Readers Question / Comment -
Should women be head Pastor of a
What does scripture really teach about women being head Pastor of a church? There
are arguments that seem scripturally correct for both sides of the argument. I
know we can twist scripture to support almost anything we want it to say if we
grab the "right" passages and leave out those that do not support our
view especially when taken out of context. I want the truth because when the day
is done that's all that really matters. Right now I'm standing in a
position of their teaching can be God ordained but a position of authority cannot
(because it causes us to lose sight of Gods divine hierarchy and order of
submission; Christ over man, man over woman. Please use the scriptures found in 1
Tim 2:11-12, 1 Cor 14:34-36, roles of Deborah, Phoebe, and Priscilla. I believe
there is also one in Titus some use against it and one I think in Galatians that
is used for it (Paul's claims that there is no male or female, etc although
I believe this one in context is speaking only of salvation). Thank you for any
truth you can shed on this.
thanks for the email and the question and apologies for the slooow
response. A good old curly question in the church it is too! And one that is all
too easy, as you say, to grab one scripture and abandon others, and move into
extremes (on both sides of the argument!)
As a little bit of background,
I go to a small fellowship and we are a bit different in that we don't have
a single "Pastor" as such. We have a group of leaders (comprising both
men and women) who oversee the church. We don't have anyone that is paid -
but being small we can get away with not having anyone "fulltime" as
such so I understand that we will be different in that regard. It is men who
teach on a regular basis within the church (I am one of them) although women can
and do speak/preach from time to time. We also have a time of 'open
church' normally following the sermon where anyone can share.
central question is should women be the head Pastor of a church? I don't see
how you could answer yes from a Biblical point of view. That is not to belittle
the roles that women have within the church or women in general. But I believe
that role has been given from God to men to perform. Let's look at some of
the scriptures you mentioned:
1Co 14:34-35 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.
have commentaries in the Bible software that I use (and generally like) that take
this hard and fast (without exceptions it seems) and just say that women
shouldn't speak in church! I don't believe that. To me, this is one of
the scriptures that should be read in context. For example, if this is a hard and
fast rule that women shouldn't speak in church then it contradicts what Paul
has previously said in the same letter to the Corinthians in chapter 11 where
Paul said that women did exercise spiritual gifts including praying and
prophesying within the church. Also he encourages 'ALL' to have
something to share in terms of a teaching, a psalm, a revelation, a tongue in 1
Cor 14:26. So I think the context and background events are important here.
Guzik's commentary says the following about 1 Cor 14:34-35 and gives some of
'In the Jewish synagogues, men and women would sit
apart. But if a woman chattered or called out to her husband sitting far off, she
would be dealt with severely. The Corinthian church may have adopted the same
kind of seating arrangement, but with many women from Gentile backgrounds, they
did not know how to conduct themselves at a church meeting. Paul is teaching them
Alan Redpath points out that Paul uses the Greek verb
laleo, which means, "to talk, question, argue, profess, or chatter."
Redpath says, "It has nothing to do with prophecy or prayer; it is not
public speaking as such."
1Ti 2:11-14 A woman must quietly
receive instruction with entire submissiveness. (12) But I do not allow a woman
to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (13) For it was
Adam who was first created, and then Eve. (14) And it was not Adam who was
deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
believe that God has laid down different roles for men and women within the
church just as He has within the marriage relationship. It certainly doesn't
mean one is any greater or more important than the other. It is simply different
roles. It is the same with the Trinity. They have different roles but it
doesn't mean any are greater than the other. For example, the Holy Spirit
comes not to draw attention to Himself but to Jesus. Jesus is willing to become a
man and rely totally upon the Father. There is a willing submission within the
Trinity that exalts others and yet it doesn't at any time mean any is lesser
Within the Church I believe that God has said that the
overall leadership is to be male. That is a role he has given them. Gal 3:28
which speaks of all being one in Christ is a wonderful truth speaking of
salvation, our position and blessings 'in Christ Jesus'. It has nothing
to do with the God given roles within the Church however. One reason for these
roles may be because of the different ways men and women are 'wired'.
