Is the church anti woman?
Many churches place arbitrary restrictions on women’s contributions to the church. The fact is many women have gotten the message over and over again, not just from some of the men in their lives, but from some of the church environments that they’ve been in, that they are small, they are insignificant, and worse second-class human beings. Many well-meaning followers of Jesus have misunderstood and misinterpreted what the Bible says about women and men because they don’t look at the Bible comprehensively on this subject matter.
What does the bible say about women
To understand God’s word on any subject matter, you have to look at the preponderance of evidence in all of scripture and not just one or two isolated passages to understand scripture. I think you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, where we see God’s original intention in the early scenes of Genesis. Before sin entered the world before male and female relationships got corrupted from God’s original intention for what he wanted for our relationships.
In Genesis 2:18, the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him”. Now at first reading, you might interpret that to mean the woman is to be the assistant to the man. She’s to help him with all his many responsibilities. However, I want you to notice the word helper. The word helper is used many other times in the Old Testament. Do you know who it almost always refers to when it’s used……. God. God is our helper. And so if God is our helper, clearly, it does not mean that we are referring to someone who’s a little lower on the org chart than the man.
Genesis 2:18 doesn’t say that God created woman to be the helper to help the man get his chores done, but in order for him to be his helper so that he’s not alone so that together they experience community, unity, and oneness.
It does not say that the man was to rule over the woman, but together they both are to rule over the earth. The truth is nobody is over the other. It’s about both being equally made in the image of God. The idea of one gender ruling over the other was not part of God’s plan laid out from the beginning of creation.
can women lead? can women teach?
If you read the Bible comprehensively, you’ll find women playing incredibly significant roles. God chose women like Miriam and Holda as prophets to speak authoritatively on his behalf. So when people take a position that God is opposed to women teaching or leading men than what about Holda giving instructions to a male priest and a male, king? Deborah was a prophet and a judge of Israel. In fact, during this season, judges were the authoritative rulers who exercised political, national, and spiritual leadership. It’s worth noting that it was Deborah, not her husband who was chosen by God to be the leader of Israel. If God were opposed to women in leadership, why would he do that?
When you move to the New Testament and look carefully at how Jesus treated women, you’ll understand that he was revolutionary. Jesus was the polar opposite of the rabbis and religious leaders of that day who generally held women to be inferior. The rabbis of that day taught that it was better to burn the Torah, the Old Testament law, the first five books of the Old Testament, than it was to teach it to a woman. The rabbis would often pray, God, thank you that you have not made me a gentile, a slave or a woman.
A devout rabbi wouldn’t even talk to a woman in public. And yet there’s this very revealing scene in John 4 where Jesus has a conversation that breaks down the gender wall and the race wall. And he talks in public to a Samaritan woman. He talks to her respectfully and kindly and sincerely. And then, in fact, it says in John 4:27, just then his disciples return and were surprised. Why? Because religious leaders just didn’t do that. Yet throughout Jesus’ ministry, he interacted with women. Jesus brought something new they’d never experienced before – dignity, respect, value, worth, and kindness.
“Women should serve based not on their gender, but based on the spiritual gifts that God had given them.”
Some of the most significant leaders in the early church were women.
Priscilla’s story is written in the book of Acts. She was at a seminary level, teaching men. We read about Lydia, who had her own international export business and helped found the church in Philippi, where the church was meeting in her home. We read about the four daughters of Philip who preached and prophesied. In Romans 16, Paul writes about nine different women who he says are significant to him in his ministry. The women in the early church served based not on their gender but based on the spiritual gifts that God had given them.
What verse is often used to discredit women serving as leaders in churches today? I Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want the women to dress modestly with decency and propriety adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God. I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man. She must be quiet.” We have to ask the question, is Paul’s direction for all times and in all places? Paul was addressing a particular circumstance that was unique to this culture. In this particular culture in this region, these descriptions would be how someone would recognize a prostitute. Also, during this period, the women that he is speaking to were not allowed to receive an education. One translation of this verse says, “I am not currently permitting a woman to teach.” Why? Someone needs to learn before they can teach.
When you look at the totality, when you look at the preponderance of the evidence all through scripture, that the church of Jesus Christ is not anti-woman, but from the beginning, God intended for men and women to rule together, to serve together, to do life and community together. But sin messed that up. And Jesus came to restore that which had been destroyed.
That is why, around here, we believe there are no limitations for women serving based on gender. We have women who serve as elders, as staff members, as executive team members, as pastors who lead departments, who lead global teams, who manage our finances, who teach the Bible. Just like the examples in the Bible, we’re committed to seeing women serve based not on their gender but on their God-given spiritual gifts.