Gender & Ministry
From time to time we are asked by students, prospective students and other interested inquirers about Morling’s position on what the Bible teaches about the roles of women and men in ministry, and how our understanding of those issues is reflected in the culture of the college and the experience of students in our Bible and Theology courses. The following paragraphs are a brief response to those questions.
- At Morling we train women and men for a wide diversity of ministries and vocations. We encourage all of our students to make the most of the gifts God has given them, using them in obedience to God’s call on their life and in conformity with their understanding of Scripture. And we support all of our students in their journey toward ministry with mentors, role models, and a community of peers who are wrestling with similar questions and pursuing similar goals.
- We are conscious of the fact that female students are frequently a minority in theological classrooms (approximately 40% of our enrolled Bible and Theology students in 2017), and work hard to make sure that Morling is a hospitable place for women as well as for men. It has been encouraging to see the very strong evaluation our female students give to their overall experience at Morling (95.9% in the 2017 Quality in Teaching and Learning survey) and the way in which that figure has steadily climbed across the three years of the sample (from 85% in 2015 to 89.7% in 2016 and 95.9% in 2017).
- The members of our faculty and student body (like the churches of the NSW Baptist Association that we belong to) hold to a variety of different views on how some of the relevant biblical passages on gender and ministry are to be interpreted and applied. In terms of the categories that are commonly used as a shorthand for those differences, some of us are “complementarians” (who believe that some of the responsibilities that we have toward one another within the family and the church are differentiated according to gender) and others of us are “egalitarians” (who believe that all such responsibilities can be carried equally and interchangeably by men and women). We are thankful for the opportunity that these differences of viewpoint give us to model gracious and hospitable interaction with one another, and for the stimulus that this provides to our students to come to their own conclusions and hold on to them with integrity and generosity.
Fruitful discussions about gender and ministry happen in many of our classes as students engage with the Bible and share how they see God at work in their own lives and in the lives of men and women around them. In some of our New Testament Units, there are specific and intentional discussions where lecturers discuss Bible passages and various perspectives that can shape our views about gender roles in ministry. The video below is a conversation between three of our lecturers (Gayle Kent, Tim MacBride and David Starling), with Tim and David informally sharing how they teach in this area when looking at the Pastoral Epistles. While this video provides an informal snapshot, we hope that it provides a helpful example of how we teach and encourage all students to graciously learn together.
What joins us together in the midst of this diversity is a shared love for the Lord Jesus, a united commitment to the mission of God, and a common obedience to the truth of Scripture. The deep affection and mutual respect that we have for one another, grounded in these shared commitments, is one of the very special things about Morling, and part of what makes it a great place for women and men to study and be trained for ministry.
If you have follow-up questions that you’d like to explore with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Gayle Kent (our Dean of Students), David Starling (who oversees our Bible and Theology department) or Ross Clifford, our Principal.