At the time of their writing I did not consider how connected the subject of women in ministry and killing Children’s Church was. But once you see it, everything becomes kind of obvious. Both are a cancer on the western church and they work together to weaken the entire body.
The question of women preaching has arisen at my own church and both sides are beefing up for the debate. Part of this was my small group leader sent out a podcast covering the topic that I am dutifully slogging my way though. And it starts off going through all kinds of questions about where do you draw the line on women in ministry. I found the solution to each one to be some variation on, if you don’t create that non Biblically described position in the first place you don’t have to worry about asking if women can serve in it…
You won’t find the title of Children’s Minister or Children’s Pastor anywhere in the Bible. No Levite in the Old Testament was assigned to this, there were no Children’s Priests. In the New Testament the closest you can get is a Deacon who is assigned to care for widows and orphans. Perhaps you could argue that the local Rabbi teaching Hebrew to children counts, but that is a stretch. The job position of children’s minister is a very recent creation, driven entirely by pragmatism, and a cottage industry. It has more to do with seeker sensitive mega churches, publishing houses, bums in seminary class seats, and lazy theology, than faithfulness. And let’s be honest this position is filled nine out of ten times by women. It was the churches answer to feminism. Sure kid go to seminary, you can’t preach but we’ll put that degree to use in all the areas the pastor doesn’t want to deal with directly. And after years of this weaksause work around the Bible the strain has really started to show. If women are capable of doing everything a man can do why don’t we let them do that one final thing? Clinging to 1 Tim 2:2 starts to look pretty pathetic. I mean she is already called a minister or a pastor, so much ground has already been ceded, why not just give in on your backwards way?
Creating these staff positions in a church is akin to spending years practicing a quick draw and aim at your foot, eventually the trigger will get pulled.
Missing the Point
The church is not a place that is supposed to be pragmatic or a cheap knock off of the lost and dying world. We do things differently because we are different. We see the world differently, we used to call it a Christian Worldview, until we were informed that such things were out of vogue.* Both the created world and the church, when rightly ordered, is masculine. They were made by God the Father, Man was given dominion, and woman was made for the man as a helpmeet (1 Cor 11:9, Gen 2:18),.God set up Patriarchs, Priests, and Kings, female interlopers were his appointed judgement on a sinful people ( Isa 3:12) Christ came as a man and chose male apostles. While the pagan world was running around with priestesses and concubines to idols God set men in place to lead his church. Things were to be different among us. It is baked into holiness.
“If any message from the core of reality ever were to reach us, we should expect to find in it just that unexpectedness, that willful, dramatic anfractuosity which we find in the Christian faith. It has the master touch-the rough, male taste of reality, not made by us, or, indeed, for us, but hitting us in the face.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
When we go down the path of playing theological gymnastics or putting on doctrinal blinders under the guise of being welcoming, we are really just whitewashing worldliness.
Doug Wilson has pointed out numerous times that, “sometimes liberal scholars are more to be trusted with the handling of a text of Scripture than our theologians” this is because a liberal can look at the teachings of Paul they don’t like and swallow the reductio of plain rejection. A “christian” theologian is stuck with a text he doesn’t like and has to play merry hell with it on order to explain it away. Effectively they end up lying. After much distraction with history, context, Greek roots, the Latin Vulgate, The Septuagint, Songs of Kahless, and other hermeneutic smash and sparkle, or as Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr would say “dazzle with conversation” the conclusion is reliably drawn that Paul could not hardly mean at all what he said. Which does put one in mind of Lewis talking about the assured results of modern scholarship only being assured because all the men involved were dead and could not blow the gaff.
The other option is to simply claim ignorance, throw around the word nuance, and insist the issue is debatable and is still being looked into. On other words, cowardice. People won’t like the right answer so we will just sit on the fence and hope the eventual Humpty Dumpty prophesy never comes to pass.
Either way lying is involved, the kind that oozes like water from a sponge.
Holiness isn’t easy. One way to defend a church is to simply not create all excess nooks and crannies for wolves to hole up in. This may mean that seekers feel you are not sensitive enough, that their felt needs are not being met. But we are not called to meet felt needs much less than with wolf bites. Kids in the service can be a struggle, but if children are a blessing from the Lord, is it not a struggle that is a gift, and on the Lords day we all partake in it? Is it also not worth it to say that this church has male elders elders, like the Bible says, and one first among equals who is the pastor. Beyond that we have a financial secretary, his name is Steve.
Bryan Loritts once told me, “Don’t give the devil a stick to hit you upside the head with.” Looking at a lot of our churches it would appear that we have been in the market for a medieval flail to hand him.
*”The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere “understanding”. Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.” – Screwtape, Letter XXV