The Bible is not ambiguous in describing the necessary qualifications and characteristics that must be met by a man who desires to hold the role of pastor, or elder, within a church. In Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Tim. 3:1–7, Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly outlines these requirements.
The Apostle Paul also delivered instruction regarding the role of women within the church:
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Tim. 2:11–14, ESV
This is the biblical admonition against a woman being ordained to the role of pastor in the church. While passages such as Titus 2:3–5 encourage women to live godly lives and to mentor and teach other women, Scripture is clear in its call for the role of pastor to be held by a man who has met the biblical qualifications. Though women are equally gifted and important to the vitality of a church, God is clear that they may not hold any authoritative position over the men of the church.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) agrees with this biblical standard. This is the SBC’s official position on the role of women in the church (emphasis added):
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The Baptist Faith & Message, VI. The Church
While other SBC documents may offer a perceived loophole in this instruction, most Southern Baptists would affirm the position stated above.
Saddleback Church in Southern California is officially registered with the Southern Baptist Convention, so it is presumed that they would adhere to the biblical standards set forth by the SBC in regard to women preaching. It is odd to note, then, that Kay Warren, wife of pastor Rick Warren, recently usurped the role of pastor by preaching the weekend services at this large megachurch.
For four weeks beginning on 11 March 2012, Kay Warren preached a sermon series entitled, “All Access: The Story of You and God.” Audio and video of these sermons may be accessed by visiting the Saddleback media archives for the weekend services. These messages centered around the tabernacle of the Old Testament as Warren sought to teach that
God is a relational God and He wants to be in relationship with you…God wants to be at the center of the story of you, because the story of you is really the story of you and God. Source
Even more recently, Kay Warren preached the Sunday service at the controversial Crystal Cathedral. On 30 April 2012, The Christian Post reported:
Author Kay Warren delivered a sermon on choosing joy at the Crystal Cathedral during two Sunday worship services that were taped for the Garden Grove church’s “Hour of Power” TV broadcast.
The wife of Saddleback Church founding Pastor Rick Warren adapted her message from her recently released book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.
Warren told the congregation about her own struggles to find joy even when the Bible clearly states a Christian’s life should be full of joy.
While standing in the role of pastor for four consecutive weekends, then, Kay Warren undoubtedly found herself teaching a mixed audience of both men and women. How can this be reconciled not only with the SBC’s stated position on this topic, but with the biblical prohibition against women taking authority within the church? Should the body of Christ remain silent on this issue? If it was important enough for God to offer explicit instruction in His Word, then it ought to be of equal importance to Christians today.