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Women’s Roles in the Church: Two Views

posted Oct 29, 2014, 1:13 PM by First Baptist


Part 1

 

From time to time in church life, an issue or question will arise that, if not handled carefully and thoughtfully, can lead to disagreement and even division.

 

One such issue or question has to do with the role of women in the church. The Church (particularly in the West) has been debating this issue for at least 50 years

 

There are two major views on this matter. One view, called the egalitarian view, maintains that men & women are equal in all respects, making women eligible for any or all positions within the church.

 

The other major view is called the complementarian view. According to this view, men & women are equal in dignity & value, but God has assigned each gender a different role within both the family and church. These roles complement each other (hence the name “complementarianism).”

 

Most who ascribe to the complementarian view would limit the roles of pastor, elder, deacon and teacher (of adult men) to men-only. Obviously, those who ascribe to the egalitarian view would have no such limitation.

 

Whenever I talk to somebody about this issue, I like to emphasize 4 things:

 

1.      The Bible does not appear to speak with crystal-clear clarity on this issue, hence the long-standing debate.

2.      As such, we should be humble with regard to our own view and respectful of those who hold a contrary view.

3.      The role of women in the church is not a core doctrine of Christianity and therefore is not something we should divide over.

4.      At the same time, each individual church must come to some kind of consensus on the issue because the church either will or won’t have women serving in certain roles.

 

I believe First Baptist Harlan has had a consensus with regard to the roles of deacon and teacher insofar as women have served in both these roles for many years, perhaps going back to the founding of the church.

 

What about the roles of pastor, moderator and at-large deacon (the latter being a relatively new position)?  

 

Concerning pastor & moderator, the church has never had a woman in either position, suggesting we have had a consensus on these roles as well. Given the number of pastors and moderators the church has had since its inception, it can’t be a coincidence that every one of them has been male.

 

In light of this, I would label First Baptist Harlan as “moderately complementarian,” at least historically.

 

The question is: Is this the right path for us? Should we change and become FULLY complementarian or FULLY egalitarian?

 

Next week, I’ll summarize the biblical argument for the complementarian view and then, the following week, I’ll do the same for the egalitarian view. I doubt we’ll resolve the issue to everyone’s complete satisfaction, but at least we’ll be exposed to both views.

 

 

Pastor Dan

 

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