Why Women Are Not Pastors

Needless to say, many women today have taken pastoral positions in churches everywhere. It’s common to hear about a church with a woman pastor. But is this biblical? Is this something that God ordains and blesses? What does God’s Word have to say about women who want to be pastors?

I understand this is one of those touchy subjects. And I am not seeking confrontation. Truly, I want to be a good steward of the truth revealed in Scripture. Since it’s a secondary issue (though very important to me) I don’t take every opportunity I get to share what the Bible says about it. And this goes for any teaching/topic. For instance, if I meet a woman pastor I don’t immediately bring up the teachings. What I hope to do in this post is address this issue with as much gentleness and respect as possible.

Since this is a secondary issuemany leave the conversation after hearing one or two arguments against women eldership. They agree to disagree and go on about their business without seriously considering what they’re doing. Now, there’s already many videos and writings out there on this subject. If you’ve researched this topic and have seen what the Bible says about it, you probably won’t learn much more in this post. But here, I want to clearly lay out for you why it is absolutely unbiblical for a woman to pastor a church.

The issue is NOT about whether they are able to preach well or not.

I would like to quickly clarify that I don’t believe women are unable to properly exegete biblical text, or counsel, or pray, or lead, or shepherd. Some women can do this way better than I can. When I talk to people firsthand that have a female pastor they are quick to defend how well they can preach and teach. But that is not the issue. Some, indeed, are really good at teaching.

Common push-backs include the accounts of Mary or The Woman at the Well (John 4). They say, “Look here at how God used these women to spread the word about Jesus.” But this is a misapplication. Women are not excluded from evangelism. Nor are they exempt from The Great Commission. Everyone is included in this. But this is not the same as taking on a pastoral position.

Also, this is not a supremacy thing. It’s not that women are less important or less valued. We are equal. But God has given men and women complimentary roles that the other is not to take on. God has designed women for certain roles, and men for certain roles. This is not a matter of opinion, but what the Bible says.

The following passages are three well-known verses that oppose women eldership. These are not the only verses that can be found, but give us enough to chew on.

1 Tim. 2:11-5

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Here’s a good place for us to remember that Payte didn’t write the Bible…

The issue is about how to properly handle what God has already said.

For those who love God and his Word, reading these passages is enough. But many people want to find their own way around what God’s Word says to fit their own preferences and convenience. The Bible is clear that God has ordained men to be the head of the household (cf. Eph. 5:22-33), and lead the rest of the family. This is the duty of every family man.

For those who are being led by a woman in the local church, I would advise you to leave. But before you do, however, ask your pastor what she thinks of these verses… Women pastors are not obeying these Scriptures, and will likely excuse other foundational Christian teachings found in the Bible. Their main argument will be that the passages are out-dated and unimportant these days. But God has spoken through the Apostle Paul for New Testament church structure.

The fact is, the Bible does not support women eldership anywhere. There’s not one female major prophet, high priest, or pastor anywhere in Scripture. I’m not saying there are not women judges, women leaders, or women who prophesied. This is about the position in the local church as pastor-elder. Furthermore, when it does address the issue, Paul says he does not “permit a woman to teach, or exercise authority over a man.” Again, the issue is not about agreeing with my opinion, but whether or not we will submit to this biblical instruction.

In conclusion, I understand this stuff involves wise, genuine conversation over multiple cups of coffee together. I’m not out to get women pastors, but I see this is clearly unbiblical. In regards to matters like these, sometimes it just takes time to discuss these Bible matters in person to see any change. However, it must be understood that those who strive to obey the whole counsel of God’s Word have no freedom to navigate away from these texts. It’s clear and settled. It is not a matter of whether or not women are capable of preaching well; it’s about what God said. If He said women may pastor along with men, there would be no dispute! Alas, God has spoken through Paul to the New Testament Christian church that women are not permitted to fulfill the role as pastor in the local church.

 


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20 thoughts on “Why Women Are Not Pastors

  1. “I’m not out to get women pastors..” just telling their congregations to leave because they view sections of the Bible as outdated and irrelevant. That statement is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. What woman pastor told you that? How many? Probably most of them think that way due to your mountains of research. This woman pastor sure wouldn’t say that.. but we should just have coffee right? Then you could twist my meaning and use it to fuel whatever agenda you have. You are contradicting yourself and seem to have not actually talked to any women pastors. This blog post is poorly informed, negating all the ways God used women as leaders in the Bible. Submission to your husband and to God does not mean that God only ordains men as pastors. Oh Payte, you are greatly underestimating our God and overestimating a pastor’s role.

    1. And I understand that no amount of internet debating will change your mind. You said some silly things here. You are putting words in the mouths of women across the world to justify your agenda. I’m fine with debate, but telling people to leave their church because their pastor thinks the Bible is irrelevant (an assumption you are making… not a fact)? Come on, man. I think these women deserve the benefit of the doubt. If I believed that God wasn’t okay with me being a pastor I wouldn’t be one. And I love the Bible the same way you do. Please understand that as a pastor, God is using my ministry not because I’m great, but because he is.

