To ordain, or not to ordain... CBE to the rescue!

One of my life passions is seeing women step into their God-given vocation; to exercise the gifts and step into the calling that will be fruitful for them and a blessing to others. For some women, this calling is to parent well, or to teach, or to nurse, or to work in a variety of industries, or to engage in the creative arts, or to volunteer their services for the good of others, or a myriad of other possibilities… while for some, this involves a call to formal Christian ministry.

I’ve recently discovered that the international “Christians for Biblical Equality” conference will be held in Melbourne next year. You can find out more information about this here

I’m delighted to support this group, who provide solid evangelical explanations of the “tricky passages” that are used to block the leadership of women in conservative churches.

This “blocking” is understandable in groups that sincerely want to come under the authority of scripture, and live faithfully to God. It is strange however that this sincerity is often applied arbitrarily… female missionaries are accepted, returned female missionaries might “give a talk” (not preach) in their churches, women might lead singing, and women might be encouraged to work in chaplaincy or in parachurch groups (as if ministry outside the hallowed walls of a church building is suddenly OK.)

Literal interpretations of passages from the epistles are often applied inconsistently too. The command to “greet one another with a holy kiss” is dismissed as cultural; the command for women to “keep silent” is accepted as a universal decree from the LORD Almighty.

I’ve recently spied one interesting explanation of why the ordination of women was overturned in one Australian denomination in Queensland here:

Well, I’m glad I understand the phenomenon a little better…

Seriously though… it does sadden me that the gifts of women are blocked for reasons that (in my not particularly humble opinion) are very ill-informed. Churches impoverish themselves, disempower women who have leadership gifts, and alienate people outside the church, when they adopt such stances. Of course, sometimes women are disempowered not by formal “stances”, but by informal cultural church practices. I’d be interested in your reflections and experiences on this.

Comments

Janet Woodlock said…
Actually, I should have written "rejected" not overturned... the Queensland Baptists have never ordained women in the first place.

God bless them and all but... I wouldn't mind giving a few of them tickets to the CBE conference. Like my chances?
Matt Stone said…
Janet, you should get yourself a feed.
Janet Woodlock said…
Alas, Matt, I'm a tech ignoramus... I just like writing periodic rants. I didn't even know what a "feed" was until a moment ago.

Well, I've searched in blogger help, and I think I've turned on the site feed. Let me know if it works... or not!
Amanda Morrice said…
Hi Janet,

This really stood out to me:
"Churches impoverish themselves..."
I think that failing to empower women in the church may well be its own punishment. The church misses out on their gifts and may even suffer as a result.
That is not quite my experience, but almost.
Janet Woodlock said…
It's interesting you should say that... I met with someone on Sunday who had been visiting a different denomination (looking for a new church after relocating). She found it a really strange environment... men in suits running everything... having been used to churches where both men and women are involved in running everything. It's somehow creates a more sterile (or something) without the different feminine and masculine vibes.

And that's just church atmosphere... what a waste of gifts used well for the kingdom...

Oh well... what can you do...
Janet Woodlock said…
I meant to say "sterile environment"...

Although I'm not sure that's the right word...
Amanda Morrice said…
I wonder if another expression for 'sterile environment' might be 'spiritually parched' or maybe just plain 'irrelevant'. How can a church address women's issues without consulting any women? How can they approach issues in the real world when women are not given a proper voice? We do, after all, represent 51% of the population.

I hope your friend found another church that suits her better. God bless.

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