Why Women Cannot Be Head Pastors

I don’t know of many more controversial issues in the church than issues regarding women in ministry. It is not controversial whether or not women can do ministry or be effective in ministry, but whether or not they can teach and preside in positions of authority over men. The most controversial issue aspect of this issue, of course, is whether or not women can hold the position of head pastor or elder in a local church.

There are two primary positions in this debate; those who believe that women can teach men and hold positions of authority over men in the church and those that do not. Those that do, normally go by the name “Egalitarians.” Those that do not, go by the name “Complementarians.” I am a complementarian but I understand and appreciate the egalitarian position. In fact, the church I serve at most often is an egalitarian church. (However, I don’t want you to think that my complementarianism is not important to me. There is much more to complementarianism than whether or not a woman can preach!)

There are a lot of passages of Scripture which contribute to the debate, but one stands out more than all the others. 1 Tim. 2:11-15:

“A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

I don’t want to debate whether or not this passage teaches either position. I am simply going to assume the complementarian position and attempt to deal with the sting of “I don’t allow a woman to teach.” It does have quite a bit of sting.

I like to make the Scripture pragmatically understandable. In other words, I want to not only understand what it says, but to rationally understand why it says what it says. Why does God give this instruction or that? What practical rationale might be behind the instruction of God? I know that we cannot always find it and our obligation to obey transcends our understanding but, in my experience, more often than not, our understanding of the command can accompany our obedience so that we are not so blind.

“I do not allow a woman to teach.” We think of this as coming from God. God says, “I do not allow a woman to teach.” Teaching is something that requires _________ therefore, women are not qualified. You fill in the blank:

1. Intelligence

2. Wisdom

3. Love

4. Concern

5. Rational

6. Persuasiveness

While I think the sting of this passage assumes that Paul is speaking about one of these, I don’t choose any of them. I think Paul (and God) has something different in mind.

The other night, at 3am there was a sound in our living room. Kristie woke up, but I did not. She was looking out there and saw the lights go on. She got scared.

Pop quiz: What did she do next?

a. Got a bat and quietly tip toed out there to see who it was.

b. Got a gun and peeked around the corner.

c. Woke me up and had me go out there.

Those of you who choose “c” are both right and wise. You are right because that is what happened. (It was my 2 year old Zach who decided it was time to get up.) You are wise because that is what normally happens and is typically, for those of you who have a man in the house, the best move. Why? Because men are better equipped to deal with these sort of situations. There is an aggression that men have, both physical and mental, that is more able to handle situations that might become combative. That is the way we are made.

Now, let me give my short and sweet answer as to why Paul did not allow women to teach:

Paul did not let women teach due to the often aggressive and combative nature that teaching must entail concerning the confrontation of false doctrine. Men must be the teachers when combating false teaching. However, because the role of a teacher in the church is so often to combat false doctrine, and because false doctrine is always a problem, generally speaking, the principles are always applicable. The “exercising of authority” is inherently tied to teaching and its necessary condemnation of false doctrine.

The combative nature of teaching is particularly relevant to a broader understanding of the characteristics of men and women.

The best illustration in the real world that I could use to help you understand what I am saying is that of a military commander in charge of leading troops into battle. Of course there might be an exception here and there, but do a study and you will find that no matter what the time or culture, men are always leading here. Why? Because men are simply better equipped and more followed. There are certian areas where men and women have a unique stature. I believe, like in military, the position of head pastor is the same. Not only are they better equipped for the issues that will arise, but they are followed more readily.

Let me give you another example: Two years ago, my wife was confronted by another couple who did not believe that she was doing what was right. She used to do princess parties where she would dress up as a princess (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty) and go to little girls’ homes and entertain them for an hour or so. She was really good at this. After we moved from Frisco to Oklahoma, she still had one party on the schedule. She called her boss and let her know that she could not do it since we had already moved. Her boss became very angry and began to threaten her. She also said that she was going to bring in her husband (who was a lawyer) and sue Kristie. Kristie became very scared and did not know how to handle this situation, especially since her boss was now using her husband as part of the threat. She told me about this and I told her not to speak to her boss anymore, but to let me handle it. I did. I stepped in and confronted both her boss and her husband’s threats concerning the issue. In the end, they backed off.

I felt that it was my duty and obligation to step in and be strong on behalf of my wife as the situation became confrontational. Kristie is both tender, gentle, and, in those situations, frightened. She was going to give in and travel back to Texas to perform this last party even though she would lose money in the gas it took to go there and back. Her boss refused to pay her mileage.

