The amazing speeches of women in the conventions makes the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.

Before you throw stones or want to endorse me as a candidate for the next President, just hear me out. And even if some of you strongly disagree or hate me more than you already do, just ponder the thought and question I pose on this post about the importance of having the voices of both women and men in our lives and in the larger Church.

My intent isn’t to hurt or bash the Church but as someone that loves and serves the Church, I want to see it grow deeper, more just, and more reflective of the Kingdom of God – one that fully embraces the gifts of both women and men.

So, let me set the table.

I care about politics not because I obsess over politics. Hardly.

Rather, politics is important to me because it involves policies and policies, ultimately, impact people. And the last time I checked, people (aka human beings created in the Imago Dei) are important. In my opinion, we have no choice as Christians: we must be engaged in our civic responsibilities and affairs. In other words, if our faith in Christ and the work of the Kingdom are important, we ought to be engaged in the issues of our world – locally, nationally, and globally.

At the same time, I am an “independent” when it comes to political parties and urge Christians to not be played, swayed, and seduced by the powers to be. For this reason, I’ve tried to urge others to be cautious of the politicization and manipulation of Jesus, Christians, and religion.

For this and other reasons, I’ve attempted to catch some of the Republican National Convention last week and this week’s Democratic National Convention. Some of it has been educational, others infuriating, others confusing, and still, others very inspiring.  I am listening and watching as I want to be more deeply educated and informed so I can steward the privilege of voting with care, prayer, and discernment. But thus far (and I know that the DNC has just gotten underway), one clear observation for me from both the RNC and DNC has been the amazing voices, words, leadership, and speeches from…the women. The three that obviously stood out for me were the speeches delivered by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice, and Michelle Obama. Ann’s speech was heartfelt and compelling. Condoleezza’s speech was inspiring and dare I say it…”presidential.” And wow, Michelle Obama’s speech was simply riveting. I found myself in tears on couple occasions during the FLOTUS’ speech.

As I soaked in the inspiring speeches from these women, I was mindful of the incredulous fact that the 19th Amendment to the American constitution – allowing women to vote – only took place in 1920.  Just 92 years ago and with that, America became just the 27th country to support “universal suffrage.”

Without any offense intended to others – especially the male speakers – their speeches were the clear highlights. I don’t care what others will do or say during the DNC from here on out, no one is going to top the speech delivered by Michelle Obama. But this isn’t my attempt to say that women are better than men, more articulate than men, more intelligent than men, or any other nonsensical comparisons. Rather, I want to simply communicate how incomplete the conventions would have been without their voices, words, challenges, and exhortations.

Imagine if only men were allowed to speak.

Seriously, imagine that for a second.

Now, I want to connect this to “the Church”. Why? Because…

I love the Church.

And by using the “Church”, I’m not indicting any and all churches, organizations, and denominations but to simply speak to the general larger Church.

Now, I get it. It may seem heretical to juxtapose “a political convention” with “the Church” but hear me out.  I know for some of us, it simply comes down to one’s “theological” and “biblical” convictions. I understand that because those are the critical elements that informed and transformed why I support women in all levels of leadership – not because of political correctness, trendiness, hipsteriness, but rather, biblical and theological convictions.

Now going back to Ann, Condi, and Michelle…can we all agree how important their voices were in their respective conventions – as they addressed American citizens and delegates from all 51 states, all walks of life, all ages – and broadcasted to homes and halls throughout the country, and really, the larger world?

Deeply impactful.

And yet in some churches and Christian conventions, associations, conferences, and denominations, women still aren’t allowed to lead or speak – particularly from the “main” platform.

Yes, they can teach children’s ministry, counsel other women, lead the women’s tea party, organize bazaars, host a kick arse bake sale but when it comes to addressing, teaching, preaching, leading sacraments, challenging, and exhorting the larger church from the pulpit or stage…No Can Do. 

And that is sad. Really sad.

Not having the voices of women in the Church is not just sad for women but truthfully, it’s sad and a deep loss for the Church. We’re missing out on the stories, convictions, and challenges from the Ann Romneys, Condi Rices, and Michelle Obamas within our churches. [And for goodness sake, can we please have some darn Asian representation in these conventions so I can include an Asian woman for my post!#!#.]

The amazing speeches of women in the conventions makes the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.

And to be honest, this post isn’t even about advocating for women in all levels of leadership; It’s not even a post about the never ending debate about egalitarians vs. complementarians. But rather, it’s simply to convey that we really need the voices of women in all our churches. We really do.

If you want to read couple other posts I’ve written about this and similar matters, here are some links:

That’s my 2 cents. Feel free to leave a comment and let’s commit to engage in civil dialogue. Thanks.

Your thoughts?


197 Replies to “The amazing speeches of women in the conventions makes the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.”

  1. Tough words, Eugene. But absolutely right. I’ve been watching the conventions like you have, and while I have my favorites, it is convicting that more women are not heard. If women are released to speak, it will be like with the men – some of it will be good, and some of it not so good. But right now, we’re not seeing much of either.

  2. Being raised Super-Baptist, I have all the evidence for women not being in leadership, but haven’t heard much biblical evidence for the other side. Have you written about that? I didn’t get to watch the speech, but plan on doing so today.

    1. Austin, there has been a ton of biblical scholarship in the past twenty years showing support for women in ministry. For starters, try “How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories form Prominent Evangelicals” (A. Johnson, Ed.) published by Zondervan. It is interesting that you can count on one hand the number of verses that opposed women in ministry, but yet there are over 100 that seem to support it. Great conversation!

        1. Austin, you might also check out the blog of Rachel Held Evans. She recently did a series on just this topic, and writes about egalitarianism frequently otherwise. I applaud you for your open-mindedness!

    2. One of the best books I have read on the subject is “Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership” by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton. (And I’ve read lots of books on the subject!)
      The “How I Changed My Mind” book referenced here is also good!

    3. Oh, forgot to say I was raised Super-Baptist, too. In fact, by the age of nine, I was convinced that God loved boys more than girls, and that boys/men could get closer to God than any girl/woman ever could. No one actually said that, of course, but that’s what I concluded from watching what was going on in the good Baptist churches I grew up in.

    4. “The Problem with the Problem of Women in Leadership Ministry” by Dr. Daniel Brown (not Dan Brown of DaVinci Code!) is a great read regarding the place for women in leadership.

    5. Actually, if you refuse to privilege Paul’s singular line about women not speaking in “his” churches, the Bible is shockingly pro-female. Junia the apostle (and no, the Greek is simply not capable of being construed as masculine), Huldah the prophetess, Deborah the judge, the daughters of Zelophehad, Esther, Priscilla, Phoebe the deaconess, Lydia–what’s shocking is how many women in Scripture actually do something other than just be married moms. Not suggesting that we ignore that singular line–but it is only one part of a far richer tapestry of women who are strong leaders of God’s people.

    6. The book Why Not Women? goes into some interesting things in the Greek concerning that line you mention of women are not to speak in the churches in the chapter “Should Women Keep Silent?” First they look at the context, is in a passage that concludes a seven-oart series on ministryin the church. The context strongly affirms men and women praying and prophesying in public church services. Second, English translations have added punctionation and made sentence breaks that are not in the original Greek. The phrase “as in all the congregations of the saints” can just as easily go with the preceeding verses to say, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints. Women should remain silent in the churches.” The placement of the period makes a huge difference, and that is up to the translators’ discretion, because there are no periods or other punction in Greek. The last way of punctuating the passage is supported by other clues in the passage.
      Third, Paul was a very educated man and knew how to construct written arguments very well. In this passage, he used a chiasm to help make his points. In a chiasm, you take, for example, Idea A, Idea B, Idea C, Idea D, then go back through them in reverse order: Idea D, Idea C, Idea B, Idea A. This structure helps us to see how seemingly unrelated ideas are very much related in Paul’s mind as he pens his words.
      Fourth, there is yet another clue in the Greek that does not have a clear English translation that Paul may actually be quoting opposition that he disagrees with here.

      There is a little Greek word, n, that Paul uses over and over again in 1 Corinthians. It is an expletive tha has no direct English translation, but our English “What?!” or “Nonsense!” come close. Paul uses it in several places “as an emotional rebuttal to express disapproval of existing situations” (Why Not Women, p. 190). It is left untranslated most of the time because it conveys more an emotion than an intellectual meaning. But if we were to insert “What?!” or “Nonsense!” or “No way!” where the n appears in the Greek, it is easy to see how Paul uses it to express disapproval of the situation he is describing:
      Examples (taken from pp. 190-191 of Why Not Women?):
      1 Cor. 1:12-13 — Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? [Nonsense!] Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (Meaning: Of course not!)
      1 Cor. 6:1-2 — If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instread of before the Lord’s peopel? [What?!”] Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
      1 Cor. 6:8-9 — Instead you yourselves cheat and do wrong , and you do this to your brothers. [What?!] Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?
      1 Cor. 6:16 — Shall I take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? [No way!] Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?
      1 Cor. 6:18-19 — Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin agianst their own bodies. [What?!] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
      1 Cor. 9:3-6 — Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have th eright to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or [Nonsense!] is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
      1 Cor. 9:7 — [No way!] Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?
      1 Cor. 9:8 — [What?!] Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?
      1 Cor. 9:9-10 — For it is written in the law of Moses: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. Is it about oxen that God is concerned? [Nonsense!] Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he?
      1 Cor. 10:21-22 — You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. [What?!] Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy?
      1 Cor. 11:21-22 — (regarding the Lord’s Supper) When you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers.. As a result, one person remains humgry and another gets drunk. Or [What?!] do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?
      1 Cor. 14:34-36a — Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. if they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. [Nonesense!] Did the word of God originate with you?
      1 Cor. 14:36b — Or [what?!] are you the only people it has reached?

      As David Hamilton in Why Not Women? points out, “Notice how Paul used this expletive of disassociation twice in rapid succession in 1 Corinthians 14:36. Add this to the more important issue — maintaining the integrity of Pual’s elaborate structure, which combined particularization and chiasm [these are explained in the book but I didn’t do it here] — and you can see that Paul as probably quoting a slogan of some of the Corinthian believers. Paul didn’t agree with them when they said, “for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

  3. Eugene,

    While you make a good emotional appeal, we are not to do things to merely parallel the things of the world.God has a different economy and the Bible makes it clear that in the Church, while women are partners, they are to submit to godly male leadership. If the Church were to follow the culture in all things, where would that lead us?

    1. I don’t believe the Bible makes that clear at all, Mike. In fact, it appears that there were women deacons and elders serving in the early Church, and that there was even a woman who was called an Apostle (Junia). At best, Paul’s words about women are difficult to interpret when you look at the original manuscripts, and directly contradict his teaching in other passages. At creation God set up the ideal model for gender relationships and that was broken as a result of the fall. Should the church follow the original design for full partnership or are we to give in to the consequences of sin?

