I am often asked questions about what the Bible teaches on certain topics. From time to time I'll post them as a blog because I'm sure others have the same questions. I change the facts and names to protect the privacy of the individuals that email me.
Q: May I enquire about your views/studies on women in ministry, women as a whole and our place in His Kingdom? There are some rotten teachings about women and our 'place' (mostly written/interpreted by men). It's left me feeling paralyzed (in a manner of speaking) and questioning my value with the Lord. Is there a place for strong women (that's not just within a family structure)? I definitely think so.
A: Thanks for your email and question, it's a great question. When it comes to looking at the role of women in ministry it's important to take a holistic approach. First of all we have to sanitize our thinking from the worldly thinking about feminism. This idea that men are oppressive and we live under "the oppressive patriarchy" is flawed in several ways.
Because that's not the topic of this question, I'll keep it high-level. Dr. Jordan Peterson makes some great points around this misconception, by pointing out that "the oppressive patriarchy" throughout human history have been the soldiers and farmers that have made living possible for many women. He points out that just because some people have abused their power doesn't mean we get to blanket categorize all patriarchy. Here's a quick video that will break it down in more detail: https://youtu.be/9rfS7IAv7uU
Also, while it is true that women have been oppressed throughout history in various cultures, that doesn't mean that things are the same or worse today for most women living in 1st world countries (there are still some God-less countries where women are very oppressed, like Iran for example). I also agree with the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote. And acknowledge that it's sad that it took an amendment to secure that right for women- it should have been that way all along. So while some of the roots of feminism have righted wrongs, it's also gone too far in today's modern world by trying to make men and women the same. We are different from men and for that I am grateful. Equal is different from the same.
We also need to look at how the Bible treats women. That's a book in and of itself, but simply put the Bible treats women with a tremendous amount of care and dignity. Often taken out of context in order to do what the enemy does best, lie, many people attempt to make the opposite argument. As a woman who has studied the Bible extensively through the lens of "how does the Bible treat women?" I have come to find that the Lord actually uses women to demonstrate how much he loves his people and bride. (Proverbs 31, the entire book of Songs of Solomon)
For example, why were there no female priests? Was it because God is sexist? If you look at the majority of the work priests had to do, it required a lot of animal slaughter, a lot. I see it as a huge mercy that the Lord doesn't abdicate us from the cost of sin being the shedding of blood ours is just private. For women it means not having to look at innocent little lambs (rams, goats, bulls, pigeons) all day and slit their throats. We foster life, encourage it, feed it, build it up, men are responsible for taking it. If there is any injustice it's on men to carry the bloody burden of taking life.
Also, take for example the commandment given to men in marriage, they are to lay their lives down for their wives exactly as Christ did for the church. That's not a small commandment. If Christian men actually followed the Lord and did what was commanded, porn wouldn't be an issue and wives would be thriving under the love and servanthood of their husbands. The world would be entirely different if we actually obeyed the Lord.
So here's where the dilemma exists, God has a perfect model for us, but we live in a fallen world. Therefore, there are many injustices in the world at the hand of humans rejecting God's perfect design and plan. It's a dangerous game to blame God for the fallen state, when His way would free us from all of this.
With that foundation (which again is just a small summary of what could and should be said on the topic) what is the role of women in ministry? The Bible has several examples of women being used by God. Not including bearing, birthing and raising all humans, let's look at Deborah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Bathsheba, Mary, Elizabeth, Anna, Dorcas, Lydia, The Samaritan woman at the well, as a few examples. Some of these ladies were prophetesses, soldiers, judges, leaders, queens, evangelists, servants of the body of Christ. Women have a very important and essential role in the body of Christ.
However, not unlike the Old Testament, the Lord has a delegation of roles and responsibilities. Delegation doesn't mean inequality in God's kingdom any more than it does in most situations. Any well run restaurant has cooks, dishwashers, servers, hostesses, etc. They have different roles and responsibilities, if there weren't dedicated chefs and everyone just rotated roles as they saw fit, I wouldn't want to eat the food. That's what Paul explains to us in 1 Corinthians 12-14 about the body and the different roles. In Ephesians 4, he goes a little bit further to explain that the maturity of the body of Christ is the responsibility of the Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Pastors and Evangelists. He then clarifies in 1 Timothy 2-3, the roles and responsibilities of men and women and different positions in the body.
We know from the passages in Timothy that the interpretation of scripture for the purposes of teaching falls on the shoulders of men and it is explained by James why that's the case: "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." James 3:1 So when read in context of the Bible we learn that the Lord doesn't intend for women to bear the responsibility and consequences of interpreting, teaching and leading the body of Christ to maturity- that responsibility falls on men.
Once again, I see that as a mercy towards women, not as an injustice. Lastly, it's important to understand that the Bible explicitly distinguishes teaching from preaching, from evangelizing, from prophesying, from encouraging, etc. And in the 1 Timothy 2 passage, when you study the Greek it also clearly says teach and usurp (take) authority over men.
At the end of the day, each believer is responsible as an individual before the Lord to give an account for what they did with what the Lord gave them (the parable of the talents). We won't get to blame our poor stewardship on other people. Therefore, each of us should seek to figure out what gifts the Lord has given us and ask Him to help us to be faithful stewards with what He has given us. We just need to remember that the Lord isn't going to ask us to do something that contradicts His word. Therefore, one the first and most important things all of us should learn to steward is becoming students of the Bible and learning to be led by the Holy Spirit. Those two go hand in hand.
I covered this in the podcast episode: God gave you gifts now use them! Link here: https://madetoconquer.buzzsprout.com/1544629/7788385
Is there a place for strong women? Absolutely we are a body and He gives each of us according to our ability. We just need to be led by the Spirit as we use what H
e has given us.