In a recent blog, I talked about defining feminism and what the three waves of feminism brought for women (and, consequently, men). In it, I mentioned a few things that I’d save for another blog. Here it is!
Some of you may have read my blog on Feminine Identity where I discussed my personal search for my roles as wife, pastor’s wife and a woman called to ministry. The week I posted that blog, I was at a conference where a man named Jerry Cook spoke. He is elderly, wise and very direct. He said, “Your identity comes as you minister – not as you sit on the curb!”
I think he had just read my blog and was pointing at me! I’d been twiddling my thumbs, crying about my personal identity crises so much that it kept me from actually ministering to and blessing others! Over-analysis had paralyzed me, causing me to forget the call and gifts I already knew God had given.
Not long after, while traveling with my parents and husband, I was expressing how upset I was in not understanding my
place as a woman and wife in ministry. Finally, my dad said, “I think you need to stop worrying about women’s role in ministry and start focusing on Anna’s role in ministry. And right now, He’s placed you in a denomination that encourages women in ministry.” That was all he had to say. I literally felt something lifted that left such an intense feeling of relief I couldn’t help but cry.
Ever since, I’ve felt so at peace. I still have had conversations and taken steps to pursue that peace, but I’ve had much more clarity.
Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals
After beginning to feel comfortable with my own roles, I approached my aunt and uncle about the biblical stance on women in ministry. My uncle has a doctorate and is a biblical studies professor. My aunt has written a book on her experience as a pastor’s kid, wife to her late husband who was a pastor, and now married to my uncle. They both have unique knowledge
My uncle talked about a book called Slaves, Women and Homosexuals, which uses contextual and cultural analysis to determine the biblical stance on the matter.and experiences related to this topic.
The question the book poses and answers is this: if approach can be different for those two things, which does the Bible take towards the role of women in leadership ministry? My uncle explained how the book discusses nearly all evangelicals agree that the Bible’s discussion on slavery was for the culture at the time, while its determination on the sin of homosexuality remains the same. This conclusion is drawn based on how the Bible talks about the subject and how it changes over time (since the Bible was written over thousands of years and thus, over the course of changing culture). Over time and throughout the Bible, homosexuality is always talked about in the same way, regardless of how the culture at the time was viewing it (and let me tell you, the culture did have different opinions on the matter based on the various national religions, nations, and time periods). However, the way God directs His people to approach slavery changes as the culture changes.
The answer? The same approach it takes towards slavery: it changes with the culture and context. (I would like to note here that it doesn’t change in that it is woman’s primary role to serve and respect her husband and children, just as it is the man’s primary role to provide for and love his wife and children.) I mean, look at Queen Esther and Deborah the judge/leader of Israel, and Anna the prophetess (my personal favorite), and Mary the mother of Jesus, and Pastor Timothy’s mom and grandma!
My aunt also argued that if some women are given the gift of leadership or similar gifts, and the Holy Spirit delegates each role, who are we to tell someone not to function in a God-given gift just because she’s a woman?
So Leader or Helper?
My answer? Both. They aren’t mutually exclusive. We all have different callings and gifts and passions. Embrace those. Embrace them while embracing your femininity. And embrace them with tenacity and zeal. When you find yourself embracing and fulfilling your roles, chances are you’ll find yourself both helping and leading.
After all, Jesus is the head of the Church and spent all His time on earth serving us.