Digital Campaigning For Women Bishops

This week I wrote for The Guardian’s Comment Is Free (Tuesday 13 November 2012) on women bishops and the use of social media campaigning to potentially help encourage the process along. You can read it below.

A week from today, the Church of England’s General Synod will take a historic vote on women bishops. The sentiment from churchgoers is overwhelmingly in favour. The incoming archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is passionately committed to the legislation. So is the present one, Rowan Williams. Yet the vote still teeters on a knife edge and may well fail to pass. In an attempt to swing the vote at this vital moment, a small group of us have launched the Yes2WomenBishops social media campaign.

Social media is a strange animal. It sometimes appears as a winged horse, enabling our aspirations for free speech and people power to take flight, and sometimes as a hyena, sniffing out the worst of human nature, devouring our manners and vomiting up banal content. Scepticism about its value to campaigns is understandable; after all, millions of Twitter accounts lie abandoned and unchecked. Much energy can be spent lobbying in cyberspace, speaking to avatars that may be listening or may simply be the ghosts of people long gone. Yet despite their Schrödinger-esque limitations, these digital channels still possess the potential to rattle top-down institutions and give the masses a megaphone.

One institution ripe for some grassroots disruption is the Church of England. The voices of those in the pews are not always reflected in the policies made, and the election of leaders happens very indirectly. The decision about women bishops lies in the hands of the General Synod, so the rest of us are left waiting, wondering whether our wishes will be represented. For this reason we felt the Yes2WomenBishops campaign was vital. Our hope is to create an upward flow of information in a very top-down institution; to send a message from the grassroots to the leadership.

As the centre of power for the vote is the General Synod, our goal is to facilitate an easy, direct method of contact between those in the pews and their synod representatives. Most churchgoers have never written a letter to their synod reps and don’t even know who these people are, so help was needed. We created a website where this direct contact is facilitated in a simple way. The take-up has been incredibly positive; within only five days of the site going live, without fanfare or publicity, over 1,000 people have used it to urge their reps to vote yes. Responses have been coming back too, giving assurance that the opinions expressed will be taken into account.

We also want to provide a sense of solidarity for all in favour of women bishops; to encourage them to speak out confidently to their synod reps, fellow parishioners and friends. We are using Twitter and Facebook for this purpose and already have over 2,000 combined likes and followers in under one week. We’ve created a Twibbon and hundreds are proudly displaying it. Dialogue with those of opposing views is also happening on our social networks, all in an attitude of graciousness and genuine conversation.

Perhaps our venture will make a difference to the vote on women bishops. We certainly hope so. But it has also demonstrated that a top-down institution like the Church of England cannot remain that way forever. In a world where web 2.0 culture is the norm, the need for church 2.0 is urgent and critical. People in the pews want to be heard and change must come, whether the leadership wants it to or not.

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[Read the original piece on the Guardian website here.]

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  • http://twitter.com/thegreenster Rob Green

    Men & Women are Equal but have different roles! 1 role is not necessarily ‘better’ than the other.
    Yes the Man is ‘Head’ of the Marriage, just as Jesus is the ‘Head’ of the marriage between Jesus Christ and  his bride the church. Ephesians 5 is pretty clear! How did Jesus show his love for the church? Yes Husbands should ‘lead’ as Christ did!

  • TheaC

    Don’t have time for a long ‘biblically backed up’ comment!! Especially since most of the time it’s not the bible that’s under debate in these discussion anyway – if it were, we’d see a lot more women wearing headscarfs and people taking their skin diseases to the priest… 

    But would make the observation that the role of women in ministry, and the role of women in marriage aren’t the same thing. The evangelical concern with headship brings the two together, but Christians from other traditions argue against women in ministry for reasons other than headship – essentially that Jesus had male disciples, and (for some denominations, especially Roman Catholic) ministerial authority has been passed down through the centuries, following Jesus’ charge to Peter that he would be the rock on which the church was built.

    Martin Scott on the other hand, who is an evangelical theologian, similarly concluded from his reading of the original languages (which I can’t do) that there’s a difference between authority in church, and authority in the home, but he went the other way, so that women had authority in church (as they did in the earliest days of the church) but not at home!

  • Scriptrix

    I recently wrote a blog post that people might find interesting in relation to this: it’s about the role of women in the early church, looking at the historical contexts in which some of the relevant passages were written and how ideas changed over time. http://thebeautifulevil.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/be-quiet-have-babies-or-go-to-hell/

  • http://phillsacre.me.uk/ Phill Sacre

    This is an interesting issue which I’ve been thinking a lot about recently (as someone who is hoping to be ordained into the CofE once I’ve finished my theological training in three years, a hot potato topic such as this is one which is going to make a difference to me.)

    There have been several things which have helped me on this issue. Firstly, there is a Grove booklet (which unfortunately you have to pay for – I can’t link you to it here) written by someone from St John’s College, Nottingham, on the subject of women’s ministry. Secondly, Cheryl Satz debated a complementarian called Mike Seaver – you can find the summary here (which links to all the previous parts of the debate).

    This isn’t going to be a thoroughly biblically argued comment, but here are some general observations. I’ll try to make some more detailed comments later, if that would be helpful.

    1. I honestly don’t think there is an Old Testament prohibition on women in leadership. As someone explained to me there is a “pattern”, but a pattern does not equal a command. And – as in the debate I linked above – there is no other command which is introduced in the NT which does not have a counterpart in the OT.

    2. Headship in marriage is not the same as “women must never be leaders” (i.e. Ephesians 5 is talking about marriage, I don’t think it means a woman can never be a leader)

    3. The situations talked about in e.g. 1 Timothy 2 *could* be referring to a specific situation. It seems there is enough doubt in my mind to ever exclude women from leadership positions. I think if God had wanted it to be crystal clear, it would have been crystal clear. And I just don’t think it is.

    That’s all for now. Will check back later and try to post something more Biblical! :)

  • http://twitter.com/carylarcher Caryl Archer

    That’s an important point. Position in the church, the home, and the professional world are all different things. They have to be treated as separate cases.

  • JamesP

    Will post a full on response later, but this is a huge topic with lots of people who love Jesus having different, even opposing opinions. Important we respect each others opinions even as we have a big discussion. Personally, I am egalitarian, as is my church. If a woman has a gift, let her use it – including leadership. In marriage I thunk it’s a partnership with each playing a role according to their gifts and loving and respecting one another. Apparently according to a talk by my pastor, the word ‘head’ as used by Paul means beginning or source of, rather than the meaning we attach to be in charge of. I think men are called to take responsibility within marriage in the same way Jesus took responsibility for our sin even though it was our sin. But marriage is a partnership of equals, working together, both with responsibilities and roles. Paul was revolutionary for his day in the role of women and promoting it, wives never discussed things with husbands or asked questions yet Paul said they should. The not speaking publicly was cultural, written to a culture where the only women who spoke publicly were thought to be – and usually were – temple prostitutes. The passage about women teaching or having authority over men was written to a culture where a cult was saying women were above men and this was being taught – the cult of Diana I think. He essentially was saying that it was wrong for uneducated people to teach, not women, and that it was wrong to teach that women were better than men. There are more to these passages than meets the eye – Paul was very pro women.

  • Jodieh17

    Our church has been studying the Authority of God’s word, and most recently the last two weeks have been on the Authority in Marriage and the Authority in the Home. Here is a link to the most recent sermons to listen to: http://www.gracebchurch.org/2011/07/24/marriage-the-rest-of-the-story-ephesians-522-33/ (Authority of Marriage); http://www.gracebchurch.org/2011/07/31/life-around-the-table-ephesians-61-4/ (Authority in the Home). These can be found at http://www.gracebchurch.org/category/sermons/. 

    In light of this sermon series, as my husband and I considered this post, that a lot of it has to do with whether or not the Bible is the true authority-do we take it literally, as it says, or do we take it out of context? Does the Bible have final authority, or does man?

  • Nate J

    While I understand the sarcastic comments about headscarves, etc., it bothers me a bit when we bring out a passage, dismiss it as irrelevant and then extrapolate that interpretation of the rest of Scripture is just a matter of preference and power games.  
    The truth is that there are sound principles of biblical interpretation.  For good reason, we don’t make women wear headscarves or greet one another with holy kisses or object to fabrics made of two kinds of material.  It is not strictly arbitrary.  
    We do believe God has revealed Himself and His character in Scripture.  We also believe that God as creator understands us and our natures better than we do ourselves.  While tradition is important, and human philosophical value systems, etc. are valuable, ultimately, God is authoritative, and we have no better guide than Scripture.  The task of interpreting Scripture is difficult and fraught.  We need to be humble, remembering our own frailting, but ultimately, I don’t want to base this discussion purely on tradition or on modern conceptions of our anthropology.  Tradition and contemporary ideas can be helpful, but ultimately we have to do the hard work of interpreting Scripture in the power of the Spirit.  Where else are we going to go?   

  • Kim

    Nate, I completely agree that following the Berean’s example, as Vicky encourages us to do, is hard work and should not be dismissed lightly.  Thank you for remind us of it!

  • Rob

    26 ”You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
         These verses, in context, are Paul’s conclusion to an ongoing issue with Jewish Christians back in his day over whether Gentiles would essentially need to observe the Jewish covenantal, ceremonial law in order to be truly Christian. Paul was trying to get across to his readers that no, you do not have to convert to Judaism first to be considered part of the Abrahamic promise, that it is through Christ that both Jews and Gentiles (and expanding that thought to its greatest conclusion by including slave and free, male and female) are all on level ground. But again, the context here is inclusion into the Abrahamic promise. It has nothing at all to say about role in ministry, or even in marriage for that matter.

         I think the danger comes when we allow our thinking to be tainted by the mindset of this world (which ultimately comes from satan) that brings offense to the picture when talking about the distinction in roles between male and female. God created men and women with strengths that are specific to them and that is beautiful in His sight. TOGETHER, these strengths, I believe, serve to accomplish what God intended. One is not better or more necessary or more godly than the other. And if this is complimentarianism (I hate labeling things because different people have different definitions and emotions in their mind that they attach to the labels) then so be it.

         In marriage (totally different issue from ministry roles) I believe the main point is that it should be a picture of Christ and the church. That’s the point. Period. The husband should be “the head” of the wife in that he loves her and gives himself for her. The wife should submit herself under her husband’s headship (a positional idea) just as the church submits under Christ’s headship. It doesn’t mean the wife has no say, and it doesn’t mean that the husband should rule over his wife and just to what he wants. There should be oneness. Frankly, we here in the West just don’t really get this picture. It is a whole lot more pure and beautiful than we understand.

         The same can be said of position in ministry. I believe God’s ideal is a whole lot more pure and beautiful than we even understand. Our ways of seeing things, especially here in the West, are so distorted and convoluted that we immediately thing negatively whenever we see scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:12. And I’m not saying women cannot have leadership roles. My point is, I don’t think we really have a good, thorough understanding of God’s heart on the subject and therefore, all our debating will only split along traditional lines based on what we’ve been taught and what we seem to understand.

  • Rob

    26 ”You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
         These verses, in context, are Paul’s conclusion to an ongoing issue with Jewish Christians back in his day over whether Gentiles would essentially need to observe the Jewish covenantal, ceremonial law in order to be truly Christian. Paul was trying to get across to his readers that no, you do not have to convert to Judaism first to be considered part of the Abrahamic promise, that it is through Christ that both Jews and Gentiles (and expanding that thought to its greatest conclusion by including slave and free, male and female) are all on level ground. But again, the context here is inclusion into the Abrahamic promise. It has nothing at all to say about role in ministry, or even in marriage for that matter.

         I think the danger comes when we allow our thinking to be tainted by the mindset of this world (which ultimately comes from satan) that brings offense to the picture when talking about the distinction in roles between male and female. God created men and women with strengths that are specific to them and that is beautiful in His sight. TOGETHER, these strengths, I believe, serve to accomplish what God intended. One is not better or more necessary or more godly than the other. And if this is complimentarianism (I hate labeling things because different people have different definitions and emotions in their mind that they attach to the labels) then so be it.

         In marriage (totally different issue from ministry roles) I believe the main point is that it should be a picture of Christ and the church. That’s the point. Period. The husband should be “the head” of the wife in that he loves her and gives himself for her. The wife should submit herself under her husband’s headship (a positional idea) just as the church submits under Christ’s headship. It doesn’t mean the wife has no say, and it doesn’t mean that the husband should rule over his wife and just to what he wants. There should be oneness. Frankly, we here in the West just don’t really get this picture. It is a whole lot more pure and beautiful than we understand.

         The same can be said of position in ministry. I believe God’s ideal is a whole lot more pure and beautiful than we even understand. Our ways of seeing things, especially here in the West, are so distorted and convoluted that we immediately thing negatively whenever we see scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:12. And I’m not saying women cannot have leadership roles. My point is, I don’t think we really have a good, thorough understanding of God’s heart on the subject and therefore, all our debating will only split along traditional lines based on what we’ve been taught and what we seem to understand.

  • TheaC

    Nate

    The flippancy was because I’m busy, I’m trying to write a sermon. All I was trying to do was point out that the two questions in Viccky’s opening question are distinct, they don’t necessarily relate to each other, especially if one is not evangelical. Also that much discussion in this area is not based on consistent or coherent interpretation of the bible. I certainly didn’t say the interpretation of scripture is  just a matter of preference or power games, although I don’t think it hurts to bear those things in mind.

  • TheaC

    Nate

    The flippancy was because I’m busy, I’m trying to write a sermon. All I was trying to do was point out that the two questions in Viccky’s opening question are distinct, they don’t necessarily relate to each other, especially if one is not evangelical. Also that much discussion in this area is not based on consistent or coherent interpretation of the bible. I certainly didn’t say the interpretation of scripture is  just a matter of preference or power games, although I don’t think it hurts to bear those things in mind.

  • Crompo

    I can’t see why so many kick off with this – whether it’s a cultural aspect, historical, institutional….
    Surely the Bible is clear that the issue is about the role of ‘headship’??
    The bible is very clear that women served in many varied ways within the church and fulfilled the call of God upon their life but not as head of the church.

  • Crompo

    I can’t see why so many kick off with this – whether it’s a cultural aspect, historical, institutional….
    Surely the Bible is clear that the issue is about the role of ‘headship’??
    The bible is very clear that women served in many varied ways within the church and fulfilled the call of God upon their life but not as head of the church.

  • Crompo

    I can’t see why so many kick off with this – whether it’s a cultural aspect, historical, institutional….
    Surely the Bible is clear that the issue is about the role of ‘headship’??
    The bible is very clear that women served in many varied ways within the church and fulfilled the call of God upon their life but not as head of the church.

  • TheaC

    Nate

    The flippancy was because I’m busy, I’m trying to write a sermon. All I was trying to do was point out that the two questions in Viccky’s opening question are distinct, they don’t necessarily relate to each other, especially if one is not evangelical. Also that much discussion in this area is not based on consistent or coherent interpretation of the bible. I certainly didn’t say the interpretation of scripture is  just a matter of preference or power games, although I don’t think it hurts to bear those things in mind.

  • Katie

    You know what? I think Jesus is far more interested in furthering his kingdom and being loving to all.

  • Katie

    You know what? I think Jesus is far more interested in furthering his kingdom and being loving to all.

  • Katie

    Apolgies, I mean ‘in us furthering his kingdom…’

  • Katie

    Apolgies, I mean ‘in us furthering his kingdom…’

  • Katie

    Apolgies, I mean ‘in us furthering his kingdom…’

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Rob! Many people say ‘the Bible is pretty clear’, but what do you make of the other Scriptures that seem clear on a surface level, but we would now agree are not clear… like the affirmation of slavery, or refraining from eating certain animals, or women wearing headscarves? The argument ‘Eph 5 is pretty clear’ would mean we should take all those verses about the things above, at face value too?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Anthea! 
    Great point on ministry and marriage being two different issues. 
    Fascinating that Martin Scott decided it could apply to church but not to the home!
    Hope your sermon prep goes well :)

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  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Carly! I’ll be honest though and say it seems odd to me that we could divide life up into different boxes. The Greek mindset was to chop everything up into compartments, but the Hebrew mindset was that everything was ‘one’. So Jesus would have viewed life holistically, rather than seeing life as segmented into different realities. I think we need to have one approach to life, and one set of theological values, otherwise we become fragmented?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks James!
    I agree that in Paul’s era it would have been unwise for most women to be given the chance to preach, as they were mainly uneducated. 
    People seem able to apply the principles of ‘this was spoken for a specific time and place different to ours’ to numerous passages (like dietary commandments in the OT, or headscarves) so I don’t see why people are so adverse to considering this as a possible explanation of Paul’s passages on prohibiting women from speaking. 
    Thanks for your helpful words!

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Jodie! Thanks for commenting!
    I think the question you’re asking is spot on: ‘do we take the Bible literally or out of context?’
    The question is though, are we reading it accurately, when we THINK we’re “taking it literally”? A text can seem to say one thing, and yet it may mean something else. 
    How do you interpret the other literal passages, about wearing headscarves and not eating pork or shellfish, or the affirmations of slaves obeying their masters?
    I’d love to know! :)

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Nate! Where do you stand on the matter? 

  • Anghaq

    Good discussion…recently a friend married and his wife promised to submit…backed by reading from Ephesians. Was submit in this context truly biblical? I don’t believe God calls me to be subordinate to a husband. Indeed in the context that Paul was writing surely this passage empowered people?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for commenting Rob!
    Seems a bit harsh to say that people who don’t agree with Complementarianism are “tainted with the mindset of this world (which ultimately comes from satan)”.
    I know lots of people who feel the reverse – that people who refuse to allow women to fullfil their God-given roles and ministry, are oppressive and thus way more in keeping with the “mindset of this world” which is one of domination and overpowering others?
    I’s also love to hear more about why you’d feel comfortable having one set of views for ministry and another for marriage. Like I said above to Caryl, “it seems odd to me that we could divide life up into different boxes. The Greek mindset was to chop everything up into compartments, but the Hebrew mindset was that everything was ‘one’. So Jesus would have viewed life holistically, rather than seeing life as segmented into different realities. I think we need to have one approach to life, and one set of theological values, otherwise we become fragmented?” 

  • Rheadrules

    We can debate and quote scripture on this topic ad infinatum. (and we should btw). However, if i might diverge a little… Jesus said “by their fruits, we shall know them.” What I would like everyone to do is compare the work, mission, beliefs, priorities and viability/life of major Protestant churches and denominations that have appointed women to senior leadership positions in the past century compared to evangelical churches that have maintained more orthodox interpretations of scripture. The difference is stark. The pews in liberal, progressive churches are empty… social gospel trumps everything and sin, repentance and salvation are no longer preached. What you also see is that all or most denominations that have elevated women to leadership roles have also started to ordain openly practicing homosexuals to leadership and teaching roles as well. Basically what I’m saying is that this movement has hollowed out every church or denomination that has taken this theological path. It’s a Pandora’s Box

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Crompo for your comment!
    Like I’ve said to a few others commenting on here, it’s a bit dangerous to use phrases like “surely the Bible is very clear”. If it was, we wouldn’t need these discussions, as there are many different ways it can be interpreted.
    What Biblical texts would you use to support the statement that women shouldn’t be head of a church? I’m hoping we can grapple with the Biblical text here rather than just sweeping statements. I think that’s when we actually help each other learn and grow. Would love to hear more of the Bible study that’s led you to hold your current view.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Katie, thanks for commenting!
    Yes, I think Jesus IS very interested in furthering his kingdom and being loving to all.
    So, this discussion on women is a KEY PART of that.
    If you are a woman who feels totally disabled from using her gifts, or living out her life calling, I think that’s cause for concern, and that Jesus would be VERY interested in putting that right!
    So I think your point convinces me that this debate on women is EVEN MORE crucial, because Jesus highly values and loves women, and doesn’t want them to suffer or fail to live out their intended calling.
    What do you think?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    I’m pleased that this part of the vows is now optional. I agree with you. I believe in totally equal, mutual submission to each other. So if one partner is going to vow it, the I think either both should, or neither should.
    Context is such a crucial element of Biblical exegesis – so thanks for bringing it up!
    We apply principles of ‘context’ to all kinds of passages (headscarves, not eating pork, not wearing clothing from 2 different fabrics etc) yet in many handlings of key passages, people brush off the need to remember the context in which things were written were SO different to today. 

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi there, thanks for taking the time to comment!
    Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement you make. That kind of statement definitely needs to be backed up with some clear statistics. Without them, it’s simply just an opinion among many opinions.
    I will be honest and say I totally disagree. 
    There are numerous reasons why church streams and denominations dwindle, and without stats on this, chalking it up to a stance on women is simply a random statement. And a very controversial one too.
    The truth is, when women aren’t allowed to fully use their giftings, over 50% of the church is constrained from fully seeing God work through them. So how can that be a good thing, or lead to church growth?? 
    It would be useful to see a study carried out, to assess the point you are making, to see if there is any weight in it. 
    Also – it’s unfair to equate people who believe in Egalitarianism as “liberal”. The churches I’ve been part of have seen women as equal and allowed to lead and preach, yet have never fallen into any of the patterns you are describing here: the gospel is still preached faithfully, the social gospel does not trump anything, sin/repentance/salvation are still fully preached and upheld.

    As you don’t have any real stats on this, my main interest is who you heard it from and where you came to believe this? Would love to know!

  • DanBravo

    Personally I don’t have a problem with either genders doing anything in the church, but what I don’t understand is people who are fine with women leading worship, but seem to have a problem with women ‘preaching’. In my eyes, what’s the difference? A woman leading worship at the front of the church is as much declaring the word of the lord and teaching the congregation as much as a preacher.

  • Nick Sharp

    We’ve all got a bias, haven’t we? Vicky, you’re expressing your bias by saying “Let’s engage with scripture, not just repeat what we’ve been told.” (As it happens I agree with you, but that’s not my point for the moment) What I’m getting at is that none of us see it straight, none of us see the whole picture, so we should all be humble, and be careful if we wade in with sweeping statements. 
    Secondly, if none of us see the whole picture, then isn’t it better if we hear as many voices as possible, and listen to every point of view, then we can correct each other’s mistakes?
    When I was at theological college, the most memorable thing my OT lecturer said to us was “10% of what I’m going to tell you is wrong. Trouble is, I don’t know which 10%”Or to put that another way, I have not very much confidence that God will always guide me accurately, even though I try to seek him faithfully. I have much more confidence that he will guide his church, where his church is a body of people who all seek him faithfully.

  • http://www.clairemusters.com Cmusters

    I totally agree that we need to have one view, one set of values – I was quite shocked to read the  statistics of a recent evangelical poll – that most still hold to the view that the man is head in the family and marriage, and yet 70% now believe women can be  pastors – I don’t see how the man can be head in the home, but then the authority is transferred to his wife in the church, if she happens to be the pastor. That is just plain weird – no idea how that would work! I know my beliefs on this matter, and have already posted on facebook, but I’m really interested to read this discussion as it is something God has put on my heart recently. I am saddened by how nasty discussions about this can get as that really is not the point – so I’m glad you have asked for biblical references and an unpicking of them. I do think we have a tainted view of what some of the imagery means – for example, surely if a man was living in the way God intended, laying down his life in love for his wife, he would be fully submitting to God and his wife as a natural response to that? I think a lot of the historical interpretations have, in the past, really hemmed women in, and I know that bad personal experiences make this a very emotive subject. My hope is that we can come to a truly biblical understanding and both men and women alike can be all that God intended them to be.

  • Nate J

    Honestly, I knew I might be picking on you unfairly when I wrote, but I have heard many similar arguments made by others which is why I wrote what I did.  Obviously, your comment sparked mine, but I guessed that you did not mean it in the way I read it. 

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for commenting Dan!
    I think you make a great point… if we really value sung worship, and the choice of songs, then we are esteeming it as a position of authority, over both the men and women who are participating.
    It’s my experience that most people on a Tuesday are WAY more likely to be humming the songs sung at church on Sunday, rather than rehearsing the words of the preaching.
    On that basis, the lyrics that are chosen and sung at church, hold as much if not more power, in preaching, teaching and setting the doctrinal direction of a church, for any fellowship.
    On that basis, a female worship leader would be having equal the impact of a male preacher.
    So why do we people say it’s fine for a woman to sing/choose the songs, yet not to teach the Bible, as they may indeed be extremely similar/the same thing!?

  • Monique

    Thanks Vicky for this discussion. To be honest, I forgot that it was still an issue for so many. I committed my life to following Jesus in the 80′s and was shocked to realized that to many, “freedom in Christ” excluded women serving in many ways that they felt called and were gifted for. I long ago settled my own questions with scripture and culture on the subject and have been privileged to serve with people that agree with Katie, that furthering the kingdom of God and loving God and neighbour includes us all. Far more studied and intelligent people that me have debated all sides of the discussion. I have come to my conclusions including more than just my own preferential “side” and I honour struggle of the sincere.

    A couple of thoughts…I personally wonder how much of this “issue” gets heated because of our definitions of leadership and position in the church and home. If we didn’t attach “power” to roles, would this even be a discussion? It’s a false economy though. As one of my female profs…head of a department in a denominationally based school…put it 25 years ago, “I am not allowed to ‘lead’ men as a pastor in our churches, but I am allowed to influence the minds of those who will lead by teaching them.” One could argue the same about mothers. Who influences a young man’s mind more than a mother? So certainly the question can not be around influence.So what is really behind the debate? The other discussion you and a few others have raised that may actually give more clarity is on our definition of the authority of scripture. As you mention, it is not “clear” on many issues and we speak out of both sides of our mouths when we affirm some things as clear and ignore other directives that are equally “clear” if we use a modern, Western understanding as our literal definition. Although even a cursory study of the history of Western Christian thought makes it evident that our take on scripture is far from stagnant we fear that the admission that things are not clear somehow negates the value of the Book in our faith journey.

    I’m so grateful for the women of faith who have followed their God-given passion and served their God with courage throughout the centuries. They challenge women like me to do the same. I am awestruck by their tenacity of spirit and simplicity of faith and I can only hope that my own life somehow makes way for the women that follow me to serve with greater freedom. I’m also grateful for the myriad men who serve along with us and have at times, wilfully used or even put aside their own “positions” in order to make room for their sisters and wives to express their Image-bearing gifts and callings. My prayer is that the goal of all of our debating and our differing views is to accomplish the same.

  • Monique

    Thanks Vicky for this discussion. To be honest, I forgot that it was still an issue for so many. I committed my life to following Jesus in the 80′s and was shocked to realized that to many, “freedom in Christ” excluded women serving in many ways that they felt called and were gifted for. I long ago settled my own questions with scripture and culture on the subject and have been privileged to serve with people that agree with Katie, that furthering the kingdom of God and loving God and neighbour includes us all. Far more studied and intelligent people that me have debated all sides of the discussion. I have come to my conclusions including more than just my own preferential “side” and I honour struggle of the sincere.

    A couple of thoughts…I personally wonder how much of this “issue” gets heated because of our definitions of leadership and position in the church and home. If we didn’t attach “power” to roles, would this even be a discussion? It’s a false economy though. As one of my female profs…head of a department in a denominationally based school…put it 25 years ago, “I am not allowed to ‘lead’ men as a pastor in our churches, but I am allowed to influence the minds of those who will lead by teaching them.” One could argue the same about mothers. Who influences a young man’s mind more than a mother? So certainly the question can not be around influence.So what is really behind the debate? The other discussion you and a few others have raised that may actually give more clarity is on our definition of the authority of scripture. As you mention, it is not “clear” on many issues and we speak out of both sides of our mouths when we affirm some things as clear and ignore other directives that are equally “clear” if we use a modern, Western understanding as our literal definition. Although even a cursory study of the history of Western Christian thought makes it evident that our take on scripture is far from stagnant we fear that the admission that things are not clear somehow negates the value of the Book in our faith journey.

    I’m so grateful for the women of faith who have followed their God-given passion and served their God with courage throughout the centuries. They challenge women like me to do the same. I am awestruck by their tenacity of spirit and simplicity of faith and I can only hope that my own life somehow makes way for the women that follow me to serve with greater freedom. I’m also grateful for the myriad men who serve along with us and have at times, wilfully used or even put aside their own “positions” in order to make room for their sisters and wives to express their Image-bearing gifts and callings. My prayer is that the goal of all of our debating and our differing views is to accomplish the same.

  • Monique

    Thanks Vicky for this discussion. To be honest, I forgot that it was still an issue for so many. I committed my life to following Jesus in the 80′s and was shocked to realized that to many, “freedom in Christ” excluded women serving in many ways that they felt called and were gifted for. I long ago settled my own questions with scripture and culture on the subject and have been privileged to serve with people that agree with Katie, that furthering the kingdom of God and loving God and neighbour includes us all. Far more studied and intelligent people that me have debated all sides of the discussion. I have come to my conclusions including more than just my own preferential “side” and I honour struggle of the sincere.

    A couple of thoughts…I personally wonder how much of this “issue” gets heated because of our definitions of leadership and position in the church and home. If we didn’t attach “power” to roles, would this even be a discussion? It’s a false economy though. As one of my female profs…head of a department in a denominationally based school…put it 25 years ago, “I am not allowed to ‘lead’ men as a pastor in our churches, but I am allowed to influence the minds of those who will lead by teaching them.” One could argue the same about mothers. Who influences a young man’s mind more than a mother? So certainly the question can not be around influence.So what is really behind the debate? The other discussion you and a few others have raised that may actually give more clarity is on our definition of the authority of scripture. As you mention, it is not “clear” on many issues and we speak out of both sides of our mouths when we affirm some things as clear and ignore other directives that are equally “clear” if we use a modern, Western understanding as our literal definition. Although even a cursory study of the history of Western Christian thought makes it evident that our take on scripture is far from stagnant we fear that the admission that things are not clear somehow negates the value of the Book in our faith journey.

    I’m so grateful for the women of faith who have followed their God-given passion and served their God with courage throughout the centuries. They challenge women like me to do the same. I am awestruck by their tenacity of spirit and simplicity of faith and I can only hope that my own life somehow makes way for the women that follow me to serve with greater freedom. I’m also grateful for the myriad men who serve along with us and have at times, wilfully used or even put aside their own “positions” in order to make room for their sisters and wives to express their Image-bearing gifts and callings. My prayer is that the goal of all of our debating and our differing views is to accomplish the same.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Nick!
    Yes, I totally agree that we all come with bias. That’s impossible to change, as we all have our own opinions.
    But my phrase ”let’s engage with scripture, not just repeat what we’ve been told” wasn’t intended to favor any particular perspective. Isn’t that just the right principle for anyone to adhere to? I hope so!
    I totally agree about being humble and aware that we could be wrong. That’s my basic starting point for all theology. The aim of this post is to allow anyone and everyone to speak out and be heard. I’m only being honest in my replies, as people specifically asked me to on this one issue.
    “Secondly, if none of us see the whole picture, then isn’t it better if we hear as many voices as possible, and listen to every point of view, then we can correct each other’s mistakes?” – isn’t that exactly what we are doing here? I’m a bit confused!

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    With this topic, it is impossible to sum up in a few short paragraphs.  In a religious culture that puts so much emphasis on “leadership development,” it’s very difficult to see what Christ desires of the church in that context.  A friend of mine once said, “the church needs more fathers and mothers than leaders.”  To me, this is so TRUE!  Husbands and wives should be setting the example of what Christ intends with the church instead of staying so hard focused on how to “be a good leader.”  Instead, we should be “good parents” to the church.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:50 (while hanging on the cross), “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  The gospel is all about our closeness as sinful people with a Holy God!

    (Note: One may say “well, parents are considered leaders.”  This is true, but there is a difference.  Leaders do not get deeply involved with the matters of those they lead; like a master/servant relationship.  Parents are highly involved in the matters of their children.)

    Marriage is the best example of God’s relationship with man.  Our heavenly Father desperately desires that kind of intimacy with us.  The word “worship” in the Greek is proskyneo which means “to kiss forward.”  WOW!  That’s the kind of intimacy God desires with us.  When we worship God, we are kissing him.  Remember the woman in Luke 7 who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and could not stop kissing them?  We can learn a lot from that woman!

    With that said, I don’t think we should separate roles between the family and the church.  Scripturally, they are the same.  The church IS the family of God!  The church IS the bride of Christ!  How we lead our children is how we should lead the church, like parents.  How much more would we see Christ’s example if we saw more husbands and wives growing the church rather than a hierarchical structure?

    Of course, there is always more to add.  My main point is, let’s “parent” the church NOT manage them like a business.  The debate with women in ministry is more about human position than pleasing the heart of God – it creates division rather than unites the body.  I challenge the structure of the church more than I do the issue of women in leadership.  Let’s focus more on pleasing God, living in the fullness of His Spirit (cultivating the spiritual gifts), and allow Him to soften the hard hearts among us.

    As always, to GOD be the glory forever and ever!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    With this topic, it is impossible to sum up in a few short paragraphs.  In a religious culture that puts so much emphasis on “leadership development,” it’s very difficult to see what Christ desires of the church in that context.  A friend of mine once said, “the church needs more fathers and mothers than leaders.”  To me, this is so TRUE!  Husbands and wives should be setting the example of what Christ intends with the church instead of staying so hard focused on how to “be a good leader.”  Instead, we should be “good parents” to the church.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:50 (while hanging on the cross), “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  The gospel is all about our closeness as sinful people with a Holy God!

    (Note: One may say “well, parents are considered leaders.”  This is true, but there is a difference.  Leaders do not get deeply involved with the matters of those they lead; like a master/servant relationship.  Parents are highly involved in the matters of their children.)

    Marriage is the best example of God’s relationship with man.  Our heavenly Father desperately desires that kind of intimacy with us.  The word “worship” in the Greek is proskyneo which means “to kiss forward.”  WOW!  That’s the kind of intimacy God desires with us.  When we worship God, we are kissing him.  Remember the woman in Luke 7 who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and could not stop kissing them?  We can learn a lot from that woman!

    With that said, I don’t think we should separate roles between the family and the church.  Scripturally, they are the same.  The church IS the family of God!  The church IS the bride of Christ!  How we lead our children is how we should lead the church, like parents.  How much more would we see Christ’s example if we saw more husbands and wives growing the church rather than a hierarchical structure?

