Does God Call Women to Preach?

Our surprise should be great when women of piety mount the pulpit, for they are acting in plain defiance of the command of the Holy Spirit, written by the pen of the apostle Paul.

— Charles H. Spurgeon

Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the context of the Church…Anyone ignoring or rejecting God’s order, laid out in Scripture, weakens the Church and dishonors Him.

— Dr. John MacArthur

Instead of taking the Scriptures’ plain teachings, we say that times have changed. When it suits our thesis, we say it is no longer relevant’…If you want to avoid terrible disillusionment at the day of judgment, face Scripture as it is. Do not argue with it, do not try to manipulate it, and do not twist it; face it, receive it, and submit to it whatever the cost.

— Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones


I have no doubts that the writings of Paul have been controversial since he penned these words in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV): “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Since then, there have been two responses among the Christians: 1) take the Word of God literally and apply it accordingly to the life of the Church, or 2) find a way to discredit Paul by saying that these words were temporary, cultural, or from the perspective of a sexist.

Feminist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the following words in her work The Elevation of Womanhood, “All who believe in progress within the Church should hail the present movement for woman’s emancipation, as that brings us to the next onward step in the new religion.” Did you catch that? New religion. There were also other women in the past who believed that which historical Christianity held to, the very thing that Scripture commands, should be changed. Strangely, criticisms against Paul were a part of the foundation of feminism. Key figures such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton (editor of The Woman’s Bible), Lucretia Mott (prophetess of the Quaker movement), and Phoebe Palmer (key figure of the heretical movement known as Holiness Movement).

Today, it seems that female preachers and pastors are commonplace, especially among Charismatic circles. Key figures such as Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer are all growing in popularity, as reverence for Scripture has decreased. They believe that what they do is permitted, even though they do everything contrary to Scripture including being called pastors, teaching men, and teaching biblical doctrines to a church. What is their justification? God apparently called these women to preach and become pastors. However, can this be true?

Aside from the biblical argument that can be made, from a historical perspective, women who exercise authority in the Church tend to be false teachers or those who embrace heresy. Phoebe Palmer, completely ignoring 1 John 1, taught that she experienced complete sanctification, and that she could teach others how to come to it. Paula White is a Word of Faith minister, who has stated the following false teachings/heresies:

  • Jesus is not the only begotten Son of God, and Christians possess the same divine authority as God the Son. (click here for proof)
  • Couples should watch porn together, and to experiment in the bedroom. (click here for proof)
  • God desires that you be satisfied in yourself, and you would be materially blessed. (click here for proof)

Priscilla Schirer believes you have to demand blessings from God, Beth Moore believes she receives extra-biblical revelations, Joyce Meyer believes that we don’t need to take the Bible literally and that Paul was wrong, Kari Jobe believes Jesus suffered in hell for three days, et cetera and et cetera. All that I have listed are not even the female preachers of the past, which can sometimes be argued as being far worse (like the prophetesses during the Salem Witch Trials who claimed to be able to see demons and angels), but only from the time that we live in now. Are you willing to trust the women who teach heresy about what Paul was really saying, and whether the Bible was God’s Word or Paul’s opinion? I wouldn’t.

We should always take Scripture to heart, especially when it comes to tough questions such as these. Though it may be counter cultural, and maybe even offensive, we must lovingly confront the issue by submitting to whatever the Scriptures say. We can’t continue to dishonor God by allowing women to believe that God goes against His Word. The truth of the matter is this: based on the Bible and the proof given throughout Church history, God doesn’t call women to be preachers, elders, or pastors in the Church. No matter who says what, it’s not biblical.

Women under the carnal state of the world desire to take leadership over men or rid them from their duties. We know this because before Satan had fellowship with Eve, she was content with Adam being her leader, pastor, and husband. However, she was tempted by Satan, and thus he convinced her that she could take matters into her own hands. By referring to the creation account, Paul warns us that God has ordained that men and women are to complement one another and that women shouldn’t take leadership over men in the home or the Church (and we know this because marriage points to Christ and the Church). Does this mean that women are not called to any ministry or any godly work? Absolutely not!

