The Role Of Women In The Church

In churches where the Word of God is the final authority for faith and practice, the answer to this issue needs to be sought in Scripture.

Today, as in the O.T. and N.T. era, the work of God on earth is highly dependent upon women. Miriam (Ex. 15;20, 21), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Hannah (I Sam. 1; 2:1-21), Huldah (II Kings 22:14-22), Anna (Luke 2:36-38), Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-41), Phoebe, Claudia (II Tim. 4:21), Dorcas (Acts 9:3-43), Lois (II Tim 1:5), Lydia (Acts 16:12-15), and the most honored woman of all, Mary, the mother of our Lord (Matt 1,2; Luke 1,2) are only a few of the many found in Scripture. The list is long in every church today.

The principle of ordination is based on the Greek word KATHISTEMI, which signifies formal introduction into office. It is used twice of church offices (acts 6:3; Titus 1:5). In ordaining the seven men in Acts 6, they laid hands on them. Of the process of laying on of hands, I Tim. 5:22 says, “Lay hands hastily on no man…” By this directive and Biblical example, the process involves the “man.”

The reason many churches do not ordain women is that the Scripture says the pastor is to be “the husband of one wife…” (I Tim 3;2). The word “husband” precludes a woman.” Of the deacons it says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife…” (Vs. 12).

The Greek word rendered “deacon” is DIAKONOS. It can be rendered masculine or feminine. When applied to Phoebe and translated “deaconess,” it is used as an adjective, not a noun, and refers to a role of service, not an office.

In most progressive churches many important leadership roles are appropriately open and occupied by competent and committed women. Many outstanding women serve vital roles on church staffs today.

The issue isn’t equality. Galatians 3:28 says we are all one in Christ. This refers to salvation, not roles. The male who comes to Christ is still a male; the slave still a slave; and the racial Jew still a racial Jew. They are one, though diverse.