Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pulling Punches

This week, a friend of mine on Facebook, who is a member of the Church of Christ Disciples, requested some arguments in favor of women pastors. I, of course, did the opposite and began soliciting my own arguments. Here is what I said:

1 Tim. 2:12-14, man. Paul doesn't say that the women in ministry issue is cultural. He anchors his reasoning in the order of creation and in the Fall. If you want to be a hip modernist, then go ahead and tell yourself that God wants women to be preachers over men, but if you want to do justice to Paul's reasoning, then there's nothing wrong with... Read More changing your mind on this issue. Come over to the mean old-fogie side of the aisle. We're all grumpy sexist misogynists over here! ... "Come overrrrr to the daarrrrk siiiide...!"

One woman responded that even though she's the pastor, she doesn't teach "over" a man because she doesn't think of herself as being better than the men in her church. Another person, in discussing these verses, replied that this was just Paul's opinion and it holds no weight for the church. Another said, "Paul also has absolutely no problem with slavery. Does that mean I have Biblical clearance to travel to Sudan and purchase slaves?" One of the most troubling arguments set forth was this:

Paul argues that woman was "deceived" and ate of the fruit. But the man was not deceived, he knew what was right and blatantly rebelled. But his argument is flawed. Would you really rather have a woman teacher who can be deceived but willing to be given more info and corrected? Or, a man who will defy reality and God's Word and blatantly sin.

So not only is Paul expressing merely his opinion, but when he does express his opinion, his arguments are illogical. One of the responders said, "maybe Paul was just wrong on this issue."

The general tenor of the arguments being offered were emotional in nature. Everyone had some kind of great experience with a female pastor, everyone said they'd learned something good in that context, and therefore it must be okay. Pragmatism was the rule of the day. Many people argued that if these women felt the call to ministry that the Spirit wouldn't call them to something that was wrong.

It was at this point that I pulled my punches. Instead of speaking my mind, I let it go. Here is what I was going to say:

The Bible tells us how to know if something is from God or not. Let me give an example. A man feels an undeniable urge to have sex with his neighbor's wife. His poor sense of morality tells him that perhaps this is from God. Perhaps God wants him to do this thing. Now, how do we know whether this is from God? Well, I submit that it's easy. The Bible says that it is wrong to lust after a woman, the Bible says not to commit adultery, and the Bible is clear that we are not to covet our neighbor's wife. Easy; despite our strong personal inclinations, we submit to the written word because our emotions can be easily fooled without an objective standard to submit to.

Similarly, if there is a woman who feels an overwhelming desire to be the pastor of a church, there is a very easy way to tell if this desire is from God or whether she is being deceived to one degree or another. Look in the Bible. If the thing you desire is forbidden by God Himself, then He would be contradicting Himself to give you the desire to do said forbidden thing. Also, considering that the Bible does authorize women to teach children and other women, there is an outlet for the woman who feels she is gifted by God to teach others. This is not a desire that cannot be fulfilled.

Now, one might ask why I pulled back here. Why didn't I say these things to Disciples of Christ people? Well, there's a simple reason. These are pretty inflammatory things to say, given that I was comparing committing adultery with a woman being pastor. I think it's true, given that both things are against God's will and therefore sinful, but sometimes throwing gasoline on the fire just doesn't help much.

Also, for the record, when it comes to the idea of God "leading" or "calling" someone, I submit more to the thinking of Garry Friesen in his book Decision Making & the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View. I say this just in case someone reads what I'm saying here and thinks that I'm advocating the idea of God telling me to go to the store, telling me that I should eat oatmeal, or telling people that they should do this or that. It's a good book. You should all check it out.


  1. I don't think your statement was inflammatory and even if the most vocal people would not have listened, I'm sure there were people that would have appreciated your clear explanation. I have a friend in seminary that uses the same idea, that she is gifted and called to be a teacher, so she shouldn't ignore her gifting.

    this also may be interesting or helpful to you in regards to the cultural argument:

  2. Thanks for the thoughts, Brandon. I'm actually reading the "Watch Your Head" post right now, and I appreciate you pointing me to it.

    I actually called off the whole Facebook discussion because I did a head count, and 90% of the disciples of Christ people I was talki9ng with believed Paul to be in error, and so we were all just on totally different epistemological levels. After all, how can you argue for your point using Scripture if the other person can just declare your evidence inadmissible whenever they feel like? You can't, and that's why I just had to call it off. Oh, and I told them to start reading their Bibles and get some respect for the Apostle.


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