This week a video is running my circle on Facebook. This video is an interview of a young lady who is a “Preaching Intern” at a local church in Tennessee. I am not sharing her name or the church, but wanted to defend why I see what she and this congregation are doing is contrary to the Biblical principle that spiritual leadership is the heavy responsibility of males.
In the religious environment of the Twenty-first Century, this claim flies in the face of common post-modern feminist thought and propaganda. To claim male spiritual leadership in today’s Christian churches promotes a politically incorrect message. Modern movements and modern churches are allowing female spiritual leadership to make inroads and take hold as the normal operating procedure. Groups insist that women are to preach, serve as “pastors,” and minister in key ministerial roles including serving as youth ministers, children’s ministers, preaching ministers, education ministers, and any other role thought to be traditional male roles. This push for inclusion has not left those of the Restoration Movement untouched. I have personal experience in talking to a young lady on the phone that identified herself as the “Youth Minister” of the church of Christ I was calling. Why do some, including me, still claim that spiritual leadership is the responsibility of males? There is a basic reason to hold to male leadership that finds support in the context of Scripture.
The apostle Paul instructs the younger minister Timothy the principle of male spiritual leadership in 1 Timothy 2. Paul’s reasoning is not a hatred for or a low view of women, but the order of creation. Notice his supporting claim in 1 Tim 2:13, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” For Paul, and for his student Timothy this is evidence enough. The writer of Genesis 2 relates the events of this creation,
“ . . then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. . .Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen 2:7, 18-23)
God created Adam first. Adam is then the firstborn in the order of creation. From Scripture we learn that God places upon Adam, as the firstborn, the responsibility of spiritual leadership. Compare what Nehemiah 10:25-37 records concerning the firstborn son.
“We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor.”
The firstborn son belongs to God. After Ezra read the Law of God, the people responded by the promise recorded above. They made an obligation to dedicate their firstborn to God’s service. God had already provided a way for man to keep this promise and keep their firstborn at home. He provided the tribe of Levi to serve in the people’s place in the stead of every firstborn son (Cf. Numbers 18). Going back to the beginning, we see that God gives Adam – the firstborn – the command to tend the garden and not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when the creature made comparable to him – woman – comes into existence, Adam relays the commands of God to her (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1ff). Man from the beginning is to take the responsibility of spiritual leadership. Adam’s punishment resulted from his sin, not only in eating the fruit, but for not leading his wife spiritually, “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;” (Gen 3:17).
The simple application is: Spiritual leadership is the responsibility of men. Paul emphasizes this leadership role by comparing the church and Christ to the relationship of husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21-33. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church. Since Christ is the Savior (protector) of the Church, the husband is to protect his wife. Christ leads the church by sacrificial service; the same is so with husbands and wives. The husband leads not by a domineering hand, but by a sacrificial serving leadership. Paul lays the example before us and we are to follow. Men have the responsibility to sacrificially serve as spiritual leaders. Any other course runs counter-current to God’s way.