by Matt Slick
Opinions will vary when it comes to answering the question of whether or not we should leave a church if it allows women to preach and teach from the pulpit. So, I can only give you my opinion. I would quickly leave my church if it started to have women preach from the pulpit.
I would leave because I would no longer be able to trust the leaders of the church to interpret the word of God properly. For me it is simple. It would not matter how many friendships I had developed in the church. It would not matter if I was being used in the church; and, it would not matter that people might look down on me for leaving. But that's what I would do because I would be afraid that the door to liberalism had been opened.
Is this an overreaction? Not at all. We must remain faithful to Scripture, and this requires that we act. If I believe that women are not to teach and exercise authority in the Church and that the pastorate is reserved for elders who are husbands of one wife, then how could I in good conscience sit under the teaching of those who would contradict such clear Scripture? I could not. Could you?
Let's look at what the Bible says.
- 1 Tim. 2:12-14, "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. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression."
- 1 Tim. 5:17, "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching."
- Titus 1:5-9, "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."
We can see that Paul did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over a man; elders preached, and they were to be the husband of one wife. This is what it says, so shouldn't we believe it?
Husband of one wife
The term "husband of one wife" needs to be examined. Literally, the Greek says "a man of one woman." Does this mean that if a man is not married, then he is not qualified to be an elder? The historical context of Paul's writing was that people got married very early. Marriage was a natural and normal condition of life, and it was assumed that people were married by an early age--often in their mid to late teens. Also, polygamy was a common practice then. It is in this context that Paul is speaking, and he says that the elders are to be the husband of one wife. Why? Because Adam had one wife, Eve. That is the pattern that God set up, and that is the pattern that needs to be followed.
So, what happens if an elder's wife dies? Is he suddenly disqualified from being an elder? It would not seem so. Instead, what Paul is getting at is that the elder, who is naturally assumed to be male, is to be the husband of one wife. That is, he's not to be a polygamist.
But, some will say that since it is okay for an elder to be single, then the literal requirement of being a husband of one wife is not an absolute requirement. But, as is stated above, the context is dealing with the plurality of wives issue, and the natural requirement is monogamy. Furthermore, the text of Titus 1:5-9, which continues on the requirements of being an elder, also says he is to not be self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not argumentative, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, etc. If the elder isn't to be monogamous, then is he also dismissed from these requirements as well? Of course not.
We Christians must take the Word of God seriously. Sometimes doing this means that we have to act in a manner contrary to what others may believe. So be it. Since I have examined this topic very thoroughly, I am convinced that the office of elders/pastor is for men only, the Scriptures clearly teach this, and that those who would contradict it could not, in my opinion, be trusted to interpret other areas of Scripture. Therefore, I would leave the church if it began to have women pastors.