This post has been simmering inside for a year, ever since I found out a good portion of denominations and affiliations of Christian movements do not have women pastors. I had made the assumption most were like Free Methodist or Anglican in relation to women in ministry. Oh, and it does not stop there, there are all sorts of limitations on women in varying degrees. Of course if your missionary plane goes down and your missionary husband is dead than you can essentially pastor people in a very dangerous setting, other than that, no go. If that happens it’s not called being a Pastor it’s called being a missionary. You may preach a sermon to enraged murderous people in an other country before you are martyred but not here to relatively safe people in the States. Of course that sermon would be called a proclamation or testimony instead. I understand there is a bit of difference between teaching and testimony but most testimonies contain some teaching, some more than others, and we learn from all testimonies. If you learn you are being taught. The whole terminology thing does not line up. I’ve heard women can preach but not teach. The synonym of preach is teach, go figure. Like I said, all these varying invisible lines of what women can and cannot do.
I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up women who are walking as Jesus walked. Who are not out there on a rampage against the essential teachings of the Church. They in a sense are like Mary because they are a vessel giving birth to Jesus into the lives of others. There are denominations and affiliations that are sound and have the heart of Jesus. Some of them may believe in the gifts of the Spirit, not in a crazy way, not in an exploitative way but in a way that benefits the believer and the whole church. For an example on the exploitative and crazy watch most of whats on TBN. In many churches there are called women. It is in my heart that the leadership in these churches would open up and be willing to fill some available positions with women who are called to pastor. Some have already such as the Anglican and Free Methodist. Free Methodist always has, it was started on freedom and equality for women and African Americans. There is one mediator between God and us and that is Jesus. Jesus is just as much in a woman as in a man. A woman represents Jesus in her words and actions just as much as a man does. The person teaching does not have to be male just because Jesus is male because He is our mediator, not our pastor, not our priest. I have my own research besides common sense on why it is biblical and good for women to be pastors. Some of my historical source is Zodhiates. There is Paul’s attitude in Philippians 4:1-3, it is exemplary where he appeals, urges Euodia and Syntyche, he call’s them his co-workers. In Romans 16 You have Phoebe, Paul gives her a little section there that is beautiful. There is Priscilla and Aquila, her name is first. Certainly the church in their home was being largely or at least equally led by her. A church is a mixed group nothing else makes sense for that. I love the way scripture says their home, but the church, the church is Christ’s not the leader’s. Plus their home puts Priscilla and Aquila on even footing it’s not his home but their home. The N. T. Wright video below gets into Romans sixteen more. In the gospels Jesus did not want us lording it over one another so what Paul says in 1st Timothy 2:12 is applicable to men who teach also. 1st Timothy 2:11-15 all of those verses were a rebuke to a woman and certain other women who were lording it over. Paul was also correcting Gnosticism at Ephesus. The word to teach in the Greek is to constantly teach in a know it all manner. I think Paul was concerned because when you hear something over and over it sounds like the truth and this particular woman and other particular women were teaching a Gnostic falsehood. Have authority over this Greek word is only used once in the New Testament and means absolute sway over another. This woman was doing what Jesus didn’t want anyone to do even with the truth let alone falsehood. Paul would have said the same thing to a man if that would have been the case. The classic Greek for this have authority over is even more extreme meaning absolute authority to the point of murder. Paul was obviously talking about a certain woman and some other women like her. The women needed exhorted because of a belief that Artimis would help them in childbirth IF they were having children. Some were holding to a Gnostic asceticism. Therefore Paul wanted the women of Ephesus to know that getting married, having sex, having children would not jeopardize their salvation as some ascetics taught. Having children is morally pure Paul wanted them to know that. In today’s Christianity in the States Paul might say having a quiver-full is not necessary for your salvation; to not make a saving idol out of having children. The wording might be a little sloppy Greek to English or it could be because the recipients knew what Paul wanted to say but we don’t not being in their shoes, therefore it seems like Paul is saying women are saved by having children, however one knows this certainly doesn’t line up with the rest of scripture. Paul was speaking against the asceticism of not getting married and having children that women were practicing to obtain salvation. Remember the church was going through thinking circumcision was necessary for salvation, see the book of Galatians. Paul had two types of Gnostics here in Ephesus, one taught licentiousness and the other asceticism, Paul had to deal with both. He wasn’t telling good women not to lead, he was talking to some women who were trying to lead the men and other women into a cult. Paul was not talking about the introverted shy women, who have truth in their hearts, he’d tell them to speak up. He wasn’t talking about the extroverts and everyone in between because, Priscilla obviously. In today’s world at your little church he may be talking about the woman who shows up and shouts out loud “prophecies” and distracts everyone and gets on their nerves. In First Corinthians 14:34 we find the other confusing exhortation, but again it is to certain women in Corinth who were part of a cult in Delphi. The priestesses of this cult became intoxicated off of a drug and would utter incoherent sounds. I think also Paul wanted to clarify there was a difference between the Holy Spirit’s gift of tongues and that. No wonder he told them to be quiet. People who do not want women have full ministry opportunity in the Church proof-text with these verses from 1st Timothy and 1st Corinthians, instead of interpreting in the light of all scripture, in the light of the individuals he was writing to, history, backgrounds of the cults and religions of the day.
Note this when watching N. T. Wright below one could say the apostle Junia in Romans sixteen was a man and there would still be biblical support for women as pastors so I never included her in my own research. I understood the biblical basis for woman in ministry before hearing Wright so he just gave affirmation. He has other longer more in depth videos, but this one is short to the point and reasonable.
