Is it wrong for women to preach in church or be a pastor?

I have been working my way through dozens of Bible and theology questions which people have submitted through that “ask a question” area in the sidebar. Here is one that was sent in about whether or not women can preach in church.

Is it biblical for the woman to preach in the congregation?

Along with this question about whether or not it is wrong for a woman to preach, I will also briefly address the issue of women pastors.

wrong for women to preach in church

This question has split some churches, which I find odd. Of all the things that can create division within the church, why is it the ones that only have a verse or two one way or the other which seem to be the most divisive? I suppose if there were scores of verses the issue would be more cut and dry, but when there are only a couple verses dealing with an issue, people are more likely to fight over it, especially when the verses are a little vague …

So let’s briefly look at some of the key passages which seem to address the issue of whether or not it is wrong for women to preach in church, and then I will provide one short and simple suggestion for how this whole issue can easily be dealt with.

Bible Passages about Women Preaching in Church

Though there are a variety of passages which people on both sides of the debate appeal to regarding whether or not it is okay for women to preach in church (e.g., various female “preachers” in the Old Testament like Miriam and Deborah and the female prophetesses in Acts 21:9, and the female apostle in Romans 16:7), two of the main texts in this debate about women preachers and female pastors are 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Let us look briefly at each.

1 Timothy 2:12 and Women Preachers in Church

In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, Paul writes this:

Let a woman learn in silence and with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Initially, 1 Timothy 2:12  seems pretty clear, but with a little bit of study, it quickly becomes obvious that the text is not so clear after all.

First, there are numerous times in the book of Acts and in some of Paul’s other letters where women appear to be speaking in the gatherings of the church with the approval of others, so whatever Paul is saying here, it does not seem to be a rule which he himself universally followed (Acts 16:14-15; Acts 18:26).

Second, even if Paul himself did require all women to remain silent in church gatherings, there is some debate about whether Paul was describing his own preference and practice, or whether he was giving instructions for all churches everywhere throughout time to follow as well.  That is, this verse in 1 Timothy was written to a specific person about a specific situation at a specific time. Does that it mean it can be universally applied? Paul even says, “I do not permit …” which is different than “you should not permit …” (though 1 Corinthians 14:34 does phrase it this way).

Most importantly, however, it is critical to understand what Paul means by the terms “silence and submission” and “teach or to have authority.” To understand this, we not only need to study the words in their contexts, but we also need to understand that cultural and historical background for what was going on among this group of believers in Ephesus where Timothy lived.

So, based on these three considerations, a text like 1 Timothy 2:12 is not so clear as some believe about the issue or women preaching in church.  The same is true for 1 Corinthians 14:34.

1 Corinthians 14:34 and Women Preachers in Church

Paul says something similar in his letter to the Corinthians as he wrote in his letter to Timothy. 1 Corinthians 14:34 says this:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.

We have a lot of similar issues with 1 Corinthians 14:34 as we have with 1 Timothy 2:12. There are numerous cultural, historical, grammatical, and contextual issues that must be researched if we are going to understand what Paul is saying and why.

womanpreachingOne of the main differences here is that Paul does seem to be giving instructions to the church about what to do rather than just stating what he himself does (as with 1 Timothy 2:12 above). Yet even this does not mean we have a hard and fast rule for every church around the world and throughout time. After all, the Corinthians church was full of problems, and so not everything Paul writes to them can be applied to every church.

Furthermore, few churches who use 1 Corinthians 14:34 to defend the idea that it is wrong for women to preach in church also apply Paul’s instructions that women should wear head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:2-10).

I could go on and on about more of the arguments surrounding this text, but let’s leave it aside for now.  (If you want to read more, here are two good books which lay out the issues: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Beyond Sex Roles.)

The Simple Solution to Women Preaching in Church

Most of Christianity’s debates have a simple solution. Did you know that? 

More often than not, when two (or more) groups of Christians are hotly debating an issue (and calling each other heretics in the process), it is because both groups have incorrectly framed the issue, and are arguing about something that should not be an issue at all.

This issue about whether it is wrong from women to preach in church or be a pastor is one of the greatest examples.

The simple solution to the problem is to recognize that the only groups who really argue about this issue are groups of Christians who meet in buildings on Sunday morning and have paid pastors who do most of the preaching.

This issue of whether or not women can preach in church and be pastors is almost never an issue when groups of believers meet in homes, in coffee shops, or at the local park to encourage one another, to edify one another, or to just hang out. In such organic gatherings of the church, it would be unthinkable to tell the women to remain silent. I have often learned more from the women in these gatherings than from the men.

Look, if you attend a traditional-style church service on Sunday morning, it is possible that you also attend a Sunday school class or a weeknight Bible study. Let me ask you, these gatherings also are part of the church. Does it ever occur to you to raise the question about whether or not women should remain silent in your Sunday school class or in your Wednesday night home group Bible study? Of course not! It’s unthinkable!

The only place this issue comes up today is in this strange way we have come to “do church” where everybody sits in rows and watches a performance on stage in which songs are sung and one person gives a 30-40 minute lecture.

(Which raises the question … songs also are a form of teaching, are they not? How many of these churches who condemn female pastors and women preachers have female worship leaders? I would be interested to know what the difference is between teaching through words put to music and teaching through words not put to music?)

So Is it Wrong for Women to Preach in Church?

In the debate about women preaching in church, the primary problem is not found in how we understand preaching or authority over men or what Paul means in 1 Timothy 2:12 or 1 Corinthains14:34. No, the problem is in how we define “church.”

This issue, which has caused so much division within the church, is based almost 100% on a faulty definition and understanding of “the church.” Once we understand what the church is, this debate about whether or not women can preach in church completely disappears and becomes a non-issue. (This is why a definition of the church is so critical … see my book Skeleton Church).

Sure, we still have to figure out why Paul wrote what he wrote To Timothy and to Corinth (for the churches in Ephesus and Corinth too were meeting in homes as well). But since nobody (rightfully so!) is going to tell women to remain silent in home groups and any other gathering of the church. Also, in such gatherings, there are almost never questions about who gets to be called “pastor.” (Or at least, there shouldn’t be.)

So here is my final answer: I believe women can speak and teach in church, because I understand the church to be the people of God who follow Jesus into the world, and so a gathering of the church occurs whenever and wherever believers gather, whether it is two or three around a dinner table, five or six in a living room, seven or eight at a coffee shop, or larger gatherings in some other building.

