Becoming a Champion of Women: One Pastor’s Journey

Larry

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Becoming a Champion of Women

Man on journey ls small

(There is a Spanish translation available at the end of this post.)

I recently arrived at a new place in my approach to the subject of women in ministry. While I am not proud of my very tardy arrival to this position, I am grateful to be here.

The apostle Peter helped me on this journey. In 1 Peter 3:7 he shares a principle that is applicable beyond its immediate context of marriage. 1 Peter 3:7 says “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect (honor NASB) as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

As Rebecca Merrill Groothuis points out, the phrase “the weaker partner” here speaks of the social standing of women in the culture of that day.

Peter is pointing out that knowing how women are viewed by society, men should respond by intentionally “showing them honor”. The Greek word for “honor” means, “a valuing by which the price is fixed” (Thayers).

I believe God is telling husbands (and by extension, men in general) to recognize the injustice society has perpetrated upon women by devaluing them. And then to actively counter that reality by honoring women in a way that demonstrates the high value we place on them as “equal heirs” in the kingdom.

Peter underlines the vitality of such treatment by warning that failing to do this will actually be a hindrance to the effectiveness of our prayers. Our active resistance against these misguided cultural values has spiritual implications.

I believe we fall short of this call to “honor” if we fail to publicly champion women who are being treated as “inferior” by the society (or the ministries) around us.

From my observations of myself and others, I believe Christians group into five general positions on this subject. My own journey has taken me through four of these.

1. ACTIVE OPPOSITION

These Christians are dogmatically against women in ministry and passionately spread their view to all who will listen. They generally equate their narrow view to their high view of scripture. Thus for them the discussion is a battle for the authority of scripture.

Thankfully, I never held this position. While I was a strong complementarian in my biblical view, there were enough scriptures and plentiful examples of anointed women in my life that I could never become an activist.

2. PASSIVE DISAGREEMENT

These Christians believe that ministry roles at some level are “male only”. They will teach their position but usually only if the subject arises.

After studying at a fundamental Bible college this is the thinking and practice I ascribed to for many years. If I had to deal with the topic I would teach my views with a proud assurance but not with a wider agenda.

3. AMBIVALENCE

These individuals are apathetic or indecisive about women in ministry.  To them the issue is either unimportant or better avoided due to the controversy.

As I began to interact with the broader evangelical world I migrated to this position. I thought of myself as neutral on a minor issue. I was happy to leave such “non-essential” subjects to the theologians, bloggers, and extremists. I was content to try the impossible of seeking to please both camps.

4. PASSIVE AGREEMENT

Many pastors live in this position. They are convinced by a careful and contextual study of scripture that sisters are full heirs. However, they see the issue as solely a theological matter not as a ministry imperative or a justice issue. They miss the pain of the women around them and the implications to the gospel witness. They also often see the active empowerment of women as too risky to some aspect of their ministry.

In my own life I moved to this position by revisiting scriptures with a different set of lenses. Conversations with godly scholars, blogs like this one, books outside my theological camp, and ministry observations challenged my preexisting paradigms. I was willing to change my thinking, provided I didn’t need to speak up very loud.

5. ACTIVE ADVOCATE

An increasing number of male pastors and leaders are embracing this position. Rather than being only an issue of accurate scriptural understanding, it is becoming a matter of championing the cause of full kingdom privileges for our sisters in Christ.

Ministry and authority based on the gifts and call of the Spirit (not gender) is a freedom worthy of our active proclamation. The gospel is being hindered by the lack of this freedom. Our mission will have greater effect when we fully engage the other half of the team. Women have suffered under the pride and authoritarianism of men within the church. This is an injustice that needs healing.

My conversations with my wife and seeing her struggles to be fully accepted as a “joint heir” (1 Peter 3:7) caused my movement into “championing this cause”. As I saw her pain and potential it opened my eyes to the great hobbling of the church by those who restrict the ministry of women.

