Women In The Corrections Chaplaincy Douglas -- By: Paul Pruiett

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 002:4 (Sep 1997)
Article: Women In The Corrections Chaplaincy Douglas
Author: Paul Pruiett

Women In The Corrections Chaplaincy Douglas

Paul Pruiett

How Societal Pressures Are Working Against Biblical Standards In U.S. Prisons

Should women serve as chaplains of corrections facilities (jails and prisons)? In addressing this question, it is important to remember the changed social climate that has pressed such a question on the church and the state. As a result of the women’s movement in America and other trends in society, women in the workplace are commonplace today, including women in top executive positions or supervisory positions over men. This raises the question why women should be denied in the church a privilege they have been granted in the marketplace, that is, that of being placed in positions of authority over men.

Following The World’s Lead

Indeed, American society has fully embraced an egalitarian philosophy, and many churches and ministry organizations are eager to follow suit. What needs to be kept in mind, however, is that it is dangerous to allow the world to set the church’s agenda. Thus some see in the recent advances of so-called “biblical feminism” and egalitarianism in the church a troubling sign. As Harold O. J. Brown states, “What is at issue is not merely a revolt against the traditional stereotyping of sexual roles. The revolt is a symptom of a very deep and strong resistance to the concepts of both authority and reality.”1

Women In The Corrections Chaplaincy

The above-mentioned trends are also affecting the corrections chaplaincy. For instance, in 1993 there were four female chaplains in Florida State Prisons, two of which were senior chaplains of their facility. In 1996 there are eleven female chaplains, three of which are senior chaplains at their facility. Thus, in three short years, the number of female chaplains has increased by nearly 200 percent.2

In dealing with the question of whether women should serve as chaplains of corrections facilities or not, it must be remembered that the position of corrections chaplain is one of spiritual authority. Although the chaplain is not technically the facility’s pastor, the inmates and staff view him as such. The chaplain is called to preach and teach God’s Word. He is called to counsel with men (counseling with women is best done by mature Christian women volunteers). And he is called to represent the ministry in the community and from the pulpits of local churches. Hence, the chaplain functions much as a pastor or elder.

The chaplain should therefore meet the qualifications of pastor or elder as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1–7. One of these qualifications is that he be a man. ...

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