Can Women Be Pastors?
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Can Women Be Pastors?

Untangling the text in 1 Timothy

Can Women Be Pastors?
Chapel of the Good Shepherd

Have you seen the pastor’s husband? Wait, the pastor’s what?!? How can the pastor be living in sin like that? How can he be married to another man?

Well, actually, *she* is in the kind of marriage that God designed. But is she still leading a sinful lifestyle? Are women allowed to be pastors? The Bible is about as silent on this specific issue as the stars in the sky.

Hold up! You slap your Bible onto the table in front of us. Flipping the pages, you locate some of the only verses that might support a negative answer.

First Timothy 2:11-15 says, “11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

First, let's define “quiet.” Paul is not suggesting that women should wear muzzles, but that we are to calmly (in a tranquil manner) learn about God. Makes sense. Who would want to teach a screaming banshee that can't stay in her seat, even when assisted with duct tape? Sounds like a great rule for everyone.

Alright Paul, I'm with you. We need to calmly learn about God and fully submit to what He teaches us. God wants peaceful and obedient hearts. There are several verses throughout the Bible to support your admonition here. We would be wise to practice verse 11.

Verse 12, it's time to wrestle. Get up here. You do not permit women to teach or have authority over men. Who do you think you are? Well, you are Paul, not God. You are an apostle of God. And while you have written several profound, perplexing, poetic verses that teach us about God, I believe you are simply stating a personal conviction.

Jump back to verse 9 where Paul is encouraging modesty among women. Again, these are wise words that are expressed elsewhere in Scripture. Within this verse, Paul states that women should not adorn braided hairstyles. This is a form of modesty that *he* specifically desires to see among women. Another personal conviction that was relevant to the culture and time period.

Paul's convictions were not without reason. Adam was formed first. There is a natural, God-inspired hierarchy between men and women. God declared it good. Wives are called to submit to husbands. Husbands are called to love their wives like Christ and submit to God. Husbands make the final decision about the best way for their families to submit to God when there is unresolved conflict.

This hierarchy could be complicated if the wife were a public spiritual leader. The husband and wife would have to navigate the difficulties of having two spiritual leaders in one relationship. Additionally, all members of a church are required to submit to their pastor (Hebrews 13:17). It could be wiser for a female pastor to abstain from marriage.

Paul's second reason requires analysis of the original language. Several English translations fail to clearly capture the meaning of verse 14. The serpent approached Eve, not Adam, when he wanted to wreak havoc on God's good creation. Indicated by a passive verb tense, Adam was not the one being actively deceived (apataό).

Paul uses a stronger word (exapataό) to describe Eve's deception. She was thoroughly and completely deceived. “Became a sinner” would be better translated as “has come into transgression.” The literal meaning of transgression is the occurrence of a line or boundary being crossed. Eve was completely deceived and crossed over the boundary that God had set.

It would appear that Paul's concern, then, is that women can be more susceptible to exapataό than men. If a woman considers entering a pastoral role, careful introspection and input from others is required. How gullible is she? What is her level of discernment in detecting truth? Is there a history of being completely and easily deceived?

Paul provides a common sense solution to the whole equation in verse 15. The catalyst of the fall was Eve being deceived to step beyond God's boundary. She led herself and Adam (who should have been the one demonstrating authority) into transgression. Therefore, let women remain in their God-given roles. She will then be safe from repeating Eve's transgression when she serves her role with faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

If a woman desires to be a pastor, she must carefully ponder ways to avoid repeating Eve's transgression. Can she fully and effectively serve God’s sheep while honoring the boundaries that God has given her as a woman? Would it be wiser to flee from temptation and leave the door closed?

Immediately after his discussion on women and teaching, Paul launches into the essential characteristics of a church leader. Being temperate, respectable, self-controlled, above reproach, etc. is of the utmost importance. Anybody who considers the awesome responsibility of being a pastor must *be* these things at the core of their identity.

“Whoever aspires to be a [pastor] desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1) Let them not take the decision lightly. They will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Let them also pay attention to the special ways God may have gifted them for this role (gifts of Spirit). And may they, men and women, honor God's will with their decision.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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