    Of course, there is always more to add.  My main point is, let’s “parent” the church NOT manage them like a business.  The debate with women in ministry is more about human position than pleasing the heart of God – it creates division rather than unites the body.  I challenge the structure of the church more than I do the issue of women in leadership.  Let’s focus more on pleasing God, living in the fullness of His Spirit (cultivating the spiritual gifts), and allow Him to soften the hard hearts among us.

    As always, to GOD be the glory forever and ever!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    With this topic, it is impossible to sum up in a few short paragraphs.  In a religious culture that puts so much emphasis on “leadership development,” it’s very difficult to see what Christ desires of the church in that context.  A friend of mine once said, “the church needs more fathers and mothers than leaders.”  To me, this is so TRUE!  Husbands and wives should be setting the example of what Christ intends with the church instead of staying so hard focused on how to “be a good leader.”  Instead, we should be “good parents” to the church.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:50 (while hanging on the cross), “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  The gospel is all about our closeness as sinful people with a Holy God!

    (Note: One may say “well, parents are considered leaders.”  This is true, but there is a difference.  Leaders do not get deeply involved with the matters of those they lead; like a master/servant relationship.  Parents are highly involved in the matters of their children.)

    Marriage is the best example of God’s relationship with man.  Our heavenly Father desperately desires that kind of intimacy with us.  The word “worship” in the Greek is proskyneo which means “to kiss forward.”  WOW!  That’s the kind of intimacy God desires with us.  When we worship God, we are kissing him.  Remember the woman in Luke 7 who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and could not stop kissing them?  We can learn a lot from that woman!

    With that said, I don’t think we should separate roles between the family and the church.  Scripturally, they are the same.  The church IS the family of God!  The church IS the bride of Christ!  How we lead our children is how we should lead the church, like parents.  How much more would we see Christ’s example if we saw more husbands and wives growing the church rather than a hierarchical structure?

    Of course, there is always more to add.  My main point is, let’s “parent” the church NOT manage them like a business.  The debate with women in ministry is more about human position than pleasing the heart of God – it creates division rather than unites the body.  I challenge the structure of the church more than I do the issue of women in leadership.  Let’s focus more on pleasing God, living in the fullness of His Spirit (cultivating the spiritual gifts), and allow Him to soften the hard hearts among us.

    As always, to GOD be the glory forever and ever!!!!!

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Monique,
    Thanks for commenting!
    I was hoping someone would bring up the key issue of women being allowed to teach in Sunday school (ie. to men who are children, shaping them into who they will become as adults) or teaching in schools (again, shaping men into who they will become) and teaching at theological institutes (shaping male ministers and teaching them what to teach). It’s bizarre that all of that could be ‘ok’ and yet preaching from the church pulpit is not. I don’t see how that argument can stand. Thanks for raising it!

  • Sam Loaker

    If a woman has a God given gift to lead, who are we to prevent that gift from being used for God. I would argue, to do so would be a sin. I have seen and heard many effective Spirit filled woman lead many to God. 

    People seem to think that revelation of God is finished with the ending of the Bible. However, if we read the bible we see revelation of God as a journey, one that is not finished and is ongoing. God’s name Yahweh ‘I am who I am’ demonstrates that we can’t box God up like this issue often tries to do. Only by journeying with God will we discover who He is. As we discover who He is we will develop a much greater understanding of these issues. The God i know is a God of equality and is not limited by someones gender. Lets not limit God.I do also find it strange that many who aren’t happy with women leading in their own Church are more than happy to see women lead on a missionary trip. 

  • Sam Loaker

    If a woman has a God given gift to lead, who are we to prevent that gift from being used for God. I would argue, to do so would be a sin. I have seen and heard many effective Spirit filled woman lead many to God. 

    People seem to think that revelation of God is finished with the ending of the Bible. However, if we read the bible we see revelation of God as a journey, one that is not finished and is ongoing. God’s name Yahweh ‘I am who I am’ demonstrates that we can’t box God up like this issue often tries to do. Only by journeying with God will we discover who He is. As we discover who He is we will develop a much greater understanding of these issues. The God i know is a God of equality and is not limited by someones gender. Lets not limit God.I do also find it strange that many who aren’t happy with women leading in their own Church are more than happy to see women lead on a missionary trip. 

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Monique,
    Thanks for commenting!
    I was hoping someone would bring up the key issue of women being allowed to teach in Sunday school (ie. to men who are children, shaping them into who they will become as adults) or teaching in schools (again, shaping men into who they will become) and teaching at theological institutes (shaping male ministers and teaching them what to teach). It’s bizarre that all of that could be ‘ok’ and yet preaching from the church pulpit is not. I don’t see how that argument can stand. Thanks for raising it!

  • Sam Loaker

    If a woman has a God given gift to lead, who are we to prevent that gift from being used for God. I would argue, to do so would be a sin. I have seen and heard many effective Spirit filled woman lead many to God. 

    People seem to think that revelation of God is finished with the ending of the Bible. However, if we read the bible we see revelation of God as a journey, one that is not finished and is ongoing. God’s name Yahweh ‘I am who I am’ demonstrates that we can’t box God up like this issue often tries to do. Only by journeying with God will we discover who He is. As we discover who He is we will develop a much greater understanding of these issues. The God i know is a God of equality and is not limited by someones gender. Lets not limit God.I do also find it strange that many who aren’t happy with women leading in their own Church are more than happy to see women lead on a missionary trip. 

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Monique,
    Thanks for commenting!
    I was hoping someone would bring up the key issue of women being allowed to teach in Sunday school (ie. to men who are children, shaping them into who they will become as adults) or teaching in schools (again, shaping men into who they will become) and teaching at theological institutes (shaping male ministers and teaching them what to teach). It’s bizarre that all of that could be ‘ok’ and yet preaching from the church pulpit is not. I don’t see how that argument can stand. Thanks for raising it!

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Sam!

  • Nigelrichards62

    tweeted months ago that there should be a church where women only should be in leadership  !! .why not there are  Enough churches for Men like this  !! Church has devalued 50% of the population for generations , we need to stop being patriarchal and move forward before its too late . Thanks Vicky , keep shaking the pot

  • Nigelrichards62

    tweeted months ago that there should be a church where women only should be in leadership  !! .why not there are  Enough churches for Men like this  !! Church has devalued 50% of the population for generations , we need to stop being patriarchal and move forward before its too late . Thanks Vicky , keep shaking the pot

  • Nigelrichards62

    tweeted months ago that there should be a church where women only should be in leadership  !! .why not there are  Enough churches for Men like this  !! Church has devalued 50% of the population for generations , we need to stop being patriarchal and move forward before its too late . Thanks Vicky , keep shaking the pot

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Melanie!

    “I don’t think we should separate roles between the family and the church.  Scripturally, they are the same.  The church IS the family of God!  The church IS the bride of Christ! ”  - Agreed :)

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Nigel!

  • Crompo

    You’re right – it was a rushed response.
    Firstly God’s women make a vital contribution to the kingdom of Christ on earth. Whether they are continuing steadfastly in prayer (Acts 1:14), doing good works and almsdeeds (Acts 9:36), showing hospitality (Acts 12:12; 16:14; 1 Timothy 5:10), teaching the word in harmony with divine authority (Acts 18:26; Titus 2:3, 4), being good wives (Proverbs 31:10ff), rearing godly children (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15) – plus there are other examples littered throughout scripture and history.

    Regarding male headship – then intially I belive it goes back to Adam as being given inital responsibility in the Garden and through Adam sin entered the world.
    Timothy reinforces male headship here: 1 Timothy 2:12-13

    By adhering to gender roles within the Church I am not promoting inequality. Society seems determined to define equality by eradicating gender differences; the challenge for the Church is to model equality and diversity at the same time. It is perfectly possible to be equal but have different functions.

  • Nick Sharp

    Bias isn’t bad, it’s inevitable. So if I say, “Vicky, you’re biased” it may sound like an insult but I really don’t mean it as such. But it’s still hard for us not to feel insulted when we hear that our viewpoint is skewed. 
    My comment was partly a reaction to the tendency we often have to say what we believe without thinking, and partly to say how I struggle with being sure that I’ve heard from God. So – no disagreement with you at all, just a bit of confusion and rambling on my part!!

  • Nick Sharp

    Bias isn’t bad, it’s inevitable. So if I say, “Vicky, you’re biased” it may sound like an insult but I really don’t mean it as such. But it’s still hard for us not to feel insulted when we hear that our viewpoint is skewed. 
    My comment was partly a reaction to the tendency we often have to say what we believe without thinking, and partly to say how I struggle with being sure that I’ve heard from God. So – no disagreement with you at all, just a bit of confusion and rambling on my part!!

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    When he wrote to the Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 12:7-11) Paul (yes, the same one who wrote to Timothy!) said this:
    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
    No distinction there – or anywhere else in any of his discussion about use of gifts in the church, e.g. Romans 12 – did Paul distinguish between male and female. Wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, teaching – all are open to both sexes. 
    I have to admit, I get really wound up about people who would probably gladly have a woman operate on their brains as a surgeon, but refuse to admit that same woman might have something to offer their brains in church…

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    When he wrote to the Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 12:7-11) Paul (yes, the same one who wrote to Timothy!) said this:
    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
    No distinction there – or anywhere else in any of his discussion about use of gifts in the church, e.g. Romans 12 – did Paul distinguish between male and female. Wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, teaching – all are open to both sexes. 
    I have to admit, I get really wound up about people who would probably gladly have a woman operate on their brains as a surgeon, but refuse to admit that same woman might have something to offer their brains in church…

  • Crompo

    I know many women may feel disabled from using gifts – that is very unfortunate and the church is wose off for it.
    I cannot see any gift that a women cannot exercise within the right context which would be the same for any man operating in that gift.
    I do believe that women can operate in leadership capacity also but ultimately it requires male headship – not to dominate, control or manipulate – but as that is there God given function and when we align ourselves with that (our of love not duty) then surely everything should flourish.
    Unfortunately there has been a considerable lack of good role model male “heads” in churches

  • Rlstanfield

    Let me begin by stating, I surrender to the Authority of God’s Word on all things.  Now, after that, I have spent my life seeking to understand the Words of God in a way that I can be assured that I am being obedient to the true message He has for me. 

    Our church has recently taken stands on the roles of women in the church.  While we are exploring proper authority in our lives in the home, at church and elsewhere, I have to confess that I do not see where the bible clearly says that women cannot teach or lead in the church. 

    If I understand correctly, I have to agree with VB in that if we take this stance regarding women in the church then we will find our church body half paralyzed when it comes to realizing the collective gifts of the entire body. 

    If I am to believe that women cannot have the authority to teach and lead in the church then I am going to need clear understanding about a lot of things:  1)  What do we do with the large numbers of evangelical churches that do NOT practice this?  2)  What do we do with all of the teachings that have been passed along via Godly and Wise women over the years?  3)  What do we do with the teachings of Great Women over the years?  Does this mean as a man, I cannot subject myself to their teaching via book, video, etc?  4)  What about school teachers?  5)  What of home schooling scenarios where the mother is the primary teacher and there are male children?  6)  What of the mother-son relationship?  Does this mean that the mother does absolutley NO teaching to male children in the home?  7) (This one comes with apologies.)  How can we say that this is the absolute truth about Paul’s teachings without addressing what he said about the submission of slaves, women’s clothing in church, and other similar directives of Paul?  8)  Where does this put the church (the church that I have grown up in for the past 40+ years) if we muzzle women from teaching and leading based on this interpretation of God’s Word?

    Personally, I am working through and frankly, struggling with a lot of historical context when it comes to the teachings of Paul on the issues of the woman’s role in the church, the family and the community.  I cannot see where these are scriptures that we just take a literal commandments for the roles of women. 

    49 years of exposure to church leadership, participation in minisitry leadership, leading bible studies etc make me wary of situations where people are led to believe that another person’s literal interpretation of scripture is all we need.  I have grown very cautious in taking the Word of God and pointing at a person or group of people and saying that MY interpretation makes their interpretation wrong. 

    Until I can get answers and understanding for the questions I have, I will have to stand by my convictions that some of the greatest teachers in our churches will be women, for child and adult alike.  And some of the greatest, innovative and strong leadership our churches have ever seen will be out of the spiritual gifts of women. 

  • Kristin

    Great discussion!

    I think it is important to remember, ‘spiritual authority’ comes from God himself to individual people as opposed to a defacto result of one’s gender.  While I do believe that God has given authority disproportionately to men in the church, particularly in higher up roles, I do not believe for a second that God has granted authority to “all men” over “all women”.   Who are we to speak in such absolutes??  When we evaluate individuals in the church based solely on gender we risk sexism.  This is where we get into trouble, because women are written off just because they are women, and not encouraged to explore their spiritual gifts or even entertain whether or not God wants to use them in a place of authority.   In many places the church is not open at all to the possibility that God may use a female in a high place of authority.

    There are several examples in scripture of God using women in high places (judges, for example), so it seems errant to me to write off all women and use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ when discussing gender roles.  We need to be open and discerning about gender roles, not cut and dry.

    The key word in the 1 Timothy 2 passage is the word ‘assume.’  Women at that time were ‘assuming’ they had authority over men without concern as to whether God gave it to them or not.  Even assuming that women were superior to men!  Bottom line is we should never EVER “assume” authority particularly because of gender.   This applies to men as well, and I am appalled at how much men in the church “assume” they deserve authority just because they are men.   We should always HUMBLY return to the source of authority- God himself – to discern such positions.  

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Stephen.
    Really appreciate you drawing from a Biblical text. That’s what I’m aiming for in this discussion! Not just opinion, but exegesis of the Bible. Thanks for modeling that!
    Anyone got any thoughts on how they view that passage?

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    While I agree that Hebrew thought is more holistic in a body/spirit sense, I think the evidence is quite clear that Hebrew culture was still stratified.  Hebrews still had rich and poor and educated and uneducated etc.  I don’t think the presence of male oriented ‘worlds’ and female oriented ‘worlds’ (i.e., gender roles as seen in culture) strengthens the complementarian or egalitarian viewpoint.  Both Hebrews and Greek had slaves (talk about not applying a holistic  vision of Gen 1:26,27).  The presence of gender roles is sometimes seen behind Luke’s arrangement of Jesus’ stories where in one case a shepherd loses a sheep (male role) but next a woman loses a coin (household management – female gender role).  Jesus had both men and women in his audience and he wanted to connect to both gender groups.  Anyhow, suffice it to say that even great theology (e.g., Hebrew holistic thought) was not always applied well in life and so the presence or absence of gender roles does not mean much in settling these questions.

  • Nate J

    I think Acts 2.17-18, as well as 1 Cor 11.3-4, show clearly that women are prophesying in the church. So, clearly the passages about silence must be interpreted in the light of these texts.  There seems to be something contextual going on in those situations. 
    Also, in Philippians 4.2-4, Paul calls Euodia and Syntiche his ‘fellow-workers’ in the Gospel.  Of course, there is Priscilla who partners with Aquila in ministry as well.  

    So, clearly women are involved in ministry, prophesying and leadership in the church.  

    At the same time, it seems difficult to completely get away from the fact that Paul appears to prioritize male leadership in the family (and the church).  He roots his arguments in Christ’s relationship with the church (Eph 5.25) and in Creation (1 Cor 4.1-56), not just cultural norms.  While women are not to be excluded from leadership, there does seem to be some sort of preference for male headship overall.  But I would take C. S. Lewis’ term for the leadership that has been given to men in the family (Eph 5.25).  They are to take a ‘crown of thorns’.  They are to lead the way in serving more, sacrificing more and seeking to promote the fruitfulness of their wives and children.  It is not a hierarchical, self-serving love.  The man is to serve the wife.  She is not there to serve him. 

    If a man exercises servant leadership, I don’t see much of a problem occurring.  I have a hard time seeing any woman respect a man that expected his wife to suffer more and work harder during tough times (though it has often happened!).  As much as is possible, the man is to “take the hit” and shoulder the bulk of the load in sacrificing and caring for his family.  
     
    Anyway, my view is that women and men alike are called to share in ministry and leadership (preaching, teaching, etc.), but that there is some sort of priority/preference for male leadership as a general rule.  I would have serious problems with theological positions that exclude women from participating in leadership.  I also think it’s difficult to support biblically a position that says that all that matters is ‘gifting of the Holy Spirit’ and gender differences are completely irrelevant.  If it can be done, I’d like to see it.  

    There are caveats and nuances that would need more time and space to draw out, but this is roughly where I stand at the moment.  

  • Nigelrichards62

     Vicky , the trouble is we are spending a lot of time telling women that men are the head of the house etc , which is not  really attractive to 21st Century female population , or people like me who feel we should submit to one another and share . Christianity has been a boys only party for far too long , get over it, get on with it, move on .  Did Jesus bang on relentlessly about the role of women and headship in the home !! , who knows , but it didnt reach the bible !!
      perhaps we should focus on Jesus himself,   rather than telling the world that women are inferior . or have” different ” roles , makes me so sad . So many men up themselves !!!

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    When I read the story of Jesus I see women following him.  I see Mary of Bethany sitting at his feet not unlike Paul sitting at the feet of Gamaliel.  I see something happening that would challenge the old distinctions of Jew and Gentile, slave and free, and male and female.  Whatever Paul meant in his prohibitions, it must also correlate to his happy observation that both men and women publicly prophesied and prayed in the local congregation at Corinth. 

    One historical text that has helped me shape my egalitarian viewpoint is Pliny the Younger’s letter to Trajan.  In it, Pliny has two women slaves arrested and tortured to find out information about Christianity. He took them because they were deacons in the church.  These two women slaves who had no rights in the Roman Empire and could be arrested and tortured were, in fact, leaders in the local church.  How ironic that it was their leadership in the church and their powerlessness in the world that made them targets for Pliny!  Somehow, Christianity developed after Jesus into a faith where women slaves could become leaders.  I think this was related to Jesus himself.  If our understanding of the disciples writings (i.e., NT) does not produce similar results, we are not understanding things correctly, in my view.

  • http://rkweblog.com Rich Kirkpatrick

    Great discussion! I am going to have to think this over. What if I am a hybrid? Do I get both sides angry then? :)

  • Crompo

    Just add:
    1 Corinthians 11:3 also but my term of headship is also incorrect / probably more covering is a better term – ultimately Christ is head of the church!

    A quick sidenote on the list of “qualifications” for eldership in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 it is clear they are to be the husband of one wife.
    Just a thought

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    True, Paul (if it was Paul) wrote to the Ephesians “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22). However, it was immediately preceded by “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21) so it’s nowhere near as clearcut as some would like to make out.
    Furthermore, it’s followed up by “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).And Paul explained at some length what he meant by “love” including “love … does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor 13:5). So Paul commands husbands to sacrifice their own desires and wellbeing totally to the flourishing of their wives. Are you really up for that, you “headship” guys ? 

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    Good point.  One of the best Greek professors I studied under was a classicist by training, a leading expert in her field, but she had people in her church opposed to her preaching a sermon or becoming a deacon in the church (Baptist, so deacon and elder get mashed together).  Perhaps she was a better teacher than preacher, but surely that should be discerned by giftedness not gender.

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    this was meant for Stephen’s previous posting, I don’t know what I did to have it appear here.

  • Benjjjjjjjjj

    This is all good stuff, even what I would consider to be some objectionable thought is helpful for the discussion, although I would want to see some of it qualified (the dwindling of congregation in liberal progressive church for example).

    First of all, can women be in ministry. Easy answer, yes. Christian living is ministry, so if you are a woman, a Christian, and alive then you are in ministry. If it’s a sin then no women should become Christians, although then you would be living in unforgivable sin… oh dear. Catch 22. You see why we must separate the broader ministry term, from the specific ministerial roles. These specific ministerial roles that we often refer to in this diaglogue such as elders, bishops, vicars, or even being able to preach/teach is where things can get tricky for people based on certain scripture (can we all agree that we are free from the holiness code and move on from leviticus at least into something approaching new covenant life?)

    As a male evangelist and discipler I want to introduce young people to Christ, and then walk with them in their journey, hopefully learning as much from them as they learn from me. Teenagers (and yes, horror, even the girls!) have ‘taught’ me as much about Christ as have middle aged male theologians (of which my father is one). The sidelining of people based on age and gender are two areas that the church has failed Gods people in time and time again. God has responsibility for his whole creation, for his entire community, for all his people.  What does that responsibility look like in your life? We are all called to the same commandments are we not, as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 22? But sure, we are called to different works, so does that mean the God will NEVER call a woman to lead a church? I cannot teach teenage girls about the gospel with that message, because I see a generation of young women (and young men) who have the potential to frankly embarrass much of the middle aged male leadership of the current church with their passion, grace, love and faith.

    With due respect to the comment about dwindling church numbers in the progressive church, you want to know one reason (of a couple key ones admittedly) why people leave the church? Because the church is often terrible at showing how it values people through the love of God. I want to see community’s of disciples that love and value each other in the equality that justification by faith and through grace alone demands (Romans 5.1).

    In some areas of my life I will go to my dad for council, others, my mum. My family’s support and help in directing my life would not be as effective without one of those. Who has helped me more? Who could I do without? Who has God given more responsibility to in that role? All unanswerable questions. There is not meant to be a separation, it is Gods intent for it to work as a unit involving male and female elements.
    Have I answered the question of the blog? Perhaps not effectively, but then maybe that wasn’t really my intention. Perhaps my intention was and is to point people to a loving father, a mighty saviour and a powerful spirit who transform lives for HIS* purposes. Call me an idealist, but God will use whomever he chooses, however he chooses. We need to humble ourselves before him and build a church that loves as he loves. While many are busy figuring out who should and who shouldn’t, I pray that some of us will be taking care of who is.*not to be read as a signifier of God’s male status.

    little extra ‘you go girl’ thought:
    Storing up treasure in heaven (read: responsibility) means there will be many of you ladies out there with far greater responsibility in eternity than those who would sideline you now. Stay faithful sisters, he has good stuff for you in the now, but most importantly, the not yet.

  • Benjjjjjjjjj

    This is all good stuff, even what I would consider to be some objectionable thought is helpful for the discussion, although I would want to see some of it qualified (the dwindling of congregation in liberal progressive church for example).

    First of all, can women be in ministry. Easy answer, yes. Christian living is ministry, so if you are a woman, a Christian, and alive then you are in ministry. If it’s a sin then no women should become Christians, although then you would be living in unforgivable sin… oh dear. Catch 22. You see why we must separate the broader ministry term, from the specific ministerial roles. These specific ministerial roles that we often refer to in this diaglogue such as elders, bishops, vicars, or even being able to preach/teach is where things can get tricky for people based on certain scripture (can we all agree that we are free from the holiness code and move on from leviticus at least into something approaching new covenant life?)

    As a male evangelist and discipler I want to introduce young people to Christ, and then walk with them in their journey, hopefully learning as much from them as they learn from me. Teenagers (and yes, horror, even the girls!) have ‘taught’ me as much about Christ as have middle aged male theologians (of which my father is one). The sidelining of people based on age and gender are two areas that the church has failed Gods people in time and time again. God has responsibility for his whole creation, for his entire community, for all his people.  What does that responsibility look like in your life? We are all called to the same commandments are we not, as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 22? But sure, we are called to different works, so does that mean the God will NEVER call a woman to lead a church? I cannot teach teenage girls about the gospel with that message, because I see a generation of young women (and young men) who have the potential to frankly embarrass much of the middle aged male leadership of the current church with their passion, grace, love and faith.

    With due respect to the comment about dwindling church numbers in the progressive church, you want to know one reason (of a couple key ones admittedly) why people leave the church? Because the church is often terrible at showing how it values people through the love of God. I want to see community’s of disciples that love and value each other in the equality that justification by faith and through grace alone demands (Romans 5.1).

    In some areas of my life I will go to my dad for council, others, my mum. My family’s support and help in directing my life would not be as effective without one of those. Who has helped me more? Who could I do without? Who has God given more responsibility to in that role? All unanswerable questions. There is not meant to be a separation, it is Gods intent for it to work as a unit involving male and female elements.
    Have I answered the question of the blog? Perhaps not effectively, but then maybe that wasn’t really my intention. Perhaps my intention was and is to point people to a loving father, a mighty saviour and a powerful spirit who transform lives for HIS* purposes. Call me an idealist, but God will use whomever he chooses, however he chooses. We need to humble ourselves before him and build a church that loves as he loves. While many are busy figuring out who should and who shouldn’t, I pray that some of us will be taking care of who is.*not to be read as a signifier of God’s male status.

    little extra ‘you go girl’ thought:
    Storing up treasure in heaven (read: responsibility) means there will be many of you ladies out there with far greater responsibility in eternity than those who would sideline you now. Stay faithful sisters, he has good stuff for you in the now, but most importantly, the not yet.

  • rspl2000

    Bruce Ware in his paper “Tampering with the Trinity” makes a case that egalitarianism defaces the Trinity by making subordination=inequality. The Son is sent by the Father. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque!). This is a western view of the Trinity, but it still shows subordination WITHIN THE TRINITY!! Does this mean inferiority?! Not at all! Was the Father supposed to die? No! That was the Son’s role! 

    Because of our postmodern culture, the church has taken many doctrines and fit them into their minds. For instance, all sins are equal. While this is true in one sense (all sin is enough for eternal punishment) killing is most definitely worse than stealing a piece of gum. 

    Another thing, women in leadership. Women have not been given ANY roles other than deaconship until recently when the feminist movement came to the surface. If Jesus wanted women in leadership, then He would have chosen a woman or two to be disciples. We cannot go and say that “it wasn’t appropriate for the time and it would have damaged the ministry…” because this is the Man who performed miracles in front of crowds and people still doubted Him. 

    The Bible is VERY VERY clear on these issues. The only thing that stops one from seeing it clearly are one’s presuppositions…

  • rspl2000

    Bruce Ware in his paper “Tampering with the Trinity” makes a case that egalitarianism defaces the Trinity by making subordination=inequality. The Son is sent by the Father. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque!). This is a western view of the Trinity, but it still shows subordination WITHIN THE TRINITY!! Does this mean inferiority?! Not at all! Was the Father supposed to die? No! That was the Son’s role! 

    Because of our postmodern culture, the church has taken many doctrines and fit them into their minds. For instance, all sins are equal. While this is true in one sense (all sin is enough for eternal punishment) killing is most definitely worse than stealing a piece of gum. 

    Another thing, women in leadership. Women have not been given ANY roles other than deaconship until recently when the feminist movement came to the surface. If Jesus wanted women in leadership, then He would have chosen a woman or two to be disciples. We cannot go and say that “it wasn’t appropriate for the time and it would have damaged the ministry…” because this is the Man who performed miracles in front of crowds and people still doubted Him. 

    The Bible is VERY VERY clear on these issues. The only thing that stops one from seeing it clearly are one’s presuppositions…

  • Kim

    Hi Vicky, et. al., I’ve been wanting to comment, but waiting for a time
    that I can devote some attention to the biblical texts… the original
    intent of this post.  Beautiful!  So thankful to God for you, Vicky, and
    everyone who truly desires to discuss the biblical text and not only
    opinions, and general statements, though the last two can be useful at
    the right times.  Discussing words “that will not pass away” can only be
    the most profitable, even if it never gains numbers to either
    side.  I hope that’s not the point.  I hope the point is to do some
    heavy lifting, grapple with the seriousness of ministry weight which
    Christ calls all of His disciples to do, and display His glory through
    transformed lives.   I strongly believe that both sides respond with
    knee-jerk reactions based on giving answers from arguments made by
    extremist in either camps instead of “putting on listening ears,” with a
    heart of charity, and “speaking truth in love.”  Eph. 4:15.

    I’m a
    complementarian.  My doctrine comes from passages like Ephesians 5:22: 
    where Paul directly relates wives submitting to husbands directly to Jesus Christ as
    being head of the church.   Verses 22-33, IMO, relate to the
    seriousness of the marriage union in how it displays the example of
    Christ’s sacrificial love for His Bride.  Because, from what I can tell,
    there isn’t teaching on headdress/covering or eating rituals, and other
    things, I do not find myself grappling with the context as much as
    others might.  I may just be too short-sighted and unimaginative to do
    so, I readily admit it.  :)

    Anytime Paul writes things directly
    related to Jesus Christ, the gospel message, dying to self, and/or the
    cross, I tend to highlight those in my mind.  (cf. Phil. 2, I Cor. 2:2,
    Gal. 1:8, etc.)  Thus the passages in Eph. 5 and Col. 3, they are
    highlighted in my mind as to the seriousness of them.

    I don’t
    want anyone walking away, thinking that I am not taking the *full*
    counsel of God seriously (cut and paste the verses I like or only
    support my view:  II Tim. 3:16-17 “ALL (emphasis mine) Scripture” takes
    care of that.  :) ) In practice though, I believe there are Scripture
    verses (books?) that explicitly teach application.  In Eph. and Col., I
    see the women’s role in the home being taught by Paul the both
    churches.  Adding in the weight of Eph. where he likens it to Jesus
    Christ’s duties, it’s very impacting to me.

    I think Titus 2:2-3
    has much to say about a woman’s role.  I see a worker-at-home being
    taught explicitly, but do not find other “worker-at-??s” being taught. 
    Here is where my lack of imagination does not serve me well, probably. 
    :)  :)

    I Peter 3:1-4 is another way I see a woman fulfilling a
    submissive role to an unbelieving (and possibly believing husband who is
    being disobedient to the Word of God? (which one of us hasn’t been
    there before as the disobedient one–I know I have!!?? ))  But
    regardless of experience, Paul calls the woman to be the one to take the
    initiative, at least how I see it, by being submissive and not saying a
    word.  He, from what I can tell, doesn’t call her to teach him those
    things, but just lead a quiet, submissive, wordless life. (And I know I need that reminder of “wordless” many times!)  :)

    From my cheap
    seats and limited scope, I see when Paul writes mainly about women, it
    is typically (I think) in the submissive role.

    I know the parsing
    out of some Greek words have been debated down through the centuries,
    and frankly, I’m too simple-minded for that, but I do notice some themes
    when it comes to women and it is generally in the area of submission to
    husbands. 

    I realize there are other themes of submission
    (governmental authorities: Rom. 13:1, church leaders: Heb. 13:7,
    Employers: Col. 3:22, children: Eph. 6:1, etc.)  I even see the commands
    like in Eph. 5:21 where it calls each of us to submit to one another
    out of holy fear for Christ. 

    What I don’t see is explicit
    teaching in Scripture where men are called to submit to wives/women in
    the same way that women are to submit to husbands/men.  Besides the
    incredible love we’re to have for fellow Christians (John 13:34) and the
    common respect and equality of value/standing before Christ (Gal.
    3:28), I see each role as mentioned above to be carried out with the
    same attitude Jesus had when He joyfully submitted to His Father. 
    (Phil. 2:5-7, Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ
    Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard
    equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the
    form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.) (NASB)

    Regarding
    women in the church, I see it the same way.  I don’t see Scripture
    (thematically) giving women a position in church as a leader.  Elders,
    pastors, overseers (at least the ones I’ve read about ) were men.  I
    believe the serving capacity is to other women (Titus 2:3) and anyone
    who is not “a man.”  I Tim. 2:11-12.   I know there are some OT
    exceptions, but I don’t see a biblical pattern about female headship in
    the same way I do with male headship.  I know some of it could be
    cultural, except I see God-breathed words never being afraid to be
    counter cultural at certain times (i.e. Jesus rebukes the popular
    leaders, Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman, Paul tells employers to treat
    employees as one who will give an account to the Lord Himself, etc.).

    The funny thing is that I believe
    women are equally gifted in most areas, even the pastoral gifts.  But
    like the saying goes, “just because you can; doesn’t mean you should”
    which might be a good principle to apply when it comes to the Word of
    our Lord.   There are many wonderful, profitable uses for God’s glory
    that can be fulfilled without ever stepping outside of the Lord’s
    explicit commands.  Likewise, many people (me!) can quickly use gifts,
    abilities and resources to sin in multiple areas, multiple times.  So
    the defense of “I know many gifted women… ” might be negated if we are
    not “walking in a manner worthy of our calling.”  (Eph. 4:1)

    Taking
    this quick, biblical survey in view (I haven’t done it justice) I
    believe, IMO, that women are to be submissive to one husband in the
    home, first, then church leaders, then governing authorities, then
    workplace as long as the categories are not asking any of us to sin.  I
    believe women can be godly bosses at work as long as they follow the
    Eph. 6:9  model.  I believe they can be godly politicians, and other
    areas.  Personally, I’m just  not creative or energized enough to do
    everything and
    still fulfill the commands in Scripture to be a godly “worker-at-home”
    so I opt out of trying.  :)  :)   I believe, though, in the home and in
    the church, those are special arenas with explicit teaching which shape
    my values.

    I know it sounds like I’m chopping them up, Vicky.  I 100% agree with
    you (can I get an “amen!” ha!) that we should never chop things up, or compartmentalize to fit our
    surroundings.  Our core values and beliefs should be 100% with pure motives
    to follow Christ *in every area of life*.  I love how you bring that out in your public
    ministry!!  So awesome!!  I do believe, though, for me, that ultimately,
    what is overarching or the main core value is not should women do this
    or that, the core value that runs through and connects each dot is
    submission.  This helps shape my everyday thoughts, tasks, and
    conversations whether I’m in the grocery store, at church, or at home. 
    :)

    Regarding the slavery issue.  I don’t see in Scripture (but please
    correct me if I’m wrong) God or the writers of Scripture ever affirming
    slavery, but that since it existed, here are the principles, commands
    and guidelines to follow.   That may be way too simplified and I’m sure
    someone can correct me as we go along.

    Blessings!  I’ll try and respond when I can if anyone has any follow-up
    or corrections for me to heed.  I’m thankful for anyone who desires to
    correct me out of love for His holy Word and Christ-centered message! 
    :)

    Kim (a grateful complementarian wife of a egalitarian-hearted, but complementarian-minded I Peter 3:7 husband)  :)

     

  • Kim

    I’m sorry about the weird formatting issues!  Also techy challenged as well.  :)  :)

  • Kay Clifton

    I so appreciate that this question is being asked in this type of forum!  I would imagine, without knowing Vicky personally or her exact thoughts, from reading her comments, that my views regarding this topic would resemble hers.  What I most appreciate, though, is the civility of this particular discussion!  It is so easy for talks like this to descend into emotional argument. So, kudos and thanks to everyone on this page for your kind, civil discussion.  Peace!

