The PCA Report: deaconesses aren’t really the issue

This is my hot-take on the idea floating around that this report is fine since men like Piper, Dever, Spurgeon and others are for deaconesses:

The “Women Serving In The Ministry Of The Church” committee’s report, frankly, has little to do with the ancient and intermittent practice of having deaconesses. Such a role (usually without the confusing title) is already allowed for in biblically organized churches as women are asked to assist the deacons in the care of women and children who are sick or in need.

The big issue I take with the report is not deaconesses, per se, but the feminist notion that women do not “have a voice” if they are not directly included in leadership. This is false. The elders are the voice for men, women, and children. And husbands are the heads of their wives and children.

Additionally, the multiplication of unbiblical roles within the church like “officially appointed women” who “lead ministries” and “advise the elders” and such is unbiblical and followed consistently would lead to pure crazy-making. All members ought to be considered in the decisions of the church, not a select group of women. Why not children? Men? People with one leg or eye? The poor? The rich? Racial groups? People who are awkward? Fat people? Dumb people? Who will be their official voice?

In a biblically organized church the answer in easy: elders.

This committee’s existence is itself an attack on the authority of Scripture: the presence of women on this committee is a rank violation of Scripture and ought to have been vigorously opposed as such. “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” –God’s Word.

It was a sin to ever appoint the committee.

Thus, the committee encourages preferring women for non-ordained staff positions, such as director of children’s ministry, director of women’s ministry, director of adult education/discipleship, treasurer/accountant, administrator, or director of assimilation. This could be desirable for these reasons: it gives qualified women an outlet for their gifts; it encourages PCA women to pursue theological education, knowing that there will be employment options for them to serve; it gives visibility to women who can model mature female leadership; it demonstrates before the watching world that the church is a body that practices biblical inclusion and women are co-heirs of grace.

And so, the proper realm of ministry for women in the church will continue to be pushed aside and further demeaned as women are encouraged to get MDiv degrees and PCA churches “preferentially hire” them to achieve gender balance in church employment. Godly motherhood, the most fruitful root of the church’s future will continue to decay, and in its place, women will usurp authority and responsibilities that are not theirs. And fathers who are called to nurture the churches, as elders, and the family as husbands will descend into greater laziness, ungodliness, and passivity.

For these reasons I vigorously oppose the report and recommendations on women in ministry that have just been passed by the PCA General Assembly. I pray that godly sessions will do all they can to rebuke this assembly and call the church to repentance.pcalogo

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The PCA Is Elderly

The Pew Research Center has released an analysis showing that the conservative Reformed denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has some of the most elderly adherents. This may come as a shock to members of other Reformed denominations who are often pressured to imitate the PCA, with its reputation for being younger, hipper, and more evangelistic. Apparently, this is more marketing than reality, with denominations as diverse as the Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics having much younger adherents. Presbyterians were once known for orderly churches, firm doctrine and worship, large families, and an emphasis on catechizing covenant children.  Now conservative Presbyterians are best known for large parachurch organizations (Ligonier), big conferences (The Gospel Coalition), innovative leaders (Keller), and a plethora of competing seminaries.

This year’s PCA General Assembly (the highest court of the church) appeared oblivious to this growing crisis, rather doubling down on the same concerns that dominate the aging and dying mainline churches: embracing faddish worship styles, fixating on race relations, and expanding the roles of women in ministry.

One might suggest forming a study committee to encourage obedience to the first commandment God gave us, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.”

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Contentment in Singleness: Look to Jesus & Live in His Church

The January 2016 edition of Orthodox Presbyterian Church‘s monthly magazine New Horizons includes an encouraging article for singles by Boyd Miller, pastor of Covenant OPC in Lagrange, Georgia. Pastor Miller is himself single, so he writes not only as a wise pastor but a good companion in singleness.

Some people do choose singleness, but many times singleness chooses you without your permission. Jesus reminds us that while some are eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom, many remain unmarried as a by-product of the fallen human condition (Matt. 19:12). Congenital disorders, unfaithful spouses, same-sex attraction problems, premature death, war, disease, paucity of like-minded believers, and “bad luck” all complicate and exacerbate the matter. Yet through, above, and against all the secondary causes of singleness, the sovereign hand of God’s providence remains for our good and his ultimate glory.

