If the work of the Gospel is hindered because women are not allowed to answer the Holy Spirit’s call to a particular ministry, does this not grieve the Holy Spirit? Is this not sinful? The announcement of Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” defines race, culture and gender as equal in Christ for the promotion of wholeness (holiness) to his people.

     I believe nothing new comes to us except by the will of God to either change our minds or solidify our positions. Attitudes change slowly. Slavery was supported by scripture, so too, race segregation by the “mark of Cain.” And throughout the centuries many were persecuted who adhered to the experience of Pentecost, today known as the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Those committed Christians who did the rejecting and persecuting of what was often called, “the second experience,” believed themselves to be absolutely correct on scriptural grounds. Historically, too often, anyone who challenges or presents a deviation from the accepted traditional teaching, even if that traditional interpretation is incorrect, is rejected along with the teaching. Unfortunately, there are still bastions of church resistance to full equality in Christ. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has never been limited by man’s preconceived ideas. Christ-like character and God’s call to serve at all levels in his kingdom does not come in shades of pink and blue.
     In the early church, ministry included everyone. All were led equally by the Holy Spirit for the edification of the whole body. There were no professionals called clergy in ministry. There was no such title as “lay minister” - or any separation between the pew and the podium. There were no pews or podiums, only house churches where people gathered to sing, pray, prophesy, teach, love and support each other. Early in the third century, Emperor Constantine institutionalized the church, making Christianity the state religion of Rome. By then, the culture of Rome and the acceptance of ancient traditions of male rulership inside and outside the home were firmly established in the church. For centuries after Constantine, there was no leadership ministry equally open to women as to men. To be sure, in the Roman Catholic church women who felt called to the religious life could enter convents and become nuns, yet they had to receive the sacraments from male priests, who alone, the church believed, could model Jesus and the Apostles.
     The equality of men and women through and by the cross into salvation, thereby heaven, and all that salvation brings to the believer undergirds the absolute truth that God is no respecter of persons, hence gender. Even though it would seem quite clear from scripture that a woman is equal to a man in preaching and teaching the Gospel, there are those who will not be persuaded by the truth.    This I know for a fact, having been the receiver of a shouting declaration from a man that I was “a false prophet and should be stoned for teaching false doctrine” because I was the pastor of a missionary church in Indiantown, Florida (1985-1986). In my twenty years as pastor of Rejoice! Christian Church, I have had visitors leave as soon as I started preaching and teaching.
     In ministry, I have received many slights, slurs, jokes, and overt, covert rejection of my calling and spiritual gifts from church male hierarchy and some females. But also, from a few brothers and many sisters in ministry, I have received encouragement, support and opportunities to use my gifts to operate under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has opened many doors for me to walk through. What God opens, no one can shut.
     Through more than forty years of ministry in different locations, I have invited anyone to ask me any biblical or spiritual question. On numerous occasions the question of a woman’s role in marriage and church leadership would come up. Once a very argumentative man, who had a fair knowledge of scripture, challenged my position as a pastor and teacher. After much back and forth dialogue, I asked him, “Do you believe women are to be silent in the church and are not to teach men?” Yes, he believed so. I then directed him to 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14:15-20 where Paul discussed the importance of faith and conscience. There, Paul states one brother can cause another to “stumble” into sin by eating certain foods and meat dedicated to idols. Because, “to him who thinks anything to be unclean, it is unclean” and “whatever is not of faith is sin.” Paul stated the principle that whatever we believe, even though it is not sin for others, because we believe it is sinful, it becomes sin for us. Since the brother who had come in believing a woman could not teach a man, and if she did, she was usurping authority from that man - him being one - I then asked him, “Is it not sin for you to come in and ask me questions? You are doing what you believe the scriptures tell you not to do. If you learn anything from me, knowing you are going against your conscience by believing you are not to be taught by a woman, aren’t you afraid I’ve usurped your authority?” He had no answers and left. 
     Today, women make up more than half of God’s army. Visit any modern church and check the attendance. Women outnumber men. Throughout church history the Spirit of the Lord continually called out women to preach the Gospel and to minister with all the gifts of the Spirit by the power of God. The challenge is the same today as it was in the past. Will women who are called to preach and teach answer with a firm, courageous “yes” in spite of the too often non-acceptance of their calling from many in the church?
