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Are women pastors shameful? A response to John MacArthur

Are women pastors shameful? A response to John MacArthur

John MacArthur's sermon on shameful women pastors

Culture of Shame

Why is there a culture of shame on the head of women who preach the gospel? Faulty teaching is currently harming women and dividing many churches, and that is so sad. The divisive views on women must be answered in a sound and respectful way and I hope that this post will help. One source of the faulty teaching is a brother in Christ who labels women preaching the gospel as shameful women pastors. Several years ago I received permission from Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry Grace to You to use his audio quotes to refute his teaching on women in ministry. His shocking quotes are documented in our DVD production “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” The videos are now free on Youtube as well. The playlist of the full videos is here.

I also mailed several copies of the completed 4 DVD set for John MacArthur and Phil Johnson’s use at Johnson’s request.  Phil Johnson is John MacArthur’s executive director of the Grace to You broadcast ministry. I have not heard back from Phil Johnson since that time.

I am amazed, but not really surprised, that John MacArthur stepped into the fray again on the subject of women and the gospel. MacArthur is now 80 years old and celebrating 50 years pastoring his church. He has a long history of expounding the Bible verse by verse in a way that can help people understand the Word of God. Yet on the issue of women, he links together verses from other contexts while he ignores verses in the same chapter that show problems with his interpretation.

Clear context?

The context appears “clear” to MacArthur, while other scholarly authors of commentaries find puzzling contradictions in the same passage. We know that the Bible does not contradict itself, so astute students of the Word should expect more from MacArthur since he states that the passages are “clear”. He must explain and not ignore the apparent contradictions.

current controversy surrounding John MacArthur exploded during his 2019 Truth Matters Conference when MacArthur spoke against a popular woman preacher.

During a Q & A session, Todd Friel asked MacArthur to give a pithy statement about Beth Moore. MacArthur’s response was dismissive, “Go home,” he said. Many Christians responded in shock, sending the internet into a tizzy from what seemed like an unChristlike attitude from a respected Pastor. MacArthur countered with an even stronger sermon. He doubled down on the subject of silencing women and sending them home as shameful sinners. In his sermon titled, Does the Bible Permit a Woman to Preach? MacArthur identified an inherited stigma of shame on all women. He also delivered a scathing rebuke for shameful women who preach the gospel. He calls them women in rebellion to God and he attaches their act of public speaking to the same category of sins as coarse language, sexual jesting, and filthiness.

Preaching the gospel will destroy the church?

MacArthur is sure that women preachers will ultimately destroy the church if they are not stopped from preaching. John MacArthur is wrong on this issue and his culture of shame hurts women who want to be Christlike servants. Their desire to be faithful to Christ through using their gifts for the common good, is spoken of as evil. In this post, I unravel MacArthur’s problems with 1 Corinthians 14:34-36. I hope to do future articles on MacArthur’s other proof texts from his sermon as I have time.

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Complexity and Presuppositions

John MacArthur says that 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 is clear. But many of those who have written commentaries on this passage do not claim that these are “clear” passages. In fact, even the apostle Peter wrote that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand.

2 Peter 3:14–16 (NASB) 14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The Baker New Testament Commentary concurs that 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 is difficult. In Volume 18 page 512, they write:

To resolve the difficulties with this text, we need to do as we have done with other passages: consider the structure, the larger context, and preeminently the themes or principles Paul was explicated.

The First International Greek Testament Commentary by Anthony C. Thiselton agrees. He writes about immense complexity on page 1146:

The translation and exegesis is immensely complex. Contextual facts are vital including presuppositions about what the addressees were assumed to understand by language of which we know only Paul’s part of the dialogue.

Bob Utley in his commentary, Paul’s Letters to a Trouble church: I and II Corinthians Vol. 6 page 166, writes that Paul’s words are difficult and paradoxical:

It is difficult to know how to handle this issue biblically because of the seemingly paradoxical statements of Paul, such as 1 Cor. 11:4-5 compared with 14:34.

Our presupositions

We presuppose that Paul’s writings are inspired. Even though Paul’s words can be very complex and require effort to understand, his words appear to be written in such a way that any misunderstanding of Paul’s meaning will cause a glaring contradiction in the text. When Paul is understood properly, his writings will flow without contradiction as with all Scripture. Paul was the apostle who greatly valued women and he worked alongside women and commended them to the church. Paul needs to be understood alongside his actions and his prior teaching.

The Elusive Law

John MacArthur claims that there is a biblical LAW that keeps women silent in the assembly. 

