If You Church Gals Want to Play With The BIG BOYS, then…

Returnofcallisto_02I 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?  

0 thoughts on “If You Church Gals Want to Play With The BIG BOYS, then…

  1. Jonathan says:

    If there was a positive result of the recent “Strange Fire” conference, hosted by John MacArthur, it was that we have been confronted, once again, with the nature of Scripture and the place of experience with regard to Scripture.

    If one interprets one’s experience by Scripture, then the answers to your question will likely lean in one direction. If one interprets Scripture by one’s experience, the answers will tend to look quite different.

  2. Morgan Bush says:

    You say that the gifts of Ephesians 4 were not given only to men. How do you know that?

    • Miguel says:

      Morgan,

      In Ephesians 4:8, The Greek word for “men” is “anthropoid.” It can refer to both men and women. There is nothing in the immediate context of Ephesians chapter 4 that would suggest that it was only men. In fact, the text doesn’t divide the members of the church at all, leaders from non-leaders etc. It is a body encompassing text.

  3. Morgan Bush says:

    As to your other point, I heartily agree. Arguing over whether women should be keynote speakers at conferences or behind pulpits is just trying to step around the elephant in the room.

  4. Trudy says:

    When we amp up our game some try to dilute it but we need to persevere and not quit.

  5. Jonathan says:

    “Let’s take the discussion of women’s ministry out of the counterfeit paradigm of ecclesia and put it back where it belongs, in ministry.”

    I’ve read this sentence a few times and am trying to figure out the implications. There are discussions of church leadership in Scripture that are directed within the context of the local body. So we can’t take the discussion of those mentions out of the paradigm of “ecclesia” without doing damage to the text. I’m not sure that you really meant to declare that the context of many of these passages (i.e. the local church) is a “false paradigm”.

    • Miguel says:

      Jonathan,

      I’m not talking about ekklesia as it is demonstrated and defined in the New Testament. I’m talking about the counterfeit ekklesias or local church paradigms that have supplanted them. Most of these discussions regarding women are coming out from the adulterated versions of the local churches.

      The need to get out of those environments to have discussions like these is paramount.

      • Jonathan says:

        So that I can properly comment, help me understand what you mean by “ekklesia as it is demonstrated and defined in the New Testament” as opposed to “counterfeit ekklesias or local church paradigms that have supplanted them”.

  6. Alan Knox says:

    Miguel,

    Excellent post. The last paragraph is key.

    Unfortunately, for many, there is no other paradigm: without the structure and traditions (and pulpits), there is no ekklesia.

    -Alan

  7. Pamela says:

    I am not sure what you mean by “amp up your game,” exactly. Is that in reference to our preparedness? Abilities? Outspokenness? In my experience women who “amp up their games” (depending on how you define that) are accused of “glory seeking.” While the same in a man is him “using his gifts.”

    • Miguel says:

      Pamela,

      In one sense, “amping up your game” means to do the same work as the men did to get to the place where they had voice. Yes, I suppose preparation is key.

      As to abilities, I think I need to flush that out a bit more. There are some who are “apt to teach” 2 Timothy 2:24, and some who apparently are not. There are some gifted with speaking, writing, preaching, and others who are not. That’s no excuse for the church to monopolize the few to the exclusion of everyone else.

      As to outspokenness, I wouldn’t know anything about it. 😛

  8. JDJ says:

    Understanding of difficult scriptures aside, there is great misogyny in the church. Being a young woman with a strong anointing, the deep bias against women has left me broken and deeply confused as to how to live, how to obey Christ in the context of my being, and how to even exist in the church. And all this not for want of longing to belong and trying to walk between the lines.

    • Miguel says:

      JDJ,

      Reach out to my wife and I via the social media links in the upper right hand box of this post in the “About me” section.

