Charlie Olivia Grantham is a twenty year-old college student from New Orleans, LA. She studies Media Production and Communication at the University of Southern Mississippi and hopes to work in the film industry one day. She enjoys blogging, yoga, and spending time with her fiancé and her dogs. You can find her blog at https://charlieolivia.
I am tired of seeing people use the same handful of scriptures to limit over half of the Christian Church. I am bored with hearing the same theological debates about how “women can’t lead” over and over again. I am confused because many Christians (that I’ve encountered) can recite Scripture forwards and backwards with ease, but don’t seem to know the Christ.
So, for a moment, let’s put away our interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 and all of the traditions we have clung to so tightly. Let’s take off our religious masks and ask, “What would Jesus do?” Better yet, what DID Jesus do?
Lets look first at John 2. In it, we find a rather unique miracle story. Not only is it Jesus’ first miracle, it is also the only account where Jesus seemingly performs the miracle reluctantly, as if he doesn’t really want to perform it. Who could lead Jesus, the Son of God, to do anything? Of course the answer is, “his mother,” which you may brush off as the punchline to a joke, but I believe this holds great significance.
“When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.” Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.” She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” John 2:1-11 MSG
Jesus chose to show His mother respect and publicly submit to her request, despite the fact that society would have allowed for him to tell her to “know her place.” Yet today, in a society that is no longer structured around patriarchy, that is exactly what “Christian” men are doing to their sisters in Christ.
In John 4, Jesus chose a woman to preach to an entire village, and the Bible says that the men believed because of her. He had twelve male disciples that could have easily done the task, but He went out of His way to choose this woman for the task.
Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, was the first Christian preacher. It wasn’t a coincidence that a woman was the first to see the resurrected Christ; after all, I believe there are no coincidences with God. It was a divine appointment that a woman was the first there, and the first to preach the Good News.
Jesus called her to preach the Good News and praise the Lord, and she followed her calling in opposition to the social norms! What a strong example Scripture gives us that women are called to lead. While twelve men were hiding and doubting the resurrection, a woman was boldly proclaiming the death and resurrection of the Christ!
Given the few examples above, it sure seems to me that Jesus was all for the full inclusion of women in His ministry.
Judging from His actions, I would say that Jesus wasn’t threatened by a woman having authority. This shouldn’t be a surprise either, since He knew more than anyone about Deborah, Naomi, Esther, and the many women like them. After all, He created them. After all, He appointed them to their positions of leadership.
As easy as it is for us to forget those “irrelevant Old Testament exceptions,” the concept of women being unfit for leadership must have been as absurd to Jesus as the idea of carpenters being unfit to build a table is to us.
If Jesus were physically present today, He would stand with women. He would stand with the women struggling to find a church that doesn’t discriminate based on gender. He would flip tables over pastoral applications that say, “Men only should apply.” He would teach husbands and wives about the beauty of mutual submission, and He would eradicate any theology that places women below men.
We must be Jesus’ body as a Church. We must reflect His Spirit. Is that as simple as encouraging women to take leadership positions in the church? Of course not! But when people are told that they are unworthy; when people are told that they just aren’t called; when people are told that they need to sit in the back, I think “wait, but aren’t those the ones Jesus said he came to die for? Better yet, isn’t that all of us?”
No one has spiritual authority over another. Only Christ has spiritual authority over us. That is the way it has always been, and that is the only way that Christ’s actions and words can work.
It is time to stop paralyzing ourselves as Christ’s body. It is time to stop believing lies of “rank.” It is time for us all to give up our pride.