Women As Leaders Of The Church?


When I originally posted this article three years ago, it wasn’t one of the more popular blogs I’d written. I don’t suppose that will have changed, though I do think this is an important topic and this content is well worth bringing to the forefront again.

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It seems obvious to me that the culture and not Scripture has influenced many people to believe that women too can be pastors and elders (would they be call eldresses? 😉 ) For over 1900 years, it seems, the Church understood the role of pastor to be reserved for men, but now in these last few decades we have scholars who say that actually all those earlier students of God’s Word, for all those centuries, had it wrong.

Why would we think that God would not correct this error long ago, if in fact it was error? Why, in the first place, did the Holy Spirit lead Paul to write something that for centuries the Church would misunderstand?

In reality, I think the Church for all those centuries understood exactly what God intended—that the role of pastor was reserved for men. Here is Paul’s clear instruction to Timothy:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)

Paul not only gives the principles the Church is to follow, he gives reasons for it. A woman’s role, in part, is established because of the order of creation. It is also set because Eve was deceived, not Adam.

There are several other issues involved too.

First, Scripture gives clear instructions about the relationship a wife is to have with her husband. He is the head who is to love her sacrificially. She is to give him her respect and submission.

That’s not subservience. Her submission is the same as my putting myself under the authority of a principal when I was a teacher. I may have disagreed with how a certain principal wanted to do things, but in the end, the teacher needs to give way to the principal, though in the best working situations, the two strive to reach a place that satisfies the concerns of both.

That’s the way any organization must work. Somebody has to be in the hot seat where the buck stops. In a family, that “somebody” is the husband—the one tasked to love and selflessly serve his wife.

Each local church also has a leadership structure, with a pastor and elders taking the responsibility.

So what would happen if a woman was pastor—the head or leader of … her husband, a member of her church, who was to be her head? At one point or the other, the leadership structure God designed for the family or for the church would break down.

There’s another issue. The pastor or episkopē and the elders were given the role of “shepherding the flock.” Luke mentioned this in Acts when he recorded Paul’s farewell admonition to the elders in Miletus:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)

Peter goes into more depth in his first letter:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 – emphases mine)

Is it coincidental that Peter refers to the pastor and elders as shepherds and Christ as the Chief Shepherd? Clearly not. He is likening their role, in miniature, to Christ’s role—just as Paul did when he addressed husbands and said they were to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. In other words, as the husband is to serve as a type of Christ by his sacrificial love, so the pastor is to serve as a type of Christ in his shepherding role.

We should not minimize this function of the pastor—as one who gives us a glimpse of the head/body relationship we enjoy with Christ.

Apart from specialty cases in which God may indeed call and equip a woman for a time, even as He allowed David to eat the sanctified bread reserved for priests, the teaching of Scripture gives the offices of pastor and elders to men. They are to be humble servants and caretakers of their flock, and women, as fellow servants and fellow heirs, are to join in ministry, just not in the lead role.

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm  Comments (8)  
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Racism And Free Speech


ClipersDonald T. Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has allegedly been taped during a conversation with his mistress in which he made numerous racist statements. At issue, apparently was his mistress posting pictures with various African-Americans as well as her attending Clippers games in the company of African-Americans. According to a tape played on TV’s TMZ program, Sterling wanted her to take the pictures down and not to come to games with African-Americans.

According to the US Constitution, Sterling has a right to say he doesn’t want his mistress to post pictures of African-Americans or to attend games in their company. But in the aftermath of this TMZ reveal, sportscasters and players and any number of people have called for sanctions from the NBA for his comments and, more drastically, for him to be denied the right to own an NBA franchise.

I thought the whole “free speech” right protected people from just such reprisal.

Mind you, I have no way of knowing if Donald Sterling harbors hatred for a race of people. He is of Jewish ethnicity, as I understand, which doesn’t mean he is or is not opposed to others because of their race. But supposing he were, does the majority of society, which agrees that racism is wrong, therefore have the right to punish him for stating his views, to the point of wresting his property from him?

