Does Christianity Have a Masculine Feel?

A while back, John Piper caused quite a firestorm when he argued that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” Today, Tim Challies responded with a thoughtful post from a different perspective. Challies is a well-known complementarian, so he doesn’t disagree with Piper’s understanding of how gender relates to ministry. But he does draw different conclusions about what this means for the nature of Christianity.

Even if you disagree with Challies’ complementarianism, this post is well-worth reading. Here’s the heart of his response:

Here’s the thing: Whatever masculinity and femininity are, they are equally downstream from God, collections of traits that flow from God himself. Whatever femininity is, it is a means through which a woman can reflect the image of God. Whatever masculinity is, it is a means through which a man can reflect the image of God. When a man acts like a man he is displaying the image of God and the same is true when a woman acts like a woman.

And he concludes with:

In the broad picture, both masculine and feminine thrive under the same conditions: taking joyful advantage of those beautifully ordinary means of grace the Lord has provided for our sanctification.

The post is worth reading to get a complementarian view that is nuanced somewhat differently from the “masculine Christianity” perspective that has been getting so much attention lately.

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2 Responses to “Does Christianity Have a Masculine Feel?”

  1. Marshall June 12, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    That’s a really nice graphic.

    (Personally, I believe that every human individual contains essentially both the theological male and the theological female; the external form is largely but not entirely incidental.)

  2. Billy June 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    Marc, great post by Challies. I think he’s extremely balanced here. I’m wrestling through this issue right now, trying to land on what I believe to be a biblical position. For me this is the new Arminian/Calvinist debate. I resonate with the egalitarian cry that the church has marginalized and, in some cases, silenced gifted women. I saw that pretty readily in the denomination I grew up in, and still see it today unfortunately. I also resonate with their observation that gifting, not anatomy, should drive the service of those within the church. However, I don’t believe the way to “fix” the problem is to simply erase gender distinctions. There are two hurdles at this point: 1) I have yet to find an egalitarian defense of what it means to be male and female. What is the essence of maleness and femaleness? I expect both complementarians and egalitarians to give a defense for this. At this point biology seems to be the extent of the differences from the egalitarian side. I think the creation account affords for more than this. 2) I find it hard to believe that the church got it wrong for 1900 years. I’m not saying the church didn’t treat women unfairly in that amount of time, but you would think that if Paul was as “clear” as egalitarians are claiming he was, that there would be some historical evidence to coincide with this. As a church history guy, that is a red flag to me.

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