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

“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.

“What Does It Mean To Be The Head Of The Home” by John Macarthur

Here on The Lydia Center Blog we’ve been walking through a teaching series from Grace to You called: “God’s Design For The Family.” In this post, Pastor John Macarthur builds on the foundational idea of marriage as a union in which there is mutuality to describe the nature of the husbands headship over his wife.

Scripture makes it perfectly clear that men and women are spiritual equals in the sight of God. They have an equal standing in Christ and equal spiritual privileges, because we are all united with Him in the same way. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no second-class spiritual citizenship. In Christ and before God, there’s only oneness. We are equal. Men are not spiritually superior to women.

It’s nonetheless true (and perfectly obvious) that both Scripture and nature assign different roles and different functions to men and women. The Bible is quite clear in assigning headship in every family to the husband, not the wife (Ephesians 5:23). The responsibilities of teaching and leading the church are given to men, not women (1 Timothy 2:12). But women are uniquely and exclusively equipped to bear and nurture young children, and the fulfillment of that role assures that they can never be relegated to any second-class status.

Men are, as a rule, physically stronger (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV refers to the wife as “the weaker vessel”). Men are therefore responsible to carry the weight and the brunt of labor in order to provide for and protect the family. Scripture teaches that God designed the physical differences and the functional differences between men and women for a purpose—and that is why God clearly distinguishes the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.

Remember, however, that while their roles are clearly different, the spiritual standing of men and women in Christ is perfectly equal. Even the biblical language of two becoming one flesh underscores the essential oneness of husband and wife in a way that rules out the very notion of inequality.

As the article goes on, Macarthur demonstrates from Scripture that the relationship of headship is modeled after the Father’s headship of Christ and Christ’s headship of the church:

First, God has given every husband a clear responsibility for spiritual leadership, and men dare not abdicate that duty. The husband, not the wife, is to be head of the family. That is God’s design. Within every home, someone must ultimately have the responsibility of leadership, and Scripture unambiguously assigns that duty to men, not women.

Second, the model for the husband’s headship is Christ. Christlike headship involves not only authority for spiritual leadership, but also the duties of care, nurture, protection, and self-sacrifice. In the words of Ephesians 5:28–29,

Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.

Read the full article here: What does it mean to be the head of the home?

“Submission Isn’t a One-Way Street” by John MacArthur

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Christlikeness is the principle of all human holiness. In him by creation, we live and move and have our being. In him by spiritual rescue and renewal, we being transformed by the grace of the Spirit to more and more reflect his image.

In the home this beautiful reality is expressed in mutual submission. The undergirding reality of all of our thoughts, words, and actions toward each other ought to be mutual service out of self-sacrificing love. While this is not opposed to authority and submission, it is radically different than a fleshly, ungodly version of leadership. In the family the sweet savor of Jesus Christ ought to be present in all of our relationships.

The good news is that this is his promise to us and our children! Believe it! Live out of it!

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 59:21 ESV

John MacArther writes:

In the end, everyone in the household has a duty to submit at some point and in some specific way to everyone else. Yes, wives must submit to the leadership of their husbands. But husbands also must bow to the needs of their wives. Certainly children need to obey their parents. But parents also have a duty to serve and sacrifice for their children. Of course servants need to yield to the authority of their masters. But masters also are commanded to treat their servants with dignity and respect—esteeming even the lowliest servant better than themselves.

In other words, Paul commanded each Christian to be an example of submission and service to all others. That simple principle is the key to harmony and happiness in the home. Domineering men who try to use Ephesians 5 as a club to keep their wives in a kind of servile submission have missed the whole point of the passage. Even if God has given you a position of leadership, you have a duty to take the role of a servant—because that is precisely what Christ did for us.

The full article from GTY here: Submission Isn’t a One Way Street

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“Mutual Submission” by John MacArthur

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Order and unity. Submission and equality. Difference and similarity. These are what theologians call antinomies: two things that appear to contradict, but actually do not, yet are difficult to hold together.

In Christian marriage this theological problem is painfully practical: men and women are not the same, but they are. Marriage is a relationship of authority and even obedience (1 Peter 3:6), yet it is also a relationship of mutual submission and mutual service. For the Christian, all of these things come together in seeking Christ-likeness. The more you and I are like Jesus the more these antinomies will not become contradictions!

John MacArther writes:

…when it comes to one-on-one interpersonal relationships within all those institutions, the principle of mutual submission must govern how each of us treats one another. Even the person in a position of authority must be Christlike in his or her dealings with all others—which, of course, still means esteeming others better than self. Again, Christ Himself is the model for what that kind of leadership looks like. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Mutual submission is the principle, then, that Ephesians 5:21 spells out: “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” To illustrate and further explain how the principle of submission is supposed to work in the framework of institutions where God has ordained authorities for leadership, Paul turned to the most fundamental of all human institutions, the family.

The full article from GTY here: Mutual Submission

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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