Cheryl grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and attended Harding University. She and her husband, Mike (the blogger), have two children, Kate and Cal. Cheryl currently teaches 3rd grade at a neighborhood school and is pursuing a master’s degree in children’s literature.
What do I think about women’s role in the church? I’ve heard the arguments both ways. There are the scriptures about the women who served in Jesus’ ministry--the loving, faithful women. There’s Priscilla who helped to teach Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). But then there’s that pesky scripture about women being silent (1 Corinthians 14:34). And there are no examples of actual sermons being spoken by women in the Bible.
Growing up in the church of Christ, I learned to be submissive to boys, and to men, but I did enroll in a course called “Lasses to Leaderettes”. We learned how to give speeches about the Bible. The class was taught by our preacher, Byron Laird. He would begin the class by making us shout, “Boy, do I feel terrific!” Then, we’d give our little speeches to him and to each other and we’d learn to “preach”. Later, we’d often compete in front of a group of women or give little talks at women’s retreats or to the girls at a childrens' home. Some of us were good at it. Some of us were just okay.
My sister was really good at it. I can still remember a speech she gave that started with “What’s in your hand?” The point was that we were to use whatever gift God had put into our hands to use. To answer the question for my sister, there were a lot of gifts in her hand. One of them was preaching. When she took a test in high school to determine a good fit for a career, “pastor” was at the top of the list. At the time, that suggestion was ignored. Who ever heard of a woman preacher? So, she went on to become a teacher and a mom. Now, though, she’s a missionary. Ah…her gift.
I say all that to say that I believe that God created us with these gifts and passions and he wants us to use them to His glory. David was so excited to have the Ark of the Covenant back, that he danced through the streets. Music and dancing were his “things”. Some scoffed at that. I think God probably loved the joy. Romans 12 talks about all these gifts that we may have as Christians. Paul says, “Whatever your gift is, use it. Use it well.” He doesn’t specify where and when, and by whom these gifts should be used. He doesn’t say, “Now, remember women, if you teach, it can only be to women or to boys of elementary-school age or younger.” Paul just says things like, “Use your gifts” and “really love other people.” I take comfort in this.
I’ve never had to make this decision for a church—what women can and can’t do, but slowly, through the years, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with women participating. At our church, we have a worship leader whose voice is a true gift to me. Her singing puts me in a great frame of mind for worship. I listen to John Ortberg online. Sometimes, his wife, Nancy, speaks. Some of her messages have touched me in powerful ways. I no longer feel worried about women participating. I guess I approach it the way I do other issues that I’m unsure about—I’ll make the best decision I can with prayer and study. If God’s not happy about my decision, my church, my belief, He’ll either reveal it to me or cover me with His grace, as he does in so many other parts of my life.