Why do Christians talk so frequently about sexuality? There are many reasons but there are three primary ones I’d like to highlight:
1. Sexuality is essential to what it means to be human (aka mankind). Therefore, it must be repeatedly addressed as we seek to live out God’s design faithfully.
2. Sexuality plays a central role in the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration storyline of Scripture. Therefore, it is a common and unavoidable theme of Scripture.
3. Sexuality is at the center of the current age’s attack on biblical doctrine. Therefore, it is the duty of pastors to frequently teach on the subject so that the individual Christian is well-equipped to face the particular challenges of our day.
With this in mind, I am revisiting this subject because there is an increasing push to ordain women to the office of deacon, and it is clear that this is a strategic step towards the ordination of women to the office of elder. This move is against the clear teaching of Scripture.
A Survey of the Evidence from Scripture
1. All the key leaders in Scripture are men. All the patriarchs are men. All the kings were men. All the main prophets were men. There are a few exceptional cases, namely Deborah (Judges 4). However, exceptions are never grounds for normative principles.
2. The Messiah is a man and will forever be one. There is no god the daughter. This isn’t incidental. The Messiah had to be a man to fulfill prophecy and be a new federal head (Rom. 5).
3. Jesus only called men to be His apostles:
“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matthew 10:2-4).
It is often claimed that Christ only did this to accommodate the culture of the time. There are two problems with this claim.
First, if patriarchy is sinful as egalitarianism claims, accommodating a patriarchal culture is accommodating sin. Christ does not accommodate sin.
Second, Christ has no issues with going against the prevailing culture. He touches lepers, talks to Samaritan women, eats with tax collectors, and allows His disciples to pluck wheat on the Sabbath. Christ confronts culture when it is at odds with the truth of God’s Word.
4. Only male followers were considered as a replacement for Judas.
“Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they put forward two men…” (Acts 1:21-23).
5. The requirements for the office of elder clearly assume that all candidates are men.
“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do… An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” (1 Timothy 3:1-2).
“…appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife…” (Titus 1:5).
6. Women are clearly forbidden from exercising authority over men (note: men, as in adult males) in 1 Timothy 2:11-14.
You couldn’t ask for a clearer statement regarding whether or not women can hold ordained offices in the church. This passage teaches that women should be submissive learners and not teach or exercise authority over men (v. 11-12). The basis of Paul’s teaching is founded in the nature of creation and not in cultural circumstances (v. 13-15).
Overcoming a Few Common Objections
What about Galatians 3:28? It isn’t about obliterating distinctions but speaks to the fact that the gospel comes to all types of people regardless of their various stations in life.
What about Phoebe in Romans 16:1? She isn’t a deacon. She is a servant. No one is denying that women can serve the church in various informal and formal ways (Titus 2, 1 Tim 5).
What about Junia in Roman 16:7? She may be a man, but I think Junia is a woman. So, what do we do about where it says she “[is] outstanding among the apostles?” Nothing. The ESV gives a better translation: she “[is] well known to the apostles.” It simply means that she had a good testimony among the apostles.
Why does this matter so much? Because egalitarianism is an attack on the truthfulness and goodness of biblical doctrine. Rebellion against Scripture never stops with one compromise.