      1. Check out Scot Mcknight’s ebook on Junias, you can get it for $2.99 on AMAZON. Btw, there is no excuse for not knowing different views on this topic. Rooms fool of books and research have been published and blogged. Here is an idea, read your Bible and take notes on EVERY woman you come across. see if you see a pattern.

      2. Not necessarily so. See Dan Wallace’s article on the understanding of who Junia was in Romans 16…

        The argument for Pheobe being a deaconness has more weight to it. Elder and Apostle, not at all. Paul’s argument for male/ female relationships are not primarily due to the fall, but to the primacy of the order of creation. That’s his argument in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul is not unclear at all, it is a misunderstanding of the eschatological framework that he is speaking into that we misinterpret that gives rise to many of these misunderstandings. Paul was neither a misogynist, but neither was he egalitarian in his views of male/ female roles in leadership.

        1. In YOUR opinion Paul was not egalitarian but I say he was most definitely egalitarian. There are plenty of serious academic biblical scholars, pastors and evangelical Christians who disagree with the complementarian exegesis of Paul’s writings. It is not just Paul you have to deal with either – the trajectory of scripture, the exegesis of the Old Testament etc. This issue is nowhere near as straightforward as conservative evangelicals would like to make out.
          Look at the evidence on both sides and then humbly come to your own conclusion and respectfully allow others to follow their conclusion. Plenty of good links and suggestions to follow up here if you really are genuinely interested in checking out if your assertion is correct. Even if you are convinced by complementarian hermeneutics it never does any harm to double check your doctrine once in a while.

        2. So Mark, if God gave the man authority as a part of creation, why did God so so? All authority – other than God’s – was given as a result of sin (Gov’t exist to punish evildoers, the church wasn’t needed until sin appeared, slavery is the result of sin). Why was the man given authority? Both the man and woman spoke to God in the Garden. Why does the man need to hear from God for his wife now, if originally both had ears to hear? Why does the man need to lead, if both were led by God in the Garden? Makes no sense, which is why the early church spoke about equality (Clement of Rome: “subject to one another”) and the Patristic church found the subjection in Genesis 3.16 when the freeborn Roman men could no longer tolerate having women – or their slaves – as their equals in the church.

    2. You are right the church does have a different economy. We are to be a light and show culture how to do life in a kingdom of heaven way. | think that includes working out gender equality in leadership and in every other way. Women in the church have been silenced for no other reason than patriarchy (cultural norm). God does not buy into patriarchy and actually works really hard at getting HIs people to act differently by elevating women and asking that we submit to our husbands (not all men) and asking husbands to love their wives like Christ did (That is, willing to die for them). I don’t have to submit to every random guy that thinks I should because I am not married to them. I think both men and women are asked to submit to godly leadership.

      1. I heartily agree Kimberly. It seems that Christian men react in much the same way as men in other faiths, including middle eastern religions; that is to say that they pressure “each other” to adhere to doctrine that they choose to believe and use to support their human/natural instinct to dominate. If a man truly respects his wife’s opinion and worth – even if and especially when she is truly loving her husband according to doctrine – he still cannot demonstrate this respect among his peers without being coerced into submission under the preferred male group-think of the doctrine of female submission they espouse to. In other words, they mustn’t lose face or they are considered weak. How sad for the world when women have so much to offer in the way of leadership. I do think that, because of the history of women as second-class citizens, women have the capacity to “get” the power of God to work in the hearts and minds of all to not only submit to godly leadership, but to “be” godly leaders.

    3. The Bible isn’t “clear” on much. You have to take into consideration the context of what was written and who it was written to. The culture of the ancient Middle East, and even the Middle East if today, treated/treat women as second class (at best) citizens. Those so called “clear” passages in the Bible were revolutionary for that time. Jesus brought humanity to women. The problem today is that Evangelical Christianity has failed myserably by keeping to the so called literal truth of an ancient text that was written to and for a specific group of people at a specific time in history.

    4. You’re right that we aren’t to do things merely to parallel the world. But what Eugene stated in his article was that he isn’t doing it just to parallel the world–he has found Biblical scholarship on the other side of the aisle to be more convincing than the complementarian argument.

      I completely understand if your convictions, based on studying the word, have led you to believe that women have a different role than men in the church. In that case, I can understand why you are cautioning away from emotional appeals. However, I would caution you not to assume that egalitarianism is wrong just because it happens to fit in with current culture. We can gather from Christian principles that slavery is wrong, for instance, and THAT happens to fit right in with current political and cultural thought here in the U.S. The fact that it fits in, during this moment in history, doesn’t automatically mean that it’s “only” worldly and must therefore be wrong.

      Consider that for most of history, the differing roles of men and women were accepted by culture and was the way “the world” operated. The egalitarian movement got started long before equal rights were culturally and politically popular (it began in the 1800s, I believe, which was even before women’s suffrage in this country).

    5. Mike: Hmm. I am not suggesting that we mimic the culture around us. As I shared on the post, the motivation is not to be trendy or to be politically correct.

      In the same manner that you read the Scriptures with care, prayer, and discernment, I hope that you can extend the same level of respect that while we may disagree, I (and others) are also seeking to study the Scriptures with care, prayer, discernment, and humility.

      1. I agree, Eugene. What’s difficult, but necessary for us to understand, is that God embodies the characteristics of both male and female as both of us were “created in His image.”. With that in mind, and understanding the perfect nature of our Father, He would be incapable of having a “weaker” or lesser part.

        I have been created with the gifts of teaching and preaching and I serve a God who would never gift me with something that I was unable to use in His kingdom.

        So how will change come about for women in the church? I give people this example. When slavery was at its height, fellow slaves were trying to help one another escape through various means. Even though they were certainly successful at some level, they were not able to bring about the wholesale change needed. It wasn’t until powerful white people stood up and fought against the injustice that lasting change came about.

        In the same way for women, I believe we won’t see real change in the mindset of conservative Christianians until men in the church begin to affirm their female counterparts. Only then will the full nature and character of God be expressed.

        Bravo to you, Eugene, for being one of those men.

  4. I am amazed at myself, someone who agrees wholeheartedly with your words here and has similar biblical an theological convictions, because I know how easy it is to allow the status quo to remain. It has been too easy for me to see male voices dominate microphones and conversations. Too often I fail to make ample room for the many powerful voices of the women in my church. I read this post as a challenge to ensure the compelling stories an teachings of the women in my church and among our students are heard and celebrated.

  5. I’m sharing this, Eugene! I totally agree. The RNC had a day when they also paraded around some people of color, but it didn’t feel powerful or genuine the way the women were. A few weeks ago someone yelled at me for not studying the bible enough if I support women in leadership in the church, and I didn’t know if I should cry, hit, yell, or walk away. It hurt me for days.

    1. Depends on the network you watched it on…MSNBC cut away from all the non-white speakers when I was watching it, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say that the party with the first female Hispanic governor in the US isn’t “genuine” about “people of color.”

      Of course, your feelings are your own and it very well could have come across that way, but a quick scroll through the speaker list shows people of color on the schedule for every night of the convention, and it looks like the DNC is the same.

      Like Eugene, I’m an independent (though from New Mexico, and race looks different here than elsewhere in the US, and yes, I’m also partial to Martinez). We can argue for days about whether different policies are “racist” or are implemented with “racist” motivations, but so far as I can see, both parties have enough non-white (and/or female) people in positions in power to count as “genuine.” Both parties are still dominated by white men, but it’s slowly changing. The Dems have Obama, and two top names I hear bandied about for the Repubs in 2016/2020 are Rice and Rubio (though the pasty-male R ticket this year is definitely a disappointment).

      1. Pasty-male R ticket… a disappointment? That sounds so racist. When did not being of color mean disappointment. If a black leader can be for everyone, why can’t a pasty one? Maybe I took that wrong, but it’s how it came off to me.

        1. Speaking for myself, the disappointment comes from seeing yet another pair of white men representing the R-party at a time when society is more open than ever to minority/female leadership. I feel like I’ve heard plenty of the perspective of white men in my life. I would love to hear more from women and minorities. I learn the most when it’s from an experience from outside of my own life’s narrative. I understand that the goal is to choose the best candidate, regardless of color, but I also don’t think Romney and Ryan are the best the R-party could have done this year. 😦

        2. I agree with Karen. We could leave out the adjectives and just say the Republican ticket this year is a disappointment. If I found Romney or Ryan to be more compelling in and of themselves, I wouldn’t care if they were green with purple polka dots. But since they’re not, and since, like it or not, race and gender /are/ big issues today and especially when your opponent’s ticket is headed by an African American, the milk-toast blandness of them is an additional disappointment.

          Although still the ticket is diverse–it’s interesting that the only “evangelical Christian” on either party’s ticket is Obama. Biden and Ryan are Catholic (which maybe that’s not a huge deal anymore, but obviously was at one time) and Romney is Mormon. FWIW, which isn’t much. 🙂

  6. Really appreciate this post – and thank you, as usual, for making people think. I have dozens of young women in my life who are choosing a less traditional path and are hungry for female mentors who have also chosen to walk a little differently. They have aspirations that include leading – not only in the faith community but also in corporations, non profits and academia. And, gasp, they also feel they would like to be a wife and mother and believe there is a way to do so honorably with commitment and passion. It is an honor to walk with them.

    On the political front: I, like you, don’t have a party affiliation but I am carefully dissecting both platforms – ideas do matter, they have consequence. One comment about the RNC – I am tuning in for both conventions but really wanted to see Condoleeza Rice and Susana Martinez (the first female Hispanic Gov in the US). But, the major networks didn’t show their speeches. You could see them in the background talking on the stage, but commentors were doing interviews and talking over them. Very frustrating.

    I also loved the grace filled and compelling benediction of Jena Lee Nardella last night. I’m grateful that her gender didn’t preclude her from praying publicly for our nation.

  7. @Mike I would point out that having a voice is not contradictory to male leadership. These women are not the president or vice-president. None hold office at this time. But they have powerful voices that deserve to be heard. Similarly, in the Church, giving voice to women does not necessarily negate or subvert male leadership. True leadership would not fear another voice but welcome all the wisdom and grace God has lavished on each of us individually. It is time for women to be heard, even within the realm of “male leadership.”

    1. You’re right on. It isn’t a contradiction rather it is a paradox. I wished we’d (this society) stop getting mixed up on what is a paradox & what is a contradiction. We’ll be in a better place. In the end…let’s aim for being obedient to the canon of scripture.

    2. I dig this.

      Even in different views, we need to do more to welcome the wisdom and grace of our sisters.

      Apparently, I’m wrong because plenty of men have emailed me directly to share that this is happening in their churches.

