Summary – Women in Church Leadership (Part 8)

I promised a quick (yeah right) summary of what I’ve covered in this series of posts on Women in Church Leadership.  Before I do, I want to reiterate something very important.

 I did not write this series of posts to slam anyone, condemn anyone, or oppress anyone.  I simply believe that the Bible speaks very clearly on this issue – and we are to follow what the Bible says.  When we do not, damage is inflicted on people and on the church as a whole.

THE SUMMARY

Part 1 – My Story
I covered my background as it relates to this issue – so you can see a bit more of where I’m coming from on this.  I honestly believe that I have no agenda other than to clearly communicate what the Bible teaches.

Part 2 – The Head of  Woman is Man?
I covered the often confusing passage of 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 in an attempt to clarify what is meant by man being the “head” of woman. 

  1. I concluded that the peripheral issue of “headcoverings” is cultural.
  2. I also concluded that the issue of “headship” in the home is tied to the order of creation, NOT a cultural situation unique to Paul or Corinth.
  3. While obviously offensive to some in our modern-world, I believe that these distinctions are not to be “greater-than / less-than” issues between men and women, but rather an issue of ROLES within the church.
  4. I also noticed that within this very letter Paul admits that it IS appropriate for women to be verbal in the setting of the gathered church – I discussed that more in the following post.

Part 3 – Women should be silent in the church?
This issue appears from the context to have been a cultural issue, unique to Paul’s day and specifically, the church in Corinth.

Part 4 – Do women have the “right” to lead in the church?
In this post I addressed the common argument made by those who support women in church leadership – which is, “The fact that we are ‘co-heirs’ and both ‘in  Christ’ negates any distinction at all between men and women.”  I tried to show that the use of such verses to make that point is to take the scriptures in question out of context, applying them to something to which the writers did not intend them to be applied.

Part 5 – The husband of one wife
This post addressed the qualifications of elders (church leaders) as Paul lists them in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  Instead of making the word “husband” the issue, I went rather to the meaning of the phrase “husband of one wife” and showed that the intent was that the reader understand that the elder needs to be sexually pure, morally upright.  With this in mind, I pointed out that such a requirement would be equally important for both men and women leaders, yet Paul does not give any such warning or requirement for women.  It is my conclusion that he never intended women to be considered for such positions.

Part 6 – I do not allow a woman to…
The passage addressed in this post was 1 Timothy 2:11-15.  It is where Paul states that he does not allow a woman to “teach or have authority over a man.”  While advocates of women in church leadership claim that this was an instruction given to Timothy because of particular issues going on in his church, two issues seem primary to me in responding to that claim – first of all the specific language Paul uses is “I do not allow.”  He does not say “Timothy, here’s what YOU should do…” or anything similar.  His language is broad and all-inclusive.  Secondly, Paul’s main reason for giving this prohibition is tied to the created order in some way, not a cultural situation.  I continued to address that issue in the final post…

Part 7 – Why was Eve created second? 
Returning to the creation account in Genesis 2, I took the time to look at the specific language used to describe the origin of man and woman.  God seems to make a very particular point of making us understand that Adam was created first and that he was alone.  I believe He did so to point out the “why” of Eve’s creation, an act done some time AFTER Adam had already existed.  The two reasons God gives is that Eve was to be Adam’s companion and his helper.  Her ROLE was to be of help to the man in the role God had appointed for him.

CONCLUSION

A thought that comes to mind, and one that I know is very difficult for those opposed to “male only” leadership (within the church) to accept is this.  One can honestly hold a very high view of women – a view of spiritual equality in Christ and a belief that they are indeed “co-heirs” with men – and yet not believe they are permitted to serve as leaders within the church.  I personally believe that both the scriptures and experience show that women are equally capable with men and equally intellegent, spiritually attuned, etc.  But we must be careful to understand that those are not the types of issues that should be considered when deciding who is allowed to serve in the leadership of the church.  What matters primarily is what God has said are the proper roles for men and women.  While attempts have been made to use the scriptures to “prove” that women are indeed allowed to be church leaders – from both good and false motives, I’m sure – I have yet to be convinced that such interpretations are valid.  To me, there are too many interpretive backflips that have to be done in order to make that case, or in other instances, there is simply a willingness to avoid the words of scripture altogether in favor of what “seems” right to our modern culture.

I hold that scripture must be the only and final authority – and as I’ve said time and again in this series of posts – we have to let it say what it says. and honor God by accepting it and applying it as best we can.

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34 thoughts on “Summary – Women in Church Leadership (Part 8)

  1. I am going to have to go through each of these. I had to read the summary first, to get my heart right, just in case we disagreed. God bless and I would like to add you to my blogroll if possible. Thanks.

  2. Why do you assume that there is a relevance to the woman being created second that God has not said. The only thing that God has said is that it is not good for the human to be alone. Then God sets up a scenario for the man to learn that aloneness is not good, after which He presents the woman to the man as from his own body to be his help to alleviate the aloneness.

  3. I assume there is relevance to the order of creation based on the fact that God COULD HAVE created the two in any order He wanted! But He didn’t? Why?

    I believe it’s very likely that He did so to show an order of leadership within the relationship. You can see that too in the fact that when God came to confront the sinful pair, He FIRST went to Adam, not Eve. Though she was responsible for her own actions, GOD HIMSELF had an expectation of Adam that laid the first rebuke from God at ADAM’S feet, even though it was Eve who first sinned.

  4. Have you done a word study of “ezer”, which is a word used to describe Eve?

    God very clearly gave humans dominion over the Earth and its creatures. Wouldn’t He make it at least equally clear if His will were for the male human to lead the female human, or for the female human to lead the male one?

    I am wondering why you find it “very likely” that, since Eve rather than Adam was taken out of “the human”, that this necessarily translates to God’s intended human power structure.

  5. I have done a study of “ezer” which means “helper.” But what people often fail to recognize is that it is combined with the root word “neged,” which literally means, “corresponding to.” She was made a “helper corresponding to Adam.” Adam is the point of focus for her help… the one TO BE HELPED by the woman. God created Adam first, as leader, and Eve’s ROLE (having NOTHING to do with her value or equality with Adam) was to help Adam in accomplishing God’s purpose for Adam’s leadership.

    As to your other points and as to whether or not God would make it equally clear about an intended structure within humanity…

    There are MANY things in scripture that are not a clear as WE may like them to be. In many cases, as in this one, we have to discern what is true from the evidence that is provided, often piece at a time. Each piece contributes to our understanding of what is true. Each one individually may not seem like much (like the fact that Adam was created first and Eve second), but when they are all combined, they present a pretty compelling argument.

    Eve’s creation after that of Adam combined with the fact that we have no record of God giving Eve His moral commands (as we do with Adam), combined with the fact that when God confronted the sin He first comes to Adam (who was not the first one to sin), combined with God’s rebuke of Adam for his lack of leadership (He listened to Eve’s voice as she debated the issue with Satan… and did not step up to stop what was going on) – all these and others combine to make a very strong case for Adam’s intended leadership in the relationship.

    Does this mean women are inferior? NOT AT ALL! God created them BOTH in His image – the highest value that each of them could ever have! But when it comes to God-given roles, the man has a responsibility (not a right) to lead out in the relationship.

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