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Male Leadership in the Bible is God's Pattern

Male Leadership in the Bible is God’s Pattern

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We see male leadership in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The pattern began at creation and is maintained with patriarchs, priests, kings, apostles, and elders. If you’re wondering, “What does the bible say about leadership?” read this chapter from Your Marriage God’s Way for answers.

I was not raised in a Christian home. While my parents were moral, hardworking, and I learned much from them, they didn’t model gender roles for me as they’re presented in Scripture. This led me to believe men and women are identical regarding their roles and responsibilities. Aside from the obvious, such as not going into the bathroom of the wrong gender or playing on the opposite gender’s sports team—things that tragically our world is even starting to get wrong—I didn’t think of men and women acting much differently from each other.

This was even the case when I went through ROTC and then became an Army officer. Except for a few differences, such as lower requirements on the physical fitness tests, I didn’t see men and women facing different expectations or being treated differently. Although I wasn’t a Christian at the time, and even though I couldn’t put my finger on it, there was a nagging suspicion that men, versus women, should lead. You probably have this thought in the back of your mind too. Why is that? Because, as Scripture reveals, God created men to lead. We see that throughout the history of God’s people. The pattern of male leadership began at creation and is maintained throughout Scripture:

  • There were patriarchs instead of matriarchs.
  • The tribes of Israel were named after men.
  • The only legitimate mediators between God and people were men (i.e., priests instead of priestesses).
  • God appointed kings instead of queens.
  • God called men to serve as the focal points of His covenants with mankind (for example, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus).

FEMALE LEADERS IN THE BIBLE DON’T CONFLICT WITH GOD’S PATTERN OF MALE LEADERSHIP

So why do we see examples of female leadership in Scripture? What about queens, prophetesses, and at least one female judge—Deborah? Were these women anomalies? Are they examples of rebellion against God’s design, or is there another explanation? To answer these questions, let’s look at them individually.

Queens

Scripture mentions three prominent queens, and they fall into two categories: evil and good. Jezebel (1 Kings 16-22; 2 Kings 9) and Athaliah (2 Kings 8, 11) were evil women who seized control and became tyrannical leaders. Jezebel instituted the worship of the false god Baal across Israel and persecuted followers of Yahweh. Athaliah murdered her grandchildren upon the death of her son and then seized the throne of Judah. Clearly, neither woman serves as a good example.

On the other hand, Esther stands in contrast as a godly queen. We see through the account of her life that she supported male leadership through her submission first to her adopted father, Mordecai, and then to her husband, King Xerxes of Persia. This wasn’t the only factor that allowed her to save her people from annihilation. There was also her courage in going before the king knowing “that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live” (Esther 4:11). All of this reveals a heart that’s yielded to God. The whole of her life contributed to her submissive attitude and made her useful to God.

Priestesses

Under the Mosaic covenant, only men could be priests because they were the teachers: “[The priests] may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken” (Leviticus 10:11). When priestesses are mentioned, they are associated with pagan religions such as the worship of Astarte or Baal. Wayne Grudem, professor of theology and cofounder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, explains:

“Think of the Bible as a whole, from Genesis to Revelation. Where is there one example in the entire Bible of a woman publicly teaching an assembled group of God’s people? There is none.”

Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 82.

Prophetesses

While we find no scriptural examples of women publicly teaching an assembly, it’s worth noting that no negative association is attached in Scripture to women being prophetesses. They could occupy this office because it was not a leadership position, and it did not cause them to teach men. Authors John Piper and Wayne Grudem explain:

It is instructive to note in the Old Testament that some women were prophets, but never priests. It is the priests who had the more settled and established positions of leadership in Israel. Prophecy is a different kind of gift from teaching, and when women functioned as prophets they did so with a demeanor and attitude that supported male leadership. Women who had the gift of prophecy did not exercise it in a public forum as male prophets did. The reason for this is that such a public exercise of authority would contradict male headship.

John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 217.

If we briefly consider two examples of the most prominent prophetesses in the Old Testament, we see how their ministries not only didn’t conflict with male headship but actually supported it. The first is Moses’s sister Miriam. After the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, Moses led the nation in a song of praise (Exodus 15:1-19). Then Miriam did something similar in Exodus 15:20-21, but with an important difference: “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord…’” Note that Miriam led only the women in singing, as opposed to leading both women and men as her brother Moses had done.

Conversely, consider what happened when Miriam joined Aaron in challenging Moses’s leadership. In Numbers 12:2, Miriam and Aaron asked, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through [you]? Has He not spoken through us also?” Apparently, they thought they should have some of Moses’s authority. In response, God quickly called the people of Israel to the tabernacle of meeting, appeared in the pillar of cloud, rebuked Aaron and Miriam, defended Moses, and gave Miriam leprosy for rebelling against God’s appointed leader (Numbers 12:4-10).

After Moses interceded for Miriam, her leprosy was removed, but God still commanded that she be put outside the camp for seven days (Numbers 12:13- 15). What’s puzzling here is that Aaron engaged in the same sin as Miriam, yet only she was punished in this way. Why the difference? Scripture gives no indication that Miriam did anything worse, or even different than Aaron: “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses…So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’” (Numbers 12:1-2). While it was bad for Aaron to try to usurp his brother’s authority, it was worse for Miriam because she was the initiator.

We fast-forward almost one millennium to another prominent prophetess: Huldah. While Miriam lived during the wilderness wanderings, Huldah lived during the reign of one of Judah’s greatest kings: Josiah. During his restoration of the temple, the Book of the Law (Pentateuch) was discovered. When it was read before Josiah, he was grieved to discover how far his nation had strayed from following God. Tearing his clothes, Josiah sent messengers to “inquire of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:13). Those messengers went to Huldah the prophetess. The significance of Huldah’s response is that she did not publicly proclaim God’s Word. Rather, she explained it privately to the messengers (2 Kings 22:15-20). She exercised her prophetic ministry in a way that did not obstruct, but instead, supported male headship.

Numerous other prophetesses are listed throughout Scripture, making clear this role was not an anomaly:

  • Deborah, who also served as a judge (Judges 4:4)
  • The wife of Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 8:3)
  • Anna, who spoke about Jesus’s birth in the temple (Luke 2:36-38)
  • The four daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:9)

In each case, however, like Huldah, there is no record of these women having the public teaching ministries of their male counterparts.

Other women in the Bible are not called prophetesses but are recorded as prophesying:

  • Hannah, mother of Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
  • Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39-45)
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55)

In every instance, the women prophesied under the headship of a husband or father or, in the case of the widow Anna, the temple’s male leadership.

FIVE REASONS DEBORAH SUPPORTS MALE LEADERSHIP IN THE BIBLE

Judges were Israel’s primary rulers for almost three-and-a-half centuries. They also commanded armies, making these some of the strongest leaders in Scripture. So why did Deborah serve as judge? In discussions about the role of women in church leadership, Deborah is often the first example brought up to support the idea of female leaders. For this reason, Deborah’s example is worth looking at more closely. We’ll see she also supports the principle of male leadership.

First, There’s No Mention of Deborah Being Appointed by God

Throughout the book of Judges, as men rise to leadership, we read verses that confirm they were chosen or empowered by God:

  • “The Lord raised up a deliverer…Othniel” (Judges 3:9).
  • “The Lord raised up a deliverer…Ehud” (Judges 3:15).
  • “The Lord [said to Gideon], ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel…Have I not sent you?’” (Judges 6:14).
  • “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 11:29).
  • “Samson…grew and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him” (Judges 13:24-25).

But with Deborah, there is no indication God specifically appointed her to that role. Judges 4:4 simply says, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” When we are introduced to her, we read that she is female, and what is missed in the English translations of the Bible is a negative emphasis that appears in the original Hebrew text of this passage. Wayne Grudem writes:

Judges 4:4 suggests some amazement at the unusual nature of the situation in which a woman actually has to judge Israel, because it piles up a string of redundant words to emphasize that Deborah is a woman. Translating the Hebrew text literally, the verse says, “And Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she was judging Israel at the time.” Something is abnormal, something is wrong—there are no men to function as judge! This impression is confirmed when we read of Barak’s timidity and the rebuke he receives as well as the loss of glory he could have received.

Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth, 134.

Second, Deborah’s Ministry was Private Versus Public

Judges 4:5 says Deborah “would sit under the palm tree…and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” The people approached her privately. She did not publicly teach the Word of God, as was the case with Huldah and other prophetesses. Rather, Deborah is another example of a woman limited to private and individual instruction. Even when Deborah called for Barak, Judges 4:6-7 shows her speaking to him privately:

She sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”

Third, Deborah Encouraged Barak to Lead

Let’s note some key phrases in these verses:

  • The statement “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded?” should not be understood as Deborah giving orders to Barak. As a prophetess, Deborah received a word from God and passed it along to Barak, confirming what he already should have known—that God had commanded him to lead the army.
  • The directive “Go and deploy troops” is particularly significant because Deborah was judge at the time. She was in the position typically occupied by Israel’s commander. But rather than summon or command troops herself, she let Barak know that God had called him to lead.
  • The phrase “against you I will deploy Sisera” clarifies God’s plan for Sisera to attack Barak, not Deborah.
  • “I will deliver him into your hand” indicates God wanted Barak, and not Deborah, to receive the victory over Sisera.

These are confirmations that even while serving as judge, Deborah affirmed the rightness of male leadership when it came to leading God’s people, not only looking to Barak to lead but letting him know this was what God wanted. Sadly, Barak did not step up and assume the role God wanted him to fulfill. Instead, Barak told Deborah, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:8). We recognize here that something is not right about a man telling a woman, “I will not go to battle unless you go with me.”

Fourth, Deborah Rebuked Barak for Failing to Lead

Not surprisingly, Deborah rebuked Barak’s reluctance: “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9). Deborah’s prophecy came true. God routed Sisera’s army before Barak, but it was a woman, Jael, who ended up defeating the enemy commander (Judges 4:17-22). Barak should not have insisted Deborah accompany him into battle. Instead, he should have taken leadership of the army himself.

This entire account is not advocating for female leadership; instead, it is presented as a criticism of Barak. The book of Judges records some of Israel’s worst days, and the absence of male leadership is a strong reflection of the time. One of the most common mistakes people make when they approach Scripture is to take a descriptive passage (or one that merely describes) and turn it into a prescriptive passage (or one that prescribes). In other words, they treat a descriptive historical account as though it is prescriptive instruction that should be followed. This is the danger of citing Deborah’s judgeship as evidence for female leadership over God’s people. Her example actually serves as a rebuke to the nation of Israel regarding the absence of male leadership.

Later, during another dark period in Israel’s history, the prophet Isaiah asserted that when women ruled over the people, that was a sign of God’s judgment: “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

Fifth, the Account Is Descriptive Versus Prescriptive

Neither the book of Judges nor the account of Deborah and Barak are presented as examples to follow. The book of Judges is largely an example not to follow, as it recounts the serious breakdown of leadership among God’s people. Judges 17:6 and 21:25 offer valuable perspective to us about that time period: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The nation had abandoned God—that is the context in which Deborah ended up becoming a judge. And as we saw, she served that role privately and reluctantly.

Although Deborah’s judgeship is not prescriptive of female leadership, is there application here for marriages? Absolutely:

  • When men expect their wives to assume responsibility for taking the family to church or praying and reading the Word together as a family, they are acting like Barak. They are abandoning the role God has given them.
  • When a wife is urging her husband to lead and a husband resists or prefers that his wife take charge instead, he is acting like Barak.

If Deborah is prescriptive of anything, it’s that of encouraging Barak to lead and do what God desired of him. She rebuked him when he would not take charge. Note especially that when Barak refused to lead, Deborah did not take control of the situation herself. Rather, she let God direct Barak’s steps and victory. Her story should motivate women to do what she did—encourage a man to lead. And Barak is prescriptive in that his example should motivate men to avoid the mistake he made—failing to lead.

THE PATTERN OF MALE LEADERSHIP IN THE BIBLE CONTINUES TODAY

The pattern of male leadership established at creation is maintained throughout the Old Testament and carried into the New Testament. The 12 disciples were men. Jesus could have chosen six men and six women, but He chose all men for these leadership positions. The 70 evangelists who were sent out after the 12 were all men (Luke 10:1). Again, though Jesus could have chosen 35 men and 35 women, we see that He chose all men.

In the New Testament, church elders are identified as men. Consider the qualifications for elders as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1-5: “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work…the husband of one wife…one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission.” We see the same when Paul discusses elders in Titus 1:6, 9: “If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife…holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.” When churches appoint female pastors or elders, they have rejected the teaching of God’s Word. God does not recognize women in those positions because according to the scriptural pattern, only men can occupy those offices.

In 1 Timothy 2:12-14, the apostle Paul instructs: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Elsewhere Paul wrote about women praying and prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5) and teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5); therefore, it is clear he didn’t expect them to “be in silence” all the time. Instead, when the church has both men and women present, women should take on the role of silent learner (versus teacher). Again, this has to do with authority—a woman is not to usurp the role of a male leader and put herself in a position over a man. The foundation of these verses comes from two truths we already discussed:

  1. Adam was created first.
  2. Eve was deceived. While it sounds as though Adam is commended for not being deceived and Eve is condemned for being deceived, the opposite is true. Eve was not as much at fault because she was deceived, while Adam was more at fault because he sinned knowingly.

You might be wondering if there are some exceptions to the principle of male leadership. Yes, there are. When I was an elementary school teacher, most of the principals I worked for were women. I submitted to their authority and did my best to serve them, the school, and my students in ways that glorified Christ. Even in the family and the church, where these verses have the clearest application, exceptions occur. In our home, when we show the children how to cook or paint, I’m happy to defer to Katie and follow her lead. One morning as we prepared to return from a family vacation, as we got ready to leave, I asked Katie how she wanted us to pack up and unload when we arrived home.

