June 2002



(Annotated by LWE)



1.         Throughout the history of the Christian Church, women have played vital and varied roles in ministry, service, witnessing, and worship.


2.         While the New Testament’s guidance on this issue has been the subject of much debate, discussion, and differing interpretations over the centuries – particularly during this past century – there can be little dispute as to the equality of women and men in the eyes of God (this is not true - the equality is only related to absolute worth and access to salvation,  Scripture is replete with examples of the differences between men and women, most specifically with regard to submission and headship) and the importance that women played in Jesus’ ministry and in spreading the Gospel (on spreading the Gospel, this is conjecture, there is no Scriptural evidence that women ever preached a sermon or acted in the role of an evangelist, that any women ever led a public prayer, that any woman make any statement to any group of Christians - there is one place in all of the New Testament where some women were told to go to tell the disciples to stay in Galilee and that they had seen Christ - hardly a doctrinal dissertation.  After that event we know of no words that women spoke related to the spreading of the Gospel) after Jesus’ death and resurrection.


3.         Reasonable and thoughtful Christians, prayerfully interpreting the Bible in good faith, can nevertheless reach different conclusions as to the Bible’s teaching with regard to the proper role of women in the life of the Church today (in adding the word today, you have betrayed the underlying concept that the role of women in the life of the Church should be time-varying or cultural, that is a major conclusion that may not be able to be substantiated).


4.         In the face of such disagreements on an issue that, while vitally important, is not central to personal salvation, one of our key roles as Elders is to strive for unity.  We must humbly acknowledge that our own individual interpretations of scripture may be distorted by tradition, personal preference, or cultural influence.  Teachers and leaders must be prepared to address this issue in a fair and thoughtful manner, respecting and acknowledging the differing views of other Christians (this secular concept of respecting and acknowledging differing views as if they had equal merit is flawed,  a different view can be acknowledged but if it has more merit, it should be adopted, equal merit is extremely rare when it comes to doctrine).


5.         The respective roles that men and women play in our culture are becoming increasingly indistinct.  As the gap between culture and church practices widens, our differences with the unchurched over these issues will increase as we attempt to bring the Gospel message to the community around us.  If we agree that the scriptures clearly teach that the participation of women in the church is restricted in certain ways for all time (can there even be an if - are you implying that doctrinal restrictions would have been relative/temporal/cultural and we have to try and decide if 1 Timothy applies to our church as opposed to only some other church?  Assuming these are ad hoc letters is an almost fatal flaw that leads to all kinds of problems), then we dare not compromise clear teaching for the sake of making the message more palatable.  We must be ready to articulate a clear defense of our practices and to take a firm stand, regardless of the influences of worldly culture.  If, however, the restrictions we place on women are merely the result of tradition, inertia, personal comfort or the lack of disciplined and consistent interpretation, then we dare not continue a practice that dishonors the gifts and talents which God has bestowed upon our female members (gifts and talents are unrelated to doctrinal restrictions and should not be used as evidence against restrictions - e.g. this woman has a great talent for speaking, therefore she should be a preacher).  Unbiblical restrictions also hinder our ability to connect with the unchurched and make disciples (interesting conclusion, as if biblical restrictions would not hinder our ability to connect, e.g. salvation is available only through Christ - that's pretty inhibiting, lots of unchurched think there are many paths to salvation).


6.         This is a sensitive issue that requires much prayer, thought, and study – both now and in the years ahead.  No matter what we do, not everyone will be pleased, and we will need to be alert for signs of disunity and discouragement.  While we must address these sensitivities in a thoughtful and loving way, we should not let them hinder us from moving forward with changes that we believe are appropriate under the principles outlined above.(This is a conclusion, we should not let them hinder us from moving forward with changes that we believe are appropriate.  The title has to do with discussions of the role of women and here we find the conclusion already stated.  How about, "if we should find any changes are necessary, then...")