Well, I just finished my two term papers…one two days late. First time that’s ever happened, but hey…it’s done. (-:
I’ve mentioned before that one of my papers was on feminism being Biblical or not. I’ve debated actually posting the paper here, but I think it’s too long and academic to make a good blog read. So I’ll summarize: No. d-:
It was actually a very tough conclusion to come to. Although I’ve grown up in a church and home environment that was definitely for the view that women cannot fill all roles in the church (pastor and elder specifically) and that wives are to submit to their husband’s authority, I think I was still hoping that I would find differently. I was hoping that I would come to the end of my research, and make a shocking proclamation to the world (specifically my husband, the seminary, and my church): I am an egalitarian!! (Definition of an egalitarian: Believes that, based on Scripture, women are able to fill any position in the church and home, including head pastor and elder) I wanted to be seen as the woman who knew she could do anything she put her mind to because the Bible says she can, not limited by the old traditional views of women.
But alas, I’m not that person. I studied and read and examined the scriptures…probably too much, since I only got 3 hours of sleep the night before the paper was due. And as much as I wanted to be able to stand up and say that we women are not only equal to men in our essential being, but are also “functionally” equal (able to fill any role men can fill), I couldn’t. You can interpret and reinterpret the Bible in so many ways, but it seemed to me that egalitarian positions just had to work too hard to defend their position from the Bible.
Some things they said made sense and should be taken seriously. For example, when God creates Eve to be a “helper” for Adam, you have to look at the term “helper” to get the full meaning of the text. That term was used more than 20 other times in the Old Testament, and in the majority of those times it is referring to God being a help to us humans. Other times, it was used for an army being called on to help in a time of critical need. Obviously, the one doing the helping is not necessarily coming from a position of weakness, and the one being helped is not necessarily the helper’s authority (we are not God’s authority)!
There were several other excellent points that egalitarians have regarding women’s equality in roles. That being said, I still didn’t feel there was enough to make the case that women should be allowed to be pastors or elders in the church, or that there is such a thing as “mutual submission” in the home. The plain reading and the in context reading of passages like 1 Timothy 2:8-15, Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 3, not to mention the entire creation narrative, point to a hierarchical system set up by God for good purposes.
As disappointing as that is to me, I think my heart needs to be examined when I start to feel discontent in my role as a woman. God created me this way for a reason! And, as the Bible says, women and men are still dependent on each other. Even though equality in terms of our human dignity, worth, and value apparently doesn’t equate with equality in roles and functions, it is good to be a woman. And as I concluded in my paper, rather than dwell on the roles we can’t fill, why don’t why seek out the ones we can? Look at how amazing the Proverbs 31 woman was! And don’t forget, we are all called to fulfill the Great Commission, so let’s do that. (-: My divinely inspired disappointment will hopefully end in a divinely inspired motivation to be the best woman I can be…to be the woman God created me to be.
*If you want to read my entire paper, let me know and I’ll email it to you. But just to warn you, the last pages were written at 3 in the morning, so they’re a little…messy. d-: