By Paul K. Christianson
Martin Luther once said to those who were willing to accept the conventional
wisdom of society over that of Scripture: "If I profess with the loudest
voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God - except
precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment
attacking, I am not confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the
loyalty of the soldier is proved..."
Today when you pick up a newspaper the headline or caption might read, "Female
bishop installed," or "Lady pastor to speak Sunday," etc.
Yet the conventional wisdom of today's society would applaud such headlines
as reflective of the socio-economic, political, legal, and, yes, ecclesiastical
advances of women this century.
However, the Christian's appeal must first and foremost be an appeal to
the word of God, the Bible and not to present-day community standards. In
the New Testament men were chosen and ordained for the work of deacon and
elder (i.e., preacher, minister, pastor). These were men who served either
by apostolic or church appointment, and there is no evidence that women
were placed in these official roles. In fact, there are clear Scriptural
prohibitions for their taking of such roles. (See I Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians
The question of women in office is not a question of equality with men;
nor is it based on the false notion that somehow one's position in society
is related to their worth. As to the latter, Scripture regularly combats
this notion (see Judges 5:24-27; I Samuel 17:41-49; James 2:1-7; Matthew
26:13). Those who seek power to affirm their worthiness are looking in the
wrong place altogether, for Christ warned that we should seek not power
- but rather service. (See Matthew 20:25-28). As to the former, equality
and role differences are not mutually exclusive. There is an equality of
woman with the man before God (See Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:27,28; I Peter
3:7). I Peter 3:7 is a good summary: "Ye husbands, in like manner,
dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman,
as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life;
to the end that your prayers be not hindered." Men and women are "joint-heirs"
of God's grace and eternal life. Yet while "joint-heirs" in their
mutual equality before God, their roles are different, and the Bible forbids
women to fill the special offices in the church.
There are many passages of Scripture which could be brought to bear regarding
the prohibition of women holding the special offices in the church. Let
me focus on just one, 1 Timothy 2:11-14: "Let a woman learn in quietness
with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion
over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve;
and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into
You will notice that the Apostle Paul appeals to creation. The creation
account implies three things:
1) Man is given dominion (Genesis 1:26);
2) The woman was formed after the man and was to be a helper for him (Genesis
3) And that after the fall man's authority over the woman is reasserted
and the woman is named by the man (Genesis 3:6, 20). As theologian Gordon
Wenham puts it, "Eve listened to the serpent instead of Adam; Adam
listened to Eve instead of God."
So I Timothy 2:13 uses the order of the creation of man and woman as a basis
for prohibiting women to teach or have authority over men in the church.
The Bible clearly teaches male headship in the church, and this is derivative
of the pre-fall creation order established in the early chapters of Genesis.
While the writers of the New Testament honored women, they never negated
by word or inference male headship either in the home or church.
Therefore to permit women to hold office the church is in flagrant disobedience
to the commands of Christ in the Scripture; in the second place, it is an
attack not only upon Scripture - but also the headship of Christ; and thirdly,
it's an attack upon the husband's headship over his wife. The husband is
not merely the "source" or "origin" of the wife as many
assert; headship implies authority as Ephesians 5:22-23 asserts "For
the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is also the head of the church,
being himself the savior of the body."
John Cavin in commenting on I Timothy 2:15 said, "Whatever hypocrites
or wise men of the world may think, God is better pleased with a woman who
considers the condition God has assigned to her as a calling and submits
to it...God is better pleased with her than if she were to make some great
display of heroic virtues and refuse to accept the vocation given her by
Let Christians who love the Bible as God's Word stand with courage against
these evils which will, ultimately, undermine and degrade women, the family
and the church.
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