Whose authority – Part 3 of 3

Listen live!  Jocelyn Andersen and Shirley Taylor discuss Whose Authority Friday, February 25 at 10:00 a.m. Central time.

The discussion has now been posted.  Listen to us at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jocelynandersen/2011/02/25/the-complementarian-cult

We have talked about authority in the government and in the home, and we will finish this series with authority in the church.

One of the reasons women cannot preach is because of 1 Timothy 2: 11-12 where Paul says “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain silent.”  Oh, how they love this scripture!  And Oh, how they abuse this scripture!  They use it to say a woman cannot preach – but we know that some churches do allow a woman to teach men and women in a Sunday school classroom, while some throw up their holy hands and declare that the Bible says she can’t.

We don’t know what that scripture means in today’s world because its usage varies from church to church and from pastor to pastor.  If we knew exactly what it meant, there would be no discrepancy. A few years ago I was at the funeral of a cousin that was held in a Church of Christ sanctuary.  He had two sons and a daughter.  The two sons stood up behind the pulpit and talked about their father.  The daughter was not allowed behind the pulpit to eulogize her father.  In that church a woman was not allowed behind the pulpit.  But in your church, she might be.  Not to preach, but to speak, or to sing, or make an announcement.  We may declare that the apostle Paul was clear on the subject, we are far from clear.

In his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow says that in a few years the clergy will be a woman’s job, just like being a secretary is today.  You know that scares these preachers! They are fighting for their positions.   Catholics, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Churches of Christ, and others are a hard-sell, and while I am working diligently day and night (it seems) to make it happen, the odds are against it.  But he says it will happen.  Women will have authority over men as Pastors of the church.

A Baptist Standard article on February 14 called “Churches manage myriad changes,” by Tom Ehrich said, “We also need radical diversity, not tokenism or stale politics. This, too, will be painful. In many congregations, the pendulum swung from male-dominated to female-dominated, and neither extreme works.  Balance will be the goal going forward. New ways of thinking about power and authority will emerge – neither “patriarchy” nor “matriarchy,” but something new that is truly gender-neutral.”

More than likely when fundamental Baptists read that they see matriarchy as being the opposite of patriarchy.  Immediately they would rebel because they have been led to believe that the church is being feminized.  However, a church with a woman pastor would have both men and women as deacons, taking up collections, (in a Baptist church this is usually reserved for the male deacons), and Sunday school classes could be taught by a woman even if there were men in the room. Whereas a patriarchal church would have a male pastor, male deacons, and only males would be allowed to teach a mixed Sunday school class of men and women. You can see that a church with a woman pastor would allow for equality.

Recently 1,200 Anglicans in England left their churches and became Catholics simply because the Anglican church is going to allow women bishops.  Their distaste of women pastors is so prevailing that they will actually change their spiritual belief and its practices.  That is no small thing.  It is an extreme insult to women.

One thing to keep in mind is that whenever you hear that women should not have authority over a man, what they are really saying is that men should have authority over women.  Again, this is a distortion of the scriptures.  Jesus said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” 

One pastor emailed me that when his congregation submits to his leadership, they may be more important, they may have more influence, and they may receive greater rewards in Heaven, etc.  That is so arrogant, and unlike Christ that it takes my breath away.  But I found many pastors who believe this.

Look what authority Jesus gave his disciples when he sent them out.  It was NOT authority over people.  Only God can have that. “And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases, and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing.” (Luke 9:1-2) 

Neither men nor women can have spiritual authority over one another.  My pastor does not have authority over me. What authority does your pastor have over you?  He cannot forgive your sins, he cannot forbid you to take communion, he cannot keep you from making a profession of faith.  Many people in church preach the gospel message, but they do not have authority over any member of the congregation.  Neither does the pastor.  So what is it about women having authority over men? 

Those who quote 1 Timothy 2: 11-12 have a problem. 

  • Does it means spiritual authority? Our answer is that nobody has spiritual authority over another person, in a church context or out. 
  • Does it mean administrative authority – which is essentially what a pastor has over a church?  Our answer to that is that the church treasurer also has administrative authority in the church – and we know that many church treasurers are women.
  • Does a woman teach a man when she answers a Biblical question in a Sunday school class?

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 5:6-7


About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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14 Responses to Whose authority – Part 3 of 3

  1. Mabel says:

    Well said, Shirley.


  2. Mabel says:

    I put this article here: scroll down to comment #199


  3. Lydia says:

    Matriarchy is the opposite of Patriarchy. The balance is mutuality. Equality. Partnership. Jesus Christ is the boss.

