Gavin Peacock is husband to Amanda, father of Jake and Ava, and a pastor at Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s (CBMW) Director of International Outreach. He was a professional soccer (“football”) player and was saved early in his career at age 18. He then played for 18 years for teams such as Chelsea, QPR, and Newcastle Utd. After retiring from the game in 2002 he worked for the BBC as a soccer commentator on TV and radio, before moving to Canada in 2008 to study for full time ministry. He holds an MACS.
T4L: Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview with Theology for Life Magazine, Pastor Gavin. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, including the current ministries you are involved in?
Gavin Peacock: I am a husband to Amanda first and foremost, and we have been married for 28 years now. We have two children: Jake (25) who is married to Christa, and Ava (22) who is married to Austin.
I was saved at the age of 18 after achieving what most people would say is the schoolboy dream of becoming a professional soccer player. But it didn’t satisfy as I thought it would. The world says that fame, fortune, and the great career will make you happy. But because soccer was my “god”, if I played well I was up, if I played badly I was down. It was then that I was introduced to Christ, after attending a local youth Bible study. I saw that my biggest need was not the approval of the crowd or scoring goals each week, it was to be in a right relationship with the Lord. After a few weeks of going to this Bible study, the Lord granted me repentance and faith.
As a Christian athlete I had many opportunities to share the gospel evangelistically at church events, and publicly in the media through soccer, but I never had any sense of a call to full-time ministry until around 2006. The Church confirmed this calling and I began to do Old Testament and New Testament studies while working for the BBC. It was then that I decided to give up a second dream career in order to prepare for pastoral ministry. We left the UK in 2008 and headed for new horizons in Canada. I was anonymous here and people just heard what I had to say from the Bible without the confusion of the soccer/broadcaster persona.
As a pastor, my first love is the local Church. But the Lord has opened up a door for wider ministry and I travel as invited to different places within Canada and internationally to evangelize and preach and teach. I am also Director of International Outreach for Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), which incorporates speaking engagements around the globe.
T4L: That’s quite the amazing series of events! So, how did you come to care so deeply and personally about biblical manhood and womanhood?
Gavin Peacock: When I first heard John Piper back in the early 2000s he was speaking on Biblical manhood. My first thought was that I had never heard such electric preaching before. My second thought was that the subject matter was so good and relevant. I was living in the UK and seeing these issues rearing their heads in the Anglican Church with the ordination of women and affirmation of homosexual relationships. I could also see the moral declension gathering momentum in the culture. I saw that issues of manhood, womanhood, and sexuality were the key issues where the authority of the Word of God was challenging the culture and the Church.
The complementarian vision of manhood and womanhood is biblical, compelling, and beautiful. To ignore it brings dishonor to God and hinders human flourishing.
T4L: Can you please tell us some of the most significant issues you see regarding biblical manhood and womanhood in your role as the Director of International Outreach for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)?
Gavin Peacock: Denny Burk has taken over as President of CBMW from Owen Strachan and built on Owen’s excellent work in the few years previously. The Nashville Statement was a massive achievement for Denny in his first year. Nashville underpins Danvers Statement by laying out a general vision of biblical sexuality. Danvers fleshes out role differences in the home and church. The Nashville Statement was necessary because what was assumed when writing the Danvers Statement 30 years ago cannot be assumed today.
Therefore, if I’m teaching abroad in my role for CBMW, I set forth a vision of complementarity from Danvers and Nashville. Application questions vary from culture to culture, even though the biblical truth still applies.
Going forward, I think it is important to teach that biblical manhood and womanhood are for all spheres of life, not just the home and church. There is a way you can be masculine or feminine as a single or married man or woman in the workplace. Parents need to train boys to be men, husbands, and fathers, and girls to be women, wives, and mothers. This comes from a robust understanding that manhood and womanhood are creational pre-fall realities from Genesis 1–2. The New Testament authors make their arguments from creation when they speak of these things.