Twice a year at Woodland Christian Church the ladies’ planning meeting takes place to iron out the details for the next six months’ worth of events. This is a stressful and difficult job for the woman in charge. For the weeks leading up to the meeting, and during the meeting itself, I do my best to support the ladies’ planning coordinator. Many of the events planned at this meeting end up being overseen by women, such as our Family Camp and Beach Camp. I try to serve the women in charge, asking them if there are any ways I can serve them, such as announcing information from the pulpit or putting signup forms in the foyer. Many of our plays have female directors. When I’ve been in the plays, I take my orders from women. Our vacation Bible school has often been led by a woman because most of the men are working during the day when the preparations and the event itself are taking place. I do my best to support the women in these various roles.

THE REAL QUESTION ABOUT MALE LEADERSHIP

In our gender-confused world there is objection to male leadership. There is a clash in our culture with resurgent feminism creeping into the church and family, but we must hold to the clear teaching of the Bible. Sometimes people ask, “Why can’t women be in leadership over men?” Let me affirm that in no way do the Bible’s teachings on this matter mean that women are less worthy, less useful, or less valuable—not at all! We will see in an upcoming chapter that although women are not identical to men, they are equal to men and they have strengths that men do not have. The Bible’s teachings also have nothing to do with talent. Some women are fantastic teachers and leaders, and they should use their gifts accordingly, except for in those areas where Scripture has specifically stated otherwise, as seen earlier in this chapter.

What it does have to do with is the order of creation—Adam was created first—and Eve’s being deceived. Beyond that, I cannot say because those are the only two reasons Paul gives in 1 Timothy 2:13-14. The real question we should be asking is not, Why can’t women lead? The real question—and it is the same question we often face in our marriages—is, What does God’s Word say?

I understand this is not an easy teaching to absorb in today’s cultural climate. Habakkuk 2:4 says, “The just shall live by…faith” and Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God].” When we think about walking by faith, we might imagine missionaries going overseas to dangerous parts of the world or taking on a ministry that terrifies us. But in our daily lives, walking by faith means trusting God when we don’t understand His Word, or perhaps even disagree with it. Walking by faith means being willing to say, “This doesn’t make sense, but I’m going to trust and obey.”

This might need to be the case for you with the Bible’s teaching on male leadership. As we move into the following chapters and look at what the Bible says about headship and submission in more detail, let me remind you that God knows what’s best for all areas of life, including the family and the church. His design for marriage is the ideal. He wants us to have strong, healthy, joyful relationships. When we follow God’s Word, we can fully enjoy the benefits and beauty that give us marriages God’s way.

I want to invite you to remember this now, because in the following chapters we’re going to start digging into what it looks like being a Christian husband and wife. Some of what the Bible says might be unfamiliar territory to you, contrary to what you expect, or even conflict with what you’ve believed up till now. Should that be the case, remind yourself that God knows best, and He wants what’s best for you—especially in your marriage, because it’s a picture of His Son’s loving relationship to the church.

Your Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship
Your Marriage God's Way Workbook author Scott LaPierre

The text in this post is from Your Marriage God’s Way, and the audio is from the accompanying audiobook. I am praying God uses the book and workbook to strengthen marriages and exalt Christ.

123 Responses

  1. Scripture does not state that Barack is the leader of the army but through the context of the passage that we read that thought is implied. Through the context of what we read about Deborah, the Bible whether announced or not says that she was a judge and a prophet. When we look at the definition of the Hebrew word sent, a primitive root; to send away, for, or out and the word called through the idea of accosting a person met]; to call out to (i.e., properly address by name). Accosting means approaching or speaking to someone aggressively. Does not sound like you’re stating that she went against his will it sounds more like that you’re saying that the Bible is incorrect in what has been presented to us.
    As far as her being the leader let me ask you a question. Has your mom ever been a little perturbed with you and given you a command in the form of a question? I bet it didn’t take you long to figure out who was in charge! There are many things that are not stated in the Bible but because of the context that we read it is implied and we are from there to discern what God intends for us to receive with the help of His Holy Spirit!
    I was going to go in length and depth in this article, but I think I’m going to stop here it hurts me to see us splitting hairs while people are going to hell in a handbasket because we are jockeying for the choicest seats in the house! Do you really think that those that come to believe in Jesus Christ by hearing preaching or being taught by a woman WILL make a difference in the end!
    I have been assisting a local church on two Sundays of the month because they do not have a pastor and have not had one since December of 2021. It is a small congregation it existed around 30 before COVID. Since then, it has dwindled to about 10 ladies ranging between the ages of 50 and 80. These women have often had to go without hearing the preached word simply because they say that women cannot preach or speak in the church. Imagine coming to church for Sunday school and hymns. What man does that?
    Male leadership in the church is on the decline and for us to sit around and blame it on feminism come on let’s get real any man that I know, including yours truly, has to feel that there’s a need for anything that exists in his life or he’s not going to keep it there. We are failing miserably in our ability to highlight the need of God in the life of his people!
    The believer now lives, thank you, Jesus, under the power of GRACE so if we don’t get it all right Jesus has paid the full price for our mistakes in the past, present, and future. He says” if I be lifted up I will draw all men”. One of the connotations of the word in the Greek definition of the draw is the word Drag. It means that before men go to heaven or before they go to hell, they’ll have to pass by Jesus, not the pulpit!

  2. Hello Scott,
    Great article. You say Deborah was not called; however, how does one become a prophetess without being called? Are you suggesting she was self appointed?

    1. Juanita,
      Regarding her being called I was referring to the office of Judge, not profit us. Also I am not disputing that she was a judge and prophetess. I am simply stating she stands in contrast to numerous other judges whom have an accompanying verse identifying their calling from God to serve as a judge. Without that support it looks like Debra occupied the office outside of God’s perfect will. And to be clear, I don’t think this is so much a reflection of her as it is a reflection of the spiritual condition of the days of the judges.

  3. Hi Mr. LaPierre,
    I stumbled upon your website while searching for further explanations of Judges 4-5 after reading this article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0146107914564823.
    I’ve been asked to write a paper reflecting on the above article for my Old Testament class at college. The given prompt mentions that Deborah is the only judge said to be a prophet & therefore was remembered as a significant leader in Israel’s early history. I’m supposed to talk about how gender is important in the portrayal of Deborah by the male authors of Scripture. My initial thought was the switching of the common gender roles was important, but your argument that the focus is on criticism of Barak rather than praise of Deborah seems a lot more Biblical & logical to me. However, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that male authors would willingly write Judges in such a way that continuously points out their flaws and weaknesses. Any thoughts on this?

    1. Hello Hannah,
      Nice to hear from you. Good thoughts and question. My answer would be that the Book of Judges, like the rest of Scripture, should be viewed as an accurate, historical document. The accounts are recorded as they occurred, including the weaknesses and failures of the individuals involved. It has been a blessing to me on numerous occasions, and I assume it has encouraged others as well, that God has chosen to write so honestly about even the great heroes of the faith. They were sinful humans, like me, yet God still used them in wonderful ways.

  4. Hi Scott,
    I’m taking an Old Testament class, and I have to write a 3-5 page paper on a women of the Old Testament, from the book of Genesis to the book of Ruth. Of course, I chose to write about Deborah because I believe that GOD, in his infinite wisdom decided to use her as a prophetess and a judge to Israel.

    The Bible tells us that GOD’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is the Creator, and I believe that He decides who He will use to accomplish His Will. I do not understand why you don’t believe that Deborah was appointed by GOD just because the text failed to say so.

    If GOD used a donkey to accomplish His Will, what makes you think that He did not appoint Deborah. How can you be a true prophet without GOD. Deborah was a true prophet of GOD. She had to be appointed by GOD, if not nothing she said or did would have had fruition.

    What I see in most of the comments made by men that GOD doesn’t want women to lead men are wounded male egos. Wasn’t the man totally incomplete without woman. Didn’t GOD give Adam Eve as his helpmeet? Not only that, didn’t Adam follow Eve when she disobeyed GOD? He didn’t take the led and say, NO! GOD said not to eat of that tree. If he had, I imagine things would have turned out much different for mankind period.

    I do believe that GOD really and truly wanted man to led, to be the head, but let’s face it, because Adam followed Eve in the beginning, women have exercised power over the leadership of men ever since. I believe that JESUS chose 12 men as His disciples, in the beginning, because of the way women were viewed and treated by man throughout history. They had no voice, but because of the Gospel, now women have received the same charge as men, to go therefore making disciples of all people to the uttermost part of the earth, period. I believe we are equal in the LORD, in our marriages, and in the Church, and we should treat each other as such.

    My paper is to reflect on Deborah’s role in scripture, and how she could be a role model for women in the Church today. I want to thank you, and everyone else for their comments, because now I have several new points of interest to write about in my paper.

    1. Hello Jackie,
      I’m glad you were able to find my post. Thank you for reading and commenting. I decided to simply paste your comment below to respond to different parts of it…

      Hi Scott. I’m taking an Old Testament class, and I have to write a 3-5 page paper on a women of the Old Testament, from the book of Genesis to the book of Ruth. Of course, I chose to write about Deborah because I believe that GOD, in his infinite wisdom decided to use her as a prophetess and a judge to Israel.

      Do you believe God also decided to use Jezebel and Athaliah as queens to rule over Israel and Judah? If not, why do you believe that God chose Deborah but not them?

      The Bible tells us that GOD’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is the Creator, and I believe that He decides who He will use to accomplish His Will. I do not understand why you don’t believe that Deborah was appointed by GOD just because the text failed to say so.

      I don’t believe the Deborah was appointed by God, because the text doesn’t tell us that He did. We don’t speak into silence. In other words we build our case from what Scripture says, not from what it doesn’t say. You are saying that God appointed Deborah, but Scripture doesn’t say that. I am saying that there’s no mention of Deborah being appointed by God, which is true.

      If GOD used a donkey to accomplish His Will, what makes you think that He did not appoint Deborah. How can you be a true prophet without GOD. Deborah was a true prophet of GOD. She had to be appointed by GOD, if not nothing she said or did would have had fruition.

      God also used Judas to accomplish his will, but it doesn’t defend Judas’s actions. I am not comparing Deborah’s actions with Judas’s. I am simply making the point that just because God uses someone’s actions doesn’t defend the person’s actions.

      Actually, Deborah’s actions are a great argument for male headship, because she kept trying to get a man to lead.

      Again, I would go back to what I already wrote. You are speaking into silence to say that God appointed her, when the text doesn’t say that. Also, would you similarly say that God appointed Jezebel and Athaliah?

      What I see in most of the comments made by men that GOD doesn’t want women to lead men are wounded male egos. Wasn’t the man totally incomplete without woman.

      No, I wouldn’t say that, or else how do we explain some people having the gift of singleness and being complete without a spouse?

      Didn’t GOD give Adam Eve as his helpmeet? Not only that, didn’t Adam follow Eve when she disobeyed GOD? He didn’t take the led and say, NO! GOD said not to eat of that tree. If he had, I imagine things would have turned out much different for mankind period.

      I can’t believe you just used this as an example as it completely argues against your case and supports male headship. God established Adam’s headship prior to The Fall and the devil attacked it. He tempted Eve to usurp Adam’s leadership and then Adam submitted to Eve. Their roles were reversed and it was disastrous. We see the same with Abraham and Sarah and then Ahab and Jezebel.

      I do believe that GOD really and truly wanted man to led, to be the head, but let’s face it, because Adam followed Eve in the beginning, women have exercised power over the leadership of men ever since.

      You are absolutely correct. God said that as a result of the fall women would want to control their husbands, but men were still expected to lead. Again, I’m surprised that you wrote this.

      I believe that JESUS chose 12 men as His disciples, in the beginning, because of the way women were viewed and treated by man throughout history.

      I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make sense. Jesus chose 12 men as his disciples because women have been mistreated? Jesus chose 12 men as his disciples, because it follows the pattern of male leadership that is established throughout Scripture. The patriarchs were men. The covenants were made with men. The tribes were named after men. God chose kings to rule over Israel versus Queens. The 12 disciples were men and then the 70 were also men.

      They had no voice, but because of the Gospel, now women have received the same charge as men, to go therefore making disciples of all people to the uttermost part of the earth, period.

      The New Testament does not support men and women having identical charges. If anything it is the opposite; men and women have different roles and responsibilities and are given different commands. Any honest reading of the New Testament recognizes this. Read Titus 2 to see what is said to women, and there are no comparable passages for men. Read Ephesians 5 to see the different commands for husbands and wives.

      I believe we are equal in the LORD, in our marriages, and in the Church, and we should treat each other as such.

      I believe we are equal as well, but equal doesn’t mean identical. People can be equal and have different responsibilities and roles.

      My paper is to reflect on Deborah’s role in scripture, and how she could be a role model for women in the Church today. I want to thank you, and everyone else for their comments, because now I have several new points of interest to write about in my paper.

      I’m glad my post helped you with your paper, but I’m saddened that it seems like you are taking away the opposite understanding of what is intended.

  5. Thank you for this article. I found it after watching a video about Deborah. Voddie Baucham said the days of Deborah were not prosperous and her private leadership was a sign of judgment. I briefly thanked the person who uploaded the video and agreed. Within minutes a woman wrote me a research paper about the significance of Deborah’s leadership and call from God. I’m amazed at the indoctrination. Feminism has reached many , “Christian” churches and Bible studies. I’m a bit heart broken about it. I read many of these comments and wanted to thank you for standing firm in Christ.

    1. Mary Ann,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with Voddie Baucham, because that’s what the Bible says: “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

      Women ruling over the people is a sign of God’s judgment. Yes, it is heartbreaking how much feminism has crept into the church. Male leadership being God’s pattern is obvious for anyone who wants to be intellectually honest with Scripture.

  6. In the Torah, Israel was commanded to appoint Judges and Officers in all the gates given to them by God in (Deuteronomy 16:18-19). The qualifications for a Judge are given in (Exodus 18:21-24). The qualifications only mention men, and the role of Judge is connected to military leadership, which is why almost all judges besides Samuel were warriors. This is because a prophet’s primary role is to declare the word of God and lead the people in spiritual affairs. This is why Deborah did not lead any men in war or otherwise. She also would have made the military camp unclean during her menstrual cycle (Leviticus 15:19-23). Also, note that whenever a prophetess is mentioned in scripture, her relation to a man (father, brother or husband) is always mentioned. The only exceptions are the two false prophetesses mentioned in Nehemiah 6:14 and Revelation 2:20. Also, the first mention of a prophetess is Mariam the sister of Moses. In (Exodus 15:20) it mentions her as leading a procession of women in praising the Lord. No men were being led by her. Note as well that only male descendants of Aaron could be Priests, and also that Israel had no queens, only Kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-15). The only “queens” mentioned are either wayward women like Jezebel or queen translates actually to the Hebrew word gebiyrah, which means queen-mother.

