“The devil is among us here at our seminary: women are being told they can preach.”
Those were the first words of a classmate’s sermon in my preaching class. He went on to berate the class with his interpretation on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 for another 20 minutes.
In some seminaries this type of sermon may not have been surprising, but this seminary officially stated that women are affirmed at all levels of church leadership. So, to say the least, I was stunned. But I shouldn’t have been, because when it had been my turn to preach this student had been particularly critical of my sermon and delivery, even going as far as to accuse me of not having prepared or done good exegetical work. While other students had been encouraging in their feedback and constructive in their critiques, he had been unkind and unrestrained with his public criticism.
After he concluded his sermon, there was an uncomfortable silence in the room. Finally, a male classmate spoke up and said gently but firmly, “I don’t agree with your conclusion. I believe the same Bible you do, but I believe that women can and should be pastors. Where is your love for God’s people, for women, and for God’s word in your sermon? You didn’t bring good news to the people of God.”
Another person may have commented, but I honestly don’t remember anyone else saying anything substantive. I do remember that the other two women in the class were absent that day, so my professor, who has a Ph.D. in homiletics and is a preacher herself, and I were the only women there. All the other male classmates looked uncomfortable and sat in silence.