Yesterday’s post, the first installment of this series on women in the church, looked at the two passages of scripture that shaped my traditional view of male-hierarchy. Far from a position of male-hierarchy, I now hold an egalitarian view but this change has been a process. Just as the position of male-heirarchy was based on what I believed to be the teaching of scripture, my views began to change because of scripture.
New Passages of Scripture
In 1999 I became at student at Harding University where I would study the Bible, preparing to serve as a minister of the Gospel. One of the things I did was read the Bible from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s funny what can happen when reading the Bible.
As I was reading the Bible, I noticed how the gospel vision in Acts 2 mentioned sons and daughters, men and women having visions and prophesying because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After that, I noticed how in Romans 16 Paul mentions Phoebe, who is a female deacon, and Junia, who along with Andronicus, is “prominent among the apostles” (v. 7, NRSV). Then I noticed how in 1 Corinthians 11 both men and women were praying and prophesying together. Even though I didn’t understand all the head-covering stuff, I knew that no matter how we slice it and dice it that this was an assembly where men and women were both praying and prophesying together (= women praying and speaking). With these passages in mind, I also began to recall the stories in the Bible of women like Deborah, the prophetess in Judges… Ruth and Esther, who even have books of the Bible named after them… and last but certainly not least, Mary the mother of Jesus, who sort of has a sermon recorded for us in the Gospel of Luke.
Strange as it was, God seemed to have much greater use for women in his mission than the church seemed to have.
So all of these passages became for me what Scot McKnight refers to as “blue parakeets.” In his book Blue Parakeets, a book on how we read the Bible, McKnight describes the day when this blue parakeet showed up in his back yard and forced all the other birds to adjust to its unusual presence. And now I had encountered some passages of scripture that were forcing me to think and perhaps adjust. So as McKnight says in his book,
When chance encounters with blue parakeet passages in the Bible happen to come our way, we are given the opportunity to observe and learn. In such cases, we really do open ourselves to the thrill of learning how to read the Bible. …we have to get over our fears and learn to adjust to the squawks of the Bible’s blue parakeets (p. 25).
Now I realized that the Bible actually had a lot more to say about women in the church! I wanted to learn more. And as I would soon find out… Boy oh boy, was there a lot more to learn. So stay tuned!
See all “Neither Male Nor Female” (Part 1).