My point is that men are conditioned to handle confrontation better than women. It is not that Kristie could not have done the same thing as me, it is just that this was not her bent. Women, generally speaking, are not bent to deal with confrontation the same way as men. Teaching in the church involves, more often than not, confronting false understanding.

Can women teach? Absolutely! Can women understand and think as well as men? Most certainly. But the bent of a man is better able to handle the type of teaching that is always necessary in the church.

Would I let a woman teach from the pulpit from time to time? Yes. Paul is not restricting women teachers over men in the absolute sense. The infinitive here, “to teach” is in the present tense which suggests the perpetual role of teaching which exercises authority (confrontation).

The role of head pastor, I believe requires confrontation. That is not all there is, but it is there and it is very important. It is because of this, I believe, Paul said that women cannot teach or exercise authority over men.

See follow-up posts here and here.

Comments are open again. Be safe. Read the rules.

1,432 Responses to “Why Women Cannot Be Head Pastors”

  1. Michael, I have not thought of the issue in the way you have handled. Makes absolute sense to me. Thanks!

  2. Interesting post. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this line of reasoning on the issue. All too often people misinterpret the Scripture and make God out to be a Chauvinist when He isn’t.

  3. Sorry, couldn’t disagree more, at least with the argument you present here.
    Are you suggesting that the only way to deal with argument and disagreement in the church (over doctrine, dogma or anything else) is to be more aggressive and confrontational than your opponent?
    Whatever happened to tenacity and grace?
    Is confrontation ‘always’ present in authoritarian teaching? I always find the best way to ensure an entrenched position is to be confrontational and aggressive. Subtlety, tact, persuasiveness and rationality (as well as even temper) are far more effective. All of which, arguably, women are far better at than men.
    If a man thinks that he will win an argument with a female leader by being more aggressive, he is nothing more than a bully. And, quite frankly, there are few women I know, in ministry or otherwise, who are prepared to tolerate a bully.
    There may be many ways to argue from a complementarian stance over teaching. This, I might suggest, is not one of them.

  4. Michael, you’re a Calvinist complementarian. I’m an Arminian egalitarian. I respect our differences and I usually find the ways you articulate your positions thoughtful and persuasive, even when I ultimately disagree with you.

    But this is, hands down, one of your worst arguments ever.

    Realize that you are arguing that 100% of women ought not to be allowed to serve as head pastors based on the generalization that women are less aggressive and combative than men are—and the only examples you cite in support of that are anecdotes involving one woman. Your wife.

    Beyond that, there’s two other glaring problems with your argument. Even if men in general are more aggressive and combative than women in general, that isn’t the case 100% of the time, as I’m sure even you will admit. Some women are aggressive and confrontational (*raises hand*). If a willingness to be aggressive and combative is a requirement for the pastorate, then women who fit the bill should be allowed to pursue it regardless of the general tendencies of their sex.

    But there’s another problem. Numerous studies have been published calling into question whether or not the wisdom on men being more aggressive and competitive than women is a nature or nurture construct. For example, see this study which found that in matrilineal societies, it was the women who were more competitive and aggressive. So until we’ve seen a world where women are constantly encouraged to speak their minds boldly and pursue careers outside the home, I won’t believe that the majority of men are just naturally more aggressive and competitive than women. I mean, you said it yourself: “[M]en are conditioned to handle confrontation better than women.” Key word there “conditioned.” Seems to me that conditioning women to handle confrontation is a much sounder solution than wholesale discrimination against them.

    Truth be told though, I’m happy to see this post. If a thoughtful, intelligent complementarian such as yourself really can’t come up with a better justification for religious discrimination against women than argumentum ad uxorem, then it’s just one more indicator to me that Christian patriarchy is doomed to go the way of Christian slavery. The sooner the better.

  5. Michael,

    I am not arguing against your position in general or even the reason you give in this post that you think is why God said what He did.

    I think my question is one of wondering how the conclusion you came to follows from the II Timothy passage you quoted above. I think I am missing something in your progression of logic here or something.

  6. I am in full time ministry to the cults and in my gifts I continually have confrontation with false doctrine. I do my best to handle that confrontation with respect to the one who has been misled as I would want to be confronted if I was the one who was wrong.