  9. JDJ says:

    And all this *is* not for want…

  10. Michael Fast says:

    Miguel,

    Great post! I think you hit the nail on the head with your idea of “counterfeit paradigm.” Not sure I would go all the way and say it’s counterfeit but it is certainly one of the paradigms that is available to us — but not the only one. I had a very intense discussion during a class I taught a year or two ago about this very issue. The question was: Can women be pastors? The upshot of the discussion was that it is our definition of the word “pastor” that has more to say in the issue than our understanding of the word “women.” In fact, “pastor” is a culturally-defined term that has little basis in the biblical word “pastor.” Once we realise that we will also realise that the discussion has been going the wrong way for a long time.

    Having said that, I read a book a while ago called “Why Men Hate Going to Church.” In it, author David Murrow claims that rather than being geared toward men, most churches are in fact set up to appeal to and minister to women. He goes so far as to say that many of things we do in church are actually repulsive to men and their masculinity. So while men may have their hand on the leadership of churches, women are firmly ensconced in the pews, where the real power lies. I’m not yet sure how that fits into the discussion.

    Michael

    • Miguel says:

      Michael,

      Thanks for the comment. Quick off the cuff retain: I’m wondering if that’s why Mary in Roman Catholicism was elevated to her stature and received with as much enthusiasm.

      Power in the pews? Hmmm

  11. Adam Johns says:

    I like this post, I recently was looking into this topic since the youth pastor was female at a church I visited several times while I was on a training assignment for a few months. I got to know her husband pretty well and he was a leader in the church a teacher at the church school, but his wife carried the “pastor” title.

    I looked into what a pastor is, and I agree that those 4 gifts you mention in Ephesians can be possessed by male or female. When I looked at the word shepherd which is most closely associated with pastors, I looked for a Biblical example of female shepherds. Guess what? I found two very powerful and important ones: Moses’ wife Zipporah and before her was Jacob’s wife Rachel.

    I thought if a woman like this can be shepherds – the wife of the man who was renamed Israel, or the wife of the man who led the exodus – then certainly women can serve as pastors. But I think the resistance to this is clearly gained from the letter from Paul to Timothy strictly prohibiting women from having authority over men (he also mentions teaching men, but I think it’s in the context of authority, and you can be taught by one who doesn’t have authority over you)

    I think the main reason for women pastors these days is a failure of men to step up and lead. There are probably many other minor reasons like the infiltration of the feminist movement in the church, some sort of misplaced desire for “equality,” and a good and healthy desire from women to serve in ministry roles. That said, I firmly believe if men step up, women would gladly follow the male leadership.

    Finally, When it comes to children’s pastors, youth pastors, worship pastors, or any other pastoral position that doesn’t teach with authority over men, I think the Biblical precedent for women shepherds allows for this. I think if we break down God’s will into three categories: Perfect, Permissive, and Prohibited; it would probably be more in line with his perfect will for men to cary the title of pastor and His permissive will for women to have a leadership role in the church. I personally think Scripture prohibits a woman serving as the head or lead pastor of a church.

  12. Miguel says:

    Hey Adam, thankful for your comment.

    This line merits further exploration: “you can be taught by one who doesn’t have authority over you.” May have to work that idea into another blog post.

    One question though. You said, “it would probably be more in line with his perfect will for men to cary the title of pastor.”

    Is “Pastor” a title?

  13. Jonathan says:

    I still don’t know what was meant by the contrasting “ekklesia as it is demonstrated and defined in the New Testament” as opposed to “counterfeit ekklesias or local church paradigms that have supplanted them”.

    In nearly every instance in the NT, ekklesia is referring to a local body. The Scriptures refer to male leadership of these bodies…but only in 1 or 2 “offices” (1 if you do not separate “Bishop” from “Elder”). There is also no mention of any type of authority vested in an “office” other than these.

    Every other attempt to limit roles and service is artificial and is, in essence, a page out of the Pharisee playbook where additional lines are drawn to protect the beloved from getting anywhere near the actual line.

  14. Marshall says:

    considering that the “Big Boys” quandary can be said to bias against those short of age and/or experience… at 53 years, I’m still regarded as “too young” by many for some things. Should I regard this biased treatment as intolerable? problematic? Must I be left “broken and deeply confused” by it? Should I be dedicating myself toward attempts at reworking the ethos so that young people like me may find it easier to jump right in and fully participate regardless of age?