     In the past there were those few who did say, “Yes.” Church history records some of their names and stories: Perpetua, Irene, Thecla, the female apostle of Georgia in Nino, Marcella of Rome, and Paula (347-404 AD) of whom an early church father, Jerome, wrote about her teaching: “She would by no means rest content but would force me by fresh questions to point out to her which of many different solutions seemed to me the most probable.”
     In the 1700's John Wesley and George Whitefield sparked a revival in which women flourished in ministry. As John Wesley stated, “God uses women in the conversion of sinners. Who am I that I should withstand God.” In America, the battle for women to fulfill their destinies in Christ has become easier because there were those who went before us: the Grimke sisters in 1838 in Boston; Antoinette Brown, the first woman in America to be ordained in 1853; Aimee Semple McPherson in Oakland, California; Phoebe Palmer in 1867; Hannah Whitall Smith in 1875; Maria Woodworth-Etter at Azuza Street in the early 1900's; Kathryn Kuhlman in 1923 to name a few. Now, more and more women are able to take their God given rightful place in ministry.
     At present, however, there are still too many churches who take certain verses out of context to limit women to narrow places of service. They have not examined their second-class gender interpretation of scriptures because some believe they must defend themselves against social, militant, aggressive feminism. In addition, a gender balanced history of the church is not taught.
     The scripture of Joel 2:28-29, “And it shall come about after this, that I will pour out My spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men will see visions; And even on the male and femaleservants I will pour out My spirit in those days” [emphasis mine] was fulfilled by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on one hundred and twenty persons in the upper room at Pentecost, (Acts 1:13,15; 2:1-13). God is an equal opportunity giver.
     Some argue there are gender role distinctions based on spiritual differences in sin, gifts and service. Some have said these spiritual differences are based on God creating woman out of man, therefore, she is second in placement. But is second a lesser or unequal place?   In the Tri-unity of God, does Christ’s position as second mean less in stature or power? (1 Corinthians 11:3). While Christ is placed in the second of the Tri-unity, he is not placed in a subordinate, lesser position and is therefore, equally, fully God. So too, the woman who was created second to man is fully, equally responsible to seek, serve, live and be accountable to God.
     After The Fall, God’s judgment fell equally on both Adam and Eve. Eve was deceived, but Adam chose to deliberately sin - eyes wide open. God gave his commandment, “not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” directly to the man, (Genesis 2:15-17). Scripture does not blame the entrance of sin into the world on Eve, but on Adam, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned...,” (Romans 5:12). The curse of Adam and Eve has been changed into blessing(s) because God’s promise to send a Savior in Genesis was fulfilled through Mary. Through her would come the mighty one, the Messiah to crush the head of the serpent, “And behold you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him, Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David... His kingdom will have no end,” (Luke 1:31-33). In Christ the curse of the law has been lifted for men and women, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us...,” (Galatians 3:13).
     The issue of sex rather than identity in Christ leads to confusion about the male and female roles and to the using of gifting ministries to the church and community. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” states both men and women equal in the judgment of redemption as well as in service (oneness) in Christ, (Galatians 3:28),
Whenever believing women begin to move, to act upon the assumption of full Christian service by doing what they are called to do, what they can do, what they wish to do, rather than be told what they are allowed to do, then certain accusations arise:
***She will lose her femininity if she steps outside her role (determined by ?).   But what is femininity? Is it a “that,” that can be lost? No woman should fear the loss of having a female nature which has been given to her by God. Different cultures may dictate what are feminine mannerisms, speech, dress and behaviors, but these are learned responses. God chose the physical reproductive cycle to be placed in a women. Basic femininity comes from the way God made the female body - it is permanent.
***When a woman moves outside her place of submission to man, she will disrupt order and destroy society.  If a woman is allowed equal pay, equal education, equal job opportunities and an equal voice in the church, someone in the hierarchy will have to make room. Many sincere and loving Christians believe there is a “divine, mandated order of command” from male down to female. Chains of command are deemed to be necessary. This is a rigid system in which every member is predetermined to function in a role from which one cannot move. Rigid systems stunt spiritual and personal growth.
***She will be vulnerable to society and its abuses without male protection - the man being bigger, stronger, wiser.  Since she is the weaker sex, she needs the guidance and leadership of a man. Books, TV media, magazines, movies and culture present the view that a woman is not complete unless she has a man to protect her from the outside world. Little girls are led to believe that someday their prince will come, and when he does, if she pleases him in every way, they will live happily ever after. Some Christian authors present the view that without having a man as a covering or protector, a woman is incomplete; and if a woman does not understand her ordered place in the family, society will disintegrate. Of course the problem is, this cultural view places her in a male dominated, autocratic system from which she cannot escape, nor change for the better.
