Women Pastors. Yes or No?

I saw a similar post of this before but I wanted to raise this again from a different angle. To some denominations the matter is rather settled because of the “creation ordinance” (1Tim 2:13).

I can recall (from my short stint in law school) that there is what is called the “spirit of the law.” This refers to the underlying intentions why the law or ordinance was put in place. In some instances, the true intent of the law is not readily perceivable from the letter of the law.

So, I’m thinking, did Paul lay down that instruction in order to maintain or align the church organization with the creation order, or is he shooting at a more serious issue (noisy, unruly behavior, or maybe something else) and he is using the creation order to support his argument?

Your thoughts?

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Good question @Armando!

I think Paul was pretty straightforward in his dealing with issues. If he says the reason for something was such-and-such, I wouldn’t read into it that his real reason was so-and-so, but he just didn’t want to admit it.

I think this issue is a case in point. There are no examples of female pastors in the Bible. In both the home and in the church, men are meant to lead.

Are there times when the absence of male leadership forces women to fill a gap by default? Certainly - we see this in families too often. And I have heard of Chinese house churches being led by women because all the men were arrested.

But the norm is for men to assume the responsibility for their families both spiritual and domestic.

I hope this helps you.

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Hi, @Armando👋

For pastorship, I think the Bible is pretty straightforward about being solely for men. But in any other form of leadership, Deborah’s example is a nod to women at the helm if men failed to stand up.

IMHO, if male leadership should fail in a Christian church or fellowship, female leadership will always be better than none. If the female leader is a Spirit-led leader, she will seek for able men to build up and to whom she could pass on the role and stand back in support of the male leader.

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Hello Armando, @Armando

I will add a personal testimony to @jlyons & @DCGotiza 's fine answers above:

The church my family attends does not allow female pastors or females on the Council. My wife and especially my sister have a very difficult time with this, in fact they resent it even though they believe the bible is the breathed Word of God. I took a few hours to reflect and research and came back to them with this: Almost the entire child and youth program (1.700 member church) is run by women. Let’s say we switch the all-male Council with the all-women Children’s Education (CE) leadership. Do you think the quality of the CE program would be affected?

You could’ve heard a pin drop. My point is, right from Genesis God made two genders to serve one another as He serves us. If humans could ever remove egos to Christ’s egoless level, the question you pose would be a non-question.

I pray the world moves in that direction but my goodness we have a long way to go!

Paul

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Thank you all for your replies. I found that there are actually plenty of threads on this topic. :slight_smile:

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The Apostle Paul holds up Junia, and refers to her as an Apostle. When the evil empire assumed control of the Way, and men assumed control
, it is not a stretch, in that culture, to consider that women were scrubbed from the story. Imago Dei is where we all start. It seems inconsistent, to me, that God creates us all in his image, makes men and women partners in life, and then tells us that we cannot benefit from the woman’s perspective of God’s instructions? We have all heard Ravi speak of the Christian worldview. What seems right to you?

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Hi, @Rjbuckley👋

Rom.16:7
Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

I think the verse is more correctly understood as recognizing Junia’s good reputation among the Apostles, and not that she was among the Apostles.

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I appreciate how this might be a troublesome verse. But, I err on the side of the passage being correctly stated. Junia is a woman, Paul called her an Apostle. Paul is known to include into Apostleship anyone who had witnessed an appearance of the risen Jesus. I tend to favor the explanation that the men that followed, did not think a woman could be an apostle. It is Occam’s Razor. The simplest answer is usually the correct one.

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I thought I should link this thread here, if anyone wants to study further:

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@Armando Great question :slight_smile: Below is another thread I recommend checking out. N. T. Wright, who we all respect as a New Testament scholar, is quite clear that we do need to take into account the cultural context of this passage. If we read 1 Timothy, it is obvious Timothy was having trouble with both men and women who were unruly, so Paul was giving him instructions to make sure men who were made elders were truly qualified (be slow in the laying on of hands) and to handle women who were participating in gossip / slander, as well as spreading what Paul calls “godless myths and old wives’ tales”. Both men and women were misbehaving and spreading false teaching and young Timothy needed Paul’s guidance on how to get the situation under control.

