“God has chosen to liken Himself to a female and we are the fruit of His womb.”
– John Calvin
I recently came across a post by one of my favorite bloggers Rachel Held Evans, entitled “God is Not Ashamed, Our Brothers Speak Out.” This post burgeoned from a previous post where Evans asked Brothers in Christ to respond to views expressed by popular evangelical pastor John Piper, who spoke on the importance of maintaining what he calls a “masculine Christianity,” arguing that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” For the full breadth of John Piper’s comments click here.
This pastor is from my hometown of Minneapolis. I don’t mention him by name to disparage him in any way. I have read a handful of his books and have been incredibly blessed as a result. I know him to be a man of deep faith. That is what makes his comments so troubling and disheartening to a Korean American woman in seminary, preparing to go into full time ministry. Admittedly, I don’t know entirely what to do with Piper’s remarks and others in the collective Body of Christ who share his views. However, it does remind me just how grateful I am to be in a community that does not merely tolerate me, but embraces me. This community at PTS has affirmed my call, encouraged me along the way and continues to foster my development as pastor-theologian.
I have heard over and over in this place that the Church needs me, a woman, and would be blessed by my service to the Church through leadership. Daunting as it may be to hear that at times, it is also rather comforting to hear such welcoming words. The idea that I am welcomed and needed lines up with what God has made known to me by way of call. At the end of the day, the Church is the beautiful bride of Christ. It belongs to Christ! I understand my call is not actually about me. However, through me, a Korean American female, Christ is proclaimed and Christ is revealed. And so, while I face some uncertainty in what lies ahead in the coming months as I wrap up my time here, I trust that God has a plan and a place for the gifts that have been given to me by the Holy Spirit, to participate in the work of Christ in this world in all my ‘femininity.’
J.R. Daniel Kirk, a seminary professor, is one of our Brothers in Christ who took Evan’s challenge. I will leave you with his comments related to John Piper’s remarks. I pray that you find encouragement and edification through his thoughtful insight.
“ …In what is the clearest connection of God to human gender, perhaps the only clear and intentional such connection in all of scripture, it is both male and female, together, who mirror God to the world. This means that a ‘masculine’ church or a church with a ‘masculine feel’ is inherently lacking in its ability to reflect the image of God to the world.”
“According to the economy of the world, with its measures of greatness, to be the twelve is to be exemplary, in the place to lead, to exclude others from leadership, to stand close to Jesus and guard the gates of who else can draw near. And to the extent that we look to Jesus’ selection of them, and the apparent marginalization of the women, as paradigmatic for male leadership in the church, we show ourselves to be people whose minds have not yet been transformed by the very story to which we are appealing.”
“The gospel of the cross overturns such understandings of insider standing, power, and status. It rebukes our natural tendency to affirm as eligible leaders only those who are like the original insiders. When we use the Twelve as a weapon for fending off women from church leadership we align ourselves with the misapprehending disciples rather than the gospel proclaiming Christ.”
Melanie is a senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.