There was a dog breeder and trainer who had become internationally famous for his expertise in breeding and training dogs to fulfill specific “callings” in life. Some were bred and trained to be aggressive watchdogs, some to herd sheep, some to be “seeing eye” dogs for the blind, and some to be loving playful, cuddly puppies ideal for children.
Probably one of the reasons for the dog breeder’s success was his great love for each and every dog he handled. He gave each one the same tender care, whether it was to be a future watchdog or a child’s house pet. He truly valued all of them equally, although each would have different “callings” in life.
One dog will maintain a vigilant guard in the yard of some future owner’s property. One will spend most of its life in the pastures of some farmer. Another will literally be a form of “lifeline” for the blind. And, one will spend its life in the cozy confines of a warm home and a loving family with adoring children.
Would you fault this dog breeder for what he has done? Would you accuse him of being unfair or biased in how he has dealt with these dogs? Not at all, because each dog was equally loved and cared for; each serves a necessary, valuable and important position in life.
Would it be wise to disobey the breeder’s instructions and give the aggressive watchdog to the small children to play with? Would you use the cuddly puppy as a watchdog? Would you put the “seeing eye” dog in the pasture to herd sheep, while giving the sheepdog to the blind? Of course not!
Why? Because all would agree that the breeder who “created” these specific breeds of dogs, knows best what positions, duties and roles they should fulfill. And, although they have different positions in life, most would probably agree that the breeder in my illustration still loved and valued them equally.
In the twentieth century, an issue of debate and disagreement throughout Christianity arose regarding the role of women in the Church. Some maintained that men and women had been assigned different roles in the Church, with men being designated by God for leadership; while others insisted that this was not true for the New Testament Church for various reasons.
Numerous scriptural references were presented to attempt to prove God’s choice of men for leadership; simultaneously, arguments were offered in an effort to rebut these scriptures. By the close of the twentieth century, these arguments had been accepted and endorsed by the vast majority of the Church. Women are now regularly ordained to serve as elders and pastors in churches across America.
It is my assertion that we need to revisit this issue, and reexamine the biblical evidence. Why? Because, as with so many other doctrines, the Church has adopted its official position on this issue based on weak biblical arguments and the opinions of men. In fact, the weight of biblical evidence strongly contradicts the Church’s stance. And, I ask you not to rush to judgment regarding my position until you’ve heard all of the biblical evidence. Also, men should admit that they have certainly been at fault regarding this issue of the proper roles of men and women. If men were conducting themselves as Scripture teaches, and loving their wives as Jesus loved the Church, women would probably find it much easier to submit to their leadership. Well, what is the biblical evidence, and what are the arguments used to oppose it?
In 1st Timothy 2:11-15 and 1st Corinthians 14:34-38, the Bible states that women are not to teach or to have authority over men, that they are to be submissive, and that they are not to speak in church (That is, in a “teaching, instructive capacity”, based upon the context of the verses that precede Paul’s counsel in 1st Corinthians 14). Scripture also declares that man is the head of woman even as Christ is the head of man; moreover, wives are to submit and be subject to their husbands in everything as the Church is to Christ (1st Corinthians 11:3-10; Ephesians 5:22-24).
These texts seem to clearly teach that God assigned leadership to man. What arguments were presented which prevailed over this seemingly clear biblical counsel?
There have been several primary arguments used. First, they remind us that the New Testament teaches that we are all one in Christ, and that there is no differentiation between male or female (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, the point is made that men and women are equal in the New Testament. It is also emphasized that the Bible says we are to submit to “one another” (Ephesians 5:21).
Some also suggest that the submission of women pertains only to their husbands at home, and not to public or church life. Additionally, they remind us that there are records of women prophets in the Bible, which they say reflects equal leadership status with men from God’s perspective.
Another common argument is that the apostle Paul’s instructions concerning the submission of women were based upon the customs of the times. In other words, his counsel only applied to Christians living in his day, because it was motivated by cultural reasons rather than biblical reasons. And, accordingly, they remind us that this is the twenty-first century, and times and customs have changed.
There you have it. These are the arguments which the Church has chosen to accept and endorse; that is, allowed to prevail over the scriptures listed earlier. Do you agree with the Church’s decision, based solely upon the Bible? How do these arguments measure up scripturally?
Unfortunately for the Church, their stance on this issue reveals some very troubling things. Scripture has been twisted and manipulated in order to support their final decision. Plain Bible truth has been completely ignored and contradicted. And, once again, man’s opinions have been exalted above God’s Word!
It’s time to unveil the manipulation and deception employed by many in church leadership regarding this issue. We’ll begin with the text used in Galatians 3:28, which says there is no differentiation between male and female. Church leaders know that the context in Galatians is dealing with how we receive justification, righteousness and salvation. It has nothing to do with particular “roles” or “callings” in life from God. Galatians is simply stressing that we are all justified and saved in the same way through faith in Jesus Christ, whether we are Jew or Gentile, male or female, etc. To attempt to use this scripture to contradict the earlier texts from Ephesians, Timothy and Corinthians, is flagrant manipulation of God’s Word. After all, the Apostle Paul is the author of all of these Bible books. He does not write one thing to the Ephesians and Corinthians, and then write something completely opposite to the Galatians. Modern theologians should not attempt to make Paul contradict himself, in order to justify their unbiblical positions.
