Defenders of Women -- By: Susan Hunt
JBMW 13:2 (Winter 2008) p. 24
Defenders of Women1
*Consultant to Presbyterian Church in America’s
Women in the Church Ministry
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” (Acts 20:28–31).
Women are responsible before God to use their spiritual gifts within the ministry of the church, thus placing themselves under the authority and protection of the church. But the church has a responsibility to shepherd women well. What does this mean?
First, because God has given men the position of authority in the home and church, male leadership in a church has the power to open ministry doors for women. Men can appreciate and affirm women. Men can make room for the gifts of women to flourish. Men are responsible for being good stewards of the resources God gives to the church, including the resource of the gifts of women. Church leadership must recognize the distinctiveness and the value of the female population of the congregation. When the nursery and kitchen are the only ministry opportunities open to women, as important as those ministries are, the church suffers. The resulting deficiency is not because women are better, but because women are different. It takes men and women to bring completeness to the ministry of the church. The full range of the gifts and experiences of women can be utilized in the local church without violating male headship.2
Second, biblical headship includes protection. One responsibility of a shepherd is to provide green pastures and quiet waters for the sheep. Today, many female sheep are bruised and battered and in desperate need of a safe pasture. They need to be protected spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically.
A Safe Place
The primary issue of this essay is the urgency for the local church to become a safe place for wounded women. In order for this to happen, male leadership must partner with women to care for the female sheep. The authority-protection loop can be closed when male leadership utilizes the gifts of women to minister to women.
The shepherds of the flock are entrusted with the care of the flock, and they have a responsibility to involve women in helping them understand the unique need...
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