Truth or Lies, Part 5
November 9, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part five of a multipart series introducing and interacting with Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. As followers of Christ, we must be rooted in biblical truth as we are confronted by the lies of “this present darkness.”
The third lie that Butterfield addresses is “Feminism is good for the world and the church.” Of the five lies, this one, perhaps, has the greatest influence in the church today. In the last few decades, many denominations have made changes in their polity to allow women to have equal access with men to all the roles in the church. Some denominations have remained faithful to the biblical pattern of male leadership in the church. For example, this past summer the Southern Baptist Convention voted to remove congregations that had female pastors. In the culture’s eyes, this is regressive and oppressive to women.
Butterfield, as a self-professed former feminist, addresses this lie in several ways. She starts by confronting those in the church who become comfortable with feminism because they perceive it as a necessary compromise with a culture that is increasingly hostile to biblical morality. Without using the words “a slippery slope,” she warns against this sort of compromise, saying, “Sin only grows uglier as it goes on” (p. 153). I have witnessed this progression. When I first came into the PCA in 2003, there was a PCA church in San Francisco. A couple years later, this church left the PCA in order to join a denomination where they could ordain woman pastors. They rationalized this move as important to their mission to reach the ever-increasing liberal culture of San Francisco. Now they fully embrace homosexuality and transgenderism as normal and have ordained gay ministers.
Butterfield considers feminism to be sinful because it denies biblical teaching. She explains, “The worldview of feminism, like that of homosexual rights, has powerfully persuaded Christians that those certain areas designated ‘women’s rights’ are off-limits to biblical scrutiny. The category sacred to feminism is women’s equality with men in all things to the point of denying the creation ordinance and basic biology. Under feminism, men and women are interchangeable. Under Scripture, such interchangeability is sin” (p. 154).
The creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 establishes the foundation of what Scripture teaches about gender and sexuality. We read in Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” God did not intend to make another human identical to Adam as his helpmate, but one who was “fit” or complementary to him. God did not intend men and women to be equal in all things. Butterfield explains, “At its most basic distinction, God created men for strength, women for nurturance, and both for the other, her submission yielding to his headship creating the harmony of mutual work and worship of God. The simplicity, beauty, and perfection of the creation ordinance may be marred by sin but not by the designer’s perfect plan” (p. 158).
Building on the biblical account, Butterfield goes on to say, “The creation order—not culture—sets a pattern for godly living…A pattern is a blueprint for right living…A women’s personal gifts do not take priority over the design pattern that God established in the garden” (p. 173-174). God’s patterns, or blueprints, created before the Fall are designed for human flourishing. That’s what we are called to believe when we read in Genesis 1:31, “And God saw everything that he made, and behold, it was very good.”
This brings us, and Butterfield, to the crux of the issue: “How we read the Bible reveals what we think the Bible actually is” (p. 178). Either we read the Bible as trustworthy and authoritative because we believe it is God’s inerrant, eternal word, or we read the Bible with revisionist ideology because we believe the Bible is culturally conditioned and outdated for our current time. Butterfield applies this to the question of feminism, “Being made by God’s design according to the pattern of creation is therefore a statement about both what it means to be human and what it means to interpret a text with accuracy. Every person lives under the authority, influence, or manipulation of someone or something. Everyone lives under sovereignty, whether the sovereign is God or personal feelings or some evil tyrant” (p. 174). “Feminists read the Bible for what it might say or could say given its trajectory or vision in a world that believes ‘the future is female’” (p. 180). In other words, feminism reads the Bible without living under the authority of the Bible.
Like every lie that Butterfield addresses, the crux of the issue is how we read and interpret the Bible. If we want to talk about a slippery slope, the first slip always is compromising on one’s understanding of what the Bible is. As Butterfield said while addressing the second lie, “All the other debates are downstream from this one” (p. 144). So, what do you believe about the Bible? How do you read the Bible? We will either submit to the Bible or we will impose on the Bible what we want to hear. May God, by his Spirit, help us submit.