Women Elders and Preachers? - Not Surprised!

Roger A. Rush

U.S. News & World Report, September 10, 2007, reported: "In the past two decades, the number of American female clergy has more than tripled. In the past 50 years, nearly every major religion that allows female clergy has seen membership plummet. And every major religious group that doesn't, such as Roman Catholics, has seen a rise. It's tempting to say that women's presence has caused flocks to stray. More likely, the link is that female clergy are part of a larger liberalizing trend that is itself unpopular among the religious. The cold statistics show that this new class of female clergy is struggling because the stricter religions are growing, and the liberalized religions are shrinking. Female clergy, whose top issue is social welfare not men's 'family values' may be the pioneers of a new movement. This pendulum has swung many times before."

To put it bluntly, anyone who knows anything about the New Testament should not be surprised that churches that accept women preachers are in decline. A woman is compelled to reject the very thing she claims to advocate when she enters the pulpit to preach. The Scriptures could not be clearer. "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35). "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:11, 12).

To those who argue that Paul was merely expressing a personal opinion in the passages under consideration, I would point out that he addressed that argument in the Corinthian letter. He said that those who are spiritual would acknowledge that the things that he wrote were "a command of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37).

Further, I would point out that Jesus embraced male leadership in the church. If that were not the case, would there not have been a Mary, Martha, or Joanna among the Twelve? The apostles were all men. Elders in the church were to be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). There is no biblical basis for female elders, preachers, or other leadership roles in the church. So, we should not be surprised when those who choose to disregard the clear teaching of the New Testament and go their own way see a steady decline in membership.

There is also a message in all of this for the Lord's church today. There are change agents among us who seek to take the Lord's church down the same digressive road of compromise and rejection of the Divine will. To do so is to sign our own death warrant. God's way works, and we had better not forget it! So, as a congregation of God's people, we must always be committed to following Him wherever His way leads us! -534 Sixth St., Marietta, OH 45750.


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