WOMEN SERVING AS PASTORS

STEPPING OUT OF DIVINE ORDER

By: Victor T. Stephens

"People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up."

~ George R.R. Martin

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Biblical Context

Proper exegesis of Scripture is required to bring truth to this controversial issue. When the Word of God is taken out of its context, distorted interpretations and biased viewpoints spring forth. If we understand what Scripture says using appropriate exegesis, we will possess the ability to manage those who deviate from truth.  That said; let's now engage in a careful contextual analysis by examining the following key passages that link to the headship principle with the authority of male pastors:

 

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (1 Tim. 2:11-14)

 

"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command." (1 Cor. 14:34-37)

 

Many people, especially secular feminist, seem to take issue with authority and distinctive role functions that exist between men and women. It is important for us to understand that there is also a discernible functional role distinction within the Trinity. The Word of God says that "the head of Christ is God" and that Christ "will be made subject to him" [God the Father] (1 Cor. 11:3; 15:28). Jesus points out, "I and the Father are one ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." But, He also states, "By myself I can do nothing ... the Father is greater than I." (John 5:30; 10:30; 14:9; 14:28)

 

While men and women are equal in person-hood and in spirit, God has also empowered distinctive and authoritative role functions to mankind. Just as Christ is functionally subordinate to God The Father, the woman is functionally subordinate to the man.

 "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." (1 Cor. 11:3, 7-9)


Now ... First Timothy 2:11-14 and First Corinthians 14:34-37 indicate that God has established an authority structure and role distinctions within the church. In his instructions to the church (1 Tim. 3:14-15), Paul specifically states that women are restricted from teaching and exercising authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11-14). He says "Let a woman learn (Greek "manthano") in silence." In the church, the woman's role is that she is to be a submissive learner, not an authoritative  teacher. The word "silence" (Greek "hesuchia") in 1 Tim. 2:11 does not mean complete silence (Greek "siopao"), but is defined as maintaining a composure of quietness and peacefulness. This is diametrically distinctive to teaching and having authority over men in a church assembly.

 

In 1 Timothy 2:13, Paul references back to the beginning when God created Adam and Eve. He states that God formed Adam first. As being first in the creation order, Adam patently stood as the natural head. Later in God's creation process the Lord formed Eve from Adam's rib to serve the role as a helper (Gen. 2:18), not someone to exercise authority over him. The concept of this verse is to illustrate the correlation between Adam and Eve (the creation order) with the relationship between men and women in the context of a church assembly. Thus, the theological foundation of headship in the home and the church begins with the man. The firstborn headship principle is also found in Colossians 1:18:

 

"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Col. 1:18)

 

It is clear from Scripture that the family structure serves as a paradigm for church structure. In essence the church is a spiritual family of believers. Consider the following passages: 

 

1. "to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." (Gal. 4:5-6)

 

2. "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food." (James 2:14-15)

 

3. "Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:15) 

Paul refers to the church as "God's household" (1 Tim. 3:15). There are many other Scripture references that clearly demonstrate the church as a spiritual family.

 

The parallel between the church and the family exemplifies the foundation for determining leadership roles in the church. Just as a husband leads and has authority over the wife, male pastors are to lead and exercise authority over women in a church assembly. However, ordainers of women are devoted to the abolishment of biblical male leadership. They continuously fail to acknowledge Paul's association of the first family (Adam & Eve) with that of the church. As a result, they assume church function is fashioned after secular establishments in the context that positions are appointed on the grounds of capability and proficiency regardless of gender.

 

Now ... in 1 Timothy 2:14, Paul states that Eve was deceived, not Adam. This means that women, in general, are more vulnerable to Satan's deceptive tactics than are men; and only in the context that they are the "weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). When a wolf seeks out its prey, it generally attacks the most suitable target ... which is the weaker animal. Similarly, rather than approaching Adam directly, the serpent approached Eve (the weaker target) with his appealing temptations and falsehoods. Needless to say, Eve became prey to the serpent's deceptive tactics.

