Female Pastors

KJV Bible

Female Pastors


This article is being republished from a female so as to give her perspective on the subject of Female Pastors. As you will see she clearly examines carefully each scripture as well as the meaning and context behind those scriptures.

Well, here we are. You have found yourself at a Women’s Ministry site and
more than likely have clicked this link for answers. Although
Balancedword Women’s Online Ministry is a Ministry for Women, we
adhere to the Holy Scriptures, The Word of God. Before I go any
further I am well aware that many will refute this commentary and my
mail box will be filled with comments such as, “you set women
back fifty years”, or “how dare you forsake your own?”
Let me assure you that this is not a new concept to me. I have taken
a great amount of heat over other studies on this site and I am
assured that this will be no different.

This subject has burdened my heart greatly and when researching the
subject I have found that most of the commentaries written on Women
teaching Men come from men themselves. Therefore my Beloved Friend, I
ask that you give another Sister in Christ the opportunity to share
with you this subject from a Woman’s perspective.

I think the first item of business that needs to be covered is that God
loves and calls women to His service just as He does men. We are no
less meaningful to God as men are. Remember He is NO respecter of

Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
However our roles are very different and clear in the scripture:

Timothy 5:14: “I will therefore that the younger women marry,
bear children, guide the house, and give none occasion to the
adversary to speak reproachfully.

Proverbs 31: 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he
shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all
the days of her life.

2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh
holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of
good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to
love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet,
chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that
the word of God be not blasphemed.

Now some may take these scriptures and say, “Those are menial jobs
that God calls women to do.” First who says they are menial?
Raising children, Caring for a home and making sure it run’s
smoothly. Is by know means MENIAL. Setting a Godly example and
training young women as well is not menial. It is hard work and
labour but how awesome a labour of love for us to serve our Lord this

With that said let us pray that we can come to a full understanding of
God’s will for us, and for understanding our role as Women of God:

Father God,

We come before you with our hearts humbled and our eyes and ears open to
your Word. Lord I ask that you would make clear to all of us your
will and desire for each of us. Father, Bless this time each lady
spends here and use this opportunity for each os us to glean from the
message you have laid upon my heart on this subject. In your precious
name we pray, Amen

Okay, Now to answer the question. Is it Biblical for Women to serve behind
the pulpit? Let’s look at Scripture and make this decision based on
the Word of God.


Timothy 2: 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

Let women learn: Here we see the principles that Women are called to
learn, learn Christ, learn scripture, We must not think that we can
use our sex as an excuse from learning what is necessary for
salvation and Godly living.

Timothy 2: 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp
authority over the man, but to be in silence.

The Greek word for teach is didasko {did-as’-ko} {Strongs1321} which
means 1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to
instruct them, deliver didactic discourses 1b) to be a teacher 1c) to
discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one’s self as a teacher 2)
to teach one 2a) to impart instruction 2b) instill doctrine into one
2c) the thing taught or enjoined 2d) to explain or expound a thing
2f) to teach one something. So we see here that a woman is not to
instruct, instill doctrine into, explain or expound, or teach a man

1 Timothy 2: 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was
not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Paul is simply stating God’s chain of command. The order of creation:
man was created first, and given original authority. Paul sees Adam’s
authority as derived from God, and Eve’s authority as derived from
Adam. Eve (representing women) was deceived. But because of Eve’s
deception, Paul reasons that women have a greater tendency to
spiritual deception. This is in fact very true. Women seem to be more
spiritually sensitive than men; for good or evil.

Many believers will challenge Paul’s instruction on Women in
leadership and teaching men, quoting that this was in the old day.
Making claim that we need not adhere to those “old ways”

However the Apostle Paul anticipated a rejection of this teaching therefore
went a step further and wrote:
Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it
is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be
under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any
thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for
women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from
you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the
commandments of the Lord.
see here that Paul is not speaking his own words but the words of God
himself. Now to say that this applies to the days of old would be
saying that God changes, and we know clearly from the scripture that
this is not true.
13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

1 Corinthians 12 :6 And there are diversities of  operations, but
it is the same God which worketh all in all.


It would seem that many of women preachers and their male advocates hold
to their position knowing full-well that it is contrary to scripture.
Often, when confronted, they will simply say that they know what the
Bible says but that the passages in question are not for our
dispensation. Or, the woman preacher herself, will appeal to her own
experience claiming that it was God who has called them (as though
God would do anything contrary to His Word?), often they are just
indignant. But occasionally, you come across someone who will attempt
to make a biblical case for women preachers. When they do, it seems
that without fail they appeal to the judgeship of Deborah

are many that do not know how to counter this argument! Once, when
confronted with this subject. The conclusion is so simple. The first
thing discovered was that Deborah lived at the time when “every
man did that which was right in his own eyes”
17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did
that which was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 In those days
there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in
his own eyes.

We read that God raised up Othniel as a Judge.
Judges 3:9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the
LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered
them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

raised up Gideon:
6:12-And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him,
The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said
unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this
befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us
of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD
hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and
thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I
sent thee?

God raised up Samson Judges
13:24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the
child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD
began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and

But with Deborah, we learn as much from what the Bible does not say as in
what it does say. Regarding Deborah we read: “she judged Israel
at that time”
4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged
Israel at that time. Again at a time when “every man did that
which was right in his own eyes”
without being raised up by God, judged Israel. Deborah was not a God
called judge.

Her great accomplishment was to conquer Sisera. Yet we read in Hebrews 11
that it was
faith that wrought this victory.
11: 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell
of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David
also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the
mouths of lions.

In Judges 4:8 we read that Barak was a coward who would only go if
Deborah went with him.

4:8 and Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go:
but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.

appears to be the one with the faith. But God gives Barak the credit
in His “hall of fame.”
11: 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell
of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David
also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the
mouths of lions

We will not even begin to consider the theological implications here,
rather, the point is that Deborah was by all indication not a great
leader or a great woman but a usurper who did that which was right in
her own eyes. The other argument given in support of women preachers
is that Deborah was called a “prophetess”
4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged
Israel at that time.

However, a simple visit to the back of Strong’s Concordance will eradicate
this argument. The Hebrew word translated “prophetess” in
our KJV is the word “nebiyah” which means “a prophets
wife.” Strongs Number 05031. So Deborah was neither a God called
preacher, a God called judge, or a woman of greater than ordinary
faith (
that Barak is the one, not Deborah, accounted by God to have been the
vessel of faith in Hebrews 11
Further, her being called a “prophetess” meant nothing more
than that she was married to a prophet.

