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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“Whose Daughters You Are” by Peter Jones

Few subjects are so fraught with danger as the teaching that wives should submit to their husbands.  There are numerous reasons for this. First, the church has played the whore with the world on this particular subject. Thus Christian women have been taught that Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, and I Peter 3:1- 6  are irrelevant to their lives as Christians. Second, too many Christian men treat their wives like dirt in the name of submission. Third, too many Christian wives really don’t want to submit, though they want desperately to look like they are. Thus hypocrisy reigns. Therefore Ephesians 5:22-33 and passages like it are often torn to shreds or ignored. What our Christian fathers took as obvious, has become the subject of scholarly debate, which often means the plain teaching of Scripture is obscured by various academic studies showing that the text does not really mean what it says.  Scholars, and eventually pastors, throw just enough mud in the water so we cannot see what is plainly there. That way we can continue compromising with a clean conscience.

Here are some exhortations on submission I gave to my congregation in a sermon several years ago.

Read Pastor Jones’ exhortations here: Whose Daughters You Are

Compatibility & Complementarity: No Need To Reconcile Friends

In Jennifer Wilkin’s post “Are Compatibility and Complementarity at Odds?“, she tackles a common error among conservative Christians: emphasizing the differences between Christians rather than the things that make us the same. When it comes to gender issues this is particularly dangerous. Just think about how an emphasis on gender difference plays out around the world in false religions and the cultures taught by them: women are oppressed, abused, disregarded, devalued… In the Bible, Adam’s joy was not just in the glorious differences between men and women, it was a joy in their sameness: “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.”

Was there order? Yes, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1 Timothy 2:13)

Was there difference? Yes, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Corinthians 11:8-9)

Do these differences have widespread implications in life? Yes, but so does our basic unity as being God’s image in creation and redemption: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ… there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s not treat friends like enemies to be reconciled! Our gender differences don’t erase our common humanity, and our common humanity doesn’t destroy our differences.  In this way the multifaceted glory of God in creation and grace of God in redemption is manifest.
Read Jennifer Wilkin’s post here: Are Compatibility and Complementarity at Odds?

Focus: “Women’s Ministry in the Local Church” by Deb Welch

Deb Welch, blogger extraordinaire,  has recently brought together her wonderful series on the need and work of women’s ministry in the church. An active member of the PCA, she has years of experience in the trenches of discipleship and has helpful insights for all of us. Her series is interspersed with theology, practical advice, and personal anecdotes. Enjoy!

Series on Women’s Ministry in the Local Church:

1. Women’s Ministry in the Local Church: Intro & FAQ
2. Women’s “Ministry”?
3. Ezers and Eves
4. Complementary Gender Roles: Personal Perspective
5. The Value of Reaffirming the Affirmations of the Danvers Statement
6. Perspective — Women in Combat
7. Titus 2 Women in Reverse: Naomi and Ruth
8. Vocation, Spiritual Gifts, & the Priesthood of All Believers
9. Women in the Church: Praying as Life-Givers
10. Women’s Ministry in an Old-New Way

“The High Calling of Submission” by John Macarthur

We are continuing through Grace To You’s excellent series: “God’s Design For The Family.” In this article Pastor Macarthur teaches the biblical truth that the humbling work of submission is, in Christ, a high calling! Our Spirit-empowered imitation of Christ’s submission to the Father, the humility of a servant (Philippians 2:1–11), is the common principle and motivation for the varied contexts of submission: wives to husbands, children to parents, employees to employers, citizens to rulers, students to teachers, etc.

But how can we submit to one another in the context of a family while still recognizing the God-ordained roles of headship and authority? That is the subject Paul addressed in Ephesians 5:22–6:4. Since submission epitomizes the character of the person who is truly Spirit-filled, Paul outlined how mutual submission should work in a family.

He wrote under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, of course, so this was not merely the apostle’s private opinion (2 Peter 1:20–21). God Himself inspired the very words of the text (2 Timothy 3:16). Paul spoke here to wives, husbands, children, and parents, in that order. And the admonition to wives is simple, covering just three verses:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24)

It is important to remember that Paul did not begin by singling out and consigning wives to a second-rate status. There’s a sense in which everyone in the church must submit to everyone else as Paul clearly stated in the preceding verse. Ephesians 5:22 simply explains how wives ought to show their submission.

Also notice that Paul started and ended this short section by specifying whom wives should submit to: “their husbands” (Ephesians 5:24). “Their husband” suggests that the wife should willingly make herself subject to the husband who is her possession. Husbands and wives belong to each other, and thus have unique responsibilities to each other which they do not have to anyone else (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3­–4).

Women as a group are not made serfs to men in general, and men aren’t automatically elevated to a ruling class over all women. But Scripture calls each woman to submit in particular to her own husband’s headship. In other words, the family itself is the primary arena in which a godly woman is to cultivate and demonstrate the attitude of humility, service, and sacrifice called for inEphesians 5:21.

Macarthur then demonstrates from Scripture several important points about the Bible’s command that wives submit to their husbands:

  1. The command applies to all wives.
  2. It means wives must “line up under” the leadership of their husbands.
  3. This order is ordained by God an consonant with nature.
  4. It is an unpopular command, one that is frequently attacked and undermined even in the church.
  5. Scripture is clear and consistent regarding this command.

