Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Elephant in the Room

Being invited to be the first female senior pastor in a historic Christian church over 100 years old, I felt led of the Lord to speak about the "Elephant in the Room" so that anyone with concern about having a female pastor could read up in a quick and simple way on the biblical history of female ministers. If you DO NOT believe in women pastors, this blog is for you to consider biblically.

Is it okay? Is it okay if She Preaches? A pastor friend asked me this week if I had a lot of opposition being a female pastor throughout the years. My answer was honestly no. I had the privilege or even dare I say "luck" of not receiving much criticism for the 28 years I have been in ministry. I happened to operate in circles where it was perfectly fine for a woman to teach the Bible, to anyone, anywhere, anytime, at any location.

No one wants to say it, but many people have it cross their minds. Some even feel strongly one way or the other. Either way, we all come from different religious and cultural backgrounds regarding women in ministry and I wanted to give you a simple, yet solid, biblical answer touching on the following in this blog:

  • The Head of the woman is the man - Body head or Origin? 
  • Women should be silent in the churches - A quote, not Paul
  • Men must be quiet scripture, a perspective of a double standard 
  • Jesus picked women first to proclaim/preach his resurrection
  • Priscilla and Aquila or Aquila and Pricilla?
  • The Greek is the same... English is "Helper" or "Minister"
  • To Talk or Don't Talk when entering the door of a church?
  • How can church History be wrong? A look at slavery and Muslims
  • Not a feminist, just a Christian pointing out a few biblical truths 

which I will show you after two short personal stories for your entertainment...

There were only 2 or 3 brief moments of "challenge" for me (then comes a biblical reason to answer the questions I am sure you might have regarding women pastors)

1. When studying at a Baptist University with 300 male Theology students and 3 female ones, one boy was bold enough to ask me "What are you doing here?" "There is no need for girls to study Theology." I laughed at the absurdity of this statement that my friend made and just said "Really?" "Wow!" Not offended, just humored at this new experience, I was shortly after given the opportunity to pray at the University chapel service. All students were required to attend. I took this rare opportunity to get all of the non-christian students saved. The Holy Spirit fell in the room as I spoke for around 5 minutes to the non-believing students (around 100 students sitting in the back rows). ALL stood to their feet to pray to have a better relationship with Jesus. From that moment on, all 297 male theology students were behind me 100%. No one asked me why I was studying Theology ever again. 

2. A few years later, after being in full-time ministry for 8 years, my husband and I flew from California to New Jersey to interview at a church to be youth pastors. Concluding a weekend of interviews and meals, I asked the Pastor privately (who is Hispanic) "Do you believe in ordaining women?" He quickly said, "Oh no, I don't believe in that." I am not going to lie, what I said in return was VERY CHEEKY. But, to my defense, I believe the Lord put the words in my mouth at that moment and gave me comfortable boldness to say them. I leaned in close to whisper to the Pastor "Yes... I agree, and I don't believe in Hispanic or black ones either" I then turned, and walked away. I know, it seems SO RUDE, but honestly, I felt God instructing me to say just that, I was obedient. I am willing to risk it all (even a great job or large sums of money) when I know the Lord has me to say or do something. Surprisingly, that Hispanic pastor presented an offer to hire us later that day, ordained his wife immediately who was one of the best female preachers I have ever had the honor to work with, and then shortly thereafter, led me through the process of licensing and ordination as well with the denomination.

"I happened to operate in circles where it was perfectly fine for a woman to teach the Bible, to anyone, anywhere, anytime, at any location." Rev.Tracy Galloway

Here is the biblical "BLOW YOUR MIND" reason why it is okay that  "SHE" preaches, just in case you are not sure if it is okay or not.

I will deal with just two of the most difficult passages:

1. "The head of a woman is the man"
2. "Woman should remain silent in churches"

Seems impossible to wrestle with these scriptures... I know, but watch the original Greek translation that I would bet money (if I were a betting gal) you have never known...

Though some passages may at first appear contradictory, we can be sure that God does not contradict Himself. God is truthful, unchanging, the absolute source of all knowledge and wisdom. Not only that, He reveals the truth to us and invites us to question Him when we don't understand. God doesn't ask us to abandon our minds when we don't understand. 

1. Blowing Headship Out Of The Water:

What comes to your mind when you hear the word head? Probably something like a boss, leader, authority, ruler, top dog, the big cheese, or head honcho, Right? To be honest, it doesn't matter what you or I think. What matters is what Paul's original readers thought. What image did the word head bring to the mind of first-century Corinthians? Words change meaning over time and sometimes have more than one meaning, even in the first century. Just like now how "post" means to put a picture or words up online but used to mean and sometimes still means a newspaper, mail or a fence post.


