Earlier this year, Mark Oden preached a controversial sermon to his congregation in southeast England. He titled his message “Marriage and Women,” which included a plea for the wives in his congregation to “submit to their husbands.” In the aftermath, some irate wives—along with their disgruntled husbands—vowed never to attend the church again. One female attender said she was disgusted by the message, adding: “How can they talk that way in the twenty-first century?” Another quipped, “What kind of medieval sermon is that?” Pastor Oden, himself a married father of three, responded, “I am passionate about helping people to have healthy marriages. I did not set out to unnecessarily offend people, but I stand by what God has said in His Word, the Bible.” That pastor’s passion to cultivate healthy marriages, coupled with his courage to present the truth is regrettably rare in many churches of our day, but the response of his audience is not.
For the July 2010 edition of Sojourners magazine, feminist scholar Anne Eggebroten wrote an article titled “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” in which she described her recent visit to Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Eggebroten was pleased with John MacArthur’s sermon and even commented on the kindness of the members who were eager to meet and greet her. What she was not pleased with was the church’s views on female roles within the home and church. With unconcealed resentment, she described Grace church as a place where “God is male, all the pastors, deacons, and elders are male, and women are taught to live in submission to men.” As Eggebroten’s article progresses, one gets the impression she visited the church looking for sad, dejected women who begrudgingly accepted their role in the home. If that’s the case, she came to the wrong place—as her article demonstrates. After talking with several joyfully submissive wives in the reception area, she became frantic to escape—at least that’s what it sounds like. She writes, “It’s time to get out of here, I tell myself. I’m feeling tense, as if I might cry or launch into a diatribe.” She finished her rant by quoting a barrage of other liberal feminist “Bible scholars” who, through agenda-driven interpretations, heap contempt on God’s Word by claiming the church is mistaken in its understanding of what St. Paul really meant. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?