What if Adam’s rib is no longer willing to be the church’s backbone?
This is the question that Henderson is trying to answer. This book was a compelling read. At times I cheered for the stories that were shared, at times I was frustrated and for some stories, I was just plain broken hearted. Henderson gives three different forms of resignation:
- Resigned to – These are the people who feel like things are the way that they are and can’t be changed. They have resigned themselves to doing ministry within these confines.
- Resigned from – These are the people who have been frustrated and shut down by the system. They walk away from the church and some from God as a result.
- Re-signed – These are the people who know the limitations and frustrations and charge ahead. They have signed up knowing that their ministry is valuable and are working to create change for those who follow.
Henderson uses stories of real women to display each category listed above. The first two categories were the hardest for me. It was hard for me to see women who think they need to be “allowed” to do ministry. Some of them hold the stance that women can’t teach or lead men in anyway (unless they under age 12). Some of them hold very tightly to the verse about women being silent in the church. While these women frustrate me, I can tell they are comfortable with their beliefs and find ways to serve regardless of their limitations. The resigned from category was probably the worst of all. It’s sad to think that capable women are walking away from ministry because of the church. In all honesty, with some of the limitations put on the women in these churches, I’m pretty sure I would leave as well.
My beliefs about women in ministry have been in a very formative state over the last few years. In fact, even in the last 5 years I’ve changed a lot of my views and really gave the issues some thought. When I was in high school, I didn’t think too much about the issue of women in ministry. We had a female pastor on staff at our church and I saw women being valued in ministry, so there wasn’t really an issue in my mind.
As I grew up and went off to Bible College, I learned that not all dominations hold the same views as the Assemblies of God. I also learned that even in Assemblies of God churches there was some disconnect in what the church practiced. For example, the AG will license and ordain female pastors. Up until a year ago, women couldn’t be board members at our church. It was with great wisdom that we looked at our by-laws and made the change. There is a double standard to say that women can be pastors but not board members.
When I was younger, I held to the philosophy that women could be pastors, but not senior pastors. I was told that women are too emotional to hold should a position and that a man should always be the head of the church. I accepted this. I’m not sure why, but I did. Only recently as I went through the licensing and ordination process in the AG did I realize the disconnect in my own thinking. It doesn’t make sense to say we’ll ordain women just like men, but they have certain roles that are off limits to them. In this regard, I am blessed to be a member of the AG because they value women in ministry so highly. I don’t personally feel called to be a senior pastor at this time, but I know if the Lord laid it on my heart, I could. Very few women could say this have this same opportunity.
I think the church misses out when they limit women and what they can do ministry. The church runs the risk of being seen as outdated and unfair in women’s rights. It’s hard for a business woman who operates her own company to be told what she can’t do in the church. The strange thing is that for most churches what women do outside the church isn’t a problem – they can be CEOs for major companies, principals, astronauts… the sky is the limit, but not in the church. This doesn’t feel right to me.
In a lot of ways in all comes down the Scriptures. It’s hard to look past verses like 1 Corinthians 14:34 that says, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” After much study, I personally believe that this verse is closely tied to the cultural context of the time. Paul was addressing an issue in that specific church with those specific women. We see that Paul greatly values women in ministry when he references them in the closing of many of this letters. Paul didn’t write that verse to put women on the bench. He viewed them as key players.
Henderson brought up a point with many of the women he interviewed. While many of them brought up 1 Corinthians 14:34 as the reason for the limitations on women in ministry. Since they didn’t view this as a cultural response, he asked them about head coverings (1 Cor. 11:16 – If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.) Almost all of them said that this was a cultural reference. Henderson’s question and mine as well is – how do you choose which verse is cultural and which one isn’t? This seems like a double standard to me.
People will probably be arguing about this topic until the Lord comes back. I have in no way scratched the surface of the issue. One of things that give me confidence in my beliefs is how I see Jesus treat women. He never undervalued them. He spoke with them, let them follow him, he love them! I don’t think it was just a coincidence that the first person to see Jesus resurrected was a woman. In a lot of ways, I’m blessed to serve where I am. I know that I am supported by the AG in my ministry and by my hubby who is no way threatened by my own call to ministry. My prayer is that I can step forward and make a way for women in ministry. I want to be a voice telling them that they can do it. It’s not always easy, but when God calls you to something, he will make a way! I believe this!