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Month: January 2007

Does "husband of one wife" disqualify women from being a Pastor?

Does "husband of one wife" disqualify women from being a Pastor?

I was listening to the January 26, 2007 radio program online by Matt Slick of Matt answered a caller’s question regarding women leading in the church by appealing to Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2 where it says that a Pastor/Elder/Overseer must be “the husband of one wife”. Matt said it was “case closed” because women cannot be “the husband of one wife”.

I appreciate Matt a lot for his excellent web site that exposes many cults and aberrant movements in Christianity and although I consider him a brother in Christ, I must disagree with him on his quick and pat answer to his callers regarding women in ministry. What Matt didn’t tell his callers and what he should have been challenged on is that “husband of one wife” used in the strict way that he uses it to disqualify women would also disqualify single men as well as married men without children, since the Elder/Pastor/Overseer is to be a “husband” and also required to keep his children under control (1 Timothy 3:4).

Instead of just shutting out women, single men and married men without children, we must work to understand what this passage means. Is 1 Timothy 3 a check list of qualifications (i.e. must be married, must be a father) or is it a set of principles that set a basis for godly standards? Every church that I am aware of uses 1 Timothy 3 to set principles because none of them forbid single men or married men without children from being a Pastor.

But if women are to be included along with single men and married men without children, then why did Paul say “husband of one wife” and he never said “wife of one husband”? The reason why Paul only mentioned “husband of one wife” is because it is a reference to polygamy. Polyandry (a woman married to several men at the same time) was not allowed in that culture and so Paul would not have needed to say that women in leadership must be the “wife of one husband”.

In the Jewish faith as practiced through the Talmudic law, Jewish men were allowed to have multiple wives but the High Priest was forbidden from being a polygamist. The High Priest could be married and divorced but he could not marry more than one wife at a time. The High Priest then, was to be “the husband of one wife”. Paul brings the same regulation to the leadership of the Church. Although polygamists could become part of the congregation, they were not allowed into leadership. In the early church, the believers were unsure of how to deal with polygamists. Some tried to force them to divorce all of their wives except for the original wife in order to be baptized as a Christian, but that left the women destitute and without support. Paul gives the final word by allowing polygamists into the church who come into faith after their multiple marriages had already occurred. The only prohibition was that polygamists were disallowed from serving the congregation as an elder or deacon. In 1 Corinthians 7:24 and 27 Paul talks about the marital state in which one has become a Christian.

1 Corinthians 7:24, 27 “Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released”

If a man is bound in marriage, he is not to dissolve that marriage just because he has become a Christian. So the early church then allowed polygamists into fellowship, but they also followed the lead of Christ in teaching that it was God’s will that only one husband and one wife were to be in the marriage union.

Mark 10:6, 8 “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE… AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.

So let’s review why the “husband of one wife” cannot be used to disqualify women from leadership. I think the answer will become evident from asking other relevant questions.

1. Do we stop a single male from being a pastor?

2. Do we force a pastor to resign if his wife dies and he is no longer married?

3. Do we stop a married man from being a pastor if he does not have children? After all the same passage says in 1 Timothy 3:4

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

We know of no church that disallows single men from being a Pastor. We also know of no church that disallows married men with no children from being a Pastor. Why is that? It is because we can understand from the passage that there is a principle being set forth. The principle is that if a person wants to be an Elder/Pastor/Overseer they must have their children under control (that is “if” they have children); they must not be a polygamist (that is “if” they are married and “if” they are a man).

The problems with interpreting 1 Timothy 3 as forbidding women from being an elder is:

1. There is nothing in the passage that says that a woman cannot be an elder in exactly the same way as there is nothing in the passage that says that a man cannot be an elder if he is single.

2. The Greek is written in such a way that allows both men and women to aspire to being a Pastor/Elder/Overseer.

1 Timothy 3:1 says: Trustworthy [is] the word: If anyone aspires to [the] position of overseer [Gr. episkope], he desires a good work. (Analytical-Literal Translation)

The Greek word used is NOT “aner” which would mean “If any male aspires…” Instead of the Greek word for males, the generic Greek word for”anyone” is used which is “tis”. “Tis” means men or women and has the exact same Greek grammatical structure as “anyone” in John 6:51 and every other passage concerning salvation.

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”

All of the salvation verses are just like 1 Timothy 3:1 and they are singular masculine in the Greek grammar but all of them use the generic Greek wording which includes men and women. If we dispute that the Greek can include men and women because the grammar is singular masculine, then we must also be consistent and disallow women to be saved since all of the salvation passages are written in the same way as 1 Timothy 3:1 with generic words having a singular masculine tense in the Greek.

3. 1 Timothy 3:12 also says that Deacons must be the husbands of one wife and this term clearly did not disqualify women because Phoebe was a Deacon of the church of Cenchrea.

Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;

The word that the NASB translates as “servant” is “diakonos”which means Deacon. If Phoebe could be a Deacon of the church at Cenchrea and the term “husband of one wife” did not disqualify her, then why would we think that this same term would disqualify a woman from being an elder/pastor/overseer?

So the next time that someone tells you that 1 Timothy 3 forbids women from being a Pastor, you make sure to ask them if the same passage forbids single men and married men without children from being Pastors. If a person is going to be a literalist without considering the standard that is actually being set forth, then they must also follow through with the same standards for single men and married men without children. To fail to follow through with applying the principle across the board would be hypocritical.

Discrimination of women in the SBC: can they teach men at all?

Discrimination of women in the SBC: can they teach men at all?

