After reading the article about a new reality show featuring pastors’ wives and giving them a platform to preach and give them the attention they “crave and deserve”, I decided to come back to this topic. This is not to say women don’t have the ability to say something worthwhile or to say they aren’t moving with their public speaking. This is just addressing whether or not the Bible states women are permitted to preach and pastor as we’re seeing now.
“If God can use a donkey, He can use a woman!”
– Seriously? That’s one of the strongest arguments for women preaching as pastors. God used the animal to get his point across because the prophet’s life was in danger for going against God. However, even though it was a female donkey, the voice wasn’t feminine.
“28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” – Num 22:28
“15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” – 2 Peter 2:15-16
So…what’s the answer for God purposely using the voice of a man to instruct the man? Surely God understood the donkey was female because the Holy Spirit records that she was a girl donkey. Just because God “can” do something out of the ordinary doesn’t mean we should make that exception the rule or try to explain something into the Bible that isn’t written.
Gen 3:16 – “16Unto 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.”
Women were created to be helpmeets to their husbands from the beginning. They had a task, and we were to assist. The intention was for them to lead and us to follow – not the other way around.
Titus 1:6-9 “6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7For 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; 8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
1 Tim 3:1-13 “1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Argument – “Man” in this sense is for anyone. Okay, let’s go with that. What does “husband” mean, then? The Bible says “husband of one wife” not “married to one person”. Verse 4 says he must rule his own house well. Who is in charge of the house/head of the household? The HUSBAND! The “husband” is a man, so logic would tell us that this passage is written with the understanding that men would lead. That means “man” in this passage is not an either/or regarding sex. It means a “male” human.
1 Tim 2:11-15 “11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Argument – This was written to the Corinthian church that was out of order and had women behaving all sorts of ways and just being embarrassing and loud. So what you’re saying is that we can throw this part of the Bible out because we don’t have that now? You’re saying Paul intended for this to be for that time period only? You believe God wanted us to learn about stuff that isn’t relevant to us during the time Paul was giving instructions for how we should behave as New Testament Christians?
This is not saying women aren’t permitted to open their mouths and speak in church, but it is saying we are not to make a beeline for the microphone to give instructions. A woman can learn from a man and from another woman, but a man is supposed to receive instruction from another man during these assemblies.
1 Peter 3:1-6 “1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
This is a rare instance of the Bible that says “do not preach”. This is actually more of a challenge for women. Personally, I believe we “get it” faster than men, but we can also be easily deceived to follow wrong doctrine/practice. As much as we enjoy talking, we are not called to “preach” verbally to our husbands. We are to obey God and follow His Word and allow our behavior and manner of speech minister (or preach) to our husbands.
Eph 5:22-33 “22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Submit is a military term here used to place one’s self under the authority of another. It does not mean one is “lesser” than another. When wives submit to their husbands, it does not make them “lesser” Christians any more than Jesus was “less” than the Father God since they are co-equal, co-eternal and co-existant.
Comparing the instructions for the wives and for the husbands, which one involves giving/presenting/teaching the Bible/Word of God to the other? Husbands instruct the wives. This is not to say they cannot exchange ideas or that a wife cannot share with her husband something she learned or feels led to share with him regarding the Bible. As a way of living and order, the instruction flows from the husband to the wife.
One of the favorite passages to reference is the women discovering the empty tomb (Joyce Meyer is famous for this). They state women were to first to spread and preach the Gospel. Really? They saw Jesus resurrected, and He told them to go get His brothers (John 20:15-18). Is “He’s alive! He’s alive! I saw Him, and He wants to meet with you!” the same as “Repent! Believe the Gospel! The Lamb of God had borne your sins, died in your place and redeemed you to the Father!”?
Equality Argument – Women weren’t considered equals and weren’t permitted the freedoms we have today. I guess you haven’t noticed, but the feminist movement has done more to hurt women than to help us, especially with regards to Biblical living! Plus, the Bible doesn’t say women are considered less than men to God.
Gal 3:26 – 29 “26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Acts 1 & 2 show women included with men in the upper room praying and being filled with the Holy Ghost. Peter states sons and daughters would prophesy. When Paul and Peter wrote, it was after they knew women were used by the Holy Spirit, so it wasn’t like women had no place in ministry. Seeing as how they were the first elders and apostles, chosen by Jesus and inspired by the Holy Spirit to write His Word, wouldn’t they know more about how God wanted His church ordered than we?
Education Argument – Women weren’t allowed to learn, read or write, so that was for then because the men knew how to read and read to the women.