For those who think that it is wrong for women to preach in church, I would ask them this: “Is it wrong for women to speak in Sunday school or home group Bible studies?”

If not, why not? These also are gatherings of the church, are they not? Men are usually present at these gatherings, right? Why can women speak and teach in one context, but not in others (especially when this other large-group context is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible)?

Once we understand the definition of “church” the whole debate about whether or not it is wrong for women to preach in church or be a “pastor” fades away into insignificance. It becomes a non-issue.

So … comments are open! On your mark, get set, GO! (*Please be nice*)


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Comments

  1. Shawn says

    I agree with a lot of what you said. The context is sooo important. Professional pulpiteers simply did not exist in the first century and so that is definitely an issue. It is always absolutely okay for a women to prophesy, give a testimony, bear witness , teach women and children. Here is where I believe it gets a little sensitive. I believe it is inappropriate for women to teach men in the assembly. It’s also potentially damaging when a women asks a man other than her husband a question during a teaching. It’s not about authority it is about responsibility. In the family it is the man’s responsibility to teach his own. If a women asks another man a question it implies that this is not being done which is another problem altogether. It is the husbands job to submit to the male elders not the wives. Wives submit to their OWN husbands. If the woman has a question it would be okay for her to ask her husband who can decide whether to ask right then and there or explain it to her later. There is a lot more explanation. This is all in place to avoid spiritual dependence of women on men who are not thier husbands and having men become spiritually dependent on women who are not men. Also to keep the Father’s and husband’s accountable for teaching in the home. And to follow the pattern of responsibility laid out by God. Single women would simply submit to the elder women. And of course we all submit to one another Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. This explanation can easily be misunderstood. This also a way to keep things decent and orderly. All in context of teaching which only one of many things occuring during a gathering of the saints. You might have many meetings where there is little to no formal teaching but a lot of sharing, praising, prayer, worship etc. It is only during any “fomal” teaching that this applies. Again this teaching is not during a certain time or duration every week but offered to the saints when led by the Spirit to do so.

    • says

      It is a touchy subject. I wish we had videos of Paul’s house meetings. Could it really be possible that all women had to sit in silence during those times? I highly doubt it. And yet what is the difference between prophecy and teaching? Or singing and teaching?

        • says

          Robert,

          Since same sex marriage has been made legal in many states, it would not be difficult at all. But I suspect that is not the point here, as much as I am sure that it is not Paul’s point to exclude Women from the role of “Bishop”, whatever that is. The question is one of fidelity to commitment within a relationship setting that qualifies a person for the position of Bishop, not their gender.

          Arguing from the absence is the weakest form of argument, and so I choose not to even believe that simply because women are not mentioned, they are not meant to fulfill this role. Funny, I have heard preachers who say this verse does not preclude non-married men, divorced men, even some who said that polygamous men were not necessarily precluded using this verse, but nearly all of them use this verse to exclude women. Sad indeed. We should focus more on the character of an individual than their gender, maybe then we would have fewer pastors caught in adultery or worse.

          Pastor FedEx.

  2. Shawn says

    One man doing most or all of the teaching is not even close to being biblical. Elders, gifted teachers, as well as others may teach but must be willing to be tested on the spot by the rest of the congregation by questions and scripture.

  3. Roger Fankhauser says

    First, let me say thanks for the post – I appreciate it. In many contexts, the question of male / female is moot. When “church” happens in some settings, it doesn’t matter.

    But, the biblical issue isn’t, in my opinion, about whether women can teach / speak in church (however it is defined) – it is the issue of qualifications for elders. And whatever “form” of church one attends (small group, house, small local body, mega-church)has some form of leadership (some good, some not-sThe biblical issue isn’t, in my opinion, about whether women can teach in a church – it is the issue of qualifications for elders. And whatever “form” of church one attends has some form of leadership (some good, some not-so-good). it’s not an issue of “silence in the church” but protection of the body. I hate to say “who decides the doctrinal teachings of the church” (even tho that’s what I think it is) because the word “‘doctrine” has taken on unnecessary baggage (after all, what you wrote is “doctrine” – doctrine in itself ain’t bad – it’s what we do with it). So, the NT clearly describes elders – whether house church or bigger church doesn’t matter. Who is qualified? I’m not advocating one position or another here, but with “church” comes “leadership”, with “leadership” comes “qualifications”, with “qualifications” comes the question you asked. In most settings, I agree – the issue is moot. But some important – and very biblical – situations, it’s gotta be wrestled with. I’m hesitant to say the protection and decision of the “doctrinal teachings of the church” (even tho that’s what I think it is) because the word “‘doctrine” has taken on unnecessary baggage (after all, what you wrote is “doctrine” – doctrine in itself ain’t bad – it’s what we do with it). So, the NT clearly describes elders – whether house church or bigger church doesn’t matter. Who is qualified? I’m not advocating one position or another here, but with “church” comes “leadership”, with “leadership” comes “qualifications”, with “qualifications” comes the question you asked. In most settings, I agree – the issue is moot. But some important – and very biblical – situations, it’s gotta be wrestled with. Hopefully, graciously!!!

    Thanks for letting me respond. Hope it sounds as gracious as intended

    • says

      Great input.

      Of course, aside from Scripture (just speaking pragmatically here), I know many women who would do a much better job deciding on doctrinal and practical issues than many so-called elders. I am not saying this means we automatically set aside Scripture, but maybe we need fewer (or no) elders in many gatherings.

  4. JJ says

    The following is a blatantly wrong statement in your post:

    “First, there are numerous times in the book of Acts and in some of Paul’s other letters where women appear to be speaking in the gatherings of the church with the approval of others, so whatever Paul is saying here, it does not seem to be a rule which he himself universally followed (Acts 16:14-15; Acts 18:26).”

    Please read carefully Acts 16:14-15; Acts 18:26 and ask yourself where are women speaking “in the church.”
    Acts 16:13 says “we went outside the gate to the riverside.” In Acts 18, it says they “took him aside.” This was a private conversation held after a synagogue meeting, not public teaching to a Christian congregation.

    You also say: “there is some debate about whether Paul was describing his own preference and practice, or whether he was giving instructions for all churches everywhere throughout time to follow as well. ”

    Yes, this is true, and ask yourself which is more likely:

    a) The Scripture is unclear on this point
    b) The Scripture is crystal clear, however, Christians today influenced by feminism don’t like it and try to get around it.

