With the advent of the feminist movement, the role of women in all parts of society has come under increasing scrutiny. One area of recent controversy is the role of women in the Christian Church. Some churches whose traditions and practices are less rigidly tied to
Biblical doctrines have begun placing women in leadership positions such as pastor or teacher. Other churches which interpret the Bible more literally have been slow to adopt such changes. Much of the confusion is based on attempts to interpret scriptures pertaining to women. In this essay, we will use the Bible to understand the role of women in the church of the first century and apply that understanding to the church of the twentieth century.
Many people would dispute the Bible's relevance to contemporary thought in general and in particular to the role of women in worship. If the Bible were not written under divine inspiration, a person or practice is not bound by its teachings.
He or she can therefore pick and choose whatever corresponds to his/her point of view. However, if the Bible is of divine inspiration, then a cautious consideration of passages relevant to a particular issue must be undertaken. Traditions and customs that have arisen after the Bible was written may thus be carefully scrutinized. Such practices may or may not prove sound after comparison with scripture.
Before we discuss specific issues concerning women in worship, we should consider principles derived from the relationship of Adam and Eve as described in Genesis chapter one. The Apostle Paul frequently uses this passage as a guideline when discussing women and women's issues. Genesis 1 verse 27 states: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Most Commentators agree...