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The Role of Women: 8 prominent Christians debate today’s issues

After reading Gifted to Lead, I decided it was time to begin on my study of Scripture of women in the home and women’s role in the local church. This book was one that I found in the NEGST library, and thought it to be a good place to start…something that is more of a dialogue between those who have different opinions- it’d help me to see what Scripture passages were ones that were most helpful in this issue.

In this book, 4 traditionalists and 4 non-traditionalists wrote on the subject on women in the home and women in the church. After the essays, the other side got to comment on what the opposing view wrote. Much of what I read was new to me; I haven’t gotten into much study or discussion about this issue in the past. At least none that was informed by Scripture; just my ideas of what I have heard other people say. I took a lot of notes and wrote down a lot of passages/verses for future study.

After reading this book, I feel that my questions are more clear. Some post book reflections include:
1. What does it mean to be a “helper”?
2. Is there such thing as a “creation ordinance” where all women are subject to all men?
3. Why can women prophesy, but not teach?
4. Why were there/are there so many women missionaries? What should their role be on the field in evangelizing/establishing churches?
5. Is there room in Scripture for man to be the “head” of woman in marriage, but women being able to express leadership gifts in the church in prominent, non-traditional ways?
6. (this question came after discussing some things with jake) What if it’s not about the activities that women participate in (i.e. leading a class on discipleship or prayer, preaching one morning in the church service, giving a prophetic word, etc.), but instead it’s about the relationship that the woman has with others in the church congregation?

Anyone being honest, on both sides, would admit that this topic is not cut and dry. There are questionable passages on both sides that are downright confusing. My goal in this study is to remain as non-biased as I can—really trying to allow my previous thoughts to be moldable. I understand this issue to be vital to me right now—especially as I begin to think about what God is leading me in, and attempting to begin a degree in Christian Leadership.

Also after reading this book, I was sad to see that the women writers weren’t as kind as the men when dealing with the other woman’s essay. And I felt that some of the women writers were more concerned with social science issues than dealing with Scripture (which is what I thought the purpose of the book was). Women are as smart as men, and just as good writers- this was a reminder that many (certainly not all) women scholars need to step it up in their quality of scholarship, as well as allowing their femininity (to whatever degree that exists for them) to shine through in their writing and responding to others in discussion and debate.

For those of you who have studied this issue, what are some books that you’ve read that have been helpful?

In other news, some books in the queue, in no particular order:

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll
The Problem with Evangelical Theology by Ben Witherington
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper
Church Unique by Will Mancini
Good Enough Mothers by Melinda Marshall
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper
Neither Slave nor Free by Patricia Gundry