Preach on, Ladies!

Recently, the religious community has been in a renewed upheaval due to something a well-known preacher wrote/said about women in positions of church leadership.  I typically stay away from debates and arguments, as I see they rarely (if ever) help further the mission of Jesus for His followers.  I write this blog post, not necessarily as a response, nor an argument, but simply an acknowledgment of where I stand.

Complementarians hold a theological view that men and women have different, but complementary, roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. It is in this camp where women's roles in church are to complement (work together with) men's roles, however the roles are clearly defined that women cannot preach/teach or be in senior leadership. Unfortunately this has led to a view that women's roles are secondary to men's.

Egalitarians hold a theological view that all people are equal, and that men and women have equal standing in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. In this camp, the roles and responsibilities of men and women are interchangeable. Women can preach/teach/lead, and men can run the kitchen.  No one is secondary to anyone else.

I find myself in the second group - egalitarian. For years, this was simply by default.  This was the view of the tribe I grew up in. It's what I was taught, it is what I was used to (although I never had a female pastor - my pastor was my Dad).  Somewhere along the way, I did what I always do and decided just because someone told me it was right wasn't good enough. I had to research this out for myself.  Again, it is not my desire to add fuel to the fire of argument and debate. I'm simply stating why I believe what I believe.

Acts 2. It's the Day of Pentecost, and a lot of wild things are going on.  Peter is preaching the first sermon with Jesus as the subject, and he quotes the prophet, Joel:
No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: "In the last days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.  In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants - men and women alike - and they will prophesy."

To prophesy is to speak forth the word of the LORD, to be empowered to speak on God's behalf. The term we use most often for this today is "preach."  So, through the prophet Joel, God promises to breath His own Holy Spirit on "sons and daughters" and "men and women alike" will preach the word of God.  And here in Acts 2, Peter proclaims that this time, and this Spirit, has now come (and is still here, by the way)!

There is little doubt that much of the Bible was written in cultures that were largely patriarchal in nature. In other words, men made the rules and women complied, often seen as more of a prized possession as opposed to an equal in the home. That's what makes the Bible so fascinating, while we see glimpses of this type of culture, what we find woven throughout the narrative is God doing something different.

It started in a story set in a Garden. So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

We are created in God's image. WE. Male and female created in the image of God.  Somewhere along the way we decided that God made "man" in His own image, and then made "woman" to help him out.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that I need all the help I can get, but the Bible is clear - male AND female were made in the image of God.  God is Spirit. He doesn't have elbows and toes, and forget that long beard imagery for a minute.  God is Spirit, and to be created in the image of God is to be created as a spiritual being. We are created in the image of God's Spirit.  Most of the rules we call gender roles are simply tradition that have been handed down for generations, and have nothing to do with being created in God's image.  Obviously, God created males and females with different bodies (hallelujah!) - different "earthsuits." The purpose of this was not to elevate men or limit women, but to be a constant reminder that we need each other, and to work together! (See, I even got a little complementary right there.)

Then there's Jesus. If we're familiar with the story of Jesus at all we probably know that He had 12 disciples - apprentices, who went with Him everywhere.  But did you know Jesus' crew was actually more like 70, including many women?  It turns out that these women were often the most influential members of the Jesus movement, and in some cases, pretty wealthy. Actually, according to a story found in Luke 8, these women pretty much funded Jesus' ministry! The Jesus movement started with women as fully empowered participants in the work! 

Galatians 3:28 reads, There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are one in Christ Jesus.  

In Jesus, all the ways in which we divide ourselves are no longer the rule: gender, race, social class - the church reflects a renewed picture of humanity in Jesus!

I affirm women in church leadership. I support women in church leadership. And, as I am able, I will do my part to place women in church leadership. 


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