LT has been bringing up the subject of women in leadership again so I will throw in my thinking on this subject too. This will be a bit on the long side. I appreciate LT’s post expounding on some of the scripture having to do with this whole controversy. Because I am a woman, and because I have tried to understand what God’s will is for me, I will comment.
Women in leadership is an issue that interests me. Our denomination has ordained women for years. Still, some raise it as an issue almost 30 years later. Our denomination in Canada has never called a female pastor.
I never realized that, in some denominations, even women like myself, a deaconess, would be offensive to some fellow Christians. (And I have even taught, although I don’t think that is my calling)
My own denomination has a very high regard for scripture. When there is an issue the question ”where is it written?” is always asked. So this whole question has been well thought out and backed by scripture. Two good articles I would refer you to are: http://www.covchurch.org/cov/ministry/bellevillepaper.pdf and http://www.covchurch.org/cov/ministry/calledgifted.pdf . They are good resources and if this is a subject that interests you, I would encourage you to go and download these papers.
Unlike most ancient religions, Jesus encouraged and allowed women to follow him. He encouraged even disreputable women to interact with him. Mark 15:40,41 and Luke 8:1-3 speak of the women who were disciples of Jesus and helped to finance his ministry. Mary was encouraged and commended for her desire to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn rather than busy herself with the household chores that were expected of her by her sister.(Luke 10:38-42) There are numerous other examples of the involvement of women.
I guess the controversy arises mostly out of the Pauline letters. I believe, as LT has shown, that Paul addresses specific problems that had arisen in the various churches. The papers I refer to above also address these passages and certainly helped clarify them for me.
Determining God’s will in this area is important to me. I suspect that a sensitivity to where others are in their understanding of faith and a desire to comply with the will of God as revealed in scripture, keeps some women from choosing to explore the possibility of a calling to teach, prophesy and preach the Word. It is a shame that the women who display many attributes desirable in a servant leader would deny their calls to be proclaimers of the gospel, because of harsh and dogmatic opinions of others in the body of believers. In fact I think we rarely encourage young women to even consider that God may be calling them to ministry. We encourage them to music and children’s ministries but rarely to consider that God may want to use them to instruct others.
I also believe that God still speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. What is the cost to his church of causing a woman to turn a deaf ear to a call due to fear of criticism, or worse yet, due to a fear of displeasing the very God who called her. Something is very distorted in the body when a part designed to function in one way has to pretend to not have that function. Like asking a mouth to somehow function instead as arm.
This is not arguing on the basis that men and women are equal and therefore the same. This is not claiming equality as a right. This doesn’t even have anything really to do with the emerging church because my denomination is not defined as an emerging church as such. This is allowing God’s gifts to be used by men and women alike.
Men and women are going to approach things from different viewpoints and work out different and unique leadership styles. As women are encouraged to serve in leadership I believe we will see the various gifts God has bestowed on us demonstrated in a variety of expressions all working together to build up the body of Christ.