    For example, what part of the following suggests that this teaching isn’t for “all churches everywhere”:

    1. “she is to remain quiet. FOR ADAM WAS FORMED FIRST, THEN EVE…”
    2. “but should be in submission, AS THE LAW ALSO SAYS (i.e. the Torah).”

    Paul appeals to CREATION and SCRIPTURE as the reason for not allowing women to speak/teach.

    “Furthermore, few churches who use 1 Corinthians 14:34 to defend the idea that it is wrong for women to preach in church also apply Paul’s instructions that women should wear head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:2-10).”

    Yes, so disobedience in one area should justify further disobedience in other areas. I ask again, what’s more likely:

    a) head-coverings are not for “all churches everywhere,”even though Paul says “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, NOR DO THE CHURCHES OF GOD. ” 1 Cor. 11:16,”
    b) Christian feminists don’t like the teaching that “a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head” and try to get around it.

    “It becomes a non-issue.”

    I beg to differ. Over the last forty year, (since second-wave feminism) the church in North America has been on a steady DECLINE – in numbers, soundness of doctrine and discernment. It is a hardly a non-issue and I think one could easily argue that adding women into the mix as teacher/pastor/elder has made matters worse rather than better.

    • jonathon says

      Christianity has struggled with the role of women in the church, ever since John the Baptist was beheaded.

      Looked at one way, Paul prohibits women from doing anything. Looking from a slightly different perspective, Paul requires women to do everything.

      Overall, the strongest case is that Paul compromised with socio-cultural norms, to the extent that they did not directly conflict with the teachings and practices of Jesus. (How many people realize that 70% of the people that Paul names in leadership positions are women?)

      What is blatently obvious, is that once Constantine legalized Christianity, women were banned from the church leadership.

      • says

        Interesting connection with Constantine. He lived several hundred years after Paul, of course, but it is interesting to study the role of women in the church prior to Constantine.

    • says

      JJ,

      I think the big issue is how you are defining “church.” You seem to assume a definition of church which I do not hold to. I do not consider a synagogue meeting to be the only time people are “in the church.” Also, I do not believe that the North American church is in decline. The institutional aspect of church might be in decline, but it is pure scapegoating to blame this on women. Numerous other aspects of church are in rapid growth and revival.

      • JJ says

        Jeremy,

        “I think the big issue is how you are defining ‘church.’ You seem to assume a definition of church which I do not hold to.”

        Jeremy, with all due respect, I don’t “assume” any definition for church, rather I seek to understand how Scripture defines it. What you haven’t established is that your definition of “church” is Biblically sound. When you say,

        “I understand the church to be the people of God who follow Jesus into the world and so a gathering of the church occurs whenever and wherever believers gather, whether it is two or three around a dinner table, five or six in a living room, seven or eight at a coffee shop, or larger gatherings in some other building.”

        This is where we disagree. The word “church” in the original text is “ecclesia” and is best translated by the English word “assembly.” Ecclesia was historically “the name given to the governmental assembly of the city of Athens, duly convoked (called out) by proper officers and possessing all political power including even juridical functions.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

        A Biblical “assembly” is a community of believers with a recognizable leadership, regular gathering times, a specific location, and who formally meet for worship, teaching, edification, fellowship and missions. These points are seen in the following verses:

        1. Teaching/Location/Worship/Missions – “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas…While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul…Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” Acts 13:1-2
        2. Gathering – “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together” Acts 14:27
        3. Fellowship – “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church” Acts 15:4
        4. Sending – “then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas” Acts 15:22
        5. Worship/Gathering – “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered.” Acts 20:7
        6. Leadership – “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.” Acts 20:17

        Notice that in Acts 14:27 and 20:7, the church gathers together. This is what Paul has in mind when he uses the expression in 1 Cor. 11:17-33, “WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER”:

        “But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER it is not for the better but for the worse…For, in the first place, WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER AS A CHURCH, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part…WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat…So then, my brothers, WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER to eat, wait for one another… if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.”

        This “coming together” is in the context of collectively partaking in communion. Now is this something you imagine believers doing causally with a few Christian friends at a coffee shop? And it’s precisely at these times when Paul states “In all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches.” 1 Cor. 14:33-34.

        So Jeremy, I can’t see how your definition of “church” represents anything described in the New Testament.

        • says

          JJ,

          I didn’t intend to imply that you assume a definition of church.

          I meant to say that you seem to assume that you and I have the same definition of church. We clearly don’t.

          So when you attack my views, you are attacking them based on your definition of church, which is a definition I do not accept. Therefore, your areas of dispute are logically invalid.

          If you and I are talking about the best fruit, and you are thinking “apple” but I am thinking “orange” but we both keep saying “fruit” the discussion will get nowhere.

          So also with church. Before anybody can have a proper discussion about church, they either need to agree on a definition for church, OR at the very least, understand what the other person has in mind when they say “church.” It’s okay to disagree with their view, but you at least need to understand it before you can have a conversation with them.

          It seems to me that you do not understand how I define church. You also seem to imply that I have not carefully studied the particular words or passages used to define and describe church in the New Testament. To the contrary, I wrote a book which summarizes (it doesn’t contain everything) a study on this very subject. And my study draws its conclusions from the New Testament and cultural background studies of that era, not from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

          Anyway, my book is called “Skeleton Church.” There are various ways of obtaining it on this website, if you truly want to learn how I define church.

        • Sam says

          J.J., we do not all understand this the same. We also have Bibles and have read and studied them in depth, and have studied the Scriptures in the original languages. We have also studied the cultural background of the time and people who wrote them as well as the people to whom they were written. You have your understanding. But many others have other understandings. This may have something to do with the fact that the are tens of thousands of Christian denominations in the world.

          We are not saying that your understanding is wrong. If that’s the way you understand it, then live accordingly. However, arguing Scripture and shouting Scripture (that’s what writing it in all caps indicates) is not profitable or becoming to any of us who follow Jesus. Loving God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves is profitable and becoming. Attempting to get others to agree with you is pointless. Loving the unlovable in Jesus’ name, spending all we have on behalf of others is looks like Jesus.

  5. Priscilla says

    Wow! After reading all these statements about this topic, I can honestly say I am more confused now about it! I am a happy married woman and I gladly submit to my husband only because he loves me like Christ loved the church.

