Women in Ministry by Cardinal Prof. Genesis A. Dawuda
“And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
“ And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”
The woman is fully described from the scriptures asserting her superiority to all lower animals, man’s need for her as helper; her intimate relationship to him as part of his inmost being.
To discuss the serious issue of women in ministry; especially in the 21st century can be characterized by understanding the place the woman has been relegated to through the centuries by different cultures and customs including the Jewish culture itself.
With women liberation movement moving for their recognition in the world, it seriously calls for Christians to re-evaluate the position of women in ministry as authorized by the Holy Bible, which is the authority for our faith and practice.
The background: 1 Timothy 2:9-15
Women were not highly valued in both the Hebrew and Graeco-Roman Society. In the latter, women were under the authority of their father or their husband; their education was slender; they could not testify in a court of law; they could not inherit property. In Hebrew world, it was not much different. Women had no rights, no education. They were segregated in the synagogue and could not hold office in it. If anything their position deteriorated as the centuries went on, and the rabbis taught that it was better to burn the law(Torah) than to teach it to a woman, while men thanked God daily that they were not created heathen, a slave or a woman.
However, the first hundred years in A.D. saw the Roman world seriously in decay, being replaced with multitudes of cults from the east, some of them orgiastic and most of them giving an unhealthy prominence to women. Scandals were not infrequent and Roman society looked on them not with fascination but with suspicion. The teaching we have in the New Testament on women in ministry (and there is not a great deal of it) was largely directed by Paul to ladies in Ephesus or Corinth. Both places had particular and unsavory reputations. The goddess Diana was, in Ephesus, far from the chaste huntress of greek folklore, she was the many-breasted fertility cult figure, worshipped with sensuality in order to gain union with the life principle and ensure fertility for the cops. Corinth was a sailors port as well as being an Oriental city and a Roman Capital. It was dominated by a hill, the Acrocorinth, where Venus was worshipped as prostitute by a thousand courtesans. It is hardly surpassing that against such backgrounds the New Testament writers were not enthusiastic about encouraging feminism.
Women ministry with Jesus
With the greek developing a strict conduct for a young girl, restraining her in order that she might see as little , hear as little, and ask as few questions as possible. As when Isomachus was explaining to Socrates as to why his 15 year old bride needs instruction in running the house. So she’ll need to learn more in keeping the house.
For Isomachus’ request is also the deep demand of Christ the Head of the Church. His bride needs more instruction in running the house of God. Greater instruction than that of the greek philosophers.
Jesus transformed the status of women by the way he acted towards them. The portraits of Mary his mother, and Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, are most sensitively drawn. In St. Luke’s Gospel, particularly, we are confronted by women at every turn . Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2:36-38), the Widow of Nain(Luke 7:11-17), the marvelous story of the woman in Simon’s house who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears(7:36-50) and Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus expelled seven demons(8:2), we are introduced, albeit briefly, to society ladies from court, including Joanna and Susanna who followed Jesus around and provided for him and his followers, sometimes at least, from their substance(8:3). Jesus bothered about the woman with the issue of blood and the dying girl (8:41-48) He noticed the widow with two mites and commended her for her giving above all the public benefactors of the day(21:1-4)
We find Him relaxing in the house of close friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus(10:38-42) and these figure largely in St. John’s Gospel.
When the daughters of Jerusalem wailed at his impending execution he showed more compassion for them than for himself(23:27-31) and at His death it was the women who remained round the cross, supporting Him with love while the men ran away(23:49). The women observed how His body was laid in the tomb, and went away to prepare spices to bring with them on what proved to be Easter morning (Luke 23:55)
The attitude of Jesus to women was staggering. He did not treat them like chattels, but like equals. When asked his thoughts on contemporary divorce, so totally weighed in favor of the man, he repudiated it entirely, taking his hearers back to the “one-man-one-woman-forever” concept of Genesis 2:24. The imago dei lay in the harmonious inter-relationship of man and woman in God’s creation, not in domination of one by the other.
