Female Subordination Challenge -- By: Gilbert Bilezikian

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 17:3 (Summer 2003)
Article: Female Subordination Challenge
Author: Gilbert Bilezikian


Female Subordination Challenge

Proponents Of Female Subordination Are Asked To Prove Their Case From The Bible

Gilbert Bilezikian

Gilbert Bilezikian is professor emeritus of biblical studies at Wheaton College (IL) and cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. He is the author of many books including Beyond Sex Roles and Community 101. This article is on CBE’s Web site: www.cbeinternational.org.

Presented here is the eighth of ten challenges being presented in Priscilla Papers to prompt Christians to grapple with biblical facts rather than accepting without question traditional assumptions about female roles and blindly following institutionalized misreadings of Scripture.

Challenge #8

Cite a biblical text that exclusively disqualifies women from exercising church leadership ministries.

The facts

The one passage that is ultimately adduced to claim that the New Testament prohibits women to teach or to have authority over men is found in 1 Tim. 2:11-15. However, 1 Timothy and Titus impose similarly restrictive leadership and ministry prohibitions on men. According to 1 Timothy, a man’s family status provides the indispensable credential for his ability to lead the church (3:4-5, 12). The only men who may aspire to positions of church leadership, which include the ministries of teaching and managing the affairs of the church, must be married, “husbands of one wife,” and have children who are submissive and respectful, and believers in Christ (Titus 1:6).

Such requirements disqualify from service not only women, but also all men who are single; all men married but childless; all men married but who have only one child; all men married but who have children too young to profess faith; all men married but who have one unbelieving child or children; all men married and whose children are believers but not submissive; all men married and whose children are believers and submissive but not respectful.

These exceptionally harsh and restrictive requirements are all the more amazing since the New Testament favors singleness for both men and women, stating it as a preferred status for carrying out ministry (Matt. 19:11-12, 1 Cor. 7:25-35). Furthermore, the New Testament emphatically requires the total utilization of all available spiritual gifts in the ministries of the church, regardless of marital status or gender (1 Cor. 12:7,

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