Changing views on women in ministry is not easy to do

Changing views on women in ministry is not easy to do

Very few people quickly admit their beliefs are wrong

This blog has been a meeting place for many who have received huge challenges to their view of women in ministry.  Here I receive questions about how to deal with a spouse or a pastor who is strongly opposed to allowing women to freely serve the body of Christ with their God-given gifts.  How does one deal with opposition even when one has presented well-reasoned arguments and the other person is unwilling to engage the arguments or is unwilling to really listen to what you have to say?

Today I would like to call attention to a very gentle apologist who has written some really great tactics that are very encouraging to me in how to deal with those who oppose women in ministry.  While I understand that some people are so abusive and unChristlike that it is better to stay away from them rather than engage them and risk being personally attacked yourself, sometimes it is impossible to stay away from strong opposers because they are part of our family or the church family where we worship.

In today’s issue of Stand to Reason’s (STR) “The Page”, Greg Koukl’s email updates sent to subscribers, Greg gives some wise advice on the issue of why change is so hard and how to handle opposition.

Very few people quickly admit their beliefs are wrong.  Changing views is not easy to do, especially when a lot is at stake.  When someone forcefully disagrees with you, do not expect him to surrender quickly.  Usually, it is a slow process for a person to admit he was mistaken about something import.

Sometimes a person’s impulse to resist is so strong he will get verbally abusive, even when your argument is reasonable and your manner is gracious.  When a conversation gets to this point, careful thinking doesn’t matter much to some people.  Winning is more important.

To be an effective ambassador in every situation, you need a plan to help keep you in the driver’s seat of conversations with people who have controlling personalities and bad manners.  That plan is precisely what you will find in this month’s edition of Solid Ground.

I encourage you to have a look at the Solid Ground edition at the link above.  Greg deals with “One Tough Customer” and the characteristic “steamroller” who tries to overpower you.  The tactics that Greg presents are good and solid and can be used in very many situations including witnessing for Christ and handling those who oppose your biblical view of women in ministry.  I think that Greg’s new book on Tactics will be very helpful to my readers who struggle with difficult people in their lives.  Greg writes:

There is another reason I’m looking forward to you reading “One Tough Customer“, the title of the January Solid Ground.  It is adapted from my new book, Tactics – A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions being released this month from Zondervan.

My approach in Tactics is based on STR’s Ambassador model, a method that trades more on friendly curiosity – a kind of relaxed diplomacy – than on confrontation.

You may be like a lot of Christians who want to make a difference for the Kingdom, but are not sure how to begin.  In Tactics, I give you a game plan so you can get involved in a way you never thought you could, yet with a tremendous margin of safety.

You may know nothing about answering challenges people raise against what you believe.  You may even be a brand new Christian.  It doesn’t matter.  In Tactics I introduce you to effective maneuvers that will guide your steps.

I highly recommend Greg Koukl’s Stand to Reason ministry and his Tactics audio teaching series can be bought alone or as part of Greg Koukl’s Ambassador Course.

I have received a lot of help from Greg’s audio teaching on Tactics and his new book on Tactics is likely to be a tremendous help to those who find strong opposition to women in ministry and who need to understand ways to engage in a discussion without an argument.

11 thoughts on “Changing views on women in ministry is not easy to do

  1. I thought the article was very insightful.

    A few points from me:
    1. I would not have used the terms shame and aggresive for the things he was saying to do.  I would say it was being increasingly assertive.  I do not think it is ever correct to be aggressive in such a situation.  I would also say he was asking for courtesy, not shaming, at least I hope not, and being increasing blunt.

    2. I would caution people to not use shame or aggressive methods.  Some people can react violently to shame and/or aggression.  The person may end up hating you, even if nothing happens.

    3. If you feel getting caught up and losing your cool, you need to take a time out.

    4. Have a safe place  and/or safe people to go to after a stressful encounter.  During this time meditate on what you could have done better and resolve to do that the next time.

  2. Good thoughts, Don.  I agree that his word “shame” does not appear to follow his very civil responses, but I think he is meaning not that you “shame” the person, but that the words you use could be used by the Holy Spirit to bring the person to feel ashamed of their behavior toward you.

    It is the same thing with his term “aggressive”.  What he then goes on to explain is not what most would term as “aggressive” but rather very assertive.  I have listened to Greg for quite awhile, perhaps a couple of years and his reasoned and gentle approach is refreshing especially after hearing some apologists yell and demean their callers who may be evangelical Christians who merely disagree on secondary issues. 

    I am glad that Greg goes on to describe what he means by his terms because that certainly does help us.  I have heard him use these tactics with very aggressive individuals who are especially nasty.  There was one time that I heard him allow a caller to give his view and then Greg bid him goodbye and he did not respond.  He said that the caller made it clear he wasn’t interested in Greg’s view and he only wanted to be heard, so he got that opportunity.  There is no reason to fight with one who has his hands over his ears.  Sometimes the grace you give a person seems to do nothing right now, but they may remember your graceful approach and next time may be willing to listen.

  3. This approach may work for many, but there are always some who only recognize strength and take even the slightest sign of politeness as weakness and concession. Being gentle to such people is like blood in the water to a piranha.

    On the other extreme, there are people who take even the slightest disagreement, no matter how politely stated, as hate and aggression. They call discernment “divisive” and proving your argument from scripture “gymnastics”. Then they garner sympathy from others for your “harsh” treatment of them, in order to win by instilling false guilt for what is really their own thin skin.

    The trick is in identifying what kind of person you’re dealing with. My point being, there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to either evangelism or disagreement. Just as we argue against the notion that all men are this while all women are that, we should also guard against the notion that all who disagree with us on an issue are going to respond favorably to one approach.

  4. Don,

    I had the same thoughts about this article.  When I first skimmed it, I had a whole different image in my head from what the article actually said.  The Stop Them, Shame Them, Leave Them sounds like a tactic that many groups use to “steamroll” others in arguments, the tactics that Koukl suggests as strategies to respond to those who are steamrolling you.   But it’s a good article, none the less.

  5. Yes, the actual suggestions about what to do were good, but the use of the strong terms could easily have turned me off after skimming unless I had the recommendation of Cheryl to read it.

  6. On people changing their mind and how hard it can be, I think there are a few relevant points.

    1. We would be very ineffective if we were always bouncing among paradigms, so we have an inherent filter that keeps out anomalies, so that we can maintain our current beliefs.  In other words, we can deceive ourselves and are quiet good at it.  It takes work to investigate possible anomalies and is uncomfortable.

    2. In the case of the gender debate, if the non-egals are wrong, they would need to repent.  Not wanting to repent is a big motivator and one that sometimes cannot even be acknowledged and is therefore the more powerful.

    3. Then there is the peer question; if one changes one may be rejected by friends, or at least people you now see as friends.  All of us relate better with people that agree with us.

    4. Finally, there is the inconsistency question.  Once someone has publicly stated a position, it becomes harder to change.  Psychologists have done experiments and shown we will justify beliefs even when tricked into thinking we believe something that we really do not believe, as we have a huge need to appear consistent, even if we are not actually consistent.

  7. Don,

    Those 4 points are excellent examples of why so many people do not change what they believe.

    The challenge is for all of us to love the truth so much that we don’t fear:

    1.  losing our comfort zone
    2.  the embarrassment of having to repent
    3.  rejection
    4.  embarrassment at looking inconsistent

    In the end the truth is more important than our ego.

  8. It takes an active position on each of those things.

    It also takes a great deal of humility in my estimation.  The more we practice to be a servant of all, the more we should naturally excel in humility.

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