Women Must Lead the Church

Men are abandoning the church in droves.

It’s true.

If you don’t believe me, just look around your sanctuary this coming Sunday and count the men. Then count the women. Unless your church bucks the trend, your church will have a strong majority of women.

There are numerous cultural and sociological reasons for this, none of which I intend to delve into (see this book for some help).

Instead, I want to talk about the cure.

In my opinion, if a church wants to get more men into church, we must begin with what we currently have: women.

Women lead the church

Women are the key to the life, health, vibrancy, and future of the western church.

Women. Who have been sidelines, maligned, silenced, rebuked, broken, beaten, and told that their place is downstairs with the children.

Men have led the church away from men, so it is now time for women to lead the church–not further away from men, but toward men.

Here is a small example of what I mean:


This post is part of the March Synchroblog. Here is a list of other contributors:



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Comments

  1. says

    I do not believe that men led the church away. We abdicated the church to women because we did not want to take the responsibility and do the work of actually leading the church. Your prescription is doomed fail because it ignores the original curse given by God in the garden where women will desire to control their husbands. Women are already leading in most churches even if they do not hold any official positions because the men allow themselves to be manipulated and directed to do what the women want.

    The solution is to get back to solid Biblical teaching, servant leadership, and taking spiritual warfare seriously — giving the men something real to fight for: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to take responsibility and ownership of our families spiritual state and the spiritual health of our congregations. We need to take our position and calling to love our wives as Christ loved the Church very seriously. If we follow the Biblical model — not just in assigning positions but truly living out the model set forth — we will see a vibrant Church where men are active and strong leaders and women feel secure and protected.

    • says

      Matthew

      I think is mostly right on the mark. Men have allowed the sisters in the church to lead rather than stepping up and leading as we are called. Little wonder women have filled in where the men have left gaps. In local gatherings we have been associated with where men are called on to lead, the male leadership is vibrant and solid. The solution is not to feminize the church but to call men to lead in the church and the family.

    • says

      Matthew and Arthur,

      Good points all.

      Ironically, I did not have my wife read this post before I published it, and when she did, it led to a spirited discussion last night! Ha!

      She is in basic agreement with your points. I think I was not as clear in my post as I should have been. Ah well… such is the nature of blogging!

      Just as with preaching, a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.

    • Suzanne says

      Greetings Matthew,
      You say…(“Your prescription is doomed fail because it ignores the original curse given by God in the garden where women will desire to control their husbands.”)
      O.K. I admit I am not a schooled Bible scholar just a Christian who prays and searches diligently for my Lord’s voice through His Spirit, His Word, and His Beloved children over the voices of this world.
      Original curse or curses?
      Curses, lets really study the aspects of the curses in Genesis 3 so that we might speak truth to each other and not falsehood.
      For starters we should take note of the Hebrew word for curse used in the Genesis 3 narrative. The Hebrew word in Chapter 3 for curse is (‘ârar). In the 24 verses involved in Genesis chapter 3 we can clearly see that this word is used only two (2) times, no more, no less. Its usage is more literally (being cursed) as in ongoing. By the structure of the writing we understand that this particular word is used it has an intended target – even when the effects of a curse may reach beyond the target to others.
      So now that we are more accurately acquainted with this word, its intended grammatical use, and how many times this word actually occurs in this chapter we need to then set out to find “where”, as in what verse or verses in Genesis 3 do we locate this word and “to what or whom “ is the curse directed at.
      We also need to note the formula that the biblical writer intentionally used at each occurrence, which is : “Because you” indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent, and which is used in both occurrences before the word “cursed”. In other words, the formula is, “because you – did such and such – cursed is….”
      We see that the first occurrence of the word (‘ârar) in chapter 3 of Genesis happens in verse 14. Yahweh Elohim is talking to the serpent and He states, “because you did this – cursed are you”. We clearly understand from this structure or formula that the curse employed is targeted at the serpent and the serpent alone even though others and their actions are clearly involved in the scene.
      Now to find the one and only other use of the word “curse” or “(‘ârar)” and we find it in verse 17 of Genesis 3. Here we see the same structure and formula as in verse 14. Yahweh Elohim is talking to the man this time and He states, “Because you heard – and you are eating from the tree which I instructed you not to cursed is the ground”
      Now we all know that in the Genesis 3 narrative God speaks to three (3) individual beings. I, like most, believe God has total purpose in His words to each being however we have to be honest and admit that in verse 16 when God speaks to the woman the Hebrew word for being cursed is totally absent! There is no formula of “because you – ate from the tree – cursed is/are…” Why? I would be a fool to say I know absolutely sure why God did what He did however we are not left in the dark about God’s intentions.
      We still have some great clues to draw from if we are willing.
      What we absolutely know is that Eve had no curse aimed and targeted on her from God even though she did eat from the tree which God had instructed Adam not to eat from. We do know for sure that Eve was deceived or put another way, led into an erroneous conclusion of believing it was most profitable to eat of the tree God had instructed Adam not to eat. We do know that after Eve ate she gave to her husband and(while under the deception of this action being most profitable)(and with no mention about her eyes being opened and her knowing she was naked and feeling shameful) just that she gave to her man. We also know that Adam was told directly by God Himself, not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We know Adam heard God. We also know Adam heard Eves’ clouded reasoning (which at that moment was under the crafty deception of the evil one’s influence) that it appeared very advantageous to eat of this tree and Adam willingly ate … and we know Adam was not deceived rather it appears he was convinced! (1Tim 2:14) We can rightly deduce from the OT and the NT that Adam ate with full knowledge of what he was doing…and I ponder…with full knowledge of what the serpent was up to as well… for Adam did not speak “truth” but remained oddly mute when lies were being spun against His God’s character. We know that Adam recognized after God spoke to the serpent, to Eve and then to him, that Eve remained as she had always been, “the mother of all life”. Conversely, Adam does not however recognize himself as the father of all life and as the NT puts it, not life but death came to reign through Adam. (Rom 5:14, 1 Co 15:22)

      May God fill us with His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that we may know and serve Him better~
      ~Take care brother~

  2. says

    Admittedly, I almost did not watch the video when I saw its title “Church For Men”. That sounds like a certain church in Seattle. However, the church in the video is really a church for everyone, men, women and families. I find it very interesting that the pastor and music director are women!

    Yes, I understand that some “interpretations” of the Bible demand that the “church” be led by men. We are not part of that group. Indeed we find that understanding most strange, not only in the church, but also in the family and in society in general.

    Although I have not yet read Jim Henderson’s new book “The Resignation Of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing To Be The Church’s Backbone?”, I heard Jim talk about it on the Feb. 18th Drew Marshall show (look it up on your search engine). You might want to listen to the interview before you buy the book.

  3. Terry says

    Jeremy, are you supporting the idea that it is okay for women to teach scriptures to men? I seriously hope not.

    As you must be aware, this would be clearly contrary to the plain commands of scripture in this regard.

    The issue of the role of women in the local church is a highly debated issue today, not because the Bible is unclear, but because democracy has tried to infest itself into the local church and modern concepts concerning the role of women in society, which are not necessarily biblical, have often been applied to the Church.

    Scripturally, the terms pastor, elder, bishop, overseer, etc., all refer to the same position scripturally, that is they refer to an “elder” in the local church. The scripture is very clear what the “requirements” for eldership are. These qualifications are given explicitly in two passages in particular, 1 Tim. 3:2; and Titus 1:6. Both passages explicitly state that an “elder” MUST BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE. This completely excludes “women” from holding the position of “pastor, elder, bishop, overseer, etc.” in the “biblical” local church.

    I Timothy 2:11 – 14

    11Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled has fallen into transgression: …

    The first passage concerning the issue of teaching states that women are not allowed to teach Scriptures to men. In this passage Paul makes three main points. First, in verse 11, a woman is to learn in quietness with all subjection.

    Then secondly, in verse 12, he applies the principle of subjection to the principle of teaching: women are not permitted to teach men. If women do teach Scriptures to men, then they are not in subjection to God. The reason for this is that the act of teaching is the exercise of authority. The teaching here is not teaching secular subjects, but it is the teaching of Scripture. This verse does not forbid a woman to teach men the sciences or mathematics or the humanities. But insofar as Scripture is concerned, it is forbidden. A teacher of Scripture is exercising spiritual authority. This is not allowed for a woman, so she is prohibited from teaching Scriptures to men.

