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Monday, March 31, 2014

Should a woman be ordained pastor of a Christian congregation?


Written and posted by Jean-Louis. 3/2012 Original written in 1995.


First, let me state that my views do not stem from misogynous feelings and bias.

My premise comes from the prayer of our Lord Jesus when He taught his disciples to pray at their request. Let’s examine Matthew 6:10 which declares: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

I. Kingdom authority

How is our Father’s will accomplished in heaven?

Partly through his servants, the holy angels or messengers. In any kingdom and any army there are different levels of authority and a chain of command. For instance, the Lord Jesus appeared to Joshua in a theophany and referred to himself as the Captain of the host. Joshua 5:14 or later on as Lord of Sabaoth or Lord of the armies of heaven in Romans 9:29. So, here we have the Father King, Jesus Christ, the son, Prince who is also the King. He has the function and title of Captain of the armies of angels. 


II. Roles of Christians under delegated authority

Now, how is the Father’s will accomplished on the earth? 

Through men at different levels of authority going through a chain of command.
In Philippians 2:25, Paul referred to Epaphroditus as a fellow worker and a fellow soldier. Also, in II Timothy 2:3, Paul asks Timothy to suffer hardship with him as a good soldier of Christ. Of course, generally speaking we are all, men and women, soldiers of Christ in his spiritual army.


A. Function of the soldier

Throughout the ages, it has always been man’s role to fight in wars. It has only been since the feminist revolution that women have demanded to play a role as active combatants. Women have always participated in the military in different capacities where they could use their much-needed skills. They possess God-given abilities that sometimes are lacking in men. There are however, examples in the Bible and in history when women have risen to positions of power in a military situation. I can think of two instances, one is Deborah the Judge in the Old Testament and the other one is Joan of Arc of France who led the French army against British invaders during the first half of the 15th century AD. I personally think that God raised Deborah to shame the men who were not valiant enough to defend Israel.


B. Function of the worker

In Philippians, Paul mentions the function of fellow worker. Here, let’s note the difference between function and identity. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says that: “there is neither male, nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. He is not talking here about function in the body of Christ, such as a pastor who has delegated authority over the congregation or a teacher who has delegated authority over his students, but rather about the believer’s identity in Christ regardless of gender.

All workers have an authority over them, whether a supervisor or a manager or a department head. Whatever our place of work happens to be, this is the way any organization functions, through transferred responsibility at different levels, each one having their respective authority.


III. Role of the woman

Now let’s see what Paul says about authority in the Church regarding the role of women. In I Timothy 2:12, Paul gives this injunction: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man”. If we apply this general principle and survey the New
Testament writings, we will find ample passages to show us that women played a very active role in the development of the New Testament church.

In Acts 2:17, Peter reiterating Joel prophecy said: “In the last days, God says, I will pour my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy”.


In Acts 21:9; we learn that Philip, the evangelist had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. From the wording in I Corinthians 11:5, we can infer that women were allowed to prophesy, provided they wore a symbol of the man’s authority over their head.

In the New Testament, women were allowed to pray and to teach in the church.
Titus 2:3 reveals to us that he, Titus was commanded to “teach the older women to … teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children… and to be subject to their husbands, so no one will malign the Word of God”.

In addition, they could exercise their gifts of mercy, helps and I suppose that of giving and administration. 


In all, the only function they couldn’t perform was that of an elder or that of a pastor. Why? I believe it is because these two callings involve exercising authority over not only a man (her husband) if she is married but also over the other men in the assembly who, if they wanted to apply the Word of God to their lives couldn’t and wouldn’t have subjected themselves to a woman’s authority, thus creating divisions in the church. 

Again, we see the protective hand of God in not having a woman ordained as pastor because usually a pastor is in a most difficult position since he is Satan’s prime target and carries a tremendous responsibility to his flock.

