Monday, May 7, 2012

One Good Reason for Women to Speak

One lively and important discussion that flows around in Christian circles is whether or not women should speak during church gatherings. Passages such as I Cor. 12, I Cor. 14:33-35, and I Tim. 2:11-15 among others are critical to this conversation.

It is not my intent here to delve into an exegetical analysis of these key passages.

Rather, in this post I’m simply going to offer one good reason for women to speak during gatherings (in the following post I’ll offer one good reason for women to keep silent). I’m not claiming that this is the only good reason for women to speak, but it is a good one.

The reason: women offer a different perspective than men do.

If we are honest we will all admit that men and women are very different. This is how God made us. These differences were apparent before the fall, thus ensuring that these differences are a good thing. God has designed men and women to complement one another, not to be carbon copies of each other. Frankly, life would be a lot duller if we were all the same.

A great reason for women to speak during church assembles is that they often provide differing perspectives than men do on all sorts of things. This might mean a somewhat different interpretation of a scripture passage. More often than that, it is the application of the passage that is different. Women are usually more nurturing than men, and therefore have important things to say about passages containing the "one anothers."

When I hear a brother in Christ speak I frequently know where he is going with what he’s saying. When a sister speaks, I often have no clue. This does not mean that the ladies are incorrect in what they are saying. Rather, it just means that they see things differently.

This reminds me of I Corinthians 12:14-20. Paul writes, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

The above passage pertains to all of body life, not just gatherings. However, it still seems to have application to gatherings. The sense is that all parts of the body are needed. If women are silent, then only about half the body can speak. I know that if all the women in our small fellowship kept silent it would subtract from the depth of the conversation.

To sum up, women add a different perspective to the gathering than men do. This is because God made us different. These differences add much to the discussion.

What do you think? Ladies, please feel welcomed to add to the discussion.

47 comments:

Arthur Sido said...

Eric

I think it is impossible to not look at the "restriction" passages you mention while having a conversation about them. Those who stand on the side of gender restrictions in the assembly don’t do so out of chauvinism but because of what Scripture says. It would be like having a conversation about predestination and election while not addressing any of the supporting passages. That turns the conversation from a wrestling with the Scriptures to a conversation about opinion and pragmatism.

Certainly God made us different but that same God also declared in the Scriptures that there are reasons why women are restricted from speaking as part of the assembly. In fact Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2 goes back to the creation order and the Fall to flesh out the restrictions on women speaking in the assembly. In other words the God who made women unique also gave them a unique, different and complementary function within the church.

The issue is not whether women have an important perspective, the issue is whether or not Scripture a) restricts women speaking in the assembly and b) if it does, does that restriction apply to us today? I come down on the side of applying those passages today. I think it is terribly inconsistent to insist (correctly) on a participatory meeting based on 1 Cor 14:26 but then brush aside or ignore the restriction passages just a few verses later. This is an important issue because it speaks to how we interpret and apply Scripture. Do we pick and choose from the parts we like or do we strive to interpret and apply Scripture consistently? I know that the complementarian position is not popular in the simple/house church camp (with a notable exception of the NTRF) but I think the same hermeneutic that leads to participatory church meeting also points to a literal application of 1 Corinthians 14: 33-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15.

homward bound said...

Eric, I am not one of the ladies here, but I am adding this though to you, there is no male, female, jew, greek, gentile in Christ.
And the young ladies will prophesy, dream dreams that the wisdom of man will be brough to naught.
Also when Paul wrote i Corithians it was because Satan had fooled them into they can take advantage of The grace that Paul had expressed to them. there were many problems in that gathering of them and one was gossippig, especially the women on that day.
Thanks Howard

Eric said...

Arthur,

Thanks for your comment and for the link on your blog.

My post assumes that someone has dealt with the key scriptures and has come down on the side of women speaking being acceptable.

Personally, I'm still working through the issue. I have not yet come to a solid conclusion.

As for I Cor. 14, the difficulty I have is how far to apply the silence passage. Does it apply only to judging prophets or to the entire gathering?

