Regarding the ordination of women as pastors, the Church of Jesus Christ is conflicted. Many denominations allow women to be ordained, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rituals and ceremonies such as Communion. Women have been ordained to preach from the pulpit, and rule over a congregation. Ordained women can be found among Anabaptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Methodist, and Baptist.

Within the Southern Baptist denomination, the ordination of women continues to be debated. On the permissive side are Southern Baptist leaders such as Rick Warren, author of, The Purpose Driven Life.

In 2021, Saddleback Church in Lake-Forest California ordained three women, thereby violating the Southern Baptist Convention’s doctrinal statement of faith and message.

“While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture” (Baptist Faith and Message, 2000, Article VI. The Church).

Without apology, Pastor Warren appeals to three Bible passages to sustain his conviction that women should be ordained.

First Argument from Matthew 28:19-20.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” “We claim that we believe that the Great Commission is for everybody; both men and women are to fulfill the Great Commission. ~Rick Warren

Second Argument from Acts 2, where we read how the Holy Spirit came down with great power in the early church moving individuals to speak in foreign tongues. “We know that women were preaching in languages that other people couldn’t hear to a mixed audience.” ~Rick Warren.

Third Argument from John 20:17. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” When Jesus told Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples about His resurrection, Jesus “chose her to be the first preacher of the Gospel.” ~Rick Warren

When these three passages are more carefully examined, there is nothing in the texts, or in any contexts, allowing for women to be ordained. The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19, 20 has nothing to say about women pastors. The appeal to Acts 2 is rooted in an assumption at best, and has no instruction about ordaining a woman as a pastor. The reference to Mary Magdalene reporting to the disciples that Jesus was alive is magnified to say she was preaching.

It might be argued there is a difference between a woman having the gift of pastor-teacher, with her right to be ordained, and a woman holding the office of a pastor. However, since the terms pastor, bishop, and elder are used interchangeably in Scripture to refer to the same office, a nuanced distinction cannot be made.

Regarding the ordination of women, the Bible is simple, and crystal clear. With a right to organize His Church the way He sees fit, the Bible teaches the Lord has decreed that pastoral leadership and authority rests exclusively with men.

“This is a true saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach” (1 Tim. 3:1,2).

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly” (Titus 1:5,6).

Though countless books and articles have been written in favor of ordaining women, though a multitude of arguments have been marshaled to fight against a conservative position, the simplicity of Scripture remains the best argument against a woman being formally ordained as a pastor, bishop, or elder in the local church.

Let the woman teach other women, and the children, let them serve as deaconess in areas of need, let women be a godly example of virtue and love in the home, and in public, but let the pastoral office be reserved for those whom the Spirit has gifted, according to His sovereign will.

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