Los Angeles, CA December 2, 2012 – “Making the Case” is about a longstanding moral debate within the Church of Jesus Christ that addresses the issue of gender bias. Specifically, statistics show that clergymen who believe a woman should not sit in positions of authority, such as pastor, bishop, apostle, etc., where women lead and/or teach men, also believe this is an action inconsistent with God’s principles.
Due to the repulsive attitudes held by a large number of male clergy, toward women clergy, women leaders have been hindered physically and emotionally from walking fully in their calling. Exasperating debates and this belief about women leadership have caused Christian women great emotional hardship. “Making the Case” suggests that male clergy may be in contempt of the laws of God for committing a spiritual tort against women who lead.
The goal in “Making the Case” is to prove that the attitude against women leaders is immoral, and does not line up with the Word of God. Further, it is believed that the male-dominant thought against women leaders is not about the attitude or principles of God, but is purely man’s idea to reject a woman’s high calling. The Bible emphatically states that we have “all been called to a higher calling”. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:4) And the Bible defines who “we” are and, makes reference throughout the Bible that “we” all belong to God as His chosen people.
Let us point out that the Bible states that the children of Israel are God’s chosen people. However, in the book of Ephesians scripture shows that “we” all “are adopted as sons by Jesus Christ…having made known to us the mystery of His will…” (Eph. 1:5,9) Further, the Bible teaches that [“we”] “were raised up together”, and [“we”] “…sit together in the heavenly places…” More passages in the Bible consistently confirm who “we” are: We were “made both one” (Eph. 2:14) in the body of Christ. “We” are “High Priests, made in the image of God -male and female, Jew and Gentile”; and “we” have been “grafted into the kingdom of God”. “We” both “have access by one spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2::18) “We” are “a dwelling place of God in the spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
If we were to focus only the scriptures that discuss Israel as God’s chosen, we would believe that the rest of us are not God’s chosen. But as we have already pointed out, other passages in the Bible tell us that all have been chosen by God. This is what has happened with passages in the Bible where it mentions “keep your women silent in the church”, and the “man is the head”. Clergy have used a few scriptures from the Bible to make a case against women to forbid them from standing in the pulpit. It is important to learn and study the whole counsel of God, and to recognize the author’s intent and who the author is. God’s purpose for our lives is clear-“all have been called”. We must not overlook this truth. We must also not overlook important details such as cultural, geographical, language, or time period considerations. Most importantly, we must seek God for His counsel on all matters, and not after the tradition of man without verifying the truth.
In a previous article, we made the distinction between women leaders called to the “high calling” as, pastor, bishop, apostle, and women who lead elsewhere in the church. It is important to restate that the negative attitude towards women of the “high calling” is not that they lead or merely hold leadership positions, rather it is the leadership status of women as overseer, especially over male clergy. This distinction among women as overseers of clergymen, is another focus of our debate.
Therefore, it is imperative that we highlight the fact that God has placed all of us-women included-in a position to walk in the “high calling” to lead His people, without question. This is a biblical truth.
In a non-biblical truth, we find that male leaders believe that women are considered “unworthy” to stand in the pulpit, and that women preachers are incompetent to teach men. Moreover, men of the cloth who hold this belief, have stated that women who preach from the pulpit and lead in the church, usurp their authority over men, which they believe is an act of disobedience. Christians are taught that disobedient children of God have no place in the kingdom, but will place themselves in the “lake of fire” for disobeying God’s principles. However, nowhere in the Bible does it imply that women preaching from the pulpit is an act of disobedience or that they will go to hell as result of usurping authority or sitting in positions of authority.
We believe that this mindset has placed women in an awkward position. Many women admit that they have become emotionally affected and spiritually stagnant. Women in the church have worked hard to move their way up, only to be disappointed time and time again by negative stereotypes, which are clearly stumbling blocks to the religious vocation of women.
Because women are not recognized and respected by many male leaders in the church for the vocation of leadership, this attitude has affected personal relationships among clergymen and clergy women in the home. We know that Christian marriages, especially among clergy, and where both partners serve in proximity as church leaders, have a difficult time managing their intimate relationship.
Our aim is to look more deeply into the connection between broken relationships among men and women clergy, and the need for companionship and mentors for women leading in the church. With regard to mentors, we also look at how these women fair without the proper guidance and mentoring that is so crucial for one’s spiritual growth, personal development, and emotional well-being.
Based upon what we now know, we have shaped our questions around the concerns about gender bias in the church:
- What is the real truth? Why are women really forbidden to preach in the pulpit?
- Have women leaders been emotionally damaged because of hindrances to their ministry?
- Can women leaders hold the church in spiritual contempt for committing spiritual torts against them? Who will hear their case?
- Is it true that marriages among men and women leaders struggle more, and eventually end in separation or divorce because the woman leads in the church?
- What are the solutions to men and women leaders working together amicably?
Is there a resolve for men and women to agree to allow women to lead in the church during the twenty-first century?
“Making the Case” seeks to find answers to these questions.
1Culver, Robert D; Foh, Susan; Liefeld, Walter; Mickelsen, Alvera; Clouse, Bonnidell; Clouse, Robert, G; Women in Ministry: Four Views. (Madison, WI: InterVarsity Press,1989) pg. 173-205.
© 2012 Wendy Campbell