Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Jdg 4:4-5)
I am no expert on the era of the Judges and I do not claim to know with certainty why a woman, Deborah, was chosen by the Lord to be the judge of the nation in those days. I do know that it was a dark time “when every man did what was right in his own eyes.” But certainly one explanation could be that the men of the nation had forfeited their right and duty to lead.
Sin in the life of a leader in the household of God can mean forfeiture of his position of leadership. God could have removed David as king, though for His glory and His faithfulness to His covenant, He did not. In Saul’s case, kingship was removed. And so it had been in the history of the kings of Israel.
Recently I read an article by the boys over at The Gospel Coalition, for whom I have no respect. I do not respect them because they continue to rally to each other’s case when one of their “buds” is in trouble. See the whole CJ Mahaney, SGM fiasco as an example. TGC fellows have been sounding the “anti-abuse” trumpet lately it seems to me, and in this article I just read you have them going on and on about how the Bible and Jesus in particular show the value of women.
It is true that the Bible and Jesus in particular show the value of women. Jesus highly valued women and the examples given in the TGC article are accurate. Then the article moves on to its main point —complementarianism. Men are to be the leaders in the church, in the marriage, in the family, and so on. I don’t want to get into that whole debate here. I hate people demanding that I embrace the label “complementarian” or “egalitarian” for myself. I prefer to say “I believe what the Bible teaches about men and women and marriage and family and church.”
My point here is this. Ok, let’s say that the Bible teaches that men are to be pastors and elders in the church, not women. And that men are to be the leaders in their marriage and in their home. That women, all things being equal, are not to be in those positions. Then here is my challenge to the men.
Why should the Lord continue to entrust any man with the oversight of Christ’s church when that man continues to cover for and enable wicked abusers? What makes you so certain that the Lord would not appoint a godly woman in the place of such an ungodly man? It is evident and plain for anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear that evil, wicked, oppressive abuse IS being enabled and covered for by church leaders, many if not most of whom are men. Do you really think that male leadership in the church is more important to the Lord than justice and mercy and courageous defense of the oppressed? Do you think that the Lord would rather have a “good ‘ol boy” who protects evildoers leading His flock than a woman who is a true daughter of Abraham?
Evil, power-and-control hungry, wicked men ARE being protected and covered for in many if not most local churches. Those who want to deny that, well, we have nothing to say to you as long as you choose willful blindness. Will the Lord be with any such “shepherd” who feeds himself and not Christ’s lambs? Of course not. To the boys at TGC and really to all men who are leaders in the church and who protect abusers and add to the oppression of victims, I say: You should take a very hard look at yourself and your ministry to see if the glory of the Lord has not already departed from you and that shepherds after His own heart are not being raised up elsewhere in places you might never even think to look. You may well find yourself and your ministry “Ichabod.”
And then one final note. Just because a woman is a woman does not guarantee that she will be a friend to the oppressed. Notice that in my above statements I specified that the Lord may use a GODLY woman — a woman who truly knows Christ and who knows His Word and possesses His wisdom. Many professing Christian women, like many men, do not. Many of the abuser-friendly comments which side with the abuser are made by women.
If the Lord does raise up a woman to lead, she will most certainly be a woman like Deborah, full of His Spirit and His wisdom. One of the chief signs that she has those qualities is how she responds to evil and the victims of evil.