For many years now I have been in church leadership. My role of Worship Director is an interesting one, especially due to the fact that all of the denominations of the churches I have served in hold to the fact that the Bible teaches that women do not have free reign in church leadership. There are limits. Women can’t be Pastors, women can’t be elders, and so on.
I have talked this out with Pastors that I trust and respect. Some Pastors that I have worked under are quite conservative, others more liberal on the spectrum of what my role can be in church because of my gender. All of these men have brought it back to Scripture.
We talk about Paul and his New Testament views on this subject. Paul “does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” and goes on to say that “she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12). Paul also says that if I am praying or prophesying, I should cover my head (1 Corinthians 11:5). Why don’t we follow the head-covering teaching of Paul in today’s church and yet we use Paul’s teaching as a reason that women can not be pastors? The explanation most often is that the head-covering part is cultural. My question then is, who gets to decide which part of Paul’s teaching about the church is cultural and which part is a biblical mandate for all time?
The answer I usually get to that question is that we have to bring it back to creation. Man was made first. And, after the fall, God told Eve that her “desire would be for (her) husband, and he would rule over (her) (Genesis 3:16). Again, my question to those thoughts is, who gets to decide which of the Old Testament mandates are ones that we should followed today? Why doesn’t the church still set forth that, if a woman isn’t a virgin when she gets married and her husband finds out, the whole town could stone her (Deuteronomy 22)? If some are “cultural” and others are “biblical” and must be followed, who gets to decide which is which?
My personal answer is that, when Jesus came to earth, things changed. The veil between us and God was torn and now we live with the Holy Spirit inside of us. All of us….even women and children! While we all have the same access to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, some of us are more mature than others in our faith. Also, we all have different gifts given to us by God. Some to preach, some to teach, and so on (Ephesians 4:11). It is my belief that these roles are what rise to the top when we decide who gets to do what in the church. I don’t think that the gender of a person overrides the gifts that God has given them.
And yet, I currently attend a church who does not hold the same views that I do on this subject. I struggle with this. Should this be a deal breaker for me and, for that matter, my family? And if so, where will I go? Should I solely base my church membership decision on their views of women’s roles in the church? And if I do, what if I disagree with other strongholds that church has that I may disagree with? Which issues should rise to the top?
The “easy” answer and the one I am giving today is : JESUS. I see Jesus at my current church. I see them loving others the way Jesus would. I see them praising Jesus with their mouths and their lives. So for now, I’m staying put. But, the fight inside my soul is still there. And I’m not sure what to do with it.