Why Write a Book on Women in Ministry?
There are several reasons why I chose to write about women in ministry. But, the biggest reason is that I wanted to facilitate change in the body of Christ. Many branches of the Church bar women from teaching men. The voices of countless women have been silenced by ignorance, poor theology, and sometimes prejudice. Many use Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 to bar women from pastoral roles and from teaching men in the church. There is a pro-complementarian1 bias in the way some passages of scripture have been translated and many in the church have not had proper teaching on the subject of women in ministry.
A Common Story
A number of years ago my wife and I were a part of the leadership of a church of about 200 people. We were seen as leaders and were released to do a number of things within that church. We lead small groups, ran the children’s ministry, prayed for the sick and gave prophetic words. But we were never invited to be elders/pastors.
One day I got a call from the senior pastor of that church asking me to meet with him for coffee. At one point in the phone call, I paused the conversation and asked my wife, “Hey Marialice, can I go out to coffee with (pastor’s name)? Marialice replied, “yes.” Upon resuming the conversation, the pastor confronted me and said, “Don’t do that.” To which I replied, “Do what?” He said, “You just asked your wife for permission. You should just tell her that you are going out for coffee, and then do it.” I explained to him that I was not asking her for permission because I saw myself subservient to her, or because I needed her permission. I was asking her if she felt she could handle the kids on her own. At the time, my wife had some health issues that made watching our three small kids difficult for her. I was asking my wife if she felt well enough for me to leave her by herself and go out to coffee. That is what I meant by asking her, “Can I go out for coffee?”.
So, I went out to coffee with my pastor and friend. At the meeting, he proceeded to tell me that my house was out of order. He explained to me that I needed to be the man in my house and not to let my wife lead me so much. That was the purpose of the meeting, to confront me about not functioning as the “head of the house.” The confrontation shook me a little. So, I asked other leaders who were close to me and those involved in my home group if they thought my house was out of order. Was I allowing my wife to dominate me? They all said, “no.”
Stories like the one I just shared are all too common in the church. This pastor was influenced by complementarian theology.1 I believe his heart was in the right place. He truly saw my house as being out of order and was trying to help me by confronting me in love. I also believe that he had not examined the issue of women’s roles in the Bible closely enough.
The conversation with this pastor was an impetus propelling me to study the issue of women’s roles in the Bible. I needed to answer some questions. What did Paul mean when he said , “man is the head of woman?” What did Paul mean by, “I do not allow a woman to teach of exercise authority over a man?” Are there really God-ordained roles requiring men to lead women? I needed to do some in-depth bible study. So, I spent about seven years reading hundreds of books, articles, and on-line blogs. I studied the original languages and tried to view the subject from both a complementarian and egalitarian perspectives. I now believe the Bible supports women teaching men and the ordination of women pastors.
Why I Wrote About Women in Ministry
I wrote the book UNSilenced for leaders like the pastor in the story above. I wanted to write a readable book that thoroughly addressed the topic of women’s roles in the Bible. My hope is that it will change the minds of pastors and leaders who see women’s issues through complementarian eyes. My heart was also to create a resource that could be used to educate others. I wanted a book that was user-friendly and could be used in small groups to study the issue.
I also wrote UNSilenced for the countless women who are held back from teaching and leading in the church because of their gender. I wanted to create leadership opportunities for women whose chances to lead have been stolen by ignorance and poor theology. Only eleven percent of current US churches have women as head pastors.2 Fifty-one percent of US churches do not allow women to become head pastors, and thirty-three percent of churches do not allow women to preach.3 Many women have been silenced by prejudice, ignorance and poor theology. I wrote the book UNSienced in order to give these women their voices back.
© 2016 Alan Garrett, alsgarrett.net
- Complementarians believe that men and women were created equal in value, but have different, god-ordained roles in the church and marriage. They believe that all husbands are to function as the authoritative heads in their households and that women are not allowed to function as pastors/elders over men.
The Hartford Institute, “What Percentage of Pastors Are Female?,” The Hartford Institute. (accessed October 2, 2015). See also: Pew Research Center, “The Divide over Ordaining Women,” Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/09/the-divide-over-ordaining-women/ (accessed March 16, 2016). And: Barna.org, “Number of Female Senior Pastors in Protestant Churches Doubles in Past Decade,” Barna.org. https://www.barna.org/barna-update/leadership/304-numberof-female-senior-pastors-in-protestant-churches-doubles-in-pastdecade#. Vumif1UrK9I (accessed March 16, 2016).
Sarah Pulliam, “Women Pastors Remain Scarce,” http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2009/august/women-pastors-remain-scarce.html (accessed March 16, 2016).