What does the Bible say about women in leadership roles at church?
Is there Scripture to support a woman in a pastoral role? If not, is the Bible sexist or discriminatory?
Women are the biggest blessing and God’s greatest gift to the world.
Our modern culture is very sensitive to the inequality and suffrage that women have dealt with in recent history.
As a result, it naturally seems like a statement of male dominance, sexism, or discrimination for me to say that…
The Bible does NOT support women in a pastor/elder role in the church and therefore they should NOT hold or take on this position of leadership which God clearly intended for men to be responsible for.
Before I share some Scripture that clearly supports this statement, let me preface by saying these three basic things about the equality of men and women in God’s eyes.
- Men and Women are equally loved and equally as valuable in God’s sight. They were created to complement each other perfectly.
- We cannot reject or ignore the differences between what the man’s and woman’s roles and responsibilities are as God designed.
- From the very beginning, God intended a leadership role for man and no matter how much he usurps his responsibility to protect and serve, and no matter how much women are forced to step in and rise to the call, men must take the role of servant leadership as the Bible instructs.
Am I saying that women are not qualified? Ha! Heck no!
Many women interested in positions of leadership are much more suitable and experienced than their male counterparts.
Am I saying that men are better or superior to women when it comes to leading the church? Again… Heck no!
What I am saying is that it doesn’t matter what your opinion is and it certainly doesn’t matter what my opinion is.
All that matters is what the Bible tells us because the Bible is the one true source of knowledge and instruction for our lives.
So what does the Bible say?
First, God ordained man to a leadership role (notice I didn’t say “dominance” role).
Then God said to the woman, “You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”Genesis 3:16
The clear description of what a male leader in the church should look like is described in 1 Timothy and Titus:
It is a true saying that if a man wants to be a pastor he has a good ambition. For a pastor must be a good man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must have only one wife, and must be hard working and thoughtful, orderly, and full of good deeds. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be a good Bible teacher. He must not be a drinker or quarrelsome, but he must be gentle and kind and not be one who loves money. He must have a well-behaved family, with children who obey quickly and quietly. For if a man can’t make his own little family behave, how can he help the whole church?1 Timothy 3:1-7
And the Scripture in Titus continues to emphasize the requirement for male leadership in the church by saying…
The men you choose…. These pastors must be men….Titus 1:6-9
Do you think that I am cherry picking the verses that command men to be pastors while leaving out the ones that support women in this role?
If that’s what you think, then where are the God-breathed instructions regarding the list of character traits that a woman should have in order to lead the church?
There are none because God gave men the responsibility of leading, shepherding, and dying for the church.
Think about Christ coming to the world as a man; as the Son of God.
The role of men and women in our society today has become so distorted.
I love my wife and women are the biggest blessing God could ever provide.
A man should complement his wife perfectly in every way, but that does not mean he should submit to her. He must lead her. And he must not dominate over her. (Read more about male headship in marriage.)
Likewise, a woman must submit to her husband. Not as a slave, but rather, as a wise counsel. Wives should show concern for their husbands if they are leading in a way that is not biblical, but unless her husband is asking her to sin, she must submit. (Read more about a wife’s Biblical submission.)
This might sound harsh by today’s culture, but keep in mind, a husband bears the burden of his leadership. It is, and always should be, an attitude of serving, not domineering.
And so God instructs the same for women in the church:
Women should listen and learn quietly and humbly. I never let women teach men or lord it over them. Let them be silent in your church meetings. Why? Because God made Adam first, and afterwards he made Eve.1 Timothy 2:11-13