    Thirdly, this prohibition extends only to the teaching of men; it is not forbidden for women to teach other women or to teach children. In verses 13 – 14, he points out the reasons for it. In verse 13 the chain of command is stated in order to point out that the woman is to show subjection by not teaching Scriptures to men. According to verse 14, women by nature tend to be more susceptible to false doctrine than men. This verse harks back to the story of Eve, where woman’s priority in the transgression led to her subordinate role in the Church. In Genesis 3, the woman usurped authority over her husband and took the lead in the Fall, and is now forbidden to do so in the local church by teaching Scriptures to men.

    Titus 2:3 – 5

    …3that aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; 4that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sober – minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed: …

    Titus makes two main points concerning a woman’s role in teaching. First, a woman may teach other women. God does give the gift of teaching to women, and so older women in the faith should teach the younger women. And secondly, women may also teach children. But they may not teach adult men.

    • says

      Terry,

      I am aware of the verses. And having degrees from Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary, I am aware of the arguments in favor of the “only men must teach the Bible” view.

      It is just that some of the things I have read and learned in the past several years have challenged what I was taught. While the verses do seem quite clear, the major flaw in most exegesis today is a proper consideration of the historical/cultural context of Scripture. Without this, we are reading Scripture in a vacuum, and will end up in many faulty understandings.

      I am not prepared to explain or defend any alternate views on these other passages, but I am at least aware of alternative views that I cannot easily dismiss without further research and study.

      So until then, I recognize that what I was taught in these areas might be wrong, and I also recognize that over the past thirty years, I have learned many valuable lessons and insights from women about Scripture, and hope that I will continue to do so.

    • Luke says

      I’m sorry, but please know that there is not “plain commands” in the bible. There is your interpretation of what the bible is saying. Nothing in the bible was written to us, it was written to people many hundreds of years ago. Now, I believe it is inspired, and authoritative, but that for it to function as those two things we must recognize the complexity that is there.

      This means that we are not supposed to take each and every verse and “follow” it. Because the bible we have is not a manual of how to live. It is a collection or writings, each of which has it’s own unique genre and audience and writer(s). So for Paul’s letters, we must try and understand his culture. Understand what he was saying to the people at that time. Understand that many things separate us from when Paul was writing. And only after we have wrestled with those things, can we ask what, if anything, this text is saying to us today.

      As far as women leading men, there is not one way to read the bible is this light. There are people who have spent their lives studying the bible and have come to a different conclusion than you.

    • Mick Chidester says

      Excellant reply with proper Biblical support; these are time-less principles, which unfortunately yet not suprisingly, our culture has reasoned don’t apply today.
      Mick

  4. says

    Wow, Jeremy. You do get the fun responses. ;-)

    Seriously, though, women are leaving the church in droves, as well. I know this is going to stir the pot, but it seems, based on comments I keep reading, that many men only want to go to church if they get to have total control and authority. Women are tired of trying to hold the ‘men’s club’ together while being told they are not as important as the men.

    Okay, I will stop the rant here. ;-)

    • says

      Jeannette,

      That is a good point about women leaving the church in droves as well.

      I think the solution to the entire problem is what many of us are already discovering, that a community of Jesus-followers who live life together outside of the Institutional church is more meaningful and Christ-like than anything we experienced inside the church. Also, in such a “family-type” gathering, so many of these questions that have plagued and split the church just fade away into insignificance.

  5. says

    Fascinating. I had not thought about the idea that men have led the church away from men. I had only heard the hurtful idea that the church was becoming “too feminine” (because that’s a bad thing) and that’s why men aren’t there. Maybe one day a healthier view of both genders can open the door to the willingness to work alongside each other for the common good. I really appreciate your integrity in approaching this issue – my husband and I are from DTS too and the idea that there is a different way to interpret the scriptures about women was just not allowed, LOL.

  6. Terry says

    Jeremy,

    contrary to your proposition, in regard to the “interpretation” of the four passages which I referenced in my post above (i.e., Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6 – where we are commanded that an “elder” MUST BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE; in addition to the further clarifications given in I Timothy 2:11–14 and Titus 2:3–5) is not one of an improper “consideration of the historical/cultural context of Scripture” as you imply. Rather, the reason that women are not permitted to teach scriptures to men is, as Paul clearly states, because of GOD’S DESIGN IN THE “ORDER OF CREATION” as the “reason”. Paul does not appeal to the “culture” for validation of his command, rather he states that it is because of God’s intent as recorded in the Genesis “creation account”.

    For you to suggest that there may be some other “valid” interpretation if one takes into consideration the “historical/cultural context of scripture”, is to invoke a straw man logical fallacy.

    I urge you brother to consider prayerfully carefully your accountability before the Lord (come the day of judgment) in any areas where you may be misleading (i.e., teaching falsely) the brethren in your blog postings, books, statements, etc.

    • says

      Terry,

      You do understand that there are different understandings of those texts than the one you hold, right? And the teachers, pastors, scholars, and Christians who hold these other views are also good, godly, righteous, wise, holy, humble people. They have studied the Greek, the grammar, the contexts, etc, etc, etc. And they come to completely different understandings. And most of them, just like you and me, are prayerfully considering their accountability before the Lord so that they are not misleading people by what they teach. And it is not so easy to discredit their views by simply appealing to Genesis. They have good, well-reasoned, exegetically-based understandings for that verse.

      Remember also that if your position is wrong, then you also are misleading (i.e., teaching falsely) the brethren in your blog postings, books, statements, etc.

      • Terry says

        Uh, Jeremy, I am “confident”, before God, that my understanding regarding the role of women in the local church is accurate and according to the truth of scripture.

        I love you and appreciate much of your work. Having said that, I suggest that you might want to very carefully re-examine the hermeneutics of those other “understandings” in light of the “golden rule” of interpretation (which I am sure you know):

        “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise” (Dr. David L. Cooper)

  7. says

    Terry – Well … what can one say to someone who is “absolutely confident” in their interpretation of scripture. It typically serves to end a conversation. Nonetheless I am going to go out on a limb and continue to dialogue.

    It is my opinion that one should be leery of using “the plain sense” rule when dealing with documents that were originally written in a different language, culture and time. I would suggest than one interpret scripture carefully and thoughtfully taking original language and historical context into consideration because often what seems like common sense to us here and now might not have anything to do with what the original message was about.

    In addition to that I would add that when one begins to think thoroughly about the idea that women should not teach scripture most (if not all) churches will have some sort of gaping hole that they have incorporated into their belief regarding this that has absolutely no scriptural foundation – not to mention they typically fail to confront the contradictions in scripture regarding women in leadership.

    • Terry says

      Liz, your comments highlight my point exactly. The problem is faulty “hermeneutics” (i.e., your statement “… the contradictions in scripture”) is all the proof needed.

      • Terry says

        BTW, I did not say “absolutely confident” as you falsely alleged, rather I said I am “confident”.

        • says

          No you didn’t say you were but that was the impression that I got when I read your comments. I apologize if I misunderstood.

        • Terry says

          Liz, you stated that there were “contradictions in scripture”. There are no contradictions in scripture. Your statement betrays the fact that your understanding of the nature of scripture (and corresponding sound hermeneutics) is in error.

          • says

            And I would say that your statement (that there are no contradictions in scripture) betrays the fact that your understanding of the nature of scripture is in error as I say that there are contradictions in scripture regarding women in leadership. I guess we disagree.

          • Terry says

            Liz, you are a “grand” and “glaring” example of why women shouldn’t teach scripture to men. Enough said.

  8. says

    Jeremy,

    I also wanted to mention that I know a lot of women have stopped attending church and that typically results in their husband and children not attending.

  9. Sam says

    Terry, take it from one who has probably been around the block a few more times than you – Arguing Scripture and your understanding of them and insisting that only your understanding of them is correct will get you nowhere as fast as possible. This approach convinces people only that you are one of those folks who has a need to always be the authority, to always be right and people simply avoid that type of person. Been there. Done that. Decided it was not becoming to a follower of Jesus, but rather was a learned behavior. No, I will not go back and forth with you.

  10. Jim Puntney says

    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

    When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
    Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

    Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

    And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
    Paul of Tarsus

    *********

    In the priesthood of all believers it seems to include all, the body of Christ is only complete when all are recognized as equal, forgiven, and a new creation.

    It seems to my understanding we have some old wine in our new wineskins, or new wine in our old wineskins. Great topic Jeremy, and also a great discussion thread. In allowing honest open conversation to thrive, we can all learn and grow together.

    • Terry says

      Jeremy, this misapplication of Galatians 3:28 by Jim is yet another example of the type of fruit engendered by your post. It provides an opportunity for everyone to conjure up and misapply passages to defend the unscriptural view concerning the role of women in the local church which you have espoused in this post.

