Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What About Women in Leadership Roles At Church?

This post is a reprint of an email I just sent out to my SaLT group. We communicate ideas throughout the week by email in regards to our current study. It is one way to share ideas that we can't get to in an hour "class" each week. This helps keep us all sharing ideas and it keeps us in the Word.

Sue wrote this so the "I"s" are me, however Katie shared her input as well. It was a collaborative effort from a few nights of study the past couple of days. I love studying His Word, even though my brain could combust at any moment!

As I recall different things we discussed in SaLT with WaLT this past Sunday, I get confused. LOL We always ponder more than my brain can handle in such a short time! LOL

With regard to the role of women in church I have things to add to the conversation. Please don't hurt me!

This whole issue has been somewhat fresh on my mind because of the book I am currently reading. It is written by Anne Graham Lotz and is called "My Heart's Cry; Longing for More of Jesus".

In the book, Lotz shares about her experience when she first started out in her ministry as a result of God's call on her life through the Just Give Me Jesus revivals. She stepped out in faith, however she says there was much confusion to whether her ministry was to be to women alone, or to women and men. She heard from a few pastor's that refused to participate in any way shape or form in her revivals with words such as "God told us to tell you such and endeavor is harmful to the church. We don't want our men exposed to a woman on the platform speaking to a mixed audience." or "God told me not to lend my support, or the support of my church, or the support of even the women of my church to your revival since you allow men as well as women to attend." She shared about an experience at one convention that when it was her turn at the podium, many of the men stood up and turned their backs. (I immediately, that's a real Christ-like behavior!) She stated that she immediately went to the Word for direction. I was curious to continue reading how God resolved this dilemma in her early ministry.

The Lord took her to Ezekiel 44:1-3"

1 Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary (Lotz described the arena to the production crew as the "sanctuary" asking them to be mindful that as they set up the platform, screens, lights, and sound that they are setting up the Most Holy Place."), the one facing east, and it was shut. 2 The LORD said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the LORD , the God of Israel, has entered through it. 3 The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the LORD . He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way."

She then Lotz went on to say "Almost a physical shock wave went through my system as I read those words! The Shepherd's voice was unmistakable! While I still felt called in forums other than the revivals to speak to whomever God place in front of me, I had no doubt that He had confirmed through Ezekiel that our Just Give Me Jesus revivals were to target women--although the "prince" (select men: pastors, husbands, or anyone God chooses to draw to the arenas) was welcomed and would be fed by the Lord there." Lotz goes on to wonder how she can determine who to teach to, but she concludes that she can't. It is all God.

I feel that she has a point...if she, or any woman, is giving a gift to teach and to share a Word from the Lord, the Lord will prompt His children to listen and heed it. His children, the sheep, will know that it is His, the Shepherd's, voice. I think that is pretty cool! While her ministry is geared toward women, there are men who choose to listen to her teachings and she is not about to stop that. I wonder if the men who choose to listen to a woman teacher are sinning?

I also know that God gifted many women with prophecy and we read about them throughout scriptures... including Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14).

The Scripture presents their stories, making no issue of their gender. Women judges and prophets were both recognized. Now, reading through the Timothy verses, it seems obvious that women should not be in leadership or teach the church, for Paul says "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." The first thing I notice is "I do not permit". Who is "I"? Paul explains his reasoning for this is that Eve was not formed first and that she is the one who was deceived. Using the fall as a reason for women not being in leadership would indicate a universal truth for all ages, however, I question this because after Christ was resurrected, we were now under a new covenant and that

we were ALL forgiven. So, are women for all generations punished for the sin of Eve? Great, now I am debating with the apostle Paul. My brain is going to explode. It's Wednesday, my last day off this week, I don't have time for digging any deeper! I can't figure out the entire Bible today!

AAUUGGHHH! I wish I understood more about the culture of Paul's day. What I do know is that women were not held in very high regard in society. Their role was insignificant when it came to theology and society in general. I would think that a reason women wouldn't be advisable in positions of leadership would be because men simply wouldn't respect their authority.

If one takes literally the Timothy verses to "be a husband of one wife", this clearly indicates that only a male should be in a pastoral position. If that verse is taken literally then so should the aforementioned Timothy verses and the Corinthians verse when Paul says "women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission".

(The following is paraphrased from a source I found online at a Methodist site) What is interesting is how Jesus treated the women of His day. He showed great respect for them and took the time to talk with them (John 4), He healed them (Luke 8:48), forgave them (John 8:11), engaged them in theological discussion (John 4:19-26; 11:23-27), and welcomed them as disciples, i.e., learners (Luke 10:39, 42). He used the experiences of women as subject of some of his parables (Luke 15:8-10). Jesus' treatment of women was unlike any other rabbi of that day. The first people to whom Jesus' appeared after the resurrection were women! (John 20:17) Then He commanded she go and share what she saw! Moreover, Jesus made no statements limiting women in their ministry for him. One of Jesus' greatest commands in Matthew 28 is "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Was this a man only command? It was given to His chosen disciples, but are we not all His disciples, both women and men?

Katie adds "God didn't choose a man to be the mother of Jesus!" LOL We sure do have fun doing Bible study!

In looking over this I found many women of the Bible in prominent roles of authority. Deborah, a judge, Esther a Queen, and Mary the MOTHER OF GOD! We learn about Lydia who basically was a church planter. (Acts 16:40) What if she had remained silent?

I looked at the Northbrook responsibilities/qualifications for the PLT and they are based on the Timothy and Titus verses. That's a good thing for a biblical church! The only qualification I see there that a woman could not possibly adhere to is the "Husband of one wife" qualification.

In reading through scriptures I believe that women and men do have different roles in life, thus different roles in the church. God does mandate that women have the role of submission, however submission does not equal a "lower life form"! God himself has given great honor to many women through scriptural history. God was able to use women to His glory because of their submission, submission to His authority! In fact, many of the men in leadership roles that

we read about in Scripture, were influenced by women...sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a not-so-good way. Either way, women are influential.

I believe that God gifts women to teach, and to teach His Word to His children. God will prompt the hearts, eyes, and ears, for those who need to hear a word from Him. God will use a willing instrument to deliver His message, whether through man or woman, or heck, didn't He even once use an ass? (Numbers 23:5)

Personally, I am frustrated that I can't answer with certainty any single question we ask in SaLT with WaLT!

Ugh! I wish I was more of a Bible scholar and expert in ancient Jewish, Greek, and whatever else culture I would need to be an expert in to thoroughly understand God more! I CAN'T WAIT TO ASK HIM FACE TO FACE! nevermind! BY THEN I WON'T CARE AND I'LL BE TOO BUSY WORSHIPPING!

I personally do not think I would necessarily have an issue with a woman on the PLT (Pastoral Leadership Team), because she would still be under the authority of the Lead Pastor. Because even great theologians debate this women's role thing, I would choose to error on the side of caution and not want women as the lead pastor in any church. I do wonder sometimes though if we miss out on any blessings with

strict adherance to this it God's? or man's?

Bummer, I won't be at class on Sunday! I'm gonna miss more great discussion!

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