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Updated March 8, 2000 (first published January30, 1998) (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist InformationService, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) -- The Bibleclearly states that the man is to lead in the home and church,and the woman's role is to submit to the man's headship. There iswidespread rebellion against this divine plan, though, and manywomen are being appointed to leadership positions in churches.Consider some facts from our files:
There are almost 4,000 licensed and ordainedwomen in the Assemblies of God.
In 1984 the Southern Baptist Convention adopteda resolution saying the Bible "excludes women from pastoralleadership." Like many things adopted by this Convention,the resolution was almost meaningless. In a September 1993meeting of the SBC Executive Committee, a measure to expelcongregations for ordaining women was rejected unanimously. TheFall 1997 edition of Folio, the newsletter of BaptistWomen in Ministry, reported that there are 1,225 ordainedSouthern Baptist women. Roughly 200 of the ordained women serveas pastors and associate pastors. In 1979 there were only 58ordained Southern Baptist women, but the number has increasedrapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, during the same period in whichthe "conservatives" have dominated the nationalconvention.
The United Methodist Church has ordained womensince 1956 and today has 4,743 women "clergy."
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has 2,419female leaders. In 1979 the United Presbyterian Church,forerunner of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., adopted aresolution REQUIRING the congregations to elect women elders.This politically correct denomination also voted to ban theordination of any man who opposed women clergy and gave such men10 years to change their minds or get out (EP News Service,June 21, 1980). So much for the supposed broadminded attitude ofModernists.
The United Church of Christ has 1,803 femaleleaders.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has1,358 ordained women.
As of 1994, 16 of the 30 independent Anglicancommunions around the world have approved ordination of womenpriests. The Episcopal Church in the United States, whichapproved women's ordination in 1976, has more than 1,000. TheEpiscopalians ordained the first Anglican female bishop in 1989.The General Synod of the "mother church" in Englandendorsed the concept of female priests in 1993. In 1991 QueenElizabeth showed her approval of all this by appointing a womanas one of her royal chaplains in Scotland.
The Church of Scotland approved the ordinationof women in 1968 and now has 100 female ministers.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, though moreconservative than other Lutheran bodies, is beginning to allowwomen to preach in regular worship services. A survey showed thatabout 1,000 LCMS clergymen maintain that the Bible is not opposedto the ordination of women (Christian News, Feb. 13,1989).
"Leaders of Youth With a Mission (YWAM)appointed their first female national director in March tooversee a 200-member staff in Switzerland. At a conference lastyear, YWAM founder Loren Cunningham spoke out strongly againstwhat he called 'cultural bias' against women. He also warned thatGod's blessing might be removed if YWAM did not commission femaleleaders" (Charisma, July 1993).
"Women now comprise at least a third ofthe student population at the leading interdenominationaldivinity schools; at Yale and Harvard, they're more thanhalf" (Ibid.).
"U.S. women ordained to full-time ministryin 1986 increased to 20,730 from 10,470 in 1977, and represented7.9% of all U.S. clergy, according to a recent study by theNational Council of Churches. ... The survey showed that 84 of166 denominations ordain women to full ministry... (National& International Religion Report, March 13, 1989).
These facts are evidence of the apostasy of thehour. Men and women in the world, having rejected Bible truth,are confused about the most basic things. Many men are trying tobe like women in dress and manner, while many women are demandingthe right to be like men, to dress like men, to do the same workas men, to play the same sports as men, to fight in armies likemen. They want more than equal pay for equal work; they aredemanding a man's place in the home, church, and state.
Sadly, the church is always affected bysociety. Thus the rebellion of women in the world is causingsimilar problems in the churches, and we find women demandingleadership roles in many Christian groups.
The Bible speaks too clearly on this subjectfor there to be any confusion. The problem is that churches toooften are looking to sources other than the Bible for guidance.God loves women as much as He does men. Women are as important tothe home, church, and society as men are. In Jesus Christ, womenenjoy the same spiritual position and blessings before God as mendo. This does not mean, though, there is to be no difference inmen and women in their appearance and roles. There is a basictruth which needs to be restated in the church and society today:Men and women are different!
Men and women were made for different roles.The New Testament affirms that men are to be the leaders in thehome, church, and state. Women were not created to rule thesedivine institutions; men were. The prophet Isaiah was condemningIsrael when he said women ruled over them (Isa. 3:12). In thechurch, according to the Bible, no woman is qualified to be apastor or a deacon or in any other leadership position over men.Who says? God says!
"Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I do not suffer a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:34-37).
How could a woman possibly be a pastor when sheis forbidden to teach or to have any authority over men? Womencan only be pastors if they openly disobey the Bible's teaching.
Further, the Lord Jesus Christ appointed nofemale apostles. All of them were men. The standards for pastorsapply strictly to men. Only a man can be the "husband of onewife" and can "rule his own house well" (1 Tim.3:2,4; Titus 1:6).
WERE PAULS INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALLCHURCHES OF ALL CENTURIES?
Some are saying that the commands quoted abovewere meant only for first century Christians, or were only forthe particular situation at Corinth. This cannot be true for manyreasons. Consider:
First, Paul said that his instructions in 1Corinthians 14 are the commandments of the Lord (verse 37).As such they must be obeyed by all Christians and by everychurch.
Second, the Apostle said that theinstructions of 1 Corinthians 14 are a test of spirituality.He said that those who are truly spiritual must acknowledge thatthe instructions are the very commandments of God. "If anyman think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let himacknowledge that the things that I write unto you are thecommandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). Those who arerejecting the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 concerning a woman'srole in the church are proving themselves to be unspiritual.
Third, in 1 Timothy the Apostle gives thevery same instructions concerning women, and this epistle wassaid to have been written to teach the proper order for churchesin general. "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest knowhow thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which isthe church of the living God, the pillar and ground of thetruth" (1 Tim. 3:15). The things contained in 1 Timothy aregeneral instructions about church order to be obeyed by allchurches in every century; and it is in this book, the book whichcontains standards for church leaders, that God has forbiddenwomen from taking authority over or teaching men.
Fourth, in giving the instructions aboutwomen in the church, the Holy Spirit referred back to theoriginal order of creation--Adam first, then Eve. The HolySpirit, in guiding Paul's pen, used this order of creation toprove that women must not take authority over men. Therefore,since the order of creation has not changed since 1 Timothy waswritten, and since it does not change in our culture or century,we know that the instructions of the New Testament about thewoman's role in the church apply to us today.
Fifth, Paul referred to the Fall for supportof his teaching regarding the Christian woman's subjection to theman. "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman beingdeceived was in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). Again thisshows that the Apostle's teaching about the woman transcends anyone culture or generation. Though we have been saved from theeternal consequences of the Fall when we receive the Lord JesusChrist, we are still living under the abiding consequences andconditions of the Fall as long as we remain in this world.
Redemption has three aspects which must neverbe confused--past, present, and future. The three are seen inRomans chapter eight. Romans 8:1-10 speaks of the past aspect ofour salvation--we have been saved from the eternalconsequences of sin. Because of what Jesus Christ has done for uson the Cross we have been made eternally free from any fear ofthe wrath of God or punishment for our sin by God's holy law.Hallelujah! Romans 8:11-17 speaks of the present aspect of oursalvation--we are being saved from the power of sin in ourdaily lives by the Spirit of God who indwells us. Romans 8:18-25speaks of the future aspect of salvation--we will be savedfrom the very presence of sin when Christ gives us ourresurrection body and comes to renew this fallen creation. Wehave eternal redemption right now as a present possession, yet westill "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, towit, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23).
Likewise, the woman who trusts Christ receiveseternal freedom in Him from the wages of sin, but she is not yetfree from some of the consequences of Eve's rebellion in theGarden of Eden. She still is to be in subjection to the man.
Sixth, Paul referred to human nature tosupport his teaching regarding women. "And Adam was notdeceived, but the woman being deceived was in thetransgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). The woman has a differentmakeup than the man. She was designed for a different role inlife--that of a wife and mother. Her emotional, psychological,and rational makeup are geared perfectly for this, but she wasnot designed for leadership. In the garden of Eden the devildeceived her. This was not true for Adam. He sinned, but he wasnot deceived. Eve had allowed herself to be thrust into aposition of decision making she was not supposed to occupy. It isno coincidence that women have been responsible for starting manyof the false Christian movements and have played key roles inspiritism, new age, mind science cults, and such. Human naturehas not changed and neither has God's restrictions against womenpreachers.
