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Women and Ministry -- What the Bible Says

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For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. -- 1Corinthians 14: 33-35 (ESV)

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. -- 1Timothy 2: 11-14 (ESV)

I always try to be transparent and this is another of those subjects that I have simply avoided writing about. Why? Because I know a lot of good female ministry workers. When we are forced however to read things we do not want to believe, the reactions can be brutal. I want you to know up front this has nothing to do with me. Women in ministry do not bother me. They do not threaten me. My concern is what it always is -- what does God say? Beloved, God has a plan. He always has had a plan. He spells it out plainly in His Word. The problem is our hearts are wickedly deceitful and we often approach the Bible with what we want it to say in mind instead of actually wanting to hear what God has to say. We all have done it. I know I have. It is humbling when you finally see that you have been speaking for God things He has not actually said. Such is the case for many people when dealing with women in church leadership positions.

Notice what I said. I did not say women in ministry. That is not the issue. The issue is whether women should hold the pastoral or teaching offices within the body of Christ and the resounding Scriptural answer is "no." I pray that if you are already offended that you pray before reading on because my intent is only to show what the Bible says. So as to guide the study, I will be responding to the Assemblies of God position paper entitled, "The Role of Women in Ministry As Described in Holy Scripture." The link is provided above. There is currently no fiercer defender of women pastors than the Assemblies. I understand why. They are having a very difficult time getting enough male pastors. While disheartening, that is still no reason to violate God's Word. Before getting into the meat of it, we should note the deceptive title, which in good faith I will assume was unintended. Throughout this position paper, the writers make the argument for women in ministry and then casually apply it to women in leadership positions. Proving that there is Biblical cause for women in ministry does not prove that the Bible supports women in leadership.

Point Number One -- previous disobedience does not validate future disobedience:

"Courageous women served on mission frontiers at home and abroad as missionaries, evangelists, church planters, pastors, educators, and in other roles."

While the history and practice of the Assemblies of God appears to demonstrate that God blesses the public ministry of women, debate continues as to the proper role of women in spiritual leadership."

"Historians have observed that in the early days of most revivals, when spiritual fervor is high and the Lord's return is expected at any time, there is often ready acceptance of dynamic, pioneering women ministers."

Yes, it is true that the Assemblies used many women inappropriately during the early stages of formation. That does not mean that God has changed His mind beloved. By the way, the mixing of acceptable roles such as missionaries with unacceptable roles such as pastors and educators is a major flaw in this position paper. As for the appearance of blessing it should be noted that everything is not always how it looks. Paula White has made five million dollars as a pastor but that is obviously not the blessing of God. Why? Because God would not reward or bless someone who is a false teacher. The other point here is that God will always use everything for His glory. The last quote is telling in its ignorance. So the point used to support women in ministry is that when people have thought the Lord's return was imminent, they allowed unbiblical practices but when they realized they were wrong and things settled back down they stopped these unbiblical practices? Good. That is what should happen. Most of the frenzied revivals we see today are nothing short of demonic movements so I would not be holding them up as some paragon of proof that women should have roles that the Bible simply does not support.

Point Two -- women in the Bible with ministerial roles does not mean they should have leadership roles within the church. The writers build their thesis on the fact that the Bible has plenty of examples of prominent women in the plan of the Lord. I agree. So does everyone who reads the Bible. The issue is whether those roles are in leadership over men and if so, is that an establishment of some divine principle we should take as doctrine. First, let us reason together and go through the women listed:

Miriam -- yes it is true that one verse in Exodus refers to Miriam as "prophetess." What can we glean from this? That she was considered a prophetess. That is it. In the Old Testament, the role of Prophet was much different than today. They did not hold authority either. They served God and the king (although in Miriam's case she was the sister of Aaron and served Moses). Does this one verse mean that women should hold leadership positions? No. It does however lend weight to the role of prophesying for women, which I have never heard anyone disagree about. The Joel verses about pouring out His Spirit indicate upon all flesh.

Huldah -- during the days of King Josiah, Huldah was indeed a prophetess of the Lord, as well as the "keeper of the wardrobe." The same points remain as we saw with Miriam.

Tabitha (Dorcas) -- the writers get a little too cute here claiming Dorcas operated an "effective benevolence ministry." All the text says is that she was full of good works and acts of charity. Only when you are approaching the Bible with an agenda can you turn the story of raising Dorcas from the dead into a validation of women in ministry.

Phillip's four unmarried daughters -- yes, the Bible does say that they prophesied, clearly supporting everything we have already agreed to. It should be noted that the insistence of using the "unmarried" notation (virgin in other translations) is to show that these four had fully committed themselves to the service of the Lord forgoing marriage, as Paul speaks about later on.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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