  6. Wendy says

    I have a couple of questions regarding this.
    1 Corinthians 14:34-38
    is it possible one of the reasons Paul was telling women to be silent and ask their husbands questions was simply him explaining basic classroom behavior? they had never been permitted to be taught in a formal setting before this and needed basic instruction on behavior they was expected in a class/learning environment. Paul would not have included the men in this rule because they already knew how to act.
    Also that women not being as familiar with old Jewish text may not have known specific things which were sometimes referred to In study and therefore to keep the group progressing forward instead of stalled Over explaining text to women the men already knew forward and backward were told to ask at home?

    I mean giving background again and again to the old Jewish text could have easily hindered them from experiencing Christ wouldn’t it ?

    Or is it possible due to the following verses Paul was being a little sarcastic. It wouldn’t be the first time we see sarcastic questions meant to make a point in Paul’s writings speaking against some false teachings that sprung up In the church of Corinth. considering the verses we find back in chapter 11 concerning women, prophesying, and head coverings it would seem Paul contradicts himself within just a few chapters if He here actually forbids women.

    And speaking of head coverings watchman Née has some writings on Corinthians 11. It basically deals with having an understanding of the government God has set up for His followers to be under in Christ. I would have to read it a few more times but I believe when he says government he is talking about the restoration of our original relationship with God and everything being in its rightful place. Men not covering their heads shows they accept not only their authority, but also their responsibility. A woman covering her head while prophesying also shows she also understands this government. It in know way restricts her from speaking. She shows acceptance of her submissive role. Accepting basic structure of creation was something Adam and Eve both failed to do in their respective roles. That is the bare bones gist of His thoughts on the matter and I may have misread something or read into it wrong. Anyone that wants to give feed back please do.
    so if anyone is interested in this study please go to this site. The article is called
    Head coverings
    Love one another
    Watchman Née.

    www3.telus.net › trbrooks

    • says

      Wendy,
      I think you raise good points. There is a lot about the context of this passage in 1 Corinthians that we simply do not know. I do think that in many places in 1 Corinthians, Paul was being sarcastic. Maybe this is another such place.

      I have not read that article by Watchman Nee, but will try to look it up.

  7. JJ says

    Wendy,

    A general principle is that we don’t skip over what is clear and obvious and reach for what is less clear and less obvious. Theorizing endless hypothetical interpretations when the author gives you the reason for his teaching is not the path to truth. What Christians are called to do is obey the God’s Word, not look for ways to circumvent it. Notice that your very action models what Eve did in the Garden of Eden in listening to Satan saying “has God said…” and ironically demonstrates precisely why men are called to lead and teach.

    And there are better authors than Watchman Née on headcoverings, The symbol of headcovering displays that what was lost in the Fall, when the order of headship was reversed, has been set right by the redemptive work of Christ.

    “Paul contradicts himself within just a few chapters if He here actually forbids women”

    I believe a better interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:5 is that the women were attending church gatherings and were sitting in the presence of praying and prophesying.

    • Wendy says

      Dear JJ

      I never knew asking questions on texts of the Bible was trying to circumventing it. I never knew my asking questions about unclear text using history, culture, and tradition as a framework for them was akin to me playing the role of Eve conversing with satan. You see the problem is these issues are not clearly explained because we have certain instances where Paul says not to speak and others where Paul encourages women to actively participate in church. So no I don’t see this as a clearly defined issue. I think you me mistake me for a feminist determined to place woman in the pulpit no matter what. instead if a person seeking the truth in scripture. Perhaps you are guilty of trying to circumvent the issue if you can not see the contradiction in Paul’s writing and refuse to consider maybe Paul was giving instructions for different situations. Or if you can’t see sometimes Paul did use sarcasm to gently with humor show people their errors. See my questions are not to civumvent anything. They reflect my desire to not simply know scripture but my desire to understand it. I can know it by memorizing it, but the answer “because the Bible says'” on an issue like this that us not one if faith is simply not good enough. We are instructed to study the word and test the spirits. Not blindly accept tradition.

      You really can not discount the fact Paul was sarcastic in many of his letters to bring out a point.

      It is apparent you did not even read my post completely or even bother skimming Watchman Nee’s article on head coverings. It was all about roles of creation. Here and only Paul does give reasons. But they are not reasons for a woman to be silent. They are only reasons for the head covering if she wants to speak. The watchman née article is all about positions we hold in Gods government. Also how grace and restoration shows the importance if upholding these roles of Gods the government of God started at creation. Née argues it’s not just a duty but a privilege for a woman to wear the head covering. I am not sure why you told me the same thing is stated unless you only saw what you didn’t like in my question and stopped reading. So I beg you if you wish to criticize please read what you speak against first. If there are people that you think explain better than watchman née I would gladly read those commentaries but you gave no names.

      Remember as Jeremy says we must define church with God’s definition, not mans. I think that is where most go wrong. Church absolutely and exclusively thought of by most in terms of the system man invented not by the plan God had for it. When we think of it in God’s terms things become clearer. If church is people making the body of Christ if half of the body is mute a great deal if wisdom is lost.

      Wendy.

      I have not said any of this in anger or a bad spirit. However I did have great difficulty with your response to my questions. I truly hope you do not equate everyone that ask questions the way you did me it was kind of bad form to do that to someone asking a Christian site biblical questions. Perhaps you could have made the comparison if I would have asked an atheist feminist blog those questions. But not when I ask a Christian site. Please rethink how you word things if you talk to people who are not Christians. They will think you mean which I am sure is not the case. Remember questions are not the problem. How we react to the questions is the problem.

    • says

      JJ,

      Yes, but what is obvious to one is not so obvious to another. Cultural and historical background studies have shown time and time again that an obvious teaching to one generation in one culture is actually completely wrong. This is why we study historical and cultural backgrounds, so that we can raise questions as Wendy is doing here.

  8. says

    Dude, you know how to tackle the hard ones. My personal view on this, which I’d love to talk to you privately about when we get together, is submitted to community. I think this is one way that the church isn’t as fluid as you picture. Of course whenever two or three are gathered in His name, it’s church on some level. However, the protection of community and mutual submission seems to need a local church context–not talking about bricks and mortar, but the living stones Paul, Peter, and Hebrews speak of. This means that I’m not a “free agent,” but a minister of the gospel who is asked to even submit my hermeneutic to community. Does that make sense? Way to go launching this discussion!

    • says

      Thanks. Yes, this is a hot topic. I probably never would have written on it if someone hadn’t submitted the question. I feel inadequate to write on the topic for numerous reasons. One being that I’m not a woman. Ha!