  • Dennis

    What if we turned the understanding of what “leadership/Authority” ment around.  I would like to propose from both the Bible and church history that women have always been allowed to teach/preach otherwise how could Lyda have led the church. Whatt if the leadership role that women are barred from comes in the sacraments. From what I see in history the Orthodox and Catholic Churches  have always allowed Women to teach but hey could never conduct the sacraments.

  • Kim

    Kay, I couldn’t agree more–thank you for the reminder!  :)  I Cor. 13:1-3, If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (NASB)

  • Kim

    Hi Dennis–can you direct me in Scripture where it says that Lydia led the church.  I’m unfamiliar with those passages.  Thank you.  Kim  :)

  • Brian M.

    If you’re one who’s not convinced that Scripture is clear on this subject, then I ask: Does not nature itself speak to the stark differences and roles that God has created men and women to fulfill?  Scripture is clear that men and women are 100% equal in value and worth, absolutely. But if God were truly for 100% equality in ROLES, why does He *still* create us so different?  Why are women, *on average*, weaker physically and more fragile emotionally than men?   Why can a man never bear children, no matter how qualified he feels to do so?  God is still creating us like this, even after the resurrection, and I think it alone speaks volumes!  I submit that the design of men and women is proof itself that God has a plan, and that He designed each part of His creation with structure and purpose.  I think this idea also helps us to rightly interpret what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:12-15:
     
    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man… for Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing…”
     
    This passage points out something very interesting.  Despite what many think, Paul’s command of headship is not based on anything “cultural”, but clearly goes back to Adam & Eve in the fall. He said the men will be the head or covering (think: protector) of women, and women will find fulfillment in bearing children (which is not optional… men can’t do that!).  This is a timeless truth, Paul says, that results from the sin of the first man and woman, but will ultimately display the Gospel and the glory of God.  
    Remember what God said after Adam & Eve fell?  He declared 2 very important things: 1.  Your desire will be for your husband (in the Hebrew, the idea is “to rule over him” or control him) 2.  But he (your husband) will rule over you.  This was God’s judgment on humanity, as a result of Eve being deceived in her quest to be more spiritual, and Adam’s rebellion in being passive in his role as her protector.  Women will always have a desire/tendency/feel compelled to lead or control, but God says that the men are to have the role of covering for her.  By putting things back in order, God’s blessing is restored in His creation.  God is so clear in this, both in observing creation and in Scripture:
    “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” – 1 Cor 11:3

    Now, there will always be those who question God’s commands (like the serpent: “Did God really say…”?), and twist and re-interpret God’s word to suit their preferences and desires.  EVEN GOOD DESIRES, such as our quest to be more spiritual and use our giftings can turn sinful (I believe Eve truly wanted to be more like God when she was deceived and took the fruit).  Sin will always lead us to think we know more than God, or that we have a better way… but there is just something not quite right when we do.  We go against the rhythm of His design.  And very often, like Adam and Eve learned, rebellion can be disastrous.  The wages of sin is death.

    I really believe we can trust God in this, friends.  Only when men begin to use their God-given advantages and authority rightly, sacrificially, and lovingly, and when women find comfort and security in this protection, being allowed to prosper in their gifts as we walk through a fallen world, will the invisible God powerfully manifest Himself among us. 

  • Emma

    Evening everyone.  This is a great topic and I will offer my meagre opinion and encouragement really.   Crombo mentioned above about the role of the man and woman as having its roots in Genesis and this was exactly where my thoughts were taking me, so i searched in this discussion to see if anyone else had come up with it so i didn’t double up but our roles have not changed since then, however in our life in Christ our ability to act in faithfulness to our awesom God have moved on.  Eve submitted to Adam that God would not forsake them if they ate of the tree, Adam took that submission and acted according to it, the rest as we know is history.  In modern biblical times and I’m talking about the letters of Paul in Ephesians and others the roles had changed and in our Saviour, men could be assured that in their faithfulness to God they would be upheld as righteous.  Now clearly here we could (and I mean women) go “oh right so hey it doesn’t matter what I tell my husband if we mess up he’ll get the whipping.  I absolutely don’t think that’s right.  As Paul talks about in his letters this falls in line with the same message about God’s grace, its not like it says, “its ok God forgives you no matter what you do so…sin away good Christians…all will be well” but rather we must know the Word of God and act according to it.  Likewise as wives we must know the Word, consume it, be baptised in it, live it out and uphold our husbands calling by the same means. 

    All that said I am in the all to common predicament of being married to a non believer.  I gave my life over to Christ last year with no idea how difficult it would be to be in this situation.  It is frustrating and hard work sometimes – I have a wonderful church family though so my time with them is so incredibly refreshing and I can share my faith with them of course.  All that said though my faith has changed the way I act in my marriage.  Certainly there are times when my frustration with my husband gets too much but I doubt that cannot always be said in a marriage even where both are of faith.  Anyway, off subject slightly.  I do the best I can as a christian wife, even when it goes completely over the head of my non-christian husband.  It’s God I need to please not my husband or anyone else. 

    As for womens roles in Church, I have to comment on something said above about Jesus’ disciples only being male and apologies if this was picked up already.  From what I’ve read Jesus’ 12 APOSTLES were male but He had several women in His group, including Mary M, He ministered to several women and female children and what about the woman with the alabasta jar!?  Did she not perform a prophetically magnificent act of worship prior to the Lord’s crusifiction?  Did the male disciples not rebuke her only to be told to pipe down? (not in those words of course)  If ever the question of females being involved in worship of the Lord is brought up I go straight to this part of the NT.  Females have an inate gift to offer the extravagent worship (umm VB you might know a song about that) that the Lord is worthy of.  Hallelujah that the Lord gives kudos to that in the Bible! 

    If you’ve read this I am humbled and grateful as there are some superb theologians on this discussion :)

    With love and joy to all this summer evening from beautiful UK.

    Emma

  • Andrew McCoy

    I believe that women should be allowed to be ministers in the church.. If a women is called by God into ministry then who are we to say they cannot.. I do not think we are in control of who god calls to ministry.

  • http://ontoberlin.blogspot.com Hannah M

    Okay, I will try to engage with the Bible to express what I feel about these issues, but I don’t have much time and am really tired so bear with me! I am an egalitarian; I believe that the Bible supports women preaching and teaching and doing things in a leadership capacity, and I also believe that marriage is an equal partnership which is not based on gender roles. For me it starts (obviously!) with Genesis. From reading into it I have never understood how the creation story implies gender hierarchy; to me there is mutual authority over creation and I have found looking into the word ‘ezer’ very helpful in that respect. We are told that we were created male and female in God’s image. To me the emphasis is on this, rather than a headship dynamic. I see this introduced as a result of the Fall only, which pitted man and woman against each other – and that we should seek to emulate pre-Fall relationships in the church and in marriage.

    When it comes to teaching men and behaviour within the church, I think that a lot of NT (as people have discussed in earlier comments) is really radical when it comes to the role of women in society. When women are commanded to learn in silence and not to *assume* authority over men,  I understand that this is because women were *usurping* God’s authority (authentein – such a knotty word, right?!) and that the only way for anyone to learn effectively and be more Christlike is in submission to God. Set in the culture of the time, it was radical that women should learn at all or hold positions of authority – and in the NT we learn of many women in positions of authority.

    The way I see it, marriage which separates men and women into specific roles and ‘jobs’ is quite restrictive and I don’t see how we can take this meaning from scripture. We are told to ‘submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’ although the emphasis is so often purely on women’s submission to men. I have to say I go with the ‘source’ interpretation of the word ‘head’. I don’t believe that from looking at the Bible we can conclude that it refers to ‘having authority’ over someone. One of the things I struggle with re: complementarianism, particularly the more hardline side, is the segregation of specific gifts, personality traits, areas of responsibility, chores etc within the marriage and the home. Why not accept that for each couple it will be different, based on their strengths, jobs, personalities, skills etc and that all can be glorifying to and intended by God? Such ‘rules’ are purely a social construct. I know that this is not the case for all complementarians so please don’t think I’m generalizing there. In my own marriage, we don’t have a ‘headship’ model and we both believe it has enabled us to be who we really are in Christ.

  • Scott

    Concerning Rom16:7…Gordon Fee makes an interesting quote in “Gospel and Spirit”….(quote) ” there isn’t a shred of evidence in the Roman world for an ‘s’ to be applied to Junia .” (making the name masculine and refuting feminine apostleship.) 

  • Queen Jana

    Nate, your post expresses pretty well what I tentatively think as well.  I think women can and should teach and use each and every gift given to them by God, but I have a slight discomfort with the idea of a solely female-led church. I’ve been trying for a while to figure out whether my discomfort is just preference or not being used to it, or whether it’s at least partially a scriptural concern. What you said about the preference for male leadership in the Bible rings true with me as well, I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I guess my vague position is that I’m very comfortable with men and women teaching, worshipping, prophesying, using their gifts in the whole church, but it seems to me that the leadership of a church works best when a man is at the head, closely supported by his wife, or there is male overall leadership with female support in the leadership team. I think a church that doesn’t have women in the leadership team, or doesn’t have men in the leadership team, is failing to reflect the whole nature of the church.

    I know I haven’t included any Biblical backing here, it’s late and I just wanted to agree with Nate’s points!

  • http://twitter.com/MrsSmee Kelly Smeeton

    The phrase – ‘My husband wears the trousers in our relationship, but I get to choose them’ springs to mind here! I believe that an ultimate decision should be made by the husband but any loving husband would have considered the wife’s opinion and reasons, and needs to make a considered answer. Ultimately the responsibility would lie with the husband which is why he should consider carefully, seeking counsel.
     
    1 Corinthians 14 I believe, is talking about the misconception that Paul and many men have that women talk too much and too often. Not all women are like this but I think the point Paul is making is that we should all be listening to our speakers, carefully considering what we say to others and not gossiping. This of course goes for men and women.
     
    In Acts and Proverbs 31 women are taking on roles that were traditionally for men but ultimately for the same goal – to see God glorified and their husbands respected.
     
    The issue I have is the woman in Proverbs 31 seems so unrealistic that it worries me! I could not possibily do all that and be able to have ‘quiet time’ with God and fulfil callings that God had for me. Women seem so determined in this present age to ‘have it all’ we’ve forgotten why we wanted it all in the first place. I believe we can have the choice now to follow our God given callings in ministry, to raise a family, to work with our husbands or to promote their business, to work in male workplaces and to lead/manage, where before some of these roles were male-dominated. I think the folly begins when we think we can do it all without becoming ill or neglecting important areas in our lives.
     
    The principles of loving God and loving others need to be adhered to but when we’re loving too many we sometimes forget to love God and look after our ‘temples’. The modern idea of ‘being able to do it all’ is silly because we were never meant to do anything on our own. The husband/wife partnership works best when it is a partnership; the church works best when leadership work together, considering everyone’s gifts and callings – men or women.

  • Kim

    Hi Hannah, Thanks for a really great, clarifying post. 

    How do you treat Gen. 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”?  The Hebrew word, ezer, is used “help” or “aid” and the 21 uses of it in the NASB show a support or helping of the subject, sometimes in trouble.  Is that your understanding as well?

    Can you give me some examples of women in the NT who held positions of authority over men?  I’m unfamiliar with the passages.  Thank you!

    As a complementarian, I don’t see a lot, from my own experience, segregation of gifts, personality traits, jobs, etc., but a blending of them.  As in military fashion, our family is a unit and we all work together to help/serve each other (teaching these principles to our kids) with my husband leading that example (too many cooks in the kitchen mentality).  But if there’s a difference of opinion that cannot be clearly defined in Scripture from explicit teaching (i.e., don’t lie, don’t steal, etc.) then I defer to my husband for those decisions and he asks (and values!) my input.  It’s not that he always chooses his side over mine, nor does he always choose my side over his.  Quite the opposite can be true in any given season of our lives.  It’s mostly (not perfectly!) that we use our various skills/personalities to encourage and support my husband to lead our family and make wise decisions.  I can still choose whether I want the red or pink sweater, but he makes the call if our budget is blown and refuses to go into debt for a red or pink sweater.  :)  :)  (In my own foolishness, I’d probably not care about debt one way or the other.)  It’s a simplified version, but hopefully is helpful in some areas.  Unpopular in this day and age, I realize. 

    Hannah, I’m sure in your experience you’ve come across other situations, so I just wanted to share with you a different complementarian process.  I hope that adds to your store house of information.  :)

  • Kelly Smeeton

    Acts 16 is where Lydia is mentioned :)

  • Queen Jana

    I agree with this. I’ve heard people use the ‘because it was Eve who was deceived…’ verse from 1 Tim to say that women are more easily deceived by false teaching, and this is one reason why they shouldn’t teach men. I totally accept that that passage is difficult to understand but I’m genuinely amazed that anyone can interpret it that way when it quite evidently is not true! And if you *do* take that interpretation, then what on earth is the logic in letting us teach the most impressionable and vulnerable members of the church – the children? That part of some Complementarian arguments is just ridiculous, in my opinion.

  • Kim

    Hi Dennis, Kelly was kind enough to mention Acts 16 which I think Luke mentions Lydia twice, but can you direct me where she is mentioned as leading the church?  Or did I misunderstand your reference to Lydia?  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/kyblack Kyle Black

    The bible is clear that Church Leadership/Eldership positions should be held by men.   It is clear from 1 Timothy 3 that the elders are to be men.  This isn’t Paul saying that women are secondary or unequal, as we know that Paul served with women in his ministry, rather it is Paul building off his view that the created order in Genesis is what we are to get our leadership structure from. (1 Tim 2:11-14) this structure is the same for the church as well as the home.  The biggest objection is that God sees all people equally and to not allow women to be  elders is nothing more than discrimination.  To answer this question I’ll quote Alexander Strauch who says 
    “In the minds of most contemporary people, excluding women from church eldership is sexist, discriminatory, and one more example of male dominance.  But this need not be the case.  No one who truly loves people, who is sensitive to God’s Word, and who is aware of the painful dehumanization that women have suffered (and still suffer) worldwide would want to discriminate against women.  Women have suffered enough under cruel and irresponsible males, and they have every right to demand justice and change.  Discrimination against women is a grievous sin and a dishonor to God in whose image women are created.  Yet in our zeal to right the wrongs committed against women, we must not forget that God designed male-female distinctions in order for the sexes to beautifully complement each other and to exercise different functions in society.  To deny those distinctions is as destructive and dishonorable as it is to discriminate against women.” (Biblical Eldership, pg 51) To say that women cannot be elders is not saying that women cannot play an important part in the ministry of the church.
     I think it is also important to notice that Paul isn’t just limiting women from elders but there are also quite a few men who do not qualify as elders of the church when we read the list of qualifications he gives Timothy.  If we want to hold to a Biblical view of eldership it must be all male.  
    Does this doctrine get taken out of context and used to discriminate against women, sadly yes, but the abuses should not drive us to recall and abandon this doctrine but to redeem it.

  • old believer

    It breaks my heart that this debate has been unresolved and going on since the New Testament was written.  I think when we all get to heaven, Jesus will clarify what was meant, because obviously the Bible is NOT clear on the subject of women in ministry. 
    We have wasted so much time over the years on this issue when we should be spending that time sharing Jesus with our lost and dying world.  Jesus didn’t give His life for us so we could continue to be legalistic in ANY area.  His is the gospel of grace. 
    God gives gifts and callings and anointings and talents to whom HE chooses, be it male or female.  Who are we to say what God can and cannot do? 
    This is a very emotional subject, and not just for women.  Clearly, our dysfunctional society has fed into this to where there will likely never be agreement this side of heaven.  I am happy to say that the majority of churches I have been part of over the years were ones where giftings from both genders were embraced and encouraged, but I realize this isn’t always the case.  I would much rather spend my time in a place and with people who cherish all God can bless this broken world with, male/female, young/old, whatever.  Does it REALLY matter who GOD chooses to use in a certain place at a certain time to accomplish HIS purposes?  After all, it’s NOT about us, it’s about HIM.  If we are focused on and in love with Jesus, I think these subjects sort of fall into the catagory of “just not that important.”  Beholding the King of Kings is life altering, perspective changing, and in His presence is where we are changed into His likeness.  In the light of His glory, I’d rather be hearing what He has to say than humanity of either gender.
    We are called to go into all the world and make disciples for JESUS.  We are called to preach the good news.  Paul didn’t care how the good news was preached, he rejoiced THAT the gospel was preached! 
    We need to rethink, each one of us, the issues that are divisive – like this one.  How much time are we spending defending our position that could be spent loving someone whose life is falling apart?  Are we being Jesus to our spouse?  Are we being Jesus at our church, our job, at the store? 
    Jesus gave everything out of love.  I’m pretty sure the Bible is clear on that one.  Love.  It conquers all.  It covers a multitude of sin, something I personally am eternally grateful for – because in myself, I will never have it all together, never have all the answers, never get it completely right.

  • Andy Boal

    I consider most of it comes down to grace.  God has shown me grace unending, how can I not show it to others?

    If I, as a man, am entitled to claim headship in a marriage and family, I will not.  Far better as an equal who recognises the wisdom his partner brings, which can be far wiser than my own – we build each other up and become better and wiser.

    In the church context, by grace I will listen to anybody, of either gender, of any persuasion, of any orientation, who will preach God’s word truthfully and honestly and with humility.  To do otherwise is to be a fool, because you can miss out on what God is saying if you are distracted by the conduit; far better to listen to what is said and check it against the Bible than to walk away and miss out, or far worse, to insist on listening to straight white men who share your politics but indulge in lies and half-truths about God.

    Ultimately, though, church leadership might manifest itself apparently as one human person.  In reality, few churches are governed by a single person – most have other groups such as worship teams, elders, deacons, PCCs, Select Vestries etc who, with the figurehead, run the church as a corporate body.  Any individual in those bodies can legitimately speak with the authority of the group in their particular area of expertise, but this is as part of and on behalf of the group, not as an individual.

    The other aspect of church leadership is that anybody unhappy is quite entitled to leave.  Nobody able to decide what church they wish to attend is required to listen to any preacher or stand under the authority of any leadership group.  Preachers may be ordained and appointed to preach in a given church, perhaps for life, but they only get to preach to a given individual as long as that individual is willing to be preached to.  They never have true headship as individuals.

    As for 1 Corinthians 14:34, I go with the school of thought that it refers to women asking questions out of turn and not to preaching.

    It all comes down to listening to any speaker who preaches God’s truth and not paying attention to who or what that speaker is.  You can test what they say against God’s word later, but if you don’t listen, you never can test it and may miss out.

  • http://twitter.com/davebish_ Dave Bish

    My sketchy thoughts.

    I suppose I’d take a broadly complementarian approach – saying no to women elders in the church and yes to male headship in marriage, but I want to be really careful about how that applies and works. Ministry in church has to be body ministry – everyone has a part to play, and even if one role is restricted every other is opened up. I suspect that probably also means a restriction on sunday preaching, but not in any other teaching context – tying an elders leading roughly to preaching. Women have a massively important role to play in the church on so many levels.Headship in marriage has to be about the head dying – he gives himself in love rather than imposing himself, while the wife “submits” as to Christ… i.e. rather than suspecting him of not loving she receives his love, she can rest secure in the marriage. This would seem to be very counter-cultural – liberating and honouring and safe for women, and challenging and humbling men. I don’t think this is a slippery slope to women in the kitchen and men as sole providers etc.What about final say in matters? A husband needs to lead rather than shirk responsibility but that doesn’t mean he’s always right, or that he does what he wants – indeed his call would be to always do what’s best for his wife, for her good, her beautification, her advancing etc. What that looks like surely varies case to case. Are men and women equal? Equal but not identical… no more than the Father, Son and Spirit are identical – their roles are different which is wonderful, yet each is divine.

  • sing2himprayz

    Dan, thanks for bringing this up!  I used to be the worship leader at our former church and the leadership tried to prevent me from leading any sort of spiritual direction during the “worship time.”  When I shared what God had placed on my heart, I was scolded behind the scenes about preaching/teaching.  I was stuck between a rock and a hard place until we left that church.  They wanted women to lead without allowing them to lead fully.  I am much happier where I am now.  They except people for who they are and how they are gifted and encourage all leaders/volunteers to use their gifts fully!  Limiting the roles of women in the church enslaves them.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for commenting!
    Glad you’ve been part of the church for 49 years. That’s a lot of faithful service :)
    Thought your 8 questions below were great. Anyone want to speak into them?

    “1)  What do we do with the large numbers of evangelical churches that do NOT practice this?  2)  What do we do with all of the teachings that have been passed along via Godly and Wise women over the years?  3)  What do we do with the teachings of Great Women over the years?  Does this mean as a man, I cannot subject myself to their teaching via book, video, etc?  4)  What about school teachers?  5)  What of home schooling scenarios where the mother is the primary teacher and there are male children?  6)  What of the mother-son relationship?  Does this mean that the mother does absolutley NO teaching to male children in the home?  7) (This one comes with apologies.)  How can we say that this is the absolute truth about Paul’s teachings without addressing what he said about the submission of slaves, women’s clothing in church, and other similar directives of Paul?  8)  Where does this put the church (the church that I have grown up in for the past 40+ years) if we muzzle women from teaching and leading based on this interpretation of God’s Word?”

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hi Kristin, thanks for commenting!
    Glad you brought up the example of Judges. Deborah led her entire nation…seems like a woman in leadership to me??

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for being so honest Nigel!
    Great thoughts!

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Brent.
    The Pliny example is really interesting – thanks for sharing it!

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Hey Rich :) Thanks for dropping in!
    Haha…you can be whatever you want to be :) And I’ll still think you’re great, I promise.

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    A capable wife who can find?
       She is far more precious than jewels. 
    The heart of her husband trusts in her,
       and he will have no lack of gain. 
    She does him good, and not harm,
       all the days of her life. 
    She seeks wool and flax,
       and works with willing hands. 
    She is like the ships of the merchant,
       she brings her food from far away. 
    She rises while it is still night
       and provides food for her household
       and tasks for her servant-girls. 
    She considers a field and buys it;
       with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 
    She girds herself with strength,
       and makes her arms strong. 
    She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
       Her lamp does not go out at night. 
    She puts her hands to the distaff,
       and her hands hold the spindle. 
    She opens her hand to the poor,
       and reaches out her hands to the needy. 
    She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
       for all her household are clothed in crimson. 
    She makes herself coverings;
       her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
    Her husband is known in the city gates,
       taking his seat among the elders of the land. 
    She makes linen garments and sells them;
       she supplies the merchant with sashes. 
    Strength and dignity are her clothing,
       and she laughs at the time to come. 
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
       and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
    She looks well to the ways of her household,
       and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
    Her children rise up and call her happy;
       her husband too, and he praises her: 
    ‘Many women have done excellently,
       but you surpass them all.’ 
    Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
       but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
    Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
       and let her works praise her in the city gates.(Proverbs 31:10-end)
    I don’t see a lot here about submission or silence, but rather a lot about leadership and authority !

  • Nick Franks

    Hey all

    The best theological study on some of these issues I have ever come across is John Piper’s ‘This Momentary Marriage’ dealing with key passages such as Ephesians 5:- 

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/this-momentary-marriage

    Also, these should inform our thinking as we approach the Word: 

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/biblical-foundations-for-manhood-and-womanhood 
     
    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/recovering-biblical-manhood-and-womanhood 

  • http://twitter.com/thegreenster Rob Green

    Are you being a bit naughty on purpose there Vicky ;)
    Ephesians 5 IS clear. Husbands have been given specific roles, Wives have also been given specific roles – both equally precious in our loving Father’s eyes. We must be Bold and Trust that God know what he is doing.
    re: slaves, eating animals, headscarves…. We must always remember not to take a Text out of it’s ConText, otherwise you may well be left with a Con!

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk JamesP

    Thanks for the response Vicky, totally agree with you. This is an important discussion, well worth having – and definitely agree on the cultural context stuff. That’s the thing with the Bible, that it can be interpreted in so many ways. So often we make the Bible suit our agenda, rather than the other way round, but at the same time there is often more than one correct interpretation, as well as lots of wrong interpretations. Great discussion!

  • Karyne Whalen

    Or we allow women to be missionaries overseas where they are basically taking on the role of the “senior pastor” shepherding their “flock” (using their gifts God has given them) in these foreign lands yet not allow them to preach/teach in their home church! This has happened to a few of my female friends who were foreign missionaries.

  • http://rkweblog.com Rich Kirkpatrick

    Yes Vicky, I would never worry about you being mad at me or anyone for an opinion. Thanks so much for keeping the “biblical” as important. I have always appreciated that about your ministry in concert as well as teaching!
    So, I will post something when I can meet a better standard. Still, enjoying this needed civil conversation. :)

  • Karyne Whalen

    I am interested in this discussion and have many thoughts to share but will be brief and hopefully comment later on as time permits. Personally, it makes me sad to know there are so many women in the church (including myself) who are not being able to utilize their gifts God has given them to their full potential because of this “controversy.”  Paul (the same one who talks about women not being permitted to speak, etc.) says in 1Cor 12: 12ff , “The body is a unit , though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink….” AND Paul says in Galatians 3:28 , “…you are all sons of God…There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. for you are all one in Christ Jesus…”
    What do you think of these scriptures since I believe we have to look at what all scripture says not just isolate the verses which say women shouldn’t teach men, etc.?  “ALL scripture is God-breathing and useful for teaching…” Also, in  my church they use the scripture in 1Timothy which talks of the qualifications of overseers/elders ( which they believe means pastor) saying pastors are to be “the husband of one wife” as proof women should not be pastors.  So I guess that means single men cannot be pastors or elders either!  I often wondered why my church had single elders and  single youth pastors leading our church!  Interesting isn’t it! It is an issue I have chosen to let be in my church as it is much bigger than I. When I share my thoughts in a loving, non confrontational way, I am not looked on too kindly! This is the church I grew up in with a wonderful community of friends and wonderful worship. Yet our new pastor holds to the traditional view of the role of women in ministry so it is difficult. Anyways, so much for me being brief! Hope my thoughts make sense.

  • JJJ

    But not authority over her husband

  • JJJ

    And a lot of responsibility towards the household and childcare

  • Mark colvin

    Thanks for bringing this up. I love the idea of the intimacy of worshipping God as to kiss forward. I have to remember to remove my own parameters of what worship means – in which I confess usually means related to music. Interestingly, the words for praise can be translated as ‘to look towards a guiding light’ (the root pictogram is the same one used for the north star) or to throw with the hand ( which I have heard interpreted as our praise is a weapon!)

    I agree with the idea of parenting a church. It is the example that the early church leaders provided. Paul treated timothy as a son. Timothy had a mother that instructed him in the ways of the faith. I think that if Paul were alive today he would be delighted to see eduacted women sharing and proclaiming the truth.

    My current church has a husband and wife that are both the senior pastor. I have appreciated what each has had to bring. Both are excellent teachers, both have a passion for reaching the lost and both are doing an amazing job in their role.

    How about this verse to add some more to the discussion: ” Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the HEART” 1 Sam 16:7

  • JJJ

    Husbands of one wife I believe was addressing polygamy. Paul encourages people who have the gift of singleness not to marry so they can devote their attention to ministry and not all the effort loving your wife and family entails.

  • JJJ

    1 cor 12 surely is saying that the body is made up of different members with different roles? So if god has given men and women roles they need to fulfill those roles. Gifting is often argued that women with strong leadership and communicaton skills must be allowed to teach and lead. But surely all over the bible God chooses the most unlikely to lead his people and proclaim his word. Would we pick the same people as god. Adam a hopeless leader. Noah a drunk naked dude. Moses a murderer. Abraham a polygamist. John the babtist a weird guy in the middle of nowhere to proclaim the coming of Jesus himself. These arguments that gifted people male or female are the ones god wants to use to lead simply is not what is all over the bible. Is it?

    Was not expecting to go off on that tangent. But there are so many ! God bless hope this helps somehow. John

  • Briananddana

    JJJ is correct.  In fact, this verse is quite clear that her husband is the one who is “known in the city gates” (in leadership) and is among the “elders”.  She supports him in this role by managing her household and their children with excellence.  And she is blessed and praised for it.

    And have a feeling her husband is likely able to be in the position he is in publically because of the excellent wife he has at home.  ;)

  • bp

    I love that passage, but it doesn’t address the role of church leadership does it? The same man who wrote that beautiful also wrote that wives should submit to their husbands and that men are to be elders of the church. Col 3 and Eph 5 is actually a simple reading of the text. Vicky disses that statement above, but you just reject what Scripture teaches.

    Eph 5: 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.Women are smart, intelligent, wise, gracious, and worthy to ministry in man ways in the church with man gifts as the passage says. Unfortunately God through the Apostle Paul makes it clear that male headship is actually a God given concept.

  • Brianapetersen

    Thank you for posting this passage and I really appreciate it. I’ve also studied it a bit and I do think there is an error in your thinking here.

    Is this your line of thinking?

    1. Jesus loved women and women were loved by Jesus
    2. The early church had amazing women who served the body well and were “deacons.”
    3. Women were “leaders” in the church in the 1st century.
    4. Therefore we should have women elders in the church today?

    I would argue that although these women were amazing servants of God, that they weren’t NT elders. Surely the early church, including Paul, knew that this role was reserved for men and taught this. No where in the early church do you see a women elder that was approved by the early church. Check into it.
     You made the point that these women were leaders in the church. I would agree, but what kind of leaders were they? It doesn’t say they are NT elders in a headship role in the church. Most Egalitarians assume that, but it isn’t mentioned.Also, the same Paul who talked about there not being Gentile, Jew, slaves and free on so on also gave clear teachings just a paragraph later that women should submit to their husband. Have you read all of Colossians 3 in context. Paul’s whole line of thought is that A christian in Christ will put to death the old self and point on the old self. The end of his line of thinking even after he mentions that “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, [5] free; but Christ is all, and in all.”He mentions”18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. “

  • Brianapetersen

    So what you are saying is that “being subject to one another” negates what Paul said a sentence before in Ephesians 5 that ”Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord?”

    You just ripped a sentence right out of your Bible.

  • Chuckt

     ”but what do you make of the other Scriptures that seem clear on a surface level, but we would now agree are not clear… like the affirmation of slavery,”

    The reasons for slavery in Biblical times were different than the ones we had a century ago.

    People in Biblical times could sell themselves into slavery for economic reasons which is totally different than what happened a century ago.

    Having slaves in the New Testament Church which held positions gave a new value to that class of people and therefore elevated them in the eyes of their masters.

    The centurian in Matthew 8:5 and Luke 7:2 cared about his servant (slave) and asked Jesus to heal him / her.

    Laws in the Bible weren’t there to advocate 18th century slavery but to protect people so I think that people have slavery confused but I think it was the impulse of the Holy Spirit in Christians that caused a battle against modern day slavery.

    As for women in ministry?

    1 Timothy 3:2   A bishop (translated elder) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    My comment is that it is kind of hard for a woman to be a husband of one wife.

  • Rheadrules

    Hi Vicky,  thanks for responding to my comment. I did not mean to seem insensitive earlier and I really appreciate that you have continued this conversation on your blog.  And I apologize that I did not cite any references or statistics earlier but I was writing from my mobile! :  )

    You asked earlier how I came to have this general understanding? (to associate churches that embrace a broader role for women in ecclesiastical leadership with a state of spiritual and demographic decline? ) well…. I know it sounds like a stretch to make that connection.. but it is a common view held by many American evangelicals.  As you know, the US does not have a recognized, official religion or state-supported church. Church congregations here can rise and fall and it makes for interesting sociological research and debate.  This has led many people to study trends, make assumptions and offer hypothesis over the years.

    For generations, mainline Protestant churches dominated the American spiritual and political landscape… but this started to change during the 1960s.  Obviously this is a complicated topic and a great many factors including social, economic, political, cultural and demographic change has taken place to influence overall church attendance.  However, mainline Protestant churches also made some major theological decisions during the 1960s that may have precipitated this decline. These denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, etc) began to openly embrace “liberation theology”, humanism and amend their statement of faiths to ordain women in leadership roles.  These topics had been debated for decades.. but  in the 1960s, the issue boiled up to the point that it led to schism within these denominations. 

    Orthodox Protestant denominations were formed and have since experienced steady growth in church attendance (along with non-denominational evangelical churches, Pentecostal denominations, the Catholic Church and others) by placing a priority on the basics: saving souls and missions.  In stark contrast, the mainline denominations that have embraced humanism, liberation theology, moral relativism and the ordination of women (and later homosexuals) have experienced steep decline in attendance.  The question one is forced to ask is… all things being equal, why has one group of denominations experienced decline while others have flourished?

    So that’s why I referred to it all as a “Pandora’s Box” … all of these theological issues seem intertwined and linked together… but that is just my anecdotal hypothesis backed only by stats on trends in church attendance (won’t bore you by quoting stats, but they’re easy to find on the web).   Also, I’m no scholar.. but others out there more learned than I have written in-depth essays on this topic. Their writings won’t be hard for you to find if the topic interests you!  

  • Kathryn

    I could have missed it, but I haven’t seen anyone mention Huldah from 1 Kings. She was always my favorite as the male priests went to her with their question and she answered and they took her answer back to the king. (synopsis)

    My favorite book on the topic is “Discovering Biblical Equality” (ed. by Fee ….LOVE him). It examines multiple passages and also goes over the history of women in the church and how western views have changed over time. Very interesting.

    Vicky, I think you’re swell. I work in a worship ministry and my undergrad degree was Religion: Bible and I’m starting my masters degree in theological studies in less than three weeks. I am so excited. (-:

    Thank you for encouraging exegesis.

    Kathryn

  • Joel Yoshonis

    I find it very unfortunate that the in many places, as represented here, has come to represent a very primitive argument based on a strikingly Western reading of the Bible. The New Testament is not addressing issues of 21st century church politics but primarily those of specific Christian communities in the first century. The general trajectory of the NT – including Jesus’ actions – is to collapse cultural restrictions and boundaries based on social status, gender, etc. ie the woman at the well. The role of women is repeatedly given more weight throughout the NT than the culture in which it was written, not less.

