Written By Ken
Lori’s recent post on Women in Ministry had some good discussions going and helped expose us to the growing defense for women in church leadership. The egalitarians are now going verse by verse to wrest (pry, dislodge, yank, and remove) the scriptures to try to undermine the traditional Biblical theology that God intends male leadership in His church and in the marriage. There is this idea that some place, even if it takes years to build the framework for it, God never intended for women to be left out of teaching, preaching and leading the church forward. After all, there is no male or female in Christ for we are all brothers and sisters, sitting equally as joint heirs under the Lordship of one head, Christ Jesus. So how could God leave women out of church leadership?
The answer to this question I personally cannot give you, but God does. I know women who can run circles around the men in and outside the Church. They are equally as talented, equally as good at public speaking, and many know the Word inside and out. I would say that my wife would make a great teacher/preacher, except for throwing up on stage at the thought of doing something so completely against God’s Word. I could give some reasons as to why God chooses not to have women teachers/leaders in the church and most of those would have less to do with women and more so what God is trying to do in modeling the church after the godhead and family. But let’s let God Himself give the most fundamental reasons why, and then trust Him at His Word, without questioning His integrity and wisdom:
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:12-14)
Now to me, an almost lifetime lover of the Lord Jesus and His Word, this seems a little harsh on the surface. The apostle Paul is not giving all the reasons why, just the most important ones: 1) Woman was deceived and 2) falls under the curse of the garden when God says, “He shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Don’t shoot me for this because if I were God I would be far more lenient, yet I don’t recall any leniency given to man over the centuries for pulling weeds and providing by the sweat of his brow. The weeds and hurricanes don’t stop, animals still attack each other and the results of sin continues to prevail. All of the curses of the fall remain in place to this day, including pain in childbirth, and yet some want us to believe when God says, “He shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16), that this proclamation is to disappear in these latter days.
Let me make it clear that what I am referring to is the way the church and family are structured in God’s design. Outside of the church, and those who do not adhere to the Christian faith, they are a law unto themselves and will create any norms, mores and culture that they desire. If we someday have a law that only women can be leaders in the work place I will joyfully follow my woman manger as I have in the past, and give her all the respect and hard work that I can possibly give. She may well be more talented and gifted, or a better leader than I am, and her position of authority over me is one to be honored, but only outside the family and the Church.
What we are talking about here is how God throughout the ages has structured the family and His religious orders. Note that even if one could completely wipe out all the passages in the New Testament concerning male leadership, you would still have to answer why the Old Testament model has 99.9% male leaders. Sure, go ahead and talk to me about Deborah and a couple other exceptions, and let me remind you that not a one of them was a religious leader.
God never said women could not be teachers or leaders, but God gives to the godly men the role of leading His Church!
God simply said over and over again throughout His Word that the believing men are to be leaders in the temple, in the church and of the family. If one could undermine every single spot where male leadership is taught in the New Testament, and if you could wipe out the whole male leadership of Kings, Prophets and Priests in the OT, you would still have to deal with one more impossible hurdle…
Neither Christ, nor the disciples, nor the apostles ever appointed or advocated female church leadership in God’s Word. Furthermore, wives are given a specific role to focus on the nurture of their husband and children.
Let’s get real here a second. I don’t buy into any of the dishonesty of the supposed scholars who have somehow in these latter times found that the Greek text does not mean what all the other scholars before them found it to mean. We’ve had multiple people tell Lori that the commentators she uses are outdated and she should not be using any of them that are before the discovery and translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Well guess what! The Dead Sea Scrolls contain just fragments of many of the OT Books, and none have conclusively been shown to be a piece of an NT book. And it may surprise you to learn that the DSSs actually support all of the major doctrines of the Bible.
Ironically, one women founded her lack of trust in a post Lori was writing based on her husband who is completing seminary telling her that the DSSs disprove what she was writing about the Proverbs 31 woman. The Dead Sea Scrolls do not even contain Proverbs 31.
The big push is to see the Greek word authentein as meaning domineering, instead of exercise authority over. Go ahead and change the word in the text and it would read: “But I do not allow a woman to teach or be domineering over a man, but to remain quiet.” How is this silent woman who is not to teach men supposed to lead in the church? Or do the words teach and remain silent also have some new interpretation found in ancient manuscripts that God has chosen to hide until now in the age of feminism?
