Daily Devotional for Thursday June 22, 2006
Is it Okay for Women to be Pastors, Deacons, or Elders
(1 Timothy 2:12-15)
With the recent election of Katharine Jefferts Schori to lead the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, the U.S.branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the issue of women being pastors and in positions of church leadership is once again being debated. I am always amazed when issues like this come up and the one and only authority we have is rarely mentioned. God gave us His inspired, inerrant Word which represents Absolute Truth and is our FINAL AUTHORITY IN ALL MATTERS! So in answering the question, is it okay for women to be pastors, deacons, and elders, let's see what God says.
The answer is without question NO. A woman is NOT supposed to be a pastor, a deacon, or an elder in the church. I have heard all of the tortured arguments to justify those who are, but the Word of God not only speaks directly to this issue, it is crystal clear on this issue. In Paul's first letter to Timothy, Chapter 2 Verse 12 states that a woman is not to hold a position of authority in the church, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
To further support the Biblical case for women not being pastors, deacons, or elders, you have the qualifications for those who lead the church in 1 Timothy Chapter 3 as well as in Titus Chapter 1. In these passages that define the qualifications for those who lead the church, the Bible clearly states over and over "the husband of one wife." It does not say "the wife of one husband!" Breaking down this exact description of who God has called to be in leadership positions in the church, it not only disqualifies a woman but it also disqualifies a divorced man! Again, I have heard all of the tortured "Biblical spin" to justify a divorced man being a pastor, a deacon, or an elder, but a close study of these passages clearly and without doubt disqualifies a divorced man from being in a position of church leadership just like it disqualifies a woman.
In the culture of the day when Paul wrote to Timothy, women, whether they be Jew or Gentile, were treated as little more than property. The Biblically illiterate claim Paul hated women and was a male chauvinist, however, a further study and understanding of what God wrote through Paul proves just the opposite. Paul was a modern-day champion of women's rights. He taught that God created women equal with men, an unheard of concept in that day, however they simply had different roles to play. That is the clear teaching of the whole counsel of God. Men and women are 100% equal, however God has given each very different and clearly defined roles to play.
This actually brings to light an issue I have spoken of in the past and is a huge part of the reason we see churches turning to women to take on leadership roles God never intended them to have. We have gotten so far from Biblical Truth in our society today, we have become so Biblically illiterate, that men and women are no longer taught what roles God has called them to play in marriage, in raising the family, in society, and in the church. A huge problem is the fact men have failed to be the leaders God has called them to be and in their failure, they have left a leadership void women have stepped in and tried to fill. Men are as much to blame for failing to lead as women are in trying to perform roles God never intended for them to have.
So does this mean a woman is not supposed to serve God? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! A woman is COMMANDED to serve the Lord just like a man is. Even though a woman is not qualified to be a pastor, deacon, or elder, she can hold any other office in the church. She can be a teacher, an evangelist, a missionary, lead worship, she can serve God in many different ways. Again, the key to this issue is not to keep women from serving God, it is about women serving God in the roles He has called them to fill.
This is also true for divorced men. Even though they are disqualified from being a pastor, deacon, or elder, they are commanded to serve God and able to serve the Lord in any other capacity. On a personal note, as a divorced man, I will never be qualified to pastor a church. This is a consequence for my sin in this area earlier in my life. However, as an evangelist God still uses my life every day to bring His Truth and hope to the lost and hurting in this world. The leadership positions in the church are reserved for those who God has called forth and are qualified to hold them as defined in His Word.
I love you and care about you so much. I realize that due to the poor and often misleading teaching on this topic, there are many who will be very upset today. I find it interesting that all of the churches we read about today supporting gross sins like homosexuality and abortion, started out years ago violating God's Word by ordaining women pastors, deacons, and elders. EVERY SINGLE ONE! You see, once you decide to go against the authority of God's Word on one issue, it makes it easy to go against the authority of God's Word on other issues. It is like sin in our personal life. Once we open the door to sin in one area of our life, pretty soon we open the door to sin in other areas.
I pray that this message today will not discourage but encourage women to serve. After all, God has commended ALL of His children to serve Him. We simply need to be aware of what areas of service we are not qualified to serve in and put our time and energy into the areas we are qualified to serve in. This issue is as much about being obedient and following God's Word as it is anything else. Never forget that God's Word says to obey is better than sacrifice. God blesses our obedience to Him and His Word.
If you are currently attending a church with a woman or divorced man as pastor, deacon, or elder, I can't tell you what do to. However, you should seriously pray if that is where God wants you to be. I can guarantee you that if your church is ignoring God's Word in this area, they are ignoring God's Word in other areas. I am well aware that there are women and divorced men pastors, deacons, and elders who do tremendous things for the Lord, but that doesn't justify their rebellion to God by serving in a capacity God's Word says they are not qualified to serve in. That is something they will have to answer to God for since God's Word is immutable, it never changes.
God created men and women 100% equal, however, each has their own unique and special roles God has called them to perform. There are some roles God has designated for a woman to perform, others He has designated for a man to perform. In the church, God has clearly called for the role of pastor, deacon, and elder to filled by men. Additionally, God gives very strict guidelines to the exact qualifications a man must have to fill these leadership positions. Like everything, God's way works, man's way doesn't. Consequences are the result of rebelling against God and blessings the result of obeying God. May you enjoy His blessings as you obediently follow Him!