Awhile back, the Gospel Coalition was a catalyst for disturbing my soul. They filled my newsfeed on Facebook with women preachers. There were numerous pictures of women preachers with quotes from them, and there were video clips from women preachers preaching. There were repeated questions from the organization, as to whether I had missed the women’s conference this week. The Gospel Coalition was flooding my world with women preachers preaching to me. What does the Bible have to say about this matter of women preachers?
The apostle Paul was very clear about this subject when the problem arose in the early church, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Tim 2:9–15).”
I remember back in my seminary days, the significant increase in the number of women onto the campus at Dallas Theological Seminary. There were some efforts to tame the critics who were aware of what was happening, but it was reasoned that these women leaders would lead the women and not men. This was attempted compliance to verse 12 above. The phrase, “over a man,” was the only prohibition. How they would lead through preaching and teaching, while being entirely submissive (v. 11) and remaining quiet (v. 12) is a curious feat.
Today, we have mega conferences with women preachers preaching to women, and a few big named male pastors to add legitimacy to the whole matter. What can be said about the gender conflict in the church in the 21st century? Are men still holding spiritual headship in the pastorate and the pulpit? It appears to me that feminism and evangelicalism are now friends. The battle is all but over and victory has been secured. Everyone should be happy, or he is a bigot, of course.
I have only sat through a couple of sermons by women in my lifetime. The one I remember was a conference for the Church of God in Christ. I was a new believer, and a friend invited a couple of us to the occasion. It was a special one-night event highlighted by a woman prophetess. I do not remember what was preached. The manner in which it was preached was animated, but what captured me more was the very large woman who seemed to step in my path at the exit, “Now that was very anointed preaching tonight, don’t you think?” I confess, I lied and said, “Yes, yes it was.” I was allowed to pass unscathed.
If women are prohibited to preach by God in the Bible, then you would only need to look at the big named women preachers to know something is amiss: Joyce Meyer; Beth Moore; and Paula White come to mind, but there are also the wives of mega church pastors, who have found themselves comfortable in the limelight, on the stage in front of mega audiences, including: Victoria Osteen ( wife of Joel Osteen) and Bobbie Houston (wife of Brian Houston). The daughters of famous preachers have also found themselves irresistibly drawn to the ministry of God’s Word, in the wake of their father’s fame, including: Priscilla Shirer (daughter of Tony Evans); Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham); and Bernice King (daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.).
I have sat through conference lectures and debates on the subject of women in ministry. I have read books on the subject. I have listened to egalitarians, who attempted to convince me at their propaganda stalls at seminars. I was even the interim pastor at a church with no men in leadership. I suppose you could view me as one who has been rather passive on this subject. So why did the Gospel Coalition’s bombarding my newsfeed with women preachers suddenly spark an interest for me to write my first contribution on this subject?
Simply put, I have no confidence in the future of the American church on its current trajectory. In other words, there is so much wrong, and we are heading in the wrong direction in so many areas (ie. prosperity gospel; mega churches; church growth movement; Liberalism; LGBTQ inclusion; women pastors; bizarre Pentecostalism; Christian psychology; Christian cults [ie. Jehovah’s Witnesses; Mormons; Seventh Day Adventists; Unitarian Universalists; etc.] social gospel; baptizing animals; and on and on…). All of it is sired by the father of confusion, Satan, our adversary.
Back in A.D. 2011, my wife and I were blessed by God to do an education tour of Turkiye. We visited the seven churches of Revelation and traveled in the footsteps of Paul around the Aegean Sea. Turkiye was beautiful. I loved it there, and we want to go back someday, Lord willing. The chilling truth of the void of Christianity in that place was sobering, however. The warnings to the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2–3 came alive for me on our trip. Our Lord Jesus Christ was serious about removing lampstands from rogue churches in geographical locations.
We were also blessed to live in Europe for four and a half years. I preached in many churches, and I read many books on church decline, some with sassy titles, like, “The Death of Christian Britain.” The talk of Islamization of Europe was around back in the early years of this century in Britain, but the events of the past year have convinced me Europe is flirting with a fall into Islamic control. Having a Muslim mayor of London, as a regular fixture, will surely be working toward that end.
