Series on How to Compose a Doctrinal Statement

Below, you’ll find links to my series on how to develop and write a doctrinal statement. I’ve geared this toward churches specifically, but I hope it will be of some benefit to you personally as well. This also is my personal statement of faith (adapted for churches), so this will let you get to know me a little better as well.

Composing a Doctrinal Statement [section 9 part 3 — on Gender, Family, and Divorce]

Composing a doctrinal statement (or any other essential documents) can be one of the most arduous (but crucial) projects undertaken by a church. In this series, I’m sharing my own doctrinal statement in an attempt to provide a helpful example of a detailed statement that is worded positively, but articulated precisely enough to exclude certain theological positions for the protection and unity of the church.


Gender Relationships: We believe that God has created both men and women in His image — equal in value and in standing before Christ — but that He has delegated differing and complementary functions/roles to men and women within the family and the church. God created the man to be head over the woman as Christ is head over the church, and this headship is to find expression in both the marriage relationship and in the church. We hold to and affirm, in full, the Danvers Statement on manhood and womanhood [1].

(Genesis 1:27–28; 2:20–23; Deuteronomy 22:5; Romans 1:26–29; 1 Corinthians 11:3–16; 14:34; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 5:18–33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:8–15; 1 Peter 3:1–7)

Family Relationships: We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. The husband is to lead his wife, and to love her as Christ loves the church. The wife is to respect her husband, and to submit herself to the Scriptural leadership of her husband, as the church submits to the headship of Christ. Children are a heritage from the Lord, and are to be viewed as a blessing in fulfillment of the creation mandate for the glory of God. Parents are to seek to cultivate wisdom and virtue in their children by developing within them rightly-ordered beliefs, morals, and affections, that they may better know, glorify, and enjoy God. Parents are responsible to oversee their children’s spiritual and moral instruction, which includes a consistent lifestyle example and appropriate discipline (including Scriptural corporal correction).

(Genesis 1:26–28; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:5–9; Psalm 127:3–5; Proverbs 19:18; 22:6, 15; 23:13–14; Mark 10:6–9; 1 Corinthians 7:1–7; Ephesians 5:18–33; 6:1–4; Colossians 3:18–21; 1 Peter 3:1–7)

Divorce and Remarriage: We believe that God disapproves of and forbids divorce, and intends marriage to last until the death of a spouse. Divorce is regarded as adultery except on the grounds of sexual immorality or the abandonment of an unbelieving spouse [2]. However, marriage to an unbeliever is not solely a legitimate ground for a divorce [3]. Reconciliation should always be the first recourse [4], with divorce being only a last resort, since any breaking of the marriage covenant is a grievous violation of God’s intended design [5]. Divorce is also permissible when a believer is in an ungodly union, such as a homosexual “marriage” [6].

(Malachi 2:14–16; Matthew 5:31–32; 19:3–12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1–3; 1 Corinthians 7:10–16, 39; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)


Notes:

1] Remember from the statement on the Scriptures that you can use a statement like this to reference an external document which then becomes as binding as your doctrinal statement.

2] There is a legitimate interpretation that views the abandonment of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13–16) as the only ground for an allowable divorce (viewing Jesus’ statement regarding immorality as merely referring to when the adultery has happened, as opposed to giving a ground for acceptable divorce); however, I don’t hold this view, and instead interpret Jesus as allowing for divorce in the case of unrepentant sexual immorality on the part of one spouse.

3] I’ve heard of people using this as an excuse to get a divorce. However, Paul doesn’t seem to allow for the believer to initiate the divorce, but rather to merely agree to it if the unbeliever insists.

4] In fact, if a divorce happens and it was unbiblical, the two parties are to remain unmarried in order to allow for reconciliation. It is only after reconciliation is no longer possible (such as when one person wrongfully remarries) that the other person is biblically allowed to remarry.

5] If we took this to heart, there would be far less divorce in the church.

6] This statement explains how the church can respond to the situation of a homosexual couple that gets saved and wishes to conform their lives to God’s standards. The church can, and should, counsel that couple to legally end their union. This is allowable because we understand that, according to the biblical defintion, a homosexual union is not a true marriage in the first place, and the couple is living in a sinful, though legal, union that must be broken off in order to obey and glorify Christ and pursue a life of discipleship.

