I'm quite out of sync with the visible church on the subject of women in pastoral leadership.
My Bible teachers told me that the reason Paul totally refused to appoint women as pastors or teachers was that in the First Century women were not allowed to learn, attend school or to read and write. That culture kept women in great ignorance. My Bible teacher explained that St. Paul realized that women, in those times, were not equipped to minister. The Bible teacher felt his explanation would help his students not to attempt to put the following verses into practice. I realize that these verses sound very improper to the modern mind. But I have come to believe there is important truth for the Church of Jesus Christ in this passage.
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." [1st Timothy 2:11-14]
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD." [1st Corinthians 14:34-37]
As I look at the Word of God I notice two things. First, if a lack of education was what caused Paul to not allow women to minister as pastors, teachers and leaders over men, then I suppose Peter and John should have been limited, and not allowed to be such influential leaders. Peter was no scholar, at least in the natural. Greek scholars say that his Greek grammar was pretty rough, as compared with other Bible writers. God sure used him in the supernatural, though. And I love Peter's writings in the New Testament. Certainly in Peter's case the anointing of the Holy Ghost made up for any lack of education. And we know that the Pharisees noticed that Peter and John "...were unlearned and ignorant men,..." [See Acts 4:13]
That Scripture in Acts 4:13 blows my professor's argument out the window. Paul couldn't limit women because they were not graduates. Peter and John ministered much and were very "ignorant men," according to the scholars of their day.
Second, the more I look at God's Word I see that the Holy Spirit would not have allowed Paul to place such strong words in Scripture if it was of no importance for all time and all cultures. If my teacher's explanation is correct, then we can effectively say that Paul's comments bring confusion to later generations, and should never have been inspired in the Word. I don't believe God makes mistakes...and that would have been a mistake to allow such confusion to enter the Holy Word of God.
Missionaries tell us that they have found the Bible is truly a trans-cultural book. In other words, the Bible, unlike many other publications, can be understood by many cultures and backgrounds. Many other books have material that only communicates well in a few languages and cultures.
The students of Hermeneutics will tell you that we must not take Saint Paul too literally when he speaks about women in ministry. We need to remember that Paul was writing to a different people, a different culture and a different time. Hermeneutics tells us that we must move on to other Scriptures and not pay much attention to Paul's admonition to Timothy concerning women in ministry.
I don't believe that we truly need Hermeneutics (the modern man-made science of interpretation) in order to comprehend the Scriptures. I believe we totally need the Holy Spirit in order to comprehend the Word of God. Perhaps Hermeneutics helps those who cannot hear the Spirit of God speaking?? Those who hear the commentary of the Holy Spirit, as they read the Word of God hear a different message. They hear the Spirit of God saying Paul was totally correct for all times and all cultures! Paul was correct because he wasn't writing his opinions as much as he was writing what the Holy Spirit inspired.
Those who hear the Spirit of God have no need for the crude, over-complicated, untrustworthy, dreamed up "thing-a-ma-jig" called Hermeneutics! Why should God's people handicap themselves with a tool that is not God certified, not God ordained, and not God sanctioned??! The Bible was inspired such that even a third world person in a thatched hut, with the aid of the Holy Ghost, can comprehend the messages in the Scriptures. Hermeneutics is the scholar's crutch! We need to remember that Hermeneutics was first developed to interpret philosophical writings, not the Holy Scriptures. Even it's name, "Hermeneutics" is a "warning" to believers! It is named for the PAGAN Greek god of heraldry, Hermes. This alone should be enough to caution the people of God to avoid Hermeneutics!
Setting aside the arguments of Hermeneutics, what about the straight forward and very stern words of Saint Paul in 1st Corinthians 14:37?? In that verse Paul underlines that what he has said about women and other subjects in that letter to the Corinthians are "...the commandments of the Lord."
I believe Paul would have been directed to add further explanations to the above Scriptures if the culture of his day were the reason for what he did. If my professor was correct, then truly Paul's sayings on women and ministry have messed up later generations of believers. Nevertheless the church HAS, through the ages, been messed up on this subject!!!. There are several reasons for this "mess up."
