May I preface this by saying that I have always believe that women should not teach men or women older then themselves?  I have.  It’s not that I think women are a lower status than men or anything, it was just the way I was raised… “biblically” speaking.  ((wink!))  This summer when we decided to look for another church, I passed right on by the local Methodist because they had a woman minister.  That’s just not right… or is it?

The more I thought about it… Deborah was a judge – held precedence over men in the Bible.  Anna was a prophetess…  Priscilla was a notable church leader… and Junia (Romans 16:7) was an apostle!!  So if women are supposed to be under men… well, what about these chicks???

I first wanted to know why I believed what I believed before finding out why other people believed otherwise.  ((Makes sense, no?)) So I went to a few pastor sites and read a whole bunch of really stupid stuff.  Like – There are twelve tribes of Isreal for each of Jacob’s sons… but not one stemming from his daughter.  ((What the HECK does this have to do with teaching men??))  There were, however, two verses that pretty much solidified ‘my stance’.  The first is:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

So my first problem came with the fact that women are supposed to keep silent in church.  If this is an across-the-board rule that they’re not to speak in church, it would mean no fellowship, no singing, no teaching Sunday school – Nada.  Because if you want to take it literally, that’s what it would mean, right?  And isn’t that defeating the whole purpose of a woman going to church – for fellowship?

Now I’m calling you to remember what I constantly harp on:  God’s word cannot contradict itself.  If this literally meant for women to zip it, it would cause scripture to contradict itself, too – because it is Scripturally very clear that women did in fact pray aloud and prophecy in church services. (1 Corinthians 11:4-5.) In light of this, we can determine that, whatever the meaning of the above meaning verses, they could NOT be saying women can’t take part vocally in the church.

What then do these verses mean?  Verse 35 gives us some indication. “If they (the women) will LEARN anything, let them ASK their husbands at home.” Apparently, the problem Paul was dealing with was women causing disruption in the church services by asking their husbands questions in a disorderly manner. This interpretation fits perfectly into the overall context of this chapter, which is guidelines for the proper order of the service, particularly, but not limited to, Spiritual gifts such as tongues and prophecy. We see such statements as “Let all things be done unto edifying’ (vs 26), “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (vs 33), and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (vs 40). In other words, whatever is being done in church, whether it be speaking in tongues, prophesying, or women asking their husbands questions, let it all be done in a peaceful, edifying, and orderly manner.  So it really has little to do with teaching or preaching or even participating… but being disorderly!

The second verse is this:  1 Timothy 2:12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence(Good girl, Sara… you at least looked for a Biblical answer!)

But what about Lydia and Priscilla and Junia?  That would make them in the wrong, but in Acts 18:24-26 it says that Priscilla (along with her husband) “expounds the way of God more perfectly”.  That gal was teaching!  And Luke (a disciple and apostle of Jesus) stated it as a good thing, not a bad thing!  In fact, because of her teaching, the Truth was taught to a man named Apollos, who became a great evangelist for the early church.  It certainly doesn’t appear that she was sinning in any way by teaching a MAN – Priscilla provides a beautiful picture of a woman who, in right relationship with her husband, uses her God given gifts to further the Kingdom of God in a powerful way.

So what does 1 Timothy mean, then?  Well, looking at the scripture (the Greek, the history, and the Context), we see a couple of things:  First, it’s important to remember that the Greek words for “man” and “husband,” as well as the words for “woman” and “wife,” are the same. Second, in the very next verse, Paul refers back to Adam being formed first, then Eve. From all indications, this passage is, by context, referring to the marriage relationship, not the church.

That is not to say that this principle doesn’t apply to church leadership. Being in right relationship with a spouse certainly is a requirement for married church leaders, male or female. But to use this verse to say that women absolutely can’t teach men simply is not in line with the overall teaching of Scripture.

Did you know the first account of an evangelistic message in the Bible was in Luke 24:9-10… and the evangelists were two women?  If that isn’t something, I don’t know what is!!  And something else – there are numerous examples in the Bible of female prophets – in the New testament and the Old!  (Exodus 15:20; Luke 2:36; Acts 21:8-9.)

God calls all Christians, men and women alike, to use their gifts to build up His Body, the Church (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-26; Ephesians 4:11-12.) If we are to be faithful to this Scriptural command, we must recognize and honor the vital role that Christian women have in God’s Kingdom.

I would like to quote from Acts 2:17-18: “and it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons AND YOUR DAUGHTERS shall PROPHESY…”  and Joel 2:28-29: “And on my servants AND ON MY HANDMAIDENS I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall PROPHESY.”  In these verses, the Greek word for “prophesy” can also be translated “to proclaim,” “to declare,” “to sing,” “to write,” and yes, “to preach.”

Scripture cannot contradict itself.  To say that women cannot be teachers or ministers is to cause scripture to be in conflict!

Now I’m not saying there isn’t an order God set into place, or that that order isn’t important.  God put Adam (man) as head of Eve (woman), and that’s the way it is in marriage.  But that is not to undermine woman’s capabilities in the church or elsewhere.  As long as she is in a right relationship with her husband, she is fully capable of serving the Lord in whatever capacity He has given her.

There are considerably more Christian women within the church than men, but let’s conservatively use the statistic that the world’s Christian population consists of 50% men, and 50% women. If Satan can twist Scripture in such a way the he shuts up over half of the Body of Christ, he has seriously weakened it.  And if we are going against scripture by silencing women set apart by God to be teachers/preachers/prophets… we not only sinning against God, but we are hurting ourselves badly!!

Honestly?  This doesn’t sit well with me.  I have been considering leading this Bible study for some time… but am TOTALLY intimidated by the fact that I’m this twenty-something little blonde freak, and there are GUYS that are OLDER than me who I’d be teaching.  But they’re newbies… and they need to learn… and I’m an OLDIE… and I have this HUGE desire to share… but I’m a woman.  A young-ish one.  And there’s this huge thang I’ve been raised under:  THOU SHALT NOT TEACH MEN OR LADIES OLDER THAN THYSELF!!! 

Kinda like that whole thang I went thru over whether or not to cut my hair, because I was raised that THOU SHALT NOT CUT THINE HAIR, OR THOU SHALT BE SMITTEN DOWN AND CURSED BY THY GOD!!  Remember that?  Last February?  This is gonna take some getting used to.  ((wink!))  And prayer!  Holy cow – is leading a Bible Study how God would like to use me right now?????

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  1. Pamela

     /  March 22, 2018

    So today, 15-ish years after the post, I came across this post. You’ve expressed exactly my thoughts, except that I was raised that a woman could teach any other woman, but a male only until he was thirteen. I concur that the teaching was fallacious, but I am wondering if you’ve had further thoughts on the subject and how you have treated teaching opportunities in the last fifteen years.

    • I left the church. I teach, here. And very few come. But I do what I can, and pray it’ll reach the right people at the right time. 🙂


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