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Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Gender roles

Men and Women in the Church: A Short, Biblical, Practical Introduction

by Kevin DeYoung 2021 / 170 pages. Kevin DeYoung’s latest tackles an always timely topic. In the last few years, the “women in office” issue has been on the radar of various Reformed churches. This is especially owing to the fact that the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) went in that direction in 2017. But we shouldn’t think it’s only a Dutch issue. In every church I’ve served as a pastor there have been those convinced that women should serve in church leadership. The need is always there for well-written resources clearly explaining the Bible’s teaching. DeYoung, pastor of a Presbyterian church in North Carolina, wrote this book with his congregation in mind. He writes in the Introduction:

“I have often wished for a book that explained the Bible’s teaching about men and women in the church in a way that the interested layperson could understand and a size that he or she could read in a few hours.”

I’d say DeYoung has hit the mark. A complementarianism stand Men and Women in the Church advocates for a position known as complementarianism and against egalitarianism. Complementarians hold that men and women are essentially equal, but have been given different, complementary roles. Egalitarians hold that whatever roles men can perform, women can also perform. All of this is in the context of the church and its offices. Complementarians are against women in office and egalitarians are for. About two-thirds of the book is taken up with exposition of the most debated passages: Genesis 1-3, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and 14:33-35, Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, and 1 Timothy 3:1-13. The last third of the book looks at common objections made against the complementarian position (Deborah? Phoebe? Junia?), as well as explaining how the biblical teaching applies to boys and girls, men and women. The book concludes with an appendix interacting at length with John Dickson, a “broad complementarian” who nonetheless argues that women should be permitted to preach in public worship. I’ve read a number of pro-complementarian books over the years, but DeYoung stands out. He rightly argues, for instance, that this issue isn’t the proverbial molehill – the gospel is at stake. This is because of how God links male/female complementarity with the relationship between Christ and his church in Ephesians 5:32. So DeYoung writes:

Ephesians 5 may be about marriage, but we can’t make any sense of the underlying logic unless we note God’s intentions in creating marriage as a gospel-shaped union between a differentiated and complementary pair. Any move to abolish all distinctions between men and women is a move (whether intentionally or not) to tear down the building blocks of redemption itself.

When the issue is stated like that, its importance comes into clear view. Refuting eternal subordination Another highlight is DeYoung’s helpful correction of some complementarians who’ve argued that the husband-wife relationship is parallel to God’s headship over Christ. The Trinity thus furnishes a model for marriage, particularly the relationship between the Father and the Son. This position has come to be known as the eternal subordination of the Son (ESS). It’s based on a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 11:3, “I want you to understand that head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” DeYoung offers a sound refutation, though the language here does get technical. Cautions There were only a couple of things I must be critical about. DeYoung argues that women should be able to “share a testimony, give an announcement, or offer a prayer” in public worship. It’s debatable whether testimonies and announcements belong in public worship. Prayer certainly does, but it is corporate prayer being led by someone. Moreover, corporate prayer in public worship has a teaching quality to it. The congregation is learning to pray by being led in prayer. DeYoung bases his argument on his observation that 1 Corinthians 11 assumes there is some place for women to be speaking in the church’s public worship. However, as my colleague Dr. Dean Anderson has pointed out, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is not speaking about public worship services. Another criticism, of less importance, is not about what DeYoung said, but what he left out. Near the end, he writes that “men and women should not relate to every other man or woman as husband and wife. And yet there is something about the marriage relationship that shows for everyone the sort of people men and women were made to be” (p.136). It would have been helpful to flesh that out a little more. For example, what does that mean for women in politics, business, the military, or law enforcement? I know it’s meant to be a “short” book, but couldn’t we just have had a paragraph or two? Conclusion Men and Women in the Church ought to be in church libraries and high school Bible classes. It’s also important reading for church leaders. Our church runs something called the Service and Leadership Training program. This is to prepare young men for church leadership. One of the sessions deals with the topic of women in office. Kevin DeYoung’s book will be on the recommended reading list from now on. It’s a fairly simple and biblically faithfully guide in an area where Satan is working furiously to undermine not only God’s Word in general, but also the gospel in particular.

Dr. Bredenhof is the author of many books, including Aiming to Please: A Guide to Reformed Worship, which is excerpted here. 