1 Corinthians 14:34–35 (NASB) 34The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

We need to find this Law. Where are women told to keep silent in the assembly? Once we find this law, we can start to appreciate Paul’s wisdom.

John MacArthur identifies the referenced “Law” as the entire Old Testament. However, the Old Testament has no command that requires the silence of women in the assembly. Without a clear command, how can women know what God identifies as sin? “For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” Paul wrote these words about the importance of clarity in 1 Corinthians 14:8. He argues for clear and understandable messages.

An indistinct sound

An unclear and ambiguous command is like an indistinct bugle sound. It has no meaning! Why would Paul contradict himself from his words at the beginning of the chapter and then point us to a biblical law that cannot be located? God gave specific commands because He wants to keep us from sin. We know that Paul did not make up a new law. Where is the specific reference to the silencing Law? This Elusive Law must be found and Paul will help us with that!

I have an entire section on the Elusive Law from 1 Corinthians 14 on my video. Rather than list all the important points in writing, I have included a free online link to my 4th DVD which I believe will be very helpful to understand Paul’s context and his reference to the Silencing Law. This is the best way to explain 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 that I have found. I want those who cannot afford to purchase the DVD set to have access to this teaching, so I have included the link below. Click on the video link below or find the link on Youtube here. The introduction to the video is found here and that explains all of our presuppositions. There are also huge problems with John MacArthur’s interpretation of Paul which he does not address in his sermon and I have refuted them in the video.


Did Paul stop the Preaching of the Gospel by ANYONE?

John MacArthur is determined to shut the mouths of women pastors who preach the gospel. Why? Because he accuses these women of having a selfish ambition to overpower and control men. If such a thing were true, Paul already handled this issue with Christlike wisdom. Paul’s attitude toward those who preach Christ out of selfish ambition is gospel-based.  

Philippians 1:15–18 (NASB) 15Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

Paul reminds the Philippians of the priority of the gospel. If you find a person who is proclaiming the gospel out of selfish ambition, then rejoice because the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed! The truth of the gospel is vastly more important than the motive of the heart.

Paul never stopped the preaching of the gospel at any time. The NASB translates Paul’s response in verse 18 as, “What then?” Other translations render it this way:

“What does it matter?” NRSV, CSB, HCSB; “But so what?” CJB; “But that doesn’t matter” CEV; “It does not matter” TEV

What does it matter?

This is a problem for John MacArthur. The apostle Paul affirms that motive doesn’t matter but the preaching of the gospel does matter. How could Paul contradict his “What does it matter?” position to stop the preaching of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 14? When your understanding of Paul contradicts Paul’s clear teaching in his writings, you can be certain that you don’t understand Paul right. John MacArthur needs to explain why Paul celebrated the preaching of the gospel even though he acknowledges a selfish ambition existed. Paul accepts that the gospel is not chained. (2 Timothy 2:9 NKJV). Satan is the one who silences the gospel. Satan wants all Christians to shut up and go home. I am certain that Paul would be appalled if he knew that pastors were using 1 Corinthians 14 to stop the preaching of the gospel.

No learning?

John MacArthur does not address the contradictions in 1 Corinthians 14. All may learn in the assembly but women have to go home to learn from their husbands? Note these problems:

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:23 shows the context as the entire church assembled. Verse 26 mentions “when you assemble” and “each one” participating. If each one is participating as the entire church is assembled, why would Paul contradict this by saying that the women can’t participate in speaking or learning (verses 34-35?)
  2. In verse 14:31, Paul permits all to speak one by one so that all may learn and all may be exhorted. If all may learn, why would Paul contradict himself within just a few verses to write that if a woman desires to learn she has to go home?
  3. If Paul’s concern is that all are edified and none left out (1 Corinthians 14:17, 24, 26), why would he change his view within just a few verses to promote a contrary view that women are to be left out? Why would Paul contradict himself by restricting women from edify others and stop them from learning in the assembly?
  4. Paul identifies that the edification must be done in an orderly manner (verse 40).  Was Paul not contradicting himself by withdrawing the “all my learn” to assert that the learning is for men alone in a public setting? Is there to be no public learning by women?

Paul did not contradict himself and I have provided the answer to these question in my video clip here. I also have a post on not letting a woman learn here.

Women voices are filthy?

In John MacArthur’s sermon on women pastors who preach the gospel, he states that a woman who speaks publicly in the church is shameful. He explains that the Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 14:35 references filthy, silly talk or coarse or sexual jesting which is shameful, disgraceful and improper. However, he does not explain how the voice of a woman used for the public proclamation of the gospel is filthy! That is quite a claim.