To all the women preachers of the world I ask, Will you be like Deborah?
Will you do that which is right in your own eyes? Yes, Deborah was
probably “saved” and yes she did do some Good. She probably
judged right on many occasions and God may have even blessed people
for following some of her judgements. But she was not God’s ideal. Do
you want to do a little good or do you want to be God’s ideal


This does not mean that women are inferior to men; or that they have no
place in the work of Yahweh. The Holy Scriptures provide several
examples of women God used:

Queen Esther,
saved her people by being obedient to God’s will.

who once again through obedience left her land of idols and famine to
become a woman of God thus she was used in the bloodline of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ.

a woman who stood by her husband and choose to serve Christ in a time
that it could have cost her, her own life. Yet, she persevered and
helped the early church through her hospitality and commitment to the
Great Commission.

Eunice, mother of Timothy who being obedient to her true calling of
motherhood raised her son to know the Lord, in which God used to
direct, guide and be a help to the Apostle Paul in the building and
teaching the church.

Rahab, who’s faith was so obvious and simple that thru her, her family was

The Samaritan Woman
at the well, whom went about telling her people of the saving Grace
that Christ so freely gave her, thus others being saved from eternal

This woman was famous for being a New Testament woman of great honor.

None of these Women took authority over men– their good deeds followed
their obedience to God and His role for them. Any Christian woman who
is not satisfied with this pattern, who feels she must stand behind a
pulpit to be fulfilled really needs to take a step back and refocus
on His true calling of her.

There lies NO possible room to say that God allowed for a Woman to be
leader in the church be it Pastor, Deacon, Elder or Bishop. Note the
qualities a deacon must have

: 1 Timothy 3: 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued,
not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the
mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also
first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being
found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in
all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling
their children and their own houses well.

UT OH! How can we even question this scripture? It is quiet clear that a deacon MUST be a man,
have one wife,
and rule his house well.
This leaves no room at all for a woman to be called Deacon, 1. It’s
clear that the Deacon can have only 1 wife. Last I checked, with the
exception of Vermont women couldn’t have wives.

one will doubt but that only men officiated as priests in the Temple
services ordained of Almighty God. Had Yeshua the Messiah intended
the New Testament church to function differently he would have made
that fact known by appointing at least a few women apostles. But he
didn’t. He chose twelve men who, later, when selecting seven deacons
also chose men instead of women for those duties. These facts have a
message for the church today. Heed it.

How could a woman possibly be a pastor when she is forbidden to teach or
to have any authority over men? Women can only be pastors if they
openly disobey the Bible’s teaching. One may ask why or how this
situation has become so controversial and so misconstrued?


The sad truth of the situation is rather than the church affecting
society. Society affects the church. Rather than the church standing
on Biblical Content some have bowed down to the “equality in
sex” rebellion that rocks our country today. There is a war
among the sexes for total equality, this ranges from fire fighters,
construction workers, and sadly enough even behind our pulpits. As
women demand equality in all roles of society, why would one think
that the church would be any different than any other establishment?
The answer is clear the church too often looks for other sources
outside of the Bible for guidance and even acceptance.

Once again I reiterate that Men and women were made for different roles,
neither role being better than the other, but designed to compliment
each other. If indeed we take the scripture literally as it was
intended to be then we see that the New Testament affirms that men
are to be the leaders in the home and church. Women were not created
to rule these divine institutions; men were. The prophet Isaiah was
condemning Israel when he said women ruled over them

Isa. 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule
over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and
destroy the way of thy paths.

In the church, according to the Bible, no woman is qualified to be a
pastor or a deacon or in any other leadership position over men. Who
says? God says!

“Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I do not suffer
a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in
silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not
deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression”
(1 Tim. 2:11-14).

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto
them to speak: but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also
says the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their
husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If
any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the
commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:34-37).

In Ezekiel 22:30, we find a similar situation that we face today. God
sought for a man, but couldn´t find any. This country lacks men
standing up and taking charge. Too many men are ducking
responsibilities not only in Church, but in their household as well.
The reason why we are seeing a surge of women preachers in our
Churches is because we don’t have enough men preachers WILLING to
fill the pulpit and heed the calling of God on their lives.


Many churches, groups and even individuals use the excuse that Paul gave
this instruction way back when, because women were illiterate, we’re
not trained to read or write and did not have discernment, etc and
that these instructions do not apply to us today as women can read,
write, discern and teach. This may very well be true, women may have
the capabilities today. However as shown above, Paul enforces that
this is not his words but the words of the Lord. Also it takes us
back to an unchanging sovereign God who is the same God of the “old
ways” as He is now. This warning, however holds true for new
male believers as well as female, as in

Timothy 5:22 Paul states: Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be
partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

So we see here that the “laying on of hands” should not be
done hastily. In other words, do not choose your leaders without
adequate consideration. Once more I feel led to address the issue
that God is the same today as well He in soverign and is unchanging.

There are women preachers today who claim to be called by God to be
preachers. How can we know if they are telling the truth or not? The
apostle John wrote,

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are
of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world”
(1 John 4:1).

The way we test the spirits is to compare what they teach to the Word
of God. If what they teach or practice is contrary to the Word of
God, we can know without a doubt that they are false. When we read
the words of the Holy Spirit teaching us that women are to keep
silent in the church, and then we hear women claiming to be called to
preach by the Spirit, we can know that they are either deliberate
liars or they have been deceived by a spirit other than the Holy

They are like the false prophets that the true prophets of God had to
contend with in earlier centuries:

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to
them, yet they prophesied” (Jeremiah 23:21).

“Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive
you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For
they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says
the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:8-9).

“They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the
Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them” (Ezekiel 13:6-7).

“Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions,
and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when
the Lord had not spoken” (Ezekiel 22:28)

Just because certain denominations and churches are allowing Women to be
ordained and to preach behind the pulpit does not give the “stamp
of approval” for Women to preach and usurp authority over a man!
The Bible clearly warns us to not be following traditions of men. The
apostle Paul wrote,

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the
tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
Christ” (Colossians 2:8).


What does Genesis say about this? “Unto
the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy
conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire
shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Gen.