    There are certain things I will tolerate the world’s scoffing for. For instance, believing a man who is God came back to life from death. But while the world recognizes, promotes, encourages, and cherishes its, I tend to feel ashamed when the organization that is supposed to defend the oppressed and marginalized simply cites a text written to Christians in first-century Ephesus as if Paul wrote it directly to us today, with all knowledge and foresight of our current culture and debates.

    Some women are better preachers, teachers, pastors, and elders than men, and they should without a doubt be allowed and encouraged to serve and edify Jesus’ Church in such capacities.

  • Joel Yoshonis

    *I find it unfortunate that the CHURCH in many places*

  • Joel Yoshonis

    Shoot…2nd paragraph *and cherishes its women*

  • http://twitter.com/davebish_ Dave Bish

    We’ve got to have prophetic women like Huldah.

  • Stibbs3659

    I wonder how Jesus would view the way we silence and oppress women in our churches. Jesus was really into women – in the culture of Palestine at the time of Jesus, women were regarded as pretty worthless – there was a Jewish prayer which included a verse along the lines of ‘praise God that i am not a woman’. When a boy was born, great peace came into the world – women brought nothing. But Jesus really honoured women and treated them as though they were worth something. I think it is prominent that the first person to see Jesus alive after his death was Mary who was told to go and tell the disciples that she had seen Him. And perhaps the fact that the discples didn’t believe her is another example of how little was thought about the word of women. Women were poorly educated and as such, not qualified to teach others.
    But here is the revelation….. God used them anyway! I don’t believe that there just weren’t any men avaliable ((they were all busy hiding) so God resorted to second best, I believe that God intended to use women in the first place to show that as women, we can see God, hear God, love God, behave as presence carriers of God and carry this gospel to the ends of the earth.
    As an unmarried women, I have a real issue in the church that I am not allowed to carry any sense of responsibility, not allowed to preach, not supported in mission. I know God and love God. God speaks to me and through me. I’m not prepared to deprive my community of the word of God through me, just because that is the culture of the church. Jesus was a revolutionary. I want to be too.
    Thanks Vicky for raising this…muchly thought provoking!

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    1 Cor 12 is talking about _gifts_ not _roles_ Roles might come with gifts, but gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, and there is no indication that some gifts are reserved for men only (or women only).

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    In other words, the husband sits at his ease, taking the credit for all his wife’s initiative and hard work :-) My point was that the description of the noble wife quite noticeably does _not_ include anything about submission.

  • Charles Kim

    Honestly, this is an issue that I am still wrestling with. I can definitely see the rationale to both sides – egalitarianism and complementarianism – but as of right now, I am leaning towards complementarianism. I want to write a well thought out and Scripturally backed reason, but due to time, I only have enough time for this:
     
    The Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit - functions in a complementarian way. The Son submits to the Father and glorifies the Father. The Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) and brings glory to the Son (John 16:12-14). Each person in the Trinity are equal in essence, but different in their functions and roles. 

    I would love to write more, but I’ll just leave it at that for now. I’ll try to come back when I have time and give a more detailed response!

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    I’d like to make one point specifically in relation to the things you have said ….
    It SO saddens me when Christians miss-quote the Bible, and I feel it is one of the main reasons that non believers have problems with us…
    common examples
    *Money is NOT the root of all evil – the LOVE of it is.

    *Jesus did NOT sweat blood – in the darkness, the huge drops of sweat LOOKED LIKE blood.

    *Peter is NOT the ‘rock on which the Church is built’, the Truth that Jesus is the Christ IS – ‘PETER’ means ‘stone’, Jesus had given Simon the nickname of Peter, knowing what we do about Simon’s hot-headed stubborn character, we can imagine why :)  Simon  made the fantastic, Spirit inspired declaration of the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus, as He so often did, makes a play on words – a parable of language to help them and us remember His meaning -
    “Blessed are you, Simon ….. you are ‘a stone’ (Peter) and on this rock (the fantastic unchangeable truth which Simon had just uttered) I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it….”

    To interpret this verse as meaning that Jesus meant that Peter was ‘the rock’ is to say that Jesus was giving Simon God-like status and that the gates of hell could not prevail against HIM. In other places in Scripture Jesus is pictured as The Rock or the cleft in the rock….  we MUST consider the Bible in context and in it’s entirety if it is to make any sense, to say that Simon (Peter) is the person on whom the Church is built makes no sense and leads, in the end, to idolatry.

  • Holygoth777

    Eph 4 says ‘Submit to one another’ out of reverence for Christ.  that is where the passage starts then it goes on to talk about  wives submitting to their husbands. but it also says husband love your wives just as Christ loved the church.   Please try to remember this was written in a time where women were considered property.  So Paul could not write husbands and wives should submit to each other because he would have been laughed at and ignored.  So he is addressing his audience with words they will understand, he tells the women to submit which does not threaten the men’s ownership and then he tells them to love their wives as Christ did. not in the cultural way of calling for divorce when they were displeased with their property.  ’Husband love you wives as you would you own bodies’ this is a statement of equality (being equal) you are not above your body. It is you, you are one. V 29  ’No one ever hated his body’

    the sort of submission which requires any person to blindly obey without question any other person is not love as Christ has commanded.   

  • Holygoth777

    This is written at a time when women were property of men. Pretty much slaves themselves.
    so of course it was written as husband of one wife. because to be a person with a job, vocation,
    was impossible. women at this time in history were married in their childhood, and just made children. Yet Jesus, talked with women as if they were men and important enough to save..see woman at the well. Jesus appeared first to a women, she was told by him go and tell my brothers. She was important, trusted with the most important message.  Do you think he excludes women from giving his messages now.  he changed his mind. The God that never changes….but if you look ahead you see the disciples they do not believe the woman because she is less then them (they consider it is their culture) These men are the ones who wrote the bible. The ones who did not believe her until of course they had seen for themselves. 
    Maybe you should stop arguing and look around see the Holy Spirit working in the women around you. 

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks for commenting.
    I agree – the term ‘submission’ has been really misunderstood and abused. 
    We are called to submit to one another, as we would to Jesus. 
    Thanks for referencing the cultural elements of how and why Paul addressed his audience. It was indeed a very different era.

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    I see no dichotomy at all. I passionately believe that women should be allowed to function in all that God gifts them.
    Surely the point here is this – Paul says “wives should be submissive to THEIR OWN HUSBANDS” …. in a passage where he is speaking of the whole Christian community submitting to one another in Christ, he specificity addresses the Talmudic misconception that ALL female-kind is subordinate to ALL male-kind and reinforces the beauty of the exclusive, intimate bond of marriage.

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    thank you Vicky! I find it shocking that someone who calls them-self a Christian could equate choosing to continue with sinful behaviours (any sex outside of marriage) with being a woman!!! We are created female by our Father God, who loves and wants His daughters.

  • Lukebarrs

         To keep everything in context though. What Jesus did was bring in a
    whole new covenant, whole new teachings, and clarified and set straight
    alot of the old. The apostles went against the social trends and taught
    against the laws of the day, so it would seem very strange that God
    would set so much straight but not rewrite this concept of leadership in
    his church if it was what He had intended.

         So this argument – “Please try to remember this was written in a time
    where women were
    considered property.  So Paul could not write husbands and wives should
    submit to each other because he would have been laughed at and ignored.”
    falls down rather quickly.

         If we believe that scripture is God Breathed
    then we must also beleive that is without compromise. I see it as very
    unlikely that Paul would act with such boldness and be Martryd for it,
    but on this subject would seek to avoid offending people.

    The bible is clear, and to dismiss key passages as simply cultural takes away a
    great deal of the Authority of the Bible. Then you’re faced with the question, where do we stop cutting?

  • Debbiehill

    husband of one wife…..in other words he should only have 1 wife and not several.  However how can this relate to eldership or a bishop. What if the elder or bishop is single, he has no wife therefore can he not be an elder?

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    You are right Dan, it makes no sense! Sadly there are Churches where the view is taken that it is ALL wrong, and women can not even lead worship.

  • Debbiehill

    Wow what a debate!  When reading all of the comments the verse that comes to mind is from Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free”.  Surely the Kingdom of God is about releasing people into areas of ministry/work/calling, not holding us back, regardless of gender.  Sometimes I feel we make the goal of ministry the church, where as ministry should also be where I work, I study, I live. I have been blessed to be a leader both in the church and the workplace,  being a woman has not stopped the gifting’s God has given me making room for themselves.  I used to think I had to strive for position because of my gender, where guys seemed to get it easier, but now I have stopped striving and instead trust God to make the ways, because if He doesn’t open the doors then there is no point me forcing them open.  My prayer is that we understand true freedom,  true unity and true submission.  That its not about who gets to be what, but what can I do to serve you and help you become all God has planned for you to be.

  • Kim

    Holygoth777,  It’s so interesting to me how we all read the same passage, yet
    come to
    different conclusions.  I completely agree that in Eph. 5:21, we are
    called to submit to one another.  What I don’t see is it being an equal
    or mutual submission=no one ever makes a decision because everyone’s
    always preferring one another, but Paul is setting up the building
    blocks for the church in Ephesus to say something like, “Hey Guys, we’re
    gonna talk about submission here–listen up.”  And then goes on to
    expound what he writing and define the type of submission.  Wives
    submitting (hypotassō=be subject) to (idios=one’s own) husbands in a headship role (as Christ is Head of the
    Church=vs. 23) and husbands loving (agapaō=to be dear to, beloved)
    and sacrificially loving her (more than he loves his own body=vs. 25)
    as described in I Peter
    3.   Beautifully, Paul does a wrap up in vs. 33 which uses different
    verbs, not the same verbs to equate with equality in roles=husbands are
    to love (agapaō) and wives are to respect (phobeō) which
    from what I can tell has every since of the nuance “fear” out of
    reverence.  The same word is used in multiple passages in Scripture to
    pertaining to fearing from a subordinates perspective.  But I’m
    absolutely no Greek scholar so I would love to be corrected if that is
    not so.

    Regarding this quote:  “the sort of submission which requires any person to blindly obey without
    question any other person is not love as Christ has commanded. ”

    I hope no one walks away truly believing that we’re called to “blind
    submission.”  Col. 3:18 which ends with “as is fitting to the Lord”
    covers demands of sinful actions by sinful creatures.  I think it’s just
    the
    opposite.  A wide-eyed, discerning submission out of holy reference for
    God’s created order and
    modeled in Phil. 2:5 by Jesus Christ Himself.  Who was perfectly
    submissive and perfectly wise and discerning.  Something to strive and
    pursue, but we will never achieve here in this lifetime.  :)  My opinion
    is anyone who claims it is a “blind submission” from the
    complementarian camp, is an extremist, and should not be taken
    seriously… or biblically for that matter. :)

  • Charles Kim

    Debbie, I say this in love, but your use of Galatians 5:1 is taken out of context. The freedom that is mentioned in that verse is talking about freedom from finding justification in the Law, and freedom in the justification and work of Christ, NOT freedom in ministry, work, calling, etc.

  • Dennis

    Kim that is a great question it is more of an extrapolation that since the church met in her house she had some form of leadership. Not dirrect I know but still widely acepted by many. 

  • Charles Kim

    *and instead, freedom in the justification and work of Christ. NOT freedom in ministry, work, calling, etc.

  • Chris Butler

    Matthew 5:17 onwards: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” and so on…

    Jesus certainly did not bring in a whole new covenant – the new covenant is the fulfillment of the old. He did not bring in whole new teachings – “Love the Lord your God ith all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself” is the 10 commandments and the Law in condensed form. He did not clarify and set straight a lot of the old – that would suggest that God had got it wrong in the first place.

    The same logic that allows us to treat certain Old Covenant Laws as inapplicable to us today can be applied to Paul’s letters. If the intent is clearly cultural, and if the outcome of treating a law as inapplicable does not breach the spirit of God’s law (that is that the people of God need have wholeness, holiness, integrity and life) then we can justify looking at particular instructions in a new light.

    On this particular case, God gives people gifts to bring to the Church. 1 Corinthians 12 does not (as far as I know) have any gender specificity that would preclude the gifts belonging to both men and women.We are told in 1 John 4 to test the spirits. If God does not want women in positions of leadership, then he will not annoit any, and none will pass the testing. On the other hand, if God does want women in poisitons of leadership, then I for one am not going to stand in His way….. :-)

  • http://www.clairemusters.com Cmusters

    Hmm I think this is a really interesting point – and on first glance I agree. But… I have been mulling this one over overnight, and think there is a difference. A preacher is definitely just one person declaring truth/teaching/possibly correcting etc – basically setting the agenda as far as the church’s theological training goes. If a worship leader is doing their job properly they will simply be facilitating worship – NOT being a ‘leader’ that everyone looks at. I totally agree that a woman can be a worship leader (I am one, and head up the overall team with my husband, who is also an elder), and also that the choices of songs etc that we pick in our preparation are important ways of teaching truth to our congregations. I also agree with the fact that if a woman has a prophetic song, or feels God speaking through her, she should have the freedom to bring that. However, I do believe that the worship leader should still be in submission to the elder through the worship time. I also believe in body ministry – I know it is more difficult the larger you get, but we are around 100 and still have a lot of congregational input – words, scriptures, songs being started up by them – and I think that is very biblical (1 Cor 14: 26). The idea of an upfront worship leader being ‘in charge’ of the worship time is not – even though that is often the pattern of a lot of our churches today – ours too to a certain extent.

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    You misunderstand the Biblical meaning of the word ‘sin’, dear brother. Sin is sin . There are no levels and no degrees. Either we are perfect or we are not. Either we have ‘hit the target’ or we have not. We are alienated from God or we are not.
    Sin is the imperfection that keeps us from the relationship with our Creator that He purposed for us.
    Trespasses are the mistakes that a believer makes alond the way, once their sin is dealt with.
    Crime is a world concept. Many things are ‘sinful’ but not ‘criminal’. You rightly point out that there are degrees of CRIME, and the punishments for different crimes are rightly in accordance with the severity of the offence.

    It saddens me that you continue to use (even emphasise) the very statement that Vicky has repeatedly highlighted as dangerous and unhelpful. If you read  1 Corinthians you will find that it is VERY VERY clear that Paul was answering a list of questions that the Church has asked, posed because Judaisers had been trying to force gentile believers to follow the Talmud and the Mishna (both devised and written by men.) …. Gentile men who think that believing females should follow these rules are honour bound to do the right thing, show themselves to their priest and get themselves circumcised as soon as possible!!
    may God bless you, soften your heart and open your eyes.

  • Kim

    Thanks for responding Dennis.  I see where one could read further into the passage and interpret that.  Let me ask you this, setting our labels (egalitarian/complementarian) aside, if you have time to answer, do you believe that the specific passages are defining her leadership abilities in the church or her conversion testimony which resulted in hospitality?  Or neither? or both?  :)  Thanks either way.  :)

  • LoydHarp

    But Luke’s differentiations surely are descriptive rather than prescriptive aren’t they?  Luke, above all the other Gospels, champions women, the poor, oppressed, Gentiles, etc.  I don’t think he is prescribing intended gender roles so much as describing what they looked like.  Gosh, in rural SE England, there’s still a large percentage of families in which daddy works and mummy stays home.

  • Kim

    Rlstanfield, 49 years of faithful service–a rarity in this day and age
    and what an amazing testimony to God’s grace!  Thank you for sharing
    about it.

    Regarding your questions, my opinion is that many of the questions you
    ask about, particularly in the area of vocation have been aptly answered here in various comments so I
    won’t bog you down with more of the same, but I do want to answer
    question #8 as lightly as I possibly can while asking
    forbearance with me because of my inability to convey warm thoughts and
    attitudes over the internet.  I find it very hard (nearly impossible?)
    to do in the way I would like to convey them.

    I think sometimes we interchange the word “teaching” with “authority”
    probably because many times, the duality comes with one job.  For
    example: While I believe that passages like I Tim. 2:12, forbid women to
    have authority over “a man” in church (and home (Eph. 5/Col. 3), I don’t see where it
    forbids them (women) to not teach to other women and children nor do I see
    Scripture strictly forbidding women being bosses at work or politicians
    (OT Deb is a fair example.)  Getting back to church/home setting, I know there’s a debate over when is a male
    child no longer a child, but I’ll steer clear from “straining out a
    gnat.” 

    Regarding question #8:  There is no church incapable of being redeemed
    from disobedience to the Scriptures.  If we look at Revelation 2, the
    godly, lovely church from Ephesus is a prime example of it.  This church
    was amazingly gifted in truth and putting out false prophets, but
    lacked love:  a central ingredient to a godly church.  This church many, many years later gets a letter from loving Disciple, John, who writes about the church in Ephesus and how it has
    fallen away from this central key ingredient–loving and treasuring
    Christ above all.  I believe one commentator called it a “lifeless
    orthodoxy.”  Love that!  So John’s prescription is, “Hey!  Come back to
    your first love, Jesus Christ.”  He calls them back even after many, many years of “lifeless orthodoxy” (with God, all things are possible!).  :)  :) 

    My opinion is this:   using the word “muzzle” for women teaching and
    leading men in the Scriptures at your local church is a bit front loaded and may already show where
    you are focusing.   Maybe the term should not be “muzzling” so much as
    refocusing women to use their immense, God-given! gifts within the roles
    and order God has ordained for His local church as outlined in the
    books of Timothy and Corinthians (and Titus too).  But I don’t want to leave this “conversation” pretending to know why you used that word so please correct me where I misjudged your use of it.

    Blessings for continued faithfulness where faithlessness is sometimes
    the flavor of the month.  You are to be commended for persevering these
    many years!  :)

    Kim  :)

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    Yes, of course they are descriptive, I’m not saying that the bible teaches only men should be shepherds!  All I am saying is that we see in Luke that there were women following Jesus and that he had something to say specifically for them as well as the men.  I think the significance of some of these women is more clear in Luke 8:2-3, where they are listed parallel to the 12 and their names are given.  This too is descriptive, but it speaks to something deeper going on.

  • Lukebarrs

    Thanks Chris, in answer to your post.

    The bible certainly does speaks of a new covenant. And Jesus was it.
    “6 But in fact the
    ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of
    which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant
    is established on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.”

    I can see your points clearly, but must dissagree. This is far from a shallow topic however I still stand that the bible clearly speaks on numerous occassions on the specific issues of woman in ministry.

    If you ignore these passages, then surely any woman who enters into leadership must be liberal in their
    theology in order to enter into their position to begin with? Thus disregarding the 2nd half on the passgage you quoted:  “19
    Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and
    teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of
    heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called
    great in the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Sheilasmail

    I think it’s wonderful that you have these “blogs” where people can
    express their opinion. I personally love that women can preach and lead
    worship in my church. Mainly because it was the ministry
    of two women that led me to Christ 20 years ago. In a day and age where
    Christians are having less of a say in things (Happy Holidays, not Merry Christmas, we
    are to refer to a Christmas tree as a Holiday tree and are not allowed
    Christmas songs in school),  I don’t think it matters if it is a woman or
    a man that is preaching the Word of God. The important thing is that
    the Word is being preached and that it is being preached to as many people as possible. That is what Jesus wanted.  Matthew 28:19-20  says ” Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If someone has never heard the Word of God, then I don’t think it matters if it is a man or a woman that preaches it.  The important thing is that they hear the Gospel from someone and give their lives to Christ. May God bless you Vicky

  • Lukebarrs

    Apologies – Scripture from

    Hebrews 8:6-8 (New International Version)

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    My line of thinking is:
    1)  Jesus had male disciples and female disciples. (Acts 8:2-3; Luke 10:39, etc.)
    2) Deacons were leaders in the church (Acts 6 the all-male deacons were put “in charge” of food distribution)
    3) Women became deacons in the early church and were seen by their pagan neighbours as leaders in the church.
    4) Any modern theology that does not allow a similar trajectory is in error.

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    So you deduce that the NT taught that only men should lead and then argue: “surely the early church …knew that this role was reserved for men and taught this”.  That is circular. 
    My point would be that the early church surely knew apostolic teaching and that they allowed a female deaconate (something Acts does not indicate). The distinction between and roles of the deaconate and episcopate in the NT period is hotly debated; however, we see in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that both are addressed together (Phil 1:1).

  • http://twitter.com/brenthudson Brent Hudson

    I agree that Fee is a tremendous scholar.  His commentary on Corinthians is first class.

  • Chris Butler

    No one is ignoring the passages – the different sides interpret them differently, which is not the same as ignoring :-)

    Matt 5:19 is Jesus talking about the Old Testament, and not strictly therefore relevant to Paul’s letters. The NT refers to the whole OT as the Law on occasion, and sometimes just the first 5 books. We don’t follow all the OT Law, but neither do we set it aside. The same principle can be applied to NT ‘laws’ – although fundamentally speaking there are no NT ‘laws’ that aren’t already in the OT.

    The Bible itself has example of women in leadership – Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 being the most obvious example. Do we imply (without any Biblical evidence) that Deborah was in error in leaidng Israel? Or that God was in error in using Deborah’s leadership? Or do we ignore or conveniently explain her away?Are we going to say that any woman who is currently in leadership is in error? Are we going to say that they are misunderstood their calling? What about Biblical instructions not to judge others while we have sin in our lives (Matthew 7:1-5 and John 8:1-11)?

    I will not judge others ministry, except by results – is it wholesome? is it holy? does it have integrity? does it bring life? Does it bring the fruit of the Spirit? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then I leave any further judgement to God.

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    Thanks for chiming in, Mark.  Love the verse.  It reminded me that I forgot to add that my statement of “fathers and mothers” are in the spiritual sense, just as we are brother and sister in the spiritual sense.  That’s why I believe Paul told Timothy not let anyone look down on him because he’s young.  Timothy had a  spiritual maturity of an adult even though his physical age was young.  Even at a young physical age, Timothy received his spiritual gift through prophecy when the elders laid hands on him (1 Tim 4).  With that said, single men and single women should never feel as if they don’t matter.  If they are walking in the Spirit, they are our spiritual parents.

    Something else to add to the discussion is that Junia in Romans 16:7 is a female apostle!  Of course, many will argue that it’s not well proven, but deeper studies into the name reveal that Junia was indeed a woman, and most translations state “among the apostles” which to me means she was one of them (and an outstanding one according to the verse).

  • http://twitter.com/jacqus82 Jacqui Norman

    “  He declared 2 very
    important things: 1.  Your desire will be for your husband  … 2.  But he (your
    husband) will rule over you.”
    These are not curses or commands, they are statements of fact as to the consequences of the action of birthing sin. As was the consequence that the ground would now be difficult to farm.
    God clearly did not say “NOW you MUST till the ground by the sweat of your brow” or “I curse you Eve to desire your husband”. The only curse that was issued at the time was to the serpent, that he would crawl on his belly and be crushed by the woman’s seed.
    BEFORE they sinned God warned of the one curse – If you eat the apple you will die… (NT = the wages of sin is death.)
    You say “This is a timeless truth, Paul says, that results from the sin of the first man and woman, ” …. but Paul redresses the incorrect view that Eve was responsible and Adam was a passive bystander when he says in Romans 5 v 12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death
    through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”

    We ignore the context of the culture of the writers of scripture and their original audience at the peril of those who love to move God’s daughters from the chains of sin straight into the chains that human males chose to put upon them.

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    Vicky,
    Something that comes to mind every time this debate comes up is the repentance of those who change their “policy” regarding women in church leadership.  Over the years, I have witnessed congregations move from dogmatic “women cannot be _____”, and years later the same congregations have female worship leaders, female Sunday School teachers, female ushers, etc.  Through my observations, not much is said about why the leaders change the policy, they just change it with nothing really said as to why.  It’s like a “stealth” mode of allowing women to minister as God has gifted them without an admission of “being wrong” in handling God’s Word.  No apologies, no public statements, no confessions; just changed policy.

    With that said, do you think men who have made these policy changes should seek the forgiveness of the women they have prevented from operating fully in the Holy Spirit?  Please understand, I’m not bashing men here at all.  I’m looking more for the confession-forgiveness-reconciliation between the genders operating together in Christ’s ministry.  Hope all that made sense.

  • Dennis

    Kim you raise an excelent point, an answer to which I really do not have. 

    My real point in this is to raise the question of how do we define leadership. When the Bible lists different ministry roles (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors tachers etc…) there is never a delinitation between which gender can fulfill which role.  Paul says that I do not permit women to have authority over men. Therefore I ask again does authority come in the sacraments or the teaching of God’s word.

    I know this is supposed to be biblically based discussion but if the church did not have the Bible as we now know it until well into the 4th century what was the standard used up until that point?

     If we look at the History of the Church even in the early church the sacraments, especially the table  took front and center ( Acts 2:46). We know that in the early church men baptised men, women baptised women (because baptism was done naked) so of course women were not permited to have authority over men!

    I think that the real scope of this needs to be a historical/theological answer not only biblical.

    To that end I believe the man is the head of the house because he is supposed to emulate Christ to his wife, It was in my opinion Adams fault not Eve’s that the Fall happened and therefore it is the Man’s resposibility, through the power of CHrist, to emulate that restoration.

    In the same way we are retored to Christ through obedience to his commands, an obedience made possible only through his shed blood on the cross. Christ commanded us to celebrate the Table and to baptize with water.  Again if the fall is Adam’s fault do to lack of obedience then it is to use the words of C.S. Lewis (Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve)  then the responsibility belongs to the Sons of Adam to take an active role in the restoration through Christ and a restoration that is made possible through the sacraments.

  • Lukebarrs

    You must understand (especially as a new Christian like myself), that it is very difficult to interpret passages like -
    “12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Timothy 2:12–14″

    “2 Therefore
    an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,
    sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” 1 Timothy 3:2
     
    “5
    This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order,
    and
    appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6
    if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of
    debauchery or insubordination.” Titus 1:5-6

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto
    them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the
    law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for
    it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”1 Corinthians 14:34-35

    - Any other way than how they are written. I for one can find no other way to read these to discover a different meaning to them. A woman would have to ignore these verses in order to become a leader, I simply cannot see another way of reading them. The only alternative then, surley, is to assume that Paul was not guided by the Holy Spirit whilst writing, in which case, shall we discard his entire contribution to the New Testement?

    In regards to Deborah -

    “Judges Chapters 4-5. After 20 years of oppression, God told Deborah that it was
    time to deliver the people once again. She appointed Barak to lead the army, but he was afraid to go without Deborah. She had deep
    faith in God.  She united the people of Israel and lead them to victory against
    the Canaanites.”

    This passage above shows Deborah as a Godly woman who had great faith. She still however understood her limitations and appointed Barak to lead the army. This, you could argue, is a representation of the lack of faith amongst men at this time so in response, God uses a woman to liberate her people.

    Also you will note she was the only woman to ever hold that position. Proving that God has the ability to raise woman up as leaders, however He does so only once. That in itself says a great deal about God’s intentions for leadership.

    I’m very aware that during discussions like this we might be percieved as judgemental. I just want to clarify that, It’s not a case of judging. It’s simply trying my best to answer this question using the scripture God gave all of us, which I feel is very clear.

    I have a wife and I don’t know how I could get through my life without her, however within our marriage we have different roles. Her role is essential, for without it I couldn’t perform mine. Although different, they are equally vital, this is very much a picture of our roles within church.

  • http://twitter.com/davebish_ Dave Bish

    Possibly not quite what Proverbs is concerned with – given the story of the book is a Father teaching his royal son which of two women to marry (wisdom and folly) – thus this is a portrait of lady wisdom. 

    She is nonetheless a successful business woman, but presumably an example that can as easily be used to inspire and to intimidate women: which human being (male or female) could be this brilliant?!

    Women have all the dignity that men have in scripture, but if the question is about submission I suspect Proverbs is the wrong place to be talking?? 

    Has to go to Paul’s letters doesn’t it? Granted whatever is said about the subject means we can have queens, prophets and judges who are women in the OT. And the questions of women’s ministry must (whatever the conclusions about preaching) at very least make room for publicly prophetic and praying women – two incredibly high callings in the church community – without prophecy and prayer the church is perishing.

    I suppose in Ephesians we have some kind of mutual submission and a specific wife to husband submission. What submission means is the question, right? Wouldn’t Ephesians definition be “submission is your relationship to Jesus” which is never oppressive and abusive, but rather about receiving his love, not suspecting him of not loving us, but knowing that he has and always loves us, gave himself for us, fills us with his love by the Spirit, and gives himself to what will be good for us… what a Head to submit too! Husband also submit to Christ, and then have the very daunting prospect of a Christ-like life to pursue: starting and finishing with dying to self.

    Christ’s headship over me is liberating and life-giving, full of love, received not imposed, for my good not for my oppression. My very life comes from him and is found in him, and we need more of him.

  • Andrew Khatouli

    Heya :)

    Just wanted to say its great reading all these comments. I’m a young man, and this has been a topic that has been in the back of my mind for a while now. Its something that I have been studying through scriptures and commentaries, and though I am way off being any expert on the topic, I felt it was something of importance to know as I prepare for manhood in Christ. 

    To be honest, I really don’t have a stance on it at the moment, some days I feel one way on the issue and other days the complete opposite. I can see good arguments from both sides, and in all honesty I do feel very confused most of the time haha. 

    But I know that by spending time with God in prayer and being surrounded by good role models I will eventually come to a conclusion, and if not then I’m still going to chase after Jesus and glorify him in my life :)

    But thanks for all your input, its great stuff! :D

  • Gary West

    Vicky, Eph 5:22ff is one of the most often misquoted and abused scriptures in the Bible. As with all scripture the instructions contained in this passage need to be viewed as a whole and not in isolation.

    Therefore the husband is the spiritual head of his wife and she should submit to him. BUT that does NOT mean that he can use it as a metaphorical cosh to bash her over the head with. Because read on…the husband must love his wife in the same way that Jesus loved his church and gave himself up for her. So what does that mean? The man CANNOT be some kind of domineering force in the marriage. No, he has to lay down his life for his wife in the same way that Jesus laid down his life for mankind. The man puts aside his needs and looks to fulfil her needs and build her up in Christ. For the man…it’s not about him but about HER. And then for the woman…it’s not about her but about HIM. So what you get is a godly marriage that is effectively founded on each person living for the other.

    But God has laid down different gender roles. That is partly because God made men and women different for a purpose. There are things that women – not exclusively but in general – are better at than men, and things that men – again not exclusively but in general – are better at than women. Because they are wired that way by God. We cannot argue with the Creator because He made the rules.

    That God has made man the head of the marriage means that the husband has the responsibility to study the Word and work on deepening his relationship with the Lord, so that when decisions need to be taken he is spiritually mature enough to sense the Lord’s guidance and give the lead. It is not an excuse for the man to tyrannise his wife, as so many men down the ages have thought. Because they have either not read on, or they’ve chosen to ignore what instructions Paul gave to them. So being the head of the marriage is actually an awesome responsibility. A female friend of mine once told me that she was glad that she was a woman, because she would not want to have the man’s responsibility to lead sitting on her shoulders!

  • http://twitter.com/AbiPartridge Abi partridge

    I am a wife, and mother to three children so am merely quoting a book on this topic, due to not having the time to study it in too much depth! I have found much help on this/ these ‘women’ issues from a book: ‘Woman The full Story’ – Michele Guinness.
    On the I do not permit a woman to teach passage: ’1 Timothy 2 11-15 She writes:
    ” Authentin, the word tranlated as authority in the sentence “I do not permit a woman… to have authority over a man’, is particularly strong. It isn’t used anywhere else in the entire new testament, so there is no way of cross checking Paul’s meaning. In fact it it had no suggestion of usurping authority until the third or fourth century. In their intensive study of the verse, Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger were forced to turn to greek drama for clues to it’s original meaning. They concluded that ‘authentin’ was in fact an extremely rare verb. Its literal meaning was ‘to thrust’, presumably with a sword, and it was used by Greek dramatists to refer to murder or suicide. In Greek mythology there was a close association between sex and death. Death was often the fate of the poor, benighted human who dared to mate with a goddess. The sword was also a phallic symbol, which gave ‘authentin’ a slang meaning at the time of Paul. It was in fact a rather coarse word for sexual relations/ Now why would a nice jewish boy like Paul, a rabbi at that, resort to such strong language? It would appear that these women in Ephesus were using their sexual charms to seduce and ensnare susceptible men, to entice them in as new followers of their heresy. This was not just erroneous. It was downright evil.
    ‘For Adam was formed first, the Eve,’ Paul continues. ‘And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.’ This has nothing whatsoever to do with superior male intellect or moral judgement. Nor is Paul suggesting that woman is more vulnerable or susceptible to sin. In fact, in his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul lays the blame for the fall firmly at Adam’s door. ‘For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive’ (1 Corinthians 15;22). Nor is Paul establishing a hierarchical order of creation. That would be a denial of the God-given equality of all human beings, irrespective of race or gender. Rather Paul is issuing an out-and-out challenge to the way certain women in Ephesus were manipulating the Genesis story. He had to explain to them that Eve was not the Earth Goddess (worshipped in Ephesus in a large temple at the time – Artemis) and couldn’t reproduce without a relationship with Adam.  At creation men were not given authority over women, nor were women given authority over men. Women were never intended to use their sexuality to control, subvert, manipulate or dominate men. Paul was setting the record absolutely straight. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he told Timothy to silence this pernicious little group.
    According to Gordon Fee, the Greek present tense “I do not permit’ may be more accurately translated in this context as i am not permitting here and now’, supporting the view that the verb is specific to the situation rather than a generalization. A woman is to ‘learn in quietness’, which Fee says doesn’t mean ‘not speaking’, for then no woman would ever be allowed to participate in worship at all, but rather, it means ‘with a quiet demeanour’.
    Carefully translated in context, the verse begins to look like this: ‘I am not permitting these women to teach while they seduce men and claim they are the author of man. Instead they are to learn with humility, for Adam was created first, then Eve.’ In other words, they were not to be given a platform until they could prove they had learned the basics of true Christian doctrine and were disabused of their subversive, dangerous ideas. There would be no revealing clothes, no more eyeing up anything in a toga, no more flirting or suggestive behaviour, all condemned by Paul in the strongest terms (1 Timothy 2:9) Instead they would submit to learning a greater wisdom and truth.”
    Does this help at all?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Rob. But how can you take one method of interpretation with headscarves and animals etc, saying they are contextually based, yet say that I’m the one taking a verse out of context? Doesn’t add up! I totally trust God and what he is doing, but I don’t understand your method of interpreting the text?

