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Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

John Piper picture on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Do Some Complementarians deny women opportunities?

On John Piper’s website is posted a question that someone asked of him about the application of complementarianism that affects women.  The question is:

Do you think complementarianism is so important to some people that they deny women more opportunities than the Bible denies them?

I was shocked at John Piper’s response.  You really need to listen to it for yourself.  Click on the link above to hear an audio version or see the video clip. 

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New blog conference on women in eldership

New blog conference on women in eldership

I have been invited by Pastor Dave Woolcott to participate in a new blog conference on women’s eldership in the church put on by the Ryde Presbyterian Church in Ryde, Sidney, Australia.   The blog address for the conference set for September 1 – 15, 2009 is http://www.achurchinryde.com/blog/ The blog is on line now and active and I invite you to participate by commenting on Dave’s blog.

There is a thought-provoking article on “Should a Pastor Rule Over You?”  It is very appropriate to the issue of women in ministry and what the real issues are.

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 4

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 4

Witnesses and repetition needed? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry

Are Witnesses and Repetition needed to Prove Women may not teach the Bible?

In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her second set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post.  This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #2 and Mike’s rejoinder.

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Regarding Mike’s denial that there is a need for a law to have a second witness:

Cheryl Schatz responds:

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 3

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 3

Second Witness? Women in Ministry debate by Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz: Question #2

Is there a Second Witness that forbids Christian women from teaching the Bible to men?

This is question #2 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry.  The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz.  Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl.  Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.  Mike’s corresponding post on his blog is here.

Question #2 by Cheryl Schatz

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 2

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 2

Judge on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Facing the spiritual “law” head-on from 1 Corinthians 14

In the last post, Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz started a discussion/debate on women in ministry.  Here is a link to Cheryl’s Question #1 given to Mike.  This post will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers and Mike’s response to Cheryl’s response.  Mike’s corresponding post on his Role Calling blog is here.

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Cheryl responds to Mike’s answers:

God’s law is always clear and distinct.  Paul explained in 1 Cor. 14 that a word that is not clear is as useless as speaking into the air with no one to hear or understand.  Similarly, a law that is not clear or distinct has no power to prepare a person to identify sin, keep away from sin and judge sin.  The clearness of God’s law prevents us from misunderstanding what God requires.  God has blessed us with a clear message and the clearness of the message guides our conduct.

On the contrary, an unclear word produces confusion, disagreement amongst Christians and an inability to prepare for spiritual warfare.

1 Cor 14:7  Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?

1 Cor 14:8  For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

1 Cor 14:9  So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

I have noticed how useful Paul’s words are for judging false interpretations about the law.  Whenever I have asked complementarians to point to the “law” that forbids women from speaking in the congregation, I have noticed the indistinct sounds that come forth without a consensus among complementarians about where this “law” is to be found or even what the “law” forbids.  Instead, we hear indistinct words like “probably” “possibly” “seems to be” “not absolute” “likely” “general pattern”.  Not only is there no “distinct” and “clear” law that can be pointed to in the Old Testament, but no matter what is “guessed” for the original location of such a “law”, complementarians are unable to explain how the wording of the OT quote qualifies as a law.  How does the account of the creation of the woman provide the basis for such a “law” (no other law is ever stated in such an unclear fashion) or what the law even mean?

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Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 5

Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 5

Wayne Grudem on Women in Ministry

Answering Wayne Grudem 5

This is the part 5 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”.  Today I am posting his fifth question, Suzanne McCarthy’s answer from the Greek and my own questions below that.  My blog does not yet have the ability for me to use the Greek fonts, so I have included a link to Suzanne’s article that has the Greek.

Question #5 from Wayne Grudem:

5. “neither X nor Y’’: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ the grammatical structure in Greek takes the form, “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2].’’

Regarding this verse, many of you tell us that the phrase “to teach or to have authority’’ means “to teach in a domineering way,’’ or “to teach in a way that usurps authority.’’ You base your understanding on the idea (already mentioned above) that the verb authenteo has a negative sense such as “domineer’’ or “usurp authority.’’

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Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 4

Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 4

wayne_grudem

Answering Wayne Grudem 4

This is the part 4 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”.  Today I am posting his fourth question, Suzanne McCarthy’s answer from the Greek and my own questions below that.  My blog does not yet have the ability for me to use the Greek fonts so I have included a link to Suzanne’s article that has the Greek.

Wayne Grudem’s Question #4:

4. authenteo: In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul writes, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men.’’ Many of you claim that the word translated “have authority’’ (authenteo) means “misuse authority’’ or “domineer’’ (or even “instigate violence’’) in this sentence, so that Paul is not prohibiting women from having authority over men, but he is prohibiting women from misusing authority or domineering over men.

Our problem is this: we have never seen any clear example in ancient Greek literature where authenteo must mean “domineer’’ or “misuse authority.’’ Whenever we have seen this verb occur, it takes a neutral sense, “have authority’’ or “exercise authority,’’ with no negative connotation attaching to the word itself. We are aware that a related noun, authent¯es, has several different meanings, but that is not the word Paul used, and we are interested in the word that Paul actually used. So our question is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the verb authenteo means what you claim, namely, “misuse authority or domineer’’ (or even “instigate violence’’)?

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Women in ministry issue causes distrust

Women in ministry issue causes distrust

Distrust?

This post is from an inspiration I got from Katie Cole’s blog and a two part segment on Youtube on the issue of women in ministry from the series “Designing Women”.  Katie writes:

One Bible verse, quoted to me out of context on its own, is no longer sufficient for me.

I think you will find the two youtube clips inspiring.  They show that women can speak up and women can make a difference.

Clip 1:  Charlene loses faith in her minister

Clip 2:  Charlene speaks to minister and Julia sings

Semigalitariansim, undercover enemy and “feminist air”

Semigalitariansim, undercover enemy and “feminist air”

fight-7-cheryl-schatz

Semigalitarianism, Undercover Enemy and “feminist air”

When does explaining God’s Word make one an enemy of the church?  According to Mike Seaver, a woman who is allowed to teach the Word of God to men, even if she is under the authority of her husband and even if she has received authority from her pastor to teach the Bible (and assuming her pastor is monitoring her teaching), is like a drunken adulterer ministering to God’s people.  [Mike Seaver has written a blog post at CBMW identifying the issue of women teaching the bible to men as the undercover enemy of the church.  Mike is a pastor at CrossWay Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and regularly posts at Role Calling see his original article here.]

According to Seaver the church has been breathing “feminist air” and this has caused many churches to become “semigalitarian”.  [According to Seaver, semigalitarianism is defined as those people (both men and women) who say that a woman should not be allowed to preach in a church on her own authority, but if she claims to be under the authority of her senior pastor (who is a man) and under the authority of her husband (who is obviously a man) then it is okay for her to teach men in the church.]  But while Seaver is complaining of “feminist air”, he has unwittingly become infected with a “disease” that allows Christians to see passages of scripture as “clear” (1 Timothy 2:12-13) instead of as a complex passage in its complete context (1 Timothy 2:11-15).

The attitude of identifying godly women as enemies of the church is clearly an aggressive stand equating a woman explaining the meaning of the scriptures with a drunken adulterer.  It reminds me of the prejudiced view of the Orthodox Jews who believe that only men are allowed to touch the Torah.

torah7-Cheryl-Schatz on Women in Ministry

Apparently touching the Bible by giving an explanation of the meaning of a passage now makes one an “undercover enemy.”  How far has the church fallen that some feel free to attack our sisters in Christ identifying them as enemies?  Notice that Seaver says nothing about whether the woman’s teaching is correct or not.  He is lumping true Bible teaching in with error because it is the vessel which is the enemy, not the words that she speaks.  It is the mere fact that she would touch the Word of God in public that makes her an enemy.  This is the same tradition of the Pharisees who added a restriction on the teaching of God’s Word.

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Woman called by God as missionary now has regrets

Woman called by God as missionary now has regrets

Testimony from a woman who watched WIM DVD

Recently, I received an email from a woman who purchased my 4 DVD set “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” and then wrote me about the impact that the DVDs had on her.  I was so touched by her testimony that I asked permission to share her story with the world.  I have removed her name as she requested anonymity because of her situation.  I hope that you will be encouraged and touched as I was when I read her story.

rope2 on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

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Dear Cheryl,

I’m not sure if you are the one I should write to, but I wanted to let someone know that I watched the DVDs “Women in the Ministry” twice and my reactions to it.

