A bicycle built for two

A bicycle built for two
Kent Philpott
Kent Philpott Kent Philpott is pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church, Mill Valley, California, and director of Earthen Vessel Publishing.
01 July, 2001 7 min read

‘Christian’ feminism and the acceptable of homosexuality among Christians are like a tandem bicycle. The feminist movement in Christianity is riding in front and steering the machine. In the second position are those who accept homosexuality as normal, even God-ordained. The latter are pedalling hard and may eventually take over the front position.


Syncretism is the reconciling of conflicting concepts and ideas. In the case I am referring to, it stands for the acceptance by the church of worldly views in place of biblical doctrine and practice (I use the term ‘church’ in the broadest possible sense).

Gradually but inevitably, secular movements and ideas have crept into Christianity, fused with its doctrine, and diverted its supreme course. Most notably it occurred in the fourth and fifth centuries, when Greek dualism entered the church and set the foundation for a works-oriented religion.

Indeed, whenever the church has compromised or lost the authority of Scripture, there is little or nothing to prevent syncretism from taking place. And it is happening now. For the most part it will undoubtedly prevail, so that the true church of Christ might be made manifest by contrast with apostate ‘churches’.

The Feminist Movement

That women have been discriminated against in most societies and cultures throughout the long history of humankind is beyond question. And it is also beyond question that this is not the intent of the Creator God.

Women, like men, are created in the image of God and are the spiritual equals of men (Galatians 3:28). It might well be said that together, men and women are the most complete expression of ‘man’ as the image of God.

This can be deduced from Genesis 1:26: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’. The modern feminist movement may even owe its existence to the rejection of this biblical truth, but within the Christian community it has exacted a great price.

Women pastors?

Paul wrote certain things concerning women which have been difficult for many people to accept. This is not the place to expound the relevant passages in detail in order to defend them. However, I will note the one issue that is central to my thesis: Paul taught that women are not to take leadership positions over men in the church (1 Timothy 2: 11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

This means that women should not be ordained to the pastoral ministry. Of course, Paul’s teaching on the subject goes far beyond this, but this particular issue is the one most subject to the feminizing influences.

Cultural conditioning?

The standard approach adopted by Christian feminists is to claim that Paul’s teaching on women in the church was ‘culturally conditioned’; that is, it was relevant and authoritative for the people and culture of his day, but not any longer.

The upshot is that we can throw out anything Paul said about women in the church (or about anything else, for that matter) if it does not appeal to people today. This is a cavalier way to treat Scripture, to be sure, and its effect on the authority of Scripture is potentially great.

Paul writing an epistle, by Valentin de Boulogne 1619

Chief among the side effects has been that the very same argument is used concerning homosexuality. They grant that homosexual behaviour is condemned in Scripture, but claim that its proscriptions in both Old and New Testaments is likewise culturally conditioned, and no longer applies.

The vehicle driven into the church by feminists has picked up the pro-homosexual lobby as a passenger.

A variation from the ‘cultural conditioning’ argument that the pro-gay forces use is that homosexuality is normal and God-given. Proponents of this position theorise that it is the abuse of ‘normal’ homosexual expression that the biblical writers attack.

However, this is a feeble argument in the light of the Genesis accounts of creation and Paul’s analysis in Romans 1. The cultural conditioning argument is by far the stronger, though every bit as much in error.

Undermining Scripture

There are two reasons for rejecting the cultural conditioning argument on women’s issues. Firstly, the argument reduces Scripture to something less than the inspired Word of God. The Bible becomes relative, its authority subject to whim and popular opinion.

Secondly, Paul links the position of women in the church both to the order of creation and the relationship of Christ to man and woman. He writes: ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve’ (1 Timothy 2:12-13).

Then in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul speaks of the headship of Christ over man and the headship of man over woman. ‘Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God’.

Admittedly there is great mystery, but it is evident that the cultural conditioning argument must undercut the authority of the Scripture.

No authority

Outside of religious teaching there is no objective moral authority, and the Bible has been the chief source of moral authority for much of the world. Secular ‘people of good will’ may privately disapprove of homosexual behaviour, but they lack a platform and voice to say so. And if they do put their heads over the parapet, they risk appearing politically incorrect (which is usually sufficient to shut them up).

There are few preachers of objective morality in the secular world. Certainly the non-Christian world cannot be expected to take a stand against an increasingly popular point of view.

If, therefore, the authority of the Scripture is overthrown, no foundation for moral authority remains. Secular legislation does not carry moral authority. The law cannot say that homosexuality is morally wrong.

It can determine the boundaries of homosexual behaviour, as it does heterosexual behaviour, but it cannot say it is intrinsically wrong. It is inevitable, then, that homosexuals will be accorded approval in terms of ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ rights. There is nothing to stop it since the truth of the Bible is not accepted Western culture.

For many centuries the Bible did inform the conscience of the lawmakers, but that is largely gone now. Though individual Christians will continue to be light and salt in the world, pressure by pro-homosexual groups will in time prevail.

But this would matter less if the church remained pure. It is in the church, then, that the real battle will be fought.

A summary

The ‘Christian’ feminists’ appeal to ‘cultural conditioning’ to blunt what Scripture teaches about the role of women in the church has now been used to justify homosexual behaviour among ‘Christians’.

It is the old relativistic argument; there is no absolute truth. What Paul said about women in the church no longer applies. What the rest of the Bible says about homosexual behaviour no longer applies either.

Churches that have bought into the cultural conditioning argument to advance a feminist agenda have opened the door to the acceptance of homosexuality.

A divided church

Indeed, many parts of the church have already accepted homosexual behaviour, even to the point of ordaining practising homosexuals. This is old news. But, by and large, the so-called Evangelical churches, committed as they are to Scripture, have resisted such moves.

But if these churches give in to the cultural conditioning argument over the role of women in the church, how will they be able to avoid accepting homosexuality?

Two great pressures will be brought to bear upon Evangelicals: the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the culture; and the growing approval of homosexuality in the professing church.

This professing (though apostate) church, or much of it, will adopt sinful, worldly, pagan ways. The pro-gay ‘church’ will receive both public and governmental approval and support.

Indeed, it may be that even holding to the doctrine of the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour will be enough to jeopardize a church’s non-profit charitable status. Homosexuality may then, as I see it, foment the greatest division in the professing church since Rome and Constantinople went their separate ways.


What should or can I do, then, in light of what is coming upon us? Firstly, I am not going to become anxious and worried. The real church will stand because its Head, our Lord Jesus Christ, will see to it. Jesus promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church.

Secondly, I am not going to be vengeful nor politically activistic. There is a judge who will decide all things in the last day.

Thirdly, I will continue to proclaim the life-changing message of the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ and his love for sinners is what changes the heterosexual and homosexual alike.

Fourthly, I will not surrender to the culture of the day, however unpopular I might become. Certainly, barring an awakening, I do not expect to be with the majority on this matter. But neither will I be alone.

Kent Philpott
Kent Philpott is pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church, Mill Valley, California, and director of Earthen Vessel Publishing.
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