Monday, November 25, 2013

Conversion Story Part V - Women in the Church

My last installment was over 6 months ago and the Holy Spirit has been prodding me to finish this thing.  So I left off with a realization that I didn't know as much as I thought about the Catholic Church and the reading of Rome Sweet Home has me pondering the theological implications.  I was trying my hardest to ignore the promptings in my heart about Catholicism and be a good Protestant wife and mother.  After all, I knew that was my calling.  I mean, God gave me a wonderful Protestant husband and children and a great church family and everything was smooth sailing ahead.  That is, until our spirit led pastor started a sermon series on women and their place in the church.

Our pastor is a very gifted preacher and was usually spot on in his sermons.  He put forward that women were absolutely equal to men in God's eyes (so far, so good) and that they are also equal to men in their role and function in the church.  He declared there are no distinctions between the two inside the church or in the outside working world.  He preached the only place that the bible specifies a distinction is within marriage, where the wife is called to submit and respect her husband and the husband is called to love his wife, sacrifice for her, and lead the marriage.  Doug and I both felt a check in our spirit from the start.  We wondered if maybe it was our traditional christian upbringing in the Presbyterian church that caused it.  Remember, in that conservative denomination there was a separate function for men and women.  It appeared everyone else in our current church was in total agreement with the pastor's sermons, lots of "amens" and "preach it" from the congregation.  So why did it feel to Doug and I that the Holy Spirit was giving us a different message?

We decided we needed to do some research on the subject.  What did the Bible say about women and their role in marriage, in society, and specifically in the church?  We prayed, read lots of books and poured over internet articles, and of course read every Bible verse we could find on the subject.  This search also led us a bit into the early church fathers and the Church's traditional thought on women and their role and function in the Church.  In the end (and unknown to us), we fell more in line with traditional Catholic teaching on the subject.  That men and women are equal in God's eyes, but that they hold distinct and equally needed functions in marriage, families, and the church.  We set up a meeting with our pastor.  While ultimately he understood why we believed the way we did he said it was impossible for him to agree with us.  He said his experience with working alongside women in the church told him that it must be God's plan.  We argued that it is dangerous to use your personal experience to supersede what God's written word and tradition has said on the subject.

This also brought into question the issue of authority.  We knew our pastor was led by the Holy Spirit.  What happens when there is a difference in opinion?  What happens when two Bible believing, born again, Spirit led Christians disagree with what the Bible says?  Both of us had sincerely held beliefs but obviously only one of us was right.  Who has the authority to claim what is right?  Our church was a stand alone, pastor led church.  His authority was a board of non-elected church members and other pastor advisers.  But if he was wrong there was no earthly higher authority, he was it.  This rift and difference in belief ultimately led us to search out a new church home.

For me, this was also the start of a search for truth.  I wanted to know what God thought of the whole subject of women's role in His kingdom and issues of authority.  I found out that when you're asking God to reveal His truth to you He will.  God is all about revealing truth to those who honestly seek it.  Just be prepared, because it may not be anything close to what you are expecting to hear!  I would not, in a million years, have guessed that His truth and opinion on this subject laid in the Catholic Church.  This is also where Doug and I would part ways.  He was only willing to go so far with me on this journey for truth, here on in I would be travelling with God alone.

Next installment...our marriage walks through the fire as God leads me closer to home!!

Read Part 4 here

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