How do you solve a problem like Maria?

No story example fits perfectly and this one doesn’t either.  But as I read the story “Making Disciples Today” (Christianity Today (CT), December 2011), immediately I thought of The Sound of Music song “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”

Mark Galli, CT senior managing editor, is concerned that ready information on the internet can cause confusion about the basic truths of the Christian faith.  Not only can people find out about Christianity, but they can instantly find out about all other religions.  So they are embarking on a Global Gospel Project (GGP) resources for a full-orbed discipleship of heart, mind, soul, and strength.

But what about Maria?

In the movie, Sound of Music, Maria is a young novice nun yet to take her final vows.  She has a heart for the open spaces, and an energy that the other nuns have long lost, or subdued.  She obviously is not going to fit into the abbey and the formality of the church. The sisters know this.

Lets assume for this story’s sake, that Maria represents modern day women today.  Maria does not fit into the structure of the church.  The church has no place for her kind of spirit.  As we heard from John Piper, Christianity has a male feel about it and a female cannot bring to the church what many expect from their male pastor.

So what do we do about the problem of Maria?

We allow her to be on the church stage singing worship songs, she can even speak in some churches, she can have titles of Children’s Director, Youth Director, even in some cases, can be called Children’s Pastor, or Youth Pastor, or Senior Citizen’s Pastor.  But those same churches will not have a woman in the most basic of all places in a church: she cannot be a deacon.  She can have a title, a salary, and staff position, but she will never be equal in that church because she cannot be a deacon. And neither can the woman sitting in the pew.

 This article goes on and tells us that the GGP has seven emphases that will help contribute to all churches:

  1. Biblical
  2. Broadly evangelical
  3. Set in the local church
  4. God-centered
  5. Question-driven
  6. Global
  7. Joyful

 They say: “When it comes to matters upon which we disagree-baptism, church structure, the relationship of grace and faith, and so forth – the catechism must show charitably and fairly how different traditions have taught on such matters, and the essential truth beneath our disagreements.”

 But how do you solve a problem like Maria?

 Where does the modern day Maria fit into these concerns about the modern day church?  The answer is nowhere.  In the whole article there is not one mention of opening the church to women to answer whatever call they may have, or for women to be a deacon, an elder, or to be able to read scripture aloud in front of men

Just like in the movie, our Maria is sent home to take care of the kids and give up any idea of a calling, because her spirit does not fit into the confines of what we call church today.

 If you believe, like I do, that women will bring something entirely new and different to a worship service – something that is seriously lacking today – will you speak up for women who want to serve God in the spirit that God gave them?

If you believe that the time is not right for women to be pastors, but maybe a woman can be a deacon, or maybe she can read a scripture out loud in church, will you join us at the CBE Houston Conference.  Being a deacon is a big thing in a Baptist church.  It is also being withheld from women.  Will you join us and find out how women can be deacons in church and still be biblical?


About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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6 Responses to How do you solve a problem like Maria?

  1. Anne says:

    Excellent post, Shirley.


  2. Kathy says:

    This morning in my Arkansas SBC church, our pastor called the deacons up to serve communion, and for the first time in 42 years, the thought occurred to me, “Why is it always just men?” I’m glad I found your blog this afternoon so I know it wasn’t just a crazy thought!


    • Welcome! Thanks so much for writing.

      My awareness began much the same way. My husband first brought it to my attention. I was working for Baptist General Convention of Texas, and began hearing about the problems with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. So when the time for the Lord’s Supper came, it struck me that it was always men who went to the front, and turned their backs to the women. I began writing letters to my pastor.

      I am glad you found my blog. I am not a theologian. I use humor, outrage, and common sense to get the message across and I would love for you to read more here. I also want to point you to some other places where you can find information. The blogroll is an excellent place to find information on women’s equality in the church. Also, since our conference is being sponsored by Christians for Biblical Equality and Fuller Theological Seminary, I want to point you to their websites: Fuller site for women in ministry ( and Christians for Biblical Equality, click on the free articles (

      Please let me hear from you again.


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