    Michael, you said:
    ” However, because the role of a teacher in the church is so often to combat false doctrine, and because false doctrine is always a problem, generally speaking, the principles are always applicable. The “exercising of authority” is inherently tied to teaching and its necessary condemnation of false doctrine.”

    Confrontation regarding false doctrine is unlike confrontation of a 6’4″ knife wielding house invader. While some women are gifted with the ability to deal with an aggressive intruder, not all women would go there. Yet when it comes to the spiritual, God does not say in His Word that He gifts only men with the ability to confront false doctrine. I have dealt with false doctrine since 1988. I was the only one in my very large city who had an effective support group for ex-JW’s and hundreds of former cultists (and some current cultists who dared to attend the group!) came through the door of our home and were confronted with the gospel in a way that they could understand it. As a result many chose to follow Jesus and they found their place in evangelical churches.

    So if only men have a “bent” for spiritual confrontation then why is it that God gifts women for spiritual confrontation in a way that matches the biblical way of respect and gentleness so that those who have been deceived may be open to God who may then grant them repentance?

    And whatever is a “bent” anyway? I hardly think that it is a male organ. If only males have the ability to spiritually confront and deal with error, then what am I? Am I an anomaly? Am I in sin for using my gifts of confronting spiritual error and the gift of wisdom and knowledge to understand how to untwist the twisted theology to free a person’s mind to receive the gospel?

    In the area that I started there were 750,000 people and no one was able to help these poor unreached cultists as I was. Pastors came to me for help because they had not been trained how to reach these people using an understanding of the cults own language and mindset. Should I have been turning away men from my group? Or is my gift that employs spiritual confrontation meant for women alone and the men are out of luck?

  7. Michael, I am in a mixed bible study class on Sunday mornings. Mixed meaning, male and female and all ages and levels of scriptural understanding. We have 5 teachers that rotate with the lessons. Are you saying, that females should not teach males even in a Sunday school class or just from the pulpit?

  8. As a side note, Priscilla was actively involved in confronting error and she did it privately so that Apollos was not embarrassed in public. She taught him the truth more accurately. Apparently God was not embarrassed with gifting her nor was He embarrassed that she used her gifts to confront spiritual error. If God, who is the author of all of our spiritual gifts, was willing to gift a woman and then call attention to that gift by putting it in His Word for both men and women to read about the gentle confrontation, then why would we say that only men have a “bent” to confront spiritual error?

  9. Michael, thanks for a thoughtful post. My objections are in regard to your statement:

    “Paul is not restricting women teachers over men in the absolute sense. The infinitive here, “to teach” is in the present tense which suggests the perpetual role of teaching which exercises authority (confrontation).”

    1. I have serious doubts whether the present tense of the infinitive “to teach” implies that Paul allowed women to teach “from the pulpit” occasionally.

    2. Paul does not restrict women as “teachers over men.” This is largely a misperception from some translations. The infinitive “to teach” is simply not connected syntactically to “a man.”

  10. Oh my! To quote Dinesh D’Souza from a recent lecture I heard “I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony; I don’t know where to begin!”

    So to be brief, I’ll begin with Philip B. Payne’s newest Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters. Every reader of this post, starting with you Michael, is highly encouraged to take up and read Payne. Whether or not you agree is secondary to the immense gift this text is to the Church. If your complementarian position is correct, it will be better grounded by engaging Payne’s findings. If incorrect, it should be adjusted accordingly.

    For extensive quotations and modest comments on each chapter, see my review series, still in progress.

  11. I am a women. I have a bat. And your theology is unfounded. You should check the historical context in which Paul writes before you bring in attacking a stranger in your house.

  12. Couple of things:

    1. Certianly there are exceptions. But exceptions do not provide the rule any more than Debora in the OT as a Judge presented the ideal situation. In fact, I am more inclined to see that these exceptions prove the rule.

    2. This is not an argument or an exegesis of the complementarian viewpoint or, as I said in the post, of the Tim. passage.

    It is simply, assuming the complementarian position (please get that), an explanation of the question of “why?” Why can’t women teach men. It may not even be the only reason, but it is helpful to gain perspective.

    I do think that you will find that Paul always assumes that in your teaching, there will be confrontation of false doctrine that is necessary. I do believe that men are better equipped to confront issues with authority. Not only because it is their bent, but because people will respond more to male confrontations of this type. I could give all kinds of anecdotal stories and personal experiences, but they only go so far. But this post was only meant to go so far!

