Women should not serve as church elders

The Bible is the guiding foundation for the faith of every serious Christian, yet with such consensus on its importance, there is much division on its interpretation. Name an issue, and there are sure to be a host of theologians, experts and everyday believers ready to offer their opinions. There is arguably no issue more prevalent than with the question of whether women should be allowed to serve in the role of pastor. 

Women are able to assist the church in a wide variety of ways, but they should not serve in the role of pastor.

Before this question is even approached, it is important to ensure that the term “pastor” is properly defined. According to GotQuestions, the term pastor, which means shepherd, is often used interchangeably with the terms of elder and overseer. The role of elder involves teaching, preaching, caring and exercising authority.

The main qualifications and definitions of elders are found in two main texts, 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. It is important to note that both texts make reference to an elder being the “husband of one wife,” implying that only men are to serve in these roles.

The verses plainly state that women are not to “teach or hold authority over a man.” Teaching is a very important aspect of the role of an elder and pastor. While the text is pretty clear, there are still some common objections that need to be addressed. 

But these are not the only texts pointed to in the debate. The most widely discussed passage in reference to women serving as pastors is 1 Timothy 2:11-14. 

The first are the examples of Miriam, Deborah and Huldah in the Old Testament. These three women were used by God in positions of leadership. However, this is not entirely relevant to modern churches. The system in place today was not in place in the Old Testament, and with the death and resurrection of Christ, a new, unique authority was given to the church that is not relevant to Israel or any Old Testament figures.

A New Testament example that is often used as an objection is that of Priscilla, who ministered to Apollos in Acts 18, and Phoebe, who Paul refers to as a deacon in Romans 16:1. Priscilla did have an important role in ministry and offers a good example for women who look to go that route, but nowhere does it mention or even imply that she held any title or authority over a church or body of believers. As for the case of Phoebe, it is very important to mention that deacons are not the same as elders, and the two terms are not interchangeable, nullifying this argument. 

What about youth or worship pastors and other roles in the church? Distinctions between senior pastors and associate pastors are not given in the Bible but have only come into existence in modern times. In these cases, the qualifications of elders still apply, so these roles should be filled by men. 

As for those who do not hold authority over men, but children, it is perfectly fine for women to serve in these roles.

Some may object to this view, citing in our modern progressive society that ancient distinctions no longer apply and women can serve in whatever role they want. However, this view of Scripture drastically undermines the credibility of God’s word. The Lord’s ways are consistent, being the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 

The Bible was not written to fit our view of it but to change our view of the world. We are to test and conform all our thoughts and beliefs to what Scripture says, not the other way around. God created men and women equal in worth and value, but he assigned them to different roles based on his divine providence. 

God is sovereign, holy and perfect, while we are fallen, sinful and imperfect. Our view of the world may sometimes run against what Scripture says, but God’s word always prevails against man’s ways. As men and women, our value and worth are equal even if our roles and purposes are different, and rather than try to change that, we should instead celebrate the God who created us and strive to give him praise. 

Hughes is an opinion writer. Follow him on Twitter

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