Should Women Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Women's Calling As Ezer
Welcome to our new Hub. In this one we will be discussing whether women should preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ or not. This has always been a very controversial subject which needs to be covered to see just where women stand as preachers for Jesus Christ. After all God Created the woman to be a help (ezer)meet to the man.
My sources of information for this article will be from a short article from Christians for Biblical Equality's "Arise Newsletter," and two interesting articles from "Mutuality," the voice of Christians for Biblical Equality. These articles should make it plain to us that women have a rightful place beside men to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as part of His Priesthood of all believers as Ezers, 1 Peter 2:1-10.
Our first article from "The Arise Newsletter," will be from Nicholas Colby Watson Wolfe who was a writing intern at Christian for Biblical Equality and a student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Nicholas is finishing his undergraduate degree with a major in reconciliation studies and a minor in political science. He is looking at becoming a lawyer and is focusing on social justice, alternate dispute resolution, and international law.
"Plain and Clear" Teaching?
In his article, "Plain and Clear " Teaching?, Nicholas points to the fact that, many churches do not allow woman to preach from behind the pulpit because of the passage such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12. This verse says, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet." (TNIV). People that hold this view often say they rely upon the "plain and clear" teaching of the Bible, yet so many churches are not consistent in their application of the plain and clear interpretation of these verse. in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
Nicholas makes a point here that if we are to read these verses in 1 Timothy and apply them as a clear command, then women would be prohibited from teaching and leading in many areas of the church.This would be very strange because in many churches we can observe women teaching children's Sunday School or Sabbath school, leading worship, administrating communion, and serving in the missions field. Church services often include hyms written by women like Fanny Crosby. If women suddenly bcame silent and quiet, what woud happen to church ministries? (Churches recognize that women can capably serve, and are biblically permitted to serve in these areas). I wonder what would happen if all the women left their churches? Choas and confusion because without women there would be no church. For the Church is a woman, Matthew 25:1, women are virgins and so is the church as one big group, Ephesians 5:25-32.
Nicholas goes unto say, that further inconsistencies arise as we recognize the positive impact of women teaching in the lives of men and women throughout history. Men's knowledge and faith are, and have been, greatly influenced by the teaching of women. Women who teach children's Sunday school, (and even adult Sunday school,) provide a biblical foundation of faith for children (and adults) to grow and mature in their belief. Nicholas says he knows many people that gratefully acknowledge the importance of learning the word as a child from women. Moreover, it is likely that male pastors acquired important aspects of Christianity, and benefitied significantly, from the wisdom of female professors in their college and seminary education, Proverbs 8:1-36.
It is also common but though inconsistent to a plain reading of Scripture, to observe churches allowing women to teach, just not fron behind the pulpit. Delivering a sermon from behind the pulpit alone does not encompass Biblical authority (as T.Scott Womble explains in his recent Arise article, "An Unsuspecting Preacher"). Biblically, authority and teachings certainly include ministries that women have successfully led throughout history, like evangelism on the mission field-- where an expected activity is teaching and preaching the gospel. To be consistent in interpreting 1 Timothy 2:11-12 as a clear command, a church should never send women to evangelize as missionaries because it would violate the plain teaching of this passage. But in many cases women are permitted to teach, as long as they teach from at least one foot to the left or right of the podium. However, standing behind a podium is not a Biblical definition of authority.
If we insist upon the clear and plain teaching of 1 Timothy 2:11-12, then what about the rest of the chapter? Why do we not also read the verses just before and after this passage in the same literal way? 1Timothy 2:9 reads, " I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyle or gold or pearls or expensive clothes' (TNIV). Yet ministers permit women to wear their wedding rings in church. Reading on, we are told that a deacon must be faithful to his wife (3:2), yet we do not insist that deacons must be married. We understand by the context of these verses that 2:9 is a message on the importance of modesty, and 3:2 focuses on the character of an overseer or deacon (see Arise Article by Mimi Haddad, "Qualities of a Leader"). Why not apply this hermeneutical method to 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
It is inconsistent for churchs to allow women to teach, preach, and exercise authority in so many areas except from behind the pulpit. Futhermore, it is inconsistent to call this a "clear" teaching, but fail to interpret the entire chapter in the same way -- at face value. Women are proven to be gifted teachers from Sunday school to seminary institutions, throughout history and in Scripture itself. Noting the inconsistencies in this argument, the view that if 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is a clear command it should be rejected. Realizing that these inconsistencies exist, why should churches not accept women teachers and include them as ordained preachers behind the pulpit.