The Bible doesn’t mention anything about women’s natural abilities and skills that would make them suitable to lead a congregation. Rather, God uses willing and available men and women empowered by the Holy Spirit to raise up a people of His own choosing. It is very clear that He chooses us and not we, ourselves. 


Hebrews 5:4 states that: “No one (talking about priests) takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was”. You might argue that this refers back to Old Testament teaching. But I do not know of a passage in the Epistles of the New Testament where God called a woman to be the pastor of a congregation. If the instructions found in the New Testament are given to us as guidelines and patterns to be applied for the building, equipping and proper functioning of the Church, I don’t see how some women can claim to be called to serve in a function that obviously is not mentioned in the Epistles.


Are we to obey God in everything else, but not on this debatable point of conflict resulting in arguments that do not have any ground in the Scriptures to stand on? It sounds to me like the forbidden fruit that was offered to Eve by Satan in the Garden of Eden.

It is interesting that in I Timothy 2:11, Paul links this command of woman not to have authority over man with the first temptation in the Garden of Eden. Those are his words: “ A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach (men) or to have authority over a man… for Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner”.

After all, Eve could have said to Satan: “I am sorry, but I never make a decision about trees or fruit without consulting my husband first. He has been delegated keeper of the garden by God himself; I am happy in my function of helpmate and I always wait until he tells me if a fruit is ripe enough to eat or if it is going to give me indigestion or may be premature death by poisoning.” Or she could have replied: “I am sorry, but I never eat dinner without my husband. It would be very impolite. After all, we live in the southern part of the Garden where people are well known for their genteel manners!  There is a good reason for that. It is listed in the marriage manual under the heading: order of creation”.

In any case, she could have used her husband’s role as a protector to defeat the lies of the devil. One wonders what Adam was doing leaving his wife alone with a talking serpent. Man is the main one to blame for Eve’s being deceived.


So this idea that women and wife can act independently of man and husband, regardless of the order of God in creation is nothing new, it goes back to the fall of Mankind. 

IV. Paul’s Arguments


Now in case somebody might think that it was just in the Old Testament or that it is a chauvinistic attitude on the part of backward, women-hating men who wrote into the Bible what the customs of the times dictated regarding the treatment of women, Paul wrote in I Corinthians 11:3-12,16:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God”.

So here Paul gives the proper recognition to women as being the glory of man. Are we not blessed in that? Why should women be put down when God says that she is our glory?

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Paul refers to hair as a symbol of covering for women to illustrate the more obvious point of his teaching which is that men have delegated authority and duty from God, as servants, to care, protect and provide for their wives and their Christians sisters in general. It certainly is nothing demeaning to the women. And to reinforce his point, he adds in verse 10: “and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head”.

You might point out that Paul while teaching women to wear long hair as a covering declares that it is a shame for a man to wear long hair; maybe because it was a Greek custom to have short hair. This passage really argues in favor of Paul being flexible and adapting to the cultural context of his time.


Here Paul is not opinionated or narrow in his assessment of the situation. As a church planter and an apostle, he had great concern for the welfare of his spiritual children.  He was referring at this point to the shaven head of the Corinthian prostitutes and wanted the testimony of Christian women to be blameless. We are to avoid the appearance of evil.
So it was not a matter of being legalistic.


In Revelation chapter 2:15 John mentions the Nicolaitans. They are mentioned twice, forming a marriage of the Church and the world, through the ordination of a supposedly superior clergy elite class ruling or lording over a supposedly inferior laity, the spiritually uneducated masses if you will. This in Greek is the meaning of Nico and Laitan. It begins with a compromise and ends in powerlessness and destruction when the Lord judges and removes the candlestick of such churches. 

Who were these Nicolaitans? It is supposed that this group whose name is derived from a man named Nicolas, compromised with pagan practices in order to allow Christians to associate with popular customs.
Does it remind you of another time in Israel´s history when the people wanted a King like the other nations around them and rejected God´s rule. God told them that their King would lord it over them. This is exactly what happened to the institution of the church through the ages, the clergy, a separate hierarchical class of trained ministers, taking the control of God´s people through different methods that are not from God and are not recorded in His Word.
We born again believers are ALL individually part of the body of Christ and as corporate members, living stones in the temple  according to New Testament teaching, none of us superior to the other. I Peter 2:5 reads: New American Standard Bible
"you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."