      Anyway, yes, I agree that the active church involves community based on the teaching of the Apostles. I don’t think I have endorsed “free agent” Christianity anywhere, though I suppose some of my writings could be understood that way.

  9. Sam says

    This issue is one of several that frequently shines a light on the unlovely side of some religious people, people on both sides of the issue. Suggesting that one and only one understanding is the only correct understanding of the issue and that those who see it otherwise are heretics, listen to Satan, or similar language certainly looks like something, but it sure doesn’t look like Jesus.

    BTW, Jesus drastically elevated the status of women, which undoubtedly shocked the religious folks of his day, the ones responsible for convincing the Romans to execute him. Jesus had the wrong beliefs. He thought he was the Son of God. He unapologetically. broke their rules and paid the price for it.

    • says

      Great input, Sam. I think one thing many miss is what you point out … that Jesus and Paul drastically elevated the role of women. One wonders if they would have elevated them even further if they were ministering today.

  10. JJ says

    Wendy my dear, nothing I said was spoken in anger or with hostility. Perhaps you interpreted it that way because of the limitation of communicating in writing. However, I endeavor to speak with a manly frankness that I think some in our politically correct, metro-sexual culture find abrasive. For that I make no apologies.

    What I said regarding Watchman Nee is based on the fact that, though he had some good points, he ultimately is the founder of what has for a long time been considered a Christian cult – http://www.apologeticsindex.org/2694-watching-out-for-watchman-nee. They may be emerging out of that status; however, a better resource for headcoverings is the popular “Believers Bible Commentary” by William MacDonald (http://www.amazon.ca/Believers-Bible-Commentary-William-MacDonald/dp/0785212167). His commentary will also answer your other questions about women’s roles in the church.

    “Perhaps you are guilty of trying to circumvent the issue if you can not see the contradiction in Paul’s writing ”

    No, I can see the “apparent” contradictions; however, these are my assumptions for dealing with contradictions:

    1. Paul is intelligent – he didn’t make silly mistakes
    2. Paul is not schizophrenic, he doesn’t contradict himself
    3. Don’t skip over what is clear and obvious and reach for what is less clear and less obvious – so when definitive statements are made, use them as a basis to interpret “apparent” contradictions.

    When you bring up the points that:

    “men already knew [the Scriptures] forward and backward”
    “Paul would not have included the men in this rule because they already knew how to act.”

    First of all, these are mere theories that are not obviously true in the context. Why would we think that the mostly non-Jewish Corinthian men, whom were generally illiterate and uneducated, were experts in the Bible or knew how to act any better than the women in a formal teaching environment? You may not be a feminist, but you certainly take a feminist reading of history – that men have always had huge advantages over women.

    What I said before is that Paul made definitive statements where he links his teaching to CREATION – not specific circumstances, local customs, or any socio-historic issues. And he does this twice, speaking to different groups of Christians, which emphasizing the point. Paul says,

    1. Women are to remain quiet and not teach – because Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden and the concern is that Satan will use women in like manner to teach false doctrine to the church. (1 Tim 2:14).
    2. Women are to learn in submission – because this is in keeping with God’s instruction in the Torah. He is likely referring the Gen. 3:16 “…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you,” where God reminds Eve that she fell into deception because she didn’t follow the pattern of headship God had established in creation. This links to headcoverings, because they symbolize that God’s original pattern of headship has been re-established in the church.

    “You really can not discount the fact Paul was sarcastic in many of his letters to bring out a point.”

    Wendy, perhaps you can explain where you see in 1 Cor 14:34-38 that Paul is being sarcastic.

    V.34 Paul states his teaching and the reason for it
    V.35 Paul clarifies that “to speak in church” also includes asking questions – so silent really means silent.
    V.36-37 Paul states a very serious truth – if you claim to be a spiritual Christian, you should acknowledge that his teachings in Chapter 14 are a “command from the Lord.” This is about as far away from sarcasm as I can imagine.
    V.38 Paul states that if one doesn’t acknowledge his teaching as authoritative, then that person should be considered as one having no authority to speak on spiritual things (he has in mind false teachers or church rebels who would oppose his teaching).

    Frankly Wendy, I’m not sure if Paul could have stated his position any stronger and with more gravity.

    “If church is people making the body of Christ if half of the body is mute a great deal if wisdom is lost.”

    If I understand this sentence, you’re concerned that a church without women publicly speaking, teaching, preaching, and exercising authority would be missing something important. Well, that’s easily proven false. There are more women over the last forty years (since second wave feminism) involved in public church ministry than in the history of the church. Are we better for it? I would argue that the church is in its weakest state it’s ever been in Western society. If adding women into the mix helped, then the church should be roaring along. However, sadly, it isn’t.

    • Wendy says

      What we have here is a failure to communicate.
      Anything I could say (and there was a great deal in my mind) will apparently just be twisted by you so you can argue your point instead of actually read.
      So I wish you well in your walk. I hope you will continue to grow and flex your spiritual muscles. I tend to think that it’s not women entering leadership roles that has caused the decline of the church but rather tradition and doctrine over ruling the search truth in the scriptures.

      Much love to you. Your ability to quote and memorize scripture is a good thing I am sure it’s handy. I always have to look things up and read the chapter surrounding them so I don’t take it our of context if I am trying to make a point.

      • says

        Wendy,
        Thank you so much for your loving and gracious response. I don’t think JJ was angry, but as I mentioned to him, his comment sounded angry, and I was afraid that you would get scared off or offended. Please stick around. I love your insights (and learning from you!).

  11. JJ says

    “Suggesting that one and only one understanding is the only correct understanding of the issue ”

    Well Sam, your promoting a wish-washy relativistic approach to truth. I’m sorry to say, we don’t always have the right interpretation, but God’s word has only ONE correct interpretation. And if someone says Jesus Christ:

    – Isn’t the Son of God,
    – He wasn’t born of a virgin
    – He wasn’t/Isn’t perfect
    – He wasn’t God and man in one person
    – He didn’t die a sin atoning death on the cross
    – He didn’t rise from the dead and ascend

    then that person is flat-out WRONG. I hope you agree that there is only ONE interpretation of these truths found in God’s Word.

    “those who see it otherwise are heretics, listen to Satan, or similar language certainly looks like something, but it sure doesn’t look like Jesus.”

