“I don’t think women can lead.” This was the statement uttered confidently by a women being interviewed on the radio from a group in Iowa labeled Christian Conservative. The large group was being interviewed about the Republican presidential debate, the upcoming primary, and why a person would or would not vote for a particular candidate. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was summarily dismissed as a candidate by this woman, not because she lacks character, logic, leadership abilities, no vision, or any other reason. Bachmann may not be able to lead for a whole host of arguments, but being a woman is not one of them.

I have to say this statement pushed me over the edge and into this writing to affirm from my Christian perspective and study of the Bible that God calls, equips, and places women in roles of leadership.

I won’t make the laundry list….it would be pages and thousands of names long. An almost endless number of women have effectively and with vision lead nations, NGOs, universities, states, churches, businesses, etc., etc., etc. As a Christian, however, I now realize a statement like the one uttered this morning is based on personal opinion and little to do with intense scholarly exegesis or study of scripture, household codes of the ancient world which is the context of the Bible in these passages, or examinations of western church dogma as it plays on one’s opinions. Statements like these don’t pay any attention to the gospels and Jesus’ affirmation of women as disciples nor Paul’s overall tone in his letters about women and their roles as leaders, deaconesses and coordinators of the early church. One text…one text in Timothy…not fully examined has been read in such a way as to relegate women to second class roles and status. Even the Genesis text has been misused to simply dismiss women as equal partners. All the references to chapter three of Genesis of man being over women is after the “Fall” if one reads the context; chapter three is not the created order God desired. It is the order after sin and disobedience had entered into the world. The ideal described in scripture of women and men is in the first two chapters that the two should be one and in a partnership with each other.

It saddens me that these texts and others have been used to tell women they cannot lead. I have personally talked with young women called by God to serve in ministry and leadership roles who agonize over what they know God has placed on their hearts because people use the Bible to blast them or tell them they are unworthy of leading because they are women.

I believe we serve a God who calls all people to serve him where he appoints them and equips them. I believe the Holy Spirit equips and guides all people to lead within the kingdom. I believe Christ invites all people to be his disciples and lead the structures of the world where they have the ability. Women and men; men and women, partners in kingdom work and ministering through the structures of this world.

“Yes, Virginia, you can be a leader” and if you want support, drop me a note and I will supply you with all the resources you need to affirm, guide, and encourage you in the journey.

Blessings for this day. Grace and peace as you thoroughly study the sacred texts we hold dear.

David Neidert