Can women serve as pastors?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

The question of whether women can serve as pastors has been a constant issue for me in my Christian life. I have had to deal with it personally in my own family, theologically when I was assigned to write my Master’s thesis on it, and practically as it has been one of the most frequently asked questions on for the past 9 years. It truly is an issue I wish I could avoid, but God will not allow me to just avoid it. So, for the first Got Questions post on, I have decided to discuss the women pastors issue, once again.

Obviously, the question of women serving as pastors is a very controversial one. There are very strongly held beliefs on both sides of the argument. There are people on both sides who truly strive to use the Bible alone to come to a conclusion on the issue. Sadly, though, far more people allow their emotions, preferences, and preconceptions to be the determining factor. The most common non-biblical objections to our stand on women pastors are:

(1) You are a bunch of misogynist chauvinist pigs. This argument is usually either the opening salvo, or the conclusion. Basically, it says that the only reason to deny women from serving as pastors is if you hate women. It completely ignores the undeniable fact that there are several texts in the Bible that at least seem to place restrictions on women serving as pastors. You can disagree with our interpretation. But, to state that our understanding is a completely invalid application of the texts – that is unreasonable.

(2) I know you are wrong because God has called me, a woman, to be a pastor. There is often no value in reasoning with someone who thinks God has told him/her to do something. You could show him/her all the biblical and theological evidence and it would not matter. “Who are you to argue with what God has told me?” I’ll take what I KNOW God has said in His Word over what you claim God has told you every single time.

(3) There are many women pastors who lead very successful ministries. The argument is basically that if God does not call women to be pastors, these women would not be leading successful churches. Since when do we base our understanding of what God is blessing on how successful it is? The Mormon church is growing faster than the Christian denominations. Even worse, Islam is growing faster than Christianity. We cannot base our beliefs on what is successful. Why then do some women pastors lead successful ministries? I believe the power is the Word of God, not the messenger. “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that there are biblically-based arguments for an egalitarian understanding of the women pastors issue. I’ll leave a response to those arguments for a future post on this blog. I truly wish all of these emotional knee-jerk reactions could be set aside and we could focus exclusively on the interpretation of the biblical passages that speak to the issue of women pastors. Sadly, though, the vast majority of objections to our women pastors article are based on the above arguments. What is truly most discouraging is when people essentially admit “I do not care what the Bible says…”

Related article: "Women pastors / preachers? Can a woman be a pastor or preacher?"


TagsChurch-Issues  | Controversial-Issues  | False-Teaching

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Published 4-20-11