She Is Not A Pastor

In this space I have written several essays attempting to help Christians think biblically, in light of the Reformed confession of the faith, about the institution of the church and about the office of pastor.

Easy Cases, Hard Cases

Some of the cases are, from a confessional Reformed perspective, relatively clear cut. Mark Driscoll boasted that he he was utterly unprepared to be a pastor. He was, however, quite prepared to be a charismatic personality. He was good at that; at capturing the Zeitgeist and manipulating people the way cult leaders are good at that sort of thing. Some cases, however, are a little more difficult, e.g., Tullian Tchividjian, who graduated from seminary, sustained a presbytery exam, and led a church until he was removed from ministry for gross immorality. His presbytery did the right thing but he refused their discipline and has thus shown himself to be not a pastor any more.

Another clear case is Aimee Byrd’s recent appearance in the pulpit, as a guest preacher in an Evangelical Presbyterian Congregation, The Crossing. Aimee is well known for her writing and podcasting. Where, in the earlier episode (in a Baptist congregation perhaps), whether she was preaching was left ambiguous, in this case, there is no ambiguity. She refers to her message as a sermon. Until last October, Aimee was in the OPC. On a left-right Presbyterian spectrum, the EPC is two degrees to the right of the PCUSA and one degree left of the PCA. It permits female teaching elders and the use of charismatic gifts. Thus, in that setting, a female in the pulpit is not a shock, even if it is contrary to the clear instruction of the Apostle Paul and the Reformed confession and practice.

Some of the same problems present in the other cases previously chronicled here (e.g., James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and Josh Harris) are also present here. Byrd is not qualified for pastoral ministry. She has no formal theological education nor has she been examined by a Presbytery nor called by an ecclesiastical body. More than that, however, she and all females are disbarred from pastoral ministry by God’s Word, which says, I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority but I permit a woman to be silent (1 Tim 2:12). In context, the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to Timothy about how public worship is to be conducted. He is instructing Timothy (and the church) about the prayers that are to be offered, and on what basis (i.e., Christ’s mediation for us; 1 Tim 2:1–8). In the context immediately before v. 12, he gives instructions about how women are to dress for church and how they are to conduct themselves. Immediately after v. 12, he grounds his instruction not in temporary, culturally-conditioned mores but in the divinely instituted creational pattern.1 Paul was not a sexist. He was a creationist, as it were. He believed in a creational order that is not overturned by grace (he was not an Anabaptist radical). He believed and taught that grace renews nature in redeemed people.

In case one wishes to contest the traditional reading of Paul in 1 Timothy 2, there is 1 Corinthians 14:34: the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says (ESV).2 Certainly this language is not promising for those who would build a case from Scripture that females ought to be free to assume the duties of pastoral ministry. For those who would dismiss this passage as also culturally conditioned or addressing a temporary phenomenon, they face a significant hurdle, the final clause of v. 33: [a]s in all the churches of the saints…. The silence of females in the worship service was, according to Paul, the universal practice of the church.

Right Desire, Wrong Outlet

Aimee’s desire to point people to Christ is commendable. Her desire to facilitate theological awareness among other women is commendable. Indeed, her earlier books (e.g., Housewife Theologian) were uncontroversial. In this very space I have defended her freedom to teach an Adult Sunday School class but there are divinely instituted limits. The text of holy Scripture is sufficiently clear. As S. M. Baugh has demonstrated, the alternative (feminist) interpretations proposed for 1 Timothy 2:12 are quite simply untenable. There is a better way, a way between egalitarianism and patriarchalism.

The evidence for this way is largely circumstantial but it is real:

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord (Phil 4:2; ESV).

We do not know exactly how Euodia and Syntache co-labored in the Lord with Paul but we may not deny that they did. Their role was so significant that a reasonable case can be made that rather than reading Philippians as a thank you note to the Philippian congregation, it should be read as a letter seeking to address the schism created by two women who were at loggerheads in the church. My pastor, Chris Gordon has argued this very thesis in his series through Philippians. These women were likely among those who were the founding members in the church of Philippi, who had gathered at the river to pray, whom Paul first found in Philippi (Acts 16:13). These women did not have a teaching office in the church, i.e., they were not ministers of Word and sacrament, but they unarguably had a significant role in the church.