  7. Scott-
    Thank you for your exegesis concerning this topic. While I appreciate the dialogue between you and the responders, I find it quite disturbing and extremely disrespectful to say the least of some of the remarks of people who call themselves Christians (let alone adults) attacking your character and with childish name calling. When someone disagrees and can’t take the truth unfortunately the sinfulness (and ignorance) of the heart is revealed. If you disagree with Scott please agree to disagree and then move on.

    1. Hello Tim,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. In a sense, I would rather that they attack me than Scripture. It shows that they don’t really have a biblical argument against what I’ve written. God bless!

  8. Hi Scott,
    Add it to your arguments: If Deborah was partially some kind of Israel leader, and was not an error or an exception, why roughly a 1,000 years later, Jesus did not raise a woman again or ever?

  9. Scott would the verse in Corinthians, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial” apply to the story of Deborah? My church family has adopted women to lead in worship service and I can first hand tell you it has disappointed and discouraged me from taking responsibility to lead.

    1. Hello Christopher,
      Good question, but I don’t think so. I think that verse refers to the amoral, versus the moral or immoral. The moral is beneficial and the immoral is detrimental and harmful. In the case of Deborah, because a woman’s leadership over men contradict as scripture it would not be permissible, or in other words, amoral. Instead it would be immoral and detrimental.

      Thank you for sharing your testimony. I think it’s common that when women lead, men are not as inclined to lead. I’ve heard women say that they have to lead because a man doesn’t, if a woman wants a man to lead she should ensure she doesn’t lead so he feels burdened to do so.

  10. There is certainly a difference between the leadership of judging the entire Israel (Deborah’s Role) and the leadership of leading the warriors to battle (Barak’s Role). It is certain that women usually didn’t go to war in those days, so Deborah would not lead the men to war but remained a leader in judging the matters of the people of Israel.

    1. Hi Daniel,
      Yes, you’re right. Maybe something is escaping my mind, but I can’t even think of any examples in the Bible of women going to battle. Considering God’s desires for the gender roles, and especially 1 Peter 3:7 discussing women being physically weaker, it’s evident He wouldn’t want women at war.

  11. Scott,
    I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. This passage is clearly one where gender specific roles are a key component! It is sad and shocking to see the feministic views coming into the church at such an alarming rate. By studying the truth written in God’s Word I and my wife we’re able to have our eyes opened to the lies being taught and widely accepted. We did leave our church and continue to stand for the truth written in scripture. It’s not been an easy road but God has blessed us greatly through this by drawing closer to us as we drew closer to Him!!

    Thank you for standing firm upon the Word of God and speaking the truth to the world. You are an encouragement to me and to many others.

    1. Hi Travis,
      That’s good to hear. Truth sets us free. There’s blessing from embracing what God’s Word says, whether it’s hard or easy to swallow.

      Your words about me are an encouragement. Thank you!

  12. Deborah didn’t tell Barak to lead, she lead him to do his job as a military general, she wasn’t giving him her job as judge of Israel. You are reading into something that isn’t there.

    Same with victory being in the hands of a woman – Jael’s gender isn’t the point, her willingness is. She didn’t say ‘I will only do this if someone else does it with me’ as Barak did, she just seizes the moment and because of that she receives the honor. It’s that simple.

    Remember God is Spirit and we are always called first to be citizens of heaven before anything we define ourselves by here on earth, including gender.
    The story of Deborah, Barak and Jael is a spiritual lesson for everyone about obedience to the Lord, not male and female leadership. Do you get it?

    Open your eyes to the things unseen, for man judges upon appearances but the Lord looks on the heart.

    Your other points are so far fetched and lacking in love I won’t even touch on them.

    1. Hi Elle,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I copied your comment and responded below different parts of it…

      Deborah didn’t tell Barak to lead, she lead him to do his job as a military general,

      I’ll let the text speak for itself. In Judges 4:6 she said, ““Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun.’”

      she wasn’t giving him her job as judge of Israel. You are reading into something that isn’t there.

      Correct, but I never said she made him a judge.

      Same with victory being in the hands of a woman – Jaels gender isn’t the point, her willingness is.

      The fact that Jael was a woman is a huge point. Debroah used that as a threat to Barak. In Judges 4:9 she said, “And she said, ‘I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’”

      She didn’t say ‘I will only do this if someone else does it with me’ as Barak did, she just seizes the moment and because of that she receives the honor. It’s that simple.

      Anyone being honest with the text can see Deborah resisted leading the troops. Instead, she told Barak that God commanded him to lead them.

      Remember God is Spirit and we are always called first to be citizens of heaven before anything we define ourselves by here on earth, including gender.

      If that was true there wouldn’t be specific commands in Scripture for men and women/husbands and wives.

      The story of Deborah, Barak and Jael is a spiritual lesson for everyone about obedience to the Lord, not male and female leadership. Do you get it?

      Yes, the account with Deborah and Barak deals with obedience, but if it didn’t deal with male leadership then Deborah would have led the troops herself.

      Open your eyes to the things unseen, for man judges upon appearances but the Lord looks on the heart.
      Your other points are so far fetched and lacking in love I won’t even touch on them.

      It’s not unloving to tell people the truth.

  13. Hi Scott
    ,Before going to your 5 reasons, let’s notice that Judges 2:16-19 shows us that the meaning of the word translated as ‘judge’ or ‘leader’ here refers to a deliverer raised up by God, not merely a judge. Let’s also notice the context. Deborah’s story exemplifies a theme that God calls and uses people without being bound by how they are ranked by human culture. The story immediately preceding is the story of Ehud, the left-handed deliverer (Judg. 3:12–30). In ancient Near East culture, the right hand was associated with strength, authority and wisdom; the left with weakness, foolishness and waywardness (Gen 48:12-20; Exod 15:6, 12; Isa 48:13; Ps 110:1; Eccl 10:2; Matt 25:33, 41). The story after Deborah’s is that of Gideon, the youngest member of the weakest clan (Judg. 6:15). God’s call to leadership is not excluded by left-handedness (Ehud), by gender (Deborah), by the customs favoring the eldest son (Gideon) or by human weakness (Gideon again).
    1. There’s no mention of Deborah being appointed by God? Ok, those exact words are not used. But the text presents her leadership as God-given. In 4:3 the oppressed people are crying to the Lord for help. In 4:4 Deborah is the judge/leader of Israel. In the rest of chapters 4 and 5, following the agenda set by 2:16, Deborah is the leader through whom God delivers them, with the very satisfactory conclusion in 5:31 that the land had peace for 40 years. See also the inspired song at 5:6-7 – there was no relief until Deborah arose. So, as far as the Bible is concerned, God here raises up a woman to exercise leadership over men.
    2. Deborah’s ministry was private not public? But this can’t be supported from the text. Justice was delivered in public (Deut 17:5; Josh 20:6, 9; Isa 29:21; Amos 5:10, 12, 15). The palm tree where she sat (Judg 4:5) was therefore a public place. And even if her decisions had been given privately, by making them she still exercised authority over men.
    3. Deborah “encouraged” Barak to lead? But in the text the nature of the encouragement is that she summons Barak and instructs him to take Israel into battle. This does not diminish her authority but highlights it.
    4. Deborah rebuked Barak for failing to lead? If 4:9 is a rebuke, it is for his reluctance to obey the command which she delivered to him in 4:6-7. This does not contradict God’s call to Deborah to be the commander in chief who instructed Barak how to lead the army.
    5. The story is descriptive, not prescriptive? But the central question here is: does the Bible insist on a general principle which requires leadership to be male only, or does the story of Deborah show that God may choose to call a woman to a position of leadership over men? It shows God’s call to a woman to lead.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I responded below…

      Hi Scott. Before going to your 5 reasons, let’s notice that Judges 2:16-19 shows us that the meaning of the word translated as ‘judge’ or ‘leader’ here refers to a deliverer raised up by God, not merely a judge.

      I don’t deny that judges were leaders, but where is the word translated as “leader”? Yes, those verses say the judged were raised up by God, and it frequently says that through the book…except in Deborah’s case…which is why it’s so significant. That’s actually my point. It does NOT say that God raised her up as He did with the others.

      Let’s also notice the context. Deborah’s story exemplifies a theme that God calls and uses people without being bound by how they are ranked by human culture. The story immediately preceding is the story of Ehud, the left-handed deliverer (Judg. 3:12–30). In ancient Near East culture, the right hand was associated with strength, authority and wisdom; the left with weakness, foolishness and waywardness (Gen 48:12-20; Exod 15:6, 12; Isa 48:13; Ps 110:1; Eccl 10:2; Matt 25:33, 41). The story after Deborah’s is that of Gideon, the youngest member of the weakest clan (Judg. 6:15). God’s call to leadership is not excluded by left-handedness (Ehud), by gender (Deborah), by the customs favoring the eldest son (Gideon) or by human weakness (Gideon again).
      1. There’s no mention of Deborah being appointed by God? Ok, those exact words are not used. But the text presents her leadership as God-given. In 4:3 the oppressed people are crying to the Lord for help. In 4:4 Deborah is the judge/leader of Israel. In the rest of chapters 4 and 5, following the agenda set by 2:16, Deborah is the leader through whom God delivers them, with the very satisfactory conclusion in 5:31 that the land had peace for 40 years. See also the inspired song at 5:6-7 – there was no relief until Deborah arose. So, as far as the Bible is concerned, God here raises up a woman to exercise leadership over men.

      I’m with you on everything you said except the last sentence. I don’t want to repeat what I said above, but it’s very significant that it does NOT say God raised up Deborah. You’re saying something Scripture doesn’t say.

      2. Deborah’s ministry was private not public? But this can’t be supported from the text. Justice was delivered in public (Deut 17:5; Josh 20:6, 9; Isa 29:21; Amos 5:10, 12, 15). The palm tree where she sat (Judg 4:5) was therefore a public place. And even if her decisions had been given privately, by making them she still exercised authority over men.

      Here’s what Wayne Grudem writes in Systematic Theology, page 942: “Deborah was different from other male prophets in that she did not prophesy in public, only in private (Judges 4:5; Huldah does the same in 2 Kings 22:14-20); she handed over her leadership role to a man (Judges 4:6-7); and, although God did bring blessing through her, it is interesting that there is no explicit affirmation of the fact that the Lord raised her up, making her unlike the other major judges, for whom there is explicit statement of their calling from God.”

      3. Deborah “encouraged” Barak to lead? But in the text the nature of the encouragement is that she summons Barak and instructs him to take Israel into battle. This does not diminish her authority but highlights it.

      She didn’t command him as you’re saying. She told him what God said. God commanded him to go. I used the word “encouraged,” but I could just as easily write that she told Barak that God commanded him (not her) to lead.

      4. Deborah rebuked Barak for failing to lead? If 4:9 is a rebuke, it is for his reluctance to obey the command which she delivered to him in 4:6-7. This does not contradict God’s call to Deborah to be the commander in chief who instructed Barak how to lead the army.

      No, it is a rebuke for his reluctance to obey what God commanded him to do. Where do you see God calling Deborah to be the commander-in-chief? The text presents the opposite in that God wanted Barak in that position as Deborah relayed to him.

      5. The story is descriptive, not prescriptive? But the central question here is: does the Bible insist on a general principle which requires leadership to be male only,

      Absolutely! That is a theme of Scripture.

      or does the story of Deborah show that God may choose to call a woman to a position of leadership over men? It shows God’s call to a woman to lead.

      It shows the opposite. Deborah told Barak that God commanded him to lead. I’m not sure how it could be clearer?

  14. Hey Scott,

    Thanks for the article! I know you have received some push back on point #1, with the retort, “Shamgar was not appointed by God.” Perhaps the more simple solution is that Shamgar is not one of the major judges. He’s more akin to Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, & Abdon.

    While a creative solution, I do not agree with Tanya’s solution. Shamgar seems to be a positive character both in his close association with Ehud (the unlikely deliverer), as well as his association with Jael (the righteous Gentile deliverer).

    I would say Deborah’s role, although it included judging of some form (Judg 4:4), was not the same as the other major judges of the time. And certainly it is not a proof text for female headship in the church. If so, her absence is conspicuous in the lists that appear which include Barak but not Deborah in 1 Sam 12:9-11 and Hebrews 11:32. The main conflict in the narrative is Deborah trying to convince Barak to take up the mantle of leadership that God has clearly called for him to do.

    I would say Deborah is a paradigmatic of positive female influence. She is a “mother of Israel (5:7).” One who encourage people to follow the Lord. She uses her relational influence to encourage men to lead, and give themselves willingly on behalf of others (5:2,7,18). It seems to me, the praises in her song of biblical masculinity are a foreshadowing of Eph 5:25 and Christ himself.

    Thanks again for the great article. Preaching this text Sunday!

    1. Hi Kyle,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! I was going to break up your comment and respond below different statements, but I realized all my comments were pretty much the same: “Well said, I agree.” ?.

      I will say your comment about her positive female influence is very good. To recognize the different calls God has on men and women isn’t to minimize or deny the ways God has used them and will continue to do so. There are many wonderful, godly women in Scripture, and it’s unfortunate when egalitarians act as though a complementarian view denies that.

      Are your sermons recorded? If so, I’d like to hear it. Here’s the link to my sermon on the topic. Be glad to hear your thoughts.

  15. Scott,
    I truly appreciated your article on Deborah and the reasons why it shows male leadership. My wife and I have been learning a lot in this area over the last 8 months and yesterday during our worship service there was a prayer calling women to co-lead at church. This did not sit well with my spirit and after speaking to the pastor about it, he gave Deborah as an example of female leadership. This has been a tremendous eye opener for me and thank you for it. It amazes me how God gives us what we need at the right time. Your original entry was in 2017 and I’m seeing it just when I needed to. Praise God! Any other information or insight you can offer would be great!! Thanks.

