Where are the women in Christianity? Where do we see women in ministry in the Bible? Sometimes, we have to read women back into the Bible.
Women in Ministry in The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is justly proud of the prominence given to women in ministry throughout its history. Historically, we have our co-founder, Catherine Booth, to thank for that. In the 21st century, we are beginning to rediscover that she had as much to with shaping the early Salvation Army as did her husband, William.
But when it comes to women in ministry, The Salvation Army still has much to learn, particularly when it comes to married women officers. In my lifetime I have known women married officers not have an appointment, or whose appointment was clearly an afterthought following her husband’s appointment. Despite one or two exceptions, married women taking appointments senior to their husband’s is nowhere near the norm.
By the time you read this, The Salvation Army will have welcomed the High Council to London to elect its new General. At the last High Council, a married woman officer was nominated and stood as a candidate for General. Could it be that a married woman will be elected as General of The Salvation Army in my lifetime? Might it happen at this High Council?
Women in Ministry in the Bible
Despite our history of women in ministry, we must be careful to give women the equality they deserve. The same is true when we are reading the Bible. At the time the Scriptures were written, women and children were not given much prominence. We must be careful not to think that there were no women in ministry in the Bible. Perhaps the most famous example is Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. We have come to understand that the number probably only includes the men. Jesus would have fed the women and children too and thus a much greater number than five thousand!
Even in Luke’s description of Jesus’ Ascension in Acts 1, we find the angels asking:
Men of Galilee … why are you standing here staring into heaven?Acts 1:11 New Living Translation
Why only men? Were the women not there? It seems unlikely, since later in the chapter we find them in the upper room with Jesus’ male disciples. Sometimes, we have to read the women back into Scripture.
We are All in Ministry Together
Why is this important? Because just before Jesus ascends into heaven, he leaves his Great Commission:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:8 New Living Translation
That Great Commission is for both men and women – and children, for that matter! The mission that Jesus launched was to be crewed by both men and women, as Paul’s letters show. He names both men and women as his fellow-workers.
And whether we are male or female, we should do our best for Jesus and to witness for him wherever he places us. We should each – equally – use our gifts as Jesus followers to do God’s work in the world as we find it.
This week in Battle Drill Devotionals, we are reminded that God calls men and women to share equally in service and leadership in the world, as we look at the stories of five important biblical women. Each weekday we share hope and encouragement as we read and study the Bible together.
There’s a new episode of Battle Drill Devotional every Monday through Friday.
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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash