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It seems that that 1Timothy 2:12-14 (NASB) says that women shouldn't be pastors. But there are many denominations that allow this.

1 Timothy 2:12-14 (NASB)
12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

This idea also seems supported by the command that women should remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

What is the biblical basis for allowing women to preach or be a pastor? Specifically, what is the biblical basis of the doctrine of ordination of women? Also, how do the followers of this doctrine reconcile their beliefs with that of 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 above?

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This question could be clarified by defining the difference between the act of preaching, being a pastor and holding an office in the priesthood. I do not believe that pastor is a priesthood position, but a title for the person who manages a church branch. I am not even sure that the pastor has to be a priesthood member, that may just be coincidental because the priesthood runs the church. –  Jared Aug 24 '11 at 4:50
And now I'll add the counterpart: What is the biblical justification for allowing only male pastors? –  djeikyb Aug 31 '11 at 1:22
@Jared 1. I've updated the question to be more specific regarding ordination. However, I've also included the reference that women are to remain silent along with the one stating they're not supposed to teach or have authority. 2. Pastors in the mainstream Protestant churches I've been are part of the priesthood, due to the Priesthood of All Believers--not just managers. Still, the Bible seems clear about all teaching in church, not just being a priest/pastor/song leader/etc. –  Richard Oct 17 '11 at 16:52
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5 Answers 5

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This is a question on which Christians disagree among themselves. Even those who hold the Bible as a sole source of authority reach contradictory conclusions on the matter.

On the side of not permitting women pastors, the main passage is 1 Timothy 2:12-14:

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

On the side of those who permit women pastors is Galations 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

There are others of course. Each side has good arguments why their favorite verses are definitive, and the others are a matter of context.

In short this is a highly complicated issue, which cannot be resolved in a single answer. I strongly recommend further reading on both sides:

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The 1 Timothy passage refers to pastors, while the Galatians 3 passage refers to salvation. Two different things. –  Narnian Oct 17 '11 at 18:00
@Narian That may well be your interpretation, and you are free to hold it. Lots of people don't. Please let's not argue about the merits of each viewpoint here. –  DJClayworth Oct 17 '11 at 21:44
That's the context of each passage. –  Narnian Oct 17 '11 at 21:46
Let's not argue about the interpretation here. Plenty of people use the passage as an indication that women can be pastors. –  DJClayworth Oct 17 '11 at 21:48
That may be a good question to add, since the implications of that would carry over to other things as well. –  Narnian Oct 17 '11 at 21:50
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A friend of mine (an Anglican priest) recently preached a sermon in my church about the epistles and how we should read them. He told us of how he had recently found a letter from his father (who had died some years before) in an old book. The letter, he said, was full of good advice about all kinds of things. My friend said that most of it remained good advice. But then the letter moved on to an account of his father's buying a new car. The letter was written in the mid-1970s and no doubt was excellent advice at the time. But no-one would use 1970s criteria to buy a car today. That would self-evidently be foolish behaviour.

Any sane biblical hermeneutic will, in my view, take fully into account the difference in culture between first-century Judeo-Hellenic society and the present day. They are enormously different.

The Church's role is to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the salvation that comes from it. If the Church's rules and policies actively detract from this, they should be abandoned, whatever their provenance.

I think the problem inherent to the question is that theology and ethics cannot be reduced to parroting proof-texts from the Bible but require active interpretation (guided by the Spirit, if you will). God has given us cognitive faculties: it is our duty (perhaps even our primary duty) to use them to interpret the scriptures in the light of our other human endeavour.

