Women are not allowed to "___________"

What exactly are women allowed to do? In the church?

In the home?

In the workplace?

In social settings?

These are the tired questions I find myself facing again and again. That's why I wrote about it in our upcoming book Reclaiming Eve. Because I felt it was high time to bring all this "allowing" business out into the open.  

I even wrote about it on Kurt Willems' blog last May when I graduated from seminary, in a blog post titled:  "What will you do after seminary?" "What will you allow me to do?" was the question I began to think about asking others when they asked about my plans. I have gifts to preach, to lead, and to encourage. What will you allow a woman to do? What should she do? Where should I go with these gifts and this degree?

This word of God that I love, the one that ushered me into new life in Christ, healed my hurts, wrecked my soul, and knit it back together again, is used by so many factions and camps to "allow" or "disallow" certain things, specifically when it comes to women.

Sometimes women are allowed to teach or preach from the pulpit. Many times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to take management positions within companies. Sometimes they are strongly encouraged not to.

Sometimes women are allowed to be deacons or elders or church board members. Often times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to manage their households and family using all of their brains and their gifts. Sometimes they are encouraged to ask their husbands for permission before they buy pantyhose or underwear.

"Well, these people have good biblical reasons for all of these things!" you say. "They are trying to be faithful!" And this may very well be true, they may be trying to do their best with what they know and believe.

But beyond all the attempts to try and fit men and women into categories and roles from the 1950s or so, the Bible stands as a book of truth that is ageless, that passes the test of time.

And no matter what position one might say they hold firmly on what women are allowed to do in a specific time and place, I believe the real question each of us must ask ourselves is this:

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Let me spell this out as clear as I know how:

Do you see women primarily as fallen, dangerous creatures? Or do you see women as imagebearers of the living God who have the opportunity to be radically renewed because of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Because our New Testament sisters impacted by Jesus experienced a radical before and after, my friends. They went from second-class citizens to being a part of a family where there was no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male nor female. The more I read about Jesus and the stories of the women who followed him and came after him, the more I am convinced that his blueprint "the last shall be first" turned things upside down for these women.

As one woman once told me, "Jesus has already set women free." And because I believe this, and because I will defend the power of the gospel and the new kingdom Jesus ushered in, I will tell you my wish. I wish and hope and pray that someday we will stop all arguing about what we will allow women to do and instead we will rise up and say:

What will we empower women to do in light of the gospel?

To do anything less blights the power of the good news Jesus came to bring, I'm afraid. I long to see God's female imagebearers unleashed to build his kingdom alongside their brothers. May it be so!

What do you long to see the Church empower women to do for the sake of the kingdom?