They are not alone. There are other females in the New Testament who are given the same title, co-worker in the Lord, e.g., Prisca (Acts 16:3). Paul does not call Mary (Rom 16:6) a co-worker in the Lord but he does greet her. He mentions other females (e.g., Junia) but he calls Tryphena and Tryphosa workers in the Lord (Rom 16:12). In the same verse, Persis is said to have worked hard in the Lord. It seems unlikely that we may assume that the work and co-laboring that Paul has in mind is cooking and cleaning. It is possible but it seems improbable that Euodia and Syntache were splitting the Philippian church over dishes and dinner. Then there is the most obvious case of Phoebe, a διάκονον, a servant. Again, we have no evidence that Phoebe or Priscilla were teaching publicly in the church, let alone fulfilling the office of minister of Word and sacrament, but they were doing significant things—so much so that Paul exhorted the church at Rome to help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patroness of many and of myself as well. We know that Priscilla (and Aquila) helped Apollos understand God’s Word (Acts 18:26). Apollos is one of the more likely candidates for the authorship of Hebrews. If so, Priscilla was among those who helped to bring it about. That is a speculative reconstruction but it is as likely as most others and it illustrates some of the ways that females did (and do) serve the church.

There has been some criticism from the Patriarchal Sit Down and Shut Up crowd in response to Rosaria Butterfield’s conference lecture. If you missed that lecture, it will repay your time to listen to it. In my view Kent and Rosaria Butterfield are an Aquila and Priscilla for our day. She is a brilliant and bold thinker and her conference talks, books, and articles have been a source of edification for the church and a powerful apologetic and corrective to the likes of Greg Johnson and the Side-B movement. Without transgressing the limits set by Paul and under the authority of her pastor (Kent Butterfield) and alongside him (as they sat together on the platform during the Q&A session at the recent conference), she has been a model of bold modesty. You will not find her speaking in public worship services but she continues to fulfill her vocation as a scholar in the service of the church.


The evangelical world has tended to vacillate between radical Egalitarianism and authoritarian Patriarchalism. The temptation to react to the latter by moving to the former is strong. One will find a great lot of voices in the American church assuring us that the smart people know that Scripture does not really restrict the offices of minister, elder, and deacon to males. Those assuring voices, however, have not yet made a compelling argument from Scripture. At the risk of sounding like a fundamentalist, I do not permit… is very strong language. Those voices, e.g., in the CRC, in the 1990s, who dismissed Paul as hopelessly Patriarchal were, in their own way, more credible. They were admitting that they had no case from Scripture and so they simply dismissed it. The high-handed dismissive approach to Scripture is wrongheaded but it is honest. Consider this a plea to Aimee (and to the others on the same trajectory) to reconsider. There is another way, a better way, a more biblical way, a more faithful way, a way that will not lead to grief.


I wrote this piece a few days ago. It went through our now normal editorial process and in the meantime Aimee has published a response to criticisms about her preaching. Objectively, it is not an exegetical defense, a theological defense, or even a practical defense (e.g., there was no one else to do it). Pastorally, it strikes one as a cry for help and as an indicator of the wounds given by folks such as the Geneva Commons Facebook group. Let us commit to being the prayerful, careful, gracious brothers and sisters that she needs right now.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


1. διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλʼ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

2. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀκαταστασίας ⸂ὁ θεὸς⸃ ἀλλʼ εἰρήνης. Ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων ⸂αἱ γυναῖκες ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν· οὐ γὰρ ⸀ἐπιτρέπεται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν, ἀλλʼ ⸁ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. The path of all these non-pastors who impersonate pastors seems clear as explained in 1 John 2:19: “ They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

  2. Remarkably in her defense for accepting the invitation to preach her argument is built simply on emotion and not a word from scripture. The one time she actually refers to scripture is through a convoluted, feminist exposition of ‘feeling’ from the Song. As en EPC pastor I would never permit a woman to the pulpit, especially not teach adult Sunday school, or read God’s word from the pulpit.

    • I did not write on the quality and nature of her sermon in part because there is an undeniably subjective element in the evaluation of sermons nevertheless, there are some fairly serious problems with this homily. I agree that her approach to the text/theme is fairly subjective.

  3. Thank you Dr. Clark. I wonder where her husband is in all this? She definitely needs help. May God in His mercy provide for her and her family.

  4. The “Sit down and Shut Up crowd.” I love it. Seriously, this is a good commentary Dr. Clark. The mess she is in is exactly why we have male only office holders. To protect her from experiencing the pain, real pain, she has been living with.

  5. Thank you for pointing out the abuse she received from the Geneva Commons group. They are now shouting, “We told you so!” Their actions were wrong, as is Aimee’s preaching. May God send repentance to all.

