Joshua Saint Germain
December 4, 2018
Elisabeth von Uhl
If you subscribe to Abrahamic religious beliefs, then it should be common knowledge that female pastorship is not generally accepted due to biblical authority. However, I have seen a few churches within my neighborhood that have gone against the bible to allow Christian female pastors to preach sermons. I conducted a few interviews in the past with the pastors within my church on this topic of female pastorship, but I’m interested in the feedback of more pastors. Thus, I will propose a research to figure out the views and perceptions of Christian female pastors within my neighborhood of Canarsie, Brooklyn.
In the New Testament of the Bible there are two verses that are cited by Pastors when speaking against female clergy within the Church, 1 Corinthians 14: 34, 35 and 1 Timothy 2: 11-14, both written by the apostle Paul. In 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy, a former companion of Paul, in which Paul states that
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (New International Version 1 Tim 2.11, 14)
In 1 Corinthians, he informs the people of Corinth that “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Cor 14.34, 35). Through both of these verses it is made very clear that not only does the Bible oppose female educators and, by extension, female preachers. The Bible even goes as far as to say that women are not allowed to speak during church services and must be in full acceptance of these laws. According to Roger L. Dudley in How Seventh Day Adventist View Women Pastors, “Simply debating the issue and arguing Biblical “proof texts” have not been shown to bring about much attitude change on this issue. But actually experiencing the ministry of effective women pastors does tend to create more positive perceptions” (Lehman 139). On the other hand, it seems that biblical context is ignored by some Christian scholars who may believe that the lack of women in positions of clergy is an unjust phenomena that is based from misogyny and ethnic gender dynamics.
In Edward C Lehman Jr.’s article entitled Correlates of Lay Perceptions of Clergy Ministry Style, he devised a list of ways in which masculine ministry is conducted according to feminist literature. According to this list, masculine ministry is greatly defined by desires to acquire power, authority, and to be defensive about the individualism of one’s clergical status within the church (Lehman 215). In regards to racial or ethnic factors, minority female preachers were perceived to be more vulnerable and open than white women, and minority men were perceived more assertive and power exertive than white men (220). For black males, racial tension and biblical guidance are the factors that are responsible for the trending desire of authority within the church (Baer 67).
New International Version. Bible Gateway, www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.
The verses I cited from the Bible were important because they are the foundation on which pastoral principles lay. The ideology that female teaching of any kind is distasteful and wrong originates from the New Testament in the Bible, which is made very apparent from the clarity in the verses. This clarity is what I desired from these verses because I’m sure it would spark a emotional response in the reader and cause one to question why women fight for preaching rights in the first place. Lastly, by retrieving these verses from the New Testament I’ve potentially avoided any debate from those who may claim that they are Christians from different denominations because the New Testament accounts for all Christians in general.
Dudley, Roger L. “How Seventh-Day Adventist Lay Members View Women Pastors.” Review of
Religious Research, vol. 38, no. 2, 1996, pp. 133–141. JSTOR, JSTOR,
This article address the lack of opportunity for women to be involved with pastoral duties within the Seventh Day Adventist Church. An interesting point was brung up which was the fact that the SDA Church was founded by a woman, Ellen G. White, yet there were barely any female religious leaders after the mid-twentieth century. In this article, a survey was performed between a membership of 25 churches in which they were questioned if their female pastor was capable of perfoming pastoral tasks. Through their research they concluded that the best way for Christians to be more accepting of female pastors is to witness the sermons of effective female pastors. Also, the research also showed that younger members with college educations or above were more willing to accept female pastorship within their churches. This article is important to my proposal in that the research performed shows that attempting to debate against bible verses that may have authority in church isn’t a good idea.
Lehman, Edward C. “Correlates of Lay Perceptions of Clergy Ministry Style.” Review of
Religious Research, vol. 38, no. 3, 1997, pp. 211–230. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3512084.
This article goes into detail about whether sex and race may affect the perceptions lay members may have about the clergy in the church. They did a survey based off nine “dimensions” of masculine conduct as a priest and asked those being surveyed if they felt that their pastor showed a dimension of masculinity. They concluded that men are seen more masculine in regards to exertions of power and authority, and women tended to be less masculine by dispersing roles and power within the church. They also found that minorities have an even higher representation of results than white people, minority men appearing more masculine and females less masculine. This article is useful because it shows how the traditional norms of Christianity tend to be more masculine and it also show other external reason outside of the bible as to why feminine priests may not be accepted..
Baer, Hans A. “The Limited Empowerment of Women in Black Spiritual Churches: An
Alternative Vehicle to Religious Leadership.” Sociology of Religion, vol. 54, no. 1, 1993, pp. 65–82. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3711842.
This article discusses how religion has denied access for the Black women to get involved in Black Spiritualism through the dominance of Black men in churches. This article is important because it pointed out how racial tension is a factor as to why men desire dominance within their own instituions. This article’s focus on black people in America is also necessary in my proposed method of research.
As presented before, there are biblical verses that clearly indicate to the average Christian that female pastorship is not to be allowed. But seeing as the exact opposite exists in which female pastorship persists and continues to grow by the decade, I hypothesize that Christians are not aware of the verses. And if they are aware, I’d like to know what type of understandings and interpretations do they recieve from the verse that would allow them to continue to be involved in something that is clearly stated to be against Christianity. Being that my community consists primarily of Haitian churches, I wonder if there are any beliefs systems from their native country that may have influenced the acceptance of female pastors within their churches. Lastly, due to my recently obtained knowledge about the types of denominations that exists within my community, I hypothesize that is a brand of Christianity that ignores or reinterprets the aforementioned verses to allow female pastorship.
The methods that I choose for this proposal are interviews and surveys because they seems to be the best way to record the thoughts and feelings of Pastors and My research area consists of all the Haitian churches that currently operate in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Canarsie is a neighborhood about thirty blocks long and wide in size, so it’s sample size I’m fairly capable of manuvering around. From prior knowledge I can confirm that Haitian churches within this neighborhood are of all different Christian denominations.
In regards to interviews, I plan to locate two types of churches. The first church should be one that has a female pastor as head of the church, this way I can ask intricate questions to guage her response and thoughts about the verses that speak against her ministry. I’d also ask questions about the place where she would of gotten her degree in theology and license to preach. By recieving answers from these questions I can know if there are institutions giving out pastoral liscences to women and giving them a divine liscence to teach. Then if I desired I could go to those instituions and ask why they are giving out liscences to women when it is considered something against Christianity. I should probably conduct a survey with the lay members of her church, with the goal to see how the feel a female pastor compares to a male pastor. I could print out questionaries with question on them that ask questions centered around evaluating the quality of male and female pastors in the church. Questions may evaluate actions such as rappor with the congregations, quality of sermons, and dress. The second church I plan to target is a pentecostal church other than my father’s. To perform surveys and interviews with the members of another pentecostal church give opportunity to see if it’s a universal tradition to not allow female pastors or it’s just my father’s church.
With modern America moving progressively left on political views and women rights in particular, some may feel that their religious integrity is become threatened. It seems that more and more people are becoming more accepting to female pastors, however the disapproval of the practice is still very prevalent. I think I’ll discover a mix of many response through my interviews and surveys, especially ones which advocate more women involvement in churches. So the question is what is more important, biblical text or modern american politics?