Should Women Be Elders and Pastors?
In a social climate of complete equality in all things, the biblical teaching of only allowing men to be pastors and elders is not popular. Many feminist organizations denounce this position as outdated and chauvinistic. In addition, many Christian churches have adopted the "politically correct" social standard and have allowed women pastors and elders in the church. But the question remains, is this biblical?
My answer to this question is, "No, women are not to be pastors and elders." Many may not like that answer, but it is, what I believe, an accurate representation of the biblical standard. You make your decision after reading all that is presented here.
There are many gifted women who might very well do a better job at preaching, teaching and leading than many men. However, it isn't ability that is the issue, but God's order and calling. What does the Bible say? We cannot come to God's word with a social agenda and make it fit our wants. Instead, we must change and adapt to what IT says.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve. He put Adam in the garden and gave him the authority and ability to name all the animals. Afterwards, God made Eve as a helper to Adam. This is an important concept because Paul refers to the order of creation in his epistle to Timothy when he discusses the relationship between men and women in the church context. Let's take a look.
" But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”.
(1 Tim. 2:12-14)
Note:(all quotes from the Bible are from the KJV). This passage has several interesting areas of discussion, but for this purpose
I will focus on authority. There is an authority structure set up by God. The woman is not to have authority over the man in the church leadership.This does not extend to the secular/economic world. In the Old Testament Deborah was a judge in Israel over men.(a One Time RARE Exception of the rule). Also, in the New Testament, Phoebe played an important role in the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16). There is no doubt that women supported Paul in many areas and were great helpers in the church (Act 2:17,18, 24 & 21:8). But what Paul is speaking of in (1 Tim. 2) is the roles of men and women in the church structure, not in a social or political context.
When we look further at Paul's teachings we see that the bishop/overseer is to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2) who manages his household well and has a good reputation. In (1 Tim. 3:4-5, 7). Deacons must be "men of dignity"(1 Tim. 3:8). Paul then speaks of women in verse 11 and their obligation to receive instruction. Then in verse 12, Paul says "Let deacons be husbands of one wife..." Again, in Titus 1:5-7, Paul says, " For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”
Notice that Paul interchanges the word 'elder' and 'bishop'.
In each case, the one who is an elder, bishop, overseer or deacon is instructed to be male. He is to be the husband of one wife, responsible, able to "exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9). We see No command for these positions to be held by women. On the contrary, women are told to be "dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things" (1 Tim. 3:11). Why is it that it is the men who are singled out as the leaders? It is because of the created order of God that Paul references (Gen. 1-2; (1 Tim. 2:12-14). This is not merely a social custom that fell away with ancient Israel.
Additionally, in the Old Testament in over 700 mentions of priests, every single one was a male. There is not one instance of a female priest. This is significant because priests were ordained by God to hold a very important office of ministering the sacrifices and ordinances. This was not the job of women.
Therefore, from what I see in Genesis 1-2, 1 Timothy 2, and Titus 1, the normal and proper person to hold the office of elder/pastor is to be a qualified ordained man.
You may ask; What About Galatians 3:28?
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
This verse is often used to support the idea that women can hold the offices of elder and pastor because there is neither male nor female in Christ. The argument states that if we are all equal, then women can be pastors and elders.
Unfortunately, those who use this verse this way have failed to read the context. Verse 23 talks about being under the Law "before Grace and faith came" and how we are brought closer to Jesus and have become sons and daughters of God by faith. We are no longer under law, but grace and we are "Abraham's seed,and heirs according to the promise," (v. 29). The point of this passage is that we are all saved by God's grace according to the promise of God and that it doesn't matter who or what you are; Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female. All are saved the same way, by grace through faith in Jesus. There is neither male nor female.
This verse is not talking about church structure and leadership. It is talking about salvation "in Christ." It cannot be used to support women as pastors and elders because that isn't what it is talking about, (this is called a contextual error) In order to find out about church structure and leadership, you need to go to those passages that talk about it: 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1.
God is a God of order and balance. He has established order within the family (Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-21 ) and the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). Even within the Trinity there is an order, a hierarchy. The Father sent the Son (John 6:38) and both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me," It is clear that God is a God of order and structure.
In creation, God made Adam first and then Eve to be his helper. This is the order of creation. It is this order that Paul mentions in 1 Tim. 2:11-14 when speaking of authority in the church. Being a pastor or an elder is to be in the place of authority. Therefore, within the church, for a woman to be a pastor or elder, she would be in authority over men in the church which contradicts what Paul says in (1 Tim. 2:11-14& Titus 1:5-7).
Some say; This Teaching Belittles Women.
My response to this is; No it doesn’t. Male leadership does not belittle women. Jesus was given his authority by God the Father (Matt. 28:18). He was sent by God (John 6:38). He said the Father was greater than He (John 14:28). Did this belittle Jesus? Of course not. Women are of great value in the church and need to be used more and more according to the gifts God has given them.