For those denominations and affiliations who will not support woman pastors being among them, I understand some of the more traditional churches this would be a hard go. I have reason to believe with the Orthodox Church it’s the women’s menstrual period, they derive that from something in the Old Testament that I’m not bothering to look up. But I see Jesus born of Mary all the blood and mess of His birth, it’s holy, all of that is clean. Women should be able to be everything in a more complementarian or traditional church except for Pastors or Priests, free them up as much as your tradition allows. If they also can not be elders, they should be deaconesses. They should be visibly proclaiming, teaching, preaching in mixed groups and filling in. Not all women want to or can do things in the church, but all woman feel honored, understood and heard if there is visible representation. We should not have to wait for a woman to give her testimony, to hear a woman teach. Sorry, giving a testimony is teaching, that terminology again! For the type of church where women are not pastors or elders, but they are not subordinate, it is complimentarian without subordination. That is not something I agree with but at least it’s a biblical opinion. It is also an opinion of language where the words Pastor and elder is seen as masculine nouns, but surely there are feminine nouns for similar positions. We need leading women to be visible to other women because not all are going to come to woman’s bible studies to connect and hear teaching. If I need to talk to someone I don’t mind going to and talking to anyone regardless of whether they are a man or woman, we are all people. Yet not every woman feels this way. It’s essential other women can connect by seeing and hearing women preach, lead worship or whatever. We should not have to always go to “a women only thing” to see that. I believe it builds respect and honour in the men towards women also. Good woman are not taking authority over men, I covered that in the second paragraph. If we used those verses in 1st Timothy 2 and 1st Corinthians 14 to also check men who are false teachers and lording it over, the Church would be healthier. These verses are not about women they are about false teachers who are repetitive with their words to brainwash others. It just happened to be that the ones Paul was speaking to via letters were women and wives. There should also be a respect and honor to cross denominational lines and work with churches who have women pastors. There should not be this invisible line where woman are afraid. I covered that here The Patriarchal does not Allow A Women to be a Berean .
In defense of sanity among denominations that have not gone off the rails women in leadership is a way to multiply disciples. If a perfectly grounded woman with wisdom, experience and calling wants to pastor somewhere or plant a church, encourage her. If you are still not open to women pastors, say “Go over there, that church is open to it”. Acknowledge that a good part, up to half of the church planters and pastors in China are women. It’s already being done by the Holy Spirit there. Go ahead and let the churches who are teaching negativity and strangeness such as that of Mark Driscoll (those verses in 1st Corinthians 14:34 apply to someone like him and his demon trials and odd teaching) Let those churches not have woman do anything in a visible way. Let them be told not to read scripture publicly, let them be told they can’t lead worship, although Mark Driscoll was open to those things and I heard even let women preach, the Calvanista’s in general are not. Mark had other issues you can look up elsewhere. Why should we as Jesus loving churches embrace views that come from (t)heologian Doug Wilson. He said that Jen Wilkin’s views on women’s roles would lead to trouble. I can’t imagine what he would think of mine! John Piper was concerned men would find themselves being shepherded by women’s books, no Catholic, no Orthodox, no Methodist, no Pentecostal, no one would even think of that. Who cares, it is Jesus who is shepherding. Paul never listed being a woman who leads and teaches a mixed group in a church setting as a sin “… nor theives, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor women pastors, nor women teachers of anyone listening…” oops I added that for effect. We should not resemble Patriarchy at all. We wonder why some of the women’s teaching written by women in those churches can be a bit off, it’s because it is all off. If the women in those churches want freedom and soundness they can come to the churches that are teaching truth and have spiritual fruit. Who are not quenching the Spirit by not allowing women to lead when He calls them. So I see it as an opportunity to multiply and good men are probably sick of patriarchy too.
Our Christian beliefs are on a spectrum in the centre there is a narrow but fairly wide balance beam, this is the path of reason, logic nuance. Unlike an actual balance beam if you get off a little it’s not bad, there is grace for that. If you get way over however your Christianity becomes something else: legalism, harsh determinism, name and claim, patriarchy, odd demonology and just craziness. So check yourself before you wreck yourself. There is room on that path for different thinking, opinion, and personality. God can use us better if we are not all the same. It could be that a sort of complementarianism, the kind that’s not teaching subordination, is fitting for some churches and personalities but it’s not the gospel and it should not become patriarchal. Sometimes it is what we are used to that becomes comfortable and feels like a part of our personality so make sure you are not just comfortable. Egalitarian, that can also go off into something that is not biblical, nor is Egalitarianism the gospel. Sorry but I’m not going to call Father God, Mother and I could go on except I’m not as familiar with run amok feminism and egalitarianism, but some of you are. I became too familiar with patriarchy from other Christians, and books accidentally read, and teaching accidentally listened to more than from my own church leaders. I was shocked to find it was in churches also. Just stay balanced no matter your opinion.
I understand there are many ways women lead and influence besides ministry in the church. I get that mothering and music and the arts and any number of things may be what a lot of women are called to. At least for a season of time, but that doesn’t negate what God is wanting some women to be and do in our churches. Like I said it touches our hearts to be represented even if we ourselves do not have the same calling.
Paul entrusted Phoebe with the letter of Romans.I think if Phoebe would have had the opportunity to plant a church on her return trip she would have and Paul certainly would not have stopped her by saying “Phoebe don’t plant that church!”. You have the book of Romans partially because of her, yet Tim Challies would not allow her to read it publicly in a church setting. Maybe she did plant a church you never know.
*Artist John Collier Priestess of Delphi