Women leading in church

Guest Columnist

Scripture supports women leading services, church


One of the biggest controversies of our day is the conversation about women acting in church leadership and as ordained ministers.

In many traditions across Christianity, women are barred from leadership and cannot be anything in the church other than a financial assistant, or a children’s pastor at best.

Church leaders often try and pinhole the role of women to jobs that are behind the scenes, or that have to do with young children because those are “women’s jobs.”

In reality, the men of the church who prevent women from entering into roles of leadership and influence are perpetuating the patriarchal dominance that has oppressed women from the beginning of time.

Often the men and women who think that the text of the bible says that women should be in more submissive roles aren’t aware that they are perpetuating a belief that Jesus didn’t preach.

The idea that women shouldn’t be in church leadership didn’t appear until several generations after Jesus.

Jesus came to set women free, to enable them to use their spiritual gifts and education to lead congregations of Jesus’ followers.

In Acts 18, Paul leaves Priscilla and Aquila in charge of the church in Ephesus.

Later in Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquila invite a preacher named Apollos over to their house and correct him on his theology so he can better understand who Jesus was.

It is important to note that throughout the Bible, husband or male names are presented first; however, in verse 26, Priscilla is named first.

This is evidence that at least one woman was apostolically ordained in the early church.

It was totally unconventional and radical that a woman would correct a man and that the man would actually listen, but here in the early Church, Priscilla corrects a preaching man about his theology.

Apollos listened to her without any questions and gained wisdom.

Apollos “greatly helped those who through grace had believed” becoming an even stronger preacher.

This was unheard of in the Greco-Roman world.

Why is there discrepancy between the early church’s view on women in leadership and the way churches view women in leadership now?

Why was it when Apollos was taught by Priscilla there was no arguments, but when women want to lead it becomes a furious debate?

The answers are not always obvious, but one thing to recognize is that Jesus liberated women in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

All your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.

The Spirit has been poured out and now it is time to stop oppressing the Spirit that moves so evidently in the lives of the women of our churches.

In a society where men are dominant, we need to follow the example of the early church and begin to make the ordination and empowerment of women the normative response of the church.

This column is composed by the Gender group in THEOLOGY 4100: Biblical Ethics: How Shall We Then Live?