  • Chris Butler

    In order to interpret Biblical passages we need to consider several factors.

    I have copied below the guidence from Spurgeon’s College on how to interpret Paul’s letters:

    “a) First we ask ourselves what this chapter, or paragraph within which our particular verses are found, is about. What is the subject Paul is addressing. This will clarify the immediate CONTEXT of the particular verses we are going to explain. Obviously the whole context includes the whole book and the better we understand the structure and purpose of the whole book the better we will understand particular paragraphs and verses. But we need to pay most attention to the verses immediately before the ones we are going to explain in detail. These will indicate how the argument is going up to the point where our passage begins.
    b) How does the writer now deal with this subject in our particular verses? This requires that we set out the shape or COMPOSITION of the passage we are explaining.
    c) Now we consider the CONTENT of our verses. What needs to be explained? How can we explain that?
    d) What CONTRIBUTION does the message of these particular verses make to the argument in these chapters?
    e) What does this passage say to us, how does it CONTRIBUTE to what we have to learn and how we live?”

    In particular the context is key – what was the Historical context? Who is Paul writing to, and why? What is his point? Are the errors he is addressing relevant to us today? And so on. What is the Literacry context? How do the passages fit into the whole book? For example 1 Corinthians 13 (all about love) is betwen chapters 12 and 14 (both about spiritual gifts). When we have an understanding of the context, then we can move on. It is a very dangerous starting point to assume from any Biblical passage (but especially letters) that they are written for us alone.

    For a details analysis of Biblical interpretation principles I would recommend Fee and Stuart “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth”.

    Fee and Stuart also highlight New Testament passages which highlight women’s ministries in the Church:
    Rom 16:1-2 where Phoebe is a deacon;
    Rom 16:7 where Junia (not Junius as it is often mistranslated) is named among the apostles;
    Rom 16:3 where Priscilla is Paul’s fellow worker (same word used of Apollos).

    These passages stand against the ones you quoted, and therefore how do we decide which is most accurate, or best? We can’t without either deciding that the Bible has contradictions, or that instructions to different churches in different places at different times may have been different. That is not a contradiction, but a recognition of a basic truth.

    And somehting to think about: Fee and Stuart is the course book for the ’Reading and Using the Bible” module of the training college for the Baptist ministry. We can therefore assume that the principles of interpretation given within are sound.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    If you are basing your arguments on a “plain reading” of what is “clearly in the text” how do you respond to those who argued the exact same things, in the heated debates over the abolition of slavery? That was the exact same argument they branded, saying that God clearly approved of slavery, as a key facet of societal structure, based on the ‘plan reading’ of Scripture:’Rabbi M.J. Raphall (circa 1861) justified human slavery on the basis of the 10th commandment. It places slaves:
    “… under the same protection as any other species of lawful property…That the Ten Commandments are the word of G-d, and as such, of the very highest authority, is acknowledged by Christians as well as by Jews…How dare you, in the face of the sanction and protection afforded to slave property in the Ten Commandments–how dare you denounce slaveholding as a sin? When you remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job–the men with whom the Almighty conversed, with whose names he emphatically connects his own most holy name, and to whom He vouchsafed to give the character of ‘perfect, upright, fearing G-d and eschewing evil’ (Job 1:8)–that all these men were slaveholders, does it not strike you that you are guilty of something very little short of blasphemy?” 

    Supporting texts:
    Exodus 20:17″Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”Deuteronomy 5:21″Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbor’s. “

  • Shawn

    Actually, the Greek says, “Wives, to your husbands.”

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    How come we’ve comfortably done away with other things Paul taught, and chalked them up to ‘context’  - like headscarves etc? We are already cutting things out, like that, so we all practice the hermeneutic of removing things based on cultural context. How do you explain matters like women no longer wearing headscarves (1 Corinthians 11:4-7. )? It’s interesting that on some issues people are totally comfortable chalking things up to context, but on other things, not. How do you differentiate?

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    I love that 1 Corinthians speaks of all of us being the recipients of the gifts of the Spirit. To me, that’s what a healthy, flourishing church looks like. Joel also speaks of God pouring out his spirit on men and women, and both prophesying. 

  • Shawn

    So I quickly read over all the comments – skimmed, actually – and it seems to me that a lot of people are talking about what the Bible says, but nobody is actually mentioning what the Bible says.

    What I mean is, I see a lot of “The NIV says” and “the NASB says” etc. but nobody seems to be talking about what the Greek says. So hre goes:

    1. In the Ephesians 5 passage, where it talks about wives submitting to husbands, the Greek word that is translated as “submit” is “hoopataso” (sorry, my spelling may be off…). Hoopataso does mean submit, but it is a military term meaning a junior officer obeying the orders of a senior officer. In a non-military setting, however, “hoopataso” means “support” or the equal carrying of burdens. Since most marriages are non-military, how should this passage be interpreted?

    2. In 1 Timothy 2, where we have the passage that talks about not permitting a women to teach a man, the verb translated as “to teach” is “authenteo”, which again is a military term that means to assassinate a superiour officer in order to secure a promotion. This word did not have a teaching/authority meaning until Jerome began translating the Greek texts into Latin.

    SO when people say, “The Bible clearly says women are not allowed to teach”, I strongly disagree.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Luke – “to dismiss key passages as simply cultural takes away a great deal of the Authority of the Bible. Then you’re faced with the question, where do we stop cutting?”

    If that method of interpretation is correct, then there are a LOT of things you need to adhere to! Hope you’re not wearing two kinds of fabric in your clothing, or eating any of the prohibited animals/seafood, or allowing women around you to take off their headscarves? 

    As Christians today, we’ve dismissed the passages that seemed “very clear” in their endorsement of slavery to those who used the “Scripture is very clear” argument during the fight for Abolition. How would you differentiate the ways we DO let things go culturally?

  • Alexandra Wood

    Women have been oppressed in so many ways, and by so many religions.  What makes us different is our God wants us all to live and walk in freedom.  Can  recommend Ed Silvoso’s book ‘Women: God’s Secret Weapon’.   I find it interesting to see people referring to Deborah as a one off, God just showing that He can use a woman if He wants to. God used an ass to speak for Him as a one off.  God will use all His tools at His disposal as we are in a battle and lives are precious, time is of the essence.  Without making a battle of the sexes, who’s to say God’s not anointing more women for speaking because the men who will speak His word and not their own agendas are few and far between?  God is sovereign and the wind will blow wherever it chooses. If God wants to raise up a woman He will. 

    In the home I have always seen myself as an equal, I believe that we can discuss together, but when push comes to shove and an agreement can’t be made.  Providing the outcome is not contrary to scripture, I will submit to my husband.  That is my free choice and let’s face it, submission isn’t really submission until you don’t agree. The responsibility on men to love us as Christ loved the church is a greater one in my opinion, as Jesus gave up everything for us.  All consuming love, and therefore men, if it will make your wife happy and doesn’t go against scripture you’d want to give her what she wants anyway. Jesus would.  Women I believe have been given a greater capacity to adapt to the needs of our men, that’s not sexist, that’s a gift.  We are not doormats though and people who abuse this gift sadden God’s heart.

    There’s a problem with my keyboard and this has taken ages to write so I’m gonna quit.  I’m not saying I’m not open to having my views changed but the above is what I believe.

  • Abi

    Then an expert on the law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to get life forever?”

    26 Jesus said, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

    27 The man answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” Also, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

    28 Jesus said to him, “Your answer is right. Do this and you will live.”

    It must be impossible to love your neighbour (or cultural enemy as in the following good Samaritan parable) as yourself and keep them in slavery to yourself. Jesus in being the fulfilment of the law laid down his life for others as we must do also, keeping others in slavery is not laying down your life for them.

  • Lukebarrs

    I don’t pretend to know a great deal about this subject but from what i’ve read I can see that Paul refers to woman having long hair and men having short:

    “13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.”

    I read it, that Paul is stating that a womans hair is her head covering and that it is her “glory”. However you can see this point is far more open to cultural influence and applicable at that time than the point on woman in leadership. It’s a little bit different when you talk about headscarves compared to role one half of the human race.

    With prostitutes advertising themselves in a certain manner, and men facing temptation with the smallest display of flesh, you can see the great call for modesty in the church at that time, and that same modesty should be encouraged today.

    Again if you look at the relevence of the risque material on display during the 1st century compared to the challenges of simply walking down a high street now, you can see things are very different and we have come to expect different things as a society.

  • Lukebarrs

    Vicky – I really don’t profess to be as educated as i’d like on these deep biblical issues, however there does appear to be a great deal of Black and White on this issue.

    Alot of the old what you’re mentioning in from the old testement. In particular the unclean animals was changed with the new covenant. Peter has that vision of corse:
     
    “9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”  14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
     15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
     16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven”

    This is an excellent picture of the new covenent being layed down. With this now in place God commands Peter to eat of what was previously unclean, and I think we can assume that it can apply to two kinds of fabric also.

    I for one am very thankful I can eat seafood :D

  • Abi

    Oops I kinda missed the point you were making Vicky there! surely the point is to evaluate scripture as a whole in light of other passages and not to disregard context of time and culture. Or translation between languages either, or bias/ assumption/culture, of translator also. It’s not possible to take one passage and say ‘the bible clearly says’.
    It has to be word and spirit.

  • Joe Henegan

    Good to see a healthy discussion and managed well by Vicky. Good job guys.

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments so not sure if it’s been mentioned or not, but thought I might add something to it:

    I find it really interesting that in the fall God goes looking after Adam, despite the fact that it was Eve who was the main instigator of the sin. To me, this signifies that God places man as being ultimately responsible for the state of the marriage.

    In addition to this, the fact that God calls the husband to love his wife like he Jesus loves the church should put debates like this in context. I consistantly fail to love my wife like this and so this serves to draw me back to the cross time and time again knowing that I need his saving mercy and grace so much, regardless of whether or not I have a correct understanding of the role of women in ministry and in marriage.

  • http://twitter.com/benundjasmin Benjamin Seidl

    Just to be honest, I thought about adding a thought or two to this last night but waited on it. I am 30, married and live in Berlin. I am a missionary/worship leader guy serving a German church plant. Over the last few years, I have been shaped and influenced by a few voices coming from the (new stream of) Reformed camps, namely Tim Keller and John Piper (not the newest voices I know). 

    This is what I noticed. If I had added a comment last night I would have written something with regards to Complimentarianism, which is a place where I find myself from time to time. However, after giving it more thought I found myself use a systematic theology to argue a position and not starting with the text. So I think I will have to go back and prayerfully read through the suggested texts from above. 
    On a side note, as one who thinks and deals a lot with missiology, I know of many groups of Christians in contexts where there is not an able or qualified man to lead/pastor, but there are women. So in these contexts my “from time to time” complimentarianism get stretched. If these women cannot/not aloud to teach/preach/lead these bodies of Christians then there are a lot men who are needed to go into some messy far off places of the world. Maybe that is one of you…..

    Anyways, I have some reading and thinking to get to.

    Ben

  • Dor

    I have issues with much of what you said, but for clarity sake will mention just one: the issue of Deborah. You say that God has the ability to raise a women up as leaders, but He did so only once. The reality is, in the OT we are only told about Him doing it once, but since it would be impossible to write down everything God did with/for Israel, we don’t know for sure that this is in fact the only woman he put in authority. And then, of course, there is the issue that if women in leadership was against God’s plan He would not have done so even once. The fact that God put a woman in the position of leadership of the
    nation indicates that He isn’t as opposed to women in leadership as
    complimentarians would have us believe.

    Also, the fact that Deborah put Barak in charge of the army does not say she knows she is not able/supposed to lead; she was not a warrior/soldier, which is necessary to lead an army. It has nothing to do with gender, but with specific training.

    One more quick thing about Deborah: I often hear the idea that Deborah was placed in leadership because there were no men that would do the job (similar to your statement that it was lack of faith in the men that caused Deborah to be appointed). If you think through that line of thinking, you must see that it is highly unlikely that in the entire nation there was not one man willing (or able, depending on how you think about it) that would do the job. I don’t know what the population was at the time, so I’ll grab a random number, let’s say one million men in the nation. Out of that, not one of them would do the job? VERY unlikely.

    On a general note, it is important in this discussion to realize that both sides of the issue are in fact reading scripture and seeking what it truly says/means. Part of what makes that difficult is that we all study the issue through the filters we have in place. We have filters given by our culture (“Everybody knows women/men are…”), filters from our upbringing (“Mom always let Dad have his way,” “Mom never let Dad lead and it made us all miserable”), and filters from what we have been taught. When looking at any issue in scripture, we have to be aware of what our own filters are, as they make certain things seem like common sense/knowledge that aren’t necessarily so.

  • est

    Slightly off the “women” topic but it has been mentioned a few times:  The dietary laws (i.e Leviticus 11: 2-23 about not eating pork/shellfish etc.) were specifically to the Children of Israel: i.e. the Jews in that day and are not applicable to Gentiles today. Again it is a context issue, but as someone else mentioned, Peter’s vision in Acts 11:5-10, gives full permission to eat anything God created and we must not call it “unclean” or “common”.

  • Dor

    Are you aware that there are a number of women in leadership in the NT? No, not the 12 apostles that Jesus appointed, but there are a number of them are mentioned. Including one who taught a man. And one who is referred to as and apostle.

  • Dor

    It is important to know that the word translated as “deacon” and “deaconess” is the same word in the original Greek. It is in later translations where it was translated differently for men and women.

  • Brian M

    You bring up excellent points on Biblical interpretation, Chris, however on this particular issue of roles in church, you (and others) seem to be forcing it to be a historical/cultural issue, and I’m not sure you can make that case.  In 1 Tim 2 Paul makes it clear that the issue for women being covered by the men is not in any way cultural, but goes all the way back to the beginning of time.  It was the design and plan of God.  Paul says clearly why he is giving that instruction, and it transcends time and culture.

  • Brian M.

    Vicky, there is a very simple answer to your question on “context”.  Paul makes it clear that headscarves are a cultural expression of a deeper truth… it wasn’t just a fashion trend back then, it symbolized a doctrine which is timeless.  In this case, covering.  Paul even makes it clear that the practice of women wearing headscarves does not need to be a contentious issue (in fact, Luke makes an excellent point on why they were doing it at the time).  But again, even in cultural expressions, there is always a deeper truth it’s representing.  And in 1 Tim 2, Paul lays his cards on the table and says exactly why a woman can’t teach over the men in church… it goes back to Adam and Eve.  This was God’s design from the beginning, because of sin and the fall.  Because of the way God designed the differences of men and women, the man is now called to cover and lead (with love) the woman.  Now, culturally, different churches and different peoples express this in different ways (in Paul’s time, with headscarves)… but there is always that deeper truth of covering that will always be at work regardless.  This is not to say that women aren’t gifted, annointed, or filled with the Spirit… they are these things and more, and they compose half the body of Christ!  But each part of the body is different, and each has a part to play.  God’s command is that in the operation of these gifts, the men should always be covering the women in some form.  This has been the clear plan and pattern of Scripture since the beginning. 

  • Brian M.

    Vicky, as I alluded to above, the proper way to understand these concerns you have in interpreting commands of Scripture is to realize that each of God’s commands has an underlying truth behind it that is timeless, but is expressed in different ways with different cultures.  Our invisible God reveals Himself and His ways through pictures and shadows! So where the Jews of the OT were instructed to not have two kinds of fabric in their clothing, we look back and see that being clearly a picture of God’s people not being blended with the ways of the “world”, which is the timeless truth it represents:  He alone is to be the fabric of our life.  Another great example is the list of animals the Jews were forbidden to eat: notice they were scavengers… Shellfish are bottom dwellers that eat anything, and pigs roll in their own filth.  God declared, as a symbol to the world at the time, that His people would not have a part with these things (this was also God’s protection of them, as their cooking practices were not up to the standards we have today, and cooking pork improperly could easily cause sickness/death).  But the timeless truth is that God’s people are to be clean and set apart, not partaking in things of filth.
     
    Now in the issue of headscarves, as Lukebarrs pointed out wonderfully, there was some serious issues with temple prostitution at the time.  Church women were to differentiate themselves and show they were not a part of that immorality, and Paul makes it clear it was not to be a contentious issue (not worth dividing over).  But even with headcoverings, there is a greater truth at work that Scripture makes clear… women are to be “covered”.   Just as the church is to be “covered” by Christ in all it does, as He is our head, the women are to be covered by the men in the areas of the home, in church, and in doctrine.  This does not mean dominated, oppressed, silenced… etc.  This means loved and nourished and encouraged to use their gifts for the glory of God, just as Christ encourages His church to express itself.  But just as each church operates as to what they think is right and good, they acknowledge that Christ has the final say in all they do, and trust Him to lead, cover, and protect.  No healthy church operates independently of Jesus’s authority.
     
    Paul makes clear in 1 Tim 2 that there is a timeless truth that is still in effect today… because of the fall (not culture, and not context) a women should not teach or lead a group of men with final authority, and this is God’s design and plan for humanity.  This is because Eve was deceived, and Adam rebelled.  And just as there are consequences from that fall that are still in effect physically today (pain in childbearing, etc.), there are spiritual commands that God has put in place for His people (men covering the women) that remain. 
     
    Now Vicky, there will always have be people who question God’s commands because it doesn’t make sense to them.  I’m sure there were Jews that said “Why would God not want us to eat this perfectly good pork??  He made it and it tastes great!”.  And there were probably those who said “No blended fabric?  That doesn’t make sense… it looks even better than plain fabric!”.   Eve in the garden probably said to herself “Why not eat this fruit.. it looks good, and it will make me more spiritual!”.   And Vicky, there will always be those who say “Why can’t women pastor churches and teach men?  They can do it just fine!”  There will always be that voice of opposition and “reason” to what God says to trust Him in.  God always gives us the choice to believe Him at His word, that He knows us and knows what’s best, or find a reason why He couldn’t really mean what He said, in order to justify our (often good) desires.  But sadly, Scripture is clear this always leads to death. 
     
    I wish people would see this idea of covering does not mean hindering, oppressing, or stifling. Does Jesus do that with His church?  No… covering is loving, serving, laying our lives down for, protecting, and providing and sacrifically leading the women men are called to cover.  This is such a beautiful, God glorifying thing when practiced rightly.  And it takes faith.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus laid everything down for His bride, and gave HER the fivefold ministry. Yet we say that women should not preach or teach?

    If it is true that a woman should not preach or teach, then this would apply to all things.

    So in this mindset, we have to assume that if a woman excels or does something well in any field, we are forbidden by the “new law” to ask her how she did it, because we have nothing to learn, or it remains a mystery we are not allowed to inquire into. 

    This violates the statement (“unto you it is given to know mysteries”)

    So a woman could not coach, teach in school, teach business, or instruct people in finances, nor instruct in how to love or nurture because we are “forbidden” by this theology to ask her to teach us anything.

    Now being led by the spirit there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond, nor free, MALE NOR FEMALE. We are led by the spirit man who was dead from the fall, but raised up and born again into new life at the resurrection.

    Paul is giving a law to the Corinthians because he said “If you were filled with the spirit, then you wouldn’t be fighting with each other and clearly manifesting works of the flesh…So I am going to send my son Timothy to give you a law for a season…then we skip over to the book of Timothy and we see Paul instructing Timothy to take a law to them for the flesh (the law was not made for the righteous, but for drunkards, abusers, fornicators, murderers…what is in the flesh according to Galatians 4&5?), and then in Paul’s second epistle, he says he feels bad for the first epistle, and wants to repent for having done it, but since it accomplished its purpose he doesn’t repent.

    Throughout the bible women are used (even under the law). One prophetess, Anna prophesies over Jesus when He is brought to the temple by Mary and Joseph. Mary the mother of Jesus prophesies with Elizabeth. In Judges a prophetess is mentioned being feared above the other prophets. Esther is used mightily. So is Deborah, and many others. Husband and wife Pricillia and Aquilla are mentioned helping Paul as they both “Preach and teach together.”

    When Paul is talking saying “a woman shall not preach or teach”, he follows it with the statement “she shall be saved in childbearing” 

    Paul is quoting the law. Woman had already been saved in Childbearing. This is the promise Eve the mother of all living received at the fall, and it was fulfilled first, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, and then sealed when Jesus accomplished His mission. Woman had already been saved along with all mankind when Paul writes this to the Corinthians through his instructions to Timothy.

    So I submit that the Bride of Christ is the mouthpiece, and we are to be Christ to our wives. Let her prophesy, and praise her in the gates.

  • Brian M.

    But where does it say we need to be educated to preach?  Jesus chose some of the most uneducated imbiciles of His time to build His church upon. 

    Paul lays his cards down and says the reason women can’t preach goes back to the fall (1 Tim 2) and the command and plan of God.   It’s not a cultural or educational issue.

  • est

    N0w, on the women theme, I believe leadership is male, (Paul wouldn’t permit a woman to teach a man).
    But  personally,  I know of several godly ladies whose teachings I love listening to. I don’t have a problem with women teaching me because they are instructed to teach the younger women and I am one of those.

  • Anonymous

    Satan takes Jesus up in the mountain, and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and says, I will give these to you if you will only bow down, and worship me.

    Here is a picture of our failing marriages today.

    Here is another way to word what Satan just said:

    “I will be your provider, and my only requirement is that you love me.”

    Now remember that Satan was never created in the image and likeness of God like Adam was, and Jesus, the second adam was not even an image. He was God.

    Now we know that marriage is not a type of Satan and the church, but rather, of Christ and His church. With that said, let’s look at what Jesus expressed through His life’s ministry towards His bride (us):

    “If you will let me bow down to you, and become your servant I will remind you that you are my kingdom. My house is incomplete without you. You are my house. You are my increase. Without you there is no increase. There are no children. If you will let me lay down, and give my life for you, I will be your foundation. I will support you. I will push you higher. I will lend you influence and favor. I will build you up on my name, and everything I have is yours. I will always put you first. I will never leave or forsake you. There will be no shadow, no hint of turning. I will always allow myself to be vulnerable. I will always be willing to trust you again. I will defend your honor, and stand up for you. I will rebuke any tongue that rises up against you. I will pour everything I have into giving you vision, and rejoicing over you in your victories. I will be the husband who praises you in the gates. I will confess you before my father. I love you.”

    You see, we were made in an image the enemy cannot, and will not ever understand. We weren’t made to be fulfilled in being loved. We were made like Him…to be fulfilled because we love.

    If Jesus had to be loved to be fulfilled, He would be falling apart…but no, He loved us even while we were yet in our sins. He saw ahead, and the joy of that vision allowed Him to endure the pain of the cross. He was fulfilled in loving us…and we won’t be fulfilled until we look like Him.

    If we want real revival we will have to die. Only those who lose their lives will find them.

  • Briananddana

    Stephen, why do you insist on reading into things ideas that aren’t there to support your agenda?  I never said the husband “sits at his ease” or “takes credit for his wife’s initiative and hard work”.  That is a false portrayal of Biblical complementarianism, and one I really get tired of hearing.  

    I said that the man is the one in public leadership, and his wife is likely a crucial part of his life and abiliites. Marriage is a partnership, men need women and women need men, it’s that simple.  The egalatarians seem to approach this conversation with the warped view that if men and women fufill different roles, it automatically makes one less equal to or oppressed by the other.  Perhaps sin has tainted you to the point you think that would be inevitible, but that’s your fault not the Bible’s.

  • Chuckt

    Can a non-married man instruct the church in terms of marriage if he has never experienced it?  Is he going to instruct people while not knowing what it is like?  Are people going to feel confident going to him with their problems when he doesn’t know what they’re talking about?

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    est, with all due respect, Peter’s vision had nothing to do with food.  God used the dream of “unclean animals” to explain the Holy Spirit will be poured out on ALL men; the Gentiles were considered unclean at that time.  It’s not a reference to what we can and cannot eat according to the law.  As to the pork dealeo, God named it as unclean because it poses a health hazard for people.  Research shows that pork products still contain a type of worm that cannot be cooked out, and is linked to many health ailments even today.

    The same understanding applies to the dietary laws.  Because of the observance of these dietary laws, very few Jews fell prey to the Bubonic plague.  Since very few Jews died during that time, they were accused of poisoning the wells.  We need to be careful how we observe God’s laws because they are not a means to “get to heaven” but a means to keep us in his safety — like a fence around a house.  The most important “law” we must abide by is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  We also must hang on God’s every word because they give us life, and life in the full.

    Hope all that made sense.  Blessings to you!!

  • Kim

    Hi Dennis–thanks so much for taking the time to respond and I am thoroughly blessed by your desire to take everything into account–the full context of things.  Surely, the result can only be your spiritual muscles being worked to the fullest. 

    You’ve brought up some great points.  I understand and appreciate what you’re saying, so bear with me as I try and respond.  Please know I don’t do this to try and sway you to my side, that would be very foolish of me and I wouldn’t necessarily want that done to me.  Matt 7 tells me to treat others in the way I want to be treated.

    So my intent, however flawed will be to present my side as best as I can, but I’m very thankful to know that we are raise to life in Christ–the most important side.  :)
    Dennis:  When the Bible lists different ministry roles (apostles, prophets,
    evangelists, pastors tachers etc…) there is never a delinitation
    between which gender can fulfill which role.

    Me: Are you saying that when the bible lists these gifts, God never says that He appoints these roles to him or her such as in I Cor. 12:27-30?  Could that be because all actually can possess these gifts, but carried out in different *roles* under the authority established by God for church order?  From what I see in Scripture, Paul writes not only the order of gender roles (for the Corinthian church) but even goes into talking about the order of spiritual gifts in I Cor. 14.  So in my opinion, Paul’s saying, “Listen up Corinthian church, you guys are so out of whack you can’t even get these rich spiritual gifts in order so I’m sending this letter to clean house and let’s do this, not by encouraging everyone to do everything, but by reordering everything in the Corinthian church.”

    So that, is specific to the Corinthian church, which I think both camps would readily agree.  But following your great example of desiring to broad brush things, (historically in Scripture, why do we not read explicit instructions regarding home and church authority… or at least one clear, solid example in Scripture of Paul (or other NT writers) putting thing back into order via letter, appointing as clearly as Paul (or other Apostles) appoint men to positions, women?  Or a woman for that matter.  I know if we read into Lydia’s life, she could certainly have been a leader, some other women, etc., but if this was such an important issue, so important that Paul, in the book of Ephesians relates it back to the work of Christ Himself, why doesn’t he write it as clearly about women than he does about men.  This has always puzzled me and until I read somewhere the clear instruction, I can only go by the explicit wording in Scripture.

    Since the Church is Jesus’s and he and the other writers are getting things right when it refers to something as important as the sacraments and teaching, not head coverings and whatever a person eats (personally, I think Paul and Peter address that quite easily.  Paul addresses eating liberties in Rom. 14 (no one is supposed to judge each other because of it) and Peter addresses it I Peter 3:3)) but to me those are not sweeping statements or patterns set up in the church *as much as orderly church service* (established by Paul) and *orderly homes (established by Peter.)

    Dennis: Therefore I ask again does authority come in the sacraments or the teaching of God’s word.

    Me: I think the bible speaks to women not having authority over men in the home (Eph. 5:22) and the church (I Cor. 14:34-35) which would include the sacraments and teaching of God’s Word, but would also include other responsibilities in the church.  No authority because the focus is not on the liturgy or the text, but on God who raises up leaders (Rom. 13:1) for His divine purposes.

    Dennis:
    I know this is supposed to be biblically based discussion but if the
    church did not have the Bible as we now know it until well into the 4th
    century what was the standard used up until that point?

    Me:  I’m confused by this question.  Are you asking up until the 4th century what did churches do or what standard did they use?  Thanks for taking the time to clarify.

    I’ve honestly not heard that it was solely Adam’s fault regarding the original sin curse.  But if that is the case, what do we do with passages like I Tim. 2:14, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”?  But I definitely desire you to clarify for me because I don’t want to pretend like I completely understand what you’re saying.

    Thanks for the rich and charitable exchange Dennis.  Blessings for a wonderful day in Christ!  :)

    Kim

  • Brian M

    Well pardon me for calling it a “curse”, but Paul still says the command of women not teaching men goes back to Adam and Eve, not culture or context.  How do you explain that?

    And if the idea that Eve was deceived and Adam was passive is wrong, why does Paul then say in the *next verse*, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”?  Seems pretty clear, and Paul uses it as the direct justification for women not teaching men.

    You point out Romans 5:12, and I’m glad you did.  Notice how Paul says here “sin entered the world through one man”,.. but remember in 1 Tim 2 he says “Eve was deceived and sinned”.  So was it the man or the woman that’s responsible?   Simple!  Clearly, Eve ate first, but because God is a complementarian and gave Adam the responsibility to lead and cover His wife, Adam will forever go down as the one responsible for the fall.  That is the burden that men carry in leading, and God holds them accountable… even for the sins of the women under their covering.

    And how is being under covering or authority ”chains”?  Not to say there aren’t many sinful people who abuse their authority and oppress others, but when I became a Christian, I submitted to Christ and came under His leading and authority, but I was set free!  That’s the paradox of submission that unfortunately many egaletarians seem to forget and think is merely suppression/oppression.

    So besides the 1-2 points you disagreed on, what about the rest of what I said originally?

  • http://twitter.com/andydsmusic Andy Smith

    This is an awesome discussion that’s going on.  Thought I’d drop some of my own thoughts in the mix.  The issue of women in leadership has always fascinated me – I know what I’ve been taught about it, I know what I’ve read about it – I’ve also seen in action, great leadership and abysmal leadership and neither are the preserve of one particular gender.  I remember seeing a televised debated just before the ordination of women, and an old rosy nosed vicar, sat in his cassock and spat out across the nation that for women to be ordained as priests would be an act of transvestism!  As this was in my younger years, I watched the telly and thought – ‘There’s a dude in a dress, chatting about women being transvestites… awkward.’ 

    I remember meeting some american girls from the bible belt on mission who avidly believed that because they were girls, they couldn’t lead anything… They did some phenomenal youth work in those few days, and it frustrated them no end when I tried to encourage them by saying… ‘You led that so well.’  

    The big problem for me is that somebody always wants to be on top – granted, guys have held the key positions at the top of our oligarchic church structures (some steering us gallantly into the depths of decline… some have done rather well)  and part of me thinks, well maybe it is time for the ladies to have a stab at it.  But I’m not sure that’s the answer either… 

    I know when I’ve read into some of this, I’ve realised there’s a depth of cultural context that the epistles were written into, most of which, I don’t really full grasp… cos I wasn’t there.  

    I find something resonant in scripture regarding the beauty of oneness – community functioning in shalom.  I see a creative God who crowns His creation with a man and a woman who were created in the image of God – fully masculine – fully feminine, a triune community without inequality.  (we don’t say that when God leads, he is Father – when he nurtures, he is mother)  I see a God who raise Christ from the dead and seated him in the heavenly realms. (Eph 1:20) and then we, the church, his bride have been raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms too.  There’s a co-heirship with Christ who died to afford that inheritance and privilege.  Men are then exhorted to treat their wives in the same way.  The fullness of that out working is so different to what I see around me in the church.  

    At the very least it feels like our framework is broken, reminiscent of the fearful children of Israel, trembling at the smoking mountain and saying , ‘No, Moses – you go for us.’ dashing God’s intention that they would be a nation of priests (Ex 19)  another thing the new covenant has afforded us.  For me, this symphonic connection of Gods people resonates through Joel’s prophecy that the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh, not just the flesh with an appendage in the midriff.  The doctrine of the gifts of the spirit are in no possible interpretation gender specific.  God giving gifts so that the church can be built up.  Gifts to edify, fruit to enable us to get on.  (a good portion of my fruit is spent on my wife… I’m sure the same is for her) The foundation of the church is built upon the apostles and the prophets – two – word and spirit.  Moses and Elijah, Zerubbabel and Joshua (Zach)- two witnesses (Rev).  

    I don’t know many people who would actually say that women can’t lead in any context – we are happy for them to lead and teach in what’s probably our most strategic gathering – the kids groups (in which case – most of the scriptures that people quote to limit the role of women in the church have been selectively applied).  What people seem to take issue with is a woman being in an absolute position of authority.   Maybe the reason this debate feels so circlic is because we are talking about elevating certain women in to positions that really, men shouldn’t be in  either.  Maybe if we have just a man or just a woman lead… we miss out.  As much as there’s a difference between democracy and autocracy – there’s a difference between autocracy and theocracy.  I know some people think decisions can’t be made unless you have a clear leader, or even a ‘primus inter pares’, a first among equals… but what if that’s just not true?  And what if consciously of sub-consciously too much effort has been made to preserve the roles and titles that get banded about the higher echelons of our church communities.  Christ is the head of the church… 

    Mat 23

       8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant.  

    What would happen if a new movement of leadership worked together to hear God, follow his Spirit.  Not managers and presidents, but fathers and mothers, grand parents, aunts and uncles – an extended family.  And then, when it all goes well, there’s not some guy or girl, sitting at the top of the pyramid taking all the credit, rather a community of people learning what it means to be seated in the heavenly realms with Christ, enjoying His favour and His love.  Call me a wooly liberal, but I’m grateful my mom and dad were both around to bring me up.  Maybe the church needs some parenting too.  

  • Brian M.

    5 Questions I would like to love get clear answers on from the Egalatarian camp. Who’s game? :)

    1.  Genesis 3 makes it clear that Eve ate the fruit first and was deceived, but then strangely in v.17 God curses Adam for “listening to his wife”, and Adam then bears the responsibility for the fall all throughout the rest of Scripture.  Paul even uses this as the basis in the NT of why women aren’t permitted to teach over men in church matters (1 Tim 2).  So if Adam was not designated by God to be Eve’s head or covering, then please clearly explain what the heck is going on here.

