This is a subject that seems to be in many places on the blogosphere at the moment. I wrote on that subject about a year ago on a previous blog. I still think the same now, so I have copied it below:
Friday, 13 November 2009
There are two (or maybe three) views which people may hold. The third view states that women should literally be completely silent in church, and only men speak. Women are forbidden from praying publically in a prayer meeting. That view, whilst sincerely held is a minority view in the 21st century church.
The two main views are Complementarian and the Egalitarian.
Complimentarians believe that there is a structure whereby men should take the lead, but that women have a very real part to play in church ministry. This is expressed in different ways in different churches, but often in practice it means that a woman is able to do anything in church life EXCEPT pulpit ministry and eldership.
On the other hand, Egalitarians believe that women should do exactly the same as men, in other words there are no roles that are exclusively for men. This view says that that they SHOULD preach and take on eldership responsibilities.
I believe that the complimentatian view is correct. Looking at the whole sweep of Scripture, we see from creation that men and women were created equal but different in roles. Men were always given the role of ultimate responsibility, throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Jesus himself had the opportunity, if he so wished, to appoint women as Apostles, but did not do so. It was NOT because he did not want to go against the cultural norm of the day. He WAS counter – cultural in so many ways, not least in the respect that he showed to women. But he still chose 12 men. In the writings of Paul we see the principle of male leadership. It is claimed that is only cultural, or only applying to specific situations. However, the Apostle uses foundational principles from the Old Testament, so it cannot be purely cultural.
I am aware that I have only scratched the surface here, I am sure that this is another of those subjects to which I will return. Suffice is to say that taking the Scripture as a whole, and applying it to the present situation, in any expression of church, we need to maintain both the equality AND the distinctive functions of men and women. I believe the complimentarian view works best.