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Women are allowed to teach, therefore they can be ordained as elders or pastors

 

 

 

Many Protestant Churches allow women to teach the Word of God, and to be ordained as elders or pastors. Among them are the Assemblies of God (AOG) and the Southern Baptist Churches (SBC).

AOG. The Assemblies of God in USA has affirmed the ministry of women ever since its first constitutional statement in 1914 which included an article on the ‘Rights and Offices of Women.’ The General Council adopted a resolution according to which women had the right ‘to be ordained, not as elders, but as Evangelists and Missionaries, after being duly approved according to the scriptures.’ In 1935, however, the Assemblies of God reversed the prohibition of female elders enacted in 1914 and authorized the ordination of women as elders or pastors. In the statement on the role of women in ministry, which was adopted by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God in 1990, we read among other things the following eloquent words: ‘We are aware that the ministry and leadership of women are not accepted by some individuals, both within and outside the Christian community. We condemn all prejudice and self-promotion, by men or women. The existence in the secular world of bigotry against women cannot be denied. But there is no place for such an attitude in the body of Christ. We acknowledge that attitudes of secular society, based on long-standing practice and tradition, have influenced the application of biblical principles to local circumstances.’ Therefore, according to these words, those who within the Church of God do not allow women to teach or to be ordained as elders or pastors, have a prejudice (which is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience) against women. In 1993, 330 of all credentialed ministers in the AOG were female senior pastors.

SBC. ‘The Fall 1997 edition of Folio, the newsletter of Baptist Women in Ministry, published the results of an extensive study and said there were 1,225 ordained women in the SBC and that roughly 200 of those are pastors and associate pastors. There were 16 states where women serve as senior pastors in SBC churches. North Carolina had the most. The other top 10 states for employing Baptist clergywomen are, in order, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Alabama and Maryland. The Midwestern Theological Seminary published a report recently that claims there are only about 35 pastors in Southern Baptist churches, but the report is "preliminary" and addresses only the issue of senior pastors. SBC seminaries and other seminaries used by SBC congregations (such as Dallas Theological Seminary) are filled with women who have feminist sympathies and who are training for the ministry. Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that more women are now being trained for ministry in Southern Baptist seminaries than at any other time in the SBC's history (Southern Baptist Convention web site, June 15, 2000). Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, who preaches to mixed crowds of men and women, is a member of a Southern Baptist congregation. Texas Southern Baptists featured Lotz's "stirring preaching" at their Evangelism Conference in 1996. Furthermore, there is a large number of Southern Baptist churches that allow women to teach adult Sunday School classes …’ (from an article titled ‘Why I am not Southern Baptist,’ written by David W. Cloud, which is on his site http://www.wayoflife.org/).

 

Confutation

 

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Timothy 2:11-15 – NKJV), and to the Corinthians: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34 – NKJV). Therefore, according to the Holy Scripture, a woman cannot teach the Word of God, and thus she cannot become a pastor or one of the elders, for both of them are appointed by the Holy Spirit among the Church to teach the doctrine of God.

Now I want to comment briefly on the above mentioned words of Paul.

● The apostle says that a woman must learn, therefore the fact that he says that she must learn shows us that a woman must occupy the place of those who must learn and not the place of those who must teach. Furthermore, saying “in silence with all submission” Paul explains the way she must learn. In other words, Paul says that she is not allowed to speak while the Word is being taught to the Church, nor is she allowed to ask questions when the Church is assembled, for he says to the Corinthians: “And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:35 – NKJV).

● The apostle says that he does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; therefore to him it was shameful for women both to teach and to exercise authority over a man. So I ask the following questions to those who are contentious, ‘If Paul does not permit both things, why do you affirm that a woman is allowed to teach but she cannot have authority over a man? Why have you nullified the former prohibition but you have not nullified the latter? Do you not think that it is lawful to forbid both things?’

