Apologetics, Biblical Doctrines, Church, Church history, Culture & Society, End Times Issues, Salvation & Justification

The Case Against Ordaining Women Preachers

AN EXPOSITION OF 1 TIMOTHY 2:9-15

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided [braided] hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

Women have a role in the church in accordance with the Divine design. Women should attend the meetings quietly, learn in submission, show Christian modesty and virtue, and do good works. In a culture that promoted loose moral and immodest dressing, the emphasis for Christian ladies is upon modesty, and not being ostentatious. This does not mean that women must look like something the cat dragged in. It is just as wrong to be ostentatious in a negative way by plain looks, and an unusual way of dressing, in order to call attention to one’s spiritual distinctiveness.

  10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

The reference to good works refers to works of charity, or  that met the need of others. Good works would include using the spirit gift God the Holy Spirit has provided. There are two classes of spiritual gifts.  There are gifts that are gifts of utterance, such as the gift of evangelism, and pastor-teacher.  There are gifts that are non-utterance, such as the gifts of administration, helps, and government. Women can have both types of gifts, those that are gifts of utterance, and those that are gifts of non-utterance.

How Women Might Work in the Local Assembly

 Teach a Sunday school class for children.
Conduct a home Bible study for ladies.
Engage in acts of evangelism and outreach ministries.
Promote musical programs.
Encourage the homeschool movement.
Organize ways to meet needs with food and finances.
Be a good mother.
Showing hospitality.
Greeting ministry to sick and shut-ins.
Home visitation and hospital visitation.
Secretarial work in getting the gospel out.
Promote a tape ministry and book printing ministry.

  11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection [without rebellion].

In recent years, several denominations have begun to ordain women as priestesses. For example, in July, 1974, the Episcopal Church ordained eleven priestesses, even though it was illegal according to their Book of Church Order. Though there was an initial protest, by July 1976, the 72nd General Convention in Philadelphia passed a resolution declaring that “no one shall be denied access” to ordination into the three orders of ministry: as deacons, priests or bishops, on the basis of their sex. A second resolution declared that no one could be barred from participating in the life and governance of the church, either because of their gender, or because of their theological beliefs concerning the ordination of women.

What Paul is Not Teaching

Paul is not teaching the superiority of men. He is saying that women have certain functions, as men have certain functions. A successful society depends upon the exercising of these functions.

Paul is not teaching men to be harsh in their attitude and treatment of women. Her father was stage and screen legend John Barrymore. Her mother was a successful actress. But her childhood was wretched, and her adult lifestyle filled with pain and sorrow. Without knowing true love and happiness, Diana Barrymore once said, “I don’t mind being punched.”  Playwright Noel Coward said that women should be strapped regularly, like a gong. Such is the sick thinking of secular society. Even some religions teach something terrible like that, such as the Muslim religion, which is very demanding and demeaning on women. But Paul is not teaching harshness towards women. Other denominations have followed in their steps.

Paul is teaching a spiritual relationship based on a voluntary, godly submission, from a humble heart, and a grateful heart. In football, a running back is not more important than a good offensive line. In the body, the hand is no less important than the eye. In the matter of salvation, the Lord Jesus was assigned the function by the trinity, in the work of mediation, to rely wholly upon the Father. Nevertheless, the Son was equal with the Father, very God of very God. In matchless grace Jesus humbled Himself, and became obedient, even unto death. Submission is not a matter of inferiority. In the church, the public assembly is in view, and in the church, the women are to learn in silence, just like they did in the Synagogue. They were to worship without rebellion. The issue is function, not worth.

  12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

The divine prohibition is not absolute. Women are to instruct other women and children as per Titus 2:4. Specifically, the younger women are to be taught how to be serious, how to love their husbands, and how to love their children. In the Greek, the word, teach, is stressed. Why? Because of the principle concerning the relationship of authority. Two principles guide the believer’s understanding of the role of women in the church. First, submission to the authority of Scripture. Second, the tradition of the church on this matter. Therefore, when the apostle teaches that women are not to attempt to control men, he is saying something very important. The apostle is teaching that, “Equal worth does not demand similar function” (S. Lewis Johnson).

