The Expository Files


 Women of the Cloth

2 Timothy 2:11-14


In 1853, the United Church of Christ ordained the first American woman to become a clergy-person. Her name was Antoinette Brown Blackwell.

In 1880, the Methodist Protestant Church ordained Anna Howard Shaw. Later, through a merger, that denomination would become the United Methodist Church.

The Bible says:
"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

In 1892, Anna Hanscombe was ordained by religious bodies that would eventually form the Church of the Nazarene.

In 1909 Anne Allebach was ordained as a Mennonite minister.

So, obviously there are ways around what the Scriptures teach for those who want it. There are some very ingenious ways of circumventing the plain intent of God's holy word, though one cannot be truly reverent and seek to do such.

Some will simply deny that the Scriptures are really the word of God (thus denying 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Others say that some Scriptures carry more weight than others. For example, the words of Jesus are said to be more authoritative that the words of His apostles (but this denies what Jesus Himself had said about the authority of His apostles (John 13:18-20; 14:25-26; Matthew 18:18). Or some will say that the teaching of Scripture in this regard is cultural in nature, meant only for the first century and not for disciples of all ages. As the role of women changed in society, so did their role in the church.

In 1914, the Assembly of God denomination is founded and immediately recognized women clergy.

In 1956 the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. ordained Margaret Towner.

Notice carefully the teachings of Scripture on this. Paul, by the inspiration of God's Spirit, not only instructed that a "woman not teach or exercise authority over a man", but also gave the reasons why this prohibitive commandment is given. It had nothing to do with culture. It had to do with two reasons and culture is not one of them. This commandment is given in Scripture because of the order of creation and because of the deception of Eve at the fall of man (see again 1 Timothy 2:11-14).

In 1964 Addie Davis became the first woman ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. In 2000, the Southern Baptist convention issued a statement that pastors must be men and that the church will no longer ordain women.

In 1974, Sandy Elsenberg Sasso became the first ordained Episcopalian minister.

In 1976 The Evangelical Covenant Church voted to allow women ministers, and ordained two in 1978.

Maybe it is time to have less reverence for what the culture and social mores and political correctness of man ordains, and more reverence for what the holy word of God says. We expect this kind of disrespect for the will of the Father from those in the world with no pretense of loyalty to God, but when religious leaders lack reverence for the commandment of God, it is time for people to show them the door. We will all one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and the words of His covenant will be the standard by which we will be judged. Many simply want to have their ears tickled. It will be good for us not to be so shallow (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 13.7; July 2006