Sunday was International Women's Day. This is one of these days we absolutely must have on our calendars, but I wonder how many of us noticed it? If you didn't it could be because where you live, work, and have your being is one of the rare places in the world where women are honored for who they are and their contributions to society are accepted and encouraged. Somehow I doubt that's how you missed it. Most countries, companies, churches, and communities worldwide do not honor women the way we should. But there is one country that takes International Women's Day seriously and that is the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan. In that country it's a public holiday. However, even in this there is an irony. The truth is on the ground, in the day-to-day life of this nation women are terribly mistreated. It's proof we can put these days on our calendar, but if that's all we do it is not nearly enough.
Personally I am greatly concerned about the lack of women's rights globally but there is one particular place I have the most cause for concern and that is, sadly, the church. My conviction is that one of the top three sins the evangelical and Catholic church needs to repent from is our inadequate practice of refusing to empower, release, ordain, and embrace the Spirit infused ministry of many of God's finest daughters. This is more than a mistake or failed theology, it is a sin. I don't have time in this space today to get into the nitty gritty of the theological/biblical debate, but I want you to know I am aware of the debate and the points on both sides of the argument. My point today is that the church better pay attention to the message of "the world": honor women and the gifts they bring to the full community of humanity. We ought to take heed to the problems women are facing worldwide, some of which is happening inside our holy halls. Ironically, this is one example of the voice and actions of Jesus that tend to align themselves more with "the world" than with the church (at least the churches I have been a part of).
So what do we do? Briefly, here are a few recommendations:
1. Give women pursuing the pastorate and ordination the same tests we give men who want to be ordained.
2. When these women demonstrate their Spirit given destiny for the ministry, ordain them as full members of the clergy empowered to serve in the same ways our finest male ministers meet the needs of God's people.
3. Re-write the statutes, policies, charters, and government documents of churches to reflect this change.
4. If we're hesitant to embrace women as ordained and lay ministers, repent! We must explore why this is and seek to be persuaded by the Spirit to wholeheartedly and sincerely change our minds. Explore the biblical material thoroughly, but come to it with open minds that can be convinced against previous convictions. Be ready to identify the true reasons why you do not want to set women free.
5. Do not allow a minority view that creeps into many churches, a minority view that typically uses its power to deny women the privilege and joy of fulfilling their destiny, to commandeer this Christ-like movement and force us into a frozen state in which we cannot move forward to set women free. I am warning you: these men are out there and their wives (submissive to their husbands in the power structure they've staked their marriages on) will seek to destroy anyone who disagrees with them and promotes these changes. Get ready to fight. You have no choice. Standing up to injustice never, ever comes easy.
These are my concise and brief suggestions. Much more can be said.
If you want to read some good articles on women in ministry by someone who takes my view, read here. Scot has both analysis and interpretation that is solid scholarship written for the everyday, busy person.