No Such Thing as Women “Pastors”

Jacob Tanner


What is a Woman? is a new documentary produced by The Daily Wire, starring Matt Walsh, where multiple “experts” are given the titular question: “What is a woman?” Unsurprisingly, but not any less disappointingly, most throughout find themselves unable to provide even a modicum of an answer. As it turns out, secularism has deconstructed so much that it is unable to define something as simple as gender. One need not be a biologist to define gender, just a logical creature. But logic is out the window. This new secularism has rejected the foundational grounds of logic (God and his Word) and has adopted a certain pragmatism working in conjunction with postmodernity. This is absurdity at its absolute finest: No one knows anything anymore.

Though such confusion may be expected from a secular society, it is shocking when such a pragmatic drift is witnessed within Christendom. But, regrettably, Christian denominations (both small and large) seem to be wrestling with definitions that, only a few years ago, were commonly understood as set in stone and determined by God. Consider the current question plaguing many denominations: What is the role of a woman? As a recent example, look at the Southern Baptist Convention wrestling with the question: “What is a pastor?” More specifically, the question is better understood when phrased this way: “Are women able to be ordained as pastors, or has God called only men to this position?”

An Easy Answer: Women Can’t Preach

Now, one need not be a learned-theologian to answer this question. Anyone who has read through Scripture at least once should be able to give a detailed answer. Those who have at least read Paul’s epistles should be able to offer some biblical insight. It really isn’t difficult: God’s Word clearly states that only men are able to fulfill the role of pastor because men are to lead and women are to submit to men, whether wives to their husbands, or women to their pastors (1 Tim 2:12, 1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:22–24). While we could offer a ton of qualifications here to pinpoint exactly what it means for a woman to submit to a man, for a man to lead, or what men a woman should submit to in her life, that would only derail our purposes here. Women cannot pastor. Plain and simple.

So, why the sudden interest in answering an already-answered question? Again, the question isn’t new; denominations have wrestled with the question in the past before determining both men and women could be ordained as pastors. The result? A downward spiral into theological liberalism. No good has ever come from a denomination affirming women in eldership. Instead, it has always been the mark of doctrinal drift and downgrade.

A Primary Issue: No Women “Pastors”

Of course, many don’t see the issue as being a large one. “After all,” one might say, “Soteriology is primary. Ecclesiastical matters are secondary. A church can affirm different offices for different genders and still be within the realms of orthodoxy.” The biblical response to such whimsical pandering ought to be: Absolutely not!

This is not a tertiary issue or even a secondary issue. The roles of men and women in family, church, and society is a primary issue because it is rooted within the creation order itself. Show me a “church” with a woman as a pastor and I’ll show you no church at all. After all, at the root of the problem is a questioning and belittling of God’s Word: “Did God really say women can’t lead their husbands, or pastor a church, or be over men?” The similarity to the Satanic subtlety of the serpent in the Garden isn’t just implicit; it’s as explicit as a bomb going off in the street.

Identifying the Problems: Twisting God’s Word for Itching Ears

One great issue with permitting women to be ordained as pastors is that it not only explicitly ignores God’s commandments and qualifications concerning elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, but it even ignores God’s order in creation wherein men are created to lead women. Instead of simply reading God’s Word and taking it at face value, ivory tower theologians and liberalized church-goers twist God’s Word to fit their own agendas by utilizing enough mental gymnastics and jumping enough theological hurdles that their efforts deserve a place within the Olympics.

So, why the confusion? We can understand why the world may be unable to define what a woman is, but how can those calling themselves Christians possibly be unable to define what a pastor is, or what a pastor should be? Well, we didn’t get here overnight. I contend that a major reason for this unbridled confusion is two-fold: 1. Many pastors have failed to preach the whole counsel of God’s Word to their flocks and have instead embraced the pragmatic spirit of the age; 2. Many have chosen to ignore their faithful Shepherd-Pastors and have instead sought out teachers to satisfy their own lustful cravings and sinful desires.

When the church at large loves God’s Word and respects the offices that God has blessed her with, we see healthy churches. Consider Ephesians 4:11–14:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

When a church rejects the Word of God or ignores the leadership and authority of its pastor, the result is confusion and chaos. But when a pastor faithfully shepherds a submissive flock, the result is stability and growth.

This is because, according to Ephesians 4:11–14, one of the purposes of pastors is to equip Christ’s Body so that the saints will not be tossed about by the wind of false doctrines, human cunning, craftiness, deceit, or schemes. Christians are not called to be like ships that are caught in storms and overtaken by tortuous waves and torrential storms. Instead, Christians are called to have such great faith that they become like ships that have firmly anchored in the bedrock and, though the storms billow and the waves assail, remain steady, unmoved, and unperturbed. When false doctrines beat against the port and starboard, or the schemes of men like wind thrash the stern, the mark of a Christian is not to flinch but remain certain in Christ their Lord. It is a pastor’s responsibility to make sure the flock entrusted to his care has that sort of faith: Concrete, sturdy, certain, and sure. In other words, such a church will hold firmly to God’s Word. Such a church will fundamentally know the basic truth that women can’t preach.

Wading Through the Excuses and Holding Steadfast the Word

Belabored thinking and angst-riddled contemplation is totally unnecessary. Much like staring at a rock, we can contemplate God’s Word as much as want and it will never change its meaning. We know what a pastor is because we know what God’s Word says. A pastor is a male, according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Likewise, a woman is not permitted to teach (1 Corinthians 14:33-34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12).

This is not a tertiary or secondary issue. The gospel is at stake in this matter. If we encourage those to preach who have not been equipped or called by God, then we do violence against the church and gospel itself. It is time for faithful Christians and churches to call a spade a spade: Women have never been called to preach or pastor, nor will they ever be. It is against God’s order and Word and therefore sinful to say otherwise.

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Jacob Tanner

Pastor Christ Keystone Church

Jacob Tanner is pastor of Christ Keystone Church, a Reformed Baptist church plant in Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons and is the author of Union with Christ: The Joy of the Christian’s Assurance in the Doctrines of Grace.