  11. Brian Reinholz says

    Hey Jeremy – I hear you, but I think to ignore the crisis going on with young men today is dangerous. Maybe you’re not doing that and I’m misunderstanding.

    At least in my own anecdotal experience, the number of boyfriends and husbands that are either “dragged along to church,” or don’t accompany their families to church, is staggering. This doesn’t include the number of wives who choose not to go to church because their husbands will have no part.

    The spiritual attacks on men over the last 40 years (absent fathers, feminism, commoditization, pornography) are severe and have had deep impacts. I do see the danger in marginalizing women, who are absolutely, equally critical to the kingdom. But I think if we turn our backs on the many men who are drowning spiritually today and appeal to their wives, some might come around after continued encouragement and prayer. But I don’t think it’s the best approach.

    Not trying to be confrontational, just another viewpoint! I think we need to call young men to a life on mission – to reignite their passion and purpose. These men will be tomorrow’s leaders, and women will eagerly plug in, lead out, and engage. I just don’t think if we swap the focus the men will be so quick to jump in.

    • says

      Brian,

      I actually 100% agree with you. I maybe wasn’t as clear in the “text” portion of this post as I should have been, but the video portion of the post shows how a particular female pastor is leading her church in a way that brings men back to church, and raises them up to be godly husbands, fathers, and church leaders.

      So essentially, I am saying that since men are abandoning the church, women should step up to the plate, but not to lead the church on down the path for women, but to lead the church back to the men.

  12. says

    In a word: patriarchy. A male-centered view of the church will indeed produce a sense of dismay that the church is not manly enough and is in danger of being overrun by women.

    I appreciate, Jeremy, that in your post you are urging for the collaboration of men and women together in the Church, which is a kingdom of God value as seen from Genesis to Revelation as well as modeled in the Trinity. I wish that all your readers were cognizant of this, yet in my own experiences as a writer who advocates for the full and equal inclusion of women in the church, I am all too familiar with the push back.

    There is overwhelming biblical scholarship for the full equality of women and that the interpretation of scripture to exclude women from roles by gender (rather than gifting) has been found to be rooted in patriarchy, an ancient worldview that became intertwined in the growth and doctrine of the church. To determine that God has a so-called created divine order with men in roles of leadership by default of gender, and women in subservient roles, by default of gender, is to actually agree with the cosmos, or world system. Women are systematically assigned lesser roles of power and influence throughout the cultures and kingdoms of this earth. But the kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of the world; there is no male nor female, as our brother Paul wrote in Galatians. The kingdom of God is the great society of liberty and freedom, where one’s station in this world is to have no bearing on one’s station in the kingdom – for we all one in Christ.

    I am quite passionate about the “issue” of women and fiercely resist patriarchal messaging that is tossed about as God’s word.

    There was a time when Christ following Bible believers defended slavery with the Bible (no where does it say not to own slaves, and in fact, Paul even provides some moral guidelines for masters as well as slaves, urging them to be obedient. In the recent book, Why I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership, which is a collection of essays from prominent scholars, theologians and pastors, more than one writer concluded that the same logic used to defend the “separate but equal” status of slaves, is still in use today. This time against women.)

    Thanks for writing on this relevant and needed topic, Jeremy. I look forward to the day when such posts will no longer necessary.

    • Terry says

      Jeremy, this comment by Pam is an example of the kind of unbiblical feminist attitudes and fruit you are engendering and encouraging by your post.

      • says

        No need to flatter Jeremy this way. This is all on my own. Though if you want to lay blame on who’s “fruit” my unbiblical fruti comes from, you’ll need to talk to Jesus. He totally wrecked me.

        And then there’s all those Bible scholars who further corrupted me.

        Three books on biblical scholarship and equality that changed my mind and resulted in repentence about the “issue” of women:

        What Paul Really Said about Women by John T. Bristow

        Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton

        Discovering Biblical Equality, ed. Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

        I respectfully and wholeheartedly as well as with a sound and strong mind disagree with your POV Terry. I trust that there are many other matters we see eye to eye on. This would not be one of them.

      • says

        Terry,

        I love their involvement and their voice, but am getting tired of yours. Please write your comments with love, as I will not allow such an attitude on my blog. Speak the truth, please, but do so in love. That is what this blog is founded upon.

        • Terry says

          Jeremy I have been restrained in my comments by the feminists and scripturally confused among your admirers. It is you who is in error on this doctrine. So you are “getting tired” of my voice… do you consider that comment to be kinder than I have been dear brother?

    • Brian Reinholz says

      Pam, I respect your viewpoint even though it’s different from mine, but I have a question: do you believe that, objectively, this is what the Bible teaches? Or is this what you believe personally, and you’ve been able to find where the Bible could suggest this?

      The question is not supposed to be facetious. I have no problem egalitarian feminism, or female pastors, as an individual. However, to me when I read scripture objectively, it teaches that there are different roles for men and women. And that’s a pretty foundational thing to chalk up to cultural differences.

      Lastly, please be careful in assuming that just because someone believes in different gender roles, it doesn’t mean that’s because they’re personally against it, or somehow have some kind of grudge. I’m just trying to follow the Word here, as I believe we all are.

      • says

        Hi Brian, great questions. I believe the Bible teaches equality and that a woman’s gifting/calling (and a man’s) is dependent on the Holy Spirit. Not gender. I believe the hard passages of Paul that at first glance seem to limit a woman’s voice and place in the church and in the home indicate this when studied in light of cultural and social context.

        I was a complementarian for much of my Christian journey. I abandoned the complementarian view when I began to study the egalitarian view. I maintained a position of diplomatic neutrality for many years in that I was willing to view the issue of women as theological. Thus, there will naturally be a range of theological viewpoints that must be considered.

        However, when it was put to me that the issue of women in the church is an issue of justice and not simply a theological issue, I could no longer maintain my silence and neutrality. I now speak up and actively resist the complementarian view as I believe with all my mind, heart and soul that it is a distortion of scripture, a distortion of who God is and what God is like, and a distortion of who men and women are to be one another. I also know from many women that this view is also hurtful and stifling for women. I write at length about this subject in my book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church.

        It’s not about resisting men, nor lashing out at our brothers. Patriarchy is a system of thought, a worldview that has become intertwined in much of The Church. I am of the opinion that there is a great move of God on bringing women and men Together to restore male/female in right relationship with one another. The Fall cursed that relationship. Jesus has broken the curse.

        I hope I am writing this in such a way as to convey my deep respect for men and for the scriptures. This is my intention.

        • Brian Reinholz says

          Thanks for sharing. :) I’m not convinced at this point, but I believe your opinion is sincere. Over time I’m sure my viewpoint will change on certain things…maybe this, maybe not.

          For me, I guess it’s easy to see why a passage like the one in corinthians (women should cover their heads and not speak) is cultural (since women with uncovered heads were considered prostitutes at that time), but it’s harder for me to see how the section in ephesians 5, for instance, is not a mandate still relevant today.

          In any event, these are certainly items for us to wrestle with, but hopefully don’t distract us from the core of our faith, the gospel, and our mandate to love God/love others/make disciples in our world.

          Thanks again for sharing!

    • says

      Pam,

      I am glad that you and Liz are weighing in here. To my shame, I have not read as much as I should about the various viewpoints, and welcome your perspective. I have read and studied just enough of the other viewpoints to know that what I was taught in Bible College and Seminary might not be the best understanding.

  13. says

    One last note…I forgot to mention that I’m working a lot today and tomorrow, so if my responses are slow please know that it’s my prohibitive work sched (on a break right now!)

    • Sam says

      Pam, Thank you so much for being part of the conversation. There are many of us who see this issue similar to you. Without a long explanation, we do not see that the Bible teaches that women should be considered differently in the church, home or society. I will order your book along with Jim Henderson’s the next time I place an Amazon order.

      In some respects I am probably more opinionated than you. I will not in any way support any group, including churches, that do not afford everyone equal status. While I do not try to convince anyone of my views, and believe that others have every right to hold alternate viewpoints, I am puzzled as to why women would support or be part of any group, including “churches” that do not afford them full equality.

  14. Mike says

    Wow.

    I am glad you began this discussion Jeremy. You have exposed a vein of feminism that has brought about a great deal of the significant problems facing the institutional church.

    In no way are women to assume a role of spiritual authority over a man…no interpretation, no revision, no alternative view, etc..can change that. The arguments posted thus far to leave that door open are weak (being kind here).