Jacob Prasch speaks about men, post fall, being insensitive (in general) and
women as 'hypersensitive'. Thus it is easier for women to hear from God
but it is also easier for them to be misled or deceived. It may be because of
this that God has given the role of Church leadership to males (who in general
are less emotional than women). Prasch writes:
Men are reliant on female
sensitivity because of the Fall. On the other hand, while it is usually easier
for women to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, it is also easier for women to
hear the voice of a counterfeit spirit and thus fall into deception, to be taken
in by spiritual seduction. Women are much more vulnerable to spiritual seduction
than are men. Therefore, just as men are reliant on female sensitivity, so women
are reliant on male protection.
Have a read here if interested (though
it is only a little part of the overall sermon):
should a women be a head pastor in a Church? No I don't believe so. It seems
from scripture that that is a role God has given to men. Certainly there are
times within the Bible, such as what you mentioned about Deborah in the Old
Testament, where females did take the lead. But this is the exception, not the
rule, and seems to have arisen where men wouldn't do what was given them to
do. Also you mentioned valid examples from the New Testament where women were
prominent such as Priscilla and Phoebe. They served wonderfully in their roles
within the church. Great. The word used to describe Phoebe in Rom 16:1 is
'diakonon' which in other places (but not all) is translated as
"deacon". So she was serving the Church (maybe as a deaconess) and Paul
wanted to commend her in this work. Again, fantastic.
enough although I know it is a subject that probably requires a lot more. It
isn't an easy topic. 1 Tim 2:11-14 especially requires more explanation so I
have added David Guzik's commentary notes on that below which are helpful.
He especially has some good points on 'being silent' and the breakdown
in general of 'authority' in our society.
Anyway, all the best
and I hope some clarity has been added to this difficult topic,
commentary on 1 Tim 2:11-12
Let a woman learn in silence with all
submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,
but to be in silence.
a. Let a woman learn in silence: This unfortunate
translation has led some to believe that it is forbidden for women to even speak
in church meetings. Paul uses the same word translated silence in 1Ti_2:2, and it
is translated peaceable there. The idea is without contention instead of total
i. In other places in the New Testament, even in the writings
of Paul, women are specifically mentioned as praying and speaking in the church
(1Co_11:5). To learn in silence has the idea of women receiving the teaching of
the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of
ii. Submission is the principle; to learn in silence
describes the application of the principle.
iii. Some have said the
reason for this is because in these ancient cultures (as well as some present-day
cultures), men and women sat in separate sections. The thought is that women
interrupted the church service by shouting questions and comments to their
husbands during the service. Clarke expresses this idea: "It was lawful for
men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when
there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this
liberty was not granted to women."
b. With all submission: The word
for submission here literally means, "To be under in rank." It has to
do with respecting an acknowledged order of authority. It certainly does not mean
that men are more spiritual than women or that women are inferior to men.
"Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that 'rank' has
to do with order and authority, not with value or ability. . . . Just as an army
would be in confusion if there were no levels of authority, so society would be
in chaos without submission." (Wiersbe)
c. I do not permit a woman
to teach or to have authority over a man: Paul's meaning seems clear. Women
are not to have the role of teaching authority in the church. To be under
authority is the principle; not teaching is the application.
i. Paul is
saying that the church should not recognize women as those having authority in
the church regarding matters of doctrine and Scriptural interpretation.