This is a serious issue. It’s easy to make Donald Sterling a target, especially if you live in the LA area as I do. He’s sabotaged his own sports team any number of times by his questionable decisions and his unwillingness to pay the going salary for top level players. To learn that he has a mistress, that he said inappropriate, racial things to her, and that these things were taped, doesn’t seem surprising. Rather, it’s Donald Sterling being Donald Sterling—someone who goes his own way without regard to others, who is greedy, offensive, selfish, and mean spirited.

So, is society allowed to withhold the rights of greedy, offensive, selfish, mean-spirited people? Is it OK to revoke his First Amendment rights because he’s a jerk with racist views?

We might wish so.

But here’s why it’s not a good idea to get on that bandwagon. There is no telling who society will next label as offensive, mean-spirited, and selfish.

I have no doubt, for example, that there are feminists who would find my views about women and about abortion to be offensive and perhaps sexist, though they’d have a harder time pinning that label on me as a woman than they would on men who might hold the same opinions.

In the same way, a growing number of people would find my views about homosexuality offensive because I still consider same sex activity to be sin. In fact, my views about the sin nature of humankind also are offensive to some people, and they are in contradiction to the general trend of society.

So how are we to view free speech? Are people only free to say what they want without reprisal as long as we agree with them? Or as long as they aren’t rich or in highly visible occupations?

I added that last phrase because of the Westboro Baptist people who waved horrible signs at the funerals of any number of servicemen. I don’t know what kinds of efforts people made to stop them, though I know there were some. However, I don’t recall anyone suggesting they receive a monetary fine from the Baptist denomination or that their church be taken away from them.

Lots of people would like to see the Westboro Baptist protesters and the Donald Sterlings of this world punished. We’d like them to shut up and sit down. We’d like them to stop holding offensive views, wrong beliefs.

Except, I’m offended by Sterling having a mistress. I think he’s a sinner who ought to be criticized in the press for his promiscuity as much as for his racism. If he were a politician who was maintaining a mistress on the side, I’m pretty sure his immorality would become a bigger issue—at least if the racist question wasn’t also part of the conversation.

My point is, different things are offensive to different people. But when it comes to speech, it is not OK to silence someone or punish them just because we think they’re wrong.

It’s uncomfortable to speak out against reprisals aimed at Donald Sterling, but I kind of think it’s necessary. Otherwise, tomorrow those reprisals might be targeting Christians who believe gay marriage is no marriage or abortions are wrong.

Free speech allows us to be a people of law, not of popular opinion. It protects us from the lynch-mob mentality we worked so hard to overcome in the days when the government sanctioned racist hatred.

So now, we’re going to bring back the idea of reprisals against those we deem to be prejudice? Today we’re clamoring for Sterling’s head because of his racist views, but tomorrow the “prejudice” could be against sexist men or homophobe Christians or people wearing red.

Seriously. In certain parts of the city, wearing the wrong gang colors requires reprisal.

At some point, we citizens need to decide what our values are. Here in the US we talk a good game when it comes to freedom, but then a Donald Sterling tape surfaces, and suddenly “free speech” comes with the right to institute sanctions against “that kind of talk”—the kind that ought not to be allowed in the NBA or anywhere else, so the outraged say.

Well, yes, I wish people didn’t think less of others. I wish people didn’t judge others by the color of their skin. I wish people didn’t malign those with whom they disagree. But if they choose to do so, I get to say they are wrong, but I don’t get to hurt them or take their property or put them in jail or fine them.

It’s the downside of free speech, that people like Donald Sterling get to say offensive things. It’s the upside that the rest of us get to say how wrong he is without worrying that he’ll prevent those who wish to watch the Clippers from doing so.

Who’s In Charge?


Christ as Lord 2Years ago, when I was a kid, someone explained how God wanted to be Lord of my life, but I had Self sitting on the throne. I like that picture, but in this day of democracy, we don’t get the king thing like we once did.

Perhaps today the real question is whether God is the CEO of my life. I’m not up on the way business works, but as I understand it, the CEO is in total control of the management of a corporation. This still may not be the best picture of our relationship with God, but one thing I know. He is not a silent partner.