 

It is a fact that women are typically more emotional than men; a trait that if not balanced, has a tendency to cloud good judgment  ... especially as it pertains to doctrinal and relationship issues. This fact has been favorably leveraged and exploited by politicians, false church leaders, and womanizers. Patrick Fairbairn writes regarding Eve:

"Her very excellences in other respects --- excellences connected with the finer sensibilities and stronger impulses of her emotional and loving nature --- tend in a measure to disqualify her here…. Eve, affecting to play the master, and to decide the question for herself and her husband, soon gave proof of her incompetency; she was overreached by a subtler intellect than her own, and induced under specious pretext, to prefer an apparent to the real good."

(Patrick Fairbairn, "Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles", Grand Rapids: Zondervan, pages 129-130.)

While Satan did not approach Adam directly, he used Eve as his seductive agent to tempt Adam, the head of the family, to fall into sin. The end result was a role reversal in God’s ordained order of authority. By approaching Eve and deceiving her, Satan placed her in the role of one who has authority to lead. This takes us back to Genesis 3:16 where God said:

 

"To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.'" (Gen. 3:16) 

 

Recall that the word "desire" can be interpreted as a "thirst for power".

 

Now ... although Eve was the one who was deceived, Adam was the one who God held ultimately responsible (Gen. 3:7, 9; Rom. 5:12-21). Authority and leadership are entrusted on those whom the Lord regards accountable.

Paul's exhortation to "keep silent" can also be found in 1 Corinthians 14:34-37. This means that women are restricted from teaching and asking questions publicly in the congregations. Someone may ask, "Why are asking questions prohibited as well?" If we carefully think it over, the mere act of publicly questioning others can be viewed as a form of teaching. If a woman has a question, she should ask her own husband at home. If a woman is unmarried, she could ask another male figure such as her father, brother, etc. We should remember that a woman's flagrant failure to adhere to God's divine order in the church is considered as "disgraceful".

 

Interestingly, there are some male pastors who allege that they can dismiss 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-37 by giving a woman permission to teach under his authority. However, if the Word of God states that a woman is prohibited from teaching or exercising authority over a man, then it is inapplicable for a pastor to use this line of reasoning to justify a woman to teach in a church assembly. This type of rationalism, which undermines the authority of God's Word, usually stems from ignorance and weak men who succumb to manipulative feminist seductions.

 

The Bible emphatically stresses the significance of respecting the functional role distinctions of men and women established by God at creation. Since God's Word makes it plain that women who teach are committing "disgraceful" acts, we should seriously consider the moral implications of failing to respect and adhere to the instructions Paul gave to the church.

 

Other noteworthy points to support male leadership include the following:

 

1. Although Jesus had many women followers, He appointed no women apostles. They were all men.


2. Only a man can be the "husband of one wife" and can "rule his own house well"(1 Tim. 3:2-4; Titus 1:6)


3. In the Old Testament, there were no women appointed as a priest. All priests were men. (Ex. 28:1)


4. Only masculine names are to be found in the genealogies of Genesis, chapters five and ten.


5. Only men received the sign and seal of the covenant. (Gen. 17:10)


6. Abram is called; not Sarai. (Gen. 12:1)


7. Only men were commanded to appear before God. (Ex. 23:17; Deut. 16:16-18; Neh. 10:36)


8. The wife is under her husband's authority. (Num. 5:19, Eph. 5:23, 24, 1 Peter 3:1)


9. All scriptures were written by men.

 

10. Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, was a man, not a woman.


11. Not one woman baptized someone else.

 

12. There is not one instance in the Bible where a pastor shared authority with his wife.


13. Adam was created first; and represented humanity, not Eve. (1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Tim. 2:13)


14. Christ is portrayed as the second Adam, not the second Eve. (1 Cor. 15:45)

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