Also, as I ministered in areas of the world where women were empowered, I saw the amazing impact that gifted women were having for the gospel. I realized how much the gospel was being slowed by the unscriptural subjugation of women.

It is now my desire to champion the right of women everywhere to use all their gifts on an equal basis as men. The injustice of being oppressed by inaccurate interpretations of scripture must be actively addressed.

I am an advocate for the unhindered calling of all women.

Consequently I have increased the hiring of women on our church staff and the frequency of the women in our pulpit. We currently have equal representation of women on our Executive Pastoral Team and in our Leadership Council. Our desire is to model what we believe scripture teaches. I am finding new ways to highlight my own wife’s voice in ministry.

Peter calls husbands, and by extension men, to place a high value on women partly because of the inequities they have faced in society. If more men would become champions for women, I believe, as Peter points out, our prayers would be more effective.

This issue then becomes a vital one for the sake of the gospel. Consequently, I am sounding a call for more biblical champions of full equality.

——————————————————————————-

SPANISH TRANSLATION: 

He llegado recientemente a un nuevo lugar en mi acercamiento al tema de las mujeres en el ministerio. Aunque no estoy orgulloso de mi llegada tan tarde a esta posición, estoy agradecido de estar aquí.

El apóstol Pedro me ayudó en este viaje. En 1 Pedro 3: 7 comparte un principio que es aplicable más allá de su contexto inmediato del matrimonio. 1 Pedro 3: 7 dice: “Maridos, de la misma manera sean considerados como usted vive con sus esposas, y los tratan con respeto (el honor NVI) como a vaso más frágil, y como a coherederas de la gracia de la vida, de modo que nada obstaculizará sus oraciones “.

Como Rebecca Merrill Groothuis señala, la frase “el socio más débil” aquí habla de la posición social de la mujer en la cultura de ese día. Peter está señalando que saber cómo las mujeres son vistas por la sociedad, los hombres deben responder por intencionalmente “mostrándoles honran”. La palabra griega para medios de “honor”, “una valoración en que el precio es fijo” (Thayer).

Creo que Dios está diciendo maridos (y por extensión, los hombres en general) para reconocer la injusticia de la sociedad ha perpetrado sobre las mujeres mediante la devaluación de ellas. Y a continuación, para contrarrestar activamente esa realidad honrando las mujeres de una manera que demuestra el alto valor que le damos a ellos como “herederos iguales” en el reino.

Pedro subraya la vitalidad de dicho tratamiento  advirtiendo que no hacer esto va a ser un obstáculo para la eficacia de nuestras oraciones. Nuestra resistencia activa contra estos valores culturales equivocadas tiene implicaciones espirituales.

Creo que nos quedamos cortos de este llamado a la “honor” si no logramos públicamente que las mujeres sean campeón que sigan siendo tratadas como “inferiores” por la sociedad (o de los ministerios) que nos rodea.

De mis observaciones de mí mismo y los demás, creo que el grupo Cristianos en cinco posiciones generales sobre este tema. Mi viaje me ha llevado a través de cuatro de ellos.

1. Oposición Activa

Estos cristianos son dogmáticamente contra las mujeres en el ministerio y apasionadamente difundieron su punto de vista a todos los que escuchen. Por lo general, equiparan su visión estrecha a su alto concepto de la Escritura. Por lo tanto para ellos la discusión es una batalla por la autoridad de la Escritura.

Por suerte, nunca he ocupado este cargo. Aunque yo era un fuerte complementarian en mi punto de vista bíblico, había suficientes escrituras y ejemplos abundantes de las mujeres ungidos en mi vida que yo nunca podría llegar a ser un activista.

2. Desacuerdo Pasivo

Estos cristianos creen que los roles ministeriales en algún nivel son “sólo para hombres”. Ellos enseñarán  su posición, pero por lo general sólo si surge el tema.

Después de estudiar en un instituto bíblico fundamental es el pensamiento y la práctica que atribuye a muchos años. Si tuviera que lidiar con el tema me gustaría enseñar  mis puntos de vista con una garantía de orgullosos, pero  con una agenda más amplia.

3. Ambivalencia

Estos individuos son apáticos o indecisos acerca de las mujeres en el ministerio.Para ellos el problema es ya sea poco importante o mejor evitarlo debido a la controversia.

Cuando comencé a interactuar con el mundo evangélico más amplio emigré a esta posición. Pensé en mí mismo como neutral en un problema menor. Estaba feliz de dejar tales asuntos no esenciales a los teólogos, los bloggers, y los extremistas.Estaba contento de probar lo imposible de tratar de complacer a ambos bandos.

4.  Acuerdo Pasivo

Muchos pastores viven en esta posición. Están convencidos por un estudio cuidadoso y contextual de las escrituras que las hermanas son herederas completas. Sin embargo, ven el problema como  sólo una cuestión teológica yno como un ministerio imperativo o una cuestión de justicia. Pasan por alto el dolor de las mujeres que les rodean y las implicaciones para el testimonio evangélico.Asimismo, a menudo ven el empoderamiento activo de las mujeres como demasiado arriesgado en algún aspecto de su ministerio.

En mi propia vida que me mudé a esta posición mediante un reexamen escrituras con un conjunto diferente de las lentes. Conversaciones con eruditos piadosos, blogs como éste, libros fuera de mi campo teológico, y observaciones del ministerio desafiaron mis paradigmas preexistentes. Yo estaba dispuesto a cambiar mi forma de pensar, siempre y cuando yo no tenía necesidad de hablar muy fuerte.LIBROSfuera de mi campo teológico, y observaciones del ministerio desafiaron mis paradigmas preexistentes. Estaba dispuesto a cambiar mi forma de pensar, siempre y cuando yo no tuviera la  necesidad de hablar muy fuerte.

5. Abogado Activo

Un número creciente de pastores masculinos y líderes están adoptando esta posición. En lugar de ser sólo una cuestión de comprensión bíblica precisa, se está convirtiendo en una cuestión de defender la causa de los privilegios del reino completos para nuestras hermanas en Cristo.

Ministerio y la autoridad basado en los dones y el llamamiento del Espíritu (no sexo) es una libertad digna de nuestra activa proclamación. El evangelio está siendo obstaculizado por la falta de esta libertad. Nuestra misión tendrá un mayor efecto cuando  involucramos plenamente la otra mitad del equipo. Las mujeres han sufrido bajo la soberbia y el autoritarismo de los hombres dentro de la iglesia. Esto es una injusticia que necesita curación.

Mis conversaciones con mi esposa y ver a sus propias luchas para ser plenamente aceptados como “coheredero” (1 Pedro 3: 7) causado mi movimiento en “defensa de esta causa”. Al ver su dolor y el potencial que me abrió los ojos a la gran cojera de la iglesia por aquellos que restringen el ministerio de las mujeres.

Además, como he ministrado en áreas del mundo donde las mujeres estaban facultadas, vi el impacto increíble que las mujeres dotados estaban teniendo para el evangelio. Me di cuenta de lo mucho que el evangelio estaba siendo frenado por la subyugación de las mujeres no bíblica.

Ahora tengo el deseo de defender el derecho de las mujeres de todo el mundo a usar todos sus dones en igualdad de condiciones que los hombres. La injusticia de estar oprimidas por las interpretaciones erróneas de las Escrituras debe ser abordado de manera activa.

Soy un defensor de la llamada sin trabas de todas las mujeres. En consecuencia he aumentado la contratación de mujeres en nuestro personal de la iglesia y la frecuencia de las mujeres en nuestro púlpito. Actualmente contamos con una representación paritaria de las mujeres en nuestro Equipo de Pastoral Ejecutivo y en nuestro Consejo de Liderazgo. Nuestro deseo es modelar lo que creemos que la Escritura enseña. Estoy descubriendo nuevas formas de destacar la voz de mi propia esposa en el ministerio.

