The Apple Of God's Eye

March 16, 2009

Is It Biblical To Ordain Women As Ministers?

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As this subject is no doubt going to raise some emotional ire, I would like to preface it by saying that my approach is based on the Bible, not on opinions or feelings. God has a preordained way of teaching us spiritual aspects in this physical life, and we have to approach this with a humble attitude.

There is not much room for error on this subject, as the Bible is more than clear in its explanation. The apostle Paul’s instructions were: “I permit no woman to teach or to have [exercise] authority over men; she is to keep silent” (I Tim. 2:12, RSV). Also see I Corinthians 14:34. Paul is explaining that it is not proper for women to exercise administrative or ecclesiastical authority over men within the Church. In other words, women were NOT to become Church elders or give sermons.

Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible says this of the subject: ” This rule is positive, explicit, and universal.  The meaning cannot be mistaken; (compare I Tim. 2:11-12).

And John Gill’s Exposition Of The Bble states: By this the apostle would signify, that the reason why women are not to speak in the church, or to preach and teach publicly, or be concerned in the ministerial function, is, because this is an act of power, and authority; of rule and government, and so contrary to that subjection which God in his law requires of women unto men. The extraordinary instances of Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, must not be drawn into a rule or example in such cases.

THAT is the crux of the subject – rule and government of God – in the Church of God. Such a subject will not sit well with modern women who are in positions of authority over men in a business/governmental climate. I don’t think I have to state what feminists will think. However, that makes no difference to what God thinks, or what He desires in His true Church. And this is why those churches which allow women preachers can easily be weeded out as NOT being inspired by the Holy Spirit. This practice is simply unbiblical.

There is also the admonition of I Cor. 11:3, which says (godly) women are to be under obedience to their husbands. This verse clearly defines the structure God desires in the family (see also Eph. 5:22, Tit. 2:5, I Pet. 3:1). For “under obedience,” translate, “in subjectation” or “submission,” as the Greek is translated (Eph. 5:21-22, 24). Again, the Bible is clear that the authority in the family rests upon the man.

So, does this mean that the husband is to lord it over the wife. Are these instructions to the denigration of women? Absolutely not! Paul uses the relationship of a man and woman to describe the relationship of Christ and the Church. The husband is a type of Jesus Christ in the family and the wife is a type of the (future) bride of Christ (the Church) – see Eph. 5:22-24. Christ died for the Church (and the world at large) and so proved His love for His people. So the relationship of love which prompted Christ to give His life, is the same the man ultimately has for his wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is a heavy responsibility.

Critics usually fail to see a crucial aspect of God’s government. Man and woman are equals; neither being inferior or superior. But the Scriptures clearly reveal the subordination in authority of the woman to the man from the  beginning.

However, subordination has nothing to do with inferiority. Christ is not inferior to the Father, but He is subordinate, and under authority, to the Father. The woman is not inferior to the man, but she is subordinate. There is no loss of equality; there is a distinction of  her God-given role.

God gave the woman to man as “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18,20). Paul later describing the relationship of man and woman stated, “…woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman, but woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7-9).

Are there women in Scripture who have had positions of authority? Yes, Deborah (Judges 4:4), Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Huldah  (II Kings 22:14), and Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), are all identified as prophetesses, and Deborah also as a judge (Judges 4:4). Does any of this contradict New Testament instructions for the Church? No, because we do we not read of any Levitical priestesses. The law specifically revealed that it would be “Aaron and his sons” (Exodus 28:3-4) who were to serve as priests. God’s design for the Levitical priesthood was that it would be of the men, not the women. These women served in extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes in time when there was a clear lack of proper manly leadership.

The Bible also includes examples of instruction collected from outstanding women. Included are Hannah’s prayer, Miriam’s song, and the teachings of Lemuel’s mother.

The New Testament does give precedent for the ordination of deaconesses (see I Timothy 3:8-11 and Romans 16:1, RSV). Apparently, Priscilla and Aquila, who served under Paul’s administration, were deacon and deaconess. In the Church at that time was a very powerful and effective teacher named Apollos. Apollos’ knowledge was imperfect, though, and “… when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26, RSV). Here we find a woman and her husband together teaching a man the way of God more perfectly. Notice also Paul’s instruction in Titus 2:3-5.

In conclusion, all humans are equal, but not all persons have the same responsibilities and duties. Husbands and wives have distinct roles in their relationship, but share equality in God’s promises of eternal life.  The Spirit of Christ can never contradict itself; and God’s government is there to promote peace, truth, and order in the church, to seek that which is good for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to its welfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.

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