MacArthur brings no insight from the 1 Corinthians 14 context where all are encouraged to speak in the assembly and all are encouraged to learn. He also does not explain why Paul states that we should rejoice whenever the gospel is preached. How can Paul take back his rejoicing and contradict himself by identifying gospel preaching as filthiness when coming from the mouth of a woman? MacArthur is certainly not rejoicing whenever the gospel is going forth. Instead, he believes that women who preach the gospel will destroy the church. His interpretation makes Paul contradict himself again and again.

I present my interpretation in the video clip on 1 Corinthians 14. This explains the inspired grammar, Paul’s purpose for writing, and Paul’s context of what he had already said.  Paul can be understood without contradiction!

Paul’s concludes his original command

At the end of 1 Corinthians 14, Paul sums up how the church body should edify one another. Look at verse 39 in the Amplified Bible:

1 Corinthians 14:39 (AMP) So [to conclude], my brethren, earnestly desire and set your hearts on prophesying (on being inspired to preach and teach and to interpret God’s will and purpose), and do not forbid or hinder speaking in [unknown] tongues.

Paul commands two things in verse 39:

  1. Earnestly desire to speak out (prophesy). This is a repeat of 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3.

    1 Corinthians 14:1, 3 (NASB) 1Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy3But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

  2. The church is commanded to not forbid the one who speaks a message in tongues (as long as there is an interpreter and the tongues are limited to 3). This references 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. Paul’s purpose is not to silence anyone, but that all can understand the message. Unknown, indistinct words cannot edify anyone.

Paul repeats the command to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. This command contradicts John MacArthur’s teaching that women must not desire to speak publicly.

Context is Key

Paul concludes that speaking must be done properly and in an orderly manner. Notice that Paul is advocating for the edification of all. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is out of step with Paul’s clear counsel for all to be edified. The two difficult verses are included for a purpose even though they are confusing to many people. These verses are not “clear” but contradictory to Paul’s command. The text needs hard work by us to understand Paul without Paul opposing himself! Context is key.

Paul is answering a letter

Many people miss the fact that Paul has been answering a letter sent to him from the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul has been quoting and then refuting the Corinthian allegations from their letter to Paul.

Throughout 1 Corinthians Paul quotes from the disputable matters from their letter and he provides corrective answers back to the brethren. The Corinthians were not confused by what Paul meant when he answered back, because he was answering their letter. But without the ability to read their original letter, it is easy for us to be confused. However, if we diligently look through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we can identify what appears to be opposing views found side by side. For example in 1 Corinthians 6:12 there is a statement “All things are lawful” and right after that is a logical contrastive, “but not all things are profitable” which contradicts the statement that all things are lawful. Paul has several references to the Corinthian’s letter.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Paul references divisions and quarrels in the Corinthian church.

People sent from Chloe

Paul said that people sent from Chloe informed him of the contentious divisions and it is likely these people also delivered the Corinthian letter to Paul. Chloe appears to pinpoint the problem to bring to Paul.

1 Corinthians 1:11 (NASB) For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.

Paul responds to “you, my brethren” and he writes to them as brethren, and as ones promoting the quarrels. He tells them that Christ is not to be divided and that the gospel must be maintained as the key uniting factor. So with Paul responding to the brethren who have been quarrelling and dividing the congregation, we should expect to see references to divisive doctrines and disputes in Paul’s letter. We must make sure that we do not take a divisive reference to be Paul’s view. Contradictory views aren’t Paul opposing himself! 

Paul quotes the Corinthians and then he writes a corrective response to their errors. Which of the two contradictory views is Paul’s view? We need to test the words by the context, and by what Paul has previously taught. The statement that is an error will not be repeated in the Scripture, but the truth is repeated over and over again. Truth has a second witness. Errors stand alone and are refuted, not repeated.

God’s truth has a second witness

As Paul is responding to the Corinthian’s letter he lists the error and he immediately corrects it. The error does not have a second witness. Is it taught elsewhere?  Every sin that is exposed in the Scripture has a second or third witness. If it is a sin for a woman to speak in the assembly, there would be a second witness because God wants us to know His will and He wants to keep us from sin. God repeats Himself for our benefit and Paul did too. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 13:1.

2 Corinthians 13:1 (NASB) This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Common sense tells us that releasing women to earnestly desire to prophesy for the edification of the assembly, then silencing them saying their voices are improper, disgraceful, or filthy, is a contradiction that is untenable. Which command is from Paul? His consistent encouragement to allow ALL of them to prophesy one by one so that ALL may learn and ALL may be exhorted trumps the out-of-place and not repeated argument for women’s filthy voices to be silenced and women to be sent home to learn from their husbands. 

