I was an attendee of a recent Beth Moore broadcast entitled “So Long, Insecurity.” Beth Moore is a gifted and inspired speaker. I have never heard a women preach like she does.
Many conservative churches would prefer not to call it preaching, or admit the fact that she has been pastoring many women around the country. They believe what she is doing is okay because she doesn’t call it preaching, and because her ministry is directed toward women.
I see how God has blessed her ministry. But the whole conference, I kept thinking, “I wish my husband were hearing this! I wish every man I knew was here!” Only five men attended, ostensibly to run the sound booth, hiding in the corners and pretending like men don’t suffer from insecurity. I wish more men were secure enough to come and listen.
There are several confusing Bible passages about woman’s roles in the church.
For this post, I only want to call attention to some very bad arguments against women in pastor and elder roles in this book:
"50 Crucial Questions: An overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood" by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. This is a condensed version of their book, "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." (I’ve only read the short version… more than enough for me.)
Piper and Grudem argue that men bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership, although no Bible verse specifically ordains this.
I found their arguments weakest when they say, “We believe this is true, all the time, EXCEPT for certain special circumstances…” I believe that allowing special circumstances into a case this bold collapses the argument.
For example, pg 53-54
“[We would not say] that what a woman writes in books and articles cannot be spoken audibly… Neither have we ruled out occasional lectureships and periodic addresses (as distinct from recognized Bible teaching in church) in which woman address men as well as women…
“We use the qualifiers occasional and periodic because the regularity of teaching one group of people is part of what constitutes the difference between official teaching leadership, which is withheld from women in 1 Timothy 2:12 and the unofficial guidance given by Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18:26. We recognize these lectures and addresses could be delivered in a spirit and demeanor that would assault the principle of male leadership…. We also recognize the ambiguities involved in making these distinctions between the kinds of public speaking that are appropriate and inappropriate…”
To summarize: Women can teach God’s word to men, as long as they acknowledge and honor men's leadership. P & G make it clear that they don’t believe women to be less intelligent, less in tune with God, or less capable of teaching… only that it’s not their job. Or you could say, a women can do the same things as a man as long as we don’t admit it. Don’t give her an official title, don’t give her a regular schedule of teaching, don’t honor her with any kind of recognition. She may be the speaker, but her job is still to honor men.
The other good example is page 39-41, about women in missions:
“We do not wish to impede the great cause of world evangelization by quibbling over which of the hundreds of roles might correspond so closely to pastor/elder as to be inappropriate for a woman to fill. It is manifest to us that women are fellow workers in the gospel and should strive side by side with men (Phil. 4:3; Rom. 16:3,12). For the sake of finishing the Great Commission in our day, we are willing to risk some less-than-ideal role assignments.”
To summarize: In a foreign country, if no man is available, a women can do it.
My first thought on reading this was, isn’t American part of our mission field? And then, is God’s calling to foreign countries less than ideal? Does God not provide whatever (or whoever) is needed?
An incredible book which deals with many of P&G arguments is "Men and Women in the Church" by Sarah Sumner. I want to mention two verses she addressed gave me clarity in this topic. (pg 217-220)
It was [God] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)
This verse does not specify gender in any of these roles. Does this verse apply to women?
2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1-2
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [greek “anthropos” means Person] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
The translation here doesn’t startle me. Most English writing falls back on the male gender for pronouns. But does this, (and many, many other instructional passages) only apply to men?
If I were to re-write this passage to fit the perspective of P&G, it would sound like this:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for men in teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, and for women in teaching other women, so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work according to their gender. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give men this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— and that women must have great patience and accept instruction.
But I believe the correct reading is this: "I give YOU this charge." Every believer is called by God to do these things.
Women are called by to their obedience to God (not men) and to serve with their gifts. Whether in a regular official capacity or not, everyone is called to proclaim God’s word.