      1. I wonder if that is how their ‘sisters’ see it though. I would take what they say with a large pinch of salt. Men in churches – even those well intentioned ones – don’t usually recognise what they are doing nor do they understand the impact on the women in their churches. It would mean more if the women spoke. Even then you would have to be sure that they were speaking unhindered. There are repercussions for women not conforming in many complementarian churches.

        1. +1 for Ali. I cringe a bit inside when I hear that men are saying they are doing enough to make women’s voices heard. That may or may not be fair, but it comes from experience of being deeply involved in one of those churches where the male leadership loudly bragged about developing strong women leaders, and yet aside from weekly announcements, we only heard from these women to talk about marriage (marriage series, usually on stage with their husband) or being a mom (usually around Mother’s Day), as if women have nothing to contribute to the congregation about topics other than marriage and babies. There are 52 Sundays in a year, and somehow hearing women preach for 2 or 3 of them was enough for the male leadership to brag about all they were doing for women leaders in the church.

        2. Totally agree with this.

          It is always very difficult for the “privileged” one to see things from the “discriminated” one’s viewpoint. I am white, yet I got a big taste of what it feels like to be on the other end of the stick when I lived in a foreign country for a year. I also attended a conference once in which I was very much the minority, racially speaking. I attended with two other whites and three others who were of the race dominating the conference. We sat down to eat lunch with another woman (of the other race). Throughout the entire meal, she had our minority friends in stitches, yet pointedly ignored me and the other white’s when we tried to participate in the conversation. She even was downright rude to us and gave us “hard” looks when we tried to speak. Afterwards, our (minoirty) friends went on and on about how wonderful that lady was. We whites just exchanged looks, then one of us commented that she had been rude and dismissive to us.

          Our minority friends were flabbergasted. They sat at the same table right beside us and completely missed the treatment we had received.

          That incident opened my eyes to how many times I may have missed how others were treated in my presence. (And I was raised to be inclusive to other races.) I have since tried to keep my eyes open.

          All that to say that the men in churches who do not encourage women in leadership may sincerely believe women are not devalued in their congregations and yet have that not be the reality that the women in those same congregations are experiencing at all.

          1. Thank you for sharing this. The “order of creation” explanation later in the comments was great as well.

            I’m also agreeing with Elizabeth and Ali. What if society only let men only talk about their roles and responsibilities to raising children?

            And attempts to expand the allowed topics were seen as 1) unchristian or derided as a sign of childishness and 2) silenced by pointing to tradition.

            A woman, like any human being, holds multiple roles in life. Is the caregiver/father role placed above all other roles for men, as it is for women?

            1. Anaie, have you read Dorothy Sayer’s booklet, “Are Women Human?” She wrote it almost a century ago, and asks (and then answers) some of these same questions. Quite good!

  8. that’s why we in the Disciples of Christ have been ordaining women since the late 1800’s. if my memory of church history is correct, anytime it seems that the Holy Spirit is moving mightly, the rise of women in the church follows shortly behind. if phyllis tickle was luring around this blog she could confirm or deny what i’m saying.

    1. Fair question…


      you think folks are only and exclusively influenced by culture. As we seek to give folks that differ in their theological convictions a level of respect, is it possible that you can give us credit that we read our Bibles and understand the importance of theology as well?

  9. I have to say I could not agree with this writer MORE! I have been thinking about this so much lately as my own voice in the church is silenced so often, and I think at what cost? I cannot believe that Christ came to give sight to the blind, help to the poor, and freedom to the captives for women to live in this kind of spiritual bondage as we have the last what several thousand years. He came to set the establishment on it’s ear. Yet here we are educated, voting, and silent. May the church hear our prayers!

  10. “And yet in some churches and Christian conventions, associations, conferences, and denominations, women still aren’t allowed to lead or speak – particularly from the “main” platform.”

    who exactly are yout talking about here? If you are going to criticize anyone you should at least have the guts to name them so they can defend themselves against your (likely) ignorance.

    1. Are you insinuating that women are main leaders in most churches? I’m just curious. What denomination are you part of? I’ve grown up in the First Christian denomination and have seen a lot of suspicion around women leading. This is also true of churches like, for example, the Neo-Reformed movement. There are many, many denominations where this is prevalent.

      1. I’m not insinuating anything as Mr. Cho has in this post. My point is this is a very pointed statement that discredits the rest of what he has to say because he is making accusations but not willing to let whoever they may be directed at (whether reformed, evangelical, or any of the other 30,000 denominations out there) respond to his potential ignorance.

        And for the record I am very proud to call myself a Roman Catholic. I am also a woman who has held plenty of leadership roles within the Church. As well as the most important leadership role in The Church as wife and mother.

    2. EmStan:

      Sorry that you interpret the post as a lacky of gutsyness.

      I don’t have any particular of specific person or group in mind. I have at times respectfully challenged folks and you’re welcome to peruse the blog if you’re interested.

  11. In response to those who said that Tammy Duckworth, Susannah Martinez and Condoleeza Rice convention speeches not being shown in their totality on the National Media, I have been watching MSNBC for both conventions. While they do have irritating talking heads, they showed all of these speeches without interruption, as well as other every day women who spoke to their own life experiences. I am proud of all of them and it is time they are heard.

  12. The book, The Resignation of Eve, by Jim Henderson, makes this same point – many men would vote for a woman president, but not allow a woman in their church to speak or teach to a group of men.

    1. Anthony:

      Thanks for your question. I’ve very much enjoyed reading and been challenged by some of your stuff.

      To be honest, I did not write this as a covert operation to indirectly or subversively target some individuals, groups, associations, or tribes. As you mentioned, there have been groups that have affirmed the voice and call of women in leadership – including the ones you’ve mentioned.

      I am personally ordained in a denomination called the Evangelical Covenant Church and I’m thrilled to share that they support women in leadership.

      While I’m no historical or theological buff as you, I find it difficult to believe that there have been “scores of prominent women” for decades in all those respective denominations or more. But if that comment is true, then perhaps a tension is that there have not been a score of “unprominent” women in leadership. One has to really earn their affirmation of their calling.

      I think your critique – if it can be construed as such – is fair that I am making too gross of a generalization about the Church but I still stand on the crux of my post that women are not given access to certain platforms in some churches/groups/denominations, etc and that is a loss for all of us.

  13. I wrote about this in July in response to Ann-Marie Slaughter’s groundbreaking piece in the Atlantic, “Why Women can’t Have it All”. I’ve spent the last 35 years in colleges, business and churches where women had no presence or voice. So much was lost in every quarter. I hope we can begin to steward our resources more wisely, particularly in the church. Thanks for posting.

    Can Christian Women Have it All?

  14. I’m all for Ann, Michelle, and Condi. They are women to be respected and admired and their voices matter, very much.

    Women’s voices also matter in the Church. Just because some denominations (including mine) don’t ordain women as elders/pastors/overseers, that does not mean that we don’t value, support, and encourage women’s intelligence, skills, and spiritual giftings. Women can teach, lead, direct, exhort, etc. It’s not just about tea parties and bazaars – in fact, we do neither. Women, including single women such as myself, have very important positions and roles within my church. We just do not teach men, based on Scripture. Other than that, women serve in each and every other position at my church.

    Can’t we agree to disagree on the egalitarian vs. complementarian stuff? It’s so tertiary. What we have in common – the main doctrines of the Christian faith – is far, far more important. Christ prays for the body to be unified. I’m tired of this debate on scriptural interpretation of who can or can’t be pastors. It’s tiresome, and we’re never going to see eye-to-eye on it.

    p.s. For those of you wondering who doesn’t ordain women as pastors, here’s a few: Southern Baptists, Reformed, and Missouri Synod Lutherans. Most “evangelical” churches do not ordain women, as well.

    1. Elle:

      Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your comment.

      My intent isn’t to vilify or demonize those who have different views. Like you, I agree that the debate on egalitarian vs. complementarian stuff will never go away.

      But I do think that the “Church” is losing when we don’t more deeply embrace the voice and leadership of women – however that may look in the churches that women and men choose to be a part of.

      1. Thanks for the response! I respect it & agree- it’s going to look different in different churches. p.s. I know you didn’t mean to turn it into a egal. vs. comp. debate in your initial post…just some of the commenters will, I’m sure, as that often happens in blog posts about this topic.

  15. If one has cable and wants to watch the speeches in their entirety, without any commentary, and not just the ‘primetime hour,’ s/he should turn to C-SPAN. I’ve found it’s the best way to form my own opinions, it’s commercial-free, and I’ve been able to see *all* the remarks, not just the featured last hour.

    As to the article… Yes. I appreciate Mr. Cho’s observation that a lifting of the silence on women in ministry does not have to mean that every church has an ordained female pastor within the next two years. Leadership takes many forms.

  16. Austin, check out the book “God’s Women Then and Now” for a Theological study on the reason for women in leadership by Dr. Debra Gill, former professor at the AG Theological Seminary and now a lead Pastor. There are many other books that have been written on the subject. Open, inquiring minds can find them and I’m sure you’re one of those.

    I personally felt Condolesa Rice’s speech was the best of them all – intellectual yet passionate, informative yet fact based and convincing.

  17. so true! I was thinking about this the other day b/c I’m 6 weeks out now from working for InterVarsity where women in leadership is celebrated in 98% of the organization. Now that I’m working for a secular non-profit I can’t believe how instantly I feel that much more able to move up and around and how little gender plays a role with my perceived gifts or abilities to lead. I was thinking about this last night watching Michelle…just knowing she’s such a dynamic leader, but in a black baptist church she’d have to sit her tail down and teach 3rd graders. I agree with you, it’s so very, very sad.

  18. There was an outstanding Asian speaker at the RNC, Governor Nikki Haley (R) of South Carolina. She is amazing! Another notea le woman speaker was Susana Martinez (R) governor of New Mexico.

    1. I found the full-text of her speech here + video:

      I appreciate that the GOP asked her to speak, even if I disagree with her views.

      She’s daughter of Sikh immigrants… which makes her anti-immigrant stance all the more ironic.

      And as someone who’s grown up in Washington state nearly there entire life, her simplification of Boeing’s recent decisions about manufacturing and logistics to “Not a single person was hurt by their decision. Not one.” is wrong.

      Memos have revealed that Boeing opened up the South Carolina plant to punish its unionized workers here in Washington state, who have been building quality planes for generations…now no one surprised that Boeing is having problems keeping up with quality production. The National Labor Relations Board enforced the law and rightly sued Boeing for engaging in behavior that was essentially threatening / punishing its workers.,_unions?page=3&paging=off

    2. Both governors Haley and Martinez were outstanding and, I was truly impressed with the Republican speeches overall. So many new faces who bring a positivity that comes across as genuine and fresh…and of course, Condi with no TelePrompTer or notes.

