Sunday, January 12, 2014

I was born to serve

   The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve … Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart….

   How do we, as Christians apply these words, spoken by the Lord of the universe, to our everyday lives?
   Jesus said that if we love the Lord with all our heart soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves, that we have fulfilled all of the law and all of the prophets. This is repeated by the apostle who instructed us to “fulfill the law of love” and “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. The New Testament teaching is “…therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
   That’s it? Simply walk in love? That is all we have to do, nothing else, and we can know that we are following Christ in a totally biblical way?
   Knowing the natural inclination of humans is to dissect and “systematically” apply biblical teachings in a way that increases burdens on those who love Him, our gracious God gave firm warning not to add to or take away from his Word. In spite of this, Christians are continually being corrupted from the simplicity of Christ by leaders who insist that they alone hold the key to understanding and applying the principles of scripture to our daily lives.  

   In reading through a blog, edited by a complementarian wife for the purpose of coaching Christian women in the art of how to be good Christian wives, the statement was made, “I was born to serve.”
   On the surface, that is a laudable, Christ-like, attitude. Who can argue that? Who would want to argue with that? We are, indeed, all born to follow the example of our Lord and serve one another. But it is important to remember—always—the source of where such statements such as “I was born to serve” come from.
   A writer, or speaker, may say something as simple as, “I was born to serve,” and it may have a profoundly different meaning to the one writing or speaking than to the ones reading or listening. And when a complementarian wife makes such a statement, she is often doing no more than parroting a complementarian slogan that really means, “My “role” is that I was born to serve … (help or assist) … my husband.”
   Complementarian husbands are also taught that they are born to serve. That’s a good thing … on the surface. But, again, when we look deeper within the paradigm of complementarianism, that statement has its own unique flavor when applied to complementarian husbands who are taught that service to their wives and children consists of living out their “roles” of leader. Complementarian husbands call themselves “servant-leaders.”
   Thus, within complementarianism, the wife serves by “helping,” and the husband serves by “leading.” A very convenient situation for the husband.
   The [blogging] wife, who wrote that she was born to serve, stated that both she and her husband worked full time jobs, not an unusual situation even within complementarian homes. She pointed out that, in addition to her full time job, the responsibility for caring for the home and children and “creating the home” was completely hers. So, on any given workday morning, she takes responsibility for getting the children up, fed, and dressed for school or day care (having made sure the night before that they all had clean clothes and backpacks ready for the next day). In addition to preparing breakfast for the family, she also has to make sure she has clean clothes for herself and has to find time to get herself ready for work each morning as well.
   She accepts that her husband is not responsible to help her with any of these things.
   In addition to an already very heavy work load, she wrote that part of her Christian service to her husband is to also make sure that his clothing was always washed, pressed, and ready for him each morning--in order to take stress off of him and make it easier for him to get ready for work each day.
   That is the way a complementarian wife described how she lives out her “role” of being born “to serve.”
What’s wrong with this picture? The wife serves the husband by doing for him what he can easily do for himself and by doing what she does every day for herself, their children, and another adult (her husband) who is quite capable of not only taking care of his own clothing but also of helping his wife to meet the entire family’s need in that and other areas—If he so chose.
      We are not saying that wives and husbands should not assist each other in any or all of these things on a regular basis as we follow the example of Jesus in serving and loving one another.  But to bring this into perspective, let’s take a look at some leaders this blogger referenced as “inspirational.” She listed complementarian patriarchs such as John Piper and Voddie Baucham as sources of encouragement and inspiration to Christian wives.
   The above mentioned men, and others like them, such as Wayne Grudem, have dedicated their lives to teaching men that they are born to serve—but only in a leadership capacity.
   Grudem, a Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona and Board member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), writes that being a helper does not always imply subordination (but with women he says it does). That he cannot stomach the idea that a man might be thought of as a helper in the same sense that he perceives a woman might is made clear from his statement that, “Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve.” (Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2002).
   The Horner Homemaking House, located on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary  (an institution devoted to caste in teaching women and men that they are born into certain inviolate “roles”), is another example of the complementarian double standard when it comes to servant-hood and what that means. The Homemaking House facilitates the school’s “homemaking concentration” at a Bachelor’s and even Master’s Degree level for women. Its stated purpose is to equip women for ministry in the home. Male students are not permitted to take this course.
   What a travesty that the blessed words of scripture are twisted and so used to keep men and women bound by the cords of caste.
   There is a vast difference between the servitude of women imposed by The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the servant-hood of Christ which all Christians should look to imitate as an example of pure love.
 “For whether is greater he that sitteth at meat or he that serveth?
Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as He that serveth”


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