Women in church leadership
Galatians 3:26-29 (NKJV)
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV)
Be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Women have always held an important place in ministry starting with the ministry of Jesus. In Luke 8:1-3, women participated with the disciples in public ministry with Jesus. They gave witness to the resurrection as the Lord Jesus commanded the women in Matthew 28:1-10. They participated in the establishment of the Church as the Holy Spirit filled all of the believers in Acts 2, and as a result they announced the great things that God had done. The growing church in the book of Acts modeled the fulfillment of prophecy that His Spirit would be poured out on all people,
men and women, old and young, to tell forth God’s message (Acts 2:15-18). Other examples of women involved in ministry include the daughters of Philip who prophesied (Acts 21:9); Dorcas who served (Acts 9:39-41); Lydia who opened her heart and home (Acts 16:40); Priscilla who helped Aquila explain to Apollos the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-28); and Phoebe who the apostle Paul addressed as a servant (Romans 16:1-2).
However, when it comes to discerning what the Bible has to say about women in authority as leaders, elders, bishops, deacons, or pastors, the Word of God is our guide and Jesus Christ is our model. We know this is increasingly becoming a difficult subject, especially since the feminist movement began in the early 1900s. but we need to remain steadfast on the Word of God that never changes even when everything around us does. So what does the Word of God say about leadership and pastors in the church?
Titus 1:6 (NKJV)
If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless.
The term for “pastor” in the New Testament is synonymous with the word “shepherd,” “overseer,” and “bishop.” The term means “to have spiritual authority over the church body.” When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, He chose them as males. In every case that the word is used in the New Testament it refers to male leadership. This does not mean that women do not have a place in ministry in the church. Many, who desire to serve as women pastors, or who attend churches pastored by women, tend to use the cultural dynamic equivalent argument by saying that Jesus was in a male dominated culture and therefore had to choose men. Those who use this argument need to remember that Jesus was never bound by culture or traditions.
Jesus often broke or violated cultural and religious taboos. Some examples are shucking grain on the Sabbath (supposedly violating the restriction against work on the Sabbath). Jesus response to the Pharisees objections were that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Jesus also associated with the outcasts of society- touching lepers, forgiving prostitutes, dining with tax collectors. It is well documented that some of His ministry support came from the wife of a Roman gentile public official. Since Jesus was not bound by culture or tradition, He laid the foundation for His church from the beginning as He desired it to be organized, and from the beginning He chose His elders or pastors to be male. The apostle Paul, also one who was not bound by tradition or culture, and in keeping with the teachings of Jesus, had an opportunity when addressing Timothy as to the role of a pastor, to set a precedent, and allow for both women and men as pastors. Instead, Paul affirmed Jesus’ example, and designated that pastors are to be male (I Timothy 3:1-7).
1 Timothy 3:1 (NKJV)
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
Notice that it says "man". This isn't the only place that it points to pastors as being men. The next verse says "the husband of one wife", then "one who rules his own house well", and "for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)" The Greek word for these are all masculine. There is no way one should be able to twist these scripture. We clearly see that the role of a pastor is only for men and not women.
You will also see that for deacons one of the qualifications is also being a man and that women can't be a deacon.
1 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)
Let deacons be the husbands of one wife.
So now we know what scripture says and regardless of how hard it is to accept, we must simply obey it. But with that said, it is always important to try and understand what the word of God says and then it will be easier to accept it as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
So why not women? What is the reason that women can't be pastors or deacons in the church? It's all about the family structure. The answer in scripture is found in the previous chapter.
1 Timothy 2:12 (NKJV)
And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
The reason wasn't cultural as some would suggest. It wasn't for any other reason other than that God created it to be this way and that it was Eve who was deceived and not Adam. So first, scripture says that it's simply because Adam was formed first, then Eve as his helper. That's the first thing that was mentioned as the reason for it. Eve was not made to teach or to have any authority over Adam, but to be his helper. And second, it was because Eve was the one who was deceived and not Adam. With this, we can see that the reason comes back to the family unit and the roles of men and women.
The only place in the Bible where one woman served as a leader was during the time of the Judges. I believe it is significant that this time in Israels’ history was characterized by the writer of Judges as a time “where everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Historically, the problem with women assuming the role of pastor has coincided with a decline in competent and strong male leadership, as I believe we are seeing today. Does this mean that women pastors are not sincere? Does this mean women pastors cannot love and minister to their congregations? Does this mean that women pastors are not as competent or professional as male pastors? To all these questions I would answer no, instead I would assert that those who are ordained and serving as women pastors are outside the counsel of Scripture and God’s will for His church, and this is a very precarious place to be.
Kingdom Harvest International recognizes that women are often called to full time ministry as missionaries, teachers, and even associate ministers. We call this consecrated for ministry. This means women are welcome and needed to participate in the works of ministry in every area including teaching the Bible to women and children, except in the area of pastor, deacon and elder. KHI recognizes the vital contribution of women for and to ministry but cannot ordain what the Bible has not approved.
Those who argue for ordination of women and consequently women pastors use obscure texts relating to women in ministry and commit gross errors in biblical interpretation to justify their positions. Women and men are equal before God in gifting, talents, value, and esteem but God has given to each different roles within the family and church. We can see the family as a type of example. The men are the head of the house. If a man cannot rule his house well then he is unfit for leadership within the church.
1 Timothy 3:4-5
One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a
man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)