Composing a Doctrinal Statement [section 9 part 2 — Marriage and Sexuality]

Composing a doctrinal statement (or any other essential documents) can be one of the most arduous (but crucial) projects undertaken by a church. In this series, I’m sharing my own doctrinal statement in an attempt to provide a helpful example of a detailed statement that is worded positively, but articulated precisely enough to exclude certain theological positions for the protection and unity of the church.


Marriage: We believe that the only biblical marriage is the formal union of a man and a woman in a lifelong, exclusive, comprehensive covenant. [1]

(Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:14–16; Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–9; Romans 7:2–3; 1 Corinthians 7:10–11, 39; Ephesians 5:22–33)

Human Sexuality: We believe that any other sexual activity, identity, or expression outside of this definition of a biblical marriage, including those that are becoming more accepted in the culture and the courts, are contrary to God’s natural design and purpose for sexual activity, and thus are sinful. Any form of sexual perversion such as (but not limited to [2]) fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, pornography, any attempt to change one’s sex or gender, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex, gender, and marriage. God has created us male and female, and he desires that we find joy and contentment in His design.

We believe that gender is God-given, not socially constructed or self-determined. Gender distinctions are rooted in creation, and manifested in biological, emotional, and constitutional differences [3]. Being created as a man or woman is an essential [4] aspect of our identity, transcending social customs and cultural stereotypes.

(Genesis 2:18–25; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:1–30; Matt 19:4–5; Mark 10:6–9; Romans 1:26–29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9–10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8; Hebrews 13:4; Jude 7)


Notes:

1] Having a clear, biblical definition of marriage will not make your church popular, but it will mean standing on the authority of the Word of God and not compromising truth for approval. Having clear statements on marriage and sexuality also serve to protect the church in matters such as hiring staff and hosting weddings, and are the first line of defense against related legal issues. If you have a simple policy that anyone the church hires must agree with and conform to the church’s doctrinal statement, you avoid alot of agony in court. If you have a facilities use policy that the church building is not to be used for anything that goes against the church’s doctrine, then you protect yourself from lawsuits for refusing to host homosexual weddings and the like. At least right now, this is still an effective means of legal protection for the church. The day is coming very soon when churches will lose tax-exempt status over these issues. But for now at least, why not use the simple provisions our legal system has in place (left over from a time when the government thought that freedom of religion was something worth protecting, and that churches were a good to society) to protect your church from unneeded attack and hardship in these moments before the unavoidable persecution arrives? Here is a great resource on the matter.

2] It’s helpful, but not necessary, to have a list of some specific things you’re referring to, though there is no way to mention every variety of sexual sin individually, but we acknowledge that we live in a Romans 1 society in which people are inventing new ways to distort God’s design every day. The best way to cover it all is to say that any sexual activity outside of a biblical marriage is sinful.

3] That is, the makeup of maleness and femaleness is fundamentally different at the foundational, essential (see next note) level.

4] I’m using “essential” here in the technical sense of the word — that is, not to mean “really important,” but rather having to do with one’s essence, one’s ontology. In other words, we are not just created as humans, we are created as male or female humans.

“Adorn Yourselves Modestly” [Women in Ministry – Part 2]

In the second chapter of 1st Timothy, after explaining the need for prayer in the local church, and then addressing the men and their need for integrity, peacefulness, and leadership, Paul turns his attention to women in verse 9. Paul says that women “should adorn themselves in respectable clothing with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold jewelry, or pearls or expensive clothing.”

It is critical, in trying to understand passages like this, to understand the context of the first century church. In passages like this, particularly, the historical context is often misrepresented, and so we need to understand correctly the culture of that time in order to get a better grasp on what Paul is talking about here. In verses 9 and 10, its easy to assume that Paul is speaking primarily against women dressing in sexually immodest clothing. And certainly, this was an issue then, as it is today. Ephesus, like so many ancient cities, was filled with sexual immorality. It was common for women to use ornate fashion to attract attention to themselves and, of course, sometimes in seductive ways.

But more likely, Paul is not primarily — and certainly not only — addressing seductive styles of dress in this passage, but rather the flaunting of status. It was customary in Hellenistic cities (that is, those influenced by Greek culture), for women to dress in the finest, most expensive clothing they could get their hands on, to go out to public feasts. These public feasts held in the cities were social gatherings to be sure; but basically the whole purpose was to demonstrate your social status. When people would come out for these feasts, it was one of the rare times that women were out in public for the sole purpose of being in the public eye, and so they would flaunt their status and social class as much as they possibly could. They did this by wearing incredibly expensive clothing, costly makeup, and elaborate, flamboyant hairstyles in which they would weave jewelry, such as gold or pearls, through their hair. By a few hundred years before Christ, this custom had bled into places of worship. So whenever there was a public gathering for worship, the women would come ready to present themselves — to show everyone just how high-status they were.

But Paul is giving the women in the church at Ephesus an altogether different exhortation: “Adorn yourselves modestly, and with self control.” Paul wants to shift their focus from themselves, and what other people are thinking of them, to what the assembly of the local church is supposed to be about — which is the worship of God.

The specifics of application for today may differ a little (I don’t think most will argue that women today cannot wear pearls in church). There’s a difference between the culturally relevant examples Paul gives, and the timeless principle that applies to us still today. The principle — the truth remains: Christian women should have a different motivation in their dress than the surrounding culture, and the local assembly for the worship of God is not the place to flaunt your wealth, or your sexuality, or your social status. Paul’s exhortation in verse 9 is, I think, twofold:

The first is, don’t focus on drawing attention to physical beauty. Paul says to dress with modesty and self-control, or as the Holman translates it: “with decency, and good sense.” Modesty was an issue back then just as it is an issue today. And as with so many other things, this trend has taken hold in the church as well. The way some women dress in churches is at best a negligent cause for distraction to others from focusing on and honoring God, and at worst a deliberate attempt to attract attention to themselves, to appear sexually appealing to men, or to impress other women. Paul is clearly teaching here: that is not what church is about.

By the way though, notice that it’s not inherently wrong for contemporary style to be made use of by Christians. There’s nothing inherently moral, or spiritual, in being unfashionable or behind the times! Sometimes Christians imply that women should take note of the current clothing trends and then do the exact opposite! But that’s not what Paul is saying here either. Chuck Swindoll makes the point that Paul does say women should adorn themselves! The word Paul uses actually means to decorate, to beautify, to make attractive, or to put in order.

In other words, Christian women don’t need to be dowdy, or completely ignorant of fashion, in order to be godly. In fact, Paul says women should adorn themselves in “respectable,” “proper,” or “orderly” clothing. Women are to come to worship ready to face the Lord. They shouldn’t be in slovenly disarray. There is a place for lovely clothes that reflect the humble grace of a woman — like the Proverbs 31 woman, whose clothing was fine linen and purple. There should be an orderly and proper adornment on the outside to reflect the properly adorned heart. A Christian woman is free to dress according to the style and custom of where she lives — but within reason, and within certain limits. And as we will see in the next post in this series, Paul’s emphasis is that the church is not the place for women to flaunt their wealth or social status. It does (especially today), take discernment — which, much like common sense, isn’t very common!

Resources for the Study of Gender Roles

In my recent introductory survey of gender roles and sundry, I promised a list of resources for further study of the issue of gender roles in the home and church, complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, feminism, etc. As promised (though far later than planned) I have begun to compile a list of resources I have found helpful in the past, and hope you may find them beneficial as well. I’m sure I will add to the list in the future, and would be delighted to hear about other great resources you may know of.


9Marks:

Gene Cunningham:

Bible.org:

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

John MacArthur:

Phil Johnson:

Michael Patton:

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry:

Al Mohler:

  • Dr. Mohler has some good articles and discussions on his blog. Instead of linking the many excellent articles individually, I’ll allow you to find what you wish in his categories on Manhood, Womanhood, and Marriage.

Matt Walsh:

Greg Koukl:

Douglas Moo:

The Menaissance [commendations and cautions]

Back when I was in college, if you walked into a coffee shop like Stoney Creek Roasters (the hub of the hipster subculture), you could infallibly forecast what every male barista would be wearing: 1) skinny jeans, 2) Toms (or the occasional Vans), 3) V-neck shirts so deep-cut you could see his solar plexus, 4) his grandmother’s sweater, 5) and hair styled with enough product to glue Humpty Dumpty back together again.

