Resources‎ > ‎Pastor's Blog‎ > ‎

The Role of Women in the Church: Two Views

posted Nov 4, 2014, 11:03 AM by First Baptist

Part 2


In Part 2 of this series, I’ll explain the complementarian view with respect to the role of women in the church.


I start with this view because complementarianism has been the predominant view of Christians throughout history. That doesn’t necessarily make it right, but given its widespread acceptance through the ages, by Christians across time & space, it should not be quickly or easily discarded.


Broad Overview of the Complementarian Position


1.      God created men & women equal in dignity, value, essence and nature, but has assigned them different roles. Specifically, the man was given the responsibility of loving authority over the woman, while the woman was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man.

2.      Sin disrupted the divine order. Since the Fall, women have exhibited a sinful tendency to usurp male authority, while men have exhibited a sinful tendency to rule harshly or abusively.

3.      God’s original order is affirmed in the New Testament and made possible through Christ. Christian men are called upon & empowered to exercise Christ-like leadership in both the home & church. In turn, Christian women are called upon & empowered to submit (yield) to this leadership as part of their overall submission to Christ.




Typically, in the complementarian church, only men may serve as pastor, elder, deacon or teacher of adult men. Some churches moderate that somewhat by limiting only the pastor & elder roles to men, insisting that all other roles in the church are subordinate.


Key Biblical Passages


1)      Genesis 2


At least 4 features of this chapter support the idea of male authority/leadership: (a) Adam created first; (b) God’s instructions given to Adam; (c) Eve created to be Adam’s helper; and (d) Adam names Eve (this last one being particularly significant).


2)      Ephesians 5:22-24


Paul compares male headship (authority) in the home to the headship of Christ over the Church. Complementarians thus argue that male headship in the home necessarily requires male headship in the church because the husband’s headship in the home would be undermined if he were subordinate to his wife in the church (i.e., under her spiritual authority).


3)      I Timothy 2:11-14


Paul explicitly prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men in the church. He cites Genesis 2 as the rationale, thus making the prohibition applicable to every culture in every age.


4)      I Corinthians 11:3-10


Paul re-states the divine order: “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Later in the chapter, Paul ties this to the fact that Adam was created first.


5)      I Peter 3:1-7


Peter commands Christian wives to be submissive to their husbands even when the husband is not a believer. The wife is referred to as “the weaker partner” and must be treated with special understanding and consideration.


Two Other Biblical Arguments


1)      Complementarians suggest that the divine order for the male/female relationship is analogous to & has its roots in the Trinity. They point out that the three persons of the Godhead are absolutely equal in essence, but have different roles or functions, with the Son clearly subordinate to the Father (and the Spirit subordinate to the Son).


2)      Finally, complementarians point out that Jesus selected 12 men as His disciples.


As mentioned, complementarianism has been the predominant view of Christians for most of the Church’s 2,000 year history. About 50 years ago, this view began to be challenged and another school-of-thought emerged called egalitarianism. We’ll take up this view next week.



Pastor Dan