  19. If you’re admonishing us to engage in civil dialogue, I would expect you to do the same. Putting quotes around “theological” and “biblical” in regards to the deeply-held and carefully-formed convictions of others is not civil. It is sarcastic, smug, and uncharitable.

    1. BKZ:

      Hmm. If it was construed as sarcastic, smug, and uncharitable, let me reassure you as one brother to another believer…that it wasn’t in quotes for that purpose. I put them in quotes because for many of us (and hopefully all of us) as followers of Christ, we ought not be informed, conformed, and transformed in our thoughts, views, and convictions without a humble and deep engagement with the Holy Scriptures – guided by the Holy Spirit – and in the context of a larger believing community.

      Hope that explains the ” “.

  20. You must remember. These speeches were written by speech writers and were rehearsed over and over again. We must be oh so careful of how we tread. God knows when we need to speak and will guide us to it. I loved last nights speech but held back as I trust nothing political. She did not once mention Jesus or God and that says so much to me. Romney has been thru cancer and now MS, yet I felt her speech was so darn rehearsed and staged. I enjoy her interviews so much better. I enjoy Michelle’s freedom to speak out, I hope Ann gets the chance to do the same as she has so much to share if she was able to do it freely.

  21. Elle, listen to yourself here. ” It’s so tertiary.” What if God has called and gifted you for the ministry and you have followed whole heartedly, investing everything in preparing to follow. Suddenly the issue isn’t tertiary if it’s your life, and if God has decided both your gender and your gifts. “Male and female he created them; in the image of God he created them.” That image needs full representation when God is being presented.
    Be careful. When God calls a woman to be a pastor, where did the Creator make his mistake? Her gender or her calling?
    Just sayin’ …

    Thanks for the post!

  22. mmmm… I wonder if the point that is missing is discretion. Those very women you praise were speaking with an incredible amount of thoughtfulness and control. Put them in a room, turn off all the cameras and get them going in a gossip session or any kind of plain speak and eventually you’d want to turn it off. When women were asked to speak through their husbands… that takes an immense amount of humility. Not all the acrid bitter stuff, but the really deep, resounding stuff that sometimes I think only a 2nd party can come up with sometimes. The structure allows for filtering… It makes sense to me, given how hard it is, for women to have been given the supporting role. Takes more to make a man… and I wonder, how many women truly, in their hearts, desire to rule over a man?

    1. I am hoping that your point does not mean to say that men do not gossip, or slander each other, or say things that we would ‘want to turn off?’ That is not a gender-specific issue! It seems to me that the point being made here is NOT that EVERY woman is suitable for leadership or for public speaking, but that those who ARE, should have the opportunity. I am not a gifted runner, therefore I do not sign up for relays and races. There are, however, many women who are extremely talented athletes, and my athletic failings should not, and do not, eliminate the fact that they are gifted and should be able to run freely and without hesitation. {Not the most solid metaphor but I hope my point is clear enough.} And please, please, PLEASE explain what you mean by “Takes more to make a man…” That line is at best confusing, and at worst, offensive. Finally, why does it have to be about ruling OVER a man? Why does it have to be one gender ruling over the other? Why can’t it be an environment of mutual respect and acknowledgment of the unique ways in which God has gifted us all?

    2. Looking for clarity here – so you believe a woman’s words should be filtered by her husband before they are heard in public? Do you also believe in an ideal world, that women would not vote, but instead their husbands would vote for them and the family?

    3. Hanna:

      For discussion purposes, let’s say I agree with your comment…

      Before the “fall”, do you truly believe this was what God intended for His Kingdom. That the structure of filtering is a restoration of shalom?

    4. You have a very negative and limited view of your gender, Hanna. That is such a shame. Most women do not lapse into indiscretion and gossip on their own.
      You assume one thing about women and another about men yet you don’t know what men are like when they are in a room with no recording devices, do you? We are no better or worse than each other – all of us have to watch our words and actions – this is not a particular female failing.
      The verse you are referring to has a very specific context in which it should be interpreted: it does not need to be applied to every woman across the centuries in every church. And what about women who are not married and have no father? What do we do about them?
      When I recall the daft things that male preachers have said I completely agree that a filtering system would be very useful – but for women alone? There’s no evidence that we require particularly careful monitoring.
      As far as saying that women truly desire to rule over a man do you realise that the conservative evangelicals who are particularly keen on male only authority case make special note of a woman’s desire to be led by her husband? They point back to Genesis 3:16 to ‘a woman’s desire shall be for her husband and he shall rule over you’. The desire of the husband to rule over the wife came about as a result of the Fall: it is not how we were meant to live in the first place. So, no! I am sure that the desire for many of us is to have power over other people is true but it applies equally to men as well.
      We are all tarred with same brush – all have sinned, all have fallen short.
      I hope you will meet women in the future for whom you can have more respect and who behave with integrity then the ones you are basing your comments upon.

  23. Thank you for your thoughts. We have 3 articulate, lovely strong and God loving daughters. I wish that they had more examples within the church of leadership for women. They love the church, but have found their places in business and medicine. Oh, may the church wake up to the goodness of the blessed alliance we are called to be. Thank you for your voice that speaks obvious truth…….women are actually good at leading and speaking. Way back when, Lisa McMinn’s book, “growing strong daughters” had a deep impact on our family thinking.

  24. Thank you for encouraging the voice of women. I know this probably isn’t “politically correct,” but it’s very encouraging to read this from a man as I have met far too many men who are proponents of the silence and propriety of women. Thank you for taking a risk to stand up for equity in the Church. Your voice encourages others to use their voice as well.

  25. Not sure where your post P. Eugene is coming from. Women are allowed to talk and have a voice in the church. Every time you say a post like this, you are truly bashing churches and ultimately Jesus since He is the head. I think your post is a bad generalization…and seems no different than those who make ignorant blanket statements about race, social class, etc. While I generally agree with your statements, I totally disagree about the generalizaton of women in the churches…I have never been to a church that didn’t allowed a women to speak…sure there are, but I think it is more of an exception.

    1. I wish that was more people’s experience. Unfortunately, even in many churches were women are “allowed” to speak, it’s not encouraged and it’s not happening; it’s not the norm in many churches. But its certainly good to hear it’s the norm in your experience!

    1. Question to those who interpret Scripture as not permitting (yea, disallowing) women to preach/teach/lead/pastor in the church:

      What are potential spiritual and social dangers/consequences to the Body of Christ, marriage, and the family for ordaining women to lead/serve in the church?

      (I ask this seriously, not because I don’t think there is a (good) answer, but because it seems reasonable to understand and be informed of potential consequences.)

      1. That question could just as well be framed as : ‘what are the potential spiritual and social dangers/consequences to the Body of Christ, marriage and the family for ordaining men to lead/serve in the church?’

        There are no inherent dangers, social or spiritual, to specifically ordaining women that do not equally apply to men. In fact, for a woman with a husband and children, church ministry fits around a family way more easily than many other occupations. You can be based at home for the key moments and schedule your commitments around the family. You can’t do that in many other occupations/vocations.

  26. Dear Ms. Cho:

    I agree with you.

    But perhaps you have been going to the wrong church.

    In a real, loving, strong, Full Gospel, Charismatic Congregation, where all the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit are in full flower and operation and the Five-fold Ministries are practiced, there is no difference between men and women.

    I was raised in the United Methodist Church for twelve years. Since I am a classically-trained choral singer and tenor soloist, I have attended, for several years each, Disciple of Christ (three years), Episcopal (two years), American Baptist (two years) and Presbyterian (seven years) Churches as a Chancel Choir member.

    I have also attended a Full Gospel, Non-Denominational, Charismatic Church for the last thirteen years.

    I met the Lord in a Kenneth Copeland Service in 1970 and have attended many different Charismatic Churches and special services since then.

    Where the Holy Spirit is in control, women and men speak, preach, teach and lead worship equally and freely.

    Without partiality and without hypocrisy.

    Traditions make the Word of God of none effect.

    We should all exercise Spiritual Discernment to recognize old, dead traditions and eschew them.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

  27. This was so great to read. I agree that it’s great to hear men that support us, in some way it makes it easier that we as women don’t have to fight this fight, but to be affirmed by men in ministry is great.
    Also, speaking to the gentlemen talking about not quit yet knowing about women in ministry…I was there about 10 years ago-I came out of the Wesleyan denomination where women are NEVER in lead ministry and it was a bit of a challenge to overcome what I grew up with. I read a great book recently by John E Phelan called, All God’s People-An exploration of the call of women to pastoral ministry. It is a great book that is easily understood for the untrained theologian like me.
    Thanks again, Eugene!

  28. 34 Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]

    36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.[
    (1 Corinthians 14)

    Titus 2:3-6: Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

    8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

    11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2)

    6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3)

    You either believe the Word of God or you don’t. You either belive the Bible is appropriate for all times and God’s word is eternal or you believe that we can’t really rely on anything in the Bible. Those who push for women in the pulpit are liberal at best and have no reverence for Holy Scriptures. That or are polluted into thinkin the church should mirror the world.

    1. *sigh*
      I hesitate to ask, but I’m going to – you obviously have a firm stance on this. May I ask you to clarify the extent to which you hold that first line, about women being in silent in church? I would just like to know how far you take that. Thanks for answering!

      1. “sigh” all you like. Typical. If you hold it in line with other verses of the New Testament, we know it doesn’t mean they can’t sing or pray and Paul goes on to explain the matter in which women should pray. Women should not be the head of a church. The Bible explains they can teach younger women and children but a woman should not have authority in the church. That is the Word of God. If you don’t like it, take it up with the Author.

        1. Andy,
          I was quite polite in my response to you. If my *sigh* was exasperating to you, let me clarify that it was because I was apprehensive that my question would be met with disgust (as it seems to have been). What could you possibly mean in a positive way by saying “Typical?” There was no need to be sarcastic with me, as I was only asking you to further explain your personal stance so as to better understand you. By responding the way you did, it causes hesitatation on my part to try and have a further discussion with you. However, I will try, as I checked out your personal blog and you seem much more personable on there than you have in your posts here, so far.

          I have learned from many years of interacting with people in general (not just in the church), that clarifications are important. Two people may quote the same Scripture and have wildy different takes on it. So when I asked you to what extent you held to “women should not speak in church,” I wondered if you personally believed that meant they should not speak singly in front of the congregation in any capacity (worship leader, personal testimony, question at an annual meeting, etc), or if you meant specifically that they should not be ordained. In the same vein, I’d be curious as to whether you believe women may work outside of the home? Again, I ask because I want to further understand where you’re coming from. There is no need to be dirisive or dismissive or tell me to “talk to the Author.” I can assure you that He and I have quite open communcation.

