Step 1: Meet people who have a high view of scripture and are for women’s ordination. Ask them why.
From birth to age 18, my family and I went to a Southern Baptist church. God snatched me up early as a young girl and I was never the same. I was drawn to ministry as a teenager and considered it for years, eventually concluding around my senior year of high school that I wanted to, as they say in the Southern Baptist church (and no where else on earth), “surrender my life to full-time vocational service” in the church. I was a female in a place that didn’t ordain women, so I really had no idea what “vocational ministry” would mean for me. Then, in college, I learned more about grace and ended up becoming “Reformed” and part of a PCA church (a church which still feels a lot like home). I was in the PCA for around 9 years and on staff at 2 PCA churches, but obviously ordination was out of the question there as well.
I had people around me in both high school and college who had an authoritative view of scripture and believed in women’s ordination, but I never asked them about it. Everyone I knew at my churches, particularly my teachers, were against it. I had read I Timothy 2, so I was pretty convinced that whatever ministry would end up looking like in my life, it did not involve ordination.
After I got married and my husband and I went to seminary, I started to meet a few people who were deeply knowledgeable about, committed to, and seeking obedience to the scriptures and yet, to my surprise, were for women’s ordination. The first person who I got up the nerve to talk to about it was my friend Chris. I probably talked to him about it because he is gentle and pastoral, so I knew he wouldn’t try to hard-sell me on women’s ordination and because I knew he was very close friends with some PCA folks, so he wouldn’t dismiss me as naïve, stupid, or a supporter of oppression. He wasn’t the sort to participate in theology wars. He wanted to be a pastor, a godly, loving, biblically rooted man, and so I asked him why he thought it was okay to ordain women. Honestly, I didn’t find his answer very persuasive. He talked about uncertainty about the interpretation of the few hot-button women’s ordination passages in scripture, but mostly he talked about gifting he’d seen in women and how clearly God had gifted particular women whom he knew for preaching and pastoral care. However, what struck me most was that he did not speak like a 1970’s era feminist. He did not talk of rights or equality. He talked about gifts and serving the church.
Around the same time, a mentor and dear friend of mine, a sort of “big brother in the faith,” began to ask questions about women’s ordination. He was ordained in the PCA, so asking these questions could potentially cost him a lot and could have even threatened his job as a pastor, but he asked them anyway. We didn’t talk much in this period, but he mentioned to me on the phone once a few books that he was reading about the biblical arguments for women’s ordination and that he found their arguments to be valid.
I soon met several more friends (many of whom are now Anglican) who believed in the truth of the scriptures and also believed that women ought to be able to be ordained. I was intrigued.
I still had no idea if ordaining women was at all a biblical practice, but Chris and my PCA mentor and my seminary friends, were daring me to start asking questions of the scriptures that I had never before asked.