So I had to write a paper about whether or not women can teach or hold leadership positions in church. I have actually touched on this subject before in a previous blog here. After I studied this subject for school, I found that my opinion did not change much so you will notice a lot of similarities between the two posts.
I wanted to add that I believe as men and women we are meant to compliment each other, if we were the same we simply would not fit as well together. We are meant to be partners and work together to achieve the ultimate goal in the Great Commission.
Short Essay on the Role of Women in the Church
There is a lot of controversy regarding what a woman’s place should be in church. This is something that has been debated for years, and I will try to shed some light on this issue for you.
There are several different names for a pastor of a church, including “elder”. The New Testament definition of an “elder” is someone who functions with pastoral oversight, as well as with leadership and authority over the church (Elwell 369). This person is also responsible for the discipline of church members. According to Towns (page 681), “he must be a man of spiritual maturity in age and experience. An elder must be of recognized spiritual stature (1 Tm. 3:6), who could command respect from the people of God to lead the church.”
The New Testament portrays a deacon as a servant who is supposed to set a moral example in the church and also demonstrate strong faith. While they are to be servants, they are not necessarily supposed to be teachers (1 Timothy 5:17) (Elwell 320). Deacons are required to be wise and spiritually mature, as well as responsible enough to serve the church.
I should point out that there are a lot of examples of the importance of women in the Bible. Just a few examples are found in Exod. 15:20-21, Judg. 4-5, 1 Kings 22:8-20, 2 Chron. 34:14-28, 2 Sam 14:1-20, 20:14-22, Prov. 14:1, Exod. 38:8, Matt. 27:55-56, Gal. 3:28, Romans 16:1; 16:7, and many more, including a whole book written about a woman, Esther!
In order to understand the Scripture around this subject, we must first have an understanding of the context in which it was written. When Paul wrote the books of Timothy and Corinthians, for example, they were written to people in a culture very different from our own.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is used by a lot of people to object women as authoritative figures. But we must understand that these people sat in a large room where the women were on one side facing the men on the other side with their “preacher” in the middle. Therefore, this was more in reference of being respectful during service, rather than whether or not women should be allowed to teach (Chuck Smith, c2000 Series).
1 Timothy 2:11-15 is another piece of Scripture which is used to determine where women’s place is in church. We see that Paul is prohibiting woman to teach or to usurp authority over man in spiritual issues. Yet in writing to Titus, Paul said let the older women teach the younger women. So Paul is saying that there is a place for women to teach, teaching the younger women how to love their husbands, how to keep their homes and to talk in godliness and righteousness. Additionally, while Paul is prohibiting having authority over man, he is notprohibiting woman sharing with them in spiritual matters. For these reasons, I think a woman could possibly serve as a deacon, but not as an elder to the church.
I realize some people will argue against my interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15, but I believe that Paul’s teaching coincides with God’s plan for both men and women. Men were addressed many times as being the leader of his household and the one responsible for setting the example for his families walk with God (1 Tim. 5:8, Ephesians 5:23, 1 Corinthians 11:3).
This would mean that in a perfect world God would want men to lead women, and be led by Christ, which would apply to life inside the church and outside the church. However; this has not been a perfect world since mankind fell in the garden, and I do believe that God will call women to be leaders where man is not filling the position. Why would God call a woman to do something if it were prohibited? If you feel that God is calling you into a position of leadership, pray, seek guidance, and you cannot go wrong.
I have already stated some of the ways that women can contribute. I also believe God may call women into service where there is not a man for the job (ideally, though, man should be the head of the church and his family). For example, would God prohibit a woman from leading her family in spiritual matters if her husband were an unbeliever? I cannot believe He would!
I have met Godly women who were wonderful leaders, and I believe God has a place and a purpose for us all. As I also previously pointed out, we see many examples of women in the Bible who contributed wonderfully in spiritual matters. I think it boils down to the fact that we each need to pray and follow what God puts on our own hearts.
Word Count: 796
Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. second. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House
Company, 2001. 396, 320. Print.
Smith, Chuck. “1 Corinthians 14.” The Word for Today. Blue Letter Bible. 1 Jun 2005.
2012. 25 Nov 2012. <http:// http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?
Towns, Elmer. Theology For Today. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008. 681. Print.