In the last half of the twentieth century more so pervasively and rapidly than before, the Church has been infiltrated by the world’s philosophy of Satan´s seed and has found a most welcome reception in the more liberal elements in its ranks.
Now in 2012, it has invaded almost all church denominations and movements. One of the strongest  influence has been the secular feminist movement, allied with the lesbian agenda and witchcraft principles and practices which have also been embraced and whose tenets have gone into practices in all but the most conservative Bible believing churches in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

This is exactly what Paul, Peter and John were warning their flocks about. In Revelation chapter 2, the teaching of Balaam is mentioned in the same paragraph as the teaching of the Nicolaitans. To study more about this, see 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11.


Of course, this practice in the churches is not new. Since the absorption of pagan practices in the church under Roman Emperors Constantine’s and Theodosius’ reigns resulting in a syncretism which has permeated the church until now, we have witnessed this phenomenon in the modern church that will culminate in the unification of all the apostate ecumenical churches under the rule of Antichrist during the greatest deception ever perpetrated on mankind. This is why Paul in verse 16 of chapter 11 says: “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God. 

As far as I know, God has not rescinded His commands to the Church. He has not changed one iota of His perfect, pure, eternal, unchanging Word. He still keeps on building His Church on the perfect, indestructible “foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”. Ephesians 2:20.

Maybe our human hands build buildings imperfectly on faulty foundations that will crack and not support the weight. Not so with the Lord and his Word. Everything He creates and builds is perfect. We do not need to try and improve on it. 


Furthermore, there are warnings throughout the Bible for those who would try and change it. Deuteronomy 4:2 declares: “do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you”.

Several other passages give the same command, with consequences added in the case of Revelation 22:19: “And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

Further in 2 Corinthians 10:8, Paul continues with this theme after explaining to us the good use of his authority when he declares: “For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it”. We can see from these words that Paul always had his disciples’ best interest at heart.


Then, in chapter 11:3 of the same letter, after talking about his motive for exhorting his fellow Christians, Paul introduces false teachers and their teachings by referring to the fact that Eve was the one to be deceived. 

Conclusion 
Brothers and sisters, let us beware of practices prohibited by God in His Word, first introduced by people outside and inside the Church who distort the Scriptures to back up these practices and later on formulate a false theology  once the practice has been entrenched in the lives of people. 

True Christian practices should always have as their basis pure, sound doctrine and should stem from biblical principles and the leading of the Holy Spirit who will never contradict His Word. Sound teaching should always precede good practices, not the other way around because the human heart is so deceitful. Let’s leave this type of behavior to the politicians who have perfected it to an art.


Jean-Louis.

1 comment:

  1. That is a good essay on this topic. I have been seeking better understanding on this because I can definitely see where women are undermining the churches in many cases and have to believe, per the examples in scripture, that this is a judgment even while it is a violation of God's ordained order. But then there are some women who are much more gifted in their discernment and grasp of the Word, and as they have been so thoroughly gifted with those abilities, they come to believe they are supposed to preach and teach. I know someone like that, and her insight is truly amazing, but I wondered how it could be that someone so steeped in scripture and solid in her doctrine, could come to believe she is called to preach. Your statement that some women may be raised up to preach for the purpose of shaming men who fail to fulfill their duty, might explain that. Is it ever right to do wrong, in order to get a chance to do right? I guess that's where you get into the concept of "permissive will" vs perfect will. God allows sin, but doesn't condone it, yet still uses all things together for good ultimately for those who are the called according to His purposes. He doesn't have to entice us into sin, he merely has to leave us at the mercy of our fallen inward man, and we will inevitably defy his order and laws.

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