    Men are leaving the church because of the way Christ is preached. He is drawn/painted/illustrated/preached as a weak, feminate person and not fully represented as He is in the Gospels.

    The church has a skeleton of organiztion (to use your wording) and we have abandoned that and allowed women to assume roles within it that they are clearly not capable or handling.

    Men are to blame for not assuming their role and “manning up” as Paul might say today.

    Mike and Dina

    • says

      Mike,

      I agree that men are to blame. And yet for some reason, most men keep pointing the finger at the women: “It’s her fault, God!”

      Yep, we men have learned nothing since the Garden of Eden.

  15. says

    I was re-reading this book today, and found this on page 90:

    “I believe that the victory of the law over the gospel, of morality over love, is probably the essential reason for the adoption of an antifeminist stance.

    “…To support this thesis is easy. One need only point to the fact that the same theologians who are supremely and passionately concerned about moral questions are also the most antifeminist.

    “…A moralistic attitude is a masculine one. It is an attitude of judgment, of stiffness, of rigidity, of the calculation of debts and assets, of designation, of the establishment of what should and should not be done.

    “…The feminist values [are] love, sensitiveness, the protection of the weak, imagination, giving, etc.”

    Hmmm…. Which one sounds more like Jesus? Which one better fits the liberating message of the Gospel?

  16. Clive Clifton says

    It makes me so sad to hear Christians arguing and having a go. Jim you missed a vital part out of the Galatians 3 verse 27 There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are ALL ONE in Christ.

    Are we not to love one another and not condemn are we not meant to prefer the other person are we not supposed to not judge, least we also be judged.

    Look where division and discrimination has got the Roman Catholic Church, boys being raped and women being made pregnant while these so called Holy Priests carry on with their evil.

    Eve was made to partner with Adam not to be his slave.

    Stop arguing start listening Stop judging start loving.

    Terry your absolute certainty leaves no room for growth in your faith as it represents a closed and locked door. In all your sentiments I heard nothing but anger, no love. When you said you loved Jeremy I found it hard to believe.

    Clive

  17. says

    How manly was Jesus? Let’s review:

    He did not strike back at anyone

    He did not swagger in power or reputation

    He related to women openly as equals

    He was so weak that he was arrested, beaten and executed without a hint of resistance

    He did not use his God card to kick his enemies ass

    The gospel account gives no indication of any hint of machismo or bravada in the pre-cross nor post-resurrection Christ.

    My daughter could have probably beat the crap out of him due to his extraordinary meekness and commitment to pacifism.

    Jesus, by American cultural measurements of manliness, utterly fails.

    Gender roles are determined by culture. Gender attributes are assigned by biology and culture. The church is neither to be masculine nor feminine, but Christlike.

    Those who complain that men need to man up are surely not paying attention that yes, women may be the backbone of service in churches across the country, but it is still a male dominated clergy system. As my friend author Jim Henderson frames it with the title of his new book, The Resignation of Eve: How Adam’s Rib became the Backbone of the Church…women overwhelmingly may be the ones serving and overserving, but it is men who overwhelmingly lead and hold positions of power.

    We need a Holy Spirit move to bring men and women together in a collaborative spirit of unity, where gifting is Spirit driven rather than gender driven, where we treat one another in a spirit of otherliness as our Lord did.

    Manning up, in my womanly opinion, is not representative of the Spirit of Jesus, but is of the spirit of patriarchy. This is how I see it through the lens of the Gospel which is a message of liberty from oppression for all persons.

    • says

      Beyond all that, I refuse to diminish the work of Jesus on the cross by re-embracing the curse of domination. We as Christians are called to live lives regenerated by the blood of Christ. That regeneration means that the curse no longer applies to us. From this perspective it becomes harder to justify the spiritually abusive positions of any gender having a dominant voice in matters of faith or life.
      If anything I think we have an absolute misconception of the nature of authority in the church. Authority in the church is cruciform in nature. All of us are called to take up our cross daily, not hand our crosses off for others to carry. Which unfortunately is done under the guise of “manning up” and dominating our churches.

      • Mike says

        Honor Christ by embracing the role you were given. Men should be men and women women. Believers both but roles are different for each. If men behaved like men, and all that implies, and assumed their responsibilities of leadership within the local assembly or house church or their home,we would see a drastic difference within the local assembly.

        We need to heed Paul, not deny him or culturalize eveything he said (where do you draw the line and on whose authority do you say what is cultural and what isn’t)

        All of this debate so late in the game is testimony to the death of the western church. Women in the pulpit was the last shovelful of dirt on the coffin.

        Mike

        • says

          I would actually ask you the same questions about determining the location of the line for culture and the bible. What makes you think that imposing Western understandings of gender roles on a Middle-Eastern religion is any more faithful to the bible than people trying to understand the ancient context first before attempting to carry Biblical writings across an interpretive bridge spanning time, space, culture and language? The reality is that you are looking at the bible from a subjective lens as well. It is impossible for any human to look at anything “objectively”, we all carry a perspective with us that is influenced by a mountain of factors. It might be helpful for all of us as we study to begin with the assumption that we are bringing a certain amount of subjectivity to our studies and begin by naming what that subjectivity is, because it is obvious that you and I see entirely different things when we look at the scriptures. Before answering me, seriously take a minute to think about what you carry with you culturally, socially, etc. when you look at the scriptures. It might be an enlightening journey. I also noticed that you didn’t reply to what Pam or I actually said, but repeated previous argument points that didn’t even tangentially address what we had to say. In a conversation it is polite to acknowledge what others say and to at least pretend to try to understand them.
          I would disagree with your diagnosis for the cause of the death of the Western Church and would say those seeds were planted when Constantine subverted the church for the purposes of empire. Maybe we are seeing the death of Christendom and the rebirth of Christianity.

    • Terry says

      Ummm… you forgot to mention this one…

      Jesus twice drove the money-changers out of the Temple by serious violent and physical force. He used a leather whip at least one of the two times (John 2, Matthew 12).

      • Luke says

        Sorry Terry, but no where in any of the accounts of Jesus clearing the temple in the Gospels does it show Jesus using “violent” force, and it only shows him using physical force against non-human objects. Yes, this is an powerful act by Jesus, but it is a non-violent act. As John Howard Yoder points out, if Jesus had committed any acts of violence in the temple clearing, it would provided clear legal pretext for the Scribes and chief priests to arrest him. As is seen in the Gospels, though, they can find no reason to do so. Furthermore, the Greek word to “drive out” is most often used to mean “send away,” and does not connotate violence in any way.

        No place in the Gospels do we see that Jesus ever laid a finger on anyone to harm them. On the contrary, every time he touched someone it was to heal them.

        • Terry says

          Luke, honestly your comment is laughable. In an effort to defend your scripturally flawed and biased view of Jesus you are actually maintaining that Jesus’ twice cleansing of the temple (with no one having the courage to try and stop him even though there were Temple guards present), as well as His use of a “leather whip”, and “knocking over” the money changer’s tables, is not a use of “violent” force – ludicrous. “But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matthew 11:19).

          • Luke says

            My “Scripturally flawed view of Jesus?” We will have to disagree here. Pam gave an entire list of times where Jesus was anything but manly in the sense that we use that term. And then you take one event, Jesus clearing the temple, and use that one event to say how to view Jesus, even though numerous other stories give us an entirely different picture of Jesus. Do you think that Jesus saying things like “Love you enemy” and “turn the other cheek” don’t give us a picture of Jesus?

            As to your comment here, I was defining “violent” force as force against people. Yes, the cleansing of the temple shows Jesus being rough, being angry, and and fed up with what was going on. But it does not show him being violent people, only the things that people were doing. There is a big difference.

            Terry, I have read through your comments here, and you really leave no room for any interpretation other than your own. And then you justify it by saying it is the “plain sense” of the passage. This is just not how reading the bible works. Everyone interprets the bible. Everything we read in the bible must pass through our brains and be interpreted. Because we are human and not God. Furthermore, the bible is not an owners manuel, with a list of things to do and not to do. It God wanted to give us a list, he could have. But what we have is a collection of stories, poetry, letters, and other genres of writing, all of which must be read in different ways. This does not mean that they are not inspired by God and authoritative for us, which I believe that they are. It just means that we have to take seriously things like genre and historical context before we ask what a passage means for us today. I mean, the bible was used to justify slavery, because people thought that was the “plain sense” of the bible.

