Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

Have you ever heard the argument that priests and Levites were male*, therefore male church leadership was the plan of God? Here is one apologist expressing the idea:

“…a system of religious authority was instituted in the Mosaic law, a system in which authority was in the hands of the priests and Levites – and only men could serve.” To make this point more clear now, let me point out that the closest OT equivalent to church leaders were the priests and Levites, and they were all men. Only males of the tribe of Levi could serve, which meant that in the OT, religious authority was allowed only for qualified men, not women – the same as in the NT.

– John Tors, from the web site Truth in my Days.


His main premise is wrong: Priests and Levites were not a system of religious authority. Priests and Levites performed a ritual service in the church. Who actually had “religious authority”? (“Religious authority” is the word choice of Tors, not mine.)

Pharisees – men learned in the Old Testament scriptures – had religious authority, and in another sense prophets had religious authority.

Pharisees were male, but this male authority was not by the design of God. Firstly, God said to teach all children His word. (Deut 6:6-7; Deut. 11:18-19; Ps. 78:1-7). But the Israelites chose to teach the scriptures only to boys, which went against God’s command to teach it to all the children. The boys who really wanted to go further with scripture studies eventually became Pharisees. Did God elect Pharisees, or say who could be Pharisees? No. God, in the form of Jesus, was very critical of the bunch of religious authorities called Pharisees.

On the other hand, Jesus often upheld the real religious authority of the prophets. Jesus confirmed that the prophets were sent by God, and had harsh words for the Israelites for not listening to the prophets. (Mat. 23:29-31 shows Jesus both criticizing Pharisees and upholding prophets as authorities.) Prophets are, per definition, sent by God with a message from Him.

Were the prophets – God’s actual religious authorities, all male? No! Prophets of the time before Jesus included Miriam (Ex. 15:20) and Deborah (Jdg 4:4) and Huldah (2 Chr. 34:22) and Anna (Luke 2:36). God calling women to prophesy did not change in the time after Jesus: In fact, the prophetic message that “sons and daughters will prophesy” became clearly evident in Acts chapter 2.

It is simply not true to say that God’s ordained church authorities were all male. Priests and Levites were servants, not authorities. I do not know why God chose males to perform temple rituals. But God did not ordain male-only church authority – the religious authorities were not the performers of these rituals.


  • Levites were male: Levites were a tribe, which of course included women. The (able-bodied) men (of a certain age group) among them did temple service.

Comments on: "Priests and Levites are not evidence of male church leaders" (5)

  1. Thanks for this article. And especially for the scripture citations. It’s amazing how no matter how hard or for how long ‘male’ has tried to obscure the truth about equality, God’s TRUTH will be found out!!!!!! God’s truth will be brought to light!!!!!

    It takes the loyal dedication of women like you, to keep women like me educated on the truth. Perhaps, dare I say it???, you are a prophet. Again, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent article, thankyou!


  3. Levites were a tribe. They included men, women, and children. From the Levites, they chose priests. Levite females also served in the temple.
    So, Levites were not all male.

    Just saying.


  4. I think people who take this stance e.g. in the Bible …. therefore we should … should take their argument further and to its logical conclusion. They claim all the priests and Levis were male, but lets be clear they were also all … Jewish, therefore …. all leaders today should be male and Jewish! I have also heard the argument that all of Jesus 12 apostles were male therefore all roles of leadership should be male but again they were also Jewish. They need to be consistent! Here is an interesting verse that was brought to my attention sometime ago 1 Samuel 2:22 says: “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting” perhaps this verse needs more study and attention, but I would think they may be part of the Levitical tribe serving, “entrance to the tent of meeting – was this a Levitical ‘zone’? Jesus was wonderful to women and has enabled many to serve. He is looking for surrendered hearts not gender. 1 Samuel 16:7″YHWH does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the YHWH looks at the heart.”


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