I know, I drew you in with the title, but I’d love to know what you were thinking just before you got here. The attitude represented in the title, while mostly unspoken, is clearly heard in church circles, conferences, and any other venues where there are men and women gather together. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been more disposed to be wowed by the deeply intellectual male provocateur than the thoughtful, nurturing, and sometimes less boisterous female, but, that’s your fault. We’ll get to why it’s your fault in a minute.
For the past 7+ years, I’ve lived in one of the most wonderfully diverse and simple environments. I’ve heard some astounding theological things come from the mouths of men, women, and young people. In fact, I’ve often told my wife that I’ve heard spiritual insights from the commonest of people here that would blow the doors of most theological training institutions. I don’t mean “common” in a derogatory way.
These insights are easy to miss if you’re not listening. It’s not so much a matter of gender deafness or prejudice, but one of misplaced exclusivity. For the most part, the church, men and women, still want to hear from the spiritually elite, the educated, the sage, the guru, and the celebrity. Unfortunately most of those, it’s assumed, are dudes.
Right now, I’m staring at a picture of a Negro Baseball League team photo that I picked up at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City a couple of months ago. It reminds me of the time when talented people were separated from playing the game with the “big boys” for the color of their skin. It’s almost analogous to the current discussion in the church regarding the ministerial role of women. Except for one thing… In the Church, we’re all talented people. The Apostle Paul loved that when the body got together, “each one” had a teaching, a song, a psalm, a prophecy, etc. Everyday people contributed to the edification of everyone. (1 Corinthians 14:26) He goes on later to describe how the full-functioning body looked in ministry. He said that God gave Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, for attaining unity of the faith, and for growing in the knowledge of the Son of God with a view towards maturity and fullness. (Ephesians 4:11,12,13) These gifts were not given to only men.
If we’ll take a look at most church structures and systems, we’ll have to acknowledge that they’ve been set up to separate people instead of unify them. Christendom has constructed containment facilities which they call “churches,” and then set up barriers within, pulpits, etc., to block certain segments of the body from ministering to the whole. There’s no getting past that the idea that most church structures and systems have been intentionally or inadvertently engineered to separate people instead of unify them. More often than not those venues which mimic worship service gatherings, like conferences, roundtables, social media platforms, and even higher Christian education institutions, have the potential to suffer the same primal dividing behaviors as the common church paradigm.
When it comes to women in the church, we’re focusing on the wrong questions generated from wrong assumptions and paradigms. We will never arrive at a solution when having these sorts of discussions in artificial, spiritually diluted, or contaminated environments. It would be like having a debate about temperature or climate while inside a refrigerator. Whether women should or shouldn’t be behind pulpits or podiums is a question generated from a paradigm which has been designed or conditioned to separate people. A better question would be; “Should anyone be behind a pulpit?” Let’s take the discussion of women’s ministry out of the counterfeit paradigm of modern ecclesia and put it back where it belongs, in the ministry and service of God’s people.
A few questions:
1. Ok, but what are we going to do with 1 Timothy 2:12?
a. Was this Paul’s permanent policy, or was it a temporary policy?
b. This was Paul’s policy at the time; was it also God’s policy?
c. Is First Timothy a manual for how churches ought to operate today?
2. Regarding women in ministry, how do you decide which texts from scripture are cultural and which are not?
3. If women do want to “Play With The Big Boys,” then shouldn’t they “Amp Up Their Game” a bit?