Unwritten laws…

Post a Comment » Written on June 12th, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
The Evangelical Covenant Church has affirmed women for ordination and leadership in the church since 1976. So part of me asks why do we even need a Commission for Biblical Gender Equality any more? Yet as I speak with colleagues in ministry and hear some of the rhetoric that continues in the wider evangelical church, I realize that there continues to be barriers to women in ministry in many places – even in our denomination.

Some of those barriers appear to come from unwritten laws or things better left unsaid. An example: many churches follow the lectionary, a three-year cycle of Scripture readings which can be used to provide a wide overview of the Biblical narrative, such that over the three years, congregations and preachers work through a broad base of both the Old and New Testaments and their teachings. While this means that we are exposed to a wide range of texts, there are some things left unsaid: in particular, those more difficult texts (thanks, Paul!) about the roles of men and women in the church.

The unspoken message for me is that some texts are simply too hard – so let’s ignore them and not get in a fight about it! Yet I find myself asking whether that’s healthy. Shouldn’t we go to the hard texts and ask the questions? Shouldn’t we read the texts together, seeking understanding and empowering God’s people for ministry? As we journey together through God’s word, we learn to love God and each other more, despite differences. So let’s take those passages on women in ministry that we might prefer to ignore (I know I sometimes do) and do the hard work of theology – of really seeking to consider the teaching, and its relevance for our church today. Only if we address the texts – to go through them rather than around them – will we move on from the unspoken rules and the unasked or unanswered questions that lead to unseen barriers to women in senior leadership in our churches and congregations.

Blog contribution by A Hague.

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