            This article below sums all of this up very well, I think. You may not agree with it, but please see that people can think about the bible differently than you and still be a Christian.

            http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm

          • Terry says

            Luke, you are arguing using “straw man” logical fallacies. No where did I ever say that Jesus wasn’t also “kind”, “gentle”, “loving”, “meek”, etc. Furthermore, you set up another “straw man” and then knock it down when you state that I said that people who think differently than I cannot be Christian – I never said this.

            What I am saying is that there is only “one” correct interpretation of any given passage of scripture. There may be many applications but only one true “interpretation”. And, yes, I am stating that I am confident, concerning the role of women in the local church, that the “interpretation” I have given in my posts above is the correct interpretation. So, although there may other “interpretations” there is only one correct interpretation. My interpretation is “contradictory” to the various other flawed interpretations speculated upon by some others in this post. We cannot both be correct, that is certain. So which interpretation is correct?

            “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

            “Study to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

            Those who “teach” will receive a more severe judgment in that day – “My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1)

          • Luke says

            Terry, I see what you are saying. Sorry for quoting things you did not exactly say. That is just the sense I got from reading what you wrote.

            I see that we are not going to agree on this, which is fine. Sometimes I think going back and forth is not helpful. May we both continue to study and grow in our understanding of the bible. That fact that I interpret the passages we are talking about differently than you is fine. But do know that I have put a lot of time into studying this, and I do not take the bible lightly. I have come to my beliefs in what the bible is saying though many years of reading the bible, reading about the history of the church and how it has read the bible, studying the original languages, and above all praying that the Spirit guides me in all I do.

  18. Mike says

    Jeremy:

    It is the “collaboraive effort” that has caused most of the recent decline within the institutional church of recent years. The denial of separate and distinct roles within the church does not make them go away. Men are to hold positions of leadership but this has been supplanted and the results have been devastating.

    Holy Spirit driven churches are assemblies that have men and women operating in their assigned roles, using their assigned gifts.There are no clergy/laity divisions in scripture (another issue altogether)

    I frankly don’t see the Jesus of the NT in the post above. I do see Him in today’s churches…bleeech!

    Mike

    • says

      Mike,

      I am not sure I understand the “bleeech!” Are you saying that you do see the Jesus of the NT in today’s churches and you don’t like what you see?

  19. Lauraselvak says

    Interesting video and conversation. I am with this comment by Jeremy

    ‘I think the solution to the entire problem is what many of us are already discovering, that a community of Jesus-followers who live life together outside of the Institutional church is more meaningful and Christ-like than anything we experienced inside the church. Also, in such a “family-type” gathering, so many of these questions that have plagued and split the church just fade away into insignificance.’

    Patriachy is a huge evil permeating much of life but for me the essential problem with Institutional Church of any model was the issue of leadership itself. I think the Lord instigated a different model for when we meet and interact as a Body. One head and a body. so we all have our place/Spirit given giftings, non-gendered. And there is one leader. The call and freedom is to learn to follow our Head as individuals and corporately (Of course in a ‘ministry’ ie bible school, mission there are leadership structures but NOT SO in the working/meeting/family of the Body of Christ).

    My opionion. But we should all know where He has called us. And if that is in an Institutional Church then we adopt its rules and structures because of love, and serve Him in it. So often we gain our freedom in right understanding only to lay down those rights for the sake of His Kingdom

  20. Mike says

    Jeremy:

    I was reacting to the description of Jesus in the previous post…the description of Jesus there turned my stomach. Jesus was the “mans’ man” the “ultimate male” if you will.

    It is true that we all bring our presuppostions to scripture, we each have our agenda as it were. However, it is clear, when scripture is viewed as scripture, plainly written, in a language that was meant to be understood, in a manner that was clearly written, there are roles for men and roles for women. Each are responsible for fulfilling their roles accordingly.

    You can call it “patriarchy” but slandering the system of leadership as explained in the NT is rebellious. Evil? really? If men behaved like the men Paul described to Timothy, a significant portion of the problems facing the church today wouldn’t be present. The problem is, men have abdicated their responsibility and women have filled the vacuum left behind without checking themselves against scripture first. The roles and gifts are gender-based, deal with it folks. There were no “Apostle Marys” or “Preacher Susans” :) That came later after a great deal of other problems had arisen.

    NT Christianity has always been present in spite of the religion of Christianity and its efforts to suppress it.

    Mike and Dina

    • John says

      While Mary may have never been called an apostle, there was an apostle Junia (Rom 16:7 – the “of note among the apostles” that the ESV and other masculinist translations try to pigeonhole this into is a modern invention, not at all supported by biblical Greek; it was only even created when the masculinists finally had to admit that there was no manuscript evidence for transforming the name into “Junias”, a masculine form), and there certainly was a Priscilla who “instructed Apollos” (Acts 18) and who was lauded by Paul as a “fellow worker” (Rom 16:3), as were numerous other women, such as Phoebe the deacon (Rom 16:1). If your view on roles were correct, Paul’s greetings in his letters would have been full of chastisements of these women for stepping outside of their roles, not the laudations which he gives them for their great work within the faith. It wasn’t until after the apostolic years, in the time of the “early Church Fathers” (e.g. 2nd century and later) that female teachers and leaders began falling out of favor within the church.

      The fact is that every one of the passages whose supposed “plain reading” limits women from certain roles has been demonstrated to have significant cultural, contextual, and even syntactical complexity which makes such a “plain reading” highly suspect. I highly recommend Cunningham and Hamilton’s _Why Not Women?_ and Bilezikian’s _Beyond Sex Roles_ to unravel these passages, as well as to better understand the wider context of the restoration of mutual submission and servanthood as brought by Christ.

        • John says

          Name calling does not a refutation make.

          Have you ever actually read either of the books I mentioned, or any of the other books which deal with the same textual and hermeneutical issues? Do you have any actual arguments with which to counter the cases made here, evidence to back up said arguments, and a willingness to have your evidence itself critically examined and counterargued? Or are you just rejecting it out of hand as “hocum” because it doesn’t fit your patriarchal worldview?

      • says

        John, do we witness Paul in practice of chastising people for stepping out of their rolls?
        Can there be a practice mentioned from the New Testament writings which cannot be assigned or labeled by someone as “cultural”? If you think that you have seen a waffle, you will tell us from whose kitchen it came?
        Anyone failing to acknowledge the lives of early believers as set apart from the cultural norms surrounding does not comprehend their new birth transformation nor Acts 2-29.

        • John says

          I’m not sure what exactly you’re saying regarding the waffle, but, yes, all of scripture is in fact “cultural” – it is placed first and foremost within the cultural context of the readers (the original, intended recipients) and any proper understanding of it and interpretation of it in our culture today must first understand how it would have been received and interpreted by those it was written to.

          As for Paul chastising, though I don’t see any evidence of Paul chastising for stepping out of roles for gender reasons, we certainly do see evidence of him chastising in other cases – ref: Hymenaeus and Alexander, Euodia and Syntyche, and various others who are left unnamed but would have been clearly identified to the recipient congregations by their descriptions. (Hamilton makes a strong case that 1Ti 2:11-15 is not against women teachers in general but is in fact a chastisement of a specific unnamed false teacher, a recent convert out of the Artemis cult who was introducing a syncretism to said cult into her teachings, and that vv. 13-14 are specific refutations of her false teachings, not an illustration to limit women teaching in general.) As such, I’d contend that the lack of chastisement for stepping out of “roles” is in fact evidence that Paul did not in fact believe in those gender role limitations which are so often attributed to him.

          • says

            We simple don’t see Paul chastising anyone because that person stepped out of their rolls (i.e., age, gender, graces…) However, Paul does remind all present in ekklesia not to press the women to do what would be adverse to all that the sisters had chosen in their righteousness.
            [I Corinthians 14]
            John, a distinction is highlighted by your confession, “yes, all of scripture is in fact ‘cultural’ – it is placed first and foremost within the cultural context of the readers”. It is becoming more obvious by your words that you have yet to personally encounter a church which is not itself either fraud or facade.
            If a woman (without a man for her) is intent about talking in the ekklesia, she will either be blessed in wisdom to soon discover her approach as less than ideal (so to help from her sisters), or she may depart along with her pride by feeling that she’s not being heard. Among God’s true children and citizens of His Kingdom, there is no rule to say she can’t talk. Consider this! What law would there be that could restrain folly? The Christ paid a great price to bring His own out from “do not…”. Any adult who is still brandishing rules for the ekklesia will therein be opposing Christ.

