Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves. – current Wikipedia definition
By definition, we do this unconsciously. But that is no excuse for not trying to step outside of ourselves and looking at things the way they are, rather than the way we want to perceive them.
For instance, I have a problem with the argument that Galatians 3:28 only refers to “salvation.” Galatians 3:28 is a foundational principle of God’s view toward people generally, outweighing any of the manmade rules and regulations we might wish to superimpose on other scriptures for all eternity. (Rules and regulations for all time, you see, that exclude a woman from leading in public worship or serving God’s church in certain ways.)
Here’s what the verse says:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The context in chapter 3 is the issue of faith versus works of the law in salvation.
Notice, however, that the immediate context is unity and equality.
And, even more importantly, salvation cannot be categorized to include only eternal life to come nor even to eternity AND the 167 hours of each week spent outside of the walls where worship takes place.
Salvation is as much here and now as it is hereafter and to come. When we are saved, we are bought with a price and given a purpose in life to prepare ourselves and help others prepare for a life to come. It is a lifetime of worship, not an hour on Sunday morning, and it starts now and lasts forever.
Either we are all one in Christ Jesus twenty-four hours of every day, or we are not one in Christ Jesus at all.
The whole gist of Galatians 3 and the rest of the epistle surrounding it is a plea to break the yoke of the law from which we should have graduated into a faith and a relationship with God through Christ which transcends law. We live a life that expresses our desire to worship God all the time and in every way we can. We proclaim Jesus as Lord. We go into all the world. All of the world. All of the time.
All of us.
There is no exclusion clause that says, “Except for women on Sunday morning in front of the gathered saints” or “except for females in the presence of males over the age of twelve” or “except when people of both genders are served and shepherded.” Exclusion clauses are a part of the world of laws, and we’re supposed to be over that.
Over a picture of God as damning tyrant, eager to punish the least infraction of encrypted rules and regulations because we failed to crack the code.
Over the need to behave by rules rather than walk by faith.
Over the craving to achieve our own salvation rather than working it out as a fait accompli through the grace of Jesus Christ and the empowerment of His own Holy Spirit living within us.
You can’t compartmentalize out Galatians 3:28 of leadership in the life of any follower of Christ.
You can’t minimize it as a fundamental principle of God’s expressed relationship to people by categorizing it as a rule whose exceptions prove it.
You can’t resolve your cognitive dissonance that way. If you perceive dissonance between what scripture actually says and what you are comfortable having it say, then what you are comfortable having it say must be re-examined, discredited, and discarded.
Discarding what it actually says is not an option.
And we absolutely must be honest with ourselves by asking and answering the question of ourselves:
Why do I want for scripture to exclude women from certain responsibilities of service within the Kingdom of God?
Is it only my zeal for the word?
Or do I have an agenda there that undermines what the word actually says?
My own comfort with what I believe? My satisfaction with scripture as encrypted rulebook? My desire to be in control?
I’ve had to be honest with myself about this and come to a different conclusion than I would have reached thirty years ago. It hasn’t been easy.
But it is worth letting go of logically unjustifiable compartmentalization to get to the truth, and get a little closer to what God really wants for me; for everyone:
A life of faithful proclamation of the Story and service to others, uninhibited by race, social status or gender.
You see, that’s not just what Galatians 3:28 is all about, or what salvation is all about.
It’s what the Bible … the word … the Story is all about.