But as I walked into Jubala Coffee with my wife a few months ago, I smiled to myself as an observation I’ve made before struck me once again. A shift has indeed taken place. As I looked around at the baristas (granted, still retaining some tell-tail signs of hipsterness), every one of the guys was wearing 1) a plaid flannel shirt 2) Chukkas, or distressed boots 3) and almost all of them sported a full beard.

You must have livedManly_Men_by_thdark under a rock for the last several years to have not noticed a trend among guys, especially in the thirties-and-under crowd. Sadly, the church caught on long after the movement started picking up – instead of leading the way. But, fortunately, some pockets of Christian men have finally begun following the lead of some manly Christian leaders (and I don’t mean the Driscolls or Mooneyhams of the church; I mean the Balys and the Wilsons and the Cunninghams). The trend I’m talking about is that movement to recover traditional values and concepts of manliness – “throwback masculinity,” if you will.

This trend has, in large part, been confined to matters of style – bringing back work boots, plaid flannel shirts, and full beards – while retaining the same feminized, weak-kneed core under that slightly more masculine exterior. However, there has also been a somewhat more noble movement alongside this strictly fashion-related shift.

That movement is sometimes dubbed the Menaissance.

the-mennaissance-your-voice-You can find elements of this shift in many different areas of secular culture, but perhaps most conspicuously in advertisement. Companies have discovered that to reach a large part of the male population, they simply must tailor their ads to have a more traditionally masculine approach. One great example is this “MANifesto” from a 2009 Dockers ad.

____________________________________

“Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never had to cross the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar, and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

_____________________________________

THE QUIET MAN - BY JOHN FORDDoes that not ignite something in the hearts of men? Even a secular jean manufacturer like Levi Strouse & Co. recognized that something was wrong with society, and knew that in the hearts of men a restlessness was kindling that would inevitably drive them back to the traditional values exemplified by men like John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt.presidenttheodoreroosevelt

I’m happy about the impact of the Menaissance, but I have noticed something that may be worth cautioning men about. I have heard phrases like – “The demise of the metrosexual, and the rise of the retrosexual.” And hey, I’m all for that. But it seems to me that the original rise of the “metrosexual” came out of a call from women for gentler, more caring men, in a time when an overabundance of machismo and misdirected testosterone had turned men into brutes, and caused women to despise what the ideal of a manly man had become.

And now, when it is becoming a little more en vogue to have a more masculine tone about you, I can’t help but wonder if this is also driven ultimately by what women want. Now, I think that a man should try to be the kind of man a woman needs, but it seems to me that this catering to women’s desires got us in trouble before – not because it was wrong of women to desire gentler and more loving men, but because fitting into a woman’s picture of the perfect man should not be our driving motivation.

What I mean to say is that I don’t know if women are the best ones to determine what men need to be. God determines that. And I don’t think that the ultimate motivation for seeking to recover traditional manly values should be that it is what women are now desiring, or that it is now the cool thing to do (because that will change in another 10 years). We should be striving to be everything that God has called us to be as men.

_______________________________

“Be strong, and prove yourself a man.” – 1 Kings 2:2
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Cor. 16:13
“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.” – Prov. 25:26

_______________________________

The “Menaissance” has certainly done a lot to place the lost values of manliness back into a prominent place in culture. I would urge men, though, to not simply jump on the band wagon of the fashion trend. We need men who are willing to truly live out what it means to be a man. We need men who will bring stability to a world of ever-shifting unsurety, consistency to a culture of non-commitment, and staying power to a nation where men retreat.

We need men with steadfast courage, ironclad conviction, undomesticated manliness, and a fierce love for God.

_______________________________________________

What are some other strengths or weaknesses that you see in this revival, both in secular and Christian circles?

 

 

 


If you’ve benefited from resources like this one, would you be willing to send some support to help us in our research and begin delivering more regular content? Please consider giving a one-time donation through PayPal with this link, or becoming a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get even more each month!