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This verse has been used to say that women should not hold the office of pastor:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 1 Tim 2:12.

Yet at least among LC-MS Lutheran congregations, I have observed female "worship leaders", choir directors, lectors, communion distributors, congregation presidents, and more notably, Sunday School teachers. Clearly speaking, every one of these offices has "authority" or "teaches" males. These would include in some cases indirectly whole congregation (worship leader) or direct authority and "teaching" for Sunday school students who are men by US standards (18) or ancient standards (late teens, perhaps).

Q: How have denominations (or other church movements) that have held scripture forbids female pastors responded to the general blanket proscription which seems to be found in this verse?

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This sounds like a half-hearted literalism. – pterandon Jul 13 '13 at 12:45
The question's "header" refers to female teachers for 17, 18 year old male students, and then you do nothing with that point. Maybe it would be better to re-word the header? (Because I could see the issue of sexuality cropping up in the original wording, which is a valid discussion point, but you don't treat it in the body of your question). – Chelonian Jul 13 '13 at 15:37
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since you asked "How have nominations (or other church movements) that have held scripture forbids female pastors responded to the general blanket proscription which seems to be found in this verse?" I'll answer that only, with the disclaimer that I'm neither saying that women should or should not preach. I have my belief on the subject, but my belief is irrelevant to the question.

Baptists are one example of a denomination that has historically held that women should not be preachers. These days, there's division on that, but historically, this is a good group to use as an example.

A short version of how it's handled in the Baptist Churches I've dealt with, women are allowed to teach Sunday School classes to children and to other women.

  • Children are generally divided by age group, with either male of female teachers.
  • Teens are generally taught by a (male) Youth Pastor.
  • Adult Sunday school is either led by the (male) Pastor for all 18 year-olds.
  • On some subjects, adult men and women are split up into two groups. For example, every so often, Sunday School focuses on "how to be a Godly husband/wife". During this type of session, men are taught by a man, women are taught by a woman.

Of course, my experience in Baptist Churches is very limited. I've attended probably less than 10 baptist Churches in my life, and have only been a regular member at two of those. However, having friends in Baptists Churches all over the place, this is pretty typical.

There's an article at that covers the view that see/hear in baptist circles: Perspectives on Women in Baptist Life

Some Excerpts:

Perspectives on Women in Baptist Life by Leon McBeth

I would like to make three disclaimers at the beginning of this article. First, my perspective obviously is that of a man. I feel totally inadequate to write on the roles of women. When I say "we" in this paper, I mean generally men. When I say "you," I mean women. If any readers detect areas of ignorance, prejudice, misunderstanding, and lingering chauvinism, I can only ask that you bear with me with whatever degree of patience the Lord will give you.

Second, my perspective is that of a historian. My academic preparation has been in history, and most of my waking hours are devoted to a study of our Baptist heritage. If I draw my insights and examples primarily from Baptist history, you will not be unduly surprised.

Third, my perspective is that of a participant. I cannot discuss the role of women in Baptist life in the same way that I can, say, the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention or the rise of the Separate Baptists in the eighteenth century. The changing roles of Baptist women, while a question with deep historical roots, is going on today. It affects my church today; it affects my students; it affects my denomination here and now; and it affects me. Almost daily I counsel with seminary students who feel called to ministry, many of whom are women. In my church I receive the Lord’s Supper from the hands of a woman deacon. Sometimes when our pastor is absent, we hear a sermon from our associate pastor, a capable, well-prepared, and articulate ordained minister who wears a dress. This is no theoretical ivory tower topic, but one in which all of us are daily involved. Yet, one who writes as a participant must guard against loss of objectivity.

With that introduction, let us examine some perspectives on women in Baptist life.

From the Angle of Service, We Depend on You

I tell you nothing new in saying that from day one in Baptist history, women have served faithfully in Baptist life. You have nurtured, sustained, encouraged, and preserved our churches. Without your loyal and effective service through the generations, our churches and our denomination would be far different, if they would be at all.


From the Angle of Missions, We Follow You

No fact of Baptist history is clearer than the fact that women have set the pace for Baptist involvement in missions. While it is true that William Carey had little support from his wife Dorothy, on this side of the water two women helped set the stage for our present Baptist work among the nations. They were Ann Judson in the North and Lottie Moon in the South.


From the Angle of Scripture, We Puzzle Over You

"What does the Bible say?" That question is and has always been vitally important for Southern Baptists. For us the teachings of the Bible have been determinative, and still are. For the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists, a clear word of Scripture settles any question of faith or practice among us.

However, not all words from the Bible are equally clear. We read that women are to keep silent in the church, but we are not sure whether it means in that social setting or for all time to come. We have competent and dedicated Southern Baptist Bible scholars who genuinely believe that the New Testament forbids women to exercise a teaching or ministerial role in the church. We have other equally competent and dedicated Bible scholars who believe that the New Testament, properly interpreted, does not disqualify women from being called of God and of fulfilling that call in positions of ministry in the church. So it is not a question of whether one believes the Bible, but of how we understand the Bible.

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Thanks for the facts. Editorializing: a practice of segregating by gender after a certain age seems more faithful to this verse than, "women can teach or have any authority other than pastor." – pterandon Jul 14 '13 at 11:27

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