● The apostle specified the reasons why he did not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. The first reason is that it was Adam that was formed first and not Eve, for Eve was formed after Adam; the second reason is that it was Adam and not Eve who was deceived by the serpent. Therefore the apostle forbade a woman to teach or to have authority over a man not because he had some prejudices against women nor because of a personal opinion of his, but because the Scripture teaches that the head of woman is man (not the contrary) for man was not created for the woman, but woman for the man (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:9), and that it was Eve who was deceived by that serpent of old in the garden of Eden and not Adam. Of course, Adam also fell into transgression, but after Eve. Someone may say, ‘I understand the first reason, but not the second. What has the fact that it was Eve and not Adam who was deceived by the serpent to do with this prohibition for women?’ Well, it has something to do with it, which can’t be ignored. Let me ask you this, ‘Why did the serpent go to the woman?’ For the woman at that time was already different from man in many things; we can say that the serpent noticed that the woman was weaker than man in many things and thus he chose to go to speak to her in order to deceive her. The woman spiritual weakness can be seen in the answer she gave to that serpent of old, for when the serpent said to her, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ Eve said to the serpent: “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ (Genesis 3:2-3 – NKJV). Note that the woman added to the words of God the following words ‘nor shall you touch it’ and ‘lest you die’ which was the softened version of these words spoken by God: “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 – NKJV). Now do you think that the woman has changed after all these centuries to the point that now she can teach the doctrine of God? Not at all. Do not deceive yourselves, every woman in Christ Jesus is still the weaker vessel, and even if she perfects holiness she has the same weak aspects as Eve had, so she is not allowed to teach the doctrine of God. Let those men who are appointed by God teach the doctrine of God; but let women learn in silence

Furthermore, I want to remember you that both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament we do not find any woman who taught, or rather we find one woman who taught in the Church of Thyatira, her name was Jezebel and she called herself a prophetess. Do you know what she taught? She taught the servants of the Lord to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols (cf. Revelation 2:20)!! In other words, she taught heresies.

As for the Old Testament, I remember you that when God appointed the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the testimony and to teach His laws to the children of Israel (as it is written: “They shall teach Jacob Your judgements, and Israel Your law” Deuteronomy 33:10 – NKJV), He chose only men for those tasks. No woman was appointed by God to teach His laws to the children of Israel. Someone may say, ‘What about Miriam, Deborah and Hulda, then, who spoke from God?’ They were prophetesses, that is to say, they had received the ministry of prophet. However the prophets under the Old Testament were not appointed by God to teach the law to the people but to speak to the people (or those who went to enquire of the prophets) the words He revealed to them in a vision or in a dream or through an audible voice. God did appoint the Levitical priests to teach the law, as it is written: “They shall teach Jacob Your judgements, and Israel Your law” (Deuteronomy 33:10 – NKJV) and again: “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:7 – NKJV). As you can see, it was the priests and not the prophets who taught the law. The Scriptures of the Old Testament make a clear distinction between the priest and the prophet, for when God rebuked the people He said: “Her priests [Zion’s priests] teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money” (Micah 3:11 – NKJV), and again: “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ …. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit ….. For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes in My house I have found their wickedness …. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power” (Jeremiah 2:8; 23:11; 5:31 – NKJV).

As for the New Testament, while Jesus was on earth there were no women who taught the Word of God, but only men. Jesus chose twelve men, whom he designated apostles, and sent them to preach; and afterwards He appointed seventy other men whom He sent two by two ahead of Him. There were many women who followed Jesus, but they did not teach the Word but they ministered to Him and His disciples, as it is written: “The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:1-3 – NIV). As you can see, the women who were with Jesus did not preach nor teach the Word of God, rather they were helping to support Jesus and His disciples out of their own means. Even after Jesus was taken up into heaven, there were no women who taught the Word of God in the midst of the Church but only men, as it is written: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching ….” (Acts 2:42 – NIV).

Someone may ask me now, ‘What about Phoebe, who was a deaconess of the Church in Cenchrea, and Euodia and Syntyche, who had labored with Paul in the gospel, and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist, who prophesied?’ Here is my answer.

A deacon or a deaconess is not appointed to teach the Word of God but to assist the pastor and the elders in the temporal matters of business and administration (among other things, the deacons tend to the needs of the poor, widows, and orphans). That’s why among the necessary qualifications a believer must have in order to become a deacon we don’t find “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2 - NKJV). Therefore, Phoebe, who was a deaconess of the Church in Cenchrea, ministered to the saints but she did not teach; Paul confirms that for he says to the Romans: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [or deaconess] of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me” (Romans 16:1-2 - NIV).

Euodia and Syntyche did not teach the Word, for Paul did not permit a woman to teach; the fact that it is written that they labored with Paul in the Gospel does not mean that they also taught the Word of God, for a believer can labour with a man of God in the Gospel (or can contend at his side in the cause of the Gospel) ministering to the man of God, praying to God, fasting, giving offerings, and in other ways. It is wrong to think that all those who labored with Paul in the Gospel were able to teach and to preach, for it was not so.

The four virgin daughters of Philip, of whom Luke says that they prophesied, did not teach the Word of God either, for the Scripture teaches that the gift of prophecy and the gift of teaching are two different gifts and not the same gift. That’s what Paul affirms when he says: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). Therefore a woman can receive the gift of prophecy. That’s why Paul permitted a woman to prophesy. Had Paul stated that a woman is not allowed to prophesy he would have contradicted the Word which says: “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28 – NKJV).

 

 

 

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