Women Pastors, Preachers and Teachers

Women Pastors, Preachers and Teachers

Women Pastors, Preachers and Teachers

A Blessing–or an Abomination?

Richard Hollerman 

The Church Following Society 

We all know that God calls His people to be different from the world and to influence that world. He wants His sons and daughters to live distinctive lives that are counter to the culture in which they live.

Today we are living in a postmodern world in which people have rejected objective truth and choose to make their own decisions, separate from Biblical truth. What’s “true” for you isn’t “true” for me, and what’s “true” for me isn’t necessarily “true” for you. They say that we are all fine and acceptable. We can all have a relationship with God and remain in His good favor!

In contrast, if we are devoted to God’s Word as the inspired, authoritative, inerrant will of the Lord for all people, this conviction will determine all that we think, say, and do. It will determine whether we take God’s Word seriously and order our lives by it.

Has Scripture spoken on the matter of women’s public involvement? Has it revealed God’s mind on leadership and public teaching and preaching? Does he permit or even encourage women to become actively involved in leadership, taking the role of congregational “shepherd” or “teacher”? Let’s discover what the Bible actually says!

Women Pastors, Preachers and Teachers

Our society generally looks with favor on the full participation of women in every phase of public life.  It is not only tolerated, but applauded by our egalitarian culture. “It is the American way!” declares the majority.  “It’s only fair!” adds nearly everyone.  “Equality is the right way!” asserts many others.

Whether it is being chosen as the president of a great university or serving as the CEO of a major business or organization, the American public seem to find no problem with women in leadership. Just today, the local newspaper announced that an ultra-liberal woman has decided to run for the state governorship. Many citizens assume that a woman will seek the presidency of the United States in the next election. Women representatives and senators are now endorsed by both major political parties. Who could debate the rightfulness of this? Who would dare question whether women should have the same right to any position available for her? Shouldn’t women lead as much as men?

What about the religious sphere?  Do church leaders and members have any opinion on women’s participation?  Although some ecclesiastical leaders may object to the woman’s role as pastor in a church or denomination and may continue to contend that women should not be regarded as the “head” of the home, they seem to have little problem with women’s involvement any other leadership position in church or society.

The Christian interpreter should make it clear that the woman may have the same mental or intellectual abilities as a man. She may have attained the same educational level as the man (reports state that more women than men presently obtain higher degrees than men). She may have as much wisdom and experience as the man. She may even be able to excel in physical strength and abilities. But what is important is the question of what does God, our Creator, say about the position and work of the woman (as well as the man).

Further, the Bible is quite clear that women have the same spiritual blessings as men (Ephesians 1:3). Paul the apostle says, “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). Although feminists often use this verse to establish the idea that women are permitted to fill the same public role as men do, the context says otherwise. And remember, in Biblical interpretation, the context has much to do with understanding the text.

The passage (Galatians 3:28) is speaking of the Christian man and woman both being justified by faith (v. 24) and both are “sons of God” or heirs of God through faith (v. 26). It also refers to both male and females being baptized into Christ Jesus and being clothed with Christ (v. 27). The verse following the one in question also says that both men and women may “belong to Christ” and share together in the inheritance through Abraham (v. 29). Verse 28 has nothing whatever to do with roles, either in the community of Christ or in society at large.

Women’s Participation

The Bible points out that a woman may be involved in a large range of spiritual activities and pursuits. Women participated in prayer with the other 120 disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 1:13-14). Women could prophecy (2:16-21) and become prophetesses (21:9). Mary in Jerusalem (the mother of John Mark) hosted a gathering of believers and a prayer meeting (12:12). Aquila and Priscilla, his wife, explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos in Ephesus (18:24-26). In Joppa, Dorcas was “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (9:36). In Philippi, Lydia was host to Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke—and probably the fledging assembly of the Lord (16:14-15, 40). We can’t overlook all of these cases in which women served the Lord with His approval and favor.

The same is true of the remainder of the New Covenant Scriptures. Aquila and Priscilla hosted a body of believers in Rome (Romans 16:3-5) as well as in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19). Phoebe is called “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea” and she was “a helper of many,” including Paul himself (Romans 16:1-2). Paul mentions several women in Romans 16. For instance, Mary “worked hard” for the Romans (v. 6). Junias had a good reputation with the apostles (v. 7). Tryphaena and Tryphosa were “workers in the Lord” (v. 12), and Persis was “the beloved” who “worked hard in the Lord” (v. 12).

