Friday, January 19, 2007

Response to Women in Ministry

I was having a conversation with someone the other day about the issue of women preaching. He took the line that he didn't think that women should teach men in church (which is a line I understand and respect). His conclusion from this is that if women were teaching in church (or college chapel) then he should stay away.

That got me thinking...

I guess the verse he'd cite would be 1 Timothy 2:12:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
1 Timothy 2:12, ESV

My thoughts – this verse is about what women should or shouldn't do rather than about what men should or shouldn't do. It doesn't say

I do not permit a man to be taught by a woman or to let a woman exercise authority over him.

In fact, what we are told is that we should submit ourselves to every authority instituted among people. So if there's a woman in authority or teaching, I really don't see that it's our place to refuse to submit to them, regardless of what we take 1 Timothy 2:12 to mean.

So what is my attitude? I think that women should obey 1 Timothy 2:12, but that's their responsibility. It's a contested verse in some ways (specifically whether it's refering to women and men or wives and husbands), but I expect women involved in “ministry” to be clear in their own minds and to have clear consciences over it.

Paul says that he doesn't allow women to do that. So I'd expect whoever is in charge of churches to be clear in their own minds and to have clear consciences over what they do or don't allow women to do in the church.

But for those who aren't in charge and who aren't women with the choice to teach or not, I'd expect us to listen to whoever preaches and weigh it in accordance with Scripture. I'd expect us to submit to whoever is in authority, provided that that authority is exercised in accordance with Scripture.

NB - there's quite a lot more discussion on this here.

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