Ten Quotes: How to Exasperate Your Wife by Doug Wilson

Pastor Peter Jones from Morgantown, West Virginia, has a edifying blog Singing & Slaying where among other great posts he regularly lists his favorite quotations from books he is reading. Doug Wilson has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality, the family, covenant living, and marriage. Not being perfect (!) or known for shying away from either controversy or bold proclamations, Pastor Wilson is often attacked by feminists, atheists, and other hooligans.

In his book “How to Exasperate Your Wife” Wilson takes aim at the fellas, who in God’s order are always the root of the problem. Check out these quotations pulled together from his book by Jones, and check out the whole post at Singing & Slaying:

If her [the wife’s] wishes are routinely disregarded, this means that her husband has failed to invest her with his authority, and has failed to act as an example for the rest of the household. A sure indicator of an unhappy household is the ignoring of Mom, and the head of that home is an abdicating father.

No one person is absolute. And this why those husbands who think that headship means their wives should never offer a contrary view are wrong. This is why husbands who think their wives cannot require certain things of them are wrong. This is why husbands who believe that their wives have no court of appeal outside the marriage are wrong.

 Few forms of behavior are less respectable than that of demanding respect.

A man who is not strong enough to be tender is not strong at all…We tend to think that a man who yells and blusters and intimidates has an excess of strength. We think he has a surplus. But biblically understood, he is actually a covenant wimp.

A nation defended by her women is a nation no longer worth defending. When women are placed in the front line of defense, every Christian man should walk away from the cause of that nation as being beneath contempt.

The basic question here is whether law operates in the context of grace, or whether grace operates in the surrounding context of law. If the former, then marriage is delight upon delight. If the latter, then it is one conflict after another. In these two different marriages, the objective standards may be exactly the same, but they are played in different keys.

What is biblical masculinity? It is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.

What is the confessional issue of our time? The confessional issue of our time is human sexuality, biblically defined.

World News Group recently ran a book review contrasting Wilson’s advice with that of the Roman church. Check it out here: Weekend Reads: Contrasting marriage advice

 

“My Brush With Feminism” by Rebeka Merkle

This is a great post from September at the Femina blog. Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:

I have, now and again, had occasion to pop off on the subject of feminists who can’t decide if they’re trying to channel a swaggering machismo persona – or delicate, hyperventilating, victimhood. And the thing is, the whole situation is funny. It really is. One minute these ladies are rough, tough, and hard to bluff . . . and the next minute they’re pasting trigger alerts on all the sharp corners of everyone’s lives like those dreadfully inelegant foam protectors for the edges of coffee tables. You’ve seen those moments of high heels gone wrong in which the poor girl staggers violently in every possible direction before actually falling down? That’s what the evangelical feminists remind me of. There’s no clear trajectory. One minute they’re galloping nor’-nor’-east, and then suddenly they’re staggering to the sou’-sou’-west. On the one hand, they want to be hard edged modern women, all pant suits and nun chucks, but then again, what they really want to be is tender and empathetic, cherishing and tenderly petting the hurt feelings of everyone everywhere.

Like I said, I find that whole thing funny. But actually, in a surprise move, I wanted to actually take a moment to explain in what way I totally sympathize with them. I don’t agree with the nonsensical road they’ve taken, mind you, but I can at least understand how they came to be in this ridiculous place.

Men. Men who are chumps. Let us be frank – that’s the real problem here. If we want to dig in and get down to first causes, this is where the problem lies. There are lots of chumpish men of course, and each is chumpish in his own way . . . but there’s one particular breed I wanted to look at for a minute.

The thing that makes the evangelical feminists (which is a bit of an oxymoron really) as mad as fire is that Great Nemesis of the Western World – Patriarchy, and anything that reminds them of patriarchy, or alliterates with patriarchy. (Like “Paul” for instance.) So let’s take a moment to peer into the bushes that the feminists are setting up a squawk about. What men do we find in that camp? Well, if we let the feminists define the boundaries of who is in “That Camp” then we find a whole smorgasbord of men because it turns out that feminists aren’t terribly good at defining their terms. We find little tin-pot dictators who advocate for old school patriarchy and who rule their sparsely populated and badly educated red-neck demesne with a rod of iron. But we also find timid little would-be-hipster-city-dwellers who are trying to hide behind the label “Complementarian” and hoping that will fool the feminists and make them go away.

Interspersed in there we find a whole number of strong, faithful, masculine men who assume a godly authority in the home . . . but, and let’s be real here, we also find plenty of men who are chumps. By the grace of God, I have lived my entire life surrounded by the first kind . . . but I have actually been around the block a time or two, and I’ve seen plenty of the second kind as well. And it’s those men – the chumpish ones – who provide much of the ammo which the feminists are flinging at the faithful men. So I would like to humbly offer the suggestion to the menfolk – if you don’t like the feminists, then for heaven’s sakes stop making their point for them!

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not to be educated.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not be wearing anything but dresses.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not to disagree with them . . . because I was a female and they were male.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me that any woman who disagrees with a man doesn’t have a gentle and quiet spirit.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me that women don’t need an education, because they only need to know how to have babies and cook.

And I’ll be straight-up honest with you. I didn’t handle those men in a very saintly way. I called them names and made rude remarks. I danced around in a tight little circle and lit my hair on fire. And without fail, after about ten minutes of conversation with these pills I was ready to wear nothing but pants for the rest of my life, go to law school, run for president, and become a rugby player.

Read the rest of the story (it’s great!) here: My Brush With Feminism