What does Mark say about this? “And
he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might
send them for to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to
cast out devils.”Mark 3:14

Among the twelve listed in Mark 3:15-19, 15 And
to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16 And
Simon he surnamed

; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The
sons of thunder: 18 And
the son of Alphaeus, and
the Canaanite, 19 And

which also betrayed him: and they went into  an house.

was found. Even Ecclesiastes agrees with this!

It also says in I Tim. 3:1-6, “If a MAN desire the office of a
bishop, HE desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the
HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to
hospitality, apt to teach …. (For if a MAN know not how to rule HIS
own house, how shall HE take care of the church of God?

What does the first chapter of Titus say about this?  Titus 1:5-8
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the
things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had
appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having
faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be
blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not
given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of
hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be
able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the

Jesus said before the cock crow thrice, not a hen. Yes, God let a donkey
(she-ass) talk, so why can’t he use women? Point blank, The donkey
didn’t preach.

What does Revelations say about this?

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto
idols. (Revelation 2:20) See this was a FALSE PROPHET. This is what
women are doing today. Women understand that women can’t be a Bishop
(I Tim. 3:1-6) or deacon (Titus 3:8-13) so many times they will use
Joel 2:38 out of context to “fit” the desires of their own
heart and flesh.

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my
spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see

Prophets and prophetesses prophesied NOT
preached. PROPH’ESY, v.t. To foretell future events; to predict. To
utter predictions; to make declaration of events to come. {Webster

Joel spoke of the HOLY GHOST THAT WOULD COME. Also, after receiving the
spirit of God (Acts 2:4) , they prophesied (Acts 2:47). Here prophesy
means to testify/magnify. Read the eight baptisms in the bible, you
will see that when time people were converted they PROPHESIED
(“magnified God, gave thanks,” etc.)

When you read scriptures, you must make sure that you RIGHTLY divide the
word.”(2 Timothy 2:15). “For precept [must be] upon
precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a
little, [and] there a little:”(Isa 28:10). You can NOT take one
verse and that’s it. Here-a-little, There-a-little. If you stay in
ONE verse, then you would think that the word is condemning another

Brothers and sisters beware lest ye fall into condemnation. Rightly dividing
the word will let you know that Women can in NO MANNER preach the
gospel. They can minister in other ways, but NOT preach


The New Testament contains a very clear testimony that there were never
any ideas of women preachers. Women were most assuredly converts and
admitted into the Church. They performed a great and noble service to
their husbands, their children, their friends, the Ministry, and the
Church. But not a single one of them was ordained to preach. This is
the true light! 

My Beloved Sisters in Christ, this teaching is not to place
condemnation. It is the simple basic truth of The Word of God. Women
can and are used in Ministry all over the world. Women’s skills are
utilized in praise and worship, teaching Children, teaching other
women, Missionary work, this is just to name a few.

However we cannot deny the fact that God and God alone gave Men headship over woman. We were made from Man’s rib Gen
2:2 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a
woman, and brought her unto the man.

Ladies, do you not realize how truly blessed we are. Let’s look at
that scripture closely. We are of mans rib, not from his head that he
may rule over us, not from his feet to trample us, not from his hand
that can abuse us. But from his rib which is located next to his
heart, for him to love, under his arm for him to protect, and from
side for us to stand by his side.

We must get back to Biblical Basis, to solid foundations Ladies, we must
recognize or role and be obedient to it. There is no greater calling
than the calling to obedience. We must put our homes and churches
back into the commands of God. For you Ladies who have Son’s keep in
mind the great calling you have to bring up a man of God, a man that
will be willing, ready and able to take his Godly role because of the
foundation you have set for him. Again Ladies our role is not menial,
of less importance, or less than a man’s role. It is just as
important, meaningful and fulfilling as a man’s role. However our
roles and callings are different in the eye’s of God and as I
mentioned before. Man and Woman were designed to compliment one
another, not compete with one another.

Word In Context Publishing NL©2001, Revised NL©2002 Revised ©2003

thanks to D. Guzik, D. Cloud, D. Silas, C. Cheedie, F. Rollo, Blue
Letter Bible KJV for your resourcefulness, commentaries, and advice.

Women Preachers

Women Preachers

(The Public Preaching of Women)  October, 1879

by Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898) 

An audio copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available on CD at http://www.gospelgems.com/

This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted © 2000 by Tony Capoccia.  All rights reserved. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.

In this day we find a rapid advancement of new ideas. The unbelievable suggestion of yesterday, entertained only by a few fanatics, and only mentioned by the conservatives to be ridiculed, is today the bold reform, and tomorrow will be the accepted practice. Novelties are so numerous and so wild and rash, that in even conservative minds the feeling of wonder is exhausted and the instinct of righteous resistance fatigued. A few years ago the preaching by women was universally condemned among all conservative denominations of Christians. Now the idea is being presented to the churches, and female preachers are knocking at our doors. We are already told that public opinion is being swayed because of the boldness and reasonableness of the claims of these woman preachers, that even our own ministers are hesitant to speak out against the movement. These remarks show that a discussion of woman’s proper place in the Christian Church is greatly needed.

The arguments advanced by those who profess reverence for the Bible, yet are in favour of this unscriptural practice, are as follows:

1. They profess to appeal to the sacred history of the prophetesses, Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, as proving that sex was not a sufficient barrier to the public preaching by women in the church.

But the critical answer is, that these holy women were inspired. Their call to publicly proclaim God’s Word was exceptional and supernatural. There can be no fair reasoning from the exception to the ordinary rule. Elijah, in his civic relationship to the northern kingdom of Israel, would have only been a private citizen without his prophetic calling and divine inspiration. By virtue of this we find him exercising the highest of the noble functions (1 Kings 18), administering capital punishment ordained by the law against false prophets and teachers, when he sentenced the priests of Baal and ordered their execution. But it would be a most dangerous inference to argue, therefore that any other private citizen, if moved by religious zeal, might usurp the punitive functions of the civil judge. It is equally bad logic to infer that because Deborah prophesied when the supernatural impulse of the Spirit moved her, therefore any other pious woman who feels only the impulses of ordinary grace may usurp the function of the public preacher. Besides, it must be remembered that all who claim a supernatural inspiration must stand prepared to prove it by supernatural works. If any of our preaching women will work a genuine miracle, then, and not until then, will she be entitled to stand on the ground of Deborah or Anna.

