Gender News From The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

This was the official website for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) for a number of years until they created a new site. To read the most up-to-date information and news from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood go to their current website at: The content below is from this site's 2004-2007 archived pages except for the contain just below stating their mission and objectives. This information is fro their current site.

The mission of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is to set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women, created equally in the image of God, because these teachings are essential for obedience to Scripture and for the health of the family and the church.
The vision of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is to see the vast majority of evangelical homes, churches, academic institutions, and other ministries adopt the principles of the Danvers Statement as a part of their personal convictions and doctrinal confessions and apply them in consistent, heart-felt practice.
What’s at Stake?
With the Mission and Vision in mind, it is important for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to clearly state how it intends to help the church, and perhaps more importantly, why it needs to help the church.
In 1987, CBMW was established primarily to help the church defend against the accommodation of secular feminism. At this time many evangelicals were beginning to experiment with an ideology that would later become known as evangelical feminism. This was a significant departure from what the church had practiced from its beginning regarding the role of men and women in the home and local church. The effects of this departure have not been benign. As evangelical feminism continues to spread, the evangelical community needs to be aware that this debate reaches ultimately to the heart of the gospel.

Q&A with J. Ligon Duncan, Part I & 2


Gender roles and pastoral ministry: Q&A with J. Ligon Duncan, Part I & 2
Monday, October 18th, 2004
by Jeff Robinson
The following is Part I of a Q&A with J. Ligon Duncan, chairman of the board of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. recently interviewed Duncan--who has served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Miss., for the past nine years--on issues of gender roles as they relate to the pastoral ministry.
Last summer Duncan was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), placing a committed complementarian at the head of one of the fastest-growing denominations in the United States.
Q: What advice would you give pastors in handling the often controversial subject of gender roles in the home and church?
A: I think it’s good to look out at the culture and realize it is going to be hostile on this. I think anybody that doesn’t is in for a rude awakening. So I think it is good to recognize that we’re going to be out of step with the culture, and the culture is also going to have a knee-jerk response to any articulation of Christian teaching on this. What many guys do then is make their next deduction: ‘therefore, I am not going to talk about this.’
What I would say about that is, first of all, this is an issue you cannot hide from. You must go one way or another on this issue practically in a local congregation. And if you don’t go the Bible’s way, you will go ‘not the Bible’s way.’ Furthermore, it is an issue which has implications for the totality of ministry. If one looks out at the church today and doesn’t see that one of the top crying issues in the evangelical church, in America and the western world in general, is the desperate need for virile, manly, godly servant-leader males in the local congregation, they are missing one of the big issues of our times. You cannot cultivate that in a culture of effeminacy in a church, and the minute you cave in on gender issues whether it be female officers, whether it be refusing to address male-female role relationships in the context of marriage, when you refuse to address those issues, you are refusing to address one of the key issues relating to church issues in our time. You are refusing to treat an issue that the culture is deliberately trying to impose its opinion on in the life of every congregation whether evangelical or non-evangelical.
It is the ultimate head in the sand approach not to address the issue. . . . If the Bible is unclear on this, then there is nothing that the Bible is clear about. If you can skip over the Bible’s clear teaching on this, then you have just undercut yourself in terms of the interpretation of Scripture. The Bible speaks more clearly to this than it does abortion. . . . It is vitally important for a man to face these issues.
Q: Men have abdicated their spiritual responsibility in the home in myriad ways. How does a pastor motivate men in the church to fulfill their biblically-mandated responsibility as the heads of their homes?
A: The first think is to remind men how many good women out there are just dying for this. If you came to visit me in Jackson, Miss. (which is not known for its cultural progressiveness), your guess would be, in terms of marital male-female issues, that I, as a pastor, would see more issues of male abuse or domination of women. That would have been my guess too and certainly would have been the presupposition of a New York egalitarian. Though I have seen that on rare occasion, nine-to-one the main complaint I get from women who show up in my office to talk about failing or struggling marriages, is that [they say] ‘Dr. Duncan, I so desperately want my husband to lead me spiritually, to lead our family, I want a strong spiritual leader. He’s not interested.’ I tell my men that. They are dying for somebody to shepherd them spiritually. That is an instinct that God has built into every godly woman, even if she doesn’t know what that looks like. I think there are women out there who want it even if they don’t know what it looks like. But we have not had, for several generations, that kind of male husband/father spiritual leader in the homes, so first of all, I say to the men, ‘don’t think that every woman is going to reject this. Most women already know that they want this.
The second thing I say is ‘men, I am not getting on your case for something that you have seen done and then decided you weren’t going to do it yourself. I know that you never saw your dad do this. . . . So I know that men have very little resources to draw on from their own experiences and upbringing. They haven’t seen their dad engage in spiritual upbringing in many ways. So we’ve got to build from scratch. . . . Men are going to have to build ex-nihilo, begin to reset a pattern that was lost long ago. The New England Puritans were already beginning to complain in the 18th century that we were losing family worship and that was two-and-a-half centuries ago. This isn’t my time to beat up on men. I want to be realistic about the challenges that they face. Some men will start to try to take this spiritual leadership and then get resentment from their wives, and they need to be prepared for that because the wife has never seen it. . . . Your kids are not going to just say ‘this is cool’ . . . but it is worth the pain because God’s plan for Christian discipleship is the local church-but God’s plan to build up the local church is a discipleship group known as the family. . . . That is worth any amount of toil we have to go through.
Q: Practically speaking, what will that look like in the home?
A: It’s going to mean praying with and for his wife which will include confessing his sins toward his wife in prayer with his wife in the evening. It is going to mean dad taking a responsibility to foster Christianity in the home; dad taking the responsibility. He is going to be the one getting the family to church. It is not mom’s job to get the family to church. He is going to be a man. He is not going to be another child that his wife is going to raise. It has to do with cultivating a type of relationship with your wife wherein it becomes easy for her to respect you as Paul directs her to do in Ephesians 5. That is the whole point of the wives submitting to their husbands. He (Paul) comes back at the end of the chapter and tells you ‘wives respect your husbands and husbands love your wives.’ I tell married couples over and over that we often talk about a man’s need to love and the emotional need that a man has to be loved by his wife. It is much easier for a man to experience that when he knows he is respected by his wife.
Our egalitarian friends think that a healthy emotional equilibrium can be achieved when all those directives and distinctives are just thrown out the window. It can’t be. Honestly, one of the five big stresses on marriage today is undefined roles where you get two kind, sweet people who are breaking one another’s hearts continually because they are out of sync in terms of their role expectations . . . because they’ve not seen role expectations.


