Saturday, March 26, 2011

How can I pastor?

My call into ministry began as a child. I sat in the pews and heard/felt/sensed a small inaudible voice say, "you are not meant to be in the pews forever, you are called to the pulpit/altar." And all my life, I have been drawn to the Communion Table and to the pulpit. But I ran into the cultural arguments against women in ministry. There were those who "corrected me" and I believed them when they pulled out Paul's letters and pushed me back into my "proper place." But here I am having been approved for ordination, pastoring two churches, and looking forward to June 11 when Bishop Marcus Matthews lays hands on me and tells me to take the authority given to me to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and lead the church. How do I reconcile my new found freedom? This is not going to be a scripture by scripture account but this is my reasoning.
1. There are women in leadership throughout Scripture. Deborah, Priscilla, Junias..etc. The Proverbs 31 woman was not a "stay at home mom" like we know today. She bought and sold land. At that time, the whole family was "stay at home and all work for the family". Why are the women in leadership in Scripture considered the exceptions to the rule? When I watch my friends who are parents work with their children, the exception to the rule is not freedom but limitation. If one child is doing well in school and the other is doing poorly, the limitation on after school activity, friends over, video games is the exception to the freedom. As they improve, freedom is restored. Paul's letters are to particular churches with particular problems. Perhaps, like a parent, Paul is imposing restrictions because there is a problem in those particular churches.
2. What are we saying about God when we limit who God uses and in what way? God's grace was strong enough to save men from their fallen nature and weaknesses, restoring them to a place where they can fully participate in the work of God. Paul states there is no male or female in Christ. Is this only for salvation? So God's grace is only strong enough to save women but we cannot be fully restored to the partners with men and with God in the work of God? I would argue that in his letters, Paul is not talking about salvation only but living out the Christian life. I believe this is the biggest issue--what does our restriction of who God uses say about the God we serve?
3. I discovered those who told me women cannot be used in pastoral ministry by quoting Scripture were misquoting Scripture. These people who proclaimed to have a high regard for God's Word were not using Scripture honestly. The story of the Fall is one area. Women were deceived and so we cannot be trusted to rightly divide the Word. In Genesis 3, Adam was right there with Eve according to Scripture. He never raises an objection to Eve's taking and eating the fruit nor to his own eating the fruit. He is mysteriously silent. No one ever mentioned Adam's role despite the fact Paul himself talks how sin came through Adam. The other Scripture I found mysteriously changed was the story of Deborah. I was always told Deborah was a prophetess/judge because there was no man who would step up to the job. Because no man would take the position, Deborah is an exception. But that is not how the story goes. She is a judge and all come to her. The exception comes later when the man of God would not lead the people to war without the prophetess going to battle with him. And so the victory will not be given to the man of God but to a woman. the victory is given to Jael who kills the enemy of Israel.
4. There are issues also with the Greek in the Timothy passage which states women cannot teach---the Greek word is never interpreted as teach except in this case. If I recall my Kittle and Dr. Mullholland lecture, it has more to do with making a decision outside of your authority which affects your family--like Eve did in the Garden. That is my summary, I cannot find the word for word lecture of Dr. Mullholland nor do I have the luxury of owning Kittle.

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