By Edwin Christiaan
There is a growing trend in these last days of women who are taking upon themselves the office of a pastor, teaching and preaching and having authority over men. This trend has become so popular that taking a stance against it is considered misogynistic and chauvinistic. Most Christian church denominations are embracing this false doctrine under fear of prosecution, but the Word of God warns us against rejecting the truth.
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.”
2. Timothy 4:3-4 NLT
Many of these women pastors express how much they love their congregations and how they believe to be called by God to be pastor. They talk about the great job they are doing because of their pastoral gifting.
So, what do we say to these claims? Are these women pastors really called by God? Or are they deceived, rebellious, and disobedient women who usurp the position of men and go directly against Scripture?
As traveling ministers for many years, we have noticed, that wherever there is a church led by a woman pastor – meaning, she is standing up to preach and teach in a mixed congregation of men and women, making statements about God and about the meaning of His Word from a position of authority over men, there always seems to be disorder.
Don’t get me wrong, they can make it look good, and they can preach up a storm! It’s behind the scenes that you will find how they always struggle with issues like selfish ambition, jealousy, competition, control, and manipulation. These problems may seem minor to some, but they are powerful enough to lead many people astray, away from God.
Let’s see what the Bible says about this issue.
The Apostle Paul taught the church that,
“Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.”
1. Timothy 2:11-12 NLT
So God, through the Apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This excludes women from serving as pastors, which definitely involves preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority over men.
“In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world.
For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was the woman, not Adam, who was deceived by Satan, and sin was the result.”
1. Timothy 2:13-14 NLT
Women are not to teach men or have spiritual authority over men because Eve was the one who was deceived by the serpent. We may want to argue that women are just as good as men in ministry, but that doesn’t change the fact that God has given men the primary teaching authority in the church.
Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, and helping. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1. Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. Nowhere in the Bible are women restricted from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, and to proclaim the Gospel to the lost.
But God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers, or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is absolutely not the case), or less worth!
It is simply the way God designed the church to function! Godly men are to set the example as a spiritual leader through their lifestyle and words.
These are the qualifications for an elder/pastor and their wives,
“It is a true saying that if someone wants to be an elder, he desires an honorable responsibility. For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?
An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not fall into the Devil’s trap and be disgraced.”
1. Timothy 3:1-7 NLT
“An elder must be well thought of for his good life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who are not wild or rebellious. An elder must live a blameless life because he is God’s minister.
He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or greedy for money. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must love all that is good. He must live wisely and be fair. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong and steadfast belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.”
Titus 1:6-9 NLT
Women are to take a less authoritative role and are encouraged to teach other women.
“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
Titus 2:3-5 NLT
The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children, including both boys and girls. Again, the only activity women are restricted from is teaching men or having spiritual authority over them. Therefore, logically, this would exclude women from serving as pastors!
In other words, a woman cannot teach in a mixed gathering with both men and women. However, a woman can teach and edify other women! This does not make women less important by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifts to them.
There are many gifted women who might very well do a better job at preaching and teaching than many men. However, it isn’t gifting that is the issue, but rather God’s order and calling. We cannot come to God’s Word with a social agenda and make it fit the way we want. Instead, we must change and adapt to what the Word of God says.
Many women pastors and their supporters justify their position as pastors by saying that women in the Bible like Deborah, Huldah, and Miriam also held positions of leadership. This justification fails to note some significant factors: Deborah was a female judge among 13 male judges, appointed by God to a civil political authority position and not to ecclesiastical authority! Huldah is mentioned in the Old Testament as a female prophet among many male prophets, but not as having a leadership position. Miriam’s only connection to leadership was being the sister of Moses and Aaron.
The two most prominent women in authority in the times of the kings of Israel were the rebellious and evil queens, Jezebel and Athaliah - hardly examples of godly female leadership.
Another argument to justify the position of being a female pastor, is that of Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts chapter 18, Priscilla, and her husband Aquila, are presented as faithful ministers for Christ. Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, perhaps indicating that she was more prominent in ministry than her husband. However, Priscilla is nowhere described as participating in a ministry activity that is in contradiction to 1. Timothy 2:11-14. Priscilla and Aquila invited a preacher named Apollos, who was from Jewish descent, into their home and they both discipled him, explaining the Word of God to him more accurately (see Acts 18:26). They were teaching Apollos together as a couple, and in a private setting.
In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is considered a “deacon” or a “servant” and “helper,” which does not indicate that Phoebe was a teacher in the church. To be more specific, the passage from 1. Timothy 3:2, where it says, “he must be able to teach,” is only given as a qualification for elders, not for deacons (1. Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9).
Furthermore, elders/bishops/deacons are all described as the “husband of one wife,” “a man whose children believe,” and “men worthy of respect.” Clearly the indication is, that these qualifications refer to men only.
Further, it is worth mentioning, that nowhere in the Bible can it be found that a temple priest was a woman. In the Old Testament, there are over 700 mentions of priests, and every single one was a male. There is not one instance of a female priest. That job was always done by a man. This is significant because priests were ordained by God to hold a very important office of ministering the sacrifices. This was not the job of women.
God’s Word clearly tells us that the elder/pastor/-bishop is to be the husband of one wife. A woman cannot qualify for this position by virtue of her being female. Whether anyone likes it or not is irrelevant to the fact that this is what the Bible teaches.
God’s Word does have a gender distinction when it comes to how things work in the church. We cannot get around “I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.” We also cannot get around the requirements for elders as being husband of one wife, which is a very definite gender distinction. Neither can we get around the fact, that Jesus chose 12 men as His apostles and leaders of His church, even though there were also women who traveled with them.
There is also a difference between a person standing up reading scripture, which I would argue is open to both genders in a worship service, as opposed to a person standing up teaching and preaching a sermon, which is far more than simply reading scripture. God says only men belong in that position.
In the book of Revelation chapter 2, Jesus strongly admonished the church of Thyatira, who allowed a woman pastor to lead them astray:
“But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman - that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet - to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality. Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. I will strike her children dead.”
Revelation 2:20-22 NLT
An obedient woman will not seek to rise up to a position in the church that God has forbidden. Such a woman, who becomes a pastor, is in rebellion and disobedience.
If you are in a church that is led by a woman pastor, you should GET OUT and find a church with a male pastor who loves Jesus and stays true to Scripture and who teaches grace. By leaving a rebellious woman pastor and attending a good church with proper leadership, you will be able to grow and mature in Christ, as you sit under solid Bible teaching.