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Gender

Female ‘Pastors’ and Gay ‘Marriage’

The office of pastor is limited to men. Some people disagree. Those who do sometimes complain that we are more focused on pastors being men than we are on pastors being qualified. But this argument appears to commit some form of the fallacy of false equivalence. The Scriptural definition of pastors is distinct from the discussion of whether or not particular men are qualified for the office of pastor.

An analogy may help. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Some people disagree. Those who do sometimes complain that we are more focused on marriage being between a man and a woman than we are on good marriages that do not end in divorce. This argument also appears to commit some form of the fallacy of false equivalence. The Scriptural definition of marriage is distinct from the discussion of whether or not particular people did well by marriage.

The problem with the aforementioned argument is that a marriage that ends in divorce was still a marriage. Meanwhile, a ‘marriage’ between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is not, according to the Bible, a marriage. So also for the office of pastor. A disqualified male pastor was still in a position to fit the definition of a pastor. Meanwhile, a woman ‘pastor’ is not, according to the Bible, a pastor. Those who advocate for ‘gay marriage’ seek to redefine marriage itself, whereas divorce does not. So also, those who advocate for ‘female pastors’ seek to redefine the pastorate itself, whereas disqualified male pastors do not.

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 addresses this very issue in VI. The Church, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” The proof text cited to support this position is found in 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

While the apostle Paul does not explicitly address the office of pastor here, he does address the fact that a woman is prohibited from teaching or exercising authority over a man, both of which constitute the function of a pastor. Since a woman is not to function as a pastor does, but rather is to “learn quietly with all submissiveness,” a woman is precluded from the office of the pastorate. Paul grounds these claims in creation order, with Adam being formed first. Then, he goes on to address the character of an overseer in his very next lines, which differentiates the two topics in question.

To be sure, pastors must exhibit the character outlined in Scripture. Those pastors who do not exhibit that character, as well as those who affirm them to that ministry, may very well be guilty of hypocrisy. But the hypocrisy is not in relation to what they believe about the pastorate being limited to men. In effect, those who complain that we are more focused on pastors being men than we are on pastors being qualified are pulling the focus away from the character of the men selected to serve as pastor and placing it instead on a hypothetical that is not even a live option for those who believe the Bible on this point, making their complaint highly suspect as it has all the markings of a potential push toward egalitarianism.

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