For three days I was an emotional wreck.  I got angry, I cried, I’d stopped watching it and walked around the house talking to myself.  I fell to my knees and told God I didn’t understand.  I even was asked by others if I was feeling ok or if I was sick.  It tore me up inside.  Please, let me explain.

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Round 9 Interview with the Apostle Paul – God does just as He pleases

Round 9 Interview with the Apostle Paul – God does just as He pleases

hands

This is the ninth in a series of simulated interviews with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.

Doug, a strong complementarian will be questioning Paul on 1 Corinthians 14.  Paul will be speaking to him about the Sovereignty of God and whether there are restrictions on women in the church.  Let’s listen in.  (Links to the previous interviews are at the bottom of this post.)

 

Doug: Paul, I am anxious to talk about 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 today.  This is the final passage that convinced me that you did not allow women to teach the bible to the entire congregation.  This is also one of the clearest passages there is.

Paul: I am very happy to be able to help you out with this passage.  We do need to remember the complete context of this passage so that you will know how to interpret it in line with all that I taught.  We are going to work with another box today.  Today the box will be the filter that we need to read 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 through.

Doug: Why do we need a filter?

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Round 2 Interview with the Apostle Paul

Round 2 Interview with the Apostle Paul

This post is the second one of a simulated interview with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day. While Paul gets to experience life in the 21st century, Doug, a strong complementarian, is given the opportunity to interview the Apostle Paul on the hard passages about women in the bible.  The first interview is located here.  In the second interview Doug wants to revisit 1 Timothy 2:12 before moving on.

interview on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Doug: Hello brother Paul.  I am so glad that we are able to continue with our interview.  Did you enjoy taking the pulpit for John MacArthur?

Paul: I loved it!  Well, actually I didn’t take the pulpit.  I just spoke to the congregation from the floor because I wanted to encourage everyone to speak and use their gifts.  That was the way it was meant to be.  After all we are all brothers in Christ and we can learn from each other.  Unfortunately I don’t think they will be having me back anytime soon.

Doug: Your kidding!  What happened?

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Interview with the Apostle Paul

Interview with the Apostle Paul

paul on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

This post will be a simulated interview with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.  We are interested in asking Paul his reasons for what he wrote about women and what he thinks about the present day church regarding women’s ministries.  However the interviewer that gets first “crack” at Paul will be a complementarian Christian who strongly believes that women are restricted from teaching men in the church.  The interviewer’s name will be “Doug”.

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Galatians 3:28 is it only about salvation?

Galatians 3:28 is it only about salvation?

noah's ark-Women-In-Ministry-blog-Cheryl Schatz

According to complementarians, Galatians 3:28 is not about equality in Christ, but about all of us being in the same “boat” of salvation.   The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) has made quite an effort to try to demolish Galatians 3:28 as a basis of spiritual equality outside of salvation.  Instead, they say that this verse is only about the equality we have in Christ in regards to salvation.  In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood pages 71-72, John Piper and Wayne Grudem comment:

The context of Galatians 3:28 makes abundantly clear the sense in which men and women are equal in Christ: they are equally justified by faith (v. 24), equally free from the bondage of legalism (v. 25), equally children of God (v. 26), equally clothed with Christ (v. 27), equally possessed by Christ (v. 29), and equally heirs of the promises to Abraham (v. 29)…Galatians 3:28 does not abolish gender-based roles established by God and redeemed by Christ.

But is Galatians 3:28 only about equality in salvation?  Let’s have a close look at the book of Galatians to find out if this is true.

Paul speaks about agitators who had come into the community and had thrown the Galatians into confusion (Galatians 5:12).  These agitators were false brothers, Judaizers and the “party of the circumcision” and they had come into the congregation to spy on the liberty that the Christians had in order to persuade them to come back into bondage.

Galatians 2:4  But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.

Paul describes in his letters some of the areas that the Judaizers were working to bring Christians into bondage and causing the Jews to treat some with prejudice.  In Galatians 5:2, these men were trying to bring circumcision into the congregation of Gentiles.  Also in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 these followers of the Jewish oral law were trying to silence women in the congregation and they wanted to stop women from public learning.

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1 Timothy 2, authority and the magical pulpit

1 Timothy 2, authority and the magical pulpit

Many people feel that the pulpit is a place for authoritative proclamation.  However many people also believe that the pulpit gives a man that authority and allowing someone into the “pulpit” who isn’t allowed to exercise authority over the sheep, an authority that the pulpit gives them, is seen as a great sin.

There are several problems with this view.  The first problem is an obvious one, in that there is no such thing as a pulpit in the Scriptures.  Christianity Today says this about the pulpit:

Pulpits, which are associated with traditional churches today, haven’t always been included in churches. In the earliest days of the church, Christians met in homes. In the Middle Ages, pulpits were installed in churches, but sermons rarely were preached out of them…The pulpit became more prominent during the Protestant Reformation, when the preaching of God’s Word became the primary ingredient of worship. The pulpit became more than a place to stand or a structure on which to place notes and a Bible. It became a symbol of the authority of the Bible, the church, and the preacher.

So the pulpit as a symbol of authority is a modern invention not found in the Bible at all.  Many years into the church age what originally was just a piece of furniture convenient to hold one’s notes, has become the symbol of the authority of the speaker.  Somewhere along the way, it appears that the authority of the Word of God which held preeminence during the Protestant Reformation, has been transferred to the messenger.  In our day the word “pulpit” is synonymous for church authority:

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Anne Graham Lotz and 800 pastors’ shame

Anne Graham Lotz and 800 pastors’ shame

CBMW relates a story told by Anne Graham Lotz in the Washington Post where Mrs Lotz writes:

What legitimate, Biblical role do women have within the church? That question demanded an answer early in my ministry when I accepted an invitation to address a large convention of pastors.

When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman? While all agree that women are free to help in the kitchen, or in the nursery, or in a secretary’s chair, is it unacceptable for a woman to take a leadership or teaching position?

While CBMW writer Brent Nelson writes about the en masse action of many of the 800 pastors in a negative fashion…

Such a shameful event should have never happened.

…what action does he say should have happened?

I grieve that someone in a decision-making role, did not wisely preclude a woman from speaking to a large group of pastors who chose to express their biblically sound concerns in such a shameful fashion.  The commands to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), are equally as important to obey as the command for a woman not take spiritual authority over men. (emphasis added by WIM)

While CBMW’s article says that women are not to be elders or pastors and this is apparently the “clear” prohibition that CBMW espouses, Anne Graham Lotz doesn’t appear to be either an elder or a pastor.  What Mrs. Lotz does in her ministry is preach the good news to whoever the Lord Jesus brings in her pathway.  She writes:

Mary Magdalene was actually the very first evangelist! Since Jesus had obviously been present when Peter and John were there, why did He withhold Himself from them, but reveal Himself to Mary? He could so easily have given the task of announcing His resurrection to Peter and John, but instead He had given it to Mary. I believe He was making an undeniable, obvious statement that reverberates through the centuries, right up until our own day. Women are commanded and commissioned to serve Jesus Christ in whatever capacity He calls them, within or without the organized church, in word or in deed.

CBMW writer Brent Nelson agrees that Mary was commissioned to preach the gospel of the resurrection to the Lord’s disciples, but this doesn’t support Anne Graham Lotz.

Mary seeing Jesus and being commissioned to tell the disciples of his rising is indeed an honor, but certainly does not qualify her to take the role of an Elder or Pastor to men.

While I will not be discussing women elders or pastors in this article, CBMW’s article appears to be a sleight of hand bringing confusion regarding official positions of ordination with the call to preach and teach outside of ordination.  This confusion is precisely what CBMW itself seeks to avoid when they state that women can minister but not have a “pastorate”.

Imprecision is the handmaid of confusion, and confusion the prelude to bondage (John 8:32). We would do well to make a distinction between women in ministry (which the Bible affirms) and women in the pastorate (which the Bible forbids – 1 Timothy 2:12).

Is Anne Graham Lotz called by God to ordination?  She says no:

This space is not long enough to address the issue of ordination which carries with it the right to marry, bury, baptize, and have authority over church members. I do not believe God has called me to be ordained, but I know many women who believe He has called them. Some of these women pastor in countries where the male leadership has been decimated by persecution and imprisonment, and out of necessity they have stepped up to fill the void. (emphasis added by WIM)

What is Anne Graham Lotz called to do?  She writes about what the Lord’s commission means to her:

For me, it means going wherever God sends and giving out His Word to whomever He puts in front of me.

