Alice Whisman was born and raised in a rural town outside of the Ft
Worth, Texas area. Her strict religious upbringing sparked her determination to
know her true identity in Jesus Christ. Presently she is raising three daughters
with her husband and is pursuing a nursing degree. She believes the Holy Spirit
is revolutionizing the Church through women and men who are willing to seek
Yahweh with all of their hearts, souls, and spirits.
Recommendation from GWTW
We recommend that you read Dr. Sproul’s article “Off with the Skirt, On with
the Pants” in order to have
the context for this rebuttal. While Dr. Sproul may have intended to
call men to be serious about their commitment to God and the church and to use
their gifts, his underlying beliefs about the inferiority of women are clearly
revealed. To read Dr. Sproul's article,
The Sword's Out
A Strong Response to "Off with the Skirt, On with the
Pants" by R. C. Sproul, Jr.
by Alice Whisman
A firestorm of controversy has erupted recently in the long-standing gender
positions of the conservative religious community. Why are most church
leaders so adamant in their belief that men are the only qualified and
God-appointed leaders? Also, why do they respond with such vehemence to the
subject of gender equality?
As more accurate Biblical translations become available and more women
question their male-dominated elders’ translation that they are only helpers of
men, women have begun to function as leaders. In “Off with the Skirt, On
with the Pants” R.C. Sproul, Jr. has taken the men in the traditional church to
task for not being true men of God by leading like warriors, but rather allowing
women to “lead by default” (par.3). According to Sproul, Jr., “men’s
failure to lead stems from a lack of conviction that is manifest either in a
fearful acquiescence to the status quo or ...indifference” (par.2). His
evidence is the fact that women are sitting in the seats authority in some
“liberal” churches, or that most men are not stepping up to the plate, leaving
women to surreptitiously run their own agenda (par. 3).
Having been spiritually abused by the doctrine of male superiority, and now
the mother of four daughters, I have researched the Greek and Hebrew origins of
the translated Bible. Not only do I question the doctrine of “men only” in
charge, but also refute it with the same Scripture given for its support.
It is easy to see that conservative church leaders are offended by women as
leaders as evidenced by history. It appears that religious men are
threatened by anything they cannot control. Women are created by Yahweh to
be as strong as men regardless of what they are wearing.
Throughout the ages, Yahweh has been defined in many different ways by many
different people. His Word, the Bible, has been transmuted by a
historically misogynistic patriarchy with the final result being a tutorial for
white men to be masters over their household with everyone else, especially
women, submitting to their rule. Rev. Dr. Thorwald Lorenzen describes it
very well: “When God created the human being, He created the human being ‘male
and female’-- different but equal. This equality was distorted when men
began to staff the positions of social, economic, and political power. Men
determined reality, and philosophers and theologians--even the very great
ones--found arguments to justify the superiority of the male over the female.” (Lorenzen,
Sproul, Jr. reaffirms the belief that men are superior to women,
claiming that God calls men to be bold and strong, to lead with courage (par.5).
In researching the universally used and trusted Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
and other Bible search tools, not one verse calls men exclusively to be bold and
strong and to lead with courage.
Of course, the Lord spoke specifically to individuals such as Joshua to “be
strong and of a good courage . . .” but never to men only as a group to be
leaders. Anyone and everyone who claims the Christian faith is to be bold
and strong and to lead with courage. As a matter of fact, Sproul, Jr.
negates his own points by declaring that “if we but believed in . . . this
biblical God, maybe we would again be biblical men and women, exhibiting the
strength we are called to . . .” (par. 8)
Which biblical woman does Sproul, Jr. propose I emulate? Would it be Deborah
of the Old Testament, who was a judge in Israel and led an army to conquer a
nation? (NKJV, Judges 3: 4-14). Or would it be the nameless Woman Patriot
of Thebez who saved the city when she dropped a millstone on the head Abimelech,
the advancing king? It is worth mentioning that as Abimelech lay dying, he
begged his armorbearer to kill him with a sword so that his death would not be
attributed to a woman. Yet, his death by a woman and his cowardly
beseeching are recorded in the best-selling book of all time! (NKJV, Judges 9:
50-54). Since most Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word
of God and every jot and tittle has been preserved for a purpose, why would our
Lord include this history if it weren’t significant?
Perhaps R.C. Sproul Jr. believes that the Old Testament is only for
historical purposes, and we only live by the New Testament. Then, let us
look at Nympha, named along with seven men as an apostle and the only one of
them who actually had a church in her home. The NIV says of Nympha: “For
the most part, the early church had no building, so it usually met for worship
and instruction (italics mine) in homes.” (Col. 4:15). No mention is made
of a male pastor. Or should we be like deacons Phoebe, Priscilla, Chloe,
or the apostle Junia, the female ministers named along with the other male
deacons and apostles by Paul? (Rom. 16:1, 3, 7).
Heresy! I can hear it now. What about Paul’s admonitions that a woman
is not to teach or to have authority over a man, that a woman must submit to a
man, or that a woman is to keep silent? (I Tim. 2:12, Eph. 5:22, I Cor.
14:34-38). Studying the original Greek and Hebrew will shed new light on
these old controversies, and only those who are not afraid of losing power and
control will be able to live and abide by this truth if they sincerely want to
obey Yahweh. So far, the only truth that R.C. Sproul, Jr. pursues so
fervently is that which serves his own purposes.
Sproul, Jr. also perpetuates that male superiority myth by using feminine
characteristics as insults. Would he dare call Joan of Arc a weak sister
to her face? He also has forgotten about Jael, the woman who tricked Sisera, the
commander of Jabin’s army. (Jabin was the king of Canaan to whom the
Israelites had been sold into slavery.) Deborah had already prophesied to Barak,
the commander of the Israelites’ army, that the Lord would sell Sisera into the
hand of a woman. Jael, a simple woman, recognized Sisera as he was
escaping from Barak. After she talked him into taking a nap in her tent,
she took a tent stake and nailed his head to the ground, winning the battle for
the Hebrew nation. (NKJV Judges 4:17-23). Sproul, Jr. describes a weak man
as wearing a skirt, the opposite of a bold and courageous leader (par.5).
His argument in a nutshell is, “ I’m not sure whether our men in the church wear
skirts because we worship a god in a skirt, or whether we worship a
skirt-wearing god because the men in the church are so weak.” (par. 4).
(Re-read exactly what he says in the article, esp. “and the God who makes this
call is no weak sister.”)
Does Sproul, Jr. want to make a point about our wonderful, strong
warrior--Father God--who vanquishes and conquers the enemy in one breath? His
majesty is cause for all to quake and tremble. But Sproul, Jr. tries to
make his point by using femininity as an insult. When he and other
religious male leaders take off their male superiority blinders and look at
their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers the way God does, they will see a
Deborah leading an army in battle, or a Nympha pastoring a church, or a mother
dropping a millstone on a general’s head. They will see more than just a
helper that makes sure they have clean underwear. Maybe it’s time for men
to take off the pants and put on the skirt if they truly want to be bold and
Lorenzen, Rev. Dr. Thorwald, “Christ and His Friends,” Canberra Baptist
Church Sermon, 20 September, 2004. October 14, 2005.
Sproul, Jr. R.C. “Off with the Skirt, On with the Pants.” The Council on
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. October 9, 2004.
The Holy Bible: New King James Version, Barker, Burdick, Stek, Wessel,