To the Philippians, Paul said that Euodia and Synthche “shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel” (Philippians 4:3-4).  Paul also states that women were involved in “praying or prophesying” (1 Corinthians 11:5). Paul additionally says that the “older women” were to instruct the “young women” (Titus 2:3-5). A woman by the name of Nympha hosted an assembly in her house (Colossians 4:15).[1] We might also remember that John the apostle addressed his second letter to “the chosen lady” (2 John 1) and refers to her “chosen sister” (v. 13). Whether these were two actual women or figurative terms for other assemblies, we don’t know. All of this evidence demonstrates the fact that women were actively involved in teaching, preaching and instructing–but in what way and under what circumstances?

This would say that those who contend that women should do nothing for the Lord are wrong. There are few today who would go this far, but probably in the past some actually did take that rather negative view of women’s participation. From reading the inspired words of the Lord in the New Covenant writings, we see that Christian women were to be participants and not mere bystanders.[2]  Women in the Jewish synagogues were required to sit behind a barrier.  Many scholars believe that the early meetings of Christians were very similar to the synagogue meetings but whether women were permitted to sit with the rest of the congregation, we really don’t know.

Feminists tend to take the information that we have noticed above and make false conclusions from it. They promote full participation of women in the public meetings of the church as well as the organization or structure of the church. But, as we have seen, this is not at all what is found in the inspired Word.

The Biblical Instruction

Consider the position and work of the man in Scripture. God chose men (males) to write all of the New Testament books (cf. Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1; etc.). Christ chose only men to be His apostles or “sent ones” (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-14). Only men (males) were to be chosen as elders, overseers, or shepherds (these terms were used for the same position, Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3:1-8; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3).

God’s Word specifically says such a leader must be a “husband” (andra)–which would indicate a man, a male (1 Timothy 3:2; cf. Titus 1:6). Only men were chosen as “servants” or deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13). As far as we know, only men were chosen to be “proclaimers” (evangelists) of good news (Acts 21:9; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5). In the Jerusalem meeting, it appears that only men were present or at least only men participated (Acts 15:6-29).

We can see why these restrictions were in place as we understand the instructions that were given regarding women’s participation in the public meetings.  For example, Paul commands, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).[3] Women are not permitted to “exercise authority.”[4]

These verses use the terms “quietly” and “quiet” (hesuchia). These terms come from the Greek hesuchios, which indicates “tranquility arising from within,” “causing no disturbance to others.”[5] The woman’s demeanor of quietness is likewise found in 1 Peter 3:4 where the apostle says the woman is to emphasize the “hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Can we say that women pastors, teachers, and other religious leaders are characterized by a “gentle and quiet spirit”?

Notice also the term “submissiveness” (Greek, hupotage), which means “subjection.”[6] It comes from the verb hupotasso, which is a military term meaning “to rank under” (from hupo, “under,” and tasso, “to arrange”). It denotes “to put in subjection, to subject,” and “to subject oneself, to obey, be subject to.”[7] Thus, Paul is saying that a woman is to receive instruction “with entire submissiveness.” They are to have “all submissiveness” (ESV, NET Bible) or “full submission” (NIV). Does this strike you are a spirit or attitude that is characteristic of the bold, outgoing, and brazen charismatic woman who addresses a thousand people, both men and women?[8]

Paul then gives basic reasons why men are to lead and women are to be quiet and submissive (1 Timothy 2:13-15). These reasons reach all the way back to creation (v. 13) and the fall (v. 14), thus they are not culturally determined or limited only to Ephesus (where Timothy was located, 1:3).[9] We can see that it would be impossible for a woman to serve as a preacher or shepherd of a flock of God’s people since she is to “receive” instruction–and not “give” instruction. Further, she is not to “teach” or “exercise authority over a man” but she must “remain quiet.” Obviously, this is utterly disregarded by women pastors and teachers today.

In the same context, Paul authoritatively writes that “men in every place” are “to pray” (1 Timothy 2:8). The term “men” is andras in the Greek, which is from aner, indicating a man, a male.  Significantly, aner “is never used of the female sex” and is used “in distinction from a woman.”[10] Thus, men–and not women–are to lead in public prayer. We can see that it would be difficult for a woman pastor to obey this instruction.

