Should Women Be Allowed to Preach?

A few days ago I watched a sermon given by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill church in Seattle on Women and Marriage. For the most part I enjoyed the sermon and I felt like he had some decent things to say. At the end the pastor brought his wife up for a Q&A with the women at the church. The whole thing was pretty insightful until the very end when the pastor looked at his wife right before the closing prayer and said "Now, what you did this morning wasn't preaching was it?" and she replied in what sounded like a pretty canned answer "Nope. I'm just your helper."

I looked at my housemates (who were watching/listening along with me) and said, “That was weird and annoying…” and we exchanged a few words about how that was an odd note to end on and how we all believed that Women should be able to preach/teach at a corporate assembly and moved along.

However, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Inside my head I was tossing around questions “Why did he even have to say that? Did Mr. Driscoll have some sort agenda he was pushing? Why do some churches believe it is wrong for women to teach and preach?” Getting ready for bed my head fuming started to spill out to land on Josh’s ears. We kept going back and forth on why would people believe that way. The Lord used women in so many pivotal leadership roles throughout the bible and history beyond the bible. How could a handful of verses in the New Testament be taken so out of context to hold many women back from their calling for generations? About an hour later we finally fell asleep not really ever coming to a conclusion as to how such a thing could take place.

Over the next few days I kept thinking about the issue and I have formulated a few thoughts on the topic There are two verses in the new testament that fundamental Christians use to argue the point of women not being allowed to preach/teach at a regular body assembly, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15. I feel both of these verses need to be looked at within the context of the specific churches being dealt with at that time.

The church in Corinth had problems with women yelling out to their husbands during church and the specific language points more to it being a problem with one woman rather then covering all women for all time to remain silent in the church. If churches are going to look at 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 literally and out of context how to they explain 1 Corinthians 11:5 where Paul is encouraging women to pray and prophesy to the church. That is hardly being silent...

In Ephesus there was a Gnostic cult of the goddess Artemis, which was promoting the idea that in creation Eve had been the source of Adam. I think Messianic Rabbi Ed Rothma put it best when he said

"It seems as though Paul is addressing the cultural challenges that Timothy is facing by encouraging young women/widows to avoid the Gnostic cults and the temptations of the single life by refocusing on marriage and domestic responsibility. This does not mean that women are forbidden to do anything else or incapable of such, but these were the recommendations of a spirit-led apostle in resolving troublesome community issues of the ancient world” (for his entire article on the subject visit http://www.i-m-f.org/pdfs/Teachings/rabbirothman.pdf

If churches are going to look at 1 Timothy 2:11-15 out of historical context and interpret it literally for all of time then why don’t these same churches hold such a strict line on the surrounding verses. 1 Timothy 2:9 says that women should not wear gold, braid their hair, or have expensive clothing. I am willing to bet that several women in these churches do those exact things but are never called out on it.

Bottom line, if God has anointed someone to preach his Word and bring a message to a congregation, why does it matter if that person is a woman? I believe that the Lord can use ANYONE he wants to bring Truth to the world regardless of the flesh that they were placed in on planet earth. And these churches are holding women back under a spirit of law and they could be denying themselves a meaningful spirit filled message just because these verses were taken so out of context.


  1. Girl, I totally feel you on that sermon...LOVED the one on Men and Marriage, but there were several things that annoyed me about how he handled the Women and Marriage one. The conversation with Grace (his wife) was just a little demeaning...

    But I would point you to a debate regarding gender roles in the church Driscoll participated in at Seattle Pacific University (the podcast is free on iTunes). What he says there is tempered with a lot more humility than some of the things he said in the Women and Marriage sermon. I agree with his theological perspective of complementarianism-- the idea that women and men are equals but have been given different roles by God--but even so I think what you said about 1 Timothy 2 is very valid!


  2. I hope his wife gave him an earful later about that demeaning comment. Her phrasing at least (I'm JUST your helper) might demonstrate how much she values her perceived role.

    I appreciated this thoughtful post very much. It appears well-researched and analyzes both sides of the issue. Pleased to hear your thoughts.

  3. Hey, I just saw that you have new posts! I love reading them.

    I'm glad you have given this issue thought, because for one as gifted (as you are), it will undoubtedly come up several times during your life.

    Love you. Preach it.

  4. I disagree i believe women should not be able to speak out against men. But the can teach to kids or speak out to other women but never imfront of men. And 1 Corinthians 11:5 isnt encouraging women to prophesy but to cover her head as in wearing a vail.