Paul And Women In Leadership
Having established the fact that there were some women in leadership in the Bible, at least showing that those positions were legitimate, let us look at our two passages which appear to deny women in leadership or ministry. Let us also keep in mind that anytime we only have one or two sections of Scripture on a subject, we have to tread very carefully to be sure we are not misunderstanding it and that our understanding of them fits in with the general picture of Scripture. As Feed Yourself students know, we interpret unclear Scriptures from clear Scriptures not the other way around.
As in all the congregations of the saints, 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. Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lords command. 1 Cor. 14:32-37, NIV
Surely that is plain? Women have to be silent in church, which means that women in leadership positions is impossible. Simple logic – no women in leadership.
Ive Worked With The Girls On How To Treat Such Passages:
- Do I need to understand more about the context around the verse?
- What does the rest of the Bible say about this idea?
- Do I need to adjust my thinking?
Todays passage was 1 Peter 3:1-7. This is a beautiful passage, full of truth I want my twelve-year-old, ten-year-old, and five-year-old to have in their hearts. But there were also some words that my very passionate, very independent, very strong daughters werent sure what to do with. Their questions were thoughtful and amazing, and also opened my eyes to how important these conversations are in light of controversies swirling in todays culture.
Does The Bible Address Women’s Rights
God lifts women in a beautiful way and offers a strong set of rights. In Genesis 3, Eve chose to eat the apple. Hello free choice. The outcome of her resulting action, as well as Adams, proved to be the birthing ground for sinnot such a beautiful thing. However, womens free choice stood as an option from the beginning.
Females, like males, are made in Gods likeness and image according to Genesis 1:27. In Galatians 3:23-29 there is neither male nor female in Christ. All are heirs to the promise. Not only are women given the right to be children of God, but they are given the right to pray as well as be forgiven, healed, delivered, loved, and counseled by the Holy Spirit. They lead like Deborah and minister and teach like Priscilla. They are mothers, wives, daughters, and more.
In New Testament parables, the Lord threads stories of women who sought audience with Jesus and received it. Their voices were heard. These women were seen, healed, provided for, and delivered. Often, Jesus interaction with women flowed against the tradition and understanding of society. But man-made rules didnt stop Jesuswomen either.
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The Old Testament And Women
In the creation account of Genesis 1, Gods first word on the subject of men and women is that they were equally created in the image of God . Neither received more of the image of God than the other. So the Bible begins with the equality of the sexes. As persons, as spiritual beings standing before God, men and women are absolutely equal.
Despite this equality, there is in Genesis 2 a more detailed account of the creation of the two human beings that reveals differences in their God-given functions and responsibilities. God did not create the man and the woman at the same time, but rather He created Adam first and Eve later for the specific purpose of being Adams helper. Eve was equal to Adam, but she was given the role and duty of submitting to him. Although the word helper carries very positive connotationseven being used of God Himself as the helper of Israel it still describes someone in a relationship of service to another. The responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands, then, was part of the plan from creation, even before the curse. The first books of the Bible establish both the equality of men and women and also the support role of the wife .
The Bible Says Women Should Lead Part 3
For all those that argue for the full inclusion of women in leadership in the church, 1 Timothy 2:12 holds a remarkable place of power in the argument. I have argued that the Bible and especially Paul elevate women in leadership, and that 1 Corinthians is a fine example of Pauls argument for radically equal relationships between husbands and wives. But this passage has a way of trumping all others in this conversation.
I rather agree with Gail Wallace from her post with an enviable title, Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb, that this one passage is a little like throwing a grenade into the conversation. The reason this is so effective at stopping conversation is that it alone of all New Testament passages would seem to prohibit womens leadership if read with a hermeneutic that is not aware of contextual matters. That is an important sentence for this discussion, so I will unpack it some more.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearingif they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety .
The scholarship is readily available. The one that has ears, let them hear.
