By Bob Allen
An Alabama pastor recently told Southern Baptist seminarians that defending male headship and wifely submission is critical in a culture increasingly accepting of same-sex marriage.
“We defend sexual complementarity in marriage for the sake of the gospel in the world,” David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., said March 20 in chapel at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
“The gospel is most clear in the world when a man and a woman come together in the one-flesh union of marriage and unite their lives with one another in a picture of Christ’s love for his church,” Platt said.
Platt, a leader in the “young, restless and reformed” Calvinist movement closely identified in Southern Baptist life with Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler, said it’s particularly important to defend the notion that men and women are equal before God but created for different roles “in light of the current climate concerning so-called same-sex marriage.”
“Brothers and sisters, this is one of the areas in our day where the word of God comes up totally against the patterns of our culture, and we’re forced to make a decision,” Platt said. “Are we going to believe the Bible or not?”
“Are we going to trust a culture of feminism that says personal worth and personal role are inextricably linked together, and if you have a different role then clearly that diminishes your worth?” he asked. “Are we going to trust God, who says that we all have personal worth, made in his image, that we each have different roles in a way that doesn’t devalue worth but actually exalts worth? Who are we going to trust?”
“Either the word is our authority, or the ideas of our culture are our authority,” he continued. “Let us defend sexual complementarity with God’s word. Let’s defend sexual complementarity with our lives and our marriages through pictures of husbands as heads and wives as helpers, loving authority — glad submission in the context of beautiful relationships — and let’s do this for the sake of the gospel in the world.”
Platt said today’s cultural climate “presents a huge opportunity for gospel witness.”
“Spiritual darkness engulfs the picture of marriage in our culture,” he explained. “Spiritual light is going to shine all the brighter in a picture of a husband who lays down his life for his wife and a wife who joyfully follows her husband’s loving leadership. God’s design for marriage is far more breathtaking and far more satisfying than anything we can create on our own.”
“So let’s give ourselves to his design,” Platt urged students. “Let’s let this moment drive us to revive our marriages across the church so the gospel of God on display in marriage might be all the more clear in and through his church in the middle of this culture.”
Platt’s sermon coincided with a call for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the group credited with coining the term “complementarianism” with offices located on the Southern Seminary campus, to repent of teachings that opponents say are harmful to women.
Signers of a petition at Change.org include Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, a membership organization formed in 1988 to affirm and promote “the biblical truth that all believers — without regard to gender, ethnicity or class — must exercise their God-given gifts with equal authority and equal responsibility in church, home and world.”
“Ideas have consequences,” commented Haddad, who holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the University of Durham, England. Since assuming the president’s chair, she said, “I have heard from females who have been beaten, raped, humiliated, marginalized and demeaned by leaders who believe Scripture subordinates females.”
“I do not presume to judge the motives of CBMW,” she added, “but I do call on them to acknowledge their errors, roundly challenged by the academic and theological community, globally.”