There is a growing trend in the church to ordain women as Elders, Deacons, and even as Pastors. There is even an organization called “Christians for Biblical Equality“(CBE) whose mission is to promote opening up the leadership positions in the church to women. Does this trend arise simply from the desire to more fully employ the gifts of women in the church, or has it come from an attempt to conform the church to the cultural norms of our day? We must always acknowledge that God is the final Authority, particularly in matters of His worship, so does the Bible have anything to say about it?
There is a lot of passion of both sides of the aisle regarding the ordination of women into leadership positions in the church. I was a deacon in a Christian Reformed Church (CRC), and I resigned that position and left that church and denomination after I became convinced from Scripture that women were not allowed to be installed as deacons. I must say that it wasn’t because the women were incompetent, because in many ways, they “out–deaconed” us men. I resigned and left that church was because of what I saw in Scripture.
A dear friend of mine, who was raised in the CRC, also left the CRC because of that same issue. She is Dutch, was raised in the church, educated in the church’s college, and served as a medical missionary for many years. She is about as “true–blue” as it gets.
Another friend resigned as an elder in a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) church because they DON’T ordain women into leadership positions. I don’t know the whole circumstances of his resigning as an elder, but he had become a member of Christians for Biblical Equality.
Historically, we know that God has gifted and used certain women in mighty ways throughout redemption history. Deborah was a judge in Israel (Judges 4:4-14), however women were never permitted to be Priests or Levites. Those positions of religious authority were reserved for men.
True gender equality is based on the fact that both men and women are equally God’s image bearers. Just because man was created first, doesn’t make a man a greater image bearer than a woman is. Men and women are also equally saved and liberated from sin and the devil by the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being co-equals does NOT equate to having equal authority in the home, church or otherwise.
CBE claims to believe in the full authority of all of Scripture, however they have chosen to selectively “throw-out” or ignore certain passages that don’t support their “equality” premise, particularly those passages which set forth the qualifications for church leaders, and which give directions for home-government. That is a major inconsistency, because either ALL of Scripture is authoritative, or NONE of it is. When we start picking and choosing what parts of Scripture we want in our “Bible“, we no longer have true Christianity. We might as well write our own “bible“…
As I was reading through some of the “endorsements“, one particular “endorser” called their “theology” “progressive“. “Progressive theology” is simply a term for “liberalism“, which is cultural modification at its finest. “Progressive theology” is HERESY. I know I may get some barbs from this, but it won’t be the first time I haven’t bowed to “political-correctness“. BTW, one of the founders of CBE is a woman…which doesn’t surprise me. CBE seems to be merely an extension of “women’s liberation” and “political correctness“. “Women’s liberation” has also brought us legalized abortion, under the guise of “choice“. I have to wonder how many of those babies which were murdered in abortion clinics were consulted about their choice. That kind of “choice” is a one-way street.
The Virtuous Woman…
My first wife was a true woman…a LADY, and she found her ultimate fulfillment as a wife and mother. She was never happier than when she was bearing and raising children. She had learned all the motherly “arts” from her own mother, who had born and raised nine children. Is it any wonder that pregnant women have a certain unmistakable “glow” about them? They are radiating the truth of their design…to bear children. For a Biblical description of a “virtuous woman“, we need only turn to Proverbs 31:10-31:
“10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; her clothign is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. 25 Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excell them all.” 30 Charm is deceiptful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
Why did I introduce this passage about the “virtuous woman“? In short, because it blows the stereotype of the “stay at home mom” out of the water in a grand way. This woman ran the “family business“, and her husband trusted her to do so wisely. She had a great reputation, and her reputation fueled respect for her husband. Her business was also family-oriented, driven by the desire to provide the best for her family. She didn’t sit around the house drinking coffee and watching Soap Operas. Both her husband and her children were justifiably proud of her. She was NOT a downtrodden “lower–class” person.
The principle of male-headship was not a result of the fall, as some would assert. Even though it is first enunciated by God after the fall, it was part of the created order. God gave Adam the authority to name the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). Authority to name is also the authority to govern. Adam also named Eve. “And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.”(Genesis 2:23). Eve did not walk up to Adam and introduce herself. God brought Eve to Adam, and Adam named her. Theirs was the first “arranged marriage“. Man was intended to be the head of the family, and eventually the church.
Those who are rebelling against Biblical male-headship are rebelling against God. It is a Satanic attempt to derail God’s leadership and undermine His authority, and it is sad that it has gotten a foothold even in the church, under the guise of “equality“.
Biblical church leadership…
The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave very specific directions for the qualifications of church leaders. Christ is the head of His church, and He alone sets the standards for church leadership. He is the Good Shepherd, and His under-shepherds must be chosen with care. If we ignore our Lord’s directions for church leadership, we open ourselves to many other problems.
