Women & Ministry, pt 1: Labels

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I am not comfortable with the labels that are used in this debate.

 Am I a “Jesus Feminist”?  I can’t be a feminist; I don’t think the Jesus Feminists would have me.  I’m a conservative Republican.  I’m thoroughly pro-life.  I like & admire Sarah Palin.  I agree with 85% of what the pro-family movement says.  I listen to Rush Limbaugh.

I’m not a feminist; I just don’t believe women who are gifted by the Holy Spirit for ministry should be pigeon-holed, restricted as to the kinds of ministry they can do.

Am I an egalitarian?  I don’t buy this label, because “egalitarianism” is often taken to mean that there are no essential differences between women and men, they are interchangeable.  That’s clearly NOT the case.  I believe both women and men are gifted by God, but the embodiment and outworking of those gifts may differ depending on any number of factors.  One of those factors will be the gender of the person with the gift.

Am I a complementarian?  Complementarians accept that there are differences between men & women, as do I—so far so good.  But those differences are incredibly slippery and difficult to pin down, much moreso than the complementarians are willing to admit.  For example, see McKnight’s summary of Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen’s paper, “Social Science Studies Cannot Define Gender Differences” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/05/09/whats-a-man-whats-a-woman/).

Complementarians ignore the difficulties and universalize these differences.  Further, somehow “complementarian” always ends up meaning SUBORDINATION and hierarchy.  I categorically reject the notion that God’s design for his Church is subordination on the basis of gender.  (Or race, or socioeconomic status, or …)  God’s intention is MUTUAL submission (Eph 5.21); “submission” does NOT = subordination.  It means giving up yourself for the benefit of others, in imitation of the example of Jesus Christ.

I don’t think any of these labels fit me; I think of myself as a biblicist. Which brings me to the next post:

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