  13. First, there is no such animal in the Bible that is called anything close to “head pastor” except perhaps Jesus. So I would prefer to unask the question.

    Rephrasing to some more Biblical terms, Why cannot a woman be a pastor? and your response is because a pastor will need to confront error and men are made to confront more than women are.

    At the MOST what you have stated is a generalization, something that MIGHT be true of men when considered as a group and compared to women.

    Did Deborah fail to confront the enemies of Israel? Or Jael? Or, closer to home, how about Prisca (and Aquila) teaching Apollos his error.

    First you choose how to interpret 1 Tim 2:12 in a non-egal way, as you know they are egal readings that are also possible, and then you seek to justify it with this “confront-ability” argument, knowing again that this is simply not true for all females?

    I have learned from you in other areas, but in this case, your argument is simply self-repudiating.

  14. Folks, let me state this very clearly:

    -This is not a place for self-promotion. Please don’t respond by only linking to some stuff you have done. I am sure that it is good, but rest assured that I know the issues here.

    -This post is not about debating the comp/egal issue. It goes without saying that if you are a committed egal, you are going to think that this is a poor argument sense you are starting with an egal reading of the relevant text! This post is simply one complementarians understanding of why women are not as effective at teaching in the church. There is most certainly a lot of rational being read into this, but this is the process of making your theology pragmatically understandable.

  15. Michael,

    Again, I am not disagreeing with you that men are generally more aggressive and combative then women.

    What confused me (and what I was trying to get at in my first question to you) is that the II Timothy verses give the reason Paul is saying what he does–however that is interpreted. And I don’t see how you are coming to your conclusion from those verses.

    But from your reply above, I guess maybe you weren’t basing your reply on those verses at all? But then, can you give us Scriptural backing for your belief that Paul (and God) made the statements they did for the reason you gave?

    I guess my bottom line question is, “Why do we have to come up with some reason for what Paul said other then the reason he has already given us?” If the reason follows logically from what Paul has told us, it makes sense to me. If it does not, then it seems like we are only ignoring the reasons Paul has already given–for whatever reason–and trying to come up with a reason of our own from observation of human nature and psychology.

    Does that make any sense to any one but me?

  16. Rebbecca,

    I think that the ideal is for only men to be in teaching roles that imply a position of authority.

    Having said that, I think that the church has become so timid in so many ways, that it is very hard to find a proper illustration. In Sunday School classes, where the teacher is not in a position of authority, but simply an educator, I don’t have any problem with women teaching men. I think that they can provide an essential educational perspective that the church must allow. It is only in the positions of authority that require teaching in accordance with that authority that is at issue here.

  17. Michael:
    Assuming the complementarian position for the sake of your argument is precisely what the Church has been doing (in North American certainly) far too long and I do not find it “helpful to gain perspective” if the ground from which you argue is exegetically weak, theologically tenuous, or plainly false.

    If your belief that women are less able to confront false teaching by virtue of the fact that they are women, and if this position does not comport with 1 Tim 2:11-15, then your position is nothing short of gender discrimination. I feel like I’m losing my mind, not reclaiming it here.

    I urge you to spend time with Payne’s research.

  18. My take on this subject:

    My wife feels men make better pastors/teachers. I disagree and point out to her she has never had a woman pastor. She feels they are stronger for those tougher issues pastors deal with, I tend to agree, but perhaps it is wishful thinking.

    This I know to be true!! In Genesis 3 , the woman messed up…(sorry, it’s in the bible) However this is where I tend to have problems Michael with you on this issue.

    So Eve gives to Adam, he eats, and they both hide from God,…
    In this confrontation with God , Adam hides, and when asked if he had eaten of the tree, he doesn’t answer Yes immediately but goes on a spew about the woman who God gave to him, gave him to eat , as if that would help!(LOL) Anyhow , my point is that the first man didn’t handle the confrontation with Eve or God very well the first go around. God scolds him (vs 17) for not standing up to Eve……..So much for keeping the only law or commandment he had to keep!!

    As always , enjoyed this article……but for this subject….tend to come out Egalitariian in principle.

  19. Cheryl, it makes perfect sense. I don’t think that Paul extends his reasoning much here, therefore, I provide rational.

    If further explanation is not necessary for you, then no biggie. But a lot of us find ourselves scratching our head attempting to make sense out of the “why?”

    As one complementarian just said to me through email about this post: “I had struggled with this topic for years, but could not defend it other than referencing the scripture. Thanks for your effort in trying to put some rationale to it. Well written, sir.”

