Lotz of picking and choosing in the Garden of Eden...
In her article cited in an earlier post, Anne Graham Lotz is pandering to some of the more ungodly prejudices of our culture by attacking the church for not being biblical on the meaning and purpose of sexuality. What she really means, though, is not that the Church isn't biblical, but that it's not enlightened or progressive--it's not, as they say, "evolved."
Before the watching world, Ms. Lotz argues that those who maintain distinctions between the sexes (other than those irrepressible biological and physiological ones) are bound for extinction as her new age of feminist gender equity finally dawns among the slowpoke people of God.
One looks in vain for any recognition on Ms. Lotz's part that she's thrown the entire history of the Christian Church's doctrine of sexuality in the dumpster. Likely she'd deny this, pointing to her strong stand against sodomy or divorce as proof that, where the rubber meets the road, she's rock solid on sexuality.
Yet the order of God's creation prior to the Fall is as clear concerning the sinfulness of women exercising authority over men as it is concerning the sinfulness of men having sex with men, or as it is concerning divorce. The authoritative primacy of man over woman, the heterosexual limits of physical intimacy, and the evil of divorce are each equally and undeniably established by our Creator in the Garden of Eden, and the rest of Scripture only reinforces God's Edenic order.
Asked whether divorce is right or wrong, Jesus responded by going back to Eden, prior to the Fall, making it clear that God's order from the beginning was heterosexual, monogamous, and lifelong:
(Jesus) answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)
Asked whether it was proper for women to exercise authority over men, the Apostle Paul responded by going back to Eden, prior to the Fall, making it clear that God's order from the beginning was neither matriarchal nor egalitarian, but patriarchal:
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. (1 Timothy 2:12, 13)
Do Ms. Lotz and other evangelical feminists really think they can pick and choose between the details of the sexual order God established in Eden which is reinforced repeatedly in the sacred words of Scripture?
"Let's see, I'll have some heterosexuality and monogamy, please. But no patriarchy today, thank you."
Well, any simpleton can see what's happened, and therefore what's coming.
What's happened? Well, for many years, now, evangelicals have lived in an increasingly egalitarian and feminist culture, and that culture has won us over--all that's left is the mop-up operation. Few of us would be willing to preach or listen to the sermons of past centuries our fathers in the faith preached concerning male authority or female deference and submission. And structurally, our practice bears no resemblance to the church's historical practice.
Denominationally, some of us are still forced to toe the line: we don't yet ordain women to the pastorate or eldership, but we've taken every other step we can. We have women leading our corporate worship, administering the Lord's Supper, preaching in our pulpits, teaching mixed-sex adult Sunday school classes, leading mixed-sex small groups, serving as commissioned deacons, serving on our national theological study committees, preaching at our conferences, serving as regional directors in our parachurch and mission organizations... Need I go on?
Yes, we have our Pharisaical righteousness in each place we're fiddling around the edge. Women preaching in our pulpits are the exception--not the rule--and they do so under the authority and review of the elders board. Our women deacons are not ordained--they're only commissioned. We've limited the Sunday school classes led by women to one quarter of our offerings each term. Women lead our call to worship and prayer of confession, but never our pastoral prayer. Women administer the Lord's Supper, but our senior pastor is a man and he's the one who hands the trays to the women before they go out into the congregation. The woman on the study committee has special expertise in the subject under review, and she's not a full voting member. Our conference isn't a church meeting, our speakers aren't really preaching, and we don't have any authority over those who attend. Our organization is parachurch--not church--so we have no need to submit to Scripture's prohibition of women exercising authority over men.
At this point, some readers are likely hung up on one or more of the particulars I've cited and are asking themselves, "Is it really wrong to have women deacons?" "Why shouldn't women lead in prayer during corporate worship?" "If women shouldn't be regional directors of mission agencies, should they be running for president?" Or, "If it's wrong for women to preach in morning worship, is it also wrong for them to serve as professors in Christian colleges and seminaries?"
Although these are important questions, such examples are only meant to be representative of the sea-change the evangelical church has embraced. We will differ over which of the above practices are within the proper boundaries of Scripture, but we must not differ in acknowledging that, taken as a whole, these practices are not a reformation returning us to the doctrine of Scripture, but rather a revolution leading us away from Scripture...
In the matter of God's order of authority and submission between the sexes, we have denied that it was established by God in Eden before the Fall by allowing it to become privatized. We hold that it's a truth for the Christian home and church, only. Then we work to limit its practice even there. We're timid and defensive, fearing the world will persecute us if we uphold this order. Having a practice of leadership and authority that has become increasingly difficult to distinguish from that of our secular society, we have allowed ourselves to be pressed into the world's mold.
Turning from what's happened to what's coming, note well that our culture is not standing still. Having left patriarchy--the Fatherhood of God in man--behind, the Western world is well on its way to obliterating biblical sexual morality, also. Sadly, we evangelicals are keeping up with the Joneses. Fornication, adultery, and divorce are pretty mainstream for us, now. And as the world turns to the normalization of sodomy, we're making our adjustments here, also. Our language has changed. We avoid any words that would attach shame to the act. 'Sodomy' is out and 'homosexuality' is in. We join the gay rights lobby in opposing what the legal community, mass media, and our courts still refer to as "sodomy laws." And the beat goes on.
Without question, evangelicals will continue to slake our own lusts and avoid persecution by conforming ourselves to the world's mold. The same dishonesty we've used to deny father-rule in Scripture will be used to deny monogamy, life-long, heterosexual marriage. We can't pick and choose which part of God's creation order we'll keep, and which we'll toss. It's all an intricately woven fabric, absolutely beautiful when God's plan is honored and fulfilled, but horrendously ugly and destructive when we fiddle around the edges and the fabric begins to unravel.
To reiterate: Every essential truth concerning sexuality is there in the Garden of Eden, prior to the Fall. From the beginning, our Creator ordained sexuality to be patriarchal, heterosexual, covenantal, and monogamous. Those who honor the parts of His plan they like, dismissing the parts they hate, will be broken by their own rebellion. Sadly, their children and the members of their congregation will be broken, also.
As Billy Graham turns over his mantle to his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, calling her "the best preacher in the family," we see God's hand of judgment on us, as it was prophesied by Isaiah:
O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths. (Isaiah 3:12)