If the Word of God forbids female ministry, we would ask how it happens that so many of the most devoted handmaidens of the Lord have felt constrained by the Holy Ghost to exercise it? … The Word and the Spirit cannot contradict each other.” Catherine Booth (co-founder of The Salvation Army)
(I’ve had this beginning post written for a long time, but never done anything with it but have now decided to introduce a series on this blog on, Wednesday’s. Check back for regular posts on the weekly lectionary readings every Sunday or Monday)
Whether or not a woman should be allowed to preach, teach, or hold any sort of ‘authority’ position over a man is certainly not a new argument in the church. Recently I saw a video with pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife who believe that it is role of the male to be the spiritual head of the family and his female counterpart should be at home with the children wherever possible. THIS is the biblical model according to Driscoll. In the short video posted on YouTube the controversial pastor and his wife argue for traditional family roles, misquoting (in my opinion) 1 Timothy 5:8 (without giving reference).
I get the impression that Mark and other pastors who share his views have a hard time with churches like The Salvation Army that commissions and ordains female clergy; I am one.
Before I entered The Salvation Army College for Officer Training (CFOT), I considered all the arguments for and against female clergy. I prayed about them, researched them and consulted many trusted Christians, male and female, those who belong to the army and friends who belong to other churches. Some of the people I asked, do not believe a woman should become a pastor/preacher or hold any teaching authority over a man (an all-girl Sunday School class would be fine). While most affirmed that they believe in the egalitarian model for ministry, that is, a woman can hold the same spiritual position as a male.
Some of the arguments I find against female church leaders are laughable at best, such is the case with pastor Doug Batchelor’s 28 Fundamental Arguments Against Women Ministers. Premise 9 as summarized by Jared Wright in the article says that: “The word seminary shares the same root as the word semen, so it’s interesting that so many women study in the seminary”. Other arguments include, but are not limited to; when the bible says honour your father and mother the father is mentioned first, and, we cannot argue based on God blessing churches that have female pastors because God can bless even when it is not his ideal. If these arguments were developed further they might be more of a threat, but one cannot make a legitimate argument based solely on etymology, because as we know the meaning and importance of words change with time.
The more concrete arguments are rooted in scripture, and therefore must be examined and taken more seriously. As a child of God who also happens to be female, I want to ensure that I am being faithful to his word and not just popular opinion.
I’ve been very serious about my search because more than the strong feeling of being called that I have to preach and teach the Word of God, and despite the arguments on either side of the debate, I want to make sure that the way I live honours God. If that was to mean that I could not preach, no matter how strongly I feel about it then I would indeed still have to be silent.
So in addition to my regular lectionary postings which happen on Sunday or Monday, I will also take Wednesday evenings to discuss other topics such as this. This is the first post of a Women in the Church series. Check back next Wednesday for a look into the scriptures on the topic.