  20. Michael,

    If women cannot teach in the church in an effective and authoritative manner (as refuting false doctrine) then doing so would be a sin. This would mean that those women who do the “sinful” thing would be offending God and He certainly does not set up people in sinful activities as His representatives. If women teaching this way is truly a sinful thing, then God would never supply His own female “sons” with the ability and power to accomplish this task. But the fact that He has gifted women in this area and continues to gift women is proof that God has not created a new law that attributes sin to women who refute false doctrine. God simply cannot sin. And it would be a sin for Him to gift women with the gift of teaching and the authority to refute false doctrine and and then tempt them to sin by using their gifts.

    The most logical understanding is that God gifts people (including women) and it is His will for them to use the gifts He gives them for the common good.

  21. Paul, I understand your passion here. But think of this post as primarily written to Complementarians or Egalitarians who want to understand one complemetarian explanation about women, don’t think of it as an argument for my position.

    Sometime, with some issues, it is ok to assume. Just like when I write about the resurrection of Christ, it assumes the incarnation and the existence of God. There are times for defenses of the incarnation and existence of God and these times are very important, but sometimes we have to be given liberty for our assumptions to exist so that we are not continually laying foundations and perpetually stuck somewhere else.

    Trust me when I say that I have studied this issue with some of the best egalitarians there are. My position is not held due to lack of information or understanding. Just saying “read this person or that” is an ever present linchpin of stagnation and, often, faulty assumptions (hopes?) of ignorance.

  22. Jim, I agree. This is why I always wonder why Paul uses the Adam Eve illustration! It would seem that Adam was just as deceived as Eve. But, it would seem, that Paul does not see things this way. Paul does not see Adam as being persuaded by the serpent. He does not say why Adam did eat, but Paul’s belief is that he was not deceived at least in the same way as Eve.

    His lack of explanation lead us to posts such as this. This post does not come from this passage exegetically, but logically and experientially as I wrestle with the “why?”

  23. Cheryl,

    I don’t think that it is sin for a women to teach necessarily anymore than it was a sin for Debora to be a judge. I just don’t think it represents the biblically ideal situation for many reasons including what was said above.

  24. Michael,

    I am just curious. You say that you have studied this issue with some of the best egalitarians there are. Have you viewed my DVD series “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” If not are you open to seeing a view that has been described as an explanation of the hard passages on women in a way that there is no contradiction? If you are willing to review the series, I would be willing to send it to you. I am more than willing to put my work out in order for you to try to correct me. My own view has been described as the best that some have ever seen. What do you think? Are you game to having a toe-to-toe with a woman who claims to refute false doctrine? After all it appears that teaching is not a sin, but refuting false doctrine just might be a sin for a woman?

  25. No Cheryl, but I will support you in your efforts! When men are too scared to pick up the bats, sometime the women have to!

    I am sure your series is very good. If you want to send it here to the Credo House for us to have in our library (as we have a section devoted to this and have both sides represented) that would be great! I just have to be honest with you and say that I probably won’t have time in the near future and do not see myself serioiusly revisit and engaging in this issue anytime soon other than what I do here. Not that it is not important, but there is only so much time and I spent loads of time on this a few years ago.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I just have so much that is sent to me all the time from people wanting me to review it. Sometimes I do if it is the “topic of the hour” for me.

  26. If you spent “loads of time” on this some years ago, you are missing some of the best arguments for egalism, which is of course your choice.

    If you wish to become free, Payne is a great place to start.

  27. His lack of explanation lead us to posts such as this. This post does not come from this passage exegetically, but logically and experientially as I wrestle with the “why?”

    The problem is, your explanation is not logical. It is based on what appears to be a very limited experience into the bargain. As someone said earlier, the issue of a woman’s confrontational ability (for want of a better phrase) is as much an issue of nurture as nature. If, in your social circles, women have been told that they are ‘lesser’ than men in certain abilities, then it is logical that your experience will be with women who do not exhibit such characteristics which you attribute to men. It seems to me that there are as many here who could provide the anecdotal evidence to support the opposite conclusion to which you come.
    Your argument, therefore, is fundamentally flawed as it is based, by your own admission, not on exegesis or even theology, but in a flawed statistical analysis.