Gender roles, Humor

#chairchallenge highlights male/female divide

We live in a curious age in which the self-evident isn’t. So if you have a friend muddled about whether men and women are different, here’s some help. It’s the #chairchallenge already making its way around the Internet, and while women can do it, men can’t. What’s involved? One easy-to-lift chair, one wall, plus at least one male and one female participant, both ideally wearing shoes. Stand facing the wall, toes touching it, and then move back two footsteps (not paces – just the length of your own feet). You should now be standing two full foot lengths away from the wall. Place a chair under you touching the wall (or have someone else do it). Bend forward over the chair at a roughly 90-degree angle and lean the top of your head against the wall. Grab the chair by its seat and raise it to your chest. Then, stand up! That’s all there is to it! We tested this out at our house, and I found while I could almost, sort of, kind of do it in my socks, there was no way once I had shoes on, as that brought me just a smidgeon further away from the wall. Meanwhile, my wife did it with ease. So why the consistent results? A number of possible explanations have been offered: Men generally have larger feet, putting them further from the wall. Women generally have a lower relative center meaning more of their weight is over their feet making it easier to move off the wall. Women are generally more flexible than men, making it easier for them to shift the center of mass. Whatever the reason, a sharp male/female divide is evident and that makes this not only a funny experiment to try, but also an important one. God says we are created male and female (Genesis 2:17) and for different roles (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our rebellious world dares insist the opposite: infinite genders, no notable differences between them. Now we’ve got an experiment that makes the self-evident obvious again. ...

Christian education - Sports, Gender roles

Boys and sports

Why moms should want their sons breaking tackles and snagging rebounds **** Yes, you read the header right. I really am writing a column about why sons should be in sports. And, yes, this is a column for wives and mothers, not for husbands and dads. I feel qualified to address this subject because I put in hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of hours in the bleachers. Soccer, t-ball, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, track, football (did I forget anything?) – we did them all. And I may as well mention it here: invest in one of those little cushy seats to take with you to all the games. Bleachers are very uncomfortable. I am one of those moms who is a strong proponent of boys in sports. Call me a cheerleader if you will (though I never had the pom-poms). I will tell you why: it is good for them. Sports can teach boys important things that Mom cannot teach them. And moms can learn a thing or two about their sons by having them involved in sports. But some moms are jumpy about their sons being in sports. It doesn't seem very spiritual for them to be tackling someone, or stealing a ball or a base, or hitting an opponent (or being hit) with a lacrosse stick. In fact, it doesn't sound very spiritual to have an opponent! Well, let's think about these things like grownups. I'm going to give you three (or four) good reasons for boys (your sons in fact) to be involved in sports. I'm sure there are many more reasons, but this is a short column, and I will lay out my own motherly thoughts on the subject. Learning to take a hit First of all, the way I see it, boys need to learn how to take a hit. Christian men need to be fighters. After all, in Christendom there is a battle going on. For starters, they need to be tough, not whiners, moaners, wimps, or shirkers. In sports they learn to take a hit. And I learned how to take a hit from my vantage point in the bleachers when my son took a hit. (Third and thirty-five against the defending state champions. Screen pass. He met three defenders at the marker. Went on top, through the crowd cable, into and then under the bleachers.) We do not want the church populated with men who cry when they fall down. If they are pushed around on the basketball court, they will learn how to "suck it up" and "blow it out," as my son-in-law says. When they look at the gigantic size of the other team and see how completely understaffed they are, they will find courage to overcome. Men need to be protectors and fighters. Sports are a good way to introduce them to the idea. It is not a real war, but it is good training for the real ones. Pushed to their limits Secondly, competing in sports requires discipline, and discipline is good. Boys need to run and run and run until they don't think they can run any more, and then they need to run some more. This is why it is such a blessing to have a coach who thinks boys need to do this. If a coach allows them to take a little breather if their side hurts, they won't do so well in the world of real fighting. A good and godly coach is a huge blessing. Moms don't make good coaches because they want to have cookie-and milk breaks, and they want to call the boys inside when it starts to rain. (We make far better cheerleaders and far better cookies.) My son had to get up early to make it to six a.m. basketball practice every morning in the dead of winter when it was cold and very dark. He was tired when he went to bed at night. He had two-a-days in football in the heat of August, and he slept very well. He had to learn to do what his coach told him to do, no matter what he thought of it. This is a good lesson for a son to learn. Sports teach sons the discipline of obeying authority and pushing their bodies to do what they are told even when those bodies are tired. Revealing the inner man But sports do more than this. They also teach your sons how to work with a team, how to submit to authority, how to encourage the slow guy, how to hit hard. And they teach patience. Time on the bench can be sanctifying too. This can teach humility and endurance, just so long as the time on the bench is not for poor conduct. But that can be a lesson also. I love a coach who will not stand for any slackness. I love a coach who calls a player to the bench who is not doing what he is told. I love a coach who will not let a kid play who was late for practice or who was show-boating on the court. That is a great coach. Sports are also very revealing. You see how your son is doing spiritually. And you see how you are doing spiritually. Is he throwing a tantrum when he doesn't get to play? Are you? Is he a crummy loser? Are you? Is he crying when he falls down? Are you? Is he kicking the ball in anger when he misses a shot? Is he passing the ball on the court or is he trying to get all the points himself? Is he playing dirty or giving the ref a bad time? Sports can show you all too plainly where your son's weak points really are, in front of you and everybody. Finally, sports can give your son something to be proud of and something for you to be proud of as well. That's right. There can be a godly satisfaction and delight in catching the fly ball, in passing the scoring touchdown, in running a really good race. This is the way God made us. Created different And one last thing. Moms, don't treat your sons like they are daughters. I am with you when you say you don't want your girls playing football. But a son is a totally different animal. Overprotective mothers can end up destroying their sons. We want our sons to be tough and strong, able to handle heavy weather without being snapped in two. If we keep them in the temperature-regulated greenhouse of home, they will not grow up to be like "saplings grown up in their youth" (Psalm 144). This article is reprinted with permission from Credenda Agenda Volume 15/4. Credenda/Agenda is published by Canon Press (www.canonpress.com). Picture credit: Aspen Photo / Shutterstock.com ______________________ Questions for discussion Would non-Christians object to this article? Why might they? Should we care? Do some of the author's points apply equally well to why our daughters should play sports? Which do and which do not? The author describes a particular sort of coach. Would this be a good type of coach for girls too? Why or why not? What is the author’s main point? Do you agree? God has given men and women different roles, but are the genders' different roles something that has implications for the sports field? Do our schools use sports to encourage boys to be fighters? Lots of people fight, but what is a Christian fighter? ...