Another difficulty is what parts of the gathering we are talking about. Are we only referring to a more structured time of bible study, prayer, etc., or are we talking about the entire time from entering the home to leaving?

If the conclusion is that women can speak (this is where I am right now), then I'm pleased by the differences in perspective they offer.

Eric said...

Howard,

Thanks for commenting.

In your first sentence you are mentioning, I believe, Gal. 3:28. The context of that passage is salvation as opposed to roles in the church? Do you think the verse has application to gatherings? If so, how?

Also, you mention gossiping. Where does Paul mention this?

Just wondering. Thanks.

Arlan said...

Eric,
I am at a pretty similar point myself.

One of the principles I am working with is that if I am seeing fuzzy gray lines, I am looking the wrong way. The pharisees' careful rules about what was and was not permitted on the Sabbath (and by the other laws) was a symptom of them not understanding the true focus and purpose of the Law.

In the same fashion, as long as I am thinking in legalistic terms of how to define exactly what is permitted and what is forbidden for women, I am sure I am missing the point. I haven't found my way around this obstacle yet, but I know that the gospel is the revelation of Christ--not of Rules Concerning Women.

I don't mean that we must abandon reasoned, defined thinking and just follow whatever feels most Christlike to us. But if your careful reasoning has not led you to a glad appreciation of Christ, your thinking is still incomplete. So, I keep thinking on this.

homward bound said...

Thanks Eirc, Galations 3:28, Col 3:11, 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 2:15-16. It is about law verses grace. Gal 3:19-28 purpose of the law. When you literally take a verse and translate it by the verse or verses alone it gets taken out of context. Context is always important. As I led to earlier in the prior post, there were many problems in the corinth fellowship, that needed to be straightened out.
1 cor the whole writing was to set straight what Paul had told them about being forgiven by God and that there was no more sacrifice for sin. You see the devil, powers of the air, started infiltrating with thoughts to them that well God has forgiven you for all sins, that is great, so that means you can just do as you want, no more forgiveness to be executed right? So that body had prostitutes in that congregation with shaven heads from the temple above where they were at. They would show up for supper at the place they met and eat all the food and drink up the wine, when the rest of the body got there the food would be gone and the drunkards would rape would rise up to play. Satan did a number on this undeserving grace and turned it into lasciviousness.
This is why Paul wrote what Paul wrote to them, rebuking them and their reaction to this undeserving grace that they received, they were walking in their flesh and taking advantage of the grace provided to them. We are no longer under any law, God filled the whole law all in all and if one wants or desires to be perfect in and of himsdelf trying to get God to help them are walking in their flesh deceived. So Paul used law to hopefully show them to appreciate their undeserved grace that God had already given them. Notice in the first opening Paul called them saints even though they were misusing grace by flesh instead of by Spirit.
Then notice 2 Cor 7 where Paul says how elated he is that they got the first message in all, and turned from a worldly sorrow to a Godly one. They understaood die to the flesh and come alive to the Spirit, their Spirit to God's Spirit making one Spirt, which is how they got and are recreated in their Spirit that was dead, prior to belief in Christ, now is alive and they are able to say no to unrighteousness, by this grace that is provided, for when you walk by the Spirit you are in agreemnet together as one, and your Soul will reflect Christ Jesus as you are complete in him. but when you have thoughts of flesh your soul reflects those thoughts of error and thus you are not acting as if you know Christ as your personal savior. So I am learning to choose each day to walk by my born again Spirit that God recreated for me to operate from there and there only
Sorry I am so long winded, Thanks Howard
P.S. women can teach, they are equal, God has no respect of persons. None is better than the other. if one says they can't then that one is under a law and subjects others to be under the curse of the law as well. Yet let everyone be convinced in their own mind, for God has received you, her, him, me. To our own master we stand or fall. And God is able to make his servants stand, So receive all but not to disputes over doubtful things. for one eats all things the other only vegetables. I know and am convinced that ALL things are clean of itself.
Peter kill and eat all things are clean.
now do you see it the whole picture. You are free, all things are permissable but not all things are beneficial. So you decide if it is beneficial unto the love of God. Always consider the neighbor and how what you do will effect that person who is weak. Do not destroy that person, by your flaunting the freedom you have. Build them up as you have been built by telling them God just loves you, instead of you must do this or that, obey being circumcised, go to church at this time, and be home here to study the word. hoping God opens your eyes and ears, along with any other readers here, thanks Howard

homward bound said...

