Saturday, January 1, 2011

Women as Pastors; Women as Wives

"903.5. Women in Ministry," Manual 2009-2013, Church of the Nazarene:

The purpose of Christ's redemptive work is to set God's creation free from the curse of the Fall. Those who are "in Christ" are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). In this redemptive community, no human being is to be regarded as inferior on the basis of social status, race, or gender (Galatians 3:26-28).

Acknowledging the apparent paradox created by Paul's instruction to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:11-12) and to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:33-34), we believe interpreting these passages as limiting the role of women in ministry presents serious conflicts with specific passages of scripture that commend female participation in spiritual leadership roles (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18; 21:8-9; Romans 16:1, 3, 7; Philippians 4:2-3), and violates the spirit and practice of the Wesleyan-holiness tradition. Finally, it is incompatible with the character of God presented throughout Scripture, especially as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

If Nazarenes can interpret Paul with this sort of nuance regarding ministry, why do I still hear the same stone age preaching about men ruling the spiritual household in marriage from Nazarene pastors and teachers? Those admonitions regarding women in marriage come from the same Pauline letters as the admonitions regarding women in the church. The Manual says women can be pastors, and therefore lead a church. Are pastors therefore saying that because women are female, they cannot use a spiritual gift of leadership in the home? What if the man has no gift for spiritual leadership? Does he lead by virtue of his penis?

I have seen this passage from Genesis used as a reason for gender division in marriage:

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16, to Eve)

But this is a CURSE, people! This is part of the Fall of Humanity. The Manual clearly states that being Christian frees us from the curses of the Fall. Why, then, did I see this verse used in church as an insight about marriage?

Marriage is a partnership. There is no rule, save that of God. Women don't need an intermediary between their souls and Christ. And children don't need all members of the household to have a penis in order to lead them spiritually. There is no "obey" clause in a Nazarene wedding service, and there shouldn't be an "obey" implication in Nazarene sermons.

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