The service of ministry requires the person or persons in the body of Christ to be centered in a church that bases all of its instruction on God’s Word. This is very important in that today’s culture will, at times, dictate the direction of a church in a direction that may be contrary to or outside of God’s Word. These churches must remain true to scripture; otherwise, they are to be avoided in all circumstances.
We are all called by God to serve in ministry. Men and women are called to glorify God in our areas of service. in doing this, however, it is important to remain true to scripture. This is the challenge for both men and women today.
When we look at the social norms of the first century according to the Bible:
- Husband leads, wife supports (Ephesians 5:22-23)
- Parents lead, children under parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20)
- Masters over slaves (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 2:18)
The husband is the protector and covering of the wife. The husband is the provider for the wife. In contrast, today’s society declares that men and women are equal. That equality is evident even in marriage, where a husband and wife will look at their relationship as a 50-50 proposition. Scripture indicates that the man still has the responsibility over his wife and the household, and, if necessary, can delegate responsibilities within the home, for the wife is to be the husband’s helpmate (Proverbs 31:10-31).
In the same way, parents are to be the covering of their children, and are to come under their authority. Today’s society has elevated children to have rights that are equal to, or even supersede, their parents. Some children question the authority of their parents in the spirit of wanting to exercise more of their own free will. The employer-employee relationship is much the same way today, which is the closest parallel to the master-slave relationship of the past. Employees that believe they have greater rights will challenge, or even ignore, the authority of their superiors. This is indicative of today’s society, where the belief that everything is relatively equal has even moved into the philosophical belief that this also applies in ministry. Scripture, however, has maintained that their is a structure and hierarchy relative to men and women and their roles in ministry.
Culture does not dictate scripture. Culture must always adapt to scripture.
That’s the problem that we encounter today. Serving in ministry has one goal–to accomplish God’s will in God’s way. For example, when it comes to women in ministry, many will point to Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 and infer that there is room to interpret that a woman could be a pastor. It should be pointed out that there was no church or temple referenced at that time, and Deborah was a prophetess (Deuteronomy 18:21-22), one who speaks for God, yet not a priest, leader of men, nor as a proclaimed leader of Israel.
If someone were to ask the question about the relative success of a woman or women who are pastors, note that this is not lost on God, and also be aware that it is still being accomplished even though it is outside of His intentions for the roles of service. God is in control and does accomplish what needs to be done according to His will.
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the survival of many people'” (Genesis 50:19-20).
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God is at work in everyone’s lives, even when we don’t see it. In the life of the disobedient person, God is still working. His purpose is to bring good out of bad or questionable situations and circumstances. Even people who love the Lord still make mistakes. The goal is to get exactly where God wants you to be. It is in this effort that you can blossom in your ministry for God.
Deborah was a judge, She never describes herself as a priest or even as a leader of Israel. She was a “mother of Israel”–one who cares and nurtures
(Judges 5:7). All of Israel was not under her leadership; as a result, not all of Israel went into battle (Judges 5:13-18). Deborah was not a priest and did not lead her people into war, but God used her as a messenger of His Word to minister to Barak to lead men. Each person involved here had to fulfill their individual role in order to accomplish God’s will. God uses both men and women to fulfill his will.
Note that Deborah’s job was to communicate God’s message to Barak and be an encouragement. God gave the direction here that Barak was to lead (Judges 4:6). Note that Barak was given direction, yet he trusted the person (Deborah) more than God’s command. Note the response in Judges 4:9: “‘I will go with you,’ she said, ‘but you will receive no honor on the road you are about to take, because the Lord will sell Sisera into a woman’s hand.'” The servant, Deborah, in this case, was willing to put herself in harm’s way in order to accomplish God’s will. Here, Deborah still provided encouragement, and was not leading Barak. She gave him the encouragement that the Lord was still going before Barak (v. 14). Barak, in turn, needed to take the step of faith to lead and act according to God’s will (v. 15). Note that when God gives the command, you will never experience the power of God unless you obey and move according to His command (v. 15-16).
“But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:25-28). We are all equal when it comes to a need for salvation. There is equality for men and women when it comes to their need for Jesus Christ. The modern day argument with scripture in general is the use of the term “sons” from a gender perspective (v. 26).
From verse 28 comes three results that address this argument:
- Condemn and dismiss the New Testament as exclusively chauvinistic and oppressive to women with its male dominant language. It is sometimes used improperly by men to justify what is often viewed as domineering behavior, which is not supported by scripture.
- Mutual equality but functional subordination. This has been the traditional view throughout the history of the church. The NT teaches that both equality before God in status along with functional subordination in office. We see this in scripture where Christ is subordinate to God and in other areas of hierarchy. We are spiritually equal in Christ, but men and women are different because we were created differently and have different roles.
- Evangelical and feminine liberation. It does not submit to scripture. It recognizes the cultural conditioning of the text and seeks to remove it in lieu of the world’s truth instead of God’s truth. The argument raised is that the text was written in a male-dominant society. This is predominantly used in an effort to justify the presence of gays and women in ministry leadership.
The moment we attempt to adapt scripture to our modern culture, we are effectively rewriting or changing scripture.
In today’s culture, we are all equal, yet there is still a value of submitting to others. There is a trust and a willingness to submit when one feels safe and secure coming under that person. While all are equal in God’s eyes, there is still a necessity for structure in order for society to function in an optimal manner.
There has been, over many years, the evolution and development has taken place over the centuries in social structures. Note that the attitudes of man have had to evolve with slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. When people view others with the proper godly perspective in treating others with respect, there is a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to those who are being respected as well as those who witness these behaviors.
We must compare the social world to our social world and, in particular, compare the role women had in ancient times to the role they have in their world. The modern world differs considerably.
Galatians 3:26-29 states that our social status is irrelevant in salvation. All have the same in Christ; therefore, we need to acknowledge what is truth in 1 Corinthians 11:3:
“But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
If Christ is subordinate to the Father and humbles Himself to carry out the will of the Father, is it not best for man to submit to Christ, and for his wife to submit to him as husband?
God, we pray that we will not be tossed to and fro with societal dictates but submit to Your Word, for you honor Your Word and act according to Your Word. We need to be a people that act on Your Word and trust in You. Our goal, we pray, Father, is to accomplish Your will and Your way, for we want to be obedient to You, and in this, You will be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.