Wednesday

Do women belong in ministry?


Over the last few weeks I have been writing articles about women who serve as pastors in our Valley. This was in response to a number of articles I've seen regarding the opposite view: that women shouldn't serve as pastors.

I must confess that the "shouldn't serve" view makes me a little hot under the collar because the prevailing attitude behind this view is that men are superior and women belong in the kitchen. At church women should only serve on the missions board and with children. Oh yeah, and keep the coffee coming at the potlucks, dearie!

But what about women who are not gifted in working with children. What about those women who enjoy studying and teaching adults? Where do they fit in the church?

Fortunately, there are enough denominations that accept women as ministers and I was fortunate enough to interview five such women. Each woman I interviewed is outstanding in her own right and takes the call of God in her life seriously. These women are blessings to their congregations and to our community.

I know that many people have already dismissed what I have said in this column as unscriptural, but that is not true. I have studied the issue and have talked to women who are involved in ministry. My conclusion is that any male preacher worth his salt will tell his congregation not to base an entire opinion, philosophy or theology on one or two Scriptures.

One must also remember that back in the time that Paul - presuming that it was in fact Paul of Tarsus - was writing, most women were not educated. It would have been improper for an uneducated woman to teach an educated man (Hmm...I wonder if that works the other way around?). And, in Titus, Paul was writing to a specific church that was experiencing specific problems. In today's world, it would have probably been one of those church-killing arguments over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary.

As John Wesley advocated each Scripture should be examined in light of the context of what the entire Bible says. With this in mind we can see Paul's admonition for women to be silent in church for what it is, situational. In Romans, Paul referred to Phoebe who was deacon and had a position in authority over men. Priscilla was a house church leader (1 Cor. 16:19) and don't forget that women were the first to carry the news about Jesus' resurrection. There are other women I could mention, but it would take too much space. Suffice it to say that Jesus' attitude toward women did not relegate them to second class status, and there is plenty of Scriptural support for that statement.

Before putting a woman down for serving God, think about the church. Most churches would have closed their doors long age if women hadn't filled all of the various positions that men didn't want or had vacated. If you don't believe me, take a look around your church next Sunday and see who does what.

Balance is the thing that is needed. In writing this column, I am not calling for discrimination against men. People should be allowed to use the gifts given to them by the Spirit inside the church and outside the church. The church is the one place that should be perfect for this.

Peter Marshall, the famous Scottish preacher who served as the chaplain for the U.S. Senate once said that Christianity had done more for the liberation of women than any other religion. Is what he said true today?