Can women serve in any role within the church? If so, how does this compare to most modern evangelical churches? If not, what are the boundaries for women in ministry? How does the New Testament serve as a guide on this issue?
This was, in part, my response:
I am a proponent of full inclusion of women in all areas of ministry and leadership...I became an egalitarian (really, I’m what Scot McKnight calls a mutualist; I believe in male/female complementarity without hierarchy) when I realized:
- The overwhelming majority of churches would shut down, today, if not for the involvement, including leadership and teaching, of women. This includes churches that claim women cannot lead or teach. It is particularly maddening when churches allow women to hold positions like “Director of XYZ” when they clearly have the same status as any (male) “Minister of ABC”. This is just hypocrisy and cowardice. I try to maintain the point of view that complementarians are genuinely following what they believe the teaching of Scripture to be, but it is hard in the face of such cognitive dissonance.
- It’s far from clear that Jesus and Paul held to some kind of hard complementarianism. There is the oft-quoted verse mentioned here, but Paul also frequently alludes to women prophesying, leading churches, and so on, and the gospels are full of images of women as leaders in Jesus’ movement, like the first witnesses of the Resurrection, and Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet in the posture of a rabbi’s disciple.
- Even if Jesus, Paul, and the early church were indeed hard complementarians who would have restricted women from certain roles, that does not in any way make those sorts of gender relations normative for all time. The NT also implicitly accepts slavery. The Bible is not a book of rules that we just have to follow blindly. We are called to ethical discernment. I am persuaded by the redemptive movement hermeneutic that, like with slavery, the overall thrust of Scripture’s narrative is firmly in favor of emancipation.
What do you think?