Ten years ago or so, there was a growing debate about the clarity of God’s word with regards to women being in church leadership. By leadership I mean in an active role in teaching, or in a position of church leadership in a decision-making hierarchy (Elder, Pastor, teacher) over the church body. MacArthur notes that it was not until 1960 that this question of female leadership became one of debate in the Christian church. While I have not taken the time to confirm this, MacArthur does make an important distinction in that this century, and perhaps more specifically this last 50 years, the American Christian Church in general has been struggling with traditional church teachings. Since that time much liberalism has infected the church.
Clearly, the debate about female pastors, priests and church teachers and leaders is an argument long past settled in some denominations and circles within the Christian Church. As an example, the following denominations currently ordain women into the priesthood:
- American Baptist Church
- Assemblies of God – as early as 1914
- The Christian Church/Disciples of Christ
- Christian Science – usually uses man and woman at services
- Episcopal Church – began ordaining women in 1970s
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – first female bishop elected in 2013
- Presbyterian Church
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
- Salvation Army
- Unitarian Universalist
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist Church – first ordained woman in 19561
For those individuals or churches still “struggling” with this issue (like perhaps the man who asks the question), Mac Arthur is right to point out that they are not struggling with a social issue, or the social ramifications of gender inequality. In fact they are struggling with an issue that God has made clear in scripture. To that point, and rightly so, MacArthur takes us right to scripture making immediate reference to God’s word, and supporting it with examples all throughout scripture. God is NOT calling women to be priests.2
The liberal views of this position who support female pastors, elders and congregational teachers will immediately attempt to cloud the debate by making strong arguments about the importance of the female in the church. It is a wonderful discussion, and certainly one worth having, but at the same time 100% irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Our wonderful ladies play an irreplaceable role in our churches, in our families, and are in a unique and Godly position of being more adept to understanding the emotional and spiritual component of issues, most especially when it comes to raising our children. But this fact, and the extreme value of women in the church corporate, is not the question and is an entirely different discussion.
I’m not a huge MacArthur fan in other areas, but he is dead on with regards to this issue. I’m not confident that the person asking the question in the video was meaning to be controversial, and I do not feel as though he was asking in a Pharisaical manner in which to “trap” MacArthur into answering in such a way that he said something that could later be used against him. I feel as though the question was asked in sincerity, from the viewpoint of someone who truly wanted clarity on the issue.
Beware of people who want to take a “balanced” point of view on this subject. There is no “balance” when there is clear direction from God.
Do we take a balanced approach on murder? On Theft? On drunkenness? On adultery? Of course not – because there is no balance. What God deems wrong is wrong – there is no debate. Balance is a “code word” for the liberal left in the church meaning “compromise”. You can compromise God’s Word if you like – not me.