Nicholas says that he is very grateful for his time spent interning at CBE. Engaging in the theology of Biblical equality had an incredible effect on him. Biblical equality can be just as necessary for the spiritual vitality of men as it is for women.
Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are asking you to join with CBE and make your contribution to the work of Jesus Christ along with Nicholas Colby Watson Wolfe.
God Made Woman As Ezer: In the beginning of th creation of humans God created a woman to be a help meet for man, Genesis 2: 18. The word for helper in the Hebrew is "ezer". To find out more about the ezer for man I will be presenting an article from the Mutuality Magazine, the Spring Edition, 2010, which is the printed voice of Christians for Biblical Equality. This article is from Mimi Haddad's President's Message in her Mutuality article for Christians for Biblical Equality, titled, Women's Calling as Ezer.
Mimi writes: "In Half the Sky," Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Kristoff and WuDuun document the gobal exploitation of women - an abuse to which we have become indifferent. According to WuDuun and Kristoff, the wholesale degradation of women is not often considered newsworthy. They write: When a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front page article; when 100,000 girls were routinely kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn't even consider it news (Kristoff and WuDuun, xiv).
When more than 100 million females vanished in 1990, Noble Prize researcher Amartya SenSen noticd a correlation between a culture's devaluation of females with steep drops in their numbers. By contrast, in those communities where gender equality is valued, the ratio of women to men resembles gender ratios in the United States. The message is clear. When culture values women and men equally, these very attitudes stem the abuse of women. What is more, when dollars are invested in women's health,education, and businesses, we not only raise women's standard of living, but that of their families and communities. Educating women reaps clear social benefits - these women elevate the health, economic, and educational standards within their social networks. Perhaps you are like me when you read this research. You cannot help but remember God's purpose in creating woman as a strong helper.
According to Genesis, the only cloud hanging over Eden was man without woman: "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner" (Gen. 2:18, NRSV).What is the good or strong woman to offer? According to R. David Freedman, the Hebrew word used to discribe woman's help (ezer) arises from two Hebrew roots that mean "to rescue , to save." and "to be strong" ( Archeaology Review (9:56-58). Ezer is found twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Of these references, fourteen are used for God and four for military rescue. Psalm 121:1-2, is an example of ezer used for God's rescue of Israel: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains--- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."
The quality of Eve's help is never that of an inferior or subordinate. Eve by definition was created to lend a vital form of power. When you remember "woman's creational DNA" as ezer - as a strong help, it explains two perplexing issues. First, it shows how women, as a whole, never perform according to the cultural devaluation made of them. Throughout history and within Scripture, we observe women's succcessful leadership, which, I tell my students, is a fact not readily incorporated into curricula used in churches, colleges, or seminaries. Second, if ezer is woman's DNA," this also explains why women are so devastated and demoralized when churches fail to recognize their God-intended purposes. Treating females as inferior and subordinate violates an essential component of their calling as ezer: And, it explains why the more we recognize women as a powerful help, the more they in turn extend strong help to others.
When churches and missions organizations recognized women's capacity as ezer on mission fields and ministries throughout the 1800s, women's empowerment and release led to quantum growth in Christian faith around the globe. Moreover, as these female missionaries began serving, they also elevated the education, commerce, and health in the very communities where they served.
What if with every female who comes to faith, with every girl who enrolls in Vacation Bible School, with every book we write on dating, and with every youth currriculum we publish, we present women not in terms of their ability to captivate by their physical appearance, or their passivity so as not to offend men, but by their calling as ezer - help likened to God's rescue.
I remember growing up in a Jewish neighborhood. If I wanted to play with my neighbors friends on Saturdays, I had to join them in Saturday school. It was there that I encountered the strong women of Scripture: Deborah, Miriam, Jael, Esther, Rahab, and Ruth. My Jewish teachers were careful to show that every girl in the room had the capacity for enormous leadership as an ezer, as God's envoy in this world. It was one of the most empowering experiences I had as a child. perhaps it was in Saturday school that I discovered my dignity and worth as a female, created like Eve, to bring a special version of rescue to our world. Our task as ezer is not to wait for permission from men to serve. My vocation comes from God, who from the beginning created me as a powerful agent of rescue.
As evangelicals who hold a high view of Scripture, should we not also caste similar vision for our daughters today? Rather than suggesting that their leadership repels males, could we not celebrate our daughters as ezers, as powerful help to our communities, just as organizations and researchers are now discovering? Rather than limiting their access to positions of leadership or requiring their passivity in relationships with males, let's equip our daughters with the truth about their creational DNA - to provide strong rescue. As my niece used to sing in her Christian school:
I am promise, I am possbility
I am promise with a capital P
I am great big bundle of potentiality
I am a promise to be, anything God wants me to be.
