Women in Ministry: Part 1
Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.
Women in ministry is a critical and controversial topic in the church today.
Churches have been divided,and, in some cases,denominations have been started over it. However, wherever your opinions and beliefs lie, the bottom line is this secondary issue won’t affect anyone’s status of getting into heaven; thank You, Lord!
Complementarian Vs. Egalitarian
There are two essential terms I want us to consider: complementarian and egalitarian.
Regardless of where your beliefs lie regarding women in the church, we can all be sorted into one of these two camps.
So what do these words mean?
This is having the viewpoint that God restricts women from serving in specific church leadership roles but instead calls women to serve in equally important but complementary roles. Additionally, this is the perspective and belief that women can’t be pastors, elders, or leaders in the church.
For a considerable amount of my life, I held this view. However, I am grateful that, with dedicated time and study during my time in ministry, I have come to a different conclusion.
To side with this viewpoint is to believe that there are no biblical gender-based restrictions on ministry in the church. It is the belief that God can use people regardless of gender.
But to get the complete picture of what my beliefs are and whylet’sgo back to the beginning.
I. God Created Man and Woman Equally to Rule the Earth Together (Genesis 1:26-28)
God is clear in these three verses that He gave them authority and dominion – both Adam and Eve.
In this passage, the Trinity decided that they would not only make mankind in His image but that they would rule over all other creatures. (Genesis 1:26) In verse 27, God reiterates that He created both man and woman in His image, and finally, in verse 28, we see that God blessed them!
He viewed them as one! And isn’t that how we view marriage in the church?
God created man and woman in His image with dominion over the creature of the earth, and both shall be blessed.
II. The Jews Believe That the Woman Cursed the Fall and Was Cursed as a Result
Throughout the first century Middle East, and in some cases even into today, the Jews believe, taught, and preached that the woman initiated the fall, and because of that,she is cursed.
This strong conviction has guided their lives and, I would argue, has greatly dishonored women. Is this the life God intended for the woman He created in His image?
Let’stake a look at what scripture says.
Transgression Came When Adam Sinned, Not Eve (Romans 5:12)
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned –“
Romans 5:12, NKJV
What has affected all humanity is not what Eve did but what Adam did! You see, God gave Adam the command, and it was in his disobedience that he listened to his wife.
So if woman isn’t cursed, is man? Let’s keep moving forward.
The Serpent and the Earth Was Cursed as a Result of the Fall (Genesis 3:14-19)
The Lord is good in that when we follow Him in obedience, blessings will follow. However, when we sin, natural and eternal consequences will follow suit.
But I would argue that consequences do not equate to being cursed.
In Genesis 3:14-17, we see the effects of the fall. The curse falls upon theserpent and the ground, not Adam and Eve! (Verses 14 and 17) But does that mean that man and woman are off the hook? Absolutely not!
Verses 16-17 paint a picture of the natural consequences of their obedience. For women, there will be sorrow and pain in childbirth and conception and a desire to seek control over their husbands; however, he will rule over her. Talk about frustration!
And for man, excruciating work is now before him. What was once easy and enjoyable is now filled with thorns, thistles, and sweat from his brow.
In conclusion, Eve wasn’t cursed, and neither was Adam. Instead, thecurse fell upon the serpent and the earth!
Because of Their Belief That Eve Caused the Fall and Was Cursed, Women Were Treated and Viewed Very Differently
Unfortunately, the Jewish culture has adopted a mindset that isn’t appropriate. For generations, women have been isolated and treated with dishonor.
Women were treated like personal property or an asset to own.
They couldn’t speak in public, and men certainly weren’t allowed to speak to any women outside of their homes. In fact, a woman’s testimony was considered to be untrustworthy!
Women were not allowed to be students of the law – or the Holy Scriptures.
But we will soon see how God radically turned that worldview upside down!
III. Jesus Came to Reconcile and Restore Mankind to God’sOriginal Design (2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Colossians 1:20-21)
God sends Jesus to reconcile us back to the heart of the Father and restore us to be who He originally intended us to be!
When Jesus stepped into ministry, he modeled that all things – legalistic practices, dishonoring belief systems, and prideful statuses, have passed away,and everything has become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Jesus showed us that we can be reconciled to the Father and walk in the honor of the ministry of reconciliation with the world!