    As to 1 Tim 2, most folks are not familiar with the meaning of the Greek: Authenteo. It is used one time in the NT in that passage and it is a very bad thing. John Chrysostom wrote in the 3rd Century that a husband should not “authenteo” his wife. So we know that men should not do it either. It has been mistranslated to “authority over” when it really means something more sinister like dominate as we see in Calvin’s (and other) translations, ironically enough. And let us not forget that passage is speaking of ONE woman who was attempting to domineer and “needed to learn” as Paul indicates. It was not written about all women for all time.


    • I don’t know of any matriarchal churches. I may be wrong, but from what I see on websites, churches that have a woman as a pastor also have men serving as deacons (which is the big problem in Baptist churches), so it is not a completely matriarchal church. I think matriarchal is a misnomer. Please help me here. What characteristic would you see matriarchal churches as having? Thanks so much for your insights.


  4. Lydia says:

    I was simply stating a fact. Matriarchy is the opposite of Patriarchy. I was not even thinking of “matriarchal” churches. I doubt if such a thing exists in totality as Patriarchy does because even if a woman is a pastor does not mean the church is matriarchal in belief as in women must rule over men. Patriarchy is a belief system which says men must rule.

    Mutuality is a belief system that says all believers are equal in Christ. Example: There is no slave/free, no male/female…IN CHRIST.

    A man or a woman as a pastor of church does not necessarily mean that either patriarchy or matriarchy is the belief system there.

    But Patriarchal churches are easy to spot. For example, In churches that are patriarchal, the female children’s minister cannot be called a “minister:. She can be called a “director”. That is one very silly example of patriarchy as a belief system at church.

    In a matriarchal church people would demand only females in lead functions. It would be the opposite of patriarchal churches.


    • Thanks. I was wondering if there were matriarchal churches and I had missed it. I agree that Mutuality is a much better expression belief system. Because the word matriarchy is so loaded with negative connotation, mutuality is a better word.


      • Mara says:

        One of the many arguments the comps try to bring up is that patriarchy and comp are on opposite ends of the spectrum with comp the balance in the middle.

        This if false.

        The opposite ends are patriarchy and matriacrhy with egal and mutuality in the middle.

        We often have to bring this greatly disputed fact to the surface for comps who think they are being so reasonable for expecting women to continually take the back seat.


      • Mara says:

        Sorry, that first sentence should read “…patriarchy and egal are on the opposite ends of the spectrum…”

        Then after I posted that I thought of another argument they throw up about matriarchy and patriarchy. They claim that, “Someone has to be in charge.” They claim that that is the creation ‘order’, that God created Adam first, therefore that makes him the boss.

        The problem with this take is that it completely ignores the plain reading of scripture in Genesis. God gave the man AND the woman the command to rule the earth. He never told the man to rule the women, not anywhere in the entire Bible.
        Comps cheat and point to what God says to the woman about the man ruling over her. But that is only God telling Eve what will happen to her because sin has entered into the world.

        Comps try to sanctify the sinful drive to rule in men by calling it God’s order. They suffer from severe ‘black and white’ thinking. They think, “Somebody HAS to be in charge” because their sin nature, based in fear, drives them to that conclusion. And fear also causes men to determine that if somebody has to be in charge, then is sure isn’t going to be the little woman.
        As holy sounding as they try to make their words, really, they are motivated by fear and mistrust. They don’t want to be ruled. But the same consideration they give to themselves, they won’t share it with the little woman because “Somebody has to be in charge.”
        When we say egal, they can’t think egal because someone has to be in charge. And if the man isn’t in charge then it must be the woman who will be in charge, and they cannot suffer that. (though they ask women to suffer what they refuse to suffer.)

        Repeating myself a bit cause I’m not sure if I’m making myself clear.


      • Coming through really clear. Why God would make one of his human creatures to rule over the other human creature does not make any sense.


  5. Leslie Johnson says:

    I just finished listeing to the blog, it was articulate, informed & passionate. Awesome!!! I have been a homeschooling mom for the last three years and have discovered first-hand the pressure to give in to patriarchy in the homeschool movement. It caused us to drop out of some activities and withdraw. Homechooling has been a learning experience on so many levels.


  6. Leslie Johnson says:

    I just realized that I listened to the wrong Jocelyn Anderson blog! Happy mistake for me, the one on homeschooling and patriarchy was beautiful and NOW I get to listen to the blog with Shirley Taylor discussing the complementarian cult. Yippee! 🙂


  7. Lydia says:

    Leslie, Many of my friends have left the homeschooling movement (but still homeschool) because of patriarchy taking over.

    You might want to check out Karen Campbell’s blog ‘thatmom’. She is a believer who writes about patriarchy taking over the homeschooling movement.


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