The Bible Doesn’t Allow for Women Pastors—Here’s Why.

When I became a Christian in 2013, my whole life changed, as it should. Along with major life changes came vigorous study of all things theology. Soon, I began learning from the likes of John Piper, Timothy Keller, Matt Chandler, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, et al.

And then it happened. I learned about complementarianism. Although it was new to me, I never really took issue with the doctrine because, from my eyes, it was so clear in Scripture (and still is). The more I learned, the more I realized that I didn’t believe women should hold the office of pastor.

That’s still my position today, of course. But yet, in the early stages–as I was still sorting everything out–those around me didn’t necessarily appreciate my stance. It’s not something many think about. But it’s similar to predestination: it’s in the Bible, so we have to talk about it.

So let’s do that.

What the Bible Says

There are several relevant passages of Scripture regarding this topic, but let’s take a closer look at the most important one in 1 Timothy for the sake of length.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

1 Timothy 2:11-15 (ESV)

With any Bible verse, it would do us well to consider the context. And the important contextual part comes after the controversial verse, namely, verse 12. Notice what the next one states: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve…”

Many claim this passage has an explicit cultural context, indicating that the prohibition of women here is limited to that specific time and place. This argument is true in other cases, but that’s simply not the case in this passage–because of verse 13. Paul is not making a cultural argument, but an argument from the creation order. In other words, the apostle is saying it’s God’s good design for women to not “teach or to exercise authority over a man.”

Before you throw your hands up in disgust, I understand there are many other questions about this that I will attempt to cover. But the Bible is clear: women are not to hold the office (and function!) of elder/pastor. Now, let’s address two common arguments related to this.

Some Women Can Preach Better than Men

When my wife and I were attending our first church, I began to learn more and more about my theology and what made sense in Scripture. With every passing day, I kept going further away from my local church’s distinctive beliefs. We believed and affirmed the same gospel, but were polar opposites regarding secondary doctrines.

I knew we needed to leave, but before we did, I made the bold choice (in hindsight) to contact the conference’s bishop. I asked him about 1 Timothy 2:12. He told me very clearly, “We believe women are more than capable of fulfilling the role of pastor. Some women are even better preachers than men!” That last sentence baffled me. I was sort of appalled because it was such a bad strawman argument. Nobody is arguing their position based on ability, but simply from the roles God has given men and women in the church.

With that said, his statement, by itself, is something I actually agree with–some women are better at preaching than men. It was Steve Lawson who said that Victoria Osteen, the wife of infamous televangelist Joel Osteen, was the better preacher of the two (yes, it’s okay to chuckle at that).

But again, the issue is not the ability, or lack thereof, of women to preach. Women may be able to preach wonderfully but that doesn’t mean they are called to fulfill the office and/or function of pastor.

Are Women Inferior?

The answer to that question is a resounding, “No!” Yet many times it’s used as another typical strawman argument against complementarianism. Men and women both are created by God with the same value, worth, dignity, and respect. Men are certainly not superior to women!

Complementarian theology has never been, nor will ever be, about women being inferior. It has always been about what roles God has placed us in. That’s the message; that’s the point. This debate is not about who is superior or inferior, but solely about biblically practicing God’s design for the church.

What’s the Point?

I laid my cards on the table in the title of this blog. I don’t believe Scripture allows for women to fulfill the office and/or function of pastor. I believe it’s restricted to men. But, perhaps, you still ask: What’s the point? Why does it matter?

This conversation matters because we want to be as biblical as possible in all we do, whether that’s in the home, church, or street. Though this is not a “gospel issue”—that is, Christians may disagree on this—it is still very important. To be sure, there are many orthodox churches that allow women pastors, many of the churches we see continue to fall more and more into liberal theology.

In other words, sometimes allowing women as pastors is a sign of major decline and compromise within the church. So, we want to be faithful. And sometimes being faithful means drawing a line where some don’t want to draw. And that’s okay.

But we must do so with grace, for even this topic has practical implications in the life of the church. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and He will guide us by the Spirit.

One Comment Add yours

  1. subpopgirl says:

    Agree 100%. Scripture is very clear. There are many rolls for a woman to fulfill within the body of Christ. Wife, mother, teacher to other and younger women, caretakers of the elderly, and so many other fulfilling and important duties.

    Liked by 1 person

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