Adam Eva, Durer, 1504
Part of a series on
and Gender

Women in Christianity
Women in the Bible
Jesus' interactions with women
Female disciples of Jesus
Paul of Tarsus and women
Image of God
List of women in the Bible
Women as theological figures

4 Major Positions

Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Feminism
Biblical patriarchy

Church and Society

Christianity and homosexuality
Ordination of women
Women in Church history


Christians for Biblical Equality
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus

Theologians and authors
Letha Dawson Scanzoni · Anne Eggebroten · Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
William J. Webb · Kenneth E. Hagin · Gordon Fee · Frank Stagg · Paul Jewett · Stanley Grenz · Roger Nicole
Don Carson · John Frame · Wayne Grudem · Douglas Moo · Paige Patterson · Vern Poythress

The ordination of women in Protestant churches has often been carried out in light of the theological doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, which might include women if the expression is taken in a very literal sense.

Elders, pastors and ministers

However, most (although not all) Protestant denominations still ordain church leaders who have the task of equipping all believers in their Christian service (Ephesians 4:11-13). These leaders (variously styled elders, pastors or ministers) are seen to have a distinct role in teaching, pastoral leadership and the administration of sacraments.

Traditionally these roles were male preserves, but over the last century, an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining women. The notion of a priesthood reserved to a select few is seen as an Old Testament concept, inappropriate for Christians. Prayer belongs equally to all believing women and men.

Relevant Biblical Passages

The debate over women's eligibility for such offices normally centers around interpretation of certain Biblical passages relating to teaching and leadership roles. This is because Protestant churches usually view the Bible as the primary authority in church debates, even over established traditions (the doctrine of sola scriptura). Thus the Church is free to change her stance, if the change is deemed in accordance with the Bible. The main passages in this debate include Galatians 3:28, 1 Cor. 11:2-16, 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-14, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Tit. 1:5-9

Views taken in the New Testament

Increasingly, supporters of women in ministry also make appeals to evidence from the New Testament that is taken to suggest that women did exercise ministries in the apostolic Church (e.g., Acts 21:9, Acts 18:18, Romans 16:1-4, Romans 16:7; 1 Cor. 16:19, and Philippians 4:2–3) and that the Biblical passages used to argue against women's ordination might be read differently when a clear understanding of the unique historical context of each passage is available.[1]

Examples within specific churches

  • Women were commissioned as deacons from 1935, and allowed to preach from 1949.
  • In 1963 Mary Levison petitioned the General Assembly for ordination.
  • Woman elders were introduced in 1966 and women ministers in 1968.
  • The first female Moderator of the General Assembly was Dr Alison Elliot in 2004.

Women as bishops


Some Protestant and Anglican churches have allowed women to become their bishops:[13]


  2. Bund Evangelisch-Freikirchlicher Gemeinden in Deutschland K.d.ö.R
  3. Women in ordained ministry
  4. "Dienst der Frau-Frauenordination eingeführt," 2004
  5. "Women's Ordination Time Line". Retrieved 2007–03–20. 
  6. "Women's Ordination Time Line (page 2)". Retrieved 2007–03–20. 
  7. What Presbyterians Believe Holper, J. Frederick, 2001 "What Presbyterians Believe about Ordination," Presbyterians Today, May 2001, retrieved from on August 21, 2006
  8. [1]
  9. PCA: Press Release
  10. What Is the OPC?
  11. United Church Of Canada And Homosexuality
  12. When churches started to ordain women
  13. When churches started to ordain women