We can connect people with God, no matter how low they’vefallen; we serve a Savior who died on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconciled and function in everything God created us to be. Women included!
This encompasses leading, serving, and having dominion while walking in reconciliation with God and others. (Colossians 1:20-21)
With that in mind, let’s consider how Jesus reconciled and restored women’s identity in society.
How Jesus Modeled Honor Towards Women
When Jesus showed up to minister, he broke all manmade rules as he was a living example of the heart of God from the very beginning.
- Jesus communicates with a woman in public. (John 4:5-27)
- Women are listed in genealogies. (Matthew 1:3,5)
- God Uses Women in Ministry:
- Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied over Mary. (Luke 1:41-34)
- Anna is a prophetess in the Temple. (Luke 2:36-38)
- Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia are considered female apostles. (Romans 16:1,3,7)
- The widow gives from what little she has and is remembered for her beautiful worship.(Luke 21:1-4)
- The woman with the issue of blood is considered unclean, but her faith is considered bold. (Luke 8:38-43)
- A crippled woman is healed and is named the ‘Daughter of Abraham.’ (Luke 13:10-17)
- Women are considered prayer warriors.(Acts 12:12)
- Women are providers for the ministry of Jesus and the early Church.(Acts 16:14-15 & 40)
- Women are leading house churches.(Philemon 1:2)
- In a letter to Rome, Paul includes a list of 28 people in ministry, 10 of which are women. (Romans 16)
Jesus gave status to women in his ministry, the early church, and the world!
So if Jesus understood the importance of women, why have women been so restricted?
IV. A View of 2 Common Scriptures Often Understood to Restrict Women:
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
While most people take these verses out of context, a careful study of the entire chapter reveals that Paul did, in fact,permit women to speak in church.
Let me challenge you: when you interpret scripture, especially when it comes to the apostle Paul, you have to understand who he is writing to and the context surrounding the passage.
The Corinthian church had written Paul a letter, asking him many questionsabout circumcision, spiritual gifts, division within the church, immorality, baptism, and false teaching.Paul is addressing the issues before him, andwhen we get to chapter 14, women have already been given authority to speak in the church.
However, for generations and even today, verses 34-35 have been utilized to silent women from speaking in church.
Churches allow women to sing, read announcements and scriptures, and pray over a church body. However, if you aren’t allowing women to encourage and preach, you still violate the law you claim to be following!
In this passage, Paul isn’t presenting a truth; he is restating the question they asked.
Verse 34 says, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.”
What law? No law in the Old or New Testament says such a thing. But do you know what he is referring to? The Talmud Law, or the oral laws that Jews often place higher than the holy Scriptures.
To help you understand the entire concept of the magnitude of this statement, I need you to see it in the King James Version.
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?”
1 Corinthians 14:34-36, KJV
Paul concludes this section of scripture with one question, “What?!”
Modern-day translations have taken the word what out in what I believe to be an act of trying to make Paul’s words a definitive statement, andit’s not!
I believe that Paul is challenging the men and their belief that only they are spiritual and can only speak the word of God.
1 Timothy 2:12
Here we can see that strange doctrines are being taught in the church.
In 1 Timothy, Paul warns Timothy to address the Gnostics, a group of people believed to be meditators with special hidden knowledge.
So what kind of knowledge did they partner with?
They believed that Eve was created first and the mother of all. Because of this, they thought all women to have received special knowledge from God.
As we consider this information, let’s shed some light on verses 11 and 12.
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, not to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
1 Timothy 2:11-12, KJV
The term usurpis used once throughout scripture, and it’s found in this passage. So what does usurp mean?
It means to take it upon ones’ self. In other words, this scripturewarns women not to take it upon themselves to teach.
However, this is true not only for women but men also! Who are we, as God’s created beloveds, to take it upon ourselves to teach anything other than what the Holy Spirit is prompting?
This warning is valid for both men and women, those created in God’s image, to subdue creation.
Women, you have value in God’s Kingdom. You aren’t a second-class citizen and certainly aren’t less than.
I pray that you know and fully understand that God created you to rule and reign, just as men. And what God said to Adam and Eve in the Garden, He is saying to you today.