Male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free.(1) Neither how we are born, nor who we are politically or socially organized, nor how we are economically related to each other, is to have any impact on our status as children of God in Christ.(2) All children of God should be welcomed in ministry. We extrapolate this powerful good news in many ways already - beyond ‘Jew and Gentile’ to other races and nations; beyond ‘slave or free’ to other economic systems and injustices.(3) The community of equals in Christ extends to LGBTQ persons as well.
1. This is a message so radical that not even Paul fully understood it, no more than we fully understand it now, with our continuing struggles with racism, misogyny, cultural hubris, empire, violence, wealth and poverty, and yes, heterosexism. We are living into the reality of God's reign, but it is far from fully realized.
2. Male and female are in-born, genetic categories of sex, as well as socially-constructed categories of gender. Jew and Gentile are ritual-purity categories as well as cultural, linguistic and religious categories. Slave and free are socially constructed, economic categories. The point here is that none of these categories define us anymore, when we are made a new creation in Christ - neither in-born genetic differences, nor socially-constructed, nor ritual-purity, nor cultural, nor linguistic, nor theological, nor economic, etc. It would be foolish to assume, for example, that only literal Jews and Gentiles are to be included in the dissolution of cultural distinctions which separate us. How much more so for biological and social distinctions? The church has always assumed that these are categorical statements of equality and fellowship.
3. And yes, beyond 'male and female' to other in-born sexual identities and proclivities. We have come a long way since Paul, but in many ways, we share his struggle, his excitement, and his blindness. Let a few pieces of scale fall away, and let us ordain our brothers and sisters in Christ.