I thought I knew where this was heading. Groaning silently, I was sure his question was probably another attempt to locate me on the map of opinions on the role of women in ministry. So I dodged his question by answering with a question of my own. “Why do you ask?”
His answer couldn’t have surprised me more. “Because I want to hire one!”
What came out in the conversation that followed was neither a plot to subvert his denomination nor a private confession that he had switched camps in the debate over women. Instead, he expressed his heart for the pastoral needs of his congregation and his growing conviction that he needed a woman to help him address the diverse pastoral concerns within his congregation.
The issue he raised transcends the question of women’s ordination and goes to the heart of the foundational statement God made when He created the first woman: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). This pastor was experiencing first-hand the problem God diagnosed when Eden was male-only territory and offering his hearty “Amen!” to God’s solution.
At creation, God created his image bearers—male and female—to serve Him together as a Blessed Alliance in every sphere of life. The scope of their mission encompassed “all the earth” (Genesis 1:26). Therefore God’s special blessing rests uniquely on this male/female partnership both in marriage and everywhere else (Genesis 1:28).
This divine mission is much deeper than deciding which view we hold on the role of women in ministry. It goes beyond logistical issues or efforts to figure out better ways of dividing the workload and getting along. The mission is bound up in how well we represent God to our fractured world.
According to God’s design, male/female relationships are focal points of His plan to reveal Himself in this world. A lot is riding on the quality of these relationships and on how well we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, band together in common cause. This Blessed Alliance between men and women is a crucial kingdom strategy, then and now.
God’s original vision—a vision He has never abandoned but revives in the work of His Son—was for relationships between men and women to be dazzling points of light on this spinning globe. Dynamics between men and women were never intended to be a battle of the sexes or a heated debate within Christian circles. Male/female relationships in Christ are to be a glowing testament to the fact that we are followers of Jesus. This is where God means to put on display a gospel-powered love. This is where the world is supposed to see men and women laying down their lives for others, offering strength and wisdom to each other, and investing ourselves fully for God’s kingdom.
The whiplash I got from that conservative pastor’s comment has stayed with me as a reminder that kingdom work is handicapped when men or women move forward alone. Neither males nor females can do the job God has called us to do or be the people He created us to be if we divide up kingdom work by gender. God has called us to be a Blessed Alliance!