Several years ago, I began to have gnawing questions about the biblical accuracy of the doctrine of female submission. The questions simply would not abate until I studied the issue for myself. I began by reading pertinent biblical passages, studies, positions, and analysis on both sides of the topic. I also questioned my pastors and church leaders about their understanding of leadership roles as well as the perspective of our denomination. It was surprising to find that while our denomination maintains a firm position that women are not to be included in leadership, it cites no documentation (original or historical) to support this standard. Even more disconcerting to me was the fact that whenever questions arise they are quelled with passivity or vehemence at a denominational level (though most of my pastors and church leaders are open to dialogue). While the topic of women in leadership can be considered debatable, it seems that to categorically exclude a segment of the church from service should at least have been studied and debated from Scripture. Given the caution of our Lord that “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few,” I was surprised my denomination was not open to studying the issue.
I have been a member of my current church for nearly twenty years—long enough to be intimately involved with the lives of those in my community. Bottom line: I love my church. I love the brothers and sisters God has blessed me with in my church family, and I love the ministries God has given me within my church. Thus, I do not confront this issue as one who has been mistreated, abused, or wronged. As a matter of fact, I am blessed with a wonderful marriage and have always enjoyed leaders who strive to be the epitome of Christlikeness. Yet, after coming to an awareness that the Bible speaks to gender inclusiveness, I found myself in a place of cognitive dissonance. Given the glaring difference between myself and my denomination with regard to leadership requirements, I began to question whether or not I should remain at my current church. I wrestled with God and my desire to leave my church and find a body with which I am a better “fit.” During my time of questioning, God made it very clear to me that I was called to my church, that the work we are doing as a body is God-honoring, and that I am part of a community that is encouraging and edifying of one another. Ultimately, I came to an awareness that sometimes God asks us to weather out the storm rather than cut anchor.
How exactly does one weather a storm? As our Lord reminded his disciples, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26) Thus I was reminded that it is God that does the work, and that we are to abide in him. With his grace, I have been able to have some discussions within my church and wait for God to lead. As I was reminded by a friend, significant change is not easy or quick, but when it is God’s work it will transpire.
While most of my “work” for biblical equality must be judicious, I have also found ways to support biblical equality in a tangible way. Since CBE is an instrumental resource for research (many of my books and literature came from their store) as well as being a leading organization in the promotion of biblical equality, naturally I wanted to support their efforts by more than simply being a member and giving occasional monetary gifts. As I was trying to figure out an appropriate amount to give, it occurred to me that part of the tithe to our church goes to the denomination. After finding out what percentage of our church budget goes to the denomination, I decided that would be the amount I would also give to CBE. For me, this is the best way to support my local church while simultaneously countering the discrimination faced by women in our denomination and helping to promote biblical equality in general.
Jesus was the embodiment of love, grace, mercy, and charity—what a dying world needs most. I pray that one day all Christians will embrace the unprejudiced command of Christ and “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”