As a cis-gender, gender conforming, non-queer, heterosexual human assigned female at birth, I try to represent Christianity with a certain aplomb. In fact, in Christendom, I am expected to behave in such a manner because I am presumed female by pretty much everyone. While I don’t blame my parents for assigning me a gender without my consent, I am deeply grateful that they chose correctly, as 50/50 odds aren’t great when making a decision of that magnitude. That being said, now that I have publicly gender confirmed, I want to address the expectations of the church on my behavior while operating with its four walls.
Female leadership in the church is a touchy subject depending on whom you talk to. What’s a girl supposed to do with all the regulations the Bible lays out? Some are downright…well… Old Testament! If a man doesn’t interpret them for her at home, how can she ever really know? So many confusing details! Head covering, or no head covering? Does Jesus want us to have long hair? Makeup, no makeup? Does Jesus, a man, have a preference? Can a woman teach everyone in a church, or just other women? Can she speak up at all?? Can she be a lead pastor or is being an elder’s wife the highest she can go in the ranks? Is there a glass ceiling in the Church too?? My delicate sensibilities are in a whirlwind! Where is a man when you need one?!
So, in addition to being a female operating within a church, I am also a pastor’s daughter, which means people have been trying to define my perimeters and keep me there for most of my life. Through the aforementioned upbringing, I have also been exposed to a wide array of religious thoughts on the role of women in the church from both women and men. They range from “I can be the CEO of a company, but not the pastor of a church?!” to “We have two female pastors – and they’re married, yay!” to “I am a woman in ministry, with my husband’s permission,” to “Only Jezebel painted her face with colors,” and beyond.
(Fun fact: When I was in high school, girls had to kneel on the floor to check skirt length and I was once suspended for inciting “rebellion” when I got all the girls to show up wearing jeans.)
Honestly, the unspoken, passive-aggressive burning resentment most women feel about their roles and restrictions within the church is misplaced and so is the misogynistic, high horsery of men. Both men and women in the church suffer from gender confusion. Men and women have distinct and unique, complimentary roles in the church and in life in general because God wanted it that way. Men are not women, and vice versa. This is an intentional act of God, regardless of what you’re reading in the mainstream media.
Men cite Scriptures from the Old Testament and Paul’s corrective letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14) as proof they are the boss and the most anointed power in church. Women get their back against the wall because we’re all empowered and speaking our truth and nobody bosses us around. Men and women are different sides of the same coin, but God has a specific purpose for each gender’s in-born strengths that come from His specific design. There are things men inherently can and cannot do and the same goes for women and that is okay! At the end of the day, there actually is a Biblical pattern to church leadership and its structure that I don’t find at all confusing, but I’m not telling you what it is. Go read your Bible. Dig deep, ask tough questions and “work out your own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12)
The fact is this: “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
“Okay,” you say, “But who gets to be the lead pastor?” Gosh, you’re persistent! I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment and ask you this: If a woman leads a church, will fewer people get saved than in a church where a man is the pastor? Food for thought.
Be honest, you looked up the word “aplomb“.