This past Sunday a new “Sunday School” class started at my church on biblical manhood and womanhood. One of the elders who is teaching the class introduced everyone to the Danvers Statement. You may be wondering what the Danvers Statement is and what in the world it has to do with your life. You can read it here:
Since biblical gender roles is something I have been passionate about since somtime in college, I thought I would take this time to walk through the Danvers Statement. Not for theological purposes, because Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem do such a thorough job of defining terms and basing them on biblical passages. But, for women in the pew, who didn’t go to seminary, or those who did go to seminary or teach even – how do we put these 10 principles into practice.
1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:18)
These verses and this statement (made in 1987) were made long before the political battlew over the definition of marriage. Our base for politics should be the word of God. Since the Word of God is the very breath of God, therefore perfect and never changing (2 Tim 3:16-17, Psalm 19), it should determine our decisions on every matter of life and politics.
The joke heard for decades now is “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I think that is a crude way of saying the truth. God had a permanent purpose and grand design in how He perfectly created and placed Adam and Eve in the garden. Adam and Eve, and all peoples procreated from them for all the generations to come, bear the image of God (imago dei) and should be treated as worthy of that. Each person bears the image of God, even those who disagree with us or treat us badly. Something inherent in their very being shows us God. He is the masterful Creator.
I like the word distinct in this first affirmation. I can’t play the role my husband has, either sexually or emotionally, in our marriage. I can’t play the role my pastors and elders have in the church I attend. God set measures in place that we are to abide by and obey for our good and His glory. But, we also have distinct roles and priviliges that men don’t – simply because we are women. What a unique pleasure it is to always feel Baby Campbell kicking in me. My husband can feel him if he is kicking or see him when he makes my belly move, but he can’t feel him all the time. That is something unique that God has designed just for women.
2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart. (Genesis 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14)
Two essential parts of this affirmation: when these distinctions came to be and how that should influence me today.
God is eternal and all of His Words are eternal. They never change. The principles of biblical gender were set in place when God first created Adam and Eve, he didn’t wait until after sin occurred in the Garden to set these principles in place. These distinctions, both in function and person, were foundational from the very beginning. Sin only makes living these distinctions out difficult.
There are many times when I try to urge my husband to make a decision or try to lead in our relationship. There are many times when I feel more qualified to teach a class at church because there is lack of strong male authority and teaching ability. But, as often as these thoughts or actions occur in me, the Spirit checks my Spirit with His and with the Word. There is an eagerness (praise the Lord) in me to confess those thoughts, pray for strength, and repent of any actions I might have done. If we walk in step with the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Oh, the flesh is so strong in women, especially Christian women when we are at daily war with the one who wants his way in our life versus the One who paid the price for our souls. Stand firm – resist the devil and he will flee from you!
3. Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God as part of the created order, and was not the result of sin. (Genesis 3:1-13, and Scriptures listed in 2.)
I love this design of marriage. I always knew I wanted this in a marriage, but never found someone who was willing to take his rightful place and lead with humility and servanthood (like Jesus) in a marraige. Being both bold and pursuing, and loving and gently. My God has been very gracious to me in my marriage. My husband lives out biblical headship and Christ-like servanthood and meekness to me every day. He prays for me, leads our marriage, is gentle with me when I need correcting, and meek in his leadership. This design is for all married men. Men, don’t give this authority up – neither lord it over your wives. Jesus lead with meekness and authority. He was gentle. He wasn’t effeminate or a tyrant. He was perfect. Women, if you see your husbands or your Christian brothers not living this way (or for single brothers, not seeing these qualities in them), pray for them. I repeatedly didn’t do this service for them, but instead I complained and belittled them, saying there were no good single men left. That was one of my biggest regrets of my single life. We are called to encourage our brothers and husbands, not belitlttle them. Those actions of belittling is the result of sin, not how God wanted us to live.
4. The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (in the home and in the church) – for further explanation of this affirmation, see the link above) (Genesis 3:1-7, 12, 16)
Oh, how I hate sin. Sin permeates every aspect of our lives. Women want to lead in the homes and in the churches. Men either are patriachal authoritarians or weak spineless shells of real men. Many of our churches are filled with women who want men to step up and lead and few men who will take their place and lead. (I see this a lot in the music ministry of churches – where our choirs and orchestras are filled with mostly women, but our praise teams and bands are “cooler” now and include more men – haven’t figured out that one yet). Women: if you struggle with wanting to lead: pray for the desire to humbly follow your husband’s leadership and pray for him that he will lead humbly and sacrificially. Men, pray for strength to stand in the position of authority in humility and servanthood that God created you to be in.
5. Both the Old and New Testaments manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18, Gal 3:28) and affirm the principles of male headship in the family and the covenant community (Genesis 2:18, Eph 5:21-33, 1 Tim 2:11-15).
Some believers only want to take some of God’s Word or take verses out of context. God saw to it that the the Word was kept for us to read – all of it ordained by Him and kept by Him. It is perfect. All of it. Men and women are equal in that we both stand level at the cross – we are both sinners and in equal need of a Savior. Men aren’t more worthy of salvation nor do their possess more of God or display God better solely because they are male.
This is the sticky part for some people: God’s entire Word sets up the standards for both the home and church. In God’s Word: it says that men are to be in leadership positions of teaching and authority in our churches not women. I believe this also goes for worship leading because worship leading is an authority of the Word of God and you are leading and teaching others as you direct the worship of the entire congregation. Song leading or directing a choir is something different, and then I would lean toward a championing of male leadership by way of example, not by Scriptural authority. This also has nothing to do with skill level. I’m sure there are women out there who can teach better than some of the pastors who stand in their pulpits and can sing better/play better than their worship pastors. Often when sitting in a co-ed SS class I get frustrated because of the depth, or lack thereof, of the teaching. But my role is not to teach…my role is to submit and learn and pray for growth.
This will be continued tomorrow, affirmations 6-10. How do you apply these truths to your life, both in the home and church? What are some ways you see Christians failing to live out these commandments and patterns that God has set up for His children to follow?
Be encouraged. We need the Gospel daily to live these out. Rest in Him. Pursue Him.