A Young Womans Perspective on Lorna Hoods remarks on womens ordination.

This week, Lorna Hood, the out going moderator of the Church of Scotland, together with another former moderator David Lacy, combined with the C of S press office to launch a strong attack on those in the C of S who do not accept that women should be ordained as elders and ministers.  The press lapped it up and resulted in lots of negative headlines for the church.  It appears as though the ‘broad’ church is not quite so broad after all.  I have been sent a reply from a 24 year old woman who is a Free Church member.  It is brilliant.  Far better than anything I, or any man, could have written.  So as requested I post it in full below.  This deserves to be shared widely.  Please do so.   Wonderful perspective.

This is what the writer is responding to –

http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland/top-stories/sexists-should-quit-kirk-says-former-moderator-1-3415820

An Open Letter to Rev. Lorna Hood

“I am a woman.  Not just a woman, but called to be a woman. Not just a woman, but designed to be a woman. Not just a woman, but one created in the image of God. I am a woman, and that means something.

As Christians we know that our ‘days were ordained…before one of them came to be.’ (Ps 139 v 16). God planned our lives to the tiniest detail: the colour of our eyes, the shape of our nose and the breadth of our shoulders. Surely, our gender, then, was not left to chance. Surely, when Adam sang in awe at the woman before him, he saw something uniquely awesome (Gen 2 v 23). Surely, when Eve was given the same role as God himself: to be a helper, it was not something she downplayed in embarrassment.

I have been a woman for 24 years, most of them spent in the Church of Scotland. But this week I was bemused to be accused of sexism in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. My sin? Believing that I am preciously unique, with a specific design and an awesome calling in the Church. Lorna Hood, David Lacy and those that applaud their statements argue that God’s calling for me and my sisters in the Church is restrictive.

On the contrary, God delights in diversity. Created uniquely ‘woman’ and intentionally ‘man’, does it not follow that godly men and godly women are both given equally significant, but uncompromisingly specific, mandates? I am not talking about women in the workplace or in society. As a woman who enjoys the same rights and responsibilities as men in each of these spheres, I challenge anybody who dares discriminate against me because of my sex. Here, I am writing only about Christian women in the Church.

And the statements made by Lorna Hood and David Lacy this week are an affront to young Christian women in Scotland’s churches.

In Mrs Hood’s address to the General Assembly, she lamented with great sadness that she was only permitted to preach in three pulpits in the Presbytery of Lochcarron and Skye. In Portree, she was the first woman to climb the pulpit steps and was apparently relieved that the roof did not fall in. This, she claimed, is indicative of the great ‘inequality’ of women in the Church of Scotland (her words, not mine); a matter of shame and disgrace. The reason why she and other women could not preach in certain churches? “Quite simply they were women”.

Mrs Hood’s “quite simply” is a betrayal of Christian women in Scotland. We are not “quite simply” women. We are self-confidently women.

Mrs Hood’s words are an empty echo of a hurting world which is forcing us to forget who we are. The heart of equality is freedom to be who we are. As Christians, we of all people should know who we are. We know what blessings God has bestowed upon women – gifts, abilities, rights and roles. Anybody with a Bible in their hands can flick to Abigail, whose intelligence and outspokenness stopped a fight. Or Esther, whose beauty, bravery and selflessness saved a nation. Ruth, a woman whose ‘noble character’ was the talk of the town. Mary, favoured by God, unaffected by public opinion and ambitious for big things. The women who hurried down to the tomb, the first to act, the first to care and the first to see the risen Christ. Lois and Eunice, commended for their sincere faith. Women with intelligence, bravery, beauty, nobility, ambition, independent spirits and godly faith. Women who displayed commendable qualities because they were fiercely content in their calling. They acted within God’s guidelines and found them far from restrictive.

It is a great injustice when we ignore God’s plan for women, as Mrs Hood suggests we do in the Church. His plan clearly states that, specifically within the Church, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.” (1 Tim 2 v 12).

Now, I admit that often I don’t understand the ‘whys’ of God’s plans. Maybe it’s because I don’t know myself as well as he does. He knows the exact number of hairs on my head. I don’t. Or, maybe it’s because I’m not God and never will be, and so I don’t quite grasp his reasoning.

