(Please forgive me; I have been everywhere but at my desk today so my response to the reading will be less than complete; in addition to a busy week thus far, I have left my copy of the book at the church building…so no quotes from it).
It seems this has been the book I have been most dreading the discussion around this semester, simply put, because of the outcome that could potentially come from it. It has been so secret over the past two years that my views on women in church leadership varies from others in the class; I was definitely raised on the highly conservative side of the tracks. However, I would like to make one thing clear before I continue with my post; my views are my own; they are not passed down from mom and dad or even an expression of the church that I preach for…they are based upon my own biblical studies and my interpretation therein.
The introduction of our reading discussed the necessity for a revision of the book simply because the attitudes regarding the “Role of Women” has changed drastically just since its first printing. Society has seen such a drastic and powerful movement toward the identity of womankind over just the last 20 years that nothing is the same as it was when I was in undergraduate school. We see women leading in nearly every field available; though I am sure it is not quite to the degree that they would like…yet. However, this very fact is the same problem that I see in dealing with the topic of women in church leadership; I do not believe they are the same issue.
As I read through this book, I was desperate to find an argument I had not heard or a bible verse I had missed; sadly…I did not find them. I have heard, read, and watched so many different discussions on the role of women, that there is only one thing that ever surprises me any more…we still fail so miserably at Christianity when we deal with it. I believe the two most important commandments in Scripture are…and they are in this order…To love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. According to Christ, everything we do is dependent upon these two principles. Love does not mean acceptance though; it means caring communication. Christians will always be divided over issues; but the real challenge to us as God’s people is whether or not we can maintain our call to love as we attempt to sort it out. So, I am going to attempt to share my views on this topic with love; please read it as such.
- I recognize that there are many who may interpret scripture different than I do; however, as a professed scholar of biblical research and word usage, I have not found valid arguments (for myself) to excuse a number of leadership scriptures that are present in the Bible. I pray the Lord is still keeping my heart open to all of His Word for future revelation.
- I believe it is an unfair mistake to treat a person that has religious convictions on any topic as an evil person; instead, it should be an opportunity to open up the Bible and study with them further on the topic. If there is a chance that I am mistaken on something, then there is a chance the other person is mistaken too.
- I do not believe that women are intended to have major leadership positions in a church; however, this belief is NOT founded in a belief that women are less intelligent, less capable, or …well…lessor. I have great respect for the women in my life, church, and yes…doctoral program. I see strength and desire in them that should not be wasted. However, I do believe that God intended different roles for men and women; neither set of roles make the other one greater or lessor, but rather, dependent upon each other. The church is described as a single “body of Christ,” and yet, the Bible is very clear that we may be one, but we are not all given the same gifts nor the same roles.
- I believe there is a dangerous line that churches attempt to walk today, and I warn my own congregation and family about it; it is the desire to do what the rest of the world does. The world does not set the example for the church; the church sets the example for the world. Too many of the books today (this one included) begins with this reference to worldly values, beliefs, and allowances; that should automatically be a red flag to that is taught, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:7) In my opinion, the world is justifying a lot of sinful things today that the church should continue to BOLDLY preach against.
- I believe it is a disservice to talk down against women concerning the “old-fashioned” view of motherhood or womanhood. There is a fascinating reality that takes place in the OT when chronicling through the good and bad kings of Israel and Judah; when a king is great…it his mother who is praised as a result; but if the king is bad…it is his mother that is scorned. When Paul praises Timothy for his upbringing in the Lord, we are not even taught his father’s name; to the contrary, it is Lois and Eunice (mother and grandmother) who were given credit for the “genuine faith” that had been instilled in him. In my own life, my father pushed me toward the pulpit, but it was my mother that taught me how to relate and talk to people.
- The issue of Spiritual Gifts – this is the tough one; after all, how do you tell a woman that feels she is meant for the ministry that she is not allowed there? My answer…you don’t! HOWEVER…even with spiritual gifts, we should practice discerning the truth through those gifts. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 14 the blessing of “speaking in tongues,” and yet, that chapter is full of rules for using that spiritual gift. I had a young girl in my youth group once that was so concerned about the conservative values of the “Church of Christ,” and yet the desire that she had to work with youth in a ministry avenue. I did not condemn or discourage her; instead, we got Harding.edu webpage and looked into children’ ministry programs. To this day…she is an encouragement.
We all have boundaries and limitations placed upon us by God; I can choose to resent Him for those limitations or I can embrace the person God has set for me to be, and discover ways to maximize my ministry opportunities as a result.
7. Lastly, I believe the “church” is full of many ignorant, stubborn, and idiotic people who often misinterpret prejudice and hate for scripture. As a man with a mother, 5 sisters, a wife, 2 daughters, numerous nieces, a daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, fantastic female professors and so many Christian mothers, grandmothers, and sisters, I would be an absolute fool to talk down about the roles that they have played in my life, in my church, and in my ministry. To my own dismay, often they outwork the men in our congregation exponentially, and we are blessed to have every one of them.