“Should Women Be Allowed”: The Wrong Question

Today, Southern Baptist pastors Dwight McKissic and Tom Ascol will debate the question:

“Should women be allowed to preach in our Lord’s day worship services?”

Not only is this question a non-starter because it implies an unbiblical, unhealthy authority of men over women; it’s a non-starter because it’s the wrong question to begin with.

The question should not be, “Should women be allowed to preach in our Lord’s day worship services?

The question should be:

Does the Bible say the Holy Spirit speaks through women?

This is the only question that matters here.

If the answer is no— if God never speaks through women—then no debate is necessary. Of course they shouldn’t speak for God if God won’t speak through them.

But if the answer is yes— if Scripture does indeed say God speaks through women— then the real question is this:

Why would you not want to hear God speak?

Again, if it turns out Scripture does prove the Holy Spirit speaks through women as messengers, teachers, and prophets, what’s really being asked is:

“Should the Holy Spirit be allowed to preach in our Lord’s day worship services?”

Obviously this is an inappropriate question.

After all, if the Holy Spirit is speaking, what will a godly man do? Cover his ears like the Pharisees and stone the messenger?

Does God only speak through the B-team (you know, those “weak and foolish things” called women) on His off-days, when His words aren’t really worth paying attention to?

Are we actually going to debate what we’ll “allow” God to do?

I for one, will definitely not be doing that.

But if anyone else wants to, go right ahead. I’ll stand over here and watch from a safe distance. (With popcorn.This should be good.)


Let The Games Begin

So tell me, what’s the plan? Maybe you’re not going for an all-out ban on the Spirit—maybe you’d just like to qualify how, when, and to whom you’ll “allow” the Holy Spirit to speak?

Go ahead. Explain to the Spirit of Jehovah that when He speaks through a woman, He’s only allowed to speak submissively—not too forcefully, nothing that could be construed as preaching, and never from your pulpit of course.

Surely He’ll understand.

Tell the Holy Spirit of Wisdom who rested on Jesus and defeated the rulers of this age that she’s only allowed to pray and read Scripture—but never to “imitate the elders by speaking in an authoritative way.”

That’s right, put her in her place brothers! Look that Spirit straight in the eye— the one who says she breathed over the waters and watched God measure out the oceans, whose hand crafted the very world you walk on— and tell her straight up you don’t like her tone.

You know, really show her who’s boss.

I double-dog-dare you.

Explain to the Risen King that when He has the audacity to speak through a woman His words no longer carry the power of life and death; no longer wield the power to save souls and set people free—and no longer have authority over you.

Tell the Christ you won’t obey until He comes in line and speaks through a male like you told Him to.

You might find Him a little hard-headed, but not to worry. If He won’t do as you say, just turn your chairs around when He speaks. That’ll teach Him.


The Danger of Drowning Out God

Do you really want to debate before God whether to allow the Holy Spirit the privilege of speaking to you on the Lord’s Day?

I wonder—what do you imagine God will say?

“Pardon me, pastor, I should have submitted my list of chosen servants for your approval before speaking. I repent!”

“All those women I spoke through to men in the Bible were a mistake and violated creation order—my bad!”

“Please, please have mercy and allow me to speak from your pulpit on Sunday— I promise to comply with your doctrines this time, I promise!”


Let’s get this straight. If the Spirit is speaking, it’s your privilege to hear it. Not the other way around.

It’s your job to teach the sheep to recognize God’s Word.

It’s not your right to tell God how He’s allowed to speak it.

From Deborah and Huldah to Abigail and Sarah; from Anna and Mary Magdalene to Priscilla, Phoebe, and Junia; from the Woman Wisdom who preaches in Proverbs to that same Spirit who led Jesus to victory, the Bible is clear.

The Spirit of God speaks to men through women.

If man chooses not to listen, if he drowns out God’s voice, Scripture says he’s in for a rude awakening.

In fact, the Spirit of Wisdom tells us in Proverbs 1 exactly what will happen to those who refuse to listen when God speaks.

Proverbs 1:20-27 (NIV)

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,

   she raises her voice in the public square;

21 on top of the wall she cries out,

   at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?

   How long will mockers delight in mockery

   and fools hate knowledge?

23 Repent at my rebuke!

   Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,

   I will make known to you my teachings.

24 But since you refuse to listen when I call

   and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

25 since you disregard all my advice

   and do not accept my rebuke,

26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;

   I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,

   when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,

   when distress and trouble overwhelm you.”

This Wisdom is the Spirit Isaiah called “the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom” that would rest on Messiah (Isaiah 11:2)—the same spirit who created the world by Jehovah’s side (Prov. 8:22-31).

Far from the gracious and patient responses from Christian women like Beth Moore, this woman doesn’t pull any punches.

She openly and publicly rebukes men, prophesying calamity if they refuse to listen—and promising to mock them and laugh at them when it does.


How ironic that the Spirit appears as a woman for this particular rebuke. It’s an irony pastors cannot afford to be lost on them— especially those who post a “No Women Allowed” sign on their pulpits.

Turns out the joke’s on you, pastor. Wisdom—Jesus’ Wisdom— is a woman.

Like her daughters, all she has to do to defeat you is honor your wish and walk away.

Congratulations. You have banned the Spirit of Wisdom from your pulpit.

Maybe this is why she preaches outside the camp, as it says in Proverbs 8:1-4, 6:


1 “Does not wisdom call out?

   Does not understanding raise her voice?

2 At the highest point along the way,

   where the paths meet, she takes her stand;

3 beside the gate leading into the city,

   at the entrance, she cries aloud:

4 “To you, O men, I call out;

   I raise my voice to all mankind…

6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say…”


It appears the woman doesn’t need man’s permission— or his pulpit— to preach after all.

The only question left is, if Wisdom is outside the camp with Jesus…how will you ever hear her voice from the inside?

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