Seventh, Paul commanded that hisinstructions were to be kept until Christ's coming."That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable,until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:14).This command is given at the end of the epistle in which theApostle had so clearly required that women be in subjection tomen in the church (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Since Jesus has not yetappeared, we are to continue to maintain these restrictions.
Eighth, Paul's letter to Corinth, in whichhe spoke of women being in subjection to men, was for allChristians, not just those in Corinth. In his introduction tothis epistle the Apostle tells us plainly to whom he is speaking:"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them thatare sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, WITH ALLTHAT IN EVERY PLACE CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD,both their's and our's" (1 Cor. 1:2). It is clear thatPaul's instructions were not intended merely for some peculiarsituation at Corinth.
Ninth, while Galatians 3:28 says there isneither bond nor free in Christ, other passages teach that thisdoes not mean there are no servant/master relationships. TheChristian servant is free in Christ--free from the eternal wagesof sin--but he is not free from his earthly position andresponsibilities of servitude toward his master (Eph. 6:5-8; Col.3:22-25; 1 Tim. 6:1,2; Tit. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:18-25). In fact,anyone who teaches against these instructions regardingsubmission of servants to masters is labeled proud and evil:
"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. IF ANY MAN TEACH OTHERWISE, AND CONSENT NOT TO WHOLESOME WORDS, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; HE IS PROUD, KNOWING NOTHING, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of CORRUPT MINDS, AND DESTITUTE OF THE TRUTH, supposing that gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF" (1 Timothy 6:1-5).
These are strong words, and they refer directlyto those who try to contradict the Apostle's teaching requiringsubjection of servants to masters, such as those who promotecommunistic "liberation theology," and those who stirup all sorts of strife between workers and business. These wordsalso apply to those who are trying to throw off the apostolicteaching referring to woman's subjection to man in the church andhome. Such are proud, ungodly, and destitute of the truth, andare to be separated from! We can see how serious this matter is.
Galatians 3:28 says there are no servants andno freemen in Christ, yet other New Testament passages teachthere are indeed Christians who are servants and Christians whoare masters. Galatians 3:28 also says there is neither male norfemale in Christ, but other passages show us that this does notmean all distinction between the sexes are done away in thisworld, nor does it mean that the original order of creation hasbeen dissolved in Christianity.
IF MEN WILL NOT LEAD, WOMEN WILL
One reason why women are taking leadershippositions is that the man has too often failed to take his place.When men are weak, women must be strong. This is often seen inthe church. Men should willingly step forward to lead the churchin every area, but often the men are weak and lazy. They don'tgive; they don't go soul winning; they don't volunteer to fillvacant positions; they don't come out on work days. Someone hasto lead, so the women step in and take control. Christian menshould respond to the call of world evangelism, but few do. Agreat number of Christian men are too weak, or lazy, or fearful,or busy with selfish plans to be concerned about world missions.So the women do what they can.
When men are strong and obedient to God'scommands, there is not a serious problem with what the womenshould do.
DIDN'T GOD USE WOMEN TO LEAD MEN IN THEOLD TESTAMENT?
Why did God make DEBORAH ajudge in Israel (Judges 4:4-5)? The answer is not difficult.God's perfect will is for men to lead. That is too clear tomisinterpret, but when men will not assume theirresponsibilities, God uses women. The men in Deborah's day werevery weak and cowardly. This is seen in the fact that Barak, thecaptain of the armies of Israel, refused to go into battle unlessDeborah went with him. What a brave man! What a hero! The womanhad to remind him that God had said it is time to fight; thewoman had to encourage and challenge him to go; the woman had togo with him!
"And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go" (Judges 4:8).
Deborah clearly realized that this was notright nor natural, and she told Barak it would result in shameupon his name. "And she said, I will surely go with thee;notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be forthine honour; FOR THE LORD SHALL SELL SISERA INTO THE HAND OF AWOMAN..." (Judges 4:9).
Obviously it was a period in Israel's historyduring which God could find no man to do His will, so He used abrave, willing woman. We can praise God for women like Deborahwho are willing to be strong when the men are weak. This hasoften happened, both in secular and church history.