    Right, because Jesus never used strong language…

    “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. ” John 8:44
    “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'” Mat.16:23
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” Mat.23:15
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Mat. 23:27
    “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” Mat. 23:33

    • Sam says

      You’re twisting what Jeremy, Wendy and I are saying to make it sound like we’re saying something we are not. Practicing love for neighbor, kindness and gentleness look like Jesus. The words of Jesus you quoted were all directed at the religious authorities of the day, those who were certain they knew the correct interpretation of the Scriptures.

    • says

      JJ,
      It is difficult online to hear someone’s tone of voice, but to me, your comment sounds quite angry. Are you angry? If not, please, for the sake of the online community here, try to soften your language and words toward others.

      • JJ says

        Jeremy,

        I’m not angry, though I am displeased when people discuss the Bible in a public forum (like the internet) and promote conclusions based on opinion, speculation, and secular ideology, rather than clear reasoning from the Scriptures. Especially when those conclusions involve an undiscerning capitulation to culture. It dishonors the Word of God and doesn’t heed the warning “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1.

        • says

          JJ,
          Once again, although you and I disagree, this doesn’t mean that my views are based on opinion, speculation, and secular theology. You may not know the exegetical work I have done to reach my conclusions, but that is not my fault.

          So as I have said to others on this blog … before lashing out with accusations and attacks, at least seek to learn something about the actual views and beliefs of the person you intend to attack. If you don’t want to learn about what I actually believe, that is fine … you don’t have to. But if you don’t know what I believe, don’t attack or condemn what you think I believe.

        • Sam says

          Rather than spending your time accusing Jeremy and what he has written, consider getting to know your neighbors, co-workers if you have any, the poor, the lonely, the widows and orphans, those who have no roof over their heads, and share the love of Jesus with them in practical ways. Sit with them, weep with them when they weep, put you arm around them and comfort them. Give them a cup of water if they are thirsty, a sandwich if they are hungry. If you’re looking for correct doctrine you will find it there, among those whom Jesus loves. Arguing and accusing repels and is the opposite of love.

        • JJ says

          Jeremy/Sam,

          What I’ve learned is that a lot of things are said here without a single Scripture being referenced. There’s a reason for that and I think I know what it is. As such, I regret wasting my time commenting and will not waste any more of it…

          • says

            JJ,
            …so if I put a bunch of Bible verses in parenthesis after a point, that makes it right?

            I could do that, of course, but have purposefully chosen not to. But even if I had, you would then simply accuse me of proof texting. So again, the point is not whether Bible verses are quoted or not. Anybody can quote the Bible, even the devil (Luke 4:10-11). The point is that you have different understandings of the pertinent passages than I do.

            So rather than think “Hey, what he is saying contradicts Reference X:Y” it would be better to think, “Hmm, I disagree with him. He certainly knows about Reference X:Y … I wonder how he understands that text? Maybe I will search his blog to see if he has written on it. If not, maybe I will ask him to explain it.”

  12. Jim Strickland says

    Some 25 years ago, David Pawson published a little book entitled “Leadership is male”. ISBN 0 946616 45 0. In it he sets out some pertinent reason why this should be the case. My wife and I have read the book and are very happy with his statements.
    My wife is an outstanding preacher and teacher of God’s Word. We have ministered together since 1981. Furthermore, we are delighted that the ladies have taken up challenge of preaching and teaching. We see this largely as “prophesy” in which men and women are encouraged to participate. It seems a contradiction that God would “gift” ladies with such abilities and then lock them away somewhere, so they cannot be accused of “teaching men”. I’ve also done my very best to encourage ladies to become “prophets”. i.e. to preach and teach men, women and children. Be aware that I’m not referring to prophets such as Isaiah.
    The best way I can put it is to say we believe in the the priesthood of all believers as well as the “prophet-hood” of all believers.
    Today many Christians have become adept at straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Mat 23:24 ESV Some of it – not all – stems from envy. “She is a better preacher than me!” (True in my case!)
    Philip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied. Acts 21:8-9 So lets take off our religious blinkers and see the ladies for what they really are. Valuable and precious; gifted by God to be more than someone whose voice is muffled. If God has gifted her, allow her to function in her gift!
    Jim

    • says

      Interesting. Based on the title of that book, it sounds like he was saying that only males should be leaders. But based on the rest of your comment, it sounds like you love it when women preach and teach. So what was David Pawson saying in the book?

  13. Chris says

    Jeremy,
    Your last paragraph is so right on. – “Once we understand the definition of “church” the whole debate about whether or not it is wrong for women to preach in church or be a “pastor” fades away into insignificance. It becomes a non-issue.”
    If anyone reading this is a doer of the institutional church system, (a man made system, not of scripture), will not get the absolute truth of your wrap up point.
    Christians have got to get this definition and a proper understanding of what church really is or they will be in a perpetual state of disunity.
    Here is an article that does a decent job of defining the word “church” in the bible. Original Greek word “ekklesia”. http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/ekklesia.html
    Peace!

  14. Tony Papilli says

    While I was fielding questions with some very dear friends and church planters in Asia on this subject, I had asked if Jesus had ever silenced a woman in His ministry. The room fell deafly silent. Then after drawing a picture of a body and then tearing it in half down the middle in front of them, the room went deafly silent again. I would also recommend the book by Jon Zens, What’s With Paul And Women?, Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2.

  15. Tony Papilli says

    Tearing the body in half was pointing to the elimination or cutting off the gifts from the body of Christ. Especially with the speaking gifts; prophecy, exhortation, teaching and administration.

  16. says

    Jeremy, perhaps churches that don’t allow women to preach/teach/prophesy ignore the head covering scripture because if they recognized it, they would have to admit women may be prophets. (JJ, I noticed,TOTALLY over ruled the obvious reading here and reinterpreted it.)

    I highly suspect this is another of Paul’s responses to the Kaballah teachings of the scribes & Pharisees. They made a HUGE hairy deal out of hair, head coverings, male authority shaving women’s heads, etc. Stuff you never see in the Old Testament, but are still common Jewish practice. People who want to learn more should check out chabad dot com and affiliated sites for a low level intro to this. It is a Jewish site. PLEASE do not get in bondage to it! But it will help you see who Jesus & Paul were addressing.