Women were the first witnesses of the resurrection(Luke 24:1-ff) and were the first to be entrusted with proclaiming it (Matt. 28:1)
Sometimes men have argued that women are constitutionally unable to teach Christian doctrine with balance and insight.; they conclude that this accounts for Paul’s prohibition in 1 Timothy. Nothing could be further from truth. The pastoral Epistles themselves show widows teaching what is good (to whom is not specified) as well as training younger women’ (Titus 2:3-5). Their role in teaching within the family is shown by 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14
4. Women engaged in the ministry of personal counseling. Priscilla and Aquilla used their home to help Appolos to Christian maturity. (Acts 18:26)
5. Women engaged in the ministry of hospitality. A good example of this is John Mark’s mother and the way in which her home became a centre for Christian work in Jerusalem. (Acts 12:12)
6. Women engaged in acts of charity. A lady like Dorcas gained a tremendous reputation for this. She seems to have made clothes to give away, in addition to other good works. (Acts 9:36-41).
A number of women are mentioned in Romans 16 as having labored much in the LORD; this social involvement may have been one of the ways in which they exercised their ministry.
7. Women engaged in effective evangelism. This is noticeable in northern Greece where women had more freedom in any case. Lydia, Eudia, and Syntyche were three remarkable women in the Philippian Church and the latter two, Paul says, “wrestled with him in the gospel”(Phil. 4:3) which must mean strenuous evangelistic endeavor.
8. Women engaged as Deacons. Phoebe held this office in the Church at Cenchreae(adjoining Corinth), and appears to have been Paul’s delegate in taking the letter to the Romans to the Church in the capital. The context of 1 Timothy 3:11 and the way it is phrased makes it likely that Paul is speaking not of the wives of Deacons(to whom he alludes in verse 12) but to women deacons. In later times such women visited, instructed and assisted at the baptism of women candidates. No doubt their role in the early days was not dissimilar.
How should we apply New Testament material to the present crisis about women ordination?
Should the fact that women were not presbyters weigh more with us than the fact that their position was clearly revolutionized(Transformed) by the gospel?
A new perspective to ordination
According to Michael Green in his book “Freed to Serve”, we find it hard to answer the question about female ordination not just because of the ambiguous biblical material, the confused social scene and the clearly defined opposition of Rome and orthodoxy. We find problems because we have got ordination wrong.
Alan Richardson saw this clearly. “to admit women to the priesthood would leave the present unsatisfactory situation exactly where it is, and would do nothing to promote the development of a wide variety of ministries which is the church’s most immediate need.”
In the Anglican Churches some of them have gone as far as recognizing the ordination of women as priests with the authority to preach and celebrate the Eucharist.(The Lord’s Supper).
Since today women teach, preach and evangelize and sometimes baptize among the Anglican Churches. And among the Pentecostals they have been well recognized. But Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches still see it as a taboo for a woman to celebrate the Eucharist.
The issue of women being ordained as Priestesses and Bishops is misconceived and there are misgivings also about their Episcopal elevation.
The early church acknowledged the position of women as deacons, widows and in Christ male and female are equal. Can it be said of the church today?
How far is going too far about the women ordination issue? My final submission on the matter of women in ministry, Acts 17, in him we live, and move, and have our being. Our relationship with humanity should be a result or manifestation of our relationship with Yahweh Elohim.
Challenges for women in ministry
High expectation: People expect much from them to prove the trust heavily bestowed upon them.
Cultural differences that leads to culture shock.
Temptations by the opposite sex. The uncountable suitors.
Leadership qualities of women
Women in leadership is fast growing. This new growth is characterized by special qualities.
Burns writes, “As leadership comes properly to be seen as a process of leaders engaging and mobilizing the human needs and aspirations of followers, women will be more readily recognized as leaders and men will change their own leadership styles.”
Differences between male and female leadership qualities
Edwin P. Hollander and Jan Yoder state that “experiments have found male performance tending to be exploitative, and female performance to be more accommodating and tension-reducing. In addition, both leaders and followers rated male leaders as being more concerned with task performance than were female leaders.”
Women tend to excel in the following areas according to John Naisbitt,
The movement to high tech calling for the need for high touch, “high-tech-high-touch.”
The movement from representative democracy to a more direct democracy.
The movement from hierarchical frameworks to informal networks.
Marilyn Loden sees feminine leadership as different from male-oriented management but equally effective. It favors cooperation over competition. Feminine leaders prefer to work in team structures where power and influence are shared more across the group, as opposed to a hierarchy where power is concentrated at the top.
