John Hobbins on Women as Ministers: Response Parts 1 and 2

Posted By on February 22, 2011

John has begun his response to my initial post on the issue of women in ministry. John’s first response is entitled, “Women in Ministry: Why the Issue Matters.”† I agree with him about a woman’s competence for ministry. I don’t think competence is an issue. I know there are women competent for pulpit ministry, just as clearly as I know there are men who are not (but are in the position anyway).† John’s post tugs at our heart strings a bit, but the reality is that, even if a woman’s path to ordination is endorsed, or would be endorsed by me, that isn’t going to solve any problem for her in the future. She will still face serious obstacles and opposition.

Now a rabbit-trail. For the commenter who presumed to know something about my “privileged background,” I am no stranger to opposition to going into ministry. Once you’ve had to tell your parents you’re willing to leave home as a teenager to follow Jesus, or you don’t come home during a college Spring Break because another relative discovered your parents planned to take your car if you did, or you’ve been fired from a job for doing the right spiritual thing (while having two little mouths to feed), you gain clarity about the victim argument. Opposition is not a thing to shy away from. If a woman really trusts God with her calling, she will believe He will honor His own call. If she doesn’t believe that, she doesn’t belong in the ministry. Playing the victim will not build her for service; it will spiritually emaciate her. Whining is not for people who want to be in the ministry. God needs tough-minded people to lead, not whiners. Give me a tough-minded, spiritually-tested woman with a spine in the pulpit over a man that lacks them any day. I’d trust God with the outcomes if that were the choice I had to make. As I noted in the first post, I believe God will say “well done” to such a woman. My only hesitance in this topic is something that I like to call “honesty” (which is why The Naked Bible is what it is). I don’t feel like I can exegetically defend her decision, but until my job description matches that of the Holy Spirit, I’m not getting (or dispensing) a word from the Father to stand in her way.

This is a roundabout way of letting you all know that I have little time for the victim argument.

John’s first response is just a warm up for John, though. More substantive is his second post, entitled, “What the New Testament has to say about women in ministry.” I’ll read through that one again and jot some things down to move the discussion.

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9 Responses to “John Hobbins on Women as Ministers: Response Parts 1 and 2”

  1. Nobunaga says:

    It takes a fearless man to go against the grain and stick with the Biblical text no matter what peers and tradition says. But it takes a braver man to call a woman Whiney ! are you insane

    • MSH says:

      I just don’t want people to be stopped by things they can change. It’s poor character. But sometimes (as in Suzanne’s case) there are issues outside our pro-active control, and so we do the best we can. Complaining that men or denominations won’t let you pastor because you’re a woman is an excuse. Go start your own church — plenty of men do that and do it well.

      • Sue says:

        I consider myself to be born into privilege. My family was Plymouth Brethren and the women in our family had been university educated for generations. Traditional Christianity had its ups and downs, as far as women were concerned but for the most part I thought that it would be okay for me.

        But as an adult, complementarian views, the teaching that wife must obey her husband, and live as a subordinate, that teaching caused havoc in my lfe. And on the whole, I find that in relation to the bad things that happened to me, I think that my life is typical of many other women. After all, who wants to reveal the really bad stuff in one’s life. I know that many women have more to complain about than I do but they don’t want to talk about it.

        I remember that Diana Butler Bass was also prevented from getting a Phd by her husband. I think this kind of thing is quite common. Frankly, I would not call anyone a whiner – we simply don’t know what their story is. I think any woman who lives in subordination has a right to “whine” as you call it.

  2. KR Wordgazer says:

    I had to come back because I believe you completely misunderstood me. What I said was not about any “victim” argument at all. I was simply saying that to take a complementarian position by “default” because you’re “comfortable” with it, appears to ignore the real struggles that women face. Never did I intend to imply that you yourself had never struggled.

    In any event, what you just said here clears things up for me and leads me to believe I was also misunderstanding you:

    “I donít feel like I can exegetically defend her decision, but until my job description matches that of the Holy Spirit, Iím not getting (or dispensing) a word from the Father to stand in her way.”

    I thought you were saying you would be “comfortable” siding with those who would actively stand in a woman’s way, without apparent regard for her struggles. What was even more confusing to me was that you appeared to assert that you would actively side against a woman’s call to preach, even while encouraging her not to be deterred by such opposition!

    But if your “comfort” with the complementarian position does not include actively opposing a woman who feels called to the ministry, or actively siding with those who would oppose her, simply because it’s more “comfortable” to believe women must never preach– then I have no quarrel with your position.

    But I did not mention the struggles women face, out of a “victim mentality.” It was simply that I perceived your words to be spoken out of unconcern for any struggles they might face. I was wrong in that, and I apologize.

  3. Sue says:

    Of course, a wife could easily prevent her husband from getting futher education also. This one cuts both ways. But the woman has to sit in church and hear her subordination trumpeted from the pulpit. While I have equal compassion for men and women, the subordination of women is a disgusting practice with no justification whatsoever – in my view.

  4. KR Wordgazer says:

    PS. You see, I have always thought part of the definition of a complementarian included active opposition to a woman ever answering, or trying to answer, a call to preach. You did say you believed God would say “well done” to such a woman– but I thought you meant that would be because God would look on her heart to serve Him, even if she was totally in the wrong– but being a complementarian, you would still oppose her doing any such thing.

    Given that understanding, I was naturally misunderstanding your position.

    I hope that clears things up.

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