Why I Defend Women Preachers

by | Feb 19, 2013 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Strong men are not intimidated by gifted women. If we want to reach the world for Jesus, we must empower female leaders.

My friend Abby Olufeyemi is one of my favorite pastors. She’s a Nigerian living in England, so her British/African accent makes her sermons all the more fascinating to listen to. Besides her obvious anointing as a preacher, she’s also a model of Christian integrity. She’s been tested through serious trials—including the loss of her husband, Alfred, who died in a plane crash—so she leads with grace and compassion.

Thankfully, Abby finds support from her denomination, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the largest indigenous church network in Nigeria, and one of the fastest-growing Pentecostal groups in the world. But when I tell people that I work alongside women pastors I get puzzled looks. Many Christians who love God and the Bible believe women are not allowed to serve in pastoral roles.

This is especially obvious whenever Charisma publishes an article on the topic. Three weeks ago, my column, “Six Gender Myths in the Church,” sparked a firestorm of protest. But I don’t argue with people in online forums because (1) I respect anyone’s right to his opinions, and (2) I can’t spend all my time answering critics when there are souls to be reached for Christ—and so many women who want to reach them.

But being with Abby in London made me realize that many Americans oppose women leaders because they just haven’t seen very many examples. At the risk of sounding simplistic I will list the reasons why I believe we need more women on the front lines of ministry today:

1. The Bible endorses women in leadership. Paul’s first epistle to Timothy seems to limit women’s roles in leadership (see 1 Tim. 2:12). Yet Paul also gushed with praise for the women who served with him as co-laborers—women such as Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2), Junia (Rom. 16:7) and Priscilla, who helped lay foundations in the early church (see 1 Cor. 16:19). In Phil. 4:2-3, Paul expresses solidarity with two women leaders, Euodia and Syntyche. And he refers to other women who obviously led churches, such as Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11) and Nympha (Col. 4:15), and he does not try to silence or restrict them.

Traditionalists who insist on barring women from leadership positions always refer to 1 Tim. 2:12 as an ironclad rule—yet they ignore the women who served with Paul. The obvious question is: Why did Paul tell Timothy to clamp down on the women in Ephesus when he allowed Priscilla to teach? The most sensible interpretation is that the Ephesian women were teaching heresy. They had no business teaching the Bible or leading the church, yet Paul encouraged faithful women.

2. Churches need women’s gifts and perspectives. God created both male and female, and His nature is revealed through both genders (see Gen. 1:26-28). This is why the biblical definition of a family is a father and a mother. If a child needs both parents to learn the ways of God (see Prov. 1:8-9), then surely we need instruction from both men and women in the church. If only men are allowed to function in leadership or teaching roles, the church itself will be male-dominant—and this can lead to issues of control, abuse or sexual sin (the problem of child abuse in the Catholic Church is just one obvious example).

3. We can’t address women’s problems without empowering women to address them. In the 1800s women were not allowed to go to medical school. Some men believed the female brain was smaller than a male’s (!), and that women had no business being doctors. What happened when women entered the medical profession? Suddenly there were breakthroughs in medical care, including improvements in gynecology and obstetrics. Women began addressing problems that had been ignored by a male-dominated medical establishment.

Take a look at the world today and you will see millions of girls and women suffering because of sex trafficking, forced child marriage, gang rape, genital mutilation, domestic violence, eating disorders, depression and denial of education. What might happen if we opened the doors wider to empower women in their spiritual gifts? Do women hold a key to solving these problems? I believe we could see social change on an unimaginable scale if we remove gender limitations in ministry.


4. Women leaders don’t hinder men, they help them.
Many Christian men I know seem to fear women’s influence. Some gripe about the “feminization” of the church, and they threaten to ban flowers from altars to make the sanctuary look more like a man cave. That’s goofy. My Bible says God made flowers as well as antlers and rawhide. He also created women, and He made them to do more than bake cookies and nurse babies. He gave women intelligence, discernment, prophetic insight, gifts of mercy and compassion, leadership abilities and spiritual authority.

