Last week I wrote about CU's and baptism in the Holy Spirit. Here's another unity question that often arises....
Question: Should Women Preach at CU meetings?
Let's set this in a situation. Decisions on questions like this are made locally not nationally. There is no fellowship-wide uniform yes or no.
A Christian Union is a partnerships between churches where unity is based upon a doctrinal basis of fellowship - led by students - for the sake of mission to campus to build the local churches. Some CU's in the region I work in currently don't have women speakers, others do. In some cases the policies are wise and loving, in other cases the approach needs some review.
Any attempt at Christian community is an exercise in the art of bearing with others, so no need to be overly neurotic about getting these calls right...
In this case study CU is mostly, though not exclusively, comprised of students from four local churches between whom relations are warm.
Church 1 would say women can lead and preach in church and also in other contexts.
Church 2 has recently changed its doctrinal position to support having female elders and preachers.
Church 3 would probably not have a female pastor but does occasionally have women speak on a Sunday.
Church 4 would probably say women shouldn't be elders or preach on a sunday but can speak or lead in any other contexts.
Some questions where diversity is free don't need a CU practice. It really makes very little difference in the CU whether you think infants should be baptised - we're in the business of seeing students become Christians. Other things do matter however when you're gathering for training, establishing community and involved in evangelistic preaching. You can't dodge this issue.
So: what policy should this CU have on the question of women speaking at CU meetings (or being CU president, leading a small group, giving evangelistic talks etc.)?
The question isn't - which is the right view Biblically... Each person needs to work out where they stand on the roles of men and women because this is important for how we do church and relate to one another but that question and this post is not the place for that. If you think it is you're missing the point I'm making. This is a post about doing unity so we can get on mission together.
The doctrinal basis of fellowship permits a range of conclusions on this question. There are extremes such as culturally-driven-feminism or tradition/culturally-driven-patriarchism that are excluded by the clause on the authority of the Bible, but if you're seeking to get your view from the Bible there's an accepted range of positions in the middle which people can hold and consider themselves genuinely belonging to the CU. You'll find CU's comprised, therefore, from churches with male only leadership, through views with some restrictions and permissions, through to churches where the lead pastor is female. And that's fine.
Instead take into account...
There isn't a neutral position on this issue - it's just not on to say "everyone thinks men can preach". And those who think women can teach feel wronged when it doesn't happen, just as those who think they shouldn't do when it does happen. Unity has a cost.
What's the place of love in this - prefering the needs of others above yourself (1 Cor 13). Doctrinal unity is relational unity that involves sacrifice in preference of others.
How does the desire to avoid exclusion and promote diversity factor into the decision.
People don't have the right to exclude themselves, but equally "we" don't have the right to exclude those who belong (1 Cor 12). This applies to wider questions of diverse-loving unity too, it's just that in a CU one of the most obvious diversities is doctrinal diffferences, translate thsi to church with examples of class, age, status, personality, giftedness etc.
So - what policy and why?
Comments are open. (And yes for those who can work it out, this is set in a real context. But - I'm using it illustratively rather than to address the particular CU).