Consider also Paul’s instructions to the believers in Corinth.  He gives these instructions to “all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). It is important to notice that his teaching here is not limited to the one city of Corinth in Greece. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Timothy would remind them of his “ways which are in Christ” just as he taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17; see also 7:17; 11:16; and 16:1). Paul not only addressed the city of Corinth, but “all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2). Thus, what Paul is commanding in regard to the position, service, and participation of women in chapter 14 must be seen as what he would command in other assemblies in other places. Those women (and men) who would assert the public teaching and leading of women by saying that this is just a local and limited command need to reckon with these facts.

What is the teaching that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 14:33-37?

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church (vv. 34-35).

As in the 1 Timothy passage, here we see that women are to “keep silent” and are “not permitted to speak” in the assemblies of the saints.  They are to be in subjection. Further, “it is improper for a woman to speak in church [in the assembly]” (v. 35).

In this passage, “speak” comes from the Greek laleo.  The meaning of the term is clear.  It means, “to utter a sound . . . to emit a voice, make one’s self heard; hence to utter or form words with a mouth, to speak.” [11] This would mean that women are not “to utter a sound” in the assembly. They are not “to emit a voice, make one”s self heard.” They are not to “utter or form words with a mouth, speak.”

How many women obey this injunction today? How many men encourage women to disobey the apostle’s commands?  Vine says that the word “is used several times in 1 Corinthians 14; the command prohibiting women from speaking in a church gathering, vv. 34, 35, is regarded by some as an injunction against chattering, a meaning which is absent from the use of the verb everywhere else in the New Testament; it is to be understood in the same sense as in vv. 2, 3-6, 9, 11, 13, 18, 19, 21, 23, 27-29, 39.”[12]

The fact that in no Christian church was public speaking permitted to women was itself a strong proof that it was unchristian, i.e. contrary to the spirit of Christianity. Paul, however, adds to the prohibition the weight of apostolic authority, and not of that only but also the authority of reason and of Scripture. . . . The rational ground for this prohibition is that it is contrary to the relation of subordination in which the woman stands to the man that she appear as a public teacher.[13]

The principle of women not speaking in church services is universal; this applies to all the churches, not just locally, geographically, or culturally. . . . It is not coincidental that many modern churches that have tongues-speaking and claim gifts of healings and miracles also permit women to lead worship, preach, and teach. Women may be gifted teachers, but they are not permitted by God “to speak” in churches. In fact, for them to do so is “shameful,” meaning “disgraceful.”[14]

This term, “improper” (NASB), “disgraceful” (NIV, NASB note), or “shameful” (ESV) in 1 Corinthians 14:35 describes the condition in which a woman dares to rebel against Paul’s command and proceeds to speak in the assembly.  As Hodge points out, the Greek term “properly means ugly, deformed. As the peculiar power and usefulness of women depend on their being the objects of admiration and affection, any thing which tends to excite the opposite sentiments should for that reason be avoided.”[15]

In order to further enforce what he is saying, Paul utters these solemn words: “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (v. 37).

Yet today, we see some women brazenly take upon themselves leadership roles in churches.  We’ve read that such women actually claim that “God has called them” to become pastors or preachers! They feel that God has “spoken” to them inwardly, telling them to disobey these inspired teachings of Paul! Yet we see that “the things that” Paul writes to them “are the Lord’s commandment.” This means that Paul’s words here are not his opinion but they rest on his apostolic authority and represent the Lord’s own will (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Matthew 10:40; Luke 10:16; John 13:20). What will we believe the inspired words of Scripture, or the fallible thinking of feminist religious leaders?

Women Leadership is Common

As we look at the Protestant world in general,[16] we seem to find the public participation of women to be the general practice.  What categories of churches permit total or limited involvement?

1.    Mainline liberal denominations that outright reject the inspiration and authority of Scripture. They generally permit women to freely participate along with men.

2.    Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations that so emphasize the gifts of the Spirit that they either permit or encourage women’s involvement.

3.    Holiness denominations that have long encouraged women’s participation.

4.    Evangelical Protestant denominations that think Scriptural standards and examples were local, cultural, or temporary.

5.    Churches that prohibit women pastors and leaders but allow women participation in the form of teachers, soloists, announcers, and missionaries.

6.    Scattered denominations and congregations that seek to be consistent but may permit women to have authority and leadership in other areas of life (educational, business, or political).

