Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 22 (Gupta)

This is the final post in this series (22). If you want to catch up on or look at old posts, go to the INDEX.

My Hopes for the Women in Ministry Conversation

What do you hope to achieve? I have been asking myself this question for the last 3 weeks, as I have produced these 20+ posts. What difference does it make? I am not the first person to make these arguments. I stand on the should of giants like Keener, Witherington, Bauckham, Cohick, Westfall, Fee, Belleville, Marshall, Reid, and others. And I know for many Christian leaders out there, they are settled into their views of men-leadership only, and I can’t blame them, I too am confident in my view of shared (women and men together) leadership. But here are my hopes.

For Those Who Believe Women Cannot be Pastors, Elders, Preachers, or Teachers over a Mixed Congregation of Men and Women

I hope you will find ways to listen carefully to women in your church. If you don’t permit them to teach or preach, ask women to pray up front and give their testimonies about what God is doing in their life. Women and men in the church need to see faithful women of God up front as part of the people of God in shared ministry. Women can do much more than sing and play piano. They have words of wisdom to share, even as laypeople. Let them be seen and heard.

Even as you thank women in your church for serving behind the scenes, also get to know how they do evangelism in everyday life, what they are up to as they lead Bible studies, and as they regularly give wise counsel to others.

For Those Who Are On the Fence about Women in Ministry

Take the “Gupta” wager. I believe you will lose more by taking the risk of restricting women from vocal and executive leadership (in shared ministry) than if you allow them. You could be wrong. I could be wrong. But I am willing to meet my Maker with a clear conscience that I believe Scripture isn’t 100% clear on this, and I need to act according to conviction and wise counsel. Since I have believed in women in ministry (~2004), I have been impressed with virtually all of the women elders, pastors, and teachers I have encountered. I did not turn into a crazy liberal. I still love Jesus, the Bible, and the Church.

Read more, study more, and stay in the conversation. Talk to women pastors about their discernment of ministry and their experiences. 

For Men and Women Who Support Women in Ministry

Be vocal, encourage and thank the women around you, advocate for them, tell them their sermon was good if you thought so. It is easy to underestimate the amount of negative feedback women receive as women leaders in ministry. They get criticized on outfits, hair, makeup, their voice, their mannerisms, etc. Men walk out of sermons by women sometimes. People occasionally yell negative things. And don’t forget harassment on social media. Send positive emails and notes—things women leaders can read over again to remind themselves they are not alone.

For Women Leaders and Pastors

Be encouraged—many of us think your vocation and the use of your gifts are biblical and fruitful! 

6 thoughts on “Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 22 (Gupta)

  1. From a young female currently in seminary: thank you. From a female awaiting a local church decision on gender and leadership roles: thank you. From someone who has wrestled with Scripture, discussions, and proper postures to take when considering women in ministry leadership: thank you. Your posts have been timely for me in many ways, & I will continue to point people to your thoughts posted here.

  2. Greatly appreciate this series. Thank you for your time spent on it, both to gather information and to argue winsomely.

    One question if I may: I resonate with how you grounded all questions of faith and practice—we will stand accountable to God someday. I also resonate with what you said about Scripture not being 100% clear on this and other topics. Since the text is open to multiple interpretations on some points, should we turn to church tradition for some guidance? I’m not saying this will yield an authoritative answer, and genuinely, I don’t know what tradition would say on this topic.

    I’m very much Protestant, yet this is my working hypothesis in response to the conundrum of postmodernity (rightly refuting so-called objective readings of scripture) and sola scriptura.

    Thoughts?

    1. Thanks, Daniel. Tradition is a tricky thing. Yes, in general tradition is formative and often good guidance, but not foolproof. For example, some elements of church tradition have focused too much on heaven and the afterlife. Some elements of church tradition have supported slavery. Tradition is something to weigh into the discussion, but there are sometimes reasons to break with church tradition. For example, many Patristic and Reformation theologians had major anti-semitic bias, and today we can see the problems with that.

  3. Thanks Dr. Gupta for this series. I agree with most of what you wrote about women being able to preach and teach in the Jesus gatherings; however, I still have some lingering questions about women as elders and lead pastors. First, speaking of the liberal church, many complementarians often point to women becoming bishops, elders, and lead pastors as a contributing factor to mainline churches becoming liberal. I know there is more to the mainline situation than this but it got me thinking about gender differences and Paul’s words in 1 Timothy.

    With the Genesis allusion, is Paul pointing to a general principle of different roles between the genders?

    I think men (generally speaking) by their nature and physical stature are defenders and protectors, whereas women (generally speaking) by their nature and physical stature are nurturing and embracing. In an analogous way, is Paul explaining that with the onslaught from false teachers in the Ephesian church, the men should take the bulk of the load when it comes to teaching and defending the gospel and protecting the church from false teachers? Thus, the instructions could be viewed as time and situation sensitive, and so they would not be general instructions about leadership within the church.

    If men (generally speaking) by their nature and physical stature are defenders and protectors, whereas women (generally speaking) by their nature and physical stature are nurturing and embracing, then maybe men (generally speaking) are more physically and temperamentally equipped by nature to defend and protect the church and fight against false teachers, and so I could see the benefits of a predominantly male elder board, same for an archbishop in episcopal type governance. Women, please don’t take this the wrong way, I am simply speaking in general terms. There certainly are women who are as tenacious as men in defending, protecting and fighting against heresy and perversion, and they may be the ones who are likely to fill the role of an elder, but they are probably more of an exception than the norm… again generally speaking.

    So back to my comment about the mainline situation. While I don’t agree with the complementarian who says that ordination of women is the main cause of the downward spiral within mainline churches, I do have to voice my subjective observation (granted with my male eyes) having been around mainline denominations. It does seem that the women priests or elders that I have been around are the most embracing and vocally staunch when it comes to accepting some of the liberal ideas. Is this overly bias on my part? You can tell me.

    All this to say, I wonder if for the sake of egalitarianism too many women are being ordained when they don’t have the temperaments that are needed to protect the church from false teaching.

    Thoughts?

    1. Ryan, I get men and women are different, but leadership in the NT is not defined as manliness per se. That is why I started my series with Deborah. Deborah shows all the best qualities and signs of a strong leader. At the end of the day, I would say two things (1) the church is at its best when lead by men and women (rather than just a man or a woman) and (2) those who aspire to pastoral leadership must be called and equipped by God. I interact with numerous women pastors on a regular basis and I have no doubt in my mind they are as capable of resisting false teachers as men. For example, I consider myself an intelligent and discerning man, but my wife is far wiser and more discerning than I – I consider myself lucky! She is also sweet and gracious, she is an awesome mother and wife. We co-lead our family, we work side-by-side in ministry, and she often helps me stay on the straight and narrow path!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s