  28. CMP – I’ve read many cogent arguments for the complementarian view, but this is not one of them. All I know from your post is that your wife dislikes confrontation and that you are willing to step in on her behalf. I know nothing about the fitness of a woman to be in a position of authority in the church.

    You could have provided examples of female head pastors who failed in their positions because they were unwilling to confront wrong teachings. However, I and others (and probably even you) could provide examples of male pastors whose churches were destroyed because they were not willing to confront wrong teachings. We would end up just going back and forth providing countering examples.

    Assertiveness is something that any person – male or female – can learn, so I don’t see how this is a qualifier for fitness to be a head pastor.

  29. Don, it is a faulty assumption to say that because I am not of your position (“freedom”?) I have not studied the issue. It is a conversation stopper.

    I could just as well say that if you come and spend a week with me a the Credo House and let me explain it to you will be convinced of my opinion (and I might even believe that!). However, this is not an argument.

    Finally, this is not about arguing for the merits or demerits of each position. It is about explaining how this particular complementarian explains one aspect of the issue.

  30. Amy, this is not an arguement for the complementarian position.

  31. Michael, you said:

    No Cheryl, but I will support you in your efforts! When men are too scared to pick up the bats, sometime the women have to!

    Does this go for “spiritual” bats too? If so, then color me confused. How could you support someone in ministry doing something that God forbids me to do? Or is this an example of unwillingness to confront sin? I don’t know as I find this confusing to say the least.

    I don’t think I am willing to give a copy of my DVD to collect dust. Honestly, it is not a big time waster. Only 3.5 hours of visually interesting pictures and graphics along with the exegesis. A preview can be found on line at

    Michael, if you are willing reconsider even if it would be to provide a review for my own personal “sin” issues ;) I would send a copy for your own late night viewing pleasure. Otherwise I think I’ll pass on the shelf full of dust collectors.

    And thanks at least for being willing to engage me a bit here. The fact that you fail to condemn your sisters in Christ is a bonus point for you (as long as we are not in sin, of course!) You are a precious brother in Christ, for sure.

  32. John, it is an issue of humanity and sociology as much as anything else. It would bring about the same issues as, say, having a woman general who leads an army into battle. Can they do it? Possibly. It is best for them and for the troops? Absolutely not! However, people could respond by giving exceptions and other sociological studies. In the end, pragmatically, it rarely happens. Why? That is a good question. It is so obvious that sometime the simplicity gets lost in the debate. Here, I am afraid, the simplicity of my reasoning can get lost, but need to as long as you keep perspective.

    The effectiveness is not measured only by those who are leading and their theoretical capabilities, but the troops who respond.

    Paul sees the church in such terms. Just because the church has gotten so weak in so many areas does not mean that this is the way it is supposed to be and we should accomidate to these weaknesses.

  33. Hot Potato Issue!!

    My Wife and I are both Complimentarians, based partly on scripture but also on our life experiences. In general Women nurture, it’s built into their physiology. If you want proof, find any office full of career minded woman and bring a newborn in, you will be astonished at the change. I’ve seen woman who are as tough as stone go glassy eyed at the site of an infant, they want to nurture, that’s part of God’s design.

    There are exceptions of course, but Michelle and I both know woman who have lost their marriages because they could not balance an aggressive work life with a marriage that requires their tender side. It works for some I’m sure, but neither of us has seen it work.

    Men don’t have that nurturing side (or not as much), a man who is in a position of authority has no dual nature to deal with. That’s not to say that women can’t be in positions of authority, but if she tries to have it all then trouble will ensue. And maybe not for her, but for her children or husband.

    In the position of a pastor it’s even more tenuous, if they dedicate themselves to the ministry then maybe it will work. But someone in that position needs to be a stronger leader than a good nurturer, they need to be able to stand in a position of authority when the situation demands it. Not many woman can do that effectively, and when they do it damages their image and they lose respect. You can spin this any way you want, but it’s very very difficult for a woman to be in a position of authority in the church and still maintain a high level of respect.

    We don’t care if women teach or even preach for that matter, but neither my wife or I could attend a church that had a woman in a position of authority, it just leads to problems. While looking for a home church this was one of our doctrine questions, we got some interesting responses.

    I’m an Arminian Complementarian just to mix things up a little, I think scriptures pretty clear about the issue and to Michelle and I it’s just common sense.


  34. Is the conflict about women in a position of authority or is it about what authority really is? In other words, some may consider teaching a position of authority, a leadership position and some may not. Personally, I don’t yet have discernment on how to tell one from the other. Does a teacher simply present the information and encourage participation? Or is he/she viewed as an authority figure. Do others equate leadership with authority?