1 Cor 14:34 The repory to Paul was that the women were not treating the others with consideration. Like when you are listeniing to a speaker up front and others around you are not paying attention to that speaker and speaking to others around them as that speaker is having his turn to talk. This is taking advantage of grace using grace for an occasion for the flesh to love self only and only others around then that think as they do. Remember in matthew when Jesus said if you only love those that love you, then you are no better than the heathen, for they do the same. These women wrere talking out of turn giving no care of understanding of the rest of the body their. they were talking about others, whichis gossiping, And God is a God of unison, and this is why God through Paul said a woman is not to usurp man, she is to show love to him and he is to also show love to her, GOD's love. So seeing God's love that we are forgiven then I forgive and love because I am already. You see this was not being done in this congregation, it was lack of understanding and taking advantage of grace, so they had to be commanded until they could receive the meat of the word. Paul wanted to give this meat but they were still carnal 1 cor 3 read whole chapter
Love brother hope this helps
Howard

Marshall said...

If ekklesia hinged upon perspectives or opinions, then your point is well taken. But no, it doesn't. The bar is much higher: we need speak, as it were, the very oracles of God. That's inevitably going to need be His perspective.
Time has come to realize that popular English translation has enhanced the discussion regarding women; the silent & the don't want to be silent. Yet in I Corinthians 14, Paul echoes the reality that the women among them have/had chosen to be hushing/silent in the ekklesia, and that we should not be pushing them to speak. Too much to ask nearly 2000 years later?

Adam Dean said...

Eric, just per the ideas you've mentioned, I think that's a fabulous point! That was well thought out and a good thought.

I want to first say I completely understand the point you're getting at: you're not saying this is why it's acceptable and that's all there is to it, you're saying this is a practical reason it makes sense to allow it.

Having said that, I do want to mention I do not think it is acceptable per Scripture for women speaking during the worship service, but this doesn't negate your point in the sense of being a reminder that at other times in our gathering when we have conversations, and especially at home with husband, wife, and children, a woman's view can be invaluable, and I'm glad you touched on that.

I think you're right on in responding to homward bound's comment, a good thought, but nonetheless out of context, as he was dealing with salvation, and this does NOT in any way apply to gender roles. Gender roles are still very much active, going all the way back to the Creation Order. Those who disagree have to deal with Scripture and Paul who himself advocated gender roles, and doesn't, as so many seem to say, merely _suggest_ that men are the head's in marriage, he simply says they ARE the heads! Period. No discussion, men are heads. That's the way God made it. At any rate, good thoughts....

Adam Dean said...

I do have another thought on your questions concerning women speaking... Clearly, the Bible cannot be misconstrued to say that women cannot speak at all in any of the church's gatherings together. Women are instructed to teach the younger women. Tell me, how can this be if they're not allowed to talk?? Not to mention, this just goes against the very fiber of Scripture and the oneness of the church body. Secondly, we must understand the nature of the church gathering. It had two distinct parts, one, the worship part, and two, the fellowship part. The worship part was very similar to ours today with singing and preaching, etc., and the fellowship was similar to our pot-luck lunches and things of that nature.

As we study this issue, it's important to know _why_ the Bible says that women are to keep silent. I Timothy 2:11-15 says "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

So, first, they are to learn in silence. That's pretty self-explanatory, during the preaching and any worship conversation they are to learn in silence, and if they have questions, ask their husbands. Not only does this promote their Biblical submission (not slave-like, but submission in love and respect), but it also gives strength to the husband-wife relationship as the wife then goes straight to her husband with questions and they discuss them together, naturally bringing them closer.

