Note: I have initiated this article because I grew up in a church that did not have women pastors. When I went off to university, I was involved in churches that had women leaderships (such as pastors). And now I am currently in a church that has women pastors.
This is my first foray into this whole topic, so be patient with me. I’ve read articles on both sides of the issue, and am now trying to figure out what I think on the topic.
Are women to be pastors in the church? I ask this question because I grew up in a church that teaches one thing, and I am now in a church that has women pastors. I’ve been mulling over this subject for several years. Some of the church groups off at university I went to had women pastors, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and am just now getting down to some research.
Let’s look to the subjects of elders and deacons first.
The Scripture says that elders in the church are to be men. Let me show you what I’m talking about. Among other things, the verses in 1 Timothy 3 say that the elders are to be “husbands of but one wife” (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Husband means “male,” correct? Aka: the elders are to be men, not women.
Titus 1:6-9 echoes this. Here, Paul says an elder must be:
“…blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:6-9, NIV).
Summary: an elder is supposed to be a man, not a woman. Let’s look at deacons now.
Strong’s Concordance gives us more insight into who a deacon (another leader of the church) is to be. A deacon (Greek: “diakoneo”) is:
“to be an attendant”
“to wait upon”
“to minister unto”
“use the office of a deacon”
The only contradiction to this seems to be in Romans 16. Paul says: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me” (Romans 16:1-2, NIV).
I do not have an answer for this. But I wanted to include this in this article, since it is a point in Scripture that shows a woman being a deacon.
Let’s look at what Paul says the role of women in the church is to be.
Paul instructs: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5, NIV).
These verses say that the older women are to teach the younger, and the younger women are to love their husbands and children, etc. That is their role in the church.
But what about Acts? What about women functioning in the church? Again, let’s look to Scripture. In Acts 18 we see Priscilla and Aquila (wife and husband) housing Paul, and later, accompanying Paul to Ephesus. Following this, they instruct Apollo together (Acts 18:24-26). Here, as in many other places in Acts, we see women as an active part of the Way. Women are valuable and beloved of God. However, God has order for a reason, and I think we need to always remember that.
I know in the church I currently go to, they use this latter example of Aquila and Priscilla teaching Apollo as grounds that women should be teachers. What I see here is a wife teaching alongside her husband. I know in the church I go to, our head pastor is a man. However, his wife is also a pastor. I’m still learning more about how they treat this topic in their church (I’m going to meet with them in a month or so, but that’s a long ways off, so I figured I’d write out this article in the meantime). One thing I do like is that she functions under the authority of her husband. Sometimes she teaches sermons though, and that doesn’t seem Biblical to me.
The Bible also says: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12, NIV). To me this is saying that a woman is not to teach men or assume authority over men. To me, this seems to mean that women are not to be pastors. How can a woman be a pastor if she can’t teach or assume authority over a man? Isn’t preaching, teaching? Like one of my gal friends put it: “The Bible is pretty blunt about the issue of women pastors.” I agree.
I think we need to know that the Bible is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The thing I do respect is looking deeply into Scripture and drawing out what God is saying. The thing I don’t respect is when fellow Christians tell me I’m behind the times, not going with the new trend of women pastors. It shouldn’t be about trends. It shouldn’t be about if I’m “behind the times.” The Word of God should not become irrelevant in these “modern times.” If it did become irrelevant, then we could throw the whole thing out with the dishwater.
Paul gives us more insight into this subject: “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” (1 Corinthians 14:34-36, NIV).
There is a lot of discussion about these verses, so let me expand upon this.
These verses do appear to be addressing chaos during church services. Our God is a god of order, not of chaos. Church services are to be conducted with order. However, I think this also points to a deeper spiritual truth as well: that of husbands and wives. Husbands are to be the spiritual leaders of the household. And (personal opinion here) I think that extends to the church. Men are to be the spiritual leaders of the church. Women are beyond important in the church, and I’m not minimizing that, but men are to be the spiritual leaders. Yes, Jesus loved and honored women. There’s no doubt about that. But he did choose twelve disciples to follow Him, and all of them were men.
That’s God’s intent, and His design. The wives are to ask their questions of their husbands at home. God is pretty darn blunt about that.
As I’ve said, this is my first foray into this topic. I hope it is a blessing for you to read, and perhaps help if you have questions like I do. I’ve still have more research to do on the topic, so I’ll probably add another article eventually. In the meantime, God bless. May this be a blessing to you, and like a double-edged sword.
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