Women in ministry (part I)

Farmville Enterprise June 20, 2018

Last week at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual conference the Rev. Dwight McKissic made waves when he promoted the idea that popular author and Bible teacher Beth Moore should be elected its president.  Some argued that elevating a woman to this role would be contrary to the Bible while others disagreed.

The bottom line is that faithful Christians, committed to the authority of the infallible Scripture, come down on different sides of the issue of women in church leadership.  Christ followers from both camps believe the Bible to be our sole authority for matters of faith and practice and that arguments based on an accommodation of modern culture should be dismissed. Complementarians conclude that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life and church leadership. Egalitarians believe that Scripture does not mandate distinct roles based on gender but that equality is biblically sound for marriage and church leadership. Both groups recognize the intrinsic and equal value of all humans and that every person was created in God’s image.  Neither would say one gender is more gifted, superior or on better footing before God than the other.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)

As with any topic, it is crucial to survey both the Old and New Testaments, being sure to consider relevant verses in context of their surrounding passages. It is important to discern what the words originally meant to the intended audience and to ask ourselves if we are being consistent in our interpretation of each part of the passage.

“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:8-12)

“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. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.  And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved.” (1 Corinthians 11: 3-5)

We must determine if the apostle Paul was addressing a particular situation in public worship at that time or if his instructions were for all time. Do we require that men lift their hands in prayer and that women refrain from wearing braided hair, gold, pearls and expensive clothing and from teaching men or speaking? Were these women in Corinth praying and prophesying out loud or were they silent? Do we require that women today cover their heads in worship? Please read and prayerfully consider these chapters and this topic will be continued next week.


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