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Question 206

Q: Should women preach or take the position of a pastor or elder?

First Timothy 2:11-12 says: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” But some people told me that Paul said this in 1 Timothy because the women at that time were not educated. Is this true?

Asked by: Jessie


A: Jessie, thanks so much for asking a question that leads us right into the midst of some controversy.

But I shall give you the answer which I believe is consistent with Scripture and with my conscience in interpreting Scripture. I think that the Bible means what it says that women should learn in quietness, they should learn in submission, and they should not teach men. So in answer to your question, I don’t think that they should become pastors, at least in the role of proclaiming the Word of God. They should not become preachers to the congregation, nor should they be elders. I think that point is clear from Scripture.

Also, it’s not true that the reason Paul writes this is because the women of that time weren’t educated. Interestingly, when you read the passage on which Paul roots this, not in contemporary issues regarding education, he goes right back to Genesis, right back to Adam and Eve and shows that this is based on what happened there. So, I think this is truth meant for the whole church.

Now Jessie, having said that, I need to say that oftentimes our churches have prevented women from serving in places where they can serve. I believe that women can teach other women, they can certainly teach children, and here at The Moody Church, we have women who read the Scripture oftentimes in our morning service. Women can also serve as deaconesses, they can usher. There are many, many different ways in which women can serve in the church. But to be an elder, I believe, is a male role. Hope this helps, Jessie. God bless you.

Scripture references

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-12
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