The root problem in Deborah's day was spiritualapostasy. When God's people turn away from Him, He renders themen powerless against their enemies and removes wisdom from theirhearts. It is a judgment upon apostate people. We can see thisvery thing today in apostate North America and Europe. Theleaders are weak and seem entirely lacking even in common sense.We cannot control our little children, and women rule over us(compare Isaiah 3:12). It is God's judgment because of theapostate condition of professing Christendom. Israel in Deborah'sday was in bondage to their enemies only because of theirapostasy from the true God and His revealed will recorded in theScriptures (Judges 4:1-2). This was why the men were so weak. Godhad removed their power as He did from sinful Samson.
Therefore the flight shall perish from theswift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neithershall the mighty deliver himself. ... And he that is courageousamong the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith theLord" (Amos 2:14-15).
What about THE DAUGHTERS OF PHILIP?They were prophetesses (Acts 21:8-9). Doesn't this mean women canpreach to men in exercising their gifts of prophecy? The factthat God gave gifts of prophecy to women does not mean they arefree to take authority in the church.
During our missionary years in Nepal I wrote aGospel pamphlet entitled The Unknown God. The message wastaken from Paul's sermon on Mar's Hill in Acts 17, an appropriatemessage to the idolatrous people of South Asia. Some months afterwe began publishing this illustrated pamphlet I was approached bya female missionary who began to reprove me for the pamphlet andfor what she considered to be an overly negative approach to theGospel. I was heading to the barber shop one fine afternoon whenI saw her coming toward me on her bicycle. She had collared mebeforetimes to correct this or that thing that she felt I waswrong about, so I did the only brave, manly thing I could thinkof--I tried to duck into the barber shop before she could catchme. Alas, though, I was too slow! She proceeding to take me totask as we were standing on the street in Kathmandu. She didn'tlike the direct approach of condemning idolatry and preachingrepentance. I reminded her that this was exactly what the ApostlePaul did. She countered that Paul was probably in the flesh whenhe preached that message. (I guess she knew that bit ofinformation by revelation or vision or something!) I told herthat Paul most certainly was not in the flesh when he preachedthe message recorded by inspiration in Acts chapter seventeen. Ialso told her that if God wanted to correct me, He would use aman to do it. Boy, that lit her smokestack! She turned myattention to the daughters of Philip who were prophetesses.
I then reminded her that when Paul was stayingat Philip's house, even though the four daughters were there whohad the gifts of prophecy, God used a male prophet from anothercity to come and prophesy to Paul!
"And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles" (Acts 21:8-11).
When I had made this point from the Word ofGod, this missionary lady got back on her bicycle and peddledaway.
My friends, there is no doubt that God gave thegifts of prophecy to women. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, hadpromised that God would do this: "And on ... my handmaidensI will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shallprophesy" (Acts 2:18). But the Holy Spirit, the Spirit whogives the gifts, has placed restrictions upon the exercise ofthose gifts. 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 are HolyScripture. Immediately after forbidding the women from speakingin the church meetings, the Apostle Paul warned that those whoignore this instruction are not spiritual. "If any man thinkhimself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge thatthe things that I write unto you are the commandments of theLord" (1 Cor. 14:377).
DOESNT ACTS 2:17,18 TEACH THATBOTH WOMEN AND MEN WILL PROPHESY?
As for women prophesying, we know that Philip'sdaughters prophesied, but, as noted previously, when God wantedto speak to Paul He brought a man to do it (Acts 21:8-11). Godrichly gifts women in spiritual things, but they are restrictedin the exercise thereof. The woman's ministry is to be focused onwomen and children (1 Tim. 2:15; Tit. 2:3-5). As noted earlier,it is very instructive that there were no women apostles, and thedivine standards for pastors apply only to men (1 Tim. 3:2-4;Titus 1:5-9).
Recently a woman wrote to me and said she feltcalled to preach but she was confused by things she read from meand others who hold the position that the woman cannot preach toor usurp authority over men. I wrote to her and explained thatthe confusion came from her illicit desires, and that theconfusion would cease if she would submit herself to the Word ofGod and accept the role God has given her. My wife is awonderful, godly lady who has tremendous spiritual gifts. Shewent to Nepal as a single girl and worked in a remote hospitaland witnessed for Jesus Christ, but she refused to teach groupsof men or to usurp authority over them, even when she wasencouraged to do so. After we were married, we went back to SouthAsia and started a church together, and she was a major part ofits success. She led dozens of Asian women to Christ and helpedground them in the Word and will of God. She never stood beforethe church to teach men, though, and she did not have anauthoritative position in the church. Today, among many otherthings, we work in a jail ministry together. She teaches thewomen and I teach the men. She exercises her gifts within theparameters of God's Word; I do the same. There is no confusionwhen we obey the Scriptures.
