Thursday, September 6, 2012

Women in the Church and the Questions I Still Have

The theological implications of women in the Church has long confused me. I've pretty much heard every view you can think of. The problem I have is I'm still not entirely sure what God says about it! I've been studying the scriptures and reading the books and commentaries and have narrowed down my confusion.

Let me first say that I am happy in my calling from God. I know he's put me in a place of support and "behind the scenes" work. That fits me great! I'm not really interested in being ordained because I don't really think I need a title to do what I'm doing, but my own curiosity prompts me to know more. From my experience, if I have an area of doubt in my life, satan exposes it to throw off my focus. I'm trying to solidify my understanding of what God says.

Let me lay out what I know:

1. God Values Women
There is no doubt that God also created women in his image and places immense value on women. It's summed up well by simply saying, "men and women are equal in value and dignity by creation and redemption."

2. Women Have Valuable, Unique Roles in the Kingdom
Starting in Genesis we see this idea play out. There was no suitable helper in all of creation for Adam, so God created Eve to fit that role. That's pretty huge in and of itself. Out of everything God created, there was nothing that could fill that role except for Eve!

Further in the Old Testament, we continue to see women filling unique roles. Some of the big names include Rehab, Ruth and Esther. These women were played pivotal roles.

In the New Testament, we see that there were women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples, caring for them wherever they went. When Jesus was being crucified and the disciples fled in fear, these women remained and watched until the end. (Matthew 27:55-56) Mary Magdalene and the other Mary also carried the news of Jesus' resurrection to the disciples. Again, these women were a vital part of the story.

If women have valuable, unique roles, then it is to be assumed that men also have valuable, unique roles to play and the they are different from each other. Men and women were created differently. Every person who has ever thought, "I just don't understand him/her," should know this is true. Men and women were created differently to fulfill different roles.

3. Submission is Not a Dirty Word
In our feminist society, the idea of submission (especially by women) is usually looked at as an antiquated concept that puts the church further out of touch. This is sad. So many women become defensive when we start talking about things like male headship.

Submission is defined as "recognizing your place within the God-given order of society, and to act appropriately to that place, by accepting the authority of those whom God has entrusted it."

This definition of submission is applicable to the authority of the Church, God and a husband. For me, this concept is a little difficult to grasp. It's almost difficult to understand authority without thinking of it negatively. During a recent message on authority I was listening too, I was trying to reflect on this concept.

I was raised by a very strong, independent woman. I gladly submitted to her as my mother but also as my best friend. In that way, I generally understand the concept of the submitting to the church and I've never denied the fact that as a follower of Christ, I am to submit to him. But as I was sitting and listening to this message, I had a thought. If you think of your ideal father, someone that loves you and cares for you just like you want to be loved and the submission that would come from that relationship of love and trust, then you're starting to get a good picture of submission to God. God is our perfect heavenly father and we submit to him in the same way. While husbands are people too and generally imperfect (just like wives), the concept still remains. Submission is birthed from love and trust and is really a beautiful thing.

4. God Doesn't Care About Your Resume
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

This commandment was not conditional. Think about the Great Commission, "Go and make disciples of all nations." Jesus didn't tell them to go after they completed four years of seminary and and an extensive internship. He said Go!

Loving God with our heart, soul, and mind is an all consuming love. Everything we do is to be done as if it was for God. This means that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you are serving God. You don't have to be ordained, have a title, or even some kind of credential. God doesn't care about how extensive our resume is, He simply commands us to go and make disciples.

So I'm pretty confident about all that. I stand by those four things.

Here's where I'm still confused:

Reading scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 2 Timothy 1:5,3:15 and Titus 2:3-5 leave me with more questions about the role of a woman in church.

What about the idea that all Christian teachers are called to teach humbly under the authority of Christ? Can women teach others, including men, under the authority of scripture and with humility? Can she she be a member of a pastoral team whose leader is a man? Could she be involved in ministry and therefore commissioned (ordained) to do so?

What do you know about all this?

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