I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. – 1 Timothy 2:12
What seems to be a clear limitation on a woman’s role in the context of the local church is not observed in all churches today. Teaching men and women and exercising authority over men and women are the primary functions of church eldership. It’s a role only men are responsible for according to Paul yet women pastors are commonplace in many denominations. Is Paul that unclear on this issue? Is there, in scripture, a cultural limitation to this prohibition? I would argue no and no and make the case that male headship is taught throughout the bible. I would also add that while it is wrong for women to ignore male headship, men that that do the same commit the greater sin.
I love women pastors. They are my sisters in Christ and children of God. They are wonderfully gifted and well equipped to serve in ministry. They teach theology well, they counsel well, they pray well and they love others with genuine love. Women pastors also provide a level of comfort to other women which men simply cannot provide. The church needs them in ministry. Yet, they do not have to be pastors. Limiting a woman’s role in the church would not limit their gifts or their outreach. Furthermore, limiting a woman’s authority does not limit her value. Limitation does not equal belittlement. After all, we all agree that young children are gifted and precious but very limited in authority.
Authority is a responsibility that God hand’s out to whom he wants. It is not a measure of our self-worth. Using authority to build up our ego is the sin of both male domination and feminism. Raymond Ortlund says:
Ironically, feminism shares the very premise upon which male domination is founded, namely, that my personal significance is measured according to my rung on the ladder, and my opportunity for personal fulfillment enlarges or contracts according to my role.
As feminism grew, the number of women pastors increased. Women pursued the role of pastor in pursuit of gender equality. But their premise is flawed. Your role in leadership and your self-worth are not linked together. That’s not Christianity. Our self-worth is exclusively tied to our relationship to Jesus Christ. God alone defines our worth. God alone defines our roles.
In this series I will look to scripture to show that God defined male and female roles in creation and that Paul uses that fact as the very reason for limiting women’s roles in the church. In the end, you will see that men and women are of equal value but different in their roles and that ultimately teaches us something valuable about God.This is a 7-part series. For a comprehensive study, see Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem