Egalitarianism And The Meaning Of Submission -- By: Gary R. Gromacki

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 012:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: Egalitarianism And The Meaning Of Submission
Author: Gary R. Gromacki

Egalitarianism And The Meaning Of Submission

Gary R. Gromacki

Associate Professor of Bible and Homiletics

Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Oliver Thomas criticizes the church for its treatment of women in a USA Today article titled “Having Faith in Women”:

In many facets of society, gender gaps have been narrowing. That’s the good news. The bad news? When it comes to women, the world of religion seems to be stuck in the past.

Chicken Little was wrong. The sky isn’t falling, but the glass ceiling appears to be. In February, Harvard announced the appointment of its first female president. The month before, Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as the first female speaker of the House of Representatives. Bigger still, Sen. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic front runner for the presidency. In politics and academia, women are finally getting their due.

Meanwhile, back at the religious ranch, the Roman Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian organization, still hasn’t ordained one female priest, much less a bishop or cardinal. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the world’s largest graduate school for ministers, recently sent packing its only female professor who was teaching male students in the school’s department of theology. The seminary’s board chairman said hiring a woman to teach men theology had been a momentary lapse.

Not all is gender amiss in the world of religion. The Episcopal church recently installed its first female presiding bishop. Sunday, hundreds, if not thousands, of female clergy preached to America’s faithful. What’s puzzling is that the nation’s two largest denominations (Catholics and Southern Baptists) have managed to keep women down on the farm this far into the modern era. It’s even more surprising given that women perform the vast majority of work in churches. Stroll through the kitchen, choir rooms, offices, library, nursery and Sunday School rooms of your own church and see what you find. Does the New Testament really justify the church’s shabby treatment of women?1

Today if you visit many American churches you are likely to find a woman in the pulpit preaching the Sunday morning message.2 It is not unusual to find women serving as elders and deacons in their churches. Travis Buchanan has collected the policy statements of selected denominations and parachurch organizations regarding women in ministry. I have divided his alphabetical list into four groups (for, against, no statement, and individual churches decide...

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