Perspectives – Can women be pastors?


Three views on Women Preachers

by various authors with various viewpoints


The issue and a disclaimer

One of the most common, and controversial, arguments in Christendom is the question, “Can women be preachers?” Many terms are thrown around – egalitarian, complementarian, etc. – so it can be difficult to sift through the positions. Read on for three different perspectives on women preachers.

These viewpoints are not necessarily the views of Ratio Christi, nor may these viewpoints represent orthodox Christianity. Ratio Christi may not consider these viewpoints The purpose of this blog is to offer a survey of different positions. It is important for Christians to understand viewpoints that may be counter to their personal beliefs. By weighing these differing viewpoints against Scripture and testing them, we hope that readers will develop a stronger, Christ-centered worldview. We also hope that readers understand WHY they hold certain viewpoints. We don’t want you to believe something just because someone told you that’s the right view. Seeing differing perspectives on an issue will help you defend your faith and develop your personal apologia.

Please comment with your perspectives on this issue!

Perspective 1

Grounded in the Garden: How Women Can Display the Truth of Genesis

Scarlett Clay, Chapter Director, University of Texas, Austin

Women can eat of every tree in the garden of ministry opportunities except one in authority over men in the local assembly. God’s chosen instrument, Paul, settled the matter via the superintendence of the Holy Spirit around 59 AD, sans ambiguity:

I Tim. 2:11: Let a woman learn in silence will all submission.

I Tim. 2:12: And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Clarity in the verses

These verses are uncomplicated; Verse 12 clarifies verse 11. The meaning of these verses are, in the words of Southern Seminary President, Albert Mohler, “excruciatingly clear”. The verbs are in the present indicative (the continuing idea), and there is no sense in which the Greek authentein (authority) carries the nuance of “abusive authority”. If Paul’s goal was to prohibit abusive authority, he would’ve included men, since abuse is wrong regardless of who is doing the abusing. Additionally, if we interpret the verse with such nuance it conflicts with three widely used translations in evangelical churches: NIV, ESV, and NASB. None translate authentein to mean “abusive authority”. The Pauline prohibition stands on a firm foundation of accomplished and reliable New Testament scholarship.

An explanation in the text

Following the prohibition, Paul preemptively halts progressives:

I Tim. 2:13 “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

I Tim. 2:14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

The prohibition is not due to any inferiority of female reason or rhetoric – it is grounded in Creation. Paul reminds us the fairer sex was created second and fell first. Time and culture cannot change those high-heel busting facts. Submission to Paul’s directive does not negate the value of women in the church; rather, it proclaims the truth of Creation and the Fall. Further objections melt beneath the heat of this Genesitic seal.

Two objections

Nevertheless, two common objections persist. Some point to the Old Testament judge, Deborah, making a false comparison. The office of pastor in the NT is not comparable to a judge in ancient Israel; plus, that was a time when men “did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25). Similarly, some point to the New Testament figure called Junias/Junia (Romans 16:7) as an ‘apostle’ and an example of a female elder has been adequately refuted by respected NT scholar, Dan Wallace, saying, “In sum, until further evidence is produced that counter the working hypothesis, we must conclude that Andronicus and Junia were not apostles, but were known to the apostles.” Therefore, it’s exegetically responsible to admit that the NT does not provide an example of women in authority over men in the local church. As Dr. Owen Strachan, associate professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, notes, “If we take the Bible at its word, then we recognize that there is no way for a woman to instruct the gathered church, whether in an authoritative or a non-authoritative way.”


In a time when the unbelieving world dismisses concepts of femininity and masculinity, the sacredness of biblical marriage, and the proper ordering of the family, the gathered church has the privilege of putting truth on display for all who enter. We serve as living witnesses to the truth of both testaments by submitting to God-ordained roles. Though the Word of God has closed the office of pastor/elder to women in the context of the assembled church, innumerable ministry opportunities are ripe for the contributions of more women, including Ratio Christi! Check out the web site and see how you can get started equipping and encouraging students to defend their faith at your local college or university.

Ask Anything Live, Ep. 10, at 15:15 to 15:21, at j

Perspective 2

Depends on what you mean by preachers

By: Anonymous Pastor

The Bible is quite clear that women shouldn’t have authority over men in the local church government. Does this mean that women can’t be pastors or preachers? Depends on what you mean by “Preachers.”

Let’s quickly define our terms so that we are on the same page.

What is a pastor?

The Greek word for pastor translates literally as shepherd. Eph 4:11 is the only mention of the pastor. In Greek, the pastor has the feel of the one who cares for the local congregation.

What is a preacher?

Kerusso. No, not the guy with the sunglasses and pithy one-liners from that Miami cop show. Nor is it those Christian shirts that rip off popular slogans. Don’t pretend like you didn’t get one on a Jr. High Christian camp. Anyway, I digress. The Biblical idea of the preacher is the one who brings the Gospel, or though it seems to be different than an evangelist.

What is a teacher?

The teacher seems to be a bit of a different role than that of the preacher. I think that a sufficient summation would be that teachers seem to help Christians to develop as disciples.

Ephesians 4:11 seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are the same role.

What is an elder?

An elder is the NT word used for a leader of the local church. See 1 Timothy 3. It appears the modern church has lost a true understanding of the distinction of the role of elder. Many churches have conflated the pastor with the elder.

We expect pastors to give moving messages each weekend and shrewd leadership decisions each weekday. Indeed, I just spoke with a well-known pastor in my hometown who skirted the denominational requirements for a board of elders overseeing his position by being the sole member of the elder board! The elder is the leader of the church as discussed in 1 Timothy 3.

What is a woman?

That seems to be a sticky subject these days! Since we only have 500 words per person, it may require an entirely different Perspectives blog entry!

So, can women be preachers?

“Aha!” you might say. If a preacher is the same as a teacher, then 1 Tim. 2:12 clearly says that a woman cannot be a preacher. However, the neither – nor construct used in 1 Timothy 2:12 has several uses. This instance seems to be similar to what is used in Psalm 121:4 and connotates a single idea. I hold that the Greek phrase is not condemning women teaching OR having authority, but rather that women are prohibited from a domineering office over men. Therefore, if the role of preacher does not equal an elder, then the woman is free to serve in that role.

Perspective 3

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