So if Anne Graham Lotz is not called to be ordained as a pastor and she is not ordained as an elder, then why would 800 pastors have “biblical sound concerns” to have her speak to them as an invited guest speaker?  Again CBMW’s Brent Nelson writes:

I grieve that someone in a decision-making role, did not wisely preclude a woman from speaking to a large group of pastors who chose to express their biblically sound concerns in such a shameful fashion.  The commands to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), are equally as important to obey as the command for a woman not take spiritual authority over men. (emphasis added by WIM)

The mindset of CBMW is that women are not allowed to preach the gospel to Christian men because this constitutes taking “spiritual authority” over men.  It is only a smokescreen in this case when they say that the Bible forbids women to be pastors and elders, because this has nothing to do with Mrs. Lotz.  Anne Graham Lotz is an evangelist not a pastor or an elder, yet she is forbidden according to CBMW, to preach the good news to pastors while they can at the very same time agree that Mary was commissioned by Jesus to preach the good news to the disciples.  CBMW affirms that Jesus’ commission for Mary was a godly thing for a woman to obey.  This sleight of hand and confusing talk brings great harm to the body of Christ when women are hindered from speaking the truth of God’s word to the body of Christ.

CBMW’s answer to a woman’s preaching the gospel to Christian men is that she should be hindered, stopped and forbidden from speaking in the first place.  According to this CBMW article it would be a wise male leader who should have stood in the way of Anne Graham Lotz and prevented her from speaking the gospel to these Christian men.  CBMW lifts up the pastors who turned their backs on Mrs. Lotz as godly men who showed their biblical concern in the wrong way.  By turning their backs on Mrs. Lotz, these pastors were not preventing her from speaking to them, they were only showing a shameful action of contempt.  Would CBMW’s counsel to these pastors have them walk out en masse instead of merely turning their backs?

Apparently CBMW believes that there were two shameful actions that happened the day Anne Graham Lotz spoke to those 800 pastors.  The first shameful action was the men who turned their backs toward a godly sister in Christ.  The other “shameful” action was apparently the mere fact that Mrs. Lotz would dare to speak the gospel in the presence of Christian men and that a Christian leader would dare to allow her to speak.  CMBW’s Brent Nelson writes:

At the end of the day, it is the role of pastors and men to lead their congregations and families in understanding God’s design for the home and the church. When this kind of biblical leadership is lacking, sadly shameful things can happen. (emphasis is added by WIM)

CBMW through sleight of hand has now added to the scriptures that only men may lead Christians in the church and in the family towards understanding God’s design.  Shame on CBMW for spiritually turning their back on God’s gifted women, and thus God himself by adding to God’s word things that God never said.

Listen to what CBMW believes Christian men shouldn’t be able to hear Anne Graham Lotz preach and apparently use their CBMW-based conscience to walk out:

Anne Graham Lotz Just Give me Jesus

Pursuing More of Jesus with Anne Graham Lotz

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1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 concludes with Paul’s commands

1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 concludes with Paul’s commands

We have been going through 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the passage that appears to silence women in the church to see how carefully Paul has constructed his words in 1 Corinthians 14:36 to contradict the silencing in verses 34 & 35.  (For past articles on this topic, please see the 1 Corinthians 14 section).

Now we come to Paul’s conclusions and in keeping with the force of the commands that Paul has given throughout chapter 14, Paul ends with two commands that completely blow away any misunderstanding that verses 34 & 35 are Paul’s words to the church instead of a quote from the Corinthian’s letter to Paul.

What is “therefore” there for?

Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:39 “therefore” my brethren…  The word “therefore” is a conjuction that joins together Paul’s words in verses 36-38 with the commands in verses 39 and 40.  All of this directly contradicts the injunction found in verses 34 and 35.  Let’s see how Paul concludes his contradiction of the silencing of women.

1 Corinthians 14:39  Therefore my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy…

The first command of Paul’s in his summary is a repeat of what Paul had already commanded in verse 1.  Paul writes in Philippians 3:1 that repetition is for our safety.  The body of Christ is to desire earnestly to prophesy and this repetition at the end of the chapter is to make sure that we “get it”.  Remember that Paul gave the reason why they were to desire earnestly to prophesy and the reason is for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 14:3, 4)

Speaking forth and keeping silent

Now let’s have another look at the entire chapter of 1 Cor. 14 to see what pattern is set forth regarding speaking and not speaking so that we can completely understand Paul’s summary.

“Speaking forth” allowed:

  • All commanded to seek spiritual gifts especially prophesying in the assembly  (verse 1)
  • Prophesying in the assembly edifies, exhorts and consoles  (verse 3)
  • Prophesying in the assembly edifies all  (verse 4)
  • Gifts for use for the common good are greater than a gift that only edifies one’s self (verse 5)

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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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The unorthodox view of the Trinity related to women in ministry

The unorthodox view of the Trinity related to women in ministry

Wade Burleson has blogged on the Trinity and the unorthodox trend that has come into the church that teaches an eternally subordinated Son of God in the Trinity.

Wade writes:

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is composed of many Southern Baptists who are introducing to evangelicalism a novel, if not peculiar, view of Christ which has more in common with Arianism than the historic, orthodox view of Christ’s person. The theologians and teachers who write for the CBMW are teaching what they call “the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father” as a basis for their hierarchal view that the female is to be subordinate to the male. Women’s subordination to man, according to the teachings of CBMW, is not a consequence of sin or a reflection of cultural values, but is built upon the heirachical order God established before the fall as a reflection of the Trinity.

This view of the Trinity has been used by some complementarians who have a lot of sway in Southern Baptist circles to support the functional subordination of women.  I would recommend that you read what Wade has written and then have a read through the comments on his blog as well.  It is a frightening thing to me to see the spread of this unorthodox doctrine and how many have accepted it as gospel truth.

It also comes at a very timely place for us as we are just getting ready to release our new 2 DVD set called “The Trinity: Eternity Past to Eternity Future, Explaining Truth & Exposing Error

The DVD will be availabe by mid October at http://mmoutreach.org/ or from Amazon.com.

(October 2008 update:  The DVD is now available and a preview is available on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLe-qF2nptA.)

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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1 Corinthians 14, is a woman’s voice filthy?

1 Corinthians 14, is a woman’s voice filthy?

Quiet on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

In the last post we talked about how there is no “law” in the Old Testament scriptures that forced women to be silent in the assembly so the reference in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 had to be some other “law” that forced silence on women.  The “law” that silences women is found not in God’s law, but in the oral tradition of the Jews, now written down in the Talmud.

The next red flag that points to another source other than God’s law, for the saying in verses 34 & 35 is the charge that a woman’s voice is filthy.  Verse 35 says:

1 Corinthians 14:35  If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home;for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

The word translated as “improper” is shameful or filthy.  Is a woman’s voice shameful?  Is a woman’s voice filthy?  The oral law of the Jews said her voice was indecent, filthy and shameful.  A woman was not allowed to speak in their congregations for the sake of the men.  Her voice was considered a sexual enticement thus a woman was not to speak publicly.

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Women preaching equated with adultery and homosexuality

Women preaching equated with adultery and homosexuality

Wade Burleson has commented on Irving Bible Church’s decision to allow women to preach the gospel to the congregation on a Sunday morning and the attacks that this church has experienced because of this decision.  Wade writes:

I shiver when I hear my fellow evangelicals call a church that asks a woman to preach the gospel on Sunday morning a church of “grave moral concern.” WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT FEMALE PASTORS!

The idea that a woman teaching or preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is a “grave moral concern” shows us how far the church has fallen from the place of accepting one another as brothers and sisters in Christ who have gifts given for the benefit of “one another”.  Is not the “grave moral concern” rather an issue of saying that “I” (a man speaking) do not need “a woman” teacher?

1 Corinthians 12:21  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Why is it that scripture says we “cannot say” something that we do say?  The scripture says that we do not have permission to say that women preachers and women teachers are not needed by some in the body of Christ.  When we reject God’s gifts merely because of the package that they are housed in, we are rejecting the Lord Jesus in this area.  Jesus is responsible for assigning the gifts.  If he did not want a female to teach a male the gospel, then Jesus should have created a list of female gifts which list would not include teaching.  Then it would be easy for men to disregard something that doesn’t exist.  When are we going to stop saying what scripture has forbidden us to say?  Saying “I” do not need you and your God-given gift should be treated as a serious moral concern.

Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

In the news is Irving Bible Church who recently took 18 months to study the issue of women in ministry from the scriptures, and now they have implemented a clarification of their position on women regarding the use of their God-given gifts for the common good.  They have produced a 24 page paper on Women in Ministry that documents the findings from their study.  It is at this link on the right hand side, the PDF document.  Although at this point they are still holding to the teaching that only men should become elders, their renewed view coming from the scriptures allows them to release women to teach and preach and use all of their gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ.  It is very encouraging to see another church freeing women to serve with their gifts for the benefit of both men and women.

Below is the brief description of their journey from the front page of the above web site:

Women’s Role in the Church

The May 2008 issue of Chatter, a publication of Irving Bible Church, contained several stories, interviews, and research resources based on Women’s Role in the Church. This web section contains those stories as well as additional resources for your reading and exploration.

Unleashing God’s People

When the issue of women’s role in the Church specific to practicing the spiritual gifts of teaching, leading and preaching was raised, the IBC Elder Board embarked on a journey to discover what God had for all of his people and how he might unleash them to glorify his kingdom. Chatter listened to the Elder Board to learn about that journey, what it involved and where we’ve landed today.

When did the Elder Board begin to look at the role of women?
In 2006, people began asking questions about the role of women in the Church specific to teaching and preaching. For example, could they teach adult Bible Communities? Why didn’t we have a woman on our teaching team? There was also a healthy discussion taking place on Table and Fire. We realized as a board how important it was for us to clarify IBC’s position on this, and thus began an 18-month journey of prayer, study and discussion.

Was there any trepidation on the part of the board?
We knew that once we began, we would need to devote a considerable amount of time and prayer toward it. Each of us had wrestled with this issue on some level, and we came at it from different experiences and with varying perspectives. As a group, we were committed to moving forward with spiritual, biblical and intellectual integrity.

Specifically, what steps did the board take?
We held more than 12 meetings in which the ministry role of women was the primary topic for discussion, study and prayer. We looked at likeminded churches that walked this journey before us and read several books and commentaries that held varying viewpoints. In addition, we dialogued with women both in ministry here at IBC and from other churches. We sought godly counsel, and invited three professors from Dallas Theological Seminary—Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, Dr. Scott Horrell, and Dr. Bob Pyne—representing different positions on the issue to present their studies and insights to us.

What were the most enlightening things you learned?
Jesus was completely radical in how he elevated women in his day. He ignored cultural barriers and invited women to be part of his ministry. Throughout the Bible we found God using women as leaders, prophets and teachers to further his kingdom. We also looked at how God effectively uses women in ministry today. The fact is, he’s used women throughout history and today in powerful ways—in teaching, leading and preaching roles—and there’s fruit. We’ve seen it, and we can’t deny it.

Did this lead the board to feel as though the issue is truly black and white?
Not at all. We quickly learned that there are many God-honoring, spiritually mature, biblically astute Christians who have different views on this topic. We realized that, instead of presuming to determine what is “right” for all times and places, we were called to define “what seems to be good to us and the Holy Spirit” for IBC in the spirit of Acts 15:28.

With that in mind, how does IBC plan to move forward?
We are going forward with the strong belief that God wants to unleash all of His children using all of their spiritual gifts to further His kingdom. Women represent 50% or more of the body of Christ, and having them fully unleashed to use all of their giftedness makes us 50% more effective and powerful for Christ. We need the whole body of Christ fully engaged for the kingdom. So we’re not just saying, “It’s OK.” We’re saying, “Come on!”

How do you expect the IBC community to respond?
We hope that people will be excited about women being unleashed for Christ’s kingdom. For those who are surprised by or unfamiliar with this approach, we hope they will interact with the scriptures and prayerfully consider the validity of our position. After 18 months of committed prayer, godly counsel, reading God’s word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak, we believe this is the right and best course for IBC.

How will this change what IBC is currently doing?
Truly, it doesn’t change very much. We’re really looking to provide clarity as to what, in many ways, we’ve already been practicing. A noticeable change may include an occasional woman preacher at IBC as God raises up gifted and qualified individuals for that task.


Noodling with the Greek grammar in 1 Timothy 2:15

Noodling with the Greek grammar in 1 Timothy 2:15

While I have made a very strong point of the Greek grammar in 1 Timothy 2:15 with the singular “she” and the plural “they” (no specific gender for “they”), some have been trying hard to wiggle out of the implications that Paul is referring to a specific woman because the only living person at that time that “she” can refer back to is the woman Paul is stopping from teaching in verse 12. Verse 15 has a very specific grammar construction with both “she” AND “they” referenced. I have made the argument that “she” cannot be the same thing as “they” otherwise 1 Timothy 2:15 would have improper Greek grammar. The only way to keep the grammar within the rules is for “they” to be people (at least one other person) in addition to the “she”. Paul could have said “She will be saved….if she…” or “They will be saved…if they…” and both of these could be general statements about either women or generic woman, but it would be improper to say “She will be saved…if they….” if “she” and “they” are the exact same thing.

Back in September of 2007 I had an audio debate with Matt Slick of CARM and since that time Matt has been trying to find a way to refute my exegesis and prove and “she” is the exact same thing as “they”. He cannot prove such a thing since it is improper Greek grammar so it is interesting to note that he is now stating that the Holy Spirit can inspire an error in the Greek grammar if he wants to. I can hardly believe that an evangelical apologist would resort to noodling with the Greek grammar in order to keep his biased view that Paul is restricting all women for all of time from teaching true biblical doctrine to men. But at the same time that Matt is setting up such a charge against the Holy Spirit of inspiring an error in the grammar, his own Greek expert is refuting his premise. Let’s see how this is done.

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Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Recently one of my blog posts has garnered some interesting comments regarding the issue of ordination. At the same time I received a request from a lady who believes that she has been called by God into ordained ministry. This post will deal with the issue of whether a female must be ordained to be a Pastor and the other comments regarding Paul and his ordination by Jesus will be moved to this post.

First of all there is the issue of whether a body of believer’s decision to reject the ordination of certain people constitutes a binding limit to a person’s gifting and calling from God. The question that I had posed earlier, is whether the leadership’s ordaining of a person actually makes them a legitimate Pastor? Also I was questioning whether the fact that one is rejected for ordination would take away a person’s calling from God to be a Pastor?

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From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

I am very pleased that Stan Gundry has given me permission to post his story about how he changed his view from a staunch complementarian to an egalitarian. I would also request that if you have a story about your own journey from prejudice to freedom in Christ regarding women in ministry that you email me at mmoutreach [AT] gmail [DOT] com or use the contact tab at the top to reach me. I also have Stan Gundry’s personal email address. If anyone is interested in contacting him, you can leave a comment asking for information or you can email me directly or use the contact form and I will contact you back.

And now…sit back and enjoy this very compelling testimony by Stan Gundry.

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

to

Woman Be Free


My Story*

by Stan Gundry

*Copyright © 2004 by Stanley N. Gundry. All rights reserved.

I have agreed to tell my story for two fundamental reasons. 1) I want to give tribute to the person who opened my eyes to a new paradigm through which to view scripture and who did not allow me to be satisfied with the easy answers. These were answers that had been drilled into my head as a youth and were assumed throughout my college and seminary training. 2) Arguments alone often do not convince. This is especially so with theological and exegetical arguments on this subject that for many has so much emotional baggage associated with it. So, when people come to me asking questions and searching for answers on the “women’s issue,” I often just tell them my story–where I have come from, where I have landed, and how and why I got there.

Arguments in which both sides launch aggressive offenses and structure fortress-like defenses can be unnecessarily adversarial. I am not suggesting that such arguments have no place, but let’s acknowledge that their value is vastly over-rated.

Stories cover the same territory, but they are testimonials–and it is hard to argue with someone’s testimony. Some who hear my story may think I became a biblical egalitarian for inadequate reasons; but more often than not, the response has been, “That makes sense. You’ve given me something to think about.” (1.) And a new story begins, or at least takes a new turn in the road.

Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

My story begins with a book prominently displayed on my father’s bookshelf. Norman C Gundry was a Fundamentalist Baptist pastor who represented some of the best and worst of that tradition. He graduated from the two-year course of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (then known as BI, but now BIOLA University). He and my Mom, Lolita Hinshaw, married in 1932. Within two years they were on their way to Nigeria as missionaries. After three years in Nigeria they returned to the States on regular furlough so my mother could deliver her second child (me) and so my father could receive a much-needed medical check up. Because my father’s hearing was being destroyed by quinine, the drug of choice to treat malaria, they were unable to return to Nigeria. Throughout the years leading up to World War II and during the War, my father was a “tentmaker,” eking out a barely adequate living, first as a warehouseman and then as a farm hand. On Sundays he would preach in small rural churches and Sunday Schools.

