Saturday, March 17, 2007

question

Does God "call" women to a ministry position 1) apart from their husbands and/or 2) apart from the family/children developmental roles?

if yes/no, does Scripture back up your claim?

13 comments:

Chris said...

You know, as far as I can tell, "ministry" is what you make of it. It's not like there's a "sacred" world and a "secular" world that you can do ministry in one but not the other ... it's all the same place. That being the case, what's the difference between men and women? "neither man nor woman ..." Probably their chosen roles, I'd guess. I mean, apart from physical differences - men can't carry a child, but we care for our pregnant wives (my wife's due in July) - our minds/spirits are both capable of many things. There are plenty of single women out there who will never be married; while I know you'd never meaningfully imply this, your question (could) imply that women who don't get married aren't ever called.

Perhaps if we rephrase the question: "Are couples called together into a ministry or separately as individuals?" If that was the question, I'd answer 'yes.' My wife and I are called together into the ministry of raising our child (and all the little ministries that pop up along the way as a result), but also we are called separately into different ministries for one thing or another; my wife couldn't be a professor, but I couldn't do the things that she does. The roles aren't really separate as a couple, but as two become one, they begin to merge, weaving in and out of one another.

Just like the ministry of singles weave in and out of one another in their spiritual family; the differences between singles and couples is that singles have a slightly different relationship with their fellow Christians than two spouses have with each other. But the differences, on the whole, aren't really that significant in the grand scheme of things.

There. I think that's controversial enough. Have at me.

One Salient Oversight said...

I wouldn't worry about the "call" bit. The issue for me is basically whether or not the woman fits into the Deacon/ess category defined in 1 Timothy 3.

Romans 16.1-2 indicates that Phoebe was involved in ministry.

Essentially a deacon/ess should be godly and know the truth. I'm fairly conservative when it comes to preaching and authority so I wouldn't make a woman an Elder. But there is no reason at all why a woman who is godly and who knows the truth cannot be paid full time to work for the Gospel.

So ask yourself, do others recognise you as being godly? Do others see in you a good knowledge of Scripture? If they do then you are likely to meet the requirements of a Deacon/ess.

Once that has been established, you should then work out whether it is best for you to be in this position, or whether it is best for you to do something else - God's glory being the determining factor.

If you determine that God can be glorified better by being a Deacon/ess, then consider yourself "called".

Anonymous said...

maybe just remember that ministry is service- greek word diakonos. aren't we all called to serve others for God's glory whether male or female, single or not?
Christ is the ultimate example of our ministry, whether we are male or female, and he served single and married people, both male and female. We also have new testament examples of women serving Christ (same greek word) in Matt 27v55 and Luke 8v3, although they were not married to him, and certainly not in a role that considered Christ to be a child at the peak of his ministry on earth.
Ministry can be used as a bit of a buzz word to make us feel like we are doing something official for God's kingdom, and there are real dangers to this when the true meaning of the word is ignored.
Perhaps there is a different calling to service/ministry if one has been given the spiritual gift of service as described in Romans 12v7, but this doesn't tell us the roles women should or shouldn't do, but exhorts all the men and women who have this gift to serve the body of Christ.
I believe that it is often our cultural sensitivities that lead us to even ask such questions as whether women might have roles of service outside family life or children developmental roles, and i see no biblical evidence to support these.

Anonymous said...

maybe just remember that ministry is service- greek word diakonos. aren't we all called to serve others for God's glory whether male or female, single or not?
Christ is the ultimate example of our ministry, whether we are male or female, and he served single and married people, both male and female. We also have new testament examples of women serving Christ (same greek word) in Matt 27v55 and Luke 8v3, although they were not married to him, and certainly not in a role that considered Christ to be a child at the peak of his ministry on earth.
Ministry can be used as a bit of a buzz word to make us feel like we are doing something official for God's kingdom, and there are real dangers to this when the true meaning of the word is ignored.
Perhaps there is a different calling to service/ministry if one has been given the spiritual gift of service as described in Romans 12v7, but this doesn't tell us the roles women should or shouldn't do, but exhorts all the men and women who have this gift to serve the body of Christ.
I believe that it is often our cultural sensitivities that lead us to even ask such questions as whether women might have roles of service outside family life or children developmental roles, and i see no biblical evidence to support these.
Grace.

ckhnat said...

This question was asked of a friend who then in turn asked me. Mike and I discussed it and I thought I'd open it up to everyone else.

Anonymous, you bring up a point that both Mike and I pondered. The cultural sensitivities.

Is it possible that in an effort to rectify radical feminisms influence on the church that many have swung to an opposite extreme, confining women to the nursery and/or sewing class?

One Salient Oversight said...

Is it possible that in an effort to rectify radical feminisms influence on the church that many have swung to an opposite extreme, confining women to the nursery and/or sewing class?

