“A Female Intern?”

I want every teenager—girl or guy—to know that regardless of what the gifts the Lord gave them are they can use them for His kingdom… You can use them for the Lord’s kingdom. And that’s hard sometimes to be a certain gender and think you are not allowed to. But I want those lies to be gone… I don’t want the enemy to have that hold over anyone. If the Lord has given you a gift you are allowed to use it to glorify Him, and your called to use it to glorify Him. I want those girls to know that… and to feel that from Him.—Lauren King

Lauren King is the new preaching intern at the 4th Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, TN. Lauren pursued this path because “the Lord made it clear” to her that she should get a degree in youth ministry with an emphasis in preaching. A couple of Sundays back, Lauren and senior minister Patrick Mead shared the 4th Avenue stage for their first sermon together.

The defense for having a female intern in the video is even more frightening than the action itself. Here are just a few concerns from the video…

The issue of direct revelation. Throughout the video Lauren King says she has been “called” to do this. She also says the Lord made it clear to her that she should be preaching. She explains how this occurred, “If I am in a place where I have peace about where I am going, then that’s the Lord telling me, ‘YES!’” Clearly this is nothing more than emotion-based modern day revelation. It allows the conscience and feelings of an individual to determine what God truly wants.

King uses the story of Abraham as a defense for her understanding. While Abraham knew that murder was wrong, when God told him to murder his son he said, “Yes, Lord!” And her calling is the same. She can’t deny the Lord’s revelation to her despite what she was taught all of her life.

How do we answer this claim with scripture? Paul told the Galatian brethren that if there was anything revealed different than what they had taught them, the person should be cursed—even if was an angel from heaven (Gal. 1:6–9). The Bible is clear about the issues of authority and gender within the church (1 Cor. 11:2–314:33–351 Tim. 2:11–15). Can we accept Lauren King and her revelation as truth when it contradicts scripture? Certainly not!

The issue of unity in diversity. Patrick Mead, Lauren King, and all of 4th Avenue are using the issue of women’s roles in the church to promote an idea of unity despite believing and practicing different things. In her sermon Lauren King says, “When God calls us to be united, why is that other people that believe in God get in our way?” King later says, “Let’s just respect each other and be united in the fact that we love the Lord.”

Nancy Baughman, the minister of administration for 4th Avenue, said, “Our church embraces lots of differences. We want to be a body of unity and embrace differences… it’s just that part of being open to change. If that’s what Jesus is calling us to do, we’re ready to do it.”

The Bible tells us we should have unity. We are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). But that unity is supposed to be grounded in sound doctrine and teaching (Eph. 4:4–6). The church is the foundational support of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). We cannot sacrifice scripture for the sake of unity. That only unifies us in rebellion to God.

The issue of denominationalism. Part of the foundation for the unity in diversity approach is the practice of denominationalism. In her defense, Lauren talks about how crazy it is to be able to preach in “our tribe.” The tribal approach to religion is the same approach the majority of the world takes. The belief is that the Lord’s Body is divided up into several smaller portions that can believe and practice different doctrines as long as they all “love the Lord.”

But the Lord has one body (Eph. 4:4–6). Jesus described it as “His church” rather than churches (Matt. 16:18). There aren’t multiple branches. There aren’t tribes. There is one church. Those holding a denominational mentality are forced to practice ecumenism as well. Ecumenism is the belief that all churches who claim to be Christ-followers are equal and acceptable. It is the tribal mentality presented by King and others. It is also flat wrong. There is one faith and one body. We must not only believe that—we must practice it as well.

The issue of scriptural authority. The scriptures are more than capable of teaching us about who we should be and what we should do (2 Tim. 3:16–17). It is important to notice the word “all.” But according to senior minister Patrick Mead not all scripture is created equal: “We no longer read all of the bible as equal.” Mead later explains that Paul’s writings were temporary instructions for specific instances. He says, “I do not believe that Paul in two passages is trying to undo the rest of scripture… He wasn’t trying to make rules for everybody for every time.”

The problem with this approach is that it negates almost all of scripture based on whether or not I agree with scripture. If a passage is written to a specific church and I feel “called” to do something else, it doesn’t apply any longer. One also wonders what “rest of scripture” would be undone by Paul’s writings concerning women in the church. There are no commands or examples of women serving in those roles. The “rest of scripture” is silent. Therefore, I must follow what scripture is present—scripture that condemns women having authority over men in the church.

The issue of submission. Lauren King asked her audience to think about what they are refusing to give back to God in their life. She was speaking on the subject of submission. Lauren King in the video declares that her ability to speak is a gift from God. She wants people to look at her and say, “This girl is talented and gifted and she should be able to use it.”

There is no doubt that Lauren King is a talented speaker. It is clearly seen in her public and personal dialogue. But one must wonder why Lauren King isn’t willing to submit to the authority of God with her talent and gifts as a speaker? There are various things women can and should do that glorify God without violating the scriptural prohibition of having authority over a man: teaching children’s classes, teaching ladies’ classes, speaking at women’s retreats, teaching her children at home, etc. Those talents can glorify God as long as they operate within the proper boundaries God has set for them (Col. 3:17).

These issues pose an even greater threat to the truth than just allowing women in the pulpit. Just think for a moment how many things could be justified if scriptural authority doesn’t matter. What could we justify if all we need is the “peace” that it is okay?

The saddest part of what has happened at 4th Avenue is that they have lost their unique identity. They are just like everyone else and yet, we are called to be different. Let’s make sure we stand for truth. Let’s make sure we stay different. Let’s make sure we uphold God’s truth!

Terry Francis