Maybe it’s because I am ambitious, young and female. I have a degree from Cambridge University, worked in politics and I’m now employed on one of the best fast-track schemes in the business world. Education, hard work, and stewarding our talents within the parameters of Scripture are commended in God’s Word.

So I look at the command in Timothy and ask, “why”? Is it because I can’t teach? Titus doesn’t think so and neither do I. Is it because I am a second class citizen? Proverbs 31 negates that theory. Is it because God favours oppression? If the intimate love of Song of Songs is anything to go by, then the answer is a most decided no. So, safe in the knowledge that I am capable, equal and cherished, I do not need to disobey God’s command about preaching and assuming authority in the Church. I do not need to do, or to be, what I am not called to do, or to be. You can give me your culturally sensitive, historically contextualised and feminist-power arguments. But you’ll forgive me, I hope, if I choose to believe the One who loves me with an everlasting love, who made me and who died for me before I believe you.

The argument about women’s place in the church is not just a matter of tossing a coin, apathetic to the consequences. I love my sisters and care for our freedom too much for that. In ignoring His truth about women, we fulfil the prophecy of Genesis 3 that “your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”  Too often, abuse of women has taken these two forms.

One is obvious – oppression, suppression, aggression and objectification – at the hands of men. History covers its face in shame at the abuse of women and never more so than when men distorted Scripture to excuse misogyny. Abuse is not only a historical phenomenon. It occurs behind closed doors as women are beaten black and blue. It suffers in the silence of the night as women are reduced to sexual objects. It watches on, as false depictions demean and disgrace women. It is an abomination.

But there is another form of abuse which is maybe less obvious, but just as enslaving – compulsion to misuse, abuse, destroy and deceive ourselves – at our own hands. The word ‘desire’ above is used again in Genesis 4 v 7, to describe the eagerness of sin to rule over Cain. And so I hear the age-old lie that true femininity lies in the pursuit of power over men. Differences must be suppressed. Equality becomes an art of cloning. “Throw wide the pulpit gates for there is no difference”, I imagine Mrs Hood proclaiming. But this has never been an argument about ability, but about identity. My femininity is not a cultural, social or religious construct. It is a God-given mandate. Psychologists, doctors and even politicians are under no illusions of the differences between the sexes. Difference is to be embraced and enjoyed. Yet, too often women are under phenomenal pressure to become men.

Aged 24, I am arguably closer to the beginning of life than the end. The opportunities I enjoy in society were won for me by brave women, to whom I am incredibly thankful.  Every day and every breath and every gift is given by God, to whom I am forever indebted. He provides clear guidelines for how women and men are to relate to one another – a Godsend really, because we still can’t seem to get it right. Those guidelines are for His glory and our good. Mrs Hood and Mr Lacy have the freedom to call me a shame and a disgrace to the Church. But I quite enjoy being fully the woman that God made me.”


30 thoughts on “A Young Womans Perspective on Lorna Hoods remarks on womens ordination.

  1. I hope Lorna Hood gets to read this letter. It is as powerful a piece as I have read in any commentary or theological exposition. In reading it, I actually began to understand a bit more about myself as a male created by God and with a given role beside woman.

    I fear that Mrs Hood’s address is just a further example of how the CofS seeks accommodation with the world and how it believes that the solution to the challenges facing church and society are no longer to be found in God’s Word but in man made laws.

  2. This piece is indeed, brilliant. All mothers and daughters would do well to dicuss it. Maybe this should be sent to The Church of Scotland Youth Assembly . It is my impression that there, the young are trying to re discover their roots with requests to learn about the history of the church. They are also structuring discussion so that even ‘quiet voices’ are heard.

  3. As a woman, I too consider this an excellent article. Women do not achieve equality by trying to be the same as men. They achieve it by being what God designed women to be – beautiful, capable, loving and strong human beings whose role complements that of men. Only when we recognise and celebrate the differences between the sexes do we ensure society as a whole receives everything it needs to flourish. God does not make mistakes and it is a mistake by us to assume we know better than Him. What Ms. Hood and Mr. Lacey think is of no consequence – all that matters is what God thinks, and He has given us that information in His Word. We ignore it at our peril. They have by their actions decided that the Bible is now irrelevant and they would be better coming out of the church rather than deceive themselves and others that they are now a greater authority than God, but yet are still somehow doing His will.