    1. Hi Travis,
      I’ve received lots of questions from people asking when they should leave a church. Typically I tell people to stay strive to be an instrument of change, unless they start to be perceived as divisive. I would consider a church’s desire to see women co-leading as a dealbreaker. This shows such a departure from God’s Word that I’d doubt your ability to rectify it. In other words, you’d probably be labeled divisive if you worked to move the church from this direction. I appreciate your sensitivity to what you saw and that it burdened you to go to the pastor. That was the right thing to do.

    2. Oh dear. Travis, that’s not your Spirit not sitting well with it. Continue to learn about how this story is all about obedience to the Lord and gender is irrelevant. This article by Scott is littered with misinterpretations and he has misunderstood it and missed the entire point. He is leading you astray. This is why guys like him are dangerous. No true theologian or historian would agree with his twisted, extremely abstract views. Honestly, I’ve never read such rubbish as what he typed about the incredible leader Deborah. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Please grow in your understanding of the character of God and don’t make big life choices based on articles on the internet. Be careful.

      1. Travis,
        Elle said:

        gender is irrelevant.

        A surface reading of the story reveals gender is one of the most important aspects. If gender was of no consequence then Deborah would’ve led and she wouldn’t have threatened Barak by telling him, “the LORD will Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

        Also, if gender was irrelevant, we wouldn’t see specific commands for men and women/husbands and wives in Scripture.

        Elle said:

        No true theologian or historian would agree with his twisted, extremely abstract views.

        This makes me wonder if she read the article. I quoted Wayne Grudem who wrote the most respected and established Systematic Theology. The quote itself is from Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, which is published by Crossway, and endorsed by:
        ―Richard Mayhue, Research Professor of Theology, The Master’s Seminary
        ―Mary A. Kassian, author, Girls Gone Wise
        ―John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God
        ―Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author, Adorned; Teacher and Host, Revive Our Hearts
        ―R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
        ―J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College
        ―J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
        ―Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
        ―Diane Passno, Executive Vice President, Focus on the Family; author, Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?
        ―Dorothy Kelley Patterson, Professor, Theology in Women’s Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
        ―Dennis Rainey, President and CEO, FamilyLife; Host, FamilyLife Today; author, Stepping Up
        ―Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
        ―Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

  16. Good Morning

    In response to your first question about me saying hearing the Holy Spirit I am referring to the gentleman’s argument that the Holy Spirit needs to confirm the word that’s in the bible to him and other people that oppose the idea that women shouldn’t lead men in church or home. Secondly his argument was fleshy. It was not of the Spirit of god and he was defending a emotional feeling and not the truth. Like I said God has never called a woman to lead any nation or church in the bible. That was a very good point you made about Deborah not being appointed and if you really are reading this story with the guidance of the Holy Spirit she was not leading them. When I hear opposition to this subject it shows that people in the body of Christ have not matured and their understanding is still darkened about this subject. There is a perverted Spirit in the world that is killing the mentality of men and causing them to be passive and yielding to things that are not of god. I praise God for you taking a stand.

    1. Hi Cody!

      You are correct that GOD doesn’t want women to lead over men, but it’s inaccurate for you to say that has GOD never given a woman an appointed assignment.

      In John 1:28-31, GOD very clearly gives Mary an appointed assignment – have a child, and name Him Jesus. And in verse 38, Mary accepts this assignment.

      GOD certainly uses women. He created us in His image and He loves us. And He has purpose for us. But that purpose just does NOT include leading over our husbands or leading over the church.

  17. Hi Scott!

    What an excellent job you’ve done on this post and in responding to all of the comments here. It is clear that you are a man of GOD leading well the children of GOD. Thank you!

    The point about scripture not directly saying that Shamgar was appointed by GOD was mentioned more than once by dissenters in the comments, and misused by them to support the false supposition that not all who were appointed by GOD had that directly revealed in scripture.

    I obviously disagree with that. I believe the scripture doesn’t say that Shamgar was appointed by GOD b/c Shamgar was NOT appointed by GOD.

    Not every man is called. Only men are called to lead, but not all men are called to lead. Simply being a man is not qualification alone. Some men (dare I say most men) are unfit to lead. Just b/c Shamgar was a man doesn’t mean he was appointed by GOD. I believe the only ones who were appointed by GOD are the ones where scripture specifically reveal that.

    So, since scripture does NOT say that Shamgar or Deborah were appointed by GOD, but does say that the others were, it is clear that Shamgar and Deborah were NOT appointed by GOD.

    I also find it no coincidence that the Song of Deborah in Judges 5:6 says that in the days of Shamgar people took winding paths and villages collapsed. And, in the very next verse (Judges 5:7), it says that b/c Deborah arose as a mother in Israel, peasantry prospered. Under both Shamgar and Deborah, the people suffered. It just really couldn’t be more clear that Shamgar and Deborah were NOT appointed by GOD to lead.

    Your thoughts?!

    1. Hi Tanya,
      Thank you for the encouraging comment.

      You made a great point about Shamgar (and Deborah) being appointed by God. Not sure why that didn’t occur to me, but I think you’re right. I hope others read your thoughts. Typically I discourage people from speaking into silence, and now I can see that by suggesting Shamgar was appointed by God that I was doing what I’ve discouraged!

      I just read Judges 5:6-7. I hadn’t considered the application these verses had on Deborah and Shamgar’s judgeships. You’re right that they weren’t times of prosperity! Great insight, truly.

      I hope you’ll read some of my other posts and share your thoughts!

  18. I believe it’s important to hear the Holy Spirit on what God wants for men and women. It’s important not to let emotions overtake what is truth. I hear a lot of flesh when it comes to saying that women should not be leading men. God has never came to a woman and gave her a appointed assignment.God loves women but he doesn’t want them to lead men.

    1. Hi Cody,
      I responded below your comments…

      I believe it’s important to hear the Holy Spirit on what God wants for men and women.

      What about hearing God’s Word says about men and women? Also, would God’s Holy Spirit lead us in a direction that conflicts with God’s Word?

      It’s important not to let emotions overtake what is truth.

      I completely agree! I think it’s typically emotionally charged, versus scripturally charged, arguments for women teaching and having authority over men.

      I hear a lot of flesh when it comes to saying that women should not be leading men.

      Tone is hard to convey in writing. Can you let me know what has sounded fleshly?

      God has never came to a woman and gave her a appointed assignment.

      Can you elaborate a little on what you mean here?

      God loves women but he doesn’t want them to lead men.

      Now it sounds like you’re saying women shouldn’t lead men? I think I’m having some trouble following your position.

  19. Hello Scott~ You have interesting points but I disagree with your reasoning.

    First, you stated that she wasn’t appointed by God. Your reasoning is because it doesn’t say God called Deborah as a judge. Then who appointed her? Did the men of Israel thought it would be cool to have a woman judge? Did she self appoint her self as a judge and everyone simply agreed? HOW DID SHE BECOME A JUDGE OF ISRAEL? Are you going to ignore all the other evidences of her appointment because it didn’t say she was appointed by God? This is very ignorant. Bible says she was a prophetess and judged Israel. No one in Israel disputed her authority. She called for Barak to deliver God’s message. Her prophesies came true in grand fashion like other unlikely victories in the bible when it says God promises victory. ALL the evidences point to her being appointed by God! We can judge a tree by its fruits. She was one of the judges like other judges raised BY GOD.

    Second, you stated that Deborah had private ministry and not a public ministry. Judges 4:4 says Deborah was leading, governing, or judging (depending on how you translate it) Israel at that time. No matter how you see it, it was a position of authority over men and women since it is stated generally and doesn’t specify only women of Israel. Judges 4:5 says she would sit under the Palm of Deborah and the people of Israel would come to her for judgement. Under a tree is very open rather than private. In court where judgments are carried out, there are audiences or at least other people who are waiting for their cases to be settled. People will learn from observing how the judgments are carried out. She taught how the laws of God were to be applied and carried out for Israel people. That means her judgments had public implications and not just private as Supreme Court justices’ decisions have public implications. So, I don’t know why you would go out of your way to claim that her ministry was a private versus public. It is definitely easier to believe that she was a public leader with public ministry rather than a private ministry. If the author wanted to let us know that her judging was uniquely private opposed to public as the other judges or prophets were, don’t you think he would have let us know such an important distinction more clearly without all this ambiguity?

    Third and fourth points I agree with. The last point I agree with but with some reservation because of applications you mentioned.

    I do believe in male leadership as norm but not rule. Men have to step up and be courageous. If Deborah was an exception to the norm, who says there can’t be more exceptions? If God calls and gifts a woman to lead in any role, who are we to say she can’t lead? If God anointing is evident as with Deborah, who are we to go against God? God can call and anoint a woman to lead as shown by Deborah’s case. Therefore, I believe we shouldn’t make it a rule to disallow women to lead. I have seen women who can teach and lead as good as any man. Why can’t they teach and lead in a church? As for Paul’s teaching on females’ role in church, it was more about keeping the order. (Paul did tell slaves obey their masters also.) Our times have changed to a point that it would not cause disorder or chaos in a church if there are women teachers or even pastors. (Our men and women learn from female professors in universities already. I doubt that was the case during Paul’s time.) I know God made man and woman differently. This is why I say female leaders are not the norm but exceptions. Still, I don’t want to stand in the way of God if He wants a woman to lead. We can judge a tree by its fruits.

    1. Hello Sam,
      You wrote quite a bit, so I quoted your comment, and responded point-by-point…

      Hello Scott~ You have interesting points but I disagree with your reasoning.
      First, you stated that she wasn’t appointed by God. Your reasoning is because it doesn’t say God called Deborah as a judge. Then who appointed her? Did the men of Israel thought it would be cool to have a woman judge? Did she self appoint her self as a judge and everyone simply agreed? HOW DID SHE BECOME A JUDGE OF ISRAEL?

      Since Scripture doesn’t tell us, I don’t know. I thought it was significant that it said the male judges had been appointed by God, but the same wasn’t said of Deborah. Then Damian Wilson asked about Shamgar who also doesn’t have a statement about God appointing him, and I acknowledged that I could be wrong about this point.

      I don’t think it says God appointed Shamgar, because there’s only one verse about him. If the account of his judgeship was longer, there would probably be an accompanying statement. Maybe I’m wrong though, and perhaps it’s insignificant that it doesn’t say God appointed Deborah.

      Are you going to ignore all the other evidences of her appointment because it didn’t say she was appointed by God? This is very ignorant. Bible says she was a prophetess and judged Israel.

      Yes, you’re right that Deborah was a prophetess, but that doesn’t conflict with male leadership.

      No one in Israel disputed her authority. She called for Barak to deliver God’s message. Her prophesies came true in grand fashion like other unlikely victories in the bible when it says God promises victory. ALL the evidences point to her being appointed by God! We can judge a tree by its fruits. She was one of the judges like other judges raised BY GOD.
      Second, you stated that Deborah had private ministry and not a public ministry. Judges 4:4 says Deborah was leading, governing, or judging (depending on how you translate it) Israel at that time. No matter how you see it, it was a position of authority over men and women since it is stated generally and doesn’t specify only women of Israel.

      It’s very important to distinguish between descriptive and prescriptive. Just because something is recorded (described), doesn’t mean it’s commendable (prescriptive). What makes you think Deborah being a judge is prescriptive versus descriptive? The time of the Judges was the spiritually darkest time in Israel’s history. It’s largely a record of what NOT to do. Isaiah 3:12 says, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them.” Women ruling is a judgment against the nation. How can you then conclude a woman ruling (Deborah) is a good thing?

      Judges 4:5 says she would sit under the Palm of Deborah and the people of Israel would come to her for judgement. Under a tree is very open rather than private. In court where judgments are carried out, there are audiences or at least other people who are waiting for their cases to be settled. People will learn from observing how the judgments are carried out.

      I disagree. Saying she was under a tree and people visited her there emphasizes the private (versus public) nature of her position.

      She taught how the laws of God were to be applied and carried out for Israel people.

      Where does it say that?

      That means her judgments had public implications and not just private as Supreme Court justices’ decisions have public implications. So, I don’t know why you would go out of your way to claim that her ministry was a private versus public. It is definitely easier to believe that she was a public leader with public ministry rather than a private ministry.

      Even if her judgeship was public, and the pattern in the rest of Scripture is for men to lead and Scripture forbids women from having authority over men, we can conclude this was descriptive versus prescriptive.

      If the author wanted to let us know that her judging was uniquely private opposed to public as the other judges or prophets were, don’t you think he would have let us know such an important distinction more clearly without all this ambiguity?

      Deborah was a godly woman. She is the example in the account. The irony of your argument is that Deborah did her best to escape leading the men—she rebuked Barak and told him to take charge. It’s not ambiguous whatsoever. If, as you say, God wanted Deborah to lead, then why didn’t she?

      Third and fourth points I agree with. The last point I agree with but with some reservation because of applications you mentioned.
      I do believe in male leadership as norm but not rule. Men have to step up and be courageous. If Deborah was an exception to the norm, who says there can’t be more exceptions?

      Why would God make something normative (men leading), forbid something (men leading in 1 Timothy 2:12), pronounce it as a judgment (women leading in Isaiah 3:12), yet expect us to think there should be exceptions? Additionally, if there are supposed to be exceptions, why don’t we see any in Scripture? Deborah is the example cited, and an elevated view reveals a godly woman who tried to get a man to lead. You could cite Jezebel and Athaliah I suppose. They were queens who exercised authority. Do you think women should follow their examples?

      I have heard people say, “What about all the women in the New Testament who led?” Whenever I ask for examples, they throw out the names of women in the New Testament, but not who led. Yes I know there are wonderful women in the New Testament. Yes, I know God used them powerfully. But I don’t see any leading men.

      If God calls and gifts a woman to lead in any role, who are we to say she can’t lead?

      Right. If God did that. But He didn’t. He put restrictions on women’s roles, and gave them a greater focus on their husbands, children, and homes (Titus 2). Has God given women leadership ability? Yes. I think my wife has great teaching and leadership ability, as do other women in our church. Katie exercises these gifts within the boundaries given her: over other women and children.

      If God anointing is evident as with Deborah, who are we to go against God? God can call and anoint a woman to lead as shown by Deborah’s case.

