Saturday, May 05, 2007

What's the Big Deal?

There was a post on Jesus Creed discussing the role of women in the Sunday morning service (WOMEN AND THE SUNDAY MORNING SERVICE by Leslie Robert Keylock, Ph.D.). Dr. Keylock was looking at our North American church practices lamenting the fact that women are often nowhere to be seen on conservative evangelical church platforms and then made some comments on 1 Timothy 2:12. It's an interesting read (reading it will help you understand this post) but it made me wonder why we focus so much attention in Evangelical (and Roman Catholic) circles on this one issue - the role of women in church? Why is it such a significant, divisive issue? Maybe because we are in a house church that the issue is not so significant for me. Or it might be that we are in a denomination (PAOC) that ordains women (and has on and off since the 1920's).

Why should this issue be such a problem when we do so many things in “Evangelicalism” that have not a stitch of Biblical support - or if they do those things are not specifically taught by Scripture - often only mentioned in passing. As examples I could suggest church buildings (meeting in them, constructing them, their very existence and the money to pay for them), deacon boards (or official hierarchical leadership pyramids), orders of service, congregational business meetings, sole paid pastor/elder (as opposed to the plurality of elders - and as opposed to APEPT, five-fold ministry), voting as decision-making, worship teams, organs, Sunday morning at 11:00am gatherings, Christian Education, youth groups, youth pastors (age segregation in general) to say nothing of celebrating Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving or our extensive denominational hierarchy. This seems to be an example of swallowing camels and straining at gnats.

Some denominations have been ordaining women for a hundred years (or more?) We certainly have sufficient biblical justification to include women in leadership and teaching roles (much more than some of the practices mentioned above, i.e. Junia apostle, Priscilla who taught Apollos, Phoebe, Deborah who was a Judge in the OT, etc.). And we have enough questions about the passages like 1 Timothy 2 (the meaning of authority meaning "domineering," etc.) not to prohibit them.

The question still stands: Why is it such a significant, divisive issue? I’m not really sure I know why but I’m fairly convinced that it’s not because we necessarily have such a high view of Scripture - otherwise we wouldn’t be doing some of those other things mentioned above.

I think that one of the beauties of simple church like a house church is that all people can participate. It is a place where gifts are manifest because people get to talk and share and live life together. I can't imagine not having the women in our congregation participate in the proceedings. Our prayer life and our ability to hear from God would be significantly diminished. And to imagine that the hostess of the house in which the church meets should be silent and not instruct the men about where to put their stuff - well now we're just getting silly.

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