Paul’s comments in 1 Timothy 2 are obviously directed at combating misbehavior - the entire letter is obviously trying to help Timothy restore order in the Church. So we cannot read these comments as if they are a theological lesson on Church structure. Paul is obviously responding to a situation that was going on in Ephesus.

My personal opinion is that the some of these “old wives’ tales” distorted the story of Adam and Eve to give the women more influence, so Paul was correcting these myths while simultaneously recommending that women marry and have kids rather than going around gossiping and slandering while being idle. Obviously this same advice would not apply to single women who are truly displaying the fruit of the Spirit and serving others in humility and grace and love - it was given for those behaving in a reprehensible fashion.

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Now if you were writing a letter to someone in a small, new religious movement with a base in Ephesus, and wanted to say that because of the gospel of Jesus the old ways of organising male and female roles had to be rethought from top to bottom, with one feature of that being that the women were to be encouraged to study and learn and take a leadership role, you might well want to avoid giving the wrong impression. Was the apostle saying, people might wonder, that women should be trained up so that Christianity would gradually become a cult like that of Artemis, where women did the leading and kept the men in line? That, it seems to me, is what verse 12 is denying. The word I’ve translated ‘try to dictate to them’ is unusual, but seems to have the overtones of ‘being bossy’ or ‘seizing control’. Paul is saying, like Jesus in Luke 10, that women must have the space and leisure to study and learn in their own way, not in order that they may muscle in and take over the leadership as in the Artemis-cult, but so that men and women alike can develop whatever gifts of learning, teaching and leadership God is giving them.

https://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/womens-service-in-the-church-the-biblical-basis/

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This is a huge assumption.

Also I don’t think N. T. Wright and Craig Keener assumptions are satisfactory or convincing when I read other scholars on the same topic.

Paul invokes original creation order and it is not something local to Ephesus. (Difficult passages doesn’t mean that they can be interpreted to satisfy our needs.)

So, I’m personally not convinced that Women can pastor or lead a church with creation order in mind. Of course, they can be scholars, preach and be in leadership roles that help women in Church.

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Hello @DCGotiza
Deborah was a wife, prophet leader and judge. It doesn’t say this was due to the absence of suitable men. But since the man (Barak) she commissioned to lead the troops was afraid, then the glory of Israel’s victory would be given to a woman.
There are some amazing women pastors used by the Holy Spirit - Kathryn Kuhlman, P Schirer, Catherine Ruonala etc. What does one make of this?
Thanks

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Hi, @CathE👋

Women in leadership is not an issue for me as long as it is not pastorship we are talking about. There have been many great women in history and the in the ministry, praise God for them. But, don’t you think God has plainly put pastorship duty among men?

As I’ve said,

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@iamkrishnam Thanks for your thoughts :slight_smile: You are indeed free to disagree with me.

You are also free not to be convinced by the scholarship of Wright and Keener. I find their arguments compelling. The one thing we do know for sure about this passage is that Paul was addressing people who were being disruptive and/or spreading false teaching. That does not apply to all women.

The argument from creation order does not immediately apply to all women in all contexts. This is just bad logic. It is begging the question. The question is, “What issue is Paul trying to address by using the story of Adam and Eve?” If there were false teachers distorting this story, it would be necessary to know their false teaching to understand Paul’s point. We can’t just assume Paul’s point supports our perspective on women in ministry.

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I agree with you partly @iamkrishnam, However, their ministry also helped men, even Jesus. According to creation order, I believe the woman is created to help the man and not to lord over the man. However, living in submission to a man, a woman can lead in a church as the Spirit of God leads. I see some very important points in what @SeanO @CathE and @DCGotiza have said.

I believe we need to let the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts on this and not hold to prejudices of how we were trained or taught.

With this in mind I propose that Yes and No, a woman can pastor.

Yes, her home in assistance to her husband, also as a wife of a pastor, she may inherently also be called to the office of a pastor, as Aquila and Priscilla. They did a great Job pastoring the church in Rome.

No, where she is not in submission to a man and is not lead by God but rather out of shear zeal and unguided passion pastors with autocracy (unbridled passion and unchecked ego and pride) - charisma without character.

