Saturday, April 4, 2009

Women Teaching

Reputable scholarship promotes a variety of views from the absolute silence of women in every way to the equal standing of men and women in this issue. This is not unique; there are several “doctrines that divide,” hence the wide variety of denominations today.

Even in the 1st Timothy passage, the Lord is not barring men from listening to women teach, nor is the Lord requiring men to subordinate women any more than was Paul’s exhortation to slaves to submit to their masters a mandate for men to own slaves. Paul is outlining the Lord’s overall pattern of leadership

The practice of ordination itself is a big part of the "problem" surrounding the ordination of women, and the disagreements about who women can teach. In the structure of institutional church, ordination is necessary, and in the heirarchy of institutional church, ordination of women is too different to be supportable.

In scripture there is movement in some instructions, and there is stasis in others.

There is movement in the instructions concerning slavery, for example. God deals with slavery throughout the Bible. In the New Testament, slaves are asked to willingly submit to their masters, as is the law of the land. But Paul's letter to Philemon, it is abundantly clear that slaves and masters are brothers and equals, and masters really do better to to recognize this fact and welcome their spiritual brothers as brothers in every sense -- in other words, end slavery....

In an example of static command, there is no movement in Biblical instruction concerning adultery. Adultery was, is, and ever shall be totally unacceptable to God.

There is movement in Biblical instruction concerning male / female relationships. But just as liberty to slaves had to come willinngly from the masters, so liberty for women had to come willingly from men -- and this is, indeed, what we see today. Many men have been moved to give women more liberty.

But it can only be this way. In an assembly of men and women where the men do not see the women as free to teach, then they really are not free, and I believe it would be sin for the women to insist they did have this "right."

In an assembly where the men are interested in hearing what the women have to say, and invite them to speak, then it is good for the women to speak.... Read More

And, in fact, this is how it was in the Bible. There are several occasions where men invite women to teach them, and the women do teach, and it is good. Think of young anointed David, on the lam, being instructed on spiritual matters by Abigail. We all know about Priscilla and Aquila. There are more...

The power of the Bible is not to give us a rule book to live by, but to change one’s whole view of reality with the beauty, love, wisdom and perfection of God. In that process of being conformed to the image of Christ, we will love and live God’s law more and more.

When the Bible becomes a rule book in which the “rules” become a point of division, it is time to fall back on the scriptures below.

Romans 14
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' " 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Philippians 3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Acts 15:39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,

In other words, God calls us to continue to worship and serve with each other, pray for each other, to teach each other and in matters where disagreement is evident, to keep the peace in as far as it is up to us. If peace cannot be kept, if the disagreement is that sharp, then parting ways is a peaceable method to further the kingdom instead of dividing it, each as the Lord leads, into separate areas.

1 comment:

  1. This reflection is worth considering. In some churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, my impression is that the male hierarchy is blind to the signs of the times. But who am I to judge? In some Islamic countries, it is even worst; see the latest news from Afghanistan. We must be patient and wait for divine grace to soften the hearts of those who refuse to give up patriarchal modes of behavior. But complete passivity is not required during this time of patient waiting. In fact, divine grace needs human cooperation. While we wait, we also have a responsibility to open the eyes of those who are blind. In Christ, Luis


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