In , ten percent of senior pastors in Christian churches were women Emmert 2. While this is not overly impressive, especially given the 37 million churches around the world Kramer 6 , it has generated quite a buzz as the number rises each year. When I told my brother that I was going to write a paper in defense of women ministers, he said in genuine bafflement, "It's Are people still having that conversation?
Yes, it is , but that does not disguise the fact that a sizeable portion of Christians still stand by 1 Timothy and consider the ordination of women strictly forbidden by God. However, when one delves into the historical and spiritual context of a few select verses, his or her understanding begins to change. Let us start by looking at the verses that seem to prohibit women from leadership roles:. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet" 1 Timothy , NIV.
It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings" 1 Corinthians , NLT. Most people, including the official website for the United Methodist church, use Galatians as a rebuttal. However, the use of this verse is a weak argument. Within the context of Galatians 3, this speaks of equal salvation for all, and nothing of equal leadership rights.
A reliable solution to this problem does not present itself clearly and immediately. To understand the validity of women preachers, one must dig into the context, something necessary for much of the Bible. First, we were not meant to take everything in the Bible as literal. If women stayed silent in the church building, as 1 Corinthians orders, they would not be able to sing, take part in liturgies, say the communion prayers, greet friends, offer encouraging words, or whisper to their children.
Colossians and Ephesians—books written by Paul, who also penned these words about women—offer instructions on the keeping of slaves. Does this mean slavery is okay? If one is to take the Bible in the absolute literal sense, then everything looks crystal-clear. Slavery is allowed if regulated and women are forbidden from making a sound in church.
Is it this easy? Her pamphlet—in which she counters traditional interpretations that associate women with evil and restrict their roles in ministry—was addressed to Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, and copies were distributed in France and Switzerland. She points to the Samaritan woman in John , who went back to the city after her encounter with Jesus and invited others to come and meet the Messiah.
But she also points out that only a few verses earlier, Paul adjoins men to be silent in church 1 Corinthians , Fell also cites numerous examples of women in the Old Testament who spoke publicly. Sadly, their wisdom did not become part of the great tradition that was passed on to subsequent generations.
It is our responsibility to make sure these women are not forgotten again. We need to rewrite our histories to include their voices so that each generation does not have to wrestle—as if for the first time—with the less clear teachings of Scripture about women in ministry. For more information on these and other women interpreters of the Bible, see Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters. What did they write?
What did they say? And why have we never heard of many of them? Join your hosts Dr. Marion Taylor and Kira Moolman as they dig up the words of these forgotten women and explore their lives, their influences, and their relevance for today.
Skip to main content. Study Life at Wycliffe. About Us. Events and Ministries. Contact Us. Give to Wycliffe. Give Now Why Give? Ways to Give. Home Wycliffe Life Blog Three Women from history who might change your thinking about women preaching.
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