I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority… –Paul, 2 Timothy 2:11-12
For centuries it has all come down to a few sentences. A few sentences in one direction that are counter to the other things Paul says. A few sentences that do not line up easily with the rest of the doctrine that has been laid around and over them. A few sentences that have created a tradition of patriarchy and the silencing of half the Christian church.
And laying Paul to the side (gently of course)…a few sentences that when taken on their own without context and culture (as they so often are) are counter to the message and life of Jesus. The Man who was supported by women, surrounded by women, proclaimed by women, appeared to women.
Jesus and women can not be whittled down to a sentence about silence and lack of permission to use gifts.
Jesus and women have been in a deep, abiding, love relationship that has included beautiful gifting and the Spirit of God dwelling with women.
Jesus and women have been talking for a very long time. A voice has been heard…even as attempts have been made to silence it or keep it small and contained…it has still been heard all along across the ages.
Jesus has been calling to women…Mary Magdalene, The Samaritan, Martha, Mary, Joanna, Phoebe, Salome, the women who reached for his robe, the women who anointed his feet. Jesus has called. Women have answered. Women will always answer.
Sara Gaston Barton answered the call and was a keynote speaker at the Pepperdine Bible Lectureships today. She preached. She didn’t teach…or lead…or guide…or give a talk. She PREACHED. And she did it masterfully…with grace, skill, depth, and humor. She preached…not in competition with any man…but in accordance with her gifts and the message she felt called to share. She was herself, the very person she was designed to be from the moment God gave her soul to a body, and she preached. She preached and the words flowed out of her and over a stadium of people. She preached and none of us fell into a hole in the center of the earth, gravity continued to work, no pigs were reported flying over Malibu, and God was praised (and likely laughed with the joy of it).
She was not silent. She spoke with authority. She heard the call from her friend…the One who gifted her for the call…and she refused to walk away from it. Because Jesus has been in relationship with women…and specifically with this woman…and His life, which included women, will not be mocked in order to bully and shame any group of God’s So-Loved into silence.
Preach on…Preach loudly…Preach softly…but PREACH!