A 3-day pastors conference hosted by the Desiring God ministry designed to illuminate what the Bible says about male leadership turned to the subject of what the role for women should be in the Christian community during a panel discussion on the last day of the event.
On Wednesday, evangelist John Piper and other conference guest speakers were asked to tackle the question, "What is biblical femininity?" Piper had declared a day earlier that God's intention for Christianity is for it to have a "masculine feel."
What is viewed by society as traditional male and female attributes are a "cultural thing, not a Bible thing," said panelist Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey in Saint Louis, Mo. "So, we have adopted that and then kind of spit that out as masculinity and femininity."
"I think there is a distortion and in capturing this idea of masculinity and femininity, we've got to let the Bible inform us, not just cultural clues and cues," said Patrick, who the day before talked on the theme of "Being and Building Men for the Local Mission."
Piper previously said during the conference that the Church functions best when led primarily by men. During Tuesday's session he told pastors that the Bible leads him to conclude that "God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female."
During the panel discussion, in his answer to the question about biblical femininity and in reference to his statement about a "masculine feel," he said, "If it's done right, this masculine feel creates a space. It's big. It's roomy. It's peaceful. It's just full and radiant with all the good things of life, and in it women flourishing will give it that feel."
"All the gifts [given by God to men and women] will flourish in that space," he continued. "As you navigate that community there will be feminine feels all over the place."
The Desiring God founder then shifted to the subject of men and women having some of the same or interchangeable positive characteristics.
"In a community where there is a sincere, humble, strong masculine feel, men are free to be appropriately feminine and women are free to be appropriately masculine," he explained. "In other words, when you look at any given human being, the most attractive, interesting, winsome human beings are not all masculine or all feminine."
Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, told the panel that one of the virtues women have is that of being a helpmate.
Wilson said that after God had created all the things before creating man He said, "That is good," but when he created man He said that a solitary man, by himself, is "not good."
"Then, for a man, the helpmate suitable for him means that he by himself is inadequate," Wilson explained.
Crawford Loritts, senior pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., said during the panel discussion that some of the misunderstanding about the roles between the sexes when it comes to Christianity is the result of people not getting a clear picture from the Bible.
"I really think sometimes the genesis of a conflict between these things arises out of a willful ignorance in acceptance of truth and our insecurity that comes out of that," Loritts said. "The foundation is to preach transcendent propositional truth about who we are and stop recruiting to our insecurities – accept who we are in Christ then you can improvise and be appropriately female and appropriately male."
The conference held at the Minneapolis Convention Center was themed "God, Manhood & Ministry – Building Men for the Body of Christ," and ended with Piper and Wilson talking about their mission statements and theological views.