          1. Fair enough but my point in saying “talk to the Author” is that we must rightly divide the word of truth rather than “have our own take on things”. Sorry if I seemed rude there but when people start a response with “sigh”, it’s usually in a sarcastic, condescending tone as in “Oh boy! How do you answer someone like this”. And to answer your question, my personal belief (I’m not dogmatic about it at all) is that a woman (if she is married and has kids) should first of all realize that the upbringing of children and raising them in the faith should be of paramount importance (as it should be to the father as well). Different genders-different roles which has nothing to do with “equality” as we are all one in Christ. Sorry once again. No disrespect intended.

    2. Wow. Certainly sounds like women are second-class — if you take those verses in isolation and only in English. But Paul didn’t write in English, and he didn’t write just those verses. He wrote prolifically (and in other places in his writings is supportive of women in what certainly seem like leadership roles) and in Greek. And as one who is a translator (of Spanish/English), I can attest to the fact that translation isn’t just “switching out words” from one language to another. There are no exact equivalents, even between words you would think should have them.

      I already recommended “Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership” by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton in an above reply.

      Another REALLY good book on the subject is one that takes a different tack than most other books that base their arguments on historical and cultural background and the Greek alone. It is “Good News for Women” by Rebecca Merrill Groothius, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in truly studying this issue rather than just finding proof texts or sound bytes one way or the other.

      As Groothius explains, The problem with biblical egalitarians attempting to defend their interpretation of the texts you cite above is that “it is easier for a hierarchalist simply to quote a proof text and then say ‘period’ than it is for an egalitarian to explain the biblical and cultural contexts of the text, to explain the biblical author’s intent in writing the text (that is, the universally normative principle that prompted him to give the instructions he gave to his particular audience . . .), and finally to explain how and why we should apply that biblical principle in our culture differently than it was applied in the cultures of New Testament times. This extra interpretive burden has put the case for equality at a rhetorical disadvantage in the debate — especially since many Christians today want answers in the form of simple, direct, ‘how to’ formulas, and do not have the inclination to try to understand and apply the basic principles of biblical interpretion for themselves.” (p. 42)

      Groothius examines the male headship position of “equal in being but not in function” argument from its theological and logical implications. She writes, “The question of whether a being/function distinction is logically applicable to a defense of gender hierarchy is a crucial one, because this distinction is foundational to every traditionalist argument today. When traditionalists affirm in theory the essential, spiritual equality of women and men, but feel no obligation to advocate the full practical ramifications of such equality, they invoke as their raitonale the notion that woman’s subordination is only ‘functional’ and has nothing to do with her essential being. If this rationale is flawed, then the entire case for gender hierarchy is flawed. The traditionalist proof texts would then need to be interpreted in conformity with the fundamental biblical principle of women’s essential equality with men.”(pp. 42-43)

      She does indeed go into the Greek, as well as the historical and cultural background of the texts traditionalists use in their attempt to prove that women are not to lead men, but the first four chapters of her book cover the theological and logical implications of the male headship position in a way that I have not seen done in any other book.

      If anyone is serious about investigating this subject for the truth, then you need to get “Good News for Women” along with other books on the subject.

      1. Yes, we need a guru to write an entire book (and of course for us to buy it) rather than reading the Word of God. No thanks. People really have to try and sell you on the point and use 1 verse to express why women should be pastors such as the cloudy verse that simply states that one lady (Phoebe) was a “servant” or perhaps deaconess.

        1. I’m not trying to be argumentative or disrespectful, and I can tell your mind is made up, so I won’t press you further. However, in case there is anyone reading this that would honestly like to know, I will comment on the one “cloudy” verse you mention (though it isn’t cloudy at all in the Greek).

          The word Paul uses to describe Phoebe is “diakonon”
          (and that’s the masculine ending, too, not a feminine one) in Greek — the same term used to describe male ministers and deacons like Stephen and Timothy. So I’d say Phoebe is more than just “perhaps” a deacon. Also, Paul says she is a “prostatis” of many, including himself. A “prostatis” is someone who benefits others from a position of leadership and/or clout. To use an example from the book Why Not Women?, Josephus used the masculine form of the same word to say that “Julius Caesar is the ‘prostates’ of the universe.” While I think Josephus was certainly wrong about Caesar’s clout in the cosmos, I doubt anyone would translate that into English as “Julius Caesar is the ‘servant’ (or ‘helper’) of the universe”!

          Of course the Bible is the Word of God and fully authoritative for our lives. But since it was not originally written in modern English and in modern American culture, we need to be wise about how we study it and in applying the universal and timeless principles of God in our lives today.


        2. Just a small point, but I don’t think anyone was suggesting “read this biblical commentary” rather than the Word of God to learn more about the role of women in the church. Do you assume that the people reading these books don’t read or refer to the Bible for wisdom? If you don’t personally read anything related to the Christian life other than the Bible, fine, but don’t assume everyone else is the same as you.

    3. andy:

      i can respect that.

      i would rather folks be fully supportive of women in leadership or not supportive at all. completely literal in their translation. i don’t want their wives to dress in anything that shows skin; no hairstyles, perms, gel; no jewelry whatsoever and of course, any expensive clothes including name brands. and i really mean this. i don’t know you or your wife but i respect you guys for truly believing in the Word of God without any variances or variations.

  29. Your reflection was accurate and needed to be heard. Church goers and doers cannot continue to ‘pray’ while literally closing eyes to the injustices and shortfalls tolerated in the name of God. The church itself should have been an exemplary place where everyone’s gift is embraced and equally utilized… Voices like yours are needed, if we are to make progress and give a platform to the currently silent Ann, Condi and Michelle within the church.

  30. Reblogged this on The Kintz Factor and commented:
    This is a great post by Eugene Cho about the speeches rrom the RNC & DNC made by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice and Michelle Obama. I love how he ties it into issues of the Church, where there is a war about whether or not women can/should have a voice. Recommended reading for sure. Would love your thoughts.

  31. While you make some great points about the importance of women’s voice in the RNC and DNC I believe you have failed in the area of comparison. I am not going to say either way what stance I take on women in church leadership as that is irrelevant but what is relevant is that the biblical stance on the leadership of women in the church should not be comapred to and try to aspire to standards outside of the Bible. Make a case for women’s leadership and voice in the church based on the Bible and I will listen…

  32. I am what many would consider a strong, passionate, articulate female leader. But I am also a woman submitted to Scripture…all of it…whether my opinions and feelings are in line with it, I am called to submit to it and accountable for the times I step outside of it. I lead where God allows me to lead and submit where God has called my husband to lead (or am accountable for when I don’t) 😉 and submit to the Godly male leadership of my church. I don’t know God’s reasons behind his designs (I mean WHY did he create fruit flies!?!) but when it comes to male leadership, I somewhat suspect that His aim was more about people RECEIVING His message not necessarily about who delivered it. And the truth is men listen more to men and so do most women! 🙂 Just my two cents.

    1. And there are those of us who are also equally committed to submitting to scripture who cannot keep silent in the way you think we should because the insistence of male leadership is a wrong interpretation of the scriptures.
      You say you are a leader. If so you have an extra responsibility to ensure what you teach is correct. So double check your doctrine, look again at the exegesis of the relevant passages, read some of the alternative views. Because this issue deserves it – getting your teaching wrong on this matters a great deal – you owe it the women you lead to be rigorous in the way you handle this.
      As for saying men listen more to men and so do most women….what has that got to do with it? This is a cultural issue and if the culture is wrong it is the culture that must change.

  33. Eugene, I’m glad you are pursuing the justice that Christ fought for people who were/are marginalized and dealing with things that God didn’t intend for the world to be.

    The only concern that arises is that it become polarized at times and forces people to agree or disagree. The hard part is that people view their faiths differently and one may agree with others or the total opposite. God has created us uniquely and differently. Each experience has weight and this topic can be very personal and other just see it as a debate. That is where it get dangerous. Because not everyone can fully understand and are we to blame if they don’t get it? As much as I want to get it, I just can’t. Some people try to understand racism, but until it happens to them. Then they can’t fully say they know what it feels like to be discriminated (this is an example).

  34. I mean this as a compliment. You are truly a person I have no problems disagreeing with. Which is how it should be amongst brothers in Christ. You’re extremely tactful and honest, and diplomatic. Great example with the platform God has given you…Bless you…

  35. If my conservative brothers and sisters paid closer attention to scriptures, they would see, in the book of Acts, a basis for their thinking on this topic. Gentiles were welcomed into the church, based on the demonstrated gifts of the Holy Spirit. No observance of Jewish law needed (contrary to the clear teaching of OT scripture). So apparently the Living Presence trumps words on paper. I would contend that if the gift is present in a person, it must be used for the intended purpose of edification.

  36. As a woman who is in seminary on the ordination track and who was told that women cannot be pastors, I am grateful. Thank you for taking risks to love the whole Church and to help us walk in this conversation together. Blessings!

  37. Re: “And for goodness sake, can we please have some darn Asian representation in these conventions so I can include an Asian woman for my post!#!#.”

    Didn’t you watch Congresswoman Judy Chu speak at the DNC? She’s been a champion for Asian American civil rights and woman’s rights.

  38. The whole argument on whether women should be allowed to be pastors is very interesting, and there is some solid evidence on both sides…. but really, in the end, does anyone really think that God’s going to be mad at someone for spreading His love and His word just because they are female?

  39. I’m not sure who it was that said that democracy is the worst form of government there is . . . except for all the others! Our form of government and economics was devised by man. Christ talked so much about “the Kingdom” and prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” All of this has really been on my mind this election season. I am reading an awesome book for the 2nd time by Randy Alcorn by the name of “Heaven”. Don’t forget, Heaven is where we will live ETERNALLY and our life here is but a vapor! I really am concerned about the future of our country and what life will be like for my granddaughters. However, I am becoming much more interested in knowing a little bit more about Heaven rather than America and “the most important election of our lifetime”! I am much more concerned that they and other loved ones spend eternity in Heaven.

  40. Thanks, Eugene. Just today I received a form letter in the mail condemning me as a false prophet for teaching “doctrines of devils,” which included “women pastors.” Of course, it also included “drinking coffee” and “Christmas.”

  41. I am really sorry to talk like this but I want you to go back and give your church or fellowship a serious apology for this huge dent and insult done to them by this article. Believe me they need it. After that please humbly go back to search deep into the word of God. God be with you.

  42. Brother,

    Sad indeed that your eyes are so heavily scaled that you could not distinguish between truth and the gross; if not simply blatant falsehoods which impregnated FLOTUS’ “emotional” speech.

    The job of a true preacher is to speak truth. Not facts, fabrications and fluff to tickle ears.