The “Death of Christian America,” when it is written in the future, will surely have a chapter title: “The rise of women pastors” or “The women who preached to the American church and led her astray,” or “When the tattooed feminist lesbian pastors rose up,” or something catchy like that.
Some might object to my doom and gloom prediction, and it would be my preference to be wrong on this subject. Maybe the young Calvinists will plant enough seed for another Great Awakening to sweep through America, but I have my doubts. Do I have a “word” from the Lord on this matter? Has the Lord spoken audibly to me? No, I simply read my Bible and wonder why God’s wrath has not been unleashed upon the United States of America. He is slow to anger and slow to wrath, but He will recompense justly. I would argue the rise of women preachers is a discipline from our heavenly Father against the church. We have been unfaithful.
The slow death of Christianity in the Middle East and Europe, if not North Africa, is probably faster than we think. I suspect the death of Christianity in America will be very swift in comparison to the other locations. The writing is already on the wall. There are too many weeds in the garden, and there is not enough will for Reformation. With the 500-year celebration of the Protestant Reformation behind us (2017), we may wish to look at the means, methods, and moxie required for such a radical shift toward Reform. We need it, and we need it urgently.
As for the lesbians, the feminists, and the women preachers who have such an urge to take over the church, I suppose I can only wish them well. What they will secure in the process, in the end, will not be the church at all. The church is only found where the Holy Spirit is found. It was the Holy Spirit who gave us the Bible. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired Paul to write those words to Timothy. It is not the Holy Spirit compelling women to usurp the teaching and preaching from men in the Christian church.
The token men at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference are the same lineup at every conference. Some of them have even written books about women in ministry, in what appears to me to be an apparent contradiction. I will refrain from issuing a charge of hypocrisy because I am only writing as a result of my newsfeed buffet of women preachers. The debate is already well positioned. I am sure Piper, Carson, and Keller are simply trying to be diplomatic and accommodating.
Christian women who subject themselves to women preachers may wish to reconsider. It is not my opinion in this matter that holds any weight, but it is what the Bible says that we should submit to. The preachers at women’s conferences should be men of God, and maybe we should question the legitimacy of gender mega conferences in the process.
The advent of women preachers, evidently now acceptable in evangelicalism, is an aberration from the course of church history. Women, today, need to recognize this fact. It’s like when a member of a Dispensationalist church first learns that Dispensationalism is not the historical view of the church. It is an idea less than 200 years old. He must pause to consider what he has been taught and who has been teaching him. I had asked my 91 year old mother, before she died, if there were women preachers in the 1950’s. She knew of none. It is a new phenomenon, born of feminism.
A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness (1 Tim 9:11). Does this imperative exclude women preachers? One thing is for sure: it is impossible to quietly receive instruction when you are on the stage preaching.
One thing I learned from the men in the church I pastored, with only women leaders, is this: when the men will not lead, the women will gladly take control of the church. A couple years ago I popped in to visit that congregation on a day when it was having Bible study and prayer. The woman who led the group did a great job teaching us. The only problem was her disobedience to the Bible in doing so. I did not correct her and have often wondered if I should have said something. Paul wrote to Timothy at a later point, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).” If she was guilty of teaching me, then I was guilty for not correcting her.
In conclusion, I believe we should be irenic in this debate, but I must reiterate my warning that we are moving in the wrong direction on this subject. We will gain nothing by continuing down this path, and I wish to encourage the women in our churches to lead us in this aspect of Reformation. By refusing to attend a women’s conference, orchestrated to promote women preachers and women in ministry leadership will be a start.
The egalitarian spirit in evangelicalism will contribute to its demise, but the more pervasive and destructive it becomes, the more people will question the wide and easy way we have sojourned in permitting women to take headship over males in the church. This may be one catalyst for Reformation, and despite my skepticism regarding a turnaround, it is what I am calling for in my first contribution to the subject.
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 3, 2021