Pedro llama a los esposos, y por los hombres de extensión, para colocar en gran valor a las mujeres, en parte debido a las desigualdades que se han enfrentado en la sociedad. Si más hombres se convertirían en campeones para las mujeres, como Pedro señala, nuestras oraciones serían más eficaces.

Este problema se convierte entonces en un modo vital para la causa del evangelio. En consecuencia, yo estoy haciendo sonar una llamada para más campeones bíblicos de la plena igualdad.

LARRY WALKEMEYER  (D. Min)  es el pastor principal de Light & Life Christian Fellowship, una iglesia multi-étnica urbana, que ha plantado decenas de iglesias a nivel local como a nivel mundial. Él es un Superintendente de la Iglesia Metodista Libre en el Sur de California y ha sido autor / co-autor de tres libros, entre ellos “15 Características de los pastores eficaces”. Le encanta esquiar en la nieve, paseos en bote, y saliendo con su esposa, Deb.LIBROS , incluyendo “15 Características de los pastores eficaces”. Le encanta esquiar en la nieve, paseos en bote, y saliendo con su esposa, Deb.

Larry

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12 Comments

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What a refreshingly honest and helpful article. This is applicable to women in many senses too. I have moved through a variety of phases and my most recent shift is from hurt, anger and despair to deep sadness and compassion for a misguided faith community. Good thing is I no longer feel confused and unsure as a woman …but just peacefully aware of bad theology and hidden sexism. So valued reading this … like balm to my soul.

  • This is such a great explanation of why ordained women in many FMC conferences are sidelined. Those who make the decisions are all in camps 2-4, and when we try to address the issues, we are told, “What is your problem? Nobody here is a 1!”

  • Larry, thanks for this free and frank article. I also moved from position 2 – 5 as I gained a greater awareness of what God was doing with me and many other female leaders. I’m reposting this, and really appreciate your call to me to become advocates for women in leadership.

  • Even as a female FMC pastor, it took me a while to move from #3 to 5. It’s not “safe,” and we’re bombarded with the message that it’s fostering disunity. But I came to #5 for the very same reasons you mention–it’s debilitating for the church to keep half of its people silent and powerless with their gifts. I imagine what the church would accomplish, look like, if we freed women. And I can’t keep silent about that, because I believe it’s dishonoring to God, not just women. Thank you.

  • Thanks, Larry for your vocal advocacy for female pastors. Double thanks for spreading this among our Free Methodist people! Blessings.

  • This is such an important article. We need to see a simple, clear movement forward on this scale by pastors to become advocates for those who are often not allowed to speak for themselves, as Proverbs 31:8 directs us. Thanks for posting!!

  • The Free Methodist Church has always been a champion of the full inclusion of women. How was this pastor allowed to be ordained while teaching contrary?

  • thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for this: “Ministry and authority based on the gifts and call of the Spirit (not gender) is a freedom worthy of our active proclamation.” and for this; “Also, as I ministered in areas of the world where women were empowered, I saw the amazing impact that gifted women were having for the gospel.” and this; “Consequently I have increased the hiring of women on our church staff and the frequency of the women in our pulpit. We currently have equal representation of women on our Executive Pastoral Team and in our Leadership Council.”

  • Thank you for sharing your views on this topic as well as your own journey. I too experienced a similar track through the varying positions. I simply looked around me at seminary and saw the many women who were so gifted by God to be pastors; that allowed me to realize that my old “men only” position on the pastorate was silly.

    I wanted to ask you about your 5 positions, particularly 4 and 5. I wonder at what point “Active Advocate” can become a standoffish position for a pastor. I defer to your experience and expertise as a pastor, but I could see the potential for alienating a congregation if one continuously teaches women in ministry. I think simply having women preach and serve in churches (as your church appears to do) can be a safer strategy. But then again, would that be affirming others’ positions of subjugation?

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