If you are of the belief that a church office is to based on gender instead of just good ol' calling and gifting of the Spirit, then, methinks, it behooves us to ask these questions of the biblical text:
- If women are not to exercise authority over men in the church, how do we account for actual women leaders in the Bible, such as Deborah, Huldah, Philip's daughters, Priscilla's role in Apollos' life, not to mention the list of women leaders in Romans 16? If our impulse is to say that these are exceptions because there were no men to "step up", what does that say about our theology, that God isn't big enough to find a man to put into a position of leadership?
- If we insist that women ought not to teach and be silent based on Paul in the book of 1 Timothy, why do we ignore Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians that women are to publicly prophecy and pray?
- Doesn't the prominence of women in the ministry of Jesus and Paul suggest something different than just having women tag along to teach children?
- Just when does a boy become too old for a woman to legitimately teach him? If women can't teach men, why in the world would we ever think that they are the best teachers for boys?
- How can we apply Galatians 3:26-28 as everyone else besides women as free to serve?
- Does the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers only apply to men? Doesn't the absence of women in church leadership go against this?
- Isn't it weird and confusing that women have an equal vote in congregational decisions, even when a male leader is being elected and/or disciplined when they aren't supposed to exercise authority?
I could go on, but I think you get the picture; the absence of women in leadership is problematic at best. Its a problem because there are actually women leaders in the Bible. So, here is my unabashed, dogmatic, and biblical belief: All individuals are equally created in God's image, and, therefore, have equal worth, privilege, and opportunity in Christ's Church without any limitation, including gender. There, I said it, and I'm sticking to it.
In today's evangelical church there are far too many wonderful Christian women who are exhausted and depressed because they are trying to live up to a certain expectation of being someone they are not. They suppress their gifts and calling because they think it is delusional, and that they have to prop-up the fragile male egos around them. They aren't free to serve in leadership positions and it is eating them from the inside-out. These women think there is something wrong with them, but the reality is that there is something wrong with the whole system of male-only authority. What is more, if I'm right, we are missing out on the blessing of God. It is high time we value all women, even those with gifts of leadership, by allowing them to serve without limitation.
This is a passionate subject for me because I have a wife and three daughters. And all of them are more intelligent, more gifted, and better leaders than me, the lone family male. To have them using their superior talents in the church by leading and serving is the least threatening thing to me on this earth. I love it that they can outdo me; it is my joy! Even more than that, I believe it is Jesus' joy, as well. We must be proactive in cultivating and nurturing the gifts and calling we see in women. They do not need to be put in their place; the good ol' boy system of the church needs to be put in its place so that men are practicing a leadership that sacrifices on behalf of making women's leadership a priority.