1 Corinthians 14:31 (NASB) For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

Can you see the problem?

Go through 1 Corinthians and see where you can find Paul saying one thing and then immediately refuting that view. Then look back at 1 Corinthians 14. Are there two different views listed in this chapter?

All are commanded to earnestly seek for spiritual gifts (especially to prophesy) to edify the church. Paul’s command is clear at the beginning of chapter 14 and he concludes the chapter in the same way. In-between these encouraging words are very harsh, and divisive views about women. The quarrel view says women’s voices are filthy (improper, disgraceful) and they are not allowed to speak, and must go home to learn. Which one of these views is Paul’s view? And which view is not in lockstep with what Paul has already said? Remember Paul is answering back to the quarrels and the divisive brethren.

Which is Paul’s view?

Which view of women is the divisive view and needs to be corrected, and which view is Paul’s view? Remember Paul cannot contradict himself! Paul is not discussing shameful women pastors.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 verses are part of the dispute brought to Paul for Paul to bring correction. The silencing of women is part of the quarrels and divisions found among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:11). The two difficult verses are included for a purpose even though they are confusing to many people. These verses are not “clear” but contradictory to Paul’s command and the text needs hard work for us to understand Paul without Paul opposing himself!

Paul’s disgust at those who silence women

Right after the two out-of-place commands silencing women and disallowing them to learn in the assembly (they have to go home to learn), Paul uses a logical disjunctive to start verse 36. The English words “Was it” is a logical disjunctive conjunction.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:36 disjunctive rebuts the opposing view

The disjunctive links together opposites and rebuts an idea.  

Women pastors Logical disjunctive

What is Paul refuting?

In 1 Corinthians 14:36 Paul refutes the bad tradition of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:36 (NASB) 36Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?

Paul is saying (*Refutation*) Did the word of God first come forth from you (only men) And has it come only to you (only men can receive the gospel and learn in the assembly)? 

Was the gospel FIRST given to you?

Why is Paul asking if they are the ones from whom the gospel was FIRST given? Because it wasn’t men who were first sent out with the gospel of the resurrection. It was women who preached the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus first. The gospel was given to women at the tomb and they were told to go and tell His disciples.

Matthew 28:5–7 (NASB) 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

If the gospel was meant to be given only from men, then why did God choose women to be the first ones to receive the gospel and why did He chose women to be the first ones to go and tell that gospel to the disciples?

Paul answered back to the men who were restricting women — Did the word of God FIRST come forth from you men? And has the gospel ONLY COME to you men? Those who stop women from preaching the gospel and learning in the assembly are speaking the same words as the Corinthians did to Paul. And Paul is telling them that women handled the gospel FIRST. God’s choice and His way is clear. Women are included in the preaching of the gospel.

Paul refutes the “men only” argument

It appears that these men thought they are more spiritual than Paul and they could correct Paul. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:37 (NASB) If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.

Paul is saying that If anyone thinks he is a prophet (one who speaks for God) or spiritual (one who corrects error), let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment (Paul had written that all should seek to prophesy SO THAT all may learn and all may be exhorted.) Paul will not let these opposers stop women from learning and he will not let them stop women from proclaiming the good news. Instead, he affirms that the command for the entire assembly to seek earnestly to prophesy so that all may learn, is a command from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Shameful Women pastors or ignorant people who stop them?

Paul challenges those who place their spiritual wisdom ahead of the command of Jesus. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:38 (NASB) But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

When Paul says that if anyone “does not recognize this” the literal meaning is “to refuse to acknowledge”.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:38 those who refuse to acknowledge

Those who refuse to acknowledge the things (plural) that Paul has written are actually refusing Paul’s source because Paul said it is the Lord’s commandment. Women were the first ones given the gospel after the resurrection, and women were chosen by God to preach that gospel to the apostles. For men now to disregard women and say that women cannot learn in the assembly and they cannot speak forth to edify the assembly, this restriction is against the commandment from God Himself.

What should be done regarding those who refuse to allow women to learn and refuse to allow women pastors to speak? Paul writes disregard and ignore them. Why? Because they are showing their ignorance.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:38 they are to be ignored

Reversing the Shame

The culture of Paul’s day limited women. Jewish tradition also limited women. Women were not allowed to touch God’s Word and girls were not taught the Law as this was considered shameful. Women were regularly disregarded and ignored and their testimony was considered untrustworthy in court. However, the shame that the culture placed on women was permanently removed by Jesus. Amazingly, Jesus chose women to be the first ones to bring the gospel of the resurrection. The men had to listen to them because they were that the ones sent by Jesus.

