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What is the place of women in the church? Can a woman be a pastor? How Paul’s words are understood in 1 Timothy 2:12 when he says that he does not allow women to teach or dominate men; But he has to be quiet?

1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ breaks with the traditional notion of a relationship between men and women, both in Israel and in the Gentile world. The place given to women in the New Testament is remarkable. Contrary to tradition, Jesus was not afraid to have women among his disciples. The book of Acts shows the prominent role of certain women in the development of our church: Lydia of Philippi (16.11-15), Priscilla, who with her husband instructed Apollos in faith (18.26), the daughters of Philip who prophesied. (21.9). Paul’s letters mention many women whose help was invaluable to the apostles: Phoebe, called Deacon and Protectes (Rm 16.1-2), Priscilla, associates (Rm 16.3), Evodi and Sintiche, among others, also associates (Phil 4.2). -3).

2. In his teachings, the apostle Paul repeatedly addressed the issue of women’s ministry without addressing it systematically. The apostle Paul, for whom the woman is not without the man, is not without the woman, 1 Cor 11.11 (in the Lord), boldly declares that the grace of the divine Son has been given to men and women together (Galatians 3.26-28); 2 Core 6.18). Equally sinful, they clothe Christ equally and are one in Him, no longer male or female (Ga 3: 27-28). The charisma required for the betterment of the church and the fulfillment of its mission is distributed among all the members of the body of Christ according to the freedom of the soul. The apostle’s list of charisma does not contain any restrictions on sexuality (Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12).

3. But for the Gospel the new situation that women are facing does not eliminate all the differences in the role that each gender is asked to play in the service of God. These roles are not interchangeable.

As for the service of words, the fact that the question of women’s universal words shows the truth shows that a change has taken place. It was not mentioned in the synagogue or in the Greek assembly.

Paul has expressed himself more precisely in this chapter on several occasions: once, he acknowledged the possibility of women prophesying or praying in public (1 Cor 11.5); Other times, he teaches them and doesn’t let people dominate (1 Team 2); Elsewhere else, he mentions that women must remain silent and obey (1 Cor 14.34) – some commentators, however, read in this paragraph rather unwelcome gossip.

4. A question arises: should these Pauline texts be understood as a basic and permanent rule, or as an advice of wisdom, given the circumstances, applicable to the first century church? There must be a situational element in the apostle’s argument. He wants to know what is appropriate and what is not. He wants to remove anything that could disrespect the Church of Christ, or cause disgrace, which would be where women, abusing their new freedoms, violated the rules of rights (1 Cor. 11 and 14 examples). It encourages us to consider the practices and sensitivities of our time in applying the principles given to us by Scripture.
But Paul does not apply only to the argument of advantage. He bases his prohibitions on the subjugation of men, which we find in 1 Timothy 2.9-15 to be associated with their general creation in the image of God according to God’s will. Our reverence for biblical inspiration makes it our duty to follow the apostle to the conclusion he draws from the text of Genesis.

5. God gives man certain authority. If there is an order in the will of God, then we cannot in any way reverse or destroy this order in order to harmonize it with the thinking of the modern world. Christian women must not reject all subordination and do not reject the role God has given them. These are given to reflect the church’s attitude toward Christ and Christ’s attitude toward the Father (Eph 5; 1 Cor 11).

Also, there is a general and reciprocal subordination, which also applies to humans (Eph 5.21). It does not erase the distinction between authority, but determines how authority is exercised. Man’s authority is another face of service for which he is responsible. For the woman, recognizing this authority is not about bowing down and moving away, but about helping the man to guess.

6. The Church has often allowed itself to be caught between the alternatives of egalitarianism and authoritarianism. He understood the concept of authority and submission in the way of the world and not in the light of the Gospel. While contributing to the advancement of women, she allowed the establishment of a classified, dominant relationship, enslaving women and not helping men, their expansion and not with them. Thus, most Christians, judging to be limited to petty deeds or such, could not keep the gift they received in the service of others (1 Pet. 4.10).

7. In the Church of Jesus Christ, all Christians have a ministry (Diaconia, service). All men and women are servants of the Lord. In the early church, which lived in a world where women were generally excluded, Christian women were able to play an important and helpful role. The Widows Order, mentioned in 1 Tim 5.9-10, is an example. It is not a question of copying an organization that does not seek to institutionalize the New Testament, but of discovering how in every situation all Christians, men and women, can perform the best service to the Lord. Women must understand the gifts they receive from God and be allowed to practice them in the church for the common good.

8. An authority is attached to the practice of certain ministries. Can Christian women be included in the services they can perform? The question is particularly burning about the clergy ministry which involves both the exercise of authority and public discourse.

In some churches, women are dedicated to this ministry. Other churches refuse to do so, seeing the restrictions of 1 Tim 2.12 as a complete obstacle. In this text, Paul refers to God’s deliberate creative order: so we cannot overrule this verse just by looking at a general advice given by circumstances. But the reference to the creative order also shows, we think, what the purpose of the lesson is. The apostle refers to Genesis (like 1 Cor. 11) to establish the subordination of the woman; And it is only to maintain this principle that, as a result, he does not allow women to be educated. In Paul’s time the connection between authority and teaching was obvious to all; We cannot say the same in our cultural situation. The same creation principle may apply differently today. On the other hand, one might assume that the rule laid down by Paul defines general rule, that God is free to call a woman to an extraordinary ministry, bestowing upon her desirable gifts, as in the case of Deborah and Priscilla.

9. Regarding women’s access to the priesthood ministry, we offer some opinions and suggestions. We hope that they will be effective in the study of the question, for the church, or for church groups: it falls within their qualifications.

A) Women can speak openly in the church: the New Testament speaks so clearly for prophecy and prayer; It would be desirable in any case for us to make effective use of this freedom.

B) the line between prophecy and teaching is not always very clear in Scripture; Some people today blame more than this one authority!

C) The practice of teaching by many women in today’s world (and in foreign Christian missions!) Constitutes a new truth relating to the apostolic time and seems to fit very well with the specific development of femininity.

D) It seems possible to imagine forms of general teaching in the church whose authority would not have the character of authority over the people about which the apostle spoke.

E) In this regard, we acknowledge that the principle of subordination maintains a limit, but we invite the churches to show more innovative flexibility and more generosity in opening ministries of words for women.

F) The hypertrophy of the role of the priest presents a major obstacle to the participation of women in the work of the priesthood; According to the New Testament a reform would be desirable towards a greater consolidation and development of different gifts; This will facilitate harmonious coordination of male and female ministries.

G) A minister of the Gospel does not hold the office of his office alone: ​​holy by others, he fulfills it under the supervision of a co-responsible council. If a church council recognizes gifts from God in a woman, then it is the authority of this council that puts her at risk even when she is implementing these gifts.

Source: Following the “Theological Day” (May 1978), FLTE observations during a faculty conversation from Vox Sur Sen’s Free Faculty of Evangelical Theology.

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