Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Women in Ministry

Mara and I were talking about women in ministry on Sunday and I promised her I'd find LT's post Why I think women should be church leaders. I thought his take on 1 Tim 2: "I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man" to quite insightfull.

- Peace


Richard said...

In this debate, I've often noticed only two positions: women should not have any leadership ministry or women can have any leadership ministry.

Have any groups ever toyed with the idea of allowing women to have a leadership ministry that involved leading only other women?

Dave King said...

Well just off the top of my head, Nuns come to mind. There is a wide range of models and some with fancy names that I don't remeber.

- Peace

Richard said...

I guess I should have qualified my question with: "outside of the Roman Catholic Church" as nuns and Mother Superior are an obvious example.

I remember having this discussion at Regent (the professors were sharply split on this issue) with some other students. One of the students pointed out that the Reformation was a step backwards for women holding positions of power and leadership as Luther's teachings confined women to kinder, kuche, kirche (children, kitchen, and church).

She said that in the Roman Catholic Church a woman could enter the religious life and then serve as a leader or authority figure there. Celibacy was a rather high price to pay for leadership but it was at least an option. And St Paul does at times appear to suggest that celibacy is an inherently superior state than the married one.

I think Couples for Christ allows women leaders who are married but they do not lead men - I'm not sure if youth counts as men or not.

kris said...

When I was in Virginia it seemed to be commonly held that women could teach children and other women but not men. They could be leaders they just couldn't preach to the congregation or any other group that would have men in it.

Richard said...

Interesting. I wonder if they have some way of defining when a boy (who as a child can be taught by women) becomes a man (who therefore cannot be taught by women).

Reminds me of another debate about "children obey your parents". I remember the people from Asian congregations took that to mean you were a child until both parents died and that they even wrote into their constitution they would not baptize, send on missions, or ordain anyone without parental permission (even into age thirty or more). On the other extreme, some congregations figured that you stopped being a child after you were baptized as a believer.

On another note, I was reading Exodus last night and was struck by the significant, crucial, rebellious, and praiseworthy role women played in saving the Baby Moses from Pharoah. The authors of Exodus certainly had no problem repeatedly praising the women.

First the Hebrew midwives disobey Pharoah's command to kill the boys and instead make up a false story about Hebrew women being so sturdy they give birth before midwives arrive (imagine that! a book written in a patristic society praising women that disobeyed and lied to their evil king).

Pharoah then commands the babies to be thrown into the river and so Moses' mother "obeys" but places him in a basket that floats very well. Then Pharoah's daughter joins in and knowingly works against the spirit but the letter of Pharoah's decree by rescuing Moses from the river.

If this is what Paul means by submission, then Paul is more liberated than I am and I better think more than twice before using my authority over my family for selfish or sinful purposes.