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Signposts: A Conversation with Jen Wilkin

Russell Moore - Signposts

Published on 03/24/2017

In this episode of Signposts I talk with author and speaker Jen Wilkin about the local church, men and women in ministry, and how to build a strong culture of teaching for women in the church. Listen below, and subscribe to Signposts to get new episodes when they publish.__________________Below is an edited transcript of the audioRUSSELL MOORE: I have with me today nationally known author and teacher Jen Wilkin. She's the author of several books, including Women of the Word, None Like Him: 10 Ways God's Different Than Us and Why That's a Good Thing, and a book about the Sermon on the Mount. Everything I read by Jen Wilkin not only equips me better but provokes me to think and to pray. She has a column in Christianity Today and I commend the stuff she does to you, and if you're not familiar with it, find it and you will benefit from it. Jen, thanks for being here today.JEN WILKIN: Thanks for having me on!RM: You know sometimes I feel guilty because I feel I'm the only one in ministry who hasn't used the phrase "I really married up." And I haven't used the phrase, not because it's not true, but because it's always felt to me kind of condescending. I've never heard a woman say this about her husband, but have heard husbands say this about their wives. I can think of all kinds of times where there's been a panel at a conference, with one woman and a group of men, and somebody will make a comment about "the rose among the thorns." Do you think that it's the case that often in our churches there are some subtly condescending ways of talking about women?JW: I think it's well-intentioned. When I hear something like that, I never think that person woke up that morning and said, "How can I keep the woman down?" I do think that we can sometimes speak in ways that intend to honor but end up sounding like overcompensating, but I do always assume it's well intended.RM: You know, it seems to me in many ways that women, in conservative evangelical churches, don't seem to be as mobilized as in previous times in church history. When we think about, even when women didn't have as high a place in society as they do now, we had women who were leading mission movements and all sorts of things. But it seems at least in my corner of the world that we don't have as much of that anymore. If that's the case, how can we correct it?JW: Well I'm in your corner of the world so I would say that's an accurate statement. Probably what's driving that is that often in the church, in the last 20 years, we've adopted a sort of backlash position when it comes to talking about women. We've developed a sort of fear of anything that sounds or looks vaguely like feminism, and become extremely cautious about roles we've put women in and developed some narrow definitions of leadership and who can and should lead. So I think we're dealing with fallout from that, and in some cases men outside the church have been more open handed toward women in leadership than those inside the church. What I'm hoping to see, and what I see happening in many places is that we'd recapture a vision for men and women partnering in ministry together. The language that the New Testament applies to the church is familial language; the church, like a family, has brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. I would love for the church to begin to look more like a family that has both parents in the home, functioning in roles of leadership and nurturing.RM: One thing I've been convinced of, all my ministry but increasingly so, is that whenever there's a truth that God gives us, there are least two errors that we deviate toward, on either side of that truth. I think that you're right that when it comes to biblical ideals and pictures of manhood and womanhood, on the one hand, you have the sort of feminism that erases those good, creational differences. But on the other hand, we can have a hyper complementarianism.

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