Let me begin by saying that I know and appreciate many women who have been recognized as pastors. They are diligent, steadfast and hard-working. Our country has done a great disservice to women over the years by not elevating and supporting women in roles of leadership. Alexander Strauch echoes this same concern: “In the minds of contemporary people, excluding women from church eldership is sexist, discriminatory and one more example of male dominance. But this need not be the case. No one who truly loves people, who is sensitive to God’s Word and who is aware of the painful dehumanization that women have suffered (and still suffer) worldwide would want to discriminate against women.”
Women are one of the greatest gifts God has given the world. But in our passion to promote women (something I wholeheartedly agree with), have we overstepped the Scriptures? It’s not uncommon for the church, as a whole, to overcorrect itself when abuse occurs.
First, we must understand that the loving, nurturing role of a woman is vital to the health of the church in the same way that it is vital to the health of a child. God has designed the male-female relationship to complement one another; one gender is not better than the other, but we do have different roles. To reject these God-given differences can lead to an unbalanced view.
Second, many misunderstand male leadership as God designed it; it’s not a glorified position—it’s the position of a servant. A servant is called to protect, lead and guard the church. We are to serve those God has entrusted to us. If there is a loud noise at home in the dead of night, do we encourage our wives to investigate? I hope not. God has called men to the position of servant leadership and protector.
Third, we see from Genesis 3:16 that God ordained a leadership role for the man. However, when men cower back from their leadership responsibilities, women will step in. Men must rise to the call of servant leadership. This type of leadership is not domineering or abusive; it’s kind, gracious and humble. Pastors are to serve those in church, not lord over them. God’s design is not focused on “better than” or “superior,” even though abuse has tarnished it.
So, with that said, here are my thoughts on the controversial statement by John MacArthur.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, and free downloads of his books are available at WCFAV.org. Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.