Why this section on women in ministry?

by Matt Slick

woman and bibleWhy would CARM produce a section on women in ministry?  The reason is twofold: first, the pressure of society is forcing error into the church, and women elders and pastors is one such error.  Second, women are undervalued and underappreciated in the church, and they need to be encouraged and
supported--biblically.

Since CARM's position is one of fidelity to the Scriptures, it holds to the complementarian position--that God gifts and calls men and women differently in the church.  This means that women are not supposed to be pastors and elders (for example, elders are to be the husband of one wife, Titus 1:5-6, etc.).  Though this position is losing ground in the American culture of equality, the question remains, is this the biblical position, or is it a hold-over from ancient, patriarchal, chauvinism?  The answer is crucial for a several reasons.

  • Error begets more error.
  • The teaching of scripture is at stake
  • The health of the church is at stake.

Christians should not care what society says when it opposes God's Word.  We should care what God has said and seek to teach and defend it.  We must fully admit that we may be wrong in various areas of biblical understanding, but we must honestly seek to accomplish what the word of God teaches and not subject it to personal feelings or social pressure.  To do so, even if well-intentioned, is to step towards apostasy.  By God's grace, we will stand on the truth of the word even if it were to mean that we are in opposition to the whole world.

Error begets more error

It should go without saying that humankind has a tendency to move away from the truth of God.  One of the reasons God gave us the Bible was that we might have a guideline by which to judge truth and error--right and wrong.  Right from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden God's commands were violated.  This error has lead to countless others.  It is the nature of mankind to resist God's truth.  This is why we need to be as careful as we can about Scriptural revelation.  This issue of women ministers and elders must be looked at carefully and critically without allowing secularism to impose its values upon scripture.  If the church, no matter how well-intended, begins to adapt scripture to cultural norms, then it subjects Scripture to that culture. When that happens, it is only a matter of time before apostasy slips into the congregation.  Jesus said, "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The teaching of scripture is at stake

As error begets error, so error undermines the authority of Scripture.  If it is true that the Scriptures teach that elders/pastors are to be the husband of one wife (Titus 1:6) and that in the pastoral epistles every use of the term "elder" in the Greek language is in the masculine, then to contradict it is to contradict the plain teaching of Scripture.  Once that is done, other errors have a way of creeping in as well.  In the article Denominations, their view of women ordination and other doctrines, you can see how different kinds of theological errors come in clusters.  We see that it is very common for a denomination that holds to women pastors to also support "abortion rights" and homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle.  Why?  Because when you don't hold to the actual teaching of scripture, you undermine its authority.  When that is done, other liberal ideas creep in.  Still, it is not a universal norm that if a denomination holds to one, that it will hold to the other; but it is interesting to note how the issues seem to be related.

There are different kinds of cluster errors.  Mormonism denies the reliability of the Bible.  It teaches that God came from another planet, and that Mormons can become gods.  It denies justification by faith and also denies the Trinity.  Jehovah's Witnesses also deny the Trinity and deny that Jesus Christ is God in flesh--because they have a false god and Christ is a false gospel and teaches that salvation is by good works . . . as does Mormonism.

Liberals seem to believe that abortion, homosexuality, and women pastors are all okay.

The health of the church is at stake

There is a lot of evidence that the Christian church is being feminized.  One such excellent book that discusses the issue is "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow.  In it, the author cites statistics of an increasing gender gap among US churches (it seems to be worldwide, as well).  61% of Church attendees are women (p. 53).  Mr. Murrow knows of no "Christian sect or denomination in America that attracts more men than women," (p. 54).  Let me summarize the gist of the book.  It says that men follow leaders and not programs, that men need challenges, and that they like to take risks, build, accomplish, etc. When Churches and/or denominations are young, challenges and risks are high.  Men flock to this kind of environment; but when the churches and/or denominations become established, the challenges are fewer; and the nurturing aspect of church takes over--which is geared more towards women. Men then tend to become less interested and leave the church.  When men leave, the strength of the church leaves as well.

Whether or not you agree with the basic premise of the book, Mr. Murrow does seem to produce a lot of statistics and evidence to support his position.  We need to ask what would happen if more women became ministers and leaders in the church.  The conclusion seems to be that fewer men will be interested in attending, and the church will become even more feminized.