This to me is the teaching of Scripture.
Now we can see from Mimi's article about the great need for women as men's help meet or Ezer. Without them working in the ministry of Jesus Christ equally, that ministry would not be complete and will fail. God made us to need each other with each genders specfic talents. This goes very well with Nicholas Wolfe's article that encourages and supports the need for both genders working together in Christ's servant leadership. Gender is no problem with God who looks at the heart of each individual person's need to serve him, Galatins 3:28-29.
We have one more short article for you to read and glean from. This article is from a former CBE intern in 2008 and who now works as a membership and development associate at CBE. Her name is Bethany Nelson. Bethany graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a degree in English literature and writing, and is currently applying to doctoral programs in literature and gender studies.
Bethany's article will be very helpful to all of you new egalitarians looking for a good model of an egalitarian relationship for a future marriage. This is also helpful for all of us that are already married but have been called to work in Christ's egalitarian work to see where we can inprove our marriage relationships for the betterment of our spiritual growth and development of our intellect and service to Christ Jesus. The title of Bethany's article is, "An Intellectual and Spiritual Communion." This article can be found also in the Spring 2010 Edition of Mutuality, Volume 17, Issue 1.
In this article we can find a very beautiful model of an egalitarian relationship in the midst of a very non-egalitarian culture. This is the love story of Angelina Emily Grimke (1805-1879) and Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895) an is very inspiring. Angelina was a famous pioneer for women's rights and the abolition of slavery. Angelina had some initial misgivings about relationships and marriage. She wondered if it would be possible to find a partner who would view her as a spiriitual and moral equal, rather than just the fulfillment of a cultural perpetuated stereotype of womanhood. A century and a half later, her fears may still be resonate with many egalitarian singles. After growing up up in a culture that told her that she needed to be a "princss" in order to find her "warrior," we can know her initial hesitation at finding a suitable mate! However, Angelina overcame her fears of falling victim to social restrictions placed on women and, with Theodore, went on to build a new kind of relationship that honored both individuals as unique equals.
As Angelina and her sister Sarah toured and lectured extensively as abolionists at a time when public activism was still new for women. Here they faced much criticism because of their gender, but, holding a high view of Scripture and a deep personal faith in Christ Jesus, both Sarah and Angelina defended their right as women to speak and advocate. They boldly insisted that forced gender roles in marriage created unhealthy personal relationships, and that marriage left women as powerless and objectified as did the denial of political voice.
Angelina had faith that the oppressive state of marriage that she saw around her could be redeemed through changing the viewpoint of each spouse. In her Letters to Catherine Beecher, she asserted that "when human beings are regarded as moral beings, sex, instead of being enthroned upon the summit, administering upon rights and responsibilities, sinks into insignificance and nothingness." Now when Angelina met Theodore Weld, a fellow abolitionist their relationship was built on this very concept - not traditional ideas of male-female courtship rules, but on an intellectual and spiritual communion. They were attracted to each other physically, but they were even more attracted to each other's spiritual and moral priorities. Along with regarding their spirituality as their foundation this allowed their courtship to establish a strong egalitarian base from the beginning. and by examining their relationship, we can answer the question: what are some components in a succssful egalitarian relationship?
One concept is Having a foundation of mutual respect. Many Christian relationship books today stress that in order for a reationship to flourish, men need respect and a women needs love. In the Weld and Grimke's case, however, their relationship developd through enormous respect they had for each other. Theodore Weld shared the activist spirit of the Grimke sisters, and they met for the first time at an American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) convention. The Grimke sisters were the only females in attendance, and Weld was leading the training for the workers. When the Grimke sisters began their speaking tour a year later, Weld was their main contact to the AASS, and they forged a great friendship with him as they exchanged letters. As Theodore and Angelina's relationship progressed the foundation of mutual respect and camaraderie continued to grow.
Another second concept grew from their unique relationship, Loving the Lord "better" than each other. Grimke and Weld consistently used spiritual language in their love letters to descibe their courtship, reminding one another that God was the divine overseer of their relationship. When Weld first confessed his love to Angelina, he did so believing that it was his sacred duty. In his letter, he stated , "I have taken this step at His bidding whose I am, and whom I serve." Weld sought to begin a relationship with Grimke not out of his own selfish desire for her or out of a sense of infatuation, but because he felt God calling him to love her. Even so, Weld recognized the dangerous nature of human love. Weld and Grimke were both aware that many individuals fall into the trap of finding one's entire identity in another human being, instead of finding it in God. For this reason they strove to keep God first in their relationship. After declaring his affections in his first love letter to Grimke, Weld was sure to point out his devotion to God above all else, stating "I do love the Lord, better than I love you. And it is because I love him better that I love you as you do."
