I’ve only written on my ideas about “gender roles” and specifically the role of women in the church on this blog very briefly. The reason is certainly not for lack of conviction, but rather, for lack of grace. I have known what it feels like to be made to feel sinful or prideful for my calling and giftedness. I grew up in a tradition that never gave me a female minister as a role model. And when I began to feel the desire to preach or to teach, I thought I was a weirdo with a pride problem. The truth is, I’m a little bitter about this, and that’s why I haven’t written much about it.
But I want little girls to be freed from this. If I have a daughter, I want her to run without hesitation toward leadership in ministry should she want that. So it is with great carefulness and intention that I write this post and perhaps others to come.
A question arose at a church meeting this week. What scriptural references do you have for allowing a woman to teach a man?
The question was asked of the pastor of our church and not of me, so I did not have to answer. But if I did, this would have been my response:
I reference Creation.
That when God made man and woman, He made both in His likeness. That in the unity of the sexes is God’s image in its most complete form. Not just good, but very good.
I reference The Curse.
The one that happened when mankind fell from grace. It was sin that began the subjugation of women under men, not righteousness. And that we have been needlessly living as if we were still enslaved. But I have good news for you . . . We’re not!
I reference the words and actions of Christ.
In our culture, we often take for granted the radical nature of his interaction with the women in his ministry. He dialogued with them respectfully, and spoke to them as people rather than the property they were considered in their day.
I reference the part about the Gospel.
That when Christ died for the sins of the world, and with his dying breath he committed his spirit into the Father’s hands, and the veil was torn in the temple that day, communion with God was made available to all people. Each man and woman were henceforth allowed in to the throne room of God. And each man and woman could be a conduit and sanctuary for the Holy Spirit of the very God to whom we pray. Simply put: God can speak to you through her.
I reference the Resurrection.
That when Christ appeared out of the tomb that day, the first people to whom he revealed himself were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, who were the first charged with bringing this news to the disciples. (Who, in case you missed it, were men.)
And I reference the Great Commission.
That when Christ charged his followers to make disciples, he did not add “of your own gender please” to the end of that. But he did say, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV) And there was no gender excused from obedience that day.
In truth, scripture is teeming with God’s desire to restore those who have been marginalized and those who have been silenced. Women have been teaching men through the ages without microphones. We now live in a culture in which the voices of women are respected as equals to men and they are influencing our country in business, media, and politics. After centuries, we have begun to find ourselves with microphones in hand. Why would God not use our voices? No, He is not a wasteful God. He can and He will use them.
Sisters: the question is not to whom we speak, but about whom we speak. May you use your microphone with wisdom and grace.