Part One (Introduction, other sources)
Part Two (overview of various views)
A couple things to begin with:
- In coming to a conclusion I try to take a view of the Scriptures as a whole and not think about where our culture stands on this issue.
- It is important to note that Jesus transcended the culture by greatly honoring and respecting women within his ministry.
- None of my conclusion is meant to be exhaustive on this subject. There is simply too much that can be said. I tried to cover the main issues.
- I welcome your comments. Just as I say in my conclusion, this issue should not be a hill to die on either way. I am not going to mad at you if you disagree with me.
- If you want to know what sources I used on this paper email me using the contact page.
As I begin this section it is important to note that I do not see this issue as vital within the church body. I work at a church that does not completely support my view, yet it does not affect my ability to attend and work there under clear conscience. I simply cannot understand how an issue like this can divide the body, yet I totally understand how differing views can come about. I wonder, along with Wayne Grudem, if this issue isn’t a test for our hearts of whether we will be faithful to God’s Word despite large changes within our culture. In regards to my position, it would be fair to say I would put myself in the complementarian camp despite having a few, small issues with some of the supporters of this view.
The egalitarian view uses Galatians 3:28 as a core verse to its support. Here, Paul mostly stating that all are equals under Christ, but I want to delve into this deeper. I see egalitarians trying to read into the text something that Paul was simply not trying to make a point of. S. Lewis Johnson sees this as egalitarians forgetting sound hermeneutics in order to support their stance. This verse is simply not one that refutes that men and women play different roles in church life. I find it even more troubling that egalitarians use this as a crux to their argument when it is completely evident that the verse is not even speaking about gender issues at its core.
Beyond this verse, we must also wrestle with the two different views of how the Trinity is an example for women in leadership. Egalitarians see the Trinity as providing an example of equal leadership between the Father, Son and Spirit. Complementarians see the Trinity as showing the Father having a role of authority while also having a co-equal relationship with Son and Spirit. We see the word authority as being above, but I think we need to see it as a different role. Grudem sees a strong parallel between the Trinity and gender distinctions: “The equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflect the quality, differences, and unity in the Trinity.” These statements have immense support from 1st Corinthians 11:3 which states that, “the head of Christ is God.” Jon Courson states that Jesus chose to submit himself to the Father out of humility and in the same way, “the woman who chooses to submit to the authority of her husband does so not out of inferiority, but of humility.” If we understand that Jesus can be a co-equal with the Father even with the Father having authority, then we see that women can be co-equals with men even though men are given authority.
The biggest question left to answer is where I differ from the complementarian position. John Piper and Wayne Grudem do a fantastic job of presenting a strong case that I almost completely support, but they are quite legalistic about their position. There are many who believe that women should not be pastors or lay leaders within a congregation, and this is where I defect from their view. I think this stance does a poor job of seeing the whole Scriptures because he provides no leeway for any of the verses or arguments that seem to give some support to egalitarians. A legalistic view of women in leadership leads to division that is unnecessary.
As I see the Scriptures, women are meant to serve as equals with men in church outside of the offices of senior pastor and elder. Those positions are typically ones that provide authority over and teaching for the whole church and the Bible makes a strong case for women not being in those positions. Differing from the complementarian position, I see the Bible stating that women play equal roles in church functionality outside of authority. Susan Hunt says, “God made Adam incomplete because he intended to create a ‘completer’…the supportive ministry of women is as crucial to give completeness to the local church as was Eve’s presence in the Garden.” I think we need to move beyond seeing women as lesser beings than men and view their role as vital. Just as Deborah can be a Judge in the Old Testament, I see that the Biblical mandate being that women can provide leadership over ministries not churches in the form of being a pastor or lay leadership instead of lead pastors or elders.