Monday, October 25th, 2004
by Jeff Robinson
The following is Part II of a Q&A with J. Ligon Duncan, chairman of the board of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. recently interviewed Duncan-who has served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Miss., for the past nine years-on issues of gender roles as they relate to the pastoral ministry.
Last summer Duncan was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), placing a committed complementarian at the head of one of the fastest-growing denominations in the United States.
Q: How often do you teach on gender roles at First Presbyterian?
A: We did an entire series on manhood and womanhood last summer. Our motto at First Pres[byterian] during the summer months is ‘we don’t gear down, we gear up.’ Even though we have an affluent, transient congregation that has second and third houses and jets around the world and stuff, we can have some pretty impressive consistent summer attendances, not only on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings but also on Wednesday nights. We spent the whole summer on manhood and womanhood. Furthermore, it is something that is taught every time that officer elections come around in the church. We explain why it is that we don’t have female elders and we don’t have female deacons. It gives us an opportunity [to reiterate that] this is not an act of chauvinism, it’s not a blind act of traditionalism, this is something that is a biblical conviction.
We do it at the point of new members class as inquirers come to the church. We want to explain why it is when you look around when the Lord’s Supper is being served and you don’t see any women serving that supper, it is because all of our elders are male. And we touch on it whenever it comes up in the text. When I’m preaching through Genesis, it’s going to come up in the text. When I am preaching through 1 Timothy, it’s going to come up in the text. When I preach through Titus, it’s going to come up in the text…We’re not going to dodge it. I write about it. No doubt there are some people who have gotten their noses out of joint on that, but we’re going to do what the Bible says. That’s our approach.
Q: Wayne Grudem has said that feminism is the entry point into the church for wholesale liberalism. Is he right?
A: That is so far beyond being an intriguing theory that it is to the point of being an incontrovertible fact. You can chart every denomination that has placed women in leadership in the last 120 years and you can chart their numerical decline in the western world and their theological decline. When our evangelical egalitarian friends whine that we are using an illegitimate slippery slope argument, this is not some sort of wild-haired spin theory that we are coming up with. It is a fact.
Just go look at the denominational statistics, look at the denominational histories of the last 120 years and you cannot find an exception to this trend. In the Church of Scotland in 1960 when they began hammering for women elders-the argument was ‘we don’t have enough elders in our churches, this will revitalize our churches to get women elders’-the Church of Scotland is on chart to cease to exist in 2034. Somewhere between 1964 and ‘68 was when they brought in women elders and women ministers were not far following that. I can show you that trend everywhere this issue has been compromised. So as far as I am concerned, Wayne is irrefutably correct on that particular point.
Q: What about evangelical groups like CBMW, groups seeking to promote complementarianism in the home and in the church, how effective are we being?
A: I think CBMW has been very effective and if there were no CBMW out there, I know that even denominations like my own-the Presbyterian Church in America-which are constitutionally, as well as instinctively, complementarian, CBMW has played a role to buttress our commitments to Scripture because it is hard to hold these commitments. People with genuine evangelistic desires will sometimes sort of keep them in the closet. They will say ‘this is going to cost us converts, it’s going to impact our witness, I can’t have this as an up-front issue because I’ve got to show how we embrace women’s leadership.’ You feel for people who are wrestling with those kinds of issues. But having the CBMWs around to keep this issue on the plate, when there are many around who are good and godly guys who would really like this to be off the plate, there are ways that CBMW and other organizations have helped in that regard.
This is a cultural war that we are losing and there is no sign that we are not going to lose the cultural part of the war more badly than we are losing it now. When you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t get clear on homosexuality and homosexual marriage, male-female role relationships are rather pedestrian in comparison. The culture war is going to be lost and has been lost in the mainline churches. The question will be, ‘will evangelicalism hold?’ That, in large measure, is going to depend in large measure on evangelical Baptists, Presbyterians, and low-church Anglicans. The Anglicans will be mostly in the developing world because many Anglicans in the English-speaking world have ceded on this issue. But there are 50 million of them-50 times more of them than there are of American Anglicans. Thank God, these folks are strong on this issue.
I think organizations like CBMW play a vital role of educating pastors on the issue. One of my favorite things about the Journal on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is the review of literature. That is hugely helpful for me as a pastor. I try to keep up with this literature myself but that review of literature is exceedingly helpful to me. There are a variety of ways that organizations like CBMW are able to keep this issue on the front burner, rather than it being put where a lot of folks would like for it to be put: in the closet somewhere.