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Questions of women’s roles, as with all questions, requires grace, humility

Of questions in the text of Scripture there is no end. 

• What does the double narrative of Genesis mean, and was there full equality in man and woman before the fall? 

When we are right without humility, we are wrong.

• How do we wrestle with authentein, a Greek word that shows up only once in the New Testament, 1 Timothy 2:12, translated “to usurp authority” in the King James Bible? In other Greek texts, it’s far more violent.

• How do we reconcile 1 Corinthians 11 with chapters 14-15, discussing what women are to do in the assembly, namely praying and prophesying?

Harding School of Theology student Cana Moore enjoys a beverage and a book, “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, at a Memphis coffee shop.

These questions must be asked, and I would like to request respectfully that we ask them again, because if we are wrong, this mistake has deadly spiritual consequence. We, as people who hold up the Scriptures, should lead by example. 

More than these important questions, however, is our overriding question: Who is God, and what does God do? Have we made our ideas about God into an idol? 

It is easy in our Christian walk to construct ideas about God that are false images, making God too small or constrained. It is one thing to seek to know God and wholly another to try to control God. Thankfully, God doesn’t always work in the ways that we think God will.

As we in the Churches of Christ approach these and other questions, I would like to make two small suggestions. I hope I am brave enough to employ them. 

Our first concern should be knowing God as a God of grace. 

God cares about our actions, but out of concern for what our works and sins are doing to us and how they are shaping us. God does not save and love on technicality, but with mercy, as we are being conformed to God’s image. Even our best efforts are filthy rags, which cannot and do not save. God accepts us by Christ’s virtue, not ours. 

It is easy in our Christian walk to construct ideas about God that are false images, making God too small or constrained.

Grace is difficult but boundless and free. With grace, we watch not whether each individual step sets us to plunge off the tightrope but whether our submission to God’s molding keeps us on the narrow way. 

The second task is humility. Correct readings of the Scripture with a misguided care for the meaning of the scripture makes for a wrong reading. 

When we are right without humility, we are wrong. Worse yet, without humility, we have neither the poise nor the wisdom to understand how wrong we could be. Humility encourages grace as we seek to offer each other our best understanding. We all see through a glass dimly, and it would be foolish to presume that we fully understood the revelation of God though our finite lenses. 

One of the things I love most about this fellowship is our focus on unity. I honor what I trust to be other believers’ God-given convictions, and I seek to imitate their care for the Scriptures and the church. 

Even in places where I consider them misguided, I want to first assume that they love God like I do. Too many factors play into how each of us reads the Scriptures: time, location, culture, family context, gender, age, education and even the language of the Bible we read. 

I want to be conscious of these things as I try to understand without vainly attempting to set them aside. 

For my sisters and brothers with whom I disagree, I still can see by the fruit of their spiritual labor that they truly desire God. In that unity, we can move forward to join with God in reconciliation, to help take down the dividing wall of hostility and to make our way into the path of peace.

Cana Moore, 25, is a Master of Divinity student at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn. She worships with the Holmes Road Church of Christ in Memphis.

Filed under: Harding Graduate School of Theology mixed gender prayer Opinion theology Views women prayer women's roles

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