James Hurley writes, "The most striking thing about the role of women in the life and teaching of Jesus is the simple fact that they are there. Although the gospel texts contain no special sayings repudiating the view of the day about women, their uniform testimony to the presence of women among the followers of Jesus and to his serious teaching of them constitutes a break with tradition which has been described as being 'without precedent in [then] contemporary Judaism.'"
References to: women
Preface by Joseph Tkach
Conservative and liberal commentators are generally agreed on this: Jesus treated women well—despite the male-dominated culture in which he lived. He treated them respectfully, was sensitive to their needs, used them as good examples of faith, and included them in his ministry in several important ways.
Preface by Joseph Tkach
In the previous article, we noted that the laws of Moses must be evaluated by New Testament values, because many of those laws were designed for a patriarchal culture. We cannot take the inequities of the laws of Moses as models for male-female relationships today—and certainly not as rules about the role of women in the church.
Many of the practices, events and laws contained in the Old Testament might seem strange to us. However, the Old Testament is part of the Bible, and in our survey of what the Bible says about the relationship between men and women and God, we need to examine what this part of Scripture says. We do not want to sugar-coat what it says, nor to dismiss it.
Does the Bible require men and women to have different roles in the church? Although the Old Testament does not provide the final answer for the question, proponents and opponents of females as elders often look to the Old Testament for evidence.
In 2003, we announced that we would be formally considering the role of women in the church. We invited members and pastors to send us their research. As we expected on this controversial issue, we received a variety of responses. Some were well thought out; others gave opinions without any particular support.
The New Testament teaches that all Christians should minister to one another, each person serving as his or her gifts allow. Elders are appointed in the church to shepherd, direct and teach. Elders lead and serve by equipping others. May women serve as elders and pastors? Are they permitted to shepherd, lead, direct and teach? Should the church recognize and train women as pastors and teachers?
Women have an increasing role in the work of the church. Women not only lead women in "women's ministries," but also lead men and women in music, prayer, teaching and speaking. Some people wonder why women should be allowed to do anything in church; others wonder why women can't do everything in church.
To give biblical perspective on this issue, let's look at evidence that God has used women to speak to his people. Women have spoken the word of God, and they have done so with divine approval and divine authority.
In 1 Timothy 2, verse 12, Paul writes: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." Primarily because of this verse, we as a denomination did not ordain women as elders until the year 2007. Our change of policy involved a change in the way we understood this verse.