I am not a feminist.

I am very glad that God made me a woman, but I’ve never been one to stand up for myself on the basis of my sex. This is one reason that I have had a hard time becoming passionate about being a woman in
ministry. Don’t get me wrong- I am extremely passionate about being in ministry. But my passion and drive does not come from my being a woman. During my undergrad years, I wrote a couple of papers about the role of women in the church. I knew the issues, the right scriptures to use and how to use them, but I never liked what I wrote. I have never felt that our reasoning behind women having a public role in the church is strong enough. Too often I have heard Galatians 3:28 being used to justify women’s roles in the faith community. Though this is a wonderful statement by Paul… I have never felt empowered by his words. Maybe it’s just me. Then there’s the whole justification of Paul’s letters’ argument and reasoning- the idea that the culture was different then, and since our culture is different now we need to catch up with the times. Now while I will not disagree with this thinking, it still seems that something is lacking. If our purpose in placing women in public roles within our churches is only to catch up with the times, then I’m afraid we need to open our Bibles and study again God’s calling to his daughters.

Basically this really is a conversation that I try to avoid. However the reality is that I
am a woman in ministry. And I need to have some answers before I begin interviewing and my church leaders ask me these sorts of questions… Well I finally heard something in my class last week that I can rally around, I can jump on board, and I can finally say, “YES! I am a woman in ministry, hear me roar!” (Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but you get my drift…)

In my Introduction to the New Testament class we studied and discussed the Pastoral Epistles. The first half of the class was just looking at the similarities and discrepancies between these letters and other of Paul’s letters. This involved discussing the genre of the letters, the setting in which they were written, and some of the wording that is distinctive to the Pastorals. Needless to say this discussion did not give me goosebumps. At the end of class Dr. Thompson is good about asking what the book we are studying says to our churches today. It was decided that just as Paul was calling the churches in Ephesus and Crete to be attractive to their culture, God is calling today’s faith community to be attractive to our culture. When I first heard this, I wrote it down (because Dr. Thompson agreed with the answer), but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I am a process-thinker; therefore I listen for a while, go away and think about it, then have a response…

“Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent… Tell the women to be reverent in their behavior…”

These are a few of the things Paul had to say to these churches regarding their women. So if these letters are more than just checklists for the assembly, then I want to know what Paul is actually saying to these churches. And as I re-read his words, I understood why he
is calling these communities of faith to be attractive to the surrounding society. It is more than just a call to look like their culture in order to blend in or to trick them into thinking that the church isn’t set apart. These letters are about being missional. In their time women did not have a voice, so why would others want to be a part of a faith community that is giving women authority? Paul is saying, “The only way you can be missional and reach out to those around you is if you are attractive to them. And you will never be attractive if there is not order in your church.” So now I want to know if Paul’s calling to these communities of antiquity is applicable to our churches today. And the answer is… YES! The calling has not changed, only our culture! God is still calling us to be attractive to our culture in order to be missional. Why would a woman who has been given strength in her world want to come into ours if she is only coming to a place that tells her to keep her thoughts and gifts to herself? We will never be a missional people if we do not start to look a little more like our culture. And, of course, this does not only apply to the women’s issue. Our world is multi-racial, -cultural, -generational, socio-economically diverse... we have a long way to go.

So if my reason for going into ministry is only to further the cause of women in the church, then I do not want to be in vocational ministry. But being a woman in ministry in order to be missional is something that I can grab a hold of and run. I can be passionate about being missional. If my being in ministry as a woman opens the doors of our faith communities a little wider, then I am all OVER being a woman in ministry!