Thus, it would seem that few religious groups totally ban women’s public participation or leadership.  Some do limit women to speaking and teaching but prohibit their taking the role of “pastor” or “elder.” Others permit women to pray publicly, or make announcements, or sing solos, but they may not allow women to become pastors or leaders. Even serving on a “praise team” or leading a choir is questionable (for more than one reason).[17] As we examined Scripture above, we can now see that even these “speaking” positions would be prohibited by God.

Founders of Churches and Cults

Has it ever occurred to you the number of cults and religions that began by women? We know that this doesn’t prove a point, but it does give evidence that women may be involved in leadership to the extent that they may promote false teachings as well as men. Could this have some bearing on one of the two points that Paul grounds his opposition to a woman’s leadership and teaching over a man?  As you may recall, Paul wrote, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). Some scholars suggest that this means that women are more susceptible to deception, thus they should not have authority over the man or teach over the man. Whether this is correct or not, it is one possibility.


But consider the following women in history:

·      Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy–began the patently false cult known as “Christian Science.”

·      Ellen G. White–a false prophetess who began the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

·      Kate and Margaret Fox–the beginnings of spiritism.

·      Myrtle Fillmore–Unity School of Christianity cult.

·      Aimee Semple McPherson–began Foursquare Gospel Church.

·      Catherine Booth–along with her husband, began the Salvation Army.

These are only a sample of the various women who took it upon themselves to lead out in religious contexts, thereby violating all that Scripture says on women’s submission.[18]

Leading Women Leaders and Speakers

If you have kept your eyes and ears open and have been exposed to the contemporary religious world, you are aware that many women have begun ministries or otherwise taken public leadership roles.  Some of the following are alive and well today, teaching and preaching alone or with their husband, while others have died. As you will notice, most of them are in the Prosperity movement, while a few are Evangelical.

Let’s name a few who come to mind.[19]  (A few of these are now deceased.) Maybe you can add to this list:

               ·         Marilyn Hickey

               ·         Gloria Copeland

               ·         Joyce Meyer

               ·         Jan Crouch (Trinity Broadcasting)

               ·         Kay Arthur

               ·         Jill Briscoe

               ·         June Hunt

               ·         Nancy Leigh DeMoss

               ·         Ann Graham Lott

               ·         Elisabeth Elliot

               ·         Kathryn Kuhlman

               ·         Beth Moore

               ·         Freda Lindsay

               ·         Daisy Osborn

               ·         Maria Woodworth-Etter

               ·         Rexella Van Impe

               ·         Joni Eareckson Tada

               ·         Vicki Jamison Peterson

               ·         Tammy Bakker

               ·         Evelyn Roberts

               ·         Victoria Osteen

               ·         Sandy Broan

               ·         Marte Tilton

               ·         Juanita Bynum

               ·         Billye Brim

Have any of these religious teachers and leaders read and taken to heart what Scripture says about male leadership and headship? Have they read about the necessity of women’s submission, quietness, and silence in Christian meetings? We know that several of these are Evangelical in perspective, yet they have been emboldened to violate Scriptural teaching on this important matter. They act as though God’s Word had not forbidden the women’s public participation and leadership.

Leading Pastors, Preachers, and Leaders of Churches

As I was doing research recently on the United Methodist Church, I investigated three different congregations in the Fort Worth area.[20] Significantly, all three of them had female pastors!  This mainline denomination has totally ignored what Scripture says on this subject, evidently because liberalism and unbelief has overcome the church and become dominant (although a small Evangelical segment remains). We read: “Over 12,000 women serve as United Methodist clergy at all levels, from bishops to local pastors.”[21]

Today, many women have professorships in leading theological schools and seminaries, such as Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, Azusa Pacific University in California, Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) in California, Fuller Theological Seminary in California, and numerous others. Can these theological schools and seminaries do this without violating the scripture that commands women to “quietly receive [not give] instruction” or to not “teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)? No, professors and teachers, by the very nature of their work, are to teach and exercise authority over men in their classes!

We know that Holiness churches in the nineteenth century, Pentecostal churches in the twentieth century, and liberal denominations from the seventeenth century to the present have permitted women’s public involvement in teaching, praying, preaching, and missionary involvement. One of the present-day expressions of women in leadership and pastoring would be the Megachurches that have sprung up across America.

