Over the past year I read many tweets, Facebook statuses, blog posts and articles making the claim “Men must or must not allow women to preach from the pulpit.” We are in 2017! Are we going to continue the debate over women preaching and who should give them permission?!
I find it a ridiculous claim that men can “allow” women to preach. Honestly, men don’t have the authority to “allow” women to preach. If Jesus Christ truly is the “head” or leader of the Church then it is He who allows and empowers any of us to speak whenever and from wherever about the good news of his kingdom, because we are his disciples. He has given his disciples (men and women) permission through the Great Commission to proclaim the good news.
I’m taken aback by the idea that the “pulpit” is the focal point men have set as being the thing to aim at and achieve for “preaching the gospel.” Why do we desire the pulpit as though it has some magical power to make us authorities? I’ve stood on many a stage behind a pulpit and there is nothing magical or compelling about those moments. As an introvert it was rather uncomfortable. My best conversations about the good news have been around the table where vulnerability and transparency are welcome, and healing takes place.
Believing and embracing the idea that the pulpit is the best place where we are to speak of God is truly outrageous. This thinking only perpetuates the clergy/laity divide, but that is for another post. It is Christ and His kingdom…not the pulpit, which we should set our sights on and seek after. It is our friends, coworkers and neighbors that we must love and serve as disciples of Jesus. Now, at this point many of you will begin quoting the Apostle Paul as he addressed the issue of women in his Epistles, but let me say that you must be very careful about the way those thoughts are applied. Consider to whom he was speaking and why. Consider the fact that Jesus held women in high esteem. The Gospels show that clearly and we must not ignore that truth.
So, how about we (men) not set the bar so low with the pulpit? How about we quit fooling ourselves into thinking that men are the ones who allow women to preach, teach, and make disciples who follow Jesus? I’d say that’s all up to Jesus Christ the King.
Let’s be a whole body with a whole perspective of the good news for the whole world.
To the women of faith in my life I humbly proclaim: You have a voice that must be heard. You are free in Christ to go and make disciples (men and women). You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom in all the world. You carry the ministry of reconciliation within you for a world that is in need of hope and rescue. Without you we are incomplete as a Church or a society. You do not need my permission to be who Christ has made you to be in his kingdom…His disciple…a royal priest.