We are continuing our sequence today called The Celebration of Women and their role in ministry.
Whether you realize it or not, this has been long, ongoing issue within the church for centuries. Honestly there’s not been a topic that I personally have spent time on researching from various angles and ideas, to come to what I believe is a biblical true north on this most controversial topic.
Let’s Pray – Father in Heaven, today as everyday, let us be true and under the authority of Your Word as well as sensitive to Your Body concerning this topic as You reveal it in Your Word, bring us to life through Your Word, God let it live and dwell richly within and among us. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
During my study and research of this topic, I surveyed a number of other pastors concerning this, who have differing point of views regarding women and their role in church leadership. What I love about so many other pastors, is that while we share different doctrinal views, we still hold each other in highest regards and respect. Obviously that is true hear today…
Today I am your teacher, the bible, teaches us both in Mark 4:24 and Luke 8:18 – “Be careful how you listen, for the same measure you use will also be used on you…”
So let me lay down some very basic guidelines so we can have healthy and very biblically grounded understanding concerning what God’s Word says about this.
- Let’s not give room for emotions to lead the way. Having thoughts that lead conversations with “well I just feel” like, as a matter of fact I called a couple pastors into question for responding to me with, well I feel like the bible is… we can’t be to interested in what you or I “feel” about critical matters in Scripture. Rather we have to get to the heart of what God has to say regarding this.
- Let’s refrain from appealing to culture outside of biblical text. We don’t want to allow our thinking that says, “well because women are leading in other places are leading in places such as politics, corporate America etc. etc. etc. we want to be certain that we keep this conversation biblical and what God has to say.
- Let’s not appeal to our experience. Saying or thinking things like “I have had better experiences with women pastors” or “Genevieve is a much better pastor than pd” you get the picture, but we know that our experiences are not always consistent with what the Bible has to say.
So what I am trying to say is that we must, we must allow Scripture to have the final authority over what we think, what we feel and what we have experienced. You will never go wrong if you use God’s Word to govern whatever it is that you are in question about or going through.
Let me share with you a few biblical truths about this topic as well as a couple of common objections.
I am going to teach this topic from four different biblical frameworks of thought.
Roles and Value
Jesus and how He positioned women
Women have and always will have a significant role in advancing The Kingdom of God.
First off you have a woman named Priscilla, who along with her husband in Acts 18:26 – “when Priscilla and Aquilla heard him preaching, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.”
So hear you have a woman named who along with her husband took aside a traveling evangelist named Apollos, and correcting him in order to ensure the integrity of God’s Word. This is my first reference as it pertains to women simply because it shows a woman under the submission of her husband correcting a man who was sharing the gospel.
In Luke 8:2-3, “ He (Jesus) took His twelve disciplers with Him… along with some women who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus.” Jesus Himself mentions the women who supported Him in His ministry.
Paul in Romans 16 verses 1 – 16, lists 16 people and 10 of them listed are women who strongly supported Paul in his ministry.
Acts 21:9 – “He (Philip) had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.” That is they were speaking forth the Word of God.
And in 1st Corinthians 11:5 – the Apostle Paul encourages women “But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophecies without covering on her head.”
If we were to simply use these Scriptures along we can come to the biblical conclusion that the Word of God permits women to utilize their spiritual gift in the context of church ministry.
A persons role does not determine their value. God has set up titles and positions simply for function sake but never for the sake of value. So as we look into Scripture it quickly becomes clear that God is a God of order, He has set up certain orders in the home, He has set up certain orders in the church as well. There is clearly a distinction between the role of a woman and the role of a man. If we get these out of order things won’t function as they are designed to. This does not in any form make either one superior of inferior to the other, just because they serve in a different role. I will use the best example ever, we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are all equally God, one not having superiority over the other. Although God the Son, submits to the Father and God the Holy Spirit who speaks the Truth, testifying concerning all things specifically Jesus. All of them have differing functions and different purposes, yet all of them are equally God, no one member of the Trinity is considered more God than the others just because They have a different role.
The bible clearly supports that people in general have differing roles that need to be carried out in order for the Body of Christ to function at her highest capacity.
It is important for us to know that there are no known women is Scripture that hold the office or title of lead or senior pastor in a church in the New Testament, some of you may be already thinking about Mariam, a leader in Israel along with her brother Moses, or what about Deborah, a Judge during the time of Israels rejection of a king, and Hulda, a women mentioned in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles who was literally someone who was set in place to determine a Word from God or not.
We have to be careful to discern and understand what the difference is between the nation of Israel and the Body of Christ. There were certain roles and functions within both that separate the responsibilities when it comes to leadership. So in the case of Deborah, she was a judge over the nation of Israel, but not a pastor over a local assembly.
In 1st Timothy 1 the apostle Paul lists the qualifications of senior leadership, it becomes very clear as you go through that chapter that the male pronoun is specifically used. Vs 2 – He must be the husband of one wife, vs 4 – He must manage his own family well… these passages are clear that there are certain roles and responsibilities that men need to step into.
The Scripture that causes the most controversy on this topic of women in church leadership is 1st Timothy 2:11-14 – “A womanshould learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Concerning this passage of Scripture, Paul does not go back and allow culture to influence his doctrine and determine how things need to be, instead he goes back to creation and the original design and things were and therefore always will be, that the woman was created to be who makes a man complete.
When Paul says he does not permit a woman to teach, as I look deeply into that passage and more specifically the word teach, it becomes very clear that Paul is stating that a woman should not come to her own conclusions, and therefore set forth matters of Theology concerning how God functions and moves within the context of a church, but you know what, neither should a man make those decisions alone either.
When Paul makes the statement in 1st Corinthians 14:34 – “Women should be silent during the church meetings, it is not proper for them to speak…”
Paul was dealing with a very specific cultural issue going on at that time, where a large number of prostitutes were in flocking to the church and interrupting the message of God’s Word. Them. Solution was to move them to the foyer where they would be able to hear the Word but not interrupt the message.
That truth carried forward can and should be applied to any situation when the message of God’s Word is being interrupted. So the emphasis is always on the Gospel and ensuring that it goes forth with minimal to no distractions.
The bible is clear that a woman can possess the gift of and hold the office of pastor, without carrying the weight and role of a senior pastor. There are plenty of women right here in this church who carry great influence and pastoral wisdom. This is where we see Jesus positioning and setting women in place for them to be able to maximize their impact.
Concerning the way Jesus positioned women, it is first notable to recognize that Jesus did use all men as His apostles to establish His Church in the earth. Most people can point to this as come to the conclusion that because He selected all men, that this alone is proof and perfect Will that men take the leadership role concerning the Local Church. This does lead us to believe that the role of lead pastor is reserved for men. Again please know that God establishes positions and titles for function only not for value and potential impact.
A few arguments that have been used regarding women in the bible being used specifically as senior pastors. One of those arguments is education. Women in the NT did not have access to education at the rate men did. However, nowhere in the entirety of Scripture does it say you have to be educated in order to be anointed. Matter of fact Acts 4:13 – “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Lets look at Galatians 3:28 – “Now in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I want to be clear that this passage is speaking directly to salvation and its availability not the role of a man or woman.
Concerning the Gospel Message