Stereotypes that have been labelled against women have made them fight for their positions and recognition in almost all aspects of their lives. Despite the efforts of women to prove to the society that they have equal capabilities as men when exposed to similar treatment, some communities still sideline women considering them unfit for certain position. It has however, been a milestone in many areas where women have been able to take up important roles and positions in the society. The latest battle that women religion where some
Christian denominations do not allow women to serve as clergies and pastors. In as much as some churches have embraced the norm and elevated women to important church leadership positions, others have used the scriptures to justify the fact that women cannot be allowed to perform the functions of a church minister. In this paper, the focus will be on some of the factors that make women suitable or unsuitable for the positions. We shall use some of the scriptures in the bible as well as mythologies that some churches hold towards women that inspire their decisions.
Church ministry is mainly about evangelism, it is all about reaching out to the lost souls and telling the about Jesus. In the great commission, just before Jesus was taken up to heaven, he commissioned the disciples to out in the world and make disciples. This meant that, the good news that Jesus had preached to his disciples, was to be preached to the rest of the world. Jesus had many disciples yet we are mostly told about the twelve. Among the twelve, there was no women and hence making some churches believe that it was not the desire of Jesus to have women in his ministry and team. Most of the time, after Jesus had performed a miracle on a person, he would commission them to go out and tell people of the great thing that had happened to them. This was a form of evangelism, where Jesus wanted people to know that there is hope for those who were in hopeless situations.
Apart from the twelve disciples, we realise that Jesus had a very close relationship with women in the bible. He enjoyed their company and ministered to their needs. On the other hand, we also realise from scriptures that women empathised more with the ministry of Jesus and appeared to understand his needs more. Compared to the make disciples who were only concerned about ministering to the masses, the women disciples ministered to Jesus in person and made sure he was comfortable (Bass 20-25). For instance, we are told of the women with the alabaster box, who sacrificed his life savings in the form of oil and anointed Jesus. His disciples considered it as a waste, yet Jesus looked at it as a significant moment in his ministry. There is a lot of evidence in the bible that show that women believed more in the ministry of Jesus more than men, they were hence considered to be perfect tools for evangelism.
One of the scriptures that is mostly used to justify women in church leadership position was about the testimony of the risen Christ. After Jesus died after being crucified on the cross, he rose again on the third day. Surprisingly, a woman was the first one to notice that Jesus as no longer in the grave. She did not keep the message to herself and instead ran around telling people the story of the risen Christ. In his ministry, Jesus kept telling his disciples about his ministry and the fact that he will be crucified to death but rise again on the third. The message was to prepare them and even help them look out at the turn of events. However, it seemed as if all slept away in the minds of the twelve disciples on the night that Jesus was crucified. After his death, most of the disciples went back to their previous careers, and had basically lost hope in the ministry that Jesus commissioned them to do. On the contrary, women never gave up, the bible speaks of the three women who would wake up every day to go to the tomb where Jesus was buried and anointed him.
The action that was taken by the women to keep checking on Jesus every day after he was buried shows the faith they had in what he told them, which was not reflected on their male counterparts. It revealed that they trusted the words of Jesus that he will resurrect on the third day. The women must have been looking forward to seeing the resurrected Jesus, and that is why they took the step to check on him and even anoint him on a daily basis. A woman being the first to see and even testify of the resurrected Jesus has made many churches believe that God had no issues in elevating women to high church position. Most of the arguments that are raised against not ordaining female priests and pastors is found in the gospels of the early church and the old testament. The mention of women is rare when it comes to leadership and mostly found when they are being warned or cautioned against something (Howe 54). Most church administrations use the not mentioning of women in vital church positions and the fact that they were being warned of something to signify that they are not perfect for the positions.
There is also the issue of submission which has fuelled a lot of arguments in Christian forums. The term submission has been interpreted differently and hence denying women the right to take up church leadership positions. The word submission has been interpreted by some to mean that a woman is lesser than a man is and that she has to be under his leadership. Just as the same has to apply in the family setting, men feel that women can only submit to them in the church setting when they are ordinary members (Ruether 87). Putting in charge of a church will mean that they give orders and even responsibilities to the men under them, a scene that is considered diminishing to the males. They therefore consider that the best way they can always put women under their authority is to ensure that they are not in any position that will demand they follow their orders.
The bible was written in Greek and Jews and most of the events were put in context of their cultural beliefs. According to the Jews culture, women were not counted or mentioned. This does not however mean that they were not involved in major activities. Women being left out in biblical context was simply because of the cultural set up that the bible was written in. However, there are some prominent women that have featured in the bible, which proves that God uses them to accomplish his mission of salvation. for example, we are told of Deborah, who was not only a diligent wife but a great judge (Barron 455). Esther was also used as an important tool to facilitate salvation for the Jews people. God also used a women (prostitute) to grant the men of Joshua favour as they planned an attack. These and more biblical examples prove the fact that women have not been biblically ruled out to take up church leadership positions.
Barron, Bruce. "Putting women in their place: 1 Timothy 2 and evangelical views of women in church leadership." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 33.4 (1990): 451-459.
Bass, Bernard M., Bruce J. Avolio, and Leanne Atwater. "The transformational and transactional leadership of men and women." Applied Psychology 45.1 (1996): 5-34.
Howe, E. Margaret. Women & church leadership. Zondervan Publishing House, 1982.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford, and Eleanor McLaughlin. Women of spirit: Female leadership in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Book World Promotions, 1979.