TENET LESSON 5

Church and Women

Women in ministry is an issue upon which some Bible-believing Christians disagree. The point of disagreement centers on the passages of Scripture that forbid women to speak in church or “assume authority over a man”. The disagreement stems from whether those passages were relevant only to the era in which they were written. We hold to the belief that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies today and that the basis for the command is not cultural but universal, being rooted in the order of creation.

First Peter 5:1-4 details the qualifications for an elder. Presbuteros is the Greek word used sixty-six times in the New Testament to indicate a “seasoned male overseer.” It is the masculine form of the word. The feminine form, presbutera, is never used about elders or shepherds. Based on the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, the role of an elder is interchangeable with the bishop/pastor/overseer. And since, per 1 Timothy 2:12, a woman should not “teach or exercise authority over a man,” it seems clear that the position of elders and pastors, who must be equipped to teach, lead the congregation, and oversee their spiritual growth should be reserved for men only.

However, the elder/bishop/pastor appears to be the only office reserved for men only. Women have always played a significant role in the growth of the church. There is no scriptural precedent that forbids women from serving as worship leaders, youth ministers, children’s directors, or other ministries in the local church. The only restriction is that they do not assume the role of spiritual authority over adult men. The concern in Scripture appears to be the issue of spiritual authority rather than function. Therefore, any role that does not bestow such spiritual authority over adult men is permissible.

1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12-14; 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4

We believe that both men and women are needed and necessary for the health and ministry of the church. Godly men and women should be visible partners in the life of the church, deploying their gifts for the good of the body. Simply put, all Christians contribute to the ministry of the church.

We deny that the church can flourish without a brotherly/sisterly partnership. We deny that a church can exist in which the men flourish, and the women do not, or vice versa. Both men and women bring value to the church and the church will suffer without people of both genders filling their roles.

We affirm that the role/function of elders is reserved for qualified men. Elders are distinctly responsible for overseeing the church (1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-2) and preaching the Word (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9). This is not a cultural situation or a case of masculine domination. This is a scriptural standard.

We deny that the role of elders being withheld from women diminishes their importance or their influence in the church. The indispensable help women were created to give can and should be exercised in all manner of roles/offices in the church, excepting those reserved for qualified men. God designed the roles that He wanted men to fill and those that He wanted women to fill. Churches are stronger when people step into the roles that God has designed them for.

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