The First Ladies of Detroit invite Female Bishop Corletta Vaughn into their circle, but feathers get ruffled when Corletta challenges them about submitting to their husbands. Pastor Bullock plans a rally for the disenfranchised people of Detroit, but is angered by the lack of support he receives from the other pastors.
In today’s culture, when it comes to marketing, absolute truth is a rare commodity. Morals are more often determined by popularity or political correctness than by the simple truth. This is not how we should approach the Bible’s teachings, no matter how sensitive the lesson to be learned can be.
When you consider that more than 60 percent of all practicing Christians are women, this dynamic between truth and popularity can be especially volatile when exploring the subject of women’s ordination. The question of women’s roles in the church, and whether or not they ought to be pastors and elders, is under serious debate within many churches. Both sides of the argument stir strongly held beliefs—which is why I want to approach this topic not only with great caution but, more important, much prayer and humility.
We need to be clear about one thing before moving forward. The value of men and the value of women are perfectly equal in the eyes of God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, emphasis added). The spiritual standing of every human being, regardless of nationality, class, or gender, is the same. The ground at the foot of the cross is level—women matter as much as men. This is abundantly clear from the life and ministry of Jesus and the apostles.The reality is that Paul often writes about the roles and distinctions between men and women among other role distinctions.
Biblically it is said:
Much of the opposition to women in ministry is based on these two passages:
As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35)
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. (NIV, 1 Timothy 2:11-12)
As with much of the Bible, some background information is helpful for interpreting these passages:
- Biblical-era society was very much male-dominated. The status of women was much like that of children today — totally subservient to the male head-of-household. It would have been considered scandalous for a woman to take a leadership role with authority over men.
- Biblical-era women were not educated and were mostly confined to domestic duties. A woman would not have had the education needed to take a teaching role.
- The young Christian communities in the Mediterranean area were already looked upon as hotbeds of dangerous heretics by the pagan majorities. The apostle Paul and other church leaders were very concerned about avoiding any appearance of scandal that would make a bad impression on the people they wanted to convert to Christianity (Titus 2:3-8, 1 Corinthians 14:22-24), or worse, that could be used to justify persecution of Christians.
- Humility is an important theme throughout the New Testament. Virtue comes from obedience to God, not from rebelling against society’s norms (1 Peter 2:13-17). Thus, slaves should accept freedom if offered, but, if not, should be obedient to their masters in all things (1 Corinthians 7:20-24, Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Peter 2:18-21). Similarly, women should not rebel against their lot in life (1 Peter 3:1-6).
What do you think?
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