***A woman who disagrees with the traditional and only possible interpretation of scripture is denying the inspired Word of God.  A woman must neither doubt nor challenge what the church has deemed the proper role for a woman is in service to God. To do so is to disobey church male authority - that covering of protection that every Christian woman must have. Of course, scripture interpretation leaves room for human error; commentators do not agree on many passages. In actual practice most of the verses about women in Paul’s letters to Timothy and to the church at Corinth are interpreted by male pastors, teachers, and writers with denominational perspectives and unexamined prior attitudes from generational teaching.
The following are my replies to statements I have heard over the years in my ministry.
Women are not allowed to preach in the church.
     The Jewish, Middle Eastern and some Gentile cultures had very strict mores about an honorable woman’s dress and manners. Like the Middle East today (particularly Muslem-Arabic and some strict Israeli religious sects), a woman in Jesus’ time had to cover her head and body, had to lower her eyes when being approached on the street by a man not a relative (the same for the man), could not cut or shave her body hair, could not use cosmetics and wear gold jewelry, and absolutely could not walk down the street alone. To behave or dress like a Roman-Greek woman was to declare herself a morally loose person or worst, a prostitute. A Jewish woman who was accused of prostitution or adultery could be stoned to death. Many women came into the Corinthian church because of the appeal of the Gospel without knowing how to dress and behave in church.
     Into this interesting mix of cultures, in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, Paul gives instruction to women when they publicly pray and prophecy how not to offend those who are in attendance. The issue is not can women publicly pray and preach alongside men in a service, but whether or not their outward appearance is in keeping with the accepted customs of Jewish-Middle Eastern culture. Nowhere does Paul say, it is unholy or displeasing to God for women to have their head uncovered. In fact, Paul does not say any of his instructions on behavior, dress and food come from God.
     “And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...and upon my bondslaves, both men and women, ....and they shall prophesy,” (Acts 2:17-18 [emphasis mine]). It does not take a Bible student a long time if he or she has a concordance and a Bible dictionary such as Vine’s and other such helpful study tools in order to conclude the gift of preaching is given to women as well as men. “Prophesy” translated from the Greek and Hebrew into English gives the following meanings: “the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God; the forth telling of the will of God whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future; speaking to edify, to comfort, and to encourage believers; speaking to convict of sin and constrain to worship; speaking to effect unbelievers to salvation,” (W.E. Vine; An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
In the Bible women are not allowed to be priests.
     Aaron was chosen as the first High Priest in Exodus 28:1. From Aaron’s line descendants in the Levitical priesthood continued to the time of Jesus, (Luke 1:5; 10:32). However, Christ did not come from Aaron’s line, but from the order of Melchizedek, a non-inherited, eternal line, (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:11-17). However, if gender misinterpretations are to be used, then it could be argued that because Jesus Christ was born into the line of Judah by Mary, only women can be priests, (Hebrews 7:14). Also, since the church is the bride of Christ, feminine to him, only women should function as priests, (Revelation 21:9, John 3:29). Of course, I would never agree to such convoluted, mistaken interpretations.
     When Jesus walked this earth, he was a Rabbi teacher. He became ourHigh Priest after his crucifixion and resurrection. Our Lord Jesus Christ became our High Priest when the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom allowing his believers to enter the Holy of Holies, (Matthew 27:50-52; Mark 15: 38-41; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 10:19-22).  
     If Jesus called only men to be priests and heads, then his prayer in John 17 and the Great Commission must be cut from every woman’s Bible. In fact, if women are not included in the priesthood of the believer, then there is no salvation for women.
     Thankfully, Jesus Christ, our High Priest has made usall to be priests and to be of his royal family, (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:3-12; chapter 2; Hebrews, chapters seven and eight; Revelation 1:5,6). Therefore, women are priests, are royal and have anointed authority in Christ. Women have the right in Christ to function as priests in ministry to their families, to the church and to the community.
     Actually, in the Old Testament God spoke to the people through the prophets, not the priests. Miriam (Exodus 15:20; Micah 6:4), Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:11-33), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), the wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3) were prophets. Judges 2:16 states, “the Lord raised up judges, who saved them” which clearly applies to Deborah and Huldah.
Jesus chose only men as the twelve apostles.