Women in Ministry–The Complementarian Position

Last week we covered the egalitarian position, which teaches that women are not restricted from serving in any church office.  Egalitarians argue that 1 Timothy 2 was directed toward a group of women in the church who were teaching false doctrine largely due to the influence of the Ephesian Artemis cult and/or the 1st century radical Roman feminist movement.  Therefore, Paul’s admonitions are not timeless commands for the church.

How do complementarians respond?

While nearly all scholars agree that Timothy’s job in Ephesus was to fight false teaching that threatened the church, complementarians argue that it is far from clear that the false teaching was connected to the Artemis Cult or a feminist movement.
Professor D.A. Carson argues that 1 Timothy 1:7-11 implies that it is an abuse of the Jewish law.  Thus, the problem may be legalism and the answer to this is the Gospel (1:12-17) taught and modeled by righteous men (3:1-7).  
Complementarians also argue that if the problem was a Cult or a feminist movement why doesn’t Paul identify it by name? And why would he forbid all women from teaching (2:12) if the problem was just caused by some women? Certainly not all of the women were teaching false doctrine!  And was it just women? There were men who worshipped Artemis, so why not just forbid false teaching in general? After all, to just forbid women is sexist and Paul was not sexist. He had nothing but positive things to say about Priscilla, Phoebe, etc.
Furthermore, what of the trajectory of all Scripture? Where are the women preachers in Scripture? Women priests? What about the 12 Disciples? Where is the evidence of women elders in the early church?

Moreover, aren’t men to be heads of the households (Eph. 5:22-23)? Shouldn’t that be modeled in the church?  Are there no real gender distinctions?
Complementarians like John Piper argue that among the women he has encountered, the problem is not the idea of men leading but the type of men who have tried to lead.  Piper argues the real problem is the absence of real men! Men who lead with love, respect and model the life of Jesus.

We’ll talk more about it this weekend at Revolution. 

You are welcome to join the conversation.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve.


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