Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ponderings: women in authority

I was thinking the other day about the idea of women pastors.  Or really, women in authority.  Anywhere.
It seems that, biblically, a Proverbs 31 woman has some major sway in her household - not letting her candle go out at night (v18), considers a field and buys it (v16), etc; she clearly not only has influence and responsibilities, but some authority.

This seems to contrast her authority mentioned in other ways; the most obvious is in Numbers 3:2-18 which deals with women in two classes: a girl/wife, and a widow.  It deals predominantly with oaths (which, to be clear, I'm entirely certain of a definition - is this ANY promise or a promise in writing or some clear line in between) and whether or not they are binding.  If the female is not widowed, then they have someone in authority over them; the girl has a father (or family, presumably) and the wife has a husband.  This authority figure may, within a "reasonable" amount of time, negate any oaths that were made.

The root question I am hinting around is simply: Should women be given authority over people?

In addition, secular authority and have spiritual authority are not easily separated - it is rare that one is present without the other, and so it might more easily be asked:

Should a woman be given spiritual authority over others?

It would logically seem that the biblical example of Deborah is a healthy response here. She was given a position of authority in being a judge (ref); however, she is an anomaly, both being a woman in authority and because she judged from a palm tree.  She was also a prophetess; perhaps this was part of the reason she was a judge; perhaps, as a prophetess, her authority was acknowledged as that of God.

The one proposition that I've not been able to address directly is simply the mention of the "Creation Order".  The proposition seems to go like this - God created man first, then woman.  In Genesis 2, we a model of how man and woman act - woman reacts (and sins by leading), man acts (and sins by blaming and avoiding the leadership role).  So perhaps this is the resolution and the basis for the perspective.

It just seems excessive to take this observation - that all leadership is the role of a man - and apply it to every area of life; that may be my own sin talking and it may be wise reluctance.

Perhaps the proper role of women in our society would be more obvious if men were trained to consider things biblically.