One of the arguments cited against women being free to do whatever the Lord calls them to is that we need to obey the Scriptures, even when they go against our natural inclination. While the argument sounds foolproof–obviously we need to obey the Scriptures–I have considerable reservations about a legalistic application of controversial Scriptures to justify a position that goes against what we see of the nature and character of God.
For example, it was Christians who argued against the abolition of slavery, and they used the Scriptures to justify their position. God endorsed slavery in the Old Testament by giving instructions for slaves, Jesus used slaves and masters in his parables, and Paul gave instructions on the behavior of both slaves and their masters. Therefore, and the Bible is quite clear on this, God must approve of slavery.
There isn’t a sane Christian living now who believes that God wants people to be slaves. Why? Because the whole tenor of the Scriptures is towards liberty, not captivity. As Alan Hirsch says in the upcoming book on women that I’m working on:
“I don’t understand how a true evangelical can claim to appropriate the gospel in all its fullness, and countenance, for example, racism. So if someone questions me on issues like these, here’s what I say:
“Can you imagine a situation in heaven, when Jesus is fully king and God reigns completely, where people are traded as slaves, bought and sold as other people’s property?” People reply, “Of course not. There’s no way that would happen in heaven.”
And then I say, “Racism: can we conceive that in heaven there will be some kind of hierarchy of race in heaven?” Everyone says, “Absolutely not!”
Then I take it to the issue of gender. I say, “Can you foresee a situation in heaven when you stand before God, that women are inferior in status or function to men?” It would be very hard to hold a belief in the inferiority of women in light of the weight of glory. Of course I’m reflecting Galatians 3:28 here.
There’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female but Christ is all in all.”
The whole tenor of Scripture is that God is no respecter of gender. Peter, talking on the Day of Pentecost, quotes Joel in Acts 2:17:
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
In the New Testament, we see women, filled with the Holy Spirit, functioning in the five-fold gifts, described as beloved co-workers of Paul and the other apostles.
However, there are disturbing Scriptures that apparently contradict this position. But can they be viewed in another light? Further posts to come.