Going deep, hold your breath, this is for theologians, skip it if you can't follow. The word for "head" in Hebrew is ro'sh can mean part of the body, or it can mean "leader" or "ruler."  When ro'sh meant a physical head in a passage of the Old Testament, the Septuagint translators chose kephale (the word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 11:3 to translate it 226 out of the 239 times, or about 95 percent of the time. However, when ro'sh clearly meant "ruler" or "leader", the Septuagint translators used some other word 171 times out of 180. They used Kephale for "ruler" or "leader" only 5% of the time. 

TO PUT IT SIMPLY, it is possible that Paul used kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3 to mean that man should be the "leader" or "ruler" over woman, but that would be a rare usage of the word, as seen by evidence of the Septuagint. On the other hand, we find many, many times in ancient literature where head/kephale meant "source" or "origin". This came from the ancients idea that semen, the source of life, was produced in the male brain, which is, of course, located in the head. Aristotle believed this and influenced generations after him. Therefore, the head represented the source of life for them.


Likewise, kephale was the word used for the source of a river. This is why the Greeks and Romans often set up a bearded head of a man or a head of a bull at a fountain or at the source of a river. That is why you find many fountains throughout Italy with the sculpture of an animal head as the origin of the source of drinking water. This meaning was carried over into Latin and later into English so that we still refer to the source of a river as its headwaters. 


Back to our question for 1 Corinthians 11:3: If Kephale could be either "ruler" or "life-source", how was Paul using it here? If we were to substitute these meanings for head/kephale in the text, we could come up with two alternatives;

1. "Now I want you to realize that the authority/leader of every man is Christ, and the authority/leader of a woman is the man, and the authority/leader of Christ is God."

2. "Now I want you to realize that the source/origin of every man is Christ, and the source/origin of a woman is the man, and the source/origin of Christ is God."

The translation in number one if correct is very rare and not in line with the biblical language and A-B-A-B structure. If on the other hand number two is correct and much more common and goes in line with other writings of Paul, then well, the church leaders have been making up church policy that does not make sense and degrades women for many years, for no reason. 

For more on this, read "Why Not Women? A fresh look at Scripture on women in missions, ministry, and leadership by Loren Cunningham the founder of Youth With A Mission and David Joel Hamilton, the world's leading expert in women's studies. Pages 162-175 address what I have highlighted in this post. I have read over 5 books on this topic, this is by far the best one. Amazon it!

2. NEXT Blow Your Mind Item: 
"Women should remain silent in churches" 

In Greek, there are NO parenthesis "" Instead, they put a small n. before a statement to show that the text following is ridiculous, like saying "No Way!" towards a quote from another. I bet no one ever told you there is an n. in the Greek before this famous scripture used to keep women from preaching for centuries. Some theologians ascertain Paul was not saying women should be silent, he was quoting a letter written to him by the leaders of the church in Corinth and responds immediately with a rebuke. Interesting yes? Let's unfold that scripture.


Red = Paul encouraging women in ministry

Blue = Paul quoting a letter from someone he disagrees with

1 Corinthians 14:24-33

24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peaceas in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 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.[g]
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.[h39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

"I bet no one ever told you there was an n. in the Greek 

before this famous scripture used to keep 

women from preaching for centuries." tg

(Above is Aimee Semple McPherson, a pastor in the 1930's who started a bible based Christian denomination called The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. As of the year 2000, the Foursquare denomination had over 8,000,000 members with almost 60,000 churches in 144 countries. She also started Life Bible College that is still going strong today in Los Angeles. My husband’s great-grandmother, great-grandfather, grandparents, and father went to her church and this is the denomination with which we have our ministry licenses/ordination to this day. Aimee grew up with the Salvation Army started by William and Cathrine Boothe who were forerunners in the area of women in ministry.)

Before this aforementioned controversial scripture above, Paul is encouraging females and males to prophesy, "for you can ALL prophesy one by one, that ALL may learn and ALL may be encouraged." Prophesy is basically to declare the wonders and truths of God to men and women in a church setting of believers in the context of this scripture. Then he quotes the letter written to him that "women should remain silent in churches" written by what many theologians believe are new Christians who had possibly a religious Jewish background and were offended at this new practice of women ministering alongside men in the early church. Paul immediately rebukes them by saying "Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?" 

For more depth of this study read pages 61-65 in "10 Lies the Church Tells Women" by J. Lee Grady

Image result for 10 lies the church tells women by lee grady



We must remember that all Christians - both males and females - are told in 1 Timothy 2:2 to lead "a tranquil and quiet life". Does this mean men are supposed to refrain from speaking? Of course not.



Who did Jesus use for the first-ever telling of His resurrection? Women. The women were ignored though, so the first thing Jesus does when He appears to the disciples personally is to take the time to rebuke their "unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him (the women) after He had risen."