In a highly-interesting book entitled Blessed, Kate Bowler (a woman!) offers appendix A, entitled “Prosperity Megachurch Table 2011.”[22] In this table, Bowler lists, by order of “self-reported attendance,” the names of the megachurches, the “senior pastor,”the attendance, the location, and the date founded.  For example, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, pastored by Joel Osteen, is the first and largest of these congregations listed (with 38,000 in attendance).[23]

Not all of the pastors are men; some are women!  Some women are “co-pastors” with their husbands. Notice this list of women “senior pastors”[24] over American megachurches, along with the church name and attendance:

      ·         Sharon Daugherty, Victory Christian Center (Tulsa, OK), 17,000 people.

      ·         Steve and Melody Munsey, Family Christian Center (Munster, IN), 15,000 people.[25]

      ·         Jim and Deborah Cobrae, The Rock and World Outreach Center (San Bernardino, CA), 13,750 people.

      ·         Debra B. Morton, Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church (New Orleans, LA), 10,000 people.

      ·         Mike and Kathy Hayes, Covenant Church (Carrollton, TX), 10,000 people.

      ·         Casey and Wendy Treat, Christian Faith Center (Seattle, WA), 10,000 people.

      ·         Mac and Lynne Hammond, Living Word Christian Center (Minneapolis, MN), 10,000 people.

      ·         Bob and Margaret Rodgers, Evangel World Prayer Center (Louisville, KY), 9,000 people.

      ·         Rob and Laura Koke, Shoreline Church (Austin, TX), 8,000 people.

      ·         Connie McLean, Living Faith Christian Center (Pennsauken, NJ), 7,000 people.

      ·         Kevin and Sheila Gerald, Champions Centre (Tacoma, WA), 6,500 people.

      ·         Judah and Cheslea Smith, The City Church (Kirkland, WA), 6,085 people.

      ·         Dennis and Colleen Rouse, Victory World Church (Norcross, GA), 6,000 people.

      ·         Branda Timberlake, Christian Faith Center (Creedmoor, NC), 5,000 people.

      ·         Paula White, Without Walls International Place (Tampa, FL), 5,000 people.

      ·         Diego and Cindy Mesa, Abundant Living Family Church (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), 5,000 people.

      ·         Anne Gimenez, Rock Church (Virginia Beach, VA), 4,000 people.

      ·         Sergio and Georgina De La Mora, Cornerstone Church (San Diego, CA), 4,000 people.

      ·         Keith and Sheila Craft, Elevate Life Church (Frisco, TX), 3,500 people.

      ·         Reece and Sara Bowling, Orchard Road Christian Center (Denver, CO), 3,000 people.

      ·         Lawrence and Darlene Bishop, Solid Rock Church (Monroe, OH), 3,000 people.

      ·         David and Roxanne Swann, Faith Christian Family Church (Clovis, NM), 3,000 people.

      ·         Philip and Holly Wagner, Oasis Christian Center (Los Angeles, CA), 3,000 people.

      ·         David and Vicki Shearin, World of Life Christian Center (Las Vegas, NV), 3,000 people.

      ·         Walter and Cindy Hallam, Abundant Life Christian Center (La Marque, TX), 3,000 people.

      ·         Larry and Tiz Huch, DFW New Beginnings Church (Irving, TX), 3,000 people.

      ·         Rick and Cindy Godwin, Summit Christian Center (San Antonio, TX), 2,834 people.

      ·         Ray and Tracey Barnard, Impacting Your World Christian Center (Philadelphia, PA), 2,500 people.

      ·         Lee and Shonia Stokes, Destiny Christian Center (Greensboro, NC), 2,500 people.

      ·         Jason and Gale Avarez, The Love of Jesus Family Church (Orange, NJ), 2,000 people.

      ·         Gene and Sue Lingerfelt, Overcoming Faith Christian Center (Arlington, TX), 2,000 people.

      ·         Cynthia Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Center (Decatur, GA), 2,000 people.

We realize that this was a long list but it accentuates the extent of the apostasy from sound doctrine that has engulfed the Protestant world. The majority of churchgoing people just assume that all is well and that women in ministry is altogether proper and to be desired.  They assume that their denominational leadership or congregational leaders wouldn’t install women to such positions unless it were desirable. But is it really desirable?  If we take Scripture as our standard, we know the answer.

Negatives in Women Taking Leadership Roles

Although most denominations and members seem to be willing to accept women pastors and teachers, there are weighty negative points that we need to bear in mind. We refer to the following:

        1.    The Bible only authorizes men to become congregational leaders.

Scripture doesn’t describe denominational leadership since denominations are a modern departure from Scriptural principles. But what about the local congregation? We have already noticed that a position such as overseership (elders or shepherds) is only open to men–and not just any men, but married men, older men, men with believing and obedient children–fully qualified men (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Thus, only men (males) can be elders, overseers, or shepherds (all three terms refer to the same function or position). Only men can be “servants” (deacons) and “proclaimers” (evangelists). Only men can be public teachers.

