Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Women Church Leaders?

VIEWPOINT



The Bible never describes a condition where a woman can be a leader in the church. Oh, women can hold important roles of influence, but they are never described as eligible in the qualification passages.

FACT



Many churches have women elders, deacons, and even pastors.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



All the Biblical descriptions for the qualifications for an office in the church hierarchy specify descriptions of men. As one who does not agree with some of the commonly accepted fundamentals of the practices of Christian churches today, a recent incident caused me to do some study into the practice of appointing of women officers. Now, hold on. There is a difference between just being contrary and wanting to do things the way God said to do. What harm is there in looking? The surprise is in what I actually found - or, really, what I did not find.

Starting at the beginning

Where do you start on something like this? Like most people in a hurry to get going, I went to the internet. Boom! There were 103,000,000 hits in about one-third of a second.

Yes, they are

The first one on the list was CBE International, an organization that believes in the equality of men and women in church leadership. Their motto on the site appears to be: "Leading Together, Serving as Equals". I won't list all their evidence, as you can see the list on their website at the page above. However, none of the items on their list of evidence includes a single Bible passage. Their sources are the same church fathers who changed the day of worship to Sunday and ignored the Lord's Sabbath.

No, they aren't

Next on the search list was First Presbyterian Church. They actually quoted some Bible verses and realize from Paul's writings that there were no women in church office at the time of the writing of the New Testament. That's why they have no women in office for their church. So, we are batting .500 so far, as far as believers who follow the Bible.

"Look at it this way..."

Trying one more, we find a site at Craig Brown's Reformed Theology, which has an interesting approach by a Dr. Wayne Grudem. In his article, he sees the controversy surrounding the question, and concludes this:

My own conclusion on this issue is that the Bible does permit women to function in the role of pastor or elder within a church. This has also been the conclusion of the vast majority of churches in various societies throughout history. The reasons that seem to me to be most persuasive in answering this question are the following:

Now, before I show you the reason he gives on the site, he agrees with "the vast majority of churches in various societies throughout history". What does he use to justify this position? Here is the rest of the passage:

1.1 Timothy 2:11-14. The single passage in Scripture that address this question most directly is 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach to teach or to have authority over men; she is keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.(sic)

"No, they don't, but yes they do..."

He does follow with an explanation of what Paul really meant when he wrote this obviously unclear(?) statement to Timothy. He clears it up by quoting 1 Corinthians 14:33-36:

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?

Oh, I get it...

Now, I don't know about you, but this cleared it up for me. The Bible says that women should be silent in the churches and it is shameful for them to speak in church, so of course they can hold office! Check out his web page if you think I am making this stuff up!

Well, he did do the same thing that all the other churches do - he explains that Paul says this, but he meant something other than what he said. And then, he goes on to explain what Paul must have meant by his words. You know, since they were so unclear. He even makes the statement:

But Paul does not give a lack of education as a reason for saying that women cannot "teach or....have authority over men," but rather points back to creation. It is precarious to base an argument on a reason Paul did not give instead of the reason he did give.

Uhhh...

So, since he is an educated Dr. (the assumption is a Dr. of Theology, because of the title Systematic Theology in the article), here I am being careful not to say something he didn't not say in order to not un-confuse what he might not have said with something else he might not have meant to say but did actually say.

"What he meant was..."

Regardless of his conclusions based on impeccable illogic, The Bible still does not say that women are eligible for church office. Following the doctor's line of thought, the ten commandments say that God meant to discourage adultery only if the candidate is not beautiful or handsome. After all, we all know that it is really hard to resist beauty, so that's what He must have meant, He just didn't say it that way.

Now we are batting only .333, and that's after only three sites.

Wikipedia adds to the confusion by saying that in olden times women were kept away from the offices, but in modern times, more churches are appointing them to office. That takes us down to .250. Still, that's a fair average for a baseball player measuring hits.

Another article at desiring God clears up the whole discussion by definitely saying "sometimes". I guess it depends on how you interpret 1 Timothy 2:11-14
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. (NIV)

or 1 Corinthians 14:33-36
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 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. (NIV)

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

.

Now, what does the Bible say?

Now, to be fair, there is one passage that is taken in many ways. The argument is that if you take it one way it justifies women in church office, and the other way it does not. That passage is Romans 16:7:

7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Some say that the name Junia is feminine and that she was a woman apostle. Some say that the name is Junias, and that he was a male. Various readings of the text either agree that these people were apostles, or state that they were known by the apostles but were not apostles themselves. This is the subject of extreme debate even today. The various positions can be seen at CARM, Got Questions, and Bible.org, with some pretty deep thinking about the Greek and the subsequent translations. One thing I found very interesting is that none of the three sites above even mentioned 1 Timothy 2:11-14
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. (NIV)

or 1 Corinthians 14:33-36
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 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. (NIV)

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

. The discussions get very deep, but evidently use only references that are favorable to their side. Coincidence? Nah.

Conclusion?

Regardless of the rhetoric on all sides, it's what the Bible says that is important. To twist it to say something that contradicts another passage is just plain ridiculous. To ignore what it says is dangerous, but that is the direction that, literally, most of the churches are headed. To me, if God said it, even through an apostle, then I believe it and will stick to that unless God changes my mind.

While it is clear that women make important contributions to church activities, there are some things that should not be performed by women. Duties of officers in the church is one of them, teaching adult Bible study is another one. If you disagree, take it up with God - I'm on His side.







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