  21. Ron Graves says

    Matters so sensitive deserve a dialogue that electronics will never provide. A dialogue where we can come out from behind our opinions and we can experience facial expressions and hear voice influction while we discuss together what it means to live a life that is not our own. Maybe what will happen is that Jesus gets revealed and we all grow, become encouraged, our maturity deepens and others begin to see this Jesus we’re all head-over- heels in love with instead of ‘believers’ reinforcing others current (and accurate) observations of ‘church folk’.

      • Terry says

        Jeannette, the text says “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me” (Romans 16:7). The pertenent part of the text states that both Andronicus and Junia were “of note” among the apostles…” That is, simply and clearly, that there were two people, one named Andronicus and one named Junia, who were being taken note of by (among) the Apostles. It does not say that Andronicus and Junia “were” apostles, but only that they were “of note” among the apostles (and they were in Christ before Paul was). The text doesn’t tell us anything else about this person “Junia”. No further conclusions can be demonstrated from the passage.

        Add to this fact that the early church fathers are not even in agreement about the gender of Junia. There is evidence that strongly suggests Junia was a male and not a female. Commentaries differ on the gender. Translations differ on how Romans 16:7 is to be rendered into English. There are different uses of the Greek word “apostello” and it cannot be demonstrated conclusively into which categorical use of the term Junia should fit. For the sake of argument, even if Junia were an apostle “in the sense of having seen the risen Lord” it doesn’t mean he/she was in authority as an Apostle in the Church. Therefore, for someone to conclude that Junia was a woman apostle in full authority in the Church cannot be in any way demonstrated from the Scriptures.

  22. Sam says

    Terry,

    Since you have the “one” correct interpretation of the Bible, you obviously need your own blog rather than trying to take over someone elses and in the process call the writer of that blog and many of the people who comment there false teachers and other demeaning terms. You just love to argue and put down other people. That is so obvious. Terry, that is not becoming to you. You are capable of better.

  23. Terry says

    Sam, I am not taking over anyone’s blog and I have a great distaste for confrontation or argument, I do so reluctantly. Nevertheless, I am constrained and have a responsibility before God to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). I am merely responding scripturally and publically to false teachings that have been set forth publically by others. Do Christian blogs not permit the defense of the faith? I have never called Jeremy a false teacher, what I have said is that he is in error on this particular doctrine. I am simply holding forth the truth as it is clearly taught in scripture. Let God judge between us – “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4), “… so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4).

  24. says

    I just want to thank everyone for participating in this discussion. Whatever discouragement I may have felt about writing Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, I have now been reinvigorated that my book’s message is indeed necessary and relevant.

    I hope the message of Unladylike will one day not be necessary at all. But that day is not today.

  25. says

    Jeremy, I find it rather humorous, in a sad sort of way, that you can write posts about changing (or stopping) baptism and communion (which were good and valid posts), and not hear one peep out of the “plain reading of Scripture” crowd. But bring up women leading and look out…. it seems rather telling.

    I am not going to further engage in futile debate.

  26. says

    Whew, I leave my blog for two days, and this post blows up!

    Good discussion everyone. I agree with much of what I’ve read, and disagree with much as well, but that’s okay. I am learning a lot from everybody.

    Here is an interesting question…. If it is sinful for a woman to teach Scripture to a man, is it also sinful for a man to listen to her and engage with her about what she is teaching?

    Also, if it is sinful for a woman to teach Scripture to a man, is this only wrong in a “church service” setting, or is it wrong in every setting, all the time, everywhere? I mean, I went to Dallas Theological Seminary, which is fairly conservative in this regard, but I had a Greek Prof who was female. And when you are learning biblical Greek, guess what we discussed? That’s right. Scripture. I learned a lot from her.

    For those who think it is wrong for women to teach Scripture to men, was this sinful of her to teach and sinful for me to learn?

    • says

      Jeremy, It’s apparent from my earlier comments that I don’t believe there is anything sinful about a woman teaching scripture in any setting or a man learning from her. After much study, prayer and thought I am convinced that the idea that only men are allowed to teach scripture, be a pastor, be an elder etc. etc. was a teaching that came about due to the status of women during a particular time and culture and continued because of the patriarchal system that most churches have continued to operate under.

      Back in 2008 I wrote a post called “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Polls” to address how surprised I was at the way Conservative Evangelical Christians were embracing the idea of a woman for Vice President while at the same time standing against women being ordained as pastors. I mentioned that one of the biggest problems with the teaching is that it is difficult to find anyone that completely agrees on where the lines should be drawn. Is it only that women cannot be ordained? Or is it that they cannot preach at all? Or teach? Or speak? Serve as deacons? Teach in seminaries? Be a missionary? What exactly is it that they can and cannot do? Who decides and on what basis?

      Then there are all the irrationalities and contradictions to process. Why is it okay to teach children and other women, but not men? Why would it be okay to stand up and deliver a message to a group of people but not stand behind a pulpit? Is it really that much difference in teaching a 17 year old male and a 19 year old male? Why would it be okay for a woman to lead a whole nation but not a church that has 50 members? Why does the bible speak favorably of a woman judge who led, taught and had authority over men and women, a woman apostle, women who led church in their homes?

      My point is that in order to maintain the subordination of women Christians have to make a whole lot of stuff up for themselves and explain away a lot of scripture that contradicts the passages they are using to prop up their belief that women’s roles are limited.

      • says

        Liz,

        Yes, I was posing the question more toward those who think it is sinful. I am not of that crowd either, for many of the reasons you state.

        The view that it is sinful for women to teach a man becomes even more difficult when church is defined biblically, rather than as a building where people gather on Sunday morning.

        I mean, my wife teaches me things about Scripture and God all the time as we discuss the Bible together. We are both part of the church. I imagine this is true in most Christian marriages. Yet a husband and wife are still in the church, even though they are not in a church building on Sunday morning.

        So does a husband who thinks that women should remain silent “in church” not let his wife talk when they are having family devotions?

        • Terry says

          Jeremy, why are you confusing the point at issue? No one has said that women can’t “evangelize” or “dialogue” to a man PRIVATELY concerning the scriptures (just as Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, dialogued “privately” with Apollos).

          The point is that the New Testament scriptures command that women are not to “teach” scriptures to men, nor are they permitted to hold the office of “pastor, elder, etc.”, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH. It is these commands which have been referenced scripturally in regard to the role of women in the New Testament congregational setting.

          • John Fisher says

            Terry,

            Would you mind stepping back to a more basic level and discussing how one goes about interpreting Scripture? What I mean is that, if you take 1 Timothy 2:12 in it’s most plain sense, at face value, then women are not allowed to teach period; somehow you have inferred that men can learn from women when done “PRIVATELY” but not “IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.” If your approach to understanding the Bible isn’t simply to take it simply and straightforward, could you help us understand how you believe it should be approached so that we can see how your conclusions are reasonable?

            I hope you don’t find it insulting when I say that as is your arguments often require us to accept without any reason that the way you understand some verses is correct yet you can dismiss any verse you chose by saying that their understanding is a ‘misapplication’, perhaps supplying a reasonable approach to how one goes about interpreting Scripture in general could clear up that problem.

            I certainly don’t agree with everything you have stated, but I don’t accept everything that those opposed to you have stated as well. I’d be ready to accept the merit in your arguments if I could see what you mean by “sound hermeneutics” rather than being told that others lack them.

            Also, I’ll echo Jeremy’s request for a bit of charity in your discussion. By all means, if you believe someone is wrong tell them so, but be ready to discuss why with a bit of kindness and patience; your posts often seem to come across as vitriolic rage.

          • says

            Terry,

            That is exactly my point. Scripturally, the local church is wherever there are believers. You do not “go to church.” Church goes with you. You are the church whether or not you are in a building on a Sunday morning. Therefore, you are making a faulty distinction when you separate private dialogue with public.

        • Terry says

          John Fisher,

          In regard to your request for clarification, I think the definition of the “golden rule of interpretation” given in one of my previous comments in this post, addresses, in general, the issue of sound hermeneutics. To give some basic details on principles of sound literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutics I would recommend the short 14-page manuscript on the subject by Dr. Andy Woods which can be downloaded from:

          http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/25/25.pdf

          Regarding 1 Timothy 2:12, if you read it in context you will find that the commands are given in the context of instructions for the local congregation and, therefore, they do not prohibit women from evangelizing or dialoguing privately, or teaching children, or teaching younger women, all of which are allowed in other portions of scripture.

      • Terry says

        Jeremy, the scripture does not define the church as being “where two or three are gathered together.” To the contrary, all Matthew 18:20 teaches is that where two or three are gathered together, the Lord Jesus is in the midst of them. But this is not the definition of a local church. A local church is much more, than merely where two or three are gathered together.

