This is quite complicated. If you're not up to it, please skip it and read something else! It relates to a post on ...daylight by Stephen Murray. What determines one's theological position, actually? You see I would call myself an evangelical - in a kind of old-fashioned sense. I'm not with a lot of people called evangelicals in the USA. I believe in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and by his grace. I believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God, although I'm not always actually sure how to interpret it. I believe in some sort of selective judgement process. In fact, I'm with Stephen on most of the issues he lists in his post. The one where we differ we could have a good discussion about.
But now, I am a woman in leadership in the church and with the intention of becoming an ordained minister. Some evangelicals would say that I will head for hell, because that is not right. And we're basing our beliefs on the same Bible - different hermeneutic. But if God does not want me to lead why do I feel such a strong sense of call? Why does my community affirm me in that call? This is now subjective. But my experience must inform my hermeneutic. I think. Perhaps God is testing me. I should live in a state of unfulfillment that is obedient to a traditional understanding of scripture. But I'm not going that way.
So now, here come someone of the homosexual persuasion. He or she also feels called to ordained ministry. Why is his or her subjective call less valid than mine? (My peg in the ground at the moment says that I believe God is looking for families led by one parent of each sex. So at the moment I do deny that validity! Subject to change . . .)
Now I become offensive, perhaps. Along comes a pathological person who steals children permanently on life support at a hospital and kills them (make it worse, eats them). He or she also feels called to ordained ministry. Why is his or her subjective call less valid than mine? (We all agree it can't be right!)
I have no doubt that with careful effort the Bible can be made to support any of these positions.
But now, take the starting point, the evangelical position that says women may not lead. Why don't these people hold that women should wear hats to church? And not braid their hair or wear jewellery? (I know there are people like that.) I don't want to become ridiculous, but there is plenty in the New Testament that could be interpreted in such a way if context is ignored. Our hermeneutic is so important.
And where we start is so important. We like to stay where we are. Perhaps we will move one step away from conservative or one step towards. But at the end of the day I am where I am because it is where I started!