The enemy’s attack upon the people of God is seen in many areas. One particular battle in our current time is over the issue of gender roles. Men who are called to function as a priest, prophet, provider, and protector in their family are tempted to be passive. This is seen worldwide as women and children fill the majority of Christian churches giving the impression to unbelievers that Christianity is a religion for women alone. Women who are called to be submissive to their husbands are tempted to wear the pants in the family and usurp their husband’s authority. This is a result of the Fall that happened in the garden. See Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18,19; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Titus 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:3
The rejection of God’s order is seen in women preaching in God’s churches on the Lord’s Day.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:11-14
If a woman is preaching when God’s people are gathered together on the Lord’s Day then she is misbehaving. 1 Timothy 3:15 (coming right after 1 Tim. 2, see how it all fits together?)
Special note: There may be a time when the only one present in a church who knows God’s word or who knows how to read is a woman. There are churches in the hills around me that have no pastor. In the church here half the people cannot read. If qualified male leadership is lacking, like in these very particular cases, I feel God’s Word should go forth! But even in this scenario a woman is not an elder. She would be functioning as a teacher until God provided qualified leadership for that church, and it may take a long time! This is the desired end (plural-elder-congregationalism) and I wouldn’t see it as incompatible with Scripture for this to take place if there was no other way for God’s word to go forth. In such an instance, a godly woman would never take on the title of “elder”.
If a woman wants to be called a pastor then she is asking others to lie. It is like Bruce Jenner wanting to be called Caitlyn. I can’t call him that. It would be a violation of the 9th commandment.
A synonym for pastor in the NT is overseer, shepherd and elder. All of these words refer to the same office. Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; Ephesians 4:11
There is no distinction between pastors and elders. Elders are to shepherd/pastor the church. Elders must be able to teach. Pastor-teachers in Ephesians 4:11 are simply elders. *
We must be aware that in many churches the terms “pastor” and “elder” are not synonymous. We should be gentle with individuals that believe they are different positions and point them to the overwhelming support in Scripture to show that it is the same office. Someone may think that the term “pastor” just means a leader in some way and that would not be the same violation of Scripture as holding to female eldership. That individual would just be in need of a more Biblical term. It is better to stick with Biblical terminology.
One of the qualifications for being an elder/pastor is that one be a man.
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife…” Titus 1:5-7
“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” 1 Timothy 3:2
If a woman is the husband of one wife…then that is a whole other blog post. Men and women are made differently. It is not the make-up on the outside that causes one to be a woman, but who she is inside. It would be insulting to women if I claimed I can do everything they can. I can’t. And neither can women do everything I can. A woman speaking at a conference is great. A woman teaching a Bible study or a Sunday school class may be just fine. But a woman preaching on the Lord’s Day in a church service is clearly forbidden all throughout Scripture.
Feel welcome to send an email if you’d like any clarification on anything I’ve said. firstname.lastname@example.org
*Much of this is drawn from Sam Waldron’s exposition of the 1689 LBC
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