    Where have you been the last four years? POTUS, FLOTUS and the gangsters associated with them have virtually driven this once great Nation of ours to the verge of distruction. They have promoted, approved and even announced sin and depravity as good. Have you become so blind that you’ve lost sight of God’s standard. This has nothing to do with women. I recall a snake that once delivered an emotional speech. Just look how that turned out! recall that a snakegood.

  43. Euguene,

    Thanks for a good article.

    For me, the “order of creation” argument (1 Tm 2:13ff.) carries the most weight for the traditional view.

    On the other hand, perhaps Galatians 3:28 is the re-ordering of the new creation in Christ?

    Also, the fact that God gives gifts to all his children and asks us to “use” them (Romans 12), is compelling. Are we acting Christianly if we deny women their response-ability to use their gifts?

    Still learning and open to honest discussion.


    1. Ron, I am always open to honest discussion as well. Not wanting to hijack someone else’s blog here (I’m kind of new to following blogs — not sure of the rules), but I do have some thoughts on the “order of creation” argument you mention if you are interested. We just got done studying this in depth in our Bible study, and it’s not as “cut and dried” as it seems to be on the surface. Interested?

    2. Thanks, Eugene. I loved your article, BTW, and deeply appreciate your support for women’s voices in the church. I grew up Southern Baptist, and when I was 15, out of the blue a deacon approached me after a service and actually said, “You know, it’s a shame you’re a girl. You’d be a really good preacher.”

      He meant it as a complement, but it was a punch to my gut. I hadn’t told anyone, but I felt drawn to preaching and teaching and was confused because all I had ever heard or read was that women couldn’t do that. That man’s comment hurt so much, because it was just confirmation to me that something was wrong with me and my ability to hear from God.

      It’s been over 30 years since then, and I’m just now realizing that God CAN use me in such ways. I’ve spent the last 10-15 years investigating and studying this issue, even studying almost two years of Koine Greek. God and His Word are too important to me — there is no way I want to say or do anything that contradicts His law or Truth. There is no way I would ever heed any teaching that did not treat God’s Word as just that — God’s very Word. No way could I ignore or snip out verses I didn’t like.

      Thanks again for your blog, your post, and your support. It is difficult to describe just how much it means to women like me that men like you are willing to speak up on this issue like this. And it’s just icing on the cake that you are willing to let others post replies back and forth like this on your blog. May God bless you even more than your words have blessed me!

    3. Ron (and anyone else who is interested), the “order of creation” is a compelling argument on the surface. But when we dig deeper we are able to see it isn’t quite so compelling as was first thought. Let me explain:

      First let me say that in Genesis 1 and 2 we see God create the ‘adam (human) out of the ‘adamah (earth, soil). At this point, ‘adam is used as a common noun, not a name, like “the clay” vs. “Clay.” It’s really a nice pun, much like saying in English God created “the earthling” from the “earth.” Though I have not studied Hebrew like I have Greek (something I hope to rectify in the future), I have read several sources say that at this point the word ‘adam is not gender-specific. That doesn’t mean the ‘adam God created was not a male, just that his sex was irrelevant at this point. What was important was that he was human. God explicitly states that the ‘adam comes in both ish (male human) and ishshah (female human) and that both male and female together are made in God’s image.

      Now, it seems reasonable to conclude that since God exists in Three Persons yet is One that any creature He creates in his image must also reflect some part of that multipersonality — thus it is that one sex alone is not enough to give an adequate reflection of His image. That does not mean that invdividual men and women are not made in God’s image, because of course we are. What it does mean is that in the marriage relationship of “one-flesh” it takes both the male and female together to reflect what God wishes humanity to know about His image. (Which is, I believe, the main reason homosexual marriage is wrong. It isn’t an arbitrary rule God thought up, but the male/female marriage relationship is the metaphor that God uses to show us a reflection of Himself.)

      I liken it to a mirror. I am a 3 dimensional being, but when I look in a mirror, I see a 2-dimensional reflection of my 3-D reality. The mirror is made of two elements: glass and silver paint. Neither of these elements on their own are part of anything that makes up the real ME, and by themselves they will at best give a skewed reflection of me. But when they are fused together into one entity they give a very accurate reflection of me. However, it is just that — a reflection — not the reality of me. Now all analogies trying to explain God break down when you carry them too far, but that’s the best way I know how to explain it.

    4. “Order of Creation,” Part 2:

      Now, if humanity must come in both male and female to accurately be made in God’s image, then common sense tells us that God must either create male and female simultaneously (eg., both out of dirt at the same time), or first one and then the other.

      Why did God not create both sexes simultaneously? I don’t really know, but I can guess. First, if both had been made out of the earth, then someone could possibly argue that the soil God used for the woman was somehow inferior to the soil he used to create the man (this argument is made in the book Why Not Women?). Second, there would never have been a time of being alone, which underscores our need for human relationships.

      The naming of the animals was God’s way to impress upon the ‘adam that he was unique — and the only one of his species on the entire planet. Let that sink in. How would you feel once you really grasped that reality? God was teaching us that human relationships are vital, that we NEED each other. That lesson would not have had the same impact had there never been a time of being uniquely and truly alone.

      When God created the woman, he used part of the man. Actually, the word translated “rib” is tsela, and it isn’t translated as rib anywhere else. It actually means “side,” as in “half of a whole.” (Elsewhere used to describe the two sides of the Ark of the Covenant, and one of two doors that open and close together, for example). At the very least this word indicates that God took a huge handful of the ‘adam’s side (including flesh, bone, blood, tissue) to fashion the woman, leaving a gaping hole that had He not filled in and closed up would not have been survivable. The Hebrew would even allow for the idea of God splitting the ‘adam in half, though I’m not saying that’s what He did.

      God created the woman this way in order to teach us an important truth: we are made of the same “stuff” — exactly the same stuff. The man gets this right away. His poem of “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” is emphasizing how alike he and the woman are. This does not mean that male and female are exactly the same — that is silly. What it does mean is that we are more alike than we are different and neither can claim a superiority over the other.

      That we truly need each other and that we are both made of the same stuff are important truths, thus it is necessary to create one sex before the other.
      Now, does it matter which comes first?

    5. “Order of Creation” part 3:

      What if God had created the woman first, what then? Well,
      Anne Atkins in her book “Split Image: Male and Female after God’s Likenesss” (also cited by Rebecca Merrill Groothius in her “Good New for Women” book, p. 137) shows us how easy it would be for those determined to see male headship in the order of creation to interpret that scenario:

      “Suppose God had made the woman first, and then the man out of her . . . Now who comes over as the helpless, dependent one, the weaker, inferior partner? Why, the woman again, of course! She could not cope alone; the man had to be made to bail her out. Part of her body was taken away to make him; she can never again be complete on her own. The man was made last, after the plants, after the animals, and certainly after the woman; he is the crown of God’s creation. He was made out of human flesh; she is nothing but dust. Even her name (“man” now of course) is a diminutive version of his (“woman”). She is to “cleave” to him (and, as it happens, this word is “used almost universally for a weaker cleaving to a stronger”; no doubt a great deal would be made of this if the woman were to cleave to the man!). Most significant of all she is to leave her parents and her way of life to join him and adapt to him; she was clearly found to be inadequate on her own.” (Atkins, Split Image, p. 461-462).

      We can see by this little exercise that order of creation *by itself* proves nothing one way or the other whether one sex has authority over the other.

      The truth is that if God had created the woman first, then there would be little evidence from Genesis 1 and 2 to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that woman was not inferior to man. After all, Genesis 1 shows a clear progression from the inanimate to the animate and from lower to higher life forms, culminating in the creation of human beings, who are definitely shown to be the crowning glory of God’s creation. If the man had been formed last, then he could convincingly claim superiority over the woman as the highest form of life at the apex of God’s Creation order, and we would have had little textual evidence to dispute that claim.

      .So we are left, then, with God creating the man first.

    6. “Order of Creation” part 4:

      So we are left, then, with God creating the man first. Traditionalists do make a great deal of this fact and point to it as “proof” that God gave him authority over the woman, but as we just saw from the above exercise, that is not a definitive argument in and of itself. So, to bolster their case, they appeal to the idea of primogeniture (rights of the firstborn son).

      Is that a valid flilter through which to interpret the order of creation? Well, the practice of primogeniture had to do with male siblings, not brothers and sisters, and certainly not husbands and wives. Gilbert Bilezikian points out in an endnote in his book “Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family” that if we extend the idea of primogeniture to the status of women in relation to men within the church and family, then we must also extend this idea to the status of men within the church and family because *that* is what primogeniture is all about – relations between male siblings:

      “The honest application of primogeniture would require that no males except firstborn sons hold positions of leadership over their brethren in the church. In the family, the same rigor that demands the subservience of wives to husbands should obtain the subservience of all males to the oldest surviving male relative, be he father or brother. . . . As a result, the very men who prohibit women from acceding to positions of leadership on the basis of primogeniture considerations would, by the force of their own argument, rule themselves out of church leadership positions and forfeit the right to speak on the issue – unless they happen to be firstborn sons. Since this is unlikely to happen, one may rightfully be suspicious of a mentality that is willing to exonerate men of compliance to restrictive structures that pertain to them while imposing the same on women.” (Bilezikian, p. 208)

      So we have seen that simply being created first does not, in and of itself, mean that the man has authority over the woman. Still, even if it doesn’t have to mean that, it still *could* mean that. Is there any way to know for sure? To remove all doubt about the significance of Adam’s being created first, we need to look at whether or not *God* does, in some way, consider being “first” important to the question of leadership.

      Are there instances in Scripture where being first means little in the eyes of God? Yes, plenty. Pertaining to being chosen as the line that would eventually produce the royal line of David (and then Christ), Esau was passed over in favor of the younger Jacob, Judah was chosen over his three older brothers, Perez was chosen over Judah’s older son Shelah, and King David himself was the youngest of eight brothers. In addition, Adam and Eve’s oldest son Cain’s sacrifice was passed over in favor of Abel’s, Joseph’s younger son Ephraim received the Blessing instead of the elder Manasseh, Solomon was chosen to be king over several of his older brothers,
      and Shimri was “chief” of his older brothers. Rebecca Merrill Groothius looks at a similar line-up and also concludes that :

      “It seems more likely that the God who chose Jacob over his older brother Esau (Mal. 1:2-3), Ephraim over his older brother Manasseh (Gen. 48:13-20), the tribe of Judah over that of the eldest, Reuben (Gen. 49:8-10), and David over all his older brothers (1 Sam. 16:4-13), does not put much stock in the patriarchal custom of primogeniture. At these crucial junctures in Israel’s history, God’s mind differed sharply from the ancient Middle Eastern mind. God’s criterion for choosing leaders is described in 1 Samuel 16:7: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at . . . but the Lord looks at the heart.”
      (Groothius, p. 220)

    7. Order of Creation, Conclusion

      So, it seems to me that God deemed it necessary to not create male and female simultaneously in order to teach us some crucial truths: that we need each other, and that we are equals made of exactly the same “stuff.” We also saw that if He had created woman first, the progressive order of Creation would have made it virtually impossible to prove that woman was not inferior to man. We have also just seen that on many occasions God has chosen the younger over the older – many times arbitrarily (see Romans 9:10-12).