  4. Thank you for sharing this letter, I found it a real encouragement. As someone who is passionate about equality, and who agrees with much of egalitarianism, it might surprise some to hear me say that it is a letter I can fully agree with. Although I am personally egalitarian, that is my starting position. I am honest enough to say that I come to God with many views that are not his. My job is to accept all He says, whether I like it or not, and pray that God will change me to actually like His ways. It is views as expressed in this letter that I am coming to find are God’s ways, which is wonderful.

    I would hope that complementarians would notice that I have no issue with what is written here and consider why at the same time I find myself disagreeing with most of what complementarians say, in spite of the arguments being very similar. I believe it is because many complementarians are speaking from a position that is either religious or lacking love. By religious I mean an attitude of stating ‘what the Bible says’ without any care for the heart of God. There is a difference between loving what God says, and just proclaiming what God says without any love for His Word. By ‘without love’, I mean there is a lack of love for women; they are sexist. It is not their theological views that make them sexist, it is the attitude and personal views that lie behind them. I honestly think if our views are based on a love for God, and people, they have power (as with the writer of this letter). When they are based on sexism, or anything else that is not love, they lack power and set up others to oppose them. I realise that is a controversial thing to say, but I can only report what I observe, there is a sexist heart in some who hold to complementarian views.

    Another point that comes to mind is elitism in the church. Why would some women feel as though any form of complementarianism is restrictive? It is not, yet that is often the perception. I believe that stems from the very common reality that church often revolves around the minister. The leadership should be there to encourage and build the church for ministry. Yet the sad reality is that in many churches there is no ministry or opportunity to take part in such, out with that of minister (and sometimes elder). There is no reason why churches cannot be structured in such a way that there are many opportunities to serve. Actual spiritual leadership is a very small part of what is often included in the role of minister or elder. If we are truly committed to encouraging ministry by all believers we should be separating these roles out so that the men and women of the church are taking part in them. Maybe a very radical solution would be to truly have churches led by a group of elders who appoint a wide variety of people into various ministries (paid, voluntary, part time, and full time), but perhaps that is a debate for another time!

  5. Thank-you for this piece. Spoken with conviction and a confidence in her calling as a woman. To God be the Glory.

  6. Wow wow wow. I was reading SOLAS’ Facebook page this morning and was thinking, why do we not hear more about what God does intend as well as what he doesn’t as far as gender, sexuality and marriage go. Bingo!

    For myself, I always wonder, when there’s a woman in the pulpit, is there a man shirking his responsibility somewhere…

    There’s a huge opportunity for the church here – this society sets male against female day in day out. It’s almost like we are expected to be at war and stay that way. As someone who left the Kirk as a young teenager feeling it had nothing to say about living as a Christian never mind a female one, and not too much older than the author, this is the best thing I’ve read all week.

  7. Hi David, thank you so much for sharing this. So wonderfully written and it gives real hope for the future of the church, when you see our faith articulated so well and passionately.

    I just wanted to alert you to another blog that was set up by a youth delegate at this most recent edition of the CoS General Assembly. I think you will find it particularly insightful:

    http://noabidingcity.wordpress.com/

  8. I’ve been following the Church of Scotland General Assembly with interest, although with a very heart. I’m a Church of Scotland member, who as a youth was greatly harangued & criticised for believing in “music & hymns” by Free Church members (and one minister-twice, in a large company, which was greatly shaming and hurtful!) although I believe that particular Free Church shibboleth has been brushed under the carpet in certain areas.

    However, I feel it is always good to start with our own eyes and planks, before we start on others. I am very upset about the remarks by Rev Hood about CofS who hold to male-only office bearers, as I am about the comments today about “naval-gazing” in reference to opposing ministers same-sex relationships. I have written to Life & Work, and am currently writing to the CofS to mark my objections.

    But I have been rather painfully aware of the propaganda dept of the FC making the most of our difficulties. Even my mother, loyal FCer, told me she was horrified at pretty opportunistic media FC activity “they (the CofS) kept out of our difficulties (FC) 14 years ago – why do we meddling in their distress? I’m sick of it!”

