Thursday, March 25, 2010

Junia or Junias? Why the letter "s" make a huge difference part 1

It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog, and I realized today that I should use a little bit of the large amounts of free time I find myself having to post on this blog

Today I will begin a series of posts regarding something that causes tempers to flare, accusations of heresy to arise, a labeling of a person as a "liberal", and even an accusing one of denying the truth of God's word. Part of the reason for bringing this issue up is that I want everyone who reads this blog(even if that is just a small handful) to at least understand the position and quite possibly even change their minds.

The issue centers on women and the roles that they can have in the church. As a southern baptist the answer to this question was at one time obvious. I was an advocate of women having any role in the church that would not violate 1 Timothy 2.12 which states, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet."

Over the next several posts I will discuss the multiple interpretations for this verse as well as chronicle a journey which led me to the conclusion that scripture teaches that the most qualified candidate should be called as elder/pastor of a church and those qualifications have nothing whatsoever to do with gender.

I end this post with a true story of a minister's journey (my journey) which began my 2nd year in college. The story below is what actually occurred, but I will change the name of the church and chose to remain anonymous.

Working as a youth minister at First Baptist Church, Anytown, OK an issue arose in the church which not only frustrated me but made me uncomfortable. The church was not financially able to support a full-time music minister and so we had a person from the church volunteer to work for free. This person had a true servants heart and saw the music ministry as integral part to the church. The issue was not financial or over traditional/contemporary music. The issue was simply this. This volunteer was female. To me this represented a complete disregard for the commands found in 1 Timothy. My church was approving and authorizing a female to lead the music ministry of the church. (Although I now realize their reasoning was pragmatic and not based on scripture).

As someone who read the Bible regularly, I couldn't get over the fact that we were going completely against what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2.12, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet. " This passage was completely straight forward and the church I was apart of was clearly in error.

This issue continued as I moved to seminary and took a position as a youth/college minister. I was having a conversation with the father of one of the student's in the youth group, and I was asked a very pointed question. He asked me, "Why do some churches allow women pastors?" His position was that a women pastor would never be a person called by God and that a women or church participating in these kinds of activities were completely un-biblical and making sinful choices. I quickly opened my Bible and pointed him to the very same passage mentioned above. It was clear to both this father and I. We we sure we understood Paul. All others who differed were either seeking leadership for sinful reasons or were blatantly disregarding Paul's words in 1 Timothy 2.

Several problems began to emerge that showed the inconsistencies in my thinking. I realized the first inconsistency when I was working on a research paper for a summer class over the book of Mark. While searching for sources I ran across a commentary that I particularly enjoyed. This commentary was the Black's New Testament Commentary.This commentary was written by a woman named Morna Hooker. I soon realized an inconsistency. I was allowing Morna Hooker to teach me with her commentary. I then began thinking about other areas where I was allowing a woman to teach me. I soon realized that during my study of 1 Peter, I used the Baker Exegetical Commentary as a resource. This book was written by Karen Jobes. I also remembered that I used this to help me prepare for Sunday School lessons that I taught in a church. So I was allowing women to teach me and help me understand the contents of scripture and using the things that I learned to aid in the teaching of the church. In theory I was an advocate of not having women teach or have authority in the church. In practical application, I was failing miserably. I was forced to make a decision. I either had to repent of my sin and get rid of my female resources, or seriously attempt to understand Paul's letter to Timothy (especially chapter 2.8-15) and other passages which discussed the role of women in the church. I chose the second option.


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