During this time, he gradually came to the conclusion that he was a Baptist, a Fundamentalist, and a Separatist. As is so often true of those in that tradition, he was legalistic and rigid to the nth degree. But he also loved God, loved people, knew his Bible exceptionally well, and had a fervent desire to be “true to the Bible.” He was remarkably free of narrow, idiosyncratic views of biblical teaching, with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was “the place of women” as he would have put it. His views on this subject were so extreme that they would almost make Wayne Grudem seem like an egalitarian by contrast. He made sure that the women in his congregation, and especially his wife, knew and kept their “place.”

A fitting metaphor for my father’s view of the place of women was the title of a little paperback book prominently displayed on his bookshelf. Just to the right of his study desk was Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers, authored by the well-known Fundamentalist evangelist of the second third of the twentieth century, John R. Rice. (2.) The title said it all. Bobbed Hair–women as a sign of their submission and obedience to men were not to cut their hair. Bobbed hair was a sign of rebellion against husband, father, and God. Bossy Wives–the man was the head of the wife and the home, and the wife was to keep her place and obey her husband in all things, even if the husband was unsaved. Women Preachers–heaven forbid the thought! Eve had led Adam astray in the Garden and ever since women had been the source of false teaching and the temptresses of men! Obviously they should not be pastors or teachers of men.

My father kept extra copies of Rice’s book on hand to give to those he thought needed its instruction. The summer I left for college, I received my copy, along with a subscription to the paper Rice published, The Sword of the Lord. I confess that I read neither of them. I did not need to; I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by my father’s teaching and modeling. My mother never cut her hair (at least not that anyone could tell), and though the women in my father’s congregation were less compliant, my father regularly alluded to their rebellious actions from the pulpit. Women could hold no offices in churches my father pastored, could not preach, teach, or otherwise lead men. Women could “testify” on Sunday evening; pray publicly at the mid-week service, but not on Sundays; could participate in special music, but could not lead congregational singing or a mixed musical group; could teach Sunday School classes containing boys, but only until they became teenagers. Yes indeed, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by word and example and really did not need that copy of Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers he gave me as I packed my bags for college.

Asking Questions

I suspect my father was fairly confident that the apple would not fall too far from the tree. But if that was the case, there were three things that he did not count on. He did not reckon with the possibility that I would meet and marry a wise and strong woman who thought for herself, asked hard questions, and would not be satisfied with canned answers. In fact, he probably did not consider that I might actually think for myself on this matter, or assumed that if I did, I would come to the same conclusions he had. But my father also failed to realize the consequences of another rather radical idea he had instilled in both of his sons. He taught us to test everything by scripture–to be “true to the Word” to use his phrase, to follow that out no matter where it might lead.

I don’t remember precisely when I began to realize that the woman I would marry might challenge everything I had been taught about the place and role of women. Perhaps it was when we discussed deep philosophical and theological questions in the college library, and she just assumed that she was my intellectual and spiritual equal. Perhaps it was when she questioned why the president of the small college we attended would call on two or three of the young women to lead in prayer in chapel, when it was apparently sufficient to call on only one of the young men to pray. Over time it became clear that Patricia Lee Smith was a seeker after truth and she would pursue that path no matter whom it made uncomfortable, whether that was the college president, me, my father, my mother, or anyone in the male church hierarchy.

One event stands out as a defining moment and a turning point for Pat. It would also have profound implications for me, though I did not realize it at the time. It was November 1964, one year after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was my second year as pastor of a small, rural Baptist church. Our church had invited a pastor from Everett, Washington to lead a weeklong Bible Conference. He had the reputation of being an able Bible teacher. One evening we entertained this well-known pastor for dinner. The conversation over Pat’s spaghetti and meat sauce started out on a congenial note. Chuck was an out-going conversationalist who laughed and joked easily–that is, until Pat asked her question. She started out by saying that she’d been curious about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and she wondered how he interpreted it.

Instead of treating the question seriously and deserving of a reasonable answer, he rudely and abruptly demanded, “Why do you want to know?” Though I had no good answers to Pat’s question about the passage either, even I was shocked by the dismissive nature of Pastor Chuck’s response.

At that moment Pat realized Chuck did not know how to interpret that portion of scripture, and he did not want to talk about it. Yet he was willing to restrict the role of women in the church based to a large degree on one of the most difficult passages to understand in the New Testament. Pat resolved to search for the answers to a matrix of questions surrounding this issue and to share the information with other women, questions like:

  • If women are not to be the leaders and teachers of men, how does one account for Deborah, Huldah, Phillip’s daughters, and Priscilla’s role in the instruction of Apollos? (3.)
  • Why is it that Paul instructs women to be silent in one place and acknowledges with apparent approval that women publicly pray and prophesy in another? (4.)
  • Doesn’t the prominence of women among the followers of Jesus and in the Pauline Epistles suggest something significantly more than women leading and teaching children and other women? (5.)
  • How is it that in the church the benefits of Galatians 3:26-28 apply equally and in very tangible ways to men, Jews, Gentiles, slaves, and those who are free, but not to women?
  • If a woman is to obey her husband, is she not responsible directly to God for her actions? Is he in effect a priest, an intermediary between her and God? Is she to submit and obey even when his instructions are morally wrong or contrary to her understanding of God’s desire for her? (6.)
  • Aren’t husbands and wives to mutually submit to one another as all believers are to submit to one another, and how does this qualify the presumptive one-sided submission and obedience of wives to husbands? (7.)
  • Are all women to submit to all men?
  • Is the husband to be the leader of the home even if the wife has better leadership skills, or the husband is disabled, or the wife has greater spiritual insight and sensitivity?
  • Just when does a boy become too old for a woman to legitimately continue to teach him, and if women really are not to teach men, isn’t it odd that women are allowed to teach them in their most formative years?
  • Does it make sense that God would endow women with gifts but disallow women the privilege and responsibility of using those gifts to their fullest, or for that matter disallow men from the benefits of those gifts? (8.)
  • In fact, doesn’t the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers give the lie to the view that women are to submit to and obey men? And of all Christians, shouldn’t Baptists and others in the believer’s church and congregational traditions who claim to most consistently live out that doctrine, as well as the doctrine of soul liberty, extend those doctrines to women, acknowledging women as equals in all respects?
  • And isn’t it more than a bit inconsistent for women to have an equal vote in congregational decisions, especially in the selection and/or discipline of male church leaders, if in fact they are to submit to men?

Looking for Answers

I am quite sure Pat already had most of these questions in her mind as she looked across the bowl of spaghetti at Chuck. But he cut her off before she got a chance to ask them. My suspicion is that this man who later went on to become first a seminary and then a college president cut her off because he did not know what to do with 1 Timothy 2. Not only that, he also knew he did not have good answers to the questions he feared would follow. This not-so-pleasant encounter with Pastor Chuck in 1964 was the catalyst that prompted Pat to get really serious in her search for answers. (9.)

I was not much help to Pat, especially in the early years of her research. While I (eventually) acknowledged the legitimacy of her questions, I had few answers, except of course to say that if the Bible says a woman is to submit to her husband, then of course she is to submit. And if the inspired words of Paul are that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men, then of course that settled the matter. And whatever prominence women had in the New Testament, it was nevertheless clear that they were not to be pastors or elders.

Pat was no more satisfied by my rote responses than she was with Chuck’s brush off. But through her own reading, research, and study of Scripture she gradually began to make her own discoveries and form her own conclusions. In 1968 we moved to Wheaton, Illinois, and I accepted a faculty position at Moody Bible Institute. Frequently in the evenings after I returned home from the long commute to Chicago, she would share with me what she had discovered others had written and bounce her own ideas off me. Sometimes we’d debate the issues late into the night. Pat’s a night person, and the later it got, the more cogent her arguments seemed to me, and eventually I would reluctantly agree, or give an inch or two, only to have second thoughts the next morning and recant a good deal of whatever I had conceded the night before. My reservations about where she was headed and wanted to lead me would resurface when I awakened. Why? I wish I could say that my only motive was to be faithful to the Bible. That certainly was a key element in my thinking. But in retrospect, I have had to acknowledge less honorable motives that can be summed up in one word–fear.

Fear. Fear of where it would all lead–could Pat be right and what seemed like the rest of the church wrong? Fear of losing my job at MBI, though there was no credible basis that I was aware of for that possibility. Fear of being taught by a woman, or worse yet, fear of admitting I had been taught by a woman, my wife.

