Giant Theology: Women Are Equal

Last week I participated in the Continuation Committee meetings for the North American Christian Convention. It is my first time on this committee, so I tried to observe more than speak (which is difficult for me). My friend Bryan Meyers, a veteran of this committee, pointed out that the role of this committee is not really to have input or shape the convention, but to be informed supporters of the NACC.

That said, we did get to break into smaller groups and discuss possibilities for the workshops for the 2014 convention. I was in the Women in Ministry group, because I have a longstanding interest in this, especially as the Dean of colleges that train women for service in the church. Again, I was more listening than speaking for most of this meeting, which was capably run by women who knew what they were doing and didn’t need my help. But, after discussing nuts and bolts, the discussion took a turn to talking about the roles of women in the church (I did not bring this up, I promise). Within this context, the discussion shifted to the relatively minor question of whether or not it is proper to have women serve communion and offering plates in a worship service.

I think this is something of a test of an individual church and its attitude toward women. When I expressed this opinion, one of the senior women on the committee answered me by telling this story, “When this question comes up, I remember a time in my husband’s church when a single mother and her little son were visiting. When the men came down the aisle to serve communion, the boy said, ‘Look Mommy, the daddies are coming.'” Nice story. Touching, even. But I failed to see that it had anything to do with letting women be servers in the worship service. So I answered with a story of my own, “When my daughters were home for Christmas and attended my church, they noticed there were no women serving. They said, ‘What’s wrong with your church?'” I am sure I was rude in the way I responded, but I do not apologize for the point: If we don’t get this fixed, we risk losing a generation of young women who will not have anything to do with a church that needlessly minimizes the role of women within the church.

At the end of the day, I fall back on Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I think this is a Giant Theology text. And I might remind anyone who wants to manipulate this Scripture to make it non-applicable for roles in the church, you must do the same thing for the Jew/Gentile and slave/free division. So let’s get beyond this silly relic of the 19th century, the unjustified subjugation of women in the church. Let’s recognize the equality of men and women, and unleash the potential of 50% of the adult membership that is now relegated to the sidelines in many churches.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

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8 thoughts on “Giant Theology: Women Are Equal

  1. Mark,
    Thank you for your comments here. At the church where I serve we are blessed to have loving men and women – who are committed to Christ and His Church serving in auxillary roles and leadership pastoral roles. I guess this is is one of the blessings of planting churches. Not sure how to turn the existing church around with the truth of the equality of men and women.

  2. Interesting Idea, but lacking in many merits. I prefer the Orthodox view of this issue. In addition to the Orthodox position, I see our society degrading greatly when it comes to the role of manhood in our society. The Church has long been the sole advocate for true manhood. I see too many boys who should grow up to be men continue to be boys. If we as the Church take on every mantra of the society around us, then we become the world and not the Church. Holding fast to the tradition, is not without merit or Biblical integrity. (sorry for the colloquial nature of my reply, too long working with middle-school children)

    Doug

    • Why would we want to defend the “manhood of society” as a purpose of the church? If the Bible teaches equality of men and women, I think we have more important things to do.

  3. Dr. Krause, thank you for the production of this blog. I have enjoyed reading through its articles. The role of women in the Church has been a perplexing question for myself. Obviously there are verses, such as Galatians 3:28 which promote the equality of men and women in God’s eyes. However, we seem to be told at times, primarily by Paul, that men should not see women with eyes of equality when it comes to the Church.

    According to I Timothy 2:11-16, a woman is forbidden to teach a man and should remain quiet. Paul builds his point by reminding his readers of the Garden. He goes on to explain that Eve was deceived, not Adam. Going all the way back to beginning of human history, Paul declares that a woman was mislead, not a man. Furthermore, “a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”

    But yet in Acts 18:24-26, we see Priscilla and Aquila informing Apollos of a more “accurate” way of God. Certainly that would involved teaching. Acts 21:7-9, tells us that Philip the Evangelist has four daughters who were prophetesses. Romans 16:1-6 shows us that Priscilla and Aquila are the head of a house church, or at the very least, allowed a church to meet in their home. And then, of course, we have I Corinthians 14:33b-35 where Paul instructs the Corinthians that women are are to remain silent in churches and not allowed to speak.

    Each denomination seems to have their own take on these male-dominant verses. From asserting that particular passages were added later to the Scriptures by a church seeking to oppress women, all the way to churches continuing to practice these instructions with literal applications, we can see disagreement in the Church.

    My question for you is not argumentative, but rather, it is seeking another perspective with hopes of insight. There is no doubt several of these passages just feel wrong to apply in our own homes, let alone our Churches. However, how can you make the statement, “If we don’t get this fixed, we risk losing a generation of young women who will not have anything to do with a church that needlessly minimizes the role of women within the church”, when Paul continually instructed believers to minimize the role of women in the church?

    • I guess we will disagree that Paul continually does this. I think he recognizes the value of having women in leadership roles in his churches, although he is up against the male-dominated society of his world, as we are. I don’t think we can minimize Galatians 3:28, but use it as our guiding star from Scripture to work this out.

      • Quite honestly, I would rather NOT disagree and I would rather see things as you do on this topic. I just can’t come to that conclusion yet given what I read from Paul. But again, perhaps you have some further insight for me. How do you address I Timothy 2:11-16 and I Corinthians 14:33-35? Do you view them as specific to those churches only?

      • I don’t have all the answers here. We try to draw a distinction between things that are “descriptive” of the ancient situation and things that are “prescriptive” for the church in a more timeless way. His words in 1 Timothy seem very harsh, so I have to believe he is addressing a specific issue in that church rather than making blanket statements of teaching. In the 1 Corinthians case, it seems to me that there are women who are speaking in the worship time, perhaps even speaking in tongues, interpreting, and prophesying. So his comments about women being silent in church services don’t jibe with the other context. Today, no one takes Paul’s comments about women and head coverings as “prescriptive.” This would apply to men’s headcoverings, too. (We don’t outlaw baseball caps in church.) Paul says that men should have heads uncovered while praying/prophesying but women should be covered while doing these things. I don’t know what “prophesying” would be for him except something done in public, so here he seems to recognize women speaking in the worship service despite what he says in chapter 14.

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