Saint Paul makes a very strong statement in verse 37, directly following his statement about women! How can we ignore this?? We are ignoring it today because tradition and "political correctness" have become more important than the Word of God!! Where the two diverge we tend to follow tradition. There is a 150 year tradition of women ministering and speaking in the churches. Churches, generally, have no heart to come against a long tradition, no matter what Paul tells us. That sounds like insubordination to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to me!
The church has, through the ages, NOT often been receptive to the aid of the Holy Spirit concerning these passages. The church has at times mistakenly used Scripture to look down on women, as if they were second class or inferior in ability, quality and value. It has at other times used Scripture to blame women for the fall of mankind. Another reason the church has been messed up by Paul's sayings on women is that the church has at times and in certain cases re-interpreted what Paul was inspired to say about women teaching and leading the church. This is not the Bible's, or God's or even Paul's problem, but it is the church's problem!
Some women who have been pastors, evangelists, teachers and leaders over men have been blessed by God. Such success stories have caused the church to question the simple meaning of what the Word says. One well known lady preacher said, "I'm in ministry because some man rejected God's call." And so God has been forced to use women at times because we men have been out of right relationship with God in some cases. Also, Paul's writings concerning women have messed up the modern church because Paul's sayings are not Politically Correct, and the modern churches have too often compromised with today's cultural pressures.
In these passages of the Word of God the Holy Spirit shows me two
1. God Almighty has arbitrarily appointed the men of this World as the ones that HE holds FIRST responsible and accountable for all family and church activity. Satan, that old serpent, immediately came against God's structure when the serpent refused to approach the "officer of the day, Adam." The serpent has long been in rebellion. The serpent seldom shows respect for God's organization and God's order. The serpent comes against God's plan. The serpent completely bypassed Adam and approached Eve. The serpent's plan was to get Eve to join him in moving against God's flow of leadership and authority.
The Bible indicates that even though the serpent deceived Eve into sampling the forbidden fruit FIRST before Adam ever tasted, God Almighty FIRST approached Adam, seeking a report on what had happened!! [Genesis 3:9]
We can clearly see that Adam was "the appointed officer of the day." Adam was not deceived, nor was he fooled, nor was he tricked. Adam just plain disobeyed God when he ate of the forbidden fruit!
But Eve seemed to have a less than clear understanding of the details concerning the forbidden tree. Perhaps Adam had added his own extra rule that the tree was not to be even touched, something that God apparently did not say.
The man, Adam, was God's arbitrarily chosen Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Adam had been made the "field commander," by God the "Commander and Chief." The fact that the problem began with Eve and the serpent had nothing to do with the direction of the flow of responsibility and accountability that God had arbitrarily set in place. God had chosen which General was FIRST accountable and it wasn't General Eve. It was General Adam!
2. Secondly, Paul's inspired words point to how Eve was beguiled in another way. She looked upon the fruit and chose to eat it without talking it over with Adam. Adam was created first. Adam lived in the Garden of Eden for a period of time prior to Eve's creation. Adam was the one who had heard God's warning, concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He had heard that warning directly from God's lips. Apparently Adam told Eve some information about the forbidden fruit, but she had not heard directly from the lips of God. Her information was second hand. Adam was her link back to God concerning the serpent's statements about the forbidden fruit. But she chose to move unilaterally, without double-checking the serpent's statements with Adam. Adam might have recalled what God said. Adam might have said, "Let's wait and talk this over with the Lord, HE will be coming by this afternoon." But, she tasted the apple first, found it was good eating and went to Adam with her discovery.
Do you catch how craftily Satan moved against the bond of family and marriage?? God created the human family relationship. God holds the patent on family. God had appointed the husband as the person that God would demand accounting from first. Eve owed it to her husband to keep him fully informed so that he could weigh the situation and attempt to bring direction that would be in alignment with his supervisor, God Almighty.
Satan was saying to Eve, "Make your own choice, forget Adam! Forget the order of authority that God has put into place here. Do your own thing! You're about to become a goddess." Eve made the initial decision to taste the fruit, without talking to Adam about it first. Paul hints that this error caused she and her sisters, for all time, to lose more ground to men, such that God re-stipulated, even more directly, that men would bear the primary accountability before God, from then on.
"...thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." [See Genesis 3:16b]
If Eve had delayed eating the fruit and had instead gone to Adam to inform him of what the serpent had stated, and if she had leaned upon Adam for direction as to what response to make to the serpent's suggestions, she might have come out of the incident with no negative effects. If she had submitted to Adam's decision rather than her own she might have escaped all punishment. The Bible story hints that Eve made it worse for herself and for all of her sisters by NOT conferencing with Adam first.