He hasn’t simply put up salvation so that we can then go about living our lives as we please. Nor are we equal partners. I’m tempted to say our relationship is more like that of an employer-employee, except that’s not right either. God clearly states we aren’t any longer servants but sons.

father and sonSo children it is. The Father in charge, but lovingly so. And the child involved in the family affairs, asking questions, giving input, representing the father when away from home.

Except, in our confused western society, fathers aren’t always in charge and they don’t always know best. In fact, until recently, most sitcoms showed dads to be the dimmest bulb on the Christmas tree.

But maybe that picture, and even the one about the Lord or King on the throne is a more accurate depiction of Humankind’s relationship with God than I’d like to admit. They once were respected, they once ruled, but given time and circumstances, kings became titular heads and fathers became figureheads.

Have we done that to God? We say He’s on the throne of our lives, but have we started ignoring Him? Or treating Him as if He just doesn’t quite get how the world works these days. He’s not up to speed with the latest and coolest.

Take the idea of wives submitting to their husbands, for example. What a backward idea in the age of Feminism.

So, is God wrong in such matters? Or did people for centuries misinterpret the Bible when it says, “In the same way, you wives be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

Or could it be that we have purposefully climbed back on the throne of our lives and are doing what we want regardless of what God says.

It’s possible for Christians to do that. Scripture calls it quenching the Holy Spirit who was given to us to lead us into all truth. It’s a good metaphor since God is referred to often as a consuming fire. We’d need to quench a consuming fire to get to our own way of doing things instead of His.

Published in: on September 27, 2013 at 6:53 pm  Comments (10)  
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The Slaughter Of Civilians


Indiscriminate death, and some discriminate, has been in the news the past few days.

There were the killings in Seattle, where a gunman walked into a building and let bullets fly. Four people died. He then carjacked an SUV, killing the driver. When he was cornered by authorities, he put his gun to his head and killed himself.

That horrible event has been overshadowed by the slaughter of civilians in Syria. Government forces, or terrorist forces supporting the government, stormed into a town at night, going door to door and killing people in their homes. Over half of the victims were children.

In both instances, those who died were in places they believed to be safe, even protected.

One more similar story is on the news. An untold number of babies are being killed for no other reason than that they are of the “wrong” sex. Gendercide, the media has dubbed it–a practice that apparently a number of European countries have outlawed.

For whatever reason, the “in thing” touted by the influencers in our country seems to be whatever Europe is doing. But that’s a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, any number of liberals who would dismiss conversation about “gendercide” on the grounds that it is a conservative-backed concern, apparently are paying attention because the US is lagging behind Europe.

The idea that anyone is even questioning whether or not our government should take a stand against gendercide is astounding. We’re shocked by Syrian militia killing children in their beds, but not shocked by American medical personnel killing babies in theirs? Yes, the mother’s womb is the bed of these helpless infants–the place where they should be most protected, where they ought to be safe to grow to maturity.

When abortion was legalized in America, the feminist movement claimed a fetus was not alive, that it was part of the mother’s body, a bit of tissue. Years later, science has proven indisputably that these babies are in fact alive. Yet the feminist movement clings to the “right” of the woman to give birth, or not, to a baby she has conceived.

There are no moral grounds for this stance, simply legal rights those determined to uphold abortion still cling to. Hence these feminists, in the face of gendercide–which, incidentally, targets baby girls–must now choose, something they’ve insisted they should be allowed to do.

The problem is, either choice undermines who they are. If they take a stand against gendercide, they believe they are opening the door to an end of abortion. But if they stand against those who are trying to bring an end to gendercide, they are opening the door to crimes against women.

For those who believe the Bible, this ought not to be an issue. From the day Cain killed his brother Abel, God has outlawed murder. He also abhorred child sacrifice and condemned all nations, including His chosen people, when they did not care for orphans, widows, the poor, and strangers. In other words, we aren’t to abandon children, we aren’t to sacrifice them, and we aren’t to kill them.

Apparently our government has such a skewered moral compass that we can’t even determine that killing baby girls simply because they are girls is wrong. (See “Gendercide Abortion Ban Fails in the House”).

