The design of this piece on the above subject matter is not to take sides in an age-long socio-cultural argument but to as much as possible, x-ray scriptural stance on the subject and lay it plain before the readers, trusting the Holy Spirit for His blessing and illumination so that he who reads may be instructed unto wisdom, discretion and sound judgment.
The subject matter before us has generated so much controversy for centuries and has been on the bar of socio-cultural opinions and judgment. As with several other human professions, different societies and cultures have attempted to define what the role of women should be in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The finest of arguments on this subject still reflects certain elements of cultural bias with each professor tilting in favour of the culture that seemed most appropriate. The opinions of culture may pass as a standard in the assignment of roles in other fields of human endeavours, but must not be trusted as a rule in matters of Christian ministry. For God had made foolish the wisdom of the world and put to silence the disputes of this world by the excellency of His wisdom wrought in Christ and manifest through His ministry. Therefore, we must employ great caution lest we be found as the Pharisees who dishonoured God by the traditions of their elders.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit which is the fundamental tool for Christian ministry, the apostle says, is given to everyone male and female alike to profit withal. In a nutshell, gifts define the role of any individual venturing into ministry “…for when he ascended on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men…” in favour of no gender “…and to some he gave apostles… for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry…” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Now there are diversities of gifts, administration and operations but the same Spirit, the same Lord and the same God divides to every man severally as he wills (1 Corinthians 12). Not as our opinions, cultures, experiences or society dictates; and it is not consistent with the scriptures to say that God’s gifts are gender sensitive.
Of course, I am not ignorant of the argument often supported by Paul’s admonition to Timothy where he said, “…but I will not suffer a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man…” (1 Timothy 2:12). Notice that the Apostle said “I” denoting what has been his custom in practice. This is not an express command to Timothy or to the church to silence women from teaching or preaching. The passion translation renders the verse thus “I don’t advocate that newly converted women be teachers in the church assuming authority over the man” and this rendition by TPT was applied in reference to the culture of Ephesus where women were accustomed heading temples. The Apostle’s reason for his practice could be implied from the previous verse “…that they may learn to be silent and in subjection…” (Vs 11 paraphrased). The wisdom in Paul’s counsel to Timothy and to the church is that the work of the ministry must not be committed to anyone who is immature lest being lifted up with pride, he falls into the snare of the devil. But if she is mature, sound in faith, character and doctrine, then let the spirit’s counsel in Romans 12:6-8 suffice.
According to Luke 8:1-3, apart from the twelve disciples, there were also some women that were moving with Jesus, supporting His ministry. These women supported Jesus Christ and His disciples out of their own means. A pointer in this to us today is that for everyone in Christ fold, there is a space to fill in the vineyard – an assignment for everyone to propagate the gospel of Life brought to earth by the death of Christ on the cross notwithstanding gender.