  6. Dr. Clark, thank you for posting this. It’s a reminder that two things can be true at the same time. In this case, (1) It is true that, as a woman, Mrs. Byrd does not have biblical warrant to preach, and her theologically-leftward drift on this question of women in office is deeply regrettable and concerning; and (2) It is also true that the (imo) spiritually-abusive, utterly juvenile treatment of Mrs. Byrd by some on the “Geneva Commons” and the fleshly vitriol directed against her by professing Christians on social media (including some so-called “Reformed” church officers) was disgusting, inexcusable, infantile, and unworthy behavior for any who name the Name of Christ (especially so in the case of church officers).

    The works of the flesh are evident, and we do not combat one manifestation of the sin nature (namely, Mrs. Byrd’s dismissal of the biblical teaching on qualifications for church office) with other manifestations of the flesh (harsh, vitriolic, cynical and hurtful personal attacks against an erring sister in Christ in the name of fighting heresy and defending the purity of the church).

  7. This strikes as loving biblically informed care for a stumbling sister who has endured a tremendous amount of abuse from office bearers in Christ’s church. May we all seek to model such care for the truth and concern for Christ’s lambs as given to us in Scripture and modeled well here by Dr. Clark.

  8. When those who sever the ties which make normal church discipline no longer a possibility, they have placed themselves in an area which may be more dangerous than formal excommunication. Aimee seems to have separated what she sees as her relationship with God from a normal relationship with His Church, as if they could be mutually exclusive.

  9. So sad about Aimee Byrd, who wanted to be an encourager of women to gain a deeper understanding of theology. Then she ends up denying the Scriptural precepts, thinking she should preach, contrary to what the Bible clearly says about the role of women in the church. Too bad her feelings are hurt, and she feels abused by those who call her to task, but that is a mark of the true church that it defends the Truth. Belgic 29

    • Angela,

      I mostly agree with you but it is also the case that there has been genuine insult and abuse hurled at her by people involved in the Geneva commons Facebook group. It was bad enough that two people were disciplined or at least the OPC attempted to discipline two of them. One fled the jurisdiction of the OPC’ for the CREC. I do not recall what happened to the other.

    • Yes, it’s very sad about Mrs. Byrd. I’m not in any way defending her theological drift, but it wasn’t just that “she feels abused by those who called her to task…”. The problem is not just her subjective perception. On the contrary, she actually was abused (demeaned, personally insulted, and denigrated in disgusting ways by utterly childish so-called “Christian” individuals who seemed clearly more interested in publicly shaming & humiliating her than seeking to “call her to task” and graciously restore her to a sounder way).

    • On further looking into this, I am shocked by the “foolish talk and crude jesting” Aimee has been subjected to by office bearers of the church. Eph. 5:4. Clearly these men should have known better. It only draws attention away the Scriptural directive on who should preach in the church, that principle which has been ignored. Instead, these office bearers have only brought shame on themselves. They should have explained how her preaching is not in line with Scripture. It is the principle which is actually at stake here, but they made it into a reprehensible attack on her person.

      • “On further looking into this, I am shocked by the “foolish talk and crude jesting” Aimee has been subjected to by office bearers of the church. Eph. 5:4.” Yes, it is shocking, and sad. I think that sometimes in the Reformed tradition there is a tendency to mistake theological astuteness and academic achievement – as vitally important as those things are – for qualification for church office. Not every man who is biblically and theologically knowledgable and well-trained academically is thereby biblically qualified to serve in church office. The Scriptures (for example, 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1) highlight a blameless character and a good public reputation as absolutely non-negotiable when it comes to qualifying for church office. Imo the church officers who publicly and persistently piled-on Mrs. Byrd with “foolish talk and coarse jesting” exposed themselves as biblically-unqualified for service in church office, and should have demitted the ministry or been defrocked by their presbyteries.

    • I think it is also worth bearing in mind that, while one would not wish the office bearers of one’s church to believe that women might be presbyters or hold a regular pulpit ministry, such a view is within the range of freedom of conscience for the ordinary member. However, Aimee Byrd first came to public notice in the Reformed blogosphere for taking a principled stand FOR confessional principles and classical theism against a heresy that is widely believed to place its promoters outwith the bounds of the Holy Catholic Church. Moreover, the hard core of her detractors come from environments where views on Justification, Law/Gospel and the covenants are being advanced which caused the Apostle to use very strong language in Galatians 1. By all means let us regret when people disagree with us, but let us be clear on the hierarchy of grounds of disagreement.

      • Alan,

        In the North American P&R context, I suppose some laity do think that females might be presbyters or hold a regular pulpit ministry but they probably wouldn’t be allowed to argue for such in the churches—some PCA congregations excepted where females are already practically presbyters or exercising a semi-regular pulpit “ministry.”

