Larry S. Buford (File photo)

I just read an article about the Southern Baptist Convention cutting ties with Saddleback Church, founded by now retired Pastor Rick Warren, for defending women in the role of church leaders, particularly as pastors.

This has been a long-standing controversial issue. There was a member in my own fellowship who had the same concern, so I had done some previous research on it. A lot of the controversy stems from Apostle Paul’s writings.

On the one hand Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Was he saying that only men can teach in the church? Paul had been admonishing some of the abhorrent behavior of the Corinthian church, and this statement could have been more from a carnal perspective than spiritual.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, they had become so contentious and divided; some were even boasting of their gift to speak in tongues as if it were a badge of honor that set them apart from those who did not have that particular gift. God gave certain gifts of the Holy Spirit to “some,” not all, according to 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.

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It would contradict what Paul writes in Romans 16:1-23 of the women who served with him as deacons, co-workers [pastors], and apostles – Phebe, Priscilla, Aquila, and Junia (an apostle whose gender was once questioned) – who served in equal capacities to the men.

Galatians 3:28 reads: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This negates hierarchy when it comes to spreading God’s word. Concerning His disciples, Jesus said, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40

So, on that premise – and this could be a stretch of my interpretation – in 1 Corinthians 14:36, Paul exclaims “What!” with an exclamation point in the amplified Bible; but in the King James Bible he says “What?” with a question mark. Let’s go with the question mark.

What is he questioning? Just before that it reads (with my brackets): “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. [Now you say] Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience (submissive) as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

Then Paul said, “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” In other words, “who died and made you boss?”

Again, I believe Paul is addressing women who engage in idle chit-chat, gossip, and disrespect for men in church, and has nothing to do with the inspired word of God.

Now, for distinction, some have offered that the title “pastor” is masculine, and “pastoress” is feminine. The choice is yours. Your thoughts?

Larry Buford is a contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon). Email: [email protected]