“My daughter doesn’t want to be a preacher, so it doesn’t affect me.”
Actual words spoken by an actual human being on the topic of whether churches should empower women in ministry. Maybe it’s just me (I’ve been a little passionate about this topic lately), but I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after this one. It’s akin to hearing someone say “I don’t work outside the home so the issue of equal pay for women doesn’t affect me.” (Uh…what about the rest of society?)
Now before you close your browser thinking, “oh no, she’s going to preach at me or try to get me to change my mind,” please don’t. Stick with me. My goal isn’t to make you think what I think, but simply to encourage everyone to give the issue of women in ministry the thought it deserves (as it affects 50% of the population and all). So join me while I attempt to get your wheels spinning by taking you through a couple of points you may have never considered. And if you totally disagree with me in the end? That’s ok!
Here’s the thing—whether you’re a Complementarian (one who believes the Bible prohibits women from teaching and preaching) or an Egalitarian (one who believes the Bible empowers women to teach and preach), hopefully we all claim to hold our beliefs for the glory of God and the purpose of obeying his instructions.
Romans 14:5 is a great verse that addresses disagreements in the church that are non-essential (they’re not “make or break” for your salvation). Let’s take a quick look:
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
In light of this verse, as long as you attempt to make informed, biblical decisions, I can respect you even if I disagree, and I hope you can do the same. None of us want to be “those people” who try to make the Bible say what they want it to say or blow off certain passages because it doesn’t line up with what they want. I believe scripture is the inspired voice of God and we should treat it accordingly.
One concept that is new to more people than you might think is the importance of reading scripture in context. Who was the letter originally written to and for what purpose? What was going on in society at the time that may have influenced certain writings? This stuff makes a difference!
We also must read scripture holistically. If, for example, one verse commands women to be silent and one commands them to pray and prophesy, we clearly can’t just choose our favorite at the exclusion of the others; we have to understand them in light of the overall message of the Bible. Not doing this is precisely how people defended their “right” to own slaves for centuries, and it’s simply irresponsible.
The reason there’s so much controversy about this particular topic is because the Bible appears to speak out of both sides of its hypothetical mouth, which only means the topic requires thought, study, and guidance from the Spirit.
Here I’m going to pause briefly and ask you to read 1 Timothy 2:8-15. (It’ll be quick, I promise!)
*pausing, pausing, hum da dum dum dummm.*
Okay, are you back? Great. After reading that passage, you might ask how anyone can believe that women should be empowered to be pastors when Paul clearly says in 1 Timothy 2:12:
I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
Sounds clear as day, yes? But is it really? This is where I want to challenge you to think outside the box.
Let me point out that verse twelve says “I (as in, Paul) do not permit…” If this was a verse to be applied to all people for all time, it seems to me a big enough command (as it applies to 50% of the population for all time) that he would have wanted to point out that it was God’s command, and not simply his own.
Could it be that Paul was writing this letter to a certain church that he oversaw, and because of the patriarchal society they lived in, the spread of the gospel message (Paul’s ultimate goal) would have been hindered coming from women?
Could it be that in our modern, women-and-men-should-have-equal-opportunities society, the spread of the gospel is most effective coming from men AND women, and therefore this verse is not a rule to be followed for all time, but simply a glimpse into the beginnings of the church?
I’m not claiming to have all the answers. While of course I would love for everyone to equally empower men and women, I’m honestly just trying to get your thoughts churning on the topic and open your mind to the complexity of the matter.
Let’s look at two other points in 1 Timothy 2. In verse eight Paul says (according to most translations), “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling…” (ESV)
Imagine this verse taken literally and tell me you didn’t laugh! If we are applying every verse exactly as written, why don’t we see Christian men at Walmart or Lowes or EVERYwhere, praying and lifting holy hands as they shop and do life? Is there something less special about this verse that makes people take it less literally?
And in verse fifteen Paul says, “Yet she (woman) will be saved through childbearing…” (ESV)
Who among us truly believes that women are saved through childbearing? Can anyone honestly claim that this verse alone rules out salvation for women who never give birth? Looking at the New Testament holistically (as we should always do), it’s clear that we are saved through grace by faith alone, and not through the physical experience of childbirth. So yet again, we’ve found another verse in this passage that’s not to be taken literally for all time. Why is it so easy to ignore certain verses in favor of others?
