Let me ask a question: Do you see hierarchy / subordination between men and women continuing eternally into the new creation? Or do you see it as something imperfect, a result of the Fall, and something that will transcended and redeemed within a renewed creation?
The more you read the NT the more you will likely notice its thoroughly future orientated (or eschatological) nature. Pretty well everything in the present is seen through the lens of the ‘not yet’. Christians live in the ‘in-between times’, the overlap of the ages between the kingdom come and the kingdom fully realised.
The future has burst into the present in the empowering presence of the Spirit of God. Christians are ‘new creations’ now (2 Cor 5:17). The outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost marks the beginning of the end. Until then we live in the overlap of the ages (Gal 1:4; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Cor 7:31).
So certain is this future, that NT language frequently speaks of future events as having present consequences. Future judgement is already passed for those in Christ (Rom 8:1-3). Believers are being saved, will be saved and have been saved (Eph 2:8). They have even already been glorified (Rom 8:30).
The church is an eschatological community whose citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).
The Christian life is not a bunch of rules to be followed, but a call to live ‘a life worthy of the future’ in the present.
Think of 1 Cor 7, the great chapter on marriage in that letter. Paul’s consistent approach to different categories of people, whether married or single, male or female, is to set priorities in light of the future.
Or suffering – Christians are encouraged to think of even the hardest times as ‘light and momentary troubles’ when set against a glorious future hope (2 Cor 4:17 ;Rom 8:18)
The examples are everywhere, but you get the drift. Doing NT theology is to do eschatology. The future interprets the present.
So when it comes to gender and ministry, a consistently biblical move is to look at it through the lens of eschatology. And this is what Cherith Fee Nordling does as she finishes her excellent article on gender in The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology.
To boil down her argument: if the final ‘end game’ of God’s redemption is a new community of equals marked by mutual love and service, without hierarchy over one another, then this is the sort of community life we should be living NOW in the Spirit.
Equality is simply equal participation in the gospel and all that entails as a call to self-giving love and service …. Our human dignity, value, and status are no longer based on these distinctions and their privileged status in the old order … because in Christ these distinctions do not define human personhood or position. Privilege is given and exercised for the building up of the whole community, whether by men or by women. This does not entitle women to roles any more than it takes them away from men. All service is cruciform, all service is a gift to be given.
… We become who we are as we live, and die, for others, in service to and celebration of the sexual, gender, racial, ethnic, cultural, and historical distinctions that make us unique in the Kingdom of God without prizing any one of them over the other.
Comments, as ever, welcome