      It is reasonable to conclude, then, that although God chose to create Adam first, He then also chose to go out of His way throughout the rest of Scripture to show us that being first doesn’t carry any particular weight with Him. As Rebecca Merrill Groothius sums up this whole situation:

      “Again, it seems, we need to recall Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:8, 11-12. Though the first woman came from the first man, ever since then man has come from woman, and, ultimately, everything comes from God. In other words, let us not get involved in drawing cosmic diagrams of who is in first place, but let us recognize our mutual dependence on one another and our ultimate dependence on God.” (Groothius, p. 221)

      I know these posts have been rather long, but I hope they have given some good food for thought. I am certainly *not* trying to be a “know-it-all” — it’s just that I’ve put a lot of study into this. I do not mean to be one-sided here. So, to Ron and anyone else dedicated enough to wade through all these words (for which you should get a cookie if nothing else!), I’m open to discussion on this. Does anyone have any thoughts to share? (I really don’t care for sarcastic or belittling replies, though. I’ll try hard to not sound that way, too.)

      1. Since I figured out the response for my reply was from you I went back and read again your order of creation. I am more convinced then ever nothing anyone could say would change your stand. I do have an opinion on your stand but choose not to die on that hill. However I would die on the hill of deny Jesus Christ as my Savior. I applaud your passion and ability to study Greek. I guess I would like to see that same passion put to the keyboard and write about why anyone would want to believe in Jesus Christ without the women in leadership side. Tell me when and how you met Christ and what it took for you to believe. What walls did He have to tear down to get to you. I am going to leave you with this poem that is penned in my bible called I Wonder:
        You know, Lord,
        How I serve You
        With great emotional fervor
        In the limelight.
        You know how eagerly
        I speak for You
        At a women’s club.
        You know how I effervesce
        When I promote
        A fellowship group.
        You know my genuine enthusiasm
        At a Bible study.
        But how would I react , I wonder,
        If You pointed to a basin of water
        And asked me to wash
        The calloused feet
        Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
        Day after day,
        Month after month,
        In a room where nobody saw
        And nobody knew?

        One more thing my sister, when can I get my cookie.

        1. Sure, I’d be happy to share my story. Are you wanting to hear how I “got saved” or how I came to believe the “traditional” interpretation regarding women in the Bible isn’t what God (or Paul) really meant? Because they are completely separate events, separated by many years.

          Although my mom was a nominal Christian when I was young, my dad was an atheist and mom didn’t really take me to church much until I was about 6 or 7. Dad never went. I was much closer to my dad than to my mom, but I embraced the things I was learning at church. Through a series of events that only God could have orchestrated, my dad accepted Christ and did a “180” when I was almost 9. He went from telling dirty jokes about Christians (to Christians to get them to go away) to stopping people on the street to tell them the Good News of Jesus. He went from never going to church to be there every time the doors were open. It was seeing the complete transformation of my father that made me realize that I also had to make a decision to accept Christ, that just going to church did not make me a Christian.

          It was about this time that I began to notice that only men did the “important” things in church, only men got to preach, only men prayed out loud (in our church anyway), etc. I wanted desperately for God to love me, but I really thought He didn’t. I “went forward” to pray for forgiveness several times, but I did not feel any different and was convinced that God did not really love me. I was petrified at the conviction that I was going to Hell and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it because God was not answering my prayers. I thought that if I were a boy perhaps God would love me enough to save me.

          Now, with the benefit of hindsight and insight from God, I believe that God was trying to teach me something. Namely, that I was going to Hell and there was absolutely nothing *I* could do about it. It was truly God’s *gift* that I could in no way earn. You see, I was desperately trying to jump through all the right hoops that the grown-ups said would get me to Heaven. When I finally gave up trying, that’s when God spoke to me and told me to go forward one more time. I was scared to do so because I knew nothing would happen and I couldn’t take the rejection again. I felt the strong conviction that I needed to go anyway, as an act of obedience.

          I finally got myself out into the aisle (the side aisle, I should add) but just as I did so the Pastor began the closing prayer. Everyone had heads bowed and eyes closed (and I was too short to be seen by the Pastor anyway with all the grown-ups standing), and I felt my heart go down into my stomach and then right on down into my feet. I felt like collapsing on the floor, but just before I did, the Pastor abruptly stopped in mid-prayer and announced, “The Holy Spirit is telling me that someone else needs to come forward so we will sing one more verse.” I remember shakily taking the first step toward the front of the church, but honestly I don’t remember anything else until I was kneeling at the altar with the Pastor while the poor congregation sang about 11 more verses of “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” in the Texas summer heat that morning.

          I was crying so hard the Pastor could hardly understand me (since I had gone forward before he thought I was already “saved”). He kept asking what I wanted, and finally I was able to say “I want to be saved!” intelligibly enough for him to understand what I said. He started going through all the right Bible verses, but I just shook my head and cried “It doesn’t work!” and “God doesn’t love me! He wont’ save me!”
          The Pastor paused (probably asking God for guidance, since he had a hysterical 10 year old girl at the altar).

          Finally the Pastor asked me, “Julie, do you believe God wrote the Bible?” Well, there was only one right answer for that question, and I shook my head yes. Then he asked, “Do you think God can lie?” Again, there was only one right answer for that one, too. I shook my head no. Then the Pastor opened the Bible and showed me (again) John 3:16 and said the “whosoever” included me, and 1 John 1:9 was God’s promise and He couldn’t lie. I finally took a step of faith and prayed to receive Christ. Immediately a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders and a feeling like warm honey slowly poured through my insides. I finally KNEW God had forgiven me. He *did* love me!

          Satan has always known what buttons he could press with me, and there were many times I doubted my salvation. But God has always been there for me. I never went through a time of rebellion as a teen. I always have had a passion for God and His Word. The first time I read through the Bible in its entirety I was 15. (I’ve kind of lost count since.)

          We moved around a lot because my dad was in the military and he went to seminary and then became a jail chaplain in various places. So I went to a lot of different churches, but in all of them the traditional understanding of Paul’s writings on women were taught. I didn’t particularly like it, but I tried my best to live according to it. My relationship with God was too important to me, and so was His Word.

        2. Now, I assume you would like to know how I came to believe the traditional understanding regarding Paul’s words on women was not what God — or Paul — actually intended.

          As I said before, I have a passion for God and His Word. I share the Good News of Jesus with my friends and others, even when it is difficult to do so and I get made fun of for it.

          After college, I got a job working for a state (Southern) Baptist convention in one of its missions ministry departments. I worked there for 7 years and saw a lot of dirty laundry. That never hurt my faith, because I knew the difference between human beings (who still struggle with sinful natures even though they are “saved”) and God. However, I most certainly didn’t like the “dirty laundry” I saw. I also attended two SBC churches during that time (first a church plant, and then I moved to a larger church later). I loved ministry work because I got such a spiritual “thrill” out of serving God. God led me into various ministries during those seven years.

          During that time some of the “dirty laundry” I saw was blatant sexism at work (the Baptist convention) that actually hurt some of the women who worked there, including a widow. I am not going to give details because it isn’t my wish to badmouth anyone.

          I was pretty happy at my church, though. I was involved in several ministries there as well. Several things began to happen that were hurtful when men told me I couldn’t do certain things because I was a woman, but I “sucked it up” and went onto “approved” ministries because I didn’t want to disobey God. But I was becoming more and more hurt.

          Finally, what I call “the straw that broke the camel’s back” happened at church. A bit of background: I speak Spanish fluently and had started a ministry to teach English and US History and Government to immigrants. This had originally come about because some of the deacons had told me that they felt God wanted our church to start a Hispanic ministry and asked me to help. Eventually more Spanish-speakers got involved and before long we had over 200 immigrants come to us. I recruited and trained teachers and gave devotional studies in Spanish to the combined classes. Apparently no one had any problem with me doing that even though most of the immigrants in the classes were men. God was obviously blessing our ministry.

          As time went on, we saw several of these dear people come to accept Christ, and they asked for a Spanish-speaking Sunday School class. There were only four people in our church who spoke Spanish well enough to do that, and the other three were guys. The powers that be declared that I could not teach the Sunday School class, but none of the men really wanted to do it. The compromise was that the three of them traded off Sundays, but I attended the class as a member all the time. Although I felt a longing to teach the Bible to these dear people, I abided by the decision of the Pastor.

          Then the people in that class wanted to have the sermons interpreted into Spanish. Someone donated the equipment and the four of us who knew Spanish well enough would sit in the library with earphones on and a microphone in front of us, rotating Sundays. We would hear the sermon piped in through the microphone and then speak the interpretation in Spanish into the microphone. The Spanish speakers sat in the service with little earphones on and listened to the Spanish interpretation.

          The guys did not want to do that by themselves and asked if I could be in the rotation. Interpreting on the fly like that is very difficult work, very emotionally taxing, and the Sunday you do it you don’t personally get a whole lot out of the sermon. The powers that be were OK with me being in the rotation. I was thrilled! Even though the work was so draining, I got such a thrill out of serving God like that. This went on for quite a while.

          This was a large church, and each month our newsletter highlighted a lay-led ministry that wasn’t “obvious” to everyone. The Sunday the photographer came to take a picture of the interpreter was a Sunday I was the interpreter. The photographer took one look at me, muttered something, and left. I was in the throes of interpreting and didn’t really pay it any mind. It was only a couple of weeks later that the other three guys told me what had happened. The powers that be decided it wouldn’t “look good” for a female to be in the picture as an interpreter of the sermon, so they arranged for the photographer to call the three guys together to pose for a picture. The three guys told them that if I wasn’t in the picture, then they wouldn’t pose for one. They said they then told the powers that be that if it wasn’t for me, then there wouldn’t even have been a ministry interpreting sermons. The decision was to not highlight the ministry at all and nothing appeared in the newsletter. I knew nothing of this until well after the fact.

          Now I really didn’t care whether I was in a picture in the newsletter or not. What I DID care about was whether I was somehow being disobedient to God’s Word or not. I was very confused. If it was not God’s will for me to interpret sermons, then why was God blessing the ministry and why was I getting such a spiritual thrill from doing it? If the powers that be thought I shouldn’t be in a picture for others to see a woman participating in that ministry, then why were they letting me do it in the first place? If it *was* God’s will for me to do it, then why were they having a problem with it?

