Why Women Shouldn't Be Pastors

(And also what God's Word says about gender roles. Reading time estimate: 8-9 minutes)

"Sounds like discrimination. Give me one, good reason..."

God's Word requires male pastors. Women are fully-capable of leading and doing about any other job men do. Outside a rare few (celibate), most men also need women partnered with them to accomplish God's will for their lives. Men and women were created to walk side-by-side together with God. Anyone talking like women are inferior, have less value, or whatever aren't quoting the Bible. They're opposing it. That kind of awful thinking causes actual discrimination that's hurt entire countries worth of women. God's Word opposes oppression and injustice. So, why should we not allow women to be pastors or otherwise exercise authority over men?

God's Word says He made men and women differently. He gave them different, gender roles that He commanded them to stick with. Let's do a quick survey of His Word to see what it says about that.

What the Bible Says

Let's look first at how God creates us. In Gen. 2:18-25, Adam's job was to bear God's image, live with Him (the best company), work easy jobs, get free food, and avoid one tree. All in Paradise with nothing that can harm him. God knew some human company was best for Him. In v20, God said he needed a helper, a partner. God made one. In v23, the word woman meant she came from man. The word itself suggested the base design is they're meant for each other, not independent. In v24, the man must "hold fast to" his wife over even his own family. God created a companion who'd be a great help to him that he is supposed to love and be inseparable from above all others. In v25, they were naked but not ashamed. Unlike me, they were both supermodels overflowing with self-confidence as they walked around in public like that. Just kidding: drop v25 and we move onto the next section.

We see God assigning leadership, both power and accountability, to men early here. God tells Satan a human offspring, Jesus, is coming who will stomp on him. A woman will give birth to that person. Due to Adam, men would labor in the fields. God would make that miserable for them. Due to Eve misleading him, women would experience labor pain, would be tempted to lead/control the men, and would instead submit to male leaders. Kind of implies Eve was in charge before but we'll leave Adam alone for now. Eve is assigned the role of mother and primary care-taker of all living beings. All the women after her would have that or a similar role.

We see two, distinct roles with a combination of punishment and privilege. Each have ups and downs for self-interested people (aka sinners). Solomon's advice about them shows the desirable wives are highly independent, active in community, and make wise decisions. The men have household (or group) authority with final say usually after consulting with women about what's the best decision. Except for Adam, all men start out as children. The women are closest to and primary teachers of the children. Proverbs further indicates the parents teach them together. All this means God's design isn't male-driven: it's a team effort with both genders shaping the future of the human race one, family unit at a time.

At the society level, His design from that point on both requires and assigns leadership roles to males with only a few exceptions that He allowed.

In the Old Testament, God tells us a lot about how we're redeemed and who He's sending. God's covenant with Abraham promised more descendants than he could count, some would be kings, and males had to be circumcised as a sign of that. A male king or kings. His next choices were Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Moses delivered God's Law. His Law required dedication of the "first-born male." That's another hint. In Leviticus 8, the LORD used male priests: "Aaron and his sons."

God's covenant with David promised a "son" who would be a king whose kingdom would last forever. The Messiah. He'd also be a priest and God's Son. God, who said "there's no Savior besides me," prophesied the Messiah's name would be Immanuel, or "God With Us." A stunning picture emerges: God Himself is coming to save everyone as some combo of a human male, priest, and king. God who assigned gender roles will Himself take male form to obey His own Law. Let's talk about God in the flesh.

After Gen 46, God had plenty of women to use for these leadership roles. He mostly used men. He could've made the major covenants with women. He used men. Although women prophets existed, God made most canonical prophets men. The exceptions shows He's able to go against culture any time He chooses. That He consistently keeps choosing men for these positions shows it's an intentional part of His design.

As predicted, Jesus Christ came as the Son of God. Gender was just tiny part of all the prophecies he fulfilled, though. God's name went from Yahweh or LORD to "Father" to reflect the relationship He'd have with us. Jesus was called the "last Adam." Romans explicitly says that "Adam, who was a type of the one to come." It's clear He's painted as the anti-type or opposite of Adam, not Eve. Likewise, Corinthians says first man was from the dust, the "second man" from heaven. It emphasizes He's a man comparing He who saved us to he who first sinned. Jesus dies for all sins from Adam onward, is raised from the dead, goes to heaven in bodily form as a male, and is given authority or headship over all of existence. Still consistent. He leaves a church behind to do His work.

While He was still here, Jesus appointed twelve males as Apostles to lay the foundation: write the New Testament; start the first churches. We see them describe the same gender roles again: "the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." Paul reiterates here that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. Males in authority must love those under them like Jesus. Husbands must love their wives in this way. Pastors have it harder. Like Jesus, who always did what's best for others, washed His disciples' feet, and died for them. God gives authority with high accountability.

The church, the sum of all believers, is described as the Bride of Christ He's destined to spend forever with. From birth, human mothers care for and raise their children into godly adults. From our new birth, the church takes on the female role of caring for and raising believers to spiritual maturity. So, we see a beautiful picture of God's union with all who believe in Him, each in a gender role, all under headship of Christ, and everyone involved imitating any of Jesus' attributes that are critical for the mission.

God's, not Men's, Roles for Us

The Bible was written by men but they didn't make all of this. Notice that these are God's design, laws, and promises. He proved with prophecies, miracles, and character consistency that they came from Him. The high value He places on women along with important roles they play show that there's no male chauvinism at work. He then used men and women working together in the church to change the world for the better via the Gospel. 

Can men who have been leading take credit for any of it? Yes. Men can definitely claim to be unworthy sinners who are, in gender terms, half the reason Jesus was nailed to the cross. Still high fiving each other guys? Didn't think so. Instead, we men should raise our hands towards heaven being grateful that the only good male to ever exist saved the rest of us. If you're married, raise your hands with your wives in gratitude for the greatest gift God gave you after your salvation. Let us praise God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for all God has done. Let us exercise our God-given role we didn't earn with Christ-like humility and dedication. And I'm sure the ladies reading can imagine an entire, matching paragraph on their end.

What Do We Do?

The living God of the universe whose Son lived and died in perfect obedience asks we do that, too. That includes following His design for gender roles in our homes and churches. Start them that way. If your home or church isn't, then confess to God you've sinned in that area of your life, pray He helps you get on track, and make changes to get into obedience to Him. Just like committing to Him in everything else.

If you're a female pastor, you will have to step down either immediately or as soon as you're able. You might first pray that He sends and start looking for the right person to fill that role. After they step in, do continue serving the Lord in any ministry His Word allows.

For those interested, this article describes godly character for women. This article has a long list of ways women can serve.

I encourage everyone, men and women, to dedicate to God and others as much of your life as you're able. Just do it His way He teaches in His Word so He'll bless every step you take. At Judgement Day, He'll greet you saying, "Well done, faithful servant!" before you spend eternity with Him reaping what He helped you sow.

(Credit: The paragraph on Jesus drew heavily on Struach's book, Biblical Eldership. Originally, the whole article was going to. I took notes on that paragraph, grabbed a few verses for others, and just felt Spirit-inspired to do my own thing from there. I felt I should do it out of respect for my best influences in life. They were and are still mostly women.)

(Read the Gospel, learn to share it, read other essays, or back to home.)