WHY DOES BLESSING APPEAR TO BE UPON THEMINISTRIES OF SOME WOMEN WHO PREACH AND TEACH TO MEN?
We believe the correct answer to this questionis given by E.W. Rogers in The Church of God: A Symposium:
People may ask why it is that sometimes blessing seems to attend the evangelistic work of women, even though they do not comply with the scriptural restrictions. We might ask a similar question in the reverse case: Why is it that some serve the Lord consistently with divine principles and see but little if any fruit? Who was it that said, `I have laboured in vain and spent my strength for nought'? It was our blessed Lord (Isa. 49:4)! God is not bound by His own restrictive principles that He cannot bless where there is non-compliance, but the servant must remember that `If a man strive for the mastery he is not crowned unless he strive lawfully' (2 Tim. 2:5).
God often blesses the ministry of His Word in spite of the errors of the minister. But in such cases the minister (whether it be man or woman) will only receive personal reward for the labor in as much as it was done according to the Word of God (1 Cor. 3:6-15).
My friends, beware of being influenced by the rebellion of the hour. God forbids a woman from preaching and usurping authority over the man. He forbade this 1900 years ago, and He forbids it today.
Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:34-37).
We conclude with the words of Pastor AllenDickerson of the Maranatha Baptist Church, Elkton, Maryland.Pastor Dickerson started this church 40 years ago and God hasblessed his stand for the Word of God. In his article"Ordaining Women Preachers," Pastor Dickerson says:
The pulpit is a place of divine authority. It is a place where the compassionate but dominate qualities of God-ordained leadership are to be demonstrated. It is certainly not a place for a woman.
A woman who orders her life according to the Word of God is a crown jewel to her husband, an adorable and tender mother to her children, and a blessing and a benediction to her community, church and pastor.
I suppose a woman who is not married and desires to be ordained to the ministry has shunned marriage because she fears male dominance and she possibly feels that the pulpit is a place where she can assert some authority over men. The woman who is married and desires to be ordained to the ministry already has her husband under her thumb and is so delighted with her authority over him that she lusts for more power over the male creature.
I believe history has borne out the fact that God never intended for women to take the place of leadership in spiritual things.
A dominant woman named Jezebel, who married and ruled an indecisive, weak-kneed king named Ahab, poisoned the nation of Israel with the idolatrous worship of Baal and brought down the displeasure and judgment of God upon the nation.
Many of the false religious cults that have spread the venom of religious confusion around the world and have been responsible for damning multitudes of eternal souls, were founded by women who rejected God's plan for them as clearly revealed in the Bible.
The cult of Spiritualism was founded by the Fox Sisters. The subtle and destructive cult of Seventh-day Adventism was founded by so-called prophetess Ellen White. Theosophy was founded by Madam Elena Blavatsky. The blasphemous cult of Christian Science, which is neither Christian nor scientific was founded by Mary Baker Eddy, and the Four Square Gospel Movement was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson who lived a questionable moral life and died a tragic death.
God's plan for the woman is beautifully and tenderly spelled out in 1 Timothy 5:14: "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, and give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."
Another thing that has been very evident to me in my observations is that most of the fortune tellers, palm readers and those involved in the traffic of the black arts are women. This is no accident, but just another outgrowth of the rejection of God's plan for womanhood.
I suppose I will receive a boisterous adverse response from the fairer sex who read this article--from some at least. But thank God for the good spiritually-minded women who find great delight in filling their God-given role--women who submit in love to their husbands, women who rejoice in the role of motherhood, women who love their home and exert a profound spiritual influence upon their children.
Godly, Bible-believing women are a blessing and benediction to the cause of Jesus Christ. They help form the rampart wall of a strong and enduring society, and be reminded that when society turns from the Bible pattern for womanhood as is happening in our day, it turns toward judgment.
I am in my fortieth year of pastoring the Maranatha Baptist Church of Elkton, Maryland, and I can say from my heart, thank God for godly womanhood. Only eternity will reveal what their honorable lives have meant to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.