The gospel was first preached to men by women. From the time of that first command, women worked alongside men bringing the gospel to the world. When the ignorant and selfish ones in Corinth were demanding that women in the churches be silent and women must go home to learn anything, Paul corrected their error by reminding the divisive ones that the command was from the Lord Jesus.

I love Paul

I want to publicly say that I LOVE Paul, and I so appreciate him boldly encouraging women to earnestly desire to prophesy. That command still resonates today. We are to earnestly desire to speak the Word of God to benefit and to encourage and exhort others. And if men tell you that Jesus cannot use a woman like you, then listen to the words of Paul and ignore them! 

Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? 4 DVD set

Context is Key

Context is Key

Context is Key on WIM by Cheryl Schatz


Recently, I listened to a pastor describe the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. I was very interested to hear what he had to say since I had never heard anyone explain the context of 1 Corinthians to show how there is support for the silencing of women. I was quite surprised when he claimed the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was 1 Timothy 2.  I had heard him emphasize the importance of context, context, context many times. However, his explanation of what qualifies as context was always the same as mine. The context of a disputed verse are the verses and chapters that surround it. It is never a passage in another book. While another passage in another book can be related, it isn’t the context. So I asked him again. Could he please give the direct context from the book of 1 Corinthians that supports the silencing of women. I have not yet heard back from him, but I thought it would be a good idea to go back through the entire book of 1 Corinthians to gather all of the evidence that Paul documents for why the two verses of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 were added to his letter. I found so much more than I expected from looking at a wider context! There is way more material than I could put into one article, so I am going to try to distil the evidence into categories and then I will give a conclusion of Paul’s reasoning. I will challenge anyone who thinks I have not considered the entire context. I welcome you to bring me correction and show me the supporting context from the book of First Corinthians that defines and upholds the silencing of women in the church.

CONTEXT: The Corinthian’s Letter to Paul – Questions and Claims

  • 1 Cor. 1:11 Paul reveals there are quarrels among the Corinthians – information passed on to him from Cloe’s people. The key purpose of the book is to deal with these conflicts and quarrels. Watch carefully throughout the book of 1 Corinthians how Paul ties in his correction with the source of the conflicts.
  • 1 Cor. 7:1 Paul mentions a letter that the Corinthians had written to Paul. The letter from the Corinthians to Paul plus the report from Cloe’s people bring to Paul information about the quarrels.
  • 1 Cor. 7:25 Paul moves on to another area of concern; “Now concerning” virgins.
  • 1 Cor. 8:1 “Now concerning” things sacrificed to idols.
  • 1 Cor 16:1 “Now concerning” the collection for the saints. All of the “now concerning” references are Paul answering what had been sent to him in writing.

Other comments that Paul makes do not directly reference the letter from the Corinthians, but they appear to answer challenges, claims or arguments. For example, 1 Cor. 6:12 says:

1 Corinthians 6:12 (NASB) All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

Are “all things” lawful for Paul? The negation that follows appears to be Paul’s answer to the writer of the letter who claims not to be under any law. “All things are lawful for me,” the letter says, but Paul answers “BUT NOT all things are profitable.” Again, “All things are lawful for me,” the writer concludes, but Paul answers, “BUT I will NOT be mastered by anything.” Paul’s testimony in all the churches is that we are under the “law of Christ.” We can fulfill the duty to Christ through love and service to our brother (Gal. 6:2.) Anytime a statement is made in 1 Corinthians that appears contradictory to Paul’s known position we can suspect that Paul is dealing with issues that were presented to him, for Paul does not contradict himself. The fact that Paul consistently speaks about setting aside what is good for oneself and aiming for what is helpful for others as the “common good” should tip us off that the arrogant claim that “all things are lawful” is part of the quarrel among the Corinthians.

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Taking the place of sole Master of the home – by law

Taking the place of sole Master of the home – by law

Taking the place of master by law on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The Bible records a law that requires men to take the place of sole master in the home. We find this law in the book of Esther chapter 1 verse 22.

