There are people who insist women can’t be pastors, preachers and church leaders, claiming that the Bible forbids it. They set this up as a rule which cannot be violated.
Another word for a rule that can’t be violated is law.
When it comes to laws, though, life under the New Covenant requires they be measured against God himself. If they don’t measure up, they aren’t God’s laws. And if they aren’t God’s laws, they must belong to someone who isn’t God. You are not required to follow anyone else’s rules.
So how does a woman know that a call to being a pastor or preacher falls within the rules?
Jesus told us the one rule that encompasses all:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31.)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12.)
Jesus even called this a new command, and his friends and family reiterated it.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35.)
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. (James 2:8.)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8.)
Yet there are still some today who would say that a woman cannot preach or be a pastor because it’s somehow against God’s law.
Getting it right is better than getting it wrong
The way to decide whether a woman’s call to preach or be a pastor is from God isn’t by comparing 1 Timothy 2:12 with 1 Corinthians 14:39 and try to decide if one is a universal bar for all time while the other has limited application that must fall outside the preaching ministry. No matter how many other passages you study that support one conclusion or the other, testing it like that leads to a false analysis and unhelpful conclusions.
That’s because the test of your calling is how it lines up with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23.)
That last sentence is telling. If the Spirit produces fruit in you – that is, if your preaching or pastoral ministry or church leadership is typically filled with love, joy, peace, and the rest – there is no law against your ministry. That bears repeating.
There is no law against a ministry that exhibits the fruit of the Spirit.
A set of rules structured on 1 Timothy 2:12 to forbid women access to the role of preacher, pastor, or elder is a law. That law has no place. A set of rules that insist anyone who likes can be a preacher based on 1 Corinthians 14:39 is likewise void.
Your ministry – no matter what it may be – has one test to pass and one only. Does it display the fruit of the Spirit? If so, there is no law that says you can’t pursue it.
Giving you that ministry is one way God shows how much he loves you. Serving him in that ministry is one way you can show how much you love God.
There’s no law against love.
*There are some who might be offended by that picture of Bishop McKenzie in the pulpit and will choose not to read the rest of this post, missing that the point is there is no law against any ministry for women (or men) that bears the fruit of the Spirit. I did not add the photo to offend those people; I added it as an example of what a woman serving God in pulpit ministry looks like.