      Lead who? You keep saying that, but the account is about a woman making every effort to see a man lead.

      Therefore, I believe we shouldn’t make it a rule to disallow women to lead. I have seen women who can teach and lead as good as any man.

      I agree with this, and I would add that I have seen men who can’t lead as well as some women. But this is not a question of ability. It’s a question of what God’s Word says.

      Why can’t they teach and lead in a church?

      They can, over other women and children.

      As for Paul’s teaching on females’ role in church, it was more about keeping the order.

      First Timothy 2:12 says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” This could not be clearer. You must rip this verse kicking-and-screaming out-of-context to support what you’re saying.

      (Paul did tell slaves obey their masters also.) Our times have changed to a point that it would not cause disorder or chaos in a church if there are women teachers or even pastors.

      Okay, now you’ve given insight into your exegesis. Scripture’s teaching changes with time as the culture changes. I disagree with this completely.

      (Our men and women learn from female professors in universities already. I doubt that was the case during Paul’s time.) I know God made man and woman differently. This is why I say female leaders are not the norm but exceptions. Still, I don’t want to stand in the way of God if He wants a woman to lead. We can judge a tree by its fruits.

      If God wants a woman to lead men, as I said earlier, we must wonder why He wants something He forbids (1 Tim 2:12), condemns (Isa 3:12), and doesn’t support scripturally.

  20. How do you take the fact that the name Deborah means leader. Also, according to your argument, Joab should have been the leader of Israel instead of David, because he was raised to lead an army. Barack was just a general, Deborah was the commander in chief. Also, are you just ignorant of the female church leaders in the new testament, or that Deborah is mentioned in Hebrews 11 in the list of “heroes of the faith” (as it’s called) because she was a prophet. So are you saying we are to also set aside the new testament as descriptive instead of perspective?

    1. Hi Alex,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll respond below your comments…

      How do you take the fact that the name Deborah means leader.

      Deborah’s name doesn’t mean, “leader.” It means “bee.” You can see the entry here.

      Also, according to your argument, Joab should have been the leader of Israel instead of David, because he was raised to lead an army. Barack was just a general, Deborah was the commander in chief.

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re communicating with the Joab and David analogy. If you elaborate I’ll do my best to respond.

      Also, are you just ignorant of the female church leaders in the new testament, or that

      The Twelve Apostles were men. Jesus could have chosen six men and six women, but He chose all men for these important leadership positions. The Seventy were men. They were sent out after the Twelve (Luke 10:1). Again though Jesus could have chosen thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but He chose all men. Church elders are men – consider the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3:1–5, and Titus 1:6, 9 and they’re spoken of with masculine terms:

      “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work . . . the husband of one wife . . . one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission. If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife . . . holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.”

      In 1 Timothy 2:12–14, Paul said, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

      Deborah is mentioned in Hebrews 11 in the list of “heroes of the faith” (as it’s called) because she was a prophet.

      No she’s not, but even if she was, that would be a commendation of her faith, not leadership over men.

      So are you saying we are to also set aside the new testament as descriptive instead of perspective?

      Parts of the New Testament are descriptive and parts are prescriptive. For example, Acts 2:44-45 says, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”

      This is descriptive versus prescriptive, but most of the epistles are prescriptive. I don’t think we should set aside any of the New Testament, but we should recognize what is descriptive and prescriptive.

  21. I have a quick question for you. What would you say about Shamgar in chapter 3:31? The scriptures never say he was raised or appointed by the Lord. However, he showed no passivity, like Barak, due to his killing of 600 Philistines with an ox goad. He was a true man as far as leadership and courage.

    One more thing. Chapter 2: 16-18 talks about the Lord raising judges for Israel. I believe it is talking about all of the judges, including Deborah. What do you think? Just to let you know, I agree with everything that you have written.

    Thank you,
    Dame

    1. Hi Dame,
      Good question. You’re right that it doesn’t say Shamgar was raised or appointed by the Lord. I admit that I’m speculating, but I believe it’s because of how little is said of him. There’s only one verse. If the account of his judgeship was longer, there would probably be an accompanying statement. Without that addition though, like you said, he clearly distinguished himself from Barak through his courage and defense of the nation.

      Regarding Judges 2:16-18, I don’t think this means God raised up each judge. I think it’s simply a statement about what God did: He raised up judges for the nation, and He did; however, it doesn’t say, “Every judge was raised up by God.”

      Good questions, and I’m sorry for the delay in responding! Please let me know if there’s anything else.

  22. This was very powerful man of god and very needed in this present age. I see a lot of opposition to male leadership and even in some of the responses to what you were teaching. We live in a already jezebel and ahab society that wants to abolish manhood and praise perversion. This has encouraged me even the more to stand as a man of god in this society. God bless you and may the love of Jesus Christ empower you amen.

    1. Hello Cody,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad my post encouraged you. The relationship between Ahab and Jezebel is a perfect example of a swapping of the roles that caused problems for them and others. Think of the situation with Naboth: Jezebel had him murdered, while Ahab passively sat by. His wife led, and he submitted to her plan. Adam and Eve, and Abraham and Sarah are other good examples. In Gen 3:17, God rebuked Adam…

      “Because YOU HAVE LISTENED TO THE VOICE OF YOUR WIFE
      and have eaten of the tree
      of which I commanded you,
      ‘You shall not eat of it,’”

      We know the fall took place when Adam and Eve sinned, but God points out WHY the fall took place: because Adam obeyed his wife. He was passive. Go forward a few chapters and you reach Abraham and Sarah…

      Genesis 16:2 Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And ABRAM LISTENED TO THE VOICE OF SARAI.

      It’s the same words that God said to Adam. We know this caused problems too.

  23. The most interesting parallel in the Deborah account is how similar it is to today’s society… men who should be leading who are not, and women who are left standing in the gap searching for a leader. In both God is what is missing – and Christians know that. It proves that while often times it seems so much has changed since the Bible was written, so much is still the same.

    1. Hi Marissa,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, there’s definitely application for today. While submission receives an amount of criticism from unbelievers and even some professing Christians, as a pastor the most common criticism I hear is, “My husband won’t lead.” This leaves women having to be like Deborah and carry some of the load that’s meant for a man. I appreciate that you recognized the application Scripture has today.

  24. There is something about this story that I love. This is a hot topic with a lot of people, but we can learn a lot when we really look at what the Bible says about it. I am probably in the minority being a woman who thinks that men should lead.

  25. Hey Scott, thanks for really digging into this text and pulling out some very practical insights. You do a nice job of making strong, clear applications without going beyond what the passage warrants.

    From everything I see, we’re at a moment where many (most?) men struggle with leadership. It’s beyond the scope and point of your post, but I wonder why you think this is true (if you do), and, how you would recommend men addressing it. In my experience, many men ‘know’ they should lead, but find it very hard to make progress even after making this discovery.

    Thanks again for bringing up this important topic!

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I especially appreciate the feedback on the points, that they don’t go beyond what Scripture teaches.

      In regards to your question, “Why do men struggle with leadership?” I hate to say it, but I have to put the responsibility on some churches. We can’t blame the world and/or the culture, because we don’t expect the world/culture to agree with God’s Word. If you look at the criticisms in the comments on this post you see they are from people claiming to be Christians; mostly women by the way too. They’re all for female pastors and they’re terribly opposed to wives submitting to their husbands.

      More than likely they’re also part of egalitarian churches that encourage women to lead in the home and the church, and indirectly encourage passive men. The remedy is for churches to clearly teach God’s Word and encourage the men, especially the husbands and fathers, to be the pastors/shepherds of their families. One other subtler issue is the view that churches are responsible with raising their children. When the view is, “I don’t have to pray with my children or read the Bible with them, because I take them to church and/or youth group” there will be spiritually lazy/passive men. It goes back to Genesis 3 when God told Adam, “Because you heeded the voice of your wife.” God was looking to the weakness of men to submit to their wives, and indirectly the weakness of women to take control of their husbands (“Your desire will be for your husband”; a desire to control).

  26. While I am a huge proponent of male leadership in the church, I do think that we need to be careful in saying that Deborah was not appointed by God. He clearly used her and spoke through her to lead the people of Israel.

    1. Scott,
      To demand to see proof that Deborah was God appointed but dismiss that there were male Judges without that distinction is unfair. You would also have to see every Judge appointed by God. Deborah is the foundation for the female leaders in the early church, if you would like I’ll give you a list of people directly spoken of in the letters. I’m also just curious of your stance on the “heroes of the faith” list in Hebrews 11. Because Deborah would be included in “the prophets” she also was a prophetess, the only person in the bible to have the distinction of both prophet and judge.

      1. Hi Alex,
        Again, I’ll respond below your comments…

        Scott, to demand to see proof that Deborah was God appointed but dismiss that there were male Judges without that distinction is unfair. You would also have to see every Judge appointed by God.

        Okay, that’s fine. You can see a question from someone else about Shamgar, as well as my response. The point is it doesn’t say he was appointed by God.

        Deborah is the foundation for the female leaders in the early church,

        You can see my previous comment about male leadership in the New Testament.

        Just to be clear, I know there are women with great leadership and teaching ability. My wife is in this category as are some other women in the church I pastor. They exercise their gifts over other women and children; therefore, there are outlets for them.

        if you would like I’ll give you a list of people directly spoken of in the letters.

        Do you mean you’ll give me a list of women mentioned in the New Testament? If so, you don’t need to do that. I’m away of plenty of wonderful, godly women in the New Testament. We have a daughter named Chloe ?. But while the mention of women in the New Testament often applauds their contributions to the Lord’s work, they aren’t in positions of teaching or authority over men.

        I’m also just curious of your stance on the “heroes of the faith” list in Hebrews 11.

        I commented on this in my previous comment. You said Deborah is in Hebrews 11, but she’s not.

        Because Deborah would be included in “the prophets” she also was a prophetess,

        Yes, you’re right that Deborah was a prophetess.

        the only person in the bible to have the distinction of both prophet and judge.

        This is not true. Samuel was a prophet and judge and served as the transition between the two offices.

    2. Hi Bailey,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I definitely would not deny that God used her!

      When other judges are introduced there’s a clear indication of God’s appointing. What verse gives the same indication for Deborah?

    3. Scott – Not all the judges had a clear statement indicating God’s appointment (There is Elon and Abdon in chapter 12 which had nothing more said about them). However, Judges 2:16 does show that “the LORD raised up judges”. So regardless of the individual attention given, the earlier text does indicate that each judge was established by God. I believe it is unwise to downplay the establishment of Deborah as a judge over Israel. The text clearly shows that it was an ordination from God. The fact that “Israel saw God defeat Jabin” is testimony to God’s working through Deborah. To say that Deborah was a judge because there were no men to lead is a stretch. He chose Gideon who was a wreck of a man with all his doubts. With Gideon, He used the weakest of the weak to rescue His people. So it is with Deborah. How many times has God shown His power and strength through those that the world would see as “weak”. In that culture, to have a woman leading was just another sign that God can use ANYONE he calls to accomplish His purposes. To say that a man and not Deborah should have been leading is a slap in the face to God’s calling someone into leadership.

      1. Hi Michael,
        Thanks for reading and commenting.

        I think it depends what you mean by “downplaying the establishment of Deborah as a judge.” I definitely wasn’t trying to do that. My attempt was to speak positively of Deborah. For example, I concluded by saying:

        If there is an example to be followed here, it is Deborah. She encouraged Barak to lead, told him what God desired of him, and rebuked him when he would not take charge…Her story should motivate women to do what she did.

        You said, “The text clearly shows that it was an ordination from God.” Where does it clearly show that? I don’t want to repeat the info I have in my post, but the commentary on Judges 4:4 and the argument from Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth is very strong.

        You said “God worked through Deborah.” I completely agree with you! But just because God uses someone, or uses a situation, doesn’t suddenly make it prescriptive (versus descriptive) or approve the decisions and actions of the individuals involved.

        I also agree with everything you said about God using the weak. Judges in general seems to be a case-study supporting your point…and I would say my life has been that as well :).

        You said, “In that culture, to have a woman leading was just another sign that God can use ANYONE he calls to accomplish His purposes.” It’s definitely true that God can use anyone He calls to accomplish His purposes. Whether it’s a man, woman, donkey (Balaam), fish (Jonah), etc. But just because God uses people doesn’t legitimize the situation or their actions. For example, keeping with the book of Judges, God used Samson’s disobedience with Philistine women to punish the Philistines. Judges 14:3-4 says:

        3 Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”
        And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”
        4 But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

        Yes, God used Samson’s disobedience for good, but we don’t look at this and think we should go out and marry people when we’re unequally yoked. Thank you for the discussion!

  27. Hi! Free thinking, strong women here… in my experience, reading the Bible is difficult when you refuse to accept what it says, especially when it goes against what is comfortable. Read the word. The pastor did. If it’s good enough for God then it should be good enough for us.

  28. I just want you to know you are persecuting, abusing, and traumatizing Christian women by restricting their freedom of conscience and conviction in the exercise of their faith. You have usurped the role of God as an external controller who strives to restrict religious freedom.

    You are no different from a Taliban agent persecuting Christian women for their faith.

    1. Hello Laura,
      Nice to hear from you. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing your honest thoughts.

      Can you let me know: do you believe the Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands?

    2. Laura – Eve also felt like she was being restricted. She decided to become a “strong and independent woman”, make her own decisions and think for herself, (as suggested by Satan). And look what happened to her!