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Things Christians Get Wrong About Women Leaders
Our family spent summers going to Gilbert Lake, a small lake about 15 minutes from our house. Though there were several lifeguard stations, only one had a certain whistle. That whistle was blown to alert everyone that someone had gone under the water and not come back up. When we heard that whistle, everyone present lined up along the shore, linked arms and started dredging the lake. The hope was that one of us would bump into the person who had gone under in time to save his or her life.
Can you imagine the person under water looking at the line and saying something like, Man, I cant have that black guy save me! or I cant have a woman save me!?
Absurd, right? And can you imagine if someone on the shore refused to link arms with people because they werent the right age, color, shape, religious belief or gender? Again, absurd. Because then thered be a gap in the line, and that gap may very well be where the person lay under waterdying.
Figuratively speaking, a whole lot of people have sunk under the water, dying little deaths and big deaths all over the place. There are people outside and inside our churches drowning. Those people cant afford for us Christians to stand on the shore fighting or dredging the lake with gaps in the line because were too busy arguing over who gets to do what.
Rahab: A Discerning Deliverer
Rahab was an intelligent woman who showed remarkable wit and knowledge. Although not an Israelite, she showed great understanding of the recent history of Israel. She was aware of what God was doing for the Israelites when they approached her country and in fact, seemed more aware of Gods intervention for Israel than Israel wasnotice the similarity of her words in Joshua 2:911 with Joshua 1:2, 11, 13.
She was also a woman of great courage. Rahab obtained an agreement for protection from the spies, hid them and outsmarted her own people when they came looking for them. Once she made her decision, there was no turning back. Siding with the Israelites was treason, punishable by death, not only for herself but also for all her family.
Finally, Rahab was a woman with spiritual insight. She recognized the disparity between Israels God and the gods she and her people served. Israels God was supremehe did not share the rule in the heavens and the earth the way their gods reportedly did . Rahabs initial confession of faith is seen in the use of the name Yahweh. Without any support or input from her world or Israels, she claimed the covenant name God gave to Moses when the Israelites first left Egypt . Then, again without any encouragement from others, she acted on her commitment by hiding the spies. This kind of faith was not often seen in Gods people in the Old Testament, let alone from a Gentile harlot.
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Women As Pastors Elders And Leaders In Bible
Sadly, many women we talk to have been disrespected by Christian men in authority, especially in the local church context.
Some years ago Kristi and I were leading a midweek seminar at a Bible church. Our topic was discipleship to Jesus and personal soul care. There were about twenty people attending. I opened our meeting with prayer, introduced our topic, and made some comments from the Bible. Then Kristi shared her insights with a personal example.
Right after she stood up to speak a man abruptly got up from his chair and left the room in a fuss, shaking his head and muttering under his breath.
As Kristi continued speaking, the mans wife kept turning around to see if he was coming back. Soon she picked up her purse and left too. Later she contacted us, Im sorry we left your talk. My husband believes its not Biblical for a woman to teach in church when men are present.
This was quite demeaning of Kristi and women in general. Though I dont imagine that any of the churchs elders or pastors wouldve walked out on Kristi, their official church doctrine supports the belief behind doing that. They do not allow women pastors, elders, or preachers/teachers they limit women to roles like pastors wife, admin staff, hostess, womens ministry leader, teacher of children, or deaconess.
These elders are sincere and not intending to be sexist or disrespectful of women, but thats the effect theyre having.
Why Many Churches Dont Let Women Teach or Lead
The Real Commandments Of Scripture Are Very Clear
What frustrates me the most is that the same people who read advice and instruction given to a different culture as black-and-white pretend that the immutable commands of Jesus are guidelines. Scriptures give us clear commands, principles and values for living, and they are universally relevant in all times, cultures, and contexts:
Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Matthew 12:2931 ESV
And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:3435 ESV
Do you notice the difference? These commands are what we, as the children of God, are supposed to have as our compass. They tell us the direction we are supposed to go. If we put the previous verses in the proper context of cultural development, you can see that they point in the same direction. Scripture isnt the problem reading it without the love of Christ is the problem.
