I should never say I'm going to write here "tomorrow." It is now tomorrow (from yesterday’s perspective), and I’m too tired. I don’t really have anything to say. Whatever I do say is going to be unwieldy and will either make readers say, "Well, duh, Jenn—finally!" or "Let's have nothing more to do with that godless woman." Or maybe just, “Huh?”
But I promised. It’s just probably not going to sound as much like an epiphany to you as it did to me. What the sudden brightening of the ideological (or whatever) lights-formerly-known-as-dim revealed, was that I think women can pretty much fill any role in the church that God calls them to. And that might just be leadership.
You might think that the reason I have come to this conclusion is because I want to become a pastor or something myself. The thing is, I kind of think I already am one. I don’t know that I’m necessarily very good at it, but I might be better at it than I am at most things. If “pastor” means “shepherd” and implies someone who cares for and tries to encourage the spiritual well-being of a group of people, then I’ve been doing that for years.
So maybe I’m just trying to make excuses for something I’m already doing, that I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Well really. Maybe I am.
But here are some of the things which finally sank into my resistant, traditionalist skull. If God didn’t intend to involve women equally with men in bringing His goodness and His good news to the world:
1. Why, of the few women mentioned in the Old Testament, are they all portrayed as having some sort of authority? Deborah obviously comes to mind—she judged a whole nation. But the “fate” of Esther’s entire people was dependent on her taking charge in the way that she could. Even the slave girl who told Naaman that there was a prophet of the true God in Israel who could heal his leprosy, gave a man the amount of good news she was privy to.
2. Why did Jesus treat all the women He interacted with, with tremendous, culture-bending respect? Why did He let Mary sit at His feet and listen to His teaching? Why did He bother transforming an entire Samaritan village by using a (rather dubious) woman as the go-between? You could say, well, she happened to be there, and given the dynamics between Jews and Samaritans, it was probably unlikely He would, say, have managed to schedule a town meeting. But I don’t think Jesus is really the grasping-at-straws type, and if you want to talk about unlikeliness, what actually did happen in John 4 is right up there. If He really cared that much about not having women be His messengers, I’m guessing He would have found some other way to do that.
3. Why on earth did God make a woman be the first bringer of the complete Word of God to earth? Really, Mary was the first evangelist—the message just happened to be a whole lot more tangible in her case. And furthermore, why were women the first people who got to tell the story of the Resurrection?
4. What about the women mentioned in Acts and some of the letters who were clearly leaders in their local congregations? What about Philip’s four prophet-daughters? (How, exactly, is prophesying different from preaching? If you want to get nit-picky, you could maybe say that one is more spur-of-the-moment and intuitive, and the other involves study, but the function is still basically the same.) Why do these women get considered exceptions? And if there really is something wrong with women teaching and leading, why were there any exceptions at all?
5. What about this: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3.26-29, NKJV)?
My guess is someone could say that passage is about spiritual and relational status with God, not about roles. But if we’re all equal in relationship to God, and in value, and in standing—if we’re all equal heirs—why should we not all be equal participants? It seems like if the above is really true, we absolutely should be. It would be disobedient not to.
There’s more I want to say, and I don’t promise to say it tomorrow, but I do promise to say it one of these days. But you didn’t really want to read more than this tonight anyway.