Why so much 'maleness' in the Bible?

God the Father is referred to in the masculine.  Jesus was a man and still is (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5).  The Holy Spirit is referred to as "he" (John 14:17).  The archangels Michael and Gabriel are referred to in the masculine as is Satan.  Adam was given dominion and the charge to cultivate and keep the Garden whereas Eve was not. Noah was used by God to save a remnant of people. God called Abraham out of the Ur of the Chaldees.  God commissioned Moses to lead his people, and then he called Joshua to lead them.  Isaac was a type of Christ and ancestor of Jesus.  God anointed David to be King and through him to produce the Messiah.  Then there are the prophets Isaiah, Daniel, Hezekiah, et. al., mighty men of God.  In the New Testament we have John the Baptist, Peter, John, and Paul--all men of God--anointed and used of the Lord.  In fact, all of the 12 disciples were men.

Of course, we cannot forget the women.  Eve was the first woman and the source of humanity via her womb. Ruth, the Moabitess, became an ancestor of King David. Esther risked her life to save the Jews. Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, bore Jacob and Esau.  Elizabeth bore John the Baptist. Mary gave birth to the Messiah.  Women are important, but God's major actions--major leaders--are men.

Why didn't Jesus call any women to be among the 12 disciples?  Why only men?  Why did God become flesh in the form of a man and not a woman?  Why did God use people like Noah, Moses, Abraham, and David to accomplish his magnificent will during Old Testament times?

If the maleness in the Bible is nothing more than a reflection of patriarchal social structures, then we could throw away the inspiration of Scripture since we would be saying that patriarchal patterns in the Bible are due to society and not God who works all things after the Council of his will (Eph. 1:11).

Or, perhaps it is coincidental that God worked through the sinful conditions of this world where oppressive men happened to dominate culture.  Again, if that is so, doesn't God have the ability to work with women and through women in spite of the men being dominant?  Of course he does, yet he chose men.  Why?

An opinion

I've thought about this for a while and want to offer an opinion.  I'm probably wrong, but that hasn't stopped me from offering it before so here goes.

Whenever I have a theologically difficult issue, I like to put Jesus in the middle of it and see what happens.  In this case, I suspect the "maleness" of the Bible has to do with the cross.  Let me explain.

There is a relationship between Adam and Jesus.  Jesus is called the last Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45, "So also it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living soul.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." Also, 1 Cor. 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." As Adam represented mankind in The Fall, Jesus represented us on the cross.  I suspect that the only reason Adam was able to represent us is that Christ represented us.  Each was a representative head: Adam of his people and Jesus of his.  When we look at the cross, we see the necessity of representation because without it, we cannot be saved.  Jesus had to die in our place.  He represented us and took our punishment for breaking the law (Isaiah 53:4-5).  To do this, he had to be human.  Since there are only two sexes to choose from, the male was chosen by God to be the representative.

Now, if we reject Jesus' representation of us, then we should be consistent and also reject the representation of Adam for us as well.  But since Jesus was male, the theme of a male representative in the last Adam would reflect in the first Adam.  Remember, they are related thematically as 1 Cor. 15:22 and 45 demonstrate.  Since Adam was the first representative, then the pattern of male representation was established . . . but this was because Jesus was the "true" representative in God's redemptive plan.  This is why we have Adam, a man, representing mankind . . . because Jesus is a man, who represented Christians; and this is why God seems to work predominantly with males.

However we view it, the fact is male domination in the Bible is clearly visible--for both good and bad.

It should go without saying that humankind has a tendency to move away from the truth of God.  One of the reasons God gave us the Bible was so that we might have a guideline by which to judge truth and error, right and wrong.  Right from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden God's commands were violated.  This error has lead to countless others.  It is the nature of mankind to resist God's truth.  This is why we need to be as careful as we can about Scriptural revelation.  This issue of women ministers and elders must be looked at carefully and critically without allowing secularism to impose its values upon scripture.  If such a call is heeded, then it takes dominance over Scripture.  If that happens, it is only a matter of time before apostasy comes.  "When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

 

 

 

 
 
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