Last Saturday on the show, we had a very interesting and lively discussion about Breaking the Glass Steeple or Working toward gender equality in the Church. In particular we discussed the views of egalitarianism and complementarism. These two views are polar opposites in the application of spiritual leadership in the Church. In a nutshell, egalitarianism theology states both men and woman have scriptural authority to lead the church. From deaconess to head pastor. Complementarism theology states spiritual authority and household headship rest on the male of the household.
Please understand that my condensation of these two different ideas are just that, condensation. There’s much more to them than I stated. However, I invite you to visit Jory Micah’s blog as she discusses in detail the egalitarian view and how it is scripturally sound. For those on the opposite end of the spectrum, I invite you to visit Rebekah Merkle’s blog that discusses in depth the complementarian view. Feel free to read the exchange between Jory and Rebekah on these two views (starting with Jory’s blog). At the end of the day, I invite you to make your own decisions.
We had some interesting responses to the question: Do you think men and women are treated equally in the Church?
Below are some of the answers. What do you think?
Sheila: there is a great division on how the church treats men and women. Men have always been put in the leadership roles such as deacons,elders,pastors, bishops. women were ONLY in the subservient roles such as Sunday school teachers.It is a known fact that women build churches. They have a nurturing spirit SO many times they are the caretakers of the congregation.
Anna: I would say it depends on the church….I was raised Lutheran, went to a Baptist youth group for years and went non denominational and charismatic for the last 20 years. I was told as a kiddo in high school in the Baptist circles that I couldn’t have a call of God on my life because I was a woman as certain scriptures were quoted to justify this misconception. In college I went with a friend off and on to a Church of Christ Church….to where they dont believe a woman can teach boys over the 6th grade….So I searched the Word. Within various charismatic circles I think most believe in the call of women…however I have ran into a few that dont. Sometimes as an ordained minister of the gospel it can get to feel like it is a good ole boys club, but for the most part it has gotten better. I have no doubt that men and women have different roles…however I have no doubt that I do have a covering; God, my husband, my pastors….its sad to me that the gender card can become an issue in churches….in short we all play a piece of the puzzle, may the church as a whole start embracing the people male and female that God has sent to His body. Thats just my 2 cents. And I’d like to add to that. . . I had a God encounter when I was in the 6th grade that Jesus showed up in my room and told me that He’d called me into ministry. . .I didn’t see him physically. . .I just knew where he was standing. My point in bringing that up, was I knew that God had called me. The many that told me He couldn’t have because I was a women never deterred me. . .just made me search the Bible to see what it really said about women in ministry. It’s beyond sad to me how many women the false mindsets and those that believe that way have hindered them from running the race God has before them. . .
Zer: Hopefully not! We are not all equal. Each person is unique and fits into the Body in a unique place. While we are not equal, each person should have equal access to what the Body is supposed to provide to its members. Equal access is not the same thing as equality. It is time we stop talking about equality, because we are not equal. And just because we are not equal does not make one better than another, it simply means we are mature enough to recognize one another’s unique gifts and talents given to us by our Master!
Shaina: I love individuality. No two person is exactly the same regardless of gender
Lewis: That’s a good question. If by equal you mean “the same”, I don’t know that God ever intended that. He made men and women different for a reason, and as the French say: Vive le difference! But, if you mean, “with equal fairness and compassion” – well, if they are not, they should be!
David: Here are my thoughts:
As a pastor, teacher and bible scholar I would say Scripture leaves no room for inequality in the church between men and women. Galatians 3 says there is equality between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. All are equal in Christ. It is not a question of worth, intelligence, giftedness, or anything else.
The Bible is also explicit, women can be prophets (Miriam Exodus 15:20, Deborah Judges 4:4, Anna Luke 2:36 and many others). Women can be deacons as specific instructions for female deacons are given in 1 Timothy 3 and Phoebe is called a deaconess (Romans 16:1). They can be teachers (Priscilla Acts 18:26, and the instructions in Titus 2:3), prayer warriors, evangelists, and every other role in the church, save one.
The one area where Scripture is clear, is that the office of pastor is reserved for men. There are no instructions in 1 Timothy for female pastors, as there are for female deacons. The man is clearly the head over the woman and has been given this specific charge to be head over the church.
Again, this has NOTHING to do with value, worth, intelligence, or superiority. This has to do with roles assigned as part of God’s plan. Jesus was NOT inferior in any way with God the Father. Philippians 2:6 makes that clear. But in his ROLE as the second person of the trinity, Christ SUBMITTED Himself in all things to the authority of God the Father (John 6:38, 1 Corinthians 15:28).
So the question of female pastors is clearly, “Am I willing to submit myself to God’s authority as laid out in Scripture, or am I going to let my own idea of cultural or societal values supersede the word of God?”
Kathy: Depends on the denomination.
Sarah: First of all, I do not think a man should lead women without a woman by his side, unless he has been widowed.
Second, there are examples in scripture, even in the New Testament, of women holding each one of the five-fold ministries: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher. If a church claims to be a New Testament church but will not allow a woman into any of these roles, they really are not a New Testament church. And I have attended a few that claimed to be but aren’t.
Thirdly, a pastor is a very nurturing role. I’ll just leave it at that and let people make their own inferences.
Fourthly, a woman shouldn’t be leading a bunch of men without a man by her side. (It goes both ways.)
Fifth thing, church shouldn’t model after culture, but also shouldn’t ignore scripture. Men and women were created to work side by side. Women shouldn’t be given roles in churches simply because there isn’t a man to fill that role, they should be working WITH men in every role (except for men’s ministries and women’s ministries, but that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open right now).
Sixth thing, the passage in 1 Tim 3 talks about overseers, not pastors. And the overseer needs to be a husband of one wife. Hmm…I wonder why? Perhaps so they can work as a team…
Seventh thing, the church should pioneer equal pay for equal work. How awesome would that be.