This Q and A concerns an article on Women Preaching
Q – I just read your answer on women preaching. I have to admit I don’t agree with it (women preaching), even though I am a woman. But, I don’t agree with you either. If God wants a woman to preach, then who are we as mere humans to tell Him, “Nope, it’s not Biblical”? God can change HIS laws, right?
I do agree with the fact that women shouldn’t preach, but again, If God calls them to do so then we CAN’T say otherwise.
Jim – Thank you for your note. Certainly, the subject of women preaching/teaching in the church is a controversial issue these days. But, I think, based on what you’ve written, that we really need to address a couple of other issues, then we’ll get to the primary subject.
I am glad to see that you agree with the fact that women should not preach. And, I agree with you that it is a fact. So, the question becomes, “On what authority can we rightfully state that this is indeed a fact?” I mean, if the subject of women preaching is based on a genuine fact, then it’s no longer up for debate.
Well, the authority from which we derive this fact is the Bible. A long-standing tenet of Christianity is that the Bible is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. And, there are several Bible verses that plainly state that position. So, we have the authority of Scripture on which to base our conclusion.
Now, the question you’ve posed is whether God can say something in His word and then change His mind and say something else in other circumstances. In other words, does God ever state something in the Bible and then privately tell individual people that what He plainly declared in His word does not apply to them?
If He does, then God is inconsistent. If He is inconsistent and changeable, then He is not reliable. If God says something in His word and then changes His mind, we cannot truly count on Him to be faithful in any aspect of our relationship with Him. He could promise to love us eternally and then change His mind. He could promise to save us from judgment and then change His mind.
Here’s my point: Once God’s word states something it is true. Without getting overly theological, the very fact that God Himself is “the truth,” then anything He says is axiomatically true. And, if God lays down a standard, a law, a precept, it is axiomatically factual, because the One from whom all revelation of truth flows has established that fact.
In this case, God’s word plainly states that there is an order to be followed within the structure of the Church. That order is such that women are not to teach in the church nor usurp authority over men, but to remain silent (1 Tim 2:12). No one can deny that the Bible says exactly that. So, if a woman does establish a ministry or take on a pastorate over a church body, is that in direct contradiction to what Paul said? The answer, of course, is “yes.”
So, where does the woman preacher get her authority to act in conflict with God’s word? Based on what you’ve written here, you suppose that God may have told this woman to act as a teacher/pastor. So, what you have is God acting in opposition to His own declaration. That’s a very confusing God. He says something one day and something else another.
But, that image of God is also contradictory to His word. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
If we can gather anything from those verses, it’s that God is preeminently consistent. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim 2:13) So, the idea that God would say something and then say something directly contradictory to His own statement denies the very character and faithfulness of God.
When these women claim that God specifically called them into the preaching ministry, then one of two things must be true. (1) God has changed His mind or made a special exception to His own rules on behalf of those women. Or, (2) those women are not telling the truth when they claim God called them. They had a desire to preach and they chose to act in opposition to the clear dictates of the Word in order to satisfy their desire.
Those are the only two choices. Either God changed His mind and acted in opposition to Himself, or these women are not being honest with the Word. There are no other options. Now, inasmuch are humans are inherently sinful and God is eternally holy and unchanging, I’m prone to believe that the women who claim God called them are not being entirely honest.
The question, again, is a matter of authority. Do we believe the Bible, or don’t we? And, if the Bible states something decisively, do we align ourselves with what the Word says, or do we have the freedom of conscience to decide which parts apply to us and which parts don’t?
Let me give you an example. Do you remember David Koresh? He claimed that all the women and young girls in his congregation were required to sleep with him and that their husbands and fathers were not to deny him that right. Despite the Bible’s multiple admonitions against adultery and fornication, Koresh believed that he had a special status with God that allowed him to bend what the Bible said in order to satisfy his fleshly lust. Now, in the case of David Koresh, it’s easy to see how wrong his thinking was. Clearly, the dictates of the Bible concerning sex are not left up to the discretion of any individual person. Rules are rules. And, when someone says that the rules don’t apply to them, we’re forced to ask where they received an authority that supersedes Scripture.