    Anyway, back to women’s role in the Church. I think the FC could do well to examine its own attitude to women. In many FCs, women are not permitted to pray audibly in prayer meetings – when I was a student an FC minister in the city was disciplined for allowing women in his congregation to pray out loud. Now, that’s pretty poor, and the FC letter above should really have addressed that FC attitude before drifting to CofS issues (eyes & planks etc). I don’t believe in women’s ordination, but I similarly am troubled by women being silenced utterly.

    In fact, in Highland churches generally, women can teach in Sunday School (which of course is wonderful, but sadly plenty men don’t feel inclined to), clean the church and make the tea and tray bakes, and do the washing up after)! The FC isn’t exactly proactive in liberating its own women, although I believe congregations don’t go into total meltdown if a woman walks in without a hat or wearing trousers (although I’m sure someone would “have a word” in due course)!

    Of course we all want to present our best side to the outside world, but please lay off the more opportunistic media intrusions. It can be seen as in a spirit unbecoming of humble Christians (constant self-promoters are a bore and wearying, either in media or in the pub). Prayers and genuine respectful fellowship & love are something that can never go wrong.

    Cheers

    1. Calan,

      Thank you for this. I am sorry that you have been hurt by some Free Church people in the past. Love keeps no record of wrongs! Whilst I agree with some of what you say there are several problems with your post.

      1) It is very outdated. I have been a Free Church minister for 28 years and have always had women praying in our prayer meetings. Are you sure that a minister was disciplined for this? The whole hat and trousers thing is very dated. I suspect you are working from a very dated sterotype.

      2) The Free Church does not have a propaganda department. And we certainly have no desire to make hay at the C of S’s expense. It is not worthy of you to attribute such narrow and sectarian motives to us. Why not allow for the possibility that we are concerned for the sake of the Gospel, not for the sake of the Free Church? Personally I would not have wept on Wednesday if I was concerned solely for the Free Church – in fact it could be argued that what happened then would have been good for us. But to my mind is was bad for the gospel in Scotland and that is more important. I abide by Chalmers principle “who cares for the Free Church, compared with the Christian good of Scotland/”. Again your model of sectarian churches competing with one another is somewhat outdated.

      3) I am not sure why you sought to bring in C of S/Free Church rivalry here. This young ladys letter was not written on behalf of the Free Church, nor to attack the Church of Scotland, but in response to Rev Hoods attack on her and other women who hold to a complementarian position – one which you yourself hold. This was not the Free Church getting at the Church of Scotland – and it is a shame that you seen it as such and instead of seeing the truth and beauty in what she writes, immediately make it a matter of church politics.

      4) I agree completely about prayers, genuine respect and fellowship and love being something that can never go wrong. Totally. But how can you have genuine respect for a denomination which agrees with what the Bible says and then tells its congregations that go against that? How can light have fellowship with darkness? And sometimes there is a time to speak out. I suspect that our modern day pietists would have condemned Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul and Jesus for being ‘constant self-promoters’!).

      I hope that on reflection you will see that your post was not the wisest response to a young lady whose heartfelt plea reflects your own view. Perhaps it would be best for you to take off the denominational glasses and see things from a different perspective (as it is for all of us).

      I wish you all the best in Christ

      David

      1. David
        I know from experience that some free churches in Scotland, thinking of the Brethrrn movement do indeed still insist on women wearing hats and not wearing trousers. They do not allow women to speak in meetings, including prayer meetings. They are allowed to speak at lady-only meetings and teaching children. They are not permitted to hold office eg deacons, elders, nor are represented on the Trustees. So it’s not a dated concept, it still happens now. As each of these churches are self-governing there is no recourse available to you should you gave an issue with the church leadership.
        Rachel

      2. Rachel – I think there is a wee bit of confusion about what we mean by free churches. I am speaking of the Free Church of Scotland. We do allow women to speak in meetings and to be involved in the work of the church. However following Scripture we do not permit women to be elders or to preach. The article you are commenting on – is from a woman who rejoices that we follow that scriptural system.

