Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why do Some Say that Women Shouldn't be Pastors?

Today it is very easy to find a woman who is charged with the leadership and teaching of a church. They write books and have ministries on the television and the internet. There are thousands of people—men and women—who affirm that they have been blessed through the ministry of a “woman pastor”.

Opinions about this topic can’t be based on our experiences. There are people who have had good and bad experiences with women pastors—who can say that one experience is more or less valid than another?

The basis of our belief must be the Bible, whatever it teaches.

I believe that the Scriptures are clear: the pastorate is reserved for men. I am going to give you some reasons why I think so and some implications of this interpretation.

Reasons why
1) Paul did not permit it. First Timothy 2:11-12 says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” (ESV).

Some misinterpret this verse to repress women and not let them say even one word in the church. But if Paul didn’t permit women to speak at all, why does he speak of women praying and prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11:5? It isn’t that women can’t speak, but that they can’t teach or exercise authority over a man.

The pastor not only teaches the congregation, but exercises authority. The act of teaching is exercising authority. The pastor is responsible for the congregation—he has to care for it like a flock of sheep and one day will appear before God to give account for his flock (see 1 Peter 5:2; James 3:1).
If you continue reading verses 13 through 15 in the 1 Timothy passage, you will find Paul’s reasoning: it was God’s order. He chose the man to be the leader of the family and also the church.

2) There are no women pastors in the New Testament. Read it. You won’t find any woman who is a pastor. In our day we have women pastors so we have to distinguish between men and women. In that day the women didn’t even receive an education. If Jesus and his disciples weren’t afraid of doing things against the culture like teaching women as disciples (Luke 10:39), why is it that they didn’t ordain women as pastors if they thought that the pastorate was for women just as it is for men?

In two passages (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) Paul gives us the requirements for pastors. En both he says that he must be “husband of one wife”. Even though it is possible that this is an idiom that means “faithful to his wife,” the supposition is the same: Paul assumes that the pastor is a man.

It is interesting that Paul calls Phoebe a “deacon[ess]” in Romans 16:1 because in 1 Timothy 3 he gives us the requirements for the deacons and “the women”. If he is referring to deaconesses and not the wives of deacons, it is very curious that he doesn’t refer to women pastors here.
The woman pastor is a very recent phenomenon in the history of the church. I don’t believe that it is a good development that the apostles and the first Christians overlooked. I believe that it is a deviation from the biblical norm.

What it doesn’t mean…
There are some important implications if being a woman pastor is against the Bible, but I want to start with what it doesn’t mean:

1) Above all, it doesn’t mean anything about the character, value, understanding, or importance of women. Many women are more noble, intelligent, and wise than I. God chose the man to be the leader of the home and leader of the church. Women shouldn’t focus so much on what God denies them, but rather on all the ministries in which they can serve.

2) It doesn’t mean that women can’t teach or have authority over a man outside of the church. These rules are for the church. There are many women who are managers, police officers, teachers, and even presidents. I can’t deny them the respect they deserve from their position and must submit to them if necessary.

3) It doesn’t mean that women pastors aren’t Christians. It is very easy to judge the motivations and the character of a person just because of a false teaching. The truth is that all of us, including me, make mistakes in our interpretation. No one should support an interpretation they know to be false, but we will always be blind to certain things.

Certainly there are women pastors who aren’t Christians, who intentionally obscure the truth and are intentionally in rebellion against the Word of God. The only thing that we can do is show them the truth, let the Holy Spirit work in their lives, and help others to know the truth so they can attend a more biblical church.

4) It doesn’t mean that women pastors don’t understand the Scriptures. Like I said before, everyone makes mistakes, we just don’t see it. One person can have a mistaken interpretation about one passage but the correct interpretation about another. There are many people who have been blessed by women pastors. But we need to be biblical and the end (the blessing) does not justify the means (women in the pastorate).

5) It doesn’t mean that a woman can never teach a man. My wife has taught me much about God and the Word. The Bible also records an instance when Pricilla and her husband (together) taught Apollos about the Word of God (Acts 18:24-26).

What it does mean…

1) The women who “felt a call” to the pastorate are mistaken. The basis of our beliefs has to be the Bible, not feelings or experiences. I don’t believe that all women who are pastors are sinning intentionally. I believe that they have let the values of this world (independence from men, disdain for submission, and dishonor of being a mother) transcend their process of interpreting the Bible.

2) A believer should not attend a church that is pastored by a woman. God is not capricious—He has a reason for giving us the roles He did. The faithfulness of a church with a qualified pastor is worth more than the popularity of a church with a woman pastor.

3) We must think a lot about the positions of authority and teaching in the church. Can women teach a class with men? Teenage males? Young boys? In my opinion, a woman should not be charged with a class if there are men in it. But there is a difference between a man and a child. So the difficulty for most people will be deciding if the youth leader should be a man or if women can do it also.

4) Men have to develop the desire to be spiritual leaders in church as at home. If all of us studied the Word, prayed to God, and sought to reach the requirements of being a pastor, no woman would be able to take up that position.

May God help you submit to His Word, guided by the Spirit, and to play your role in the church and in your home.

No comments: