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  • Hi, my name is Jan Owen. I am a woman following, loving, seeking and worshiping Jesus. These writings are my thoughts as I journey through both the pains and joys of life. After serving as a worship pastor for 15 years, I am now a worship missionary, serving as the President of the Give Worship Project, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization to help equip indigenous church leaders, particularly in the area of worship. You can donate by using the DONATE button below. All your gifts are tax-deductible and very appreciated. Thanks! Check it out! www.giveworship.com

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    « An Encouraging Place for Women to Serve! | Main | Rocking Your Boat - Some Things to Think About »

    November 18, 2008

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    Linda Safford

    Women lead, men lead, the gospel is shared as we are all salt and light in the world. Authority and position (office) is the issue for me. I have studied the Bible and have reviewed this subject time and time again...making sure I am not living out social norms only but living out what God's word teaches. So we will agree to disagree that I do not feel women should hold office in the church, ie elders/pastor.

    All are called to serve. All are called to minister. All are called to share the gospel and to disciple.

    As to the conflict of egalitarianism vs complimentarianism, I feel we walk a slippery slope in viewing gender as the same. Men and women do lead. Christ gave us freedom equally but to say there is equality in the roles of men and women...by even converting it to "gender" instead of saying roles of men and women, we open the church door further to the issue of homosexuality.

    For me, I feel God defined the governship of the church well. Why fight to change it? Women and men serve faithfully. What is more important...to serve or to be recognized as man/woman serving? Which are we more concerned with?

    Blessings to you and your family, Jan and to The Brook. It's great you are supported well. You are a remarkable woman in your service. Please do not take my opinions as being against you but I do feel strongly about all I have studied and read...on both sides of the issue. For me, there is no issue. The Bible is completely clear.

    jan owen

    Linda, I want to make it very, very clear that I do not believe in gender-neutrality. I don't at all. To say that egalitarianism is to go down a slippery slope towards saying homosexuality is okay is a huge leap to me and one I would hope we could keep from making by responding in fear. That is not the view of egalitarian theologians I know personally - they simply do not believe God limits roles to EITHER male or female. You know me - I am very conservative theologically and morally. But I too have studied this DEEPLY and I came to a different conclusion from you and I am fine with that. That is my entire point. Can we remain loving in our disagreement or will we hurt those around us by making assumptions that are not true?

    I appreciate your kind words, Linda, and your taking the time to comment. Please note that I am not fighting to change anything God has set up. That is simply not the case. I simply disagree with you on what that God has set up. This is such a huge issue for me because I believe it eats at the true unity Jesus came to give us.

    And whichever of us is correct, is it EVER okay to call a woman a "Jezebel" for standing on the stage to lead worship? Is it okay to equate being a woman in ministry with being homosexual??? Is it okay to be completely ugly to a total stranger and tell them they are "usurping their pastor's authority"?

    I know you would agree that no, those things are not okay. That is my point. Can we agree to disagree and be loving?

    I am very aware that I stand before God for how i live my life. I take this very seriously.

    Linda Safford

    I think we do agree to disagree. And I know that you would not stand for homosexuality in leadership. And while I do think some stances truly are a slippery slope, I don't fear things like women in leadership or homosexuality for that matter. I do tire of the words fear, hate and anger being tossed out when folks do have a differing opinion. Did we not see that in the recent elections?

    So...on with the show. We are all blessed, gifted and must carry out what our Lord has asked us to do.

    I urge a Christian worldview...and I am skeptical of things that sound way too much like the ease of the world's spin on spiritual things. I do not accuse you of this, Jan, just saying we all need to remain watchful and don't be led astray.

    I may be wrong, but as far as it is within me to read, study and obey, I will. And I know you will to.

    Oh, and as for the folks that would call another a "Jezebel"...I'm sorry, that just made me laugh!
    : )

    Jenni Catron

    Jan, I appreciate you opening the discussion. As you know I'm personally in an exhaustive study of the issue for myself.

    I admire you for so passionately pursuing the gifts that God has given you and seeking to love and encourage others in spite of the challenges you have faced as a woman in church leadership.

    Nancy Smith

    I definitely agree that as Christians we should always agree to disagree respectfully. The world will know we are His disciples by the way we love each other. So if we are constantly fighting and tearing each other down with our words, we are definitely not living out the commands of Christ. Every word that comes out of our mouths or off the tips of our fingers should be seasoned with the grace of Christ, that we have received so undeservedly.

    I also agree that biblical support can be found for both sides of the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. I guess to me it all comes down to each individual being obedient to the call of God on his or her life. If a person is doing what God has called them to do, I believe that that will be evident by their ministry being fruitful for the kingdom of God. If what they are doing is something God has not called them to do, that will be evident by a lack of fruit produced. Just as Gamaliel said in Acts 5 about the ministry of the apostles when they were brought before the Sanhedrin: "Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

    While God is not a God of disorder, it is my personal belief that He cares a lot more about whether or not we are "being" the church than He does about how we "do" church. Are we feeding the hungry, taking care of the widows and orphans, visiting the sick and those in prison? Are we acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God? Are we holding out the hope of Christ to a lost and hurting world? These are the things I see Jesus caring about in the New Testament.

    Tyler (Man of Depravity)

    thanks for the kind words Jan. i would share some thoughts of my own but i think my post that you linked to does that already.

    Preston

    I would have to kindly disagree that egalitarianism is trying do nothing more than to create a genderless church. It is my opinion this is impossible given how God has created the sexes, as we all identify with ourselves through our gender, but the very hierarchy God has created for not only the church but the family unit (which is in essence a representation of God's government). Sadly, when one tries to remove gender from the mix, one of the two gender will always try to rise back to the surface. In recent years when egalitarianism has been enacted feminism seems to be the end result. This is not to say this was the intentional motivation every time, but because a church had been emasculated, its hard for the original order to be put back into place and thus leaves the door open for feminism to take hold (I am in no way saying that is what Jan is trying to do here - but this is just my observation from a broad sense of the meaning).

    For me it all boils down to hermeneutics. In most if not all cases people want to bring their presuppositions or agendas when interpreting scriptures (either intentional or unintentional). If we are truly seeking truth we will not find a theology that fits what we want, but we will change ourselves to what scripture requires. On this issues it all boils down to really 1 Timothy Chapt 2 and 3. The key verses here is 2:12, 3:5 & 3:14. In every instance here Paul is making some reference to family hierarchy, and how this relates to the church (Almost all of Chapt 3 is about the qualifications of a deacon and elder and how he governs his family). What I find interesting about those who try to segregate Chapt 2 and 3 saying 1 Tim 2:12 is not about the church but is only about wives and husbands is a real misnomer. If we look specifically at 1 Tim 3:5 we see that Paul makes a specific qualifier and thatif any MAN does not have control over HIS household he is immediately disqualified as a deacon and a leader. Isn't this the very order God has for the family unit to begin with? Finally, 1 Tim 3:15 is the real clincher for me here. Note what Paul says here:

    "but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."

    Note Paul's phrase "the household of God which is the church". Again Paul is brilliantly bringing all of his points together and showing the striking similarities between how the family is to operate (husband as the head just as Christ is the head of the church, ie bridegroom) and the direct parallel of how the church should operate also. The same hierarchy can be applied to the church as is for the family, which I think Paul does a thorough job of showing here.

    I will add this. Let us never resort to being unkind or resort to name calling in areas where we disagree, but we approach everyone with love, respect and patience. To call someone a "Jezebel" or some other unkind term is neither Christ-like or is it helpful in ones search for truth..

    Linda Safford

    Preston, I have to agree fully. Your reference to God's design for man/woman and the family hits it on the nail for me. This common denominator is seen throughout the Bible.

    And while God called up women to lead at different times, for instance Deborah, was it not because a suitable man could not be found? When you look at the time of the judges...everyone was doing what was right in their own mind. Talk about chaos!

    Here's a link to a post on my blog that covers more of what I've derived from study. It lightly covers the topic which I am trying to write on extensively. http://wistfulwanderings.blogspot.com/2008/03/what-is-womans-role-in-life-family.html

    Jan, I'm glad we can discuss this. Thanks for opening this topic.

    jan owen

    Linda, I hate to disagree with you but Deborah was NOT appointed a prophet, judge and even military leader of Israel because no suitable man was found. That is never, ever stated in scripture. She was married, she had a male commander of her army. It NEVER says that. That is the kind of teaching that really frustrates me because it is simply not true, yet I've heard it in church my whole life. You can read in Judges 4:"Deborah, the wife of Lappodith, was a prophet who had become a judge in Israel." No mention is made of why. She just was appointed by God.

    I think Preston and Linda, you might be confusing my point and assuming I mean things I don't. I am in NO WAY desiring a genderless church. That is absurd. I am friends with the foremost egalitarian theologian in the country, Dr. Gilbert Bilezekian, and I can promise you he doesn't either. He is more godly than any of us - and is a remarkable husband and father! Be careful with your words, because you are adding meaning I did not intend. I do wish you would try to understand my point of view and perhaps ask me WHY I believe it because I don't think you know. I would also urge you to study the culture of the secular world into which Christianity arose. It is very eye opening and allows you to see how incredibly counter-cultural Jesus' ministry to women was.

    But, back to my post. Respectful disagreement on a topic that is not threatening the truth of the gospel is a must.

    And that woman that was called a Jezebel. That was me. In an email sent to our entire men's ministry. It wasn't funny. It was humiliating.

    Linda Safford

    I know it was not funny for you, I laugh that anyone would think to use the term as it is so unfitting. Laughter in unbelievable and absurdity of it.

    I'll back out of the conversation. Seems to me as we discuss what we have studied it will not agree with you and so rather than continue to discuss why, I will simply be gracious and allow you to continue on with your blog.

    Take care, Jan. My posts were not intended to go against your points, only to explain what I have come to learn from studying. We won't agree...and like was mentiond before, we will agree to disagree.