      3. Dear David,
        Many thanks for taking time out to reply to my post. I generally don’t engage in Internet discussions of this nature, so please take it as a somewhat bizarre compliment that I was move to take to my keyboard in this case :).

        I of course recognise that congregations like yours have jettisoned the “outdated” views and diktats of what i was brought up with in the Free Church heartlands of the Western isles. Please don’t get me wrong, I attend my parent’s FC church when i am in the Western Isles, and I pray as much for that congregation as i do for my own congregation in a different denomination. The complete ethos of that island congregation doesn’t necessarily sit well with me (if i were to live with it all the time), but I simply rejoice that the gospel is preached, so I try to overlook the aspects which i find personally difficult. I do the same when I visit very high Anglican services.

        I do however find it slightly disingenuous when you try to portray that women in the Free church are free to pray in prayer meetings just as men are, just because they are in your congregation. Perhaps you are inhabiting a delightful cocoon in Dundee, in which case i feel loath to burst your bubble?! Many women in the Free Church (as unfortunately some are in the rural CofS’s), are going to prayer meetings KNOWING that they are not welcome or permitted to prayer audibly in the fellowship. They will never be called to pray, nor if they have a free prayer meeting will they be welcome to!
        Not only that, but I have family in one of the FC’s in Glasgow. When visiting my parental home we were discussing churches etc, and I asked them did their women meet people at the door coming in? They looked at me like I was completely out of my mind, and said of course not! That was 2 years ago, so perhaps I am “outdated” if there has been a reformation in these past 2 years?

        I am sorry to have interpreted the manifold interjections of the Free Church into the affairs of the Church of Scotland as “propaganda”, if they were not intended to be so. I am involved in press releases/ media, so I recognise the temptation to make the most of an opportunity for self-promotion, although I also recognise the personal morality of not doing so at others expense! Again, I am relying slightly on the basis of personal experience where in the Free church circles in which i moved where only concerned with projecting the very best of the Free Church and only the Free Church in their talk about Christianity. My mind used to boggle in my parent’s church when then minster would, repeatedly week after week, pray for OUR ministers, OUR missionaries and OUR congregations! Local youth or mission activity in the neighboring village’s different denomination were strictly off the intimation list, even when they didn’t clash with any meetings in my village.
        Even with the Stornoway Gazette having a local FC minister writing a weekly column. It has the potential for much good, but in my mind it is too often used as a vehicle for Free Church oriented “propaganda” rather than broadening it out to being a solid broad Christian witness across the churches – I think that would be much more edifying and effective!
        Even in the attitude to ministers and ministries there are problems. Let me put a positive first – my congregation is frankly amazing at praying for gospel work of all labels and denominations – much better than I am, although i am learning by grace! They pray just as much for new churches who have split from the CofS, as they do for the those remaining in the CofS. That is a spirit that I constantly aspire to.
        But even ignoring the 2000 Disruption, I’ve seen people joining the ministry of the FC from another denomination and they “are the talk of the steamie” being the latest prize, but then maybe circumstances change and they leave the FC again – and they are literally airbrushed out of history! They continue to preach the same gospel as ever they did, but it is of no interest because of labelling!

        And again perhaps i should be humbled when you say ” This young ladys letter was not written on behalf of the Free Church, nor to attack the Church of Scotland, but in response to Rev Hoods attack on her and other women who hold to a complementarian position”. Indeed I truly wish this young woman well, although I think she has the potential for another letter addressed to the Free Church’s attitude to women, as highlighted above! Maybe it is just a matter of personal taste, i just found it a little bit combative, haranguing & making again an issue of denominations “I used to be CofS, but now FC”?

        Thanks for the advice to take off any denominational glasses – which we could all do with, I think. The wonderful irony in that is that I mix in quite a wide variety of denominations and traditions, and even more bizarrely with atheists and agnostics of varying persuasions. One of my most surprising encounters of different denominations was with a young FP man. He knew I was interested in theological books (Banner of Truth in this instance) and asked which congregation I was part of. I took a deep breath, and confessed to being a CofS evangelical. To my utmost surprise, he went on to ask me intelligently about local issues to my church and seemed genuinely interested without being pushy. I returned the favour and asked about his church, and I think both of us were surprised at God blessing our fellowship and mutual concern. That’s a good model to follow!

    2. Rachel – I think you have made an important point when you have shared what your mother has expressed “why do we meddling in their distress?”. I appreciate your mother’s candor in this as a member of the FC talking about the CofS.

      I can understand the historical ecclesiastical reasons for concern – the disruption,patronage, the desire perhaps to unify and the adherence to “the Word of God”.

      I am a member of the CofS with also an evangelical background (brethern). So I am familiar with the kind of dynamic that can go on. I recall for instance wondering if as much passion were put into prayer as was put into robust debate over whether women can pray “audibly” in a prayer meeting we might be in a better place on the issue.

      As a CofS member can I say that what your mother expresses is what is frequently felt within the CofS. We are not accusing anyone of having a “propaganda department” and I do find it reassuring that David has mentioned that “we certainly have no desire to make hay at the C of S’s expense”. I think it would however be remiss to not raise concern over some aspects of what appears in social media and the press from either side.

      It seems clear to me that there are theological differences over scriptural interpretation and where there are such, that we will struggle to find agreement, if agreement is at all possible.

      It seems tome therefore that it is imperative that at such times we adhere to what is central and where we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we find unity in him whatever disagreements we have. When we prefer to accuse each other of not being inclusive or departing from the word of God (when really what we are talking about is our own opinions) to perfect love and the centrality of Christ, then we fail to serve each other in the church and and make church appear to be unattractive to outsiders.

      I appreciate the candor of the young lady in her comments and her passion for embracing the differences between men and women. I appreciate the desire for the CofS to be inclusive and equal to women. I look forward to how we might best work together where there is agreement and where there are differences to have healthy boundaries and looking to reconcile ourselves with God and each other for Christ’s sake.

  9. Thank you David, for publishing this truly remarkable piece. This should be read and quoted for years to come

  10. This made it across the pond and into the United States…and I’m glad I read it.

    In American Presbyterianism (Both liberal (PCUSA) and conservative (OPC, PCA, ARP, etc.); I personally attend a conservative church.), there appears to be a strong push for women to be “deaconesses” or to rise to the pulpit to be “pastors” (As you may have noticed, I don’t agree with either; Scripture is clear on the subject. I am thankful for such a provision, seeing as how I can be easily misled without Scripture and the Holy Spirit being my guide.).

    My only question is this: If there are women who insist on being called “pastor” or “deacon”, then why are learned men allowing this? In the US, the term “spineless” would be used for such men.

    Thank you for sharing this letter, sir.

    1. Thanks for this. It seems to me that Scripture is absolutely clear – women cannot be elders, but they can be deacons/deaconesses. We should neither add to, or take away from, the Scriptures.

  11. This is excellently written. I especially appreciate how she makes a clear distinction between those things which are true oppression of women (being reduced to sex objects, being abused – all of which God clearly condemns) and those which are simply boundaries put in place by God because He made us to fulfill different tasks. Keep writing, your words are strong and true and needed!

  12. A well written and insightful letter, which happily articulates my own understanding of the matter. It is clearly written by someone who understands scripture and how uniquely loved and valued she is- primarily by God but also I would gather by her church family. A value (granted of a different sort) that is no doubt present in her professional life as well.

    My question, or perhaps challenge, is why do more woman not share this understanding? There have undeniably been times, places, cultures where woman are treated or viewed as lesser instead of equally different. There still are. Lorna Hood and many others like her are caught in the trap of believing unless they do what men do they are being regarded as less than men are. And woe to the man who tells them that they mustn’t! Society backs this view and is more than happy to scream sexist at any available turn.

    We need to do all we can (and I am relying on my brothers in the pulpits here as well) to promote and celebrate the biblical role of women as God intends, and to help those like Lorna Hood who have been deceived into fighting against it.

  13. This is a good letter. But, I have some concerns.

    “I am not talking about women in the workplace or in society.” But does it seem plausible that the biblical commands were given without reference to the larger social construal of the role of women in NT times? And, if the biblical commands were given in the context of a broader cultural view, what was that view? It seems that one of the rationales for Paul’s commands in 1 Cor 14 is that the church not be perceived as revolutionary (i.e. as upsetting the social order).

