When Rich and I sensed we were to teach a series in our church on this issue we had no idea that in our own denomination this issue was being discussed and wrestled with among the leadership. More to come on that later. In many ways this series is timely for us. Most importantly it is to help our own faith community think theologically about this issue. When you read my previous post where women's status in the "traditionalist" "complementarian" view is no different than the caste system I hope that makes you angry enough or challenged enough in your thinking to study the issue out for yourself and not just take someone's word for it.
I have a friend who when talking about vocation, service in ministry whatever you want to call it...asks the question, "what would you do or keep doing the rest of your life whether you got paid for it or not?"
I like that question. It gives me perspective. I functioned in a pastoral capacity for many years without pay. I would continue doing so for the rest of my life without pay. It is what I know deep down in the core of who I was created to be to do the work I do. I know that without a doubt. It is not about and never was about "getting paid" for me. I am at a place in my life where I do get paid to do what I love and for that I am very thankful.
When I hear talk from traditionalists and complementarians that say a woman like me is out of biblical order and that is what is wrong in this world...that makes my head spin.
I honestly equate it to hearing something like this:
Those Yankees up North are out of biblical order freeing slaves and that is what is wrong with this world...
Or how about:
Those Christians that are in the streets of Calcutta talking to the "untouchables" trying to give them hope...don't they know they are the "untouchables”? They have their place in society and to disrupt it would make the world go wrong...
Speaking of all the modified versions of a woman not permitted to speak ranges from: she does not have the "special" gift of teaching (meaning she cannot teach as one in authority, an elder) to a woman many not preach behind the pulpit on Sunday morning to some who allow women to perform all pastoral duties and to fill any pastoral position except that of senior pastor and on and on...
All those who hold these views--despite their divergent applications of the text--appeal to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 as the biblical basis for their position. In other words, even those who insist that the Bible presents a transcultural restriction of women's ministry cannot find clear direction from this text or any other biblical text as to what, exactly, the restriction is.
Rather than acknowledging the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is more consistent with the rest of Scripture if it is understood as directly applicable only to its specific cultural and historical context, traditionalists interpretation begins with the assumption that this text is universally normative. This then requires the ad hoc modification of the terms of the prohibition, so as to allow for any ministry by women for which there is unequivocal biblical evidence and example. (210)
If 1 Timothy 2:11-15 can legitimately be understood as a prohibition relevant only for women in a historically specific circumstance (which it can), and if there is no other biblical text that explicitly forbids women to teach or have authority over men (which there is not), and if there are texts that assert the fundamental spiritual equality of women with men (which there are), then women who are not in the circumstance for which the 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibition was intended may safely follow whatever call they may have to ministry. In other words, it ought at least to be acknowledged that the traditionalist interpretation is debatable on biblical grounds. This being the case, we should give the benefit of the doubt to any woman who is called to and qualified for pastoral leadership, and allow her the opportunity to use her gifts in this way. If we do not have sure reason to judge her, then we dare not risk quenching the Spirit's ministry through her. (211-212)