Any church that prohibits women from minstering in ways that women minister within the pages of the Bible, regardless of the text that church chooses to use in order to restrict women (usually 1 Cor 14:34-35 or 1 Tim 2:11-15), is unbiblical. Whatever restrictions are imposed, if they restrict women from doing what women did in the Bible — leading, co-teaching (Priscilla), prophesying, publicly praying, etc — is unbiblical. Another book I’ll be working through on this topic is Sarah Sumner, Men and Women in the Church.
Let me make the point more forcefully: any church that blocks women from doing (1) what they are permitted to do in the Bible and (2) from doing what the Spirit empowers them to do is quenching the Spirit.
Now as a Question: Can we be biblical when we restrict women from the ministries they were permitted to do in the pages of the Bible?
I’m teaching a course at North Park next semester called Jesus, Mary, and Women, so lots of my reading is shaped toward that course. Which means, yes, I’m cheating: blogging and preparing at the same time.
Chp 1 of Sarah Sumner’s book is her story — and you have to read it. It doesn’t do anything but get my interest that she begins by quoting Esther 4:16: “If I perish, I perish.” She’s going for it.
As a child she thought this: “My heart’s desire was to do something more, but I didn’t know how to picture a woman doing more” (16). Then she saw Joyce Landorf speaking publicly; Sarah decided she wanted to become a Christian speaker. She tells her story of becoming a 3d-grade teacher; then going to Wheaton; then selling books; then on to Trinity for a PhD and then to Azusa Pacific where she is now a professor.
The closing to the chp was moving:
“I changed in the process of writing this book. I am not the same person as I was when I first tried to write it. My dignity is far more intact.” That sentence surprised me. “My dignity?,” I wondered. “Making myself known as a woman theologian, going public with my views, forced me to confront who I am. I am a woman.”
Then this: “For me, writing this book became an act of repentance. It forced me to repent from the sin of being prejudiced against women.” How so? She was a typical evangelical. “Like most other people who honestly believe they haven’t any issue with seeing women as inferior, I too believed that mistakenly about myself” (23).
We’ll be dipping into this book for a month or so. Hence, Sumner months as our title for this series on Sarah’s book.