    “You can give me your culturally sensitive, historically contextualised and feminist-power arguments. But you’ll forgive me, I hope, if I choose to believe the One who loves me with an everlasting love, who made me and who died for me before I believe you.”
    But in order to know what it means to believe the One who loves us, we need careful historically sensitive examinations of the text of Scripture. This rhetoric privileges one particular interpretation and makes it immune to critique by suggesting that it is to be equated simply with believing God.

    There are differences between women and men and the author is right to celebrate diversity and to reject the tendency of feminism to attempt to homogenize male and female. But all these truths, such as they are, don’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that women may not serve in ordained ministry. The texts must be examined, and the cultural contexts must be considered. It is just possible that unique, gifted women are called to ministry precisely in their God-given femininity, and not as a rejection of it.

    1. David,

      I have found that when people talk of ‘historically sensitive examinations’ it is usually a code for saying – lets get history to say what we want it to say. I am a historian and I have done historically sensitive examinations of the text and I’m afraid (for you) that the author of this article is spot on. She agrees with the author of the bible.

      1. Still, even if you are right, there is a disconnect between your view and biblical teaching. This letter says: women may not lead in the church, and this has nothing to do with women’s roles in society at large (because women can exercise leadership positions in society). That’s a different position than Paul’s, which was, women ought not to speak in the church, because everything ought to be done in good order–if an unbeliever comes into the assembly, the church should be perceived not as revolutionary but as orderly. That is the dominant train of thought in 1 Cor 14 and that is why women’s teaching is lumped with issues like speaking in tongues.

        Frankly, we don’t know what Paul would have said in a social context in which women have equal opportunities to be Prime Ministers and CEOs, nor should we claim to.

      2. The letter does not say that women should not lead in the church. It says that she is happy to follow the biblical teaching on the roles of men and women in the church. I am not prepared to guess at ‘what Paul would have said’….I prefer to believe that the Holy Spirit knew what he was doing when he inspired Paul to write Scripture which is Gods word for today as well as for the 1st Century.

  14. Just be careful that you don’t give credence to the enemy. There are abusers that will spin your words. When men will not step up to the plate to address the dehumanizing of the female gender….lets not villainize the fearless women who do!!! I love being the woman God created me to be, but lets be clear that women should submit to their husbands (in the same way) AS the husbands submit to the Lord. I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to not reiterate this. I’m sure you had no idea the probability is that some woman somewhere may pay for what you have written. But of all the counselors I had (more than a dozen) only one told me that God did not intend for me to be abused emotionally or physically. It was a WOMAN that saved my life. The rest were men counselors who seemed to think that women needed to remember their place. Of course this was in the 80’s before anyone had a clue…but you would be surprised how many men still act on, or support abusive behavior toward women. There were women called to lead in the Bible. Do you not remember Debra? She was called because the men were not fit to lead. I suggest you volunteer in a women’s shelter, and better, read your BIBLE! I am now a counselor for women and children. Not to say that men are not victims at times, but I understand the female perspective because I’ve lived it. As you have stated, men are different and as such need a male perspective. I agree with you mostly, but some things are still needing to be said!!

    1. Cynthia, thanks for your letter. You make some good points – except you yourself should not spin words. The author specifically condemns in the strongest terms male abuse of women. Let me also assure you that the author of this article does read her bible.

    2. Cynthia I am sorry to hear your history of abuse. But I think you might be projecting your experiences onto this letter. The author did indeed condemn women’s abuse at the hands of men, contrary to your claim. I also don’t know why you feel the need to tell her to read her bible – I see nothing biblical in your comment that she did not also include in her original letter. I understand that as you have been through these experiences yourself you are particularly sensitive to remarks regarding women’s submission to men and the relationship between men and women, and maybe you didn’t feel it she addressed it to the extent you would have liked. But I assure you, she did make a point of addressing it (have a look at paragraph 14), and as this is not the primary topic of her letter, I don’t think it really needed more than a paragraph. You could, of course, fill whole essays and books on that topic alone.

    1. Thanks for this. However I think that it misses the point of the original article and does not really engage with it. The concern that the author has is to engage with Scripture as it is – and she does not feel that belittles her as a woman. I think she is right.

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