In an article titled “God’s Girls,” Newsweek magazine reports that many major Christian Churches are behind the times in promoting women to the highest levels of denominational leadership.
Women make up 61 percent of all Americans who attend religious congregations, but they still struggle for their place in some denominations. A national study led by researchers at Hartford Seminary found that only 12 percent of the clergy in the 15 largest Protestant denominations are women. And some 112 million Americans belong to denominations that don’t ordain women at all, including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Jews (source).
Is Newsweek really suggesting that the high percentage of female church members ought to be the basis for a higher percentage of female church leaders? I know this is Newsweek magazine, and not a theological journal. But it seems to me that even the editors at Newsweek could discover the 2,000 year history of the church and the biblical and theological reasons that have formed the basis for its election of male leaders over the centuries.
The church is not ordered as a democracy that demands equal representation for all of its “constituencies.” Biblically speaking, God determines the characteristics of the church’s leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), and these are not up for debate. Moreover, God has set forth a principle of male headship in the church (1 Corinthians 11:3-16) and in the home (Ephesians 5:22-33) as a reflection of His own intra-Trinitarian glory. The implications of this clear New Testament teaching are such that the apostle Paul does not “permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” in the context of the church (1 Timothy 2:12).
What Newsweek fails to point out is that many churches have the leadership that they have not because they are backwards and obtuse, but because they are trying to be faithful to what the scriptures teach.