I had a feeling of deja vu yesterday.
I was giving a lecture at St John's College Nottingham yesterday, on women in leadership, and meeting the women ordinands. A great day, and getting together as a group of women felt really important - lots of important issues raised.
I had some free time in the afternoon, so took a stroll through the grounds. Wandering through the car park, a car sticker caught my eye. It had a fish on it, and yes, the name was that of a small car firm which used to service my car, many years ago. The owner was a Christian, but when I told him I was going to be ordained, he challenged me. 'My church doesn't believe women should be leaders,' he told me. 'Women are too gullible - think about Eve!'
Yesterday, I was wondering if he still holds those views. And what church life is like for women in that church if they have no women role models as leaders.
Today I was reading my CBE email, on that very subject! So here's an excerpt from Mimi Haddad's message of the week.
'How many times have we heard that women are more easily deceived than men? In overt and also subtle ways, some Christians seem to believe that women are more gullible, more easily deceived, less rational, and more emotional than men (and have been since creation). Much of the prejudice against women comes from a poor reading of Genesis, and of Paul’s reference to Eve in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 2 Corinthians 11:3...
In 1 Tim. 2:11-14, Paul writes:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Some people today believe that women are more susceptible to deception than men, and for this reason they should be excluded from holding positions of authority over men in all circumstances. However, limiting the authority of all women is not a valid conclusion unless Eve is used consistently by Paul to refer specifically to women’s deception, rather than deception in general.
While Eve’s deception may be used to expose the deception of women in the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 2:11-14), the deception of the entire church at Corinth is also likened to Eve in that they too had been deceived by the cunning of the serpent and were led “astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Clearly Paul’s use of Eve as a representative of deception is not limited to women, but applies to both men and women. Deception is just as dangerous for men as it is for women. And both men and women are vulnerable to cunning deceivers.
Dr. John J. Davis, professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, will explore this topic more extensively in a forth coming issue of Priscilla Papers—CBE’s award-winning, academic journal.
To assert that women are more emotional, more gullible, and less rational is a destructive teaching based on a misunderstanding of the biblical texts. Let’s stop eroding the self-esteem of godly women, who are called by God to serve, teach, or hold positions of leadership and authority. Such women are not deceived, and their call should be tested and confirmed by the church rather than dismissed out of hand because of their gender. The church should be grateful that women come ready to serve. Let us not turn away the precious gifts God is giving us in women’s service, whatever it may be. '