Recently, an age old debate has resurfaced again. Should women be allowed to preach and teach the gospel?
John McArthtur an American evangelical pastor recently made the comment ‘Go home’ when asked his thoughts about Beth Moore a well known female evangelist. He followed this comment by comparing her to a jewelry sales assistant.
This discussion has spread rapidly around the Christian community, again raising the question whether it is biblical for women to be in ministry or not.
Whilst ‘preachers’ in the bible have been male such as Paul and Apollos, simply dismissing the fact that women biblically have played crucial parts in ministry is neither correct nor in line with the fact that God has commissioned ALL Christians, male and female, to tell of the good news.
Whilst Paul in 1 Timothy chapter 3 talks about women not being teachers to men, which most traditionalist like McArthuer use to make their statements, contextually and biblically there is also evidence of females who have been the ones to teach and tell of Christ.
Women in the bible
Firstly, sharing the gospel, the fact that Jesus died and rose again for our sins, was first told, in fact by a woman. Jesus appeared before Mary first after his resurrection, and she therefore became the first to spread the good news that Christ had risen.
So, whilst the bible doesn't specifically talk about female pastors, we cannot ignore the fact that by virtue, Mary was the first to share the gospel to those around her.
McAruther argued there are no precedents for female leadership in the bible. However, women all throughout the New Testament served in ministry. Priscilla and Aquila spoke to Apollos and corrected and deepened his understanding of theology (Acts chapter 18, verses 24-26).
Even Paul knew the importance of female leadership in the bible. In Romans chapter 16, verse 1, he introduced Phoebe, a deacon from the church in Cenchreae, followed by 15 other women who served in ministry during his time.
By telling Moore to ‘Go home’, McArthur has failed to recognise the countless women in the bible who did serve in roles of leadership within the church. These women were honoured by Paul and seen as equal when addressing Priscilla and Aquilla as ‘co- workers’ in Christ.
Objections to the family model
Whilst most arguments around this topic take on the family model to describe why women should be under male leadership, such traditional gender roles are not the extent of the verse as described in Titus chapter 2.
In fact, Titus chapter 2 which outlines the qualities a woman should possess, are reflected in 1 Timothy chapter 3, when describing the role and qualities of male elders within the church. In this regard, domestic qualities that traditionally are associated to women, are also a requirement for those in a position of eldership within the church.
Hence, we cannot simply argue that women shouldn't be in leadership due to ‘traditional roles’ as the qualities reflected are the same and do not stick to the gender norms that we have put them in.
The church is our home. For all Christians, church is a place that they should be able to call home. It is where we build community and relationship with each other, but also where we can grow our understanding of Christ in order to impact our wider communities in telling of the good news.
Hence, it shouldn't seem odd then that women, who see the church as home and as God's kingdom to build, are the ones in ministry serving, as God has called them to.
Serve as one
Comments such as comparing Moore to a jewelry saleswomen also does not reflect fundamental biblical leadership, to watch your tongue (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29). Disagreement, biblically, is to be done with grace and discernment, not through the use of rash judgmental name calling, nor by diminishing another.
Whilst Paul in 1 Timothy chapter 3 writes about how women are to be quiet and submissive, the same Paul, then honours the women in Romans chapter 16, verse 1 who have been serving God's kingdom. He does not tear them or their work down, as he realises that together they are all working to build the same kingdom.
The church, as the bride of Christ, requires both strong men and strong women in leadership. Like the ministry of Paul and Apollos, we cannot fail to recognise the servant leadership demonstrated by prominent female leaders within our churches today.
Both women and men are called to serve God and to build His kingdom, as it has always been the case. So instead of trying to separate the call of God by gender, we need to be reminded that both male and females are made in God’s image, and seen as equal before Him.
We serve with others, not apart from others. This is not gender specific; we are all one in Christ (Galatians chapter 3, verse 28). And as children of God, serving His Kingdom by building the church, women in ministry, are very much at home.
Araina Kazia Pereira from Wellington, New Zealand is a published writer having written for various outlets and most recently joining as a Press Service International young writer. She enjoys asking the big questions and writing about the challenging questions that she has wrestled with in her own journey, as well as her learnings along the way. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org