Should Women be allowed to Preach?

1 Timothy 2:11-12 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

Should a woman be allowed to be a deacon(ess) or an elder in a church?
I would say that it goes against scripture to allow deaconesses or women elders (pastors). While many women out there could clearly teach me a thing or two about God and scripture, that would go against the model of federal headship. Man is the head of the family…

1 Corinthians 11:3 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Why would a woman be allowed to, say, lead a children’s ministry, but not be an administrative pastor of a church?
The key to whether women can teach a children’s ministry is in that they are not teaching men but rather children. These children should still be getting spiritual instruction from their fathers and mothers but are not ready to study on their own. A woman is capable of giving instruction but must submit to God’s authority and instructions.

Titus 2:3-5 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored

Would you let a woman be a guest speaker and give a sermon?
This is more difficult because a woman could be a very valuable guest speaker, but is that acceptable. I guess it depends on the context of the situation; is it topical or is it preaching? Does that even matter? I would be uncomfortable to have a woman as a guest speaker or giving a sermon during the service but a separate arena may be preferable – a special “class” or speaking opportunity for example. I have to admit that this is a very slippery slope.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

This section follows discussion about speaking in tongues and prophesy and so it may be limited to that concept but I suspect that it may be addressing the issue at Corinth where women may not have been turning to their husbands for spiritual leadership. They may have been trying to circumvent their roles and seeking instruction from other men (not elders) or were even trying to teach other men. I may have tried to cover too many ideas for one post but I hope it makes sense. I’ll respond to any clarifications you have or to expand on these ideas if needed.

When posting arguments for or against, please quote scripture. You can find online bible translations at Bible Gateway. Please understand that I have the utmost respect for Godly women and have no doubt they are very capable of teaching/preaching in the church. It’s just that I understand the scriptures to be God-breathed and true in their entirety. I also understand the scriptures to say that women are not to teach or preach in the church. It never says can’t or incapable of teaching.

Finally, what does this mean in regards to evangelism? Are women not to evangelize? Are they not to share the gospel? I don’t think this is the case. Maybe the instructions from God only applied to the church environment. This may allow for outside studies, books, seminars, children’s ministry, etc.

12 comments for “Should Women be allowed to Preach?

  1. wannabeadesigirl
    July 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I don’t disagree with you on the issue of female pastors. As a woman, the thought of being the person to stand as a prayer buffer between those things which would cause harm to the congregation is a daunting, discouraging thought.

    I do disagree with you on the subject of female deacons. According to the book of Acts the deacons were chosen to be those who ministered, who became the hands of Christ in the church. They were brought into the picture because Widows were being neglected by their congregations.

    Acts 6:1-2 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing the Grecian Jes among them complained against the hebraic jew because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

    In these verses nowhere does it say that the deacons were meant to preach or teach. In fact the deacons were given the responsibility of taking care of the destitute so that the apostles could continue their service in the body to teach the Gospel.

    Therefore I think that the role of deacon does not have to be gender specific because teaching the church was never the intended role of the deacons, that was the role of the Apostles, and it is women teaching in the church during the church service that Paul disagrees with.

    In fact according to Romans 16:1-2 Paul was all for women being in roles of serving in the church.
    “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant to the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.”

    A deacon has long been considered a servant to the church. In fact that was their original purpose, as noted before in Acts. It was not necessarily to preach the Gospel, just as it is not necessarily the pastors job to feed the hungry, though it is a noble vocation for all considered.

    Throughout the Bible women are portrayed in stories of being pastoral care-givers. It starts in the Garden of Eden, when God makes woman to be mans helper, his Ezer (the Ancient Hebrew word for helper, most commonly used to describe the help given to us by God in our hour of utmost need) Genesis 2:18, continues when Miriam dances before God at the closing of the Red Sea Exodus 15:20-21, when Abigail gives food to David, despite her husbands foolishness 1 Samuel 25:23-31 , when women like Susanna, Joanna, Mary of Magdala, and Salome provided food, lodging, and monetary support for Jesus and his disciples, even going to so far as to provide our Lord with his embalming spices Mark 15:41, and Mark 16:1.

    The Bible is chock full of examples where women are fulfilling the role of deacon (the servant) to the people around them, even though there was no name for them at that time, other than servant.

    I see no problem with women fulfilling the serving role of deacon since Jesus, God himself let women minister to him in ways he would not allow the Apostles.

    Another something I want to point out is your confusion of federal headship with spiritual headship. The federal headship is associated with the family: Husband, Wife, Children, Pets, not the church. It is a family of sorts with the Pastor as the head of a specific flock. He should be male. However, that pastor is just another Apostle as the true head of our spiritual family: God. Jesus obviously did not stop women from helping him, from ministering to him, therefore why should ordinary men ignore the ministry of women?

    Just my few cents worth on the matter. Whether you listen to me or not is yet to be established. You implied that while there are women who could teach you a thing or two about the Bible you still would not listen because a woman is being presumptuous enough to take a stand for her so called “weaker sex”

    This is neither a Biblical, nor holy attitude to take as the Bible is clear on the stance of both men and women placing themselves as servants to each other, not just women to men. I am your sister in Christ, and even though we disagree it is still a Christlike thing for me to consider your words, and for you to consider mine.