Apologetics 101, Gender roles

Highflying comparisons, down-to-earth questions, and truthful declarations - apologetics in 3 steps

Bill Muehlenberg is one of Australia’s most insightful commentators, and in his recent column “Sex Wars: Can’t get no satisfaction” he quickly and succinctly highlighted how thinking just doesn’t make things so. He wrote: “…consider this meme making the rounds on various radical feminist, homosexual and trans websites: "Things that don’t necessarily make you a woman: - having breasts - having a vagina - menstruating - being pregnant - having a uterus - going through childbirth - having ovaries "Things that definitely make you a woman: - identifying as a woman "Oh dear. Let’s just change things around a bit and see how all this works out: "Things that don’t necessarily make you an airplane: - having two wings - having a fuselage - being able to fly - having a means of propulsion - being able to counter gravity - having the ability to take off, fly, and land - having landing gear "Things that definitely make you an airplane: - identifying as an airplane "Hey, why not? I happen to have NONE of the things listed above, but I sure do identify as an airplane. So who wants to go for a ride with me? Who is ready to fly the friendly skies with me?” This comparison is brilliant, but to expose the nonsense we need more. So how can we take this even further? First we have to understand what point we’re trying to make. In the gender identity wars, we have two points to make: God made us male and female Anyone who says anything else is talking rubbish. When the other side is downright silly, then the best way to point that out is to get them to explain themselves further – we can make our point by asking them to make theirs. If they insist that simply feeling like a woman can make you one, we need to ask, “What does it mean to feel like a woman?” Remember now, they’re denying all the obvious biological differences – being a woman has nothing to do with any particular body parts. As we’re hearing more and more often now, some women have penises. So if gender has nothing to do with our objective biological differences, then what’s left? What makes a woman a woman? Do women have different emotions? Different preferences? Different tendencies? Do they think differently? Perish the thought – as the feminists have long told us, there are no emotional, mental or psychological differences between men and women. Suggest that boys like trucks and girls like dolls and you’ll be told that’s just social conditioning…. and that you’re a Neanderthal for even thinking such a thing. But if there is nothing objective that makes one a man or a woman, and nothing subjective either, then what is this nonsense about feeling like another gender? According to the world, there are no such things as “gendered” feelings. Christians know better. God made us male and female, and while that has obvious outward biological differences, it extends beyond the physical. Sure, the different body parts are easier to identify, but the different attitudes, thought patterns, strengths and weaknesses do manifest themselves in general gendered divisions too. And in His wisdom, and perhaps even displaying His divine sense of humor, God has so arranged things that somehow these differences complement each other so that the two can become one flesh. Great analogies, like Muehlenberg’s above, and careful questioning are fantastic ways to point out the flaws in worldly ideology. But we can’t stop there. Our goal isn’t limited to exposing error; we want to share God’s Truth. And when it comes to gender, what an amazing Truth it is – one even Christians don’t begin to fully understand! God has not only made us male and female, but He has given us a mirror, in the relationship between husband and wife, to show us Christ’s relationship with his Church. It is a mystery. It is wonderful. And it is evident for any who have eyes to see....

Gender roles

"Homemaking is the ultimate career" - C.S. Lewis (sort of)

There are some quotes so good you desperately wish they were real. This one below, often attributed to C.S. Lewis, isn’t authentic. But the point it makes certainly is: “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” While C.S. Lewis didn’t use this exact verbiage, in Letters of C.S. Lewis he did say something quite like it, showing that this longtime bachelor still understood the pivotal, and pinnacled position of the homemaker:  “I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist…”...