Another example. The Bible plainly says, “Thou shalt not kill.” All Christians, I believe, would agree that murder is bad. It is against God’s clear dictate. But, if the sniper who killed all those people around Washington D.C. claimed in his defense that murder was permissible for him because God told him it was okay, we’d think he was a nutcase. We would say he was delusional. And, our proof that he was mentally unstable would be his claim that God told him that it was all right for him to do something that God has plainly said is forbidden.
Now, put that in the context of women teaching/pastoring. The Bible plainly forbids it. But, some women insist that God told them to do it. So, why are we so quick to believe them? Why don’t we question their insistence that God has chosen to contradict Himself? Again, has God changed, or are these women not treating the Word with proper respect?
And, by the way, what God will these women be preaching if they have begun their ministry with a direct contradiction of His word? Ultimately, they will be preaching a God of their own imagination, because they have already discounted the God of the Bible.
When it comes to the Church, who is in charge? Is Jesus indeed the Lord of His Church? And, if He is, does He have the authority to set up an order within His Church? Does He have the right to delegate certain responsibilities? And, does He have the right to say that certain people cannot hold certain offices? Of course He does. He has always operated that way. Under the Old Covenant economy, only priests and Levites could enter certain areas of the temple. Only priests could perform the rituals and sacrifices. And, only men could serve those functions. Now, was that unfair to the other tribes? Or, what about the fairness to women? It doesn’t matter. God chose, God ordained His order and that ‘s simply the way it was. It was up to the people of Israel to align themselves with God’s dictates.
The contemporary problem is that this current generation (of inherently sinful people) doesn’t like the way Jesus ordered His church because it’s not socially progressive or “politically correct.” But, that does not change the truth. Truth does not bend to the whims and unsteady current of social trends.
So, to summarize my point, God has stated His position in His word. Once He said it, it’s settled. Your statements assume that God not only has the right, but also exercises His right, to operate in opposition to His own word. You postulate that God may state categorically that women are not to preach and yet He may say to some individual women that the rule does not apply to them. That’s utterly confusing, considering God’s own declarations of His eternally unchanging nature and faithfulness to His own word.
So, my opposition to women in the pulpit is not based on what I, as a “mere human,” think. It is based on the rigorous and certain declaration of God’s word. And, I am not telling God, “Nope, it’s not Biblical.” I’m telling the women in the pulpit, “Nope, it’s not Biblical.” I’m not opposing God in any way. I’m standing up for what He has already declared. I don’t ever have to adjure God to be consistent with Himself. He always is. It is the modern church that has to align itself with God, not the other way around.
I simply do not believe that God calls anyone to do something that He has already declared off limits. Plain and simple.
Now, as to the subject of women preaching, let’s be clear. I am not in the least opposed to women teaching other women, or teaching children. There is no Biblical mandate against those activities. And, I am honest enough with Scripture to recognize that the first people ever instructed (by an angel, no less) to preach the good news, “He is risen,” were women. That’s undeniably an example of God using women to spread His most important message.
However, in the establishment of His Church, Christ implemented certain rules so that all things would be done in an orderly fashion and there would be no confusion. And, one of those rules was that women would not ascend to a position where they had authority over men. And, that’s where the line was drawn. So, when you see a woman pastor or preacher who is teaching and admonishing men, the line has been crossed.
And, I must state this categorically and without fear of contradiction, God did NOT tell her to do that. God never denies Himself.
So, there’s my reply. I hope it helps to clarify our position. It’s pretty simple, really. Once God says something, that’s it. There’s no wiggle room. And, it’s not up to us to claim that God gave us a special exception to His rules.
Or, let’s put it this way. The women who claim God called them to be in a position of authority over men in the church – what proof do they offer? Because, I have the Bible as clear proof that He did not. Their only proof is “God told me.” But, David Koresh and the Washington snipers could offer the same proof.
The women may claim, “God gave me this gift to preach and He wouldn’t give it to me and then deny me the opportunity to use it!” Right. Use the gift. But, use it in the context and within the restrictions that God has already laid out. Preach to women, preach to individual people and friends, teach children, but do not willfully raise yourself to a position of authority that God has already forbid.
It’s not very complicated at all.
Thank you for writing and letting your opinion be known. I hope my response was not in any way harsh. It was intended to convey my love and respect for God’s word and for His people.
Yours in Him,