2. A feeble attempt is made to find an implied recognition of the right of women to preach in 1 Corinthians 11:5, which say, “Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved.” [1 Corinthians 11:5]

They desire to find here the implication that the woman who feels the call may prophesy or preach in public, as long as she does so with her head covered. But when we turn to the fourteenth chapter, verses 34 and 35, we find the same apostle strictly forbidding public preaching in the churches by women, and commanding silence. No honest reader of Scripture can infer that the Apostle meant by inference to allow the very thing, which, in the same epistle and in the same part of it, he expressly prohibits. It is a wicked thing to represent the Apostle Paul as one who contradicts himself. He did not mean, in chapter 11:5, to imply that a woman could ever preach in public, either with her hat on or off. The learned Dr. Gill, followed by many more recent expositors, believes that in this text the word “prophesy” only means “praise,” as it unquestionably does in some places (as in 1 Chronicles 25:2, the sons of Asaph and Jeduthun “prophesied with the harp”), and in many other places in the Old Testament. Thus, the worship service which the apostle is regulating here is not just public preaching, but also the sacred singing of psalms and hymns. And all that he is saying here is, that Christian women, whose privilege it is to join in this praise, must not do so with uncovered heads, in imitation of some pagan priestesses when conducting their sexual and lustful worship, but rather, Christian women must sing God’s public praises with their heads covered.

We have no need to resort to this explanation, reasonable though it be. The apostle is about to prepare the way for his categorical exclusion of women from public preaching and teaching. He does so by alluding to the intrusion which had most likely begun, along with many other disorders in the Corinthian churches, and by pointing to its obvious absurdity. Thus he who stands up in public as the herald and representative of the King of Heaven must stand with an uncovered head; the honour of the Sovereign for whom he speaks demands this. But no woman can present herself in public with an uncovered head without sinning against nature and her sex. Therefore no woman can be a public herald of Christ. Thus this passage, instead of implying the authority of woman preachers, really argues the necessary exclusion of women from the pulpit.

3. Another argument is the plea that some Christian women possess every gift claimed by males: zeal, education, holiness, power of speech, and therefore it is asked why these are not qualifications for the ministry in the case of the woman as well as for men.

It is advocated that it is a damaging and a cruel policy, to deprive the church of the souls that could be won and the good that might be done, which these gifts and graces might procure when exercised in the pulpit by women. Some women claim that they have felt the impulse of both the Spirit and their conscience to proclaim the gospel, which they feel, confirms God’s call to the ministry. They say, that they, “must obey God rather than men,” and they warn us against opposing their impulses, for they say, “it is possible that we ‘will only find ourselves fighting against God.’” They argue that the Apostle Paul himself has told us, in the new creation of grace that, “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, slave or free.” In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” [Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28]. Our answer: if the spiritual kingdom levels all social and earthly distinctions, then its official rights should be equally distributed without any regard to persons-but it is obvious that this is just not the case.

4. Next, it is claimed that God has decided the question by setting His seal of approval on the preaching of some blessed women.

For example, they cite women such as Miss Sarah Smiley, who is commonly referred to as “Friend”. If the successful results of her ministry are not of God’s grace, then we can reasonably discredit all the fruits of the gospel that are displayed by those whose lives have been changed by her preaching. And so they ask triumphantly, “Would God use and honour an agency which he himself has declared to be unlawful?” We reply, “Yes.” However, this confident argument is founded on a very obvious mistake.

Surely God does not honour, but he does use agents whom he disapproves of.

Surely God does not approve of a man who “preaches Christ out of envy and rivalry” (Philippians 1:15), yet the Apostle Paul rejoices in the fact that “whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” There are two very simple truths, which no believer disputes, destroy the whole force of their argument that the “ends justify the means.” One is that a truly sincere Christian may go in the wrong direction in one particular area of their life, and our heavenly Father, who is very patient, may withhold his displeasure from the misguided efforts of his child, through Christ’s intercession, because, though misguided, he is his still God’s blessed child. The other is, that it is one of God’s clearest and most blessed prerogatives to bring good out of evil. Thus who can doubt that it is wrong for a man dead in his sins to intrude into the sacred ministry? Yet God has often employed such sinners to convert souls; not sanctioning their profane intrusion, but glorifying his own grace by overruling it.

This plea for women preachers may be also refuted by another answer.

If the rightfulness of actions is to be determined by their results, then evidently it ought to be by their complete results.

But who is competent to say whether the complete results of one of these devout blunders will be beneficial or harmful? I will grant that a zealous female may convert or confirm several souls by her preaching. But isn’t it also possible that she may, by this bad example, in the future introduce an amount of confusion, disturbance, strife, error and scandal which will greatly outweigh the initial limited good? This question cannot be answered until time is ended, and it will require an omniscient mind to judge it. Thus it becomes perfectly clear that present seemingly good results cannot ever be a sufficient justification of conduct, which violates the clear Word of God. This is our only sure guide. Bad results, following a course of action not commanded in the Word, may present a sufficient, even a commanding reason for stopping. Likewise, good results following such action may suggest some probability for continuance, however when the course of action transgresses the command of Scripture then such probability becomes worthless.

Now we will look at some of the arguments against women preachers.

1. When the apostle teaches the equality of everyone in the privilege of redemption, it is obvious he is speaking in general, and not of official positions in the visible church, but of access to Christ and participation in his blessings.

Paul’s exclusion of women from the pulpit is as clear and emphatic as his assertion of the universal equality in Christ. Surely he does not intend to contradict himself. Our interpretation is also established by other instances of a similar kind. The apostle expressly excludes “new converts” from the office of preacher and minister. Yet no one dreams that he would have made the newness of their salvation a ground of discrimination against their equal privileges in Christ. Without a doubt the apostle would have been just as ready to assert that in Christ there is neither young nor old, just as in Christ there is neither male nor female. Equally, every rational man would exclude children from the office of pastor in the church, yet no one would belittle their equal standing in Christ. Likewise, the apostle denies Christians who were guilty of polygamy from being a pastor, however sincere their repentance. If, then, the equality of these classes in Christ did not imply their fitness for public office in the church, neither does the equality of females with males in Christ imply it. So we can see that the scope of the apostle in these verses proves that he meant nothing more, for his purpose in referring to this blessed Christian equality is to reveal that all classes of Christians have a right to church membership and that Christian love and communion ought to embrace everyone.

2. Next, we see that when the claim is made that the church must concede the ministerial function to the Christian woman who sincerely believes she has been called to it, we have a dangerous perversion of the true doctrine of calling or being called to the ministry. True, this calling is spiritual, but it is also scriptural.