Published in: on May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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Women’s Role In The Church — A Consequence Of The Fall


I recognize that I am out of step with my culture. It’s not an easy condition. I’d much rather be part of the “in crowd,” but reality is, Christianity is counter cultural. One of the things that makes us so is that we believe in grace. We don’t believe we earn our way into God’s kindly treatment of us. We believe that we do not merit His love or forgiveness or the hope of heaven, that we receive His favor only because He loves us and chose to give us what we cannot obtain for ourselves.

Another point that separates us, especially from those shaped by postmodern thought, is that we believe God spoke authoritatively through men of old, a process we refer to as inspiration. The Bible is the result, and we hold it to be God’s public declaration about His person, His work, His plan in the world.

Because it is from God and about God, we aren’t free to pick and choose what parts we like, which things we agree with and want to follow. That means we take the hard things (e.g. “I am the Potter, you are the clay”) along with the easy things (e.g. “I love you with an everlasting love.”)

One thing that has surfaced in the last fifty years as a hard thing for some people is the statement in several places in Scripture stating that men, not women, are to be in the role of pastor-teacher in the Church. 1 Timothy 2 goes so far as to give some explanation as to why God has ordained men to this role instead of women. One reason is simply the order of creation. The other has to do with Eve’s part of the Fall of Humankind.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim. 2:14)

The Holy Spirit, through the human author of the letter, then alludes to the punishment God gave Eve as a result of her part of bringing sin into the world.

As a reminder, this is what God told Eve:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16)

The first part we have no trouble understanding. And the last part seems all too clear. But what about that “your desire will be for your husband”?

Before I continue, let me point out something that might slide by unnoticed. Before the Fall, there apparently was no husband head or ruler of woman. Adam describe Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. God said they were to cleave to one another. There was a unity, a bond that did not subjugate either person. But then sin …

But back to this troublesome “desire will be for your husband” line. I’ve heard some say this referred to her sexual desire, tying it to the pain in childbearing issue. I mean, if she would have such pain, the logical answer would be simply not to have children, except there would be this desire she has for her husband.

It’s a possibility. Except the reality seems to be that the desire is more on the side of the husband than on the side of the wife.

I think another possibility is to understand the phrase in light of what follows. He will rule over her … but now her desire will be to rule over him. It’s a possibility because the word which means desire, longing, craving is also used of a beast to devour.

OK, these are not nice pictures of women, I agree. But sin does not make us nice people. There’s one more piece to this puzzle. Back in 1 Timothy 2, there’s one of the most troublesome verses in Scripture, at least for women:

But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Tim. 2:15)

What? But notice, this verse follows right after the one stating that women are not to be pastor-teachers because of Eve’s deception leading to transgression. The Holy Spirit seems to be answering the question, This mess we’re in because of Eve, is there hope?

But what mess? We have the same sin nature as men and are saved by grace just as they are. Childbearing certainly doesn’t save women from the pain of childbearing. And anyway, the subject is who is to have the role of teacher in the church. So it seems to me, taking Genesis 3:16 with 1 Timothy 2:15, that childbearing, being the role of women, nullifies the something in us that wants to countermand the consequence of sin — that man would rule.

In the sixties when women were “liberated” and childbearing could be regulated to a degree, women then did begin exerting this very desire to be in control. The unique role God gave to women, we undermined.

I could be all wrong in my understanding of these verses, but honestly, I don’t see a Biblical reason why this interpretation isn’t viable. And it seems to fit the facts.

All of that to say, the gender issues of today are a result of sin. But maybe that’s self-evident.

Published in: on March 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm  Comments (9)  
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“The Woman’s Role,” An Anathema?


The other day, at the post office, I stood agape watching as a man leaned across a woman bent to pick up the stamps she dropped and handed his envelop to the teller. Where is chivalry? Sadly, more often each day, it’s a casualty of the feminist war on culture.

Feminists have won, let’s face it. Everywhere accept in religious circles, or so says Washington Post Faith columnist Lisa Miller (no relation) in her article “Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.” Certainly feminists have influenced culture, even in unexpected ways, as Mike Duran’s recent article “Chuck Norris Does NOT Exfoliate!” reveals.

