What's Calvary's view of women in the pulpit?
An Article from Pastor Paul Boutan
A few weeks ago, in my “inbox” was a question regarding Beth Moore that I’m sure some of you have wrestled with lately. If you’re not aware, back on Mother’s Day of 2019, Beth Moore was the guest speaker at a Southern Baptist Church. The fact that she spoke to an audience made up of both men and women triggered a nation-wide firestorm. Traditionally, the Southern Baptist Convention that Moore was a member of (she recently left the SBC), holds to the view that women should not preach at church. Owen Strachan professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City MO, responded to Beth Moore’s Mother’s Day message by saying, “For a woman to teach and preach to adult men is to defy God’s Word and God’s design.” Josh Buice, pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Georgia posted a blog title “The SBC Should Say ‘No More To Beth Moore.” Perhaps the most inflammatory comments came from a well-known preacher outside the SBC named John MacArthur. MacArthur when asked about Moore said, “Go Home!” He then quickly added this comment, “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel, doesn’t mean you should be preaching.”
Due to all the controversy surrounding Beth Moore, someone in our church wanted to know what my opinion was and specifically what is Calvary Brighton’s view on women in the ministry?
The main Scripture that is quoted when looking at this subject is 1Tim 2:11-12 where the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy saying, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
Before we break down these verses, I need to throw a couple of Seminary terms at you. Those terms are “complementarianism” and “egalitarianism.” Let me give you a very simple layman’s definition of these terms. Complementarianism can be defined as “men and women were both created by God, in His image and thus they are equal in value, dignity and worth. But they have different or distinct roles to fulfill in their families and in their local church. However, men and women complement each other in their roles.” Egalitarianism is the view that “God created men and women in His image and therefore they are equal in value, dignity and worth. However, in regard to “roles” there is no distinction and women can fulfill any role that a man can.”
Having defined these terms, typically within the “tribe” of Calvary Chapel (meaning the almost 2,000 Calvary’s Internationally) we hold a complementarian view. However, within the Calvary movement there is a lot of variety regarding our view of complementarianism. Some would call themselves “hard” while others refer to themselves as “soft” complementarians. Those who hold the “hard” view would potentially go so far as to say that women cannot teach or for that matter “speak at all” in the church. This means, they are not allowed to make announcements, lead worship, lead a prayer let alone teach the Word. Those from the “soft”perspective would say that the only role they can clearly see in the Scriptures that a woman cannot fulfill is that of Senior Leadership (The Elder/Pastor, Senior Pastor, Lead Pastor or Co-Pastor). They would say that the role of being THE LEADER over the church is reserved for a man. But that a woman could pray, make announcements, lead various ministries (ladies ministries, children’s ministries, homeless ministries, outreach ministries, small groups, etc.) lead worship and yes even on occasion be the guest speaker on a Sunday morning. Personally, I hold a “soft” complementarian view as do a great number of other Calvary Chapels.
Now, let’s take a look at what Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Tim 2:11-12. We need to keep in mind that every passage has a context. In the context of Paul’s instruction about the roles of women in the church, we would do well to note that Paul earlier in verses 9 and 10 was telling Timothy that the women in Timothy’s church need dress modestly “with propriety and moderation…” (1Tim 2:9 NKJV). On heels of that statement Paul then says “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be in silence.” (1Tim 2:11-12). So, the context itself is implying that in this particular church pastored by Timothy there were certain women who had perhaps in the name of liberty had cast away “modesty, moderation and propriety.” At the very least it seems they were drawing attention to themselves. The original Greek implies that this particular group of women were actually being “unruly.” The word translated “silence” when it says “let a woman learn in silence” and later when it says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” is the Greek term Hēsychia which does NOT mean complete silence or NO talking. Rather it means “do not be unruly.” If the Apostle Paul actually intended that women shouldn’t utter a word in church and that their role in church is to be absolutely silent and say nothing, he would’ve used the Greek word sigaō, which means “be silent.” Therefore, it’s generally accepted that in the historical context of Timothy’s church there were a group of women who were trying to “usurp” the authority in the church and attempting to become the Lead Teachers or as we would say in our vernacular the “Senior Pastor” or “Lead Pastor” over the church. The issue in this context wasn’t guest speaking, the issue was a power grab. In fact, when the Apostle Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority...” The word authority is the Greek word authēntēō which literally means “to dominate or usurp authority over.” So literally Paul is saying “I do not permit, or I will not tolerate a woman trying to usurp the authority over a local church and try to make herself the Lead teacher.” Therefore, in light of understanding the context of this passage, I agree with the Apostle Paul, that the role of Senior Leadership over a local church is designated to be fulfilled by men that are called by God to that position.
Having said that, I see no clear mandates in the Scripture against women teaching both men and women. Therefore, I believe biblically women have the freedom to teach in small groups, teach children and youth, speak at a conference, or even as a guest speaker at a church service on a Sunday morning. They are only prohibited from being the Lead Pastor over a church or for that matter the primary teacher on a Sunday morning church service. We have several examples in the Bible of women being used to minister to men. In 2Chron 34:22-28 a woman named Huldah declared the word of the Lord to Josiah king of Judah. In Romans 16:1-2 the Apostle Paul allowed Phoebe to serve as a deacon. Likewise, the Apostle Paul says in Romans 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles” (NASB). That verse seems to imply that a woman name Junias may have been an apostle. Finally, Priscilla and her husband Aquila taught doctrine “they taught the way of God more accurately” to Apollos in Acts 18:24-26.
About five years ago, I allowed Sheri Crandall the Vice President of MOPS International (Mothers Of Preschoolers) to speak on Mother’s Day at our church during Sunday morning. Her message not only encouraged the mother’s and women in attendance that day, but many men were blessed by her message as well. However, allowing her to speak one time in no way abdicated my authority as the Lead Pastor over Calvary Brighton.
Regarding Beth Moore, to the best of my understanding Beth has no desire to be the Senior or Lead Pastor over a local church. Now it is true that she has spoken at churches on a Sunday morning as a guest and has spoken at conferences where men have been in attendance. Biblically, I see no problem with Beth Moore or speaking in those venues as long as she is not attempting to “usurp” the role of Senior Leadership over a church. Having said that, we do have a responsibility to be “Bereans” and test what she or any other teacher says (myself included) and make sure their teachings are biblical. To that point, while I do not agree with Beth Moore on everything, I feel that most of her teachings are biblical. In the past we have used her curriculum for Ladies Bible studies and will probably do so in the future (as long we feel that that particular series she’s teaching is biblical).
For more about Calvary Chapel’s position regarding Complementarianism you may want to read this article put out by Calvary Chapel Global Network at;