so. Back in 1976 when my wife and I were first married, both of us were committed egalitarians...