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The Equality of Women in the Church

Updated on January 8, 2013

Those Whose Hearts Yearn After Equality

Consider this verse:

Gal:3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

Job was a man who was considered blameless before God, an upstanding man who lived a perfect life. Now consider what the scriptures say of him:

Job:42:15: "And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.

Think about it. Wrap your thoughts around this notion--this man whom God declared perfect was also a man who believed in equal rights for men and women, which he expressed by giving the daughters the same inheritance as the sons, a practice uncommon in his time.

Pontius Pilate made the wrong decision in condemning Jesus to death, but had his wife been the one that had made the choice, the story might have ended differently. Check out this quote:

Mt:27:19: "When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."

God chose a woman as his messenger to warn Pilate, giving him a fair chance to see the light.

Judges 4 and Other Lore

In this passage we see Deborah, a prophetess who judged Israel. Her prediction came true concerning the death of Sisera and concerning the person by whom he would be killed, thus validating what she was doing. If God had not been with her, she could not have given an accurate prophecy. The true test of a prophet in the Old Testament was to watch and see if the things they said really happened. This is what the Bible said of anyone caught prophesying falsely during those times:

Deuteronomy 18:20-22, NIV*

"...a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death. You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. "

If God validated Deborah's right to rule and to lead the nation, how did some Christian churches get the idea that women cannot serve in ministry?

While it is true the Apostle Paul gave some rules that seemed very biased against women in church leadership, there are many other verses that affirm and confirm women and their place in Godly life. It is ultimately up to the individual to interpret the Scripture and to view it in the light of its time and context. The same person who wrote that a woman shouldn't teach a man in a church also wrote that men should "greet one another with a holy kiss." When we read about the kiss of greeting given in a church fellowship we readily recognize that this instruction was written to the people of one time and one culture and was not a universal command for every person in every place. The same is true of women: the women of their time were uneducated and were not yet ready to hold a teaching position due to the fact that women were not commonly allowed to attend school. Paul's command was not necessarily to us. Even if it was aimed at us, it is overruled by other passages such as those found in Judges and Job, and by the Lord Jesus Himself, who exemplified the ultimate respect and appreciation for the women of His day. Remember the story of Mary and Martha: Martha worked while Mary sat and listened to Jesus teach. In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus affirmed Mary's right to learn. After the resurrection women were also the first to arrive at the empty tomb and to report a miracle to the apostles.

*Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

In Conclusion

Those who want to say that men should lead just because they were born as males and not because a particular man is the most qualified person for the job are missing an important point: everyone is different and has different talents to bring and share in the spiritual community. If a woman is a gifted speaker, a great organizer, a paragon of patience, etc., she should be allowed--no, rather, she is obligated to use her gifts and abilities instead of hiding them in the sand. (See Matthew 25, Parable of the Talents)

Maybe some of the men who want to hold onto leadership while clinging to a scrap of a verse, taken out of context, that declared the men of a certain church to be, at their time, most qualified for the job are not feeling adequate enough to hold a position in our modern day houses of worship based solely upon their own talents and eligibility. It's a pity men and women cannot work together, side by side, as equals.

Maybe we can.


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