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Reform Magazine | June 25, 2019

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Chapter & verse: Galatians 3:28

Chapter & verse: Galatians 3:28

Angela Rigby ponders what being ‘no longer male or female’ might mean

Every day I am reminded that people have different views on women in ministry. Raised in a US Southern Baptist church, I was taught all the reasons why God would not call me to ministry. However, I also had an aunt who had a clear call from God to be a Methodist minister. As I read Galatians 3:28, I think of my aunt, my early church days, and the painful reality that women, even today in the UK, struggle to have their calling and gifting acknowledged by some in the Church.

Why would Paul write that there is no longer male and female? I get the slave/free, Jew/Gentile stuff. Paul’s mission was to the Gentiles, extending God’s welcome through Christ Jesus to them. But why focus on male and female in a letter about circumcision? Is this the same Paul who tells women to be quiet (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)? To not teach a man (1 Timothy 2:12)? Does Paul really mean for women like me to be silent and not teach? Or, as a female, am I ‘in Christ’ too? And if so, what does that mean? Are there gender roles ‘in Christ’?

One view about this verse is that it is about being adopted as ‘sons’ into God’s family, rather than about gender roles. Paul is not addressing gender roles directly. He is talking about becoming ‘sons’ via Christ. He is dealing with a real-life issue of whether gentiles have to be circumcised. He is talking about the Torah and whether Gentiles need strict adherence to be considered ‘offspring of Abraham’. However, Paul discusses this concept within his larger argument of being ‘in Christ’, which he passionately believes in. This belief pops up in most, if not all, of his letters. It’s ‘in Christ’ that all the identity politics cease, and we are all one. So, do I cease being a woman ‘in Christ’?…

Angela Rigby is Minister of St Johns Hill United Reformed Church, Sevenoaks, and Christ Church URC, Tonbridge

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2019 edition of Reform

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