Regarding the argument that men and women are equal, it is important to distinguish between being “equal” and being the “same” or “identical” in every respect. Men and women are of equal value and importance to God. He equally loves and cares for both. However, it is obvious that they are not completely the same or identical in every respect. Women can bear children, but men can’t. Women can produce milk to feed their babies, but men can’t. Women, for the most part, are naturally more gentle and nurturing than men. On the other hand, generally speaking, men are stronger, faster and more aggressive than women; they are more competitive, independent and calculating. According to the Bible, men and women are “equal”, but they are not the “same”; that is, they are equally important and loved by God, but their roles and callings are not identical.
It is also indisputable that, by God’s design, they have been created with at least somewhat different callings in life. The woman has been created and called to bear and nurse the children. The man has been created and called to protect, defend and provide for his family.
As with my opening illustration of the dog breeder, our Creator is sovereign and knows what is best. He has created each of us to fulfill specific roles and “callings” in life, and it is not for us to question Him or try to change His plan. He made us, and He knows where we can best serve Him and accomplish His purposes. God can love and value men and women equally, while still calling them to different positions in life.
The argument taken from Ephesians 5:21, which says that we should be submitting to one another, is another classic example of twisting scripture. Once again, the context of the passage is ignored. Verse twenty-one is the end of a long sentence, which began in verse eighteen. It is part of Paul’s counsel to the church members in general, to be filled with the Spirit, to speak and sing to each other with psalms and spiritual songs, to give thanks for all things, and to have an attitude of submission to one another. Verse twenty-one is not dealing with the issue of submission between a man and his wife. The husband and wife scenario first begins in verse twenty-two. In fact, when Paul addresses this situation in Ephesians 5:22-24, it is in obvious contrast to the Church’s position today. Paul states that the wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord. He says the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church; and that wives should be subject to their husbands in everything, as the Church is to Christ. You will find no such verse in the entire Bible instructing the man to submit to the woman in any such manner. The Church’s misuse of this passage in Ephesians is a gross manipulation and misrepresentation of Scripture.
The preceding text also refutes the fourth argument used by today’s Church, that the woman’s submission and subjection is only in the home setting, and does not apply to public or church life. This passage plainly states that the woman is to submit in everything, as the Church does to Christ. Everything means everything, and not just some things. That would include church life! Also, her submission is compared to the Church’s submission to Christ. Is there ever a time, place or situation where the Church should not be submissive to Christ? Obviously not! The Church should always be in submission to Christ, thus indicating that the woman should likewise always be in submission to her husband. Paul’s additional counsel to the Corinthians, that women were to be obedient and silent in the churches, is added proof that their submission was not limited to the home setting (1st Corinthians 14:34-38). Furthermore, the Bible states that these admonitions are the commandments of the Lord, not mere human opinion (1st Corinthians 15:37). Contemporary church leaders are defying the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ with their current conduct regarding this issue.
Perhaps the most popular argument is the fifth one, that Paul’s instructions were motivated by the customs of those times, rather than by biblical principles. This argument, as with the others, is totally invalid. This argument blatantly contradicts the Bible. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he gave his own reasons why women were not to teach or have authority over men; it had nothing to do with the customs in that culture. Paul cited biblical reasons. He said that it was because Adam was created before Eve; moreover, that the woman was the one who was first deceived and fell into transgression (1st Timothy 2:11-15). These are clear biblical reasons, and not customs or cultural reasons!
The argument regarding God’s use of women prophets in the Bible, actually has nothing to do with this issue. Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit listed in the Bible. Women and men can both receive gifts of the Spirit. Also, Paul is the one who wrote about these gifts in Corinthians, so he obviously was aware of God’s usage of women prophets when he instructed the women to be in submission and not to have authority over men. Paul clearly did not consider it to be a contradiction for women to have access to the gift of prophecy while submitting to the leadership and authority of men at the same time.
The final argument, that this is the twenty-first century and times have changed, is the weakest of all. We should not point to this day and age as a time of spiritual enlightenment and growth, but rather of spiritual and moral decline and decay! Our churches in America are spiritually dead and steeped in sin. They are ordaining “practicing homosexuals” and performing gay civil unions. Church surveys done by the “Barna Group” reveal that sinful behaviors in the American Church rival those among non-Christians. The Church divorce rate equals that in our secular society. Our nation has murdered more than forty-million babies. This is the twenty-first century indeed, and it is nothing to boast about. The Church would be wise to drop this argument. These are not the days of progress, but of compromise and rebellion.
In fact, it would be appropriate for the Church to ask itself why this change, regarding the role of women in the church, did not happen until this time of general spiritual decline in the twentieth century. Why did this so-called “progress” happen in the sinful Church of our day, and not in the anointed, first-century Church or the powerful, reformation Church?
If it was God’s will for the New Testament Church to have leadership roles filled by both men and women, why did Jesus only choose men as His apostles? Why didn’t the disciples even consider a woman when they chose a replacement for Judas in Acts, chapter one? Also, why was it only men who were ordained as “deacons” in the sixth chapter of Acts? And, why is there not one single reference to a woman apostle or elder in the entire New Testament? Moreover, when Paul listed the qualifications for being an elder, why did he just assume it would be a man, by saying he must be the “husband” of one wife?
The indisputable, biblical truth is that there is no New Testament precedent or authority given for what the Church has done. All that we have is a list of excuses that contradict Scripture. God loves and values men and women equally, but He is the potter, and we are the clay. He determines how and where the vessels He has created, can best serve Him. I call the Church to repentance and reformation. God’s way is the best way, and He has shown us His way in the Bible. As the disciples of Jesus responded to the compromising and wayward church leaders of their day, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).