The same Spirit who truly calls the minister also dictated the Holy Scriptures. When even a godly man says that he thinks the Spirit has called him to preach, there may be room for doubt; but there can be no doubt whatever that the Spirit calls no person to do what the word dictated by the Spirit, forbids. The Spirit cannot contradict himself. No persons are entitled to claim a specific call of the Spirit for them individually to do or teach something contrary to or in violation of the Scriptures previously given to the church, unless they can sustain their claim by some miracle. Again, the true doctrine of calling is that the man whom God has intended and qualified to preach discovers his call through the word. The word is the instrument by which the Spirit teaches him, with prayer, that he is to preach. Therefore, when a person professes to have felt this call whom the word distinctly precludes from the work, like the new Christian, the child, the repentant polygamist, or the female, even though we may ascribe her mistake to a well-intentioned zeal, then we absolutely know that she is mistaken; she has confused a human impulse with the Spirit’s calling.

3. Next, the scriptural calling comes not only through the heart of the candidate, but also from the Church itself, for the call is never complete until the Church has confirmed it.

But by what rule will the Church be guided in the matter of ordaining ministers? By the simple declaration of any one who assumes to be sincere? Truly not. The Church is expressly commanded not to “believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” They have no other rule than Scripture. Who can believe that God’s Spirit is the agent of such anarchy as this, where the Church holds in their hands the Word, teaching them that God does not call any woman, and yet a woman insists against them that God has called her? God “is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints.” It is on this very subject of calling to public teaching and preaching that the apostle makes this declaration.

4. Next, The argument from the seeming fitness of some women, by their gifts and graces, to edify the churches by preaching, is then useless and false.

When God endows a woman with the ability to understand and teach His Word, it may be safely assumed that he has some wise end in view; he has some area or sphere in which her gifts will come into proper play. But surely it is far from reverent for the creature to decide, against God’s Word, that this sphere is the pulpit. God’s wisdom is better than man’s. The sin involves the presumption of Uzzah. He was right in thinking that it would be a bad thing to have the sacred ark fall into the dirt, and in thinking that he had the physical strength to steady it, just like any Levite; but he was wrong in presuming to serve God in a way that God had not prescribed. So when men lament the “unemployed spiritual power,” which they suppose exists in many gifted females, as a great loss to the church, they are reasoning with Uzzah; they are presumptuously setting their human wisdom above God’s wisdom.

The argument, then, whether any woman may or may not be a preacher of the word should be primarily one of Scripture.

1. Does the Bible really prohibit it? I assert that it does.

First, the Old Testament, which contained, in seed, all the principles of the New Testament, allowed no regular church office to any woman. When a few women were employed as mouthpieces of God, it was in a purely extraordinary office, and in which they could offer supernatural evidence of their commission. No woman ever ministered at the altar, as either a priest or a Levite. No female elder was ever seen in a Hebrew congregation. No woman ever sat on the throne of the theocracy, except the pagan usurper and murderess, Athaliah.

Now, this Old Testament principle of ministry is carried over to a degree in the New Testament where we find the Christian congregations, with elders, teachers, and deacons, and its women invariably keeping silent in the assembly.

2. Secondly, if human language can make anything plain, it is that the New Testament institutions do not allow the woman to rule or “to have authority over a man.” (See 1Ti 2:12; 1Co 11:3,7-10; Eph 5:22,23; 1Pe 3:1,5,6.)

As a minimum, in church affairs, the woman’s position in the church is subordinate to the man’s. And according to New Testament precedent and doctrine, the call to preaching and ruling in the church must go together. Every church elder is not a preacher, but every preacher of the church must be an elder of the church. It is clearly implied in 1 Timothy 5:17 that there were church elders who were not preachers, but never was their a preacher of the church who was not an elder. The scriptural qualifications for preaching, that is, the knowledge, holiness, experience, authority, dignity, purity, were even more exacting qualifications than those listed for elders. Truly, “The greater includes the less.” Therefore it is simply inconceivable that a person could experience a true call to the public preaching and teaching of the Word and not also called to be an elder. Therefore, if it is right for the woman to preach, she must also be a church elder. But God has expressly prohibited the latter, and assigned to woman a domestic and social place, in which her demand that she be an elder and a preacher would simply be anarchy.

This argument may be put in a most practical and specific shape, which will reveal its absolute absurdity. Let it be granted, for argument’s sake, that here is a woman whose gifts and graces, spiritual wisdom and experience, are so superior to others, that her friends feel that it would be a great loss of power in the church to confine her to silence in the public assembly. Therefore, for that reason, she exercises her public gift and finds great success. She becomes the spiritual parent of many newborn souls. Is it not right then, that her spiritual offspring should look up to her for guidance? How can she, from her position, justify herself in refusing the needs of these newborn babes in Christ? She herself felt properly driven, by the deficiency in the quantity or quality of the male preaching in this church, to break through the restraints of sex and contribute her superior gifts to the winning of souls. Now, to carry this further, if it appears that a similar deficiency of male leadership, either in quantity or quality, exists in the same church, then the same impulse must, by the stronger reason, prompt her to assume the less public and prominent work of church leadership and rule. She ought to take over the responsibilities of a senior elder, and thus preserve the fruits she has planted. She ought to admonish, command, censure, and excommunicate her male converts, including, possibly, the husband she is to obey at home, if the real welfare of the souls she has won requires such action. All this would be absurd and very damaging to the church.

Let us now look at the Word of God concerning the preaching and leadership of the church; we shall find them particularly, even surprisingly, explicit.

First, we have 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, where the apostle discusses the relation and manner of the sexes in the public Christian assemblies; and he assures the Corinthians, verses 2 and 16, that the rules he announces here were universally accepted by all the churches. Two principles are laid down: first, verse 4, that the man should preach (or pray) in public with his head uncovered, because in that capacity he stands as God’s herald and representative; and to assume at that time the emblem of subordination, a covered head, is a dishonour to the office and the God it represents; secondly, verses 5, and 13, that, on the contrary, for a woman to appear or to perform any public religious function in the Christian assembly, with her head uncovered, is a glaring impropriety, because it is contrary to the subordination of the position assigned her by her Creator, and to the modesty suitable to her sex; and even nature settles the point by giving her, her long hair as her natural veil. Even as good taste and a natural sense of propriety would protest against a woman going in public without that beautiful emblem and adornment of her sex-her long hair, cut off like a common soldier or a labourer, even so, clearly does nature herself sustain God’s law in requiring the woman to appear always modestly covered in the church. The holy angels who are present, as invisible spectators, hovering over the Christian assemblies, would be shocked by seeing women professing godliness publicly display themselves without this appropriate emblem of their position (verse 10).

