Complementarian Churches Should Appoint Qualified Women to Serve as “Deacons”

By Adam Brown –

I am devoted to complementarity. By this I mean that even while I affirm the full equality of men and women, I believe that God created humanity in two genders, male and female. Gender-blindness, therefore, is not a biblical option. There are not twelve genders, seven genders, three genders, or just one homogenous gender. There are two genders. As the Word of God says:

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).

Thus, I affirm Southshore’s Elder Summary Statement on Manhood and Womanhood:

God created humanity in two genders, male and female, and each gender equally bears God’s image. As such, men and women are equal in value, nature, and personhood. Men and women share equally in the responsibility of benevolent dominion over the animal kingdom and the created order. Men and women also share equally in Jesus Christ and in salvation through the Gospel. At the same time, the gender distinction between men and women is a part of God’s design for humanity. Adam was created to exercise leadership and Eve was created as a helper fit for him. This man-woman distinction has implications for the functional role of men and women in the home and in the church.

There are many brothers and sisters in Christ who would also agree with this Summary Statement who have, in my opinion, misapplied complementarity by becoming more restrictive than the Bible when it comes to the position of “deacon” (which can also be translated “servant” or, in the case of Southshore, “steward”). According to 1 Timothy 3:8-13, deacons are servants, helpers, believers, and managers. They are not teachers and governors. Therefore, aside from our own traditions, it does not seem right to me to prohibit women from serving as a deacon (steward) in the local church. In my opinion, in our zeal to guard 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we go too far when we restrict women in their service to the local church beyond the biblical limits of teaching men and exercising authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12).

To show that this is not an unreasonable biblical interpretation, I invite you to read  articles by other complementarians who hold to the same position with regard to women deacons. The accusation that I, or they, do not hold to a high view of the Scriptures is, in my opinion, an unfortunate tact to take on this issue.

I will be posting these articles by other complementarian pastors over the next many days. Whether you agree or disagree with the appointment of women deacons (stewards), I ask that you read them carefully and prayerfully. For those who agree, may you find encouragement that this is a viable biblical position. For those who do not agree, I beseech you to be charitable in your admonishments and, perhaps even, open minded in your considerations.

In all things, let us agree that we all desire to be submissive to the Word of God and to implement this Word with fidelity. For, in the end, we all must give an account to Christ our God. I most certainly do not want to be reckless with the Scriptures, for I know that the burden of accountability falls all the more to the male elders and teachers of the local church (Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1). Thus, this is not a topic that I take lightly.

Our goal must always be to seek to understand the Word, do the Word, and then teach the Word (Ezra 7:10). I believe that appointing women stewards is faithful to this charge.




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