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Family Faith:

Honor thy women

April 12, 2008|By KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN

I want to address a topic that has been on my heart over the years. It is being discussed in a course I am taking. The topic is the discrimination of women in leadership in the church.

I have in many ways been affirmed in church life. I am ordained, have been for well over a decade, and have served in church settings for some 18 years now. I have held the pulpit, performed weddings, funerals and baptisms and have been a youth, full-time assistant and marriage and family pastor. I have also worked as an evangelist, president and founder of a ministry and conducted family life education and psycho-education cross-denominationally.

I held the office of the first female district youth director for the denomination I was with — the first in our nation. So I have in many ways been avowed as a female pastor. But I have also suffered discrimination in the form of not being paid what less experienced men are paid, discriminated against for being female, and treated differently because I was found attractive by male colleagues and the like.

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Now, I say none of this to toot my own horn or sound bitter — because I am not. I simply want to shed light on a topic that holds potential hurt for those females called to minister and potential growth for men who have held them back over the years.

The Bible has many polarized Scriptures on the topic of women. All must be weighed against one another; all must be taken in their historical and cultural context. We were dealing with a patriarchal society in 1st century Palestine. So the use of male language in the Bible made sense. However, women were called to minister, as seen in I Corinthians 11: 5. They were called to publicly prophesy and pray, and verses 11 and 12 even take the position of females further by talking about the mutual dependence of men and women.

But many people focus more on the verses in I Corinthians 14: 34 that discuss women remaining silent in the church services. In this circumstance, Paul is addressing women who happened to be noisy in service. This was a context. All of the Bible must be taken into context. A good example of this is the Bible’s reference to slaves. We no longer own slaves, and historically women have been given equal rights: to work, to vote and the like.

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