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But then the "Word of God" is... malleable? Woah there... minefield ahead! –  Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 29 '11 at 13:51
@lonesomeday just to clarify... you're saying essentially that interpretation of scripture can evolve over time as cultures change (i.e. from Judeo-Hellenic society to present day)? Would it then be fair to say that, for example, a Christian in Northern Romania and a Christian in the Bible Belt USA could have different interpretations of these scriptures, but both be "correct" in their respective cultures? –  Bob Black Sep 1 '11 at 0:10
Any sane biblical hermeneutic will, in my view, take fully into account the difference in culture between first-century Judeo-Hellenic society and the present day. -- This sounds reasonable, and of course assumes an accurate understanding of the cultural differences. It's worth noting in the context of this question that "Judeo" culture at the time of Christ was sharply distinct from Helleno-Roman culture in its restriction of priestly ministry to males. Priestesses were common outside of Judaism. –  Ben Dunlap Dec 26 '11 at 16:51
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Here are some verses that were often referred to in discussions of ordination of women among ELCA Lutherans.

1) Women first at tomb

I know a female ELCA Lutheran pastor who said she felt her call to be pastor solidify after reading the Gospels and seeing that women who came to the tomb were the first evangelists of a resurrected Christ.

2) No male/female in Christ Jesus

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28

3) a Prophetess

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel,.. (Luke 2:36)

4) Lydia led a house church

And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (Acts 16:40)

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It seems that some of the most popular verses to oppose this are Galatians 3:28, Acts 10:34, and Mark 16:15.

(Gal 3:28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

(Act 10:34) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

These verses are mainly saying that no one can be "more saved" than others. Saved Jews don't have anything over saved Gentiles.

(Mar 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

This does not mean that women can be pastors either though, it says that every person should preach the gospel, but obviously not everyone should be a pastor.

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1 Peter 3:18-19 is a commandment to the eleven remaining disciples, not everyone. Though I see no reason that it cannot be applied to everyone. –  Jared Aug 24 '11 at 4:40
I agree that preach does not mean be pastor or hold office. –  Jared Aug 24 '11 at 4:42
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Disclaimer: This answer was initially posted in response to this question which has been judged to be a duplicate of the OP.

Women appear in ministry functions and even recognized roles in both the Old Testament and New Testament which of course, provides biblical evidentiary support for women's involvement in ministry in general and to a certain extent undermines overly literalistic interpretations of the 'problem' scriptures cited (source). I believe, that the earliest mandate for women in ministry is that given right at the beginning - the command given to co-steward the Earth (in conjunction with men):

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26-28 ESV (emphasis added)

A consequence of the fall, was that the deception of Eve resulted in a curse on her to be under the rule of her husband in a way that worked against her own desire for him (a subjection - cf. Genesis 3:16). It is true, that Adam was made first and there is a sense that Eve was made 'for him'; but it is also true that a male/female partnership with both being co-image-bearers was in God's heart as evidenced in the passage quoted above - the curse bought a sense of dominance as opposed to 'first among equals'. This curse was unfortunately transmitted to subsequent generations and indeed had a highly deleterious effect on women's ability to minister according to their original dominion (co-)mandate and remained in effect until it was broken at Calvary*. The ministries of Deborah and Huldah in the OT were exceptions that gave a glimmer of hope that God's grace was sufficient to overcome the curse by those who put their trust in Him.

The most significant verse on the matter in the OT is not the examples of the two women mentioned however, but:

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. - Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Which of course received initial fulfilment on the day of Pentecost but remains an aspect of the 'now but not yet'-ness of the Kingdom of God - until the cloudbursts of the latter rain, it will be those who press in to the Kingdom that will lay hold of this truth, while others will fail to grasp it.

I believe that it is in this over-all context, that a deeper meaning than just implied by the immediate context can be seen in the oft-quoted (by egalitarians) Galatians 3:28 -

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ, women are liberated from the curse of domination to become all they can be in him - including walking in a life of good works prepared for them (cf. Ephesians 2:10) for:

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 GW

Many will still say, but what about 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12? I would answer that these passages must be examined very carefully in light of the context of what the whole of scripture tells us - they represent examples of what 2 Peter 3:15-16 is talking about -

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. - ESV (emphasis added)

For those who are interested in further study of these matters, I would direct them here,here or here.

*In an analagous way to how scripture teaches us of other Calvary associated benefits (e.g. healing), I believe that this benefit must be appropriated by faith in God's grace.

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