Can Females Be Pastors
The Bible declares that women should study in silence and in subjection. According to 1 Timothy 2:11–12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” God gives men and women different duties in the church. This is a consequence of how humans were made and how sin got into the world (1 Timothy 2:13–14). God forbids women from holding positions of spiritual leadership over males, according to the apostle Paul. This makes it impossible for women to be pastors over males because being a pastor entails exercising spiritual authority, preaching, and public teaching.
ALSO SEE: Monday Work Motivation
This perspective on women in pastoral ministry is met with a lot of opposition. One prominent explanation for Paul’s prohibition on women’s teaching is that in the first century, women were largely illiterate. However, the topic of education is not addressed in 1 Timothy 2:11–14. The majority of Jesus’ disciples would not have been qualified for ministry if education were a requirement. Another prevalent criticism is that Paul solely prohibited Ephesian women from instructing men (1 Timothy was addressed to Timothy, the local church’s leader). According to one view, Paul was simply reacting to the female-led practices of the Ephesian idolaters because Ephesus was known for its shrine to Artemis and women were the leaders in that branch of paganism. As a result, the church needed to be different. However, the book of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions Artemis, nor does Paul mention the standard practice of Artemis worshipers as a reason for the restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:11–12.
The idea that Paul is solely speaking to husbands and wives and not to men and women, in general, is the third issue. The primary meaning of the Greek terms used in 1 Timothy 2 for “woman” and “man” is more expansive than only husbands and wives. Furthermore, verses 8 through 10 employ the same Greek terms. Are only husbands permitted to extend their holy hands in supplication without wrath or argument (verse 8)? Are only wives expected to behave well, wear modest clothing, and worship God (verses 9–10)? Obviously not. Verses 8 through 10 explicitly mention both men and women, not simply spouses and wives. Nothing in verses 11–14’s context suggests that the focus has been narrowed to husbands and wives.
Another argument against this understanding of women serving in pastoral ministry focuses on biblical examples of women in leadership roles, particularly Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the Old Testament. It is true that God picked these women to serve Him in a specific way and that they serve as role models for faith, bravery, and, yes, leadership. The subject of church pastors, however, is unrelated to the power of women in the Old Testament. A new paradigm for God’s people, the church, the body of Christ, is presented in the New Testament Epistles. This paradigm involves an authority structure that is specific to the church and not to Israel or any other Old Testament entity.
In the New Testament, Priscilla and Phoebe are used to make comparable claims. Priscilla and Aquila are portrayed as obedient Christ-followers in Acts 18. Some believe that the fact that Priscilla’s name appears first in verse 18 indicates that she was more well-known in ministry than her husband. (The order of whose name comes first is presumably unimportant because it is reversed in verses 2 and verse 26 from verse 18’s order.) Did Priscilla and her husband present Apollos with the good news of Jesus Christ? Yes, they “explained to him the way of God more adequately” in their home, according to Acts 18:26. Is it ever mentioned in the Bible that Priscilla served as a church pastor, gave public lectures, or took on a leadership role among a group of believers? No. As far as we know, Priscilla was not involved in ministry activity in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11–14.
Phoebe is praised by Paul in Romans 16:1 and is referred to be a “deacon” (or “servant”) in the church. Similar to Priscilla, however, Phoebe’s role as a pastor or a teacher of men in the church is not mentioned in the Bible. For elders, but not for deacons, the quality “able to teach” is listed (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9).
The organisation of 1 Timothy 2:11–14 makes it very apparent why women cannot serve as pastors. The first word of verse 13 is “for,” providing the “cause” of Paul’s assertion in verses 11–12. Why shouldn’t women lead or be in positions of control over men? Since “Adam was created before Eve. And the woman, not Adam, was the one who was deceived (verses 13–14). Eve was made as Adam’s “helper” after God had first created Adam. Both the church and the family can benefit from understanding the order of creation (Ephesians 5:22–33).
Women are forbidden from holding positions of spiritual power over men or functioning as pastors (1 Timothy 2:14) due to Eve’s deception. This does not imply that all women are more susceptible to deception than males, or even that all women are gullible. Why would they be permitted to teach toddlers (who are easily mislead) and other women (who are purportedly more easily deceived) if all women are more easily deceived? The passage only states that because Eve was tricked, women are forbidden to instruct or rule over men spiritually. In the church, God has entrusted men with the primary teaching authority.
Many women are gifted in helping/serving, teaching, mercy, hospitality, and evangelism. Women have a significant role in the local church’s ministry. According to 1 Corinthians 11:5, women in the church are not prohibited from publicly praying or prophesying; rather, they are simply forbidden from exercising spiritual authority over men. There is no prohibition in the Bible against women using their spiritual abilities (1 Corinthians 12). Both men and women are invited to serve others, exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), and share the good news of Jesus with the ungodly (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).
God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This does not place the men folks as better teachers or that women are inferior or less intelligent. It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are also to set an example in their lives, but in a different way (1 Peter 3:1-6). Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3–5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This bars women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means; rather, it gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s design.