Disclaimer: I'm not opposed to women pastors. In fact, my mom's a pastor.
IMHO, the only reason why anyone should be frustrated over anything is if God's will is not being done. Anything else comes from selfishness (not getting my way). This applies to every context, not just women wanting to serve as pastors. Selfish frustration is never justified, even if it is targeted at something evil.
This makes me wonder whether a person's frustration over not being able to serve in some capacity is ever a godly frustration. Because, if things aren't working out, then we always should appeal to God, the orchestrator of all things, and wait for Him in humble submission. So then, if one must be used under His plan, then God will use that person! His purposes are completely "un-frustratable." All we are called to do is work as He permits us to work. If God wants His people to learn from a certain woman to whom He has given a gift for teaching (and He doesn't give out gifts that are meant to be wasted!), He'll make it happen one way or another, even without the formal designation because God is not limited by man's understanding and procedures. "Frustrated" is probably one of the most common words used in this forum, so we know that this issue is not limited to women in ministry.
I can say this with total confidence to women who want to teach because those in leadership positions aren't necessarily the only teachers. I found that mature participants in bible studies, in groups, in one-on-one interactions who share their wisdom are like gold. I learn so much from them, even more than those given formal teaching positions. Even if I did not accept their premise, what they shared made me curious enough to investigate the Word myself. The person might not have even been addressing me, but I overheard. That person has just impacted me in a positive way, whether he or she knew it or not, and it might have been the only morsel of the Word I've had all week! Are we open to the fact that we minister to each other in ways that we are not even aware of and are humbled and in awe by that awareness, for it is God Himself who is working within and among us!
So then, from whence does the frustration come? From lacking the title and the "authority" that comes with it? The lack of formalistic programs associated with it and funding? Lack of recognition and respect? Although discussing the meaning of the text and how we arrive at certain practices is helpful, but I think careful introspection as to the root cause of our frustrations is very important as we have our discussions.
I hear what you are saying very clearly and have prayed and prayed about that very thing as I don't want to be acting in a selfish way. I think I addressed that in my first point by acknowledging that I have a bias that I can't get away from really. It is there.
That said, if I saw the men in my church addressing what needs addressing then it would be a non-issue. I am in no way seeking to be the pastor or any such thing. That is a very big job which I would not want unless I knew that I knew that I knew that God called me to it.
So, I do believe that I am asking about this issue because I don't see God's will being done. I agree that God can get things done but I believe He generally does that by moving on and in and through His people. Both men and women. I see a great deal of evidence in God's Word of His servants being essentially frustrated with the apathetic condition of God's people. I also think of Daniel praying but the answer being delayed due to spiritual warfare. God's will is frustrated in some respect by Satan and his minions. (certainly God could overule, but He chooses not to)
That is what breaks my heart and I am heartbroken to have to sit and watch it while men who could address it refuse to do so. It is painful to sit week after week and see teaching that refuses to be clear and direct because it may offend someone and the numbers might dip.
With that in mind, God has shown me some very specific things that need addressing and thus far I have prayed over them, but I keep wondering if there is more I am to do. I do teach the women these things, however, the leadership actually counters those teachings in effect. Not directly, but the attitude with which things are taught is so anemic that people continue right back into their lull even if they were somewhat awakened by more direct teaching.
I am not concerned about getting glory for myself, I'm concerned that the people in my church are lulled into believing themselves 'safe in the fold' when in fact the fruit, or lack thereof, would suggest otherwise. I am concerned for the holiness of God's people. I am jealous for them with a godly jealousy, wanting them to love God above all else. I do hope you won't misunderstand my motives.
I am seeking to know the truth, not just what I want to be true. My goal ultimately is God's glory, not division and confusion, which is why I'm asking these questions, I hope in humility.
WOW! What a discussion! I love everyone's humility and insight in this topic. I'm confused over the inconsistency of our ancestors' interpretation of Scripture in this area. Here is where I'm coming from:
In Judges 4, Deborah was a prophet, and was appointed by God to be judge over Israel (that's A LOT of people). Verse 5 states, "the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided." That sounds a lot like a senior pastor to me. :-)
Here is what confuses me. God appointed a married woman to judge millions of people in Israel and then changed the "protocol" to where a woman may not be a pastor or elder?? It does not make sense to me.
Deborah had more spiritual authority over more men than most senior pastors have today. So what changed? How do the related "church leadership" passages line up with the whole of scripture and God's character?