This last fear was the most pernicious and enduring of all. I remember with great shame an episode in the early 1980s, well after I had become an egalitarian, indeed after I had been forced to resign from the Moody faculty for supporting my wife’s egalitarian views as expressed in Woman Be Free. I had been invited to Houghton College to debate the women’s issue with a gentleman who held the traditional hierarchical view. Even back then I normally refused to engage in point by point argumentation of the issues. I simply told the story of how I had become an egalitarian and what I had found compelling that changed my mind–but with one huge omission and distortion. I failed to acknowledge Pat’s key, indeed pivotal part in my journey to biblical egalitarianism. Why? Fear. So I want to say with unambiguous clarity now, Pat started me on this journey and was my teacher along the way.

But I have run ahead of my story. Throughout the rest of my time as a pastor and in my early years on the faculty of MBI, I continued to be troubled by the questions Pat was raising. Over time I came to accept the urgency of the questions and eventually her questions truly also became my questions, and more than a bit more slowly, some of her answers began to become my answers. But I remained troubled by many of the “problem passages,” those passages that had seemed to clearly reflect a predominant pattern of male leadership of the people of God in both testaments and those that seemed to explicitly teach the submission of women to male leadership in the home, church, and perhaps even in society.

In this early phase of my journey it was really Pat who was the researcher. She discovered God’s Word to Women (Katherine Bushnell) (10.) and The Bible Status of Woman (Lee Anna Starr) (11.) She would bounce her ideas off me, occasionally asking me to check out something in the Greek or Hebrew for her. Gradually she began to find answers; a bit more gradually–no, a lot more gradually–I began to accept some of those answers as possible answers to some of the questions that prevented me from embracing the full equality of women, an equality that did not recognize gender as a disqualification from spiritual privilege or any aspect of Christian ministry.

Understanding the Big Picture

In the early 1970s I began to view and understand the Bible less atomistically and more wholistically, and this was a shift that would profoundly affect how I understood the texts related to the women’s issue. And for this too I am indebted to Pat. One of her great strengths is that she has the ability to think synthetically–the ability to have a grasp of the details and then stand back and look at these details, many of which may appear to be disparate, and bring them together in a congruent whole. That is what I observed her doing with the body of evidence related to the women’s issue in scripture. And as we discussed these matters together, I began to see that the passages that were barriers to my moving to a fully egalitarian position needed to be understood in terms of the big picture. It is the big picture that establishes the context for understanding the difficult passages. If one has the big picture right, it is acceptable to admit that for some passages there are several possible interpretations. It is alright to say, “I don’t know, but here are some possibilities.” This insight from Pat was the piece that began to put the rest of the puzzle together for me.

By 1974 in my lectures and discussions with students at Moody Bible Institute, I was affirming a view that was essentially egalitarian. I had come to believe that though it was important to understand isolated texts on their own terms, it was nevertheless futile to believe that the debate between egalitarians and traditional hierarchicalists could ever be settled by debating the exegesis and interpretation of individual texts in isolation. For me, the more significant question had become, how is the grand sweep of biblical or redemptive history to be understood? What is redemptive history all about, and how do the relevant texts fit into that?

When examined with that question in mind, it seemed to me that hierarchicalism, if consistently held and applied, was its own undoing. This view holds that women are by God’s design inherently disqualified from leading and teaching men. It goes against the creation order itself. (12.) But if that is indeed the case, scripture contradicts itself, because women throughout the biblical narrative did lead and teach men, with God’s apparent approval and blessing. Further, if the hierarchical view is correct (submission to male leadership/authority and silence), certain things should follow. Women should be allowed absolutely no public roles within the church, whether that be in worship, prayer, or any other form of public speaking such as teaching, preaching, or prophecy. They should not be allowed to participate in congregational decisions. Nor should they ever be allowed to teach a male, even in settings that are not public. Why? Because it is essential to the very nature of being female. If it is not essential to the nature of being female, the whole hierarchical edifice begins to fall apart because that is the foundation on which it is built.

Relatively few hierarchicalists follow the implications of their foundation to its consistent and logical conclusion. To do so would be the demonstration of the absurdity of the premise. It would be clearly inconsistent with the many indications of scripture that women did in fact do the very things that the foundational premise of hierarchicalism implies they should not do. How then do they deal with the biblical indications of women in these unlikely roles, and how do they justify even the limited participation of women in similar roles in their own churches? The devices are ingenious but hardly convincing even if one accepts the premise. Some instances are viewed as exceptions to the rule, allowed by God because men did not step up to the challenge. Or, women can prophesy, but not have the office of prophet. Or, women can teach, but not authoritatively. Or, women can teach and preach, but only with the permission of or under the authority of her husband, or of men in general. These explanations strike me as contrived and desperate attempts to save the system and to preserve the benefits of male privilege that are built upon it. It’s no wonder that hierarchicalists cannot agree among themselves on just what a woman may do and under what circumstances. As Pat pointed out recently, the only thing that hierarchicalists agree on is that it is the men who get to tell women what they can do.

If the foundation of hierarchicalism is that the creation order itself establishes that for time and eternity women are subject to men, they also see this order reinforced in God’s word to Eve immediately after she and Adam disobeyed God’s command in Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Instead of understanding this and the other aspects of the so-called curse on both men and women as the natural consequences of human sin, hierarchicalists understand this particular result of the Fall as reinforcement of the divine ideal for humankind–male rule and female submission, in other words, patriarchy. This is the filter through which hierarchicalists view the rest of the Bible, including those passages that would otherwise seem to imply or explicitly support full equality, and, contrary to the patriarchal conventions of the biblical world, are examples of women leading, teaching, prophesying, or ruling.

Yet this is the polar opposite of what was already hinted at in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the serpent that Eve’s seed would crush his head. As the NIV Study Bible so aptly puts it, “The offspring of the woman would eventually crush the serpent’s head, a promise fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan, a victory in which all believers will share.” From Genesis 3:15 onward, the overarching theme of all scripture is the defeat of Satan, the redemption of humankind, and the reversal of the effects of the Fall. This includes not only the restoration of the divine/human relationship, but also the restoration of broken human relationships in general and male/female and husband/wife relationships in particular.

When I began to view the Bible and redemptive history in this manner, the big picture began to emerge that helped me put the pieces of the biblical puzzle together as it related to men and women. Starting at the beginning in Genesis 1-3 we are clearly and unambiguously told that both were created in the image of God. They were created for fellowship with God and with one another. Though Adam was created first, Eve was created of the very stuff Adam was made of, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, a “suitable helper,” one that corresponded to him. And lest we think Eve the helper was a flunky assistant, the text uses a Hebrew noun (‘ezer) that is elsewhere used to refer to Yahweh; in fact, four times the Psalmist refers to the LORD as “our help and our shield.” (13.) As full and equal partners Adam and Eve were responsible to tend the garden, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to subdue the earth and to rule over the creatures. In other words, together they were given stewardship of the earth because they were equals. And because they were equals, they were each fully responsible directly to God to obey his commands. Thus, when they each sinned against the command of God, each was accountable directly to God for their transgression.

The Fall turned everything topsy-turvy. After the Fall, the relationship between man and woman is quite different than it was before the Fall. It morphed from one of equality and complementarity to one of male domination and patriarchy, and that is the backdrop to all that follows in the Bible. But as alluded to earlier, immediately after the Fall the story of redemption begins, and part of that story is the restoration through time of what had been, and what still was God’s desire for the world and for humanity. God, though, does not in one instantaneous snap of the fingers restore what the Fall had destroyed and distorted. Instead, in his dealings with humankind God accommodates himself to the realities of the fallen world. Patriarchalism, the result of the Fall, remains, and it is accommodated in God’s relationship with and rule of his people Israel–the patriarchs, the judges, the prophets, the priesthood, the monarchy. But it is mere accommodation to the reality of the times and culture; it is not a reflection of the divine ideal for humanity. When the Old Testament and Old Testament history are viewed from the perspective of this big picture, the Old Testament women who break the patriarchal paradigm–Deborah, Jael, Abigail, Huldah, Esther, and the wise and virtuous business woman of Proverbs 31–are not embarrassing exceptions to some divinely instituted patriarchal creation order, as hierarchicalists are compelled to say. Instead, each of these women is an affirmation that the Fall is not the end of the story, that patriarchy is not the divine ideal, and that restoration of what originally was is coming once again.