Second, note the suffering not a woman to teach. This is an important part, for, as we see in the next verse, per the Creation Order, Adam was the head and Eve was under him. In general, he teaches her, not the other way around, and in any case, the worship service is neither the time nor place. Then we see that it also has somewhat to do with Eve's sin and the nature of the usurping of authority there, and so as the natural will of women is to usurp authority, this is an extra way to be sure this doesn't happen.

I think both of these reasons are extremely important when looking at 1 Cor. 14. Again, note the learning in silence (with respect and submission) in this passage.

Arthur hit the nail on the head when you're actually talking about the whole issue, it doesn't matter if women have an important perspective or even if they were always better at it than men! The issue is, "What sayeth the Scriptures?" That is how we decide our way of life.

Just thought I'd throw those things out there for you to think about. To me, the issue is not a difficult one for the most part. Scripture says women aren't to teach men, so that cuts out women pastors, and the simple readings of these passages say they shouldn't talk or teach in formal service, but in no way suggests they are to be silent in all local church gatherings, and indeed, per the instruction to teach younger women, forbids that idea.

Good thoughts. God bless!!!

Adam

Eric said...

Araln,

I see what you are getting at. The scriptures are primarily about Christ.

We do see, however, models for how to live out church life. The difficulty is the application of what we see. The I Cor. 14 passage is a great example of this.

My hope is that Christians can discuss these issues in a loving, gracious manner even if they come to different conclusions. For some reason, this particular issue carries a lot of emotional baggage to it.

How ironic it would be to have a church discussion of these issues but not let the women speak.

Eric said...

Howard,

Thanks for answering and explaining.

I believe there is a key difference between value and role. Some passages speak to one while others speak to the other. The challenge for us all is to try to determine which is talking about which. Not always an easy task for sure.

Eric said...

Marshall,

You wrote, "Yet in I Corinthians 14, Paul echoes the reality that the women among them have/had chosen to be hushing/silent in the ekklesia, and that we should not be pushing them to speak."

Can you expand on that a bit? Thanks.

Eric said...

Adam,

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

I agree very much with you on the issue of women teaching in a mixed gathering. I do not think women should, and all the biblical passages appear clear on this point.

I'd like to question a couple of things you brought up. First is the worship service. I don't see any evidence for that in scripture, so I'm not concerned with a woman's role in it. I am concerned about how women should or should not speak in body life.

Second, you said, "Secondly, we must understand the nature of the church gathering. It had two distinct parts, one, the worship part, and two, the fellowship part." Do you see a strict dichotomy between the two? I believe they happened together. If these sorts of things did happen together, then the issue of forbidding women to speak becomes more complicated.

When can they speak and when can't they? Thanks for your thoughts.

Arthur Sido said...

Eric

As for I Cor. 14, the difficulty I have is how far to apply the silence passage. Does it apply only to judging prophets or to the entire gathering?

Another difficulty is what parts of the gathering we are talking about. Are we only referring to a more structured time of bible study, prayer, etc., or are we talking about the entire time from entering the home to leaving?


The Scriptures certainly paint a picture of an intentional gathering of the church "when you come together"/"when we gathered together" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:17; 1 Cor 14:26). It is those gatherings that Paul appears to be speaking of. When the church comes together, women are to be silent. In other settings that is not the case although certainly there are restrictions against women exercising any sort of authority over men (1 Tim 2:12). That is the real key. No one in the complementarian camp that I am aware of is saying that women can't sing or clear their throat or speak socially as the church gathers but when it comes to teaching, with an implied authority that goes along with that, women are to be silent.

The core of the issue, as Marshall wrote, is that we cannot base our ecclesiology on opinion or tradition or pragmatism. That is what has led to the professional pastor as subcontractor model. Rather than seeking a rationale to avoid what Scripture teaches regarding men and women in the gathering of the church, we should humbly submit and embrace what God has decreed and encourage our sisters to minister in the ways God has ordained. Heaven knows we could use a lot more Titus 2 mentoring of young women in the church.

homward bound said...

Eric said,
I believe there is a key difference between value and role.

