I’m a soft egalitarian. “Soft” in that, unlike the “gender neutral” crowd, I think men are inherently different than women and, as such, have different strengths and different roles. “Egalitarian” in that I think women can fill just about any role a man can. I’m not too hip on female pastors, mainly for cultural reasons. Like it or not, the reach of a female pastor is quite limited in a patriarchal society. Either way, I have a lot of problems with some of the limitations placed on women in regards to teaching men in church.
Recently, Jen Wilkin posted a great piece: Why Pastors Need Women Teachers (and Vice-Versa). From what I can tell, Jen writes from a complementarian position. In addressing pastors, she offers these four reasons why pastors need to affirm, set apart, and listen to women teachers in their church.
- She is an example you cannot be.
- She brings a perspective you cannot bring.
- She holds an authority you cannot hold.
- She sees needs you do not see (and that your wife probably doesn’t see, either).
I agree with these points and really appreciate the spirit of this article. However, as I read through this, it struck me how applicable these points are to every male congregant. For instance, let’s flip this to read: Four reasons why men need to affirm, respect, and listen to women teachers in their church.
- She is an example [a man] cannot be.
- She brings a perspective [a man] cannot bring.
- She holds an authority [a man] cannot hold.
- She sees needs [a man] do[es] not see.
If God has indeed gifted a woman to teach, is her teaching only for ONE man — in this case, the pastor? Even if it is, then doesn’t this violate perceived biblical injunctions that forbid “a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (I Tim. 2:12)? Or is the pastor simply there to “use” her, affirm her gift and let her exercise it… for other women?
In my thinking, the reason a pastor needs a female teacher — to be an example he can’t be, bring a perspective he can’t bring, hold an authority he can’t hold, and see needs he doesn’t see — is the same reason ALL the men in the congregation need her.
I love how Jill Briscoe put it in Does the Bible Really Say I Can’t Teach Men?:
I believe I first have to answer to God for his gifts and calling on my life. I don’t want to get to heaven and hear him say, “Half-done, thou half-faithful servant.”
Frankly, I don’t want to be part of the other “half” who’s missing out on Jill Briscoe’s, or ANY teacher’s, “gift.”