    Cheryl Schatz

    There are some who think that egalitarians want a genderless church. That isn't true. God has given characteristics to each one uniquely that allow us to add our own perspectives that adds to the church. But at the same time, we are all sons of God, not sons and daughters. We are all the bride of Christ, not some of the church the bride and some the groom. If we are all sons with the privilege of all inheriting together and all ruling and reigning with Christ, we need to allow each to also minister to the body with their own God-given gifts instead of holding back some because they are Gentiles, women or slaves.

    Thanks for your post!

    Carol

    As a child and teenager I participated in the mission programs of the Southern Baptist church. (GA’s and YWA’s). As an adult I led these groups in my church. (GA’s and Acteens) This represented a time frame of at least 35 years.

    During this time I attended many mission conferences, met many missionaries from all parts of the world, and attended many small group meetings with these missionaries to learn of the work they were doing.

    Among the missionaries were many women serving in small communities, planting churches, building churches and holding services in these churches which included bringing the message. Back in the states we called it preaching. There were of course many other responsibilities such as trying to improve the health and welfare of the people.

    If her work had been with the Home Mission Board which would have been in the USA, she could have done all of the above with the exception of bringing the message or preaching.

    First as a teen and later when leading these girls and young women in the missions programs I began to become conflicted in my own mind as to what role women were allowed to play in Southern Baptist Churches. It had become apparent to me that as long as women were in a foreign land all of the work for women mentioned above was appropriate but if the work was done in the USA some would be appropriate but not all. There was also confusion for some of the young women in the mission groups I was leading at the time.

    Without women building and leading churches in foreign lands our mission work would be greatly limited. In the church’s I am familiar with today, if women stopped playing leading roles in Lord’s work again His work would be greatly limited. Over all these years I have seen the Lord’s blessing on the work of women abroad and at home. If a Christian woman, after a period of prayerful consideration, feels the call of God on her life, then who am I to deny that call. I have seen the Lord’s blessing on the work of too many women to say that it isn’t so.

    I thought Nancy’s quote from Acts 5 was right on “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

    We can debate this topic for the rest of our lives and get nowhere. Let’s leave it in the hands of the Lord. If it is of the Lord then over time the Lord will bless the work. Is our Lord not big enough to deal with this?

    jan owen

    Preston, I think it's obvious that you and I hold differing viewpoints on this. My post was not to debate the issue, but to discuss how we could work together regardless of our point of view.

    As for Deborah, I disagree with your conclusions. I'm not going to argue them here though.

    As for the culture of that time, Greeks and Romans viewed women as the root of evil and treated them as such. This greatly permeated the Jewish culture, who treated women as possessions and easily discarded. They even had a prayer "Thank God I was not born a Gentile or a woman."

    Jesus turned many many ideas of the religious Jews and pervading culture on it's ear...too many to list here.

    I've never met or read a biblical scholar who argued that, btw. No matter what their beliefs on women in leadership, the overall consensus was that Jesus liberated and cared for women in revolutionary way.

    Men are not spiritually superior to women. It is not an either/or. We can ALL obey God and serve Him with mutual submission and respect and graciousness. Wouldn't the kingdom of God be stronger?

    Johnny

    The question Jan posed for comment was "Which are we more concerned with?"

    Sadly, I think the answer is clearly, "Arguing."

    I am a moderate egalitarian in church matters. I am an out and out, full steam ahead, no girl left behind egalitarian in all other matters. My Y chromosome gives me no advantage over any woman in any way (apart from maybe a bit of muscle mass and being able to sing the bass parts of "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight").

    And trust me, that same Y chromosome will never allow us guys to see any institution as genderless. Let's just admit that right now.

    To me, the whole thing boils down to the four words that Dr. Blomberg prescribes we admit and that - at bottom - we all know is true.

    "I could be wrong."

    That's something we all seem to hate to admit. We construct elaborate interpretations that are only that and then equate them with Scripture itself. Then when someone suggests we just might, maybe, somehow be wrong about a single component of that man-made construct we circle the wagons because we erroneously believe that such suggestions threaten all of Scripture itself.

    If others spend decades seriously studying the Scriptures and praying for wisdom and come up with a different answer than mine, why are their motives in question rather than mine? Can't they approach mine the same way? Don't we all have plenty of parental, marital, and cultural baggage that could throw our opinion into suspicion?

    On secondary and tertiary questions such as these, it's so much better to take Nancy's counsel. If it's God it'll prosper.

    In the meantime, I should keep my eyes on the plow and get back to work. There's more to do than can ever be done. Throwing dirt clods at the sisters who try to help me ain't gonna get me any nearer to the end of my row.

    Cindy K

    When I read the first emboldened quote in this post (Why couldn't people...), I did a double take as it sounded remarkably like something I wrote elsewhere earlier today.

    Thank you for this post. Unfortunately, your experience is quite common nowdays, and it breaks my heart.

    God bless you.

    beth

    Johnny - you make sense.

    Thanks.

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