Women Want A Place in the Hierarchy of the Church.

Several thought-provoking statements in this 60 Minutes piece. One that sticks out in my mind is that “women want a place in the hierarchy of the church, and a seat at the table.”  One more time folks… there is no hierarchy in the church. Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42, 1 Peter 5:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, etc.

Topple the hierarchy, and I believe the displacement of women soon follow. Making a hierarchy “all-inclusive” only serves to strengthen the pyramid scheme that Jesus didn’t want in the first place.  It’s a modern-day Tower of Babel that will only foster further separation between the artificially created “clergy class,” and “the laity.”


Before my evangelical friends dismiss this entire argument because the piece deals primarily with the Roman Catholic Church, ask yourselves if you’re guilty of the same.  We need to stop asking questions like “should women be behind the pulpit?” and start asking “Should there should be pulpits at all?”  

What do you think? 



0 thoughts on “Women Want A Place in the Hierarchy of the Church.

  1. Marshall says:

    Twin errors: hierarchy, and the failure of men to be leading in the Spirit of Christ.

    Where women are compelled to be leading, men are found to be negligent of Christ.

  2. Carlos says:

    Feeling compelled to lead because of a lack of leadership in the men is one of the poorest excuses for ignoring Gods blueprint for how men and women are to function in the Body among the many I hear.

    If men don’t lead then I say let the church be leaderless for a while.

    Until the Lord prompts some or many of the men to lead out in service to others.

    To say otherwise is like saying that if a husband is not being a good husband that the wife has every right to exert herself, usurp the mans role, and well…become the husband.


    • Marshall says:

      Carlos, it’s more of divine order than “blueprint” that Christ should be the Head of a man; and the head of a woman is man. Recall Deborah, who was reluctant to lead until the man (Barak) simply wasn’t. If a man/husband is dead (or, as good as dead by neglecting to be leading), it is by the compassion & design of God that a woman will soon enough endeavor to lead the children. Such a woman is attempting to bridge (rather than usurp) a function of the man. When large numbers of men are failing to lead, a movement soon develops of/for women to be leading. Forming a movement or rebelling is without excuse, while leading beneath the incapacity of your leader is for that woman or child commendable.

      • Carlos says:

        Hi Miguel,

        Reading over your post again I am of the belief that the deeper question you ask, as to whether there should be a pulpit at all, is an important question and one well worth seeking the Lord on.

        So very much of the “Christian” world gets it so wrong in so many things it seems to me. We ignore whole swaths of what is in the Word and then rationalize our ungodly practice with all kinds of reasoning that is extra-biblical and which really amounts to nothing but conjecture, assumption, theory, and the like.

        I used to think that all I had to do was simply express the truth, help others understand it and see it in the Word, and that in an instant people would simply embrace a true interpretation of what is written. Not that I am infallible by any means but I am willing to acknowledge and embrace what is written no matter what.

        When I posted my initial response I felt a prompting from the Lord to not get into it here but I…well…ignored that prompting and proceeded anyway. It’s been my experience that most Christians really are not interested in the truth in this issue and that discussing it with them does little good. It just stirs up hurt feelings and bad reactions. Not that there is not a place within the dialog among Christians about the role of women in the church but rather that there are more fundamental issues at work that must be dealt with before truth in this area can be readily embraced. Such as what surrender to the Lord is all about. Whether one truly is surrendered to the will of God – whatever the implications of that will are. How to properly interpret that Word. And other such things.

        But…now that I have opened my mouth (so to speak) the Lord seems to be saying to me that I am now stuck having to continue the conversation which is only fair. I mean I can indeed ignore this post and say nothing else but I do not believe the Lord would want me to simply barge in, spout out some truth, and then disappear.

        With that in mind I would like to address some of what was raised subsequent to my comment.

        @Marshall…the example of Deborah is indeed interesting but needless to say we should not use that example to completely discount New Testament teaching on this subject and assume certain things to be okay (such as women leading in the church) anymore than the church should go around anointing a King like David over us all. What happened with Deborah happened under the Old Covenant and is not necessarily indicative of it being okay by God that women lead when men fail to do so or don’t want to under the New Covenant.

        I think you are right in calling the biblical instruction a divine order rather than a divine blueprint. At least a divine order reflects the biblical truth better I think. But…as you state yourself it IS an order.

        Christ over the man. Man over the woman.

        Nowhere in the New Testament is there ANY liberty whatsoever to turn the order upside down for whatever reason and make it…Christ over the woman (when the man is not acting as head) and woman over the man (in practical leadership – again when the man is not acting as a proper head).

        Christ is over the man. Man over the woman (as head). That IS the order that God ordains (for whatever reason – the reason really doesn’t matter).

        If man chooses to not lead in love properly that just makes him a bad head. A bad representation of Christ as head over man and over the church. But that does not mean God would have a woman replace the man under His direct headship and set the man aside until he gets his act together.

        Likewise the Word talks of an elder being a man (unless one can show me how it is that a woman can be the husband of one woman in line with one of the qualifications for being an elder). If there are no qualified men to be appointed elders (Pastors for those of you that like speaking in Latin :)) there is absolutely no liberty to appoint a woman as an elder until and if men are raised up by the Holy Spirit to oversee a church body.

        Churches are to remain without elders until such men are raised up to qualify as elders (if anyone thinks such is simply not possible I will gladly provide Scriptural support for their being churches with no elders whatever for a time).

        Leading children is not the same as leading the family as a man is called to do. Leading children is well within the purview of a woman and what God calls her to do. It will be difficult without the leading overall of a godly husband but certainly a woman is to lead the children as best she can and according to God’s grace operating in her whether her husband acts as a godly leader or not. Nothing wrong with that at all and you are right in saying that there is no usurption or rebellion in doing so. For that matter there is no bridging anything either. By leading the children regardless of what the man does…a woman is doing what God wills for her to do.

        There are lots of situations where leaders do not act in a godly manner and are not leading as God desires. But God’s Word does not give any of us (whether men or women) the right under such circumstances to simply start doing what the leader is supposed to do in their place. Rather the godly thing to do is to wait on God to work on the leader and bring them to repentance (see 1 Peter 3:1-6) though sometimes that simply will not happen and we will suffer (though we will also be pleasing to God by bearing up under such suffering).

        One last thing regarding what you said Marshall…while it may seem to make logical sense to have a movement of women rise up to lead where the men fail to such a movement would be the absolute worse thing for the health of the church. For men being what they are in their flesh will have a tendency to sit back and do even less. The men will never rise up to be what God calls them to be under that kind of scenario!

        It is under the crucible of being given responsibility for leading the family and the church that God produces godly men who rise up to be the kind of servant and godly leaders God means for men to be.

        The responsibility is theirs. If they do not take up that responsibility then their families and the church will suffer until men stop goofing off and doing what feels good to do what is responsible and right by God.

        You won’t produce such men by stepping in to alleviate the suffering that will naturally occur when men take a back seat and let things happen as they happen. Put a woman in place of the man to lead and most men will simply let the woman lead allowing them to continue in their selfishness since…well…someone else is stepping up to the plate to do what they ought to do themselves.

        @Kathleen…that all believers are commissioned to declare the Kingdom to others is a given. That has nothing to do with leading however. At least not in the sense we are talking about. By declaring the Kingdom I mean sharing the Gospel with others, praying for others, loving others according to their needs, and so on. Perhaps you mean something different. I don’t know.

        Likewise grabbing the wheel from your husband who falls asleep at the wheel is likewise not a matter of leading. Spiritually leading I mean. If your husband falls asleep that way by all means…grab that wheel!! Nothing wrong or ungodly about that at all! But that’s not the same as spiritually leading a family or a church though I suppose one could say that such a man failed to lead as he ought to have led in that he should not have allowed himself to get into a situation where he endangered the life of his family by not getting enough sleep. Still..that’s just practical reality. You grab the wheel, you step in to safeguard your family. That’s just natural and not becoming the leader of your family or the church overall.

        The bottom line is that we must all be surrendered to the expressed will of God in the Word. Whatever the consequences of that for our lives is. Are we willing? 99% of the time or even more that seems to be the problem. We don’t want to do something and so we come up with all kinds of rationalizations to negate what the Word says so clearly.

        Anyway just some further thoughts for what they are worth.


        • Marshall says:

          Carlos, as with judge Deborah, dropping out from our Father’s order of things does have its consequence; breaking His order for us, like defying gravity, will have its result. And, by His design, a necessary result. Try and make a general rule about women not leading (there is no such rule from the New Testament, only poor English translation work to make it seem so), yet women will still at critical moments be moved to jump in (as like Deborah with Barak). It’s not that it is “OK” or “NOT OKAY” for a woman to do such, but rather that it will not function for a woman to be leading where men ought. Similarly, if you “turn the order upside down”, it just won’t work. And this does become the point: these things occur for our instruction. The hand of our Father permits many things to transpire for sake of our instruction/reminder.

