Women's Suffrage and Male Headship

With the rise of feminism, God's order of creation has been undermined in the modern world. Feminism has crept into the church in many places. It is therefore necessary to reject both the false doctrine of feminism and it's consequences in the church.

Many conservative Lutheran churches will reject women in the ministry, but permit women to hold church offices which exercise authority over men, even if only in temporal matters. They limit the scope of such Scripture passages as 1 Corinthians 14:33–38, 1 Timothy 2:11–14 to the divine service or the pastoral office.

While these texts do reject women pastors they are not limited to that. 1 Corinthians 14:34 applies to the divine service, but it also teaches the general principle of submission. Likewise 1 Timothy 2:11–12 states that women are not allowed to teach, but it also teaches that they are to learn with all submission, and may not exercise authority over a man.

The doctrine of male headship derives from the order of Creation as expressly taught in Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5:22–33, where it is applied to the household.

While we do not find in Scripture a specific rejection of women serving in government or as employers, but on the contrary find examples of both, we do find in Scripture the specific rejection of women exercising authority over men in both the family and the church.

We therefore reject the notion that women may exercise temporal or spiritual authority over their men in the family. We also reject the notion that women may exercise temporal or spiritual authority over men in the church.

We likewise reject the following church practices as violating the Holy Scriptures and therefore being heterodox and divisive of church fellowship:

1. Women pastors in the church.

2. Women teaching the Bible to young men in the church who can no longer be considered as children.

3. Women office-holders in the congregation, when such offices may exercise temporal or spiritual authority over men in the church or in any of its assemblies.

4. Women's suffrage in the church. This is because suffrage is not the same as a group discussion, but is an exercise of authority. Likewise, decision by consensus is an exercise of authority. When women exercise authority along with men, they exercise authority over men.

5. Women speaking in church assemblies when such speaking is perceived as teaching or exercising authority in the church. We do not thereby reject women's presence, asking or answering questions in meetings of the church, when this is not seen as either teaching or taking part in decision-making.

Congregations and pastors who hold to the Lutheran confessions must necessarily hold to those passages of Scripture which forbid women from having authority over men in the various assemblies of the Church. This is in accord with our confession that Scripture is the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judges. (Epitome, 1).