Shane Idleman: The Real Debate is Women Who Preach vs. Women Who Pastor

As the news recently stated, “Controversy began to swirl when popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, a Southern Baptist, mentioned in a tweet that she would be preaching at a Mother’s Day church service.” It continued, “A group of male SBC leaders who are “complementarians”—those who oppose women in the pulpit—began expressing concerns that Moore was scheduled to speak on a panel during the conference on June 12.”

Let me begin by saying that I know and appreciate many women who have been recognized as pastors. They are diligent, steadfast, and hard-working. Our country has done a great disservice to women over the years by not elevating and supporting women in roles of leadership. Alexander Strauch echoes this same concern, “In the minds of contemporary people, excluding women from church eldership is sexist, discriminatory, and one more example of male dominance. But this need not be the case. No one who truly loves people, who is sensitive to God’s Word, and who is aware of the painful dehumanization that women have suffered (and still suffer) worldwide would want to discriminate against women.”

Women are one of the greatest gifts that God has given the world. But in our passion to promote women (something I wholeheartedly agree with), have we overstepped the Scriptures in some areas? It’s not uncommon for the church, as a whole, to over-correct itself when abuse occurs. Here is the key: women who preach are different altogether than women who pastor a church.

Men are given the positions of pastors and elders because God gave them the role of leading and dying for their family and the church. I believe that Christ coming into the world as a man was strategic for this very reason: to lead, shepherd, and die for. It has nothing to do with the culture of Paul’s day because the male/female role began at creation; it’s not about “better,” it’s about design. How did God design us? First Timothy 2:11-13 talks about women not usurping the headship of men (cf. Genesis 3:16 again).

Can men learn from Bible teachers/preachers such as Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, Anne Graham-Lotz, Beth Moore and others? Absolutely. But they should not be the spiritual covering over the man, thus usurping his role as spiritual leader. That’s the key.

In the same way that I was blessed by Joni Eareckson Tada’s message at John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference a few years ago, I believe that Beth can, and should, preach at a Mother’s Day service speaking life into all who attend. This is not usurping the headship of men; it’s encouraging and convicting then.

First, we must understand that the loving, nurturing role of a woman is vital to the health of the church in the same way that it is vital to the health of a child. God has designed the male-female relationship to complement one another; one gender is not better than the other, but we do have different roles. To reject these God-given differences can lead to an unbalanced view.

Second, many misunderstand male leadership as God designed it; it’s not a glorified position, it’s the position of a servant. A servant is called to protect, lead, and guard the church. We are to serve those God has entrusted to us. If there is a loud noise at home in the dead of night, do we encourage our wives to investigate? I hope not. God has called men to the position of servant leadership and protector.

Third, we see from Genesis 3:16 that God ordained a leadership role for the man. However, when men cower back from their leadership responsibilities, women will step in. Men must rise to the call of servant leadership. This type of leadership is not domineering or abusive; it’s kind, gracious, and humble. Pastors are to serve those in church, not lord over them. God’s design is not focused on “better than” or “superior” even though abuse has tarnished it.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Shane Idleman