          The order of Christ as Head of His Body is essential to our life and in the ekklesia. Without Christ leading saints leading, the local ekklesia does not function. There is no placing things “on hold” until men can be awakened in some hopeful year. Here in the field, I will sometimes see one or more local expressions of ekklesia help another nearby that is lacking men who are yet able to be leading in the Spirit. Old doctrines of autonomy and sectarian frames are being broken away, that we might be aiding one another during a fruitful era of transition & transformation (for many) out of religious forms. Not to surprise, the women often are among the most grateful for such sincere & prudent assistance.

          Carlos, you write, “Leading children is well within the purview of a woman and what God calls her to do. It will be difficult without the leading overall of a godly husband but certainly a woman is to lead the children as best she can and according to God’s grace operating in her whether her husband acts as a godly leader or not.”

          Now inset this parallel observation within the reality for how the ekklesia is a woman/Bride made up of child-members; a Family. Although “leading children is well within her purview”, we ought not be asking her to do this alone — a woman having to care for the children alone would not be ideal in function. Even to considering these things should evoke compassion in us, along with holy desire to be effectual together in Christ.

          Carlos, you also write, “For men being what they are in their flesh will have a tendency to sit back and do even less. The men will never rise up to be what God calls them to be under that kind of scenario!”

          Indeed, if the men are still living a life for sake of their flesh, they will simply not be able to be leading as Jesus in leading. (Their flesh continues leading them!) But for men truly born anew in the Spirit, these will know their “responsibility” by the Spirit of God and will endeavor to accomplish all things in Christ regardless of how others around them may appear desperate or stumbling. Such men of God cannot be produced by our teaching or arrangement of things; they are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus.

          • Carlos says:

            You bring up some interesting points to ponder Marshall. Although I may come across as a know it all in this issue (something I sometimes fall into) I don’t know it all and still have much to learn.

            I do however want to stick to what is written in the plain face meaning of the words used in the Word.

            So between practical considerations and usefulness and what the Word says I will always side with what the Word says even if it seems…well…impractical and extreme, trusting the Lord to know what He is doing in what He may be asking us to do (where the Word is clear on something).

            I also feel a need to state without question that I value sisters in the Lord. A godly woman is an AWESOME thing to behold. She has characteristics and outlooks and a sensitivity in relationships that I cannot readily attain to as a man. I can learn much from godly women and I value them as such.

            So for the record, not that there is any kind of record here but in a manner of speaking…I am thankful for the Lord having seen fit to create women and for using them in my life. Life would be far less enjoyable and rather boring without them all praise to God! 🙂


        • Miguel says:

          One of the arguments used to say that women cannot be elders is that the qualifications for being an elder includes being the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:1). A woman cannot have a wife–therefore she cannot be an elder. However, one of the qualifications for deacons is that they, too, are to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:12). Follow the logic…

          Deacons have to be the husband of one wife, and we know that there are female deacons. Elders also have to the be the husband of one wife. Why should there not be female elders too? First Timothy 3:11 says, “let the wives (women) also be temperate… faithful.” This verse is often applied to female deacons.

          Why not to female elders too?

          • Carlos says:

            Hmm…that’s very interesting Miguel. I have never heard that one.

            I’ll have to pray and ask the Lord about this one. I’ll let you know if He gives me anything about it.


          • Marshall says:

            διακονος : deacon, male; a function (not an office or title)
            διακονον : deaconess, female; a function (not an office or title)

            διακονοι : deacons, male. [as from I Timothy 3:12]

            Attributes for deaconesses are not specifically addressed, such as they are for deacons.

            For functions, gender is significant.
            to note: distinctions of function do not impinge our equality in Christ.

          • Jim Wright says:

            Paul was an elder, according to his own self description, yet not married. How could he then qualify, not being the husband of one wife? I suspect this is more a prohibition on polygamists being elders than a statement about women or single men.

          • Marshall says:

            No qualifications from manuscripts of the Scriptures to be an elder, excepting that it is something imparted by time/age. Neither ought Paul’s descriptions for the attributes of effective overseers/bishops, shepherds, or servants/deacons, be rightly taken as “qualifications”. Neither are any of these to be an “office”, as purported by the King James and his team.