Now let’s say your reasoning leads you to believe that while not all of these passages are meant to be taken literally, the one prohibiting women from teaching and having authority over men is, in fact, meant to be taken literally.
Let’s follow that path real quick.
Many churches translate this verse into not allowing women pastors. But that’s not what the Bible says, is it? Nowhere that I’ve found does the Bible limit this exclusion to pastoring, nor does it limit it to the church environment. So to take this to its logical conclusion, it seems that if you believe there shouldn’t be women pastors, you must also believe there shouldn’t be any women professors (for at what age does a male student become a man?), nor should there be any women CEOs or bosses of any kind.
Finally, consider this: when you read through the “gifts” passages of the Bible (such as Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, 28), which talk about the various gifts people receive from God (teaching, prophesy, wisdom, etc.) gender is not once mentioned or alluded to. What is made clear is that God imparts these gifts as he chooses.
So whether your daughter wants to be a pastor or not is beside the point. Someone else’s daughter (my ten-year-old, currently) does. And before you tell her she’s not allowed, I beg you to give this topic the prayer and research it deserves.
I won’t pretend to have it all figured out. There are several people in my life whom I love and respect very much that simply disagree with me here. But as long as we’re convinced the other is basing their beliefs on the Bible and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we can each continue to serve the Kingdom of God the best ways we know how with a clear conscience. And surely that’s all God asks of us.
(To be clear, this post only scratches the surface of this topic, which spans the whole Bible and New Testament in particular, not just 1 Timothy. If you want to reach out for further discussion, please go to my “contact” page where you can email me directly.)
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and if you haven’t yet subscribed to receive these posts directly to your email, now is a great time to do so! Stay tuned for my next post in a couple weeks where I’ll tell you a little more about my middle grade fiction book, Power Up, which will be released in a couple months! So exciting! Have a blessed week!
14 thoughts on “It DOES Affect You.”
Great post, Jessie. This topic is so important to the Church. It’s not essential as a matter of salvation, but it’s urgent as a matter of the Kingdom advancing. I love it.
Thank you, Chip! Yes, “urgent” is a good word – I like that descriptor a lot.
This one definitely got me thinking. And I recall I wrote a paper about this topic in college…I’m going to re-read it. I’ve gone back and forth on this for years. I currently attend a Southern Baptist church where women are definitely not allowed to “lead” men…except in singing. Anyway, it only rubs me wrong when I experience men teaching or preaching and I KNOW I could do it better, but because they are men they get to do it.
Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Jessie!
Thank you so much for your comment, Nicole! I’m glad it got you thinking — there’s definitely a lot to think about when it comes to this topic!! It makes me sad for all the women who have been called by God to preach, but were convinced they were not “allowed” — what a blow to the spreading of the gospel! IMHO. 🙂
I’m curious about your college paper now, haha!
Oh, hot topic! I won’t pretend to know it all but I think just because our children want to be something doesn’t mean they can be. You can’t be anything you want to be, you can be anything God wants you to be. If she feels called into ministry, that doesn’t mean it has to be as a pastor. 🤷🏼♀️ My two cents.
I also think that it’s wonderful to have women preaching/being encouraging to other women (Beth Moore, Lysa Terkurst, etc..) I’ve grown so much in my walk because of women like that & I’m very thankful for them.
Im also glad I’m not the authority on this. My post comes from my limited knowledge. I appreciate your research and info!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Randi!! I totally agree that kids can’t be anything they want – it depends on the skill sets God has given them and his calling on their lives. And I won’t claim to know if he has called my ten year old to be a pastor, haha, but if he has, it’s my belief that it’s biblical and a calling worth following, no matter her gender. It’s such a big topic, isn’t it?!!
There’s a great book on the subject called “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy” by Pierce and Groothius (and tons of other books for both sides, I’m sure!) if you or anybody else ever wants to explore it further. Have a great weekend! 🙂
Ooh I will have to put this book on my list!! I would love to know more about how to decipher what the Bible says on this issue.
