Good morning everyone. I warn you in advance that what I am writing this morning could be considered a social commentary rather than a devotional. I may be about to hurt some people and anger some others but after 25 years of dedicated service and study of God's Word I believe I may be permitted to speak from a place of experience in the Word. My comments this morning comes from Paul's exhortations in Philippians 4:
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. vs. 2-3
Specifically these words, "help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel". It is difficult for me to understand how we can still be discussing the issue of women in ministry in this age. There are whole sections of the Church that still treat women as second class citizens in a Kingdom that addresses them as sons. They are not permitted to participate in anything but children and women ministries. The expectation is that they will stay at home, clean house, raise the kids and tend to their husband's every need.
Now before some people get too upset I want to recognize the incredible impact that stay-at-home moms have in our society. I applaud them and agree with them 100%, if they are sure that is the calling the Spirit has laid on them. However, this group of women also need to recognize that the Holy Spirit does not use a cookie-cutter mentality. Not every woman is called to this same thing, and even those that are can have more than one calling. My fear is that too many women hide from their calling believing that being a stay-at-home mom is their way out.
There are also a lot of men who put too high of an importance on the fact they were born a man. These men need to study the respect Jesus had for women. How many lessons are we taught through his interaction with various women? How much time did he spend with them? What did he teach them? How much of his ministry was supported by these incredible women of faith? If we move on from Jesus and we consider Paul's misunderstood attitude toward women we may be shocked to see how many women ministered under him. Just consider this one example here in Philippians. Paul writes "who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel". Those are interesting words he used, "contended at my side". If you have a few minutes read through Romans 16 at Paul's exhortation there. It reads like a list of who's who. You may be surprised at how many of these great workers for the gospel are women who Paul commends and who he sends greetings too.
You may be wondering what I am saying here so I will make it plain to you: Stop limiting the Holy Spirit according to the sex of the servant. We do not get to decide our calling, our Lord does that. It is not up to us to judge the calling of another servant but instead to test the spirits. In fact we are told to test everything, including ourselves. There are many false prophets in the Church, some wearing skirts and some wearing suits. The enemy also uses both male and female. However, do not grieve the Spirit by refusing to recognize what he has made so plain to see. We cannot afford to contend against the Spirit by limiting him according to our false understanding of God's Word.
Now I will be even more open and honest with you, I have not met very many women who have shown the calling to preaching but I have met many women with the calling leadership. Just because women could be called does not mean they are called. Have met some excellent women elders who do not take part in the preaching ministry because that is not their calling. Good for them. Not all leadership is as some would define leadership in the Church today, that person who stands out in front of the crowd. The leadership of elders can be defined as one who comes along side to guide and counsel by the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. I often receive instruction and direction in this manner, usually a confirmation of what the Spirit has already placed on my heart, from women who are in every sense of the word elders. I have a great deal of respect for these women. I think it is wrong for us to deny such callings based on assumptions and the twisted use of God's Word.
However, there is one thing that still remains in place and will remain in place until the day of redemption, when all things of this earth will pass away. Regardless of their calling and place in the Church women remain subject to their husbands. Any Christian man worth his salt would never be threatened by the calling of his wife but in their home he is the head and she is subject to the head. This is good, because this provides her a covering. These two things should never be confused and may take some effort to balance but no more so than it takes for a man who also has dual roles.
I realize that I have not given a balanced look at both sides of the argument using appropriate scripture but there is too much to fit in this type of forum. This is the reason I referred to this as a social commentary this morning. All I want to do is give you enough of a push so that you would at least consider this controversial subject. Instead of accepting either argument hook, line and sinker, check it out for yourself. Study all the scripture in context. Look specifically at the attitude of Jesus. Do not get caught up in the fact that he called men as his inner 12 disciples. The larger circle included 72, who he had also sent out and then there was even a larger crowd of disciples he he taught. I wonder how many women may have been in these groups? How many couples that served together? The bottom line is, please do not limit the Spirit by our own limitations. We have too much to do in the fight against principalities to waste our time on limiting mighty warriors in the battle.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)