Does the wife's submission to the husband mean that she is less than the husband, less important, or belittled? Again, not at all. Not having a place of leadership in the church does not mean a woman is less of a person, less important to God, or inferior. All are equal before God whether it be Jew, Gentile, free, slave, male, or female. But in the structure of the church, God has set up an order the same way he set one up in the family. The chain of command is Jesus, the man, the wife, and the children.
This brings into existence an important question that must be addressed. It is; What About Women Who Say They are Called By God to Be Pastors?
There are women pastors in the world who love their congregations and by man’s standards are doing great things and some of them have stated that they were called by God to be pastors. They of course believe this but, I cannot agree with it considering the previous analysis of the biblical position. God does Not contradict Himself. I believe they are gifted for other works, have great zeal and have taken the position of a man and gone against the norm of scriptural revelation. Additionally, those who state that they are called by God because of the great job they are doing and the gifting they have received are basing their theology upon experience and not scripture.
The issue is simple: are they submitting to the word of God or are they making the word of God submit to their desires?
Here is another question that has been asked; What About a Missionary Woman Who Establishes a Church?
Scripture establishes the norm and allows minor exceptions in some Rare cases. As Christians we must apply what we learn from the word, to the situations at hand. So, what about the situation where a woman missionary has converted a group of people, say in the jungle somewhere, and she has established a church? In that church, she is then functioning as a pastor and teacher having authority over men in the church. Should she not do this?
First of all, she should not be out there alone. She should be with her husband or, at the very least, under the oversight of a church body in the presence of other women and men. Missionary work is not a lone endeavor to be handled by single women.
Second, if in some highly unusual set of circumstances there is a woman in an alone situation, it is far more important that the word of God be preached and the gospel of salvation go forth to the lost than not. Whether it be male or female, let the gospel be spoken. However, I would say that as soon as there is a male mature enough and qualified to handle Eldership, she should then establish the proper order of the church as revealed in scripture and thereby, show her submission to the scripture.
As I was discussing this with a group and the next question almost caught me off guard.
Does this also mean that women shouldn't wear jewelry?
(1 Tim. 2:9-10) says;
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
This is the answer I gave them at our next meeting.
Some argue that if we are to forbid women to be elders then the context of (1 Tim. 2:9-13) demands that we require women to not have braided hair, wear gold, or have costly garments. Since no one wants to put that sort of a demand on a woman because it was cultural, then why should we also demand that they not be elders since it would logically follow that it was also a culturally based admonition?
The problem here is multifaceted. First, the objection ignores what the scriptures plainly teach about the elder being the husband of one wife. Second, it fails to address the real issue of biblical headship residing in the male. Third, it fails to properly exegete the scripture in question.
In (1 Tim. 2:9-10) Paul tells us that women should be modestly dressed. He uses the example of then present day adornment (It’s not much different today AD 2007) as an example of what not to do, definitely a culturally based assessment by Paul. Notice that Paul emphasizes good works and godliness as the qualifier (as does Peter, see (1 Pet. 3:2). This is not a doctrinal statement tied to anything other than being a godly woman in appearance as well as attitude.
In verse 11, Paul says that a woman should quietly receive instruction. Please note that "The word, heµsychia, translated “quietness” in (1 Timothy 2:11) and silent in verse 12, does not mean complete silence or no talking. It is clearly used elsewhere (Acts 22:2, 2 Thes. 3:12) to mean “settled down, undisturbed, not unruly. A different word (sigaoµ) means “to be silent, to say nothing” cf.( Luke 18:39; 1 Cor. 14:34).” Paul is advocating orderliness in this verses Not leadership.
Then in verse 12-13, Paul says, "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." Notice that Paul directly relates the authority issue with the created order. He does not do this with the woman's dress code. Therefore, the dress code can be seen as cultural and the authority issue as doctrinal since the later is tied to the creation order and the dress code issue is not, especially since they are separated by the conjunction "but" which is showing contrast, i.e., here we have one thing, but over here we have another.
God's word clearly tells us that the elder/ pastor is to be the husband of one wife. A woman can not qualify for this by virtue of her being female. Whether anyone likes it or not is irrelevant to the fact that this is what the Bible teaches.
The Holy Spirit is also called the Helper and is no less God than Jesus and the Father.
2. God promised Abraham that He would bless all the nations in Him Not Sarah. (Gen. 12:3); Federal Headship. was established in Adam in the Created Order and was continued here through Abraham
My Conclusion is based on The specific statements made in The scripture along with The Created order and Federal Headship whose principals are clearly established in The scripture.
God has given a wide variety of spiritual gifts to women of faith. But none of those spiritual gifts grants permission to violate the clear statements of Scripture that the roles of leading men and teaching men are reserved biblically for men. If a woman established a church of all women this would cancel out the ruling over men but nothing but a man can qualify as the husband of one wife.
Thought to ponder:
If Eve had not acted in her response to Satan before consulting with her husband the world would probably be better off and women would not be under the curse of husband ruler ship,(Gen. 3:16) that says; “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Rev. George Pryor Th.M.
Special NOTE: Once the women pastor line is crossed the next one is usually Homosexual Pastors and Elders.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is a prime example of this.