Friday, March 22, 2013

A look at women ordination and roles in the church: Part I

So my place of fellowship is having a Bible study on women ordination. So far, I have been listening to the debates, especially to hear the point of view that promotes women ordination as pastoral leaders. I want to hear Biblical arguments and not just feminist arguments that have originated out of secular cultural movements. Hopefully, I will get those soon, yet within the mean time, I want to share my own understanding so far, based on past revelation.

I must begin that by being a father of all girls, I have become more interested in justice issues for females. Especially considering that as a father I cannot protect my girls from engaging with the wider society and perhaps encountering the gross acts that men take to satisfy their sexual lusts and cravings. Right now, my girls are all young and do not leave the house unaccompanied. However, in the future, I can't guarantee that I can lock them up forever and only let them exit with parental accompaniment. As such, I want to see laws put in place to protect them from abuse (especially perpetrated by males).

At the same time, my spiritual views do not see the need for the feminist movement within Christianity to go beyond articulating the personhood of females and the prevention of women abuse. I hold traditional views on patriarchal hierarchy because the Holy Scriptures endorse hierarchy, rather than sees it as an evil to be presently eliminated. The New Testament reveals this the most in the relationship between Jesus and God the Father, which could be liken to man and woman in the church. (Ephesians 5: 21-33).

Philippians 2:6 states that Jesus in his nature, being God: "did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage" (NIV). Rather, despite their equality, Jesus ,  "gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being... [or appearing] in human form," (Philippians 2:7; New Living Translation).  From this perspective, Jesus, despite having equal rights and privileges as God the Father, chose to deny himself those rights and privileges, in order to work with God the Father and accomplish the larger picture and plan for humanity, which required great humiliation.

It is the same Christian duty that Jesus requires of us. Women though being equal to men, are asked to endure or even put up with men's often impoverished and poor leadership (especially wives), in order to please God. Let me just raise some of the scriptures that illustrate this point:

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3; New International Version, 2011) )
Also women be they subject to their husbands; that if any man believe not to the word, by the conversation of women they be won without word. (1 Peter 3:1; Wycliffe Bible)
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22; New International Version, 2011)

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18 ; New International Version, 2011)

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12; New International Version, 2011)

Based on the above Bible verses, it seems as if women are asked by Christ to walk with him in humility and take a place less than they deserve in order to fulfil God's purpose and design for them and for the larger humanity. Again, I must emphasize that male-dominated leadership in a sinful world has often been abused and that women suffer dreadfully under such abuse as victims, as mothers of victims and even the disappointed mothers of the perpetrators of abuse. Christ in his treatment of women in the New Testament demonstrates a break with men's abuse of power:

  • he teaches that men must look at women with dignity and not with an imagination desirous of fulfilling sexual cravings (Matthew 5:28); 
  • he shows that we must not view a woman's one time sin of adultery as being greater than any other sin (John 8:1-11; New International Version)
  • males must treat even prostitutes with dignity
  • males must not criticise women's efforts to show and express their appreciation to God in worship in ways different from us (Matthew 26:7-13)
There are countless other teachings that I can't go into detail now, but look out for part 2 of my post on this subject. (I've typed it already; just to tidy it up and publish it).

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