Yet, contentment in the middle of God’s providences is hard won. For our good? Yes. For his ultimate glory? Yes. Obviously good and glorious? No. Instead, contentment in singleness can be a great battle, “a terrible battle of the soul, with setbacks, fits, sighs, tears, discouragements, and even rebellious outbursts,” a hard-won virtue as the Spirit carries a person through “loneliness, rejection, and alienation.”

Miller’s prescription for such a malady is life in Christ: looking to him as our whole righteousness and joy. Singles are not going to grow in contentment by being told over and over to be content:

The law’s demand for contentment can produce a rebellious response from us, for discontentment is at work within us (Rom. 7:8, 23). “Wretched (single) that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25).

Therefore, when applying the tenth commandment, the church should direct her unmarried members to Christ, who willingly became single for us, that we (the church) might become married to him. In the fullness of time, the eternal Son of God became a single man, born under the commandment not to covet, and fulfilled that law with a life of sinless contentment. Now those who believe in him have a pardon for their discontentment and the graces necessary to endure suffering for him. When tempted to kick at the goads of providence or murmur against the unmarried condition, the gospel gives us many soothing glances at our beloved Jesus. Our Lord Jesus Christ provides us with delight in his person, work, fellowship, and promises. He assures us that, as the single believer increasingly treasures him, she also finds moments of peace in accordance with the law.

If the Father has not withheld his only Son, will he not also give me all things for this single life and eternity (Rom. 8:32)? Indeed, he does. The Lord graciously gives the single Christian his Spirit to comfort, console, and sanctify (Rom. 8:15–17). The Lord also provides us with his church as our new family in Christ, where we find many mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters in the household of God (Matt. 12:50).

Christ is the true Physician who came for the sick, not the well. Turning from our self-righteousness and remembering that he is our whole righteousness, we have the true, healing balm for the conscience, the blood and righteousness of Christ and his promise to aid the helpless. That constant cleansing we have before God’s holy throne, loosens the bonds of despair or pride from the Christian. And drawing from Christ by faith, we are both encouraged and challenged forward in the “terrible battle of the soul.”

As you can see, Miller’s article is a great theological encouragement to the Christian single, but he also gives some very helpful practical counsel:

…singles would do well to immerse themselves deeply within the life of the local congregation. Hospitality, visitation, fellowship, prayer meetings, and Lord’s Day worship provide wonderful avenues of blessing to those who find themselves without a spouse. I cannot imagine the single life without the loving fellowship of my local congregation.

And:

We need perspective as singles. In view of my sins, who am I to complain about my sufferings (Lam. 3:39)? We must take care to have no other gods before us. Marriage is not a god to be served, but a vehicle to glorify him. Singleness strengthens my empathy for others. Knowing loneliness, rejection, and alienation, we serve others who are deeply affected by a broken world. We look upon the homebound, the divorced, and the fatherless with compassion, as those who often view life ourselves from the outside.

Count it a privilege to serve as a single. Singleness can be a great blessing. Biblical and ecclesiastical history is replete with famous and eminently useful singles. Our minds are not divided between pleasing a spouse and pleasing the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32–34). During a season of trial for the church, Paul actually recommended that singles and widows not marry (1 Cor. 7:26–27). We do not know what a day may bring (Prov. 27:1). Distress and persecution by perverse and wicked men may visit the church in our nation and that may make singles an even greater asset to God’s people.

Finally, as a single man or woman, do not say in your heart, “I am a dry tree.” Rather, remember the Lord’s promise that those who love him by keeping his sabbaths and covenant shall receive an eternal inheritance from the Lord that is better than children (Isa. 56:3–5). The present sufferings of singleness are not to be compared with the glory to come (Rom. 8:18). Our inheritance is eternal in the heavens as we travel to a perfect world where there is no marrying or giving in marriage (Matt. 22:30).

Read the whole article here: Contentment in Singleness