Nowadays many denominations have woman pastors who are given same power and authority as men in the church. Is it biblical to have woman pastors? I am not telling they should not be given any leadership positions in church.
@anbugrace That is a great question and one definitely worth considering. There are a wide range of views both on how Church leadership should be structured and the role women should play within that structure. My approach is generally that if I decide to join a Church I honor the leadership structure that is there, assuming there is no evidence of emotional, spiritual or physical abuse. I add the last clause because it is possible to end up in an environment where teachings regarding leadership are being abused to gain power, oppress or manipulate people - and that is never acceptable.
Here is a thread from Mike Day I highly recommend reading on this topic along with a high level summary he provided.
- (1) An essential hermeneutic principle is to engage the cultural context of NT writings to consider authorial intention and meaning.
- (2) The arc of Scripture, in which we see God’s blueprint for male/ female dynamics, points to equality in ontology, vocation and inheritance. (Of course, we are not saying men and women are the same – equality does not equal sameness .)
- (3) Jesus radically dignified women in a male-centric culture; they played a crucial role in the Gospels and early church as disciples, leaders, missionaries, prophets, apostles, benefactors etc.
- (4) The one text that seems explicitly to deny women authority to proclaim the Gospel turns out to encourage a learning process that enables unlearned women in the Ephesian community to perform that very act.
A couple of years ago our church was appointed a woman senior pastor. She had been at our church and in charge of our community ministries when she was much younger. But after being the senior pastor at several other churches, she was now appointed back where she began.
Disappointingly several families left our congregation. Although we’ve had many women serving in pastoral roles for a very long time AND it is within our denominational Book of Discipline (Methodist), having a woman in the senior position was something they disapproved of.
I grieve for these families because of what they are missing out on. She is AMAZING. The maturity of her faith and wisdom and her winsome manner is adding so much depth and dimension to both the inward and outward life of our church and members individually. I am so blessed through her leadership. And I’ve loved all our pastors (the former senior pastor retired) so it’s not like I was looking or hoping for change.
That’s not speaking to Biblical authority, it’s just personal experience and observation. Jesus said God looks at the heart. I’m content with that assessment.
In general when Paul is exhorting churches, he seems to be speaking to circumstances that create disruption, division, and confusion. If a leader in a church inspires/guides/teaches peace, unity, and clarity, and happens to be a woman, and it is bearing fruit, then perhaps it was an appointment anointed by God.
I’m curious how you understand ‘power and authority’? What is it that God is giving men that He is not giving women? What is going on in ‘ordination’? This concept (and the interpretation thereof) generally tends to be at the crux of this debate.
If you are more interested in the biblical interpretation of the side that is pro-women’s ordination, there are a number of threads on Connect where they have been discussed. I invite you to follow on with a question for further discussion from there. @SeanO has linked a couple above (I esp. commend Mike Day’s response), and here are a few others…
Good question, John. I noticed in your question that you’re seeking find out what the Bible has to say about this, and I think you’re wise to ground your theologically-related decisions and beliefs on the Bible as the authority.
Do you happen to have a stance on this? If not, that’s OK. But, if so, are there any biblical texts that you tend to think relate to this issue?
Hi John –
Lots of commentary here. I do understand the culture of the day of Paul’s writing, and I also understand the culture of this present day. But Paul clearly takes us to creation – taking culture out of the equation in the 1 Timothy 2:12-13. “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first.” NASB
It seems combined with the other teachings in Scripture that the public proclamation of the Scripture during worship was designed for men, as well as men’s responsibilities to lead the family. The problem is that we as men have not fullfilled our responsibilities in this area. We should not be asking if women should be pastors, but WHY the men are not.
@kbtheassnt Hey Kris - glad you’ve joined the discussion
I had a question for you - why do you think it matters whether or not Adam was born prior to Eve? How does this fact logically lead to the conclusion that women should not speak?
This argument is not rational to me unless Paul was counteracting some false teaching that woman was born first. While I could not say what teaching that would have been, I think we can clearly see that there is some situational and cultural context we are missing in Paul’s argument. This text is very tricky for that reason.
In addition, it is the only text that, on the surface, appears to teach that women must be silent. The extreme nature of the command in contrast to the rest of Scripture also suggests a unique situation occurring in Ephesus.
Half the problems in the Bible are birth order related, granted only birth order of men, does it make sense this could logically drive the idea of creation order? I am not suggesting this an answer to a particularly tough passage but the idea that Eve sinned was a thing for along time. This is from a commentary I have:
For centuries both before and after Christ, Eve was derided as the sinner who plunged the human race into misery.
Liefeld, W. L. (1999). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 100). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
This idea that Eve was the problem reminds me of a similar teaching that Jews killed Christ and in both cases failing to acknowledge their confederates.
I feel weird I think I am auguring for a 21th century understanding of a 1st century problem.
@Jimmy_Sellers Interestingly enough, going back to the first century context does provide one logical explanation for Paul’s statements. We remember that the Ephesians cried “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” in Acts in response to Paul leading people out of idolatry and negatively impacting the trade in handmade gods. There are a few possible beliefs about Artemis that are interesting.
- Artemis was believed to help deliver women through childbirth
- Artemis, at least in one version of the myth, was believed to have preceded her brother and helped her mother through labor
- Artemis was a virgin and in some ways represented independence from traditional male roles
These attributes would explain Paul’s very strange reference to being saved through childbearing, which is not mentioned anywhere else. They would also explain why Paul had to admonish the women to learn quietly and in submission. They would even explain why Paul used the Genesis account to correct the pagan myth regarding Artemis being born first. I think this explanation is actually more plausible than the common one, though of course this text is so difficult I cannot say for certain this is the correct interpretation. There is also some debate about the exact nature of Artemis worship in Ephesus, but I think all of these beliefs are within the bounds of known data.
Ephesian women would call on Artemis during childbirth to speed up the labour and ease the pain, or, in dire circumstances, they would call on her to bring about a quick death to end their suffering
Artemis promised to protect women in childbirth. Although a virgin herself, she had great empathy for laboring women. According to Homer’s myth, Artemis witnessed her own mother, Leto, labor nine days to birth her twin brother, Apollo.
Hey @SeanO –
You have 2 different questions here and I’m not one for long answers. 2nd question first – I’m not saying women shouldn’t speak at church, just answering the original question about women pastors – this role, as I read Scripture on the whole, is for men.
As for the 1rst question – I should of continued quoting 1 Tim 2:13-14 " 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." Paul argues in Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” Clearly in Genesis 3 Adam was with his wife and should of not allowed her to be deceived but protected her – hence the responsibility for the sin was Adam’s clearly from God’s response “Cursed is the ground because of you;” Gen 3:17 NASB Logically, this just leads me to conclude that God designed separate and complimentary roles for each gender.
I’m not being sexist here at all. I’m just trying to interpret God’s word correctly, and in context of the whole of Scripture combined.
Sorry @SeanO I should of finished my thought here.
Clearly if Eve was deceived, but the sin was charged to Adam, there must of been a leadership role given to Adam (as in Eph 6)
Hence, where I see the role for male pastorship.
@kbtheassnt Appreciate your perspective I agree God gave men and women different roles in stewarding the creation, though I do not think that one can make the inference from the Genesis text that these roles include a unique authority to lead a Church. Adam was unique not only because he was male, but because he was the first person ever created and the one to whom God originally gave the command. So I think that it can be easy to read a particular view into the Genesis text based on a particular understanding of Paul’s writings regarding maleness and femaleness.