What troubles me is that much of this push to bring feminism into the church comes from within the church. The reasoning seems to be twofold. First, women are talented, capable leaders, so the church is missing out by not putting them in places where they can do the most good. And closely connected to this, women who aren’t finding a place to use their skills and abilities are leaving the church. In droves. In fact, the implication seems to be, unless the church gets with the feminist program, there will be no church.

Here’s what Jim Henderson, author of Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? said in an article excerpt of that book:

How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping and forming a spiritual community but were denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the Church, Christianity and in some cases God.

Many women are discouraged. And while some of them, particularly young women, leave the organized church only, others walk away from the faith altogether. (from “Jesus often gave women a platform. Why doesn’t the rest of the Church?” – emphases mine)

Leaving the church because they don’t get to be up front? Or don’t get to perform wedding ceremonies? Or conduct elder board meetings?

I’m sorry, but how genuine a faith can someone have if she comes with an attitude of my-way-or-the-highway? Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell all his stuff and follow nomadic Jesus, not because all people everywhere are supposed to have nothing and wander from town to town, but because the stuff that guy owned was his idol. He cared more about his belongings than he did about a relationship with God.

How can Mr. Henderson miss the fact that these women walking away from church because their desire to lead isn’t met within the body of Christ are just as surely putting their own self-importance ahead of their relationship with God?

What’s more, Jesus let the man who loved his wealth so much walk away. He did not run after him saying, Never mind, just kidding. It was only a test and it doesn’t really matter that you failed. I really, really, really do still want you in my kingdom, so come on back, stuff and all. In fact, maybe we can crash at your place tonight.

Yet that’s the approach Mr. Henderson seems to be advocating when it comes to women who are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Church. He advocates “staying in the room” and having a conversation because we’re supposed to love one another.

But frankly, I’m at a loss. I don’t feel oppressed by my church because I can’t be the pastor. And actually my not being qualified to be the pastor puts me in the company of ninety-nine percent of the men there too. So do they get some kind of special charge, empowerment by proxy, because our pastors are men, not women? How is my need to submit to the pastor different from their need to submit to the pastor?

I don’t see how women in the church are marginalized. We are to disciple one another. Older women are to teach the younger. There’s nothing in Scripture that indicates women aren’t to have key roles in the church.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul mentions two women who were squabbling, but he refers to them as fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. (See Phil. 4:3.) In Colossians he sends greetings to “Nympha and the church that is in her house,” so apparently she had some key role in facilitating the gathering.

When Martha was exasperated with Mary for not helping out in the kitchen, Jesus didn’t scold Mary. He chided Martha for not wanting to soak up spiritual wisdom at His feet.

So too, today. In my church we have women who plan and organize and lead and learn and disciple. But the teaching role belongs to a man. It’s the one thing, and the only thing, I’ve ever seen in the churches I’ve been a part of that limit women.

What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.

Much more to say on this subject, but I’ll save further remarks for another day (when maybe I’ve calmed down some. 😉 )

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (25)  
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Feminism In The Church – What Men Have To Say


To a great extent men are silent on the subjects of feminism in the church and women pastors — unless they favor these things. I suspect there are two principle factors involved in this silence.

First, fewer and fewer pastors are expository preachers. They aren’t working their way verse by verse through a passage of Scripture, thus having nowhere to hide when they come to difficult subjects. Or topics that will empty their pews and reduce their weekly offerings.

Instead many pastors pick and choose the topics they wish to bring before their congregation, meaning they can focus on the subjects that won’t bring angry emails clogging their in-boxes.

Which brings up the second factor — our society all too often makes men look stupid and selfish and power-hungry. For a man to stand up and say that a woman should not be a pastor puts him in the line of fire for accusations of being stupid and selfish and power-hungry.

It’s a risky thing. People might get angry and stop giving or even leave the church.

I for one, want to see more men stand up and say what the Bible says. After all, they aren’t giving their opinion on the matter. They are standing by God’s word, teaching the generations to come.

Scripture is given us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. I’d like to see men stand for the doctrine that contradicts feminism. I’d like to see them correct those who are deconstructing Paul’s words (as if Paul, not God, is teaching in the passages of Scripture about women and our role in church services).

