January 23, 2008

More on the Bride of Christ...

I am of the persuasion that there is nothing in scripture that applies to only one situation. I strongly believe that there are principles modeled in the Bible that are relevant to many different parts of our life here on earth.

If men are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, what does this say about a woman's role within the Church? Are we equal in our roles with men? If a woman has the same spiritual gift as a man, does this mean that they will both perform within the same roles in the Church? If the same-role ideal isn't modeled in marriage, why would it be carried out within the Church?

Now, with all questions asked (maybe), let's look at the role of women in marriage. Even from the very beginning, Eve was created to be Adam's helpmate. Paul instructs that men are the head of the home, as Christ is the head of the Church, and women are commanded to submit to their husbands as the Church does to Christ. While this is not directly addressing the role of women within the Church, I do believe it applies.

Men and Women are created for specific natural roles, regardless of their spiritual gifting. If we are created to be nurturers and helpmates, it is unlikely that we are intended to use our giftings in the same way. This is simple for those who are gifted with Mercy or Serving, but it gets a little harder when you run into a Prophetic female voice, or even an Apostolic one. What then? What does the Apostolic woman do when the issue of submission arises in Church leadership?

I would certainly not suggest that it is impossible for a woman to be gifted in such a way. If that is so, then it would also be impossible for men to be gifted with the less confrontational gifts. We are not gifted based on gender, but I do believe that our gifts work differently according to our gender. I also believe that as women of a prophetic or apostolic gifting, we are called to more than loose submission to a vague male spiritual authority. We are called to be the support system and helpmate for the men in authority over us. We are called to be the mentors of the younger women around us, and we are called to work by the Spirit within our own giftings regardless of the social pressure to do otherwise. Is this a dichotomy?

So... I THOUGHT I had asked all the questions.... :)


Lori said...

Okay - consider how Jesus returned to the Father and left the future of the Church in the hands of the Church with the guidance/giftings of the Holy Spirit. Or, how Jesus equiped the disciples to do the works that He did among the masses. "Greater works than these..." If we are connecting the Church with women and Jesus with men it seems that men should be empowering women to step into their God-given callings/giftings in the same way Jesus empowered the Church - not of control but equiping and guidance. And, in a like manner women should listen closely and obey those that are empowering them.
Another thought - the disiples that were of God obeyed Jesus wholeheartedly. They submitted to HIS vision - which was the vision that came from the heart of God. Judas in an attempt to force the kingdom of God to manifest in the way he wanted betrayed the very One that chose him and empowered him. Hmmm...that says a lot about the importance of submission and following the vision that has been cast.
Of course, we aren't suppose to be doormats or follow any wack-o "visionary", but when God has truly placed us in a line of authority and the vision bares witness with our Spirits as being totally of God then we must submit and in like manner, we should in that place find true empowerment to be the women of God He has created us to be.
So, submission first, then empowerment. If we seek empowerment before submitting, we risk being out of the plans of God and maybe even working against God's vision.
Now, as for gender differences determining the roles within the church...I'm not sure I totally agree. When the gospel comes into a culture the lines between gender, social classes, and ages are broken down. But, God does work differently through a wealthy person verses a poor person, or through an adult verses a child, and maybe male and female. Then, there are the instances we hear about where a child clearly preaches the Gospel through the Spirit and a large group of people are smitten and repent, or a poor person finds himself/herself before royalty or a Prime Minister sharing the Truth...or even a woman leading a movement with signs and wonders following. God is God - and maybe defining every role and function of how we are to be in the Kingdom is too taxing on the brain! Follow the Spirit even when it is outside your comfort zone of what has been tradionally exceptable for a woman in the Church. If you miss it, God will correct you - if you are willing to hear the correction. I think we struggle with the opposite, stepping out to begin with!

Jessica R. Goodwin said...

My post was actually more in response to the outcries of women who refuse to faithfully come under the authority of sprit-led men within the Church. It makes me wonder where they get their ideas from... Biblically outlined gender roles, or the militant feminist movement.

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...