(ABP) — Any time the word “inerrancy” is mentioned with regard to the interpretation of Scripture, the subject of “woman’s place” is never far behind. Whenever women challenge the status quo, it takes only a moment for husbands and church leaders threatened by loss of control to begin intoning “my Bible clearly says” in an attempt to weight their argument.
Patriarchal platforms completely fall apart without the undergirding of “inerrant” Scripture. Two central issues surrounding inerrancy are control and patriarchy, especially concerning women ministers.
Inerrantists insist that “my Bible clearly says” as they quote Scripture passages to support their patriarchal stances. Similar proof-texting has been used to uphold slavery and other injustices over the centuries. Yet inerrantists are very selective when it comes to other Scripture, ignoring verses that are equally as “clear” if taken literally.
Inerrantists insist that the Bible reserves certain church leadership roles for males. But do they also believe that the Bible mandates that only Jews (or fishermen, tax collectors and doctors) can be disciples? Or that the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19-20) was given only to the Twelve?
Inerrantists cite selected verses to disallow women deacons or ministers and require women to submit to their husbands. But they ignore other scriptural guidelines which are equally “clear,” such as women’s silence in church (I Cor. 14), having long hair and wearing head coverings (I Cor. 11).
Inerrantists require strict adherence to some biblical practices, but they broaden others. Unlike Jesus, inerrantists use modern transportation, technology and conveniences. Unlike in Jesus’ day, modern inerrantists allow women and men to worship together and use pipe organs or synthesizers during worship.
Inerrantists object to women preaching or teaching men, but they forget that even Jesus was taught by a woman — his mother. Jesus came to earth not in “aged” form (to use creationists’ terminology), but as a newborn baby. He didn’t exit Mary’s womb speaking fluent Aramaic, already knowing everything about the world into which he was born. Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature” (Luke 2: 52). We don’t know a lot about Mary between Jesus’ boyhood and the cross. But if Joseph taught Jesus carpentry skills, certainly Mary also nurtured and taught the very Son of God, influencing him throughout his earthly life.
The inerrancy platform has no merit, largely because inerrantists apply it so inconsistently. One of its main purposes is to keep women “in their place,” to retain male domination in church and home. Such a platform, designed only to maintain the status quo, is a platform built upon sinking sand.
Naomi King Walker is music and worship pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky. This commentary is adapted from her blog, Notations: Journeying with a Woman Minister of Music.
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