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Some people are worried that if churches allow women as well as men to be leaders in church, then they are unwittingly contributing to the gender confusion found in society. This is a “fear of the consequences” argument that touches deep emotional concerns, but is not logically or biblically valid. The fact that God called women to leadership roles in ancient Israel is evidence against the validity of this argument. Gender bias runs deep in the church and has historically prevented women from fulfilling their leadership call. It is time to dispel the myths about the role of women.
People could just as easily claim that female civil leaders create gender confusion, but we have to acknowledge that God raised up a female civil leader for ancient Israel. God chose Deborah to be a prophetess and a judge (Judges 4:5). She was a civil leader, and as a prophetess, she gave orders from God to the male leaders of Israel’s army. God gave this woman authority over men, an authority that was both religious and civil. We believe that scripture allows society to have females as school teachers, doctors, and political leaders without causing gender confusion; the church can also have female leaders without confusion. The church teaches that we are all made in God’s image and are equal heirs of salvation. The gender confusion found in society today is regrettable, but it cannot be solved by the church making restrictions that are not supported by scripture.
Many conservative Christians have viewed 1Timothy 2:12 (I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence, NKJV) as a universal injunction to be applied to all churches at all times, we have cultivated an unusual trepidation of strong women who preach or teach. This is a contemporary culture or experience.
If we look at the history of revival movements, it is clear that whenever there has been a deepening of spiritual passion and holiness in the church and a corresponding call to evangelism, women have responded to the call to ministry even when it easy culturally unacceptable for them to do so. These women were not looking for a spotlight or a pulpit, or were they out to win an argument or to prove that women are better than men. They were prayer warriors who loved the Word of God and used it skillfully to combat the evil of their day. They were women of the faith who nurtured new converts and trained their disciples to pursue spiritual maturity.
According to James Hurley, God did not assemble that body and give gifts to its members so that we may quarrel or pass our time contemplating who shall be greatest in the kingdom. He has done these things so that both men and women, joint heirs of the gracious gift of life, may use all their talents and gifts in his service to spread his kingdom and to call humans of all sorts from death to new life in Jesus Christ.