Sunday, September 1, 2013

Women In The Ministry

Knowing what we do about the people of the Middle East and how they feel about the role of women in the world at large, it is no surprise that the church hierarchy became top-heavy with men.  But the men of the Middle East were apparently not the only culprits in turning women toward submissive roles.

According to Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman, debate over what role women should hold began because they held high roles in the early church, beginning with Jesus and his ministry.  Women, in addition to twelve male disciples, went with Jesus on his tours.  They helped him financially and were patrons of his ministry.  He spoke with them and ministered to them in public. They did not desert him like the men did at the end. 

The Apostle Paul also respected the role of women and did not treat them as inferiors.  He even referred to several as coworkers.  And, it was a woman whom he called foremost of the Apostles.  And yet, he contradicted himself on occasion.  Because of Paul's contradictions, people in his churches, in various locations, favored either one or the other. Arguments arose, and eventually women were subjected to a subservient role.  In fact, some Bible scholars believe that I Timothy, attributed as a letter from Paul to Timothy, may not have been written by Paul, but by the supposed recipient.  There are verses in I Timothy that are said not to even be in the same order when comparing Greek and Latin manuscripts.  There are also deliberate alterations, such as some Bibles using Junias (male) instead of Junia (female) to change the meaning.  Ehrman gives further examples of deliberate and accidental errors when comparisons are made about this and other issues. 

In our world today, major Christian denominations still see the woman's role as lesser and low in the church hierarchy.  But don't forget Jesus had announced that women and men would be equal in his kingdom. 

Paul suggested not to change the roles at that time, because early Christians thought the end was upon them.  It didn't seem necessary for such a short time.

Women are not alone in trying to get equal roles for females.  A lot of men recognize that the intelligence, the work ethic, and the loyalty of women would be as beneficial to the church as it has been in government and business settings.  Yet, the greater denominations and religions still hold out a chauvinistic viewpoint that men, perhaps because they used their size and brute strength to seize power, are the top dogs and women are their servants.  Remember also that Jesus said there would be no slaves in his kingdom.  So, why is our world, especially our supposedly compassionate church community, so resistant to following his lead?

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