        On the second half of your comment, amen. This is what I have been suggesting. I became aware of Aimee for her defense of Reformed orthodoxy. I understand that she’s moved perhaps, in certain respects, but one should distinguish between her early writing/podcasting from her later writing/podcasting.

        Your point re her detractors is very well taken.

  10. Thank you for presenting this objectively and maturely. There is far too much explicit ad hominem and implicit mockery on social media. These tragedies should cause us to take heed lest we fall, to pray for those involved, and to respond in a manner glorifying to God.

  11. I’ve held along that Ms Byrd will continue to drift and that MoS didn’t consider possible ramifications of her promotion and equal voice and opinion along side two that were ordained despite the nature of the program.

    I also held that many of the GC’s are cage-stage juveniles that need therapy before they are also allowed anywhere near a pulpit. They may be more fit for a trump rally, despite their academic credentials….. the immature need not apply to shepherd a flock.

    • Sadly at least two of these “cage stage juveniles” were officers of the church. They were so afraid of being brought before the church courts that they fled! One went to the open arms of the CREC and Douglas Wilson, whose misogyny knows no bounds. Maybe that says something about their theological drift.

  12. As I read you post I remembered that when I began as a pastor in the late 70’s, in the early days of the defense of gender roles in the church and home, one of the acceptable positions (I believe it was advocated by a professor at Westminster) was “There is a place for a body of elders to invite a non-ordained person, male or female, to minister the Word in public worship on occasion.” The reasoning was that for the female, they were not usurping but functioning under authority. I have always thought this was within range of acceptable practices, accenting the authority structure more than the particular act. Gender roles were understood as having some diverse application.

    In those days I was part of inviting women to speak at mixed gender conferences, including Elizabeth Elliot. She was very clear — she would speak at a conference but not open the Scriptures in Sunday worship. But she was open to share her testimony on the Lord’s Day. No one so much as chirped an objection.

    But it our day there is a demand for a uniformity of practice. A whole theology of male headship has developed, and in that theology we are now to understand that the difference is ontological. Men lead and care and women submit and defer in every area of life. Sanctification is summed up in proper roles.

    I hold to the position that a woman may do anything an unordained man may do. And that gender roles are a small part of sanctification. I cannot evaluate whether Aimee speaking was out of order until I know all the circumstances of her being invited and the reasoning behind it. I dare not assume she is slipping into egalitarianism based on one incident. What I can say is that the actions and words by the patriarchalists is worthy of censure, and when we treat someone that way to tempt them to react in all kinds of ways.

    • Mark,

      The first “sermon” was characterized more as a lesson. This, however, was characterized as a sermon and was given and performed with the understanding that it was an ecclesiastically sanctioned administration of the Word of God.

      It’s not about uniformity. It’s about 1 Tim 2:11-12.

      Non-ordained males should not be in the pulpit either but this was intentionally transgressive. Aimee knows these issues and she was doing what she has previously rejected.

    • Thank you, Dr. Clark, for the charitable way in which you are responding to Aimee Byrd. As you wrote above, you “became aware of Aimee for her defense of Reformed orthodoxy.”

      I spent a decade of my life fighting the ordination of women in the Christian Reformed Church, so quite obviously, I do not agree with Mrs. Byrd preaching from a pulpit of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. But I do think she deserves credit for moving into the EPC where women preaching is officially acceptable, and not remaining in the OPC and pushing for those views (granted, that would be a lost cause), or going into the PCA and pushing for those views, where she might well have become an important advocate for positions that are contrary to official PCA positions, but held by many who want to change those positions.

      I do not know Mrs. Byrd personally and only know what I read online by her, and about her. But it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that abusive treatment of her — treatment so bad that the OPC, which is not known for acting hastily without due deliberation, rebuked several ordained men for their comments — was a significant factor in pushing her out the door.

      Perhaps Mrs. Byrd’s critics detected something amiss early on in her views, and used problematic methods to call attention to legitimate issues. Or perhaps her critics caused her to feel something like this: “If this is what male headship in the church looks like, perhaps male headship is wrong,” and drove her into positions she didn’t previously hold.

      I don’t know.

      But the OPC is not a moderate or compromising denomination, and I think the OPC’s action speaks volumes about (some, not all) of her critics.

      • Darrell,

        Certainly the way the Geneva Commons people behaved, including officers in the OPC (one of whom was suspended from ministry, the other of whom fled to the CREC), did not help things.

    • Am I seeing someone missing the point? I wrote an entire article critiquing her appearance in the pulpit as a violation of the word of God. I offer one tiny bit of context and suddenly I’ve gone soft on women in the pulpit? 🤦🏻‍♂️

    • Maybe I’m wrong but your article seems to serve the function of a fig leaf. In most of the subsequent comments the real message that seems to get repeated more often is: “Yeah, but Geneva Commons…”. What should we learn from Aimee Byrd?

