Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Women Christian Leaders: The Wisest Wager

Women Christian Leaders: The Wisest Wager
by Helen Mildenhall

Are you familiar with Pascal’s Wager? Pascal likened how we choose to live to placing a bet. He said, bet on God: if you’re right you gain everything. If you’re wrong you lose nothing. Whereas if you bet against God and you’re wrong, you lose everything.

What if we approached the issue of women Christian leaders this way?

People who bet on Christian women leaders are betting that God wants both men and women to lead at all levels.They are betting that it is not wrong, per se, for a woman to hold a senior leadership position. This was always his plan, they bet, but human sin got in the way. Women who believe they’ve been called by God into senior leadership have indeed heard the voice of, the Bible either affirms that God wants this or else it does not address what he wants in our time.

People who bet against women Christian leaders are betting that God wants men exclusively in senior leadership positions, and that it is God’s created order that puts men over women rather than sin. Women who believe themselves called by God into senior leadership are simply mistaken.

Historically the church has bet against Christian women leaders. If they are right the benefit is that they’re pleasing God by doing his will.

More recently there have been some Christians have dared to bet the other way. If they’re right they gain more than the first group. In addition to pleasing God by doing his will they’re blessing women by honoring the call of God on their lives. They’re bringing a new richness to leadership by allowing women to participate as fully as God intended. They’re allowing the church to catch up with the world outside which increasingly recognizes the value and giftedness of women.

If the historic position of the church is wrong, people who continue to bet that women are rightly excluded from Christian leadership are displeasing God in an age when society is allowing them less excuses to do so. They’re also being unkind to women and dishonoring women (and God) by saying “You cannot have heard God’s voice”. They may be mislabeling a sense of discomfort over the idea of Christian women leaders as “God saying no” when in fact it’s caused by fears of change and the unknown. They’re making the easy choice to stick with tradition rather than to challenge it.

If, on the other hand, people betting for women Christian leaders are wrong, they must be displeasing God and standing in direct opposition to him. But I see many things he might give them credit for anyway: They’re being kind to women; they’re honoring what might have been a real call of God to women; male Christian leaders are giving up their own power so women might have more, and they’re showing courage by making the hard choice to break tradition in spite of their fears of change and the unknown and of relinquishing power and control.

Betting on women Christian leaders is clearly the best choice, whether or not the bet is won or lost. As long as I’m right in betting that God highly values courage and kindness.

Helen Mildenhall lives in Illinois with her husband and two children. She hosts the blog Conversation at the Edge and is blog manager for Off The Map, an organization promoting otherliness, the spirituality of serving others.


Helen said...

I have a couple of footnotes to my article:

1) I don't recommend using Pascal's Wager on people who aren't Christians. It's flawed because there are actualy more than two options. (If you bet on the Christian God and the Muslims are right you'll still go to hell.). But I really like Pascal's approach to decision-making when there are only two options and our choice is, in effect, whether to bet for or against.

That's why I started my article with Pascal's Wager even though I think the Wager itself is flawed.

2) I understand that Christians who 'bet against' women Christian leaders are doing what they think God wants. [If God is real] I believe he'll give them credit for that.

donnav said...

Helen, you cracked me up with your footnotes!! I love how you can argue with's nice to know I'm not the only person who does that!!
It's interesting to think of God giving "credits" for people doing what they think is right...even when it could totally go against what God wants...this makes me smile to think maybe at least I've got some good credit stored away somewhere!! I don't think I agree with you but I do like the thought!!

Kathy said...

Good blog, Helen!

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