If God had intended women to be ordained, surely he would have ensured that Judas’s replacement as one of the 12 original Apostles (divinely sent messengers) of Jesus Christ was a female eye-witness of his resurrection, such as Mary Magdalene?

But the early Christian Church gathered in Jerusalem in the 1st Century AD, led by the Apostle Peter, put forward two male candidates to replace Judas, with St Matthias being chosen by lot. This is recorded in chapter 1 of the Acts of the Apostles.

Were these first Christians people of their time imprisoned in their cultural prejudices or were they led by God’s Holy Spirit? I believe the latter and that this decision by the early Church formed the basis for the male preachers whom the Apostles subsequently ordained.

Does this mean that women are second class members of the Church? Certainly not. Christian women are equal with men as heirs of eternal salvation. The Apostle Paul made that crystal clear when he wrote in the New Testament that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you (Christian people) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3v28 – RSV).

Male and female Christians are saved on the same basis, namely faith in God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins on the Cross.

But within the Church men and women have complementary roles with God calling men with a particular gift to teach the Bible to congregational leadership. Witness Paul’s first New Testament letter to the man he ordained to oversee the churches in the Ephesus region, Timothy.

Such an idea may not be fashionable or politically correct. But isn’t the Church supposed to be counter-cultural when the Bible leads in a different direction from prevailing social norms?

(Julian’s article was first published in the Sheffield Telegraph)
(Image: FCO)