Where do women belong in the ministry? Are women relegated to be the Bearer of Casseroles for potlucks, funerals, births and general ministry? Or is there more?
Paul wrote that women should be silent in churches. That's what Scripture teaches -- or is it? The passage in question is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. "
Aphrodite, who had prostitutes serving at her temple. In addition, Oracle of Delphi used temple priestesses who would run communications to military leaders to declare war, or not. Women in Corinth did not have very many rights, but they were used to running here and there on their god's command. These women then became Christians, and expected the same chaos that came with the culture in which they lived.
In 1st Timothy 2:11-14 we read: "
The women and men sat on opposite sides of the room, and if they did not understand something or wanted to ask a question, they would interrupt and shout the question across the room to their husband. Paul, who was addressing the problem of a lack of order in the church, was not telling all women to be quiet in the churches; instead, he was telling these specific women to be quiet in that particular church.
These women were receiving a lesson in submission. In order to be godly Christian women, they needed to learn to submit to Christ, and to do that, they needed to learn to submit to their husbands, and likewise, their husbands needed to learn to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
Culturally, women were low in the ranks. Women typically did not have education outside of the home. So, when the newly-risen Jesus calls Mary by name outside the tomb, it is a really big deal: "Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”)," [John 20:16]. She called Him "Teacher," and was not scolded for it.
Several women ministered to Jesus through housing Him, feeding Him, and staying with Him as He gave Himself on the cross. As the male disciples hid, women came to the tomb to cover Him with spices and continue the Jewish burial customs. Whereas Martha made a casserole for Jesus, so to speak, Mary chose to sit at His feet and learn. I wonder, when He came to Lazarus' tomb, if Mary was the catalyst for Jesus crying as she fell at His feet and said, in faith and not accusing, that her brother would not have died had Jesus come earlier?
Paul had numerous women working beside him in the ministry, and he even commended Timothy's own mother and grandmother in the role they had in young Timothy's faith: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also," [2 Timothy 1:5]. He also mentions several other women by name in Scripture, who either supported Paul's missionary journeys financially, or with hospitality, or in other supportive roles. In Romans 16, Paul lists these women -- and men -- who encouraged and served Paul as fellow servants and prisoners for Christ.
Galatians 3:26-29 states, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
In addition, the writer of Acts wrote, “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams," [2:17].
Could it be that Paul, who said women should be quiet and learn with full submission, was saying that they should first learn the ways of God, then teach? Women and men both need to be fully equipped to share the Gospel, for Jesus did not have a gender-specific Great Commission. Women should be focused on teaching their children the ways of God, for if we don't, the world will. Women should minister to others in the church and out with casserole and cake, but we should "always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..." 1 Peter 3:15a.
I believe that women should be able to speak in churches, to share the testimony that the Lord has given them, to be hospitable in their homes and lives. Do I believe women can be ministers? Yes, in the same way that all Christians are ministers, ordained and anointed by God, to share His Gospel. Women who live their lives with the Spirit of God poured out on them cannot help but to share what God is doing in them and through them.
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