It is all too tempting to get involved in the details of debate over the ordination of women. The details have importance because, in the end, Scripture is made up of sentences, verses, chapters, 66 books. But part of being Christian is to hold the big picture in tension with the details and to resist the details driving the big picture askew: when Jesus took on the scribal culture of the Pharisees and Sadducees he was challenging them to find God among the details instead of making a god of the details.
Out of the God-centred, details-flung-to the margins mission of Jesus as told to us in the quadriscopic (? what's the fourfold word for stereoscopic) vision of the gospels we meet the God of Jesus Christ who is biased towards the people on the margins and against the power-brokers and people controllers of an allegedly God-centred society. The details had pushed people to the margins, so Jesus got rid of the details!
A problem with arguments against the ordination of women is that they make much of the details (1 Timothy 2:12, twelve male apostles or Apostles, among the few ordinations recounted in the NT none included women, the second century church knew not a female episcopacy or presbyterate) as though the most important thing is to find reasons not to ordain women. Is not the most important thing to find God and the gospel? And what is the gospel but a message of freedom in Christ from details, openness to the life of the Spirit, and restoration of the image of God in humanity, an image experienced in being male and female.
The gospel message is biased towards inclusion of people in the kingdom of God, not towards exclusion of people. A recurring theme of stories of Jesus is the breaking down of barriers which excluded people from living under God's rule. Healing on the Sabbath is forbidden? Let's bypass that rule. Gentiles are not part of Christ's mission? Let's make them a part. A serially polyandrous Samaritan women worshipping at the wrong temple? We'll send her to be an apostle to the Samaritans.
In episcopal churches which ordain deacons, presbyters and bishops, there are two groups, the ordained and the non-ordained. How inclusive and exclusive should the ordained group be? It should be exclusive of the unfit, the immature in Christ, the uncalled and inadequately gifted or discipled. As a group of Christ-followers, it should be inclusive as far as possible. Exclusion purely on the grounds of gender does not fit with the flow of the spirit of the Jesus we meet in the gospels, nor, for that matter with the history of the continuing mission of Jesus told through the remainder of the New Testament.
In an age when we are aware, perhaps as never before in the history of humanity, that women and men together make up humanity and thus should not be divided in privilege and participation (e.g. to vote, to receive education, to engage in work and family life, to make decisions about property), nor for that matter in responsibility (e.g. to pay taxes, to attend school), the question of ordination asks why women should be included among the ordained not why women should be excluded.
I challenge those here who argue that women should not be ordained to ask yourselves why you press for reasons not to ordain women rather than to find reasons to ordain women.
When you want to find reasons to include rather than exclude women, you will find within the pages of Scripture plenty of reasons to press for that inclusion.
A further challenge is whether the pressing to find reasons not to ordain women is more in keeping with the spirit of Jesus who included people or with the scribal culture of the Pharisees and Sadducees which excluded people from full participation in the kingdom of God.
At all times, let's remember, God is not biased against women.