Role of Women in the Ministry of CBC
Elders Positional Statement
With the rising visibility of women in leadership roles in American society (political, corporate, education, etc.) we are challenged to clarify the biblical understanding of the roles that we believe women may fulfill in the ministry of Community Bible Church. We wish to be wise in avoiding two rather perilous extremes—acquiescing to the patterns of our culture promoting women to any and every position of ministry, and limiting women from having any significant input in the overall life and ministry of CBC.
We recognize that there has been a growing acceptance from churches in the West of providing women equal status with men in every area of leadership. The argument takes the position claiming the barriers that once separated men and women as a result of the curse have now been removed by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. There should be no restrictions in any of the roles based on gender.
Our goal, however, is not to be informed and guided by the dictates of an unbelieving world. As has been our practice, we believe that God’s instructions as found in the Bible gives clear direction for the specific roles/functions that men and women occupy in the life and ministry of His church. To the degree we follow those precepts and admonitions will determine our effectiveness and fruitfulness in this ministry.
The Biblical Teaching:
- Equal Status—Our concern is that there is a harmful misunderstanding between “status” and “role” when it comes to women in the weekly function of the church. We affirm wholeheartedly that women and men are equally image bearers of God our Creator. Genesis 1:26-27 declares, Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them. When it comes to status the Bible is quite clear, men and women are co-equals—both are equally image bearers of God, both are equally recipients of God’s redemptive work through Christ Galatians 3:18), both are equally empowered by the Holy Spirit with gifts that benefit and grow the church, Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12, 14). In terms of status, men and women are absolutely and fundamentally equals!
- Distinctive Created Order—This Genesis passage makes another declarative statement this time concerning the roles of men and women. A casual reader of the text may very well miss the point. Clarity is gained from the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy making unmistakably clear God’s intention in Genesis. 1 Timothy 2:13-14—For it was Adam who was created first, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression. God made Adam from the dust of the ground, while Eve was formed and fashioned out of the man (the rib from his side). We believe that God has a specific “created order” concerning the roles of men and women.
- Intentional Headship—We use the term “headship” to define this unique role that men assume. Headship finds expression throughout scripture beyond the created order:
- The God-head community finds Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all equally God, yet the Son submits to the Father and the Spirit to Christ
- The church submits to the headship of Christ in all things (Ephesians 5:24)
- Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her; wives are to submit to the headship role of their husbands (Ephesians 5:25-28).
- Servants are to submit to the headship of their masters (Colossians 3:22-23
- Subjects/citizens are to be subject to their governing authorities (Rom 13:1-2)
- Family order of children submitting to the headship of the Father and the nurturing of the mother (Colossians 3:20-21)
- Submission is NOT a male or female issue; in some relationship men are called to submit
- Submission is not meant to be demeaning, oppressive, passive, or stifling. Submission is not an open door for injustice or irresponsibility.
- The roles are never reversed! Christ doesn’t submit to the church, masters do not submit to their servants, parents do not submit to their children, etc.
It is extremely important to remember that in God’s design these relationships are intended to be complementary rather than competitive. As the work in unity the rest benefit. And in God’s design the one in authority bears greater responsibility and accountability before the Lord.
- Orderly Worship—Three specific instructions are given from Paul to Timothy that will keep order and produce fruit in the context of the church (1 Timothy 2:8-15). It is important to understand both the specific biblical instruction and the cultural expression in the Ephesian church specifically:
- First, men are commanded to pray (the biblical instruction), lifting up holy hands (cultural expression). Men should be noted for regular prayer that flows from a pure life, but bodily position is not mandated.
- Second, women are commanded to dress with modesty (biblical instruction), not braiding hair or wearing gold/pearls (cultural expression). The focus was clearly modesty of dress in a way that honored the Lord and didn’t detract from the worship. The instruction is clearly addressing inward beauty vs. outward appearances.
- Third, women are instructed to be submissive to their husbands and to the spiritual leadership of the church (the biblical instruction) learning in quietness and not teaching (cultural expression). The drastic change the church brought to society’s treatment of women in the first century warranted caution in women asserting their newfound freedom in a way that was not harmful to the church body
- We believe that Elders and Deacons at CBC be only men who meet the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-16.
- We believe that both men and women have been granted with gifts of the Spirit to serve the needs, interests, and mission of the church.
- We believe that women can be capable leaders, but must minister within the confines of Eldership oversight. In this way women are not usurping authority. But demonstrating active submission to it.
- We believe that there are some areas of service in the church that women have been excluded from that the Bible has not restricted to male headship. It is imperative that we seek scripture in understanding those matters that may benefit the church in greater ways.