The purpose of this article is to consider the questions surrounding the authorization of women in church ministry. This article is not an attempt to attack, belittle or to disrespect the efforts and the worth of those that oppose the views written in this document. This article was written specifically to address the subject of women in church ministry, and while I may disagree with the positions some women hold in churches, I am not against those who have a genuine purpose. However, whether I agree or disagree with those who hold a genuine purpose doesn’t establish the truth. Surely, there are great men and women that stand to maintain the authorization of women in church ministry. On the other hand, there are also great men and women who oppose the position of women in the ministry. Nevertheless, this article is NOT a judgment of sincerity, purpose, motives or character, but of truth.
The doctrines that authorize women to work in the ministry as bishops, elders, pastors, apostles, prophets, teachers, or evangelist should be recognized as a fairly new concept. The debates and divisions over the matter have only become a problem within the last hundred and sixty years. This may sound strange to those who grew up in churches where women are regularly authorized to hold ministers’ roles. But the evidence points towards Antoinette Louisa Brown, later Antoinette Brown Blackwell (May 20, 1825 – November 5, 1921) as the first female to be ordained as a preacher in America. If the doctrine of women in the ministry is approximately a hundred and sixty years old, and yet church history consists of more than 2000 years, this leaves more than 1800 years of church history with no record of female ordination into the ministry. But there’s more to consider on the subject. The new testament church history consists of more than 2000 years, and the old testament history makes for more than 4000 years, giving a total of 6000 years without a single representative of women’s ordination. The evidence of history is put forward, asking, why isn’t there biblical (examples) evidence of women’s ordination in 6000 years of biblical history? This evidence does not deny the existence of many great women found in biblical history, instead, it reveals that the ministry of women under the old testament was not of priest, or prophets. Thus, how scriptures are read and interpreted should follow these streams of historical paths. In the past, however, when the subject of women preachers arises, great historical figures like Mariam and Deborah are suggested. These great women of old played valuable roles in our religious history and yet, there is no direct proof of them being ordained as elders, as priest, or prophets. The ministry of women under the historical old testament existed outside of the old testament priesthood, and outside of the office of the prophets. So, why is this important to the present church? Because, the things written in the old were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4). If there’s no evidence, how can there exist in the church comfort and hope? If God our Lord in 6000 years of biblical history left the church without a single example of women elders, priest, or prophets, then, upon what rock is the doctrine of women’s ordination found?
Let me pause here for a moment. This article will be read by some critical thinkers who will completely miss the point because they’ve already assumed I am anti-feminist. On the other hand, after reading this article, some free thinkers will feel the need to share its information. But after realizing how unpopular the message is, their zeal will be stolen. Finally, a few undone souls will read the contents of this article and understand its purpose, and its precious message. This article is not about the masculine vs. feminine. It’s not about popularity, but truthfully, the recognition of truth and its piety. So what about the origin of women preachers, where did it start?
On September 15, 1853, the First Congregational Church in Butler and Savannah, New York (in Wayne County) ordained Antoinette Brown Blackwell as their pastor, making her the first woman minister of a recognized denomination in the United States. Antoinette Brown Blackwell was a strong women’s rights activist and spokesperson, and spend a great deal of her time traveling to conferences for women’s rights. As a child, Antoinette Brown Blackwell dream was to become an ordained preacher. I could press on to discover more about Antoinette Brown Blackwell, but that is beyond the point. The point being, those who believe in the ordination of women will often use scriptures to defend their position when indeed, Antoinette Brown Blackwell is the true source. So, what is the weight of all this? The women’s rights movement against civil abuse and neglect open the door for a direct attack against the church. I am all for women’s rights in its place, but I cannot support their cause when it contradicts the teaching of the Bible.
The women’s rights movement’s birth Antoinette Brown Blackwell dreams to become an ordained preacher. This is the absolute origin of every woman in the ministry and since then, its followers have worked hard to find scriptural support. The famous scripture passed down by Antoinette Brown and her followers would be that of Galatians 2:28. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. The supporters of women in the ministry interpret this verse as ministerial equality. However, it’s essential to note, that Paul never addresses the Galatians about who is allowed to preach. Instead, his message was clearly about returning to the law after being freed, and how through Christ believers have received a universal salvation, for both Jews and Gentiles, for both slaves and free people, and for both men and women. Salvation may be one element, but alone, it does not qualify individuals for ministry. Therefore, the letter to the Galatians must not be used to support the idea of women bishops, elders, pastors, apostles, prophets, teachers, or evangelist. I could spend a great deal of time explaining how the LAW was peculiar to males, and how it divided Jews and Gentiles. But time is of the essence.
Succeeding, great historical figures like Mariam and Deborah (and others) are frequently used to suggest biblical permission for women to fill the offices of church ministry. There’s no argument, the great women of faith of ancient times were strong examples of women in leadership. The Lord spoke through Micah saying, I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Nevertheless, the ministry of Miriam did not conflict with the offices of the priest or prophets. Miriam was called a prophetess, not a prophet. Miriam was called a prophetess, not a priest. It is imperative to understand that the role of a prophetess isn’t interchangeable with prophet or priest. A prophet is never referred to as a prophetess, and prophetess is never addressed as a prophet. The ancient prophets were not only prophetic but during their ministries, some were priest and others kings. This is not the case with the ministry of the prophetess. Mariam’s ministry was that of a prophetess, a ministry of help. The ministry of a prophetess is that of helping. As Our LORD made Eve a help Adam, so is the prophetess to the ministry. She is not beyond the ministry, she doesn’t see herself as equal, yet (as did both Mariam and Deborah) God uses her gift as one subject to the overall ministry. (part 2)