    2.  Jesus absolutely esteems women throughout Scripture, certainly as equals with men, and no doubt God gives women gifts, talents, and abilities with which to bless the Church with.  But if Jesus really desired women to have the same *roles* in the church as men, why did Jesus personally choose 12 men on which to found His church? 

    3.  From God’s perspective, if there really is no longer a difference between “jew or greek… male or female” and we use that verse (which is about salvation) to justify complete equality in the *roles* of men and women in the church and home, then why does God still create women as the only ones who can bear children?  Isn’t that unfair?  Especially if ”He’s all for men and women having equal roles in all things” and sees no difference between us, as many say?

    4.  If a woman is wired and capable to do and be the exact same things as a man is, then would a woman make a good father?  Could a man make a good mother?  Would two women naturally be capable to be a “mother and father” to a child?  Does God no longer see a distinction in these roles, as He apparently sees no distinction between men and women?  And what has been your observation of childeren, in general, who grow up in homes without a father present?

    5.  Is it common for a partnership, group, company, or country to work smoothly and move forward progressively with all parties involved making decisions and having complete equality in roles, with no one person having the final say or authority in matters of disagreement?  Has this worked anywhere?

    Please don’t just criticize certain parts of my questions, but try to answer them in their entirety as presented.  I’d love to hear your answers, even if it’s on just one of the questions! 

  • justin

    good idea andy, but doesn’t God appoint leaders all throughout Scripture?  it’s as if His spirit moves through the structures and peoples He’s designated.  i think too, that in order to rightly follow “God”, we need a right image of God… the trinity.  Separate roles and functions, but equal in essence and value, all in submission but working in harmony.

    mabye our framework doesn’t need to be thrown out, but redeemed.

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    Andy, I made a similar point further down the post.  I find it interesting when Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant” yet so many congregations are leadership-based, creating that pyramid you mentioned.  I totally agree the church needs more parenting.

  • est

    Melanie, I do realize that Peter’s vision was used to explain that, but it surely had a little to do with food as well! ? So, yes, it made sense. + Blessings to you too.

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    1. Genesis 3 is part of a creation myth. To try to use it to determine whether women should be church leaders is about as sensible as using it to prohibit anaesthesia in childbirth (“ in pain you shall bring forth children,”) That’s just not what it was written for.
    2. Choosing men as apostles was cultural – women simply would not have been taken seriously. BUT (a) there were many women in Jesus’ entourage (b) Jesus defends Mary for sitting at his feet (Luke 10:39-42) i.e. the traditional place for a student rabbi (c) Mary Magdalene is sent to tell the 12 about the Resurrection: she is “the apostle to the apostles” (John 20:17)
    3&4. You are mixing up biology with spirituality. Men and women are biologically different, they have different mental makeups as well (on average). Those biological differences do not, however, affect whether they make good pastors or teachers.
    5. Nobody is suggesting that there should be no distinctions of role within the people of God, the question is whether sex should be a determinant of who takes which role.

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    You obviously missed the “:-)” at the end of that first sentence. If you want me to take your argument seriously, I suggest you refrain from any further ad hominem “tainted by sin” stuff. Yes, I am tainted by sin. So are you. That’s what Jesus was all about, right? 

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    I don’t think it’s good enough to say “has to go to Paul’s letters” I think we have to look at the teachings of all of scripture. Jesus didn’t have Paul’s letters … nor did Paul ! If we try to derive an important piece of theology or ecclesiology from a few verses (which are not even representative of _Paul’s_ writings, let alone the whole of Scripture), we are never going to get it right.

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    Hey Brian, I don’t profess to be a part of any camp, but I have some thoughts to share on the questions you addressed.  Thank for your patience.

    1.  In Genesis 3, people tend to overlook the fact that Adam was standing there beside Eve the entire time Satan was “tempting” her (verse 6).  So Adam had full knowledge of everything that was going on.  I’m not sure exactly how this applies to men being the “cover” of women, but I know this is often used as an example of how women are “so easily deceived.”  God also says in Gen 3 that a wife’s desire will be for her husband, and the husband will rule over her.  This has also been misinterpreted, in my opinion.  I’ve read that the word for desire means “to devour” because that word is compared to the same Hebrew word used in Gen 4:7 (sin “desires” to have you).  However, the same Hebrew word for desire is also found in Song of Solomon 7:10 (“I long for my beloved, his desire is for me.”)  So, why is it that when a woman “desires” her husband, she seeks to devour, but when a husband desires his wife, it’s relational?  It does not make sense.  The best understanding of Gen 3 is prophetic to the current debate.  Women desire their husbands, not in a controlling way but in a relational way.  Yet, men still rule over them.  Paul addresses this issue in Ephesians 5.  Paul is not saying that men should rule over their wives.  He says husbands should lay their lives down for their wives just as Christ did for the church; a lesson Adam did not know at the time.

    2.  May I ask this question before addressing: when we say “roles in the church,” are we looking through the lens of the Western church?  In my observation, the Western church looks nothing like the church in scripture.  There is more hierarchy in today’s church (more like the 4th century church at the time of Constantine) rather than the healing-the-sick, raising-the-dead church of the 1st century.  So, I can’t answer that because it all depends what kind of lens we are looking through.

    3.  Again, I think this question is looking through the lens of the Western church.  It’s not about “roles.”  It’s about applying the gifts.

    4.  This is touchy because there are many people I love in this situation.  Whenever a relational element is missing in the family, it is very tough to make up the gaps.  In these cases, we have no choice but to ask God to fill in the gaps.  When a dad is missing from the family picture, the woman and children must learn to look to God as their Father (as we all should).  We also look to the church to help (serve the widows and the single mothers).  When a mom is missing from the family picture, we must learn to look at the body of Christ.  Jesus said “those who do the will of my Father in Heaven are my mother and my brother and my sister.”

    5.  The common business practice is a hierarchical structure.  The person on top has the power and the pull to make final decisions, even if this person is surrounded by a bunch of counsel.  Can a company survive with each person having equal say, submitting one to another?  Absolutely!  A good example is W.L. Gore & Associates.  The company is more well known for making Gortex clothing.  Skiers and military know their products well.  The CEO is a woman, and the company is based on submission to one other.  There is no hierarchy.  The only reason why they have a “CEO” is because she is the PR person when others want to learn more of the company.

    My main question I have with the entire “women in ministry” issue is, how much does the church today look like the early church?  The church has become so Westernized that there is very little resemblance between then and now.  I would love to see today’s church miraculously heal people, raise the dead, etc as Christ gave us the authority to do.  The church really must wake up and understand the authority Christ died to give us.  Without nurturing the spiritual gifts, the church is powerless.  Just some thoughts.  Thanks for the dialog.

  • Chuckt

    “Paul, therefore, says, ‘I do not permitt a woman to be a teacher.”  The context here has to do with church order, and the position of the man and woman in the church worship and work.  The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11, God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the Church as those having authority in the Church in matters of doctrine and interpretation.  This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes of women, girls, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being a pastor, or a doctrine teacher in a school.  It would not be seemly, either for a woman to teach a mixed class of adults.”-p.48, 49, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume II, by Dr. Kenneth Wuest, one of the NASB Bible translators.

  • Brian M

    So Stephen you’re basically saying: 1. The Bible isn’t true in its entirety 2. God and the Gospel are weak, and are therefore subservient to culture  3&4. The Creator and His creation have nothing to do with each other (ala Plato) 5. (This question was geared towards marriage (who leads?))

    Thanks for your perspective!

  • Mark colvin

    just saw this infographic today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/special/pdf/110725spot_leaderpoll.pdf.

    It shows a sample of global evangelical leaders and their opinions. One of these topics is women in leadership…

  • Amanda B.

    I’m game. :)

    1) God rebuked Adam for listening to his wife in Genesis 3, but explicitly told Abraham to listen to HIS wife in Genesis 21. The problem is not listening to one’s wife. The problem is that Adam listened to his wife instead of to the clear command of God. I believe Paul’s reference in 1 Tim 2 is about Eve’s deception, and that he is applying it to an instance of deceived women in Ephesus who were trying to teach. I hope to explain that in a separate comment soon. 

    That said, I am not opposed to the idea that a husband is supposed to protect and lead his wife, even in a primary sense, but neither do I believe it is a completely one-way street.

    2) I could answer this question with another question: Jesus absolutely esteems Gentiles throughout Scripture, clearly intending to call them forth into the same kind of relationship with Him as Israel, and no doubt God gives Gentiles gifts, talents, and abilities with which to bless the Church.  But if Jesus really desired Gentiles to have the same roles in the church as Jews, why did Jesus personally choose 12 Jews on which to found His church? 

    I understand that the Jew/Gentile barrier is more frequently and clearly addressed through the rest of the NT, but my point is to simply note that Jesus’ choice of the Twelve was clearly restricted beyond their gender alone, and so it’s questionable to say that their gender was a direct statement for how the rest of church history should work.

    3) I have really only heard one or two people in my life who claimed that there was no difference at all between men and women, and they were in rather trollish comments on a message board. So I think it’s worth clarifying that no one is trying to make the case that men and women are the same. From my perspective as an egalitarian, the point is not that *every* man and *every* woman should have all the same roles in all contexts and in all seasons. The point is that being a man does not automatically qualify for leadership, and being a woman does not automatically disqualify. Which one can give birth to a baby and which one can go #1 while standing up seems like it doesn’t have much to do with who can preach on Sunday morning or oversee the checkbook. Men and women are different; the question is whether or not those differences affect ministry callings and home life the way that complementarians claim.

    4) I don’t like to answer these kinds of questions, honestly, because they are purely speculative, and there’s no way to objectively answer it. Men *can’t* have children, and mothers *aren’t* fathers. If things were different, well, then things would be different, and I suppose would follow any arbitrary rules we had set up for the way they should work. 

    Households who have to raise children without either parent is certainly sub-optimal, but how those kids turn out depends wildly on the family. Again, though, the question is not “Do children need a father?” (which they clearly do), but “How does that translate into church leadership/family structure?” 

    5) I could ask these question with some questions, too: Are healthy, heart-level friendships one way, or reciprocal? How long do such arrangements last if one person is seen as dominant over the other? How often do close friends feel the need say, “You know, we really need to establish who is the leader here”? And is marriage more like a deep friendship or a business arrangement? Right now, I live with two roommates, we are very close friends, and none of us is the “leader”, and we’re doing just fine–even when making decisions on things like splitting up housework and bills. Granted, roommate-level relationships are nowhere near as intimate as marriage–but neither is a business partner. So I think the whole analogy falls rather flat.

  • Amanda B.

    On point 5) *I could ANSWER these questions…

    Sorry! I promise I tried to proofread. :}

  • Brian M

    Melanie, thank you for your gracious and intelligent response.  If I may, I have a few responses to your response:1.  My question was more about God’s reaction to Adam: Adam is specifically cursed for “listening to” or following the lead of His wife.  Peculiar, isn’t it?  Eve commits the first sin, but Adam gets the blame and is cursed for letting her lead in spiritual things.  Regarding your point on “desire”, yes, I can see what you’re saying with some of the translations of that word, but in this particular context of Scripture it is interpreted as “to devour”, or more clearly, “to rule over or control” and has been viewed this way for centuries.  So if you look at the sentence with the proper definition, it makes perfect sense:  “Your desire will be for him (you will want to control or lead), but he will rule over you (he will be the one to lead)”.  And on your last point, I totally agree and think a right definition of “lead” and “head” is crucial to this discussion.  As leaders, men are called not to “rule over” as in dominate or control, but to be an example, to serve, protect, provide for, preserve well-being of the women.  When looked at in its proper light, I think it should help some of the egalitarians relax some, and see the beauty in God’s design.2.  I’m familiar with many of the differences between the modern ”Western” church vs Eastern, Eastern Orthodox, etc.  I agree, the practices can be quite different between them.  But nobody is arguing that women can’t practice Christianity… we’re all called to feed poor, heal the sick, pray, prophesy, and share the Good News. While Western tradition may have overemphasized hierarchy to a fault, we can’t say there is no order, structure, or hierarchy modeled or commanded in Scripture.  Especially in light of verses like Eph 5:23 and 1 Cor 11:23, and Romans 13.  The even greater question is, though, why Jesus saw fit to appoint 12 men to be trained to lead His church, which speaks volumes regardless of the lens you see it through. 3.  My question actually is about “roles” though.  That’s why in the same verses that Paul instructs women not to teach over men, he then immediately balances it by reminding us that women are the ones called to childbearing.  Once we see that God indeed does create us different, to fufill different roles He has for us, it becomes easier to understand complementarianism. But simply, if God really sees us all as “equal”, why is the woman given the sole role of bearing children (and not the man)?  4.  I agree this is a touchy subject, as there was a period of time where my sister and I grew up without our father in the home (we’ve since been reconciled, praise God).  It sounds like you also agree and see the need for a dad & a mom in the home, as each brings something to the family that only they uniquely can bring.  Now, can the gaps be filled in if one is absent? Absolutely.  Can women lead in the church when men are absent and neglecting their responsibilities?  Sure!  (Think: Deborah in the OT).  But this debate is about what God’s “ideal” is, what He commands us to do, and the pattern He sets.  Just because a mom can raise 3 boys and 2 girls by herself, doesn’t mean that God’s best is achieved by her doing so.  And just because a woman can teach over a man and do well at it, doesn’t mean it’s in line with God’s design.5.  This question was specifically geared towards marriage, with the idea of the husband being called to be the final decision maker in important matters of disagreement.  But in general, I think my point still stands… a true democracy rarely exists for long, and where it does exist, there is usually terrible inefficiency and constant division (hey, kinda like some marriages!).  Your example of W.L. Gore is perplexing though, as they still have the title of CEO… CHIEF EXECUTIVE Officer.  Why call someone chief if they’re only a PR person and everyone supposedly has equal say and position?  If I want a pay raise, and nobody else agrees with me, can I still give myself one?  ”Equal” say quickly becomes a challenge.  :) I’m actually familiar with Gore, and they operate under what’s called a “Team Based, Flat Lattice Organization”… which is an interesting business model, as it is somewhat like I believe a church should operate (less bureaucracy).  Even though the titles are gone, Gore still has leaders, managers and decision makers for sure.   Melanie, I am in complete agreement with you that the church today has much to improve on in order to look like the early church.  But what if God’s plan is to manifest Himself through His church only when the church becomes a better reflection of Him?  And what if we are dropping the ball because we can’t figure out exactly what that reflection should look like?  They say the Trinity is the perfect image of God, and even within the Trinity there is definite equality but obvious hierarchy.  Why are we so afraid of hierarchy?  Sure, it’s been absolutely abused by sinful men, but that doesn’t mean we throw it out.  Let’s redeem it, that Glory of God might be shown again!  Thanks for listening, God bless!

  • Brian M

    Go back and read that passage about Deborah leading the people… it was not a very good time for Israel, and nothing good or lasting became of her leading them.  It was a temporary fix for a bigger problem, and it looked more like the judgement of God on the nation rather than His approval and exaulting of a woman leader.  Also keep in mind that just because God allows something does not mean He approves of it.  There are countless examples of this in Scripture, such as slavery, polygamy, etc… even among God’s “chosen” leaders.

  • Briananddana

    Most of us read that as a “smile”, showing you are happy about what you wrote.  What does a :-) mean to you? 

    My “tainted by sin” comment was not ad hominem towards you, but merely a guess as to why you keep reading things into Scripture and doctrine that aren’t there.  So unless you have a better explanation for your style of argument, it will be hard for me to take *you* very seriously.

  • http://twitter.com/adouglasmesser Adam Messer

    Let me throw a twist in here… How do we define ‘authority’?
    If we define it by kingdom definition, authority (leadership) is serving others. Not focusing on ones desire or need to be shown as great… but instead serving and spending oneself in order to lift up another, to make someone ELSE great. “Men, love your wives as Christ loves the church”, well,  Christ died in order to make us great… to give us entrance into fellowship and eternal life with the Father.
    If we define authority thru that example, then the concept of using authority to rule over someone else is thrown out the window. If that’s the  case then what did Paul truly mean when he said he didn’t permit women to exercise authority over men? If authority in the kingdom means pouring into another to make them great, then that kind of reverses the whole thing right? We MEN should be exercising authority and  pouring ourselves out in order to make a woman (wife, girlfriend, mother etc…) great. That means men should strive to serve, not BE served. 

  • Brian M

    Great point Adam!  But a complementarian believes the same things (and actually emphasizes them) while still maintaining it’s the man’s role or calling to do this as head.  This is similar to Jesus, where He pours Himself out for us to make us great, He serves us, He blesses us… but we are still called to be under His covering and follow Him whereever He leads.

  • Amanda B.

    I hope to tackle a couple of those chapters Vicky mentioned in her OP. I’m going to go ahead and put them in separate posts to try and make the discussion less cumbersome, if that’s okay with everybody. :)

    1 Corinthians 14 – I think context makes it very plain that what Paul is addressing is not women preaching, teaching, or even discerning prophecy, but interrupting with questions. The whole of chapter 14 is addressing the problems Corinth had with chaos in their gatherings–EVERYONE had something to say (14:26), and it seems that everyone was trying to say it at once.

    “Let your women keep silent” sounds really straightforward on its own, but there are two important contextual clues: 1) In 1 Corinthians 11 — just three chapters earlier — Paul is addressing the issue of head coverings, operating under the assumption that women will be praying and prophesying publicly (which, clearly, is not “silence”).  Both complementarians and egalitarians agree on this point, and will readily say that Paul must be talking about “silence” in a specific context. It is not possible that he would condemn something he condoned just a few pages earlier. 2) Women are not the only group told to be silent in 1Cor 14 — the prophets and those speaking in tongues are also instructed.

    Through this chapter, Paul tells the various noisemakers when it was okay to speak, and when they had to keep silent.

    14:27-28 – Paul allowed for speaking in tongues. However, only two or three people at most were allowed to share, and, there had to be an interpreter present. If there was no interpreter, or if three people had already gone ahead, the tongues-speaker was to “keep silent in church” (v. 28), and speak in tongues between themselves and the Lord.

    14:29-32 – Paul allowed for prophecy. But he again limits the number of speakers to just two or three, which must be judged by the others. If someone had something to add while the first prophet was speaking, that first prophet had to “keep silent”. No matter how inspired the prophets felt, they needed to go in turn, exercising control over their own spirit, and shutting their mouth when it was not their time to speak.

    14:33 – God is not the God of disorder [which speaks of chaos, not the org chart], but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 

    14:34-35 – I believe Paul lays out very plainly what he’s talking about here: The women were not to speak in church, but “keep silent” (just like those prophesying and speaking in tongues), and if they wanted to *learn something*, then they should *ask their own husbands at home*. 

    There are three reasons I believe this is the correct interpretation:

    1) It fits smoothly with the pattern of the rest of this passage (when to speak/when not to speak, as opposed to “you may not speak at all, ever”).
    2) It completely resolves any interpretive tension between 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14.
    3) If the problem was that women were preaching, then “if they want to learn…” would make very little sense as a solution. With the tongues-speakers, Paul defined when it was and wasn’t proper for them to speak in tongues. With the prophets, Paul set up the boundaries in which they may or may not prophesy. If Paul was stopping women from preaching, and redirecting them to their appropriate context, it would be bizarre for him to change the terms of what they were even trying to do in the first place. One would expect him to say something more like, “Let your women keep silent in church, and if they want to preach, let them teach the children’s classes or start a ladies’ Bible study.” But his wording, “keep silent… And if they want to *learn* something, let them *ask* their husbands at home.” If Paul is giving the alternative, permissible context, it stands to reason that he is speaking of the same activity in both places.

    As a small note, the word used for “women” (gune) can also be translated “wives”, which could completely explain why Paul’s solution is for them to ask their husbands at home–this may tell us that the specific problem in Corinth was wives asking their husbands questions all the way through the meetings, distracting and annoying everyone.

    There are obviously more nuances of that to hash out, but for the sake of brevity I’ll cut it here. :)

  • Amanda B.

    Tackling another passage – 1 Timothy 2

    I think it is important to remember the cultural context of Ephesus, the city Timothy was stationed in when Paul wrote to him. Ephesus was home of the temple of Artemis–one of the longest-standing and biggest goddess cults of all time. The temple literally dominated city life. It controlled many of the fisheries in Ephesus, was a place of refuge for accused criminals, had a museum, boosted the economy of the city through tourism and the sale of idolatrous trinkets, and functioned as a bank. Because it was a goddess cult, women had many natural inroads into becoming active participants in the rituals.

    It is also important to note that, in 1 Timothy (as with the other Pastoral Epistles, 2 Timothy and Titus), Paul is not writing to a church at large, but to the leader of the church in particular. Paul is writing to Timothy, his “true son in the faith”, and giving him advice on how to oversee the church in that city. This means that Paul was not spouting random theological facts; he was addressing real needs and real circumstances that his dear young friend Timothy was really up against. So while it is absolutely true that this book contains universal truths, relevant to us today, we have to understand what it meant to Timothy *first* before we can rightly understand what it means to us.

    From other pastoral passages, we can see that Ephesus was in significant danger from false teachers and deception (1Tim 1:3-7, 19-20; 4:1-4; 6:3-5,20-21; 2Tim 3:1-9; 4:3-4)–and these false teachers seemed to particularly target women, or at least have unusual impact on them (2Tim 4:7, 2Tim 3:6). Younger widows were becoming idle and in danger of falling away from the faith (4:11-15).

    When Paul is addressing the men and then the women in 1Tim 2, I believe he is addressing specific problems they were having. For instance, although the men were the ones told to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting (2:8), one would be hard pressed to say that it isn’t something that women, in general, should also do. So why did Paul address just the men? I believe it’s because *these* real men, in real, historical Ephesus, were having issues with it. 

    In any case, Paul says that the women should “In like manner also” be adorned in modest clothing (“In like manner” presumably indicating, “in prayer”). Again, the exhortation to modesty could be equally applicable to the men and women, but the singling out of the women indicates a specific problem in Ephesus. It could be that Paul is urging them not to come to church dressed like they were going to the temple of Artemis.

    When Paul says, “Let a woman *learn*,” it is worth noting that this was pretty revolutionary for 1st century Greco-Roman culture. “In silence and all submission” is how the women ought to learn–which is simply good student posture. It’s the opposite of learning with a boisterous and argumentative attitude. It’s a picture of teachability, the same way a student was to learn from a rabbi.

    “I do not permit a woman to teach” is certainly difficult, but again, we have to remember that 1) Paul is addressing real-life, specific problems, and 2) This is in a city full of goddess worship. false doctrine, “old wives’ tales” and backsliding widows. 

    Now we need to see that Paul also could have said this in a much stronger, more clearly permanent way. The word Paul uses is a first person present tense indicative (“I am not permitting”). He could have said it in the future tense indicative (“I will not permit”), which is much stronger. He could have said it as an imperative, making it stronger still (“Do not permit” or “You must not permit” or “The women must not”). Between the limited force of the verb, combined with the cultural background, I am very inclined to think this was a specific injunction for Ephesus in Timothy’s day due to the deception running rampant through the Ephesian women.

    The fact that Paul goes on to bring up Eve reinforces this for me. There is nothing in the Genesis account that indicates Eve was being insubordinate–the only way to find that in there is to read wayyyy into it, based on an already-settled interpretation of 1Tim 2. Paul brings up Eve one other time in the New Testament (2 Cor 11:3), and the issue at stake is deception, not authority/submission.

    This would explain why the women are not to teach, but ARE to learn: They are currently deceived. Just like Eve’s deception led to a really, really bad chain of events, these first-century “Eve’s” were trying to spread their deception around through their teaching. I believe the reference to Adam being created first speaks not to priority, but to maturity–Eve was not created yet when Adam received the command about the forbidden fruit (Gen 2:16-17), and these women in Ephesus were new believers with a very weak grasp on the faith.

    I believe this explains the “saved through Childbirth” line. Just like deceived Eve received the promise for her Seed to crush the serpent’s head, and thus redeem her, there was hope for these first-century “Eve’s” if they persevered in faith, love, holiness, and self-control in that promised Son. This not only explains why Paul brings childbirth up here, but reconciles it with his “salvation by faith” doctrine, and does not exclude single, barren, or bereaved women in the process.

    I feel I have gone too long already, but it is also worth mentioning that the very “have authority over” (authenteo) is a very strong word that appears nowhere else in the NT, and probably means something closer to “usurp authority” (KJV, Calvin). Elsewhere, when Paul communicated a more neutral or positive idea of having authority, he uses the word exousia/exousiazo.

    Wrapping up for tonight, but those are my thoughts. :)

  • Brian M

    Thanks for your reply, Amanda.  VERY intelligent and challenging arguments, by the way :)  And here’s my response to you:

    1.  Excellent point about Abraham being told by God to listen to his wife.  But even in this case, the command to do that came from God, not his wife.  Abraham was really submitting to God, not Sarah, when Abe wasn’t seeing straight.  And that’s not at all contrary to a complementarian theology… men absolutely should listen to their wives, and seek to make decisions mutually, if not primarily in the best interest of her!  But this debate stems from who has final say on disagreements in the home and church, and who is ultimately responsible. If you’ll remember later in the story, Abraham commands Sarah to lie and say she’s his sister, just to save his own hide!  Sarah submits to Abraham, and what happens? She gets protection from God, and Abraham is busted!  God protects women even when men drop the ball in their roles, and He still holds men responsible regardless.  And I would love to hear your interpretation on 1 Tim 2, but I don’t think Paul was talking about deceived women in Ephesus, or he would have said it. He directly supports his position with Adam and Eve in Creation. And why just call out the women, don’t men get deceived too?  :)2.  You’re right that the Jew/Gentile barrier is clearly eliminated throughout NT writing, where the man/woman thing is not nearly so, if at all. But I think the answer to why Jesus chose 12 Jews is simple: The Jews were God’s chosen people during His ministry (think: 12 tribes of Israel). Jesus was sent only to the Jews (Matt. 15:24) until after the resurrection where salvation was then open to the Gentiles. So since the church was all Jewish, of course its leaders would be Jewish. But here’s the important point: The church did not start out as all male, and then later become male/female. Christ’s followers were male and female from the beginning, yet women were still not chosen as disciples!  And some might argue to it being a cultural sensitivity thing, but when did Jesus ever bow down to culture at the expense of truth? He destroyed culture, customs, and traditions with His ministry, and did so unashamedly.3. I agree that being a man does not automatically qualify one for leadership, and that being a woman does not automatically disqualify one from leading.  Women are awesome at leading at many things, and there are many men who should not be leading the church!  But in the context of headship of a church (elder) and of the home (husband), the right men and women are clearly called to fulfill certain roles so that the image and glory of God might be displayed (Christ and His church).  By His design and plan, God gives certain roles to one that He does not give to another, and that was the point.   Headship does not mean the man calls all the shots, but that he is ultimately responsible for the shots that are called.My wife balances our checkbook, by the way. :)  4.  This question actually did speak to church leadership structure questions, for the simple reason that if women feel they can just as easily fulfill a role God ordained for men, then why wouldn’t that translate into something like the family?  Could one or two women act as mother and father, and raise a boy just as well as a man/woman structure?  I think we all know the answer… it probably wouldn’t yield God’s ideal results.  Maybe not in every case, but certainly in general.  And we definitely see the statistics of children raised with a father absent from the home.
     
    5.  You make great points here, but clearly, heart-level friendships and roommate arrangements are much different than committed partnerships where finances, children, theology, and the future are on the line.  I have great heart-level friendships with my buddies, mostly because we stay out of each other’s personal business and let each other make our own decisions on those important things that don’t effect us.  :)   But if every decision my friend made affected me in some way, and I depended on him for certain needs of mine, you can bet I’d not just always be able to agree to disagree… there are things more important to each of us on the line. Marriage, though, is somewhat like a partnership and somewhat like a deep friendship. In most healthy complementarian marriages I know of, 99% of the decisions are made mutually and agreeably. 1% or less of decisions become deadlocked… so there does, at some level, have to be a final say on certain things.  This does not mean “dominance” or “controlling leader”!  In fact, according to Scripture, it looks more like Christ and the Church… Jesus comes to us, pursues us, captures our hearts, and we then trust Him with our hopes and dreams and lives, following where He leads while trusting He has our best interests at heart.  What is wrong with that picture?  If it was in a wife’s best interest to submit to her husband, and if it was her husbands heart to 100% love and bless and bring joy to his wife with the decisions he makes, where is the problem?  It’s actually quite a beautiful thing.You are a very intelligent woman, Amanda.  You’ve made great points, and done so graciously.  I am confident that God has seriously awesome plans for you, because, well, He’s an awesome God.  :)  I would just say… be open to the possibility that He would use the godly men in leadership at your church, your father, and maybe the husband He has picked out for you someday… not to hinder your growth but to help you flourish.  That quite possibly you would actually do better and contribute more as a child of God, under the strong and loving cover and nurturing of a man.  And should He bless you with a husband someday, you can walk down that aisle with your dad (or some strong male figure in your life), and be handed off to your husband, knowing and appreciating what that part of the ceremony really means. ;)Blessings to you!

  • Brian M

    Ahh! Sorry for my horrible formatting… somehow all my paragraph breaks disappeared, grr. 

    So you’re off the hook on your stuff too.  ;)

  • Guest

    I guess I just don’t understand the logic of women being excluded from certain roles within the church simply because they’re women. Yes, women are physically different from men, but why does that mean they shouldn’t serve as leaders or teachers in a church if that’s what they feel that God has called them to?

    I find it hard to believe that God draws such arbitrary lines.

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    Ah, I see. I am so tainted by sin that I am incapable of correctly interpreting Scripture. Hmm. Argument over. Bye.

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    1. Define “true”! The Bible is not all _history_ as in “if you had been there with a video recorder this is what you would have seen”. Our contemporary, science-driven us of the word “true” is very narrow, and doesn’t in that sense apply to much of the Bible. Are the Psalms “true”? Are Jesus’ parables “true” (e.g was there a Good Samaritan)? In that historical sense, the early chapters of Genesis are not “true”
    2. I don’t understand your remark about weakness, but of course Jesus was embedded in a culture. It was a culture he frequently upended, but he wanted to make sure his message would be listened to after his departure, so he chose men as the 12. 
    3&4. I _really_ don’t understand what you mean! I’m not saying anything about the relationship of God to creation, I’m saying that physical biological differences have no effect on whether someone makes a good pastor or teacher.

  • http://twitter.com/davebish_ Dave Bish

    Is it the same as saying – I can’t believe Jesus was the one on the cross, why him and not the Father or the Spirit? There are different roles. I’m not persuaded that the difference between men and women is just something arbitrary – perhaps God made us in his image different from one another for  a purpose – never in a way that would make men better or women lesser, but so that our lives might be an object lesson to reveal his love to the world… 

    We might similarly ask, why does it get dark at night, why does the sun rise…  why do women carry babies, why do we taste, see, hear… why does it rain, why is anything as it is (Jonathan Edwards explores this in his notebooks on “Images of Divine Things”). To which the answer is (in Psalm 19) to reveal his glory (i.e. his great love). Could it be that asking men to do one thing, and women another might be a way of showing his great love in a beautiful way that we would never design but he might?

    The church is after all the place where the manifold wisdom of God (i.e. Christ) is gloriously being revealed – it’s not just a business or an organisation, it’s something altogether more wonderful and peculiar and divine than that.

  • Acts2twelve

    Equally, Chuckt, could a single person find it difficult going to a married minister?  Could a woman find it hard to go to a man?

  • Guest

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your response to my comment, and I agree with your point about God revealing his glory in different ways through different people, but I suppose I have known too many women who have the gifts of teaching and leadership to be able to see a clear gender-related dividing line when it comes to roles within church (or in any other area of life, really). Hence, the idea of complementarianism just doesn’t make sense to me and doesn’t sit well in my soul. And I’m still left wondering why God would give these gifts to women, yet not allow them to exercise them because they’re woman. For me, it just doesn’t gel with the way that Jesus seemed to go out of his way to erase a lot of the lines that were being used to justify the exclusion and oppression of various people groups in Jewish culture at the time.

    Right now, Matthew 7:15 – 19 comes to mind:

    “15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

    I’m sure there are churches with complementarian views and churches with egalitarian views that are bearing good fruit right now; it just saddens me to think that there are women (and men) who (for all sorts of reasons) are not being encouraged to serve God to their fullest potential with the gifts that he has given them.

  • Amanda B.

    Thanks for replying, Brian. I’ll keep rolling with the number format as it seems to work well to sort things out:

    1) Couldn’t it just as easily be said that when a godly wife to submits to her husband, she’s not really submitting to her husband, but to God (since He told her to in Eph 5)? It seems a little strange to me to disconnect the submission from the horizontal-level person just because the command came from God. That’s true of anyone who submits to another (Eph 5:21).

    I’ve laid out my interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 a few comments down. It’s obviously very limited by length, but that’s the gist of it. I believe a blanket-rule forbiddance on women teaching men is not tenable due to the rest of the witness of Scripture on the subject, most clearly seen in Priscilla, Deborah, and Huldah. Even complementarians take a rather soft approach to this verse. I think it’s pretty universally recognized that “any woman teaching any man in any context” is not really what Paul is talking about.

    2) Not to split hairs, but I would like to point out that the church DID start out male and female. We can debate whether the church *leadership* did, but you’re missing a rather important word or two in that sentence. :) That said, there are two points I’d like to make regarding your response: A) I also suspect that the twelve disciples depicted the twelve tribes, which is why they’re Jewish men. But any guesses either of us make about it are just that–guesses. Jesus never explains why he chose twelve Jewish men, and any reason we come up with will be determined by the rest of our theology. So it can’t really stand on its own to prove a point.

    But following up on that, B) the case you made for the inclusion of the Gentiles pretty much boils down to the equal spiritual status in salvation–which is Galatians 3:28–which is a rather infamous verse in this debate, as I recall. Under the Old Covenant, the only people who could fully participate (and were obligated to participate) were free Jewish men. An awful lot changed with the resurrection. To say that, because of salvation, the Jewish part isn’t  important, but despite salvation, the male part is very important, seems a little selective to me–especially in light of women who sure seem to be church leaders, like Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, the “beloved lady” of 2 John, etc. So it’s not true that there is *no* New Testament indication that the male/female status quo changed, though it’s of course a matter of interpretation.

