This afternoon our congregation had the opportunity to address “Council” about our feelings on the issue of women serving in the offices of elder and deacon. After taking a glorious walk to church for the meeting, these are the few words I shared. I’d write more—because the whole experience was really enlightening—but I want to save that for my Gifted For Leadership post this Friday.
Note: While I’ve been thinking about this issue for 20 years, when I prayed earlier today about what to say—how to wrap up the wisdom of the stacks of book that line my desk and the years of insight shared by the wise women (and men) I’ve been blessed to know–God’s answer was, “Keep it short.” That’s what kept replaying in my mind. So, as opposed to the man who blathered on for 30 minutes about how American society has fallen apart ever since women were given the right to vote, I was quick. Here it is:
I want to start by saying I’m in favor—or I should say I believe God to be in favor—of the idea of ordaining women to the office of elder and deacon.
For me, this answer comes not just from a few months of quick thought but after 20 years of thinking through this issue at some level. Actually, it all started just below where we sit now, in catechism class when I was a sophomore in high school.
My teacher at the time told the class that it was a sin for women to go to college since God only calls us to be wives and mothers and be at home. Therefore, college was a “waste” of their parents’ money—and thus a sin. In our disgust, of course, we told our parents this bit of “teaching” immediately. Thankfully they were as angry as we were.
Two good things came out of this:
1. I got affirmation from this church that indeed this is NOT the way Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church values girls and women. This opinion was roundly seen as damaging and ridiculous and he no longer taught us. A clear message was sent to me that God intends for women to become educated, equipped, “empowered” to work in all areas of his kingdom—not just the home.
2. This lit the fire in my belly in wanting to understand what exactly God’s view of and purpose for women was. I’ve been reading about, listening to, talking about—and arguing about—this ever since.
God’s taken me on quite a journey, but it always ends up with a message of grace from God that says, He includes us. He values us. He wants us.
For me, this issue isn’t about liberation or “women power” or anything like that. It’s about women—as God’s image bearers—being able to reflect that image fully. And part of the way we can do that is by being able to serve fully in the churches and to the bodies of believers we love.
I ask that in making this decision, you not only educated yourselves fully—by reading, listening, asking—but by tossing aside what is sometimes simply tradition—and not Scripture truth—and seeking God’s wisdom through his word, through his voice, and through your sisters in Christ.
So where do you think I went right? How about wrong?