  29. Hi Scott,
    A. Regarding women prophets, you quoted my words: “You say that women prophets always prophesied under the “headship” of a husband or father or, in the case of the widow Anna, the temple’s own male leadership. But the Bible text does not say this.” Your response of 16 Aug 2019 was: “Yes, it does. I gave you examples.”
    I don’t understand your response. None of your examples says that women prophets prophesied under the “headship” of a husband, a father, or the Temple’s leadership. I can see that this is how you are imagining it, but it is not what the Bible text says.
    B. In relation to 1 Tim 3:1-5, are you not curious to understand why reputable complementarian scholars concede that 1 Tim 3:1-5 cannot legitimately be used in support of the complementarian position on women’s ministry?
    I am not doing “gymnastics”, just asking for close attention to the Bible’s actual words.
    C. I did not suggest that 1 Cor 14:26 and Col 3:16 (which indicate that women may teach in the church) contradict 1 Tim 2:12. However, I understand your position to be that 1 Tim 2:12 “plainly” teaches that women must not deliver authoritative Christian teaching to men. This interpretation raises some major concerns about faithfulness to the text. Among them are that this interpretation reads the verse without reference to its full context, that it ascribes to the word for ‘teach’ a restricted meaning which cannot be proved from Paul’s usage or other New Testament usage of the word, and that it depends upon mistranslating v 12.
    Here are some questions to consider:
    1. In 1 Timothy 1, does Paul say that he is writing about whether women are permitted to deliver sound teaching or does he say that he is writing about dealing with people who are promoting false teaching?
    (I would say the latter.)
    2. Why does Paul connect what he says in 1 Timothy 1 to what he says in 1 Timothy 2 with ‘therefore’ (Greek ‘oun’) in 2:1 and again in 2:8. Is it because chapter 2 is unconnected with his topic in chapter 1, or is it because in chapter 2, as in chapter 1, he is writing about dealing with false teachers?
    (I would say the latter.)
    3. Paul starts 2:12 with ‘I do not permit’/’I am not permitting’. It seems a counter-intuitive choice of expression if his intention is to lay down a general rule applicable to all churches in all times and places. Is this expression used anywhere else in the Bible for laying down an enduring general rule?
    (I would answer: no, it is not.)
    4. Where does Scripture explicitly recognize a special activity of authoritative teaching that is different from other Christian teaching activities and that is allocated to a specific group of men?
    (I would answer: nowhere.)
    5. If in 1 Tim 2:12 Paul is writing about who should have authority in the church, why does he not use his ordinary word for authority? Why does he use the unusual Greek word ‘authentein’, which is not used anywhere else in the Bible?
    (I would say: because he is not writing about who should have authority but about dealing with false teaching.)
    6. Can you identify any clear example in Greek literature before the time of Paul, or contemporary with Paul, or in the first, second or third century AD, where ‘authentein’ means ‘have authority’?
    (I would answer: there is none. The relevant meaning current in Paul’s time was ‘dominate’/‘overpower’/’gain mastery over’, as in Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos 3.13.10.)
    7. 1 Tim 2:13 starts with ‘for’ (Greek, ‘gar’). So, we can understand that vv 13-14 are support for vv 11-12. As a matter of language, the support could be either (1) an appeal to a general creation principle or (2) an apt illustration taken from the creation story. How can you prove that it is (1) rather than (2)?
    (My answer would be that you can’t, and that taking it as an appeal to a creation principle creates difficulties which complementarian commentators have not resolved.)
    8. Why do many commentators (both complementarian and egalitarian) struggle to understand what Paul means in 1 Tim 2:15?
    (I would say: because they do not attend fully to the context, especially Paul’s train of reasoning which commences in 1:3 and continues smoothly from there to 2:15.)
    9. In 1 Tim 2:15, where Paul writes ‘she will be saved through the childbearing if they remain in faith and love and holiness with self-control’, why does he jump from ‘she’ to ‘they’?
    (I would suggest that ‘she’ in verse 15 refers to ‘the woman’ of verse 14. This woman is Eve, who taught Adam once falsely, and who in Paul’s illustration stands for the ‘woman’ of verses 11–12. If we track back from verse 15, looking for a plural referent for ‘they’, we find it in the wealthy ‘women’ of verses 9–10, who are not to dress expensively and indecently but who instead are to adorn themselves with good works. By jumping from ‘she’ to ‘they’ in verse 15, Paul signals that he is equating ‘she’ and ‘they’. In other words, he is equating ‘woman’ in verses 11–12 (singular) with ‘women’ in verses 9–10 (plural). This confirms that Paul’s instruction in verses 11–12 concerning ‘a woman’ is not a move to a new topic but is aimed at the ‘women’ of verses 9–10. These are particular wealthy women in the Ephesian church.)
    From elsewhere in the letter, we can infer that these women were promoting false teaching. I have written about this in my book, the name of which you have requested me not to mention, as you are entitled to do.

  30. Hi Scott.
    “The Twelve Apostles were men.” But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders. The twelve apostles were also Jewish, but we do not conclude that all leaders must be Jewish.
    “The Seventy were men.” How do you know? Luke doesn’t say so. What he does tell us is that Jesus’s travelling band of disciples included women (Lk 8:1-3).
    “Church elders are men.” You cite 1 Tim 3:1-5, with parallel in Titus. You emphasize the phrase “If a man desires the position …”. But in the previous sentence Paul has been writing about women, and his choice of Greek word here, which your translation renders as ‘man’, is ‘tis’, which is a gender-neutral word, meaning ‘anyone’ or ‘a certain person’. This suggests eldership is open to anyone, if they have the right qualities. You go on to emphasize ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘man’. But in the Greek text [NA27/UBS4] Paul does not use any masculine pronoun or possessive in these two passages. You emphasize also ‘husband of one wife’ (Gk mias gunaikos andra – literally, ‘one-woman man’). But, because of the way the Greek language works, this could either be meant specifically in a masculine sense (a man who is chaste and not polygamous) or generically. Where a Greek writer wishes to refer to both men and women, a standard way of doing so is to use an appropriate noun for males. For example, ‘brothers’ in Paul’s letters most often refers to both men and women. In Acts 17:34 ‘men’ (andres) includes Damaris, a woman. So, Paul’s wording of the qualifications for elders does not establish that they must be males. Even prominent scholars who support male-only leadership, such as Schreiner and Moo, admit this. Similarly, the Danvers Statement does not place explicit reliance on 1 Tim 3 or Titus 1 for its ban on women elders. They argue from other texts.
    You also refer to 1 Tim 2:12-14. To understand Paul’s reasoning here, it is necessary to follow his continuous train of thought from the beginning of his letter, which there is not space for here.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      I responded below your thoughts…

      Hi Scott.
      “The Twelve Apostles were men.” But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders. The twelve apostles were also Jewish, but we do not conclude that all leaders must be Jewish.

      I repeated this a few times in my other response: the post is about an established pattern of male leadership, hence the mention of the apostles (and others) being men.

      “The Seventy were men.” How do you know? Luke doesn’t say so. What he does tell us is that Jesus’s travelling band of disciples included women (Lk 8:1-3).

      You’re right that it doesn’t say they were all men.

      “Church elders are men.” You cite 1 Tim 3:1-5, with parallel in Titus. You emphasize the phrase “If a man desires the position …”. But in the previous sentence Paul has been writing about women, and his choice of Greek word here, which your translation renders as ‘man’, is ‘tis’, which is a gender-neutral word, meaning ‘anyone’ or ‘a certain person’. This suggests eldership is open to anyone, if they have the right qualities. You go on to emphasize ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘man’. But in the Greek text [NA27/UBS4] Paul does not use any masculine pronoun or possessive in these two passages. You emphasize also ‘husband of one wife’ (Gk mias gunaikos andra – literally, ‘one-woman man’). But, because of the way the Greek language works, this could either be meant specifically in a masculine sense (a man who is chaste and not polygamous) or generically. Where a Greek writer wishes to refer to both men and women, a standard way of doing so is to use an appropriate noun for males. For example, ‘brothers’ in Paul’s letters most often refers to both men and women. In Acts 17:34 ‘men’ (andres) includes Damaris, a woman. So, Paul’s wording of the qualifications for elders does not establish that they must be males. Even prominent scholars who support male-only leadership, such as Schreiner and Moo, admit this. Similarly, the Danvers Statement does not place explicit reliance on 1 Tim 3 or Titus 1 for its ban on women elders. They argue from other texts.

      You’re really doing gymnastics with the text to make this point. It’s clear Paul has me in view in the qualifications in Timothy and Titus.

      You also refer to 1 Tim 2:12-14. To understand Paul’s reasoning here, it is necessary to follow his continuous train of thought from the beginning of his letter, which there is not space for here.

      So a verse that forbids women from teaching and having authority over men, you happen not to have space to discuss? That’s convenient.

      The reason there’s not space is you need the room for a long explanation basically saying, “The text doesn’t mean what it says,” even though it plainly says it.

  31. Hi Scott.
    “There were patriarchs instead of matriarchs.” “The tribes of Israel were named after men.” But these facts do not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders.
    “The only legitimate mediators between God and people were men (ie, priests instead of priestesses).” This works against your view. In the NT the priesthood passes to all believers, who are both men and women (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:9-10). So, if you are determined to draw conclusions from OT priesthood for NT leadership and teaching, it would follow that women may now be leaders and teachers. You ask “Where is there one example in the entire Bible of a woman publicly teaching an assembled group of God’s people?” If we look in the NT for a specific example of a male church elder, who is not an apostle, teaching the assembly, there isn’t one. So, you can’t draw a conclusion from the absence of a specific example of a female church elder teaching the assembly. But we can see that women taught in the church assembly from 1 Cor 14:26 and Col 3:16 (see the context in each case – Paul is writing to both men and women).
    “God appointed kings instead of queens.” When Israel was a monarchy, it mostly had kings. But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders. You note yourself that Esther was a godly queen.
    “God called men to be the focal points of his covenants with mankind (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus).” But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders.
    You go on to say that women could be prophets “for the simple reason that it was not a position of leadership”. But that view is not supported by the Bible text. Take Samuel as an example; as a prophet he is the leader (1 Sam 3, 7). Likewise Deborah (Judg 4:4). Or take Huldah (2 Kgs 22): In the time of King Josiah a scroll of the law is found. The king is alarmed at the contents. To inquire what should be done he sends a delegation of important officials, including the high priest, not to Jeremiah or to Zephaniah but to Huldah. She instructs them to tell the king that the judgment foretold in the scroll will happen, but not in his lifetime, because he has repented. This triggers a revival in Israel (23:1–25). You rightly say that Huldah’s prophecy is delivered privately to the delegation. But this does not alter the fact that as God’s spokesman she gives authoritative instructions to both the high priest and the king, and so guides the nation. This is leadership.
    You say that women prophets always prophesied under the “headship” of a husband or father or, in the case of the widow Anna, the temple’s own male leadership. But the Bible text does not say this.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for reading and responding. I copied your comment and shared my thoughts below…

      Hi Scott.
      “There were patriarchs instead of matriarchs.” “The tribes of Israel were named after men.” But these facts do not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders.

      Okay, this fact alone doesn’t disqualify women, but the post is about the pattern of male leadership throughout Scripture. This is evidence to support the established pattern.

      “The only legitimate mediators between God and people were men (ie, priests instead of priestesses).” This works against your view. In the NT the priesthood passes to all believers, who are both men and women (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:9-10). So, if you are determined to draw conclusions from OT priesthood for NT leadership and teaching, it would follow that women may now be leaders and teachers.

      There’s the priesthood of all believers in that all believers have access to God, but the leadership of the people of faith continues to be male, whether Old or New Testament.

      You ask “Where is there one example in the entire Bible of a woman publicly teaching an assembled group of God’s people?” If we look in the NT for a specific example of a male church elder, who is not an apostle, teaching the assembly, there isn’t one. So, you can’t draw a conclusion from the absence of a specific example of a female church elder teaching the assembly. But we can see that women taught in the church assembly from 1 Cor 14:26 and Col 3:16 (see the context in each case – Paul is writing to both men and women).

      There are two possibilities with these verses. One possibility is you’re right and Paul is contradicting what he taught in 1 Tim 2:12, which is to say Scripture is contradicting itself. The other possibility is these verses harmonize with Paul’s statement and doesn’t include women teaching men. Women can have the gift of teaching, and they can teach women and other children. That’s a fitting interpretation of these verses.

      “God appointed kings instead of queens.” When Israel was a monarchy, it mostly had kings. But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders. You note yourself that Esther was a godly queen.

      Mostly had kings? The nation was only led by a queen once: Athaliah. You don’t really think she supports female leadership, do you?

      Like I said earlier, the mention of kings is to further establish the pattern.

      “God called men to be the focal points of his covenants with mankind (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus).” But this does not tell us whether, according to the Bible, it is legitimate for women to be leaders.

      See above about establishing pattern…which is the point of the post.

      You go on to say that women could be prophets “for the simple reason that it was not a position of leadership”. But that view is not supported by the Bible text. Take Samuel as an example; as a prophet he is the leader (1 Sam 3, 7). Likewise Deborah (Judg 4:4). Or take Huldah (2 Kgs 22): In the time of King Josiah a scroll of the law is found. The king is alarmed at the contents. To inquire what should be done he sends a delegation of important officials, including the high priest, not to Jeremiah or to Zephaniah but to Huldah. She instructs them to tell the king that the judgment foretold in the scroll will happen, but not in his lifetime, because he has repented. This triggers a revival in Israel (23:1–25). You rightly say that Huldah’s prophecy is delivered privately to the delegation. But this does not alter the fact that as God’s spokesman she gives authoritative instructions to both the high priest and the king, and so guides the nation. This is leadership.

      We clearly see this differently. To say more would be to repeat what I wrote in the post.

      You say that women prophets always prophesied under the “headship” of a husband or father or, in the case of the widow Anna, the temple’s own male leadership. But the Bible text does not say this.

      Yes, it does. I gave you examples.

  32. The largest difficulty I see in this writing here is your proclamation that Esther submitted to King Xerxes when, in fact, Esther was directly defiant of his leadership in defense of her people. Above all (and I do think that we are all called-men and women alike) we are called to serve God: before any type of leadership-whether male or female. Additionally, I encourage you to consider a different perspective that allows the space for both women and men to showcase their giftedness rather than their roles. Take a look:

    http://www.soulation.org/articles/unmuted.html

    The posted link also gives a thorough exploration on the story of female prophets-a fantastic read if I do say so myself.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      In what way(s) did Esther defy the king? She sought his presence and when it was granted she made the request that the Jews be spared and Haman be killed.

      I have a perspective that allows for women to showcase their giftedness. My wife (and our associate pastor’s wife as well as other women in the church) is a gifted teacher and strong leader. She (and the other women) use their gifts to teach/lead women and children.

      Regarding female prophets, or prophetesses, I made that concession in the post.

