Summary: Women and men are spiritually equal before the Lord; however, women are debarred from occupying the role of elder within the congregation of the Lord.

“Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 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. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” [1]

Almost a year ago, I delivered a message bearing the identical title to the message this day. [2] I knew at the time that the message would be considered controversial, and it did prove to be so. The message was not well-received in some quarters; however, I have never preached to obtain the accolades and praise from those who listen to the message. Disapproval of women functioning as elders, or even filling the pulpit, is controversial in great measure, because of the insinuation of feminist ideology into the life of Christ’s Zion. Unquestionably, the churches of this day have been feminised to a dismaying extent.

The adoption of attitudes that are antithetical and even hostile to the Word of God has ensured the elevation of women to the eldership and the diaconate among modern churches. Increasingly, evangelical churches view these services to the saints as positions of power. According to this novel worldview, if women were proscribed from functioning in these roles, they were excluded from power. Exclusion from power for any identifiable group is strictly verboten in contemporary culture. Thus, women were said to be discriminated against and kept from realising their full potential within God’s work if they could not serve as elders and/or deacons. In order to accommodate this novel desire for power among the churches it was necessary to discount two millennia of church practise and impose a radical reinterpretation of the Scriptures.

Novel concepts were advanced to support the new push to feminise the face of the Faith. Scholars “discovered” new evidence for a female apostle and dismissed much of the apostolic literature as misogynistic and culture-bound by Jewish concepts that were no longer applicable to the churches of the Master. Perhaps the most vigorous push for reinterpretation was mounted against Paul’s First Letter to Timothy. In this letter, the Apostle to the Gentiles has written: “Women again must dress in becoming manner, modestly and soberly, not with elaborate hair-styles, not decked out with gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, as befits women who claim to be religious. A woman must be a learner, listening quietly and with due submission. I do not permit a woman to be a teacher, nor must woman domineer over man; she should be quiet. For Adam was created first, and Eve afterwards; and it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who, yielding to deception, fell into sin” [1 TIMOTHY 2:9-14]. [3]

What is apparent upon reflection and when considering the Apostle’s statements preceding this portion of the Letter, it is apparent that there are some serious difficulties with these modern efforts to reinterpret the Word. If we allow that Paul’s statement to the men leading in prayer is universal, then it follows of necessity that what is stated concerning the role of women among the churches is also universal. This must be stated as it has become somewhat popular in recent days to argue that he was correcting a local problem in Ephesus. The argument of some feminist theologians is that the situation in Ephesus was an aberration; therefore, the instruction provided in this passage is not to be applied as the normal pattern for the churches.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING WOMEN IN PASTORAL ROLES — Was this portion of the Word the sole proscription against women functioning in the role of congregational teachers, it would weigh heavily upon the congregation of the Lord. However, there are other considerations in this matter. There are broad implications of the debate over setting women apart to pastoral leadership. Among the areas of concern that must be raised are questions touching such fields as bibliology, hermeneutics, Christology, trinitarianism and ecclesiology.

Though admittedly speaking broadly, I do wish to touch on each of these areas briefly. For those wishing to elevate women to congregational oversight, the Scriptures as translated must be jettisoned in favour of gender-neutral versions. Otherwise, advocates of women pastors will be continually frustrated by the language employed throughout the New Testament. I admit that this is not a strong argument for rejecting feminist theology, but it is a consideration must not be neglected. Supporters of female eldership will feel increasing pressure to transform liturgical language, seeking to ensure that it is inclusive. Shortly, churches will be praying to “Our Father-Mother who art in heaven,” preaching that God gave “His only Child” and reciting creeds affirming, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Sovereign, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father-Mother and from the child.” [4]

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Brenda Kerr

commented on Jun 25, 2017

Why would you identify ALL women called of God as feminists? From your point of view, Women called of God, would be a chauvinistic view, A woman who truly knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God the Father has called her, is far from a feminist.

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