Hello, all! As a woman, I’ve been following this and other similar threads with interest. I personally don’t have a solid theological stance on either side of the egalitarian/complementarian issue, and I highly respect people and arguments on both sides of the debate, but I wanted to take the moment to get some thoughts on paper…
In response to the initial question, I tend to think: ‘well, of course a woman can preach’. It’s not necessarily a question of ability; we are all able to preach with our words and our lives. (Though, of course, women physically can’t preach from a certain pulpit if they aren’t invited into it.)
I think the main question that most people ask is framed as one of negative requirement: MUST a woman NOT be allowed to preach/pastor a church? That is, does God require (as opposed to ‘recommend’) only men (simply by virtue of their biological sex) to be leaders in a local church and expressly forbid women (simply by virtue of their biological sex) to serve in that capacity? Are women who are serving as pastors of churches (and, subsequently, the leaders of those churches) essentially living in open rebellion against God by doing so?
Like most things in life, I believe these questions warrant a big ole ‘It depends.’…
To the first question (Does God require only men, thereby forbidding women?): It depends on how you interpret and apply Paul and certain Old Testament laws and practices. In my own reading, I am not convinced that God orders one sex to always be leaders and one to always be submitters. If women are limited and marginalised in a community simply because they are women, then I believe that any growth in that community will be stunted. That community will not reach its full potential of flourishing, and people in that community will lose out on the life that comes when male and female live side-by-side in mutually supportive relationship. (Note also that the reverse can also be true…as in, I also believe that women marginalise men to their detriment.)
It follows then that I do not believe that it is an act of rebellion against God for a woman to serve as a pastor of a local church. However, I also want to say that I do not believe that having a woman pastor is always the best thing. Sadly, like you all have noticed, this is an extremely divisive issue in the church, and if the female pastor is not supported by the leadership and congregation, I believe it would be disastrous for all for her to remain there.
For myself, as a woman who doesn’t really want to preach or lead a congregation, I just want to be a part of a church community that affirms both men and women in their spiritual giftings and gives them space to them to develop and practise them. We have so much to learn from one another!
To end, I wanted to link everyone to Mike Day’s reply to my question about women in ministry. Especially you, @Abby and @Eunike. He is one of the most thoughtful people I know of on this subject, and I think you all will be encouraged to read it! Ask Mike Day (October 22-26, 2018)
Both his reply and mine by no means an official RZIM position, but I do know RZIM as a ministry are keen to train and employ female apologists/evangelists as well as put women in prominent leadership positions according to the gifts they have.