    3) As I said in my previous comment, I am prepared to accept the idea that God highlights the husband as the primary point person in the family. I may disagree with some complementarian applications of that, but I think the principle is reasonable. And though I have a few thoughts on it, I’m not really trying to argue about whether women can be *elders*, but about whether it is ever okay for them to teach or lead men (which is what 1Tim 2 is talking about).

    4) I don’t think this is an A = B = C kind of case here. I don’t believe a man’s role in a marriage necessarily carries over to church leadership. Christ is married to the church; a husband is married to his wife. But surely an elder cannot be said to be married to the church! Even if eldership was a role reserved for men (which is not what I’m inclined to believe), thinking a woman could do well at it does not equal thinking that a woman could be a good husband.

    5) Heart-level friendships *are* different than marriage, to be sure. But running a business or governing a country is *also* different than marriage–and IMO, far more different than having a deep, real, committed friendship is. My conclusion above was that I don’t think either of these are a very sound analogy, and they fall down really quickly.

    To your last paragraph, please hear me when I say that I gladly accept and submit to the various male leaders in my life (as well as the female ones). I do not think it is any kind of degradation to be submitted to anyone in particular. I am blessed with some truly excellent leaders (men and women) and a godly father, and I am very grateful for them all. But with all due respect, I am an adult, and have lived independently of my parents for a number of years. My father is about a two-day drive away. I love him dearly, and often seek his counsel on important issues–but he’s not raising me as a child anymore. He trusts me to make my own decisions and encourages me to step out in whatever I think God is calling me to. I cannot think of the last time he has told me to do something or not to do something. I honor him as my father, but I no longer obey him as a child (not that he has ever asked that of me).

    And it’s a little frustrating to have it implied that I am single because I think a man will hinder me, as opposed to, say, I just haven’t found the man I’m supposed to marry yet, or may be called to celibacy, or… well, pretty much anything besides the implication that my singleness suggests I have a problem with marriage and/or men.

    It is also a little frustrating to be told that I may very well be limited in my ability to grow in the Lord and serve Him until I am married. If complementarianism means that I can only grow in the Lord inasmuch as I, as an adult, am either fathered or married off, then that means singleness really leaves me up a creek without a paddle. I have a very hard time seeing that in the Scripture, especially since Paul seems to think being unmarried is a pretty good idea in 1Cor 7 (even for women).

    I’m not trying to pick a fight about that, and I almost just glossed it over, but I decided to mention it because this is more of what I’m concerned about re: complementarianism–much more so than whether I can be an elder or whether my husband gets to win in an impasse. If women can only fully function in the faith when under direct male leadership (even if the leader is amazingly kind and loving), then it sounds like I basically need a mediator between me and *the* Mediator, which sounds pretty unbiblical to me. 

    Thank you also for a very civilly-toned post; be blessed. :)

  • Amanda B.

    @f27eb6260c4b9239b205603d16cb7c12:disqus Oh the things that click right after hitting “send”! I just re-read your point on the “church was not originally male” thing for maybe the fifth and finally got it. So please kindly disregard that part of my reply. It’s past my bedtime, I think!

  • Kim

    Hi All, I’m, “Kim” the complementarian (in case there’s more than one “Kim”) that’s about 20 minutes worth of scrolling down at the end.  Chalk it up to my (very) limited knowledge of how to rearrange the comment section beyond what I see is already there as options.  :)

    The reason for my (re)introduction is because I’ve addressed quite a few of my complementarian views further down, so at the risk of bogging down the comment section even more, I’d like to invite anyone who wants to comment or ask questions about my views or has a specific question regarding them, please feel free to do so under the comments of a particular view/comment–there’s quite a few of them.  I’ll try and be diligent about checking and answering them, if any.  Thank you!

    The reason for this post is to hopefully clear up one recurring discussion from my views on complementarianism that may be misunderstood from either side:

    The sweeping idea of women being oppressed or not being able to use their God-given spiritual gifts in the church or church setting is not fully the case.  As a complementarian, I believe women can use their gifts to their absolute fullest potential and have a flourishing, lovely ministry (both in leadership and teaching) talking to a room full of ten hurting, abandoned women just as much as someone leading a group of 30,000 men and women in song (as long as the home is not abandoned in the name of “ministry.)  Neither ministries are greater or lesser except in number.  The idea of “full potential,” I hope, is not based on numbers, but based on issues of godly hearts in both the giver and potentially the receiver.  For as many times as there have been examples of big arenas being filled with godly preaching and teaching (if that is the description of potential for some people), there are arenas being filled with heretical preaching and teaching–so for me, numbers can’t be a factor in “fullest potential.”  To me, potential is not wrapped up in the amount of people hearing it (male or female) so much as godly fruit exhibited throughout it.  Isn’t that a pretty good measure of God’s response to a true ministry born of Him?

    John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will
    worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks
    to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  • http://twitter.com/therevsteve Stephen M Day

    I think you have misunderstood what I wrote: Paul calls for _mutual_ submission of husbands and wives. Then he calls for wives to submit to their husbands as they would to Christ (i.e. it’s not just blind obedience) Then he calls for husbands  to love their wives, which includes not insisting on their own way. He is building a very nuanced picture of mutuality under the headship of Christ.
    By the way, using language like “ripped a sentence right out of your Bible” is not constructive in this kind of debate. If you don’t accept that I’m approaching the text with as much respect and attention as you yourself are then it’s much more difficult to continue the debate.

  • http://twitter.com/LinJasonC Jason C Lin

    There is definitely an order in the way God does things,
    just as the Man is before the Woman.  In
    the beginning God created man in Genesis  

    Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and
    breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living
    creature.

    Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man
    should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a
    deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and
    closed up its place with flesh.

    And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made
    into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last
    is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because
    she was taken out of Man.

    Genesis 1:7, 18, 22-23

    So man came first and out of him came woman, for the
    satisfaction of man.  These are not my
    words but God’s.  The woman definitely has
    a place and voice in the order of things in God’s kingdom to serve the body.   But once they are one in the unity of marriage
    they together are one.  So all the decisions
    in the family should be made together.  But the matter of whether the woman should be
    the lead in the Church in any role I think is made clear the in verses you have
    provided.  God’s order is the man first
    then the woman.   So what are woman doing in leading the church?
    What has God said is plain and clear thought out the Bible.  

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    I think what we have to look at here is the prophecy itself.  The dream was very prophetic; Cornelius was the first of many Gentiles to fulfill that prophecy in Acts 10.  When it comes to prophecy, God uses the physical to explain the spiritual.

    Another “food” example is when God had Ezekiel eat the scroll (Ez 3).  Because God asked Ezekiel to eat the scroll, should we presume we should eat the Bible?  Of course not!  Same reasoning for Peter.  When God interpreted the dream to Peter, not once did God say he changed the “pork law.”  :-)

    Again, we have to look at God’s laws as a protection for us and not a list of rules and regulations to earn his approval.  Moses stated over and over again to the Israelites, that it’s not about the LAW, it’s about fearing and loving God.  The law was given to them to prosper them physically and financially.  Also, David wrote in Psalm 119:160, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.”  David understood God’s laws preserve our lives.

    I don’t mean to take the OP in a different direction.  Maybe Vicky can start a thread about how we view God’s laws.  I’m sure that will elicit a ton of response as the “women in ministry” topic.  :-)

    Blessings to you!!

  • Chuckt

    If a woman finds it hard going to a man then should she get married?  Relationships are reciprocol or complimentary and when you can’t correspond to someone then you basically have problems in relationships that can’t be worked out because they aren’t adult or mature.  I would say that person isn’t ready yet.

    1 Timothy 3:6   Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 

    The person instructing the church  can’t be a novice and a non-married elder would fall into that category.

  • Chris32man

    Hi Vicky

    you missed out 1 corinthians 11 on your list that explains a lot of things concerning men and women in the church.

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    “The first problem is that there is no record of the church ever having the problem of polygamy. If this was Paul’s intended meaning, he was addressing a problem which, up to that time, had not been observable. Historians also tell us that it is doubtful that polygamy was practiced by the Romans or the Greeks of that time. Therefore, Paul would have been warning against a practice which was not evident among either the pagans or the church.
    Another problem with this interpretation becomes apparent when viewed within its context. I Timothy 3:2 tells that the elder must be the “husband of one wife.” I Timothy 5:9 tells that the enlisted widow (a widow supported by the church) must have been the “wife of one husband.” The construction of these two verses is identical. They are written within the same context by the same author. Therefore, it seems that the two verses should be viewed similarly. If Paul is prohibiting the elder from the practice of polygamy, then he must have also been prohibiting the enlisted widow from practicing polyandry, a practice which is not reported to have occurred during this time and geographic location. This view is very doubtful considering the context and parallel restrictions of widows’ moral characters.”
    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-f008.html

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk JamesP

    Indeed Jesus did choose uneducated men – but they spent up to 3 years learning from Jesus, living with Him, they knew His message – though I do get your point. But Paul was writing to a particular church at a particular time, in a city where women were preaching men were below women, in a culture where women were uneducated. The bigger message behind what Paul wrote was that uneducated people shouldn’t be teaching, Paul didn’t want a false teaching being taught. When Paul talks about the fall He was writing to a church in a city where the cult of Diana was teaching women were above and better than men, or superior to them. He talked about the fall to teach that women and men were both equal – not women above men. He said it not to demean the role of women, but to redress the balance.

  • http://twitter.com/MelaSie Melanie Siewert

    Hey Brian!  There is SO much here.  It will take us days (if not weeks) to sort through all this.  I wish there was a way for all of us to meet in person so we can go through the Bible together and do what the Bereans did.  :-)  Online blogging just doesn’t cut it for me when it comes to effectively dissecting scripture together because it takes much longer to go through a tough topic than studying the Word together in person — maybe we can set up a Skype bible study.  :-)

    When it comes to structure in the church, it has some benefits.  However, are we viewing the church as an organization or are we viewing the church as a family?  If we view the church as an organization, people are more prone to become power hungry.  Conversely, viewing the church as a family, it’s a TOTALLY different dynamic.  We all know too much order quenches the Spirit.  I believe it’s because people are so prone to control something that past revivals have fizzled out.  When we try to control the move of the Holy Spirit, pride and self-reliance prevents us from hearing what God is saying to his people.  So, we can’t really look at hierarchy as the answer because every believer should be a servant to all since there is no hierarchy in servanthood.

    With that said, I think the main thing the church really needs to do is get serious about the sin that critically binds her.  There is SO much division, bureaucracy, control, pride, lack of cultivating the spiritual gifts, getting offended easily, etc.  I don’t think it’s a matter of the church doing a bunch of stuff to look like the early church.  It’s all going to start with repentance.  The church needs to drop to the feet of Jesus with a “Lord, have mercy on me for I’m a sinner” posture, and allow Christ to restore his bride himself.  I believe at that time, the Lord will pour out his Spirit in ways we’ve never seen before (Amos 2) because he can’t resist a humble and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).

    Blessings to you, Brian!

  • Chuckt

    “This is written at a time when women were property of men.  Pretty much slaves themselves.”

    2 Peter 1:20   Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 

    When people say that the Bible is speaking to a cultural situation and it isn’t for today then I believe that is a private interpretation that not everyone shares.

    How do you know the Old Testament is written for you?  If the Bible is just cultural then how much of the Bible is written to you?  I mean, how do you know Matthew wasn’t written to the Jews and not you?  How do you know that the book of Acts just wasn’t written to Theophilus and not you?  How do you know that the book of Corinthians wasn’t just written to the Corinthians and not you? 

    If you want to approach the Bible culturally then people end up not believing any of the Bible and other people who use these cultural arguments are usually (not all) atheists.  When you start giving these arguments then I would have to believe none of the Bible to be consistent.

    My other question is that if the Bible is only cultural then isn’t it time for those commands to cease?  Then why does the Bible say that the word of the lord endures forever?

    1 Peter 1:25   But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 

    If headship is not our example then why does the Bible say these things were written for our example?

    Romans 15:4   For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 

    1 Corinthians 10:11   Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (an example): and they are written for our admonition (our exhortation), upon whom the ends of the world are come. 

    But the Bible is written to disciples and anyone can be a disciple (a learner and a follower).

    Matthew 28:20   Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. 

    We’re admonished to teach the full counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

    Acts 20:27   For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 

    The Old and New Testaments are scripture.

    1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward. Paul links scripture with Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 (New Testament) because “…men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.”

  • http://www.radical-disciple.blogspot.com radical disciple

    hi everyone

    sorry if i repeat something that’s already been said, but i have to admit to skimming throught the above 200(!) comments on here.

    i simply wanted to say that there are very good exegetical arguments out there for seeing
    Ephesians 5 particularly, but also 1Cor 11 and 14 and 2Tim as not proscribing against women in ministry.  Eph 5 is actually better read as a prescription FOR re-establishing the mutuality that women and men were made for – it seems churlish in fact, not to read Eph 5 as a radicalisation of the normative patriarchal structures.

    however, in my opinion, these NT texts are really secondary to the lenses that we look through in terms of the OT references to male and female.

    Our Biblical Anthropology forms and focuses our exegetical lenses through which we see the NT.

    Needless to see I see a radical mutuality warped and wefted throughout the entire OT which prevents me from seeing the NT as any less radical than this.  God in Genesis 1 creates the male and female, side by side, together imaging God in their relational ontology (this means that their very essence is relational – they are made and defined by their relationship together, they are defined by each other)

    this is emphasised and repeated in the slightly different creation story in Genesis 2.  In Genesis 2 we meet the interesting creature ‘ha’adam’, this means literally in hebrew ‘the dustling’.  The dustling is made from the dust or the ‘adamah’ in hebrew.  You can see where this is going.  The male creature eventually gets the name Adam from this play on words.  However, initially, the creature is not gender defined.  It is only at the point in the story when the ‘adam’ who is put to sleep wakes up, that we discover the creature has been gendered, the ‘adam’ becomes the ‘iysh’ (the  ‘man’) and he is only now gendered because he has a counterpart, the ‘ishshah’ (the ‘woman’).  And then we have this wonderful poetic interplay between the creatures.  The ‘iysh’ defines himself as ‘man’ when he sees the ‘ishshah’.  He sees ‘woman’ and finds that he is ‘man’.

    There is no woman without man and no man without woman.

    This is biblical.

    The tragedy which occurs in Genesis 3, for which both the woman and the man are responsible, both being present in the conversation with the serpent, results in a fracturing of relationship.  The man and the woman, made to be companions, mutually serving and being friends with each other, with God and to the earth, become disjointed in their relations. In Genesis 3 we find God describing the consequences of their choice. One of these consequences is the sad result that we have seen over our human history, the mutuality of relationship between man and woman is damaged and one is in position to dominate the other.

    From the point of Genesis 3 onwards, we see the consequences in the relationships between men and women deteriorating.  From, quickly the relationship with Abraham and Hagar and Sarah, to Solomon’s concubines, taking a sharp detour through Jephthah’s daughter and the Levite’s concubine.  However through this we see God’ hand in the relationship, and God holding women through this time.  Saving Sarai, when Abraham tried to sell her to Pharoah, to save his own neck.  Abraham hadn’t seen that Sarai was as much a part of the promise as he was.  But God is always there to remind him.  God is there in Deborah (God’s answer to Israel’s cries, if you look at the narrative), in Esther (for such a time as this), in Ruth (a small and integral part in the story of Jesus birth), in the ongoing telling of the story of Jephthah’s daughter, the silence of God in the tragedy of the concubine.  It’s there if you want to see it.

    If you see the NT passages (especially, fwiw, the 1Cor11 hebraic exegesis of Paul) through these lenses, you will read it very differently than if you see the male as being created first and the Genesis 3 passage as a prescription of a God ordained order.

    but i rather doubt that my tuppenceworth will change minds.  all this stuff is out there if you want to find it.  in the end, you will all have to ask yourselves some very deep questions as to why you believe that men are in charge/control, if that is your opinion…..

    blessings on your heads

    jody

  • Brian M

    1. If Jesus, Paul, and many other NT figures spoke of accounts in Genesis as if they were true, then on what basis do you conclude they’re just “myth”?  Wouldn’t Jesus have been insane for warning of impending destruction ”like Sodom & Gomorrah”, or wouldn’t Paul be out of his mind for basing church practice and doctrine on “stories” like Adam and Eve?  Perhaps we can trust Jesus and Paul, and those things really did happen

    2. Jesus ”wanted to make sure his message would be listened to… so he chose men”?  Where do you get that idea anywhere in Scripture?  3&4. My point was physical and biological differences are created by God, they’re not just “biological” as if they were separate from the Creator.  Biology came from somewhere, correct?  And maybe that same Someone who created biological roles for men and women also has different roles in His church. Connect the dots.

  • LoydHarp

    Jody, I want to be like you when I grow up (and I’m 37)! ;)

  • LoydHarp

    Sounds like we’re on the same page and I was misunderstanding the intent of your point.  Thanks for clarifying.

  • Amanda B.

    Nothing very lasting came from any of the judges, it would seem. Judges is one big painful see-saw of Israel returning to the Lord under a righteous judge, and then turning back to idols (which they did after every single righteous judge died, and even during Gideon’s lifetime). 

    I would urge some caution in speaking of this, because it’s easy to read what you said as though God’s chosen leaders failed in areas of owning slaves, polygamy, and–well, not having a Y chromosome. It could be interpreted as though you are saying that being female was Deborah’s moral failure. I am very predisposed to believe that this is *not* what you’re saying, and I trust that is not what the CBMW meant when they said the same thing, but it sounds awfully close to it.

    Does that make sense? I don’t want to needlessly split hairs, but it’s just that I have heard a lot of people make this argument without thinking about what kind of implications it carries towards God’s overall esteem of women. If Deborah’s femininity is on par with Abraham’s polygamy, David’s adultery, Samson’s quick temper and carelessness, etc., then we’re saying that her very *ontological makeup*, rather than her behavior, is what made her leadership sinful, despite the fact that God is the One who raised her up as a righteous judge in the first place. Again, I trust that this is not accurate of the nuance of your position, but it sounds a lot like this is what you’re saying.

    So whatever your interpretation of Deborah, again, I’m simply making an appeal for more sensitive word choice when speaking of her. :)

  • http://www.cyber-soul.com/ Vicky Beeching

    Thanks Jody! :)

  • Hardybex

    Hi, just commenting on this as I read the blog a few days ago and finished 1 Corinthians this morning. Sorry if this has already been touched on and I missed it – and please forgive me if I am clumsy, I am not a learned person!
    In Revelation (12:11) it says the devil is overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Testimony is telling other people what Jesus has done in our lives. This, I think, is teaching as we learn new things about how God works through other peoples lives and situations.  I am a woman and I have spoke in church and housegroup about what God has done for me.
    As I read 1 Corinthians this morning and the notes in my Bible, I thought the ladies in Corinth were not teaching or giving testimony, but asking questions that could not be answered in that setting. 

  • http://twitter.com/davebish_ Dave Bish

    “I’m still left wondering why God would give these gifts to women, yet not allow them to exercise them because they’re woman”  – there are limits on every ministry though. Doors are closed on everyone somewhere… I’d like to think that even if a gifted person doesn’t get to teach in every context they get to teach in the context they’re called to. We had an university professor in our church (now a Cambridge Chair) who taught the infant school kids but never preached to the whole church…  

    I appreciate if a line is drawn by gender that feels different, but its not like everyone has every opportunity without that – I was never going to be allowed to study at Oxford Uni, I may never get to preach on the main stage at a major conference – and I certainly wont get to lead worship in that kind of context (I can’t sing!). Even if my maleness means it might theoretically be possible, many doors remain shut – but God does call me to certain things.

    I suppose the point is – if God meant gender for something (presumably could have designed us differently…) then maybe that’s a very important thing, and that somehow highlighting difference might serve to reveal more of his love than suppressing difference? 

    “there are women (and men) who (for all sorts of reasons) are not being encouraged to serve God to their fullest potential”  – certainly works both ways doesn’t it. We need to release the whole body of the church to serve, and probably that means downgrading the importance of the Sunday preacher – or at least, removing the idea that it’s the only valuable ministry to do. Highly honourable and worthy of great honour – but such leaders aren’t the ministers, they prepare the saints for ministry…

  • Mike

    I’m not a biblical scholar but I believe the bible teaches to look for what bears good fruit.  To me the fruit speaks for itself on this issue.  I have heard the Word of God through female pastors, been led to worship through female worship leaders, and have been taught spiritually by female teachers.  I currently serve with a mix of men and women on our church council.  I respect them all equally and appreciate all of their unique gifts and personalities.  Together we make a great leadership team.  I have been married to an amazing wife for 17 years.  Although not perfect we mutually love, respect and submit to each other the best we can. We make tough decisions together about finances, raising our kids and church.  Together with God we are complete.   Equality between men and women is soooo much simpler in the church, in marriage and everywhere else for that matter.  I could be wrong but I believe that’s what God has always intended but scripture has been taken out of context for centuries.  We obviously can’t take the whole bible literally, we already don’t as Vicky has pointed out with headscarves etc…we have to try to understand the context and culture in which the scriptures are written. Some things may or may not apply to our culture today.  

    I wonder what advice Paul would have for the church today.  I’m guessing it would be a bit different than the church of his time.  Maybe he would say things like you don’t have to wear a dress shirt and tie to church on Sunday because it’s what’s inside that counts.  Or when women dress modest it’s hottest….(that’s what I tell my teenage daughter anyways!!)  Or we shouldn’t use busy video backgrounds behind the song lyrics on the projector screens because it distracts people from worshiping… 

    Mike

  • Guest

    Hi Dave,

    “I’d like to think that even if a gifted person doesn’t get to teach in
    every context they get to teach in the context they’re called to. We had
    an university professor in our church (now a Cambridge Chair) who
    taught the infant school kids but never preached to the whole church… I appreciate if a line is drawn by gender that feels different …”

    Absolutely. :) When the line is drawn by gender (rather than ability/gifting/calling etc) it does feel very different. Many women feel devalued in churches today because it’s the fact that they’re women that bars them from serving in areas they feel called to. We have several women in our church who regularly preach and/or lead our services, but in the church down the road they would not even be allowed to share their testimonies in a service. We recently had one family from that church join our congregation and the wife commented that she felt as if she had been ‘set free’ because she can now pray aloud without fear of reprimand. That makes me feel very sad (but also glad that she and her family have now joined us).

    “Even if my maleness means it might theoretically be possible, many doors remain shut – but God does call me to certain things.”

    Imagine what it would feel like if you were told that even though you have the gifting, even though you feel called, you can’t serve in those ways because you’re a man. :)

    “I suppose the point is – if God meant gender for something (presumably
    could have designed us differently…) then maybe that’s a very
    important thing, and that somehow highlighting difference might serve to
    reveal more of his love than suppressing difference?”

    I’m not against acknowledging difference. What I don’t like the idea of is gender difference obscuring individual gifting/calling. Also, I think that a complementarian view of women’s roles within church may hinder our evangelistic efforts, especially with regard to the current generation of young people who have been raised in an equal opportunities culture.

    “We need to release the whole body of the church to serve, and probably
    that means downgrading the importance of the Sunday preacher – or at
    least, removing the idea that it’s the only valuable ministry to do.
    Highly honourable and worthy of great honour – but such leaders aren’t
    the ministers, they prepare the saints for ministry…”

    I’m in total agreement with you there. :)

  • Dennis

    Kim
    I too appreciate the friendly volley of this conversation. You raised a number of good questions lets see if I can give addequate response to my ramblings!

    1. it is correct when I say that I do not believe any of the roles are gender specific. Also we are in agreement that all gifts are availible to all people. I also believe that issues of authority regarding gender only come up when all is equal in both home and church. For example in a marriage the wife may be much better with finances then the man and therefore the husband may freely allow the wife to handle the general finances as long as both are in agreement however if there is disagreement and after discussion there is not a unified response then the Man must take the lead in making the final choice. Since he is the wifes covering and if a choice is made right or wrong he will be called to account. In the same manner in the church If a woman has recieved the proper education and is a solo pastor she hopefully has a better grasp on the scriptures then others in the church male or female. Now if a church is large enough that it would have multiple pastor staff I believe it would be a huge mistake to have a female senior pastor and a male associate here because when all else is equal the Man should take the helm. It is for this reason that I believe when Paul is talking about not allowing women to speak in church it is an issue of educational equality. Also the cultural issue of keeping the sexes divided in the synogouge we could have have the teacher up there and the wife yelling accross the room to her husband what he thinks. Additionally there are times when Paul is giving instruction that he says this is from me of this is from God I do not believe that there is ever a time in scripture when discussing the gender issue Paul claims his word to be from God. Correct me please if I am wong. And by the way this is not to negate the word of God only that there are certain things in the bible that are cultural and personal like when the psalmist say I have never seen the righteous begging bread that is clearly an observation not an absolute.

    2. regarding the fourth century question; it is more rhetorical there are so many people who want to claim the Bible alone as there standard but then they forget that though the bible is inspired by God it was assembled by men. Up until the fourth century there were a number of different “canons” of scripture in use all with varying books it was in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea when the church fianlly said these 66 book make up the canon and these 7 make up the detero-canon. We then turn and accept that discision as authoritivate but say that other issues in use by the church and discisions made by the same council and even the creed written by those men at the same council by the same men who defined the canon are not binding and authoritaive (please don’t ask me what those issues are for that will open a whole other can of worms) and mearly the traditions of men not God.
    To that end without a single cannon in existance until 325ad then the church was using human traditions that had been inspired by God but no scripture to bring reproof to said traditions to govern them. in 2 thess 2:25 Paul actually exorts the believes to hold fast to teachings past on by word of mouth.

    3. finally regarding your question of Adam in Roman’s 5:12 Paul tells that that sin entered the world through one man. and in 1 cor. 15:20-22  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. and even in the creation account God first comes to Adam and asks him what he has done and he passess the buck. as an asside it is part of my own biblical research to see what ight be if Adam had taken responsibility rather then passing the buck (think of those hose hold codes again) would manking have been kicked out of the garden? or might all have been forgiven? Just a  thought nothing official.

    Shalom,
    Dennis

  • Beechy

    I became a believer in a brethren church and embraced a
    highly reformed theology that included the understanding that women could not
    lead or preach. The proof texts for this are well rehearsed. They were well
    meaning, Godly men and women who were deeply concerned to protect and preserve
    sound doctrine. They weren’t the enemy.

    As a church planter I had a different and highly pragmatic
    view and women preached. During this time as a student pastor, my elders and
    senior leaders engaged with a complimentarian view and I came into line with
    that.  Over time this view changed radically.  Its been a journey and a half!  There are difficulties wherever you stand on the debate but more I feel from a complimentarian position.

    There are apparent contradictions. In Corinthians, women can
    prophecy in meetings in 1 Cor 11:5 but then not speak in 1Cor  14:34?  Some say the latter is a later addition in the margins.  Others say it is a reference to
    Corinthian legalists (ie Corinthians is a letter answering questions and here
    Paul is simply re stating their position to him. Ie ‘you say…etc’ and then
    bringing correction ie ‘did the word of God originate with you?’ in verses
    36-39.) Others take it at face value.

    There is also the appeal to Genesis in 1 Tim 2. This states
    that women were deceived and God made Adam first.  (1Tim 2) This is applied in complimentarian churches by not
    permitting women to teach adult men. 
    However it is always
    acceptable for women to teach children of either sex (the most vulnerable) or
    go and lead mission teams oversees. 

    Staunch complimetarians accept cultural contextual arguments for some texts but not it seems in the case of women in leadership.

    It seems to me that there are many proof texts that if taken
    out of context and at face value would cause serious difficulties for us, such
    as execution by stoning.  There is
    also no explicit prohibition against slavery in the bible.  However, we accept that there was a
    general trajectory that led us to the understanding that slavery was/is an
    abhorrence and that stoning isn’t the way forward!

    There is also unresolved and extensive debate about the
    cultural and contextual nature of the texts. This cannot be ignored.

    In practice, most married male elders consult their wives and take their joint opinions into meetings.  I know this from over 13 years experience of church leadership.  In one church, such was the wisdom of the wives that they used to have a joint meeting every month or so, in order to benefit from the wisdom without compromising biblical integrity.  It felt much like the Pharisees laying a rope from their doorways so that they could visit the well on the sabbath without leaving the boundary of their home. ;)

    Theologically for me it is about “trajectories”.  From the Old Testament we seem to see a
    trajectory of women in leadership or significant roles.  Deborah, Esther etc. Then in the NT,
    this trajectory continues with women as witnesses to the resurrection and the
    apparently female names of apostles (ie Junia).

    Interestingly these trajectories are not seen in other
    debates in the evangelical community just now.  When it came to slavery, Paul preached a message of behaving like brothers rather than freeing slaves. It was as far as he could go in his time.  We don’t however believe he was pro slavery?

    We can only scratch the surface here but from my
    perspective, there are simply too many questions and difficulties to hold a complimentarian view.  That people get so passionately angry  at times about the issue also raises questions for
    me.  For me, I think we should be more passionately
    angry that people are dying without Jesus and that globally, injustice thrives.  From where I’m standing we need all hands on deck.  My concern is also heightened when
    people seem to dig their heels in and stop listening and learning.  This is dangerous.

    Considering 2 women are killed every week by men in the UK
    alone and that there is an increasingly proliferation of porn etc, men would do
    well to speak first of laying their lives down and demonstrating a radically
    dynamic life of sacrifice, mutual submission and respect and the pursuit of justice, rather than focussing on enforcing
    male dominated pulpits.  On that note, some of the best mentoring, teaching and input into my leadership of a mens ministry came from a nationally renowned leadership expert…who happens to be a woman.

  • Jason

    Chris, some good points there. The reference though to Romans 16: 7 “where Junia (not Junius as it is often mistranslated) is named among the apostles” may not be correct though. According to the ESV study Bible: 

    Andronicus and Junia were probably a husband-and-wife ministry team. Most scholars now think that Junia was a woman, though some have argued that a man named Junias is in view (the spelling would be the same in Greek, and both male and female forms are rare in Greek; however, the female equivalent of “Junia” is much more common in Latin, and Paul could have been referring to a woman with a Latin name). Some have said that this verse proves that Junia was an apostle, and thus women can fill any church office. The verse seems to be saying, however, that Andronicus and Junia were well known to the apostles, not that Junia was herself an apostle. 

    Just to throw that in the mix.

    Cheers. 

  • http://twitter.com/proskuneoDOTDE Ben Seidl

    Just to be honest, I thought about adding a thought or two to this last night but waited on it. I am 30, married and live in Berlin. I am a missionary/worship leader guy serving a German church plant. Over the last few years, I have been shaped and influenced by a few voices coming from the (new stream of) Reformed camps, namely Tim Keller and John Piper (not the newest voices I know). 

    This is what I noticed. If I had added a comment last night I would have written something with regards to Complimentarianism, which is a place where I find myself from time to time. However, after giving it more thought I found myself use a systematic theology to argue a position and not starting with the text. So I think I will have to go back and prayerfully read through the suggested texts from above. 
    On a side note, as one who thinks and deals a lot with missiology, I know of many groups of Christians in contexts where there is not an able or qualified man to lead/pastor, but there are women. So in these contexts my “from time to time” complimentarianism get stretched. If these women cannot/not aloud to teach/preach/lead these bodies of Christians then there are a lot men who are needed to go into some messy far off places of the world. Maybe that is one of you…..Anyways, I have some reading and thinking to get to.Ben

  • Kim

    Hi Dennis, sorry for the long delay.  I just checked this now.  I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation, but do realize it must end at one point as I am thankful that neither of us are as interested in wanting to sway vs. just presenting sides.  So no worries if you must go.

    Here’s my thoughts as well.  Thankful there’s nothing “official” in any of these posts–that would be quite the pressure!  :)

    Dennis:
    it is correct when I say that I do not believe any of the roles are gender
    specific. Also we are in agreement that all gifts are availible to all people.
    I also believe that issues of authority regarding gender only come up when
    all is equal in both home and church. For example in a marriage the wife
    may be much better with finances then the man and therefore the husband may
    freely allow the wife to handle the general finances as long as both are in
    agreement however if there is disagreement and after discussion there is not a
    unified response then the Man must take the lead in making the final
    choice.  Since he is the wifes covering
    and if a choice is made right or wrong he will be called to account. 

    Me: This is great common ground
    which I believe is found in Scripture.

    Dennis:
    In the same manner in the church If a woman has received the proper education
    and is a solo pastor she hopefully has a better grasp on the scriptures then
    others in the church male or female.

    Me: Can we back up a couple of
    steps with this?  Do you believe that
    education is the foundation of the gifts or the Holy Spirit is the
    foundation?  I believe the Holy Spirit is
    the foundation and then education. 
    Depending on what you mean by “proper”, it can easily become a mere
    academic exercise vs. a heart-exercise, which, I think, is what separates head
    knowledge vs. heart knowledge.  I believe
    you know and believe this as well, I just wanted to clarify it.  Also, do you believe that in order to be a
    “proper” pastor, both genders need a “proper” education?  That would be hard to prove from Scripture, I
    believe, because of whom Jesus chose as Apostles.

    Now, I’m a strong believer that
    in order to exegete the passages with the proper heremeneutics, higher
    education (or maybe across the pond it is called “university”) certainly is
    helpful and can be used to expedite the process, but plenty of education-less
    people have been proven worthy of a gospel pulpit.  But it’s one of those things that for every
    highly education person who exegetes in a godly way, there are those unschooled
    persons who don’t and visa versa.  Again,
    Scripture ruling over our ultimate conclusion which, I believe, speaks to the
    Holy Spirit having the final say.  It
    would appear to take a lot of undue pressure off of people, give many more
    opportunities for men and women fully using their amazing, supernaturally,
    regenerated gifts; but also give to them (well everyone really) very strict
    guidelines as well (cf. James 3:1).

    I think, pragmatically, in a
    small church, having a man lead and a highly educated woman use her gifts to
    help him learn how to study, read, and speak is the proper application.  And would give the small audience MUCH
    opportunity to I Peter 1:22-23 and I Peter 4:8—extend much grace and love,
    trusting that whomever the Holy Spirit gifts, He grows and equips. J  It’s the only way I can see this small church
    fulfilling Phil. 2 in a heartfelt way. 
    Would it be more likely that we would die to ourselves in Christlike
    manner to our preferences to a learned, eloquent woman or a stuttering,
    desiring-to-grow man? 

    Dennis:
    Now if a church is large enough that it would have multiple pastor staff I
    believe it would be a huge mistake to have a female senior pastor and a male
    associate here because when all else is equal the Man should take the helm. It
    is for this reason that I believe when Paul is talking about not allowing women
    to speak in church it is an issue of educational equality. Also the cultural
    issue of keeping the sexes divided in the synogouge we could have have the
    teacher up there and the wife yelling accross the room to her husband what he
    thinks. Additionally there are times when Paul is giving instruction that he
    says this is from me of this is from God I do not believe that there is ever a
    time in scripture when discussing the gender issue Paul claims his word to be
    from God. Correct me please if I am wong. And by the way this is not to negate
    the word of God only that there are certain things in the bible that are
    cultural and personal like when the psalmist say I have never seen the
    righteous begging bread that is clearly an observation not an absolute

    Me: Dennis, Wow!  Some really great thoughts.  I wish we could discuss this over coffee (or
    tea?:) )  My husband would really
    appreciate it as well.  I appreciate how
    you are very strong and desire to align with the Word of God so closely, yet so
    humbly.  This is not lip service. I am
    thoroughly impressed (and convicted as well!)

    I 100% agree—there are
    descriptions, then prescriptions.  I know
    we entering the crux of the disagreement that each of us from Scripture.  I see it “clearly” one way and you see it
    “clearly” the other. 

    I don’t think you’re
    wrong.  I don’t think there is ever a
    time where Paul directly links His Apostolic, II Pet. 1:20 gift to the gender
    issue.  I think my linkage comes from the
    fact that there are some pretty core doctrines Paul links to the authority
    issue (i.e. creation order (I Tim. 2, I Cor. 11), Jesus dying for His bride
    (Eph. 5), original sins I Tim. 2) , etc.). 
    Even in I Cor. 11, the issue of headcoverings is referred to as a symbol
    by the translators in vs. 8.  So the
    verses are not about headcoverings, but about authority and submission, from
    what I can see.  J

    Dennis:
    regarding the fourth century question; it is more rhetorical there are so many
    people who want to claim the Bible alone as there standard but then they forget
    that though the bible is inspired by God it was assembled by men. Up until the
    fourth century there were a number of different “canons” of scripture
    in use all with varying books it was in the fourth century at the Council of
    Nicea when the church fianlly said these 66 book make up the canon and these 7
    make up the detero-canon. We then turn and accept that discision
    as authoritivate but say that other issues in use by the church and
    discisions made by the same council and even the creed written by those
    men at the same council by the same men who defined the canon
    are not binding and authoritaive (please don’t ask me what those issues
    are for that will open a whole other can of worms) and mearly the
    traditions of men not God.
    To that end without a single cannon in existance until 325ad then the church
    was using human traditions that had been inspired by God but no scripture
    to bring reproof to said traditions to govern them. in 2 thess 2:25 Paul
    actually exorts the believes to hold fast to teachings past on by
    word of mouth.

    Me: Haaahaaa, Dennis you are
    fearless!  I’m thoroughly impressed now
    by not only your knowledge, but your good practice in encouraging this
    conversation to not get into the dotted I’s and T’s of a strawman
    argument.  Very wise!  J

    I think the response I wanted
    to give was a rather general, broad one. 
    While this is all true, historically, ultimately I believe we need to
    trust the preservation of the authority, inerrancy and perspicuity of Scripture
    comes from the all wise, all knowing, detailed God who would know early century
    Christians would grapple with these things. 
    When Paul is inspired to write II Tim. 3:16-17 using the words “All Scripture”
    he may not have known God’s timing and complete canon, but the Holy Spirit
    completely and authoritatively knew the timing and inerrancy of the things we
    should know.  When Peter writes the same
    reconciling verse in II Peter 1:20-21, I know I can be absolutely confident and
    authoritative that whatever was preserved out of the canon is truly the Word of
    God—even if it started out as Word of mouth or pieced together scrolls.  This is where I guess the mustard seed faith
    in a big God who sways men’s hearts is employed.  But I hope I don’t sound too simplistic or
    naïve which is why I am glad that you encouraged our conversation to sidestep
    the “can of worms.”
    I guess what I’m saying is that while the human author was writing to his current audience, the capital “A” Author, the Holy Spirit, was writing to “everyone who would believe.”

     Dennis: finally regarding your question
    of Adam in Roman’s 5:12 Paul tells that that sin entered the world
    through one man. and in 1 cor. 15:20-22  But Christ has indeed been
    raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For
    since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through
    a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. and even
    in the creation account God first comes to Adam and asks him what he has done
    and he passess the buck. as an asside it is part of my own biblical research to
    see what ight be if Adam had taken responsibility rather then passing the buck
    (think of those hose hold codes again) would manking have been kicked out of
    the garden? or might all have been forgiven? Just a  thought nothing
    official.

    Me: Ahh.  Sorry, I forgot about that verse so thank you
    for reminding me of those beautiful passages. 
    I see where you are walking through them.  I believe the reconciling verse, though,
    comes in I Tim.2 which indicates that Eve is responsible as well and even has a
    nice two nice, little specific curses: 1) regarding the pain of childbearing
    passed down through one specific gender generation—yeah women!  J and 2) the desire to rule over her husband, both
    mentioned in Gen. 3:16-17. 

    I’ll be honest, I’m a little
    leery to walk the road of wondering too much if Adam (or Eve for that matter)
    hadn’t sinned.  I believe that the full
    counsel of the Trinity deemed it wisest that this would be the way to best
    display the glory of God.

    desire to rule over her husband, both
    mentioned in Gen. 3:16-17. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cameronandchi.swanson CameronandChi Swanson

    Blessings to you, Vicky, and all who’ve made comments!

    I will not look at every scriptural reference given here, just the specific ones that deal with whether a woman should preach or teach:  1 Corinthians 14, 1 Timothy 2, Galatians 3:28″Do you believe women should be able to preach in Church?” ~ Yessssssss!!!!  

    “Should women be able to be the senior leader of a Church? An Elder? A Bishop?” ~ Yikes, tough one! In Timothy and Titus, for part of the requirements of the “office”of presbyter, it should be a man who is the husband of one wife.  However, we have to interpret this in light of all 13 epistles, and also in terms of the 1st century Greco-Roman culture of the cities Paul wrote to.  I would argue that a woman could be a co-pastor of a church along with her husband.  

    “Are men and women equal and ‘the same’ before God, in their role, because of the resurrection? Or is there a difference in role that is God intended?” ~ while I believe that woman and men are equal before the Lord, I believe that there is a place for healthy distinctions between the roles of men and women in society, and in church to some degree. For example, I believe that in terms of struggling with certain issues of the flesh, women should be accountable to other women, and men to other men, etc. 
    “Is a man the ‘head’ of his wife? Should the husband get the final say in a marital issue?” ~ Nope! Not about final say, but I believe men desire and yearn for respect above all else in marriage.  However, the revelation that we men must love our wives as Christ loved the church is so deep, that if we were to truly do this in our lives, our ladies would have no issue in honoring our decisions.  In terms of being “head, ” I would say men are the head of the marriage in terms of accountability before the Lord.  We men bear the greater responsiblity, or carry the bigger cross in marriage according to Ephesians 5. ”How do we interpret the key Scriptures about these things?”
     ~ The issue is that we have 2000 years of cultural changes and shifts to contend with, as well as entirely different languages today than there were during the time of the NT.  We also have to factor in the original intent of the Apostle Paul and his original audience.  In terms of interpretation, I would say that every verse falls within a chapter, that falls into a book, that falls into the entire canon of Paul’s writings.  1 Corinthians 14:34-35 cannot be absolute, for Paul commends women who pray and prophesy in modest dress (11:5, 13). Perhaps he was arguing against women speaking up to judge prophecies prior their male leaders, which is the immediate context of 1 Cor 14.  Also, remember that 1-2 Timothy were written in Ephesus, where the temple of Artemis stood.  She was the goddess of fertility…..think about it. In Corinth, there was a huge temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.  Her priests were all-female, and Corinthian citizens would “worship” by engaging in various “activities” with a priestess.  Perhaps these female priests converted to Christ, and tried to introduce the same style of “worship” to Christianity, to which Paul replied by quickly deferring to the law.  Or perhaps because these former priestesses were in charge @ the pagan temple, they assumed they could take charge in the church, even though they were brand new.  However, if the cessationists are correct, 1 Cor 14 wouldn’t matter in this discussion, anyway!
       ”Is Complimentarianism (the belief that men and women have different roles; e.g. women can’t teach men) right?” ~ No, not in the very strictest sense.  ”Is Egalitarianism (the belief that because of Christ’s work, men and women are equal in role and not bound by any gender dictated restrictions) right?” No, that’s not exactly right, either.But I would argue that the starting point in discerning any NT texts has to be studying the Koine Greek. In his writings, Paul uses deakonos and apostolos to describe Phoebe and Junia.  He commends Priscilla, Junia, Julia and Nereus’ sister.  Tryphena, Tryphosa, who “labour for the Lord’s work”, and Rufus’ mother. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work. Chloe and Lydia are prominent women, businesswoman and leaders whom Paul commends. Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel by the Apostle. God Bless You All! 
     @swansonworship:twitter  

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  • Dennis

    Kim,

    These are truely great thoughts and allow me again to say thanks so offen I find peple in these forums who either want to debate rather then discuss (one upmanship does so much to advance the kingdom) or they take a pie in the sky me and jesus approach.
     
    To answer your first question about which comes first the gift or the education. I fully believe the gift comes first and as we said agreeed in an earlier post the that The Spirit does indeed give the same gift to many regardless of gender. I believe your question regarded the context and use of those gifts.

    So while I do believethe gifting and calling needs to come first the flip side is that there are many who have shunned education because they “have the gift”. I believe that many of the pastors with out proper education to who you refer were wonderful ministers and most had a denominational authority behind them who examimed them and said they they had the knowledge even if they did not have an M.Div or M.TH after their name. The problem we have to day is that the Christian Laity have so spurned Godly organizational authority that anyone can put out a shingle and open a church and people will go to them. therefore I believe that  the one is just as important as the other. 

    Regarding the 12 apostles while you are correct to point out the caliper of people Jesus picked it was also Jesus Who Picked them and then it was Jesus that they followed for 3 years! I would say that is about the best education you can get! Not to mention that we are Talking about a religious culture inwhich Deuteronomy 6 was fully practiced they men by the age of 12 knew more about their faith then most Christians today know after 40 years, sad to say.

    While the Disciples did not have a formal education they had followed the same pattern of every other 1st century Jew. A rabbi picked them and they followed. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the church never lost sight of the importance of education. This is way the Historic churches placed such a strong emphasis on apostolic succession.  After Peter was martyred we know that Clement took his place because Clement had learned from Peter. Paul Appointed Timothy as an overseer only after Timothy learned from him Etc…

    Finally I believe that this issue has been given greater rise by the short sightedness of many protestants who durringthe reformation said the only full time ministerial position in the church is that of pastor we through out thinks like monks and nuns and then left people called to ministry but not the pastorate with no other option and by the way put many people into the pastorate who did not belong there. I agree that what I propose might be a little sticky with small churches but when we look at say the Catholic church with it’s shortage of clergy they are now putting Nuns at the head of the church as the teaching and preaching pastor and then a priest comes through to conduct sacraments again showing that the church as always allowed for women to teach just not administer sacraments.

    As you point out about the authority issue I think the bigger issue we need to address goes with what I stated in the previous paragraph and the question I have asked since the begining. I have not doubt that a women having authority over a man is against God’s created order we must ask ourselves if we truly belive that Authority comes in the preaching of the word of sacraments. It took me many years to believe authority came in the sacraments but that is where I currently rest.

    Regarding Adam and Eve I belive that it is important to remmber that there is a difference between sin and transgression in the OT sacrifices were made for Transgressions of the Law not for sins therefore while Eve does bear responsibility for her short comings it does not mean that Adam does not bear the primary responsibility for if it were not Adams Fall them why id Christ not the Second Eve rather then the Second Adam. Aditionally Scripture bears witness to the fact theat Sin is passed on through the male and not the Female. If the Sin Nature is passed on through the women then Christ Could not have been born with out a sin nature but it is becuase there was no natural human father in the picture that enabled the sinless nature to be made manifest.

    Regarding the question of adam stepping up and putting on his big boy pants you are right to be leary whats done is done. I only contemplate these things to be sure of my own role as a husband. I do it to understand what God expects from me as the covering of my wife.

    Peace,
    Dennis       

  • Henry

    Vicky,
    1) Headscarves – this is different from women not being elders because 1Tim2 (prohibition of women being in authority over men) is rooted in creation and therefore is TRANScultural. Not sure that is the case for headscarves, but…2) Many Chistians still believe headscarves should still be worn in church today (e.g Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Free Church Continuing, Amish, Plymouth Brethren, RC Sproul and many more), just not the kind of church circles you are from. Whether this is a cultural expression of an abiding principle is a discussion the church needs to have. If it is not cultural then I agree we should go back to wearing headscarves which apparently the church universally wore until the 1960′s. It was funny to see the Royal wedding prohibiting men from wearing hats inside the Abbey and yet women were allowed/encouraged to do so in the 22-page etiquette guide! Perhaps they are right?)3) Not eating pork/shellfish (& other OT commands you brought up) – I’m sure you know what the NT has to say about the OT law!4) Slaves obeying their masters – if slavery was legal today and we were slaves then we should follow Paul’s command and submit to our masters. It is not legal now though. Also, you are assuming that all types of slavery are inherently wrong, but you must establish that rather than assume it. I’m actually a slave of Christ according to the NT. Is this wrong? Many scholars believe slavery in the bible was rather like indentured servanthood, just like if your permanent job was being a house-servant to a rich family. The problem with slavery is when the master mistreats the slave, but as I’m sure you know the scriptures also have something to say to the masters too. I’m not sure you can successfully argue that God says that slavery is inherently wrong, our culture does, but our culture says a lot of things that are diametrically opposed to scripture. If you would really like to read detailed into this debate then I encourage you to read Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem. It is an exhaustive 800+ page work that addresses every single objection you are likely to hear, including the ones you have made here. I’ll send you a free copy if you like:)Regards,

  • Henry

    One other thing Vicky,

    your hermeneutic seems to be if we don’t obey one passage then surely we are free to disobey others also? If so then why do you obey any of the difficult passages in scripture? Do you stand by the passages that say homosexuality is wrong? If we treat the bible like a wax nose that can br fit to any face then I think we have missed the heart of repentance from our own ways.

    I think the bottom line is: ‘are our hearts submitted to God such that we are willing to obey all his counsel – even if that means submitting to a husband and not seeking authority over men’?

  • Henry

    Vicky I’d like to ask you a question:

    If the fairest reading of scripture convinced you that women should not be worship leaders in the church, then would you surrender your career as a worship leader on the altar of obedience to God? 

    With all the songs about sacrifice we hear from today’s modern worship leaders, I won’t to know if this one would be willing to bite the bullet, if the bullet came this way?

  • http://hupotasso.wordpress.com/ Charis

    “but even as the assembly is subject to Christ,
    so also [are] the wives to their own husbands in everything.” Eph 5:24 (YLT)

    I am SUBJECT to my husband in everything
    but I do not submit to him in everything.

    “Subject to” better captures the grammatical nuance of the Greek PASSIVE voice (of the hupotasso verb used in Ephesians 5:24).  For over two decades I twisted myself into a pretzel attempting to practice “SUBMIT to him in EVERYTHING”.  Once the newlywed shine wore off
    (by 5 years) I felt progressively more and more disrespected and by the
    time we were married 22 years, I was completely miserable in the
    marriage, I felt trapped like a prisoner in a concentration camp.

    Then the light dawned that this statement by Paul/God is a description of how a marriage IS rather than a prescription for wifely “behavior”.  Once I realized this passage is
    not teaching a wifely BEHAVIOR, but describing “the state of being a
    wife”, what its like in a wife’s skin, THEN I was free to move toward
    making life in my skin more tolerable by standing up for myself and
    protecting myself and the children from abuses we had endured under the marriage killing “husband only authority” doctrine.

  • Chuckt

    “Considering 2 women are killed every week by men in the UK”
    “dynamic life of sacrifice, mutual submission and respect and the pursuit of justice, rather than focussing on enforcingmale dominated pulpits”

    I grew up in the United States and the school system is dominated by women.  I have had more women school teachers than men. 

    You can no longer mention God or Jesus without having problems and my grandmother complained and asked where are the men.  Men had not taken to teaching because they generally want to make more money and what you have left is a list of problems in the public school system because the women will give in.

    You can make a case that women are killed in the U.K. and I can make a case that we lost a generation of Christians in the United States because teaching was left up to women who gave in or couldn’t fight the men in a secular battle.

  • http://twitter.com/davidould David Ould

    hi Vicki,

    coming very late to this conversation, hope not too late. I take the conservative complementarian view. Seems to me there are simply too many clear statements in Scripture on this issue. But I’m also concerned that the complementarian position gets consistently misrepresented.

    Had the privilege of preaching on this subject as part of a wider doctrinal series. You can listen here if you have the time (about 30 minutes):  http://neutralbayanglican.org.au/?p=818

  • Julia Daintree

    Henry… I think this is getting a bit personal. I find it patronising and kind of judgmental. I am so sure Vicky has given this much thought, even more prayer and reached her own conclusions through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. She IS surrendering and IS offering God obedience in the best way she knows how and according to her best understanding of the Bible. We all struggle with issues like this and reach our conclusions and go on in our lives doing the best we can in obedience. Please don’t make this personal to Vicky but support her in her faith and outworking of it in her life. Thank you.

  • Garsonmurrays

    In 1 Timothy 2 : 13-14 paul states the reason for the teaching to be theological, not historical. Ordained by God, through order of creation, and women being decieved not man. Scripture does interpet scripture so I must temper this with many examples of women in leadership in the bible. It is clear that theologians who try to tie this scripture to historical interpetation are doing so only to itch the ears of the listener. yes many scriptures clearly can be interpeted with historical context, but paul left no room for that here. I must conclude that there are many positions for women leaders (supported by scripture) in the church, but male leadership is ultimately responsible to God for the church and family.

  • LIsa

    If you read the rest of that same verse, “it is pretty clear” :) that the husband should be ready to go so far as laying down his life for his wife.  He should serve her as Jesus came to serve.  If a man wants to claim Headship, he needs to do just as Jesus did.  He didn’t come as a king, he came as a servant. 

  • Lisa

    again, Rob, are you taking Ephesians 5 out of context?

  • Lisa

    Also, in the original Greek, the sentence that talks about submitting unto each other is actually a part of the popular Ep. 5 text, but in most English translations, has been removed and put at the end of the previous paragraph.  Translators have chosen to take it out of the passage dedicated to husbands and wives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisditt Christopher Lee

    I think the problem occurs when we translate woman/man instead of wife/husband… a wife is to subject to her husband, but not to any man.

    Then when we look at shame we see it is “public shame” – this is public shame to this particular church hence the “Law” this can be taken 2 ways, 1 Paul is addressing what was written to him – which makes sense given the authoritarian us of Law and the difference in writing structure. 2. Paul is talking about the “public law” and not the “Law” in the Bible.

    Finally, Paul says there is no difference Jewish or Gentile, man or woman, all are one in Christ. Tabitha is a great example of a female apostle. She was ignored, but God didn’t ignore her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marina-Mullins/1068404248 Marina Mullins

    This is a great essay on the issue by Gregory A Boyd http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/essays-church/women-in-ministry/

  • http://www.register-domainname.in Domain name registration

    I agree with you. You have described very clearly. Vicky you have done a good job by posting this article. I like this title and topic very much. I didn’t read like this article.

  • Consecrated

    I have just been asked to become the Associate Pastor of a church that our main body will be planting several miles away, in a neighboring community.  My husband will be the Youth Pastor.  The Senior Pastor who invited us both to seek the Lord before accepting these positions has told us that once this body reaches a certain size, he plans to move and plant again, leaving the church to be pastored by me and my husband.  At this time, I feel that due to social and cultural traditions, my being a Sr. Pastor would hinder the church, simply because people have their “issues” with a woman in this position, not an incapability or willingness on my part.  I would like my husband to be the Sr. Pastor when that time comes, and for me to serve as Associate under him.  However, whatever the Holy Spirit directs, we will be obedient to.  I suppose the “issues” will have to be taken to God.  This is not a theological response, obviously… just me sharing an experience from the heart.

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  • Ali

    There is no evidence that being first means you have to be the leader in the Bible.  Leaders were often the very last people whom would have seemed suitable (eg Moses, David, Gideon…).  In fact, Jesus turned all the stereotypes on their heads including giving women a place amongst his disciples.  What you are arguing is simply not logical.   Man was incomplete without woman  - mutuality was there from the very beginning – it was the fall that destroyed it.  

  • Ali

    Kim.   
    What we think of our full potential may look very different from God’s point of view – as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to lay down our lives as he did.  Those of us who are called to be ministers, to hold authority in the church are not pursuing a ‘lovely flourishing ministry’ but are simply seeking to be obedient to the call that God has placed upon us.  It is self sacrificial and it is often painful.  For those of us who have to exercise authority in matters of doctrine and discipline it is probably good that such a role comes at a price.  
    Please do not assume that women who are leaders/ministers are just doing what they want – most of the ones I know would not have chosen this role for themselves.  It is certainly not about fulfilling their potential!  It is an act of obedience.As members of the Body we have different roles but whether our gender dictates those roles is not as simple as complementarian hermeneutics often presents it.  There are very good arguments for every point, every text that is pulled out to support a complementarian view and also for those who are egalitarians.  If you are seriously interested in this I recommend you read ‘Two Views on Women in Ministry’ published by Zondervan – it is not a particularly easy read (written by egalitarian and complementarian scholars) but it covers most of the main arguments succinctly. As far as fruit is concerned – how do you measure it?  That’s a tricky one.

  • JustAnotherGuy

    I’m not really a bible geek, but isn’t it kinda obvious that God’s intended men and women to have different roles even by the fact that women give birth and men don’t? That’s a role that isn’t up for grabs for both parties, but God specifically designed for women. I could say I feel quite left out that I can’t grow a baby and give birth – but perhaps God has designed men for some specific things too??

  • Ali

    Certainly giving birth is unarguable!  However, biologically the genders are designed to need, as well as desire, each other – we work in partnership to survive.  Men are not alone in not being able to give birth though – many many women cannot, or do not, have children for all sorts of reasons.  So differing biological roles yes but I don’t see how that can be used as a reason to bar women from exercising a position of authority in the church.   The gifts of the Spirit are given regardless of gender and apart from the issue of authority, no one seems to have a problem with this.
     

  • Jess M

    Quick point: Other translations of 1 Timothy 3:6 (NIV, NLT, and ESV to name a few) highlight they must not be a recent convert, rather than novice; therefore I think it’s about the depth of their faith rather than breadth of their experience, 

  • Jess M

    So what’s your opinion on a woman maturely seeking the Lord’s guidance? If a woman doesn’t have that responsibility then does that mean she’s not called to study the Word in the same way? But if she is then surely she gains spiritual maturity to seek the Lord’s guidance too? 

  • Jess M

    What implications do you believe it would have if the man in a relationship was unable to do as Jesus did, and therefore claim Headship? 

  • Jess M

    Quickly in regards to submitting to your husband, I think it
    is healthy to view this in the same way that we submit to God: we have a
    relationship with him, he values our thoughts and desires, and he works through
    every situation for our good; because of this we place trust in him that when
    we get to a point of disagreement his way is the way that is better for us,
    because he wants what is best for us. In the same way, if a husband truly loves
    his wife like Jesus loves his church then he will want what is best for her,
    and therefore a wife submitting to her husband means trusting him in that love
    that he has for her.

    Quite obviously the scripture isn’t as clear as some people
    perceive, and if it is the case that scripture isn’t 100% clear then we must
    gain wisdom from God. If someone is called by God to do any given task, we must
    discern if we trust them in that they are truly called to that job; personally
    I feel that is the same whether it’s preaching, worship leading, or youth work…
    you want the person that God has called to do the job!

    Several people have made reference to Deborah being called to
    be a judge of Israel, a couple have suggested that she was essentially a second
    best alternative, in my opinion, this is nonsense. If God wanted a man in that
    role, he would have made, chosen, and called one. God is the creator of all
    people, and powerful over all situations. We see in Jonah that God is not a God
    of compromise.

    I was recently at a seminar hosted by Vicky Beeching at
    Worship Central Conference on the subject of Social Media. During this Vicky
    brought up the ideas of Church 2.0 and Beta Church; ideas that would involve
    church becoming a participatory forum,  where it’s ok if we don’t get it 100% right, and
    that we can change methodology with what fits the need of the church… I think
    it’s fair to say that although all churches need God, different churches will
    require aspects of teaching, worship, and prayer at different times. I,
    personally, can only see a fully participatory church working if men and women having
    equal authority… and I don’t see anything unbiblical about this (I think it’s
    worth noting that any “authority” we have from our own efforts is worthless, it’s
    ALL about God’s authority). If this were the case you would have women teaching
    men, but as it’s an equal platform no one really has authority over another, as
    warned against in 1 Tim 2:12.! The bible has so many references to church
    leadership being a group effort, we see this with the appointment of Elders,
    Deacons, the disciples going out to evangelise in pairs, a kingdom of priests,
    even Paul would go out on mission with a group of people that would not only
    support him, but also preach and evangelise alongside him.

    Before we can truly understand what sort of a role a woman
    in leadership could have we must evaluate the role of church leadership and
    what that should look like, otherwise it’s like questioning whether a woman is
    suitable for marriage before ascertaining what marriage truly means. 

  • David873

    I have not read all of the comments on this thread, but no one has referenced the website for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – http://www.cbmw.org/
    You are free to not agree with the complementarian position, but you should be more knowledgeable about the position, because they have gone to great lengths to explain in detail their position and dealt with all the objections that I saw in the comments.

  • Brent Vermillion

    Vicky, these are tough questions that are divisive because obviously not all christians, leaders and churches agree on these things. I am fully in favor of women functioning in every ministry role that is available to men. They can do anything except be husbands or fathers. I would say the same for men regarding women. Men are never going to be mothers and wives. Nonetheless, I also believe that men and women are essentially equal but different. We are complementary to each other in marriage, in friendships, in the family as brothers and sisters and in the church.I do not treat the women I pastor as men but as women with all the respect that goes with treating women as mothers, sisters and daughters. With the exception of women counseling alone with men about issues of sexual struggle or that should be exclusive to men to men and women to women I would put no limitations on a women’s role in the ministry. Yet I believe that a woman should and must submit to her husband in the Lord as long as he is loving her like Christ loves his church. The greater question today is are the men in the church dying to themselves and sacrificing their lives for their wives because I have yet to see a Christian woman who didn’t want to submit to that kind of love and that kind of man. Let me say one thing here. In  almost 20 years of marriage my wife and I have never made a major decision without coming to a consensus. I think this is how it should be and she has no problem with this either. I could give you verses to back my point of view but I have chosen not to do that because i do not want to sermonize. 

  • Brent Vermillion

    The scripture never tells a man to submit to his wife. It does tell him to love her like Christ loved the church (in essence to die for her). This what men actually vow in most wedding services. The also vow to love and cherish and be exclusively faithful. When the Bible says to submit to one another it is in the context of children submitting to parents and church members submitting to church leadership as we all submit to Jesus lordship and the Holy Scripture. If not, then the pastor should submit to whatever any member of the church wants him or her to do (as long as it it doesn’t violate biblical teaching). Therefore, I will ask the even bigger question should the church member obey and submit to the church leadership when they are acting in accordance with biblical principles and within and appropriate sphere of influence for church leadership? If not, who should submit to whom? Should children submit to their parents when they act appropriately and in accordance with biblical principles in parenting. Maybe the parents should start obeying the kids. Maybe the boss should obey the workers. The idea of mutual submission amongst all is not biblical but we are all called to submit to appropriate leadership in every sphere of life – family (children submit to parents in the Lord and wives to the husband as well), church (pastors, elders, etc.), education (headmasters, teachers, professors), work (bosses and managers), society (police and government). All of society has an authority structure and we must all submit to someone.

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  • http://twitter.com/youthpasta Phil Taylor

    Problem here is that we are then saying that Paul’s message was purely for then and not today as there are different understandings of gender now to then. Yet if we do that for 1 part of the Bible how can we not do the same for the rest of it, thus making the Bible nothing more than the casual musings of a few generations of people in the Middle East?

    My take on it is that the man is the head but that does not mean he is in control. He is the one who must serve his wife as a servant, just as Christ served his disciples and the Church.
    The issue around slavery is taken out of context as it is not to do with saying slavery is ok and actually saying that if you are a slave don’t kick up a fuss just because you are a slave but get on with doing your job and worshipping God through that. The message was to slaves, not to their masters, who could then show their masters true Christian love through their dedication to them. Certain types of animals are dealt with by Peter’s dream about eating unclean food, so I don’t think I need to say more than that.

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  • Ibuchan1

    Speaking as a husband I have not felt the need to ‘claim Headship’.  Our relationship is of sharing and when necessary I will take the lead externally (dealing with others) but I don’t need to ‘claim headship’ in our marriage.

  • Joylpierson

    @Chuckt it’s also rather difficult for a single mn to be the husband of one wife. So I guess single men must also be eliminated from the minisrt as well?

  • Joylpierson

    Yet women can prophesy which is the greater gift. Teachers likely referred to the Bible study leaders, Prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Mary etc.) we’re more like pastors. So a woman can’t be a teacher, but can be a prophet? Isn’t this literally a contradiction? Shouldn’t we be looking for another interpretation to see why the Bible is contradicting itself?

  • Joylpierson

    Why is the husband never told to “claim his headship?” Why are there severe consequences for him if he does not “listen and be understand with his wife” or “his prayers will not be answered?” (2 Peter) Yet nothing like that is told to the wife if she is not submissive? Just wondering……..he’s not told to “be the head” he’s told to “lay down his life” and if he fails, “his prayers will not be answered.” Interesting. Yet the consequence given to the woman? Nothing.

  • Hannah MC

    I massively struggle with the issue of different roles and I don’t really know what the theological lines of argument are here, I think sometimes I feel I get battered with a complementarian view so often it becomes harder to question it… I often feel with a complementarian view of ‘roles’ the ‘roles’ reserved for women are very narrow and largely revolve around childcare. I’ve even heard arguments to suggest this is the most valuable role in the Christian community raising the next generation of believers (as though I should feel privileged to be able to do this) – men who want to reinforce these roles even try to tell me they wish they could have such a high calling but it wouldn’t be proper so instead they have to get on with the dull and mundane task of leadership. I even know a lot of young Christian women who fully endorse this perspective. But my issue is that I pretty much have no maternal instincts, no ability or inclination to work with children and I continually feel somehow a failure and incomplete as a woman because of this, as though it should be my role and purpose and I’m failing to live up to it, there is something wrong with me.

    On the other hand as a teenager I was told I had a gift of preaching. But then I went to Uni, encountered heavy reformed conservative theology which told me as a woman I don’t have the right or authority to preach and I haven’t even dared to raise my head over the parapet since then to test the gifting or push the door for fear I’m doing something wrong or being unbiblical or disobedient.

  • Lisa

    Extremely interesting reading & my thanks to everyone. Not going to add further exegesis to a topic so well covered already. Just a comment. What is really very clear more than anything else is that we still have so far to go in our understanding of scripture & especially in how we have translated the concepts & words of the original lanuages to our modern (even 16th century) English. What always encourages me is the people who see the big picture and don’t get hung up on every word in a sentence, but understand what is said on that subject in various places in the word, seeing that there must be agreement. And I’m sorry, but in my experience, men are usually better at this. Praying that we would continue to value each other’s understanding whilst always seeking to know God better for ourselves. Thank you.

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com/ Findo

    Hugh Palmer did an excellent 3-part series on Christian disagreement which I think helpfully underpins how we need to approach to disagreements like these (indeed, a disagreement he covers in the 3rd talk): 
    http://www.thingsfindothinks.com/2012/01/when-christians-disagree-great-series-from-hugh-palmer/

    One of the big hindrances is the assumptions we (shouldn’t) bring..

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  • editor

    Vicky I have tackled all these texts in my blog http://www.psephizo.com and in my Grove booklet Women and Authority available from http://www.grovebooks.co.uk

  • Jld34

    Why are you all going back and forth about God’s plan and word? I pray we all get it right before it’s too late. This whole arguement is riduculous and not being used for the edificaton of the body, but rather, an I can prove that I’m right attitude. Just know we all need to seek God for clarification and REVELATORY knowledge of his word and plan for our lives INDIVIDUALLY. It is not for the man nor the woman to tell the other what their purpose/role in life is. Let us build one another up in love.

    GENISIS: 1  26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
    27 So God created mankind in his own image,   in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
    28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ” This passage alone let’s us know that God didn’t decide to make woman after man was lonely. He already knew before the foundation of the world that he would indeed create woman. Everthing in it’s proper place and time. Let us also remember our thoughts are not HIS thoughts. And in fact, the more I think about it WE are all way off the mark. I love you all with the love of Jesus Christ.

  • DanG

    People in support of woman leaders* in the church, use the argument of ‘equlity’. But there was ALWAYS equality. God made male and female equal. Genesis 1v27 ‘in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.’

    I would add that during Jesus’ ministry, he very rightly elevated the position of woman in society. He valued them, spent time with them, let a ”sinful” woman wash his feet. Some of his closest friends were woman and came first to the empty tomb. The Bible doesn’t oppose equality but strongly enforces it.
    BUT that doesn’t mean male and female have the same roles. God created man for leadership and woman the helper (2v20) in the good sense that the Lord is our helper, Psalm 54v4 ‘surely God is my help’

    *By this I mean positions of leadership that have authority over men. There are many righteous, and Godly woman in the Bible and today who lead and teach which is great. But I’m talking about that 1 area of leadership and authority over men.
    Surely 1 Tim 2 is pretty clear isn’t it?

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