“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
“This is no place for a woman.”
I remember my first day in the barn, almost 5 years ago now.
I am no stranger to working in male dominated fields. For three years after I graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Business I worked in large production hog facilities.
The looks I received when first walking into a barn varied from “welcome” to “what the…”
But once they realized I was there to do my equal share, most of those looks turned into a form of mutual respect. I say most, not all. Which was okay- it was my job to work in the barn, I’d leave God to work on their hearts.
Meanwhile, I felt a call to serve full time in Ministry, following a season of preparation. I sat on the sidelines for a good long while, until God finally took my hand and helped me out of the boat. Since then I have received my Masters in Ministry, accepted a chaplaincy position, have been a youth pastor, supplied pulpit service and am currently working through my Masters in Divinity.
The uncertainty and gravity of the decision was never one I took lightly. But there was a passion and a dream that filled, and still fills, my whole being night and day. I am not sure where we are going, but every step I take draws me closer to something that is far beyond I could ever fathom.
However, those steps often come with some degree of difficulty. Not the least of which, is the reality of entering another male dominated field. And it is not so much that it is a male dominated field but in that age old question- Does God really want women to serve as leaders in ministry?
For someone whose whole being longs to follow God’s will- the quickest way to put them under water is to imply they are not only working fruitlessly but in direct retaliation to the God they wish to serve.
Last week this issue escalated as esteemed Pastor and Theologian John MacArthur took the stage- and stance- against women preachers. Quite forcibly I might add.
Mind you reading and listening to his comments not only hurt, but at the same time drew me into a moment of reflection. I personally own and have used several of MacArthur’s works for class and personal study. For example 12 Unlikely Men… and 12 Unlikely Women. This wasn’t someone whose opinion I could just discount- in fact it is someone whose opinion I had quoted and drew conclusions from for several assignments.
As the questions and doubts came running to the door I turned the deadbolt and ran to Scripture, reviewing what I knew of Jesus, His life and ministry. He never turned a woman away. Oftentimes He worked in their lives in a way that sent them running to tell the Good News with just as much success as the greatest pastors.
I found women that Paul would mention and commend for their teaching and leadership alongside women of the Old Testament who were often charged with responsibilities in God’s divine plan to bring about salvation and deliverance to God’s people.
There are three sections of Scripture within Paul’s letters in which I believe MacArthur draws his views from. Having studied those Scriptures in class I know a few facts about them that may help clear the muddied waters. Those verses are encased in letters to specific congregations- speaking on specific issues. Most theologians throughout the past several hundred years agree that Paul’s letters were occasional and often directly sought to provide an answer per circumstance. Most theologians agree today that those moments when Paul negatively addressed women in ministry, he was more than likely writing in response to a group of women within the church who were distracting the saints through gossip and destructive talk. (Especially given the reputations of those churches in which the letters were being sent to.)
Note there are several other women Paul mentions by name in his letters, commending them in their work; Lydia, Priscillia, Phoebe, Junia… Paul never condemns or admonishes their involvement in ministry. In fact Romans 16:7 even leads us to believe that Junia was an apostle.
In short, John, I still find that you are a great teacher. However, on this point I disagree. For I find several Biblical cases to be made for a woman to serve, preach, teach and participate in the spreading the Good News. For it is all to the glory of God that we speak.
“There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.” -John MacArthur
“They don’t want equal power to be a plumber. They want to be senators, preachers, congressmen, president…” (MacArthur).
And personally, if it is the idea of the title which upsets you, you can keep it. It’s not the title or power we are seeking… it is Him and the lost He has ordained for us to find.
Peace John, thank you for your continued work for the Lord. I do not claim to have had divine revelation that no one else has had, allowing my conclusions to be indisputable. But do not believe I have not diligently weighed and reviewed the matter. And I am not alone in my conclusions.
Below are four articles that assisted me, alongside scripture, in finding peace between my place in God and my place according to various world views. These teachers are more experienced and eloquent than I am and I highly recommend all 4- through the third link down is short, sweet and goes straight to the heart of the matter- in a fashion Paul, Apostle of Christ, would applaud.