Several weeks ago, I wrote about a perfectly good hallucination, and some folks got upset because I had drug-induced delusion about female elders. And so I figured it was a topic worth studying in some depth. After all, there are a LOT of women in our churches — and the ones I know have been unbelievably gifted by their Maker.
Anyway, in this hallucination of mine, someone said something about the key verse being Gen 2:18 —
(Gen 2:18) The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now, taken in its narrowest sense, this verse says that a man needs a wife (not a maid, Neil Young not withstanding). Which is true, for most men.
But the point of God’s making a woman is that man is incomplete without his female complement. God could have made Adam a male friend — a buddy. They could have smoked cigars and played football together. But God saw that man needed more than a friend. He needed a complement — someone to make up what was lacking. Which clearly implies that there’s something incomplete about the male of species, doesn’t it?
And so God made someone for him who was similar but different in more ways than sexual plumbing. Eve, although bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, was different not only physically but emotionally and mentally. She had a way about her that’s so different that men spend their lives in puzzlement over the nature of the female. And God made her different for a reason. You see, it’s not good for men to be alone.
(Prov 18:22) He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
“Wife” translate ishshah, the primary definition of which is woman. Find a woman and you’ve found a good thing, indeed, a gift from God. In fact, the word translated “favor” is most literally translated “delight.” “He who finds a woman finds what is good and receives delight from the LORD.” It’s a better translation, don’t you think? It works for me either way.
Ultimately, the only thing God found “not good” about the creation was man — without woman. And yet, when we hire ministers and ordain elders, we insist that it’s best for the men to be without women — all the while anxious to hire or ordain men who are good at “relationships,” as church is really all about relationships. And yet God gave far more women than men the talent to work with others relationally.
In fact, in those churches with weak elders, whose elders are too distant from the congregation, who fail to shepherd their flock, who fail to show emotion or respond to the emotional needs of the flock … in those churches, adding a few women to the eldership might just be what it takes to rescue the congregation from spiritual death.
You see, the gifts that many elderships and many ministerial staffs miss — and desperately need — are much more commonly found in women. That’s not to say that the men are unqualified, not at all, or that none have these gifts. Some do. No, it’s just that getting the full set of needed gifts in an eldership requires the use of all the talents God gives, not just those he gave to the men in that particular congregation.
Now, it’s easy enough to think of some women who’d be perfectly horrible elders. But then, there are men who’d be just as bad. Maybe even worse (I’m shuddering at the thought of certain men I will not name!)
And it may be that not every congregation has women with skills to serve. After all, there are plenty of churches with no men qualified to serve.
There’s an interesting fact I stumbled on the other day. Ray Vander Laan studied in Israel and learned that shepherds in that part of the world are often female. In fact, in Jesus’ day, young men were often busy learning Torah, leaving their sisters to tend the sheep.
Of course, boys, such as the young David, were also shepherds, but it was by no means a male vocation. You see, as it turns out, girls are very good with sheep.
And that’s all I have to say about that.