Why Can’t Women Be Pastors?

(This post was corrupted when our site was hacked in November, 2012. It was then deleted and is now reposted here.)

Southern Baptist churches have gone on record as maintaining that Pastors of SBC churches should be men.

To many that sounds like chauvinism and discrimination of the worst kind against women.

Many wonder why the SBC would take such a stand? It seems logical to these people that the SBC is shooting itself in the foot. They feel that to take (what seems to them to be) such a negative stand against women is to alienate a large pool of potential prospects.

So what’s going on here? Why such a strong stand?

Here are a few thoughts that may help those who are puzzled.

First, the SBC has decided to take a strong view of the authority of Scripture. We have watched many denominations and churches embrace a weak view of Scripture and begin a journey down a road away from Biblical truth toward embracing more politically and culturally correct ideas, rejecting what Scripture teaches in the process. Most of the heretical churches of today didn’t just leap into heresy all at once. But when they decided to reject the Bible on one point, it became easy to reject it on another point, then another, then another, until eventually they were very far away from basic Biblical truth. When we succumb to the temptation to believe that our own brains are more trustworthy than Scripture, that’s were we end up.

Those of us who are Biblical Christians believe that the Bible really is God’s Book. The evidence that leads us to that conviction is strong. (You can see some of that here in our Veritas Club handouts if you like.) Since we believe that it is God’s Word to man, we take what it teaches seriously.

And the Bible clearly teaches that pastors should be men. 2 Timothy 2:12 teaches that, in the context of a church, women are not to “teach or exercise authority” over men. 1 Timothy 3: 2 says pastors must be the “husband of one wife.” The following verses (vv. 4-7) indicate that he is to be a man who manages his household well. The same teachings are found in Titus 1:5-7.

Some would say that these are mere cultural conventions. They would put male pastors in the same category as “greet one another with a holy kiss” (a phrase found several times in Paul’s letters which does reflect the culture of that time and place). But the Bible says that male headship is based, not on culture, but on God’s order of Creation (1 Timothy 2:12-14).

Before reacting with “That’s just not fair!” I hope you will finish reading this post!

First, it must be emphasized that this is not an issue of equality. It is an issue of role.

For example, the Bible teaches that God manifests Himself in three Persons. He is a Trinity. Each Person of the Trinity has a different role. Jesus’ role is not that of the Father. Does that make Him inferior to the Father? Of course not! That conclusion would be heresy! Is Jesus being cheated or discriminated against because He doesn’t have the same role as God the Father? Is God the Father some kind of a Divine Chauvinist because He won’t allow God the Son to have a different role? I hope you can see the foolish blasphemous heresy that such thinking represents!

Some might argue, “I know lots of women who know more Scripture and are better equipped to deal with people than many pastors. They would make better pastors than most male pastors I know!”
That might really be true. But that simply is not the issue. I’m sure that there are many women who are better equipped, from my perspective,  to perform some of the aspects of pastoring better than many men. But that doesn’t change God’s order. Could Jesus carry out the role of God the Father just as well as the Father? Sure. But it’s unthinkable. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each have their role. Different roles have nothing to do with equality. (A concept that, for some reason, many find difficult to grasp or accept.)

Also, it is important to find God’s balance!  God doesn’t forbid a woman to share His Truth. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos together (Acts 18:24-26). Philip had daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9). In the Old Testament, Deborah was chosen by God to deliver His instructions to Israel (Judges 4 and 5). Women pray and prophesy in the New Testament Church (1 Corinthians 11:5). The passage in 1 Corinthians 14:29-35, where women are told to “keep silent” is probably a reference to speaking out in judgment of those who are prophesying (read the context)–once again alluding to the authority issue.

Some might say, “Well, it still doesn’t seem fair to me. Why would God not allow women to be pastors?”

God has His own reasons for decisions He has made. But He certainly indicates that He chose to make men and women to be very different so that they could work together in wonderful spiritual harmony… each carrying out his/her role.

Just to pick one example, God seems to have given most men a kind of instinct to protect, and most women a kind of instinct to nuture.

If churches were carrying out their responsibilities in a Biblical way, pastors would be busily exposing, confronting and driving out wolves from among the flock as well as teaching God’s Truth. They would be dealing, one-on-one, very directly with members who are engaged in flagrant sin or heresy. They would be aggressively protecting the sheep from sin and Satan and deception and Satan’s henchmen. They would also be teaching younger men to use those same aggressive protective instincts to protect their own families and other families in the church as well. This kind of protective leadership takes great energy and grit. It seems that  God just chose to make men with an instinct to carry out those responsibilities to protect others with a kind of  godly aggression and passion.
Meanwhile, in a healthy church, women would be using their nuturing skills to help children (their own children and the children of others too) to understand Biblical principles when they are at their most teachable moments. They would also be helping other women learn how to relate to their husbands in a Biblical way and to encourage their husbands to be strong spiritual leaders at home and at church and in the world (Titus 2:3-5).

Men and women, working together and carrying out their God-given roles can make a church (or a marriage!) powerful and exciting, bring great Glory to God, and demonstrate to a watching world that God’s ways are awesome.

Perhaps you disagree with me on this issue. So, if we disagree about this issue does that mean that I question your salvation? Of course not. Our understanding of the roles of men and women in the church is not a salvation issue.

But it’s good for Christians to discuss these things. The health of the church and the home is at stake.
And when Christians do disagree about controversial issues and still love one another and still keep a humble and teachable spirit, onlookers can learn something about the Spirit of Christ Who lives in us!

Stay in the battle!

Steve Hall

P.S. I always ask my wife, Vickie, to proof these posts before I send notifications. She just read it and sent me the following text message: “That post is far and above excellent!!! If you are so inclined you may add a sentence indicating my TOTAL agreement!”

I just thought you might appreciate one very wise woman’s perspective!