The equality of women with men in Ministry and church leadership is not a progressive thing; it is a Jesus thing. I heard a secular podcast this morning refer to the “issue of women in ministry” as a “progressive” one. I’m here to disagree with that assessment.
We can (and, sadly, we will) continue to debate the place and roll of women in the church. But it is not a “progressive” issue. I have many friends who identify themselves as anything but progressive who understand and teach that women and men have equal claim to ministry and leadership in the church.
I know there are churches that will tell you otherwise. But according to the gospels, (all four of them) none of those churches might be telling you anything if Mary Magdalene had not gone to find the empty tomb and returned to tell the men and others that Christ was risen.
There are women in leadership throughout the Bible. Yes, even in the Old Testament: Deborah and Huldah, to name two. Paul identifies women as leaders in several churches in his letters.
You may be thinking of those verses where women are told to keep silent. Ok, that’s not exactly right; the churches are told how to let their women behave. One way of reading this is that the churches to whom Paul is writing have some specific issues. (remember, these letters were actually written to specific people or churches, and only secondarily for the rest of us) Another way of reading this kind of thing is that these are “for all time” statements.
Language betrays a preference though. When Paul writes “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28) it is written as a general statement rather than instructions for dealing with specific congregational issues.
Disagreements about genders and their relationship(s) with each other and with God are not new. Women in ministry and church leadership is not a “progressive” issue; it is a Jesus issue. It isn’t a new issue; we have been on this long and winding path as long as there has been a path.