        2.    Scripture forbids women from becoming congregational leaders.

Earlier we noticed that women are not permitted to pray in public or teach in public. They are to be in subjection rather than being in authority.  They are to remain “quiet” and “silent” in the assemblies when the believers meet for edification and worship. Apart from the qualifications for leaders (e.g., the husband of one wife, 1 Timothy 3:2), these prohibitions effectively close the door to women from leadership.

        3.    Women become masculine in character when they take a masculine role.

When women take roles that God only permits men to fill, they begin to have masculine characteristics.  Ironically, the feminist movement is anything but feminine in nature.  If a woman seeks to be the kind of woman that God desires, she should carefully study those portions of Scripture that describe what true femininity should be (cf. Proverbs 31:10-31; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:3-6; 1 Peter 3:1-6).[26]

        4.    Women leaders lose the respect of respectable men.

Those men who know the Scriptures and what God wants men and women to be will admire women who are characterized by those feminine traits emphasized in the Bible. They will respect and honor women who are feminine in character and will find feministic (unfeminine) women who are authoritative to be “improper,” “disgraceful,” or a “shame” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). The godly man will admire godly women–not the proud, authoritarian, domineering, crude, immodest, unfeminine, brazen woman who craves public attention and ecclesiastical position.

        5.    Women pastors and teachers fail to be good examples to others.

It has often been pointed out that we are in a sociological crisis that may only be described as the “feminization of American Christianity.” Although we may not agree with the terminology, we understand what is being said. Many people look at the Protestant Churches and think they are only for women.  We’ve read that some 60 percent of those who attend are women. When a woman places herself in a place of leadership (whether she calls herself a pastor, a teacher, a bishop, etc.), decent, godly, right-thinking men will be repelled and go elsewhere. This will exacerbate the problem and make churchianity even more of a woman’s religion.

Paul writes to Timothy that “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12). He writes to Titus similarly, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (Titus 2:7-8a). Although spoken to men, these words would say that women also are to be good examples to both men and women. When they clearly violate the Word of God and act in unfeminine ways by having a public role, they become bad examples that cannot—or should not—be followed.

        6.    Women who become public preachers, pastors, or teachers are false witnesses against God.

Paul gives us a principle in 1 Corinthians 15:15 that may be applied to many situations in life.  The apostle explains: “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” Here Paul was defending and supporting the literal bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead. He and other apostles were witnesses of the resurrected Christ (cf. Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:1). However, if Christ did not rise from the dead, while the apostles claimed that God did raise Him from the dead, they are false witnesses–if, in fact, God did not raise Christ from the dead.  They would be “witnesses” to something false, a lie.

As we noticed before, many (most or all?) women pastors and preachers openly claim that God “called” them to the pastorate or to another leadership role. They may say that God or Christ “spoke” to them in their heart or “revealed” His will to them about His desire that they would assume religious leadership. So they may begin to speak in public meetings, or they may seek a pastor as mentor, or they may go to a seminary or Bible school. But since we have already noticed that the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God forbids women to speak in public or take leadership over men, we can see that actually such women become “false witnesses” by “testifying against God” who prohibits women leadership. God doesn’t contradict His already-revealed Word. “A trustworthy witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies” (Proverbs 14:5).

        7.    Women pastors, preachers, teachers, and bishops violate the clear instructions of God’s Word.

In many cases these positions or works are not even described on the pages of Scripture. However, even if they were, a woman is forbidden to fill any position that requires her to exercise authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:11-12). In addition to this, the Bible is clear that in the marriage relationship, the husband is the “head” or source of authority.[27] Although secular and religious feminists hate the passage, we do read in Scripture a basic truth: “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).

Although this may be a foundational truth applicable in all circumstances, other passages have marriage directly in mind: “The husband is the head of the wife. . . . As the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:23-24). “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). “. . . being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:5). “You wives, be submissive to your own husbands” (1 Peter 3:1). Wouldn’t it be ironic for a woman to be under the headship of her husband and entirely submissive to his leadership, but in the “church” setting, she herself were to exercise authority over the men–including her husband!