The feminine style of leadership also tends to place strong emphasis on developing positive relationships with co-workers. A feminine leader tries to relate to employees in a more personal way than often is the case in the traditional male pattern leadership.
Feminine leaders rely heavily on intuition as well as rational thinking in solving problems. They focus more on long-term goals which are good for the entire organization, as opposed to short-term. And they generally prefer a “win-win” approach to conflict resolution instead of the traditional “win-lose” approach.
Qualities Masculine Feminine
Operating style Competitive Cooperative
Structure Hierarchy Team
Basic objective winning Quality output
Problem solving Rational Intuitive/Rational
Key Characteristics High Control
Analytical Lower control
High Performance Standards
Loden charts of the masculine and feminine leadership model
Loden was quick to add though men exhibit some of the feminine qualities too, but women exhibit these attributes more.
How can a woman use Emotional Quotient for effective leadership to perform better than Intelligent Quotient?
The Church, The Woman and The Satan
In like manner also that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she shall be saved in child-bearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”
Throughout history the battle for control of human destiny has been going on. First, the quest for power led to Lucifer’s downfall. Next in man’s domain he wanted to take control. Though man could not be penetrated he used the woman; Eve.
No mention was made whether Adam was denying her privilege to share in his sovereignty over the earth. She was seduced because she needed more. That is, more power, more knowledge to be like God.
The woman suddenly lusted after the fruit from the tree.
Lust of the flesh. Good for food.
Lust of the eyes; Pleasant to the eyes
Pride of life; Desirable to make one wise
These three things drove the woman to usurp authority over Adam.
Common-sense teaches us that the man has been around. She should have consulted him first before adhering to the Serpent’s proposal.
So, if the devil could not get Adam, he’ll do that through the woman. The Bible stated that Adam was not deceived but Eve.
If Lucifer could only get Eve, Adam will go down too. And he really drove the whole program of God down; ruining everything. Thank God for sending Jesus to restore us back into fellowship.
What wisdom is greater than that of Adam naming all the animals? Today, the fields of Biology and Zoology are still trying to identify classes of animals and trees according to their nomenclature.
If the women can be able to find where this fits into her program she can control the great deception of mystery Babylon. It wasn’t Adam who saw what he could benefit from the tree. It was Eve, after been deceived that dragged him along.
In the New Testament, Paul’s instruction was to put a check on women ministry and not deny its practice and fulfillment.
Women ministry should be subjected to strong query, according to the template set in 1Timothy 5;
Though addressing issues related to widows, it can really ruin the whole church if not properly given full consideration.
Exhort younger women as sisters with purity. 1 Timothy 5:2
Honor widows who are really widows
Show piety at home
Widows should trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day.
She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives
We are instructed to command these things, that they may be blameless.
Those who can’t provide for their homes are worst than unbelievers.
The criteria for a widow is that she must be 60 years and above. And has been the wife of only one man.
Characteristics of Real widows. They are;
Well reported for good works
They have well brought-up children
They lodge strangers
They wash the saints feet
They relieved the afflicted
They diligently followed every good work
They are above 60
Reject the young widows. Reasons given are;
If they desire to remarry
If they bring condemnation upon themselves, by casting off their first faith
Saying things which they ought not
Young widows should
Give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Some widows have turned to Satan
Believers should reduce burdens of church by assisting in relieving widows. So that the church can take care of those who qualify above 60 years, etc.
Reward those who labor in word and doctrine with double honor, wages, salary etc
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses
Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
You are charged before God and the LORD Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.
Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.
The good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.
…keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing. 1 Timothy 6:14
If the Holy Scriptures has no sympathy for young widows, then all single women and married women need to brace up in building the Holy House of Yahweh Elohim.
John R. W. Stott, The Contemporary Christian, 1992. Inter-Varsity Press, 38 De Montfort street, Leicester LE1 7GP, UK
Michael Green, Freed to Serve, Hodder and Stoughton; 47 Bedford square, London WC1B 3DP, 1983
Harris W. Lee, Effective Church Leadership(A practical sourcebook), 1989 Augsburg Fortress, USA
The Holy Bible