Saturday, 14 August 2010
In the past week or so, Revelife posted a blog entry about women pastors. I decided that, instead of commenting, I was just going to write my own blog entry on the subject -- although I wonder what view my readers think I am going to take. They won't have to wait very long.
I grew up in the Worldwide Church of God; I have attended an Evangelical Free church, a Southern Baptist church, and a National Baptist Church. As far as I know, each of those denominations do not allow women to serve as head pastor of a church.
And I disagree with all of them on this subject. I do not object to women serving as head pastor of a church. The rest of this blog entry will be spent discussing the two most common arguments against women serving as pastor.
"I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. "
1 Timothy 2:12 (ESV)
The argument is basically that this verse says that women should not rule over men. At first glance, that is exactly what it says, but, in matters of theology, we should not take what the first glance says. The word for "Authority" that is used in this verse has a particular meaning. For those of you who pay attention to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the word for authority is G831. It has 4 meanings.
- one who with his own hands kills another or himself
- one who acts on his own authority, autocratic
- an absolute master
- to govern, exercise dominion over one
The first meaning has absolutely nothing to do with our discussion; the next two meanings talk about a person ruling with an iron fist -- a Church Dictator of sorts. The last meaning is the only one of the four that would lend agreement with the argument against women. So, out of four meanings, only one of them would be against women serving. Two of them are against church dictators. So, when we decide the meaning of the word, do we go with meanings 2 and 3, or only 4? which is more likely? The odds would say meanings 2 and 3. But let's continue on and see if argument number 2 might shed light on this matter.
"the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says."
1 Corinthians 14:34 (ESV)
"I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."
1 Timothy 2:12 (ESV)
The argument here is that these verses say that women should remain quiet. It is difficult to be the pastor of a church if you are silent. So therefore women can't be pastors.
Does the verse really say that women should be silent? If they are not pastors, what is a proper role for women?
"but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven."
1 Corinthians 11:5
If women can pray or give prophecy, how does she do this while keeping silent? I can hear one objection -- maybe she does this at home, and her husband brings the prophecy to the church and delivers it for her. Well, what or where is the proper place for prophecy?
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul speaks in several verses about prophecy being a way to lift up the church, to edify and support the people. I maintain that this means the prophecy was delivered in a church service. Also, Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:5 says that a wife should do so with her head covered. If she was not in a public place, how would anyone know? You only need to worry about how you look when someone will be watching you.
So, if women are giving prophecy, then she is not remaining silent; if she is not remaining silent, then what does the verses above mean when it says that women should be silent? I think the answer, is in 1 Timothy 2:12, the verse we started in.
The final word of 2:12, is the word silence. It is Greek word 2271 in Strong's. Do you know what it means? It is the description of one who stays at home doing his own work and does not meddle in the lives of others.
Wow, that is quite different than remaining mute or quiet, isn't it? Paul is not saying that women cannot speak, but that they should not meddle in the lives of others. I think that is advice we can all accept, male or female; we should not meddle in the lives of others.
So, let's see if I can't sum this one. Argument #1 said that said women should not usurp authority over men. I think it is safe to say that Paul was talking about a church dictator -- someone who just goes in and acts on his own authority and does whatever he wants. It is, from personal experience, a sin that more men get into than women. Sorry guys, but it tends to be more true than not, doesn't it?
Argument #2 died a painful death when we discovered it has more to do with meddling than it does about being silent. Remember, women cannot give prophecy if they are not able to talk. I didn't mention it before, but remember the verse from Joel in which God says that he will pour out His spirit in the end times, and our sons and daughters will give prophecy. Once again, hard to fulfill if the women are quiet.
So Who Should Be A Pastor?
Now, the above was my defense of women as Pastors, but I want to get into something here. This section may actually get me into more trouble than the above.
Personality types: I am not saying this is true of all people.
In my experience, a lot of the women that I have met -- not all, but a lot of them -- have tended to be the loving and nurturing type. They are the type that want to kiss the nicks and scrapes of life and make a person feel better. This is a good quality to have in a mother but a rotten one to have in a Pastor if you sacrifice doctrine to avoid hurting feelings.
Men tend to be the opposite; they tend to want to push you toward a higher goal -- to make you work hard, to toughen you up. They put feelings aside in order to act tough, which may be a good quality sometimes in a father but a rotten one in a Pastor if you run over the feelings of others in order to protect doctrine.
So, if Women tend to be soft, and Men tend to be tough, who is suited to be a Pastor?
Both. No one can be an island. I think a lot of churches would be better off if they hired the Pastor as a husband and wife team. I am not saying that both should preach, but I think both should work together. They can temper each other and support each other during the rough years. In some cases, the husband might be the better preacher, but the wife can still do something like playing the piano, leading worship, running various outreaches and so forth. I think a Husband and Wife team is the best option for churches and certainly is an option that should be looked at more often.
Do you think that women should be allowed as pastors considering the scriptural references above? What do you think about husband and wife leadership teams instead of just one single pastor?