The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Women as Ministers? Yes! Stop Making Case Specific Teachings Universal

I joined Linked In the other day at the request of some friends already involved there. There were several ministry-related sites there recommended and I joined three. I was quickly disappointed with one site where the first question I saw was whether women should be ministers according to biblical standards. Sadly, annoyingly, the consensus there was no room in the pulpit for women. The verses focused on were penned under Paul's name and the verse in particular spoke of ministers and their wives. How can you have a woman as a minister when ministers were to have wives? This is a very Pharisee way of parsing verses, sticking to the letter and not the spirit of the law, something Jesus railed against many times. This verse was written in a letter to a particular people, in a particular patriarchal culture, at a very specific point in time. Like other verses, one needs to determine what is a universal truth and what is a case specific issue being addressed. I am not going to get into specific verses here as this whole issue annoys me and I'm not interested in arguing letter.

To say because the verse reads minister and wife that no other possibility may occur is to negate the roles of any preacher or priest who is unmarried, divorced, widower ... In this logic such individuals, no matter how talented or called, must step aside. This is odd logic considering the author of the letter is considered to be an unmarried man.

As for women keeping silent, not teaching men, again an example easily explained as case specific to the churches involved. Women of the time, becoming very excited about the faith, but totally untrained, were causing disruption in services. Paul addressed this. Not a universal issue, especially since among Paul's retinue of fellow pastors were women, who were to be treated with respect when they arrived.

There are also a great many powerful women recorded in the Bible taking on leadership roles or acting as the first evangelists to their people after encountering Jesus ... and with great success I might add. I think that tells you more about the spirit of the law.

There are a great many case specific passages in both the Old and New Testaments. We no longer concern ourselves with what animal to sacrifice at the altar or how to build the temple itself in accordance with Old Testament instruction. All of this reminds me a great deal of the running argument between Paul and the budding Church in Jerusalem over what would be required of Gentiles joining the faith. We are all fortunate Paul won that argument.

One thing this group said that proves correct is that many churches still feel women should not be ministers. I disagree of course and have been ministered to by some wonderful women preachers among the American Baptists. My life and my understanding of the faith would be poorer without them.

Finally, if you seek to capture the younger more dynamic people in today's society, you might as well give up this letter of the law, Pharisee's approach. Give up on the "it's not what I say but what the Bible says" fall back. They have neither the time nor the patience for this sort of argument. They have in large part already figured where they stand on a great many issues ... and they have left a great many churches behind in the process. Am I advocating putting aside the letter to capture the culture ... or am I suggesting where the active, living God is calling us to be in the world today? Decide quickly. Time may be shorter than you think. 

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