      • Bob,

        We don’t have to choose. A pox on Geneva Commons. Her presbytery agreed (in effect). Aimee should not be in the pulpit. Both are true.

        I’m not going to stop saying, “Yeah but Geneva Commons.” Ever. I’m not going to stop criticizing and rejecting females in the pulpit either.

  13. The person who is the subject of this article may or may not be in God’s will or truly following His leading. There are many men in the same positiion, so false leaders in pastorship is not limited to women.

    Just what did Paul mean in 1 Tim 2:11-12? I think it has been taken out of context as to what he is saying to that church at that time.

    btw, it is wonderful that Christians want to obey the Bible but it seems to be pick and choose. That verse about taking care of widows in need has been ignored as I can’t find churches with programs to help widows.

    there are many men who should not be pastors, either!!!

    In the early church they all labored side by side, submitted mutually to one another and many paid the ultimate price for their endeavors. The romans did not kill women for baking cookies or keeping quiet.

    God can call anyone to any service or gift He so chooses.

    • Susan,

      I’ve consolidated your comments into one post and will reply seriatim below:

      The person who is the subject of this article may or may not be in God’s will or truly following His leading. There are many men in the same positiion, so false leaders in pastorship is not limited to women.

      If we’re determining God’s moral will by Scripture, which is what Aimee professes—or at least professed to do—to do, then the burden of proof is on her and other advocates of the ordination of females to make their case from Scripture. So far they have not do so. Their srongest argument, that Paul was replying to a sort of Ephesian feminism, is tendentious at best. First, as S. M. Baugh has argued, if Paul opposed Ephesian feminism (EF) then he opposed feminism. To say that it applied the EF but not to 21st-century feminism (of whatever sort) is special pleading. Further, the evidence for this claim is beyond thin. It relies on an episode that occurred something like 8 centuries before Paul. There’s not a shred of evidence of EF in the first century.

      2. The first move of most advocates of the ordination of females is to try to marginalize 1 Tim 2:12. That’s not a very persuasive position to anyone who values holy Scripture. E.g., dismissing Paul as “hopelessly Patriarchal” is not persuasive in view of his radical rejection of the Greco-Roman marginalization of females (see Gal 3:28 etc).

      Just what did Paul mean in 1 Tim 2:11-12? I think it has been taken out of context as to what he is saying to that church at that time.

      Hermeneutical skepticism is not persuasive we it is quite possible to know what Paul was saying here and further few are willing to be consistent. Why is v.12 so obscure but not verse 11 etc? This is more special pleading.

      Is 1 Timothy 2 Still God’s Word?

      First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Tim 2:1–7; ESV).

      This is not obscure. The most likely explanation is that Paul has public worship in view. This pattern of prayer fits what we know about the Synagogic pattern and the early Christian pattern. This setting becomes clearer as we progress through the chapter.

      I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet (vv. 8–12).

      The lifting up (not in the modern Pentecostal fashion but probably, given the practices at the time, the turning over of the palms toward heaven, as it were) of hands fits a corporate setting. This best explains the concern about adornment of females and modesty and also the concern about how Christian females learn and whether they are permitted to “teach and exercise authority over a man.” There’s no textual evidence that this is a global command. There were female rulers in the ancient world and there were female heads of households in the first-century Greco-Roman world. Romans 16 suggests that females exercised actual, if unordained, authority in the church. The Roman congregation was to help Phoebe with her work. That work constituted the exercise of some authority. There are other females called “co-workers.” That co-working, with Paul, constituted the exercise of some sort of authority.

      Thus, the liturgical, corporate worship setting makes the most sense here given the movement of the passage from prayer to teaching.

      btw, it is wonderful that Christians want to obey the Bible but it seems to be pick and choose. That verse about taking care of widows in need has been ignored as I can’t find churches with programs to help widows.

      Can you be specific? Who is picking and choosing? Where are they doing this?

      The Reformed churches I’ve served are required by their church orders to love and serve widows and orphans. The “program” in a Reformed church is for the deacons to do their job. The deacons in my current congregation are very diligent about this.

      there are many men who should not be pastors, either!!!


      In the early church they all labored side by side, submitted mutually to one another and many paid the ultimate price for their endeavors. The romans did not kill women for baking cookies or keeping quiet.