When I listen to Abby Olufeyemi preach, or when I see how she shepherds her growing congregation, I receive truth from the Holy Ghost and learn valuable lessons about leadership. She doesn’t threaten me; she encourages me. Strong men are not intimidated by gifted women. And strong, gifted women who have Christian character would never try to compete with men or undermine them.

We are all called to be partners and co-heirs in God’s kingdom. Let’s grow up and embrace biblical equality.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. 

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

There is a fresh wind blowing. It is the fresh wind of His Spirit. It is not only a wind that will bring refreshment, healing, empowerment and strength, but it is a wind that will bring deep rest, deep clarity and a deep stirring of what He is breathing upon! I had a...

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Chris Bryant, Jesus really did address the subject of homosexuality, no matter how much you might want to twist the issue. After the Church of England recently set down an edict that forbid same-sex couples to marry but that each individual would receive "God's...

Influential Jesus-Believing Rabbi Issues Stern Warning for America

Influential Jesus-Believing Rabbi Issues Stern Warning for America

Rabbi Kirt Schneider, a Jewish believer in Jesus, warns that our culture will continue to go from bad to worse, just as Scripture says. "It's already too late," Schneider says. "The floodgates of darkness have been opened and there will be no global restoration or...

Get Ready, the Next Revival Will Be Very Messy

Get Ready, the Next Revival Will Be Very Messy

Many Christians pray for spiritual awakening, and that’s good. But I wonder if we realize how disruptive revival will be when it hits us like a tsunami. If you read accounts of previous revivals, three things become obvious: (1) revival requires a lot of work; (2)...

Breaking Free of the Spirit of Religion

Breaking Free of the Spirit of Religion

Recently, I was getting ready to leave in the morning when I suddenly had a vision. In this vision, I was taken into a room that appeared to be inside a funeral home. Everyone was dressed in black clothes and packed in this room, standing shoulder to shoulder and...

Take the Generational Curses in Your Life to Court

Take the Generational Curses in Your Life to Court

Have you been in a cycle of sin that, when looking deeper, your family line has battled over the years? A significant spiritual battle that many of us face is a cycle of familiar spirits, also known as generational curses. Habitual sin is often a product of an...

Beware of Satan’s Deceitful Imitations

Beware of Satan’s Deceitful Imitations

During the week as I drive to my office, I almost always turn on the local radio station and listen to the news. On a recent morning, one of the main stories being covered was about a well-known musical artist who was suing a lesser-known artist for imitating them on...

RECENT ARTICLES

Mario Murillo Says This Is the Main Issue With ‘So-Called Prophets’

Evangelist Mario Murillo has taken a great deal of heat for a recent blog that he wrote, titled "Mario, Where Have You Been?" In the article, he details why he stepped away from Flashpoint Live, a...
It’s Time to Drain the False Prophetic Swamp

It’s Time to Drain the False Prophetic Swamp

I believe there  are many more false prophets than true ones in America. I applaud Mario Murillo, who came out and exposed the wokeness of Christianity today. The "prophetic" swamp must be drained. The degree of goofiness and tomfoolery in the false prophetic camp is...

Do You Follow God Out of Fear?

Do You Follow God Out of Fear?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTiiiTUQYKM&t=24s People are either saved by experiencing His goodness (Romans 2:4) or by the fear of being cast into hell (Jude 23). Jesus told us He is the only way of salvation and sadly, many people say they don’t believe Him....

Outspoken Christian Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

Outspoken Christian Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

Cindy Williams, the hit actress known for playing Shirley Feeney on the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," has died according to a statement released from her family. After battling a short illness Williams died at the age of 75. Williams was outspoken about her...

Prophecy: Get Caught Up in the Coming Revival Wave

Prophecy: Get Caught Up in the Coming Revival Wave

The Australian Prophetic Council met in early January to discuss, prophesy and weigh the word of the Lord for 2023. While not all individual words are captured here, there are key themes and major points that were established out of the mouth of many witnesses. Our...

Pin It on Pinterest