“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” Corinthians 12:7-11. The New Testament makes it plain that Christian women, like men, have been given spiritual gifts. The gifts of wisdom, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discerning spirits,or knowledge by means of the same Spirit, are all bestowed by means suitable to each. It never mentions women as not included. Women, like men, are to use these gifts to minister to the body of Christ.
Unfortunately, the New Testament 1 Timothy 2:8-15: takes the significance of Gods abundant message and distorts those blessings. We are told through scripture, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve and Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
How can we ever get out from under that decree!
Has the Catholic church been correctly teaching and honoring the magnitude with which christian women minister and yet hypocritically ignored certain permanent restrictions placed on the ministry of women?
But Paul says, in Christ there is neither male nor female.
The Christian church has changed in twenty centuries and will need to change a good deal more to altar the cultural conditioning to free ourselves from culture norms which should have been dealt with centuries ago. Why is there still so much fear that women teach Christian doctrine to men or that women are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church? The passage, as translated above, definitively says, women are not to teach men. They are not to have authority over men, do to the order in which God created man and woman and because of how man and woman fell into sin. Eve has always been saddled with being the greater culprit but they were both kicked out of Eden.
Timothy’s text was written in a time when the church was forming, a time of heated opinions, and debate to arrive at a consensus, agreed on as divinely inspired word. The early church defended itself against false teaching for at least 500 years, analyzing authentic text, interpretations of the doctrines and clarifying cannon law. How many women could have been part of those discourses and discussion?
Have we stopped to think what might have changed if women had been trusted to participate in good exegesis, contributing their scholarly reconstructions of history, and any role they may have played as females who witnessed history and dialogue. The church has done a disservice to women and God alike through confusing right and abundant teaching with the cultural bias and inferiority of women.
Women may have been excellent teachers of asceticism as a means of spirituality, but their practices are not documented. Their abstinence from certain foods, from marriage and probably sex in general, women might have had mystical insights and ideas for doctrines as they understood them and shared in a voice equal but different from men. We will never know fully their history, politics or even their intentions. They have been written out. What the church authority has maintained as male/female distinctions are no longer relevant in this era and need to be re-evaluated, and transformed to bring about better understanding of the divine message of love.
The Christ that lives in us is neither “male nor female”
The current climate and tendency towards removing role distinctions between men and women is not a false teaching or even a heretical teaching. Paul’s teachings on this issue, along with Timothy and Titus are about the roles of men and women in church ministry, their interpretation and wording is in need of change. We can without fear, re-frame antiquated words written in another time, change the words which were born in a more fearful and controlled society than what we have today. Our clergy and male dominated hierarchy can choose to re-design what they have defended as ancient and antiquated historical culture of a women’s place which no longer fits in this age. Biblical text and teaching has to embrace new appropriate behavior for Christian women today. Women’s issues are a growing voice and presence in the workforce, administrating and teaching around the world in spite of our experience of having been divorced, abandoned, abused, isolated and silenced. The Jesus Christ that lives in us is neither “male nor female”.