      Well, yes and no. Was there a church government? Yes. Did Christ appoint apostles? Yes. Did the apostles appoint elders, deacons, and pastors? Yes. Is there some distinction between those who’ve been elected to those offices and those who have not? Yes. Does that preclude or is it mutually exclusive to the biblical injunction to “love one another” etc? No. You seem to be making a false dichotomy here.

      I agree entirely that females served Christ faithfully and sacrificially in the apostolic and early ancient church. Amen! The two female servants Pliny (the Younger) arrested and tortured for information (c. AD 114) come to mind as well as they the other women who were prominent in the NT church (e.g., I think Euodia and Syntache were probably founding and leading members of the church at Philippi and their argument was the reason for the epistle. Lydia became a prominent member of the NT church.

      God can call anyone to any service or gift He so chooses.

      Isn’t the question what has God ordained in his Word? Speculating about what God can do according to his power seems fruitless.

      • I have studied the issue of christian patriarchy for years— it started when I read a site called and all the stories of abuse/brokenness, etc from women who tried so hard to follow all the rules put forth-all based on scripture by Bill Gothard and it all went terribly wrong.

        I had believed Gothard theology as being from God, though with my personality of independent thinking, questioning, I could never reconcile myself to being what gothard theology called for–just that I was wrong.

        Patriarchy allows for rules upon rules—most aimed toward women that keep them in the role of wife, mother, housekeeper-submitted to husband/pastor/male authority with the husband being responsible for wife’s spiritual growth. It has morphed into some Christians endorsing spanking “disobedient wives” ??????????????? There is no such thing. But there can be disobedient spouses!

        The only thing that can logically work in Christianity is Christ as head over each individual, each individual responsible to seeking god’s will for their life.

        Paul never spoke against slavery, yet today we abhor it. We should abhor patriarchy -which came in as a result of the fall–and is historical fact in the bible but not endorsed by God as His plan.

        As far as women preaching/pastoring, that is between them and their individual walk with the Lord. There have been many women answering the call to preach –if they cannot be shamed out of it, they are sent to the mission field. why then is it ok to preach in 3rd world countries but not here? if they are going out “to plant” under the authority of their church, then the church is sinning by allowing a woman to preach no matter where she is. ——Back in the 1860s–black ex slave Sojourner Truth along with 2 quaker women answered the call to preach against slavery in the south. Were they wrong and going against God?

        Most christians think allowing women preachers is a slippery slope into allowing approval of gay life style–it seems to be that way because it is the liberal churches that mostly allow them to be pastors/preachers. —But what if it was the other way around. —>because of faulty misintrpretations of some verses that put forth male hierarchy with women being kept from fully following God’s will for their lives (other than tradtitional roles) that only liberal churchs, which can be faulty in their own interpretations of salvation- have celebrated the world’s view of loving others and they have come to the forefront of what has been previously taught as forbidden— that women can lead/teach/preach.

        My husband recently passed. We were married 46 years. he told me when we got married that God, not him, was my LORD. . That he respected my personal relationship with God and that it was my responsibility to seek God’s wiill for my life on my own. He said he was not my boss nor did he want to take on the role reserved for Christ/Holy spirit.

        Using Aimee Byrd as an example of why women should not preach is like using Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot a reason why no man should ever lead a country. –actually that is a good thing that no one man should solely lead a country….nor should one man lead a church. that is why paul had so many helpers, both men and women.

        There are hundreds of men who did terrible sins as pastors yet there are still men preachers/pastors—go figure !

        actually when wanting to find out how women played a part in the early church, one should look at Jesus
        1- He obeyed His mother as a grown man when she told him to do something about the wine at that party (forbidden)
        2- He talked witjh women in public (forbidden) that woman at the well became the first evangelist!
        3- Women were part of His group, traveled with and followed Him.
        4– He allowed Mary (sis to Martha) to sit at His feet to learn of God (forbidden)
        5- He chose women to be the first to see His empty tomb and tell others ( women giving testimony was forbidden)

        Gee, then why shouldn’t they preach or pastor today if God calls them…. Oh, yes because of a few verses, taken out of context and misapplied. so sad.

        • Susan,

          1. I’m sorry for your loss. May the Lord grant you all comfort in your grief.

          2. Rejecting the ordination of females is not evidence of patriarchy. I am opposed both to patriarchy and (evangelical) egalitarianism.

          To wit:

          So, officer, you’ve got the wrong man here! Indeed, because of my earlier defense of Aimee (which you can see on the resources page) I was called a “feminist” and an “egalitarian.” There is a middle way: complementarianism. I understand that term has taken on some baggage. I’ve tried to rescue it. See the essay above.

          3. You keep saying that people are taking 1 Tim 2 out of context. I gave you a brief explanation of 1 Tim 2:12 in context. Could you please show how I’m taking it out of context?

