This weekend we visited some friends in the Bay Area of California. Overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts, we sat in the park and talked faith, church, Star Wars… typical Christian stuff. Most important here, we discussed the roles of women in the church.
My wife, as well as my friend’s girlfriend, had some great wisdom to give. Their perspectives were shared with both frustration and grace. Women are battling issues in the church that men can’t even begin to understand.
(Hey boys!) Have you ever thought about the complexities of being a girl in the church? Do me a favor, next time you go, give every woman you see a high five.
They deserve it.
Since I am a man, I feel that I can solve this issue with a single blog post.
My childhood church was definitely a boy’s club. Male senior pastors, male deacons, male elders. Women were allowed to be sunday school teachers, choir directors, or secretaries, but nothing more.
Paul’s words in 1 Timothy defined my views and 1 Corinthians confirmed them. I say this as if I knew scripture, but to be honest it was bleek. I listened and never questioned the general traditions of my church. Here’s what I knew (and assumed):
Women were not to teach men. Their life goals would consist of learning submission and quietness. Overcoming any resentment held towards men and any hostility held towards God would be their life’s work.
Eventually, I read the bible for myself. I read about Esther, Deborah, Mary, and Ruth. I read Luke. I read the words of Paul. I read context. I listened to wisdom and heard alternate, biblical views. I listened to my wife. I listened to my heart.
All this to say, I’m still sorting stuff out.
Your Mom was Stifled
I recently read The Blue Parakeet by Scot McNight. In it he talks about the various ways people read the bible. He mentions that everyone picks and chooses scripture; he calls it discernment. The problem, says McNight, is when our discernments become canon and our canon becomes the lens through which we view scripture.
The modern church has done this—it has, we have, shaped our traditions into canon. The stifling of women, I believe, is a prime example Evangelicals need to repent for.
(For more on Scot McNight’s great book, check it out HERE).
I’m not an expert on the subject of women’s roles, but I do hope to continue to learn. So far, this is what I’ve got:
- The traditional church may be a boy’s club, but the Kingdom of God is not. We all have a purpose and a reason to be here. Seek what’s inside you and let it out.
- We are all one in Christ—the curtain was torn, remember? There is no need for division anymore. Men need to teach women, and women need to teach men.
- Every faith generation experiences a change of tradition in one form or another (Thinking back to Paul and circumcision, or twenty years ago to the contemporary worship movement). Expect turmoil and kickback. Offer grace, always.
What’s YOUR response? I encourage all with a perspective to participate. Please know, everyone’s view on the matter is welcome. Is the church a boy’s club? Have women been stifled, or am I making something out of nothing?
Photo Credit: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/74576085@N00/6335630844/]