After all, our young men and our daughters take their cues from the godly men in their lives.

Perhaps men who are not pastors or elders are best equipped to teach on this subject. That way no one can accuse them of wanting to protect their own personal role. They, like women should, have accepted the fact that God has a different role for them to play. Not lesser. Not one of no importance. Just different.

As it is, the people who seem to stand against feminism in the church are mostly stay-at-home moms — who don’t have the largest platform from which to be heard.

Mind you, I don’t think we need to join the cultural wars and make this a plank in a political program — no abortion, no gay marriage, and no women pastors. No, no, no. That is not want I’m suggesting.

As I see it, the only thing we need to do is advocate for God’s word, not against anything. We need to put our time and energies into understanding what the Bible says, and not what someone using a kind of retooled higher criticism manipulates it into saying.

I read, for example, one article that refers to Paul’s admonition to women in 1 Corinthians 14 as “the classic bondage scripture.” Somehow, when I start an article that talks about a portion of the Bible that way, I lose confidence that the author reveres God’s Word or believes that even the hard things are true, whether he understands them or not.

I’m also not inclined to give much credence to an argument that ignores other passages of clear teaching such as 1 Timothy 2:11-14. The Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible, and the various passages of Scripture we’ve looked at in the previous posts on this subject ( “Feminism In The Church”, “Feminism In The Church, Continued”, “Women As Leaders Of The Church?”) are remarkably backed up by the Old Testament when God established the system of worship for the Israelites, choosing only men to be priests.

Interestingly Aaron and Miriam at one point challenged Moses’s authority as the leader of God’s people:

And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?”

God made it clear that Moses was His choice to lead His people by striking Miriam with leprosy. Not Aaron and Miriam. Just Miriam. (See Numbers 12).

It’s my belief that women wanting men’s roles is actually a consequence of the Fall, but that’s a matter for another day. For now, I want to go on record as saying I’ll happily stand beside any man who teaches even the unpopular parts of God’s Word. That’s what I long to see more of in the Church.

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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Women As Leaders Of The Church?


It seems obvious to me that the culture and not Scripture has influenced many people to believe that women too can be pastors and elders (would they be call eldresses? 😉 ) For over 1900 years, it seems, the Church understood the role of pastor to be reserved for men, but now in these last few decades we have scholars who say that actually all those earlier students of God’s Word, for all those centuries, had it wrong.

Why would we think that God would not correct this error long ago, if in fact it was error? Why, in the first place, did the Holy Spirit lead Paul to write something that for centuries the Church would misunderstand?

In reality, I think the Church for all those centuries understood exactly what God intended — that the role of pastor was reserved for men. Here is Paul’s clear instruction to Timothy:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)

Paul not only gives the principles the Church is to follow, he gives reasons for it. A woman’s role, in part, is established because of the order of creation. It is also set because Eve was deceived, not Adam.

There are several other issues involved too.

One, Scripture gives clear instructions about the relationship a wife is to have with her husband. He is the head who is to love her sacrificially. She is to give him her respect and submission.

That’s not subservience. Her submission is the same as my putting myself under the authority of a principal when I was a teacher. I may have disagreed with how a certain principal wanted to do things, but in the end, the teacher needs to give way to the principal.

That’s the way any organization must work. Somebody has to be in the hot seat where the buck stops. In a family, that “somebody” is the husband.

Each local church also has a leadership structure, with a pastor and elders taking the responsibility.

So what would happen if a woman was pastor — the head or leader of … her husband, a member of her church, who was to be her head? At one point or the other, the leadership structure God designed for the family or for the church would break down.

There’s another issue. The pastor or episkopē and the elders were given the role of shepherding the flock. Luke mentioned this in Acts when he recorded Paul’s farewell admonition to the elders in Miletus:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)

Peter goes into more depth in his first letter:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 – emphases mine)

Is it coincidental that Peter refers to the pastor and elders as shepherds and Christ as the Chief Shepherd? Clearly not. He is likening their role, in miniature, to Christ’s role — just as Paul did when he addressed husbands and said they were to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. In other words, as the husband is to serve as a type of Christ by his sacrificial love, so the pastor is to serve as a type of Christ in his shepherding role.