1. The woman, then, has a right to the privileges of public worship and the Lord’s Supper; she may join audibly in the praises and prayers of the public assembly, but she must always do this with her head covered.

The apostle does not, in this chapter, stop to make the distinction, that if every public herald of God, must not have their heads covered, and the woman must never have her head uncovered in public, then she can never be a public herald of the Gospel. But let us wait. He is not done with these questions of order in public worship; he steadily continues the discussion of them through the fourteenth chapter, and he then in time reaches the conclusion he had been preparing, and in verses 34 and 35, expressly prohibits women from preaching, saying, “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak” (in that place), but must be in submission, as the Bible says. “If they want to inquire about something,”-about some doctrine which they hear discussed but do not comprehend, then “they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” And in verse 37, he ends the whole discussion by declaring that “if anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted,” so as to be entitled to challenge Paul’s instructions, then “let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command,” and not his mere personal conclusions. So to challenge Paul’s clear instructions on such pretensions of spiritual impulse is inevitably wrong and presumptuous. For the unchallengeable Lord does not issue commands in contradictory ways.

The next passage is 1 Timothy 2:11-15. In the eighth verse, the apostle, having taught what should be the tenor of the public prayers and why, says: “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer” (referring to the practice which the two sexes publicly prayed together). He then commands, in keeping with the tenor of the passage in 1 Corinthians 11, for Christian women to come to church dressed in the most modest clothing, so as to express the humble modesty of their sex. He then continues: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach” (context is to teach in public) nor “to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived;” (by Satan) “it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (first). “But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

In 1 Timothy 5:9-15, a sphere of church ministry is clearly defined for older single women, and for them only, who are widows or have never been married and are without any near relatives. So specific is the apostle that he categorically fixes the limit to those sixty years old, below which the church may not accept. What was this sphere of labour? It was evidently some form of deaconess type work, helping others, and clearly not preaching, because the age, qualifications and connections all point to these private benevolent tasks, and the uninspired history confirms it.

Now, to all the younger women the apostle then assigns their specific sphere of ministry in these words (verse 14), “So I counsel younger women to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander,” either against Christians or Christianity in general. Here we find strong evidence that Paul assigned no public preaching function to women. In Titus 2:4,5, women who have not reached old age are “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” And the only teaching function even hinted at for the older women is found in verse 4, which is that they teach these private domestic virtues to their younger sisters. We can clearly see that the apostle here assigns the home as the proper sphere of activity and ministry of the Christian woman. That is her kingdom, and clearly not the secular workplace nor the church. Her duties in her home will basically keep her away from the public functions. She is not to be in authority over men, but a loving subject to her husband.

The grounds on which the apostle rests the divine legislation against the preaching of women make it clear that we have construed it correctly. Bringing together 1 Corinthians 11 with 1 Timothy 2, we find the following: The male was the first creation of God, the female a subsequent one. The female was made from the substance of the male, being taken from his side. The purpose of the woman’s creation and existence is to be a helpmate for man, and in a sense in which the man was not originally designed as a helpmate for the woman. Therefore God, from the beginning of man’s existence as a sinner, put the wife under the kind and compassionate authority of the husband, making him the head and her the subordinate in domestic society. Then finally, the action of the woman in yielding first to Satanic temptation and aiding to seduce her husband into sin was punished by this subjection, as seen in the curse of Genesis 3:16, where it is declared that the husband will rule over the wife, and the sentence on the first woman has been extended, by imputation, to all her daughters. These are the grounds on which the apostle says the Lord enacted that in the church assemblies the woman shall be the student, and not the public teacher, ruled, and not ruler.

The reasons against the public preaching and teaching by women apply to all women, of all ages and civilizations alike. Such reasons are, indeed, in strong opposition to the radical theories of individual human rights and equality now in vogue with many today. Instead of allowing all human beings a specific equality and an absolute natural independence, these Scripture doctrines assume that there are orders of human beings naturally unequal in their inherited rights, as in their bodily and mental qualities; that God has not ordained any human being to this proud independence, but placed all in subordination under authority, the child under its mother, the mother under her husband, the husband under the church and civil authorities, and these under the law, whose guardian and avenger is God himself.

The inspired commands of Scripture are explicit to every honest listener, as explicit as human language can make it. Yet modern ingenuity has written much to try to explain it away. One is not surprised to find these expositions, even when advanced by those who profess to accept the Scriptures, coloured with a lot of error. For a true and honest reverence of the inspiration of Scripture would scarcely try so hopeless a task as the misrepresenting and diffusing of so clear a law. Thus, sometimes we hear these remarks uttered almost as a sneer, “Oh, this is the opinion of Paul, a crusty old bachelor with his head stuffed with those ideas of woman which were current when society considered her an illiterate, a plaything, and a slave.” Or, we are referred to the fable of the paintings of the man dominating the lion, in which the man was always the painter, and it is said, “Paul was a man; he is jealous for the authority of his sex. The law would be different if it were uttered through a woman.” What is all this except open unbelief and resistance, when the apostle says expressly that this law was the enactment of the Christ who condescended to be born of woman.

Again, one would have us read the prohibition of 1 Corinthians 14:34, as “women are not allowed to ‘babble,’” rather than that they are “not allowed to speak.”

Therefore they try to show that the verb used here is in the negative sense only, and that the prohibition is that a woman is not allowed to talk nonsense in public, but does not exclude, but rather implies, her right to preach, provided she preaches well and only solid Biblical truth. No expositor will need to reply to such criticism so wretchedly absurd as this. But it may be good to simply point out in refuting such an argument that the opposite of this verb in Paul’s own mind and statement is “to be silent.” The implied distinction, then, is not here between solid speech and babbling, but between speaking publicly and keeping silent. Again, in the parallel passage (1 Timothy 2:12), the apostle says “I do not permit a woman to teach” where he uses the Greek word “didasko” whose regular meaning means “to teach” in the general sense-any kind of teaching. And the apostle’s whole logic in the contexts is directed, not against silly teachings by women, but against any public teaching by women.

