What Does God Say About Women in the Pulpit?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1 Timothy 2:11-14

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.   For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

1 Timothy 3:2

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach…

Titus 1:6-7

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre…

As I read through these passages of scripture, I am tempted to let them stand alone as my blog post, for there is absolutely nothing that I can add to these words to make them any more resounding.  God’s Word says what it means, and means what it says.   I will, however, succumb to the temptation to jump up and down and scream at the top of my lungs that women are not permitted to take an authoritative position in the church of Jesus Christ.

I read an article today on my Twitter feed about a well known female who calls herself a preacher, and how she was honored with several doctorate degrees from several different universities that take liberties with God’s Word just as she does.  Because of these “honors”, she has attached the letters “Dr.” to the front of her name.  I laughed when I began to read the heresy that comes out of the universities that bestowed this “honor” upon her, and I thought, well…there was nothing else that they could do but give her an “honorary” doctorate to go along with her high school diploma!  But I digress…

This particular woman has been calling herself a preacher now for a couple of decades, I guess.  She has traveled the world and is a household name amongst staunch charismatics.  I have even heard her defend her place in the pulpit, claiming that God anointed her for what she does.  It had to be God, I’ve heard her say.  My question is this: what does God’s Word say about women in the pulpit?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

God’s design from the very beginning was for women to lovingly submit to the loving leadership of men.  God told the woman in Genesis 3:16 “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”  When women decide to usurp a role that God did not intend for them, what ultimately happens is that they fall into other ungodly, unbiblical practices as well.  If you look closely at the charismatic movement in the United States today, you will see that it is riddled with women in leadership positions, and there is rampant sin running through its churches and families.

This is not to say that there are not intelligent, talented, gifted women within the body of Christ.  Many women that I know personally have spent more time studying God’s Word, and can explain it better and more clearly than most men I know!  However, God’s plan is not for women to take an authoritative position within the church.  Anyone who handles God’s Word within God’s church is taking an authoritative role, and that role is solely and distinctly set aside in God’s Word for men, and men only.  God has designed an order for His church, and when that order is disrupted, the church becomes weak and God is dishonored.  In my personal opinion, I believe this is one of the reasons that the church is so ineffective in its witness to the world.  The gender roles have been skewed so much so that we look just like the world.

1 Timothy 2:11-14

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.   For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Paul continues to stress what he taught the church at Corinth about gender roles.  This time, however, the situation was dire.  Here, Paul is explaining to Timothy, who was of Greek heritage, God’s instruction for women.  Timothy obviously knew how dire the situation was for Greek women.  Historians record that respectable Greek women lived a very sheltered life, rarely even being seen in public, and certainly not being seen alone. Greek women lived in their own quarters, and no one was allowed in those quarters except their husbands.  This suppression brought out a strong reaction from the women in Ephesus, and they took it too far by demanding to be heard in the public worship services.  Paul explained that they did have the right to learn, but they did not have the right to teach.

This does not mean that women are not spiritually equal to men.  (Deuteronomy 1:1, 16:9-15, Exodus 12:3, 21:28-32, Numbers 36:1-12)  Women were allowed to participate in spiritual service (Exodus 38:8, Nehemiah 7:67) and sometimes, the LORD chose to deal with women directly (Genesis 3:13, 16:7-13, Judges 13:3).

Just because men and women are equal spiritually does mean that they have the same roles.  God designed male headship in the home, (Genesis 3:16) and it only makes sense to me that if the male has the leadership role in the privacy of his home, why would he not have it in the public worship?

Paul also points out to Timothy that the woman was created for the man, and not the other way around.  The man was created (Genesis 2:7), and then God placed him in a deep sleep, took a rib (Genesis 2:21), and made a woman to be a mate for the man (Genesis 2:22).  The woman was the one who was deceived by the serpent (Genesis 3:1-6), because the woman, more than the man, follows her emotion.  On the other hand, the man, whom God placed in leadership position, follows his rationale.

1 Timothy 3:2

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach…

This verse speaks for itself.  As we draw closer to the time that the LORD will return, we see more and more gender roles skewed, so much so that I think society is trying to erase gender altogether.  God, however, will not erase gender.  Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”  Regardless of how many people have surgery to change their designated gender parts to the opposite gender, God only recognizes the gender assignment that He has given to each of us.  I remember a few years ago, a very famous singer’s daughter had surgery to change herself into a man.  She even wrote a book about how difficult the transformation was.  Well, of course it was difficult!  She was taking what God created, trying to change it into what she wanted it to be.  As much as she may think that now she is a man, when she stands before God, she will still be that little girl who was born to a very famous singer and her husband.

I said all that to get to the point made in this verse.  In church leadership, if a man is called to such a position, he must be blameless, meaning that no true accusations can be made against him, and he must be the husband of one wife.  Regardless of how many men think they are marrying other men, or how many women think they are changing their gender, only men that God created as men can be husbands.  Only men that God created as men can marry women that God created as women.  Those are the husbands to which this verse is referring.  (Whew!  You know the world is in bad shape when you have to explain all of that!)  If the leader of the church is to be the husband of one wife, then he has to be a man.  That is the point that I and this verse are trying to make.  Leadership is designated to males, period.

Titus 1:6-7

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre…

Titus takes the Timothy 3 verse a step further.  Paul explains to Titus that not only should this man be the husband of one wife, but he must have children who know how to behave.  His children cannot be the ones who are on the news for robbing a bank, or beating up their girlfriends, or being caught with drugs in their possession.  The leader must be a father who has trained his children properly, and that training is evident in the behaviors that they demonstrate in public.  What they do in private will definitely manifest itself in the public worship.

These verses all point to male leadership.  I so desperately try to stress this to my friends who are still attending churches where women are in the pulpit.  I want to help them to understand that partial obedience is total disobedience, and if we willingly err in one point of God’s law, we have broken it all.  We cannot decide which points we want to obey and which ones that we want to ignore.  God is going to judge us on what we did with all of His instruction.

If you are in a church where women are pastors, preachers, teachers, leaders, or in any kind of center stage ministry, I would advise you to begin this Sunday visiting other churches where there are no women in pulpit ministry.  The church where women are in leadership are churches where sin is running rampant.  They are churches where sin is excused and covered up and ignored.  They are churches that will not be pleasing to the LORD when He returns.

What does God’s Word say about women in the pulpit?  It says that women do not belong there.  Period.

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