The Incarnation is the central and decisive event of redemptive history. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Of course Jesus was a male. But more significantly he was human (flesh) so he could be the savior of all of humanity. He who crushed the serpent’s head and took the curse upon himself, repeatedly broke the patriarchal conventions of his time by honoring women and welcoming them into this band of disciples. By his life, death, and resurrection he got the victory over Satan and all the forces of evil, he died in our place and bore the punishment for sin, he conquered death and gives us resurrection life, and he provided for us the supreme example of love and obedience. So, in Christ right relationships are restored and in him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” “All are one in Christ,” and, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3: 28-29). It could hardly be more clear that patriarchal order is not the ideal.

Nevertheless, the full realization of the divine ideal awaits the end of history when redemptive history is consummated. In the church of the New Testament era, there were still plenty of accommodations to the realities of the fallen patriarchal order–the Twelve were all men; and however one understands the polity of the New Testament church, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the elders, pastors, or bishops were likely all men. But if we keep our eye on the goal toward which redemptive history is moving, the apparent limitations on women evidenced in the New Testament are best understood as temporary and ad hoc.

In other words, when the big picture of redemptive history is kept in mind, the New Testament is seen as a huge leap forward toward full restoration of what was lost or distorted in the Fall. When I came to understand Scripture in this manner, the problem passages that had troubled me, and that are so often used by hierarchicalists to justify the submission of women, are understood as ad hoc accommodations to the fallen patriarchal culture. And the many scriptural examples of women doing what allegedly they are not supposed to do can be given their full evidential weight of how God, as an “equal opportunity employer,” really values women.

Resolution and Confirmation

My journey to biblical egalitarianism was essentially complete. While I did not, and do not now, claim to have the final answer to every question or difficult passage, I was convinced the framework sketched above was clearly a superior way to account for the varieties of biblical evidence. It has an elegant simplicity that is consistent with the authority of biblical texts. I find it far easier to live with the unresolved problems of egalitarianism than the problems of hierarchicalism, problems that seem to me to be far more serious, calling in question the very unity of the Bible.

But there was one more piece to my journey that is important, though seemingly small and unrelated to anything that had happened up to this point. It was the final piece that confirmed for me that I was on the right path.

In early 1974 I was preparing for a doctoral field exam in American church history by reading selections from some of the more important primary source documents representative of that history. When I came to the early and mid-nineteenth century, I was immersed in the literature surrounding the questions of slavery and abolition. The defenses of slavery by leading theologians and churchmen from the southern states were especially fascinating. Whether the men were from the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Congregational, or Roman Catholic traditions, the biblical and theological arguments in defense of slavery were essentially the same.

Abolitionism was said to be anti-Christian. Defenders of slavery claimed that abolitionists got their ideas from other sources and then went to the “Bible to confirm the crotchets of their vain philosophy.” Scripture, it was repeatedly argued, does not condemn slavery. In fact, scripture sanctions slavery. In his parables, Jesus refers to masters and slaves without condemning slavery as such. In the New Testament, pious and good men had slaves, and were not told to release them. The church was first organized in the home of a slaveholder. That slavery was divinely regulated throughout biblical history was evidence that the institution was divinely approved. When scripture, as in Galatians 4, uses illustrations from slavery to teach great truths, without censuring slavery, it was considered more evidence that the institution had divine approval. The Baptist Declaration of 1822 did accept that slaves had purely spiritual privileges [as Christians], but they remained slaves.

The defenders of slavery within the churches all claimed the Bible as their starting point and all developed their defense by appealing to scripture in much the fashion I have summarized above. With one voice southern churchmen defending slavery charged that to reject slavery as sinful was to reject the Word of God. (14.)

I had heard about this line of reasoning before, but to actually read it for myself was an eye-opening experience. I was appalled and embarrassed that such an evil practice had been defended in the name of God and under the guise of biblical authority. How could churchmen and leading theologians have been so foolish and blind? I had been reflecting on these readings several days, then on one, cold, Chicago-gray wintry day as I crept home on that parking lot known as the Eisenhower Expressway, it slowly began to dawn on me that I had heard every one of those arguments before. In fact, at one time I had used them–to defend hierarchicalism and argue against egalitarianism. By this time I was close to home and I still remember the exact spot on Manchester Road just west of downtown Wheaton, Illinois where it hit me like a flash. Someday Christians will be as embarrassed by the church’s biblical defense of patriarchal hierarchicalism as it is now of the nineteenth century biblical defenses of slavery.

For me, that was the piece that once and for all put Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers in the waste basket. And it confirmed my determination to stand with Pat as she completed the book that would eventually be published by Zondervan as Woman Be Free. (15.)

_____________________________

  1. I prefer to the use the phrase “biblical egalitarian” to designate the position I hold, though at times I simply use the term “egalitarian.” I believe it is the most accurate and descriptive because I believe this view is biblically based and because the essence of the position is that all individuals are equally created in God’s image. Consequently, they have equal worth, privilege, and opportunity in God’s Kingdom without reference to gender, ethnicity, or social status. I use “hierarchicalism” or “patriarchal hierarchicalism” to designate the opposite view. I am aware that those who hold this view prefer to be called “complementarians.” That term was invented in the mid-1980s allegedly to portray the position as holding that men and women are complementary to one another. The problem is, though, that egalitarians also believe that in the body of Christ all believers, including men and women, are complementary to one another. So the term does not apply uniquely to those who would now claim exclusive ownership of it. It is difficult not to think that the term was invented as a euphemism to avoid calling attention to the real essence of the position–that men are in hierarchical order over women who are to submit to men. In any case, I use the term hierarchical because I believe it is the most descriptive and accurate term to designate this view.
  2. Originally published in 1941, this book is still available from Sword of the Lord Publishers.
  3. Judges 4-5; 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22; Acts 21:9; Acts 18:26.
  4. 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12.
  5. Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 4:2-3.
  6. Ephesians 5:21, 24; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6.
  7. 1 Corinthians 7:4; Ephesians 5:21.
  8. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
  9. I know the reader is tempted to think that “Pastor Chuck” was Chuck Swindoll. I assure you it was not.
  10. First published privately by the author in 1921.
  11. First published in 1926 by Fleming H. Revell.
  12. For instance, see Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 461.
  13. Psalm 33:20; 115: 9, 10, 11.
  14. Documents representative of the pro-slavery arguments as summarized here are contained in H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, American Christianity, Volume II, 1820-1960 (New York: Scribner’s, 1963), pp. 177-210.
  15. Patricia Gundry, Woman Be Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977; still in print from http://www.suitcasebooks.net and may also be ordered from http://www.amazon.com and http://www.equalitydepot.com, the online Book Store of CBE).
Laying a false argument to rest

Laying a false argument to rest

One of the arguments that complementarians employ against women in ministry is the argument that God only used women as prophets and leaders in the Bible when there were no men available at the time. Is this really a valid argument? Let’s have a look at two biblical examples.

Elijah thought that he alone was left as a prophet of God because he alone was serving God yet God corrected him by saying that he had seven thousand others who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

Romans 11:3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.”
Romans 11:4 But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.”

God has always had a remnant who followed him and thus God has never been without a man to serve him.

Let’s look at another example. Huldah was used by the Lord to bring a message to King Josiah yet God also had men available to be used. The prophet Jeremiah had been prophesying in Judah since the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah (see Jeremiah 1:2) and it was the 18th year of the reign of King Josiah (see 2 Kings 22:3) when Huldah was consulted as a Prophet of God to bring a message to King Josiah. So a woman, Huldah, was used by God even though Jeremiah was available and Jeremiah had already been prophesying in the land for five years. Even though Jeremiah was available, God used Huldah to speak his words to the king.

2 Kings 22:12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant saying,
2 Kings 22:13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the LORD that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
2 Kings 22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her.
2 Kings 22:15 She said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to me,
2 Kings 22:16 thus says the LORD, …

The fact is that God uses women for his own purposes and it is not biblically correct to say that God only uses women when God has no man available. Let’s once and for all lay this false argument to rest. God uses women because it pleases him to use women and God still uses women today for his own glory and honor.

Women teaching, men’s prejudice and God’s glory

Women teaching, men’s prejudice and God’s glory

Many complementarians have been so used to hearing what women are not allowed to do in the body of Christ rather than what scripture says women should do as followers of Christ, that the focus has become automatically set to see restrictions when the subject of women in ministry is discussed.  With this post I would like to lay out some of the allowances for women in ministry as well as the obligations of mature children of God including God’s female “sons” so that we can contemplate on God’s own instructions.

