Men & Women in the Church: Part 1

I have so much to say — about female pastors, women teaching, male/female friendship — but for now, for this post, I just want to say this:

We’re different, but we’re not that different.

There are two things that seem to be a problem: one in the world, one in the church. One overemphasizes our equality and the other overemphasizes our differences.


The church is like a perpetual 6th grade dance sometimes, you know what I mean? I have PTSD from my 6th grade dance because Tiffany asked me to dance and she was like eight inches shorter, and I didn’t like her, and she asked me to dance to the song November Rain by Guns ‘n Roses and it’s like an eight minute song…but most 6th grade dances are the boys on one side and the girls on another and that’s what the church is like.

There is this weird overemphasis of our differences.

It’s like we’re afraid of each other. We can’t be in the same room, we can’t have a platonic relationship, and we can’t disciple each other.

I was doing a Q&A with some church leaders one time and a guy asked about how the church can grow in providing opportunities for women to lead more in the church and I said the first thing we need to do is shift our paradigms. We need to start realizing that men can be discipled by women and women can be discipled by men, and we don’t always have to be in different rooms.

We’re different, but we’re not that different.

Fellas, women in the church have a lot to offer you. 

They are empowered by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. 
They have the same intellectual and theological and biblical capacity as any man.
They have unique experiences and gifts and wisdom to offer you.

They aren’t just in the church to have babies and disciple children.

Don’t be discipled by only half the church.

My guess is Paul would have something to say about the church in Rome not honoring Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Rufus’ mother, Julia, and Nereus’ sister (Romans 16) as “co-laborers” in the Gospel (Phil 4:3).

Where the world typically discounts the differences of men and women, the church is typical of forgetting the joint heirs-ness (1 Pet. 3:7) we have. And when we do, all sorts of dysfunctions come into play.

If we lose what is common about us in race you get racism.
If you lose what is common about us in gender you get sexism.
And if you lose what is common about us in the church you get only half a church.

In the church, we are to celebrate both what is different and what is the same, and relate to one another in a way that shows honor.


The world, of course, says there are no differences between male and female. There’s nothing unique except for some body parts, and those are largely inconsequential.

And so there isn’t an “other” relationship between male and female anymore. For all the talk in our culture about diversity, and that’s a good thing, our culture is trying to get rid of the first diverse relationship God created—male and female.

In Genesis 1, God keeps creating in binaries: there is light and darkness, day and night, sea and dry land,  all the way to male and female. And then the Bible ends with the new heavens and new earth. From Genesis to Revelation the narrative is ensconced in these opposites, these “others”.

Diversity is beautiful and when we lose it, we lose the opportunity to honor the “otherness” of others.

If we are color blind to other races, we won’t honor different cultures and we won’t see the injustices that they experience.
If we are gender blind to other genders, we won’t honor the differences and we won’t see the sufferings they experience.
If women are just like men with different body parts then we’re not going to relate to them in the way that God has designed.

We’re different, but not that different.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28

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