women in ministry

No matter where you go to church or for how long, there is one issue that will continually come up.  Everyone has a strong opinion one-way or the other.  Before I flush this idea out, I’d encourage you to read and pray on this verse.

Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from?”

The word help here can be best defined as, “the assistance that one of strength offers.”  In this passage, God is our help.  When you think about God this way it is incredibly comforting to know that God will help us in times of need and that he offers tremendous strength.  This is not the only the only place where this same word, helper is used in scripture.  In Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  The same word that is used to describe God’s help to us is the same way that it is used in the relationship that women have to men.  This offers tremendous dignity to women in scripture.

There are really well meaning people in the church who think of women as subordinate to men.  To be fair there is a lot of precedence for this position.  John Calvin wrote, “The woman deserves her origin from the man, she is therefore inferior in rank.”  St. Augustine concluded that women do not possess the image of God because of their inferiorranking.  The early church fathers position has become the predominant position through out history.  Although, I am bold enough to disagree with Calvin and Augustine on these points.   Many people say women are subordinate because of the passage in Genesis, but if that were true then wouldn’t God be subordinate because of the passage in Psalms?  I believe that the picture painted in scripture is one of dignity and equality to men

I would argue that the Bible is actually one of the most feminists and liberating of the sacred texts pertaining to the issues of women.  In Romans 16, Paul says to greet Junias among others, “who are outstanding among the apostles’.”  In the same chapter Paul calls Phoebe a deacon of the church.  This is giving tremendous leadership to women!

One of the most damning verses to my argument says this: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”  (1 Timothy  2:11-12) We take this verse to be a rule in scripture, however if this were a rule in scripture then there would be a contradiction in scripture because Priscilla and Aquila, were responsible for instructing Apollos in the way of Jesus more fully. (Acts 18: 18,26)  So then we need to look at this Timothy passage in a way that does the most justice to this passage.  We must examine the cultural context surrounding women who taught verses women who Paul instructed not to teach.  Some of it was simply cultural.  All authority to make decisions presided in a man; therefore women had no cultural authority.  Some times it was to stop the spread of bad doctrine

Where Timothy was a pastor there were many people spreading false doctrine to the easiest targets they could find. Usually uneducated women stayed at home in the daytime and were most vulnerable to bad doctrine. This is very well documented and it cannot go without notice that in a society where women were denied an education, Paul said something amazing here.  He said, “let them learn,” as opposed to the society in which they lived.  Paul calling women to learn was huge!

I think Paul knew that the church is over 50% female and that half of the church needs to be released for ministry.  So here is my question for the men reading this blog?  Would you allow yourself to learn the word of God from women?  Would you encourage, train and release women for ministry in your setting?

For the ladies reading this entry, will you support the sisters who genuinely feel called by God into ministry?  Would you go to a church where the senior pastor was female?  Would you step out and lead if you feel called?

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  • Hey Dave-

    Awesome post! I wrote my Master’s thesis on this very subject & found the same info, bringing me to the same conclusion. It was interesting for me when I was in the various pastorate positions that I held because men were much more open minded to my calling than women. I was actually confronted several times by other sisters in Christ who were concerned that I was a divisive influence as a female pastor, which really caused an internal struggle for me. I think your questions at the end of your post really hit the nail on the head. My prayer is that when our daughters are older, that they will be encouraged & trained up generously & without conflict according to the call that God has placed on them. Thanks again for being diligent in preaching truth!

    Marlia

    • Hey Marlia,

      Thanks for the feedback. This is one of those issues that is surprising to me that it is still an issue. It is crazy what lies beneath the surface of folks when it comes to this issue. We must continue to gently affirm the scriptural duty for women to communicate the gospel.