    2. I see your point. In the story, Esther did indeed “seek his presence” and “made the request that the Jews be spared and Haman be killed”, but this, in and of itself, was risky. And, going against what a queen of her statue typically would do. She, according to the story’s context, literally risked her life by even requesting an audience with the king and making her request.

      1. Hi Katie,
        Yes, that’s true. If there hadn’t been any risk, she wouldn’t have needed Mordecai’s encouragement in Esther 4:13-14:

        Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

  33. Does the passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 really only refer to instructions on worship as the section heading suggests in NIV? Do you see any implication in verse 15 that this is for a way of life? What does worship have to do with being saved through child bearing? Saved from what through child bearing? I know I am saved from my sins because Jesus paid the price for them. The passage reads;

    1 Timothy 2:11-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

    11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

    1. Hello,
      I just checked four other Bibles (NKJV, NASB, and ESV) and NIV is the only one with a title associating the verses with worship. Plus, the title is at the beginning of the chapter (as opposed to further down near the verses in question), and as you get further from the location of a heading it’s easier to move away from the topic.

      With that said, it’s clear Paul is discussing more than just worship, because he moves beyond teaching to authority too. In other words, he’s got a principle in mind (women not being in leadership over men), versus simply a discussion of teaching in the church. We can also tell this by looking at the rest of Scripture. As I stated in the post, it’s really a pattern from Genesis to Revelation for men to lead.

      Regarding your question about childbirth, this has caused plenty of confusion. The simplest way to say it is Paul calls on creation itself (that Adam was created first) to support his point (that women shouldn’t be in authority over men). After identifying what women shouldn’t do, he then discusses what they should do, or you could say what can fill the vacuum. You can make two simple applications from his words.

      First, it means raising children is the primary sphere of ministry in which a women serves the Lord and works out her salvation (as opposed to teaching/leading in the church). While we’re not saved by works, works are evidence of being saved, and childbearing is where the works – or fruit – of a woman’s salvation will be most commonly exercised. For women, the fruit that’s evidence of salvation is commonly produced while raising children.

      Second, it means women will be made holy or sanctified through having children. Children cause a woman to be sanctified over time, and if you have children, I’m sure you’d agree ?. Are there many many more sanctifying influences on you than your children? Are there many things that teach you to be patient, gentle, longsuffering, sacrificial – and thankful – more than having children? One of the things my wife, Katie, has said is:

      “Are any other things in your life that cause you to cling to the Lord and trust Him more than having children? Is there anything in life that’s scarier and causes you to depend on the Lord more than having children?”

      And again – whether you’re a father or a mother – all of this is very good for us. One of the reasons children are a gift, reward and blessing relates to how God uses them in our lives.

  34. There are two basic assumptions when it comes to Scripture in regard to the roles of men and women. A) That the leadership of men is the norm that God intends, and that female leadership when it is present is an exception to the norm or B) that women sharing authority, leading men as much as men lead women is actually the norm that God intends. If B) is true, then the Scriptures are poorly designed to convey that norm, and you have to proof-text to arrive at it. Those trying to convey norm B) must sow doubt into the intentions of the writers, and/or the translators, and Scripture must be broken into pieces and then re-assembled to fit that presupposition.

    I believe that God is sovereign over the times and placed that his Word was revealed in Scripture, so I reject the argument that the Scriptures were from a more fundamentally ignorant time in regard to men and women. I also believe that the translation of the Bible is an extension the translation of the Gospel at Pentecost, as human languages were God-ordained to be capable of containing his Word. I also believe that God was sovereign over the redacting of Scripture into our 66 books of the Bible and sovereign over their translations.

    I further believe that you can use other translated Scripture to know the meaning of a part of translated Scripture. While there is indeed a value for the study of the original language, I am unimpressed with arguments that rely on hermeutical arcanism to make their point, requiring special knowledge of specific words in the original language.

    So why would Scripture have norm A)? As we are made in God’s image as human beings, we are also made uniquely in God’s image male and female. The different ways we are made in God’s image male and female are designed to work together so that our sexual energy working together more completely reflects the God whose image we are made in. This is not that God is sexual, in a similar manner that a person whose image is reflected in a clay statue is not himself made out of clay.

    Why would male leadership matter for this? Giving space for men to lead gives space for God-ordained male energy of men to bless women, and women allowing themselves to submit to men leading allows the God-ordained female energy of women to bless men, and so the whole is blessed. This part of the “gender holiness” in Scripture that is intended to go along with sexual holiness.

    Feminism, which is secular humanism applied to gender, demands co-leadership as a right of human justice and declares it an injustice when it is not happening. This idea of gender justice that has been embraced by many Christian feminists makes sense if we are totally depraved in our sins as a strategy to protect men and women from each other’s rapaciousness. Scripture acknowledges the reality of sin but also provides a path to be redeemed out of it. When Abigail rejected the directives of her rapacious husband Nabal, the end result was her transferring husbandship from Nabal to David. Abigail’s personal relationship with God and submission to the Holy Spirit is affirmed in all of her actions, as the one who rebelled against Nabal and the one who submitted to David.

    While this would take a larger essay to elaborate on, I deny that we are made in God’s image differently by denying the different leadership space ordained by God to express those differences, which is a move toward Gnosticism that sees our spiritual selves as redeemed and our bodies as being part of a purely material reality.

    1. Hi Gregory,
      Thanks for reading and commenting so thoroughly. I hope anyone who reads the post takes the time to read your comment too. I read it twice and appreciated a number of the points you made.

  35. Scott LaPierre,you asked about Titus 2:5. The word “obedient “is actually not an accurate translation. It is closer to the submit word which I have already e plainer. The word “head” in Ephesians is typically misinterpreted. The Greek word for “head” is kephale which has several meanings. For years people have just gone to the patriarchal meaning but this is not accurate. Another word was used during this time to denote authority over and that was “archon”. That word is not used in any of the marriage passages. The most probable meaning is source or origin and this follows the issues going on in the church during this time. Some teachings had started circulating in the church that included teaching from the worship of Artemis and Diana. These teachings included false teachings about creation and was very abusive and limiting towards men. Most if not all the scholars I mentioned believe this is the most probable meaning of this passage. It makes sense as to why he would mention Adam being created first. I can recommend reading some of Jay Lee Grady, Margaret Mowczko and Bob Edwards.

    1. Laurie,
      Scripture is overwhelmingly clear. Every time wives are mentioned in the New Testament, there’s a corresponding command for them to submit to their husbands:
      • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.
      • Ephesians 5:24 Therefore, just as the church submits to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
      • Colossians 3:18—Wives, submit to your husbands, as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.
      • 1 Peter 3:1a—In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands.

      Scripture clearly identifies husbands as the head of their wives:
      • Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church
      • 1 Corinthians 11:3—The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man..

      Wives are commanded to obey their husbands: Titus 2:5a—Older women should teach younger women to obey their husbands.

      What you’ve done each time is say, “Submit doesn’t mean submit,” “Head doesn’t mean head,” “Obey doesn’t mean obey.” This is what your position demands though. You have to look at Scripture and say that it doesn’t say what it says.

      I mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again. If your logic is followed, then:
      • The church doesn’t have to submit to Christ
      • Christ has to submit to the church
      • Christ isn’t the head of the church
      • God the Father isn’t the head of God the Son
      When you deny the word “submit” and “head” in the above verses teaching these truths, you also deny these truths, because these truths are taught in these verses with these words.

    2. And I will say it again, the Bible was not written in English. The people who wrote the Bible were inspired by God. The translators, the annotators, the commentators…not all the time. They have biases, prejudices because they are human. I am not making up reasons to deny something the BIble says. I am digging deeper to find out the original intent of the author. And God’s ways work. When husbands and wives honor each other and submit to each other marriage works. There are complementarian (patriarchal) marriages that work because the man is domineering and the wife is naturally a passive person, but typically there is pent up frustration from the one being dominated. Then the church steps in and makes the woman feel convicted for feeling frustrated and so the cycle continues.
      I mentioned before God’s ways work, Barna research have done many studies on Christian marriages. They typically don’t fare any better than non-Christian marriages. They did a poll of 100 Christian couples (Read their Bibles, attend church every Sunday, tithe), and 100 atheist couples. When asked how fulfilled and happy the Christian couples were 65% were unhappy and unfulfilled in their marriages. When they asked what the primary reason was for the problems they answered the headship/submission doctrine. 17% of the atheist couples were unhappy or unfulfilled in their marriages. You can look it up if you don’t believe me. If you have a problem with that study there are many others from Barna you can read.
      God’s ways work! When men hold on to doctrines of tradition that lift themselves up (pride) by beating down women I don’t believe God wants any part of that. When men humble themselves and realize they are not God for women but they serve the same God and that the Holy Spirit leads both men and women I believe God is honored in that and He can work there.

      Interestingly enough you seem to be fixated on this submission thing. You haven’t mentioned one time what the Bible says regarding husbands.

      I believe you said you were a pastor. So when you give a sermon do you never look for background information? Do you never look for the reason something was said? No historical context? No cultural context? No taking a verse in context of the whole chapter or book? No looking up Greek words and finding out their definitions? Because that is what your position demands and that is what you are doing with this issue.

      1. Hi Laurie,
        Yes, the Bible was not written in English, but there are reasons the translators chose the English words they chose, and it’s because those are the English words that best translate the original Greek and Hebrew. While there might be some differences, there’s a reason all the versions of Scripture say “submit” or “be subject.” NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, NKJV, KJV, HCSB, etc.

    3. You know you are more than welcome to look up these words yourself since you don’t believe me. Then you can see the word for obey is actually a different word than the word they translated as obey.

      1. Hi Laurie,
        I’m very familiar with the Greek word for obey: hypotassō. It’s the same word for “submit” in Ephesians 5:22, 24, Colossians 3:18, and 1 Peter 3:1 when wives are commanded to submit to their husbands.

        The definition for hypotassō is, “to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject one’s self, put in subjection, obey, to submit to one’s control.” It sounds exactly like the word obey, and obey is even used as a definition or synonym for it.

  36. Scott LaPierre,
    You asked me a question and I answered it. You asked for specific scholars who had shaped my beliefs about mutuality in marriage. If you did not want me to list people and what I had learned from them then you shouldn’t have asked me about that. Yes. I know you can list people too who believe the same way you believe but I have yet to hear anyone go through the Bible and tell me they believe in the complementarian theology and use the Scripture and explain away the historical context, the cultural context, the definition of the Greek words, the verses that teach mutual love and respect, etc.
    The Bible was not written in English!
    You have to go back to the Greek to see the words. Comp preachers typically love to talk about the Greek words and definitions of those words, the historical context of a verse, the cultural context of any Scripture except these verses. There was a very well known Baptist who had been the President of the SBC and he preached an entire month on marriage spending one sermon on this idea of wifely subjugation and submission. He typically loves to delve into the Greek, mention history of that time, explains culture and customs. In this particular message he couldn’t. Because if he did he would prove himself wrong.
    I realize that what I believe is a hard pill to swallow for men because it takes away your man card to get whatever you want. That is why the comp theology is very popular in churches. Men typically run churches and they want power over their wives (pride) and they have to have a doctrine to support that.

    I could go through every verse that you want to quote about submission, headship and tell you why I believe it supports mutuality in marriage (mututal submission) but you would not accept it and would find some way to explain it away but I actually did explain why I believe what I believe then you basically told me my facts and proof was not valid because it wasn’t what you believed.

    Basically the state of marriage in the church is not good. Some would disagree with that statement but its the truth. It’s not because wives don’t want to submit it is because the church uses the Bible to disrespect, dismiss, and devalue women because of their gender. When some scholars realize from hard factual proof that No! Paul was not a misogynist and he didn’t place women in a second class role. He did not infantilize women (which is actually abusive), then comps go all out to discredit these scholars and their beliefs because they want the power they have had for a long time.

    When churches start reading what the Bible actually says instead of reading it with Complementarian glasses on I believe that they will see marriages saved, and I believe the church will fill up with people hungry for God. Disrespecting half the human race isn’t Godly or Biblical.

    Also you have stated a few times that I don’t believe in submission in marriage. Actually I do. I believe the husband and wife submit to each other as we both submit to Christ. My husband does not have a man card he can play to get what he wants. We make decisions together. And when I say together I really mean together not where he just asks me what I think so he can check that box and then go do what he wants. He treats me with respect and I treat him with respect. We also have emotional intimacy because no person feels dismissed or devalued. That is what I believe marriage should be. When both parties are respected emotional intimacy can thrive. That is what I believe because marriage was made to mirror the love that Christ has for HIs church.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You’re right. I forgot that I asked for those names. Sorry about that.

      So then, if I understand you, you’re saying Christ should submit to the church as much as the church should submit to Christ?

    2. Why are you putting words in my mouth? I looked back at my reply. Nothing I said even insinuates that. If you want to know the truth, He showed the ultimate act of submission by dying on the cross for us.

      1. Hi again Laurie,
        You said:

        I believe the husband and wife submit to each other as we both submit to Christ.

        And you said…

        That is what I believe because marriage was made to mirror the love that Christ has for Hiss church.

        Marriage does “mirror” Christ’s relationship to the church as you said, and so if husbands and wives submit to each other, than Christ also submits to the church.

        Also, if you’re interested I’d still love to hear your thoughts on Titus 2:5, which commands wives to be “obedient to their own husbands” and 1 Corinthians 11:3 which says, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (also Ephesians 5:25).