    God bless you

  2. Andrew
    August 6, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I also agree on the fact that it’s not biblical to have female pastors or elders in a church, but I do think that female deacons are allowed.

    However, what is your opinion on female evangelists, regularly (as in once a month) giving sermons/preaches.
    This happens to be the case in our church, but those female evangelists do not have a task with authority in our church.
    I think it’s more because of a lack of preachers and – in our case – people who are bilingual.

    A previous post by Hope on your other website, says that an authority is made when preaching “often”.

    So my question is: just preaching, no authority, is that allowed for women?
    Or is preaching already an authority?

  3. August 6, 2008 at 8:37 am

    @ Andrew: First, thanks for commenting and taking the time to read through the comments on the other post. It demonstrates a thoughtful heart and that you are genuinely interested in discussing this issue – not just arguing.

    As to the issue of women deacons, I’m more on the fence these days. As I shared in an email with wannabeadesigirl, it may have more to do with how you define the role of deacon. When I wrote this and to some extent today, our deacons have more spiritual authority than may be typical so I’ll use grace on this issue.

    Now regarding women evangelists who occasionally preach in your church, I would be cautious. Even though you may not say they have authority within your church, your congregation may not know the difference. On the other hand, it may be very clear they are not pastors/shepherds/ministers and the need for bilingual messages is too important to ignore.

    But then shouldn’t your current pastor(s) become bilingual or find/raise up some one who is bilingual to be a pastor in your church. Paul says in 1 cor 9.22 “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Of course few if any of us are as skilled as Paul but if there is a need, it should be filled.

  4. August 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    So, might it be fair to say that we need to return to a biblical view of deacons instead of the corrupted view of deacons often found in churches that don’t have elders? These people function as elders rather than as deacons.
    The Romans 16 passage uses deacon in reference to Pheobe, and Calvin thought she held the office (check his commentary).
    Deacons are not called to rule, but to serve. They would do this under the supervision of the Session, as a wife serves under the authority/responsibility of her husband.

  5. Michael Ellis
    January 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    We have to remember when we read the bible it is a complex book and whenever there is a question there isn’t just one or two scriptures that can answer any question about God’s will. We must look at the bible as a whole. All of the Scriptures that you listed were good. The bible also says in Galations 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Meaning in our faith we are all equal in Christ Jesus there is no distinction.

    • Amy2
      January 28, 2013 at 4:14 am

      The context of the Galatians passage is regarding salvation, as the entire book is Paul addressing believers who wanted to put themselves back under the law for their salvation. It is not referring to men’s and women’s roles in the church, and Scripture is clear on roles even through the role of God the Father and God the Son in the godhead.

    • kalief
      May 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I remember discussing this scripture but we must remember this scripture is addressing a completely different subject not the order of God’s ministry but the purpose of law and how we have been removed from under the law in Christ Jesus by mind renewal Thanks and Good Luck

  6. Everett Cross
    June 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    The commandment that women should not preach comes not from Jesus, but from his apostles. These were men writing during a time of great patriarchal rule and dominance. The question is should we take the whole bible literally or do we address ourselves to the spirit of the bible. The whole pattern of Jesus’teachings is one of righteousness. You do what is right regardless, hence he healed on the sabbath. The pharisees would often obey the 613 commandments they believed were the law of god even when it resulted in someones death. We all know what Jesus thought of the pharasees. Can women preach, yes in the modern sense of the word. As long as they don’t excercise authority over men. Look at the non-cananical book Acts of Paul and Theckla (apocrypha). Theckla was given commandment by Paul to preach. What role may have Satenal (saten) played in the selection of the canon for such parts of the scriptures take away from the true teachings that Jesus was trying to get across. The scriptures in Corinthians cause deviseness, not unity in our teachings

    • Amy2
      January 28, 2013 at 4:30 am

      Women not preaching comes from Christ, as He instructed Paul. Galatians tells us that Paul received his teachings by “divine revelation”. Phoebe was a servant (yes, the word being deacon) but the office of deacon is spelled out in 1 Timothy. I would suggest that a woman cannot “be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Not to mention the other references to “he” in this passage. We cannot use non-canonical books to get what we want. Paul would not contradict Scripture, and since Peter refers to Paul’s writings as Scripture, Scripture does not contradict itself (although sometimes to us it might seem to). There is no admonition not to share the gospel, and that is more humbling (and sanctifying) than wanting a prime seat in the pulpit. Michael is right, we must look at the Bible as a whole, and what does it say in context. The words are clear without any hidden meanings.

  7. December 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    If the women are allow to teach and preach then why Jesus didn’t choose woman or women as His disciple?

    • Abigail
      January 29, 2013 at 1:17 am

      Jesus did have female disciples: Mary, Martha, Salome, Mary Magdalene and Suzanna were all wealthy business women or just women who followed Jesus and provided him and the 12 disciples with monetary gifts, lodging, food, and other necessities for them to continue their ministry.

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