The Bible has some interesting things to say about women. The famous women who followed Jesus, the virgin Mary, Sarah, Eve, Jezabel, Ruth, Esther, etc. What really gets me is that the Bible says in Timothy 1 and other places in the Bible (can't think of anything specific right now) how women have to be submisive. This doesn't sound so bad. It actually sounds like everyone should be submissive, because it would be following Jesus' teaching of serving others before yourself. However, it also says that women shouldn't be allowed to preach, or even speak in church even if they have a question they need to ask the preacher. When this happens, they should ask their husbands about it at home.
It even says that women are more sinful than men because it was Eve who sinned first. All throughout the Bible women are depicted as temptresses and sinful creatures who are incredibly easy to tempt. This is mainly because of Eve, the fact that she was made after Adam, not before him, and that she was the world's first sinner. It makes little sense to me why this means other women are supposedly less than men.
Timothy 1 also says that (And I'm paraphrasing here) women will be redeemed through childbirth, or accepting the role of the mother.(They must also be faithful and keep the commandments of course.) This makes it sound like women have to be married and have children if they are able. That it's the way they are redeemed and the way it has to be.
There are so many strong women in the Bible as well as many sinful men. Why are women supposed to be like this and not men? Because of Eve? Jesus said the sins of the father would not be paid for by his children, so that would mean women descended from Eve wouldn't have to suffer because she sinned. Why can't we teach God's word? Why can't we speak in church? Why can't we ask question except to our husbands? What makes them so much better than us? Why would God restrict us like this?
If I wanted to be a missionary, stay single throughout my life and never have children, apparently that would be sinful according to the Bible because I have to obey my husband, I'm not allowed to have any authority over men, I'm not allowed to teach about God, the only one I can talk to about useful things is my husband and I have to redeem myself by becoming a mother and accepting that role. at one point Paul gives his students advice about staying single, saying that it would be better because you can devote yourself to God more and there's no risk of adultery. Why would Paul give the exact opposite advice to women? Jesus Christ himself never said women were less than men, or anything like that, only Paul said these things, but he also never said we were able to have authority, or that we could learn and teach as men did.
If every word of the Bible is true, why does it restrict the relationship a woman may have with God and his people? Being submissive and modest is something everyone should do, but not being able to preach or speak in church and ask about God to anyone but their husband, and what Paul seems to be saying, must accept the role of a mother and wife, therefore we must get married and have kids. We're so limited by these laws, I don't see why God would do this to us just because of the way we were born. It's not like being gay or something, you can't change it or even ignore it, it's the way you're stuck permanently. Why would God trap us into these roles we're forced to accept, not as Christians, but just as women.
What are your thoughts on women's roles in the church, in Christianity and in the world? What/Why does God want women to act a certain way and not men, even if the role men are allowed would bring us closer to God? If there are any women of the Bible you would like to discuss here, that'd be great too.
The Bible is a library, not a book. Different authors, different contexts. A letter written to a particular community may shed light on a different context, but it is not intended to address the concerns of those to whom it was not written. Women who are wise and scholarly are not disruptive of the church's practices and so are not to be silenced; it is important to know why Paul (or someone else) wrote a piece of instruction or advice in order to understand the way it should be used by today's churches. The "different time, cultural reasons" arguments do not make scripture irrelevant, but they do illuminate the fact that God speaks differently to different people and that scripture resonates with different purpose for different readers.
I don't claim to know why you think you should (or can, for that matter) stick to the letter of every word in scripture, but if your church does not want to have women in leadership positions, I hope it is by careful discernment and not used as a tool of oppression. It can be a valuable position to hold; Paul (or someone else) would not have written it were it not so in some contexts. But God has spoken to me and my church to use this scripture differently, and my wife is an excellent pastor, preaching in a way that we need to hear and revealing the gospel in the unique way that God has gifted her. If you think us sinners for this practice, I would ask that you pray for insight for all of us about how this difference can be used to serve God and the gospel; I will do the same.
After reading Sydnee's post, I feel like I have little to say in a response because she has said much that I would have, probably in a clearer manner than I would have. Well spoken!However, I think that the "women cannot teach" issue is still a little fuzzy. I personally believe that women should not preach and that women priests are wrong, but women can certainly be spiritual leaders to other women, just not to the Church in clerical role. You are definitely right that there are women leaders in the Bible, but Paul is very clear that women are not permitted to teach in the church. The why is a tricky issue. I think that it is a continuation of God's call of women to submission. Because marriage between a man and a woman is symbolic of the marriage between Christ and the Church, just as women are submissive in marriage they should be submissive in the Church.
