(Originally published at Onward Christian Soldier)
Paul and I were talking last night about women’s roles in spiritual leadership. He gave the example of a Bible study which he attends, which is more of a small group discussion rather than a teaching/learning environment. Apparently, one of the guys who attends this study feels very uncomfortable with women playing role of facilitator – encouraging the group to stay on topic and not go off onto tangents. While I am not an advocate of women being in a teaching role over men, I don’t think this is a situation where women should be “seen and not heard”.
It made me think, though, what is a woman’s role in the Church?
1 Timothy 2:11-12
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
I know this is a hotly debated topic and so therefore I doubt there is a simple, easy answer. However, based on these two passages it seems to me that a woman’s role is over other women. She should learn from men, and pass that knowledge on to other women. I believe this applies to a teaching environment. There are other areas of spirituality that are different; i.e. a discussion. I don’t believe that a facilitator of a discussion is the same as being over men.
I do have a problem with women pastors. Women are instructed to be submissive to men, and if a woman is a pastor of a church, then it just confuses those boundaries of submission and leadership. There are many outlets for women who have the gift of teaching or speaking (i.e. Sunday School). God knew that it was important to create a heirarchy within people (men over women, parents over children, government over citizens), and so it was in His infinite wisdom to establish a church with specific instructions for leadership. This doesn’t mean that women can’t learn, but just not to teach other men. She can discuss things with her own husband at home, as long as she respects him and defaults to him in a time when a decision must be made.