    I have thought much on head coverings in society. Until recently, they were worn as a symbol of what one is qualified & authorized to do. You could recognize what a person’s role was by their hat or cap. Firemen, policemen, bus drivers, military rank, etc. Even though nurses seldom wear caps now, it is still a part of their graduation, which is called a “capping” ceremony. People receiving a Master’s degree receive a hood, which they now wear as more of a sash, but it actually is a hood.

    There is something about a stylish hat or lovely draping that gives a woman a regal appearance. In our day, only the most confident woman adorns herself in this way. In cultures where women are deprecated, a mantle or veil signifying she has been authorized by church leaders to prophesy or lead could be advantageous. I believe this is a practiced by the female home group leaders who are part of David Yonggi ho’s church.

    As God laid a prophetic mantle upon the prophets he called in the Old Testament, local congregations could do more to affirm and confirm callings today (including commissioning those who feel called to leave, as God guides them). The institutional church as a whole does little along these lines, and often when it is done, the authorized ones tend to become spiritual abusers. How this would play out in a more organic setting today is still being discovered. :-)

  17. says

  18. Tony Carlino says

    As I read the Gospel of Mark, I read where Jesus, After having risen from the dead, appeared first……first……. to Mary Magdalene…..a woman…….and she went and told them….the other disciples….that Jesus was alive. Jesus had eleven Disciples to whom He could have appeared to, but He chose Mary, and she went and told the others. Mark 16: Vs 9-10. Also Luke 24:Vs 8-10 says…”And they remembered His Words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven,and to all the rest.{Who were…They???} it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and other ….women…. that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles”. vs 10.What did they tell the apostles, and Disciples??? They told them that Jesus was Risen from the dead, and is now alive. So, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me, that the very first Evangelists, the very first ones who Jesus sent into the world, with the Good news of His resurrection, were all women. Also, Jesus said to His Disciples “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature”. And “these signs shall follow them …….that believe”……{Not just men, but them that believe} Mark 16 vs: 15, 17. Added words are mine. Now when His Born-Again children of today read those Words of Jesus, in the Bible, I would think, that those words of Jesus, apply to both men and women too, and I don’t read anywhere,where Jesus tells women, not to preach in the church. Remember, the true (Church} is not a building, But it is His people, wherever they may gather. So. like I said, I could be wrong, but I believe that as Gods children, both men and women, are to preach the Gospel, everywhere, in and out of the church, that the world might know, that Jesus is alive, and Heaven is open to all who believe, and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Praise the Lord.

    • says

      Tony,
      I agree with you because I believe that women ought to spread the Good News through preaching and evangelism in the world and in the invisible church (via internet, for example). However, as soon as the question of pastoring a (visible) church arises, the question of church leadership in a somehow settled organization appears as well. And here we come into conflict with different NT Scriptures as we all know.

      For the record, some years ago I asked the Lord why I have always felt uneasy when seeing a female pastor preaching in the church, BUT, one the other hand, why did He teach and reveal so many things to me, if I never have the chance to share them?

      Here’s Jesus’ perplexing response,

      “If you see a woman pastoring a church, you will know at once that she doesn’t know me yet because she interprets Scripture wrongly according to her own liking. If she had accepted my authority over her life instead, she would know that she is already a priestess and queen in the invisible kingdom of God and would have no desire to rule over men any longer.”

      Ouch! God is sometimes hilarious, but His humor hardly soft-soaps anybody. Quite the contrary, His words often cut me into pieces until I had learned to obey Him.

      “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:12-13 ESV)

      • Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says

        Jeremy,

        Could you correct the following mistake, please?

        “[...] BUT, on the other hand [...]”

        Thank you! ;-)

      • Tony Carlino says

        Hi Susanne….I am not sure that I understand all of what you said was Gods response to your question to Him. If a woman is the Pastor of a church, does this necessarily mean that she has a desire to “rule over men”?? Could she not simply have a desire to reach out to her part of the world, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and see people saved, in obedience to God and His Word, without ruling over men?? If a woman Pastors a church, and people get saved, and Born-Again, are they not truly saved?? Does the Bible not say that in Gods Kingdom, there is neither male nor female, but all are one, in Christ Jesus, and that God is not a respecter of persons?? I really can’t understand why God would desire for people to be saved by men preaching to them but not women. Paul did say that if a woman desires to….learn..something, she should ask her husband at home, but not during the church service. Sounds like he was talking about educational learning, not being a Pastor.

        • says

          Hi Tony,

          Thanks so much for your kind response. ;-)
          I do admit that I have problems to bring across what I am talking about here and I do not know all the answers to my questions yet. The response I heard from Jesus was not given directly after my question but more than ten years later, years in which I have been waiting for the answer to the burning question, “What do You want me to do, wherever, inside or outside the church?”

          From my own experience I know that God always judges our hearts. Thus, if He is speaking about a woman’s desire to rule over men, He is directly looking into the inside of the woman, although, from the outside, you might see a nice and kind woman who is seemingly hell-bent on saving men and women.

          As for the Kingdom of God, it is not yet visible now though it will be later. Although I know that God uses my writing or speaking, from time to time, in a prophetic way (since He attested this special call to me by some brothers and sisters), I am merely an instrument, a servant, who can only work effectively if God decides to use my doing for the benefit of expanding His invisible Kingdom. If, however, He chooses to not need me any longer, I cannot do anything on my own. Sounds bizarre, I know. But it is true. I am completely dependant on His supernatural guidance. If God says, “Go to the left!” I do it without thinking about it. If He, instead, wants me to change direction or to stop doing everything, I am quasi compelled to obey because He empties my mind from my own thoughts and plans and squares them with His thoughts and plans. As you can imagine, sometimes I still wonder how “strange” it feels to be led by God in such a way.

          So, returning to the female pastor in the visible church, I know some of them who are really sweet and well-intentioned in their “pulpiteering” and in fulfilling their social commitment. I added inverted commas here since I never heard or read a sermon from a woman pastor which was somehow convicting or calling to repentance. Basically, you hear them talk about “Jesus, our brother [not LORD and KING], who loves everybody whatever they do and howsoever they might live”. They tend to embrace homosexual marriages, to accept divorces and remarriages without raising an eyebrow, and they are open for new non-biblical teachings, for esoteric literature, and suchlike.
          Listening to them, you might eventually get the impression that Jesus was and still is a softy who caresses us all the time and who would never dare to contradict our false notion of God.
          The problem is, as it is with many male liberals too, that they have a one-sided notion of Jesus which rests upon a shortened form of the gospel, excluding the Christ as He is, for example, extensively described in the Book of Revelation.