I think I will stop here and I would really love to look into the scholars you guys put up. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Consider this.

When God gave instruction about the Garden restriction at Eden, why do you think God chose to give direct instruction to Adam instead of instructing them both about the tree of knowledge?

For me, that was an act of ordaining authority on man over woman. Being the representative heads of humanity it set the norm of male leadership for posterity.

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Thanks @SeanO! I think I have got a hold of this issue with my hands already. David Pawson in a teaching series says he’s sorry but there’s just no getting around the Bible’s text. And I think this is the reason why Dr. Heiser was dismissive of the issue because on hand, there is really no going around the text. But on the other hand, we see women involved in the teaching ministry both in the Bible and in the present time. And we know that all good things come from the Father. So it is really weighing between the text and the theology. I lean towards the theology because, after all we need to reconcile the Bible into a cohesive whole. I think Ravi also said that truth also has to be experimentally relevant, and as far as ministry or practice is concerned, I think we would only be putting walls in front of us by restricting the role of women. However, i must confess, i do feel some discomfort towards formal ordination of women. Is this just a feeling? Or perhaps, it is organized religion which is the problem because much of the growth of the church is through non-ordained, non-denominational workers who just go out there and plant churches. These are just my personal thoughts. :slight_smile:

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@Armando I do think we should also seek to live in obedience to God’s Word. But I also think we should not claim to have the authority of God’s Word when interpretation is not clear. In some ways, I think the issue of women’s ordination is an issue of conscience (Romans 14). Per the linked article below, I would say this doctrine is a “conviction” rather than an absolute.

Personally, it does not violate my conscience for women to teach and lead in Church in any role because my understanding of God’s Word allows it. But I try to be sensitive to the consciences of others as well. If I attend a Church that feels strongly only men ought to lead, I respect that position when I am in that cultural context. Be a Greek to the Greek, a Jew to the Jews, and a complimentarian to the complimentarians.

My one caveat would be that some Churches use this doctrine to oppress and demean women. We recently saw John Macarthur tell Beth Moore to ‘Go Home’. I forthrightly condemn such disrespect of women and consider that type of behavior to be an offense to our sisters in Christ and to Christ Himself who bought them and gifted them.

I don’t think we should violate our conscience on this issue, whatever our position, and I also don’t think we should call those with whom we disagree less godly or demean them in any other way. I also think that as we study and understand Scripture and grow, our conscience can grow and change and learn to be more in conformance with Christ.

Hope those thoughts help :slight_smile:

Levels of Doctrine

The below article offers a fuller explanation of levels of doctrine and gives a helpful summary list of 4 levels of doctrine.

  1. absolutes define the core beliefs of the Christian faith;
  2. convictions , while not core beliefs, may have significant impact on the health and effectiveness of the church;
  3. opinions are less-clear issues that generally are not worth dividing over; and
  4. questions are currently unsettled issues.

Where an issue falls within these categories should be determined by weighing the cumulative force of at least seven considerations:

  1. biblical clarity;
  2. relevance to the character of God;
  3. relevance to the essence of the gospel;
  4. biblical frequency and significance (how often in Scripture it is taught, and what weight Scripture places upon it);
  5. effect on other doctrines;
  6. consensus among Christians (past and present); and
  7. effect on personal and church life.
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I have been intrigued with this thread. Very interesting to read😊

I personally have a question concerning this issue in the church. If it is clear in the Scriptures about what the qualifications of a bishop/ordained leader in the church must be (clearly outlined in both Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3), how would a female ordained leader be able to completely and obediently apply all those qualities, and righteously be a husband of one wife?

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Interesting question @ChristinaLinzey!
Like you I’m hoping to hear some feedback and thoughts on it. Some patience may be necessary while the highly esteemed scholars and theologians of our day study your question in the context of cultural relevance of the particular references you mentioned, as well as all of the nuances of the particular meaning of the Greek pronoun for the English word ‘he’ in the original Greek. While I would be happy to elaborate some on your particular question, I find that I lack the necessary qualifications for any of my opinions to carry any authority. I hope you can understand my dilemma. With all my respect, Travis

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