I’m sure I’m going to create a lot of controversy over this, but I’m going to forge ahead because I think it’s time I started to try and address this more cohesively.
First and foremost, there is no question as to the intended gender restrictions God put in place. No where in Scripture is there ever talked about a female elder. Yes, there was one female prophet, but only because there was no man who would step up and say “Yes, I’ll be Your mouthpiece, Lord.” The men of her time should have been deeply shamed. As men, God entrusted us with physical strength, decisiveness, and other leadership traits. As men, we have been entrusted with the defense (spiritual and physical) of not only our households but our churches and nations. Men today should be ashamed when their church, community, and country are in need of such Godly leadership and women have to step up to fill in the gap. Today our heads have been so polluted by the liberal garbage the popular culture spits out were willing to accept it as normal to have women in the non-traditional roles they are in today. The most damning are those in so-called pastoral roles in churches who thought it more important to satisfy man than it was to satisfy God by allowing women to assume the role of pastor/elder in their respective churches. Where are the manly-men of God? How can any congregation claim to be biblical, with true men of God in them, and have a woman being their undersheperd? I don’t mean to say God won’t speak through women. Look at the New Testament. There were definitely women in active, ministerial roles (Priscilla with her husband, Pheobe, and possibly more not mentioned). They were not, however, ordained elders or deacons. The new Testament, in several spots, clearly defines the role of elder and deacon as roles for men.
The qualifications for elder are outlined clearly in Paul’s first letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:1-7:
- Verse 2
- Husband of one wife
- of good behavior
- able to teach
- not given to wine
- not violent
- not greedy for money
- not quarrelsome
- not covetous
- Rules his own house well
- His children in submission with all reverence
- not a novice
- Must have a good testimony amongst non-believers
The male pronoun is used by God through Paul very purposefully. Today’s compromise by those who call themselves churches is unbelievable and should be unconscionable to those who Believe. I have no qualms in telling such groups they are wrong and are operating outside of God’s standards. It is both part of my duty as a fellow believer to show my Brother or Sister where they are wrong and to continue to love them regardless. As much as so-called “enlightened” man would like to say it is okay, it just doesn’t line up with God’s word and His standard is the only one to live by – especially those calling themselves disciples of Christ. Also, further evidence of male-leadership is established in the Old Testament and the establishment of the Levitical order. From Aaron on down all the priests were to be male. Not once does it talk of a female priestess.
That isn’t all, though. In the case of deacons (which were instituted early on in the church, see Acts 6 for more details, though I will touch on the chapter briefly in a moment) Paul continues writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the following.
1 Timothy 3:8-13
- Verse 8
- not double-tongued
- not given to much wine
- not greedy for money
- holding to the faith with a pure conscious
- found blameless
- reverent wife
- not slanderers
- faithful in all things
- the husband of one wife
- rule their children and houses well
Now the issue here isn’t gender, it is clear that seven men were chosen and anointed by God. The issue I wish to discuss is both the plurality (in other words, more than one) and also the deacon’s assigned role. As Acts 6 starts out, we see a Church in which the disciples of Christ are growing in number, and as they do, real and specific needs come to the attention of the elders (namely the 12 apostles, those chosen by Christ Himself). That is, the resources of the church were not being handled with any sort of fairness. Not surprising given the combination of people and money. God already foresaw this and through the Holy Spirit, the elders directed the people in what was to be done. The choosing of 7 men whom would be prayed over and anointed. There was no panicked rush, but a calm directing. The job of the deacons then is now as it was then: meeting the physical needs of fellow believers using the resources of the church. They didn’t sit on a board and direct the affairs of the elders (the Holy Spirit, God, and Jesus did that just well without man’s influence), and it certainly wasn’t their job to hire a new elder when one retired/died/etc.
Please don’t take this to mean women shouldn’t be involved in ministry. The book of Acts does refer to Pheobe as a deaconess, but there is no indication she was an anointed deacon. The word deacon has several meanings in the New Testament, the basic meaning though is “servant” and this is clearly how Pheobe is being referred to. Certainly there would be more than one verse talking of Pheobe if God had anointed a woman to serve as He had anointed Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas. There is also the case of Priscilla and her husband who are described as a husband and wife working in ministry with one another. As I’ve discussed in an earlier blog post, there is no doubt that Priscilla’s husband was the head of their household.
In essence, the basic structure of the Church is thus:
God/Jesus/Holy Spirit as it’s head.
Male elders as the mouthpiece of God.
Male deacons as the hands and feet of Christ.
Congregation as the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 5:22-34 is also a picture of the structure of the Church and not just the household.
Such a structure isn’t optional, and your grandfather’s church not doing it that way is not an excuse for you to not being willing to conform yourself to His will. Your grandfather will answer his maker for his own self, and you for your own self. Don’t let the false traditions of man keep you from having the commandments of God not only written on your heart but lived out in your life.
It isn’t legalism to keep God’s standards if you do so out of a desire to please Him. It is legalism if you’re only keeping His commandments to say you are keeping them.