P: I believe we should have an all-male elder board.
H: Is that what the Bible says?
It was a conversation my pastor and I had many years ago. I no longer go to that church. It took nearly a decade, and the church lost some members along the way but, the pastor prevailed. The church now has a male elder board. No women allowed.
Is that really what the Bible says though?
Over the last many years, I have spent a lot of time reading the Bible. Not as a checklist item but, as a way to get to know God better. I don’t think I know perfectly what the Bible says. I am terrible at memorization and I constantly forget which story belongs to which Biblical name. Was Moses the one that parted the Red Sea or Noah? Did Ruth give her son as a gift to God or was that Hannah? While my Bible trivia is certainly not on point, my relationship with God has deepened in ways I could never have imagined. The more I read the Bible, the more I get to know God, the more I know the sea of knowledge is vast and I am a tiny vessel.
I do, however, believe that culture, applied to the Word, leads to misinterpretation. It is human nature. When we read something, or see something, or hear something, we often think we know or understand the thing we observed. Unfortunately, so much of our knowledge is gained through the cultural and experiential lenses of our identity. It is hard to clean the lens, or to remove the metaphorical log from your own eye (Matt. 7:5). To illustrate this point, watch this quick video before reading the next part.
Did you notice the moonwalking bear? I knew it was there but, it’s been so long since I’ve watched this video that I still didn’t see it. I was so surprised that I missed it that I re-watched the video from the beginning. Attention is a powerful thing. We watched and counted the passes. We know exactly how many passes the team made. We are right! But yet, we missed the very obvious person in a bear suit dancing through the scene. If we keep our attention on what culture tells us is right or wrong, we might miss the bigger picture of what God wants for His Kingdom.
As I have learned more about women as church leaders, and as my relationship with God has deepened, I have come to believe that woman are as likely to be called into ministry as men. It is culture, not God, that prevents women from being equal partners in ministry.