As I have continued studying issues related to women in ministry, gender, and hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), I have come to the conclusion that the Bible requires that Church does all that she can to both encourage and empower women to actively pursue leadership roles in accordance with their gifting. As the Holy Spirit gifts women to serve in leadership roles, the Church should remove any obstacles and barriers keeping them from or discouraging their active participation in local church leadership.
My commitment to encouraging women is based on what I encounter in Scripture. Many Complementarians, those who believe men are called to leadership and women are not, like to suggest that their perspective is the “biblical” perspective but I strongly beg to differ. I am, after all, an Egalitarian. As we exegete Scripture and do our best to understand the sociological and cultural backdrop of the Scriptures, I can’t help but reach the conclusion that Paul did not intend to prohibit women from leading in churches. Moreover, Jesus’ interaction with women throughout his public ministry, not to mention the fact that women were the first eyewitnesses to the Resurrection (who then taught the Apostles about it), seems to suggest that the perspective that women were second class humans, often treated as property, who were not trusted to have the ability to lead was being undermined by the coming of the Holy Spirit and the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. This has been well articulated by Craig Keener (Paul, Women, & Wives), Don Williams (The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church), a host of scholars in Discovering Biblical Equality, Michael Bird’s Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts, and more recently in Gary Hoag’s published doctoral dissertation, Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy, not to forget the hermeneutical observations of Scott McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet and William Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals. I mention these scholars for (1) full disclosure to the biblical-theological influences I find most convincing and (2) for those of you who are looking for resources. [Read more…]