Let me first give a little background.  King Ahasuerus was a very wealthy and powerful king who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces.  In the third year of his reign, he made a huge banquet for his nobles and officials as well as military leaders.  Then for 180 days he displayed his great riches and all that went with the majesty of his position.  At the end of all this exhibition of the king’s splendor, he threw a seven-day banquet for all the people who were present in his capital city, both the greatest of them to the least of them.  It was at that time, after seven days of partying, that the king became joyful from the wine that was served at the banquet, and in a hasty decision to showcase all that he owned that was magnificent beauty, he ordered that queen Vashti be called to appear before the king wearing her crown in order to parade her beauty before the crowd. Vashti refused to have her person put on display and this caused the king to feel great wrath and he called his wise men to find out what could be done by law to punish queen Vashti for refusing to obey his command.  In verses 16 to 19 Memucan, one of the wise men said, 

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Do egalitarians twist the scriptures?

Do egalitarians twist the scriptures?

twist on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The charge is often laid that egalitarians twist the scriptures.  I would like to apply a saying that I read recently.  Here it is:

(Complementarians) are quick to accuse of foul play but there are no rules that they have to follow.

What egalitarians are trying so hard to do is interpret scripture with scripture and take the full context instead of isolating scriptures from their context.  Let’s see if complementarians play by the same rules or if they hold themselves as exempt from their own rules.

1.  1 Timothy 2:11-15 is used as a general principle that forbids godly Christian women from using their God-given gifts for the benefit of their Christian brothers.  If this is true as complementarians assert it is, can you please tell me why Paul uses singular and a plural grammar in verse 15?  Who is the “she” who will be saved in the future if “they” continue on in faith, love, holiness and self control?  Isn’t it a twist to ignore the specific grammar of verse 15 which is the conclusion to the prohibition?  How can we know who Paul is prohibiting in verse 12 if we do not know who the “she” and “they” are in verse 15?

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Let her learn….or not?

Let her learn….or not?

In our continuing discussion of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36, we come to the problematic area of learning.

1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home…

What can we pull out regarding “learning” in this verse?  We can see that if a woman has a desire to learn, she isn’t encouraged to do it in church.  Where is she supposed to learn?  Her learning is to be done under her husband’s permission and it is to be done at home.

The requirement that a woman is not to learn in public is not a Christian regulation but a part of the “law” of the Jews.  Women were not to be taught the scriptures according to the oral tradition of the Jews.  Why?  Because she was not allowed to touch the scriptures and so she didn’t need to be a rabbinical student and publicly learn.  She also would have no one to teach the scriptures to since the men were considered to be the ones who had the responsibility to handle and teach the Torah.  Women need not learn.  They were not qualified to learn.

In previous posts we have been listing the markers in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 that prove that Paul was quoting from the Corinthians and then refuting their claims in verse 36.  The wording about women learning at home (v. 35) instead of in the assembly once again ties these verses into man-made tradition.

But this isn’t Paul’s way nor is it God’s way.  Paul had just told us in verse 31:

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted

Not only were all allowed to prophesy in the assembly, but the public prophesying was so that all may learn in that public assembly.  The learning was done by all just as the prophesying was done by all.  All may learn publicly.  Paul does not relegate women to learning at home.  He allows them to learn in the assembly since it is the body of Christ (not just a woman’s husband) who are responsible for helping her to learn.

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Three spheres of subordination shrinks to two

Three spheres of subordination shrinks to two

In my last post I pointed to USA Today’s editorial that challenged complementarians who are willing to accept a woman as the Vice President of the country, that they should admit that they are full fledged egalitarians in the realm of society, the workplace and public life.

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, an organization that believes the bible forbids women from voting, has taken CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) to task saying that Dr. Gushee is right in his USA Today challenge that people like CBMW have experienced an historic change in their theological position.  He writes:

Dr. Gushee’s point was essentially this: Christians must formally acknowledge that a historic change has occurred in their theological commitments and policy objectives, or reasonable observers must conclude that that their position lacks intellectual integrity.

While I do not agree with Doug Phillips at all regarding his very legalistic interpretation of women’s “roles”, he is right in pointing out that if one interprets the distinctions between male and female as rooted in the creation order itself, then it is inconsistent to not apply that principle to all three realms – marriage (home), church and society – instead of just in marriage and the church.  If we are going to remove the realm of society and civil government, then we need to rethink our interpretation of Paul.

CBMW states that they are being consistent and that:

God’s design for male headship in the home and the church does not require the exclusion of women from leadership in public life, where spiritual headship is not involved. Such extrapolation carries the biblical teaching about the role of women beyond the Bible’s own application.

The apparent inconsistency according to CBMW only comes when one overlooks the priority of the church:

Complementarians only seem to be inconsistent if one overlooks the priority of the church and misses the distinction between the church and and civil government.  This confusion is resolved when one understands that complementarians simultaneously hold a high view of Scripture, a high view of women, and a high view of the church.

