by Charles Henderson
Recently, one of my extended family members became angry with me, because I would not accept that in her church they had what I regarded a liberalized view of God’s Scripture, adjusted to accommodate today’s accepted social values.
She took offense at me insisting that women serving in the pulpit and in other similar leadership capacities, such as deacons, in any church, was contrary to Scripture.
In our conversation, she asked me, “Don’t you believe that there are women perfectly capable of leading a church?”
I replied that it did not matter what I thought, or what she thought. The Bible tells us that women cannot lead a church. It says so in several verses of Scripture, but most clearly in 1 Timothy 2:12.
We had a few other differences of opinion and faith, which did not help. She is a mainstream Protestant, going to a church that reads prayers from a book, sprinkles babies for baptism, and has no Invitation in their services. I am an evangelical Christian. We do not baptize babies. Baptism follows a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance of all sin of the former life, and commitment to a new life in Christ, striving to follow His righteousness–Born Again, per John 3:3, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Baptism for my faith is full emersion in the water, just as Christ was baptized, representing the death of the old life and resurrection of new life in Christ. We adhere to the Bible, chapter and verse. For me, the Bible is God’s Word. Written by 40 different authors over 1,500 years time, each of them directly inspired by God, the Bible is without contradiction. It has no flaw, no error nor any conflict or contradictions because it is from a single source–God. His Word is Holy, and no part of it can be added to or taken away.
More moderate faiths allow for adjustments of the Bible, and they regard the Bible as an historical book of laws, prophesies and histories, but not living. In my faith, I believe that as I read the Bible, I am indwelt with the Holy Spirit–God–who speaks to me as I read His Word.
I am heartsick because this family member won’t talk to me. I have begged her forgiveness for hurting her feelings. I certainly did not intend to insult her faith, and I am sorry for hurting her. However, I cannot compromise what I believe, and what God’s Scriptures say.
When Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:12, that women should not teach or have authority over men, he was writing what God instructed him. Today, such a statement is strong kindling. But it is Scripture.
Like I said, I am evangelical Christian. I stand firm in my faith. It comes straight from the Bible, not from some adjusted doctrines softened by mankind to conform to our social traditions.
Sunday, at my church, I heard a sermon that underscored my position. Our associate pastor preached about Standing the Line for Christ. As a Marine, I know what Standing the Line means. We do not compromise our faith. We adhere to God’s Word and His commands. The sermon came in part from the Book of Isaiah, chapter five.
Isaiah 5:20-24 (HCSB)
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are fearless at mixing beer,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of justice.
24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes straw and as dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will become like something rotten and their blossoms will blow away like dust, for they have rejected the instruction of the LORD of Hosts, and they have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Our associate pastor posed us a question: How do you respond when a person asks you about your opinion of gay marriage? It is a controversial topic today. While most Christians do not support it, society pressures us to compromise.
Quite simply, my opinion of marriage has to do with my Christian faith, and I believe quite strongly that no government has any business dictating laws that address these matters of faith. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman before God, a pledge made to each other and to God. I think government has no business even defining marriage at all. My definition of marriage comes from my faith in God and His definition of it in the Bible.
I will also reassure the person who asks me about my view of gay marriage and homosexuality that God loves all people, including gay people. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are human, born into sin and we sin almost every day of our lives. If we are saved, born again in Christ, we strive to live in His righteousness.
I live according to my faith in Christ. Far from perfect, I strive to live righteously in God’s eyes. I still sin and fall short of His glory, but I try my best to serve Him and live in His way. Gay marriage, homosexuality, just as it is with adultery or lying, or coveting are not in keeping with living righteously in God’s way, therefore, I cannot support it.
But there are churches that now support homosexuality, gay marriage and other popular political and social trends. They have gay clergy. They perform gay marriage. They also have women church leaders. This stands in direct contradiction with God’s Word. Churches are compromising their doctrines of faith to accommodate the traditions of society–striving to please the politically correct rather than complying with the commands of God.