      I’m not even trying to change your mind, just trying to change the way you express it. Deborah led the whole nation of Israel as a judge. God is bigger than we can understand.

      1. Final comment, but the Assemblies of God can say it better than I can (especially since I’m prone to sarcasm in my frustration…)

        “And we, like Peter (2 Peter 3:15), must respect and love our brothers and sisters who hold alternative interpretations on issues that are not critical to our salvation or standing before God. We only request that those interpretations be expressed and practiced in love and consideration for all of God’s children, both men and women.”

        You might find this to be an interesting read. Not to change your beliefs on this, but to understand that one doesn’t have to dismiss God’s words to believe that women can serve as pastors:

        https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/The-Role-of-Women-in-Ministry

  2. I’m not twisting anyone’s words, Karli. I have good relationships with women who are pastors, and people who have a woman pastor. And I respect them. God certainly uses women to advance his Kingdom and purposes. No doubt about that. I explain here why I won’t be joining their churches, however, because of the conviction I have with the texts I explained in the post. I do apologize if my words caused distraction, but how do you handle the passages I included in the post? Do you think what Paul was teaching is wrong?

        1. You’re missing my point, also ignoring the article that explains in great detail my views.

          My point is that even if you are right, you are making assumptions and accusations against women in ministry everywhere when you assume they are just ignoring the Bible. I know it seems black and white to you, but maybe it’s not. Pause for a moment and consider the possibility that even if your views are correct, you may have expressed them in a way that is incorrect. Rely on the merit of your argument without making assumptions about the character of the women involved.

          I disagree with a lot of people on a lot of issues, but I rarely take the time to argue with “internet people.” In the end, my calling and convictions won’t allow me to do anything except be a pastor. There are times (more than I care to acknowledge) when I wish I could do anything else, but God has me here doing this. I don’t need to argue with you to know that’s true. I just want you to remember that these women you are talking about are real women who are giving their lives to do what they believe God wants them to. I think we deserve a little bit more credit than you are giving us.

          1. I did read the article. You’re making this awfully personal. I am seeking to get down to what Paul taught & what he said. I am not Pentecostal in the slightest nor agree with AoG on very much. My favorite quote was, “Throughout their history, Pentecostals around the world have struggled to apply biblical truth in widely divergent cultural contexts.” In other words, there’s texts they ignore to try new things in new places. To give one example why the article is wrong by misapplication is the way they exegete diakonos (deacon). This was NOT the primary leadership position at a church. Women can be deacons but the dispute is with the position of an elder/pastor. These are two very different things. It can be translated to “minister.” That is why we have women leaders & directors at our church, even co-leading Bible studies. But Paul teaches women are not to be placed in elder/pastor positions. He’s not talking about deacons. This is one example of the AoG providing bad exegesis. This is eisegesis.

  3. It’s a very touchy subject, but one that deserves addressing. I like how you point out that it has nothing to do with the superiority of men, but rather the following of God’s pattern as laid out in the scriptures.

    1. Thank you. Many people have asked me about what the Scriptures teach on the subject. I have a part-two post scheduled to post later this month.

  4. Payte, you did an excellent job on this topic. You nailed it when you wrote: “For those who love God and his Word, reading these passages is enough. But many people want to find their own way around what God’s Word says to fit their own preferences and convenience.”

    These verses are black and white, and can’t be translated anyway else. Those who do so, as you write, are fitting their own preferences and convenience. They no doubt do this with other parts of Scripture, as well. Either the Bible means what it says, or it doesn’t. Once we start twisting Scripture to meet our preferences, we pretty much render the Bible of no account.

    Great job, Payte, and thank for being willing to take on this topic.

  5. I definitely agree with your conclusion here, but I do have one clarifying question… What about Deborah? She was certainly the leader of the Israelites for a time, at least in practice if not in title. The Bible puts her up there with the male judges of Israel. How does her role of leadership fit? I’ve always just chalked it up to God having more wisdom than I do and can make an exception if He wants to, haha. Do you have anything more specific to offer me?
    This whole topic is one I struggle with accepting the answer to in my heart because my gifts do lay in preaching/teaching. I’m praying that God reveals His will for those gifts in HIS way, not mine. 🙂

    1. Deborah was a leader used by God to judge/lead Israel. The discussion here is about the pastoral position at a local church today, not about the position of judge. There’s plenty of support in Scripture for women to take part in evangelism, leadership, etc.. but not the pastoral position. This is what Paul teaches at least. Hope this distinction helps 🙂

      1. Ah, that does make sense! It’s not leadership that is always only reserved for men (but usually for good reason, haha), but strictly the pastoral position (in these explicit passages). That’s a good distiction, thank you! 🙂

  6. To start, I do believe that women and men were designed for diferent jobs. That’s is why we are so different. That’s why we often do not understand each other. But who are we to question who God lifts to what position and when and for what purpose? I realize that you have studied Gods word, you respect it as do I. You also believe it as fact as do I. But, if there is one thing that I have learned with many years and seeing many congregations and doctrines, that I do not presume to understand Gods ways. I do not presume to pass judgement on who he gives his gifts to. I really don’t think that when he bestows them that he is careful as to what gender they are passed to. He passes them to those with a heart to serve his people. He sees more than we do, He knows ones heart. I trust the fact that he knows what he is doing and He will reach people right where they are by whomever can reach them. According to your words, women should not lead those whom those women may reach. I don’t agree. He uses whomever He desires and it is rarely how we expect it to be. I’ve learned not to put Gods way into a box of expectations. I only rejoice when I see him working by women or men. Thank you Payte for all you do. And I know God is working through you. May God bless you in your works.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. It’s pretty clear what God teaches about the pastoral position. It’s my desire to teach what is revealed as humbly, yet honestly as I can. Thanks for reading

  7. Help please!

    I am struggling to find the Word Pastor or elder in these scriptures. I am a lay preacher and a woman. I try to share my understanding of scripture with others not based on any great theological knowledge but simply by reading the actual text and making meaning of it..

    1 Tim. 2:11-5

    11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

    Titus 2:3-5

    3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

    1 Corinthians 14:33-35

    33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

    The key word I see in all this is the Word ‘learn. I think that is where Paul’s heart really was.

    If course, if you do not learn, you should not teach.
    I can understand how women were not schooled formerly as the men would have been in Paul’s days.

    I can see how the society was structured for the traditional gender roles this meaning boys and men were likely to be schooled and taught the Torah etc and the women possibly not.

    I can also understand the chaos and confusion that will result if the unschooled women were to be put in leadership over the schooled men to teach them and exercise authority over them by virtue of what was being taught.

    I can also understand how this related to Adam and Eve as by being deceived it was clear proof that she was not well versed in the Word or instruction of God and that Her husband also did not take the responsibility to get her fully versed in God’s instruction. The consequence is what we are still living with today.

    I can understand how Paul will not permit the unschooled woman to teach.

    I can understand how the unschooled women eager to learn may have had questions they needed to ask in the church. I can understand them not having the decorum expected in formal institutional settings as the church for that eagerness to be contained.

    I can understand how the solution was for these women to be asked to not speak and to be quiet in church and at home submit to the teaching if their own husbands who were mire schooled by them.

    I can understand how Paul will think that submission to their husbands and learning self control, will save these women and the church from the same mistakes Eve made.

    I can understand how Paul will think that if the above fails, child bearing, raising godly seed, having the humility to teach those children at the micro level of the home will save women and enable them to learn the lessons Eve didn’t.

    I can fully understand why women were not ‘major prophets or priests or pastors or elders.

    Yes for all the reason listed above I can understand that.

    What I cannot understand is;

    How a woman Today, who had learnt and submitted and been taught and tested can not teach, preach, lead ( I consider pastoral role as a leadership role) just same as I consider the role of deacons, Sunday school teachers, music ministry leaders, bible study leaders, rtf to be leadership roles.

    What I do not understand is how schooled men, Spirit filled men, can use scriptures written out of love for the progress of the church to legalistically speak for God on who He chooses to usr or not.

    This is a long write. In my own limited thinking, the only basis for exempting women from leadership ( pastoral leadership) is there is proof that there are things they need to still learn compared to the man being considered for the same position.

    Like me, many women I know will not e en choose this path. It chooses them. And those who choose it themselves are possibly in the category of those that still need to be taught.

    One goid thing from this post though? I now have a new question in my mind I need to answer. I might share you later.

    Thanks. This is certainly a topic worth discussing.

    And yes every student does graduate at some point. Paul said women should ‘ learn’. Since he is no longer with us I wonder if women will e we graduate and be worthy of exercising teaching, leadership and pastoral roles.

    And by the way I think Deborah is God’s response to every person who tried to put women in a box.

    And she lived long before Paul.

    And she was definitely ‘major’ prophet if ever there was any such biblical categorisation of prophets.

    Please forgive my typos.

    1. I don’t believe adding the adjective “unschooled” in front of woman would change what Paul teaches. He doesn’t teach that unschooled people are unfit for pastoral positions. He says women are. Again, God can, has, and will use women in great ways to accomplish his purposes. However, we are simply talking about the position of pastor in the local church.

  8. I like this post and I am inclined to agree with you, but at the same time not so much.
    I have the title of pastor in our church, because I am the pastors wife, I preach when he is unavailable, I lead prayers, I evangelize, I teach etc. But I do everything under his covering and under the covering of our spiritual father. If in a horrible set of circumstances my husband were to die I’m not sure what my moral response would be. Would I walk away from the ministry God gave me because I wasn’t covered? Would I carry on? I don’t know.
    I do know that today there are fewer and fewer men in the church. This is awful and could potentially stem from the fact that men do not respond well to being pastored by women. But, when men aren’t around God has used women to get the job done.
    So I believe that men are the head of the house hold. Men need to lead and women need to follow. But if the head of the household dies, or refuses to fulfil his obligations, women are forced to rise up. It’s not ideal. But God works with our humanity.
    Ex: Laban had no sons, so Rebecca had to do the boys job and shepherd the sheep.
    “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.” – Judges‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬,
    Why wasn’t her husband leading??
    Just some thoughts. I agree, it’s something that requires many cups of coffee.

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