The role of women in church leadership has been a topic of much debate and controversy. Many argue that the Bible supports male-only leadership, citing passages that seem to give men authority over women.
Let’s take a look at a few…
Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:11-12) .
When reading these English-translated passages out of the context of the entire biblical story, it sure seems like it!
However, upon closer examination of the biblical story, it becomes clear that the idea of male-only leadership is a misunderstanding of the Bible’s teachings.
While translations of the Bible are amazing feats of human accomplishment, these specific verses tend to communicate an unintended meaning to modern readers.
One of the main arguments used to support male-only leadership is based on the use of the word “head” in English translations of the Bible, as we see in the verse above. However, it is important to understand that the New Testament writers had a different understanding of the term.
Contrary to the common belief that the head is the decision-making center of the body, they believed that the gut was the decision-making center. Moreover, the Greek word used for “head” is kephale, which means “source” or “origin.”
In this context, the word “head” refers to being the source or origin of something, not having authority over something.
The biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden reveals a design of co-equal partnership between men and women. Adam was Eve’s source, as she was taken out of him, and all the language used in this event speaks of partnership.
Furthermore, Christ is the Church’s source or origin, and as His partner, it holds the power of choice to follow His leading or not. This design is consistent throughout the rest of the biblical story.
In 1 Corinthians 11:11, Paul affirms that in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. This highlights the interdependence and equality between genders. Similarly, in Ephesians 5:21, Paul writes about mutual submission, encouraging all believers to submit themselves to one another. Galatians 3:28 boldly states that in Christ, there is neither male nor female, as all are one.
When it comes to leadership within the church, it is crucial to consider the gifts, abilities, and motivations of individuals rather than their gender.
And gender DOES play a role in shaping these aspects. But it should never be used as the primary qualification or disqualification for serving a church in any legitimate biblical way.
Embracing this biblical understanding results in a church where men and women can serve and lead side by side, fulfilling their God-given callings.