Michal Zacharzewski / RGBstock

Michal Zacharzewski / RGBstock

Recognizing Equality

“Between the privileges of men and women there was a great disparity among the Jews. A man might shave his head, and rend his clothes in the time of mourning; a woman was not permitted to do so. A man might impose the vow of nasirate upon his son; a woman could not do this on her daughter. A man might be shorn on account of the nasirate of his father; a woman could not. A man might betroth his daughter; a woman had no such power. A man might sell his daughter; a woman could not. In many cases they were treated more like children than adults; and to this day are not permitted to assemble with the men in the synagogues, but are put up in galleries, where they can scarcely see, nor can they be seen. Under the blessed spirit of Christianity, they have equal rights, equal privileges, and equal blessings; and, let me add, they are equally useful.” Taken from Adam Clarke’s commentary on Gal 3:28.

Equality Hindered

Reading Adam Clarkes commentary on Gal 3:28, especially the last sentence, made me wonder about who he was and what his views were toward women in ministry. I discovered that he, along with other Methodists, gave as much room as their understanding of Scripture allowed, but that they, like many Complementarians today, could not see it right from Scripture to ordain women as elders.

Equality Found

However, aware that the Methodist church has since allowed for women ordination, I was interested to read how this came about. I came across The Free Methodist Church website and their Statement on Women in Ministry and it made for a worthwhile read. It explains how they came to their belief that women can be ordained and I recommend it as a useful resource to understanding their egalitarian view in the light of Scripture.

Here’s an extract:

To both man and woman, God gave the order to be fruitful and to take dominion over the world (Genesis 1:28). There is no hint of woman’s subjection before the fall. Roberts notes that when Jesus was asked about divorce in Matthew 19:3, he based his response on Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Why did Jesus refer back to the time before the fall? “To re-enact the law enacted then. Thus Christ restored the primitive law. He said nothing about the subjection of women — not one word. … Christ came to repair the ruin wrought by the fall” (Roberts, pp. 35-36). Christ calls redeemed humanity to live out the creation design.

Extract is taken from The Free Methodist Church website and their Statement on Women in Ministry.

Rob Morley