 Mark 16:14

"Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after he had risen" (The women proclaiming for the first time, Jesus had risen from the dead)


Priscilla and Aquila OR Aquila and Pricilla? 

(The question of female senior pastors...)

It's important to note regarding the leading of the first churches ever, Paul mentions Aquila and Priscilla as church leaders/pastors 6 times. 3 times he uses Aquila's name first, and 3 times he uses Priscilla's name first. This is very rare to use a woman's name ahead of her husband even in today's society. Therefore it can be assumed that she was at a minimum an equal and more likely, the main leader of this church for him to highlight her before Aquila multiple times in his writings. 



Paul continually promoted Priscilla, a female pastor, and strongly promoted Phoebe as a deacon and as a helper/minister. The Greek word translated to "helper" when speaking of women IS THE SAME GREEK WORD for "minister" when translated speaking of men. This shows a BIAS OF THE TRANSLATOR in the time period it was translated to English as they used two different English words for the same greek word. 

Men = Minister and Woman = Helper 
instead of the correct translation 
Men = Minister and Woman = Minister

Though yes, "helper" is a word used for God, the Holy Spirit is our helper, so the word is not meaning servant, but still, the correct translation from Greek should read Minister. 


"Is there any church in the history of the world where women are completely silent when they walk over the threshold of the church door until they leave the building? I think not." - Tracy Galloway

Even in practical beliefs today. Do we actually follow this? Is there any church in the world where women are completely silent when they walk over the threshold of the church door until they leave the building? Not a word? Women are gabbing in every church in the world, every single church. This is a scripture that has been interpreted as Paul contradicting himself from many other areas where he promotes women as ministers. This is why I believe that the n. symbol which represents quotation marks in the Greek, proceeding the statement that "women should be silent" shows clearly, Paul is quoting and then correcting domineering new Christians who are following the old way of doing things before understanding freedom in Christ.  



Who is to say women can give announcements, or even "share" but not "preach" and all kinds of silly things that WE MAKE UP to dance around this misinterpretation of scripture? Who decides what a woman can and cannot do in the church? Maybe we should just allow them to do whatever the Lord calls them to do, even if it is to Pastor. SCANDALOUS! Jesus was pretty scandalous though wasn't He? Clearly, there were women pastors in the New Testament church that Paul supported and promoted in multiple cities, should we not follow his example? Shouldn't the early church be a model for us with some of the first examples of pastors being Priscilla and Aquila? You see it is more biblical to have female pastors than not actually. 

It is absurd that God would want 1/2 of the population of the world to not teach the bible. It just smells of a trick of the enemy to me, does it not? 


How can thousands of years of women not being allowed to pastor or preach in some church communities be wrong?

It's simple.

It is similar to what happened with the Christians when it came to slavery. Thousands of dedicated bible believing Christians were slave owners for hundreds of years. They loved the Lord, they ministered to their slaves, some even treated their slaves really well, not many of course, but some did. Regardless of that, we all agree slavery was a horrible atrocity that took hundreds of years for Christians to get THE REVELATION that slavery was flat out wrong. I am not saying that slavery is the same, of course not, but I wanted to show you how good people can do something wrong for hundreds of years before they change their behavior. It took a movement of people saying, this is not okay anymore, it never was. 

This is exactly how it is possible to have thousands of years of women being oppressed, sold into slavery, human trafficked, told to be silent, wearing burkas, kept in lowly positions of service, not allowed to teach the bible. It is because some Christians have not had THE REVELATION yet that this is wrong. Or at least have no desire to speak up when they see it happening. What might people think? Do YOU see it yet?

I personally believe it does not jive with the heart or ministry of Jesus to tell a woman, God's daughter, it is a sin to teach the Bible to a group of believers, male or female. I also think that not giving a woman the title of a pastor when she is one in practice, is a hurtful man-made idea that has no biblical context. I know I am stepping on toes here. I have friends who have done this who I love deeply. But remember what I said early in this blog, "I am willing to risk it all, (even a great job or large sums of money) when I feel the Lord has me to say or do something." 

All I ask is for you the reader to just think about this blog "post" above, chew on it, consider it, think about the heart of Jesus, and I am hopeful that if you don't agree, at least you will understand... why I called this blog "She Preaches." Hopefully one day, that will be no big deal to say.

After Jesus taught the woman at the well, she went and shared Jesus with her entire community. Female evangelist, proclaiming, preaching, to everyone.

Lastly, I believe Jesus can use His followers (people who follow Jesus' teachings) who are Old, Young, Tall, Short, Large, Slim, African American, Hispanic, Jewish or Gentile, Male or Female to declare His wonders anywhere, anytime, in any way He sees fit. I love how Jesus rolls like that. 

Not a feminist, 

Just a Christian,

Rev. Tracy Lucia Galloway