            There can be no doubt for how 1800 years of religious systems have worked with religious & political powers to have engineered much of English Bible translation and sectarian traditions. Early & true believers in Christ carried no concern for who was “qualified”, knowing that it is God who qualifies us. Rather, they had their eyes open by Him to know who was being empowered to the serving in Christ.

    • Sorry Carlos, but what is faulty is the definition of the word, lead. I am also sorry but all believers are commissioned to declare the Kingdom, not just men.

      If my husband fell asleep at the wheel and I saw that we were going to hit another car, I know that he would be very grateful that I grabbed the steering wheel and saved us both.

      Ephesians 5:21 says to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In the next verse (22) the word submit is not in the original scripture. The verse is to read, Wives to the husbands as to the Lord.

      Rather than giving a long treatise on “the Covering,” please see my husband’s book, Escaping Church where he describes what a true covering is.

      • Miguel says:


        It really doesn’t matter that the word “submit” is missing from Ephesians 5:22. That verse has no verb. When it uses the adverb “as” it points to the previous verse. Therefore, “submit” is implied.

        Regardless, it still doesn’t lend itself to a hierarchal structure.

  3. Frank Coleman says:

    Excellent observation. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  4. I am always saddened by the traditional view that women are to submit to men. The sense I have is that we are to submit to one another. In other words, we are always to place ourselves second by putting others first.

    As I understand it that is true for all believers whether we think in terms of male/female, slave/free, Jew/Gentile, young/old, rich/poor – make up your own.

    Let’s live and behave and speak in all things as Christ taught us and demonstrated. He came to serve, and lead by doing and dying to self, not to bring us into submission but to raise us up and bring us into the Father’s presence.

    My role as a man is to live and do and say according to Yahshua’s pattern which is love and acceptance and togetherness and grace and peace and fullness of joy. It’s not about rule or authority or power or structure or tradition or any of the ways of the world.

    Unless I come as a little child…

    • Marshall says:

      Chris, despite your sadness or the “traditional view” (however that may be defined), woman was created for man, and then also given a desire for him. She is man’s “glory” (she speaks well of him), and man is her source. For as long as any man may neglect this, the women around him are suffering by that man’s neglect or ignorance (whether consciously or subtly).
      We urge all men to gentleness and toward giving; to being the Lord’s source for woman and for child. In this, differences in function need never upset our equality in Christ.

  5. Carlos says:

    Hi Chris,

    I really did not want to respond to your comment but the the Lord won’t let me ignore it.

    You say “My role as a man is to live and do and say according to Yahshua’s pattern which is love and acceptance and togetherness and grace and peace and fullness of joy. It’s not about rule or authority or power or structure or tradition or any of the ways of the world.”.

    There is some truth in what you say Chris but if I may say so you completely miss God’s heart on this.

    Does God have rule, authority, and power? I sincerely hope you would say yes to that.

    You rightly point out that we should not exercise such things in a worldly way but to say, as you do, that there is no room for these things in your role as a man is to say that there is no room for Jesus to act in his capacity as Lord!!

    No room for authority at all!

    Was Jesus loving? Absolutely! But He also exercised authority in the relationships with others while He was here.

    It is no different in the relationship of a man with a woman. Don’t let the enemy deceive you.

    Stay balanced. Don’t strip Jesus of His right to exercise loving authority through the man to the woman and give in to the lies that God is all about lovey dovey and nothing else.


  6. Hi Marshall, Hi Carlos,

    Yes, all authority is held by the One. He is not called the Almighty for no reason! All authority and power is found in the Father, the Son and the Spirit. This is the authority of the One who created the universe – power indeed.

    Yet Jesus told his disciples ‘if you have seen me you have seen the Father’.

    And what did they actually see? They saw a man of humble background who used his authority to heal the sick, a suffering servant who would die for the unrighteous, a friend of sinners, a confounder of the religious, a person who turned everything on its head.

    So that is what the Father is like.

    And that is what we should be like. ‘Follow me.’ ‘Make disciples of all nations.’ ‘Take nothing with you.’ ‘Do not lord it over one another as the Pharisees do.’ ‘Yes, I am a king but my kingdom is not of this world.’

    Jesus himself treated women in ways that would have seemed outrageous to Jewish society 2000 years ago. Mary and Martha are a great example. Mary behaved as a disciple (a male role only in those days). She sat at his feet, the place of the disciple. Martha behaved as a woman should, cooking and serving food to the guests. But when Martha asked Jesus to tell Mary to help, he gave an unexpected answer.

