Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity.
We Lutherans all want to argue on the basis of God's revealed truth in the authoritative Scripture. Yet all of us come to this debate with our own personal history and agenda. My own history includes aversion to women in the public ministry as a result of experiences, first as a teenager, then as a student in Germany. More recently, I have developed a growing understanding of the just claims of Christian women who have been disempowered and marginalized in the church and a horror for what has been perpetrated in the name of male headship. A re-examination of the texts and another (this time happy) experience of having a woman as my pastor in the United States about a decade ago led me to abandon my previously held view that the ordination of women is not the Lord's will for his church today. I am now convinced to the contrary, although I do not like using the broad term feminist. My own personal pain is not only that close friends and relatives hold an opposing view, but that I fully understand that view as one who once held it (this is not said in any spirit of superiority).
At CBE we call marriage “ground zero” for the debate about women’s places in the church and the home. We’ve found that understanding God’s design for a woman and a man in that relationship is essential for understanding how women and men can work together to further the gospel. If the two can’t stand on the same plane in a one-on-one relationship, how will they be able to treat each other as equals in a ministry environment?
The purpose of this essay is a simple one. I hope you will come away with a new understanding of one paragraph in Paul’s letters that deals with women and men in the church. The paragraph is 1 Cor. 11:2-16, a passage I have been studying and writing about for over twenty years.
Paul’s first word to women in this passage was corrective. He wrote, “Women should be silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home.”
I have an interest in passion plays, so when my pastor asked me to serve on the Easter drama team with a small group of fellow believers, I eagerly agreed. As a team, we worked on the production with one goal — to express the incredible sacrifice Christ made on the cross.
For years she had felt called to the small, impoverished nation and she believed she could offer much to the islanders. After the service, Rebecca approached her pastor and told him she wanted to sign up for the trip. She was shocked when he scoffed.
We’re all alike in our fears, whether our hindrances are our ages, our genders or the lack of letters after our names. But it’s through the story of Moses that I am able to step into roles not designed for people like me.
What is it that sets apart the heroes of our faith like Abraham and Mary? When God called, they answered, “Here am I.” This response is a single word in both Hebrew and Greek, roughly equivalent to when a soldier is called to attention and answers, “Ready!”