I think it is time that we test CBMW’s claim to consistency and see what they have taught in the past regarding the role of men and women in Society.

In 1987 CBMW formed as a concerned group of individuals and in that year they created the Danver’s Statement which is a list of CBMW’s core beliefs.

Point 1 under Rationale, CBMW lists a concern:

The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;

Note that the concern is not just about the home and the church but about “our culture”.  Did CBMW believe in 1987 that the difference between masculinity and femininity would necessitate different roles in society?  Their Danver Statement affirmations make it clear that they believe the “created order” that was ordained by God and it goes past an application to Christians because it is to be found within every human heart:

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).

We find in CBMW’s 1991 book “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” that there is a “breaking point” of femininity that makes some “roles” for women inappropriate, unproductive and unhealthy:

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Questions of faith for semi-egalitarians

Questions of faith for semi-egalitarians

USA Today has an editorial written by David P Gushee in which Mr. Gushee challenges complementarians that they are actually semi-egalitarians and they should be willing to openly acknowledge this.  Gushee says that he writes about this issue as a moderate evangelical Christian.

Gushee writes that there are many theologically conservative Christians who accept Sarah Palin as the Republical vice presidential nominee.  Yet at the same time:

…at the local church level many congregations would not accept Palin or any other woman even as associate pastor, or deacon, or youth minister or Sunday school teacher in a gender-mixed classroom.  The most conservative would not consider it appropriate for her to stand behind a pulpit and preach a sermon, or teach from the Bible, or lead a praise chorus, or offer a prayer, unless her audience consisted entirely of women or children.

He notes that even CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) who Gushee calls “an influential advocacy group” and who are against women teaching men in the church, have no problem in allowing for a woman to serve as vice president of the country.  CBMW has replied to the article welcoming Gushee’s questions:

Dr. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and challenges complementarians with many questions in the September 15, 2008 issue of USA Today.

CBMW writes:

While we are honored that Dr. Gushee considers CBMW “an influential advocacy group” on gender issues, we don’t claim to represent the “evangelical voting base,” or even all complementarians.

It certainly is a fact that CBMW does not represent all complementarians.  There is a group called Vision Forum who were formerly associated with CBMW from its beginning, but who have since separated themselves from CBMW now calling CBMW in actuality semi-egalitarians.  Vision Forum has written that Dr. Gushee is “spot on”.  In an article regarding USA Today’s editorial, Doug Phillips writes this about CBMW:

It is our view, however, that they have erred by overtly embracing an egalitarian perspective of the roles of men and women in the public arena.

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A deeper look into 1 Timothy 2:12

A deeper look into 1 Timothy 2:12

This is a response to an article called “A Deeper Look into: 1 Timothy 2:12” by an author posting by the email address of on September 23, 2008.  I will leave his name off this post.

There are so many fallacies in the article that I hardly know where to start.  However, let me start with the area that caused so many problems a year ago and I will give here what I should have said in the debate.  The section I will be addressing is called:

What the Term “Quiet/Silent” Means

**See comments at the end**  The author of this particular piece receives much of his information from an individual and ministry that he is very supportive of.  His mentor in a debate a year ago made it clear that silence in 1 Timothy 2:12 does not mean complete silence, but rather quietness.  He stated in that debate that if Paul was stopping a false deceived teacher from teaching her error to her husband (as I have shown from the context of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and as he was trying to refute), then Paul used the wrong word and it should have been the Greek word meaning complete silence, otherwise, as this person said in our debate, it would mean that Paul is saying that this deceived woman can teach her error to her husband “just a little bit“.  Hear the short audio clip here where this mentor denies that the word from 1 Timothy 2:12 means silence. Click here:  Denial that 1 Timothy 2:12 means silence

This clip was taken from our audio debate a year ago.   For the reasons why I am refuting a particular person’s theology but not using their name, please refer to this statement.

Well, let’s just take the reasoning and apply it to his own interpretation to see if doing something “just a little bit” will work for him.  This “author”** writes:

This term “silence” is again used in 1 Timothy 2:12, but we can see Paul is using it in the opposite manner as opposed to 1 Tim 2:2. 1 Timothy 2:12 says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over men, but to be silent.” It says not to have authority over men, but to be silent. In other words, quietness/silence here means the opposite of having authority over man. So it reads, do not exercise authority over men, but instead be silent.

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Forbid not

Forbid not

Forbid not….

Paul said something profound in 1 Corinthians 14:39 that goes against the grain of the hierarchical mindset.  Paul said “forbid not to speak…”

This is not an issue of whether tongues is valid today or not.  What is the issue is the command to “forbid not” to speak in the assembly.  Let’s walk through this passage to see how it is all connected together.

