‘Headship’ for the Single Female

I’m not going to lie; the word ‘headship’ has often been equated as a curse word in my vocabulary. There’s something about my desire to have the last word on everything that I say or do that completely contradicts coming under any sort of authority. It’s not like I have a ‘tragic backstory.’ I have a great father and a great mother, and I’ve never been seriously injured by leadership gone wrong. I grew up with brothers where I had to learn to ‘hold my own,’ but that’s about the extent of my upbringing bleeding into my views here.

Throughout my life, from leadership in high school through majoring in Pastoral Ministry in college, I’ve depended on myself and my own leadership. Through studying and working in a predominately ‘male field’ (vocational ministry), it has just been easier not to confront anything the Bible says about this concept. I knew that there are some important texts in the Scriptures that address male and female roles in the home and in the church. However, if I just don’t look at them too deeply, I’m not accountable to them…right?

Probably not a ‘best practice.’

So, I began to look. I have, and still continue to read, listen, learn, and study. I read a book I agree with but cringe at the textual gymnastics the author conducts on the biblical text. I read a book that at times makes me want to throw it out the window, but I see the clear lines in the biblical text. I struggle, I fight, I get angry, I cry, I ask questions, I protest that it’s not fair, I get defensive, but I cannot believe what I do about the Bible and pretend that certain texts do not exist.

I cannot believe what I do about the Bible and pretend that certain texts do not exist. Click To Tweet

So, what is to be done?

Here is what I do know:

  1. God has made men and women equal before Him[1], and gives of himself equally to men and women[2]. Through Christ’s work, I can come before God without hesitation.
  2. God has made men and women different in design and function[3]. This design was divinely ordered in creation, prior to the fall and the entrance of sin.
  3. For some reason, God created the man first and gave the woman to the man as a help-mate.
  4. God’s divine design exists in the home and in the church; the household of God[4].
  5. God has called qualified men to sacrificially guide and care for the Bride of Christ[5].
  6. God has a unique role for each Christian in the household of God[6].
  7. When the household of God functions as designed, the picture of the gospel to our world is clear and beautiful[7].
When the household of God functions as designed, the picture of the gospel is clear and beautiful. Click To Tweet

So, I’m female, I’m single, I’m passionate about ministry, I am eager about studying the Bible, and love teaching. Where is my place in the church?

It’s here that I realize and acknowledge that this is not likely you. Though perhaps you relate to one or more of the categories that I have listed about myself. There’s a chance you’ve felt a portion of this struggle, or likewise have more questions than answers when it comes to your role in the church. Though, I continue in a season of study and questioning and learning, there is a reason why I don’t walk away from the church.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. A problem with ‘headship authority’ often begins with a problem with ‘Lordship authority.’ Those who can’t call the God of the universe ‘Lord’ will have a problem with other forms of authority He’s placed in their life.
  2. A call to follow Jesus is a call to die to self[8]. That means the call to die to the sinful nature in me that wants to be the ‘god of my own destiny.’
  3. A call to follow Jesus is a call to live the role you’re called to live, and let go of the role you’re not. Whatever your gender, God has given each a gift in the body, and it’s foolishness for a knee to work itself to exhaustion trying to be a hand (and let’s be clear, that knee is no less valuable than the hand). To fight for dominance is easy (and destructive), to live your own role humbly is harder.
  4. Submitting to Christ (and therefore submitting to the authority he’s placed in your life) does not mean a life of trudging in a role you hate while you struggle silently. Why would God create a part of the body and then not use it the way it was designed?
To follow Jesus is a call to live the role you’re called to live, and let go of the role you’re not. Click To Tweet

Ultimately, being under authority, to God and those he’s called, requires the discipline of humility and a right understanding of one’s role and gifts.

So, I come back around to ‘headship;’ what is to be done?

I must realize that God has called men in my church as elders, to carry the heavy burden of caring for and leading Christ’s church. I have the responsibility to learn and obey the scriptures, use all of my gifting, passions, voice, and position to advance the mission of the gospel, and follow the leadership of my local church as they follow Christ. To the glory of God (not me).

I have the responsibility to use my gifting, passions, and position to the glory of God (not me). Click To Tweet

 

[1] Gen. 1:27, Gal. 3:28

[2] The entire book of Romans

[3] Gen. 2

[4] Eph. 5:22-33, 1 Tim. 2:8-15, 1 Cor. 12:2-16

[5] 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-5

[6] 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:4-16, 1 Peter 4:10

[7] Phil. 2:14-15.

[8] Phil. 1:21; Gal 2:20; Matt 16:24