The Question of Women and Ministry
Man is human. Woman is human. God took a rib from man, and made a match. Man was made from dirt. Woman was made from man.
The woman is a literal equal part to/of the man. Woman is human—the same species—not a different, inferior species.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There are gender roles in sex and marriage. There are obvious differences in our bodies and abilities. There are cultural cues that give us customs and manners. These assist us in serving and respecting each other. However, man-made traditions are never meant to be interpreted as dominant vs inferior, roles.
The fact there were slaves in the times that holy scriptures were penned does not justify slavery. Scriptures pertaining to slavery were nuggets of wisdom on how to be a good Christian regardless of your situation. By no means does the Word of God intend to legitimize the injustice of slavery. Such insinuations are poor interpretations of the heart of God. God is a deliverer. God looks at slavery and writes the glorious, supernatural book of Exodus. And God is the grandest HR Director. He established the sabbath and jubilee without the assistance of a labor union. Those ideas and accomplishments are more remarkable than people credit them.
And just as the existence of slavery in historical times doesn’t excuse the idea and practice of slavery….the lack of females in leadership roles in biblical/historical times doesn’t set a precedent that females can’t or shouldn’t function in any particular leadership role.
I believe 1 Corinthians 14:32–35, 1 Timothy 3:1–7, and 1 Timothy 2:12 are written by Paul to young Pastors to help them lead and conduct church services, particularly in the understood cultural norms of their day (around 55 AD).
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
The above Scripture certainly isn’t meant to be interpreted as concrete and oppressive as some attempt to use it. After all, Joel prophesied that daughters would prophesy, an angel told women to go and tell of Jesus’ resurrection, women spoke in tongues in the Upper Room, there were prophetesses in the New Testament, and there were women teaching in the New Testament, albeit false teachers such as Jezebel are mostly what we’re aware of.
Still, the problem of Revelation’s Jezebel—as a teacher—was not her gender, but her content and negative influence.
Also, tough Scriptures pertaining to women in ministry are seen in 1 Timothy chapter 2:
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 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.
Although these verses seem (on the surface) pretty clear-cut, the underlying lessons are the loudest thing we should hear. For example, quietness of spirit is an important emphasis in this chapter that Paul is trying to convey, beginning all the way back at verse 2. This important message is also seen in 1 Peter 3:4.
“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Such meekness aligns fully with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that applies to both male and female. These characteristics contrast with Queen Jezebel who was ambitious, opportunistic, conniving, and domineering in nature. Also, Miriam who was a prophetess (Exodus 15:20), instigated rebellion toward the leader-Moses (Number 12) and she is judged by God with leprosy, before later being healed. Therefore, Paul and Peter were inspired by the Spirit to encourage a sweet, lowly, submissive nature.
A quiet, gentle, submitted personality is important for men and women alike
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Women receive a specific admonishment concerning submission and it’s very much on purpose. And the reason is not just to better their marriage, although that’s important. All the more, God compares the church to a woman. Christ, by the way, is in love with the church. Hence, the analogy expands to make the church a betrothed bride and Christ is referred to as the soon returning groom. To the greater degree, it is a logical application for us to see that the heavy instructions given to women are to be also seen as discipleship notes for the church. This kind of imagery extends all the way back into the Old Testament, seen vividly in Song of Solomon. Jesus continued the imagery with familial parables. And the bride comparison continues all through the New Testament, even into the book of Revelation.
It was a woman who first fell and birthed sin into humanity. But it was also a woman who birthed the redeemer who would save us from sin in the first book of the New Covenant.
In Scripture, women have been judges, prophetesses, prayer leaders, worshippers, warriors, teachers, intercessors, testifiers of the resurrection, in-church tongue talkers, feet washers, and givers. So…
I think it is biblically okay for a woman to hold any position or perform any ministry.
It isn’t, in my opinion, a misinterpretation of Scripture, to view these seemingly restrictive scriptures through a more culturally and socially evolved eye. Our primary lens should be Galatians 3:28. We mustn’t allow the enemy to distort God’s heart, or shame the church as being archaic, and insensitive.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christ is the Head of the Church. The church is the Bride of Christ. The church is to be clearly, eternally submitted to its Head. Christ is in love with the church. He has given her the Spirit, and gifts. Don’t stifle her from serving.