Women who preach. Women Pastors. Women in high profile ministry.
This can be a very big, taboo topic in many churches today. Where do we draw the line, is it biblical, should they, or should they not preach to the masses.
This subject for the past few days has been a very hot button item within modern Christian circles. Basically, for general purposes it is your typical traditional fundamentalist supposedly “calling out” a very prominent, well known female pastor that has a very large following. Many coming to the aid of the lady pastor, but also a few are defending the traditionalist pastor.
Concerning this subject, let me just speak about my own experience. For the most of the first part of my Christian experience going into and throughout my college years, the church that I attended, (God love them) was in similarity with the fundamentalist pastor that I mentioned about. After I left there and started attending Gateway Church, I was presented with the notion of many different female pastors that were on staff and had extremely good ministries of their own, that I was not aware of. I will be honest with everyone reading this. The first sight of seeing a woman preacher right in front of me was in a “confrontational” and “judgmental” mindset, in my mind only. In other words, I did not blurb anything out or scream out anything. Honestly, the worst that I did was just walk out of the service.
After some time passed however, my stance has softened significantly women in preaching roles or other types of ministry. Throughout the 10 plus years that I have been at Gateway church, I have been completely blessed to hear great female leaders on staff from Blynda Lane to Mallory Basham, and Mary Jo Pierce that have been nothing but pure blessings from the messages they have presented, and the heartfelt reverence and appreciation they have for this body of Christ, and to our pastor Robert Morris.
From a pure biblical standpoint in trying to reference and researching what the Bible exactly says about women in ministry, I thought I was going to have to dig deep into God’s word as to what it exactly says. First off, I did not have to go very deep into my reading to find my first point in scripture.
When we look in Genesis 1, we see the creation of man and then woman:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
The equality of the two genders found at the beginning of the Bible I do not believe is a coincidence, but the exact proof of the early existence in the bible that both genders are equal in
the sight of God, before the order of the genders was even established in the book. To me, the equality of us takes precedence over which gender is dominant.
Genesis 2 then later strengthens the argument that was found in Genesis 1:
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
I do not think that verse makes the male-dominant from a female. Since we were both created in God’s image as one, that male dominating spirit should be non-existent regarding teaching the saints.
It was not until after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden was when the order was finally supplanted, i.e. head of household, etc. However, that creation of the order is still not an excuse for women to give words of wisdom, to preach and to give counsel in a church setting.
I want to be open with everyone that is reading this. I struggled with this notion for years as a believer in Jesus. That was due to my early upbringing in a more traditional church setting. But after years of being in a more diverse church such as Gateway, my stance on those traditional matters has shifted to women now having full capability of counsel in any church setting.
Now I am not in any way discrediting all teachings that were done that I learned in any type of traditional theology. I do see fit that if there are women that do teach on a platform or pulpit, I do want them to be effective, but also teach correctly and scripturally precise to what is stated in the Bible. As long as those standards are met, to me, a good sermon is a good sermon no matter who is teaching the scripture to the masses.
In closing, anybody that reads this that still has issues with women in ministry, please do what I did and go to scripture to do research and then make an honest viewpoint from what you have read and processed.
Response from William Henley
Let me start off by saying that Quinn here wrote an EXCELLENT article here. I agree with his stance and find using Genesis to support his stance is insightful.
While I agree with him, I feel like I should expand on the issue. 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Yes, someone has to go there. For you see, the verse is central to the controversy.
11 A woman should learn in silence with full submission. 12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. 13 For Adam was created first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. 15 But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment (1 Timothy 11-15 HCSB).
Well, this seems pretty straight-forward right? The Bible says women are not allowed to preach, have authority or even to speak in church, why the controversy.
Eh, its not that easy. You see, this verse contradicts practically the whole rest of the Bible. One of the greatest women in the Old Testament was Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, and she is a prophetess. As a prophetess, she most certainly spoke. And if she prophesied, where did that power and authority come from? The answer is The Holy Spirit, which is God, just as Jesus is God, just as the Father is God.
In Judges, one of the greatest judges was Deborah.
In Luke 2:36-38 we read:
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem (HCSB).
Now you could argue that the text said that Anna served through fasting and prayers, and you would be right, but you are forgetting two other things it says here: 1) she was a prophetess, and 2) She came up to Mary, Joseph and Jesus, gave thanks to God, and then started telling everyone that the Messiah had come.
In the books of Acts and 1 and 2 Corinthians, you see countless women mentioned by name who are serving and ministering in the church.
However, what may be the most interesting bit of text comes from 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. I won’t talk about all 15 verses, because it goes into if men or women should cover their hair when they pray. But there are a couple of verses I want to point out. I am also going to change translations, because Paul was kind of rambling here and it can be hard to follow in NKJV and HCSB. But if you wish, after reading it here, feel free to read it in another translation, you will see that it says the same thing.
2 I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. 3 But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 A man dishonors his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. 5 But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head...11 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. 12 For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves. Is it right for a woman to pray to God in public without covering her head? … 16 But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches (NLT).
Did you pick up on what is being said? First, forget about covering and uncovering of the head, in Acts 15, there is the council of Jerusalem which Paul was a part of, which established rules for non-Jews who converted to Christianity. So we do not need to worry about that part.
Do you see it? “If she prays or prophesies.” “For a woman to pray to God in public without…” Paul doesn’t forbid these things, he gives instructions on how to do it. He then concludes by saying that it really is unimportant, though, it is just their tradition and other churches do it differently (not all churches were founded by Paul). But most importantly, Paul states that in the Lord, men and women are equal and everything comes from God.
So, this brings us back to 1 Timothy 2. Not only does this contradict the Old Testament, not only does it contradict the Gospels and the books of Acts, but it contradicts Paul’s other letters. What is going on here?
There are a couple of things to look at – who is Paul speaking to, and what is the wording, and finally, who is Paul?
Paul is speaking to Timothy, not a church here. Timothy was over the churches in the city of Ephesus, kind of like a bishop. Paul doesn’t say this in any of his other letters, and it should be assumed that this letter was not meant to be circulated among churches outside of its intended geographical area. There seems to be something special about Ephesus.
I am going to address the second and third questions I asked together – Paul says “I will not allow a woman to speak.” Who is Paul? Is Paul God? Is Paul even the head of the church? No, Paul was a missionary and church planter, who wrote very insightful letters. There was no Bible until about 383 AD when Pope Damasus I commissioned the Latin Vulgate. I think the most important thing to take from 1 Timothy 2 is that Paul says that HE will not allow a woman to preach. It doesn’t say that God won’t.
In the Great Commission, it does not say that only men are to go. If you want to argue that he only said it to the 11 disciples, then that would mean the Great Commission only applied to those 11 people. I think we can see from the book of Acts that that is not the case. Therefore the Commission is gender neutral.
In Luke 19, Jesus is asked to tell his disciples to be quiet. He responds
“I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!” (Luke 19:40 HCSB).
I want to leave you with Matthew 9:37
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few (NKJV)
I say “Let her Preach!”