Friday, July 8, 2011

Quenching the Spirit in women

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul writes,
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all
Yet the Church has become expert at doing just this. In fact it's codified in many denominations, and held up as an important value for Christian ministry. I am, of course talking about the practice of excluding women from ministry.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists off a series of spiritual gifts. Each of these are given to those within the Body of Christ. These include both men and women. They include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. The rest of the chapter goes on to express how important each member of the body is, and over the next couple of chapters how the gifts should be expressed in worship.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Yet women are excluded in our congregations today.

Even though Paul admonishes, "the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable," (emphasis mine) their spiritual gifts are relegated to support their husbands, or to minister to other women and children only.

Taking this last verse in tandem with 1 Peter 3:7, we've really got a crisis in hand.
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Yet women are excluded in our congregations today.

They're not excluded in the way that women are segregated in mosques, and for a completely different reason, but it's the fact that the spirit is quenched in women by disallowing their use in the greater congregation.

This is true of men too, as I have said before, but it's especially true of women. Our church structures disallow the use of gifts for everyone but the professional Christians. Yet women aren't allowed to be professional Christians. And even congregations that are more open to congregational involvement in worship tend to hold women back from full participation.

Stop it. Just stop it.

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