I plan to read the rest of this thread, but I need to offer my initial thoughts before I respond to others. Also, SO many great women, particularly the anomalous ones listed in Jesus's male-line genealogy.
My wife is an ordained pastor, and many who hear her preach find that she is one of the best preachers she has ever heard. The idea that God wants her to be silent is preposterous; God gifted her with amazing insight into the Christian life and the ability to communicate it in a way to which people respond and which they can easily understand and relate to their own lives. I also know several extremely talented single woman pastors, so marry if you are called, be single if you are called, be a missionary if you are called, be a pastor if you are called, be silent in church if you are called, give birth if you are called, adopt if you are called, love other people's kids if you are called, avoid interaction with kids if you are called. Discern what God is calling you to do and do it!
Also, authorship doesn't change the inerrancy of the scripture (about which we obviously disagree), but check out this article about scholars' thoughts on who wrote some of the works ascribed to St. Paul. It is interesting that people would write in his name to lend credence to their writings, even if they opposed what he taught in his own ministry.
I object to your statement, "It's not like being gay or something, you can't change it or even ignore it, it's the way you're stuck permanently." Reputable psychologists have tossed out the idea that homosexuality belongs in the DSM, so it's rude to suggest that sexual orientation can be changed, and it's just plain mean to suggest that it should be ignored. Those who have the spiritual gift of celibacy are welcome to exercise it, but far fewer have such a gift than are asked to participate in its practices.
Finally (for this post), it's pretty far-fetched to think that Adam and Eve really existed as described, particularly because they and their children encounter other humans upon leaving the Garden of Eden. The story was intended by its Hebrew authors as a creation story, a myth, not a historical account. Using the "original instance of sin" to subjugate women is outrageous. The books were written two thousand and more years ago by men in a patriarchal society where women were outcast if they didn't "belong to" a man, be it their father, brothers, husband, or sons. You had to be a mother to ensure that you were cared for when elderly; the context simply doesn't apply anymore.
As a christian woman I think I can help you out with this, a little more than the lovely gentlemen who have attempted to lead you. I am not saying that the guys are wrong, and perhaps if you believe the bible so literally you may not listen to my opinion. But here is how I figure it. God loves me and has given me specific spiritual gifts that He has commanded me to share (1 Cor. 12). I have been gifted with the the ability to share God's word in a simple and creative way... especially for kids... and I have been invited on a number of occasions to share my gift during church. Some denominations have different practices regarding women in the church and women in ministry. You need to find a church that allows your gifts to be valued.
I am now single and I am still finding my way. When I was married, I became very confused about my place in the church and in my marriage because of misinterpretation of the scripture by both myself and my husband. I think one of our falures was that we didn't seek the advice of older christian married couples. There were other things that resulted in our divorce (it's a whole other story).
Lastly, if you think that the Bible doesn't encourage women to be fully fledged citizens of their church and community; read Proverbs 31. While this is written in the context of a "wife" we can be a woman of noble character whether we are married or not.
This has been an issue I have been pondering on for a couple years now. I've come to the conclusion by looking at today's society and I think the whole problem is a woman's pride is getting in the way of her following the lord. The Bible is the only text we have to follow and such I think you should follow it word for word. I get into deep conversations with athiest about religion and I always finish by saying,"what if you're wrong." If it says in the Bible for Woman to not preach in church then do NOT preach in church. Why take that risk? If you're a Christian and you believe in the Bible then believe in the Bible. Don't second guess things because television and movies say not to be submissive to your man and let your pride stand in the way from you serving the lord. God says for woman to be submissive to their husbands, so woman I'd be submissive. This is not some guy in the street saying,"honey, give me a massage because you're the woman" this is God laying a path for you to follow and God would never do something unless it was important. I understand what all of you are saying and nobody likes being second, but isn't the point of being on this Earth to spread the gospel, love Jesus, and so one day walk beside Jesus in heaven. Jesus says Pride will lead you straight to hell and when you submit you let that pride go like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. People get so bound up with trying to make a great name for themselves on this Earth, like do whatever it takes to be a millionaire or i'm just a janitor my life is worthless. People think if I don't go to college i'll never get a good job and amount for anything, well people, how long is 80 years compared to eternity? A lifetime on earth is a sneeze in Heaven. If the Bible says to submit then submit, don't pick and choose which rules to follow, because before you know it you're life is over. Before I finish I want to share something with you, whenever i'm feeling down, and my own president is turning his back on christianity to support the 5% athiests in this country, I like to think of myself 2nd in line at the pearly gates of Heaven. I hear a name called and the person before me steps up with a smile, the gates open and he walks in. I'm now next in line, I hear my name called and the most peaceful feeling comes over me and slowly I take my first step as the gates open. As I walk through the gate I look down and notice the floors are made out of pure gold. Amazed by how bright the gold is shining I see a man walking towards me. It's Jesus, he walks up and puts his arms around me and says,"Tom, you did great." That's my dream and I want that dream for you too.