          4. I’m with you. I went to a week of Gothard seminars in the 70s and it took me years to be shed of it. He’s a blight on the church.

          5. The slippery slope is hermeneutical, i.e., in the principles one is using to interpret Scripture. The same principles that were used to argue for the ordination of females are used to defend the ordination of homosexuals. It doesn’t mean that everyone who advocates for the ordination of females will necessarily end up arguing for the ordination of homosexuals but it does happen. It happened in the PCUSA and it’s happened in the CRC to give but two examples.

          6. I genuinely don’t understand your argument re Aimee. Are you comparing her to Pol Pot? Why? Aimee was a member of an OPC congregation and, for years, publicly upheld the complementarian position. Then she changed publicly her mind. My goal is to try to persuade her and those influenced by her not to go down this road. It is a mistake. I think she knows it’s a mistake. I’m not attacking her character. I’m disagreeing with her.

          • Finally, someone who is using manners and decorum to defend their position—the names I have been called by christians for saying God can call/gift anyone regardless of gender as He sees fit. I thank-you for your kindness in replying to my comments.

            I have gotten most of my info from Marg Mowzcko’s site. She has years of study in bible languages/history and culture. She goes deep into the heart why Paul said certain things.
            But pat believers say she does not know her stuff and is feminist leaning. Again name calling, casting aspersions.

            The meanings of the word submit in Eph 5- 4 groups being told to submit. People in general and spouses are told to “mutually” submit one to another. Children and slaves told to submit as to an “authority”.

            Complementarianism is indeed a great step forward from patriarchy. But it still lacks in that women are placed under authority of men. Is it fair to an imperfect man to have the role of always being over women? As imperfect women should not be over men? Instead under the authority of the Godhead.

            So does not allowing ordination of women keep the church safe from gay ideology?

            The problem I see with pat/comp is that the actual workings of the rules of the bible verses about women are up to interpretation and each individual group to come up with what works best for them. For instance, some churches allow women to wear pants, others don’t and there are dozens of other nit-picky things. most aimed at women….but they make these rules as if God somehow told them to have that rule would make them more godly or pleaseing to God. Sure under comp women can put in their 2 cents but it is still men who will decide if it is of God or not and the woman must submit or she is in sin or error.

            There are many blogs where women tell their story of abuse under christian legalism/patriarchy. Not so much under comp. But i have yet to see a site where women tell how they were abused under egalitarianism/mutuality.

            • Susan,

              Rudeness is generally forbidden here.

              I don’t know the work of Marg Mowzcko but I can see from her site that she identifies as an egalitarian. There is a prima facie problem with that category as applied to the ancient world. It’s an anachronism. The world in which Paul and the other apostles wrote wasn’t an egalitarian world. It was a hierarchical world.

              The NT church itself was not egalitarian. There was an ordered hierarchy, of sorts, but, in distinction from the Greco-Roman world, it was not ordered on the basis of being (ontology, contra the Patriarchalists) or social class. Among the pagans, Women, children, and slaves were classed as one thing, with exceptions, and males as another. The Apostles, however, did not baptize that order. Rather, they returned to creation for their pattern. In other words, they appealed both to nature (creation) and grace (redemption). In my experience, the egalitarians tend to ignore nature and focus entirely on grace and thus tend to wipe out distinctions and order between the sexes in the church.

              I’ve been reading the Greek New Testament since 1981 or so. I teach Patristics, Medieval church history, Reformation, and post-reformation history. I say that to say that I’m deeply skeptical about the claim that ὑποτάσσω in Eph 5:22 does not mean “submit.” The context suggests otherwise as does its use elsewhere in the NT. The first sense given in BAGD, the standard ref work for NT Greek, is “to subordinate.” The sense is to place one thing under another. The evidence for this in the NT is overwhelming. In Luke 10:17, the demons were made to submit to Christ. Rom 8:7, the flesh is hostile to God. It does not subordinate itself to the God’s law. Rom 13:7, we’re all to submit to the governing authorities. It’s easy to multiply examples.

              In context, Paul says, “submitting to one another in the fear of Christ” (v. 21). How? The women [submitting] to their men as to the Lord” (v. 22). In v. 23 he gives the ground: “Because the man is the head of the woman (κεφαλὴ τῆς γυναικὸς) as also Christ is head of the church…In v. 24 he turns to the church corporately, “but as the church submits to Christ, so also the women [submit] to their men in everything. v.25: “The men, love the women as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”

              Ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ ⸀Χριστοῦ, αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ⸆ ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ, ὅτι ἀνήρ ⸉ἐστιν κεφαλὴ⸊ τῆς γυναικὸς ὡς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, ⸀αὐτὸς σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος· ἀλλʼ ὡς ἡ ἐκκλησία ὑποτάσσεται τῷ Χριστῷ, οὕτως καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἐν παντί.
               Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας⸆, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς,

              There is mutuality here but not of the sort typically asserted by the egalitarians. The mutuality is Christ and his church but there is a divinely established order in that mutuality and it is not egalitarian.