In my local church, the pastor and the elders are all men based on their understanding of what Scripture says on the matter, and I willingly submit to their leadership. The pastor and the elders highly value female leadership in other areas such as worship, children's, etc. So my motives to dig deeper in this topic are by no means any attempt to "get ahead" in ministry, but rather a desire to get a better understanding of what the Lord intends regarding women in leadership. May we glorify the Lord in all we do!!
If church leadership changes the roles of women in the church, I would much rather they make those decisions based on the truth of God's character and his word rather than pressure from societal changes.
Thanks so much for everyone's input! This really is a great discussion.
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
Ursula, I want to give you some encouragement.
The above quote is from Sam, earlier today.Are we open to the fact that we minister to each other in ways that we are not even aware of and are humbled and in awe by that awareness, for it is God Himself who is working within and among us!
You have started several threads on TWC that have elicited a lot of discussion. There has been a lot of valuable and needed information shared by the participants. Your grasp of biblical concepts and your genuine heart to do and see God's work accomplished has been an encouragement and challenge to me and others.
God has given you a platform to have your voice heard here on TWC. Granted, it isn't the audience you are most interested in speaking to, but consider the possibility that God is using your participation here to prepare you for being used in a greater way in your own church, when his timing allows it.
Another thing I will cautiously bring up is that God may have in mind a different body for you to share your gifts with, who are more spiritually prepared to accept what you have to say. I am not advocating jumping ship just because you are not "getting" what you want. But as I study the words of Christ to the 7 churches in Rev. 2-3, it is apparent to me that God removes his candlestick from churches that have ceased to bring him glory. If I sensed that the church I was in no longer had God's blessing upon it, I would be in a hurry to leave.
I can't make that judgment about your church, because it is not my church. I suggest you study the letters to the 7 churches again, and try to gain insight from whatever sources you can, about how the failures of those churches translate to the present day church, and specifically, your church.
Thank you Tom, I very much appreciate your encouragement. I've certainly been blessed by the humility and willingness to hash things out in this community. All of you seem positively bent on seeking God and that is quite refreshing.
As I have been seeking God on these issues, I'll certainly give some attention again to the letters to the churches. I will say that thus far, the Spirit has made it clear that we are to stay at our current church. In the last two weeks, God has done something among the people and it is a good work indeed.
However, some of what He did has brought this particular question up as I shared some thoughts as a worship leader and some members have brought up the question of whether I had the authority to do so. Soooooooo, the can has been opened and the worms they are a' spillin'.
At any rate, I can't express how much I appreciate the discussion we're all having here. It is good to remember that what I see in my own church is not universal across all churches and to hear how others are seeing God work. I find I must be very careful not to get too discouraged and to remember that God is still sovreign whether or not I know how He's working things out.
May God bless each of you.
That was incredibly insightful. +1,000,000
One can teach without having studied writings, if they are being taught.
Again going on memory from a book read long ago, Dr Seif said that they women were likely yelling across the room to get their husbands to explain what was being taught and it was out of order. Paul was only saying they should refrain from that and get personal clarification after the teaching.
Then the older women can teach these things to the younger women.
I doubt you could find even one man here that hasn't been under the teaching authority of a woman. Our mothers taught us, our school teachers taught us, and in some case our Sunday school teachers taught us. So imo, unless we are going to reject the teaching of those women, we should admit that this is a cultural situation for that time and place.
The greater principle of not having a woman in ultimate authority over a community of qualified men is valid; though the prohibition against a female teaching spiritual concepts is no longer.
what? me worry?
I think it comes from the principal that a man is head of his house. Does this translate to the head of a church, though?
And like Jesus, Paul did not appoint any women to positions of leadership, nor suggest that they should deviate from the cultural norms. Jesus chose twelve to be His closest disciples, to pour His life into, and to leave as those who would lead His church; not a woman among them. Certainly, Jesus was had no aversion to ignoring social and cultural mores when they suited His purpose. I can't imagine He would not have appointed at least one woman if His plan were to have them co-equal in church leadership.
Given the attitudes toward women during the life of Jesus and the fact that it was mostly men, how feasible would it have been to even have a woman be a disciple. I assume they all slept together, traveled together, etc. It doesn't seem possible even if he would have preferred it. I know God can do anything but there were culteral issues that he wasn't going to just change.