It’s amazing to me how after 37 years as a Christian and a decade and a half in full-time ministry I continue to encounter those who do not believe that women are called to teach or preach the Word of God in a church setting other than Sunday School Classes and Children’s Ministry. I remember sitting in a restaurant with another couple during one of our youth events and when the woman heard me say that I was a pastor she was appalled and said, “That’s apostasy!” I must admit her bold statement took me by surprise, but upon listening to her own personal stories I realized she too had a call, but was completely unaware of it. Sadly, she may never fulfill that call because of her wrong beliefs and incorrect interpretation of the scriptures.
Before I share with you a number of scriptures that prove mankind’s interpretation of the scriptures to be incorrect regarding women and their God given right to preach the gospel, allow me to share my story and how God called me to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and His amazing love:
My very first recollection of God taking an interest in me was at a very young age. I was approximately 8 years old. Every Sunday I would attend church with my Dad. It’s funny, I never remember thinking “Not today Dad, I want to sleep in”. I don’t think such a thought ever crossed my mind. In fact, I was excited and eager to go. I think some of it may have been because it was quality time with my father (my mother was not interested in church growing up). We sang together in the choir, which I loved. After we were finished singing all children were dismissed to their Sunday School classes. I remember my classroom as though it were yesterday. I also remember hearing and learning about Jesus and God’s love for us. One Sunday after church my parents were having an argument. I was so upset because this was the day that we would go and visit my uncles, aunts and cousins (a Sunday ritual). So while in my room I crouched down leaning my head against the dresser and whispered my very first prayer, “God, if you’re really real and you can hear me, I ask you to help my parents to stop arguing so that we can go to my Aunt Mary’s and Uncle Otto’s house.” I kid you not! Just minutes after my prayer, I heard a knock at my door and my Dad said, “Get ready, we’re going to Aunt Mary’s and Uncle Otto’s” WOW! Mind you, my mother and father could not hear my prayer for two reasons, one, they were at the far end of the house arguing and two, I was whispering to God. Needless to say, my faith in God as a young girl was ignited!
Years later I answered God’s call on my life. I was a young woman that was disillusioned by life, living it my way, which of course led me to make many heartbreaking choices that continued to leave a hole in my heart; an emptiness (read my blog “Girl Meets God”). After I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior I began attending a Christian church in my home town when I heard for the first time, a woman preacher. She was a former cocktail waitress in Vegas and had an amazing story of how the Lord revealed himself to her and how she came to follow him. The title of her message was, “Cocktails and Pulpits” her name is Sandy Brown. As I watched this woman and listened to what she was saying I was in awe. This spirited woman of God talked about Jesus like she “knew” him, and folks, I wanted to serve this loving and merciful God and his Son Jesus, and I wanted to “know” him the way Sandy described him to be. I was a Christian at the time but not fully committed to following the Lord. One evening while she was speaking she gave a compelling altar call for those who were looking to make things right and continue in their desire to follow Jesus, and during her altar call that day I popped out of my seat and walked to the front where she began to pray, and although I had done this before, I knew in my heart that this time was different, this time my life would forever change.
As God’s love began to compel me to leave my former lifestyle, I felt a compelling to answer the call of God on my life. While attending my new church I began to feel a strong desire to attend Bible school. Prior to this nudging, I was already been studying the scriptures,searching to know more about my God and what Jesus did for me. I noticed as I began to study, I would have inspired ideas for my first sermon. So much so I went to my pastor and said, “If you ever need someone to preach, I’m available!” When I shared this with my spiritual mother (I lived with a Christian family and they were what I would call my spiritual parents) she chuckled and said something like, “That’s not going to happen” and that’s when I knew then that If I was going to fulfill what God was calling me to do I would have to overcome all pessimism and man made doctrines that believe women are not permitted to preach.
Not long after my pastor invited me to preach my first message titled, “Power Over Darkness” that lasted approximately 15 minutes, which is quite long if you’ve never spoken publicly before. Years later I married my wonderful husband of 32 years . Together as a family we founded and pastor the first church in the history of Ponce Inlet, Florida: Ponce Church. in 2015 our oldest son launched and pastors our sister church Ormond Church, he and his wife are founders and Directors of the Legacy Housing Project for girls aging out of the foster care system.
As a woman of God I have preached the gospel of Jesus on the streets of Detroit, MI and Tulsa, OK. I’ve ministered to women’s groups, taught seminary classes. I’ve taught children and youth groups and headed up and taught special needs ministries for children. I have also preached to a number of congregations including Ponce Church and a church in Mexico that was founded and is pastored by a woman her name is Juanita. By his amazing Grace I have witnessed many people coming to Christ for the first time. Which now I would like to share with you what a man of God (minister) said about his wife when others came up to him disputing the fact that his wife was a teacher and preacher of the Bible, his reaction was this: “You know, when I look around and see the world dying and going to hell, I really don’t believe God cares very much who brings the saving message!”