Not all speaking or teaching by a woman is necessarily a violation of God's
order of authority in the church. Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a
woman must be done in submission to the men God has appointed to lead the church.
iii. 1Co_11:1-12 emphasizes the same principle. Women are to always act under
authority in the congregation, demonstrated in Corinthian culture by the wearing
of a head covering. Therefore a woman in the Corinthian church could only pray or
prophesy if she demonstrated that she was under the leadership of the church, and
she demonstrated this by wearing a head covering and by acting consistently with
d. I do not permit: The strength of Paul's wording
here makes it challenging to obey this command in today's society. Since the
1970's, our culture has rejected the idea that there may be different roles
for men and women in the home, in the professional world, or in the church. In
this text (among others), the Holy Spirit clearly says there is a difference in
i. But the cultural challenge must be seen in its true context -
not just a struggle between men and women, but as a struggle with the issue of
authority in general. Since the 1960's, there has been a massive change in
the way we see and accept authority.
• Citizens do not have the
same respect for government's authority.
• Students do not have the
same respect for teacher's authority.
• Women do not have the same
respect for men's authority.
• Children do not have the same
respect for parental authority.
• Employees do not have the same
respect for their employer's authority.
• People do not have the
same respect for the police's authority.
• Christians no longer
have the same respect for church authority.
ii. There are not many who
would say that these changes have been good. Generally, people do not feel safer
and there is less confidence in the culture. Television and other entertainment
get worse and worse. In fact, our society is presently in, and rushing towards,
complete anarchy - the state where no authority is accepted, and the only thing
that matters is what one wants to do.
iii. It is fair to describe our
present moral state as one of anarchy. There is no moral authority in our
culture. When it comes to morality, the only thing that matters is what one wants
to do. And in a civil sense, many neighborhoods in our nation are given over to
anarchy. The government's authority is not accepted in gang-infested
portions of our cities. The only thing that matters is what one wants to do.
We must see the broader attack on authority as a direct Satanic strategy to
destroy our society and millions of individual lives. He is accomplishing this
with two main attacks. First, the corruption of authority; second, the rejection
v. This idea of authority and submission to authority are
so important to God that they are part of His very being. The First Person of the
Holy Trinity is called the Father; the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is
called the Son. Inherent in those titles is a relationship of authority and
submission to authority. The Father exercises authority over the Son, and the Son
submits to the Father's authority - and this is in the very nature and being
of God. Our failure to exercise Biblical authority, and our failure to submit to
Biblical authority, isn't just wrong and sad - it sins against the very
nature of God. 1Sa_15:23 speaks to this same principle: For rebellion is as the
sin of witchcraft.
e. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have
authority over a man: Paul's focus here is the public worship of the church.
God has established a clear chain of authority in both the home and in the
church, and in those spheres, God has ordained that men are the "head"
- that is, that they have the place of authority and responsibility.
Our culture, having rejected the idea in a difference in role between men and
women, now rejects the idea of any difference between men and women. The driving
trends in our culture point towards men who are more like women, and women who
are more like men. Styles, clothes, perfumes, and all the rest promote this
ii. The Bible is just as specific that there is no general
submission of women unto men commanded in society; only in the spheres of the
home and in the church. God has not commanded in His word that men have exclusive
authority in the areas of politics, business, education, and so on.
It also does not mean that every woman in the church is under the authority of
every man in the church. Instead it means that those who lead the church -
pastors and ruling elders - must be men, and the women (and others) must respect
iv. The failure of men to lead in the home and in the
church, and to lead in the way Jesus would lead, has been a chief cause of the
rejection of male authority - and is inexcusable.
v. Some feel this
recognition and submission to authority is an unbearable burden. They feel that
it means, "I have to say that I am inferior, that I am nothing, and I have
to recognize this other person as being superior." Yet inferiority or
superiority has nothing to do with this. We remember the relationship between God
the Father and God the Son - they are completely equal in their being, but have
different roles when it comes to authority.
vi. Some may say that the
church cannot work (or cannot work well) unless we go along with the times and
put women into positions of spiritual and doctrinal authority in the church. From
the standpoint of what works in our culture, they may be right. Yet from the
standpoint of pleasing God by doing what He says in His word, they are wrong.