The Power of a Teaching Woman

[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.

Chai Ling

Chai Ling

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.

***

Olivia Grigg

Olivia Grigg

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.

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16 Responses to The Power of a Teaching Woman

  1. ‘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.’

    Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. If God has blessed a person with gifts and talents, they should be used for His glory, individually and corporately – ‘corporately’ in the literal sense, since it comes from the Latin ‘corpus’, meaning ‘body’, and we are all members of the body of Christ. A hand must not try to be a toe and an eye must not try to be a finger, but if God in His wisdom made me an arm then an arm I must be, to the best of my ability (and the rest by grace).

    • Olivia Grigg says:

      Thanks for your comment Sandy- I appreciate what you said about using our gifts for His glory. That is exactly what I am trying to convey, and have seen examples of that in my own life-and have also seen people unable to use their gifts because of rules that are in place. I believe God gave us gifts to USE.

  2. Laura Droege says:

    “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 totally agree, Olivia. It’s not that egalitarians want to replace one form of domination with another; we just want equality.

    That means men are freed to exercise their spiritual gifts, even if it’s in a realm traditionally considered as “feminine.” (For example, working with children or infants and hospitality. As long as that’s their spiritual gift, go for it!)

    That means women are freed to exercise their spiritual gifts, even if that’s in a traditionally “male” realm. Women can mow the church lawn, too, and change the oil in a car, if the church has a ministry in that area, and use power tools to do repair work on the church building, or preach and teach . . . as long as that’s their spiritual gift and they know how to do it, why not? (In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life: allergies!)

    • Olivia Grigg says:

      Yes absolutely! And it’s beautiful too when women use their skills in traditionally female roles, but they are doing it because they chose to and want to serve in that area, and vice versa.

  3. Tim says:

    I’ve learned from many women as well, Olivia, on matters spiritual and temporal. I’m glad I didn’t have to shut some of it off as not falling within some gender straitjacket, but rather could grow in my life in Christ through the people God graciously gave me to learn from.

    Thanks for allowing me to post this here today, Olivia!

  4. Greg Hahn says:

    It is helpful when a person has had some spiritual development in a church in which women flourished using their gifts. As Peter said, ” So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17

    • Olivia Grigg says:

      I agree- also I am just at the beginning of my attention and care for gender equality and I am so encouraged to currently be a part of a church that cares to empower both men and women leaders.

  5. janehinrichs says:

    Amen! I wholly agree. Limiting where women can serve is not from God. “Neither male nor female” in Christ. One thing people forget to mention is that in God all is sacred — there is not a difference between sacred and secular in God’s view of life. So if we allow a woman to teach in a what we call a secular subject why not “allow” her to teach a “sacred” subject? Truth is truth. Truth can be found in every subject. God doesn’t cut life into segments. Why do we? We are to do all things to the glory of God.

  6. Jeannie says:

    I appreciate your post very much, Olivia. I love the examples you give: real-life, personal instances of how you learned from the teaching of strong Christian women. It would make no sense, then, to reply “Sure, you’ve been inspired, strengthened, blessed, encouraged and enriched by the teaching of women … but it is not of God.” I also really like Jane’s point above about the sacred-secular split; I wonder, too, if Grudem’s logic would extend that far, denying women the right ever to teach men “secular” subjects.

    • Olivia Grigg says:

      Thanks Jeannie. You are right, the stories definitely are of God. And I have also been taught by wonderfully gifted men as well, but there’s no list saying what they can’t do 🙂

  7. Pastor Bob says:

    Looking at the “lists” above i remember a major denomination when interviewing missionary candidates exercised an interesting “qualification.” Married couples-yes, a single woman – yes, a single man – well he needed a battery of psychological tests (back to purity concerns??)
    Yet– This same denomination believed in women at the helm of the church, since the early 1900’s.
    I follow this principle – a corollary from another area of work: “There is only one reason why a woman should not drive a truck. (WHY!) She does not want to.{companion thought, she is not called to this aspect of ministry/teaching/endeavor}
    Some TOPICS are best addressed by one sex or the other, but that is not the same.

    Blessings to all— !!

  8. Ruth says:

    That’s a hit between the eyes! If Grudem could show anything Biblical on this issue, i think it would be that women have fulfilled every role he says is inappropriate, in the earthly life time of Jesus. True, the institutions he mentions weren’t established, but preaching and teaching and leading were things women did with Jesus. No public recognition or authority…I think he’s been left standing at the station on that one, just to name one Joyce Meyer, can you imagine her giving up God’s calling on this man’s perceived version of women and their place?
    It must have been an accident that Mary of Magdala was there to greet the Risen Christ theni if anything this person says has truth…sarcasm intended.
    Wonderful men and women have shown me an equal stand for all of us under Christs blood…I would not insult what He did on the cross by saying it was only fully intended for males, who then conditionally dished out His blessings to females. I wonder if this is claiming the Priesthood of Christ for sinful men in a way, seems a bit blasphemous to me. What do others think?

  9. Pastor Bob says:

    Having spent a long time dealing with the issue of Women in the Ministry in discussion groups (one condescending man even wrote “tsk, tsk, tsk” I want to encourage the women out there –

    If God calls you — DO IT!!!!!!

    If man builds a barrier, move on (shake the dust from your shoes) your work will be appreciated!

    • Tim says:

      “If God calls you — DO IT!”

      Amen, PB, amen.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        The same condescending man has now blasted the “so-called Christians” and has not responded to the rebuke for the apparent disrespect. A woman responded to her Bible quotes admonishing women to be quiet with anger at “being attacked.”
        -When civility is lost, has the discussion turned?

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