Here are 5 practices of a church culture that seeks to empower and invest in women, based on what I’m learning through current experience and being graciously taught about the church’s largely unheeded role in the development of women.
I was recently asked to lead a discussion with a group of young ladies (mostly college-age students) on what it means to be a woman of God. I started the conversation by asking them what initial images and thoughts come to mind when they heard the phrase, "woman of God."
Recently I commented on a Facebook post that I disliked the word “feminist/feminism” when used to describe what I would brand an evangelical egalitarian position (that men and women may serve equally in the home, the church, and the world as God has so apportioned and enabled them). Even when adding the adjective “evangelical” in front of “feminism” (as some have done in their publication titles), negative connotations remain.
I'm reading N.T. Wright's latest popular installment entitled Surprised by Scripture and chapter 4, "The Biblical Case for Ordaining Women", caught my attention. Having previously read his stance, I expected not to be "surprised." Though I wasn't "shocked, amazed, stupefied, or bewildered" (all synonyms of "surprise"), I did get another picture, of sorts, about Galatians 3:28 (from which my blog's theme takes it's name, by the way).
The last half of Philip B. Payne’s book Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters begins an exegesis of Paul’s later writings in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Timothy and deals with some of the most contentious passages dividing the Church over the role of women.
The idea of submission is neither a cultural norm nor an accepted virtue. The human heart, untouched by God’s grace in salvation, naturally wants things its way and the voice of culture screams to us at every turn that getting what we want is most important. Scripture, however, tells us that we live in a kingdom “not of this world” (John 18:36) and this other-worldly kingdom is set into motion by Jesus’ example of submission, starting with the Incarnation of God. Jesus willingly submitted to flogging, public humiliation, and death, all of which are part of a greater submission to his Father’s will (Matt 26:42). At its core, submission is the willing alignment of one’s own will under the will of another. And believers do it for the sake of living after the manner of Christ. A few observations about submission follow:
If you embrace the theological position that God the Son is eternally (read “permanently”) subordinate to God the Father and then ground your belief that submission of the wife to the husband is permanently true because of this theological position, then what does this text mean?
Thought-provoking and inspirational, Parable of the Brown Girl is a powerful example of how God uses the narratives we most often ignore to teach us the most important lessons in life. It's time to pay attention.