The Good News in the Bible

Ordaining Women as Pastors and Bishops in the Christian Church
William Diehl

The Bible does not support the role of women as pastors and bishops in the Church.

The reason's which the Apostle Paul gives for refusing to allow women to preach and teach to the general assembly of the congregation are not social reasons, they are moral reasons. Paul refers us to the fall of man and the entrance of sin. God specifically commanded that the woman had lost her equality of governance as the result of sin and that man was to exercise authority over the woman. This is not an arbitrary decree but in the fallen condition of the natural world this is a blessing for the entire human family in that women are protected from even greater exploitation than they would have been without this decree. It is the decree of God that men protect and nurture women and not abuse them and harm them. When women are allowed to compete against men in the real world of the fist and the gun and competition they would be crushed by the stronger and more aggressive male gender. God recognized this and thus commanded man to protect woman and the woman was to respect and submit to this protection and headship. It is interesting that in the less "civilized" countries women recognize this fact and respect and honor their husbands and male family members more than in the "liberated" countries. Women who do not have any family protection end up in horrible social situations. Men have certainly abused that authority and have not cared for and respected woman as they ought but to now over rule God's decree because of the abuse of some is to make a bad situation worse.

To compare the Biblical ban of women as Church leaders to that of the practice of slavery in Bible times and therefore merely an outdated social issue is very faulty Biblical hermeneutics. Slavery was a result of wars and subjugation of weaker nations. Paul said that if a slave had the opportunity to be free he or she should take the opportunity. He recognized slavery as a social evil but he also understood that Christians were not to oppose the unbelieving pagan governments of the day in order to force the freeing of the slaves. Paul's counsel was to make the best of a bad situation. The gospel is to be a "leavening" in society not a militant force.

This is not the case with not allowing women to be teachers and leaders in the general assembly of the church. Paul was not speaking from the point of social custom but from God's command after the entrance of sin. Paul does mention the matter of women covering their heads in church as a social custom. Covering of the head was a social custom as was the length of a man and woman's hair. Paul even tells us that this is a mere social custom. But in the matter of woman in leadership and teaching positions, Paul does not mention social custom but God's expressed command in Genesis.

The term for ordination in the New Testament is "LAYING ON HANDS". Also Paul uses the term "ORDAIN" leaders.

1Timothy 5:17 "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear. 21 I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality. 22 LAY HANDS hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure."

Titus 1:5 "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ORDAIN elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

The Bible is very clear on the issue of women ordination as elders, bishops, and Bible teachers in Bible classes for adult men where women would be placed in a leadership position of authority over adult men. The issue is not a matter of ability. To the contrary, many brilliant women could easily meet the challenge. The issue is the divine order of government in the family and the Church. Men and women have separate God ordained roles which must be separate and yet mutually respected. Man is to be the head of the woman since the entrance of sin. This is so in the home and in the church. Whenever the roles are confused or mingled the minds of the children and their sexual identity is hampered often with life long results. Fathers and mothers will often seek the lacking comfort and fulfillment that this confusion brings, outside of the home in a person other than the lawful spouse. The anger and disappointment of both spouses often manifests itself in outbursts of wrath, heated arguments, power struggles, and sometimes violence. Satan directs his most strident efforts toward the destruction of family. The television is constantly bombarding perversion into the minds of children and parents alike. Commercials portray the fathers as the buffoon and the mothers as the disrespectful liberated gadfly. Children are taught to just do their "thing" and disregard the word of God and the instruction of parents. Motherhood is portrayed as bondage and a career as the utopia of freedom and joy and fulfillment. The weakling Ahabs and domineering Jezebels are becoming the role models for our children in the world and in the church.

A woman minister preached from the pulpit in a Southern California church recently. The heart of her sermon was to proclaim the "fact" that the Holy Spirit is "female" and that God can rightly be called "she" when the situation merits. There was no Gospel of the forgiveness of sin through faith in the Cross of Christ nor was there a call for repentance and reform of lifestyle to the Bible standard. The music was not such to uplift the Savior as the Lamb of God. The Sabbath school class was taught by a guy who was hardly what one would call "manly" and he was spouting, not the Bible gospel, but the moral influence view of the atonement. Well, I mourn for the Protestant Reformation which is the apple of God's eye but I know that He will shake out all that do not seek to abide by the word of God as the sole authority in doctrine and life style.

Here are a few Bible texts dealing with this subject.

1Cor 14:34-38 "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the COMMANDMENTS of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."

Ephesians 6:21 "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.... 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church."

Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

1Timothy 2:9 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not (ONLY) with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array,10 But (ALSO) which becometh women professing godliness with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." Titus 2:1 "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."

This is God's ideal. This is our goal to which we all strive but we all admittedly continually fall short. Thanks be to God who justifies the ungodly. Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven, whose iniquities are covered. Being justified by grace through faith in the sinless One we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Further Discussion on the Ordination of Women as Pastors

The Bible does not support the role of women as pastors in the Christian church. Any woman who claims that the "Holy Spirit" has "called" her to preach is ignoring the clear counsel of the word of God. The true Holy Spirit never contradicts the written word. We are not to believe every "spirit", but rather are to test the "spirit" by the clear word of the Bible.

All men and women who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior who died for their sins and acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Besides this infilling of the Spirit by all believers in Christ, there were men and a few women in both the Old and New Testament who were endowed with special gifts from God which qualified them to fulfill the role of prophet.

Here are a few texts which mention women having the gift of prophecy:

Joel 2:28 "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."

Acts 21:8 "8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus."

These gifts did not however mean that these women were in positions of leadership as elders and ministers of the Gospel to be evangelists, to baptize, to officiate at the Lord's supper, to perform marriages, or to head a congregation as the pastor.

This is the role that God in His wisdom has given to the Christian men of the church who are called to be ministers of the Gospel. This is a God ordained role which no one can take unto himself without a divine call to preach. This is a sacred calling, even a miraculous calling. One can attempt to reason and argue for the ordination of women pastors forever, but God has clearly left us with His word in specific verses which deal with the issue of the woman's role in the Christian church and also by the fact that God chose only men to be pastors and elders with this specific role which was never filled by women in the Bible.

It has been my experience in my old age that those women who claimed to be called to the ministry (I have seen and even personally known many) have tended to be very masculine and man-like in personality. They did not conform to the Biblical description of the feminine deportment described in God's word. Those whom I have known who were married were usually married to a very non-dominant man who was definitely not the head of the relationship. The marriages of these women frequently end in separation and divorce. Women like and love men who are able to lead and be the head in the family and in the church and they don't respect men who cannot. Men who see women who are seeking to be leaders usually look elsewhere for a mate. The fact is that even our hormones are involved with this issue. The modern feminist movement is failing today, because the women are finding that they are unable to find men who are willing to accept an assertive woman as a mate. It is an invitation to life-long misery.

This feminism has pervaded the Protestant movement among the young women to such an extent that often the men go outside of the church to find a wife. There is more misery in Christian marriages than most will admit to. Many Christian churches today are being run by the women of the church who are too eager to take the reins of leadership. This leads to very sorry results.

I was a member of the Congregational Church before becoming a Sabbath keeping Evangelical Christian and I have seen how liberalism and feminism have taken over that denomination. All the dynamic power of this church denomination has waned and it has become a big "ladies aid society" teaching only the "social gospel". It is a sad testimony of what happens when we disregard the clear instructions of the word of God for church order in the proclamation of the Gospel.

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