The United Methodist Church: The Feminist Movement


The United Methodist Church:

The Unscriptural Feminist Movement

Part 14

methodist woman pastor

The United Methodist Church: The Feminist Movement

  1. The United Methodist Church has been at the forefront of the unscriptural “feminist” movement.

The Methodist Church seemed to accept the feminist movement of the nineteenth century with open arms.  They leaned to “the full equality of women in Church and society.”[i] One source simply states: “The Methodists were one of the first Protestant denominations to ordain women, beginning in 1956.”[ii] This would exclude Pentecostals and the Holiness groups that accepted women leadership before.

One way that the Methodist feminist emphasis is manifested in the large number of women in the ministry. One article puts it this way:

The United Methodist Church, which boasts a history of ordaining women clergy, is seeking to shatter the so-called “stained-glass ceiling” blocking female pastors from its largest pulpits. The nation’s second largest Protestant denomination has launched a new initiative, the Lead Women Pastor Project, to examine barriers to women being appointed pastors to Methodist churches with more than 1,000 members. The Nashville-based United Methodist Church has a total of 44,842 clergy, and about 10,000 are female – or 23 percent.[iii]

Although women Methodist ministers or pastors may not be in the largest churches as often as men, we see that they do occupy 10,000 pulpits which would be some 23% of Methodist clergy. This is a huge number and shows the Methodist acceptance of the egalitarian model. Since Methodism is liberal in orientation, the Scriptural standards that limit the woman’s public involvement do not provide the norm that they otherwise would have.[iv]  One article reports: “An increasing number of women have been admitted to the ordained ministry and to denominational leadership as consecrated bishops. In 1980, Marjorie Matthews was the first woman elected to the Church’s episcopacy.”[v]

We do know that women are fully accepted by God just as men are when they come to Him through Christ Jesus.  Paul the apostle wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). He says that both men and women are partakers of the blessing of Abraham (v. 9), partakers of the promise of the Spirit through faith (v. 14), are justified by God through faith (v. 24), are “sons” of God through faith (v. 26), and are “clothed . . . with Christ” in baptism (v. 27). But there continues to be different roles, positions or responsibilities between men and women. People continue to retain their gender and the responsibilities attached to gender. We must never lift a single verse out of its context and force it to say something that we want it to say. This would be eisegesis and not exegesis!

Scripture says that women are to “receive instruction”—and not give instruction to men (1 Timothy 2:11). They are forbidden from teaching and exercising authority over the man (v. 12). They are not to pray in public, since that responsibility was given to men—the male gender (the Greek aner is found in 1 Timothy 2:8).  Women are to “keep silent in the churches” and are “not permitted to speak” (1 Corinthians 14:34).  It is actually “improper for a woman to speak in church” (v. 35). Instead of these instructions being culturally oriented or limited to a geographical location, Paul says that they are commands of the Lord: “Let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (v. 37).  Significantly, only men were to be overseers (elders, shepherds) (1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:5-7). Only men were to be servants (deacons) (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Only men were chosen to be apostles (Acts 1:13, 26). Only men were writers of Scripture.

This shows that the modern feminist movement, begun in the nineteenth century and especially accelerating from the 1960s’ radical feminist movement, should have no place in our lives, personally or corporately. However, the United Methodist Church has departed markedly from the New Testament norm.  Glimpses of this are found in various places.  For example, we read under “Social Principles,” section No 71: II The Nurturing Community,” under “Marriage,” these words: “We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage.”[vi]

Is this a rejection of what the Bible teaches about the roles of husband and wife? We know that the Scriptures teach that the husband is the “head” over the wife and the wife is to be in subjection to the husband (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7). Although this is counter to most contemporary ideas of marriage, it is plainly taught in Scripture. So the UMC not only deviates from the New Testament regarding female leadership in the church, but also rejects the Biblical model of marriage and the family in favor of the unscriptural egalitarian view.

Under “Rights of Women,” the United Methodist support of the radical feminist movement is displayed clearly.  We read the following:

We affirm women and men to be equal in every aspect of their common life. We therefore urge that every effort be made to eliminate sex role stereotypes in activity and portrayal of family life and in all aspects of voluntary and compensatory participation in the Church and society.  We affirm the right of women to equal treatment in employment responsibility, promotion, and compensation. We affirm the importance of women in decision-making positions in all levels of church life and urge such bodies to guarantee their presence through policies of employment and recruitment.[vii]

It might be difficult to formulate a more unscriptural statement that clearly violates the spirit and intent of Holy Scripture!  We have already seen that women were not permitted to have public roles in the body of Christ and were forbidden to even speak before the assembled assembly (1 Timothy 2:8, 11-12; 3:1-3; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Corinthians 14:33-37). Paul the apostle authoritatively says: “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Therefore, the Methodist effort to “eliminate sex role stereotypes in activity and portrayal of family life” runs counter to God’s Word. The effort to place women in “decision-making positions in all levels of church life” is likewise unscriptural. The statement that “women and men” (notice the placement of women before men here, which must be a deliberate attempt to change traditional practice in society) are “equal in every aspect of their common life” contradicts the Scriptural statement that the husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to be subordinate to the husband (cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19). This United Methodist position is blatantly opposed to the clear teaching of the Word of God.[viii]

An additional manifestation of Methodist feminism is found in the organization called “United Methodist Women.” With 800,000 members, this organization promotes the “gender inclusive” translations, hymnals, and other documents.  U M Connections of the UMC has published a guide on the use of inclusive language about God.  This has been a battleground for years by those who would “emasculate” both God and Christ.

It was first recommended to the UMC in the 1984 General Conference. “In the 1980s it was the church’s signature statement on inclusive language, and that has not changed,” said Harriett Olson, UMW’s chief executive.  “It remains a significant document.”[ix]

These feminists hate the images of God as “Father” and Christ as the “Son” of God. Their antipathy to the inspiration of Scripture is manifest.

Olson said studies repeatedly have shown that using “exclusively masculine images distorts the way we look at God.” Indeed, the report itself says that, “we will not reach full humanity as women and men as long as our language and images continue to limit us, often in unconscious ways.”

The report helped in developing new versions of the United Methodist Hymnal and other denominational liturgies and song books. Many recent Bible translations have sought to expand the language used to describe God, including the Common English Bible, created by an alliance of denominations, including the UMC.  GCSRW encourages all local congregations to reexamine their language and deepen their relationship with God by studying this report and the attached discussion guides.[x]

This is only one way that Methodist feminism has gained ground in the UMC.[xi]

You can check further articles about the United Methodist Church:

[i] The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1988, p. 56.


[iii] -seek-to-pastor-large-churches-36535/

[iv] Ibid.

[v] -christian-faiths/Methodism.htm.

[vi] The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1988, p. 94.

[vii] The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1988, p. 99.

[viii] See Jack Cottrell, Headship, Submission and the Bible (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing, 2008); Marta Peace, The Excellent Wife (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2005); Lou Priolo, The Complete Husband (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press Publishing, 1999).

[ix] language-guide-again-available-online/

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Study this issue with the following: Alexander Strauch, Men and Women: Equal Yet Different (Littleton, CO: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1999); John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991); Norman H. Drummond, Females in a Forbidden Zone (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing, 2007).

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