Equality in Leadership

This is a topic that has gone through a complete transfiguration in my mind over the last few years — a change for the better. I can’t tell you how much sexism gets under my skin now. To me, it’s worse than having shards of wood shoved under my fingernails.

Even as a young boy, I defended girls. A buddy and I saw a boy picking on a group of girls once. They were screaming at him to leave them alone. He was a known bully on the playground, so my friend and I went over there and took care of the problem by kicking his ass — that wasn’t the best choice either. I should have let the teachers know what was going on.

We were brought into the Principal’s office and asked why we beat him up. We told the principal what happened, and he thanked us and sent us on our way. The bully was spanked and sent back to class.

Most of those girls are still good friends of mine to this day.

Fast forward to the present, and I’m still the same boy, just older and equipped with a fully developed frontal lobe. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily step in and defend a woman at any given moment, but I wouldn’t likely default to “ass-whoopin’ mode” without trying words first.

So, here I am — using my words…

I’ve always been for equality where women are concerned, save church leadership; let’s be honest, what I really mean is the Senior Pastor title.

As far back as our human history goes, women have been subservient to men. There are a million reasons why, but I’ll focus on just a few.

Women are typically smaller and physically weaker than men. In early history, this fact placed men over women as leaders for reasons of wellbeing. Men were the caretakers of women — protectors. Men were bigger, stronger, faster; able to ward off danger.

Due to modernization, that changed. The world developed and strengthened through advances in shelters and dwellings, self defense, and technology. Today, women largely have nothing to fear that would require the presence of a male for security.

Men have also ruled because of knowledge and education. Women have historically been associated with inferiority in philosophical, medical and religious traditions primarily due to the unavailability of education to them. That’s changed in recent history.

Thankfully, most of the world has discovered that women are more than capable of learning and leading.

But I’d like to focus on a point I mentioned above — religious traditions. Only in this living generation’s time period have we seen women allowed into clergy roles, generally speaking.

I’m so grateful that there are many churches getting it right on this issue. My purpose in bringing this topic up isn’t to say “there aren’t any churches getting it right.” That’s not true, and I congratulate those doing so.

I do, however, think that all churches ought to continually evaluate their employment and opportunity policies regarding women.

To say that women can volunteer only in certain places of the church, be employed in the Children’s Department, Worship Ministry, or some place other than the Senior Pastor’s position is an injustice.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that men and women can work side-by-side in those areas of the church, and they should! I think this is one way that churches are getting it right!

But when it comes to women being elders, deacons, or the Senior Pastor, most churches are missing the mark.

 

History Lesson:

Paul wrote a couple of key letters that Christians often reference regarding women in church leadership. The first was the letter he wrote to the people of Corinth. The second was the first letter he wrote to Timothy.

To the Corinthians, he wrote, “Wives should be respectfully silent at the gatherings, as they are not allowed to speak; and they should yield themselves to those in authority just as it is written in the law. When they want to learn anything in particular, they should ask their husbands when they get home. It creates a shameful situation for them to speak at church.”

To Timothy, “Now, Timothy, it’s not my habit to allow women to teach in a way that wrenches authority from a man. As I said, it’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly. This is because Adam was formed first by God, then Eve. Plus, it wasn’t Adam who was tricked; it was she—the woman was the one who was fooled and disobeyed God’s command first. Still, God, in His faithfulness, will deliver her through childbearing as long as she remains in faith and love and holiness with self-restraint.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in reply to a letter they’d written him. They wanted to know what to do when women interrupted their gatherings. Women hadn’t been allowed to worship inside the temple before as men had. Now they were playing catchup learning the elementary things that men had learned from childhood.

Paul’s reply was specifically to the Church at Corinth. He didn’t give this instruction to any other church he had established. In this reply, he wasn’t saying “women aren’t allowed in leadership.” Rather, he was instructing husbands to fill in the blanks with their wives at home so they were all on the same page when meeting together. In other words, teach the elementary things to your wives at home, so the rest of the time you can all be home in time to watch football.

There’s too much to cover here regarding the letter to Timothy, but I’ll send you here and here to read more.

For me, the portion written to Timothy boils down to poor interpretations and cultural perspective.

If Paul didn’t want women in leadership, he should have fully considered that before placing Junia, Euodia, Syntche and Priscilla in it.

 

Today’s culture doesn’t match the Corinthian, Ephesian, Roman, Colossian, or any other culture 2000 years ago. The likelihood of Paul writing the same instructions to us today as he wrote to those is nil.

Heck, he didn’t even give the same instructions to each of those cultures then!

I firmly believe that it’s time for women to lead!

If women can be doctors, lawyers, President, Prime Minister, CEOs, scientists, etc., it’s time they’re given the Senior Pastor role when applicable. There are so many women out there who are smarter, wiser, and better equipped to serve as the Senior Pastor of a church than many men are.

There are also women who could enhance elder boards and deacon ministries if given the opportunity to do so!

What if equality — not just gender equality — was something the Church took ownership of? What if it became a staple issue that was made a non-issue the world over?

What if equality was equated to loving others passionately, expressively, recklessly, completely, unconditionally — regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or gender? What if we got that part of the Gospel right?

David Dietz

Author: David Dietz

Born and raised up into leadership in the American Church, David is unlearning Christianity and instead advocates for the full acceptance of others. "To love someone is to allow that person to be fully themselves without interference or expectations of change--to accept them exactly as they are. Loving someone isn't just 'accepting' who they are, however; it's giving them freedom to be a wholly distinct individual. When you love someone so deeply that you relinquish any control or ownership you *think* you have over them, you are showing that person love untainted."

1 thought on “Equality in Leadership”

  1. How interesting would it be for a Baptist church to have a woman pastor? That sounds like a great idea to me.

    It is neat to see how the culture is shifting regarding perceptions of women in leadership positions, however, I think sexists will come out of the woodwork if Hillary Clinton is elected President.

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