Women in Ministry: The Journey From Hierarchicalism to Biblical Egalitarianism
At first, I rebelled against the notion of a restriction; afterall, I had been a student leader and led worship in Junior High(everybody played in guitar and led worship in the group). In High School, all that stopped for all the girls even before we had that particular youth pastor. It didn't bother me too much, but then again I wasn't all that interested in following Jesus, anyway. When I finally did return to a serious commitment to Christ my Junior year in college, I wasn't quite concerned with ministry beyond my female peers, high school girls or small children. Eventhough I was studying engineering at CSULB, I was very much open to the idea of being a missionary with Campus Crusade or getting married and having kids.
My College/Singles Pastor's successor held nearly equally restrictive views on women in ministry so those ideas were reinforced in me even more. As the Lord changed my plans from both missionary work AND marriage (long story for another time and place), I began to move into my engineering career and into those "allowable" roles for me within the church. Around that same time, we had a change in our Senior Pastorate. One of my dear friends and mentor served on the search committee and had warned me that the candidate had "liberal views on women in ministry". "Aha", I thought, "I will skewer him."
I remember pointing my little finger at him during the "meet the Senior Pastor Candidate Q&A" and asking how he could be such a heretic to hold that women could be pastors. He challenged me to read "the other side" that was held by men and women who believed in biblical authority as much as I claimed to. If you know me at all, this was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. A half dozen books later (books by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Rebecca Groothius, Alvera Mickelsen, Craig Keener, to name a few) and I was strongly egalitarian.
Although there were many persuasive biblical arguments on both sides, one of the most spiritually compelling for me at the time was found in Kari Torjesen Malcom's "Women At The Crossroads". Ms. Malcom, who grew up as a missionary in a foreign country, posited the idea, quoting Fredrik Franson, founder of The Evangelical Alliance Mission, that it was to Satan's advantage and perhaps even his strategy to convince two-thirds of the converted world in the church of Jesus Christ (the women) to be "exclude[d]...from participation in the Lord's service through evangelization. The loss for God's cause is so great that it can hardly be described." Such a waste not to utilize their (& our)spiritual giftedness to the utmost out of a fear of potentially disobeying the Lord's intended order for the church.
I looked at this situation in light of Jesus' parable of the talents, where the harshest rebuke was reserved for the wicked servant who, instead of risking his talent in an investment for his master, buried it in the ground. His "excuse" for not doing anything was basically "I didn't want to do anything that would get you mad at me if I made a wrong choice"; that didn't fly with the master at all.
If people who are honestly committed to following Jesus and faithfully upholding His Word can both, in good conscience, disagree, then I will take the risk, doing as much as I feel called and gifted to do by His grace. If when I stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and find that I have overstepped the role He assigned to me, I will accept that my deeds for Him will burn as wood, hay and stubble. I shudder to think of the disapproval for me and others who haven't been all we could be if I am correct, though. It's kind of a "Here I stand, I can do no other' position.
Since then of course, I have read even more on the subject that reinforces my "conversion"; yet, I think like everything else we believe, there are those moments when we decide to stake out a position and little can be done to move us out of it. If I had adopted my position by ignoring biblical authority , as some who promote practicing homosexual clergy are intent to do, I would be in grave peril and would fear the very idea of posting my thoughts.