Women In Ministry, Part 8 – What Next?

This post is the last is a series that focused on the proper role of women in ministry from a biblical perspective. (Part 7 is here). I wanted to take a few moments just to wrap up where we have been, and maybe more important, what my the larger point of this was.

We looked at several key passages that are commonly used to restrict women from leadership, as well as to establish a relational hierarchy. I specifically stayed away from texts that are used to promote unity in relationships (Ephesians 5:21 for example) because I wanted to look at the texts that Complementarians believe prove their point. While we didn’t do an exhaustive study, I think we can at least agree the conclusions that have been handed down for centuries have some aspect to them where their understanding is far from certain. While I certainly think its possible to study these texts openly and still come to a Complementarian mindset, I think its far from a certainty, which was one of my goals for this series. Lest we think that all conservative biblical scholars are de-facto against women in leadership, there are many who hold to Biblical inerrancy and conclude the opposite (Gordon Fee, F.F. Bruce, Philip Payne, etc…). My larger concern with this issue, is that while it is not central to the Gospel, we have made it a line of demarcation between good and bad theology. In an age where the church in the USA has folded up on divorce, those who hold that women can be pastors have been called heretics, or even disfellowshipped from certain denominations. I think that is a blatant overreaction in ignorance, and a perception that Egalitarian theology is automatically liberal. As I said before, there is that strain (I do believe Egalitarians trend liberal), but something being deemed a liberal issue doesn’t automatically make it wrong or anathema. Taking care of orphans and refugees is clearly Biblical and seems to be most seriously embraced by liberal Christians. If someone wants to call me a liberal for my exegesis I am perfectly comfortable with that, because I believe its on sound exegetical footing. I don’t believe many out there who take Complementarianism as Holy Writ have actually studied the relevant texts in context. I think tradition and patriarchial culture has cast a long shadow on the Church and we have ceased seeking truth on some issues we assume are settled plainly.

I think we mask chauvinism in the guise of being biblical. We mask racism as comfort. We mask idolatry as the American way. Religion seems to be a place where we declare sin sacrosanct, and then feel attacked when people don’t understand or agree with our conclusions. This, of course, was my larger point in reviewing this issue. It wasn’t that long ago (and unfortunately this isn’t eradicated) that black men wouldn’t be allowed to speak in a church like the ones I have gone to for 20 years. Where black people weren’t welcome in many churches in America. If it weren’t for some “liberal” theologians that might still be the case (or else God might have finally had enough of our sin and smote us).  If we aren’t willing to challenge our (predominately) unstudied conclusions how are we ever going to be the Church that God wants us to be? I am not in favor of redefining historic truths of the Faith, or tweaking Biblical Orthodoxy, but I am for reforming unbiblical orthopraxy, or at the very least understanding that issues that are absolutely settled by Scripture are not always settled accurately.

Thanks to all those who read these, and I am open to any discussion. Now to figure out what to write about next to irritate some more people!

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