Resources‎ > ‎Pastor's Blog‎ > ‎

The Role of Women in the Church: Two Views

posted Nov 12, 2014, 10:17 AM by First Baptist

Part 3



In Part 3 of this series, we consider the other major school of thought called the egalitarian view.


The traditional view, called complementarianism (the subject of last weeks’ article), began to be challenged in the 19th century, leading to the emergence of egalitarianism as a rival view on the role of women in the church.


Broad Overview of the Egalitarian Position


1.      God created men & women equal in all respects, without distinction as to role or function.

2.      The Fall produced an illegitimate hierarchy in the relationship between men and women. Specifically, because of sin, women tend to have a disposition of subservience toward men, while men tend to have a disposition of supremacy toward women.

3.      In Christ, the false & sinful male/female hierarchy is abolished and full equality is restored.




Typically, in the egalitarian church, women may serve in any role for which they might otherwise be qualified, including senior pastor, elder, deacon, teacher of men, etc.


Key Biblical Passages


1)      Genesis 1:26-27


Both Adam & Eve are commanded to rule God’s creation, signifying equality of function or task, not merely equality of value or dignity.


2)      Galatians 3:28


This is the primary “proof-text” for the egalitarian view. It reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Egalitarians thus argue that one of God’s purposes in redemption is to abolish false and sinful distinctions that separate people into classes or a particular hierarchy. This verse is to be understood as a return to what God intended in creation.


3)      I Corinthians 12:7-11


In this passage, Paul tells of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, faith, healing, prophecy, etc. Nothing is said about limiting any of the gifts to one gender. Instead, the Spirit gives to each person “just as he determines.”



Critique of Complementarianism


The above three passages are the main Scriptural “drivers” of the egalitarian view. Proponents of egalitarianism also provide a critique of complementarianism.


1)      Genesis 2


Egalitarians argue that it makes no difference who was created first, and naming someone (Adam named Eve) doesn’t necessarily imply having authority over.


2)      Ephesians 5:22-25


This passage says that the husband is the “head” of the wife as Christ is “head” of the church. Egalitarians argue for a different meaning of the word “head” (Greek: kephale). In this context, they suggest the word means “source” (Eve came from Adam) not “authority over.”


3)      I Timothy 2:11-14


This passage is a focal point of the debate insofar as Paul specifically says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man;…” Egalitarians insist that this prohibition is not universal, but particular to Timothy’s church. When 1st Timothy was written, Timothy’s church (in Ephesus) was plagued by false teaching and the false teaching was coming primarily from women.


4)      Jesus’ choosing only men as disciples


In choosing only men, egalitarians argue that Jesus didn’t want to push things too far in terms of upsetting the status quo. The fact is women played significant roles in His earthly ministry, including being the first witnesses to His resurrection.


In next weeks’ article, we’ll draw some conclusions.


Pastor Dan