Women are the greatest and largest untapped resource in the church today. You might wonder why I would say such a thing, being that more women attend church than men. But I stick to the statement because the reality for many churches is that only men can hold positions of authority as elders and deacons. The reasoning goes something like this: “the Bible says women can’t serve over men, so women can’t hold those positions.” Really? So, a woman can serve as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, can be elected as governor of a state, and can manage men on a factory floor, but that same woman cannot serve as an elder in many evangelical churches? I once asked a pastor that very question, and he answered with “yes, because the Bible says so.”
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?