        While the universal “invisible church” would be defined as comprised of all church-age believers (both living and dead), the visible “local church”, as set forth “scripturally”, would be comprised of a group of professing believers in Jesus who have been baptized and have organized themselves under the leadership of elders and deacons for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission; for conducting the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for building up of the Body through the worship of God, the fellowship of believers, the teaching of the Word, and the exercise of spiritual gifts.

        • says

          Terry,

          I do not use Matthew 18:20 as a definition for church. I think the church exists wherever there is one person because of our spiritual connection with the universal church through Jesus Christ.

          Also, I am not convinced of the theological dichotomy between the “local church” and the “universal church.” I think the universal church is primary.

          This probably is the root of my take on some of these issues.

          • says

            ekklesia: those called out, coming together.
            Many are tempted (as Terry seems above) to introduce various structures & sectarian qualifiers to the plain meaning of ekklesia as a function.
            We may arrange “a group of professing believers in Jesus who have been baptized and have organized themselves under the leadership of elders and deacons for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission; for conducting the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for building up of the Body through the worship of God, the fellowship of believers, the teaching of the Word, and the exercise of spiritual gifts” and still not be receiving the presence of Christ.
            98% of weekly pulpit & steeple organizations reliably fail to demonstrate Christ. Certainly these may also be regarded “ekklesia”; gathering for teaching of philosophy and weekly administrations in hollow religious exercise.
            So then, we look inside to see and to know, is their life together in Christ or are they mimicking in counterfeit of Him, double-souled?

  27. Mike says

    Jeremy:

    The issue is spiritual authority, women cannot assume spiritual authority over men and you are dead on regarding the church, you don’t go to church you are the church. Men have surrendered their position and women have filled that vacuum, that is oversimplifying it but nevertheless I feel that is simply what has happened.

    Anyone who feels led or called or whatever needs determine if that calling is consistent with scripture, God’s mind on the subject. Frankly, most men would be disqualified from their positions as well if they applied the scriptural standard to their position within their local assembly.

    My wife has sat right beside me (25 yrs in July) and remarked to me on more than one ocassion that some of the women who post here seem angry when she has been a believer for almost 40 years and embraces here role and ministry gladly and she has never felt inferior or second rate as some here indicate they have.

    Anyway, I am done. Prayers Brother!

    Mike and Dina

    • says

      Is there a particular scripture that tells you this is about “spriitual authority”. What about the idea that those who believe in Jesus obtain individual priesthood? Doesn’t that mean that they have direct access to God and that God is the person who has “spiritual authority” over them? I don’t understand the idea that teaching scripture equals spiritual authority. Is that a particular denomination belief?

      • Mike says

        Western society may view some organizations democratically; however the church isn’t a democratic organism.

        Family Foundation for the local assembly
        Ephesians 5:22-24

        1. The wife is to be in subjection to her husband as unto the Lord. If she isn’t in subjection to her husband, she isn’t to her Lord either.

        Titus 2:5

        1. If the wife isn’t in subjection to her husband, then the Word of God is blasphemed.

        I Peter 3:1-6

        1. The wife is subject to her husband even if he is a non-believer.
        2. The wife is to be modestly adorned with a “meek and quiet spirit”.
        3. Women of the OT were held up as examples to follow.

        To Speak or Not to Speak?

        I Corinthian 14:33b-35

        1. This is to be followed in all churches.
        2. By Paul’s Apostolic authority, women are to be silent in the church setting.
        3. This is nothing new, already established
        4. Women should refrain from speaking in a church meeting, even asking questions

        Should Women Teach Men the Scriptures in a Church Setting?

        I Timothy 2:11-14

        1. Women are not allowed to teach men…period.
        2. Women are to learn in quietness and in subjection. If they do attempt to teach men, they are not in subjection to God.
        3. Teachers are in spiritual authority and women are not to assume it over men.
        4. Paul supports his doctrine by reminding them of Eve and her being easily deceived
        5. Women can teach others

        Titus 2:3-5

        1. Women can teach other women
        2. Women can teach children

        • says

          Mike, I don’t fault you for presenting these things in the form of rules (something Paul would likely slap your hand for). However, let’s reach beyond what common English translations are doing to the Bible text. Just grab your interlinear, if you wish to follow along…

          Ephesians 5:22-24
          The women to the/their men are being subject just as they are being to The Master; (recognizing) that the man is source/head of the woman just as Christ is the Head of the ekklesia and He is savior of the body; even as the ekklesia is being subject to The Christ, so the women are being subject to the/their men in all (things).

          Titus 1:3-5
          Elder/older women similarly (like the elder/older men) are becoming as sacred, and not as devils; not much enslaved to wine. These are teaching the ideal that they may be aiding young women to the sanity in being fond of their men/husbands; fond of their offspring/children; sane; pure; seeing to the home well; being subject to the/their men, that none of the word of God may be spoken against (on their account).

          I Peter 3:1-
          Likewise (as servants are being subject to their masters, and as Christ is subject to God) the women are being subject to the/their men, and this also that if any men are being stubborn toward the word, through this behavior of the women they should/may be won (out of their stubbornness) without having to say a word (to them)…

          I Corinthians 14:34-
          Your women in the ekklesias, permit them to be hushing because it has not been permitted to them to be talking as they themselves are being subject — which also is in the Law. Allow those (women) who are willing to learn, to inquire at home of their men. Yes (in case you didn’t understand before now), it is shameful/vile for women in the ekklesia to be talking.

          I’ll pause the translation review here, but you can keep going!

          By the Holy Spirit, it is revolutionary to lift the veil of western mindset even just a little bit.

          • Mike says

            Relax Marshall, just a few notes from seminary days. I didn’t list them as rules, just as reminders to the previous poster of what the text actually says. And no, Paul would NOT slap my hand (whatever that means).

            Thanks for the advice of the interlinear (really?) I prefer my English Bibles, especially the NLT, though I guess I could have used one of the 37 Greek texts I have or copied and pasted from the 24 language software programs I have.

            “No one should have to learn another language to read and hear God’s Word.” Ken Graves

            Just sayin’

            Mike

  28. says

    Jeremy, it nearly seems frivolous to reference the latest of what some part of the institutional church be doing. Yes, most church buildings & denominations are emptying or static. We would expect them to assess & attempt their own survival, and to mixed or temporary result. Are we here just amusing ourselves?
    Most English translations have toned-down “Paul”, also tending to bury the language-cultural element of function. Paul isn’t just delivering a list of “do’s” and “dont’s”, he is prescribing for the ekklesia ideal & indelible functionality; akin to describing how fresh fruit may be prevented from rolling off a table. Does anyone not know… men hear men and women differently; women hear women and men differently. These things are not the same, and will not be changed simply by adjusting our rules or church manners. Surely we can for a time pretend anything otherwise we wish, and such is known affectionately as “wishful thinking”.

      • says

        Jeannette, these differences and others compliment I Corinthians 11:3, with the Father as the Source of/for Christ; Christ as Source/Head of/for man; man as Head/Source for woman.
        When I’m to following a pure river upstream, there’s no contempt in me for any portion of it; all flows together contiguous, and no part is to be rejected without refusing or disrupting the whole. It’s a pity that western philosophy attempts to define the individual (man or woman) as complete yet alone.

    • says

      Marshall, Men hear men differently? and Women hear women differently? There is no substantial evidence that is innate and that it is immutable. If it is the case it is because of cultural influence.

      • says

        Liz, how we hear one another shows differences through cross-cultural threads. If we infer that (nearly) all cultures are responsible for influenced differences, what then? Rather than challenge broad differences in how people perceive/relate by age or gender, the New Testament writings admonish for awareness & accommodation in an understanding way.
        [i.e. I Timothy 5:1-2]

        • says

          Marshall – from my perspective you have to manipulate things quite a bit to fit all of that together to equal a mandate – at best I would say that it was good advise for the times it was written in.

          • says

            Liz, if you have personally succeeded to fully eliminate all nuance of difference between how you understand men and how you comprehend women, please do tell us about your inner conquest. Otherwise, the manner of your responses here appear to be hearing/reading me as one male.

  29. says

    I liked this, Jeremy. I may be on the more conservative side(whatever that is and whatever liberal is…disgusts me actually). But, I do want men to lead the church. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be equal opportunities and I’m not saying it would oppress women. I just like God’s beautiful design. Everything always seems to work better when it’s God’s idea. Thanks for sharing the video.

