Wendy Alsup posted a succinct but uproariously rich plea to recognize the Spirit’s gifting of women for ministry in Christ’s church and did so in a way which affirmed the tradition’s understanding of the episcopal/presbyterial office, thus bypassing pointless controversy over women doing… stuff. I don’t know how else to characterize most of the resistance I encounter to women serving and executing God-appointed tasks of ministry and contributing to the life of the church without getting too smarmy, so I guess that’ll just have to do. Once one recognizes that it is only the specific office of overseer which uniquely represents and distributes Christ’s rule, and as such is uniquely responsible for the governance and nourishment of the congregation, then most objections to women’s participation in other roles reveal themselves as semantic misfires and simply evaporate. Here’s Wendy’s opening:
I note a common theme around discussions of limiting the role of pastor to males only. The concern is that we are limiting women using their giftedness in the Body of Christ. This is a legitimate concern to address. I think in many cases conservatives have not adequately used the giftings of women in their congregations, hence the popularity of parachurch women’s organizations.
But we need to correctly frame the problem of our use of women’s gifts in the Body of Christ, and we need to speak of it precisely from Scripture. And I want to say boldly that limiting the role of overseer/elder/pastor to males only is not the same as the very real problem of not giving opportunity for women to use their spiritual gifts in our local congregations.
So this isn’t about hijacking anything- it’s about filling out the church’s playing field by drafting the women the Spirit is empowering to contribute to the kingdom. Adamant resistance to such a thing tells us more about the men in charge who want no such thing taking place than it does the God revealed in Scripture. Wendy concludes that
it is good for male leaders, particularly elders in complementarian churches, to recognize that the gifts of the Spirit don’t seem to be limited by gender. The implication then is that women as well as men are gifted in such ways, and the Church needs to use those gifts for the maturity of the overall membership. Women are gifted with wisdom and exhortation. Men are gifted with wisdom and exhortation. Pastor, do you see the value of such gifting among the women in your church? If so, how do you develop those gifts? How do you use them for the overall health of your church? Because that is what such gifting among the women as well as the men in your congregation is for – to equip your congregation for maturity and unity in the faith. Steward those gifts!
Let’s reason along the grain of Scriptural texts and adhere to the vision of ministry which recognizes itself within those texts rather than falling back on superficial exegesis which mysteriously never fails to confirm our unexamined cultural biases. The first will be genuinely Christian ministry and the second will be a stifling impersonation. Go read the entire thing (it’ll take four minutes, tops!) and clean off your spectacles a bit!