“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28, 29).
This passage in I Timothy has caused much confusion about what women can or cannot do in church services or in teaching. In the oft-heated discussions, a verse or two, or even a single phrase is sometimes selected and the rest of the passage ignored.
We turn our attention to the presence or absence of the Greek article in the crucial passages that have been used for centuries to limit the participation of women in teaching and leadership in the church.
Many contemporary evangelical Bible scholars and theologians, not to mention ordinary lay men and women, are convinced that attempts to use the Bible so as to exclude women from positions of leadership for which their Creator has made them and to which their Lord as called them – whether in society, home or church – is flawed.
Martin provides us with an historical context for the issue of women's roles in the church. She begins by tracing the patterns of male authority in both Old and New Testaments. She also describe some of the more contemporary views on submission of women, and continues with a chapter on how we have actually made God in our image, especially our sexual image.
The extent of appropriate sexual interest and involvement outside of marriage is an important question young adults face. It is also a question of concern to any Christian regardless of age or marital status. Our sexuality, in all its dimensions, is a wonderful gift from God, to be enjoyed and appreciated. Indeed, it is much more than a gift: it is an essential component of our personality and is as ever-present as our consciousness. The physical expression of our sexuality, just as our use of any gift, needs to occur in the right contexts.
Equality and mutual submission between men and women is God’s ideal for humanity. But, some ask, do these work in a world ruled by power-hungry leaders, inequality and hierarchy? Do we not need strong leadership for a nation to prosper?
The specific experience that moved me to write this article grew out of telling Bible stories to neighbor kids who were expressing concern about the dangerous drug dealers who daily stalk the street. One eleven-year-old girl, most of whose female teenage relatives under her roof have babies, has a bleeding ulcer and cried when I told her that I was leaving town for a few days. When she asked me to be her godfather, I suspected what inquiry soon confirmed: Her father had abandoned his family and broken her precious heart.
I was well into mid-life before I overcame the fear of my sexuality. That fear prohibited me from enjoying quality non-sexual relationships with women. When I finally overcame that fear, several wonderful gifts of life came to me.