Manhood and womanhood runs deep to who we are, made in the image of God, and is not just about physical differences. But physical anatomy tells about the creational realities of maleness and femaleness, which do not change. If you don’t have this view, it doesn’t take long before you say that gender and sex can be divorced and your biological sex can be different from the gender you choose. The fact is that gender and sex are the same. John Piper has a helpful definition of manhood and womanhood in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Owen Strachan and I unpack these things in our primer on complementarity, “The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them” (Christian Focus). In the book we present God’s design for the sexes as not only necessary but gloriously good.
T4L: Excellent points. Taking the God-ordained view of such concepts out of the equation has definitely caused so much chaos, confusion, and strife in our world. Gavin, what specific challenges and opportunities do you see for biblical manhood in our culture today?
Gavin Peacock: Manhood is under attack for sure. Through bad examples and abuses of manhood there has been a backlash from the #metoo movement. There has been some good achieved through #metoo, but a left wing feminist agenda is leading to the emasculation of men in many quarters. What we are now seeing is that many men are afraid to take initiative because of the fear of accusation. Men are retreating instead of coming forward. Abuse gets the headlines, but passivity is the silent killer of manhood. It was that way in the Garden at the Fall of man (Genesis 3:6).
But, as with any challenge, there is the opportunity to set forth true manhood as the answer. Biblical manhood protects and provides for women. It takes responsibility to take initiative and get things done in the home, church, and workplace. If it doesn’t, it is less than biblical manhood. And we must be careful of redefining complementarity and marching to the beat of a gender-neutralizing culture, rather than God’s Word. The biggest need in the Church is men of God and preachers of God’s Word. When the men of the Church stand up, the Church stands firm.
T4L: Alright, so what specific challenges and opportunities do you see for biblical womanhood in our culture today?
Gavin Peacock: We need to recover a vision of biblical femininity. There is a big push for women leaders nowadays and raising women to lead in the Church. Titus 2 ministry is certainly for women and women have many roles to play in church life. But we must be careful not to overreach so that we have women functioning as elders without the official title. Women teaching or preaching to mixed groups in church or para-church settings would be an example of this.
Not many acknowledge that the very notion of “para-church” was non-existent in the New Testament. So, our contemporary questions of what a woman can do in para-church settings are often dealt with this way:
“1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians 11 relate to what happens in church, not parachurch, so they don’t apply to us.”
Yet, Paul could not have addressed para-church since it didn’t exist. So, a better conclusion to draw is this:
“The prohibitions need to be honored also in para-church settings, since there should be no fundamental contradiction between male-female relations/functions in those two different settings. Because Paul makes his argument from creation (1 Timothy 2: 12-15 and 1 Corinthians 11: 7-10) which stands for all time.”
But as with manhood, where there are challenges to womanhood, true womanhood will shine all the more.
T4L: In your opinion, how can Pastors, ministry leaders, and those who seek to put out faithful, biblical, and orthodox content (that aims to serve and equip God’s people) help in the work of biblical manhood and womanhood?
Gavin Peacock: Preach it from the pulpit. Even though you will mainly be teaching through books of the Bible on a Sunday, take a season to teach it topically. Also, teach it in gender specific midweek groups and give people help in applying it. Many people affirm complementarity, but don’t know how to work it out in the ground and so are functionally egalitarian.
T4L: One of the most significant issues in the Church today is the question of sexual identity. It’s a challenge that we are going to continue to face for the foreseeable future. Gavin, how does the Church continue to prepare itself to face this challenge, and to steady its resolve in the face of a culture that opposes biblical gender roles and biblical sexuality?
Gavin Peacock: Read the Bible and Church history. In the darkest times God is working for His glory. Christ will build His Church—that’s guaranteed. Our job is to be faithful by teaching sound doctrine and being obedient to it.
In any age, the authority of the Word is under attack. The wisdom is to see in what area this is happening in our day. The Early Church fought for truth over Christology. The Reformers fought for truth over soteriology. Today we fight for truth over anthropology—what it is to be human: male or female, created in the image of God. Our identity is first found in Jesus Christ. Everything flows from that. But just as we need a good theology of redemption, we must have a good theology of creation. Jesus did and He rooted His understanding of manhood womanhood and marriage in the Creator’s Word in Genesis 1-2 (Matthew 19: 4-6).And on this truth we must stand.
T4L: So true! Thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to do this interview, Gavin.