Well I had one of those moments today. I am sure that some of my readers will have the same level of excitement about this as I, and I am sure that some will not like it at all. But to all, I write with peace and grace.
My entire life, being raised in a Pentecostal–Holiness church, I heard about the hope of believers in the return of Jesus Christ for the Church. The Church is understood to be the Bride of Christ. Matthew 25:6 stirred up expectation in every believer.
At the same time, it was completely understood that leadership in ministry was for men only. There was no place for women in ordained leadership. Women were encouraged and even expected to work tirelessly for the ministry with their gifts and talents, but only in supporting role capacities.
There was no denying that women could handle most of the task that take place in the local church, doing everything from cooking meals to serving meals, to cleaning after the meals were finished, to preparing the programs, ushering and passing out the programs, and being on the program, to designing the choir robes to singing in the choir in the choir robes.
As a matter of fact, when the church observed the sacrament of communion, in the days long before the prepackaged communion portions, it was, and still is, the women who prepare the sacred table for the Lord’s Supper. As the service transitioned to the observance of the Holy Sacrament of Communion, it was a woman, a Mother of the Church, who read I Corinthians 11: 23-34. While she was reading, the women did everything that needed to be done during this sacred time of the service. But when it was actually time to serve the communion to the congregation, in my church, this could only be done by an ordained elder and only men were ordained.
As a child, I never gave this reality much thought. But as I got into my early twenties, the analytical side of my being started to develop. It was then that I began to wonder why it was that women could prepare the food for before and after the service and touch everybody’s plate in serving food to church members, friends, and family. But suddenly when we were observing the most sacred piece of cracker and grape juice, suddenly the women who had put it on the plate and in the little cups were not allowed to serve it to the congregation of believers – the same believers that they would serve chicken dinners to any other time.
A decade later I would learn about the debate between substantiation and transubstantiation. Ok, fine, but my denomination’s stance on the Eucharist is that of Zwingli, that the elements of the table do not change in essence but symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ. So what does gender really have to do with who serves the Last Supper to the congregation?
Well moving right along,------- I began work to wrap my brain around how God really felt about women. Ended up getting a Liberal Arts degree in Religious Studies from taking classes just to learn and understand about God and Religion. I know that a lot of men are chauvinists, some know they are and others have no idea that they are, but still the truth remains. I just don’t believe that God is a chauvinist.
Now years after graduate school (seminary), having read a lot of theological works and a few on feminist theology, and a few on liberation theology, I still in my own self wonder why the issue of women in ministry is such a hard thing for the church, not just my denomination, but for many denominations to accept?
At the same time, that women are being told that they now can excel in the corporate world, the church is saying that you shouldn’t do that in an ecclesiastical setting. Why does the church encourage women to excel at mediocrity? I kept wondering why was God calling women to the ministry, only to have them face being ostracized by many Christian denominations. In my own struggle to understand, I kept wondering why the church treated all women as if they were equal. I mean, every woman is not called to leadership in the church, just as every woman is not called to run a secular corporation, every woman is not a great cook, every woman is not a great seamstress, etc.
Each woman has her own unique gifts and talents. Women vary just as much as everything else n God’s creation. It is dehumanizing to assume that there is no difference or distinction on how God created each woman unique and to God’s own liking. This would be the reason that wives are not interchangeable. Why have so many women become ecclesiastically docile? Hear me when I say being respectful and docile are two completely different things. A woman is to submit to her own husband, not every man in the world. Seriously, who wants their wife or daughter obeying the thoughts of any and every man? That is a dangerous thought process at best.
I have watched so many women who are movers and shakers in their career become mousy and ashamed in a church setting. Which manifestation is the truly God given identity, and what would God have them use their ability to accomplish for the kingdom of God, if they were liberated to serve God to full capacity?
I am sure by now, if you know your bible, you have your list of scriptures ready to reply to what I am saying…… I know them all. I was raised hearing them.
Ok, so you are asking, if I know about the scriptures concerning women being silent in church, then what is the point of my writing. Glad you asked. Now I can tell you.
First of all, I am not calling for women to disrupt the worship service of their local church. But if you truly believed that women should be silent in church, why are they allowed to do ANYTHING during the service or in the sanctuary for that matter? If you want women to be silent in church, then why are they singing in your choir and on your praise team? Last I heard, you cant sing silently…….and no one has ever mentioned us all going outside when it was time for a woman to sing. And what about the announcements? In most churches, it is a woman who reads the announcements. So shouldn’t she be reading them silently?
The truth is that both in the world and in the church, it takes both men and women working together to accomplish the furtherance of the Gospel. There are certain things that each of us does well regardless of gender.
But let us future forward to the day when Christ will return for the Church. It is like this – on the wedding day the bride must be ready for the groom. We all know this in the natural. The bible gives us some insight into the expectations for the Bride of Christ, ‘without spot or wrinkle’. The Church must not only be well prepared for the return of Christ, but there is a lot of attention given to detail. Everything is prepared.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before now. I guess it was not time…. I am sure that this understanding is all about timing, not my timing but God’s timing.
As a child is growing up, a lot of people impart into the growing life and mind. The mother or grandmother or some mother figure is the first teacher that a child has in the world. Both males and females learn from her. As a female approaches the age of marriage, some of the knowledge she will need must come from a female in her life. Both men and women have been a part of her learning and preparation throughout life. But on the wedding day, a lot of preparation that has taken place over time is manifested in the moment that the bride is presented to the groom. Most of that preparation was done long in advance of that actual wedding day, but all comes together on the wedding day.
As the Bride of Christ is getting ready to be joined with Christ at his return, everything must be made ready. The bride must be ready, and a man can’t dress a bride. Not even the father of the bride, who has protected her from all danger, participates in her dressing for the wedding. When she is ready, the father will present her to the groom. But the father leaves the preparation and dressing of the bride to women. So why wouldn’t the Almighty God entrust women with preparing the Bride of Christ.
It takes a woman to see the revealed body and to prepare it and adorn it to meet the groom. A women, who is attentive to every little wrinkle that might go un-noticed, or to find the spot that might be hidden in an un-obvious location. It takes a woman to give the attention to detail need to make sure that everything is as best as it can be for the presentation of the Bride to her Groom.
The church is made up of both men and women, serving and growing in relationship with God. As we approach the time that the Bride of Christ but be prepared to meet Him when He come, God is selecting those whom God has equipped for the last attention to details as needed. Women in Ministry have been called by God to dress the Bride of Christ. Let us make ready for soon we shall hear, with expectation the proclamation, “Behold the Bride-Groom cometh”.