Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some Theses on Women in Ministry

 I have been thinking lately--very frustratedly--about women in ministry. Here are some thoughts.

1. It is necessary that we understand Paul's letter's as occasional (Here, I am referring directly to 1 Tim. 2). That is, they are written for a specific purpose, in a specific situation, and to a specific group. It is then a question of discernment as to what extent we are to understand Paul's words as being for all people at all times.

2. I have heard it said, that it is not good picking out a couple of prominent women compared to other women in scripture (e.g., Junia, Deborah, Priscilla). If this is the case then it is no good picking some prominent men compared to other men. And as such we must then take all extreme circumstances in scripture and judge them against what we deem to be normative. This type of logic already presupposes a patriarchal framework.

3. Jesus choosing 12 men is significant. So is His sending Mary Magdalene to tell His "12 disciples" that He had risen from the grave. Inevitably, it was "a woman" who proclaimed the good news and led the disciples to believe that Christ had risen.

4. If Paul didn't want women to teach, why is it that we are so caught up in not letting women "preach." These are certainly different words in Greek (didaskein v. kerusso). Yet we let women teach children--who are much more vulnerable and easier to influence then adults.

5. Gal. 3:28 says "there is no male and female." Why is this not sufficient enough for us to believe that the call to ministry, to teaching, to preaching, etc, is one that is not gendered. We certainly believe that when Paul says, "there is no longer slave or free...for all of you are one in Christ" (Gal. 3:28), this is sufficient to rid us of Paul's exhortation for slaves to be submissive to their owners (Titus 2:9). So, why is the same logic not applied to women and men in leadership in the Church?

6. None of this accounts for the call of the Spirit. When a woman preaches a wonderful sermon that stirs the ears and hearts of people, is this in some way idolatrous? Is the work of the Spirit limited to male teaching? What will God say to women pastors at the pearly gates? Will He not say welcome home good and faithful servant? or will He say, I wish you hadn't have preached so much, but thanks for getting the word out anyway.

7. All this said, there seems to be a strange affinity for Paul over Jesus. May we not forget that our ethics and model of the Christian life comes from Christ, and I am quite certain that Christ sent women to tell the good news to men. We have four gospels that speak to women proclaiming the good news, but all anyone every wants to talk about is Paul.

8. No one ever has an answer for Junia. A book edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem attempted deal with the appearance of Junia in Romans by claiming that Junia should in fact be Junias (a male name), but if you have read Stephen Holmes blog post you will find a major error in their historical method.