Even though the Bible says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) to both men and women before instructing women alone, no one ever asks whether Bill Hybels or Rick Warren is submitting to their wives (or even loving their wives sacrificially in accordance with Ephesians 5:25, for that matter).
Every saint is called to love one another, serve one another, and honor one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We should ask for this evidence of the Holy Spirit in our pastors’ and leaders’ lives, but the only question that has arisen is whether women ministers are submitting sufficiently.
I am very aware of the glass ceiling I face in ministry. I see it when pastors favor men with less education, experience, and maturity than me simply because of gender. I see it when I arrive at seminary to find a flyer for a seminary wives support group in my mailbox (as if women are not in seminary). I see it when my classmates use gender exclusive language. I see it when I am looking at job openings in churches that are not open to me because I am a woman.
I literally wept this morning thinking how conservative Christians have an easier time believing that God can speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:21 ff.) than he can through a woman.
The funny thing is, I don’t think being a woman is my primary characteristic when it comes to ministry. I am called to ministry for the sake of furthering God’s kingdom. I want to preach the gospel and make that my focus, but my brothers (and even some sisters) in Christ choose instead to simply see me as just a woman. I want to be about the gospel, but somehow it becomes about my gender more than Jesus.
Ultimately, even if you think that my motives are wrong for wanting to minister, Paul himself says, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18).
What does it matter that I am a woman if I am gifted and called by God? Perhaps our time would be better spent preaching the gospel than trying to keep women away from the pulpit.
Frances Tuck is a student at Western Seminary and lives in Los Gatos, California. Read her blog.