Another way they try to dodge the truth of the text is to say that, “Yes, the law is indeed explicit, but it was only temporary.”

When woman were, what paganism and the eastern harem had made her, she was indeed unfit for ruling and public teaching; she was only a grown-up child, ignorant, impulsive and rash, like other children; and while she remained so the apostle’s exclusion was wise and just. But the law was not meant to apply to the modem Christian woman, lifted up by better institutions into an intellectual, moral and literary equality with the man. No doubt if the apostle were alive today, he himself would have acknowledge it.

This is at least a more decent argument. But as for a proper interpretation of the text it is as unfair and untenable as the other. For, first, it is false to assume that the Apostle’s conception of the Christian woman was that of an ignorant grown-up child from the harem. The harem was not a legitimate Hebrew institution. Polygamy was not the rule, but the exception, in reputable Hebrew families; nor were devout Jews, such as Paul had been, ignorant of the unlawfulness of such domestic abuses. Jewish manners and laws were not like the peoples around them, but a glorious exception to the surrounding nations, in the place they assigned woman; and God’s Word of the Old Testament had doubtless done among the Jews the same ennobling work for woman which we now claim Christianity does. The competent archaeologist and historian know that it has always been the trait of Judaism to assign an honourable place to woman. Accordingly, we never find the apostle drawing a depreciated picture of woman; every allusion of his to the believing woman is full of reverent respect and honour. Among the Christian women who come into Paul’s history there is not one who is portrayed after this imagined pattern of childish ignorance and weakness. The Lydia, the Lois, the Eunice, the Phoebe, the Priscilla, the Roman Mary, the Junia, the Tryphena, the Tryphosa, the “beloved Persis” of the Pauline history, and the “elect lady” who was honored with the friendship of the Apostle John, all appear in the narrative as bright examples of Christian intelligence, activity, dignity, and graciousness. It was not left for the pretentious Christianity of our century to begin the liberation of woman. As soon as Christianity conquered a household, it did its blessed work in lifting up the feebler and oppressed sex; and it is evident that Paul’s habitual conception of female Christian character in the churches in which he ministered was at least as favourable as his estimate of the male members. Thus the state of facts on which this argument rests had no place in Paul’s mind; he did not consider himself as legislating temporarily in view of the inferiority of the female Christian character of his day, for he did not think it was inferior. When this unfounded argument is inspected it unmasks itself simply into an instance of quiet egotism. The women of our day who feel they are called to preach are in effect saying, “I am so elevated and enlightened that I am above the law, which was good enough for those old fogies, Priscilla, Persis, Eunice; and the elect lady.” Indeed! This is modesty with a vengeance! Was Paul only temporarily legislating when he termed modesty one of the brightest jewels in the Christian woman’s crown?

A second answer is seen to this plea in the nature of the apostle’s basis for the law.

Not one of them is personal, cultural, or temporary. Nor does he say that woman must not preach because he regards her as less holy, less zealous, less eloquent, less educated, less courageous, or less intellectual, than man. Those who advocate woman’s rights have a continual tendency to confuse the issue, claiming that the apostle, when he says that woman must not do what man does, meant to belittle her sex. This is a sheer mistake. You will search in vain for any belittling of the qualities and virtues of the female sex; and we may also at this point properly disclaim all such intention. Woman is excluded from this masculine task of public preaching by Paul, not because she is inferior to man, but simply because her Creator has ordained for her another work which is incompatible with the public preaching and teaching of the Word.

Further, we can plainly see that the scriptural law was not meant to be temporary, and had no exclusive reference to the ignorant and childish woman of the Eastern harem, because every basis assigned for the exclusion of women preachers is of universal and perpetual application.

They apply to the modern, educated woman in the exact same way as they applied to Phoebe, Priscilla, and Eunice. They do not lose a single grain of force by any change of social practice or feminine culture, rather they are grounded in the facts of woman’s origin and nature and the intended role and purpose of her existence. Thus this second argument for women preachers is totally closed. And the argument finds its final deathblow in such passages as 1 Timothy 2:9 and 5:14. As I have mentioned earlier, a few older women of special circumstances are admitted as assistants in the work of the deacons. However, the apostle then clearly assigns the rest of the body of Christian women to the domestic sphere, indicating clearly that any attempts by them to go beyond their assigned role would give the enemy an opportunity for slander. Here, then, we have the clearest proof, in a negative form, that the Apostle Paul did not plan the assigned role of women to be temporary; for it is for woman as elevated and enlightened by the gospel that he preached, that he laid down the limits of their ministry.

The justification is not found in any belittling of woman as man’s natural inferior, but in the ancient fact: “he created them as male and female.” In order to establish human society God saw that it was necessary to create for man’s mate, not his exact image, but his counterpart. An identical creature to man would have utterly marred their companionship, and would have been an equal curse to both. Although there is an obvious similarity in the man and woman, yet there are unique differences which clearly reveal that each is fitted for works and duties unsuitable for the other. And it is no more a degradation to the woman, that the man can do some things better than she can, than the fact that the woman has natural superiority in other things.

But it is also stated: “Your Bible doctrine makes man the ruler, and woman the one ruled.”

True. It was absolutely necessary, especially after sin had entered the human race, necessary that a foundation for social order would be laid down in a family government. This family government could not be made consistent, peaceful or orderly by having two heads, because basic human weakness, and especially sin, would ensure collision, at least some times, between any two human wills. It was essential for the welfare of both husband and wife and for the offspring that there must be an ultimate head of the family. Now let reason decide, was it necessary that the man be head over the woman, or the woman over the man? Was it right that he for whom woman was created should be subjected to her who was created for him; that he who was stronger physically should be subjected to the weaker; that the natural protector should be the servant of the dependent; that the divinely ordained bread-winner should be controlled by the bread-dispenser? Every honest woman admits that this would have been unnatural and unjust. Therefore God, acting, so to speak, under an unavoidable moral necessity, assigned to the male the domestic government of the home, regulated and tempered, indeed, by the strict laws of God, by self-interest and by the most tender affection; and to the female the obedience of love. On this order all other social order depends. It was not the plan of Christianity to subvert it, but only to perfect and refine it. No doubt that spirit of wilfulness, which is a feature of our native carnality in both man and woman, tempts us to feel that any subordination to another is a hardship. Self-will resents this natural subordination as a natural injustice. But self-will forgets that “order is heaven’s first law;” that subordination is the unalterable condition of peace and happiness, and this is true just as much in heaven as on earth; that this subjection was not imposed on woman only as a penalty, but also for her and her children’s good; and that to be governed under the wise conditions of nature is often a more privileged state than to govern. God has conformed his works of creation and providence to these principles. In creating man God has provided him with the natural attributes, which qualify him to work outside the home, to subdue dangers, to protect, and to govern. He has given these same qualities in a lesser degree to woman, and in their place has adorned her with the less hardy, but equally admirable, attributes of body, mind and heart which qualify her to yield, to be protected, and to “guide the home.” This order is founded, then, in the unchangeable laws of nature. Therefore all attempts to reverse it must fail, and will always result in confusion.