One more time…which of the disciples were considered “learned men”? That’s right. Most were not. Timothy, a student of Paul, was instructed first by his mother and grandmother in the ways of the Lord (2 Tim 1:5). Proverbs shows mothers’ place to instruct. Chapter 31 (the Godly woman chapter) was given as instruction to King Lemuel from his mother. This woman did numerous things including running a business, managing finances and speaks with wisdom. Esther, as queen, wrote and decreed the feast of Purim after wisely petitioning the king for the Jews’ lives. There are several passages that show the wisdom of women including when they helped their young sons rule kingdoms when they rose to power. Even if they weren’t permitted to read, Gentiles tended to have more flexibility with women’s rights, and most of Paul’s letters were to Gentiles.
What I find interesting is that this argument misses the fact that God’s Word was taught to children through oral tradition and memorized. Writing wasn’t necessary if they could pull it from memory. Parents were the primary educators for their children. “School,” as we know it, is a fairly recent development, so particular instructions would be given by tutors or to those following in another’s footsteps (ex. sons of the prophets started by Elijah).
Websites like these circleofchristianwomen cause a lot of confusion because they sound like they know what they’re doing. What I see is snippets of verses being used to promote their decision to pastor and lead a church when God has spoken against it. They suggest the inspired Word of God was written and skewed with a sexist mentality (“gender prejudice”) which permits them to edit the Bible according to what they see is “fair.” There are two problems with that thinking:
1) God is perfectly just and would not permit His Word to be tainted with something that was impure at the beginning of the writing.
2) What we think is “fair” is irrelevant. God created the universe, and He gets to decide the rules and how He wants His church operated.
Points 1-3 – There’s a difference between leading a non-believer to Christ through spreading/preaching the message of Christ in everyday living and standing in a pulpit preaching to lead the children of God. The church is actually designed for Believers although today’s crowds would say otherwise. The church (as in the physical building where we gather) is where we are to be instructed, nurtured and guided toward continued growth in God. Since this is the place we are to be fed the Word of God, then pastors/bishops/elders (all the same term) should be called by God, and God has determined men head these roles (as they head their households).
Point 4 – Just because a woman can get a piece of paper from a school that says she can preach (somebody allowed it) doesn’t mean God is going to give her the go-ahead! This “undeniable fact” is based on their “experiences,” how they feel, and what they currently permit – not any Biblical precedent. I’ve seen people walk on their hands and have managed to do it myself. That didn’t mean I should keep doing it. It means I was upside down and needed get right-side up if I hoped to accomplish anything worthwhile. “I would be afraid to condemn women preachers, lest I would be found to be fighting against God, and to be committing the vile sin of attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil.” (fear tactic – They’re trying to intimidate you into thinking you’re judging wrongfully and that God has “done a new thing” permitting something the Bible doesn’t support. He that is spiritual judgeth ALL things. – 1 Cor 2:15)
Point 5 – Women preachers do not fulfill Bible prophecy – unless you count them acting in the position of Jezebel who is actually teaching in a church! Rev 2:20 “20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
Prophesy – prophēteuō – From προφήτης (G4396)
Prophesying and preaching are not the same things. It’s one thing to declare what God has said in virtually any setting. It’s another thing to stand in an assembly, assume the role of a teacher to instruct God’s people and take on the role of being their spiritual shepherd or caretaker.
Point 6 – Interesting twisting here.
1) They use 1 Cor 14:3 and emphasize “MEN” but fail to point out that “men” written here addressed man and women – not that anyone chosen to prophesy was to speak to male humans. They also fail to show any woman preaching and not prophesying in the Bible.
2) Notice how they “…” the rest of the passage after highlighting what they want you to see? Let’s read that verse and the following verses to see what they say. 1 Cor 11:5-9 “5But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” Again, the order is set, and it doesn’t put the woman ahead of the man as leading him.
Points 7 & 8 – Yes, God used women including Deborah, but Deborah was a judgment against Israel. Deborah didn’t want to lead, and the fact that women got honor for a victory was meant to be an embarrassment – not setting a precedent. We can see in Isaiah 3 (“12As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”) that children giving orders and women leading/ruling/usurping authority over men was NOT God’s established order. Additionally, there were three parts to the temple, and none of them are a church. Anna was a prophetess, but she was not recorded as entering past the outer court.
What About Deborah and Anna? – explanation
This person uses prophesy and preach interchangeably, but assisting an elder, helping someone on a one-on-one basis and repeating God’s promise to send a Redeemer is not equal to leading a church. We can read about John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, and Peter preaching and telling people to repent. What we don’t read is any of the “preaching” women being recorded as speaking to any crowd in this manner as the author suggests in this article.
