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Can women be pastors?

There are many hotly debated topics in Christianity but perhaps none more so in this present age than the issue of women serving as pastors. Though many do so, it is important not to see this issue as men versus women. It is not a matter of chauvinism or discrimination – it is a matter of Biblical interpretation.

As we know, in the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is as a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world. God, through the apostle Paul, teaches that women are to be restricted from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. Therefore, this precludes women from serving as pastors over men. In short, God has chosen to give men the primary teaching authority in the church and this should be respected. That is not to say that men are necessarily better teachers or because women are inferior in their intellect. It is simply the way God designed the church to function.

Although women are to take a less authoritative role, they are encouraged to teach other women (see Titus 2:3-5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children and I am sure many have fond memories of their female Sunday School teacher. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This does not make women less important by any means, but rather it gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them.

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”) because the first mainline Protestant denomination to elect a transgender bishop. The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer was born female but now identifies as a man. The first council of Nicaea in AD325 stated: If any one in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if [already] enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry] and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. In referring to that appointment, Dr Rohrer praised the ELCA’s decision for “dismantling” those clerical standards.

The ELCA is also forsaking the writings of Martin Luther from whom it claims to find its “roots”. Luther wrote in his 1522 work “The Estate of Marriage” that sex is immutable and “divided” by God “into two classes, namely male and female.”

The shift within the ELCA is a sad reflection of the Christian church in America as it continues to fall victim to a progressive view of sexuality that is opposed to the clear teaching of the Scriptures. While the denomination claims to have a reverent view of Scripture, the ELCA does not see the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. In fact, James Thorson, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Milwaukee said in 2018 that he was drawn to the denomination in part because many within it reject Biblical inerrancy. He said: I was reclaiming the view that the Bible isn’t an inerrant oracle dropped from heaven but more like a messy, earthen vessel holding the treasure of the saving Gospel message. That’s what most ELCA professors and pastors teach and I realised that was where I belonged.

Although Dr Rohrer might now believe he is entitled to pastor a church because of his self-assigned gender identity, the fact remains that God created Dr Rohrer as a woman and therefore the appointment is wrong. Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy rebuked Dr Rohrer’s theology comparing the views to those espoused by first-century Gnostics who rejected “ecumenical orthodoxy in favour of secret knowledge stressing self-actualisation and inner journeys instead of salvation and worshipping the Creator.” Amen, Mr Tooley. Amen.

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