Does the Apostle Paul Hate Women?
- Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I read some of the things Paul wrote about women I understand why many (especially Non-Christians) consider Paul to be a male-chauvinistic-sexist pig. I will make my question very simple and specific: “Did Paul hate women?”
The pastor’s conference in Seoul, Korea attracted one hundred pastors from all over the world—mostly from the Far East. Most spoke English to some degree. Translators were provided for the rest. Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho was describing the processes that led to his founding and growing the largest church in the world. We watched with amazement one day earlier as eighteen thousand people crammed the worship building full for each of the seven Sunday services. Eighteen thousand times seven equals 126,000 people—not counting the thousands more who watched on multiple television screens in the education buildings. We spent the entire day on the roof watching the crowds come and go.
The next morning Cho said three outstanding things. First, “I ask our people to come to church no more than two times per month. We have no more room.”
Second, he said, “The foundation of our church is built on small groups that meet in people’s homes." I soon realized why small groups work well in Korean culture while they have only a slight chance of succeeding well in America. But that's a topic for another time.
Finally, he asked all the American pastors in the group to stand. So we did—about twenty of us. “It breaks my heart,” he said, “at what you have done to your women. You hold them back and relegate them to rather insignificant places of ministry instead of setting them free to minister. It is no wonder Christianity is struggling in your country. You go into spiritual battle with one hand tied behind your back.”
I was angry. Who was he to tell us that our attitude toward women was not Biblical! Later, I reflected that maybe the pastor of the world’s largest church knew a little more about practical ministry than I. I got off of my high horse and began looking at women from a little different perspective.
My wife, Julie, is an orchestra conductor. She was preparing the summer music week orchestra for a performance on Thursday night at the Glorietta Baptist encampment in New Mexico. Each evening different ensembles, groups, bands and vocalists performed. All the groups were led by men except for Julie’s. Late Thursday afternoon the “powers that be” informed Julie that while all the other leaders conducted from the platform, Julie would conduct her orchestra from the floor in front of the stage. After all, she was a woman and women were not allowed on the platform during a worship service. Are you kidding me? Julie humbled herself and complied. I must admit that I was thrilled at the furor that ensued against the “powers” when it became obvious to all what they had done.
About five years into my ministry a wise counselor told me, “Julie is a talented and powerful woman. You had better set her free to be all that God wants her to be or in twenty years you’re going to have a very angry woman on your hands.” I took that advice, set her free and ran interference when necessary.
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