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Don't speak? - Female pastor rejects Adventist ruling on women's role in the Church

Published:Saturday | July 18, 2015 | 7:00 AM

 

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Timothy 2:11-14

Centuries after it has been written, this is still one of the most controversial topics from the Bible. This passage has been interpreted in so many ways that some churches have taken the words at face value.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church delegates recently rejected a bid for women to be officially ordained clergy.

Should women, therefore, have no leadership role in the Church?

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this question as some churches have literally taken this text to task and have denied women the privilege of having positions such as pastors or any leadership roles.

Should Paul be completely obeyed then 'Let the woman be silent in church' would have meant no one would even enjoy their beautiful voices singing, teaching or anything to do with speaking once they are in church!

The Reverend Dr Edina Bane, associate pastor and member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, has given an emphatic yes when it comes on to the question of there being female preachers.

"There most certainly should be. Not because I am a woman, but because God allows. By definition, to preach means to speak, to exhort or encourage, to expound or elaborate, to lecture, or to advise. The great commission as referenced in Matthew 28: 19, was given to the followers of Christ, (Acts 1: 8). They were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Christ. In essence, they were empowered to go and tell, and encourage ... be effective in inspiring men to believe," she told Family and Religion.

first prayer meeting included women

Bane pointed out that the very first prayer meeting was very inclusive of women: Acts 1: 14 states: These all [the apostles] continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

"Jewish religious custom separated men and women and assigned them different roles, but during the time of Christ, women and men formed a unified body, all intended to be His witnesses. In addition, we are promised in the last days, an outpouring of the spirit of God upon all flesh, and sons and daughters shall prophesy. We have been, and are living in the last days," she said.

Addressing the verse stated above which has caused the most controversy in some religions, Bane said it should be looked at in context and culture at the time that the statement was made.

"The men are the ones who were taught/educated in the word, and therefore equipped to teach. Apart from the context that makes this issue so potentially controversial, we must understand that the word for 'silent' should in fact be 'quietly' or 'subdued', and the interpretation as usurping authority only exist in the KJV," she explained.

According to her, there is a rightful place in the Church for men, if they will. If what Paul said is intended to silence women in the Church, then the fact that we have effective women pastors and elders today, speaks to the fact that men are failing to lead the Church in a godly manner. And God will have witnesses.

Commenting on the Seventh-day Adventist Church's ruling, Bane thinks it should not be imposed on other denominations as she puts it, "Man cannot disallow what God allows. It is God who ordains; man simply acknowledges that which God has already established, determined, decreed and declared. And there is no conflict with the word of God, no matter how we parse it."

A decision like this, she believes, says very little about the contribution of women in the Kingdom.

"Rather, it says a lot about the men who are 'running' things in the Church. There is no problem in the Kingdom; the issues exist in the Church. Unfortunately, women are undervalued in such church communities, in spite of the significant contributions they make to the functioning of the Church."

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com