This is, I know, a contentious topic we are discussing on this website and at the moment, in our current climate, when the subject matter arises of ‘women in the church’ in the midst of a friendly discussion with someone, I sometimes find myself trying to avoid or hedge around it because, quite frankly, I’m scared to express a different point of view from the prevailing crowd. In general I see myself more as a sympathiser and confidant than one who diverges from the mainstream. I know that often what follows if my beliefs are expressed – are equally strong beliefs from the other side of the fence. I don’t enjoy having different opinions, and this topic in particular seems more difficult to discuss phlegmatically than many, many others in the bible. Having once stood on the opposing side, I know some of the convictions and considerations which can be found there and what can be perceived or thought when hearing the words, no matter how benevolently spoken, ‘no, I don’t believe a woman should be teaching in the church’. It makes me think that a ‘Men-in-the-church’ website would somehow have been a much more agreeable topic, a lighter discussion point; less controversial and less intimidating than the women debate. But here we are, feeling led by God to share on the less palatable option.
Just today it came up in a conversation with a couple of precious women and I felt the sudden shift as, having been asked where I stand on the subject, I shared as simply as I could what I believed. It was hard, as I knew they were of a different opinion. The conversation all but finished at that point and I tried to search for a way ‘to make things alright’ again. I have often told God that I am not made for controversial situations. I certainly do not have a thick skin. Generally, I have been a woman that has wanted to blend in with the crowd and be in agreement with everyone. I have wanted to dress the same, look the same and be the same. I am not one of those people who wants to express my individuality. But it would seem that throughout my life at every turn, God has been wanting something different, someone different. Perhaps even preparing me for this current stand, which is viewed with disfavour by many.
As a child it was not easy just to blend in as I would have liked and as the world urged me to do. I grew up in a missionary family on a small, tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Returning to England at the age of 9, I often felt that difference; I was used to climbing fruit trees, eating mangos and being barefoot in tropical downpours while English children were used to eating apples from the shops and putting on wellies to go outside in the rain. There were cultural differences. When I reached the age of 30 and felt God calling me to live in Oxford, UK, a place of learning, I was near to terrified, I didn’t feel I would fit, in the slightest; I had been longing to go overseas to somewhere like Africa. I had never gone to university, and was of average intelligence and I felt it keenly as I stumbled through conversations with educated Oxford people. I cried nearly every week for the first year until I felt God saying, He didn’t just want another PhD student in Oxford, valuable though they were, it was me He wanted, and all that He had made me to be.
As Christians we have to be prepared to be VERY different from the world and perhaps over the last 30 years or so, as the church, we have sought too hard to bridge the gap in our attempts to evangelise the lost and have given up the distinctive difference that we have as children of God and members of His kingdom.
And now I believe there is something more afoot here than the strong, differing opinions around this topic of women in the church. Something behind it which causes complications, not because there are bible passages that are particularly difficult to understand but simply because spiritual forces are against us obeying God’s word and are seeking to realign us to the spirit of the age. Satan is doing his utmost to hinder us from that very narrow path that God intends we should walk, to intimidate and confuse our thinking and tangle us up with a whole host of other issues that put us off obeying the simple truth. The very verse in question, 1 Timothy 2 v 12-14, about women not teaching, Paul, the apostle, links to Adam and Eve and to the woman being deceived. The confusing articles written today, which change this verse to suit their thinking, seem to end up as Eve did, coming into agreement with the words of the devil, ‘Has God indeed said…?’ It’s worth remembering that the enemy from the beginning of time has been undermining God’s words and will continue to use every possible way to channel and misshape our mindsets through the wiles of feminism and influences of a humanistic world. ‘Did God really say….is it really written?’
In response the bible tells us in Romans chapter 12, not to conform to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we will be able to test and approve the will of God, which is perfect.
It surely must not be palatable for us as Christians to override God’s sacred word and seek to blend in, when God has brought us out of darkness, by sacrificing His own life, washing us clean by His precious blood and bringing us into His holy, unique and extraordinarily wonderful kingdom to be His spotless bride.