    I am not suggesting there is no room for Jesus to act as Lord, rather I am saying that he does not choose to do so and expects us to follow him in this as in all things.

  7. Ben says:

    How would you handle Matthew 24:45 or the angels of the churches in Revelation given your view on heirachy? Just wondering…

    • Marshall says:

      “Who then is the faithful-believing and prudent/disposed servant whom the Lord stands-down to be attending His household; to be giving them nourishment in season?”

      Common English translation of Bibles has often imposed religious views of heirarchy upon the text.

  8. Ben says:

    Thanks for the literal translation Marshall, I appreciate it. I’m not sure if I really understand it though. What does it mean for this servant to have the Lord stand him down to be attending his household?

    • Marshall says:

      may we consider how the disciples of Jesus are called and set to work. The greatest becomes as a child and as the servant of servants; a downward move to lowliness. We have and now live in Christ, who empties Himself, taking the form of a slave (to the death).
      [Matthew 18 & 23; Philippians 2:7-8]

      We’re standing down (at His direct, from whatever our former position assumed) to be washing one another’s feet, and to many other things our King is doing. Simple servant acts, such as in reminding one another of the things He has taught & instructed His own.
      [II Peter 1:13; 3:1…]

      very much this “stands” in contrast to what women (or men) are about asserting themselves!

  9. ned says:

    i’m reminded the time when Jesus disciples asked for a place on the right and left of Jesus. His answer is the answer for us today, ‘be a servant, be a slave . . . . ” stop worrying about positions, whether men orwomen!

  10. Marshall says:

    this afternoon, quickly reviewing several months of visits to ekklesia across 5 US western states: for each city where women were inclined to be leading (whether quietly or openly), the men gathered alongside them were failing to be leading; men passive, even timid by way of immaturity.

    Via their default, men in places are presuming or pressuring women to be leading?

  11. Robert Griffing says:

    Marshall, You appear to be operating from a patriarchal/”complimentarian” paradigm, which brings the idea of “roles” to the biblical texts instead of drawing them from the text. We disagree. I suggest you take a look at Phillip B. Payne’s careful exegetical work on the subject, “Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters.” In short, there is another Evangelical view than the one you are advocating.

    I have to complain about what you are presenting as biblical translation. Please do your homework a bit more carefully in the future. The scholarship of the last 20-30 years has pretty much undermined a lot of earlier interpretations that we sometimes think are the only way to see things.

    To enumerate: 1. The smallest unit of meaning is rarely a single word, but rather a clause, sentence, or larger unit of discourse. Thus, good exegetical practice begins with discourse structure, then considers grammar, and FINALLY considers the lexical meaning of individual words. Your arguing meaning from the gender of words in 1 Timothy is simply not sound practice. Paul’s whole argument, and the reason why he made it, e.g. false teaching and the need to install new leaders, has to be considered as a whole. This also means that a good translation of the original text will express a cogent thought to hearers/readers in the new language.

    2. The understanding of an individual unit of meaning, however large or small, has to be based on what it meant to the original writers/hearers. Thus, the phrase “husband of one wife,” is actually “one-woman man,” an idiom which means the person is not a philanderer. Even the complimentarian gurus agree that this isn’t gender specific; it has to do with fidelity in marriage.

    3. Regarding gender in he language: a) Greek is a gendered language. One cannot therefore necessarily infer anything from the gender of a word, as in presbyter, deacon, etc. Furthermore, I know of no construction like our “his or her,” so the default “if any man” doesn’t only refer to males only.

    By the way, there is no such biblical word as “deaconess.” We westerners have derived that from the appropriate gendered and cased ending for a deacon who happens to be a woman. The example, I believe is Phoebe from Romans, a woman leader of the church in Cenchreae, who as a tradesperson was travelling to Rome, and who was the bearer of the letter to the Romans, also the person who could explain/what Paul meant if there were questions.

    I’ll leave it at that, although there are other areas to be considered as well.

  12. Marshall says:

    Robert, after a read of your objections, must wonder if next you may suggest men as well take up the giving birth of children?!

    No, the ekklesia Christ is still building will not be returning to the exegetical works of men.

    btw: “the need to install new leaders” actually arrives second century, in violation of the teaching of Christ ever since, and in every place where men/women exercise religious authority over people.

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