Bible Question:

I like this site except for one issue. It is your teaching about women in leadership. If you people are really open for the Spirit of the Lord and His teaching, please read the book “Why Not Women?” I have a question for you: How come Jesus uses so many anointed women to teach men, women, and children?

Bible Answer:

The role of women in the church has been outlined for us in the Word of God. The role of women in the church is not one that is defined by our culture, our experience, our preference, or anyone else. In order to understand the Bible, we must be diligent in our study of it. The study of God’s Word does not end with just a casual reading of a passage(s) and then drawing an opinion. Some years ago, someone was very upset that this site said that homosexuality was a sin and implied that we needed to change what we taught on the subject. We responded by giving them several examples from scripture (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10) that clearly teach homosexuality is a sin, and then asked what they thought the scripture said. They never responded. Our point was simple. This site is not about a philosophy, a political opinion, or someone’s viewpoint. Our goal is to say what God says and that is all. From time-to-time, we will make an error because we are not inspired. The way to avoid error starts with the serious study of the sacred scriptures. There is a study at this site which provides some starting guidelines for interpreting scripture. It is called “How To Study The Bible.” We would encourage you to review the principles.

Influence of Culture

Two of the major problems that exist in interpreting the Bible are the influence of culture and our preferences. Culture is a bias that tremendously influences our perception of the meaning of biblical passages. Our culture influences the viewpoints of everyone, including the teachers, elders and pastors of the church. Consequently, some people deliberately “understand the Bible” in a way that makes it conform to their cultural perspective. Others are influenced without realizing it by the culture in which they live. Because of the influence of our culture, we often unintentionally understand scripture according to modern views and trends. One of the ways to avoid committing this error is to compare our understanding of scripture to the views of those who have lived in another period of time – in another culture and place. Obviously, their views might have been influenced by their culture too, but if we look at the views of men such as John Chrysostom (A.D. 300s), Martin Luther (A.D. 1500s), Matthew Poole (A.D. 1600s), Matthew Henry (A.D. 1700s), Albert Barnes (A.D. 1800s), John Calvin (A.D. 1800s), and Charles Spurgeon (A.D. 1800s), we can look for a common interpretation of scripture and hopefully avoid the influence of cultures. Any other approach says I want to prove my own opinion. If we are honest, our cultural biases are exposed when we compare our views to the views of men such as these ancient fathers of the faith.

Women In The Church

The role of women in the church is defined by our loving God in scripture. God says that women can be involved in any area of ministry within the church, except being an elder in the church, serving as a pastor (the teaching elder) of a church, or teaching spiritual matters to adult men. The historic position of the church regarding the role of women in the church from the time of the apostles to the present has not changed until in recent times – the last 50 years. Almost everyone knows that the role of women has been a major issue in the United States and in other countries during this period. This should give us caution about entering into this new viewpoint. The great saints of the reformation period such as Calvin and Luther do not agree with the modern teaching that says women can be elders and can teach adult men. These men were committed to the teaching of scripture too! It should not be a surprise that some are finding this “new found truth” in the scriptures. This is not unusual. Even in the times of the apostles false teaching was occurring. It is common to discover that people do not like the teaching of scripture when it conflicts with their culture.

Anointed Women

You ask, “Why does God use anointed women?” The answer is that God has always used anointed women in ministry. First, it is important to understand that every Christian is anointed according to 1 John 2:20.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (NIV) 1 John 2:20

Note, that all of us are anointed by the Holy Spirit. There are also some women whom God has used and still does use in a powerful way. But any such examples do not mean that we should violate God’s standard. There have been women who functioned as prophetesses to communicate His Word and evangelize others. God used Sapphira in a mighty way in Acts 18 to help a man know about God. Women can be used greatly of the Lord. But scripture is clear that a woman is not to be an elder in the church, or regularly teach adult men.

Conclusion:

The message of the book – “Why Not Women?” – that you recommend teaches that women can be pastors and can teach adult males. It is a product of our culture. God established the role of women in the church and the church at large has been in agreement since the time of the apostles. Women have ministered in the church down through history in every area, except as an elder, pastor, or as a teacher when adult males are present. We should ask, “Why has this new found teaching regarding the role of women in the church appeared at the same time our culture is pushing this viewpoint?” May I suggest that you read the book “Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” by Andreas J. Kostenberger, Thomas R. Schreiner, H. Scott Baldwin. It is published by Baker Books, ISBN: 0801020204. It is probably the definitive, scholarly critique of the viewpoint presented in “Why Not Women?”