What should be the attitude of women who are dedicated, mature and reverent followers of Christ?  In 1 Peter chapter 3 Paul has been writing about how women followers of Christ are to show their love for their Lord in the respectful way that they treat their husbands.  Men followers of Christ are also to show their love for their Savior by treating their wives with love and respect as fellow heirs of the grace of God.  Then in verses 8-17 Peter continues on to speak to both men and women about their attitude, their behavior and actions and their obligations.

1 Peter 3:8 (NASB) To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9  not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:10  For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
1 Peter 3:11  “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
1 Peter 3:12  “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”
1 Peter 3:13  Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
1 Peter 3:14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

Since Peter says that this is written for “all of you”, let’s focus on what we can see about God’s will for women from these verses.  Peter writes in verse 8 that women are to be harmonious (of like mind with all believers) humble in spirit, kindhearted, brotherly (fond of the brethren which is the body of believers) and sympathetic.  How does this work out in practice?  Peter writes in verse 9 that women are not to return evil for evil or insult for insult but they are to practice giving a blessing even when they are reviled because women in Christ are called for the purpose of inheriting a blessing.

Peter goes on in verses 10-12 to encourage women to keep from speaking evil words and women followers of Christ are to do what is good and to pursue and seek after peace.  When women followers of Christ live this way they have the eyes and ears of the Lord Jesus toward them because the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears hear their prayers.

In verses 12-14 Peter writes that God is against those who do evil so that if women are zealous for doing what is good that God will be on their side and look out for them regarding those who do evil to them.  Women are told that even though they may suffer for doing what is good, God will bring them a blessing for suffering for the sake of righteousness.  God tells women that when they are reproached for doing what is good, they are not to fear the intimidation of those who are against them.  God tells women they are not to be troubled when they suffer for doing good and they are not to fear those who try to intimidate them, instead these women are to be prepared to defend their faith in God.  Verse 15 says:

1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Women are not only allowed to give a defense to everyone who asks them to give an account, but they are commanded to do so.  They are not told to be prejudiced against men but to give a defense to everyone.  Women’s obligation is to be ready with a gentle and reverent spirit to give an account to whoever challenges them on their faith in Christ.  When Jesus gifts and equips a woman she is to use these gifts without fear.  In 1 Peter 4:10,11 Peter records that each one of us has been gifted and we are commanded to use our gifts for the use of the body of Christ.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If God has gifted a woman to speak she is commanded to speak as one who is speaking the very utterances of God.  She is to do this because it pleases God to gift her.  When she uses her gift God will strengthen her in that gift because this brings honor to Jesus.  Whenever she uses her gift she is bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ her Lord.

What about if someone challenges a woman follower of Christ that women are to be prejudiced against men and must refuse to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the men in the body of Christ?  What if someone says that teaching the bible for the benefit of men is an evil act and not allowed for godly women?  What if someone says that women followers of Christ are sinning against God if they refuse to turn away men from hearing them teach the bible?  Peter instructs the women to keep a good conscience and in doing the good works of a mature follower of Christ, if she is slandered by those who hate her good works and who say that her good works are evil, these ones who have slandered her will be put to shame by her good behavior in Christ and her gentle and reverent spirit even during her persecution and her suffering.

1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

God’s word for women followers of Jesus, is do not fear intimidation and do not be troubled.  Be glad that you are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Lord.  Do not return evil for evil or return insult for insult but keep on doing what is good.  Teaching God’s word is good.  Using your God-given gifts is a good thing.  Scripture never once tells women to turn their backs on men and to refuse to use God’s gifts for the benefit of men.  That is prejudice and prejudice is not a godly thing.  God’s way is to use your gifts for God’s glory without prejudice.  Do this good work in a gentle and respectful manner without responding back with evil words if you are insulted and slandered by your brothers in Christ.

Let me tell you a story about our ministry partner Lorri MacGregor.  Lorri was a Jehovah’s Witness for 15 years and when she came to Christ and had come to a full understanding of the truth of God’s word, God called her to teach the scriptures especially to Christians who had no idea how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Lorri was faithful to go wherever the Lord called her even though she had many barriers put up in her pathway because she was a woman.  God caused her testimony to be heard by men and women, lay people and Pastors alike.  Many Pastors were so impressed by her testimony and her ability to teach Christians how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they allowed her to teach on this subject even though they have never allowed a woman to teach the bible to the congregation before.  Lorri’s ability to make the gospel clear and to teach difficult subjects like the Trinity and make these teachings understandable to the average Christian was clearly noted and she was asked into many churches to share her testimony and her special gift of teaching.  Lorri never refused to teach anyone because of their gender nor did she act in a prejudicial way to the men in the audience.  When some objected to her teaching on the platform, she asked if she could teach from the floor using a music stand instead of a pulpit.  Her humility and her respectful manner allowed her to receive a hearing and because of this many men and women were equipped to share their faith in a way that brought much fruit and brought Jesus much honor.  Lorri’s ability and her gifts were strengthened by her experience coming out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pastors saw the benefit of her teaching as a unique gift.

Because Lorri’s desire was to use her gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ and it was not her desire to elevate herself or stand in open opposition to the tradition held by many Pastors and many churches, the doors opened to her for her to teach what is good.  In fact her teaching was so clear and so easy to understand that Lorri was invited into the pulpit in places that had never before allowed a woman to teach the congregation.  Lorri did not make an issue of being a woman teacher, she just used her gifts in a God-honoring way that benefited both men and women followers of Christ.  She was not deterred by those who tried to stop her and who tried hard to put up a roadblock in her pathway.  Lorri stayed the course and followed Jesus through every open door that he provided.  The Lord provided ways for Lorri to serve in her gifts because she trusted him to make a way for her to serve him.

My path has been somewhat different than Lorri’s.  My focus is not to go around the roadblocks but to respectfully and methodically dismantle the roadblocks with the gifts that God has given me.  I deal with the opposing arguments head on and I use God’s word in context using God’s inspired words and his inspired grammar to understand God’s will for women.

If you are a woman who has been called to serve Christ in teaching the bible, yet you have been told that this work is forbidden to women unless women are willing to turn their back on men and refuse to use their gifts for men’s benefit, you need to see the hard passages in scripture on women in ministry in their context.  I would encourage you to get a copy of my 4 DVD set called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” so that you may have a tool to help you give a defense to everyone who demands of you an answer and this DVD set can help you give an answer with gentleness and reverence.  Do not let anyone stop you from doing the good works that God has prepared for you.

Matthew 5:16 (NASB)  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter 4:14  (ISV) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God is resting on you.
1 Peter 4:19  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should entrust their souls to a faithful Creator and continue to do what is good.

1 Peter 2:15  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
Colossians 3:24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Don’t stop doing what is good.  Do your godly works in a respectful way and trust that God will open the door for you to serve him in exactly the way that he has called you.  If we can be an encouragement to you on this blog community, we are at your service.

The rest of the story – 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and Matt Slick

The rest of the story – 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and Matt Slick

Proverbs 18:17 (ESV) The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Scripture warns us not to make a hasty judgment on a matter. When two sides have conflicting interpretations, those who wish to be Bereans should be willing to carefully consider all of the facts from both sides of the issue first in order to avoid making a hasty judgment. This week the opportunity of hearing complete evidence, weighing the evidence and then judging between the two interpretations was stopped as I was barred from giving out my full view of 1 Timothy 2 on Matt Slick’s Faith and Reason show. Since brother Matt refused to allow me to give my conclusions as to what my full belief is and why I hold my view from scripture alone, and since Matt has subsequently banned me from coming back on his radio program, in all fairness to his listeners and to others who are interested in what I have to say, this post will present “the rest of the story”.

First if you haven’t heard the audio debate where Matt said that I was not polite and he also accused me of being a heretic, you will probably want to listen first by clicking here.

While Matt claims that 1 Timothy 2:12 is absolutely clear in its meaning, there are several very serious problems if we take the verses in this passage out of their context. Unless one can understand the whole teaching unit, it is dangerous to try to extract some part of it. For example if one takes 1 Timothy 2:15 in isolation, one might reason that a woman is saved by having children and this would question the salvation of unmarried, childless women. Verse 12 could be reasonably interpreted to restrict a woman from teaching any thing to any man. A woman couldn’t even give a man directions on how to find an address for fear that she would be teaching him something.

Read More Read More

Should a woman fear using her spiritual gifts?

Should a woman fear using her spiritual gifts?

Can a woman serve God with all her heart without fearing that somehow she is violating a commandment by God? This segment is a preview of part 7 of the 4th DVD of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” This preview deals with the background and context of Galatians 3:28. Click below to see a preview of the DVD.

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