Women are given gifts by God, and this is the most important aspect of it: in the same way God gives exclusive responsibilities and operations to men, the same way God gives exclusive responsibilities and operations to women. Some women might be offended by this, and maybe some men (who might be drinking too much soy milk), but the Scriptures portray female complementary roles as beautiful, blessed, and spiritual. From motherhood to being a student, God has given women the following extraordinary gifts (I go into further detail in God’s Call for Women):

1) God calls women to learn.
2) God calls women to teach children, and to strengthen one another.
3) God calls women to be good wives and mothers.
4) God calls women to be submissive to their husbands.
5) God calls women to be keepers of the home.
6) God calls women to be doers.
7) God calls women to worship Him.
8) God calls women to draw near to Him.
9) God calls women to represent the Church.
10) God calls women to support their husbands, and their husband’s leadership.

Though God calls women to many things in Scripture, preaching in the Church is exclusively for men. This is not sexist, as explained in a post I made called Is God a Male Chauvinist? (to read click here), but rather a testimony to the fact that God made men and women different. They both have different roles, and I think it’s extraordinary that God created men to be leaders, and women to be helpers. He is to be praised for it and not questioned.

Paul’s words are controversial, especially in our modern day, but does that mean we can go against it? No. Even if a woman were to tell me, with tears in her eyes, that God called her to be a pastor, I would take them back to not only the passage I began with, but also 1 Corinthians 14:33-37 (ESV): “As in all the churches of the saints, 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. 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 churchOr was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.”

Women are not called to be pastors, preachers, or elders. What they are actually called to be will be further detailed in my post coming up on Monday. However, the Scriptures speak clearly on the issue of whether women can say they are called to the governing offices of the Church. Everyone who is called to ministry must be first be obedient to the Word of God. If one isn’t convicted by Scripture and chooses to ignore its plain teachings, then that person goes against God, and one is not teaching the Word of the Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria.

5 Comments

  1. “Aside from the biblical argument that can be made, from a historical perspective, women who exercise authority in the Church tend to be false teachers or those who embrace heresy.”

    Arianism, Gnosticism, Montanism, Sabellianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Catharism, Janesism, Marcionism, these and other heresies are the product of mostly male teachers, the reason being is that for the longest time only men were permitted to teach and therefore those men were false teachers – like the ones that Paul warned the church about; MEN who were wolves – not women (2 Timothy 3:8-9). As a gender, more men have misled the church than women just out of opportunity to do so. Men are not somehow divinely protected from creating heresy. Women are not somehow divinely prone to creating heresy. Looks like one of us needs to brush up on their Christian history.

    As for the Biblical argument, take something like slavery – the Bible affirms it more than it denies it, so we should start buying and selling each other into forced servitude in order to be Biblical and so that our households will consist of husbands of and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves just like the Bible says, right? Or does God call us to choose freedom and equality so much so that he wanted us to choose to put slavery to rest and to choose to affirm women as the equals of men in every way?

    What about which glorifies God most? A society of hierarchies, of masters over slaves, of husbands over wives or a society of equals where everyone is at the same level, where everyone preaches and teaches the knowledge of God? It seems to me to be not glorifying of God to create a society where some have to go through others to get to God.

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    1. If you are open for a genuine discussion, then I am more than willing to answer to these things.

      1) Heresy Taught by Men
      Yes, Paul did warn us about false prophets and false teachers. Both Greek words were male (like he and him), and indeed a lot of the heresies that you mentioned did come from men who were influenced by doctrines of demons. However, women actually were active under these heretics. One of the signs of a heretical movement is the allowance of female teachers and prophetesses. Such heretical movements such as Montanism, Marcionism, and Quakerism were exercising those things. Also, I am not arguing that men can’t be false teachers. I have done several posts warning us against them. What I simply stated was that, according to Scripture, if you are disobedient to God’s commands for church order you are automatically a false prophet, and a liar. I believe that all women who operate outside of biblical parameters are definitely false teachers, and maybe even heretics.