          This was just another installment in a long line of incidents like this, and as I said, it “broke the camel’s back.” I was newly married and that evening my husband was at a work event so I was home alone. I collapsed on the bed praying and crying almost as hard as I had the day I had gotten saved. I was so confused. I cried and prayed, cried and prayed. My prayer went something like this: “What is your will, God? Do you want me to stop interpreting sermons? Why are you blessing it, though? Why do you give me such a thrill from doing it? Why do other people tell me how much you are blessing them through my interpretations? Is it really wrong? If so, what do you want me to do? Should I stop? I don’t know what to do!”

          At the end of the long session of prayer, I made a real heart-felt plea: “Please, God, I don’t understand why it should be a big deal that I am a woman. Why can’t I just serve you how I feel led? I am trying so hard to live by your Word. But I can’t go on feeling like this anymore. Please give me the grace to accept my place.”

          That was supposed to be the end of my prayer, but something in my spirit checked me and I added, almost like an afterthought, “Or show me Your Truth about this.” Before drifiting off to sleep.

          I fully expected God to give the grace to accept “my place” as a woman. I wanted to be obedient.

          Within seven days of that desperate prayer, I had the book, “What Paul REALLY Said about Women” by John Temple Bristow in my hands. I really don’t even remember how I got it. I sat down to read it, and I really felt the chains falling off of my heart. The guy seemed to know Greek and how translation worked. (I can spot it a mile away when the writer is just picking things out of a lexicon and really doesn’t understand how languages work.) But I didn’t know any Greek. Could this really be right?

          That was in 1992. Thus began a very long process of prayer and study. I sought out other books on the subject and read. I enrolled in New Testament Greek and took two years of it so I could better understand how that language worked. All the while I kept thinking and praying, “God, I don’t want to believe this just because it sounds good. I want to believe the TRUTH, even if the truth is something I don’t like. Please show me the TRUTH.” And every time, He would confirm to me what I was learning. I finally mustered up the courage to give a couple of the books I was studying to my Greek professor and asked him to tell me what he thought of them. He kept them for about a year, then told me he “couldn’t find anything wrong with the Greek” they used. He said he kept them so long because he had always assumed the traditional undertandings were right, but now he had to digest what the books were pointing out. He wasn’t a convert yet, but he did say the egalitarian interpreation “is at least as valid as the tradtional interpretation.”

          Still, it has taken me over a decade to get to the point where I am 100% convinced of the egalitarian interpretation. I did not come to it lightly or too eagerly. I always checked sources and did thorough investigation. I never even gave the time of day to an author who did not treat the Bible — all of it — as God’s very Word. Ignoring or cutting out parts that I just happen not to like is just not an option for me.

          So, God did do a lot to get through to me, but it had to do with his view of women. I have a clear conscience before God. I understand when people are still a little wary because I was that way for a very long time. But I continually ask God to guide me and show me His Truth, and I believe He is. If you aren’t there yet, that’s OK. If you never get there, that’s OK with me too. I apply Romans 14:1-4 to this situation and know that I answer to God alone. However, I always want to be able and willing to give an answer to anyone who asks me why I have the hope in Christ that I do (my salvation) and why I believe the way I do concerning women in God’s eyes.

          I hope this has been helpful to you. May God bless you, sister!

          1. Thank you Julie…your testemony confirms your faith in Christ and Christ alone. So on that we can stand together.

            But as for women having a less important role in life I would differ. Sorry you felt less important..yes I have felt that way before but all I had to do was turn to the Word for confirmation how important I was to God. Enough so He would send His Son to die for me. Through the years of ministry I have counseled with women who did not feel important in the Kingdom of God for various reason even not being able to preach. I ask them are you sharing the gospel with anyone, your children, your family, to those you come in contact with daily, are you discipline a younger woman as the Word exhort you to do? There are many ways to lead outside of leadership. If the hope of heaven lives inside us we are commanded to lead others to the Lord, the biggest thrill of all leading ministries. Also no greater thrill to disciple a new believer into a more mature walk with the Lord and before others.

            It is a battle all the time for mind on this earth. The enemy cannot steal, beg , borrow or buy our salvation but he can sure take our joy. Actually all he has to do is sit back and watch us fight a battle about what is important and what is not. Thats why I will not go toe to toe with you on your beliefs. It will not glorify the Lord. And I do apoligize if you have been offended. Lets get busy in the kingdom of God winning soul and disciplining them to walk in the fruits of the Spirit with their armor on daily. Until we meet in heaven my sister.

            1. I was not offended at all. I really don’t like conflict, so I would never argue anything just for the sake of arguing. I will always share what I believe when I feel it is relevant and/or when someone asks. I always like good discussion, but won’t abide name-calling, belittling or sarcastic shots. I am of the conviction that sometimes (and I do mean SOMEtimes) God is less concerned with whether or not His children come down on the “right” side of a potentially contentious issue (assuming it has nothing to do with salvation) than He is in that we treat those brothers and sisters with whom we disagree with grace. (I think that is the heartbeat of Romans 14 as well.)

  44. Great. Another article from a pop theologian who lacks Scriptural or historical perspective. Never let God’s Word and the New Testament model for leadership of the Church stand in the way of personal preference, Mr. Cho. Just go for social justice sans Scripture. Another example of the fading American Church. Sad and, frankly, annoying.

    1. So what you’re saying is you haven’t read much of Eugene’s stuff. He is pretty passionate about taking a careful look at the scriptures and responding appropriately in today’s world. If the American Church is fading, it is certainly not because of people like him or others who seek to actively involve the scriptures in culture.

  45. I just spend a half hour reading the post and all the comments. An half hour that I could have been reading my Bible or a book that exhorted me to walk closer to the Lord. The Word says there is nothing new under the sun…and all I have read just now proves it. The enemy of our soul wants us to be distracted by the gifts, callings or our ministries so that we do not see all the lost souls that need to hear the good news.

    Of course I am a simple woman and it’s clear as I read I could not in a million years argue my opinion of the word on this subject with this group. So why am I leaving my reply? There are lost all over the world who will never hear the gospel because we value this kind of conversation more then we do reaching the lost. Jesus came to seek that which was lost and we are to be his mouth, hands, feet on this side of heaven.

    So in fear and trembling I am ready to click “respond” knowing some of you will think my simple response to this is just that simple. But let me remind you, I am a blood bought believer, a child of the King who happens to be a woman who is to lead…lead others to Christ. I am determinded to be a courageous wise hearted woman in what ever role God has me in. Life is in Christ, never in my role, never in my ministry, never in my calling, never in anything or anyone but Him.

    By the way brother, I did enjoy the post, and the responses or I would not have commented. It has only stirred my heart to focus on what will not burn up as wood, hay and stuble. Blessing

    1. Hi Betty,
      I appreciate your thoughts here. I, too, feel that proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to others is of the utmost importance. It’s just I have run into so many young people (both men and women) who have rejected the church and the Bible because they believe God is sexist. I don’t believe that our replies back and forth here are wasted time if they are honest conversation and not just bickering and trying to “one up” what we view as the “opposition.”

      If I had known as a teen that there even *was* another viewpoint concistent with deep respect for God’s Word that supported women in leadership, I think the trajectory of my life would have been different. I certainly would have enrolled in seminary after college at the very least. (God is in control, however, and He is now opening doors for me to teach in ways I only dreamed of back then.)

      So if our discussions here can be what encourages even one young woman to answer God’s call into ministry, then it is worth it. And it is even more worth it if discussions like these encourage even one who has rejected God as sexist to reconsider and eventually find true life in Christ.

      Everything we as Christians do should be done knowing the answer to the questions, “Is this helpful to others?” “Will this help others consider the Good News of Christ?” “Am I following the Golden Rule in the manner and motive for my doing/saying this?”

      Thanks for reminding us of this.

    2. Thank you for responding. God knows who to put in what kind of ministry and I do not envy you yours. I pray God give you wisdom as you minister to those with such questions. It seems when someone wants to discuss religious issues they are seeking and someone must be there to answer their question.
      If a woman is waiting to see if God is sexist or not to get saved then my fear would be she is trusting a God that agrees with her. I have heard many conditions from people through the years. If you save my child I will believe in you God, etc.
      Hummmm…lots to think about in your reply. Blessings my brother.

        1. No problem. It’s not so much that some of the people I’ve met are “waiting to see if God is sexist or not” to get saved. It’s that they have had bad experiences in church and seen a lot of unfairness done in the name of Christ and are turned off. It’s more like “If that’s what God is like, I don’t want any part of him.” It’s sad. I know there will always be people who reject God, I tell them, but if they’re going to do that, it should be the *real* God and not a caricature of HIm. Because when they find out what the real God is like, many of these same people decide they want to find out more after all.

  46. Churches that don’t allow women a voice, that don’t acknowledge the voices and accomplishments of women in Christian history (including scripture), and don’t respect the women in their own midst are going to dry up and die. How can they not? Women have a place in the future kingdom of God. Without them, there is only a part of God’s work being done.

  47. I was so impressed by all of these women and I was delighted to hear each of them championing their candidate in such an eloquent, personal way. I know these speeches are written and reviewed for premium impact, but these women really delivered.
    Thank you Eugene for highlighting this positive aspect of what has been an incredibly negative political season. Thank you also for reminding us that voices from all parts of humanity are important to our churches. We truly miss out when we dismiss God’s word from any gifted person simply because of race, gender, social status, or creed.

  48. Lawrence Goudge’s new book, Cover Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus’s True Heirs, addresses the issue of women in the church. Goudge proposes that the Jewish followers of Jesus preserved the beliefs and practices of the original apostles: Peter, James and John. Therefore, the true heretics were those who created the new religion of the dying God (anathema to Peter James and John). Cover-Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus’s True Heirs exposes the church’s hypocrisy in first silencing those who truly followed Jesus and then exterminating them, just as they did the Cathars.  I just learned of a new book – Cover Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus’s True Heirs by Lawrence Goudge. I found it here

  49. This is true and frustrating. While I lived in USA, my voice was consistently silenced in church, even though I served as a pastor. I finally had to funnel every communication through my husband to be heard. When I started attending political conventions, I quickly moved up the ladder to become a district official. There, they listened to me, expected me to say something, wanted my input, and I had to speak for myself from myself. The only reason I can make sense of the difference is that in politics, the best voice wins. But in churches, you don’t usually vote after every statement… so, what I found was that if I want to be heard and treated as an individual with a brain, get involved in politics. Unfortunate, but at least there IS an outlet for us! 🙂

  50. I just want to say I am so proud of you all as my Christian brothers and sisters for discussing this like civilized, Godly, loving people. So easily these debates turn into hate-offs and create division and bad feeling in the church, and that is never good for spreading the word of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was such a blessing to me to find a discussion about this topic that isn’t overly heated, where people can agree to disagree and still love each other despite the differences. God bless you all!

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