In 1 Cor. 14:34 it says women are “not permitted to speak” in the churches.  The Greek word is “epitrepetai” and it means to give liberty to, allow, give permission, entrust to.  So according to verses 34 & 35, speaking in the assembly is forbidden because there is no permission given to allow women to speak and a “law” is appealed to that takes away the ability for women to speak in the assembly.  Verse 36 is set up as a contradiction of verses 34 & 35.   Paul answers by stating “n” which is a disjunctive conjunction which is used “to distinguish things or thoughts which either mutually exclude each other, or one of which can take the place of the other” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon.  Thayer’s lists 1 Cor. 14:36 as an example of “n” used “before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand”

What then is being denied by the “n” in verse 36?  It is the command in verse in verse 34 & 35 that women are to be silent.  How does Paul deny this command and the appeal to the law of men? (see The Elusive Law and Is a Woman’s Voice Filthy? for further information on why these two verses are to be considered a quote from the Corinthian’s letter to Paul and not the actual words of Paul himself.)

Paul demands to know if the word of God comes only through them (the men demanding the silencing of women) and he demands to know if only they are to receive God’s word.  In other words, Paul is demanding to know if God only speaks through men and God only gives his word to men and does not speak through women and to women.  Remember that the command to silence women also denied their learning in the assembly.  If they wanted to learn anything, they were commanded to learn at home.  Paul in essence asks where is this God’s word?  Where are women forbidden to speak God’s words and where are women forbidden to learn God’s words?  It is certainly true that in the oral law of the Jews women were forbidden to speak in the assembly and women were forbidden to be taught God’s word.  For a father to teach his daughter the Torah was considered immoral by the Jews because women were forbidden to handle God’s word and so there was no need to learn it.

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Scriptural fences

Scriptural fences

One of the helpful things in interpreting scripture is to identify what I call “scriptural fences”. These special verses force us to interpret the passage within the limits set up by the “fence” line. When we can identify a “fence” in scripture, we are well on our way to understanding the apparent contradictions within scripture. In this post I am going to give three examples of scripture “fences”.

The first fence line is found in Revelation chapter 21.

Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Now to some, this may not seem like a “fence” but when we read in Acts 1 that the apostles picked Matthias to replace Judas, we have a contradiction that needs to be dealt with:

Act 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’

Act 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–

Act 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

Act 1:23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.

Act 1:24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen

Act 1:25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

Act 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

How could Matthias be an apostle who replaces Judas when Paul claimed to be an apostle picked by the risen Christ? Some may claim that there are actually 13 foundational apostles, but that is impossible. Why? It is because of the scriptural “fence”. The book of Revelation states that they are 12 apostles who form the foundation stones, not 13. If we interpret scripture with the understanding that Revelation 21:14 forms a boundary or a “fence” that places a boundary for our understanding, then we need to make a decision; was Paul the 12th apostle or was Matthias? Did you ever wonder why Paul had to try so hard to prove his apostleship? It is because Psalms 109:8 says that another is to take his (Judas) place and the 11 disciples had already picked the 12th before Paul even came on the scene.

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To Diane Sellner of CARM

To Diane Sellner of CARM

**October 2008 addition Note: A public statement regarding Diane Sellner’s role in the public attacks against me is at

To Diane Sellner,

I have invited you to my blog and provided a safe place for you to dialog with me. I thought this was thoughtful, kind and generous. What you have done is accuse me of teaching error and then you put posts up on CARM that say I haven’t answered the accusations yet you have blocked me from posting as you have my posts on moderation and they are not showing up.

Clearly we have two different standards.

Here is the new discussion board that Diane has delegated both for general discussions and the issue of women in ministry

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What “law” does Satan agree with?

What “law” does Satan agree with?

What “law” does Satan agree with?

I should call this post Part Four of “Does God have one unique law?” but instead I chose to make it a “unique” post of its own. Let me ask you, do you believe that there are any laws of God that Satan agrees with? Apparently he is in full agreement with the “law” that forbids godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men.

Let’s see how this works itself out:

Satan loves it when men and women teach false doctrine, but he hates it when anyone teaches correct biblical doctrine because the teaching of correct biblical doctrine thwarts his purpose to infiltrate the church with false doctrine. The teaching of correct biblical doctrine immunizes Christians from error. It also opens their eyes to the deception that lies within satanic doctrines. Does Satan like that? Absolutely not! Satan does not want his lies exposed and he fights long and hard to stop the teaching of true doctrine.

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