In the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus confront the scribes and Pharisees, who had accosted Jesus and His disciples for defiling their traditions by not washing their hands before eating. Jesus was quite blunt with them for breaking God’s commands in favor of their manmade traditions.
Matthew 15:1-9 (HCSB)
1 Then Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked,
2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat!”
3 He answered them, “And why do you break God’s commandment because of your tradition?
4 For God said: Honor your father and your mother; and, The one who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.
5 But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever benefit you might have received from me is a gift committed to the temple “—
6 he does not have to honor his father.’ In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition.
7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:
8 These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”
Compromising our faith today, in favor of political correctness is no different.
When I object to a woman serving as pastor or “bishop” of my church, or a woman serving as a deacon, the stand I take is not one of bias against anyone, but of recognition of Scripture and living in faith with God’s Word. In 1 Timothy 2, verses 8 through 15, Scripture is unambiguous and very clear.
1 Timothy 2:8-15 (HCSB)
8 Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.
9 Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel,
10 but with good works, as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God.
11 A woman should learn in silence with full submission.
12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent.
13 For Adam was created first, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed.
15 But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.
Then in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 we read the qualifications of church leaders. The “overseer,” or the pastor, is to be the “husband of one wife.” Deacons should likewise be “husbands of one wife.”
1 Timothy 3:1-13 (HCSB)
1 This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.”
2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,
3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity.
5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?)
6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil.
7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.
8 Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money,
9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
10 And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons.
11 Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.
12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently.
13 For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
To cite 1 Timothy 2:12 today calls for arguments from many people. It will draw strong reactions from the politically correct.
Yet, the two books of Timothy are as much of the New Testament Scripture as Matthew or John, or any of the other epistles of Paul. Do we discount what Paul wrote to Timothy because we disagree, and believe that women can be pastors and deacons? God’s Word says, no.
Likewise, 1 Peter 3 addresses how husbands and wives should live. And tells wives to submit to their husbands, and that husbands should live with their wives with understanding and honor as coheirs of the grace of life. Is that wrong today too? A wife submitting to her husband is not popular in many marriages today.
I subscribe to following God’s Holy Scripture, period. If people disagree with me, so be it. I am assured of my belief with what Peter wrote of being an eyewitness of Christ. Peter knew Jesus, walked on the water with Jesus, and saw Jesus die on the cross and then live again. Jesus forgave Peter for his denying Christ three times during the trial of Jesus. He charged Peter, in John 21:15-19 to shepherd and feed His sheep, and to “Follow Me.” Peter saw Christ ascend into heaven, and heard the two angels say (Acts 1:11), “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven,” assuring us of Christ’s return in this same way. Thus I have no doubts, and I stubbornly adhere to the path of Christ shown to me by Scripture.
2 Peter 1:16-21 (HCSB)
16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
18 And we heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation,
21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
If we compromise our churches to accommodate the traditions of our society, are we now bowing to the false prophets and evil teachers that Peter warns us about in 2 Peter 2?
2 Peter 2:1-22 (HCSB)
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.
2 Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them.
3 They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.
4 For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment;
5 and if He didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly;
6 and if He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to ruin, making them an example to those who were going to be ungodly;
7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral
8 (for as he lived among them, that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
10 especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority. Bold, arrogant people! They do not tremble when they blaspheme the glorious ones;
11 however, angels, who are greater in might and power, do not bring a slanderous charge against them before the Lord.
12 But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed,
13 suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse!
15 They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness
16 but received a rebuke for his transgression: A donkey that could not talk spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s irrationality.
17 These people are springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them.
18 For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error.
19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.
20 For if, having escaped the world’s impurity through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in these things and defeated, the last state is worse for them than the first.
21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them.
22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, “a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud.”
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to us, assuring us of His promise. We must be watchful of the dogs who invade our churches, and must adhere to God’s own Scripture as our lamp. Hear the words of our Lord Jesus, and follow Him.
Revelation 22:12-17 (HCSB)
12 “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”
17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.
©Copyright 2013 Charles W. Henderson