What an exciting last run of books for us to end on! I am truly excited to dive into the blogs this week and see how all of you are wrong.
Growing up in the Assemblies of God I have seen many women ministers, all of whom I have considered very effective and some of whom I consider better preachers than their minister husbands! In light of this background, it should not surprise you that I have heard many arguments and many explanations as to why women should be allowed into leadership positions in ministry.
The reflections listed here will be my thoughts on what have become some of my primary pillars for my stance on women in Ministry. Although I don’t know if these are the three strongest points out there, these would be the three points I would bring up if someone questioned why I would allow women in ministry.
The first point I would bring up would be the concept of Redemption. Ever since the fall of man we have been trying to alleviate the pain we received from our own curse, we do this through epidural, farming equipment, government but yet we still insist on man’s dominion over women. I would suggest that we should seek redemption in our male to female relationships as well. Furthermore, “the fall created an inequality in the family relationship that did not exist before the fall, but Christ became a curse for us, and so the curse of inequality is undone in him.”
Beyond this idea that Jesus is redeeming us to a pre-fall status, we also see the same principle of redemption in how Jesus (and Paul treated women). I see the concept reaching down to someone that is traditionally/culturally/socially lower than you and pulling them up to your own level. For example, in 1 Corinthians 14 where the women are commanded to sit in silence is actually a step up from how that culture generally treated women. Normally women were not even allowed in service! Therefore I see the principle of redemption evident again. Likewise, I think today we should carry the torch of this principle and continue to bring redemption and empowerment by reaching down and pulling others up to our level every way we can see it.
The second point I would bring up would be the concept of culture. If Paul was to write a letter to this culture, and he saw that prohibiting women from leadership in church was causing a division in our churches, I imagine he would write a totally different letter to us. I think it seems logical that he would not write a letter telling us to keep our equally educated women silent in church, but just the opposite! If he did this, it might sound like he would be contradicting himself, but when we consider Paul’s wisdom to be all things to all people so that we might win some we can hopefully realize the importance of culture. Walter Leifel gives a superb explanation of this, “to prohibit a woman from having the same dignity and opportunity in church as she does in society is a stumbling block to many people… we can actually commit the very error Paul sought to avoid that is, offending people’s moral sensibilities and hindering them from accepting the gospel.” Of course, I need to careful using this argument, because someone could easily have said the same thing but in regards to homosexuality, which I do not affirm. We must ask ourselves with every interpretation of scripture, what did the author mean to say to his audience & how does that message transfer today?
The third point I would bring up would be the concept of servant leadership. The ministry of Jesus was never about authority. The question should not be what authority do women have, but what ministry do women have. After all, as Jesus clearly taught, by his actions and words, ministry isn’t about authority or being great, it’s about serving and about placing others above yourself. Furthermore, even if there is any authority, it is in the biblical message, not in the preacher. Beyond the actions and teaching of Jesus, there is not even any hint of a concept of a church office in the entire New Testament!
As I read these ideas describing the restrictions of women in ministry, I found there were so many grey areas. How can you objectively define the difference between teaching/ preaching/ sharing, and how can you definitively say what is Sunday school and what is a worship service? How could it be ok for women to not teach men (who are educated and attentive and ready to spot inconsistencies, errors, and frauds), yet allow them to teach children who can do none of those things? With so much grey area in these restrictions, it makes me doubt the validity of this stance, to begin with.