We should not minimize this function of the pastor — as one who gives us a glimpse of the head/body relationship we enjoy with Christ.

Apart from specialty cases in which God may indeed call and equip a woman for a time, even as He allowed David to eat the sanctified bread reserved for priests, the teaching of Scripture gives the offices of pastor and elders to men. They are to be humble servants and caretakers of their flock, and women, as fellow servants and fellow heirs, are to join in ministry, just not in the lead role.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Comments (9)  
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Feminism In The Church, Continued


In some ways, the previous post on this subject was more about the influence of culture on the church than it was about feminism in particular. After reading the comments to that article, I thought perhaps I should address feminism more specifically.

First, my closing paragraph to the previous post may have come across too harshly. I know more than one woman working as a pastor, and I wouldn’t say any of them is covetous of the role of men. In each instance I believe they feel they are doing God’s work, and the pastorate gives them the best opportunity to accomplish this.

Rather, I was referring to the attitude of a nebulous collection of women who believe as the culture at large does — that to be equal with men, women must do all things that men do (with the exceptions of fathering a child and bathrooming in a standing position).

These women who are true feminists have brought their beliefs into their particular church denominations, resulting inevitably in a movement in their direction. Hence, scholars have reexamined the verses that have long been understood to exclude women from the pastorate. Consequently, without adopting the whole feminist package, some women believe that the new interpretation does indeed make way for them to take this leadership role.

In addition, I’ve heard of women on the mission field who, because of the lack of any man knowledgeable in Scripture, have assumed the pastoral role until such time as a qualified man is available. Were those women sinning by stepping into the gap? Should a fledgling church be without teaching because no man is available when a women is?

Those are hard questions, and I might answer them differently today than I would have some years ago.

What comes to mind is fugitive David standing before the High Priest, lying about his need for food, and subsequently receiving the portion meant exclusively for the priests. Sin? Jesus used this very story to justify His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry.

If it had been anybody else besides Jesus! But no, He who was with the Father when He struck down Uzzah for touching the ark as it nearly tipped over, who said He came to fulfill the Law, seemed to give David a pass for eating the bread of the presence and giving it to those who were with him:

Mark 2:25-26 – And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (emphases mine)

The operative principle seems to be need over law. After all, that’s why the Jews were allowed, even expected, to pull an animal out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen in. Need.

Bringing this line of thinking back to women and preaching, it seems to me that need might create a mitigating factor that would allow for a woman to act as a pastor.

But let’s face it — in the US there isn’t often a lack of available men to take on the role of pastor.

I’m not here to judge who is or isn’t serving out of need. I’m more interested in the attitude that we in the church are developing that seems to support the idea that a woman ought to be up front just as surely as a man is.

It is this position of leadership, I think, that is at issue.

In case you missed it, in one of his comments to the previous post, Patrick brought up an interesting point — what’s the difference between teaching in a church building and doing what I do here on this blog from time to time? After all, aren’t a preacher and a blogger who writes about spiritual things both elucidating Scripture?

It’s a great question. If we understand “Church” to be the body of believers, not a building, and women are to be silent in the Church, then it seems we are never to speak of spiritual things. But we know from Scripture, that isn’t so.

There were women who served as prophets, for example. And Mary the mother of Jesus offered one of the great praise psalms of all time. The Proverbs 31 superwoman ( 😉 ) included teaching in her repertoire: “She opens her mouth in wisdom,/ And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

The point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 14 when he said women should be silent, seems to me to be uniquely connected with what happens in a church service. After all, most of the chapter deals with how to have an orderly service. Women speaking in that context also is in juxtaposition to submitting to their husbands.

So what’s Paul really saying? It seems to me, his point is that women shouldn’t interrupt the service with their questions or overstep their husband’s authority.

What are we going on about then regarding women and pastors?

Scripture sets out the clear qualifications of a pastor and then of elders. One such requirement was that each must be the husband of one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 and 3:12 and Titus 1:6). Not a lot of room there for a woman.

