In a previous post I wrote: "Some may use the obvious neglect of spiritual things by men to justify flipping the roles of husband and wife or ordaining women to be elders and preachers. In my next post, I'll explain why this isn't a good idea." Well, it has been quite awhile, but I'm going to finally explain why switching roles isn't a good idea. Before I get started, I want to invite you to peruse your Bible for insight into God's design for men and women in the home and the church. I'm not going to explore the roles here. I'm going to assume them.
The short answer is very simple: God isn't a pragmatist and the world he has ordained is built for redemption rather than efficiency. God has not given us an open invitation to do whatever seems right to us. The ends do not justify the means in God's economy. We are all merely stewards or caretakers of what God has already put in place. We are not improvisers and entrepreneurs who win the world and carry the day with our can-do attitude. We are servants who take what our Master has spoken and try to carry it out as faithfully and precisely as we are capable. So if God's plan A - the one he has revealed in the Bible - doesn't seem to be working so well, we are not permitted to develop and implement a plan B that will get the job done better.
Are we to believe that God has been caught off-guard by the lack of godly men in the home and church? Has he been suckerpunched by his sons when he wasn't looking? Is he in Heaven with his head buried in his hands, distraught at how unfaithful men have become? No, no and um, no. God knows the time we live in and he knows our culture. He's aware of our idols and how much they distress and depress us. As we look at the abysmal state of masculinity all around us, we have nothing to fear. God is on his throne and "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Eph. 1:11). So we can't allow ourselves to respond out of fear rather than faith. Faith follows God. Fear replaces him.
Here are a few practical things to consider in the home:
1. When husbands won't lead in the things of the Lord, wives must not neglect these things. Would it be ideal for husbands to lead? Yes. Are there many wives longing for their husbands to lead? Yes. But the fact remains that many husbands continue to live for themselves and their little kingdoms. That situation does not lessen the responsibility of their wives to be faithful to God as much as they are capable.
2. However, wives should not reverse Scripture because they think they can lead better than their husbands. Maybe they can lead better, but that's not what they're called to do. This is where wives must not be afraid of God's design, but trust God more than their own ideas.
3. This does not mean that women shouldn't set a good example of faith and godliness. They should obey God while being respectful to their husbands. They shouldn't neglect to meet with their Christian brothers and sisters, even if their husbands forbid it. And if their husbands won't lead in spiritual things, then wives should make sure the kids' spiritual nurture isn't neglected. But they must be respectful to their husbands anyway.
Here are a few practical things to consider in the church:
1. Even though a group of godly men (elders) is ideal to lead a church, it is not wise to settle for ungodly men if there aren't any godly ones. In other words, one godly elder is better than five ungodly ones who aren't really qualified.
2. In addition, we can't appoint godly women as elders, even though they may best the most godly men in the church in terms of faithfulness and love. Again, God is not always efficient. Pray for God to raise up godly men to be elders and wait.
3. This doesn't mean that women don't have important roles as sages and godly examples in the church. Men and women can grow in faith and godliness from the wise examples and even teaching of godly women. There is a difference between using spiritual gifts that both men and women receive and making definitive decisions concerning the direction of the entire body.
This post has been brief because the premise is simple. As backwards as it sounds, and I agree that it does sound backwards, it's better to follow God's plan for gender roles than replace it with something that seems better to us.