    To date, where can it be shown that the forces & published motives driving the equality-equals-function philosophy are truly just and of God? Instead, we are identifying self-interest; fears and feelings of being denied; the on-going plans of men in more of “let someone else do it”… Things no wise man or woman would hope to build upon.

    • Claudia says:

      We are all called to love, minister, share the good news whether we are male or female, regardless of race or denominational background. We may be denied or blocked from opportunities for ministry; however, like the servants who were given a differing sums of talents to invest by their master we are each given opportunities for ministry by God. If we accept these small opportunities we may then be given larger opportunities for ministry with greater responsibilities. For some women this may result in becoming the pastor of a local church. God is able to do more than we can hope for or imagine. All of us have faced closed doors. By trusting Him and serving wherever he places us, by loving God and loving those we are called to serve, men and women may find God opens doors for additional ministry opportunities which may include being a pastor. Because of differing interpretations of scriptural limitations on women serving as pastors I believe God must create the circumstances in which having a woman serve as pastor in a particular location is understood by the congregation as being from God.

      • Marshall says:

        Claudia, for a pastor-led group, there is going to be the recurring injustice of politics and many other human things contrary to Love. It’s perverse to be “becoming the pastor of a local church”, knowing that Jesus with His early disciples never appointed this thing. True believers are not inclined to be recognizing religious inventions and appointments of men, whether be a man or a woman.
        Better/ideal to be leading as the New Testament writings recount, rather than borrowing from the corruptions of the Protestants & Catholics, where we already know there is much trouble and injustice.

        • Claudia says:

          I understand your point of view as I currently belong to a small group not affiliated with an organized church denomination. However many desire the affiliation of a denomination and organized structure. Each of us must follow God’s leading in our affiliations. I have been a member of an organized church led by a grace filled grace teaching pastor and would still be in the church if I had not moved out of area. Trouble and injustice can evolve in any group. I do not believe Jesus condemned organized religion. His condemnation was of leaders who led their flock astray by laying burdens on the flock that no man could meet and who were hypocritical in that their walk and talk did not match. The original issue was whether women should be barred from serving/ministering as pastors. I have not been called to change the status quo but I do believe that throughout time men and women have been in ministries others may have believed impossible because they made themselves available.

  15. Marshall says:

    Claudia, I did not realize that the original post-article presented pastors (or apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists) as taking a position in/over a local church.
    I am not persuaded (after years of journey) that any having Jesus Christ as their First Love will be any longer desiring “a denomination and organized structure.”
    Once and truly Christ is Head, and “holding to the Head” we no longer suffer injustices against one another as we former were.
    It is the function of “a denomination and organized structure” that is set aside by Christ (not the structure itself). Yet, be assured that if the function is being set apart from Him, what remains will not cast shadows for long.
    The places I am observing conflict or question such as this article presents are with those who are holding to something or someone other than the Head; Christ.

    • Claudia says:

      You have given me a lot to think about. I am interested in knowing with whom you gather and worship? From whom do you receive encouragement and support? To whom are you accountable?

      • Marshall says:

        Claudia, as I am traveling, visiting ekklesia in the US-48 States, seeing many different brothers & sisters, and-also people being drawn by Christ; some seeking Him, others curious still. {writing today from Louisiana; hope to be in Mississippi soon}
        God is our Help. Various encouragements, admonitions, aid come to us along the path. In years of early training, Father taught me away from the pattern of this world so that I would no longer be anxious about provisions.
        To anyone who knows us in Christ [II Corinthians 5:16], we are helped to be “accountable”. There are a number of older/elder brothers who are acting as watchmen (overseers) in the ekklesias, and some also watching for me. Yet to this, even a child may find to rebuke me by the grace of Jesus Christ. Quite a remarkable experience, truly.

  16. Amy's Spires says:

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