Monday, January 12, 2009

What is a Deacon? (part three)

Does Paul describe women deacons in verse eleven? Paul makes a point to speak specifically to women under the heading of deacon qualifications. He doesn’t make that distinction when explaining the qualifications of pastors (“overseers”- verses 1-7). Just to be clear, my argument against women exercising ‘teaching authority’ over a man is a biblical one and not a cultural reaction. Likewise, my argument against women serving as pastors is a biblical one and not a cultural reaction. So to be consistent, my argument for women serving as deacons (in the appropriate context) is a biblical one and not a cultural reaction.

There is a case to be made for women serving as deacons or deaconesses, but it should be noted that men ought always to take the lead as an example. Moreover it is important in our society that seeks to emasculate men at every turn for Christian men to take leadership at every possible opportunity. If there are no qualified men or if men lack the courage to lead it is an indictment on us and thank God for those women who will step up to the plate until qualified men are found.

Regardless of whether this passage is interpreted to mean women who serve in the office of deacon, wives of deacons, or generally to women who serve in the church there are qualification which apply for all. In verse eleven Paul says she is to be ‘dignified’ in character, she is not to be a ‘malicious gossip’, she is to be ‘temperate’ maintaining self-control and not controlled by any substance, and finally she is to be ‘faithful in all things’. No one honors the Lord in public ministry if they are not faithful to the Lord in the other areas of their life such as their sexuality, their home, their reputation outside the church, or their personal study of God’s Word.

I am not advocating the ordaining of women to this office. Even if you agree that Paul makes the case for women filling this ministry role it is not always appropriate or edifying to do so depending on the context. What should always be heavily considered in choosing people to serve in any leadership or ministry role in the church is whether the unity of the church is preserved and God is glorified.

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