MLA Writing Style
The Role of Women in the Church
Man and woman were created equal, yet, both play different roles in the church. The playing of the different roles by both sexes is known as complementarianism. In Genesis 2:18, God said “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV). Walter A. Elwell, author of Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, states that both man and woman were created in God’s image and are equally sinful (1281). However, both have different responsibilities in marriage, family life and religious leadership.
Jesus treated both men and women with respect. Ewell claims that Jesus taught women despite the uncertainties and abuse that he may have gotten (1283). It is clear that Jesus valued women and emphasized that they had a place of importance and significance at home and in church. Elwell highlights that women have an equal role to men in the church due to the fact that the Spirit descended onto them both (1286). The New Testament gives many examples of inclusion of women leadership throughout the early church.
Important roles in the church include elders and deacons who exercise authority. According to Elwell elders appeared early in the church along with apostles and teachers (369). The New Testament definition of an elder is one in a position of authority who also shares in the wider government of the church. Elwell states that elders teach and discipline the church (370). He continues to write that the meaning of deacon is, “to serve” and is often referred in the Bible as servants. The beginnings of official deacons can be found in Acts 6, where they were to be good examples in their lifestyle and faith that they expressed through serving (320). Elwell reminds readers that both positions are highly-esteemed and hold responsibilities which can be abused (369). Both elders and deacons are important offices within the church which play an important role in the running of the church.
There are two different viewpoints regarding women leading in the church. The first being egalitarian which holds the view that both sexes are equal and one in Christ (Galatians 3:28) and that women can serve as elders as long as they meet the requirements outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Contrastingly, the complementarianism view believes that women cannot serve as an elder or be in a position of authority over men. Timothy 2:11-15 states that women are to learn in silence and submit (NIV). If one takes this literally, then women cannot become elders, but can have a leading role over children or other women. However, women are able to be deacons as this is a service position. In Romans 16:1, Paul informs that Phoebe was a deacon (NIV). The complementarianism viewpoint does not believe that man is superior to woman, rather that God restricts the role of elders to men. God designed both man and woman differently with man to serve in leadership and woman to serve in supporting roles.
Contrastingly, those of the egalitarian viewpoint will argue that according to Galatians 3:28 man and woman were created equal in the sight of God, and therefore both can lead the church (NIV).