Just as the husband is to be “head” over his wife and to exercise authority over her,[28] so the males are to occupy the roles that Scripture assigns to them as leaders over the assembly.[29] Is it rational that a woman pastor has authority over a church of 100 or 500 or 3,000 then comes home to be under the authority of her husband?

Further, the Word of God is clear enough that a woman is not to speak in the assembly. She is not to teach or pray in the assembly (1 Timothy 2:8, 11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:33-37). She is not to take a position that is reserved for men, whether that be an elder/overseer/shepherd or a servant (deacon), or a proclaimer (evangelist). Scripture is plain enough about these restrictions.

Let’s Be Content with God’s Will

Some women must want to serve God and thus they desire to enter a “full time” and “supported” position with a local congregation. We admire this devotion to the Lord and desire to do His work. However, these women have “a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2). In their zeal to become a pastor, preacher, missionary, or teacher, they have overlooked (or neglected) numbers of important and clear passages in Scripture that restrict what God wants them to do and not do.  We must realize that God is God and He knows what is good for us. He made the woman in the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27) and He has the right to open certain positions to them or forbid such positions. As God, He has the right to do what He wishes. Will we be content with His revealed will in this matter?


[1] Other manuscripts have “Nymphas” (masculine).

[2] See our booklets, The Discipleship of Devoted Women, and well as the much older one, The Position and Service of Women in Christ.

[3] “The presence of the word or (Greek. oude) between “to teach” and “to exercise authority” indicates that two different activities are in view, not a single activity of “authoritative teaching” (ESV Study Bible, note).

[4] “‘Exercise authority’ represents Greek authenteo, found only here in the NT. Over 80 examples of this word exist outside the NT, however, clearly establishing that the meaning is ‘exercise authority’ (not ‘usurp authority’ or ‘abuse authority,’ etc., as somet6imes had been argued)” (ESV Study Bible, note).

[5] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] See our tract, Is Womanly Submission Really Biblical (The Unpopular Truth)? Also the tract by John A Braudus, Should Women Speak in Mixed Public Assemblies?

[9] “Paul’s argument indicates that gender roles in the church are not simply the result of the fall but are rooted in creation and therefore apply to all cultures at all times” (ESV Study Bible, note).

[10] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

[11] Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

[12] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

[13] Charles Hodge, Commentary of the First Epistle to the Corinthian, pp. 304-305..

[14] The MacArthur Study Bible.

[15] Hodge, Ibid.

[16] Thus far, Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Churches have been slow to accept the leadership of women, although they may make some concessions.

[17] Such activities lack Biblical support.

[18] See The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin, revised by Ravi Zacharias.

[19] See especially Kate Bowler, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 207-213.

[20] This is described in our book, What about the United Methodist Church?

[21] Ibid., quoting Wikipedia.org. Note that this second-largest American Protestant denomination has largely discarded Scriptural instruction on many matters, such as evolution, homosexuality, feminism, etc.

[22] Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp 239-248.

[23] We assume that the membership would be somewhat less.

[24] The term “pastor” is a favorite one used by both men and women today, but we believe that many forget the significance.  The word is Latin for “shepherd.” In the New Testament, the Greek counterpart is poimen. In New Testament assemblies, “shepherds” were elders or overseers who were appointed in assemblies when qualified men were available (cf. Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7). They were locally chosen and served locally. This shows the impossibility of the modern practice of someone being a “pastor” over a radio or TV audience.

[25] When a husband and wife team are listed as “senior pastors,” we assume that the wife does have a prominent leadership role along with her husband.

[26] Some women insist on traditionally masculine occupations; e.g., a police officer, a firefighter, a road worker, a telephone lineman (lineperson?), etc. Vocabulary itself has changed to accommodate women’s involvement: policeman to “police officer,” fireman to “fire fighter,” mailman to “letter carrier,” etc.

[27] “Head. It is sometimes said that this term (Gk. kephale) means ‘source,’ but in over 50 examples of the expression ‘person A is the head of person(s) B’ found in ancient Greek literature, person A has authority over person(s) B in every case. Therefore it is best to understand ‘head’ (kephale) here as referring metaphorically to ‘authority’ (see also Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 2:10)” (ESV Study Bible, note at 1 Corinthians 11:3).

[28] This authority surely is a loving, patient, and kind leadership so that the husband is the “servant leader” in the marriage and the home (cf. Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7).

[29] 1 Timothy 3:1ff; Titus 2:5ff; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17.


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