WOMEN IN MINISTRY

What is your view of women in ministry?

We’ve answered this often-asked question on a face-to-face case-by-case basis…until now. It’s time to make our stance public. 

And isn’t the timing just perfect? 

On this Good Friday, we prepare to celebrate resurrected Jesus who first appeared to women. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb alongside her companions, weeping, when angels appeared to them with the good news. When Mary turned around, there stood Jesus! Mary and the other women then became “apostles to the apostles,” declaring the Gospel to them—“He has risen!” (Catch the full account in John 20.)

OUR SHORT ANSWER

Perhaps you’re already catching on... 

L24 Collective is an egalitarian community where women absolutely/equally have any/every opportunity extended to a man. Simple as that.

Why egalitarian?

We’ve looked at the “complementarian” alternative and believe its issues run very deep and counter to the gospel. Jesus is very clear, instructing his disciples not to lead in the world's benefactor model where the strong exert dominion over the weak in exchange for “safety” and provision. The strong are to serve, not control. (Luke 22:25) “In Christ” equality/mutuality, regardless of race, status or gender (Galatians 3:28) was revolutionary “good news” that ran counter to the patriarchal systems of its day.

This is an enormous distinction that sets Jesus' followers apart! 

We’re also (almost) complementarian (kind of)...

Confusing? Just hang with us for a moment…. 

To the extent that “complementarianism” means "people possess different but complementary roles within the family,” we are in agreement. There's a lot of diversity within the Body of Christ, meant to work together to form a healthy/thriving whole! 

But...

We get "off the bus” when these “different yet complementary roles” are assigned (or withheld) simply on the basis of gender. Looking at the gifts Christ gives His Church in scripture, we simply don’t find any of them coupled with male/female particularities. (See for yourself in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12.) We believe contextual and unbiased study of the New Testament fully affirms this.

DEBUNKING THE CASE AGAINST WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

What about 1 Cor. 14.33-36 or 1 Timothy 2:9-15? 

These two particular passages seem to explicitly contradict our egalitarian position. If that’s true, then this would also betray our authoritative and inspired view of Scripture. So we can't pretend they don't exist. Let’s look at each passage, starting with the letter to the Corinthians….

"Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.” 1 Corinthians 14:34

There are several factors to consider here:

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul also provides instructions for when women prayed and prophesied in the gatherings. Well, in order for a woman to do this, wouldn’t she have to speak? Right! This leads us to believe the "silence" Paul was calling for wasn't an always-applicable "commandment." We must look at the text more holistically. Why was he saying this?

From the full context of Paul’s own letter, it would seem that (a) Paul is addressing a certain type of behavior that had become disruptive and (b) prohibition of women speaking in church isn’t a universal principle for all churches for all time in all cultures.

So let’s look at some Corinthian Church specifics, shall we?

1 Corinthians 11 marks the beginning of a set of instructions spanning a few chapters on bringing order into the local body. These include direction for observing the Lord’s Supper, the use of spiritual gifts, that people should speak one at a time, and that women should save their questions for a setting outside the corporate meeting. Overall, we're getting a picture of a chaotic bunch of folks, preferring the exercise of spiritual gifts over loving and mutual submission, while constantly interrupting and questioning one another. "God is not the author of confusion…” in 14:33 seems to confirm this and provides context for the “silent” instruction in Verse 34. Paul is essentially saying “Timeout!” in pursuit of loving familial peace in the Corinthian church. 

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:12

This passage inspires stubborn persistence among opponents of the egalitarian view. After all, could anything more clearly support complementarianism? Not so fast!

First, who is this letter directed toward? 

God is not instructing the Church (universal) through this letter written from Paul to Timothy. Why? Because this letter isn't written to the entire church. It’s written to a young man shepherding the Church in Ephesus at that time. Paul is advising Timothy on specific issues actually happening in his local community. 

Second, are Paul’s instructions to Timothy universally prescriptive to all churches at all times? We think so but... 

Paul’s instructions are only universally prescriptive if/when dealing with these exact same issues. In other words, it would appear that women were being overly outspoken, weren't mutually submitting as all Christ Followers are instructed to do, are seeking dominance over men (more on that momentarily), are being swayed by perversions of the truth, and have little-to-no interest in seeing to the affairs of their own households. 

Finally, what does Paul mean by "assume authority?"

The word Paul uses in Verse 12 for “authority” is “authentein” (the only instance this word is found in the Bible) which translates into “insolence, bullying, or domineering”—all unacceptable behavior for any Christian man or woman and without place in marriage or the church. “Authority” actually seems to be a rather poor word translation choice when you look at the original meaning of “authentein.” In other words...

Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 2 has everything to do with misuse of power and nothing to do with church structures that only permit men to lead

So, we submit to you these questions:

Do you think the prohibition expressed in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a universal one which is predicated solely on a woman’s sex?

Or is the prohibition more specifically addressing the bad behaviour of a woman (or women) in Ephesus?

We could ask the same of some other Pauline instructions….

In 1 Timothy 5:11, Paul writes as if all young widows are unable to control their sensual desires....

Titus 1:12 makes it sound as though every Cretian is lazy and gluttonous….

1 Timothy 2:8 says that men should pray without “anger or disputing.” (It would seem that the prayer problems in Ephesus were only caused by the men, just as the loud unruly chatter in Corinth was only caused by the women.)

To think that all of Paul’s letters to specific churches, dealing with specific situations, are in fact manuals for all churches of all times in all situations is to completely misunderstand his writings! Sometimes we do find universal principles, but more often we are seeing timeless truths directed toward specific situations. 

ESTABLISHING A SCRIPTURAL PRECEDENCE 

Let’s look at Jesus’ example….

There's a reason women flocked to Jesus: Because he intentionally included and empowered women when other religious men of influence didn't. - Jory Micah

Luke 8:1-3 describes the company that followed Jesus in His earthly ministry. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and other women were all a part of the inner-circle that joined Jesus and his twelve disciples. 

In Luke 21:1–4 and Mark 12:41–44, Jesus uses the example of the widow’s sacrificial giving to rebuke the self-righteous. 

Luke 10:38-42 says that Mary, sister of Martha, assumed the posture of a disciple, sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Matt. 26:6–13 gives an account of a woman anointing Jesus’ head with exceptionally pricey perfume. When she’s rebuked for being wasteful by the disciples, Jesus instead silences them by giving her the highest praise ever given a person, except only John the Baptist. 

Jesus included women as the main characters in His parables. Jesus crossed cultural boundaries by healing the untouchable woman in Luke 8:43-48. He sent the marginalized Samaritan woman as a messenger of the gospel back to her home town (John 4:7-42) and pardons the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Later, when Jesus stood trial prior to His crucifixion, the men fled while the woman refused to abandon Him (Matt. 27:55–56; Mark 15:40–41; Luke 23:49, 55). And upon His resurrection, do you remember who Jesus appeared to first?

Did women minister in the New Testament Church?

Acts 1 kicks right off, mentioning women among those gathered in the Upper Room, involved in selecting a new Apostle to replace Judas. 

The Acts 2 account of Pentecost also reveals that the Holy Spirit’s outpouring wasn’t gender exclusive. Both men and women were filled to proclaim the “wonders of God" in each native tongue within earshot. Peter goes on in his message to rock the boat even further, quoting Joel the prophet, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. On my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit…” 

The New Testament reveals women carrying out the entire 5-fold Ministry of Ephesians 4….

Apostles - In Romans 16:7, Paul greets Junia and Andronicus—both a woman and a man—and commends them as “outstanding (well-known or prominent) among the apostles.” 

Prophets - Philip’s daughters are mentioned in both the New Testament (Acts 21:9) and by other early church writings as prophetesses. Eusebius, a fourth century historian and perhaps the most learned of his time, even regarded these women as benchmarks for prophetic ministry. 

Evangelists - In Philippians 4:2-3, Paul speaks of Euodia and Syntyche—two women who “struggled together with me in the ministry of the gospel”—a common description of those who shared in Paul’s evangelistic work. We also find Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2, who is described as “diakonos”—a minister carrying a sacred message. 

Shepherds - In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are sent to establish the church in Philippi. It started with an outdoor gathering of women. This is where they meet Lydia, who was baptized along with her entire household. Later in the chapter, when Paul and Silas are weary from great trials, they return to Lydia’s home and find the cared-for church established under her roof! 

Teachers - Priscilla may be our best example. Alongside her husband Aquila, she is credited with instructing Apollos in “the way of God.” (Acts 18:24-26) This was no small affair either, as Apollos was a highly educated teacher himself. Now, perhaps this is of little consequence, but in early Greek manuscripts, Priscilla’s name appears first in four out of six accounts of the couple. The implication may be that Priscilla’s teaching ministry was even more prominent than her husband’s!

CONCLUSION

Can you see? 

We are witnessing the God who elevates and affirms women—the God who raises the valley and brings mountains low—the God who levels the playing field—the God who invites every follower of Christ to be an equally legitimate member of His family, using the gifts He’s given each one of us to further His mission here on earth. 

The matter is urgent….

If we are correct and it is biblical for a woman to serve as a leader in the Church, yet we deny the opportunity to exercise her Jesus-given gifts, then we are rejecting the opportunity to be made whole! Men and women must be united—equal, partnered, and released—if we are to be the Church Jesus intends us to be.

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