Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sucked In to the Mutuality Debate

This is my take on "One In Christ: A Week of Mutuality, dedicated to discussing an egalitarian view of gender—including relevant biblical texts and practical applications. The goal is to show how scripture, tradition, reason, and experience all support a posture of equality toward women, one that favors mutuality rather than hierarchy, in the home, Church, and society. You can read the rest of the posts here."

How sad…but it is only recently that I have begun to realize that there are so many Christians who don’t believe I have any business preaching.

Sure, they don’t call me out by saying, “You, Cailyn, have no business in the pulpit. Get out and go home. Let your husband do the spiritual leading.”

I don’t have a problem with my husband (whom I don’t have yet) being a spiritual leader.

I DO, however, have a problem with being told I am of no worth in ministry. Although I guess they wouldn’t phrase it that way. I CAN do ministry, but limiting myself to working with women and children. But my voice pretty much has no business reaching the ears of men in the congregation.

Which poses a slight problem, since I have been teaching, preaching, and discipling men AND women for the past two years.

But growing up in the Church of the Nazarene, I never really realized it was a major issue. At some point of my young Bible study, I stumbled upon 1 Timothy 2, and didn’t really know what to do with it. This is where I first realized that not everyone would be okay with my call to ministry. My call to reach the unreached at the ends of the earth. My call to teach the Word of God to anyone who will listen to me.

Because apparently, my chromosomes might be the only factor to take into account.

I have (obviously) been sucked in to the mutuality debates lighting up the blogosphere.

And a few things have jumped out at me:

1. It is a VERY personal issue to women with a call to ministry. If God says that a patriarchal system is what he had in mind for the Church that bears the name of Jesus Christ, well that kind of changes everything for me.

2. Reading the entire Bible from a lens of complementarianism feels inconsistent. I get that just opening up certain sections of the Bible, and reading them at face value, you pretty much have to draw the conclusion that women are to be silent in the church. But what about the times when they very clearly don’t. When female church leaders are praised by the Apostle Paul. When he even tells women that WHEN they prophesy, they need to cover their heads. Jesus even commissioned a women to be the herald of the resurrection story, the very definition of an apostle. And in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, egalitarianism is the only thing that makes sense.

I also believe it is extremely important to remember that the Bible was not written to us. We absolutely have it as a resource to apply to our lives, but we are not the intended audience. We are eavesdropping on a conversation that Paul had about Timothy in his specific church. We are eavesdropping on Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. We are eavesdropping on Peter’s conversation with the early believers. This REQUIRES us to investigate the context these things were written within. And Rachel Held Evans has already done a fantastic job of that on her blog.

In light of the cultural and historical contexts, and in view of the entire canon of Scripture, egalitarianism just makes sense. It is the more consistent position. It makes no exceptions.

3. I was really blown away by what Evans stated, “For patriarchalists, the power struggle between men and women will only end when men win. 
For egalitarians, the power struggle between men and women can only end when, like Christ, we both choose to lose.”

Here’s the thing, Paul’s call for the universal church isn’t about gender; it is about submitting to one another in love. EVERYONE is called to submit to one another. EVERYONE is called to stop looking after his or her own interests, but to put others first. We are ALL called to love our neighbor as ourselves.

That command has nothing to do with gender. That command has EVERYTHING to do with loving my brother or sister more than I love myself. It actually requires me to forget about myself and seek the interests of others. I choose to lose, because I am not seeking my own interests. And if we are ALL putting everybody else first, we are actually loving the way Jesus Christ did, who made himself nothing, and gave himself up for us.

In the kingdom that Jesus Christ came to establish on earth as it is in heaven, gender is just NOT part of the equation.

We are all ONE IN CHRIST.

And perhaps the most disturbing part of this debate is not the issues raised themselves, but rather the fact that we don’t really seem to be representing one body. We are definitely lacking the unity that Jesus earnestly prays for his followers to have.

So part of me wants to keep my mouth shut, but the thing I just don’t like, is that they want to silence half of the followers of Christ, half of his disciples, and half of the followers who need to be making disciples of all nations.

Ladies, we can’t keep quiet, because the Great Commission is not finished, and we need to go. We need to teach. We need to baptize. We are Christ’s ambassadors too. So until the last tribe and tongue is reached with his saving message, silence is not an option. We have an equal share in this.