A Letter to My Sisters
to come outside of tired boxes and divisive labels. To leave behind the exclusive boardroom table of gender limits. To stop asking “man or woman” as a qualification for ministry. It’s a call to find freedom in the fullness, hope, glory, and work of Christ.
Brave and beautiful sisters gathered in blog form last week to celebrate women leaders in ministry.
Now, I love my sisters in Christ. My ministry is to women.
But I believe women in church leadership is a departure from the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.
It’s hard for me to write this. It feels like going against the internet grain, which sits ills with me. I am no subversive, I am not rebel, and I struggle with people-pleasing as that second master Jesus warns us we cannot have.
But what does it profit me to gain the whole world’s approval and forfeit my conscience, which is bound to Scripture? I stand with Martin Luther on the dangers of departing from Scripture.
So I write this for the women out there who are confused and conflicted. Who look at their screens and look at their Scriptures and like me, do not know what to think.
I think of Eve bursting forth from Adam’s rib, second-born, because he was alone. And God, who was not alone, but with His Son and His Spirit, and he could not bear the loneliness of His newborn son, and so He made Eve. A gift, beautiful to behold (Gen. 1).
I remember how Miriam and Aaron grumbled against Moses, undermining his authority and saying “Does God not speak through us, too?” God was displeased with them, but only Miriam was punished, not Aaron. Because it was a greater sin for her to desire Moses’ place in leadership.
And I see that the gift of the Spirit to speak well, write well, communicate effectively is not immediately equated to a calling to authority/leadership. In Hebrews, the author, speaking of the priesthood writes, No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest.”
I think of the prophets and the priests, Jesus and his disciples, Acts and the newborn, Spirit-filled church choosing “men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.”
I think of the women who humbled themselves before Jesus, and how tenderly they were loved. He did not make any of them one of the twelve. And they didn’t seem to mind; they only wanted to touch his robe, cry on his feet, follow wherever he went.
They were content with the privilege just to follow. Couldn’t we be?
And I know that some would sift God’s word, rejecting Paul’s clear instructions, only accepting the red letters or the lines after “And God said…”
Peter, writing to the church, equated Paul’s teaching with other Scriptures in 2 Peter 3:15-16. “…just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
And Jesus, He spoke in parables and mysteries, so that people would not understand, to fulfill the prophecies, but later, his followers got together, and they remembered his words by the power of His Spirit and they pieced together the beautiful, big-picture gospel like a glorious puzzle. Those poor confused disciples, thinking of flour-made bread when Jesus spoke of Spirit-bread, it wasn’t all their fault. It was meant to be that way, as Jesus himself explained,
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but I f I go, I will send him to you. . . when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:7, 13)
When He sent the Spirit, the understanding dawned like sunrise, and power burst forth into those fishermen and tax collectors, transforming them by the power of the Holy Spirit into church fathers. They preached the Word and they wrote the letters and they saw the bigger picture, the whole beautiful story, clearer in hindsight than in those hungry, dusty, crowded days of following their Messiah.
And women write that they are strong and Jesus loves them and they reject submission because it doesn’t fit our culture today. But Scripture tells us,
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Sisters, he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Christ. The Christ who transcends all times and cultures, who was before the foundations and will be after this world is a book snapped shut, he was heard by his father because he submitted.
Surely it’s not too much for this Christ to ask it of us.
These words of Scripture hem me in, behind and before, and cowering introvert though I am, I cannot recant.
I stand on Scripture. That is my best defense. I cannot or will not argue against anyone’s experience of being called to preach. I do not know. I cannot say. I understand you felt that and I will not attempt to explain it away.
I do not write this to argue.
I write this for my sisters who are confused, wondering, and wavering on the Word.
To them, I urge and I invite, leave the quicksand of opinion and come back to Solid Ground.
This call to submit is not a call to be weak-willed, boxed in, or abused, it is a call to kneel to the great God of the Universe.
And when you do, you just might find your companion is Christ.