About a week ago, I sat at my desk on the phone, giving biblical counsel to a woman who is dying from terminal brain cancer. The same woman, who I gave counsel to a couple of months ago because she was interested in assisted suicide, and as I sat there a message flashed across my screen calling me a “false teacher” … simply because I was a woman and not a man teaching/preaching a couple of Sundays ago. I wasn’t shocked. At this point, I have been told, as well as attacked with, this same teaching at least monthly for the past year. I’ve been told by male classmates during online discussion boards while pursuing my bachelor’s and now my master’s degree. I’ve been told by Christian relatives. I’ve been told by random strangers who remind me that I am to “remain silent” on social media.
This issue in not a salvation issue. It is, however, heavily debated across the board of the different denominations that claim Christ as Lord and Savior, who call themselves Christians. I serve with the Church of the Nazarene and am on the path to ordination. The Nazarene Church has been ordaining women since the early 1900’s. But this battle is one that I did battle with, myself. I used to think that women should not teach or preach too. But God Called a Woman, this woman, and many more and He may be calling you too.
We can look at verses like 1st Timothy 2:9-12 and 1st Corinthians 14:33-35 and it looks clear that women should “remain silent”. But then there are scriptures like Joel 2:28-29 (pouring out of the Spirit to prophesy), Judges 4:4-5 (Deborah is Judge), Philippians 4:2-3 (women serving for the Gospel), Romans 16:1 (female Deacon), Romans 16:3 (fellow workers), Romans 16:7 (female apostle) which all highlight women in the roles of servant leadership.
So, the Word says “no” to women leading or teaching but states examples of them doing so in a notably good way (Paul commends the women in his passages for their help in serving the Gospel). So, why would 1st Timothy and 1st Corinthians be so harsh when it comes to women speaking in the church? We must dive deeper and get off the shore of the ocean that is biblical studies.
A bit of history: Women were only allowed to sit in the women’s court of the Temple. They could not go further. This is, also, where the children could stay. They were not trained in the Scriptures, in the same manner, as men. Most women could not read or write.
The women to whom Paul addressed in both 1st Timothy and 1st Corinthians, were most likely new believers. 1st Timothy was written with Paul addressing the false teaching that was being spread so these new believing women who could not read nor write were spreading parts of that false gospel because that is what they heard. Paul had to stop the false teaching from being shared by the ones who could not check it to scripture. And in 1st Corinthians, Paul was addressing idolatry and immorality.
If women did not have the same education as men, in that day, how could they teach correctly if they themselves were not taught?
I wouldn’t want them teaching either! Here is where we must build a bridge from the biblical day to the present day. We must understand that as women sit in the same classes as men for their Masters of Divinity that they receive the same education, we must understand that men and women can both equally pick up the same book and read it and we must understand the difference in the biblical culture and to the present day culture to understand the full teaching of these scriptures.
Culture does not set the biblical standard. But these verses indicate that the culture impacted the reason women were told to “remain silent” in that day and at those churches. But elsewhere, in the Bible, women are noted leading and are equipped to lead. The Bible never has a good, holy, praiseworthy example of someone doing something immoral or unholy. For instance, we never read that homosexuality is ever a good thing it is consistently immoral. We do not have that consistency with women’s roles in the church. This indicates the culture of the people impacted the teaching.
“Women are not independent of men and men are not independent from women. Women came from man but man must be born of a woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). They both equally need each other because that is how God designed it. Sure, men came first… that just means they are older… (a little joke). This side of the cross confirms that we are partners…not under the man but only under Christ. Where we serve and submit to each other, like Christ. It makes me think of what Jesus says in Luke 9:50, “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you”.
A female pastor who is spreading the Truth, Love, and Serving in Christ in the same manner as a godly male pastor is not against the gospel but for the gospel. To me, it sounds like whoever has a problem with a female leading… acts just like the disciples did with the man who was driving out demons in Christ’s name because he didn’t fit their mold or wasn’t in their group.
But what if, we as a church, let go of this issue and simply focused on spreading the Gospel… instead of trying to stop those that are spreading the Gospel. If a female preaches and people accept Christ was it not the same Holy Spirit that saved them as it would if He used a male pastor? It is the same. I do not have to defend my call… I will let the souls flood Heaven from His work through my obedience. Because His work has very little, in fact, zero %, to do with me but everything to do with what He does through me. It does not matter if I have girl parts… it only matters that I share Him with a broken and hurting world like He commands in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8).
Ladies, if He calls you. Answer Him. If He calls you, Obey HIM.
And for those who try and stop them, “Do not call anything impure what God has made clean” (Acts 10:15) … I would not want to be blaspheming the Spirit’s work by calling the ones He deems clean not worthy.