Point 9 – Actually, because of Adam’s sin, a Savior was needed since it is through man that sin is passed down. God didn’t ask us to rationalize His decisions. They sound like Eve passing the buck in the Garden. The fact that women are more easily deceived is the reason they aren’t called to pastor! Silly women will fall for all kinds of doctrine. If anyone should be concerned about misinterpreting God, they should since the article implies it’s crazy to deny a woman to preach.
Point 10 – This is actually an insult to the women of that time. This page implies that the women before and after this Corinthian group could learn and understand God’s Word, but these women couldn’t comprehend it and practically interrupted every few minutes to have their husbands expand. How quickly they dismiss the fact that the majority of the listeners didn’t have “higher education” (example: slaves that converted to Christianity).
As far as women teaching in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, youth ministry, etc, where do we see that being instructed by God? Those are man-invented ideas that were used originally to teach children to read the Bible, but parents have delegated their responsibility of rearing children up in the ways and admonition of the Lord to other instructors. So, it would seem that this is more of a bad idea than a God idea, especially since we see no evidence in Scripture where Bible instruction is age-segregated. Everyone in the congregation learned together under one leader.
Point 11 – I’ve addressed, but I just want to point out the way they grasp at straws trying to make a case. A woman “can’t get saved” if she can’t preach (or talk)? Acts 16:29-31 “29Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Believe (repent), an internal function, on the Lord Jesus. Do you see anywhere in this verse that a person must walk an aisle, repeat a prayer and make a public profession? Do you see anywhere Paul said women can’t sing or worship? They’re splitting hairs. Paul stated a woman is not to teach/usurp authority over a man. If the service calls for corporate praise and worship, then she’s permitted to do so. Remember – Christ =>, man =>, woman.
This is not a “home” problem as suggested here. Paul writes these instructions (in several places) so the church will have order. A couple more verses below the qualifications show us this. 1 Tim 3:14-15 “14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (It’s mighty convenient for them to omit this entire chapter since it discusses pastoral qualifications.)
Point 12 – Yes, bishop in verse 1 is a feminine noun referring to the office. However, “bishop” in verse 2 is a masculine noun referring to the person (episkopos) meaning
1) an overseer
a) a man (not just “person”) charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent
b) the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church
Pastors (poimēn) are overseers of Christian assemblies. Elders (presbyteros) also preside over churches (b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably – terms). Again, there is no reference to this position being occupied by both men and women. We refer to Paul as an apostle as he called himself and not as a bishop. An apostle is defined as – “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” However, even if we chose to say he was a bishop, it doesn’t mean that women would “preach” since he could as a single man. Why? A woman is born into an authority structure. She starts under her father. He then “gives her away” to her husband who now assumes the responsibility. At no point is she her own authority and able to preside over a man.
Point 13 – Again, they’re using their logic to defend their position because it’s what they want. They’re trying to shut down anyone who would use righteous judgment and hold them accountable to the Word of God. They don’t want to be found out of order or accused of sin. The primary reasoning behind it? “Look at what everyone else is doing! If all these people are doing it, it must be right!” Tell that to the people locked outside the ark. They believe God has approved because they are seeing signs, but “4A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” – Matthew 16:4
Here’s the bottom line. A pastor is required to lead both men and women in his congregation. A man needs a man to lead him and teach him how to be a man – especially a Godly man. A woman is instructed by God to submit to her husband (Eph 5:22). A pastor is required to be able to lead his household (1 Tim 3:4). A wife is instructed not to preach to her husband (1 Peter 3:1). Women are instructed not to usurp authority over men (1 Tim 2:12).
Most women pastors start off married and have a divorce somewhere along the line (which would immediately disqualify them again because they’re not in control of the household and, if remarried, are the wives of 2 husbands – not 1). It is IMPOSSIBLE to not preach to your husband, be submissive to his leadership and lead the church according to Bible principles. Either:
1. you are leading your home and stepping ahead of your husband to guide him the way you want to go because church leaders lead their homes (out of order)
2. you are submissive at home but trying to instruct him in church by your preaching and requiring him to submit to your leadership of the congregation (out of order) or
3. you are leading the church while your husband attends another church so you can’t preach to him (out of order since your house is divided) but are still commanding authority over the remaining men in the congregation.
It really doesn’t matter which scenario it is because it’s all out of order according to the Bible.
Now, why is it we can obey every other part of the Gospel and instructions of Christ, but because women preaching has become popular and more acceptable, we have people reinterpreting the multiple verses against it?