  37. Scott LaPierre, Where is your proof that that (context) was their reason for restating the word “submit” in verse 22 of Ephesians 5.
    You are right that it says in several other places for the wife to submit to her husband. Catherine Kroeger and David Scholer have done extensive research as well as Dr. Susan Hyatt into the word submit used in these passages. They state that it is important to look at the people and what marriage looked life in their lives. Back then a big problem in marriages was wife abuse(probably even worse than today). So Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar instated “sine manu” or “Marriage without hand”. in an attempt to deal with the wife abuse. IN this kind of marriage the wife would remain under the authority of her father along with her inheritance. The wife’s family could remove from the husband’s home at anytime. During the New Testament era this was the most common form of marriage. When we look at the word “submit” we cannot just pick the definition that suits us best or gives us the upper hand we have to stay as true to the context. In light of this nothing in this passage allows for the meaning “to subject” or “subordinate”. The most likely definition of “submit” is “to be identified with”). There are other cases of this word being used with similar but minorly different definitions. The historian Josephus used “hupotasso” (to attach or to append) when speaking of attaching 2 documents together. Paul’s intention was for wives to “submit” or “attach themselves” to their husbands instead of always having the option of returning to her father’s home. Instead “be joined together with your husband and form a new social unit. Paul also asks husbands and slaves to obey (hupakoua)- different word. Chain of command subjugation and unilateral obedience of the wife to the husband is not a biblical doctrine. A truly Biblical should be built on and have the goal of “oneness” through deep intimacy. Not authority over and subjugated to or subordinated to. The husband and wife should be a cohesive unit of equal partners- equal in substance and value, privilege, responsibility, function and authority.

    1. I’m sorry. Big typo. Paul did not ask husbands and slaves to obey. He asked children and slaves to obey. And a little further down: A truly Biblical marriage should be built on….
      Sorry for so many typos here.

    2. Hi again Laurie,
      You can find people who claim to be Christians but deny the existence of hell, deny that homosexuality is sinful, deny the Virgin Birth. The point is, quoting people’s names and saying, “They support what I’m saying,” isn’t convincing. I can do the same with many prominent respected pastors who are strong complementarians and teach that wives should submit to their husbands. So the question isn’t, “What do all these people say?” The question is, “What does Scripture say?” I’m saying wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, because that’s what’s said a number of times in Scripture; it’s one of the most common commands in the New Testament. It’s not remotely vague or inferred. Yes, I know there are abusive husbands, but just because some men have disobeyed God’s Word doesn’t mean we change what God’s Word says.

      Even if you write all this about the word “submit” Titus 2:5 still commands wives to be “obedient to their own husbands” and 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (also Ephesians 5:25).

      One of the biggest problems with egalitarian arguments, which I think they regularly overlook, is God compares the marriage relationship to Christ’s relationship to the church. If the verses are not saying wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, then they’re also saying the church doesn’t need to submit to Christ.

  38. Scott LaPierre, I am sorry if I misunderstood or misread your question. You mentioned all the books you referenced for your book and thought you were asking the scholars who had shaped my beliefs based on their evidence. I didn’t realize you were asking specifically who said what.

    1. No problem Laurie. It’s just that I don’t remember reading any commentaries (and I look at quite a few for my studying) that attached Ephesians 5:21 to the marriage passage. With that said, even if it was part of that passage, Scripture has to be reconciled with Scripture, and plenty of other places command wives to submit to their husband; including even that passage in verse 24.

  39. Scott LaPierre, You mention Ephesians5:22 which if I can borrow your wording is THEE verse comps. Love to quote. And you mention that Verse 22 stands alone as a directive towards wives in marriage. And that verse 21 is to all believers. But in verse 22 the word “submit ” was not in the original Greek text.
    That word was added in the 5 AD. That is why in the New American Standard version that word”submit” is in italics. Therefore verse 22 cannot stand alone it has to be a continuation of verse 21. You also mention that there was a verse break between verse 21 and 22 and a heading before verse 22 that indicated those verses were regarding marriage. But in the original Greek there were no verse numbers, chapter numbers, or headings. Those were added to organize the text. The authors of the Bible were inspired by God. The editors, annotators, translators did have biases, and some prejudices. Some of those biases were inspired by tradition. Dr. Susan Hyatt’s book “In the Spirit We’re Equal” gives many more details and evidence concerning this.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You’re right about the word being in italics in verse 22, but the reason they added it was the context. Verse 24 does have the word “submit” or “be subject,” so they put it in verse 22 so it would make sense; however, even if it’s not in verse 22, it is in verse 24 commanding wives to submit to their husbands. Also, Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”, 1 Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,” and Titus 2:5 commands wives to “obey” or “be obedient” to their husbands.

      So if you don’t want to use Ephesians 5:22, that’s okay. You can use Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:1, Colossians 3:18, or Titus 2:5. There’s actually no mention of wives in the New Testament without a corresponding command for them to submit to their husbands.

  40. I have a toddler who has a lot of energy so my posts are here and there when I have a moment. Scott La Pierre, you said you had 2 questions then proceeded to ask several. I will answer them as I can but probably won’ t be in same post. The scholars I follow are Dr. N.T.Wright, Dr. Catherine Kroeger, Philip Payne, Scott McNight, Dr. Kevin Giles, Dr. David Scholar Dr. Kenneth Bailey, Margaret Mowczko and there are others. I have not read everything these have written so can’t answer for everything about them. But the facts that shape my beliefs I check and recheck and hold up to the Authority of the Bible.

    1. Hi again Laurie,
      We have six children, the oldest is nine and the youngest is less than one, so I can understand that!

      You said:

      Interesting you mention Eph. 5:22-31. Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in vs.21.

      Then I asked you for the names of those scholars and you provided the names of scholars you read. Are you saying these scholars say Paul’s marriage passage begins at verse 21? Otherwise, I’m not sure the point, at least in relation to this argument, of sharing those names with me?

      I’m glad you “check and recheck and hold up to the authority of the Bible.” If that’s the case, you believe Paul commands husbands and wives to submit to each other, and then commands wives to submit to their husbands in the following verse (22) and then again in verse 24?

  41. Hi Scott – I want to just start with I understand that the point of your blog is to support your book on marriage – and in marriage there is an order – God, Husband, Wives… with love and respect weaving in and out and through to keep the bonds tight all provided by God in the Spirit. (totally a summary, but I think you understand my point.)

    All that being said – on this point you might have forgotten that we are living in a broken world filled with sin. In this world our society has taken these points and pushed women down – even young girls are told they have a position of submissiveness that is expected while boys are told to climb the ladders to success. I’m not saying this is good, bad, right, or wrong, I’m saying this is our current culture. A culture that impacts the words people chose to use. So please remember that. Many women bare scars of this in our society and your words do not help them heal.

    And culture is an important aspect that you seem to omit in your article. For example:
    “The Seventy were men

    They were sent out after the Twelve (Luke 10:1). Again though Jesus could have chosen thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but He chose all men.”

    These people were never all named… so we do not know who they all were. But more importantly, we know that that culture didn’t count women in their numbers, even when they were present – take the feeding of the 5 thousand… It is safe to assume there were always women in these groups… it’s even a probable assumption that there were women who remained in the group of the apostles – they were not named because there were men there, and that culture would not have mentioned women when men could be used as an authority on validity of the documents (the scripture). This assumption is because we know that there were women at the cross… how did they get there if they were not at dinner with Jesus that night? Who would have found them, and brought them to such an event, if they had not been there to see it all happen? They are not named before hand in the account because a woman’s testimony would not hold water as long as there were men who could account for it. Once all the disciples scattered, the writers of the gospels started listing the women by name because they were there and could give an account. So it is not reasonable to say there were never women in the inner circles of Jesus simply because they were not named. that ignores the culture and society of the time.

    Now I know you are going to say you get my idea, and give me some follow up questions, but how about thinking over what I said, and do some research on how women were treated by the culture at the time… then we can talk…

    1. Hi Marissa,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I’m familiar with the way women were treated in that culture (and our culture today). What I can tell you is when the Gospel is introduced – then or now – it always elevates women to a position of prominence and love they don’t know otherwise. Look at non-Christian areas of the world to see what I mean.

      Just because men have sinned doesn’t deny the truth of God’s Word. Your point seems to be that because women have been abused, or because we live in “a broken world filled with sin” the plain teaching of Scripture doesn’t apply. That’s completely untrue. Also, if you look at the marriage instruction, husbands are commanded to love and cherish their wives, and wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. If the commands to wives are denied, then the commands to men are too, and that introduces women into poor treatment.

      Since you don’t want any follow up questions, that closes off communication.

    2. I think you misunderstood my point – this specific post of yours does not specify wives in a god-centered marriage with husbands who understand their responsibility. You addressed the societal and cultural roles of women rather than the roles of husbands and wives. The issue, and why so many comments from other women on here are going on the defensive, is that you are pointing to societal stations for women, and putting the idea of submissiveness along with it. The logical conclusion of that assertion is that women could not be in a leadership role whatsoever and that they must defer to a male if he happens to be present regardless of that particular male’s relationship with Jesus. When you reply to my comment and only point to marriage to support the submissive relationship between men and women rather than only applying to Godly marriage covenants it hardly supports the arguments you’ve made in your article.

      1. Hi again Marissa,
        You’re right that my post “does not specify wives in a god-centered marriage with husbands who understand their responsibility,” but that’s because the post isn’t about marriage. The point of the post is contained in the title. I have lots of other posts about marriage that you can read if you like! In those posts I discuss husbands, wives, their roles and responsibilities, etc. You said:

        You addressed the societal and cultural roles of women rather than the roles of husbands and wives.

        Actually, no, I didn’t address that at all. The point of the post is demonstrating that male leadership is God’s pattern, so I provided examples of male leadership throughout the Old and New Testaments, showing that it has been, and still is, God’s pattern. You also said:

        [Women] must defer to a male if he happens to be present regardless of that particular male’s relationship with Jesus.

        1 Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” The words “even if some do not obey the word” mean even if they’re not believers, so yes, a wife’s submission is “regardless of that husband’s relationship with Jesus.” But with that said, there are qualifiers I’d make regarding a wife’s submission, and I discuss this at length in my book. I don’t want to get into it here, because that’s not the point of the post, and it would make this comment really long.

        Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  42. Reading the Bible in a historical and cultural context is important. Going back to the Greek and taking into account idioms ofthe day etc. is important . This is what most egalitarian Christians have done. This is what most egalitarian scholars have done. To paint egalitarian Christians as stretching the Scriptures is dismissive. Of course you can read the Bible with complementarian glasses on and come up with your views but take the glasses off and you most likely will find a very different picture.

  43. Wow! Way to pick a few verses, pull them way out of context and dismiss the verses that don’t agree with your theory. Then when someone challenges you with their belief you talk so patronizingly to them. Interesting you mention Eph. 5:22-31. Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in vs.21. In vs 22 the word wives was added several centuries later. That verse was written as a for example. You also didn’t mention anything about submitting ourselves a God as it says in James, only our husbands. Nor do talk about being led by the Holy Spirit, only our husband. Teaching that women are subordinate,2nd class citizens who can only work in the nursery or in women’s ministry is anusive , and disrespectful and dismissive. I would suggest that you read the book by Dr Susan Hyatt, “The Spirit,the Bible and Woman “. My prayer is that one day the church will stop limiting, and disrespecting the women and start using them as fellow heirs to win the world.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Will you please do two things for me? First, tell me how the verses are used out of context. Second, you said I dismissed verses that don’t agree with my theory. Can you share those verses with me? Also, I mean more than just mentioning the names of different women in Scripture. I know there are plenty of women in Scripture, but that doesn’t mean they were in leadership over men. So can you provide verses showing women in leadership over men?

      You said, “Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in verse 21.” What scholars is that? I have lots of commentaries in my office, and when I studied Ephesians 5 for my sermon and book, I don’t remember any scholars say that. Also, if you look here you can see these translations have a heading identifying the marriage passage beginning at verse 22.

      Plus it would make no sense for Paul to be discussing marriage in verse 21, because then he’d be contradicting himself in verse 22. Here are the two verses:

      21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

      The fact is in verse 21 Paul is discussing the mutual deference Christians should show to each other, which fits the context of verses 15-21. Then in verses 22 through 33 he discusses marriage.

      As far as the things I didn’t mention, you’re right. They don’t relate to the main point of my blog, that male leadership is God’s pattern, so I didn’t discuss them. A post about submitting to God or being led by the Holy Spirit would discuss those topics though, but again, that wasn’t the topic of this post.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. These were many of my points too Laurie – I even stepped back from this post, and discussed it with my husband – as faithfully submissive wife… but I’ll write my own comment too – no worries

  44. It is interesting that you place so much importance on Adam being created first. I have always tried to follow the teachings of Christ who said”the first will be last” and admonishes those who try to lord it over others as the pagans do. May we all humble ourselves to be the servant of all.

    1. Hello Melinda (forgive me if that’s not your name),
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

      I wouldn’t say I “place so much importance on Adam being created first.” I copied those verses from Scripture, so you could say Scripture – or God – places so much importance on that fact. Paul lists that as one of the two reasons women can’t “teach or have authority over men.”

      If you’re interested, here are two other posts that elaborate even more on the topic:

  45. Yet the Bible also says: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. In Galathians. After Christ there is no difference. We are all equal and we are all one in Christ.

    1. Hi Teodora,
      That is THEE verse quoted by egalitarians. Will you look at this post I wrote a few weeks ago? Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism. Here’s part of it:

      The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:

      There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

      Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders.

      Equal doesn’t mean identical. People can be equal and still have different roles.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how do you interpret the passages Paul also wrote (Ephesians 5:22-31, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 11:1-11, Titus 2:1-5, etc) that discuss the different responsibilities between men and women?

    2. I had no idea that was thee verse used by equlitarians.
      Yes, agree that equal does not mean identical, but still means equal.
      I think there is a woman of who Pauls speaks as being an apostle. Have to look up this.
      I also think the Catholic church has tried to do everything to dismiss the role of women in the new testament.
      Regarding the examples of women in the article. Just want to say there are examples of good and bad men, too, and we can learn from all the examples.

      1. Hi again Teodora,
        I’m almost certain you’re referring to Junia in Romans 16:7

        Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

        They seemed to be a married couple, and their ministry was well-known and appreciated “among the apostles.” The NLT says, “They are highly respected among the apostles” and the ESV says, “They are well known to the apostles.” It’s an unbiblical stretch to say Junia is a female apostle. Although, and I don’t mean this harshly, it’s a stretch some egalitarians are more than willing to make to attempt to defend their views.

        Regarding your other comments:
        1. I definitely wouldn’t dismiss the role of women in the New Testament or the church. There are wonderful women throughout Scripture, and there have been wonderful women throughout church history.
        2. Yes, there are definitely examples of some terrible men: Nimrod, Cain, most of the kings of Israel, and even some of the most prominent male leaders were very flawed: Judah, David, Solomon, etc.

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