Satan is the master of confusing things and what we are finding is a whole church and churches full of people grasping at straws to try and disprove male leadership in the church. So long as they can throw one small underpinning after another, no matter how spurious it may be, the whole must add up to something… right?
It is completely dishonest to think, believe or teach that the apostle Paul and Peter did not mean exactly what they wrote about male leadership for the church and family. The exercise only bears fruit by confusing the Biblical unlearned and unstable enough to buy into the confusion instead of what the plain text says. The whole of the New Testament writings point definitively to the traditional theology on this matter. Take the Bible apart piece by piece and you still have to admit that:
Proving that God is not denying women Church leadership is still not proving He desires women in leadership. There is not one passage that is specific to women asking them to lead in the church. And how can they meet the qualification of “the husband of one wife” to be an elder or deacon?
I was challenged to listen to Dr. Gordon Fee, an NT scholar who advocates for female church leadership yet he is honest with the texts related to male leadership when he says,
“It would have never occurred to him (Paul) to add shame to shame by dismantling the structure of the household… What Paul obviously did not do was to demolish the structures and create new ones. What was radical lay in urging those who are filled with the Spirit to have totally transformed relationships within the household.” Cultural Context of Ephesians 5:18-33.
I can agree with Dr. Fee as the Bible speaks loudly that the first of love and self-sacrifice in a Christian marriage belongs to the husband who lays down his life for his wife and family, putting them and their sanctification first and foremost. Where Dr. Fee and I part ways is with his unsupportable jump from affirming God’s Words and the words of Paul concerning male leadership of the household and church, to wiping it all out as “cultural” and “immaterial.” He says,
“In the end the structures are all absolutely immaterial since they are predicated on cultural givens that are simply not ours. Indeed, in light of this text the structures are irrelevant. Except that some structure must be in place or the household will fall apart. But these depend largely to the people involved, their own gifting, personalities and how they relater each other.”
In Dr. Fee we find a New Testament scholar who knows that none of the interpretive gymnastics that the egalitarians want to try will work when it comes to wiping out the plain teaching of the text. He clearly understands that the intention of the apostles and early church was to forbid Christian women in authority over a man in the home or in the church. I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to adopt his honesty concerning the plain reading of the text, and if you still must try to advocate for female leaders/teachers in the church, grab a hold of Dr. Fee’s paint brush of “cultural.” It’s an honest position, even if we believe it to be completely wrong and does violence to the continuity of God’s Word.
Dr. Fee, how do you know that God did not intend His Word to transcend culture as it has done for 2000 years? If you believe that some structure must exist in the home and the church, as you do, give me your basis for knowledge that God intends the new structures of our culture to be based on gifting, personalities and how we relate to each other? If the male leadership structure is not what God intends for all homes and the church, why didn’t he give us a hint of such a thing coming during the time of Jesus, or in the early church, or in His Word? Instead he gives the opposite, and God is not the author of confusion or guesswork. Our theology is certainly not to be based on a conjecture of “cultural.” And many understand this dilemma. Hence the impossible search to try and find a basis for women leadership in the Word.
Do you realize that counter-culture Jesus had every opportunity to close this debate by appointing one or two women as His disciples? That God could have closed this issue by having Peter or Paul appoint a couple female elders? Yet now you want us to believe that after all the Church age of male leadership in the church, you have discovered that male leadership is not critical to advancing the kingdom of God on the basis of conjecture alone… no proof from God’s Word. If God leaves such an important issue related to life and godliness open to cultural changes, when do we start accepting homosexual marriages in the church? Is polygamy next as it is far more defensible from the Word than female leadership? The door to the slippery slope is now wide open to all who want to see “culture” as dominant over the clear teaching of the Word.
There are a hundred questions I would like to ask those in Dr. Fee’s camp, but in the end we will reach an impasse because I firmly believe that God’s inerrant Word transcends time in this matter, and that no better model of leadership can exist than to have a godly Christian husband leading his home along with a plurality of men as elders leading the church. And this is not conjecture, but based on God’s perfect Word.
Our God is very clear on what He wants from mankind and His church, and to leave such an important issue completely unsupported by His Word has to make the unbiased student side with traditional theology on this matter. God indeed wants Christ to be head of all, and husband to be head of his wife and family, and male elders in charge of His Church… just as His Word plainly says it.
You cannot twist the Word to make it say something it does not and arrive at truth. Be careful to heed the apostle Peter’s warning as he defends Paul’s words as true and warns against wresting them away from their natural meaning “to their own destruction.”
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
2 Peter 3:15-17