A look at the gender issue as a woman called to preach the word of God.
Early in my Christian journey, I began to earnestly search the scriptures. My goal was to understand what the Christian life is really about. I knew the Holy Bible (God's inspired word) was the guide I must use. One of my most fervent prayers was, "Father, please don't let me be deceived".
Over and over, I read the book of Romans written by the Apostle Paul. Every time that I did , I was able to grasp a clearer understanding of salvation through God's grace. I began to experience a strong sense of encouragement and love. I could hear the clarion call to holy living and responsibility. And, I embraced the justification of righteousness because of Jesus Christ, the One who is righteous.
The more I read, the more I felt strengthened in my faith. I could see how the believer is released from legalistic condemnation into a new life. A life that is a gift from God gained in Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Later as my identity was shaped by the word of God (and as I encountered friends and foes, triumphs and trials), I began to understand not only my position in God but my purpose in Him.
I can still hear the Holy Spirit saying to me, 'I have ordained you to go forth. I have placed My word in your mouth... help bring them in. I accepted my call. And I began to look more closely to what the Apostle Paul's teachings speak to women in the ministry. Does the word of God indeed command a preeminent gender issue concerning ministry? I prayed: " Father guide me by Your Holy Spirit into Your truth and Your perfect will. Help me to not forget my love and respect for the Apostle Paul and his authority as voiced in the Holy scriptures. In Jesus name. Amen.'
I began, then, to visualize the pre-Christian, legalistic Saul nature and imagined it (just as my own flesh) needing to be crucified daily. The wanting Stephen stoned to death, haul the saints to jail, blinded on the Damascus road pharisaical man was transformed to the Holy Ghost converted and enlightened preacher/teacher. (See Acts 7:54-60; 8:1-3 and Acts 9. The regenerated Paul came into view. I had no doubt of Paul's sincere love for the Lord and the Lord's church. Paul was serious in his commitment to spread the gospel. He was intent upon imparting strength and guidance to others for life-long service.
In Romans 1:11, Paul wrote: 'I long to see you so that I may impart some Spiritual gift to make you strong. One of the things that I discovered about Brother Paul is that as a teacher he would point out what was commanded by God, what was according to the law and what was of human argument, permission, or thought. " But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us?" I am using a human argument. Romans 3:5
In Paul's instructions to Timothy on divine order of the sexes, the Bible records: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission: I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent. for Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived and became a sinner (1Timothy 2:12-14). This, too, seems to be a human argument.
In Genesis 3:16-19, God addresses the sin of disobedience and its consequences. Both Adam and Eve, man and woman would suffer as the results of sin. Both were to experience pain; the woman in childbirth and the man in his labor. God told the woman even in her pain, her desire would be for her husband and that he would rule over her. He was to have a strong, dominant influence over her. Perhaps that is something he had not exhibited or experienced in the garden. Perhaps that is what would have protected them both,but, there again, this point is of human argument.
God gave a Sovereign command specifically for a marital relationship. I do not believe this gives edict to women to be silenced for all time. Ecclesiates 3:1;7 records: Ther is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be silent and a time to speak.
Does the immutable God change? the answer is clearly no. But in Daniel 2:21 we find this truth about God: He changes the times and the seasons, He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
The scriptures also speak of the time God would pour His Spirit on all flesh, both His sons and His daughters. (See Joel 2:28. Acts 2:18). In Phillipians 4:3, Paul wrote: 'Yes and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the causes of the gospel along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the book of life'.
God has given us (men and women) the ministry of reconciliation. We can see how this reconciliation works in Paul's letter to Philemon, a wealthy Christian in the church at Colosse.
Paul writes to his friend that his runaway slave Onesimus has come to faith in Jesus. Even though Onesimus is returned to Philemon, Paul urged his friend to receive him in forgiveness. The new relationship as brothers in Christ reconciled to God affirmed them as equals in God.
All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2Timothy 3:16). Every line of scripture affirms the revelation of God and challenges us to be guided into His truth rather than our own limited understanding. That challenges us to consecration, meditation, prayer and as 2 Timothy 2:15 urges," Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved; a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth'.
Finally, in Romans 3:4 Paul said, "Let God's word be true and every man a liar". The truth according to Galatians 3:28 is, 'Ther is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'
Forgetting tradition and human argument, looking to God breathed scriptures for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, what does God's word speak to you about the ministry of reconciliation for the man of God and the woman of God? The truth now!
Minister Judy Mays is an Assistant Pastor of the Union Missionary Baptist Church, Muncie, In. where she serves as a preacher/teacher/intercessor under the prophetic anointing.