The One Role for a Woman in Church

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I am a Gen Xer. I was born right at the tail end of a generation that rallied around pop culture, that ushered in the internet, that saw the rise of women taking on the workplace with their shoulder padded power suits and big hair. We were told that we needed educations so that we wouldn’t have to rely on a man. We were taught that women are just as good–actually, better–than men, and that we should have no mercy in our attempts to steamroll right over them, whether in the workplace or in the home. We were given the charge to stand in the spotlight as much as possible, to grab for ourselves as much as we wanted, and to not let anything stand in the way of our happiness.

Worldly wisdom.

Yet, my whole life I’ve sat through countless discussions on women in Christianity, namely in church life, and for all these years I’ve listened with a smiling face and a tightly clenched jaw. Everything in my culturally conditioned mind said that women should be competing with men for the highest leadership roles in the church. In my foolishness I wondered why men were allowed to be center stage while the women were relegated to nursery duty. And, if you want to be really honest with yourself, women, you have probably felt the same way at some point.

Recently I went to a panel discussion on setting women free to be whatever they can be in the church. I know that the hosts of this discussion had noble intentions from the outset. The session title implied that women have been held back in the church, and the hosts seemed keen on starting a discussion about how to change that.

I was amazed by how many hundreds of women (and a few brave men) packed themselves into the room, eager to get any biblical wisdom about what women should and shouldn’t be doing in our local churches. Yet, when the panel began, it was really just a forum for voicing complaints and talking about how we feel about our roles in the church. No real solutions were offered. No practical advice. The language was about how it’s our turn to shine, about how we ought to be on the platform and in the spotlight, about how husbands feel threatened by strong women, and so on. At one point the moderator opened the floor for questions, but added the caveat that she didn’t want to get into “picking apart scripture” because, she admitted, she was scared to do that.

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