Should women have authority in the church?

by | Jan 2, 2020 | 02 Library, What is

Resources to help you answer the question: Should women teach and/or have authority in the church?

Should women wear head coverings?

01 Should women wear head coverings? 

This podcast gives an overview of what (I think) Paul meant to say and what it means for us today. If you only want the bottom line, listen to this podcast. Teacher Krisan Marotta on January 8, 2020.

02 What’s the cultural background? 

Here we’ll explore the incomplete and contradictory background information we have plus answer the question is Paul’s answer culturally bound or timeless and how do we know. Teacher Krisan Marotta on January 15, 2020.

03 What does Paul mean by head, 1?

Paul appeals to the creation of Adam and Eve to make his argument. This podcasts examines what Genesis 2 teaches us and why Paul appeals to it. Teacher Krisan Marotta on January 22, 2020.

04 What does Paul mean by head, 2? 

Most everyone agrees that Paul is speaking metaphorically, but few agree exactly what he means by the metaphor of head. To understand Paul’s use of head in 1Corinthians 11:2-16, we look at Paul’s use of head in all his other letters, particularly in Ephesians. Teacher: Krisan Marotta on January 29, 2020.


The views regarding women in authority in the church can be generalized into 3 basic positions: hard complementarian (most restrictive), soft complementarian (less restrictive), and egalitarian (least restrictive).

5 main passages which speak to the issue of women in authority in the church

What is a hard complementarian?

What is a soft complementarian?

What is an egalitarian?

Ministry positions open to women (by view)

Books, Papers and Websites

Symbol Key

(*) Complementarian; advocates some type of restriction

+ Egalitarian; advocates little or no restriction

**/++ most comprehensive defense of the view held

++ Christians for Biblical Equality ( An egalitarian organization with the following motto, “Advancing a biblical foundation for gift-based rather than gender-based ministry and service.

** Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood ( A hard complementarian organization with the following motto: “Proclaiming God’s glorious Design for Men and Women”

+ Bristow, John Temple. What Paul Really Said About Women: The Apostle’s Liberating View on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love, Harper, 1988.

* Clowney, Edmund P. The Church: Contours of Christian Theology. Intervarsity Press, 1995. (See Chapter 15 “The Ministry of Women in the Church”)

*/+ Clouse, Bonnidell & Robert G. Women in Ministry: Four Views. Intervarsity Press, 1989.  (Presents two different complementarian and two different egalitarian views.)

* D. A. Carson: “Silent in the Churches”: On the Role of Women in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 (

** Doriani, Dan. Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches, Crossways, 2003. (The most comprehensive defense of the soft complementarian position.)

* Foh, Susan T. Women and the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1978.

++ Groothius, Rebecca Merrill. Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Heirarchy, Intervarsity Press, 2005. (The comprehensive defense of the egalitarian position.)

* Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of Over One Hundred Disputed Questions. Multnomah, 2004

* Grudem, Wayne. A podcast on “The Meaning Of kephale (“Head”): An Evaluation Of New Evidence, Real And Alleged” (at the ETS Conference, Nov. 1997), go to the link: ETS Conference- Santa Clara, CA

* Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? (2006). Each chapter challenges an argument made by egalitarians, including their bible study methodology.

Grudem, Wayne. Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood (co-edited with Dennis Rainey) (2000).

Grudem, Wayne, But What Should Women Do in the Church? (1995)

+ Johnson, Alan F. How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals, Harper Collins, 2010.

* Hunt, Susan and Hutcheson, Peggy. Leadership for Women in the Church, Zondervan, 1991.

** Piper, John & Grudem Wayne editors. Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Biblical FeminismCrossways Books, 1991. (The comprehensive defense of the hard complementarian position.)

* Piper, John & Grudem Wayne. 50 Crucial Questions about Manhood and Womanhood: An overview of the central concerns about manhood and womanhood. (Available as free ebook.)

Thomas R. Schreiner: Head Coverings, Prophecies and the Trinity (1 Corinthians 11:2-16) (

Daniel B. Wallace: What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor 11:2-16 and Does it Apply to Us Today? (

*Bruce Waltke, The Role of Women in the Bible, Discovery Publishing, 1995. (This paper is an adaption of a lecture given by Bruce Waltke at Regent college in 1992.)

*Webb, William J.  Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis,  InterVarsity Press, 2001. (A consideration of how the various commands in scripture relate to changes in culture that concludes with what the author describes as “ultra-soft patriarchy.”)

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash