Monday, March 2, 2015

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

So sang the nuns in The Sound of Music. There was a certain young woman at the convent who posed a problem. The nuns there hadn't seen anyone like Maria, and they just didn't know what to do with her. I believe that many churches have a similar problem.

Years ago, most women in churches were married, planning to be married, or living at home in an intact family with a father present. The landscape looks a lot different now than it did back in the "good old days." There are liable to be a number of young single women on their own, single mothers, and divorced or widowed women.

In what are termed egalitarian churches, this may not be as big a problem. In patriarchal or complementarian churches and denominations however, there is the potential for major problems. My purpose is not to enter into the debate on the role of women in the church. I am simply proposing something that may help alleviate some problems in those churches that have male leadership.

Complementarian churches believe that men are to be in leadership roles, both in the family and in the church. Husbands are the head of their wives and fathers are the head of their families, and those roles are necessary in the church's ministry. The husbands and fathers represent and speak for their wives and children.

What happens with a divorced woman or a young woman whose father is not in the picture? I believe this is when churches don't know what to do. If an issue comes up, who speaks on behalf of these women who don't have a "head?" Unfortunately, there may be no one, therefore leaving a void which helps no one. I fear that in many churches these folks are left out and have no one to look out for their best interest.

There is a possible solution. This is probably not new to some of you, and there are churches who are taking steps to solve this problem. While a church that has official male leadership does not want to ordain females, mature, godly women can minister in de facto leadership roles. There are many woman in churches who have shepherding (pastoring) gifts that can be exercised for the good of the body. These gifts can be used to be a guide and voice for those who don't have someone in a traditional role to look out for them.

I am convinced that the gifts God gives to his daughters can be used in churches who do not ordain women. The gifts are not offices. They are given to help the body grow. I believe that there is no good reason why these gifts shouldn't be utilized. Now I know that there are some who believe that women should only work in the nursery or teach little children. If that is the case, there's not a whole lot I can say to convince you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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