          I do know that nobody is able to know Christ unless He reveals Himself to them and shows who He really is. Therefore it is not my intention to judge those who are prone to accept the liberal mindset which I did in the past as well. However, I’d like to encourage every woman, pastor or not, but pastors even more than mere listeners, ask yourself, “Am I interested in knowing the truth and the real Jesus, or do I prefer defending my comfortable lifestyle and thinking against all odds?”

          Finally, a human life without the cross, which means dying to self and to our own plans and notions of God and of our life here on earth, is a worldly life, not a Christian life.

          “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
          “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (Lk 14:33-35 ESV)

    • says

      Good points. I think as soon as we realize the church is not a building, and the Gospel is a message of words AND a way of life, then some of these divisive issues within the church just fade away into insignificance and meaninglessness.

  19. B erean Sheep says

    Jeremy, thank you for your interesting blog. I can discern that you have a burden for the saints and are actively sacrificing time and resources to share your understanding and wisdom.

    I would like to get a grasp on a statement you made in your conclusion. You said, “Once we understand the definition of “church” the whole debate about whether or not it is wrong for women to preach in church or be a ‘pastor’ fades away into insignificance.”

    I assume that you have come to a definition of church from your studies of the bible and that it is this definition that effects the interpretation that it is right for women to preach in “church” or become a pastor.

    Before I inquire further, I have a question:

    1st Corinthians 11:18 says, “For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” If ‘the Church” only means, “the people of God who follow Jesus into the world” then how do the people of God come together in the people of God?

    Perhaps this definition of ‘the church’ could be refined to not only include, the people of God (the Body of Christ), but also to include the ‘ecclesia’, namely, that particular assembly of the people of God where particular things are done, in order, and particular things are not done.

    Would that be fair, so that I may inquire further into the pertinent passages regarding our Sisters in Christ?

    • says

      Good, gracious, insightful question. I do believe that the universal church is able to gather in small parts in local physical settings. I think that is what you were asking? So yes, the ecclesia has local settings.

      As for Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians in their local setting, it is difficult to get universal principles for the universal church from a local church setting, especially one as troubled as Corinth. It does appear that Paul did not allow women in Corinth to speak in their local gatherings.

      What is your take on this text?

  20. Berean Sheep says

    Hello Jeremy,

    I agree that it is difficult to find in the bible explicit statements mentioning traditions that are to be practiced in all churches for all times.

    Is there overwhelming evidence that 1st Corinthians 13:33-34 does not apply to us today? Here is the scripture as rendered by the ESV:

    “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”

    So how are we to determine what sentence the statement “all the churches of the saints” should be included in? Also, why mention “churches” in the plural if Paul only intended that local church to follow this practice and not qualify it by saying “in Corinth”?

    Should we believe then that the New Testament patterns and traditions mentioned to the various church’s in the epistles do not apply to us? Perhaps those passages that we discern no particular spiritual benefit should not apply? I can foresee some troubling consequences to our testimony as Christians by interpreting disagreeable verses this way.

    My personal approach is that if I am unsure of the applicability of a teaching that affects me, i’d rather practice obedience to the Word, rather than become a stumbling block for a Christian or a non-believer. A Christian should be above reproach in the world, being all things to all men, so that some may be won to Christ.

    If someone is offended that you drink wine, though you are free to, then don’t drink for the sake of the weaker Christian or non-believer. We do not venture into the way of disobedience though, doing that which we are commanded not to, but rather listen to God, no matter who it offends or what man made laws are broken.

    Timothy was willing to be circumcised for the sake of the Jews, though he did not have to. Paul worked day and night with his hands so that he could make the gospel without charge. Presumably, it was more important for Paul at this time to be without blame, than to be in chargeable full time ministry. None could find occasion to discredit the motives of the Apostles of Christ and therefore, their words were regarded as from God and not from man and so the Word of God had occasion to work effectually in them that believed.

    The world is not lacking in teachers and preachers. It is lacking in doers of the Word of God. Whatever the view of the teaching silencing women in the church, I know that I am more edified by the Sister that applies this teaching to her life, choosing instead, sacrifice and obedience. Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” May we all find such uncomfortable scripture to conform ourselves to Christ and be sanctified by His Spirit.

    Garth.

    • says

      It sounds like you have thought carefully through your position. You can state it well, and most importantly, you can state it with grace! Thank you. I respect your view and how you arrived at it.

  21. TNelso16 says

    This is in reply about what Shawn stated above about “The Elders being the head or having athority over the man and the man has authority over his wife”….Either you misquoted 1Corinthians 11:3 ( also look at Ephesians 5:23 as well) or you’re teaching a false doctrine it is God who is Head over Christ and CHRIST(JESUS) who is the head and authority over man NOT “THE ELDERS” .

  22. Justin Wiles says

    This is another subject where I think the interpretation is pretty clear but we has humans have dropped the ball on application. I think most of us can all agree that homosexuality and abortion are sin according to the Bible but when we decide to put people in power who are willing to evict people from houses and refuse to serve them at restaurants because of their orientation and boldly proclaim pro-life values but want to leave these children left at the border out to dry we do evil in the name of biblical truth.

    I think that God’s perfect design for how our church was meant to be run as Paul stated, without women having spiritual authority over men. Both males and females have been given equally important roles. However look at how we have treated women in our society for generations. Even still they are paid less than men on average, slut-shamed with our society’s double standards, etc. It’s no wonder women feel like they have been made inferior to men and it doesn’t help the church to shout scripture at them which appears to cast them as inferior while doing nothing to improve what is ailing us in society. If we want to show the truths of God’s design of equal but different roles you first have to show that women are loved and valued by God outside of the church walls.

    • says

      I love what you say there. Yes, if we are going to show people God’s design, we first have to show that God loves women. Sadly, the church does not often show this (though we pay it lip service).

      • Berean Sheep says

        Please provide examples of how the Church is failing to show love toward women and prevailing at showing love toward men and the youth. A Church that loves one another will also rejoice in the truth, not hide from it.

        Certainly we cannot expect that the world will treat women, men, children or babies as they should be treated. This is why Christians fellowship and encourage one another to love a world that does not yet have Jesus Christ.

        Christian action should not be directed by what we think God’s will is. It is directed by what His will is. It is not up to us to bend and dance around the truth until the world and immature Christians are ready to accept it. It is His power alone that will provide the increase in knowledge, wisdom and then application in a believers life.

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