    Michael, let me speak of what I do know with some conviction. Most of the men I know in this generation and recent past are avoiders. They do the opposite of what you speak about. They may be more physically fearless…in fact, too many are foolishly physically fearless but few are fearless when it comes to confronting another while calm. Most men confront only after their buttons have been pushed and then it’s non productive and out of control. True, women are gentler but I find they are also firm and willing to address an unpleasant situation before spewing! I’m speaking mostly of seasoned men and women.

    Also, if women are known talkers and have generally superior communication skills than men, why did God bless us with such? Notice all the parables Jesus had to use? He found how many ways to break it all down to mostly men in order to rid them of that “deer in the headlight” look.

    Lastly…at least for now…on Adam and Eve….Eve was fooled. Yes, she was charmed. But…Adam was willing to throw her under the bus. He let her “sin” for him…or so he thought. He played stupid…and that never happens anymore, right? Then he cowarded out when God questioned him. He did not protect Eve. He not only blamed God, he blamed Eve. Is that our legacy? I mean, which was the weaker of the two. Where was Adam’s spine? I have seen women get burned. I have seen far more many men get burned again and again and again. So, in my world, that rationale doesn’t hold up. Men have more ego and pride…not always a good characteristic for leadership….if Christian leadership means to serve. I’m not saying you are wrong about the positions of authority ..just wrong about why.

  35. Cheryl,

    I don’t believe what you are doing is “sin”. In fact, from what you have describe, you are not in any definite position of authority over men. I support Mary Joe Sharp as well. I don’t think either one of you are pastors in authority over any specific group. This is where I draw the line.

    You can be the commander of the army or you can be an educator on battle strategy. An educator on battle strategy is not particular to a sex, being a commander, in my opinion is.

    Women can confront issues and be very effective. But confronting people is different. I think that this is where the “authority” issue comes in. And this is why I limit my understandings of the restrictions to the head pastor (or equivalent since someone is about to jump on the legitimacy of “head” pastor ;) )

    Hope that makes sense.

  36. Michael,
    OK, I see where you are coming from, but respectfully disagree.
    I understand why you might argue that an army may not follow a woman (we’ll leave Joan of Arc out of the equation for the moment), but again this is based on a static view of cultural and societal norms. If you will not allow even the possibility for women to ‘grow into’ positions of responsibility, or more to the point, allow for men to come to accept the leadership of a woman, but persist in applying outdated stereotypes, then it is no wonder you reach the conclusions you do.
    Can you think of no successful female ministries which undermine your assertion? Can you not allow for the possibility that such ministries can become accepted and of use within the whole church?

  37. Rebecca,

    Would you think a commander of an army going into battle should be a male or female? Who do you think would be more effective and why? Which is ideal? Who do you think that the troops would respond to more? Why?

    I know that you can bring up exceptions ad infinitum, but if you are honest you will say that men are more effective leaders in this case. My rational here is not much different. I think that Paul sees the church, with regard to preaching and teaching, the same.

  38. CMP, if you’re not arguing for the complementarian position, then what is the point of this post? You tell us that you are complementarian. You list a few reasons someone might take this view. You offer an alternative viewpoint. Is that not an argument in favor of the view you hold? You basically said, this is what I believe and here’s one reason why. That is an argument by definition is it not?

    argument: a fact or assertion offered as evidence that something is true

  39. Michael, I didn’t bring up exceptions. I want to believe that men make better leaders. In a way, that would make it easier on me. But I am troubled by the weakenesses of men in leadership that I see and hear about too often. I am seeing few men with the characteristics needed for true shepherding. That troubles me.

    Now, you didn’t respond to my thoughts on the first man cratering under or to Eve. He followed her as if she was the authority. What say you?

  40. Amy, I understand how this could be understood as such.

    An argument would give the reasons why I am a complementarian. This post does not do this at all. It is simply an attempt to explain why I, as a complementarian, believe that Paul said that women cannot teach. There will complementarians that disagree with this as well as egalitarians.

    I just don’t want the intent of this post to be misunderstood. I want to keep from having people come on here and turn this into a straw man argument supporting their position.

    My reasons for being a complementarian are scriptural, societal, genetic, and due to personal experience. At best, this would be ancillary to my argument.