Now, a wise God designs no conflicts between his domestic and his church institutions. He has ordained that the man shall be the head in the family, thus it would cause great confusion to make the woman the leader in the church. We have stated this morning that the right of public teaching and preaching must involve the right of spiritual rule. The woman, who claims she has a right to preach, ought also claim the right to be a ruling elder. But how would it work to have husband and wife, ruler and subject, change places as often as they passed from their home to the church? One could only imagine that this amount of switching roles would result in something close to absolute anarchy.

Again, the duties which natural affection, natural disposition, and considerations of convenience distribute between the man and the woman make it practicable for him and impracticable for her to pursue the additional tasks of the preacher and evangelist, without their neglect of other assigned duties.

An example would come from the raising and nurturing of children. The elder in the church, the pastor, must be “the husband of one wife.” Both the parents have responsibilities to their children; but the appropriate duties of the mother, especially towards little children, are such that she could not leave them, as a pastor must, for his public tasks without criminal neglect and their probable ruin. It may then be argued that this line of reasoning has no application to unmarried women. The answer is, that God contemplates marriage as the normal condition of woman, yet he does not make singleness a crime, but the sphere he assigns to the unmarried woman is also private and domestic.

No doubt some minds imagine a degree of force in the argument, that God has bestowed on some women gifts and graces eminently qualifying them to edify his churches, and since what he does is always perfect and without waste he thereby shows that he plans for such women to preach.

Enough has been already said to show how utterly dangerous such bogus arguments are. God is not accountable to any man. Doesn’t he often give the most splendid gift for usefulness to young men whom he then removes by what we call a premature death from the threshold of the pastoral career? Yet “God always does everything perfectly and without waste.” It is not for us to surmise how he will utilize those seemingly unproductive gifts. He knows how and where to do it. We must bow to his perfect plan, whether we understand it or not. It is the same situation with respect to his command restricting the most gifted woman from the public preaching of the Word. But there is a more obvious answer. God has assigned to her a private sphere sufficiently important and honourable to justify the whole expenditure of these heavenly gifts-the formation of the character of children. This is the noblest and most important work done on earth. Add to it the efforts of friendship, the duties of the wife, daughter, sister, helper of the poor, and the work of teaching other woman, and we see a field wide enough for the greatest talents and the most holy ambition.

Now the person making the argument for women preachers returns with the complaint that, while the faithful mother rears six, or possibly twelve, children for God, the gifted evangelist may convert thousands?

But that man would not have been the gifted evangelist had he not enjoyed the blessing of the training from a humble Christian mother? Had he been reared in the disorderly environment of a mother who worked outside the home, instead of being the spiritual father of thousands, he possibly would have been an ignorant unbeliever or a disgusting Pharisee. So the worthiness of his public success fully belongs as much to the humble mother as to himself. Again, the instrumentality of the mother’s training in the salvation of her children is mighty and decisive; the influence of the minister over his hundreds is slight and non-essential. If he contributes a few grains, in numerous cases, to turn the scales for heaven, the mother contributes tons on the right scales in her few cases. The one works more widely on the surface, the other more deeply; so that the real amount of soil moved by the two workmen is not usually in favor of the preacher. The woman of sanctified ambition has nothing to regret as to the dignity of her sphere. She does the noblest work that is done on earth. However, its public recognition is usually more through the children and others who benefit than through her own person, and that is precisely the aspect of her work which makes it most Christlike. It is also precisely the aspect at which a sinful and selfish ambition takes offence.

Lastly, let me say, that the movement towards women preachers does not necessarily spring from the current secular “woman’s rights” movement. The preaching of women marked the early Wesleyan movement to some extent, and the Quaker assemblies. But the real answer to those who might claim it is a “woman’s right” to preach is found in the correct statement of human rights we have given in the Bible. The woman is not designed by God, nor entitled to all the positions in society to which the male is entitled. God has disqualified her for any such exercise of them by the endowments of body, mind, and heart he has given her, and the duties he has assigned her in her daily life. And since she has no right to assume the masculine positions, so she will find in the attempt to do so only ruin to her own character and to society. For instance, the very traits of emotion and character which make the woman man’s cherished and invaluable “helpmate,” the traits which she must have in order to fulfil the purpose of her existence would ensure her unfitness to meet the distinctive temptations of publicity and power. The attempt to do so would corrupt all these lovelier traits, while it would still leave her, as man’s rival, “the weaker partner.” She would lose everything and gain nothing.

This common movement for “women’s rights,” and women’s preaching, must be regarded, then, as simply pagan. It cannot be honestly upheld without attacking the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. We are convinced that there is only one safe attitude for Christians and churches to have towards it. This is to utterly disapprove it, as they do any other assault of infidelity on God’s truth and kingdom. The church leader who becomes an accomplice of this intrusion certainly renders himself detestable and open to discipline by the church and the Lord.

We close with one suggestion to such women that may be inclined to this new freedom. If they read history, they will find that the condition of woman in Christendom, and especially in America, is most enviable as compared with her state in all other ages and nations. Let them honestly consider how much they possess here, which their sisters have never enjoyed in any other age. What bestowed those special privileges on the Christian women of America? The Bible. Let them beware, then, when they do anything to undermine the reverence of mankind for the authority of the Bible. It is undermining their own protection. If they understand how universally, in all non-Christian lands, the “weaker partner” has been made the slave of man’s strength and selfishness, they will gladly “leave well enough alone,” lest in grabbing at some impossible prize, they lose the privileges they now have, and fall back into the gulf of oppression from which these doctrines of Christ and Paul have lifted them. Amen.

Edited and Updated and Added to Bible Bulletin Board by:
Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
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Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986