Does it advance the cause of women to see other women in prominent and influential positions no matter what they believe and what they do to advance their beliefs? If someone presents herself as a minister of Christ yet acts in ways that show she actually teaches falsely and leads people away from the gospel of grace, should that person’s rise to prominence be celebrated anyway just because she’s a woman?
We live in a world where women are oppressed just for being women. Whether it’s men trying to silence women in the church or sex trafficking around the world, the common factor among the oppressed in these situations is that they are women. It’s no wonder some people will grasp at any opportunity to raise a woman into a position of prominence, influence and power. Yet some opportunities come at the wrong price, actually hurting the people who think they are profiting from the opportunity.
No Advantage in Gaining Some Advantages
This came up in a discussion among a group of Christians who gather on Facebook to discuss Biblical egalitarianism. One person posted on the recent selection of a “female pastor” to take a prominent role in the upcoming inauguration ceremony* and, while recognizing the questionable theology the woman teaches, said “that’s progress and … it should be celebrated.”
Several comments were from women agreeing with her, while other women pointed out that the “female pastor” did not actually teach the gospel of Christ but a false gospel that placed people under spiritual and financial bondage. (See Paula White Ministries: Send me your money so God will pay attention to you for one analysis of her “ministry.”) As Keri Wyatt Kent put it in her comment:
Doctrine matters. And honesty matters. [If] all that matters is that she is female, that is tokenism. Having this particular woman on stage is not a step forward for Christianity or women.
The Perils of a False Gospel
When Jesus said he came to set people free, to be a servant and give his life as a ransom for many, to show people who God really is by living as God in the flesh, one way he lived this out was in his counter-cultural relationships with women. (See e.g., The Unwanted Woman at the Party , and Jesus Never Hit A Woman.) He paid the ultimate price for this freedom of women and men both when he gave his life on the cross.
Never did he say that God’s kingdom would be served, built up or realized by bringing to prominence those who preached a gospel other than the one he preached: good news for the oppressed – including women – through the finished work of Jesus. His warning is quite clear:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15.)
False teachers advance a message contrary to what the Bible calls the gospel of grace. Paul had strong words for such teachers:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:6-9.)
Such false teaching is “no gospel at all,” says Paul, and throws people “into confusion” in an effort to “pervert the gospel of Christ.” If those who teach like this are under God’s curse what reason is there to celebrate their rise to prominence, whether they are women or men?
Women truly suffer oppression in this world. Would anyone argue, though, that their way out is through a false gospel? No, the way to freedom is always through Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6.)
It is because of Jesus that anyone is set free. And remember, it is only in him that women gain true equality.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28.)
This is where our efforts should be placed, in pursuing the oneness that comes through Jesus. Don’t get sidetracked and confused by a perversion of the gospel, no matter how attractive it may seem in the short term. It’s too high a price to pay for advancing the cause of Biblical equality.
Don’t settle on tokenism. Settle your eyes, your heart, and your mind on Jesus.
*This post is not about politics. Please keep political issues out of the comments and focus on the doctrinal issues (and I’ll be monitoring the comments carefully). I know you can do it!