THE FIRST WOMAN to PROCLAIM “PREACH” the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST: In fact, the scriptures reveal that it was a woman who was told to go and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ, her name was Mary Magdelene, “After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdelene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him they didn’t believe her….Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief, because they refused to believe those (Mary) who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.” Mark 16:9,14
Let’s take a brief look at the old testament and see what role woman played as prophetesses, judges and teachers of their generation.
It all began in Genesis chapter 1 verse 28, this passage of scripture says that “both male and female” were made in His image AND both Adam and Eve were given power and dominion. In Genesis 2:22 it says that “Eve” was “skillfully formed” and carefully made.
Hannah called her Lord as the “Anointed One” which is another word for Messiah (Jesus the Messiah) 1Samuel 2:35. Hannah was the first to utter the revelation of the Messiah.
In Genesis 21:12 Abraham and Sarah became a “team” of faith, “But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. ”
Deborah who was a singing prophetess saved her nation, “And her words carried a sting to Barak–urging him to fulfill his duty as the military leader of Israel” Judges 4:6
Huldah was another prophetess of the old testament. She was a teacher, she dwelt in a college in Jerusalem and was held in high esteem for her knowledge of God’s Word. 2Chron 34:22
Mary and Elizabeth’s Revelation from God (new testament): Centuries passed and God sent an Angel on a mission to a girl named Mary who was a virgin explaining to her that she would conceive and give birth to a son and would call him “Jesus” Luke 1:26-33 The Lord then revealed to Elizabeth who at the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her and “exclaimed” to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting,the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:42 Please understand that prior to Mary’s visit, Elizabeth did not know that Mary was carrying Jesus in her womb, it was not until Mary greeted Elizabeth did the Lord “reveal” to Elizabeth that Mary was with-child carrying the savior of the world within her.
Anna the Prophet: “Anna a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36
NEW TESTAMENT – Women called of God: “Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd…”In the last days” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon ALL people. Your sons and DAUGHTERS will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants–men and WOMEN alike–and THEY will prophesy…” Acts 2:17-18. Let me stop here for a moment. If the apostle Peter of whom is speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is saying “...Your sons and daughters (women) shall prophesy” and “In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants–men and WOMEN alike…and THEY will prophesy” then WHERE do you think such prophesies take place? Could it be at church?
WOMEN KEEP SILENT? – I know that most of you reading this have been waiting for my response to the one verse many use to try and keep women from speaking in the church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this particular verse taken from its context and literally shouted from the Rooftops of Religion for a very long time, and in my opinion too long! I must admit, as a woman pastor, whenever I have read this verse it always seemed out of place. In my spirit I have always felt that something about it was not quite right – especially when so many other verses (including those before and after this verse) reveal to us that women have been called to speak for God through teaching, preaching and prophesying.
I’m ecstatic to say that I FINALLY have a clear, concrete biblical answer to this verse! Just recently my husband had been reading the novel “Eve” by WM. Paul Young. One day after he came home from his studies he told me about what he had read by the author. I will share it with you exactly as my husband shared it with me: 1 Corinthians 14 –
26 Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you (brothers and sisters) meet together, one (of you my brothers and sisters) will sing, another ( brothers and sisters) will teach, another (brothers and sisters) will tell some special revelation God has given, one (of you my brothers and sisters) will speak in tongues, and another (brothers and sisters) will interpret what is said. But everything that is done (brothers and sisters) must strengthen all of you.
27 No more than two or three (brothers and sisters) should speak in tongues. They (brothers and sisters) must speak one at a time, and someone (brothers and sisters) must interpret what they say. 28 But if no one is present who can interpret, they (brothers and sisters) must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.
29 Let two or three people (brothers and sisters) prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. 30 But (brothers and sisters) if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. 31 In this way (brothers and sisters), all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.
32 Remember (brothers and sisters) that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people (brothers and sisters).
Now let’s finally take a look at the infamous verse that many use to try and keep God’s gifted women silent:
34 Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. 35 If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.
KEY POINT: In his book “Eve” the author tells us that Paul was using sarcasm because in V36 we will find that he corrected the Corinthian church for using the law to try and keep women silent – Keep in mind that the Law NEVER said for Women to keep Silent. (Make a note of this next time someone tries to discourage you with this verse.)
Also keep in mind that in verses 26 -33 Paul was addressing the Corinthians regarding church meetings and he spent a great amount of time teaching them “brothers and sisters” on how to use their gifts in the church – prophesying, teaching, tongues and interpretation of tongues etc. According to those verses it is quite clear that as Paul was addressing both the men and women and in my opinion he was not only correcting the Corinthian church, but was also encouraging the women that they no longer had to keep silent. According to the above context of scripture, Paul encouraged them to USE their vocal gifts in the church along with the men. He was telling them (and the men) they had a God given right to teach and prophesy – but to make sure that they use their vocal gifts in an orderly fashion.