  30. says

    Marshall – Again, I don’t know what you are basing your comment on about “men hear men and women differently; women hear women and men differently”. In fact I am not sure what you mean. How do you think a woman hears a woman vs a man and how do you think a man hears a man vs a woman? I think there are cultures where there is an attitude/belief that men are more knowledgeable or more intelligent and if that is what you are referring to then the answer is “Yes!, I have succeeded to fully eliminate all nuance that suggests to me that men are more knowledgeable and/or intelligent than women.”

    • says

      Liz and Marshall, Based on my experiences and observations (perhaps someone has done exhaustive studies to prove otherwise, studies that I have not seen), much of how we view men and women is based on how we were taught and what we experienced growing up.

      Both of my parents worked. My mother was a professional in the medical field. My parents taught me that people each have their own gifts and abilities. However, there was never any suggestion in our home or in our church that one gender should lead in either arena.

      For those who grew up in homes and churches that taught otherwise, they may see these issues differently, and choose to associate with churches and spouses who are comfortable with their viewpoint. I have no problem with that. However, some of us do not see these issues that way. We do not make the distinctions based on gender that others do.

      I remember the guy who said he wouldn’t have a woman work on him when he entered the emergency room. Well guess what? My mother was the only one available. She saved his life. He would have died if she had walked. But she ignored his ignorance, and saved him. Afterwards, he apologized for what he acknowledged was “plain stupidity” He had a major attitude adjustment.

    • says

      Liz – not referring to gender bias, i.e. relative intelligence or knowledge acquired.
      Among men whom I interact with while visiting ekklesia, it is most usual for a man to hear what a woman is saying within the framework of where she is; to be hearing a man as where he may be coming [going]. (recalling the earlier “pure river” analogy). Also, more thorough communication can be realized when a man and a women share as a team common experience & information, even though they are essentially presenting information that either one alone might furnish.
      Why aren’t women teaching men? Where women attempt to teach men, the oral message is largely received/framed as first relevant to the speaker and conjoined in the present. The usual result from this being ineffectual within ekklesia/church. But then, also is “preaching to the choir” quite ineffectual.
      It would be that the people of God from long ago understood (in God’s great purpose) ‘function in being’ far better than we; that men & women (and children) participate extensively with community life in Christ, doing so with some understood, intrinsic variation/rolls — Not because they must, but rather because doing so continues as God’s ideal for His children.

  31. M says

    Excluding women has had a detrimental effect on the lives of both women, men and children. I consider myself just Christian despite the fact that I do attend a Roman Catholic Church because this is the Church my parents raised me in and I still live with my parents. My parents disagree with the Church’s stance on birth control and I do believe women should be allowed to be priests more so then allowing priests to marry. I do believe the Catholic Church has lost members because of it is unbiblical teachings on Women in Leadership and Birthcontrol and of Clergy playing God(preaching that you need Clergy to be saved rather Jesus Christ and his commandments to be saved). For me I do believe in the Sacraments and the role they play in Salvation- Jesus did change wine into this blood and the bread into his body during the last supper and told believers to do this in his memory and he did foreshadow what would happen on the Cross he gave up his life so we maybe could be saved, because not all who profess Christ is Lord or believe in God will be saved, there are many people who claim they can abuse, sleep around, steal, cheat and that they’ll still go to heave because 1 day they said the sinner’s prayer, actions speak louder then words.

    I do believe all Christians should be baptized for Jesus said himself to Nicodemius Unless you are born again of water and born again of faith you cannot enter the kingdom of God and Christ commanded disciples to baptize all believers in the name of the Father of the Son and of The Holy Spirit. I do believe also in the Sanctity of Marriage and that is a life long commitment and God instituted sacrament. I do believe Confirmation is a sign that one has accepted the Holy Spirit and Christ into their life is proffessing their belief publicly. I do believe in Holy Orders- but I believe women should be included. I believe in both communal and private confession, but I believe it is a choice and only God can forgive sins. So I am a faithful person, I have been bornagain by both water and faith, according to the Scriptures that is the requirement of Salvation and I produce Good works not to earn salvation but as result of belief in Jesus and I do not believe in Sola Fide I do believe my Salvation is an ongoing process, because should I turn away from Christ I do believe salvation can be lost. For I do not understand why some of my Evangelical friends are never baptized despite the fact that Christ says to be baptized, if baptism was nothing or if it wasn’t necessary then God would have not instructed people to baptize. But I am not here to discuss Evangelical/Anglican-Mainline Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox differences.I am here to discuss why women have been suffering because of Patriachy and Male dominance in the Church.

    In the Catholic Church, women are alter servers, we can read during Mass, we are ushers, we teach Sunday School to kids, we lead bible studies, we do fundraising. However, when it comes to Church Policy and Church dogma we have no say, we have no single representative. Whatever the Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops say Goes when it comes to Church Law. The Church is still against birth control, and has this idea in the complemantary gender role basically women should be quiet, pop babies and man should only lead in the Church and work. Many Catholic practice contraception and partake in the Eucharist, according to the Church this is evil. Despite the fact that there is biblical evidence that sex was also created for pleasure the Catholic Church seems to deny this. The stance againt birth control is tied with the stance against women leaders. If women are considered just objects for popping babies and staying quiet in the home then they are not suited for leadership either. There is also this attitude that in front of the alter when the Priest blessed the bread and the wine and Catholic believe that Christ then becomes present int he bread and the wine that a women cannot represent the Church because Christ was a male, but what the Church and other Churches forget is that Christ only took the form of the male on earth, God is neither male or female. Christ humbeled himself, he criticized the arch priests of the temples, the Catholic priests and bishops of today most of them act like the arch priests and hypocrites that crucified Jesus. So much of Catholic dogma is about control, trying to keep women in control; however, the Church is losing their grip. Most women in Western Society use contraception, are seeking education, are seeking leadership positions and do not have the same beliefs and values because they simply have more options now. For the Church to blame contraception and women leadership on the fault of divorce, rape, drug abuse in kids, people having sex before marriage on women is hypocritical. In history, there has always been Premarital sex, in history there have been methods to prevent pregnancy(the ancient Egyptians used herbs), in history women couldn’t divorce their husbands because they would lose their property and many marriages in the 30,40,50s were not because were in love simply people had no choice. In the past, in western societies, there were arranged marriages for money, power, securing property, there was also plenty of adultery. So to put the blame on Contraception and women in leadership is totally hypocritical. Women simply have more rights and choices then they did 50 years ago and there is nothing unbiblical about this. Men who want to control women’s bodies and the role they play in the Church, simply do so out of fear that they may lose their own power. This is the affect on Patriachy on our Society. In non-western worlds, in 3rd world countries women are still used as slaves, their property of men, women do not have access to contraception, to give birth to children in safe places, they are ganged raped and have no right sometimes even to divorce abusive spouses. In one latin-American country, a nine- year old girl was raped by her step-father, she became pregnant, her life was in danger, her mother decided to remove the pregnancy and press charges against the step-father(her new husband). The doctor and mother and the girl were all Excommunicated from the Catholic Church, where as the male rapist is still in Good like by the Catholic Church. This system of degrading women and excluding them only hurts women and girls especially in third world countries. In some cases in Africa, women are forced to marry their rapists. This wouldn’t happen in the US, but it certainly has happened in Central America and South America, Africa, and Asia. The only reason why women have it better in the US Church is because of Western law and Democracy. In former Communists countries, like Poland in some Churches women are not even allowed to read during mass, forget about altar girls I’ve only seen 1 church that allowed it, and couples who practice contraception, who are divorced, who have children out of wedlock, priests often deny them the Sacraments especially in small towns. Orthodox Countries and Ukrainian Catholic faith are worse- no women is allowed to read, no altar servers, everything the Church does in men lead, the whole Orthodox wedding ceremony is sexist- the crowning aspect signifies the women is under the kingdom of her husband and he is the king of the world and of his wife. The couple doesn’t even promise to love each other, it is the priest(Orthodox Pop-from the tserkvia who speaks for them), he even puts their wedding bands on them. Contraception is seen as evil and women even have to cover their heads in some of these Churches, like Muslim women do, yet many Orthodox women in Russia seek abortion as a form of contraception, very hypocritical.

    I know I wrote a lot but my point is excluding women equals creating policies that are negative towards women.

    • Sam says

      You have a lot of insight, M. I think it is very important to hear your voice. Please continue to speak. These ideas about the subjection of women are slowly changing. Even the “Bible” card and the “God” card (as in this is supposedly what God wants and the Bible teaches – which I do not agree with) are holding sway with fewer and fewer people. And that is a good thing.

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