[Olivia Grigg’s guest post on her own experiences learning from women show why we should all be willing to learn from women and men both. ]
My life has been filled with strong and creative women and men who have shown me different examples of what it is like to work together as a team. I know men and women who stay home, go to work or do both. I know men and women who teach, preach, lead and cast vision for teams and communities.
What has always been meaningful to me as I observe the unique ways couples or teams of both genders cooperate is that the best teams usually include both parties using their gifts and skills to complement the other. Additionally, through healthy communication and ongoing commitment these ‘teams’ do much more together than they would alone. It also seems to be that the best teamwork happens when both the woman and the man have agreed to what role they play at a certain time, and when there is room for negotiation moving forward.
Perhaps that is why an article I read recently had me feeling particularly saddened and confused. Wayne Grudem, a theological teacher who regularly writes about evangelical feminism, published an article regarding his belief that certain activities in the church should be restricted to men. He prefaces his article by saying that it is not that men should be greater than women, but that scripture clearly states roles that are inappropriate for women.
He states that there are three main areas where women should not be allowed to work in the church:
- Governing Authority
- Bible Teaching
- Public Recognition or Visibility
He then goes on to list every activity that specifically should be restricted to men, and what is open to both women and men. The part of the list that personally hit me was the following on Teaching Activities in the Church:
TEACHING ACTIVITIES THAT SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO MEN:
1. Teaching Bible or theology in a theological seminary
2. Teaching Bible or theology in a Christian college
3. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a nationwide denominational meeting or at a nationwide Christian conference
4. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a regional meeting of churches or at a regional Christian conference
5. Preaching (teaching the Bible) regularly to the whole church on Sunday mornings
6. Occasional preaching (teaching the Bible) to the whole church on Sunday mornings
7. Occasional Bible teaching at less formal meetings of the whole church (such as Sunday evening or at a midweek service)
8. Bible teaching to an adult Sunday school class (both men and women members)
9. Bible teaching at a home Bible study (both men and women members)
10. Bible teaching to a college-age Sunday school class
Now, I don’t pretend to be a theologian, or to have fully grasped the concept of gender equality and what it means for women and men in the church. But I do know that through my own personal development I have been taught many valuable lessons by both women and men in leadership and pastoral positions.
I remember when I went to Bible College for one year and I had a teacher who expected me to give my best, and through teaching our class she inspired me to use my leadership qualities to encourage others and to bring our missions team together as a united group.
I remember when I worked at summer camps for years, and my female mentors preached and spoke in front of all the staff and challenged us with the truth in scripture, and the male leaders agreed and affirmed their teaching.
I remember when I went to the Urbana conference in University and listened to Chai Ling talk about her organization “All Girls Allowed” which she founded through her passion to expose and end human rights violations caused by China’s One-Child Policy. She taught about courage and faith and how God had worked through her at Tiananmen Square and brought her safely to the U.S.
I remember when my staff worker through Intervarsity challenged me to join their group to lead scripture, to teach others about Jesus, and to lead the fellowship as student president. She taught me through her example of courageous preaching at church, and conferences, as well as small group bible studies for University students where she taught us how to lead.
I am now done school, working full time and continuing to pursue my faith and paying more attention to what I see at church and in Christian communities. The more I observe, the more I see the benefit of men and women working together. I have realized that equality for women also means equality for men and that God intended for us to learn to be a team. I hope to experience and see more men and women keeping the conversation of equality alive in their work together.
I am thankful for the women in my life who have taken time to teach, lead, and mentor me whether from the front of the sanctuary, or on the sidelines.
Born and raised in London, Ontario, Olivia regularly writes about her local work in Youth Mental Health and Community Development. Get in touch or stay updated through Twitter @livgrigg and through Olivia’s personal blog Below the Tree Line.