Posted by: Hugh Griffiths | May 19, 2006

Da Vinci Code: Issues | 04

Do we value women and men equally?

Yesterday I indicated that perhaps one of the reasons why The Da Vinci Code was popular was that it touched on an innate interest in spiritual things. Dan Brown's presentation is completely wrong, yet made more compelling reading because many people are interested in finding out about Jesus.

It may be that another reason for its popularity is its strong feminist agenda. The book presents Mary not only as Jesus' wife and a mother of his children, but also as chief among the apostles. Early Christianity is portrayed as part of the 'cult of the Great Mother' – a version of belief that was supposedly squashed by Constantine in the fourth century and remained a hidden secret. Of course, this is complete fiction but nevertheless his novel presses many neo-pagan feminist buttons. For example, this is part of the main character's narrative:

"The Grail is literally the ancient symbol for womanhood, and the Holy Grail represents the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church. The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean."

Certainly in centuries past institutional religion did not value women as they should. Their contribution to service and ministry in the church was often marginalised or disregarded. This was of course the general picture in wider society as well but it did not reflect biblical values and teaching.

It may be that many women still feel isolated and unfulfilled in the church – perhaps this is part of the reason Dan Brown's celebration of the feminine is so attractive to many readers? He may be writing absolute nonsense, yet still be touching on areas of meaning where the church generally needs to mature.

I don't intend this post to discuss or stir debate on theology about gender and ministry – there are plenty of other places to do that. Instead I simply want to affirm that irrespective of the detail of roles, the church must value and honour both sexes. Passages such as Luke 8:1-3 honour female disciples as well as the Twelve. Paul, too, openly acknowledged the ministry of women among the churches and in furtherance of the gospel.

My own conviction is that the bible teaches that men and women complement one another, that they are equal but not identical in their roles. However, whether your theological persuasion is complementarian or egalitarian or something else completely, we must not devalue either men or women.

God has created two sexes that are both in the image of the creator. Whatever vestiges of history or tradition still perpetuate unbiblical predjudice or partiality need to be shaken off. Instead, we need to find contentment in our own gifts and callings and at the same time celebrate and honour others as they serve.

Men. Women. Equal. Different

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Responses

  1. Hi, Hugh.
    I was once egalitarian, and now I am complimentarian. I have wonderful elders who encourage me in the things that Lord Jesus has called me to do, to say, to sing, and to write. When my leadership affirms me, as a female – when I am regarded as an asset in that which God has given me to do and to be – then I don’t HAVE to strive for a place that has been exclusively given by God to a man. I can be content AND FULFILLED in the role and function that has been assigned to me by my Lord Jesus. In all honesty, I rather PREFER to think that my leadership is protecting and covering me. This creates FREEDOM, not bondage.
    All that being said, and with the understanding that the purpose of this post is not to stir up debate, I agree with you. There HAVE been times in the past when women were marginalized or ignored altogether. There HAVE been times when we were
    unappreciated, when we were consigned to the proverbial “kitchen” to be seen and not heard, and when men were regarded as the ONLY capable ministers in the Body of Christ…
    And the world perpetuates the memory of that regrettable past. The accuser regurgitates the saddest parts of our collective history in an effort to discredit the Lord Jesus Who created and reigns over the genders and the Church. When women have been right to be outraged at cruel or inhumane treatment, the devil has twisted a sense of true and real injustice to foster rebellion, discontent, and misunderstanding, regarding the true God-given and God-blessed roles of His anointed women.
    And then I look at our own Church Body… I think about Dianne Aubrey, or Mrs. Jones, or Angela Hughes, or Randi Kyle, or Fiona Reynolds (she is one of the most powerful worship leaders I have ever heard – male OR female)…all safely functioning under the covering of capable men of God who value the input of prophetic, wise, and discerning females. And I feel safe. I feel valued. I am regarded as important…different, but important. And I am fulfilled.
    It is time for the Church to arise…to be counted…to shine forth the Character and Values of our Glorious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When the nations see how He really wants His Body to operate – when they see His true heart toward both men and women, who will be able to resist Him? =-)


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