I have been following a blog documenting the injustice done to Dr. Sheri Klouda a professor of Hebrew who was forced out of her teaching position at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Southwestern Theological Seminary because the new President, Paige Patterson, does not believe that women should be teaching men. This comes after Dr. Klouda had been at the Seminary and approved for teaching by the board of trustees since 2002. I think that this is a very important issue to follow as it reveals the cold heart of some men towards other members of the body of Christ. Wade Burleson, a Pastor in Enid, Oklahoma writes:

It is essential for Southern Baptists to speak out when there is an injustice within our convention. This post is written for the purpose of drawing attention to a brilliant theologian who served Southern Baptists as a professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Theological for a total of seven and a half years, three and a half as an adjunct professor and four as full time elected faculty, establishing impeccable credentials and an extraordinary track record, only to be forced out from the job of her dreams for solely one reason — her gender.

To read the rest of the blog post documenting the gender discrimination that has occurred within the Southern Baptist Convention click here. I appreciate Pastor Wade for having the courage to document this injustice and his courage to speak out.

One other note – Paige Patterson is on the board of reference for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and his wife is a CBMW Council member.

What "law" does Satan agree with?

What "law" does Satan agree with?

I should call this post Part Four of “Does God have one unique law?” but instead I chose to make it a “unique” post of its own. Let me ask you, do you believe that there are any laws of God that Satan agrees with? Apparently he is in full agreement with the “law” that forbids godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men.

Let’s see how this works itself out:

Satan loves it when men and women teach false doctrine, but he hates it when anyone teaches correct biblical doctrine because the teaching of correct biblical doctrine thwarts his purpose to infiltrate the church with false doctrine. The teaching of correct biblical doctrine immunizes Christians from error. It also opens their eyes to the deception that lies within satanic doctrines. Does Satan like that? Absolutely not! Satan does not want his lies exposed and he fights long and hard to stop the teaching of true doctrine.

Because Satan hates true doctrine, he of necessity loves it when godly Christian women are forbidden to teach correct biblical doctrine. So here again we have a unique “law” of God. It is the only “law” of God that Satan agrees with. Is this really God’s law that Satan agrees with or is it instead a doctrine of men posing as God’s law? We can see the truth when we put 1 Timothy 2:12 back into its context within the letter it was written in. Paul wrote Timothy a personal letter reminding him that he was left behind in Ephesus to stop the false doctrine and false teachers that were plaguing the church (1 Timothy 1:3). The prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:12 is meant to be understood within the context of false teachers and false doctrine. It cannot be a universal prohibition. Why? Because it would make God the author of a unique “law” that stands in stark contrast to all of God’s other laws. God is not a God of contradiction or of confusion.

Read more about Does God have one unique law part one, part two, part three.

We're moving!

We're moving!

After five years of planning, my husband and I are moving our home and ministry office 10 hours away to join Keith and Lorri MacGregor our ministry partners. There have been some challenges these last few years working together with such a long distance between us. We look forward to producing many more DVD’s and feature length movies together with the MacGregor’s as our goal is to educate the church on the cults and aberrant movements within the church. I do have plans for another series on the women’s issue expanding it to include the relevant scriptures on marriage and how that affects women in ministry.

I also plan on keeping up with this blog although if I am off line for a period of time, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say, just that the move is such a massive one for us. We are having to do some major downsizing and to save money, we are doing the move ourselves so it’s a lot of work! Between packing, moving and unpacking we have a conference on apologetics in Alabama to attend. Exciting times, but also very, very busy.

The case of the battling proof texts Part Two

The case of the battling proof texts Part Two

In part one, we discussed the fact that the Bible does not contradict itself so when a complementarian has a “proof text” that is used to prove that women are not allowed to teach the Bible to men, they must also deal with the apparent contradictions of this view. Here are some of the contradictions that need to be answered:

1. 1 Timothy 2:12 is the only verse in the Bible that seems to suggest that women are not allowed to teach men. Since Paul commended the Bereans for checking his doctrine by the measuring stick of the Old Testament, what Old Testament scripture would they have turned to that confirmed the prohibition disallowing women from teaching the bible to men?

2. If 1 Timothy 2:12 is a universal prohibition, why would Paul word God’s universal law with the words “I do not allow”? Where else did God ever give a universal prohibition with the words of a man saying “I (the man) do not allow”?

3. If women are said to be more susceptible to deception than men, why are women allowed to teach other women (who by their nature would also be susceptible to deception) and young children (who by their age would also be susceptible to deception)? Why would they only be stopped from teaching men (who would be the very ones who would be able to correct them if men are the ones who are not susceptible to deception)?

4. Since Paul’s concern in leaving Timothy behind in Ephesus was to stop the false teachers, what reason did Paul give to stop godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men? Why would Paul have not mentioned in chapter one that he left Timothy behind to stop the false teachers and the women from teaching men?

5. If God does not want the teaching gifts of women to be used for the benefit of men, then doesn’t this make women’s teaching inferior to men’s teaching? How can a woman’s gifts be equal to a man’s gifts if he cannot benefit from her spiritual gifts?

6. If a group of men are not allowed to be taught by a woman, why is a single man allowed to be taught by a woman? Can you explain why Paul’s prohibition stopping “a woman” from teaching “a man” is not applicable for a single woman teaching a single man?

7. In Acts 18:26 Priscilla is said to have taught Apollos and corrected his doctrine. What scripture explains why Priscilla was allowed to teach Apollos? Was the universal prohibition to stop women from teaching men given before Priscilla taught Apollos or after she taught him?

WIM Video Preview on YouTube

WIM Video Preview on YouTube

I have posted a preview of my “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” DVD on YouTube. You can view the preview below. Click on the picture to see the introduction to WIM.
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To watch a preview clip of the 3rd DVD on 1 Corinthians 14 should women be silent in the church click here 

To watch a preview clip of the the section on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 click here