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Paul’s Proclamation Of Equality
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
You Must Look At What The Bible Teaches To Get Everything Right
You cannot pick and choose what you want. You MUST take the entire Bible and see what it says. We cannot ignore certain Scripture because it doesnt say what we want it to say.
Lets see what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:12.
1 Timothy 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
People say as long as there is a man in an office of the church above the woman that its totally fine.
NO! Its not totally fine. God says so over and over again.
If a woman gets behind the pulpit to preach, she is usurping authority over all of the men she is teaching! Yes, she is teaching. The Bible clearly says, I suffer NOT a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
This is so simple to understand, but the people that argue against Gods clear words fit into the category of John 8:47 once again!
John 8:47 He that is of God heareth Gods words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
I hope this has helped you understand that women should NOT lead in the church. It doesnt matter what anyone else thinks because this is what God says. And Im not going to try to change what God says.
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What The Bible Says
The Bible is notoriously hard on women. From seemingly attributing humanity’s fall into temptation to Eve in the beginning of the Old Testament to barring women from certain leadership positions late in the New, the Bible is shaped through and through by the patriarchal culture from which is sprang. While Proverbs 31 presents only one of the Bible’s many complex passages on women, because it is one of this week’s readings in the Revised Common Lectionary that guides the preaching of thousands of ministers, it invites discussion.
The passage describes the qualities of a “good wife” and is a favorite among Evangelicals and Fundamentalists because of its supposed affirmation of traditional gender roles. The good wife Proverbs extols, for instance, is trusted by her husband, adored by her children, works day and night to take care of her household, and even makes her own clothing.
At the same time, however, historian Amy Oden notes that perhaps what this passage doesn’t say about women is as important as what it does. Oden, who serves as Academic Dean at Wesley Theological Seminary, points to three important things made conspicuous by their absence.
First, the passage “doesn’t say that a wife’s worth is derived from her husband.” Rather, she has her own identity and integrity of being, and her value is at no point contingent on or determined by her relationship with, let alone obedience to, her husband.
Third, the passage
Lets Fix Some Street Signs
Remember Matthew 19:8 ? I bet that you remembered this verse as allowed you to divorce, when in fact it says, allowed you to divorce your wives. Jesus is talking to gaspMEN! In the time of the Old Testament, and largely still in the context of Jesuss time, women were property. Marriage isnt what we think of today it was a form of ownership where men OWNED women.
In Mosess time, when a man grew tired of his wife, he would just go marry another. His older wife, now discarded, still belonged to him and was trapped in loneliness. The instruction from Moses for men to provide their wives a certificate of divorce was an act of MERCY towards WOMEN. An act, by the way, that Jesus now indicates is from a rather disgusting tradition.
Sadly, many perverted church communities use these verses to shame women from freeing themselves of abusive husbands, or anyone from a toxic relationship. However that is BACKWARDS to the intent and purpose of what Jesus is trying to teach.
Heres another one:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22 ESV
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Hold Fast To The Authority Inherency And Inspiration Of The Bible
Many a believer has walked away from the faith because they just couldnt reconcile what they read in the Bible with what they felt to be true. Even Oprah admits that is what caused her to stop believing in the biblical God. Lets not let our lack of understanding of the Bible corrode our trust in the Bible. Instead, let us use the muscle of faith, stand firm on the promises of who God is, and cling to the reality of the Bibles reliability. Then, from this foundation, we can dive into the depths of what the Bible has to say about women.
To wrap up, I want to leave on a personal note. I am a strong, capable, confident woman. I am a minister of the gospel. I am a complementarian. I have a full-time career. My husband does all of the cooking. He and my kids do their own laundry. I teach the Bible for a living through writing and speaking. I support my husband in his work as a pastor. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and bends over backward to provide the time and resources I need to fulfill my calling to work while also fulfilling my calling as wife and mother. I do my best to submit to his leadership. He does his best to love me sacrificially. We have a thriving marriage.
These statements are not contradictory. They are the beauty of what God has specifically called me to as a woman. God has already revealed bigger plans for my life as a strong woman than I could have ever dreamed of. His way is right and good, fulfilling and fruitful.