A friend’s denomination has been considering the possibility of allowing deaconesses to be appointed in local churches. This is an issue that has never impacted me personally so my systematic thinking about it is slightly more than zero.
I am sure there are many angles from which to consider the biblical legitimacy (or otherwise) of deaconesses. There would be historical, theological and cultural data to analyze. Would the ‘office’ be ordained or unordained? Etc.
But let me share with you just a couple of simple, common sense observations. These are certainly not definitive arguments against deaconesses in and of themselves. Just immediate thoughts.
If there ever was a ‘women’s issue’ in the New Testament, it concerned the distribution of food when early church members lived in common. Who were the church members affected by problematic ethnic favoritism? Widows. Women alone. And who was appointed to remedy this problem of distribution? Seven men! To me, that speaks volumes. I derive from it that if the office of deaconess is biblical, it musn’t involve sitting around a table with the elders making basic decisions about how to run the church.
And a second quick thought. Some people cite female prophetesses in the early church era as buttressing the legitimacy of deaconesses. My father-in-law was a judge whose ‘business’ was to understand non-sequiturs. When he heard one (at least in daily living. I can’t imagine this was spoken from the bench!) he would respond with, “What’s that got to do with the price of bread?” Exactly. Being immediately moved by the power of the Holy Spirit to declare something is not the same as authoritative decision- making in the local church.
Quick Friday thoughts!