Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are Women Called to Be Pastors?

One of the questions that has come up in recent days is, "What does the Bible say about women being pastors within the church?" For some people, the question alone raises some deep seated emotions, and gives way to a highly contested debate. Let me say that is not my intention. I simply want to give "a biblical perspective" on the subject and clear up some confusion and maybe even provide some council. 

The Issue at Hand: First of all let me begin by saying that this discussion is not about men verses women.  Nor is it about discrimination against a particular gender over another.  It has nothing to do with the value or worth of the individual. Rather it is a matter of biblical interpretation, and what the Bible says on the subject. 

The Blessing of Women's Ministry in the Church: Throughout the Bible we read of women taking an active role within the church. During His earthly ministry, there were many wonderful, godly women who served alongside of Jesus and the Apostles. The first person entrusted with the good news of the Resurrected Savior was a woman name Mary Magdalene.(John20)  In his epistle to the Romans Paul identified sixteen co-laborers in the ministry, and ten of them were women.(Romans16:1-16)  One of the women was named Phoebe and she is referred to as a servant. The word servant is the same word used for Deacon. Paul started the church in Philippi in the home of a prominent women named Lydia.(Acts16). In 1 Corinthians 1:11 Paul was sent a letter by a women named Chloe that informed him of some of the problems within the church that met at her house. The women in the bible played an important role within the ministry of the church. The truth is not much has changed. Much of the ministry in churches today would cease to exist if it wasn't for the  participation of godly women. 

The Parameters and Structure: The Bible does not restrict women from public praying or prophesying. (1 Cor.11:5) In the book of Acts we read of a man named Philip who had four daughters that prophesied.(Acts 21:9)  Nor does the Bible prohibit women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit.(1 Cor.12) Like men, women are called to follow after Jesus. They are encouraged to share the gospel with the lost world. But the Bible does make a distinction within the church concerning women being pastors. 

The Biblical Text: 
If you were to read briefly through the New Testament  on passages concerning the church you would discover a few things. For one thing, there is no mention of any female pastors  at all in the New Testament. Also none of the instructions that are given for the order of the church include instructions for female pastors. However when you come to the book of 1 Timothy the Apostle Paul gives an order for the church which includes a restriction.  In the book of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Let a women 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. The word for silence is defined as "quietness, or a peaceful disposition". It doesn't mean that women cannot speak within the church. 
What Paul did say was that women were not to teach or have authority over the men. Greek scholars have pointed out that this passage in its context of church order is stating that, "the kind of teacher Paul is referring to is the one spoken of in 1Corinthians 12:28-28, Ephesians 4:11, that is God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the church as having authority in the Church matters of doctrine and interpretation." (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Wuest pg.2 Vol.2). This calling is one that God has given to men within the church. This was God's plan, this was His design, and His order for the body of Christ. When Paul laid out the qualifications for the bishops, which is a word used for pastor, shepherd, overseer, or elder; he referred to them as being the Husband of one wife. In other words they were men. (1Timothy3) In writing to Titus Paul gave similar instructions. He informed Titus that he was left in Crete to set things in order and appoint elders, then Paul said, "if a MAN be blameless, husband of one wife etc." (Titus 1:5-6) This prohibition of teaching doesn't mean women cannot teach other women. The bible says that in Titus 2 that the older women are to instruct the younger women. Nor does the Bible suggest that women cannot teach children in Sunday School, but it does prohibit women from being pastors. 

ORDER AND DESIGN: Thankfully our God is a God of order. We see this revealed throughout the Bible  in many different ways. One example is in the area of God's design seen in Creation. Another area would be God's plan for the family. Within the family God gave different roles and responsablities to men and women. Men are called to be husbands, and women  are called to be wives. A wife is not less valuable than her husband because her role is different within the family. Yet if a wife seeks to take the role of the husband, or the husband is not the leader God has called him to be, it would create real problems within the family. So too within the church. It isn't a matter of inferiority, but of function according to Gods design. 
Can a women be a CEO of a company? Can a women be a highly decorated officer within any branch of the military? Can a women be a professor at a university? How about a surgeon? What about the  President of a Country? The answer to all of those questions is an absolute YES!. Can a women take the role of an, elder, overseer, or bishop? Can she be a pastor within the church? The Bible says No. 

REAL TIME: Today we find pastors ordaining their wives to the ministry. They have them serving  alongside of them in a pastoral role. The people in their congregations refer to them as a pastor. Some pastors have their wife teach their congregations, and handle all their weekend services.  The truth is, some of them, are great teachers. Some, may even be better than their husbands. Nevertheless I believe according to the Word of God that the position, the role, the calling, of a pastor was given to men within the church in the same way men are called to be husbands in the family.

Granted there may be several objections that people make concerning this stance. But I would suggest that those who have disagreements read what the Bible says. The Bible says that a woman has a different roll and calling than a man within the ministry of the church.