Regarding Women Preachers

Should women preside over Christian congregations? Should they be set as pastors over churches? Should they even preach at all? As you can imagine, I get these questions all the time. But I usually ignore them; because, frankly, I think it’s a silly question—a no brainer.

Recently, however, the frequency of this question in my mailbox and conversations has increased, such that I’m starting to wonder if some bug has invaded the church!

So, here are my personal views on the matter. Remember, I don’t teach doctrines, and I do not equate my understanding of scriptures with the scriptures themselves. What is contained in this post is simply Rev. Wildfire’s personal opinion regarding women preachers.

For starts, I personally think that this issue is really a no brainer. I mean, religious folks have made a mountain out of a molehill. However, I’m also of the opinion that when it comes to ancient landmarks —and, quite clearly, this issue falls squarely into that category—one must tread cautiously. I’m not one to move ancient landmarks. I might be radical in my views, but I’m definitely not careless in my thinking. I respect constraints and boundaries as they help protect us from falling off the deep end.

Now to the matter in question:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
~ 1 Timothy 2:12

The verse above contains 3 distinct constraints for women.
1. Don’t teach.
2. Don’t have authority over a man.
3. Don’t talk!

Quite a list.

So far I haven’t encountered much hang ups with regards to no 1 and 3. I mean only an idiot would imagine that Paul meant that women should remain practically dumb in the gathering of the saints. You never can tell, though; there are some crazy nuts out there among religious folks. However, my experience so far is that even among extremely conservative positions, there isn’t much hiccups with nos 1 and 3.

But when it comes to no 2, the gloves come off, the swords and arrows are unsheathed, and the guns start blazing! You know, It’s sort of ok for a woman to teach; it’s ok for her to talk—but as far as wielding authority over a man is concerned, that’s a no no for many. While power gimmicks and insecurities are at play here, there’s also lots of ignorance. So, let me share my personal thoughts here and hopefully clear up some things for the sincere but ignorant seeker.

Take another look at the verse in question, and carefully note my emphasis:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
~ 1 Timothy 2:12

Now, here’s the same verse in the King James Version:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
~ 1 Timothy 2:12 KJV

Now, zero in on the phrase “to usurp authority over the man”. What does that mean?

Here’s what the dictionary has to say concerning the word ‘usurp’:

1. to seize and hold (a position, office, power, etc.) by force or without legal right: The pretender tried to usurp the throne.
2. to use without authority or right; employ wrongfully: The magazine usurped copyrighted material.

To usurp authority means to operate in a role you are neither qualified, nor authorized to function in.

For instance, an accomplished military general who has neither a medical school training, nor a medical license, has no business in the operating theatre!

A father has no business sticking the mouth of a new baby over his flat muscular nipples! He has neither the anatomical design nor content of breast, to carry out that function. So, to attempt to breast feed the baby from his own natural breast would amount to usurping the breast-feeding role of the child’s mother.

In the later instance, however, his wife could —due to a wide range of reasons —equip and ‘license’ him for that role. She could say something like, “Honey, I really need to get some rest. Could you please ‘breast feed’ the baby for me? Here’s the feeding bottle; I’ve pressed sufficient breast milk into it to last till I wake up.”

In this case, that man would not be considered to be usurping the authority of his wife in the life of that baby. This is due to the fact that one with sufficient authority —the child’s mother in this case— has not only given him the authority to feed the child (“Could you please ‘breast feed’ the baby for me?”) but has also given him the equipment to do so (“Here’s the feeding bottle; I’ve pressed sufficient breast milk into it to last till I wake up.”)

Essentially, to usurp authority means to operate in a role you are neither qualified, nor authorized to function in.

In the original text of the verse in question, the phrase ‘to usurp authority’ literally means ‘to act of oneself’. That is, to act without proper equipment and authorization. When Paul wrote that he did not permit a woman to usurp authority over a man, he meant that (in spiritual matters) a woman should not function in a role divinely designed for a man, without the necessary equipment and authorization.

Thus, as long as she has the proper spiritual equipment and authorization from God Almighty —in strict accordance with the divine order, the Word, and the Spirit —a woman can and should teach, exercise authority over men, and speak in the congregation of saints; and yes, even preside over the church of the living God.

Previous article
Next article