Gender and Theology: My Wife is the Pastor, Too

Today’s blog is the fourth installment in our Gender and Theology series, egalitarianism from a male perspective. Our guest blogger is Scott who shares his thoughts on equality, ministry, and gender with us.

My wife and I are both pastors. We both went to seminary. We both earned our ordination…in fact, as humbling as it is to admit it, my wife had a higher GPA than I did.

A number of years ago, however, my wife received a phone call from a parishioner who refused to talk to her but instead demanded to talk to “the pastor.” Even among dual ministries where equality of leadership should be present, there is still an old, tired, stubborn mold that hasn’t broken yet. Just because I was a man, it was assumed that I was the “head/lead” pastor.  It wasn’t about me not wanting to be a leader, but as a co-leader in our ministry, my wife’s role should have been perceived as equal but it was not.  Let me just tell you that when I received that phone call, I wasn’t a happy camper. This subject actually comes up more than I care to admit. When crucial decisions have to be made in church, for some reason all eyes fall on me…the guy…and I hate that! I’m not trying to abdicate my role as pastor and leader, but my wife is also the pastor and leader in our church. We’re co-leaders together!   Okay…stepping off of my soapbox, but only a little.

This is probably more frustrating to me than it is to my wife. She is an easy going type of pastor, who is full of compassion and hope. I guess she might be better at forgiving an indiscretion such as this, I am sure this wasn’t the first time, nor will it unfortunately be the last time. I struggle with this though. I desire others to see how vital this wonderful, loving, smart, gifted woman (whom I’m truly lucky to call my best-friend, partner and wife) is to this ministry. We are serving in this church together!  She is just as important of a pastor as I am!

We may think we are all equal in an ever evolving, progressive, “all inclusive” world…but we still have a long way to go…especially among the Church. The body of Christ ought to be progressive when it comes to equality with those who serve as leaders and worshipers as well as those we are reaching out to. But it isn’t always the case. Why do we have such a hard time allowing women leaders to preach? I don’t personally have trouble with this at all, but I have witnessed this resistance. Is it only generational? Are we only meeting resistance from older generations where the predominant thought was that a woman’s place was in the home? I don’t mean to start a generational war, because I have a deep respect for those who have blazed a trail for our present generation both in ministry and in our society…but how can we move forward when some of these deeply entrenched thoughts still exist?

Questions to consider: Why is it so hard to break out of these old gender roles as Christians? Does the bible actually say women shouldn’t preach or be church leaders?  If we believe that to be true then how do we then reconcile the fact that Jesus had female disciples? What is the Church afraid of? How can we change this conversation?

Breaking the Old Molds: If we truly believe that God has made all of us equal, regardless of gender, why are these old molds still lingering? That same question about the Bible and why the apostle Paul wrote seemly so harshly towards women in church comes up from time to time.  What did he mean?  Does that include all women everywhere? The answer is absolutely not! Yet many churches still today use passages such as those found in 1 Corinthians 14 to justify its stance on women in ministry. Where is the context? Where is the appropriate interpretation? Fact: Paul was addressing one specific church, the church in Corinth. They had some specific issues and Paul was speaking directly to THOSE Christians. My fear, when it comes to biblical interpretation and application (especially when it comes to women in ministry) is that people can and will pick and choose passages and apply them to suit their needs. This too is another mold we must break!

Jesus had disciples who not only included men but also women. Jesus was truly counter-cultural in His day! Jesus was revolutionary. If we are to be like Christ in every way, shape and form, then even in the “who” of leadership we ought to be inclusive beyond the “traditional” gender roles of leadership.

Dear phone caller from church…my wife is THE Pastor, too. Something to ponder today.

If you want to read more of Scott’s writing, check out his blog here.

If you haven’t yet read the other posts in this series, take a moment to read Steve’s thoughts on equality, everyone brings something unique to life and ministry; Tim’s thoughts on the flaw of the separate but equal view; and Phil’s thoughts on power and voice.

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