(Tim) This just in from Mission to the World missionary to Taiwan, Mrs. Joel (Judy) Linton (Lin Huan-chun). Judy and I had the joy of being bound into the same church body back in the late nineties when I was Sr. Minister of Evangelical Community Church here in Bloomington, Indiana.
Readers will note Judy's husband, Joel, has been helpful commenting (under the name "JHL") here on the current promotion of woman deacons in the PCA. I commend a paper Joel's written on the main passage of Scripture used by proponents of woman deacons, 1Timothy 3:8-13.
If you'd like to know more about Joel and Judy, their ministry and family (past and present) here's a good place to start. As you'll quickly realize, Judy's typical of the strong-willed women who really are daughters of Sarah. (Here's a longer version of her testimony.)
Recently, a reader asked if I could recommend reading for her to suggest to a friend of hers in the PCA that would help her with the seeming unjust limitation of women within the PCA in their exclusion from teaching and exercising authority over men. This testimony from Judy is a good start.
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A WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE ON WOMEN'S ROLE
I have had countless conversations with Christian women who are in various stages of dealing with the issue of women’s roles. Many of the conversations were incredibly tense, and some with heart-rending tears. I realize that this issue is emotional and controversial.
The controversy lies with...
the following 2 points:
Rachel: someone I knew in college
In college, my friends and I prayed earnestly for an atheist acquaintance named Rachel. We were thrilled when she became a Christian. But our rejoicing was dashed to the ground when she turned away from church as soon as she found out that our church did not allow women pastors.
She thought our church’s stance on women’s roles was male chauvinistic. She assumed our stance was a form of bondage, restricting and squashing women, making women out to be weak and inferior.
Bondage for women?
So were Rachel’s assumptions right? Does Scripture squash and limit women?
I believe that the Scripture teaches freedom. God sent Jesus to set us free from bondage. I believe that God’s commands are for my good and for my liberty.
Therefore, I consider God’s commands as a means to FREE me from certain burdens.
The Sabbath Example
God commands us to keep the Sabbath. I know people in the past have treated the Sabbath as yet another bondage law, which is rather ironic if you think about it. The Sabbath is for our rest. God gave us a gift to remind us to let go of our work-possessed accomplishment-oriented check-off-the-to-do-list obsessions and rest. On this Sabbath day, we are restricted, yes. Restricted from work and forced to vacation! Hallelujah.
In the same way, when people bring up the controversial verse of “A woman is not allowed to teach or to have authority over a man”, the ‘freedom’ buzzer goes off in my mind. God has given women (and only to women) an additional Sabbath rest. Wonderful rest. I actually view these verses as an extra Sabbath gift to women. Rest from responsibility. Freedom from needing to be in control. Freedom from the burdens of leadership in the home and in the church. “Free at last, free at last...” I’m actually grateful for those verses.
“But I still feel restricted...”
The issue many women struggle with is that they feel these verses restrict them from certain positions of leadership. And they are right, women are not allowed to have the authority in the home and in the church. But actually, men are just as restricted as women are by Scripture. Men are not allowed to NOT be the head of the home or church. They are not allowed to pass on their burdens of headship to the women. Men are restricted from the rest. In fact, we can also say men have been given the ‘bondage’ of leadership. Ha ha. OK, I’m just playing semantics now. But seriously, the simple fact is that God does restrict BOTH men and women to different roles. And His design is ultimately for our good. We should enjoy it!
“But women got the inferior role...”
This is where I believe Christians must take a stand and swim against the tide of popular culture. Culture does tell us that self-assertion and being in charge is the ‘superior’ position to have. However, the Gospel is centered around Christ, “who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” Although popular culture tells us that ‘submissive’ equals ‘inferior’, Scripture teaches the opposite. Christ Himself modeled the submissive role, and was exalted to the highest place as a result (Phil. 2: 6-11). Submissiveness does NOT imply inferiority.
Some people are outraged that I believe a Biblical application of the verses means that women should not lead mixed groups or lead worship during church service. Some people think my application of the verses imply or propagate the thinking that women are inferior to men. So let me proclaim it simply once and for all, “I do not think women are inferior to men!” I just believe that God has chosen men and women to fulfill different roles.
“But I can do as good of a job, or even better job than him...”
God does not often choose people to fulfill roles based on their giftedness. In fact, I believe that God often chooses the weak to shame the wise. At home, I do not feel inferior to my husband Joel. I know that I am more gifted in many areas than he : ). But I choose to submit to him, simply because God asked me to. After all, if God told me to cut off my arm, I would do so because I trust Him to have a good reason for it. So I obey God and submit to my husband because I trust God knows what he is doing.
“But then my gifts are limited...”
In practice, I have never felt that I have had my gifts limited due to submission. Because I’m free from the burden of leading the home and leading the church, I’ve been enabled to concentrate on using my leadership skills elsewhere. I fully utilize all my God-given gifts in the education of my children, in managing home and finances, in my ministry to other women, in recording CDs and writing books, in being the CEO of my own baby-food business ... I’m swamped! (The Proverbs 31 woman seemed quite busy, too.)
I do base my identity on my status, my status as being a child of the King, a princess by rights. Because I already have the best status in the world, I do not need other affirmations from the world. (I like praises, but I do not need them.)
Furthermore, I know that what God commands is not intended to deprive me. After all, if He has already given me His Son, “How will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8: 32)”
Other views: A woman can do anything an unordained man can do?
I do not have time to thoroughly go through the other positions on this issue. But I will touch briefly on the position which I have often heard of: “A woman can do anything an unordained man can do.” In my opinion, this statement actually sounds more like an insult, because it does imply ranking, as if being ordained is a superior role, which I disagree with. This statement sounds insulting because instead of setting aside women as special and distinct in their role, it says that "women are lumped together with the inferior unordained men." Furthermore, where is the Biblical basis for this statement? Unordained men are Biblically allowed to teach and to exercise authority in the home. In my opinion, this statement of “A woman can do anything an unordained man can do” does not actually carry out I Timothy 2 with integrity.
By the way, my husband Joel did not ask me to write this : )