One thing that seems to be catching many church leaders off guard is the fact that the gender discussions going on in the church are gender discussions, not just male-female discussions. While most churches aren’t having direct discussions about including LGBT individuals in their membership, many of the arguments being presented in conversations about the participation of women in the assembly are also being applied to those who define gender more broadly.
This isn’t a slippery slope argument (but it could lead to one). It’s a recognition that one generation speaks of gender in one way, and the next considers it in a completely different way (If we add additional generations into the mix, we begin to understand the turmoil in many of our congregations).
Some of the arguments that will find a broader application:
- Argumentation that values experience over written revelation (or assigns equal value to each)
- Reasoning that limits the value of the biblical record based on the culture or gender of the writers
- Interpretation that “values Jesus over Paul” (in quotes because the meaning of the words doesn’t match the meaning of the argument)
I could go on, but I hope you’ll think about these and see what I mean. That doesn’t even mean those forms of reasoning are wrong. What it means is that the scope of application is broader than most people are thinking about.
So keep in mind, as we discuss gender in the church… we’re discussion gender, not just men and women.