Sadly, through the centuries, men have gleefully looked upon this incident as their chance to be overlords, bosses and slave drivers. But, what this is all about is more a matter of who is going to get "called on the carpet" when a woman fails. God is going to demand of some man or men an explanation for what went wrong before God ever asks the lady involved for her report! Men, this means that you have a weight of accountability greater than women. And so, in a manner of speaking it is women that could have a bit of glee over this circumstance.
Though the church today generally rejects a simple understanding of Paul's inspired words concerning women in pastoral and teaching ministry, the Holy Spirit affirms the straight forward meaning of these holy Scriptures. The Spirit of God says that Paul's inspired words tell us that we dare not make women into pastors, teachers and leaders over men because it goes against God's ordained direction of the flow of accountability, both in the earthly family (the home) and in the Heavenly family (the church). Women may teach other women. They may lead other women. They may lead children and teach children. But they are not to lead or teach adult men!
I believe that this order of accountability and authority are for the family and church. But I do not hear the Holy Spirit saying that this is for the business world. Women may run businesses and supervise men in the work place. But in the home and in the church God has arbitrarily said women are not to be the "officer of the day."
Men who put women into spiritual authority will be held primarily responsible to God for any errors those women make!! The men will be primarily responsible! If Paul had put women in charge, he would have been held accountable for any error they made. It was far wiser to put a man in authority so that a man on the scene would be responsible before God, not Paul in far off lands.
Putting women in charge throws the awesome load of responsibility on to a man or men who may not even be present or aware of what is going on. In the family and in the church a woman only bears secondary responsibility!! For example, a man who father's a child in some illicit contact will stand before God and take responsibility for every single failure, sin, and upheaval that comes upon that woman and her child, even though that man may not even know his promiscuity created a family!!
In the same manner, a man or men who turn a church over to a woman, might be leaving the area to do other things. Nevertheless they will stand before God and take primary responsibility for every single upheaval, failure and difficulty that the woman-led church experiences, even though that man or those men may never return to that place again! Or if men appoint a woman to be a superintendent, overseer or bishop of some area, church or religious realm, it will be those men who must answer FIRST to God Almighty for any wrong things that may occur in that place, not the woman! She will only answer secondarily for her mistakes.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." [Romans 14:12]
God will enforce this directive of HIS, at the very least, when we stand before the Lord in the judgment. Men will be the first to give account for all that has transpired on earth, then, afterwards women will answer to God.
This Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, in First Timothy 2:11-14, is God's message to us that even though Jesus elevated and improved the position of women in a wonderful way, God has NOT changed the direction of the flow of leadership, accountability, responsibility and authority in the family, or HIS Church. The flow of authority and leadership has been forever established in God's eyes!! Men cannot safely change this flow. There will be repercussions of a terrible kind! This flow of accountability and leadership is ALWAYS from God to man to woman AND IS NOT TO VARY! God will enforce that when we all stand before HIM and give an account of our lives! Men will be the first to answer to God for all that has transpired in their families and in the church, irregardless of whether men had set a women in charge or not.
Churches today are acting very unwisely, even outrageously, in the light of God's clear teaching in the Scriptures about how HE has ordered the leadership of the home and HIS church. No matter how modern church leaders set up their churches, God will order how they must account for all that was done. God will not very the order of the flow of authority. And so men, you will report whether you like it or not, no matter what woman was put in charge. Modifying the order of God's church is a stupid and futile activity.
Therefore, I find myself totally at odds with the many churches and denominations today that place women in positions of leadership and authority over men. Women can minister to other women. But they should never teach or lead men. It violates a basic principal set up by Heaven. This principal has nothing to do with women's ability. It is simply a directive that God HIMSELF has put in place, because HE is God and HE can operate the family and HIS church as HE pleases. God holds all the patients, and copyrights to the family and to HIS church. HE is the inventor and owner of them. We dare not overrule HIM!
It really isn't important how great or how long standing current tradition of women in leadership is! The Bible is the authority on the matter. And I don't accept the use of some man-made method of interpretation as a means to modify the simple and straight-forward admonition of God in HIS Holy Word, the Bible.