A Woman’s Place

woman preachingNow that I’ve gotten your attention with the title, I will proceed. 😉

In my ongoing desire to see churches function biblically and to see Christians think clearly, one area that we must think about, especially as African Americans or as black people, is the role of women
in the church and to some degree in civil society.

Let’s consider these questions:

1. Is a woman biblically permitted to serve in the church? If so, how? (Please provide Scripture references to justify your answer.)

2. Is a woman biblically permitted to serve as a pastor or co-pastor of a local church? (Please provide Scripture references to justify your answer.)

3. Is there a difference between preaching and pastoring?

4. Is it okay for a male pastor to give bible teaching opportunities to a woman to a congregation of men and women at a Sunday gathering or in a bible study setting?

5. Are there any consequences for allowing women to serve as pastors, co-pastors or teach a mixed crowd at a Sunday gathering or bible study?

These types of questions are issues that we should be thinking about when we consider how we think about the local church and what the Bible prescribes. Really, at the heart of this discussion is the glory of God displayed in the worth and in the roles of men and women (yes, genders are distinct and created by God) as God intended them in general, but specifically in the church for the purpose of this discussion. I readily affirm women are gifted to serve. This is not an issue of competence, but of design and purpose.

Concerning gender roles circulating in the church, the two opposing ideas are:

1. Egalitarianism
2. Complementarianism

As brief descriptions:

Egalitarianism states that men and women are ontologically (the essence of being) equal and therefore should function (roles) as equals. (i.e. Since women are equal to men, then a woman can do what a man can. If a man can pastor, a woman can too.)

Complementarianism states that men and women are ontologically equal, but have differing roles as men and women according to God’s design. (i.e. Even though men and women possess dignity as image bearers of God and are equal in essence, God has ordained that men lead and women serve in assisting roles in the life of the church.)

Complementarians root their argument in Genesis 2:18-25 and this is very crucial to understand the order in the church.

Whether or not you’re in a church that has an egalitarian philosophy of ministry, it’s important to understand these things so we can think more clearly and live as God intended in these areas.

I would love to engage with you on this topic!

Grace & Peace,

d.

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5 thoughts on “A Woman’s Place

  1. 1. Is a woman biblically permitted to serve in the church? If so, how? (Please provide Scripture references to justify your answer.)

    A: Yes, A women is biblically allowed to serve in the church as there are more jobs in the church than pastoral and preaching as gifts were given in Romans 12:6-8

    We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

    and 1 Corinthians 12:28

    8 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

    2. Is a woman biblically permitted to serve as a pastor or co-pastor of a local church?
    A: Biblically a woman is forbidden to hold such positions of spiritual leadership in the church as stated in 1 Timothy 2:11-12

    11 Let a woman learn quietly owith all submissiveness. 12 pI do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

    3. Is there a difference between preaching and pastoring?
    A: Yes.. A preaching is something one does while “pastoring” is an office held in the church. A leadership role… Again that is relegated in 1 Timothy 2 to men.

    4. Is it okay for a male pastor to give bible teaching opportunities to a woman to a congregation of men and women at a Sunday gathering or in a bible study setting?
    A: I’d say yes. As teaching nor preaching come with any responsibility other than to the Word being taught and is not considered to be a leadership role.

    5. Are there any consequences for allowing women to serve as pastors, co-pastors or teach a mixed crowd at a Sunday gathering or bible study?
    A: My answer is gonna be 2 fold as earlier responses show a difference between teaching and pastoring. So I would say yes, there will be consequences for not adhering to Gods word concerning the pastoral dept. But to teach doesn’t require leadership. But then again if a women is to keep quiet in the church then even this is denied. Arrrggghhh… Perhaps I am contradicting myself. I don’t know wise one. Y don’t you bless us with this knowledge!

  2. DAC, thanks for interacting on this subject. I generally agree with most of your answers, but I want to address your answer to question 4. Here’s the question and your answer:

    4. Is it okay for a male pastor to give bible teaching opportunities to a woman to a congregation of men and women at a Sunday gathering or in a bible study setting?

    DAC: I’d say yes. As teaching nor preaching come with any responsibility other than to the Word being taught and is not considered to be a leadership role.

    I definitely understand your answer. In fact, when I’ve inquired of others who belong to churches that allow women to preach / teach at the Sunday gathering, the justification given is that she is serving under the leadership of the elders and therefore she is not exercising authority. That reasoning faulty for at least two reasons.

