In several branches of Christianity that would identify themselves as conservative or evangelical, there are rules and traditions that forbid women from being ordained as pastors.
In fact, the Apostle Paul's narrow instructions to the early church at Corinth (found in I Corinthians 14) sometimes get taken quite literally as applicable to churches today: "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission. . ."
By contrast, some other branches of the faith have understood that both men and women can be called to ministry. My Presbyterian denomination, for instance, has ordained women since 1956. Indeed, the first woman so ordained, Margaret Towner, still is active in church matters in her retirement in Florida. About 20 years later, the Episcopal Church began ordaining women.
Given those divisions on this issue, it may surprise some -- especially people in evangelical circles -- to learn that in the 19th Century evangelicals were almost feminists.
This Patheos.com blog describes how "Evangelicalism in America mainly sprang out of the soil of eighteenth and (perhaps especially) nineteenth-century American revivalism. And that nineteenth-century revivalism was in many cases quite progressive on several key social issues–one of which was the role of women in leadership." (Italics not added.)
The blogger, Kyle Roberts, quotes two different books about this history, each affirming the active role women played in such churches.
After citing the early history of an active role for women in evangelicalism, Roberts concludes this: "This is why the continued resistance to women in public, church ministry by many self-described evangelicals in the United States today is hardly legitimate–certainly not on the basis of the 'evangelical roots of feminism' in its origins."
The Catholic Church, of course, also does not ordain women as priests (though it is starting to talk about ordaining them as deacons), but the church bases its decision not on the Apostle Paul's words but, rather, on the idea that for apostles Jesus chose only males.
But, as I say, many other branches of the faith ordain women with enthusiasm, recognizing the many gifts they bring to ministry and affirming their own sense of being called by God to this work.
I'm with them, not with those who would limit the role of women.
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A UNIVERSAL BETTY FORD CLINIC?
Pope Francis tells his Vatican police that corruption is like an addictive drug. Well, yes, but the same can be said of power, of money, of lots of things. Maybe, in fact, the whole world needs to go into rehab.