Remember, God would never hurt you and he will always love you.
Even if it's a "we would have had to rely on them because we weren't given rights" thing, if that were the issue, wouldn't the bible just say to educate the women and help them? I mean, I guess it was doing that anyway when it said to educate everyone and love your neighbor as you love yourself, meaning both your brothers and sisters, but still.
For me, the primary issue of female pastors is of the role of authority in the Church and Family.
God commands wives to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-6, Colossians 3:18-25, Ephesians 5:22-33) and ties the model of submission to universal principles of our relationship with Christ (the husband is head of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church) rather than the culture.
This creates an odd conflict where the husband submits himself to the Church and Pastor even as the pastor submits to her husband.
I agree that submission, servant leadership, and marriage, are complex issues and that it may be difficult to tell the difference between households based on different models. All the same, Christ modeled all three (symbolically with marriage) and I want you to at least wrestle with this issue.
In the American Baptist denomination, (which we are a part of) the pastor is not the head of the church. The congregation is the head as a democracy. Therefore your so-called model has no problem with women in position of authority in the church as I, being a husband, submit myself to Christ and to the body of Christ (the congregation) not to the pastor.
I already have wrestled with these issues. And the major conclusion I have come to is that if God can speak through the mouth of a Donkey, certainly God speak through a woman who is as equally His child as I am! If the Church is the bride of Christ, then there is no reason why a woman cannot represent the church.
I have met countless women who have been called into ministry. Not because it's what they want, but because it is what God has called them to. Being the pastor of a church is not a glamorous position. It is a position of servitude to the church and to God. It is hard work and is not something that is taken lightly. And women have it worse because of people who voice objection and opposition to their very calling. If they are willing to endure such hardships to the point of brokenness, who is to say that their calling is false? Certainly not I.
I will leave you with final food for thought. The scripture you have quoted are words from Paul. But Paul also glorified women. Specifically Priscilla. Every time Priscilla and Aquilla are mentioned, Priscilla is ALWAYS mentioned first. In the Greek style of writing that Paul was using the most important name was ALWAYS mentioned first. And Priscilla and Aquilla were married. Meaning that Paul was exhaulting Piscilla above her husband, and implying that she held a more prominent position of authority within the early church.
So believing in the Authority and Inerancy of Scripture, this begs the question why does Paul contradict himself in this way? I want you to wrestle with this issue.
In my congregation, the people elect elders and deacons to be in authority over them, and the elders choose a pastor to have scriptural and pastoral authority over them and the Church. People who become members (and most regular attenders by implication) submit themselves to the authority of the Elders and Pastor. They have some power to remove the pastor and elders, but to do so would be pretty serious.
From my understanding of congregationalist Church government, I thought think that they would work similarly, where the people would still submit to an elected Pastor.
Let me be clear that I am not talking about Church Discipline or the Church's constitution / creeds. Those usually have special procedures associated with them and it is clear where the responsibilities lie. I am referring to the general pastoral responsibility to call on the people to believe and submit to the word of God. A pastor's message is not on the same level as the Word of God itself. A measure of testing it against the word and disagreeing on certain issues should be allowed. But a pastor is not a blogger on the internet that you can ignore at your leisure.
What if you disagreed with how she approached a subject, such as not calling on the people strongly enough? It is normal for the congregants to comment on the sermon to the pastor in submission. It is normal for a wife to do the same, or encourage her husband, also in submission. I can see a father or more senior visiting pastor doing the same, also in submission. But how does a husband call on his wife to improve her message in submission and also in authority? Can she ignore you even if she chooses to ignore everyone else? This ties me in knots just thinking about it.
I will leave you with final food for thought. The scripture you have quoted are words from Paul. But Paul also glorified women.
In writing one of the original responses to this topic, I wanted to show that Paul and God definitely do glorify women, but God sometimes does it in different ways than he does men. God glorifies men by being Godly men and he glorifies women by being Godly women. It is not a contradiction for a woman to be glorified by serving and submitting. Certainly, men are glorified for the same thing when they submit and server authorities above them. Similarly, leaders and authorities are glorified by serving those under their authority and submitting to the people's authority over them. Trying to figure out how women can be glorified by serving in the ways that God gave men seems very awkward and contrary to me.