    First, what is misunderstood in that line of reasoning is the nature of preaching God’s Word. Very simply, preaching / teaching God’s word is authoritative because of the nature of God’s Word. If we believe all Scripture is breathed out by God, etc., then we believe that Scripture itself is authoritative because God is our ultimate authority. Think of it this way:

    1. Scripture is the Word of God.
    2. God’s Words are authoritative.
    3. Therefore, Scripture is authoritative.

    So, even if she and others don’t see her as an authoritative figure because she is (in this scenario) not a pastor, but teaching a Sunday gathering, which includes men, by the permission of the church leaders, she is in fact functioning in an authoritative manner because she is declaring the Word of God publicly. This is why Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12:

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet.”

    Paul understood the authority of God’s word and authority through its proclamation. This is why the office of elder (pastor) is to be held by men only. What’s interesting is that Paul roots his argument in creation in 1 Timothy 2:13a:

    “For Adam was formed first, then Eve;…”

    This communicates male headship, not only in creation and marriage, but also in the church.

    The second reason that this scenario is faulty is closely related to the first, but slightly different. When church leaders permit something the Scriptures forbid, they are guilty of standing in judgment over the Word. To put it plainly they’re in sin by ignoring the authority of God’s Word and doing what they want to do. Without getting into too much church history, the authority of the church was a hotly debated matter. Some saw the church (its leaders) as authoritative rather than the Scriptures and others saw the Scriptures as authoritative setting the order and practice of the church. Of course I agree with the latter position simply due to the Scriptures’ nature and attestation that it is indeed the very word of God.

    What do you think, DAC?

    d.

  3. I would agree that women should remain quiet on the grounds 1 timothy 2:12… On that basis alone. The reasoning you provided however for Paul’s saying this I don’t agree with. Which was “she is in fact functioning in an authoritative manner because she is declaring the Word of God publicly.” I don’t think simply because someone proclaims God’s Word publicly they are in any authority. Here at the church I attend we have a sister who has a ministry in front of a planned parenting clinic. I’m sure she preaches the word out in front of the building. Is this a sin!? Is she in any authority?

    Another thing for consideration is that bible studies operate differently than a general church assembly. Most bible studies aren’t even done in a church now a days. They’re mostly “home groups.” But lets consider for a moment that women are to literally “keep quiet” in church gatherings. As your wording considers bible study and the pastoral both positions of authority. What of those studies in which the person facilitating needs group participation… Should she then not contribute? Not ask any questions nor make comments?

    Just expressing my concerns. How would you have that handled sir?

  4. DAC, per your reply, you said, “I don’t think simply because someone proclaims God’s Word publicly they are in any authority.”

    What I meant in the context of my reply was that when when a person is preaching / teaching in the setting of corporate worship (mixed congregation of men and women) they are functioning in an authoritative manner by the very nature of the Word and the means which God has established to shape the church. The means is monological communication from one to others. As we’ve said and agreed upon, God has ordained that men serve as shepherds (pastors) to shepherd the sheep and that is primarily done by preaching and teaching (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:2b; Titus 1:9)

    As for the sister who does ministry at the pregnancy center, she isn’t in a church setting being held responsible for the members. She is evangelizing, presumably to the lost, which is well within the boundary of Scripture and not in contradiction to ecclesiological order.

    Concerning the bible study setting, though it’s not in a corporate Sunday gathering setting, the leader is still functioning in an authoritative manner by leading the discussion and teaching biblical truth. If this is a two gender study, a capable man should still lead to keep the pattern of male leadership in tact when males are present. However, because it’s not a Sunday gathering, instruction via oral communication isn’t required to be monological, but can be dialogical. A Sunday gathering is something Scripture prescribes as something the church must do where as a Bible study is something that can be done, but is not specifically required by Scripture. So a woman can offer helpful insights, ask questions, and lead a study (if it’s all women) because of the nature of it. Bible study is vastly different in that there isn’t an offering received nor are the ordinances performed.

    Do you see the difference?

    d.

  5. I see the difference between bible study and church service. But I still don’t agree with the whole “monological/dialogical” argument. Where in scripture does it say that one who speaks God’s word does so in authority..!? I’d say a case is easier made for just the opposite when those hearing Jesus said that Jesus “spoke with authority and not as the scribes (who were indeed teachers, no)” Mark 1:22.

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