The Role of Women in Ministry
Because he refused to stop and ask for directions.
Moses was a man. Men wander and wander, believing it is beneath them to ask for help.
I'm joking, of course. Yet, the gender wars seem to continue with both humor and, sadly sometimes, with hostility.
I am convinced that with the coming of Jesus, with his ministry to and with women, that a defining change took place in how women were viewed in a patriarchal culture. I believe that with the pouring out of the Spirit on the earth all kinds of differences that barred people from full equality with one another in the kingdom were abolished. Paul unpacks this equality in several of his New Testament letters. That equality is not just about equal standing before God, but equal status and function in the believing community. The equality in salvation is demonstrated in actual social change. Salvation opens doors for women, not closes them.
The dialogue/debate about the role of women in ministry continues in the USAmerican evangelical church. Excellent books about the issue from both the complementarian view (gifted women are excluded from some functions in the church) and the egalitarian view (gifted women have equal access with men to all functions of the church) are available. No one needs to be ignorant about the biblical, theological and practical dynamics inherent in the discussion. No one needs to be a "Bible thumper," either, as if the issue is cut and dry with no serious discussion needed. We have heard enough from those who say, ''The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it." Closed minds are not good in any arena of life, including the church.
When God created "man," that is, human beings, God created persons male and female. I believe in genuine, God-created differences between the sexes. Yet, when only half of the image-bearers of God (men) have "authority over" (contrary to Jesus' view of authority) all the people in the body of Christ, the whole body suffers a loss; the believing community experiences a deficit.
There are a few hot-bed texts about this issue. Those who are honest on both sides of the issue, admit that these texts are not "right out there," plain as day. There are lexical issues, textual critical issues (in some), exegetical issues, contextual issues, and cultural/historical issues in every text discussed about "the role of women in ministry." All these lead to differences in theological understandings and pastoral practices.
As a pastor, I think that men will always think and feel and talk and teach as men. How could they do otherwise? The same with women in Christ. Isn't it true that God does not have only a "masculine" heart? God's "image" includes the feminine heart as well. The Spirit does not distribute New Testament gifts--leaders, pastors, teachers--with a gender bias.
I have experienced the teaching and pastoral ministry of ordained, trained, gifted sisters in Christ. It is undeniable that I received something of God that I would never receive from a man. I did not sense in the least a "feminist ideology" in them. They were simply serving as God created, gifted and called them. With what I know now about the few hotly debated texts, I would never refuse a gifted sister in Christ full equality in ministry with me or other men. I don't want to face the Judge Who judges rightly with that decision on my shoulders. Our sisters are different from men and that difference-in-relationship-to-God-as-a-woman needs to be heard, appreciated and affirmed by men and by all the church.
Labels: women in ministry