Right from the early church and up till today, the religious role of women has been a subject of controversy and constant debates. Many of such debates have in most cases been inconclusive. While efforts have been made in the past to demonstrate that women are similar to men and are indeed equal to men in terms of intellectual capacity and leadership skill, there are still widespread belief that women are indeed inferior to men in leadership of congregations. More worrisome is the theological backing that this socio cultural belief of the society enjoys based on Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 2:11 – 15 that women should not teach or usurp authority over the man but to be in silence. The difficulty with this statement is how to reconcile it with the position of Paul in Gal. 3:28 that there is neither male or female. But we are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Background to the Study
Based on the controversy surrounding the permission of women to assume leadership position in churches, it is not a surprise that many churches today still disallow the ordination of women as Pastors or allow them in leadership positions where they will have authority over men. Such churches insisted that they are acting in terms of Biblical position. Yet there are many Christian organizations such as Foursquare Gospel Church that have allowed women in the office of Pastors, Zonal Superintendents, District Overseer and other leadership positions with very impressive results to show for it.
One noticed that in both Old and New Testaments God ordained, sanctions and uphold the spiritual authority of women as his official spoke person and leaders of His people. A thorough review of the roles of women in such leadership capacity in the Bible will be undertaken. This research work would also try to examine the problems associated with women assuming leadership position of congregations, gender differences in promotion and pay and the experience and frustrations encountered by lady ministers and the subsequent effect of this on motivation or otherwise of women who account for the larger percentage of most congregation to aspire for leadership positions.
- Statement of Problem
In the last decade, there has been a positive variance and growth in the aspect of mission and evangelism in the church. It is a well known fact that early the biggest churches in terms of attendance reside here in Nigeria. The number of missionaries sent out from Nigeria into Africa and even other continents has increased as well. There are a lot of churches being pioneered from Nigeria in other continents that are led by Nigerians as well. Even the big churches that reside in Nigeria are being led by Nigerians themselves.
Along with this positive growth is the fact that a large percentage of the people won to Christ are of women fold and also the fact that women ministry is also growing cannot be denied. But the irony is that even though a large percentage of the worshipers and workers in these churches, ministry and fellowship are women, the top and strategic leadership structures seems to be occupied by men, sometimes almost exclusively. With the involvement of women in the various service arms of the church, the top and strategic leadership is being dominated by men when compared with the ratio of both genders in the church. On the one hand women are encouraged to serve their fellow humans and to participate in the gospel commission, on the other they are excluded from full public ministrations by traditions of male leadership seemingly supported by a formidable bulwark of scriptural indications and established traditions. Even to those women who have been taught and who have outwardly accepted the call to eternal sacrifice in serving humanity through behind-the-scene tasks or domestic virtues, the question of a more active, a more unrestricted and a more responsible ministry comes to their mind sooner or later. The lay women of our church and other Christian denominations are faced with the burdensome paradox of being called to spread the gospel with equal sincerity on the one hand and having that spirit of devotion and commitment curbed on the other. For a segment of them the special gifts of communication, of clarity of speech, of insight and administrative and leadership capabilities seem to be an even more paradoxical blessing.
They face the onward pleading of an inner experience and call against the odds of a church which has been molded in a cultural pattern that cannot find any use for such talents in women. Their calls are denied. Women fully committed to Christ have felt the pressure to bury their talents. Some male church members and ministers insist that their dreams of the gospel ministry are not only unrealistic but thoroughly unscriptural .
The fact that exceptional cases are being frown at calls for more study in this field of knowledge. Even though some leaders in a few independent Pentecostal and Charismatic churches carry their wives along in the ministry, the perceived over bearing of these women has generated a lot of schetisms, criticisms and even rejection from more conservative traditional churches. These criticism often come from studies backed by the argument citing I Timothy 2:9 – 15 with literal interpretation that Paul clearly instructed women not to be involved in leadership. It is usually cited to go beyond preaching and teaching but to hold leadership offices in churches and ministries and whether women both single and married should be considered for ordination. Some churches who have gone ahead to allow ordination for women still leave it to involved a particular rank or put some kind of restriction.
- Purpose of Study
Firstly, this research seeks to provide a conceptualized interpretation of this passage in such a way that the fundamental truth of the scripture or its intention is not compromised, while providing a bible based insight that will enhance women ministry in Nigeria Church in line with God’s standard.
Secondly, the research work also intends to help provide an insight that will help reduce the tension that is often generated when the subject of women involvement in ministry or church leadership comes up.
Thirdly, this research work will encourage more women involvement in church leadership by providing recommendations for changes in ideology within these selected churches.
Fourthly, the study will affirm the effectiveness of female ministers in these selected churches.
And lastly, the research work will endeavor to bridge the gap between the several interpretations given to this passage in the past.
- Significance of the Study
The inadequate recognition given to female ministers and the denial of rights and positions given to women based on the interpretation of the text leads to a source of concern to the researcher, this makes this study of great significance to her. The outcome of this research work will encourage a review of the rules operating in the selected churches so as to encourage the involvement of women in leadership roles in these churches. This will eventually enhance the women ministry in Nigerian churches.
This research work will add to the existing body of knowledge as regards to the interpretation of the passage. The knowledge gained from this research work will reduce prejudiced mindset and the tension associated with the issue of women ministry and leadership in the selected churches. The research work will also help the selected churches to review the limitation of roles given to women in these churches.
- Limitation of the Study
The research work may experience some hiccups due to certain logistics in preparation and distribution of enough questionnaires. Unwilling attitudes of people towards filling of questionnaires, late or non-return of filled questionnaires and some unforeseen circumstances that the researcher may not consider now.
- Delimitation of the Study
The coverage of this study will be on the assessment of the interpretation given to the passage and the involvement of Female ministers in the following churches:
- Christ Apostolic Church
- Baptist Church0000000
- Anglican Church
Foursquare Gospel Church.
- Research Procedure:
The researcher will make use of both library work and field work. The library work will also involve the internet. Field work will be done to investigate the current thought or opinion on the subject under investigation and the profession of the selected churches in the subject of investigation and the actual practice in these churches. Field work will involve Questionnaires, oral Interviews opinion polls, and observations.
- Definition of Terms
In this research work, a reader will encounter some words which may acquire special meanings as it is used in the work, which needs clarification to help the reader to have a more accurate understanding of the study.
A critical explanation or interpretation of a text especially a religious one.
An adult female human. It may be used interchangeably with the synonyms – lady, female, woman.
The exercise of particular gift and functions on behalf of the church. It could be used with the adjective “ordained”.
These are the chosen churches from both the Pentecostal churches, Orthodox churches as well as evangelical churches.
Keywords: AN EXEGESIS OF 1 TIMOTHY 2:9 – 15 AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR WOMEN MINISTRY