  41. Rebecca, it is very possible that this is what got him into trouble!

  42. CMP, I accept your claim that you studied the gender issue a few years ago.
    But this is an issue that does not go away, it is like abortion in the US political arena.
    Either human life begins at conception or it begins some other time. Either God in the new covenant makes distinctions based on physical things or he does not.

    My point is simply that you are missing out (by your choice) on some of the better egal arguments by declining to study more current ones. Payne is excellent, even tho I do not agree with him on everything. Cheryl has some arguments I have not seen elsewhere and which comps have yet to respond to.

    Plus your argument in this case amounts to a possible rationale for more male pastors than females, at best, even given your assumptions. It is in no way showing that ONLY male pastors are God’s design.

  43. Not sure how to phrase this so it doesn’t get flagged as “debating” and thus deleted :-)

    I find this to be one of the absolute strangest arguments for the complimentarian position I’ve ever read. You use a personal example (which doesn’t even talk about confronting false doctrine but a personal threat). You and I are in the exact opposite position— my wife is much better at standing up to people than I am. Does this therefore make her more fit for pastoral leadership? I believe there are some God-given differences between men and women besides genitals, but this is not one of them.

  44. Rebecca, I too am troubled by the lack of male leaders. Frankly, think that there are many reasons, but one that is very important, in my opinion, is that men are not taught to be men anymore. They don’t know what it means. They are taught that they don’t have too many essential differences between them and women. They are taught that they don’t have a particular role. They are taught to supress their masculinity and embrass their “feminine side.” It is confusing. In the end, I think we need more people who are complementarian leading the church and expressing this value with greater confidence and boldness.

    Men will still be wimps because we are still sinners. Adam still followed Eve.

  45. Been great folks, but as always, there is only limited amount of time I can spend on this.

    Keep things on track and cordial.

    Our mods will be keeping an eye on things here even if I can’t.

  46. Michael, my difference with you was they why factor. I think leadship skills are few and far between. I think noble men are few and far between. That’s a problem for church leadership. Who takes up the slack?

    You say,”it is very possible that this is what got him into trouble!” “That”? What is “that”? Eve got him into trouble or Adam got himself into trouble? I’m just using your argument or explanation of why men should be leaders. If they do, I feel you need to find a better reason. Maybe they aren’t better leaders. Maybe that was God’s plan. Maybe there’s a lesson there. Maybe it has less to do with leadership than we think.

    I agree that men are encourage too much to find their gentler, more feminine side. But I believe that before that, man turned the reins over and somebody had to steer. It’s amazing what you learn to do and how you adapt when it’s dumped into your lap! Are the blurring of the sexes a 20th or 21st century phenomenon? Are does it stem from Adam not jumping in front of Eve and knocking that apple out of her hand and saying to Eve with all the authority God gave him,” You will not eat that! Don’t even think about!”??

  47. BTW: I think that Robet Webb’s Women, Slaves, and Homosexuals provides the best hermeneutical defense of the egalitarian position. It is very well done and came very close to convincing me. At the very least, committed complementarians should have engaged Webb.

  48. Rebecca, I think you are assuming (understandably) that I am saying more than I am saying. I am not saying that women cannot be leaders. I am not even saying that women cannot lead men. I am simply saying that for certian things (including certian positions in military and the church) women should not be in such a position and it it better suited for men. I could give dozens of positions that are not suited for men, but are better held by women.

    Just because our sinfulness keeps us from the idea, does this mean that we should not strive for the ideal? Men are going to be imperfect leaders to be sure. But this is the reason why, I believe, Paul felt it better for a man to hold positions of authority in the church.

  49. Unlike some of the egals on this thread, I am an egal but don’t think for a moment that Paul was egalitarian in his thinking about congregational leadership. He was a traditionalist in many ways. He was a traditionalist when it came to teaching and the exercise of authority in/over an assembly of men and women. Those were responsibilities normally reserved for men in his day. He didn’t think the Gospel was meant to fix this. From his point of view, it wasn’t something broken in the first place.

    I interact with Michael’s post in greater depth here:

  50. Okay,

    I have spent the last two hours plus going through Payne’s arguments (not that this is what the post is about!)

    Good stuff, but I failed to find anything original that egalitarians have not been saying for some time now. I don’t see anything that “updates” me to the issue and no real unique arguments. It is just run of the mill stuff that I have read many many times.

    So, up-to-date! (I guess)

    I would still say that Webb’s approach is the best I have seen.


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