“1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer(elder), he desires a noble task. 2 Therefor an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity, keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must no be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
“8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 The must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 The wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 3:1-13)
On a personal note: I am not qualified to be an elder or a deacon in the church for several reasons, which I won’t enumerate here. It would be the epitome of arrogance for me to think and say otherwise. I have “been there, done that, got the T-shirt“, so being a church leader is not on my “bucket list“.
I have great respect and admiration for those capable men who lead my church. They lead with quiet dignity, and show Christ’s love in everything they do. The Apostle Paul could have been writing about these men when he penned this passage.
There are several roles in most churches which are best filled by women, because they have unique talents in these areas. No church will ever truly run smoothly without them. They are an important part of every church community.
1) The pastor’s wife: While there are a few pastors who have been gifted with singleness, the vast majority are married. The pastor’s wife brings a unique set of talents to his ministry which no other person can bring.
“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
Pastors who lose their wife, particularly if the loss was the result of a serious tragedy, immediately become like a ship without a rudder. One pastor, whose wife committed suicide, was completely out of the ministry for several years, and did not re-enter the ministry until AFTER he remarried. This speaks to both the depth of his personal loss and the devastating effects losing his wife in that way had on his ability to minister.
The music ministry in my church wouldn’t be the same without the talents of our assistant pastor’s wife. She makes the piano dance with joy to the Lord. She also leads the women’s discipleship group, and teaches piano to several of the children in the church.
Other pastor’s wives may not be quite as “visible“, but their roles are no less important.
2) The church secretary: Church secretaries, often called “administrative assistants“, are the ones who hold the whole church together. If it has to go through an office, it goes through theirs. They are the “nerve–centers” of the church.
3) Sunday school teachers: How would we ever have children’s Sunday school without those dedicated ladies? They are a huge part of the church’s part in raising our covenant children, and without them, children’s Sunday school would fall apart.
4) Women’s discipleship: Godly older women are the ones BEST qualified to disciple and lead younger ladies in the church. The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to Titus, even speaks of this role: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands.” (Titus 2:3-5)
5) Widows: Who better to minister to the needs of the widows in the church than other widows? Most people don’t really relate to losing a spouse to death, unless they have gone through that themselves. That is where other widows can have a huge impact. One lady in my church “keeps tabs” on the other widows by calling them regularly, and relaying needs and prayer requests to our pastoral staff. Sometimes something as simple as a ride to church, the grocery store, or a doctor’s appointment can make a huge difference in a shut-in’s life. Another older lady regularly visits other older ladies. That personal touch can make a world of difference. A young mother with a new-born may appreciate a visit from a “surrogate-grandmother“.
These women are VERY important, and even though they are in supporting roles, they are no less “equal”. Everyone in the church has someone to submit to, and our ultimate submission is to Christ Jesus, our Lord. Even pastors and elders, who truly understand their calling, are servant-leaders.
There are a lot of people, particularly women, who complain that Christianity is too “patriarchal“. If Christianity is “patriarchal“, it is because God is our Patriarch. God is always “HE” in the Bible, not “she“. God is our “Heavenly Father“, not our “Heavenly Mother“. Christ Jesus is the “BRIDEGROOM“, and the church is His “BRIDE“. Those images are used throughout Scripture.
Often linked with the desire to see women in church leadership is the ordination of openly-homosexual persons. A few years ago, the Episcople church installed an openly-homosexual man as a bishop, which caused a huge division in the denomination. Those committed to the truth of Scripture and traditional marriage split off and joined the Anglican church, which was the global parent denomination. Closely-allied is the push for same-sex “marriage”.
All of these movements are spawned from the same Satanic origin…”You shall be as gods“. They are direct attacks on God and the authority of His Word.
God calls homosexuality an abomination. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13). God hasn’t rescinded that decree, so if the church is going to be faithful, it must call homosexuality what God calls it – an abomination.
We are to love homosexuals and minister to them, however we must never aquiesce to their demands. The church must never ordain them as leaders in the church, nor bless their same-sex relationships.
I know this topic is controversial, but I have never shied away from speaking and writing what I believe. I have three choices…go with the flow, uphold the truth of Scripture, or don’t write at all. I have chosen to write, regardless of the barbs that come my way.
It is time for the church to “suck it up” and start proclaiming the truth of Scripture regardless of whether it is “politically-correct” or not. The Bible, Scripture, God’s Word IS the final authority, because it is God’s revealed will for our faith and lives.
There have been movements throughout church history which have sought to “modify” the church to be in conformity to a certain faction of society. That is still happening, but the church MUST resist, or we face having our true light snuffed out. We must draw the line, and I have drawn mine. Are you with me?
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitians, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1-7)