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18 Jan '12

Male leaders and their image bearing counterparts

This is not a blog about complementarians or egalitarians. I know the theological positions and arguments all too well. Both can be defended Scripturally and both have strong adherents and I like most have a theological position based on my understanding of the text. In fact, one can be either and still respect or not respect, empower or control and treat women with dignity or not in the church and Christian workplace. The theological position we hold on this issue is not the key factor: the attitude and regard of male leaders toward their female counterparts is.


I am convinced that male leaders in the church generally do not adequately listen to, regard with honor or empower women to use their gifts and leadership abilities to their fullest. It took me a long time to fully embrace my own wife's gifting and release her to use it in whatever ways God wants her to. I am sure that I have inadvertently done the same with others of the opposite gender. Where I have, I publically repent for holding back divinely gifted individuals.


Often today I think about the theology of being made in God's image - "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness'...So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27)." Men and women are equally made in the image of God, are equally image bearers and as image bearers are to be released to use their God given gifting in all of its strength for His glory and purposes (Ephesians 2:10). 


When I see Jesus I don't want Him to ask me why I held anyone back or prevented any of His image bearers from using the divine gifting He gave them. That means that I need to be sensitive to all of His image bearers, and never treat any of them as B team players on His team. On His team there are no B team players, only A team players. That means respect, empowerment, honor and appreciation for all of his image bearers - without exception. Jesus shocked the social conventions of His day but actually treating everyone as made in His image without exception!


The key theology here is not the egalitarian/complementarian debate. Egalitarians can treat others poorly and complementarians can treat others with honor. The key theology is that men and women are both made in God's image and to demean, mistreat or not fully embrace them or their gifting is to diminish His image in another. All of us have done that with others and all of us need to repent when we do because it is His image we are diminishing.