Inappropriate Guidelines of Interpretation

Time Conditional Culture
Rabbinical Views of the Apostle Paul
A Cultural Phenomenon
Temporary Regulations

In the Old Testament, no woman was allowed to be a priest. When Jesus chose His disciples, He chose twelve men. When the early church chose deacons, men were selected. The qualifications for church leaders speak of the elders being the husband of one wife. Historically, there is no movement to ordain women as elders or ministers in the Christian church.

The First Argument for the Subordination of the Woman and Restriction on Teaching:  The Origin of the Woman

   13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

The word “for” (Greek, gar), provides the reason for the doctrinal teaching and practice. The first reason provided is based on the order of creation. The historical basis for this first doctrinal argument for the subordination of the woman, and the restriction on her teaching, is found in Genesis 2:18-25, which records the origin of the woman.

The Second Argument for the Subordination of the Woman and Restriction on Teaching: The Original Deception

  14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being [utterly] deceived was in the transgression.

The historical basis for the second argument for the subordination of the woman, and the restriction on her teaching, is found in Genesis 3:14-19, which records God’s judgment upon the woman, and what took place as result of her sin. See also 1 Corinthians 11:8-10. Paul’s argument is that the woman is taken out of the man, which suggests dependence, and further, she is created for the man. And Adam was not deceived. When Adam sinned, he was under no illusion about what he was doing. Why did Adam sin? One possibility is that he loved Eve so much, he chose her over God. He could not image life without Eve, and so he chose to share her fate knowing full well what that fate would be. Adam’s sin was willful, and therefore he was more culpable, which may be why he was judged last. Adam was the covenant head. He should have refused the proffered fruit of the tree. With that being said, in context, Paul’s point is that since Eve was led astray by deception, the teaching office should be reserved for, and protected by the man, whom God continues to hold most accountable.

Deceived Women who in Turn Deceive

Mary Baker Patterson Glover Eddy has deceived many through her novel religion of Christian Science. Ellen G. White, of the Seventh Day Adventist movement was given to visions and prophetic utterances that were not of God.

 Of course, men, men too are guilty of being deceived and deceiving others. Joseph Smith has led countless millions astray through Mormonism, as has Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah Witnesses. Nevertheless, the Lord has a right to organize the church the way He sees best, and on the principles He decides, and so, the man is to teach, and have authority in the local assembly.

The Third Argument for the Subordination of the Woman and Restriction on Teaching: The Hope of Salvation

  15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in [the] childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity [love] and holiness with sobriety.

This passage of Scripture is based on Genesis 3:13-19. One of the unintended consequences of the Fall was the subordination of the woman in the church. Women’s Liberation should have no influence over the church, for God has spoken. The church must not be intimidated by the world, the flesh, or the devil. Paul may be speaking soteriologically. He may be referring to the salvation that comes to the world through means of the virgin birth. God is not angry with the woman forever, because of Eve’s deception. In grace, God has appointed an important function for the women. Her role is rooted in childbearing through whom the Messiah came.

Despite Paul’s restrictions here, Liberals appeal to Galatians 3:28 in an effort to justify the ordination of women, and giving them authority over men. The response is that Paul does not teach in Galatians 3:28 that Christians are all one “in the church”. Rather, he teaches that Christians are one in Christ. In Christ there is neither male nor female. Of course, Paul is not abolishing all sexual distinctions that exist by way of creation. Nor does Galatians 3:28 have anything to say about a person’s function within the local church. In context, Paul is speaking of the believer’s relationship to Christ Jesus. In Christ there is no difference. Any person that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and has received justification and the forgiveness of sins, that person is a new creation. Whether the individual is a male or female, the person is in Christ, with all the spiritual privileges that entails. One of the gospel privileges is to function within the local church, but within the parameters or boundaries of the known Divine will. The Divine will, the will of God can only be known by considering the whole counsel of God. And that takes us, in regard to the function of women in the church, back to 1 Timothy 2.

The Fourth Argument for the Subordination of the Woman and Restriction on Teaching: The Law

There is a fourth reason why Paul teaches that women are not to teach in the church. Paul argues for the silence of women because it is written in the Law. “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 saith the law” (1 Cor. 14:34). The place where this prohibition is taught “in the Law” is Genesis 2 and 3. So Paul’s teaching about not ordaining women to public ministry is not based upon culture, it is based upon the Law, and beyond that, to the order of Creation, and what happened at the Fall.

 

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