              On Paul’s relations to the prevailing Greco-Roman culture see:

              S. M. Baugh, “A Foreign World: Ephesus in the First Century” (2016)

              See also:

              S. M. Baugh, “The Apostle Among the Amazons” (1994), his reply to the Kroeger thesis.

              I wish that you would distinguish clearly between patriarchy and the complementarian view (at least as I’ve tried to rescue it). I’m happy to use another word but I can’t think of one that does as well.

              I also wish you would not be so skeptical about the ability of Christians to interpret Scripture. There are challenges but I’ve given you two reasonably detailed interpretations of two different passages and a bevy of supporting documentation (see the resources on women in the church). These may not be perfect interpretations in every regard but they are reasoned and grounded in the text and in the original context.

              Skepticism about interpreting Scripture (“Oh who really knows?”) is not a virtue for us Christians because Scripture is intentionally clear enough to be interpreted when we are careful about it.

  14. Susan, God gave gifts to women, as well as to men.
    He gave burdens to women, as well as to men.
    Stepping outside of your lane, in God’s economy, will do you no good.
    Don’t be Eve, as in listening to: “Has God really said…”.

    • Yes, God freely gives gifts and burdens to both men and women as he sees fit.

      Can you explain what you mean by stepping outside my lane?

      I have the freedom in Christ to find out what God truly meant. Just because the snake used that phrase does not make it a sin to delve into finding out what Paul truly meant when he stated something—i have heard that phrase used to shut down a conversation and basically accuse the person of doing what the devil did. It is not the same. The snake had an evil agenda to trip up eve and foul up creation. That is not my intent.

      My intent is to share what God has shown me about His will for christians. And it looks nothing like what we have been told.

      • Susan,

        Quickly, when you say “God has shown men” this seems like an opportunity for you to demonstrate, by a close and careful explanation of some passages of Scripture, which I’ve done done twice now in our discussion, how that is.

  15. you stated “In my experience, the egalitarians tend to ignore nature and focus entirely on grace and thus tend to wipe out distinctions and order between the sexes in the church.”

    I thought the bible was all about grace— God sending Jesus to do something none of us can do. And with that grace we are created to do good works regardless of gender. As far as nature, yes the genders are different and over history it was the stronger men who defended the home and herds while the women raised the kids. That is historical fact and common world wide today. But spiritually, women are just as strong and capable.

    And the order of the sexes is a misnomer. Yes Adam was created first but that does not make him higher in hierarchy. It is just a recorded fact….The bible is full of second-borns or those lower in hierarchy becoming leaders. Joseph, David were not first born.

    Forget that Marg Mowzcko is an egalitarian— that term through christian media comes with a bad connotation. The tradtional church thinks that means that women will rise to total power over men as they get the word mixed up with secular feminism. Not so, just that women will be allowed to be whatever God calls them to be and not just what women are traditionally taught to be (wife, mother, homebody)—though most women will be in that role, it should not keep them from expanding their knowledge or having a career. –or that for a woman to answer the call of God that she has to have her husband’s or pastor’s permission or is highly discouraged.

    Please check out her site. Since you know bible languages you would have more of an understanding of what her research shows than I would. she goes deep into historical context surrounding the atmosphere in which Paul wrote those nit-picky verses.

    p.s. thanks for letting me express my views. There are those extremist patriarchal sites that call names and block me for not agreeing with them, especially when they find out I am female.

    • Susan,

      I’m really swamped with work so I must be brief.

      1. No, the Bible is not all about grace. It is also about nature. After all, it begins with creation, i.e., to say nature. Certainly grace is a great theme in Scripture but the mainstream Christian traditions, including my own (the Reformed) have always recognized that Scripture speaks to both nature and grace. Go look at Romans 1-2 and see how often and freely Paul appeals to “nature.” These category has been lost to many in the Modern period for a variety of reasons. In Anabaptist theology and piety, as in much modern evangelical and liberal theology, grace wipes out nature. This is also been true in the neo-Kuyperian tradition (aka neo-Calvinist) from the early 20th century forward.

      On this category see:

      Resources On The Nature/Grace And Sacred/Secular Distinctions

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