Jesus Creed

Another letter about women in ministry … and this letter illustrates a very important point we all need to be aware of in “applying” the Bible: each culture summons us to live in ways appropriate to that culture. But, and this is important too, the Christian will work for kingdom conditions to work like yeast in each culture so that God’s ways of justice and peace and love will become living realities. But, it means beginning in different places in different locations. Here’s a letter from one of our former students, now in Burkina Faso. How would you advise Ben?

Dr. McKnight,


I hope the school year is
going well for you and I’ve been keeping up with your blog as much as I
can here.  I’m still in Burkina Faso Africa probably until May or June
and I’m still wrestling with a ton of issues.  One of them is the issue
of women in ministry and a woman’s place in the church. 

I know I have
written you a while ago on this same issue, but now my plight doesn’t
come so much from a disagreement as much as my own thoughts.  I know
that God is calling us to an ultimate ethic of equality between
sexes/races/classes and the like.  I also know that that is more of a
reality in some churches in America and not nearly as close here. 

My struggle or my question is along this line: If
Moses/Jesus/Paul and many others in the Bible advanced woman’s status
in their own culture, yet not necessarily going for the ultimate ethic of equality,
how do I in a culture that is closer to theirs than ours treat this

Back home it seems reasonable enough in most if not all
circumstances to call for and work for the ultimate ethic back home,
but here is clearly not the case.  Woman do ALL the house work, cook
ALL the food, wear headdresses in church, not
just the Bible says so, but because women generally just wear
headscarves anyways. 

So since I have to assume that while the Biblical
characters did not usually treat women the way they will be treated in
the Kingdom of God after the resurrection, can I still assume they
weren’t sinning? 

Likewise, I know I should be encouraging movement
towards equality here, but if I had those same expectations just 6,000
miles West of me, that might be an unacceptable way of treating a woman
and a sin.  I’m not so caught up with me personally sinning over the
whole ordeal, just more I guess would/could you presume that this type
of issue is something that Burkinabe or Africans as a whole will be
judged for just as Americans may be judged for not taking up the plight
of unborn babies or a continuing destruction of the planet?

It is weird that although
we can’t travel through time, sometimes a long flight from America to
Western Africa feels like jumping in a time machine.
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