Absolutely. The rise of feminism, for all its faults, also led to the exposing of violence against women and subsequent laws protecting them. My wife is a Social Worker and she did some research for her Masters degree a few years ago on Domestic Violence in Sydney Anglican churches. This research would never have come about had there not been the social changes that occurred via feminism.

It's very easy for Christians today to criticise feminism and "the world", but very difficult for them to criticise their own.

Anonymous said...

My question would be whether by entering into a ministry she felt called into, the married woman would be doing so at the expense of her relationship with her husband and children? By entering marriage, it seems like essentially that is her first "ministry." I've seen many godly married women who can handle an outside ministry and still be the wife and mother the Bible commends. On the other hand, there are women who simply can't. When they try to do both at once, one or the other suffers. When this occurs, what should be the first priority? Well, did God call the woman to the marriage? (if she's married, I hope the answer is yes. Even if she thinks it's not, it's a little late now!:^)) We know that the Bible does call women to have a "meek and quiet spirit" and to emulate Sarah who "called her husband lord." That seems to indicate the husband should have the first priority in this situation. (I'm not saying that God shouldn't be everyone's first priority, of course.) That's my take. :^)
--Karen

ckhnat said...

quite right, Karen.

Mike and I have covered this issue, as well. It is very clear in my mind that choosing to minister to my husband and children will not be second choice or second class. It is a beautiful privilege and priority ... one that I will not let other ministry opportunities deter me from.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about women like Mina Oglesby and Joni Eareckson Tada (for example), and what their husbands thought as they did stuff behind the scenes while their wives were prominently out front. Just idle curiosity of course.
--Karen

ckhnat said...

yeh, i always wondered that about "little" mr. oglesby sitting on the front row. i wonder how that works.

i've heard joni talk a bit about her husband's commitment to their ministry. because of her condition, she is necessarily the voice and face of the ministry. it is his constant physical care for and emotional/spiritual support that enables them to accomplish everything that they do.

gina said...

Can I just go back to the comment about whether it is possible that in an effort to rectify radical feminisms influence on the church many have swung to an opposite extreme, confining women to the nursery and/or sewing class?, Sadly, that extreme does exist, but I don’t think we have to go that far, although even in the nursery, there are plenty of opportunities for the older women to teach the younger women. (and, aren’t we ALL “called” to that ministry, whether we like it or not?) The bottom line is that there are certain areas of ministry in which women are clearly instructed not to be involved. AND, THAT’S OKAY! Men and women are special because we are different. Why do so many in the world and in the church wish to impose upon women the same old bored egalitarianism?

We know from scripture that women are not supposed to be in authority over men. So, women: Let our men be men. Let them lead! There are so many ways to fulfill our roles without overstepping those bounds. Although there are cases in scripture where a woman had a ministry outside the home, it was certainly not normative. It’s not the ideal. We have to keep in mind that Eve was made for Adam and try to make our direction and affection for our husbands and our homes.

For the unmarried, whatever activity or ministry we are involved in should still be under the direction, authority and approval of our fathers and/or elders.

Christine, I love your blog. You say so many things that I have thought about, but have not been able to articulate myself. Thanks! It always makes me think, and I appreciate that.

Lisa said...

I wonder if the language of call is sometimes misunderstood in the wider christian community. A very cursory glance over the concordance of my Bible shows that many of the Biblical references to call are in regards to us calling on God eg Psalm 18:3, Psalm 145:18, Romans 10:14. Nonetheless there are still a number of references to our call, but I sometimes wonder, what exactly is our call? Is it different for men and women, does it vary based on your level of christian maturity? Can I miss my call, what if I don't recognise it? Well as far as I can tell Scripture speaks less of a specific call and more of the broader, yet equally glorious call, to be a saved child of God. Now don't get me wrong, of course God can choose to call any one of us to a specific ministry, but the biblical evidence would seem to suggest that all Christians, whether male or female, married or single, have exactly the same calling. What is that call? We are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), we are called to freedom (Galatians 5:13), to one hope (Ephesians 4:4), to eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12), to receive a promised eternal inheritance which redeems us from our transgressions (Hebrews 9:15) and finally, and somewhat surprisingly, to suffer (1 Peter 2:21).
So after that very brief analysis of what the Bible has to say about "call", I wonder if it is in fact correct to say that you are called to marriage. Clearly God created marriage and thinks that it is a good and right thing to seek, but is there any biblical evidence to support the notion of being called to marriage. And if there is, what are the implications for single people and their ministry within the kingdom?

Bobby said...

Is it possible that in an effort to rectify radical feminisms influence on the church that many have swung to an opposite extreme, confining women to the nursery and/or sewing class?

Yes, I think so. And as others have pointed out, I think the answer to the larger question depends on one's understanding of "ministry" and "call."

I think we all, men and women, are gifted with unique talents, and are meant to use them regardless of whether we are married. I think if we are married, we can use them within the home and without, and that husbands and wives should support each other. Quick example:

A woman who is gifted with a wonderful singing voice can use that in the home, singing to her children, and also in worship services, leading a congregation in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.