A third cocept; They viewed one another as spiritual, eternal beings. From the very start of their relationship, Weld emphasized that he viewed Grimke not "as a brother spirit or a sister spirit" but simply as a kindred spirit. Grimke echoed this idea more clearly when she stated "Yes, true love does not, cannnot originate in differences of sex, and this idea is a disturbing force which the mind instinctively repels, for it is the seeking of the spirit after spiritual communion, the filling up of itself in love, the union of heart and mind and soul. This is marriage." Weld and Grimke's relationship focused on what they had in common rather than on their gender differences; what took preeminence was the intellectual and spiritual fellowship between two equals that made a healthy marriage possible. Grimke believed that for two individuals to truly become one, as God intended, such a fellowship was necessary.
A fouth concept is; Basing your relationship on your calling in Christ - Grimke and Weld approached their relationship the same way they approached other issues important to them - they asserted that Christian love and practice should result in equality and justice for everyone. Thus, building an egalitarian relationship was as important to them as their fight for suffrage or their abolitionist work. They sought to revolutionize marriage as it currently stood in their culture: a corrupted social institution. Weld proposed that the marriages he witnessed around him could be listed among "the most horrible perversions of all", and he shared with Grimke the thought that God could have called them into such a relationship precisely to redeem marriage from these perversions, at least on a personal level. They believed that their relationship could function as a fulfillment of their Christian call to love and as another way of enacting justice in the world. In this way, they were brought together by a common purpose - a sense that they were called to be part of a larger, divine plan.
And a fifth concept: Realizing that each of you fufills needs in the other. Both Weld and Grimke were puzzled by their love, wondering how another individual could suddenly form "a constituent half of my own being some how mysterously surrendered from me." It was very disconcerting to Grimke because of her strict ascetic life. She feared that in finding such a love she might fall into the sin of idolatry- of lovng an individual more than God. Weld struggled with this as well, but asserted that this was because of their differences that they fulfilled in each other - that "God had created them so in order that marriage would be a holy sacrement where they could minister to one another." These differences were not necessarily male and female, although Weld asserted that marriage offered an answer to why friendships with those of our own sex cannot fill the void in human hearts." Grimke and Weld recognized that as male and female, together as equals, without restrictions or roles, they could truly become one as was intended from the beginning, each providing something that might be lacking in the other.
At their wedding, Grimke and Weld read personal vows to one another, in lieu of a minister officiating. In his vows, according to the reports of Sarah Grimke, Weld "abjured authority, all government, save the influence of which love would give to them over each other as moral and immortal beings." What an inspiring example of mutuality in action!
I hope this little trunity of articles leads you to see that woman are specially made as ezers to help men to reach their highest potential in service to the work of God Almighty and Jesus Christ. The examples given here of the courtship of Angelina Grimke by Theodore Weld are certainly a awesome work made in heaven. God's egalitarian way is what Jesus Christ brought with Him nearly two thousand years ago. Yes, women are still needed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ today, Acts 2:17-18.
Though this world's governments and churches seem to have followed on a different path of destruction, Christ will soon return and put things back in there right persperctive of males and females restored to equality, mutuality and harmony forever. The tradgedy of Adam's failure to support his wife, as an ezer to her, has caused centuries of havoc in our human relationships. Satan's continual attack on our human genders is to keep us separated from a perfect union in our marriages but will soon be solved. Jesus Christ promised nearly six thousand years ago to restore the oneness and equality once set by God. If only Adam had rescued his wife from Satan' attack there would have been no need for Christ to come and restore what was lost in that beautiful relationship set in Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2:20-25. But both sinned, Eve was decieved and the Adam sinned with his eyes wide open. This deception has continued as men and women struggled with sin to find a way to bring peaceful answers to their relationships. Men need women and women need men and both need Christ to overcome our fleshy ways and Satan the Devil, Ephesias 5:21, Ecclesiastes 4:11-12, Romans 7:14-25; 8:5-10, Revelation 12:9.
All attemps for peace have failed by human means but thankfully Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for us, so that we can receive God's amazing grace to forgive our feable ways and start a new life in Christ, Genesis 3:15, Matthew 28:18-20. He is the way and the truth to bring back our gender relationships to be a godly blessing to us, John 10:10; John 14:6. Now with the Holy Spirit in us we can over come all our fleshy pulls and Satan's deceptions and rein with God Almighty, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit forever in a world without and end, Romans 8:1-4,9-14; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Ephesians 3:11-21.
Christians for Biblical Equality
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