Feminism and Ordination: Or I Don’t Need the Bible in order to Have Common Sense

The other day I was discussing the topic of women’s ordination to ministry with a friend. We were hastening to answer a pointed imperative, “Prove women’s ordination with Scripture,” by digging through our stacks of go-to feminism books and hermeneutics. Yet in the midst of argument building and biblical interpretation, I found myself simply saying this:

It’s just common sense. 

Don’t get me wrong. I can discuss until you are blue in the face authorship issues of the Pauline epistles, including the pastoral epistles which contain most of the injunctions against women. I can explain the historical context of patriarchal socio-economic structures, and I can nuance the significance of Junia, Mary Magdelene, or Perpetua.

But at the end of the day our debate should not come down to my contextualizing of an ancient document, but on the fundamental understanding that I, as a woman, have worth and equal opportunity. It comes down to our ability to use common sense when it comes to social issues in the Bible.

I believe in the ability of every person to use common sense.

Yet sometimes it feels like we live in a world where our innate ability to make good decisions is clouded by a fear of proof texting our every step.

How many times have I heard from men that they should not be alone with me, the female, because of what “they might do.” That I, the female, might somehow overpower their senses and lead them to sin, almost against their will. You, the male, are not helpless when I, the female, are in your presence. I really believe you can choose to treat me with respect without the fear of sin or a book telling you so. I believe deep down you can choose to see me as a person with worth, and this is no one else’s responsibility but your own.

Or what about issues of marriage equality, where I hear time and time again, “I don’t hate gay people, but I just can’t ignore what the Bible says.” We give one line from an ancient manuscript reflecting an ancient world the power to decide the legal rights of citizens in our world when really…equal rights for people are just common sense.

You can believe the Bible is significant. You can believe the Bible is the Word of God. But at the end of the day you have to trust that the Holy Spirit of common sense within you can discern life from death, human dignity from oppression. Should we find ourselves asking whether an individual has equal worth and dignity, the answer is always yes.

I support the ordination of women to ministry because I believe women are equal with men; therefore, it makes sense that women should be ordained.

I believe all this not because the Bible told me so, but because I, as a human, believe in the inherent worth of other people, as Jesus displayed on the cross. And I do not need anyone to tell me to treat someone else with equal respect; it’s just holy common sense.