My wife and I are investigating becoming members of a church we've been attending, and one of the things mentioned was the perceived need to give women a meaningful place to serve without violating Scripture's prohibition of female deacons and elders.
And thinking about that, it occurred to me that what needs to be done is not to provide male roles to women--whether under the aegis of an official church title or otherwise--but rather to provide an environment in which women's natural roles can be allowed to flourish.
To draw a picture, about a decade ago, I was a deacon at a little church in Boulder, and my responsibility included the nurseries. I'd put together a scheme to reduce the chances that pedophiles would be able to approach the children, but was dreading the difficulty of getting people to work the nurseries, clean up toys,and such.
Enter two women who said "we'd like to coordinate scheduling and clean-up". What had happened? The major role was that the pastor had created a place where women were not afraid to be women--it was OK to keep at home, love one's children, and such. Combine that with a basic structure where it was "safe" to help in the nurseries, and given that opportunity, these ladies took care of everything but the background checks. Fully 2/3 of the adults served in the nurseries, allowing the rotation to go to once every six weeks. The church of sixty or so families had a baby boom of six babies that year, and all this while.....the church gained elderly members, too. There was no generation gap.
I would suggest that if you told these ladies they were somehow less worthy or important because they did not hold a title, they would have laughed at you. So would I. The way out of the "gender wars" is, as Elisabeth Eliot would tell you, is to listen when women tell us "Let me be a woman."
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