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 (which I will go into further detail on in Monday’s post):
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 church. Or 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.