Could it be that our women are quieter than Paul’s?

I’m currently being mentored by the pastor of a megachurch, have a Th.M. from a reputable seminary, a bachelor’s in Bible, and graduated from a Christian high school.

And yet, my mom taught me all I really need to know about God, this world, life, and death.

Yesterday a prominent blogger asked the question, “Where are the women?” His post, and the lively discussion that followed in the comments, made me ask myself the same question–Where are the women in my life? If I learned more from my mom from any other man, why am I not continuing to learn from women?

I’d estimate that 98% of the published authors and about 80% of the online authors I read are men. I honestly can’t remember the last time I listened to a message by a woman (ie, Beth Moore, Kay Arther, etc). I have a short list of people I call/email when I need advice; all are male. There are no women on the leadership team I’m apart of at my church (none of us are elders).

In technical terms, this seems pretty messed up.

Many would disagree with my assessment and say this is simply a natural consequence of a biblical perspective on women and the church; “All the leaders of the NT church were men!”

Hmmm.

I made a quick list last night of all the people who get ‘shout-outs’ in the NT letters, a list of all the people who partnered in the work of the gospel. These are the people who led by example, influence, and position in their own churches, so much that they merited being mentioned by name by Paul, Peter, and John. The results were staggering: a woman was mentioned for almost every 2 men mentioned.

The NT ‘Who’s Who’ indicates that the ratio of male/female leaders of the early church was roughly 2-1.

These women of the NT were house church leaders. They were who Paul relied on to deliver and explain his letters (such as Romans). They explained Christian theology to one of the most well-known teachers of the period. They were the ones Paul singled out and praised for their hard work in the Lord. They were well known to or even outstanding among the apostles, depending on your choice of translation. They were the financial backers of Jesus’ ministry and many local churches. They were the first witnesses to the resurrection of Christ in a world women were denied the right to testify in court. The ladies who raced back to inform the disciples were the were the very first evangelists!

The women of the NT may have been silent on Sundays, but the women of Paul’s churches were vocal every other day of the week. And it would seem the men of Paul’s churches took note.

All this in a context where women had few rights (vote? Ha!), almost zero access to education, and were excluded from virtually every societal position of leadership and authority.

Once again, the biblical record is inspiring, encouraging, and challenging all at once. It inspires us to live beyond our comfort zones, to see outside our own blinders. It encourages by its example of active, respected, and listened-to female leaders in the early church. And challenges: it challenges our modern ratios. It challenges our faulty perception of NT leadership. It challenges us past what is easy, and into what is hard.

It challenges the men of today to listen, and the women of today to lift up their voices.

Thank you, mom, for refusing to be silent.

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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