      2) Slavery Refutation
      The Bible does not affirm it. One of the first things you must remember is that God freed the Israelites out of SLAVERY, the Bible forbids selling men and women as property, and Paul said in Galatians 5:1 (ESV), “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Paul mentioned in other passages that we are free in Christ, and that we should AVOID slavery. Yet, he did say that though it should be avoided, masters should treat their SERVANTS according to the mercies that Christ had shown us. Unless you squint your eyes when reading the Bible, you can’t prove to me that the Bible encourages slavery.

      3) God Calls Us to Live According to His Standards
      Please check out my post on male chauvinism…I made it very clear that God condemns sexism. I also believe God condemns racism, and any kind of chauvinism for that matter (including the extreme, ungodly patriotic pride that America has). However, God created men and women to be a symbol of Christ and the Church. Are we, as the Church, one with Christ? Yes. We have a right standing with Him. We are able to be considered His equal in Him, but does that mean we are God? No. So why does the principle change? Why do you believe that God is glorified through egalitarians? Could it be that your understanding of the Bible is through a biased perspective? I think that what glorifies God most is when we submit to the Scriptures, not when we live according to modern movements or our own opinion.

      As a word of encouragement, I say all these things in love. I hope that you will grow in Christ, and I am encouraged that your reasoning for allowing women to preach is not just your own opinion, but being concerned for God’s glory. I too was an egalitarian, and specifically a feminist. However, God’s Word is clearly against this idea, and speaks of a better way to organize church, family, and society. I am not saying women should quit their jobs, everyone should hold to a patriarchal view (which I think is unbiblical), and that men should refrain women from doing anything. What I was simply saying was that the Bible makes it very clear that women are not called to preach, pastor, or teach a church.

      Hope this finds you well, blessings to you, and may you blossom in your study of the Scriptures.

      Soli Deo Gloria.

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      1. I understand the scriptures as the collective wisdom of an ancient human society. Much of the New Testament can be dated to first century Greek, Turkey, Israel, Italy, and the Mediterranean region under Rome’s control. Or as the new Ben-Hur movie put it: “The world you live is Rome’s, their laws, their power.” Rome was an empire of concentric levels of authority, elders had more authority than youth, wealthy had more authority than poor, men had more authority than women, masters had more authority than slaves, citizens had more authority than foreigners. Any combination of the above could affect your status. When Paul was writing back and forth to area churches, it was to deal with problems they were having: issues with the morality of idol feasts, whether or not women should wear head coverings, his opinion on particular teachings that were relevant to them or popular in their areas. When reading other people’s mail and taking other people’s medicine, one shouldn’t be surprised that some things just don’t make sense, just don’t apply, or have harmful side effects.
        It’s odd that you’d say that women are not called to preach, pastor, or teach a church when Junia was referred to as an Apostle, Phoebe was referred to as a Deacon, and Priscilla taught Apollos (with Aquila’s help.) Not only that, but a number of women such as Lydia and the Elect Lady were hostesses of a church – in their society being a host or hostess has specific duties and responsibilities.
        The Early Church certainly didn’t seem to think that it was a clear prohibition against women preaching and teaching, but then again, given the gender segregation of the day, there would have been scandal for men to have taught the women and there wasn’t enough men to teach the women – of which there were so many that there were not enough men to marry them off to in their class. That’s why Paul brought along women like Euodia and Syntyche to go to places he couldn’t go and share the message to those whom he couldn’t teach. But when you erase the gender segregation of the day, you end up erasing the female leadership of the church – like the deaconesses that were brought before Pliny or the desert mothers who lived an aesthetic lifestyle. Perhaps you erase the women like Marcella who was so educated in spiritual matters that Saint Jerome ended up referring church elders to her because she could explain pretty much anything to them.
        Ultimately, we are not the same society that lived in the Bible, we have different problems … some of which are caused by using the wrong medicine – using the Bible’s solution for problems we didn’t have is causing it’s own problems.
        I guess you must believe that the Word of God is so fragile that women would break it and it would return void, that women who would quote word-for-word what Jesus teaches would invariably destroy the Bible. I have more faith in God than that – I believe God had the ability to peer through time and know that one day that we would set slaves free and treat women as equals, but he also knew writing the Bible for us in that time wouldn’t help them where they were at.
        Think of it like the trajectory of a baseball – it’s been hit and it’s flying deep into the outfield … time progresses forward … except, it’s time to be biblical, so the ball warps back to the infield and never goes any further than that – trapping God in a first century patriarchal world and unable to join us in 2017.
        But many these days realize that head coverings are cultural, and not required of women just because they’re women. So people don’t obey that part of 1 Corinthians 11. Isn’t that something? Perhaps head coverings aren’t the only concept that deserves to fade into Christian history.

