For the last few weeks I have been teaching a class on How to Read the Bible For All It's Worth (partly inspired by the book of the same name written by renown Bible scholar Gordon Fee). For this coming weeks teaching I wanted to look at how we might wrestle with some of the passages from the Bible that are a little more difficult. So for this week's lesson I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject of women in ministry.
I have to say that I never really thought much about women in ministry at all (for or against) until about 5 years ago when the greater Vineyard movement began to really wrestle with this idea on a national level. The church of which I was a part at that time held to a soft complimentarian view on this subject meaning that women could serve in most aspects of the church except for being the senior pastor and perhaps even on teaching the whole church (I am not sure if that was the actual view or just how it worked out). I would say though that after years of wrestling with this issue from both sides that I have come down to more of an Egalitarian position on this subject which sees that both men and women can serve in any capacity in church even as a senior pastor or teacher for the whole congregation.
The bulk of the controversy on this issue arises from two passages written by the Apostle Paul. These passages are: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14
At first glance these scriptures seem very harsh. Forget about women ministering in church these seem to say that they must keep their mouths shut the whole time. I don't know of any churches that seem to take Paul literally enough as to make women completely silent in church (this would go for churches that are hard complimentarians as well). So most churches soften Paul's meaning while trying to keep some semblance of what he is getting at.
I realized this morning that the controversy of women in ministry is making its way into the national conversation due to some comments by John Piper on why the church needs to be more masculine. I read a little on this at Scot McKnight's blog: John Piper, What He Said
One of the best papers that I have read on the subject of women in ministry is by Frank Viola. Go check out his paper Reimagining a Woman's Role in the Church
Have you ever looked into this issue?
How have you wrestled with it?
Where have you landed on the subject?