I first heard the phrase: “God is raising up women in the church because men won’t take their position” about 10 years ago. Even then I was very uncomfortable with the underlying dishonesty in this statement. It is often spoken by men about women in ministry – and, sometimes, women who are trying to make sure men aren’t threatened with their position or authority within the church. It’s spoken to make someone sound like they accept women in ministry and are OK with it, but in reality, they really aren’t comfortable or accepting of a woman’s position in ministry. Instead of just saying this, they make it sound like the woman has to be there because there is no other suitable candidate available. In so speaking, women become God’s second choice for ministry.
I just love it when people speak on God’s behalf – and yes, hear my biting sarcasm in that statement. It is a true pet peeve of mine when other people decide for me what God has called or purposed me to do or where I may be on His list of choices. Too often the church still feels the need to disclaim itself for the position of women in the church, instead of recognizing women as called of God and powerful in leadership. The church still thinks we need to explain away the women, justifying the position of women for some altruistic or necessary reason, instead of just recognizing the anointing on a woman’s life as sufficient for her calling. For some reason, we just don’t take the time to understand the important purpose of women in God’s plan.
Then we have the reality that the women of God are so used to being spoken down to, insulted, and “put in their place,” so to speak, that we don’t even hear the offense in a statement such as the one above. We think we need to go out of our way to prove we don’t hate men, aren’t trying to threaten anybody’s position, or cause anyone offense. We are afraid to stand against chauvinism and sexism in the church for fear we will turn off our audiences or be perceived as a part of the wrong side of thinking within Christianity. We don’t want to be perceived as too radical, too outrageous, or too unspoken. Thus we tolerate what we hear above when we shouldn’t because it reflects worldly thinking dependent upon power and control.
There are a lot of reasons why this issue has not just social implications, but theological issues as well. Rejecting more than half the Body of Christ as unsuited to proclaim the Gospel or function in ministry should be grave cause for concern. We need to stop thinking this is just an issue of personal opinion or interpretation of the Word and see why this is clearly a problematic attitude…and change it. Galatians 3:28: “There is neither…male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) was not written as a mere philosophical musing, but a reality of where we are to be in Christ as men and women.
The first reason we have a problem with such a statement is its implication, “God is raising up women in the church because men won’t take their position,” that the church revolves around men rather than around God. Such logic indicates God is revolving His actions, choices, and decisions around what men want to do or don’t want to do rather than what is God’s will for the church. What an implication of power and control! So in other words, men are controlling the entire destiny of salvation history based on when they want to rise up or don’t want to rise up…I don’t think so! God has not ever lived around the whims of human beings. Either we believe the church is expected to fully conform with God’s will or we don’t. We either believe God calls individuals and they are the best candidates for where God desires the church to go, or we don’t. I am the first one to admit people don’t always answer their calling in Christ, but I also recognize our calling doesn’t go to a second choice candidate if we don’t answer it. God is not sitting around in heaven just waiting to decide who He’s going to call next based on what some random man wants to do or not do with a calling.
When God wants to call a man to do a job, there has never been a shortage of men for that job. Thus the same is true for women: when God calls a woman to do a job, she’s not called to it because there’s a shortage of men: she’s there because she’s the one God called. It doesn’t have to make sense to the world, to onlookers, or to anyone but God.
The second reason this creates a problem is because we raise the question: does God un-call people? If women are simply called because men don’t want to rise to the challenge, what happens if a bunch of men decide to change their minds? Does God remove His call on a woman’s life or change it? As God called me to be an apostle, does that mean if a man who God called to be an apostle suddenly wants to do it now, I’m no longer an apostle?
The obvious answer is, no, God does not un-call people. If we have been prepared for our calling from the foundations of the world, as the Apostle Paul expounded, then the purpose, gifts, and foundations of our calling are not a temporary placement. We can’t ever retire or fit ourselves into a different calling! God purposed it this way because “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29, NIV). The gifts and calling on women are just as irrevocable as those on men – and if God can’t un-call us, has purposed us from before the foundations of the world, and fully equipped us, then we can’t be His second choice!
Then we come to the issue of being threatened – that somehow we need such a statement to un-state the call of God upon a woman’s life so men are not intimidated. If we are one in Christ, men shouldn’t be intimidated by a woman called of God. If a man wrestles with that, it is a wrestling of the flesh and he must come in line with the Word and the work of God. If more women are called to leadership then men at this time, that is the work of God and every man must come into alignment with what God is doing. No woman should ever feel the need to apologize for her calling or disclaim it with such a statement to make men feel comfortable. If a man is uncomfortable with a woman’s leadership position, he is going to be uncomfortable with it no matter what she says or does. Disclaiming simply discredits the God Who gave the calling. Jesus didn’t apologize for sending Mary Magdalene to the other apostles with the news of the resurrection – He rebuked the men for ignoring the word of His female apostle! (Mark 16:9-14)
The last reason why this is problematic is because such a statement denies acknowledgement of the plan of God. Believing God is only calling women because men don’t want to stand up is advocating process theology. Process theology is the belief that a god or divine being is constantly progressing and changing along with humanity, adapting to changing conditions because that god or deity is not omniscient. If God is only calling women because men aren’t doing something, that is saying God didn’t know men wouldn’t answer His call and, therefore, didn’t call other men so now He is calling women to fill space. If God is adjusting Himself to changing circumstances, then He isn’t the same yesterday, today, and forever! (Hebrews 13:8) Women aren’t a miss-happening or accident of God’s plans. We can see God purposed so many things in history using His women, such as Deborah – and that they were a part of His plan and were right for His plan (Judges 4-5). Too often we hear Deborah was called because there were no available men…or is it really the other way around? Were there no available men because Deborah was the right one for the job?
I think the church today underestimates God. We don’t need to make excuses for what He is doing in, through, or for us. I know if God wanted a man to do a job, he could raise up a man – but some jobs are just better suited to be handled by us girls 🙂
I AM NOT GOD’S SECOND CHOICE!
(C) 2010 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.