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  2. According to your reply Jamie Carter, you seem to be a person who doesn’t hold to the stance of Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), and you probably don’t recognize the authority, the context, and the value of Scripture. Normally, I wouldn’t even waste my time with people like you, but it does say in the Bible that we should answer to folly and there’s…definitely a lot to answer to from your reply.

    1) Scriptural Authority
    I don’t believe the Word of God is fragile; I believe it is DIVINE! Because it is divine, and because I know that it is from the Lord Himself, I am OBLIGATED to obey it, and to teach it accordingly. I am convicted to make sure the Bible’s commands are kept. This is a sign of every believer according to Psalm 1. We are to meditate on His Law, and from what it looks like…you don’t understand that the Word of the Lord is truth for all cultures, all times, and all seasons. I don’t think you can be a true believer until you realize that.

    2) Roman, Hellenistic, Jewish, Alexandrian, Athenian, Carthaginian…there were many societies…
    Are you seriously gonna quote from my second favorite movie of all time (and you better not be quoting from that dreadful remake), which had many historical flaws, to prove your point about history? Did you consider reading Acts? The Romans didn’t control everything. The Romans were acceptant of culture, and even preserved culture throughout the empire’s rule. Only when a nation would be in extreme rebellion would they wipe out everything. But the Romans rebuilt the Jewish temple, the Romans adopted Hellenistic culture, the Romans adopted Athenian philosophy, the Romans filled their libraries with Alexandrian works (yes from Africa), and the Romans/Greeks embraced women speaking and prophesying in temples. Read through Acts, and textbooks and do your homework before you blast the “intellectual horn” only to find out that you cried wolf and you really know nothing.

    3) The Women You Mentioned Didn’t Contradict Scripture
    Junia wasn’t an Apostle, but an apostle, deacons didn’t teach Scripture or lead churches, hostess of a church would literally be a church greeter by today’s terms, women knowing theology is a great thing (not your kind, but the biblically sound kind), and elders asking women for advice is not the same as speaking in Church. Pastors and elders that I have known ask their wives for advice all the time. I think you are twisting not only my words, but you are sinfully twisting the Words of Paul in order to sell your egalitarian agenda to yourself and the people around you. The Scriptures were always obeyed! Only heretical movements embraced women speaking.

    4) No Male Teachers, No Church
    If there are no males who are qualified to teach, or to lead a church…shut down that church. That is a lie from the devil. You really believe there are not enough qualified men? Please. You don’t get around much do you? There are plenty! There are plenty of godly men out there who would love to teach Scripture, and pastor a church. If there aren’t any however, then it’s God’s sign to shut down the church. If it is not able to operate under God’s parameters, it shouldn’t be operated.

    5) Head Coverings
    Read 1 Corinthians 11…now read it again…and a third time…ok now I am about to blow your mind: it’s talking about hair!!! Maybe you didn’t know this, but in the Corinthian/Hellenistic culture women were being encouraged to be more like men. Thus, women were told to cut their hair short, or to even go bald. If they weren’t able to go through with that, then they were told to stay home. Under the context of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul is saying that women should embrace their femininity and not be ashamed. Women have longer hair than men…it’s true. Paul is trying to say that their heads should be covered by hair, and that they should embrace what God has created within them. They should be proud of their feminine characteristics that God has given, and they should be more than happy to follow God, no matter what culture says. That being said…I take 1 Corinthians 11…VERY LITERALLY!

    I wouldn’t have been so savage had you been more sincere and genuinely open for discussion, and had you not used false evidences. Hope you read your Bible more, study history more, and remove the bias from your eyes that you so desperately cling to. Wish the best for you, and I pray that God would work within your heart to remember that we must embrace the Authority of Scripture and carry out His commands.

    Soli Deo Gloria.

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