Such a good post to get the juices flowing on this issue! I appreciate that you don’t shy away from controversial topics.
Yes, Randi, check it out! It’s a heady read, but that’s sort of necessary when you’re digging into scriptures on a topic this big. Thanks, Randi!😊
Jessie, I was just meditating on this topic this morning and reading some articles on it. I believe it is an important topic and we need to develop sound theology behind it. Some of my recent research has led me to believe that women have been short-changed (the way Proverbs 31 is interpreted for example). So of course that leads me to dig deeper. I don’t have an educated opinion just yet on the verses you mentioned, but I am working on reading through the literature on this as well as my own research. I have two daughters and I want them to be fully equipped to donwht god created them to do.
Luisa, I love that you’re digging into this topic on your own! It’s such an important area that deserves much prayer and research. I also have daughters and want them to be fully equipped for whatever God calls them to!💖
Having spent the first portion of my life indoctrinated with the belief that women are hard workers but men come first, I was shocked the first time I was at an event and the men encouraged the women to eat first. Women were definitely not in “ministry positions” but were needed to make everything flow. I love my history but what I love more is my present and the journey I’ve been on to discover the truths of the Bible. What I was part of growing up was man’s incredibly narrow interpretation of an incredible gospel. Through the years I’ve discovered that Paul had a very specific view of women and that was because of his audience. Does it mean it’s not important now to read and digest those scriptures? Not at all but I’m glad for the ability to put things into context. We don’t have to wear coverings. Men don’t have to have beards (Old Testament) etc… Now going back to women in ministry specifically as preachers. I simply cannot imagine a God putting a desire to preach in a young girl and then saying oh yeah, I was just kidding. I created you and I placed you in a family that loves me, I gave you a desire to spread my word through preaching but yeah you’re limited because of how I created you.
LOVE all of this and completely agree, Elaine. Thanks for sharing your journey and your thoughts!!💕
Topics like this are always tough, because we can emphasize or de-emphasize certain scriptures and end up with a different outcome. I can see why you are considering this, as your daughter is feeling a tug on her heart from God. Thank you for sharing your scripture-based and gracious thinking on the matter. For me, I see the scriptures about women prophesying and being used by God. Therefore, I do believe a woman can be called to preach. However, I also see God’s original design of a man as the leader of the family and I see that reflected as a man being the leader of the church family both by God’s design or order, as well as in scripture. So, I believe a church’s senior pastor should be a man. Therefore, women may be called to preach or teach, etc., but under his leadership. One thing that is tricky about our current society is that we tend to overlook the original God-designed differences between men and women. I believe we have equal value, but different roles. I do believe God may be calling your daughter to preach, teach, lead evangelistic or missions teams, ministries, etc. Within the church family, however, I believe her leadership should still be something that is working as a complement with a senior pastor’s leadership. That way, all gifts can be used and yet still reflect a scriptural God-design. I loved Dr. Tony Evans’ books on the Kingdom Family as he covered this topic, too. Clearly, your Christian leadership and teaching, in your role as her mom and homeschool teacher, are having a profound effect! (I don’t discount her dad’s effect, of course.) You are a perfect example of how God can use women in many powerful, long-lasting, far-reaching ways without having to be in the pulpit. Keep on preaching and teaching, my sister in Christ! May God bless you, your children and your ministry!
Hi Melissa! I so appreciate your thoughtful response and the way you can disagree on a topic while remaining gracious and encouraging! Your thoughts sound just like some of my family members actually, haha!
I absolutely agree that men and women are equal but different. I just believe that lends them to approaching the same role in their own unique ways, rather than disqualifying them from certain roles.
Based on my research, understanding, and belief, God originally created man and woman to co-reign over the Garden, and it wasn’t until sin entered the world that woman became subservient to man. Jesus’ death on the cross was the beginning of bringing his Kingdom back to earth and getting things back to the original order that God intended, which is the “tension” we’re living in now.
It’s such a big topic though, and it’s difficult to sort through all the details online. As long as we’re both doing our best to serve God with our best understanding of his design, I think he’s happy. 🙂
I love your heart for the Lord – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!
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