For many years I have heard about parents giving their daughters a promise ring. This was usually a ring that would be given in order for the girl to promise sexually purity until she married. Recently, I heard of a different kind of promise ring. The promise given when this ring was on a girl’s finger seemed to go a bit deeper than just guarding the chastity of a daughter, it also pledged protection to her.
My wife has a "mommy's helper" come over every Wednesday afternoon and this 13 year old girl is learning how to both serve another mother in our church as well as get hands-on training to be a future wife and mother. Last week, Darcy (our helper) was so excited about a ring that she had received from her father. Her family recently went to the beach and while Tim (Darcy's dad) and Darcy walked together on the beach, Tim presented this beautiful "promise ring" to his daughter. Tim promised that he would love and protect his daughter and he promised that he would have her best in mind as he guarded her and allowed a future man to court her. He promised that he would choose a godly man for her and that this man would be ready for pursuing her toward marriage when he allowed the relationship/courtship to begin. Tim promised his commitment to his daughter and she was overjoyed to rest in her father's loving care as he pulled the pressure of her future off of her and kept the weight of it on himself.
You see, Tim is a godly dad who knows that he is to be the one guarding his daughter. The promise ring was not a promise from Darcy to her dad or Darcy to her future husband, but from Tim to his daughter.
How many less promises would be needed for teenage girls to remain sexually pure if fathers promised to protect the daughters that God has entrusted to them? Could we have missed the mark in the promises that should be made? Might it be wiser to have dads take a greater role in guarding their daughters than having daughters simply seek to remain pure on their own initiative? True love does wait, but a dad's love doesn't.
I thank God for men like Tim who stand up and lead their families courageously, creatively, and with care. It is such an example to me as a young dad with two daughters of my own.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I don't think there are a lot of posts on this blog that are "must read" posts, but this one is...
I think this will challenge both egalitarians and complementarians and make us all think more biblically. David Kotter from the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog humbly helps us see how we can all grow.
Does the Shoe Fit?
October 22, 2007
David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, recently offered four questions as a challenge to keep complementarians true to Scripture. While Dr. Gushee holds an egalitarian view, his article is presented with a commendable spirit of grace and kindness. For example, he presents his questions "with respect for your view and a shared commitment to seeing it lived out in a way that upholds the dignity of women. I also do so knowing that egalitarian communities are also flawed and do not always live out the full meaning of their commitments."
As a complementarian, I share Dr. Gushee's commitment to upholding the honor and dignity of women created in the image of God and appreciate his humble assessment of flaws in egalitarian communities. But we talked about specks in another's eyes without checking for our own logs first. We need to take to heart the helpful counsel written by David Powlison:
Fair-minded criticism is one of life's best pleasures, an acquired taste well worth the acquiring. Someone who will take you seriously, understand you accurately, treat you charitably, and who then will lay it on the line is a messenger from God for your welfare (whether or not you end up completely agreeing). There is nothing quite like being disagreed with intelligently, lovingly, and openly: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6).
There is always a temptation to dismiss a critical article out of hand, but before we make that mistake and set aside Gushee's editorial, Powlison would encourage us to ask, "Does this shoe fit? Does this fit us in our lives and local churches in any way?"
So, for the benefit of complementarians and the good of the body of Christ, I encourage close consideration along the lines of Gushee's four questions, which are reprinted here in their entirety:
1. Are you successfully communicating to young men the conviction that a complementarian perspective must elevate rather than diminish the dignity of women, and therefore inculcating a moral commitment on their part to act accordingly?
2. Are you absolutely clear on which positions of Christian service (you believe) are barred to women?
3. Once you have determined what positions of Christian service are barred to women, you have therefore also determined which positions are permitted. Are you active in encouraging women to pursue the positions that are permitted?
4. When women occupy positions of church leadership that parallel those of men, are their positions named equally and are the individuals involved treated equally?
All men and women who hold to a complementarian position should be encouraged to careful self-examination with these questions. First, if we understand from Genesis 1:27 that women are equal in value and dignity, do we teach that to young men? Do we demonstrate that belief in our actions and words? Is it evident in the life of our churches?
Second, do we have clear conviction from Scripture and wisdom about what positions in the church are reserved for men? Do we fall into the temptation to hold women back from ministry positions not specifically addressed in the Word of God? (Look to the upcoming Spring issue of JBMW for an article entitled "Women in Ministry" designed to help churches adopt and clearly communicate a biblical position on how women can serve.)
Third and Fourth, do we recognize that God is giving amazing gifts to the church through women and men, and are we encouraging all believers to biblically serve the body of Christ? Are we making sure that women are represented in all ministries and public positions that are not reserved for men? If not, we risk sending an unbiblical message to the world.
Finally, I believe a fifth question might be added to sum up most of these concerns: Why do you believe men and women are equal in value and dignity but distinct in roles and function? In other words, why do you hold a complementarian position? Is it a habit based on your upbringing? Is it part of your cultural heritage? Does it just feel right, like broken-in running shoes? Is it a selfish and sinful desire to dominate others? Or is it your understanding from Scripture that this is God's loving design for His creation?
Only a biblically-based conviction will lead to a complementarian position that will stand up to Gushee's helpful questions. We must understand that a woman's worth ultimately comes from bearing the image of her Creator, otherwise we will not consistently teach young men to respect women. We will only teach husbands to love their wives if we are convicted that the marriage relationships reflects the love of Christ for the church.
I realize that complementarians are in a process of sanctification that will never be completed in this life, and it makes me long for heaven more and more. Nevertheless, considering these questions can help us grow in obedience so that the truth of God's Word and the beauty of God's design can still be displayed in our homes and local churches.