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Published Date: April 28, 2011

Published Date: April 28, 2011

Featured Articles

Featured Articles

Sleeve Sermons and World Evangelization

He continued for another twenty minutes, trying to build a biblical case for the prohibition of short sleeves for women.

“If you’re going to turn female apparel into an Eleventh Commandment, why stop at long sleeves?” I mused.  “Why not press for floor-length hems or a burka?”

What struck me most about the sermon from this be-whiskered elder at a nearby church wasn’t so much the subject matter, but the fact that anyone would take valuable Sunday time trying to weave sleeve lengths into a divine imperative.  (The “sleeve-length sermon” was delivered at a church that also requires female congregants to cover their heads upon entering the building.  Slacks are strictly forbidden for women.)

Into the Game?

Switching from apparel to evangelism, Elder Aaron (not his real name) bemoaned the lack of progress made in world evangelization, and urged his flock to “get out of the bleachers and into the game” and “get serious about soul-winning and the Lord’s work.”

“So, we free people from the bondage of sin so they can take up the bondage of wardrobe?” my husband, Chris, whispered.  We both knew that “Aaron” actively opposes the work of a major evangelistic organization in the area “because it’s headed by a woman.”

Benching Half the Team?

En route home following our visit, Chris and I wondered aloud: Could the “lack of progress” in evangelism be due in part to the fact that “Aaron” and those like him bar half the team – women – from “getting in the game”?  Contend that women are “divinely designed” to “ride the bench?” Insist that preaching, teaching and reaching for Christ is male-exclusive territory?

How is “kingdom work” substantively advanced when half the team is not only told they don’t belong on the field, but that their “place” is in the bleachers, rolling down their sleeves?  How much kingdom work is left unfinished, unaccomplished, or half-done because women are “not allowed” to “get in the game”?

What Would Happen…

What would happen if the Church embraced ministry and service based on gifting and calling instead of gender, and rolled up its sleeves for Jesus?