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Church Leadership V

men women washroom sign photoRegarding gender roles

The topic of gender roles in leadership seems of much debate these days. I see it as a peripheral issue, but because there is some need for clarification ahead of time, especially in church planting, I’ll be brief on it.

I do believe in gender roles, and that the bible distinguishes the very creation of man and woman because of this. There is paramount evidence today that there are unique differences between men and women biologically, physiologically, emotionally, and even mentally, so I don’t see why there is a tendency to ignore any possible spiritual differences.

With that being said, the Scriptures were written in a patriarchal culture and obviously Christ obliterated any barriers before Him between Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28). Though there are distinctions that men and women tend towards, I take the position that there are exceptions. Just as there are plenty of exceptions where women are physically stronger than men, I think the same is true for spirituality and leadership in different contexts.

I am for both men and women being elders and deacons. Although, in practice, I would tend to call men, before women, toward the highest levels of leadership. Should a man or woman seek to be an overseer, both would be honored and considered as they are desiring a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1).

There is so much more to the issue, but I’ll stop here for now.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • lon July 11, 2007, 12:20 pm

    testing comment/email system

  • stephen July 11, 2007, 12:33 pm

    hey, lon. FYI….i tried to leave a comment on your vox site, but as soon as i click in the text box it sends me to http://www.clustrmaps.com.

  • Lon July 11, 2007, 12:49 pm

    stephen, thanks so much for going out of your way and letting me know. I think the issue is corrected… let me know if it’s not, thanks!

  • Barbara (Xerraire) July 12, 2007, 11:51 am

    My Bible has your quoted 1 Timothy 3:1 differently. It says, ” If a MAN desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

    And it’s always good to let the Bible itself explain the Bible, as the next verse says, A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”

    Verse two indicates to me he is talking about an office for a man.

    There must be some better verses you have for your position than 1 Timothy 3:1?


  • Lon July 12, 2007, 2:00 pm

    Hey Barbara, great point, and thanks for following along. You’re absolutely right and it’s a bit of a controversial issue. That’s why I tend to side with you on reading it at face value along with the many others of male leaders throughout the scriptures.

    I just think the issue is more complicated than we typically perceive it.

    1. with literal readings we need to re-examine how many of us have chosen to contextualize other things, such as women and head coverings, or remaining quiet.

    2. There were exceptions throughout the scriptures of female leaders… miriam and deborah in the OT… and in the NT

    – there’s Aquila and his wife Priscilla who were house church leaders.. and discipled barnabas together Acts 18:1-2,18-26
    – There’s Junia, an exceptional apostle in Romans 16:7
    – There’s the four daughters of philip who prophesied in acts… phoebe, as well was identified as an equal co-laborer…

    all this to say that there seemed to be exceptions.

    ie. the ‘head’ of the church is often derived from the biblical model of the family describing the male as the head of the household… but what about widows? who then is the head?

    So in a world that’s broken and imperfect, my hope is to aim for the ideal, but make room for exceptions that help advance the kingdom of god forward. maybe this wouldn’t be an issue at all, if more men stepped up, rather than abdicating their god given roles.

    I hope that’s a constructive anwer, I know we’re still scratching the surface. While it’s important, I still see it as a minor issue amongst many other imperatives of the gospel.

  • Barbara (Xerraire) July 13, 2007, 7:22 am


    I don’t think the establishment of our Lord’s church is a ‘small deal’ since there is a verse attached to it “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” We are His bride, God loves order, so, He expects our best, so how the church is set up, I think is important.

    I don’t see Acts 18 1-2, 18-26 as showing that Priscilla was a leader. She worked along side her husband it seems, but a church leader?

    As for Junia, I don’t see the word apostle anywhere, kinsman, but not apostle. I looked up the word ‘kinsmen’ of the time, it was usually meant for blood relatives but could extend to fellow countrymen.

    The Acts passage you mention doesn’t speak of Barnabas but Apollos. Second, the reason that Aquilla and Priscilla were teaching him was because he did not have a full understanding of the Gospel. Apollos is described as being mighty in Scriptures. but he only knew the baptism of John. This was the case of many of John’s followers: they hearkened to John’s words, but missed who John was pointing them to. So it says that they expounded the way of God unto him more perfectly. I don’t see how one could derive from this that a woman is supposed to be in leadership.

    Phillip’s daughters: God uses women. obviously. And no where is Phoebe identified as a “co laborer.”

    Miriam was a prophetess, not a leader of any sort.
    The only time that I know of a woman taking a LEGITIMATE leadership position is Deborah in the book of Judges. How do we explain this? The reasons behind this as I see it (and others) is that there wasn’t a man that God could have used to accomplish His purposes. The other person that was a man that made a difference at all was Barak who Deborah had to basically force to do what God wanted him to do. Even in this case, Deborah’s first job was to tell a man to take the lead, which he reluctantly did, and only if she would go with him.

    We can agree on this: men in our day are not being the men that they should be. This does cause problems. But the answer is not to view this as just a change in the times, and “make room for exceptions.” The answer is to preach the truth to men about living a Christ Built life. Teach the men how to fulfill their God given roles.

    I would go as far as to say, when no men want to do their job, that leaves a woman to do it, usually.

  • Lon July 13, 2007, 7:57 am

    Hey Barbara, thanks for the feedback. I’ve got some other thoughts, but I won’t take this any further at the moment. I will reflect on it.

    I really do value your opinion and am thankful that this is a space where you can share your convictions with me. Please always feel free to continue to do so!

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