What is the woman’s role in the church? Can a woman serve as an elder or pastor? Fewer topics are as hot as this one in today’s church atmosphere. It has become a point of contention, division, and much debate. Be that as it may, it is a valid topic, especially as we see the world’s system constantly attempting to force its view on the church. With the constant bombardment of feminism, egalitarianism, post-modernism, and anti-patriarchal movements we can’t ignore it or tiptoe around it, and it won’t go away anytime soon. In fact, I suggest that it will always be around and we will constantly need to point to scripture for the Biblical answer to these questions.
Many may already be asking why is this such an important topic. Multiple reasons can be offered, but ultimately its importance stems from the reality that the wrong answer is a direct attack against the ordained order of creation and distorts the representation of the church as the bride of Christ, as well as the family structure designed by God. In short, it defies God and seeks to make mankind the supreme authority, and lest we be unclear, it is wicked.
Without further delay, let’s get to the answer to the question. Can a woman serve as an elder/pastor in a church? The answer: NO! The next reasonable question should be, “Why not?” to which I generally first respond with a resounding, “Because God said so.” Which inevitably offends the senses, not because I said it, but because the sinful nature within us still fights against God. The most explicit verse can be found in 1 Timothy 2: 11-14, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
At this point, I want to address the very first argument that one would typically get with this passage, and rather than being sensitive; I’ll be blunt. People say, “But that was a cultural argument Paul was making,” or “It was because they were having issues with women in that specific church”, or “it was the culture that didn’t give women a voice.” That’s just an ignominious argument, not for the least of which is the failure to notice how Paul addressed it in the very sentence. He removed any shadow of a doubt that it was tied to culture or even tied to a specific church when he stated, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. The apostle Paul was making it crystal clear that this was an issue of God’s ordained created order, not some cultural bias against women.
There are several other verses, but unless one is a tomfool, this verse should suffice, you cannot get any clearer than this passage. However, there are other passages that speak to the subject, for instance, 1 Corinthians chapter 11 speaks of the male and female roles. 1 Corinthians 14 echo’s the teaching of 1 Timothy. In Titus, we have the qualifications of an elder, one of which is to be a “one-woman man,” which is impossible for a female to do. With the whole teaching of scripture, there is no way to misunderstand what is clear in scripture. Women cannot assume the position of elder/pastor in the church, nor any other position that would be teaching or holding some authority over men in any capacity. To do so is to become a usurper of a God-ordained role for men alone. It is outright defiance against the living God.
Unfortunately, one of the ignorant assumptions is that a woman should be able to assume the man’s role lest they be made unequal. It should go without saying that defining roles, as scripture defines them, does not lessen the individual value of a person. God loves men and women. He created both. Roles are simply that, roles. God gave to each a place in His created order, and it is not for us to say, “Why have you made me this way?” but rather to obey. The answer to the question asked does, however, beg the question, “What is the role of women in the church?” Thankfully, this too is answered in scripture, but unfortunately, it is supremely neglected to the detriment of the local body by most. Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.“ There you have the answer! God has, in fact, given women a role in the church, and a teaching role at that. To teach younger women the good things of the faith. If this was the goal of every mature woman in the church today, imagine how much stronger the body of Christ would become. Men and women in their proper roles, faithful to God’s ways, rather than pursuing their ambitions and desires. This is a God-given ministry missing in many churches that is meant to be there. Unfortunately, many women, rather than finding their place in proper roles, are striving after the role God gave to men alone. Thus, allowing this sin of pride and arrogance to run rampant in much of the church today. Without this proper order, the entire church body is done harm, and what was meant to be for the good of the church is twisted and opposes God. We may face ever-increasing pressure from secular society to conform to their ways, but let us stay firm in the truth of scripture and obey God rather than acquiesce to the ways of the world. SOLA SCRIPTURA! SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Here at Theology Matters, we aim to address pertinent issues for the life of the church and Christian today. We unashamedly stand for truth as revealed in scripture. Sola Scriptura.