This post is longer than it should be already, so I’ll save for another day why it is important that we look at the bigger picture to understand the importance of this issue.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
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Feminism In The Church


Before I launch into what might prove to be a controversial topic, let me tell you that I’m taking part in the Christian Carnival once again. The host this week is All Things New. You’ll find a list of article titles and links in subjects varying from apologetics to devotionals.

The one I submitted this week is Groaning. If you’re not up for a controversial post today, perhaps you’d rather read “Jesus should not be first in your life” or “Gracious Sovereignty” or any of the other fifteen articles available for your edification.

For those of you sticking around, here goes.

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Times, they are a-changin’, you may have noticed. This is true in any number of fields, but not less so in the Church. For example you have those of the emerging church persuasion who accuse the Church of being out of touch and irrelevant (sorry, that was from the era when I was a young adult) stagnant and dull. What we need, they say, is to abandon the traditional church in favor of ongoing conversations. We need to re-image Christ, to look at him in light of who we are.

This kind of thinking may explain why our cultural proclivities seem to be creeping into churches — even my Bible-believing evangelical body. We are not immune. No one is. And for that reason, it is important for us to continually examine Scripture to see if these things are so.

The “things” I’m referring to today is feminism in the Church.

Of necessity we need to define terms. When I use “feminism” I have in mind the belief that women are equal to men in all respects, if not superior. Hence there should be no distinction in role or function between men and women.

One blogger wrote “we overwhelmingly are affected by the outside world’s view of women and their role in the church and society rather than that of Jesus or the Bible.” (Interestingly, the majority of this article gives a justification for taking the teaching of Scripture about women and their role in the church and placing it in a cultural context.)

It is this place that we give to the thinking of our culture that disturbs me most. Seemingly we are playing the “keep up with the Joneses” game, and the Joneses are those that make up the mainstream of our culture.

I believe this is the kind of false teaching that the New Testament writers warned against. Paul said to the Colossians that he was laying down doctrine about Christ “so that no one will delude you with persuasive arguments,” and that they were to “See to it that no one takes you captive with philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Today we seem all too happy to give in to the persuasive arguments of those who discount Scripture. We seem happy to be captivated by the traditions of men.

I found a fairly clear look at the “BIBLICAL role of women in Christianity” that coincides to a large extent with what I understand the Bible to say. My aim here is not to analyze each point and each Scripture.

Rather, I believe, as another blogger said beautifully in “Christianity v. feminism,” that “Christianity allows women to be women. Allows them their femininity. Allows them their freedom.”

But the culture has said, No, Christianity has taught men to oppress women and keep women from doing and being all they can be.

I don’t doubt that down through time there were religious leaders who taught error in regard to women’s roles. However, that’s true about error in a lot of areas, such as indulgences and renting pew space.

We ought not look at tradition, as Paul said in Colossians, whether that tradition comes from religious or irreligious people. We need to align our beliefs with the sure Word of God.

The Bible is not murky about women and our role. We are equal with men in ministry (see Philippians 4:3b “…these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life”), equal in salvation (see Galatians 3:28 “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”), and unique in our role (see 1 Cor. 14:34a “The women are to keep silent in the churches”). Not less than but different from men.

Athletes understand this perhaps better than anyone else. In football there are “glamor” positions — quarterback, running backs, and receivers. But without linemen, the guys who literally do the heavy lifting, those in the glamor roles go nowhere. The quarterback gets sacked, the running backs get thrown for a loss, and the receivers never see the ball.

The point is, women are biologically different from men and as Scripture reminds us, we came into the creation process after Man. In God’s perfect plan, He therefore assigned men to the “glamor” positions in the Church. Not all men, of course.

Some men are to be pastors and elders, and other men are to be parking lot attendants. Are the latter to be filled with envy because they don’t have the glamor positions? Clearly not.

Why, then, should we assume that it’s OK for women to covet the glamor positions? And covet is exactly what it is.

Our culture has told us we should have something Scripture says is not meant for us. Ooooohh, sounds so Garden of Eden-ish, doesn’t it?

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (21)  
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