Who Can I Blame?

Blame is one of the natural side effects of controversy. In recent years, the churches of Christ have been divided over a number of issues, one of which is the desire for women to be in the pulpit or in positions of church leadership. This is obviously a huge problem. I could write another doctrinal defense of male leadership in the Church, and I would probably have some of the same responses. There would be a chorus of amens from those that agree with me, and the vitriol would flow from those ardent opponents of the traditional view. I will state, for the record, that I believe the Bible is clear that both church leaders (elders and deacons) and worship leaders (preachers, song leaders, etc.) should be men. Almost everyone reading this already believes that, so I am not going to engage in a study of 1 Timothy 2 and/or 1 Corinthians 14. If you are having trouble with this issue, I encourage you to do that, and I believe you will come to the conclusion that God intends for men to be the leaders of his Church.

So where does the problem come from? If the Bible teaches that women should not be in leadership positions, why are there so many struggling with this issue? Surely, it has to be the fault of the radicals on the left or a new generation of women who are trying to “usurp” the authority of the male leadership. Or, could it be, that the Church has brought this problem on itself by not finding a place for women to serve God? God has never said that men are “more Christian” than women, nor has he said that their roles are more important; they are simply DIFFERENT. Could it be that we are partially to blame for this confusion and the dissatisfaction that some Christian women feel?

God has always bestowed honor and respect on women. Deborah served as a judge (Judges 4), Esther saved her people (Esther 7), and because of Ruth’s dedication, she found love and joy and became the great-grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:18-22). In the New Testament, Mary found favor in God’s sight and became the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:30-33). Women in the Bible were also workers in the Kingdom. Lydia was a part of a group of spiritual women that were converted in Philippi, and her home became a safe place for Paul and his co-workers (Acts 16:13-15) while Priscilla worked with Paul and her husband Aquila as missionaries even pulling the powerful young Apollos aside and teaching him “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26 ESV).

Women were largely treated with disdain throughout antiquity. Scholars have recounted that Jewish men often prayed each morning thanking God that they were not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman! Jesus, on the other hand, defied the customs of his day by openly speaking to a Samaritan woman living in sin at Jacob’s well (John 4).

Perhaps the most beautiful chapter in the Bible pertaining to women is Proverbs 31 and its discussion of the virtuous woman. According to the wise words of the passage, desirable women are not only managers of their household but are also hardworking and intelligent. As our culture has changed, the role of the housewife is somewhat disappearing and women are thriving in the workplace (although there is still a serious issue with their compensation in relation to men in similar positions). I vividly remember talking with a lady in a college/young adult Bible class a few years ago who was toying with the idea of leaving the Church because she felt she had more to offer God than “cooking and taking care of babies” when she was educated and had been blessed with an immense “tool chest” of skills that could be of use in the Kingdom of God.

I want many Christian ladies to continue to prepare food and work in church nurseries – they are good at it! However, there is so much more that women can offer. While they should not be teaching classes full of men, preaching in the pulpit, or serving as elders and deacons, “there is work that we all can do.” To any church leader reading this, find out what the ladies in your congregation are good at and PUT THEM TO WORK! There is a lack of qualified female Bible school teachers because we have failed to develop them and find places for them to hone those skills. I am blessed to serve at a church where we have gifted ladies Bible class teachers and women that are crucial to the spiritual development of our children. There are women in the Church who need to be leaders of other women. Paul told Titus that older women should be teaching younger women how to be strong Christian women, wives, and mothers! There is a need for modern-day Priscillas to go into the mission field and serve alongside their male counterparts. We are in desperate need of WORKERS, both male, and female! If you are a woman reading this, know that God needs you and that you are a crucial part of his plan.

We may be partially to blame for the problems going on now in the Church, but there is a solution! Teach the truth and do not discount the role that God has designed EACH of us to fulfill. Remember, when it comes to salvation, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 ESV).

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Jeremy Green is the Pulpit Minister for the Ellijay Church of Christ in Ellijay, Georgia and is currently working towards an M.A. in Ministry. In his spare time, Jeremy loves watching and playing sports (War Eagle!), reading, watching Jeopardy, and spending time with his beautiful wife, Karla, and their two spoiled rotten dogs.

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