The following verse (v36) you will find Paul correcting the church at Corinth for their misuse of the “law” – Let’s look and see what he says:
v36 KJV -” What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?” 36 (NLT) “Do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given?” Paul is saying – Did the word of God on this matter come unto you only?! Because we’ve not heard of this (We’re the pillars of the church and God has not said this to us). Paul knew the law never said that women were to keep silent! Let’s continue…
37 If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. (Paul is saying that everything he has been saying all throughout this chapter (aside from verse 34 which was his sarcasm of what they believed the word of God said regarding women speaking in the church) has been a command from the Lord himself – the command to make sure that the “brothers and sisters” use their vocal gifts at church meetings in an orderly fashion. He continues – 38 But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized. WOW!
39 So, my dear brothers and sisters (again Paul is back addressing BOTH the men and women), be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues.
40 But be sure (brothers and sisters) that everything is done properly and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:26-40
MORE SCRIPTURAL PROOF: “However, He gave each one of us (men and women) a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is what the scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights he led a crowd of captives and gave GIFTS to his people (men and women)… Now these are the GIFTS CHRIST GAVE TO THE CHURCH….” Let’s stop here a moment: Notice he did NOT say he gave gifts to men only, it says, he gave gifts to the church which is the Body of Christ (God’s people, men and women). Remember what it says in Acts 2, “…pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh…” Let’s continue, “…Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7-13 NLT
After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus EVERYTHING CHANGED! Because of Jesus we now live under a NEW covenant. We are now the body of Christ. ” There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28. It is no longer just priests and rabbi’s, God has poured out his Spirit on ALL flesh, male and female, sons and daughters. So according to the scriptures in Ephesians 4, God gave GIFTS to both men and women, his people, the church, therefore according to this scripture (and Acts 2) both men and women are called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
A WOMAN APOSTLE: As I have been preparing for my upcoming book to help women see that they have in fact been called to preach the gospel, I came across something quite monumental in the scriptures to prove the verse above regarding God giving gifts to both men and women. In reading, “Why Not Women” by Loren Cunningham (Founder of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and David Joel Hamilton (avid Bible scholars with many years of biblical study regarding God’s call on women to proclaim, teach and preach His gospel) they talk about Junias and the Apostle Paul’s recognition of her in the scriptures: “Junias was another woman leader named by Paul who said she was an Apostle. In Romans 16:7, Paul said, “Greet Andronicus and Junias my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles (emphasis added) and they were in Christ before I was.” Longtime family friend Dr. Gordon Fee has written what many Bible scholars consider the definitive work on 1 Corinthians. He’s a professor at Regent College in British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Fee and other scholars affirm that Junias was a woman and an apostle, just as Paul was a man and an apostle.” An excerpt from their book “Why Not Women?” (page 54) A must read!
FOR GODS GIFTS & CALL CAN NEVER BE WITHDRAWN: Women, if you believe God is calling you to teach or preach the Word of God and Gospel of Jesus Christ, do not allow any person, religion or denomination tell you otherwise. Take courage and answer God’s call on your life. When you step out in faith you will by his grace and Spirit touch the lives of those around you with the wonderful news of Jesus Christ. Take a moment and think of all the women ministers combined all around the world and how many lives they have reached with the saving message of Jesus Christ, all because they made the courageous decision to answer God’s call on their lives. (Romans 11:29 nlt)
From the article: “Women Like Me Are Abused Worldwide: Here’s Why” by Anne Graham Lotz:
Women called: If you are interested in yet another great article by Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the late Billy Graham, then I encourage you to read her view on the issue. She too has been mistreated by others for being a woman preacher for God. She has even experienced men turning their backs on her (literally) as she began to speak. It is quite a refreshing and encouraging article: “Women Like Me Are Abused Worldwide: Here’s Why” by Anne Graham Lotz:
“The solution to discrimination against women is to be like Jesus. And to be like Jesus, the sinful condition of the human heart has to be acknowledged and dealt with according to the way God has prescribed.” ”
“If you doubt that sin is the root of the discrimination of women, look at Jesus. He was raised in a religious culture where people were taught that women, at the very least, were much less then men. As a rabbi (as his disciples called him), he should have discriminated against women as every other man did. But there was a significant difference between Jesus and everyone else. He had no sin in his heart.”
As a result, we see him. . .
Honoring women as he did when Mary anointed him with oil during a dinner in Simon’s home,
Singling women out for praise as he did the widow who placed her “mite” in the temple treasury,
Caring for women as he did the desperately ill woman who reached out to touch the hem of his garment,
Protecting women as he did the one caught in adultery who was in danger of being stoned to death,
Giving women new purpose and elevated status as he did the ones who were the first to encounter him after his resurrection and were commissioned by him to go tell the men what they had seen and experienced.” by Anne Graham Lotz. Thank you Anne for such a wonderful article!
In the article, “The Propriety of Bible Women with Authority” – you will find that it contains more viable information that may be helpful.
I would also like to thank Marilyn Hickey an astounding woman of God for her perseverance and courage to obey God and the call on her life as a woman minister. I would also like to thank her for writing “Women of the Word” a short booklet filled with helpful scriptures regarding women in ministry and what God says about it. Thank you to her husband Wallace Hickey for writing the amazing “forward” in her booklet. You can purchase her booklet on her web-page and at Christian book stores.
“The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host:” Psalm 68:11 NASB