This past Sunday, my wife led the service at our church. I sat back in the pews and enjoyed as Amanda did the announcements, offering, a number of prayers and other aspects of the service. I have seen Amanda in action doing pastoral care as well. She is extremely gifted in these areas.
For some people, women in ministry is a real issue. I don’t think they really mean women in ministry, because no interpretation of the Bible could lead to a conclusion that women should not be involved in ministry. What they really mean is that women should not be involved in the leadership of the church. Sometimes that means women shouldn’t be involved on the level of deacons/elders/board and sometimes as pastors and sometimes as lead pastors.
I will say that I have a pet peeve about churches who hire women to do the work of pastors but then give them the title “director” so they won’t be considered pastors. If you don’t believe women should be pastors, then don’t give them pastoral duties. Be consistent.
I happen to believe that women can be pastors and should be in leadership. In our church, we have female deacons. Our deacons are very much like the elder model. I have also worked with female pastors.
While I think that the passages that are used to argue against women in leadership need to be addressed, I would like to start by sharing why I believe the positive case for women in leadership is strong. I will respond to the other passages in a different post.
- There were female prophets in the Old Testament. Miriam, Deborah and Huldah all preform the role of a prophet. There are two others who could also be included.
- There was a female judge. It is clear that the role of the judge was an important leadership position within ancient Israel. Deborah, along with being a prophet, also was a judge. She has one of the most positive accounts of all the judges.
- There were female disciples. While it could be argues that there were many female disciples, it is very clear that Mary was a disciple of Jesus, a role that most rabbis would not allow for women. See Luke 10:38-42.
- There were female prophets in the New Testament. There were the daughters of Philip who prophesied (Acts 21:9), Paul also gives guidelines for women involved in prophecy (1 Corinthians 11:5). I find it strange that some people find prophecy as a less authoritative activity than teaching or preaching.
- There were female deacons (Romans 16:1). There is no reason to believe that Phoebe’s role was any less than that of male deacons.
- There was at least one female apostle (Romans 16:7). The natural translation of this verse is that Junia was an apostle. A number of translations come at the verse with the assumption that a woman could not be a deacon.