Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
“MOST Christian laymen cannot understand why, if women can be monarchs, prime ministers, judges, surgeons, scientists, they must be prevented from celebrating Holy Communion and marriages,” writes Church of England clergyman Nicholas Stacey in The Times of London.
The Church of England allows women to be trained for certain roles, but they are not currently allowed to serve as priests and administer sacraments. Do you support the church’s stance, or do you think women should be allowed to serve as priests?
Could Split Churches
The contentious matter of female clergy has emerged as a divisive force amongst adherents of the same faith. Dr. Graham Leonard, Bishop of London and the foremost ecclesiastical figure in opposition to the ordination of women, cautions that the Church of England is at risk of fracturing into two distinct entities due to this pressing issue. While some attribute the exclusion of women from clerical positions to deep-seated prejudice, the situation is far more intricate and involves various underlying factors.
Over the span of multiple decades, the Church of England has endeavored to bridge the chasm with the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, in a recent correspondence directed at the Archbishop of Canterbury, the pontiff declared that permitting women to enter the priestly order would be perceived by the Catholic Church as an exacerbating impediment to the advancement of ecclesiastical unity.
A crucial component, however, has been conspicuously absent from this discourse—the Holy Scriptures. An examination of the early Christian assembly and the manner in which women contributed to it is essential for determining the appropriate role they ought to assume in contemporary religious contexts.
Equal but Different
In 33 C.E., with the inception of the Christian congregation, both women and men were bestowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. This phenomenon aligns precisely with the prophecy articulated by the Prophet Joel, as expounded upon by the Apostle Peter in the New Testament.—Acts 1:13-15; 2:1-4, 13-18.
Subsequently, Peter arrived at a profound understanding of a pivotal truth: “God is not a respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34, ASV) In essence, this scripture conveys that God does not engage in preferential treatment based on external appearances. Historically, numerous judges would exhibit partiality towards the affluent, disregarding the impoverished. Verdicts were often rendered on the basis of nationality, social hierarchy, familial ties, or amicable relations, rather than an impartial assessment of the facts. In stark contrast, Jehovah demonstrates favor exclusively towards those who exhibit reverence and embody righteousness. Concerning the prospect of salvation, God refrains from valuing a man’s countenance over that of a woman’s. Instead, both genders stand on an equal footing in His eyes.—Acts 10:35, ASV.
Hence, the Holy Scriptures endow both Christian men and women with an equitable degree of esteem as integral components of the congregation. The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Galatian Christians, asserts: “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, ASV) Each individual possesses a distinct spiritual standing before God, while concurrently uniting as a collective of His devoted servants. In God’s familial domain, all are considered equal, transcending distinctions of ethnicity, social status, and gender.—Galatians 3:26-28, ASV.
Despite the inherent equality, distinctions between men and women within the congregation do exist. However, analogous to the manner in which the innate disparities between genders do not impede their harmonious complementarity, the divergent privileges accorded to men and women in the Christian congregation ought not to obstruct the assembly’s unity. What, then, constitutes these differing roles and responsibilities?
Teachers—When and to Whom?
The disparities predominantly revolve around teaching responsibilities and authoritative roles. Women are precluded from undertaking formal instructional duties within the congregation and are restricted from exerting spiritual authority over their fellow congregants. In his epistle to Timothy, Paul unambiguously delineates: “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.”—1 Timothy 2:12, ASV.
Paul subsequently elucidates the rationale behind precluding women from assuming teaching roles, attributing it to a divinely ordained relationship between man and woman. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve,” he declares. (1 Timothy 2:13, ASV) God possessed the capacity to create Adam and Eve concurrently, yet He chose not to do so. Adam’s existence preceded Eve’s by a notable duration. Does this not manifest God’s intent for Adam to assume a directive role, functioning as the head rather than Eve? (1 Corinthians 11:3, ASV) To instruct is, in essence, to adopt the position of a master or leader over those being educated. The learners attentively listen and acquire knowledge in a subdued manner. Consequently, within the congregation, it is solely men who are designated as teachers and overseers.
Does the prohibition of women from teaching within the congregation necessarily incite frustration and resentment? Contrarily, it does not. Women are at liberty to impart Christian doctrine, and are encouraged to undertake such endeavors. In which contexts and under which circumstances, then? Elderly women may serve as “teachers of good things” to their younger counterparts. Following the paradigm established by Eunice and her mother Lois, who educated Timothy, contemporary Christian women continue to perpetuate this legacy by instructing children in “The Way” of truth.—Titus 2:3-5, ASV; Acts 9:2, ASV; 2 Timothy 1:5, ASV.
In contemporary times, Christian women emulate the precedents set by Euodia and Syntyche by disseminating the gospel in public forums. (Philippians 4:2-3, ASV) They can assume the role of educators by conducting Bible studies with individuals demonstrating interest. (Matthew 28:20, ASV) Countless women derive spiritual gratification from engaging in the imperative endeavors of preaching and instructing. Together with their Christian brethren, they direct others towards the anticipation of a world characterized by righteousness and tranquility under the sovereign reign of Jesus Christ.—Psalm 37:10-11, ASV; 68:11, ASV.