Value eric is to me I value this underserved grace that God gave me through Christ his son. I value this above all else

Role: I play out the role of love God's, my born alive Spirit with his Spirit beyond all else. This is where God once one believes recreates you from the Spirit your Spirit that was dead to God, now from belief is alive to God.
Problem was sin became alive to flesh, is still a problem today. We, our souls reflect whatever we are thinking and we act out either of the flesh or spirit. As long as our Spirits have been born again. So in retrospect from my Spirit along with God's Spirit there is no out of order ever. This is the same for all believers that are in Christ. So the only out of order is the fleshly thinking, which causes disorder and our souls reflect this.
And this is a good discussion so far it is in the Spirit of christ. Now since I am seeing in the Spirit right now there is no female no male, no jew, we are all one in the Spirit. Seeing this way and a woman speaketh and we hear her not as her, but as a fellow member of God's body, we all being one listen to one another and we all are edified. We are made all one in the body of Christ. It is only the flesh that keeps getting in the way and causes divisions. The Devil was a liar from the begining and that is who actually usurps authority, and was the start of the cause by creating doubt in Adam and Eve so they ate and here we are not seeing the big picture we all that are back in Christ are 1x1x1x1x1=1. we are to dead to the flesh and alive to the Spirit of God through our Spirit that has been restored to live. So let us all begin reckoning ourselves dead to the flesh and alive to god through our Spirits to God's and our souls will reflect life and we will learn God's unfathomable Love through Christ and the Holy Ghost.
There is no differance we that beleve are made whole and one in the Spirit, seeing from God's vantage point
Love you all here
Howard

Eric said...

Arthur,

My struggle with application has to do with the coming together. For example, when we get together as a church family, we hang out for a while, we also study scripture and pray, and we eat. All the while much talking is going on. If women really aren't supposed to speak in the gathering, does this apply to the entire time or only certain points? In scripture we don't see a dichotomy given between these times. It was all for the Lord's Supper. So do you think God's intent is for the ladies to be quiet the entire time we are together? I doubt it. But then where is the line drawn?

Eric said...

Howard,

I have to respectfully disagree on the role issue. When I read scripture, I see God giving different roles to men and women. This applies to marriage and to the church. I don't see the scripture writers saying that this is because of the fall. Rather, it appears to be God's plan.

That said, I do believe women should have much freedom to use their gifts for the benefit of the church body. They are certainly needed.

homward bound said...

Eric with that said, it is good, So you decided that it is a law women can't preach?
I see you add to certain things as attainable for the women Is it we the men should keep the women in their place, or is it God?
I really do not see you as this, and I know God is not a tyrant.
This is a very fine line, and has been taken taken out of context, the man using it for his own fleshly gain, not being right with god in his heart, yet acting as if he is in front of the church, but behind closed doors taking advantage of the woman, hurting scripture, truth and justice. If we want to use commands and the woman is not to preach, teach and be submissive to her husband. Then the husband need to be right with God through Faith in God and have given up his flesh and blood, then he will love her as God has loved him. Thus she will submit in freedom instead of having to, for the woman has been called to freedom as well as the man.
Any law that we entreat as a law we are in danger of the curse of the law, walking by our flesh and blood reaping corruption
Thanks Howard
PS and I do not think it good, either for women to preach, but it is allowable, just my opinion, not beneficial, and i do like Joyce Meyers, a lot of wisdom there.

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Eric,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I look forward to reading the "reason for women to be silent". Paul and I have been all over the map on this issue (from my being a worship leader to being stone silent in a head covering). And I cannot say even now that we are decided one way or the other. We know the scriptures that speak of silence and we do NOT make light of these.
I appreciate all of the comments made here. I read them all before beginning to write my own. If time allowed I would write a question or comment to each comment!

We are dealing with this issue in our church right now. Paul did not know the church's view of the role of women before we came. But, women are not even allowed to pray at all with men in the room. (We think this is going too far!) And, there is one elder who feels that women should not even contribute to Sunday school. (yet, this same man allows for all female teachers of the little boys who will soon grown up to be the men!)

I thank you again for writing this post to stir up our minds. And, I thank all of the other bloggers for their thoughtful comments. (And, thanks to Arthur for the link! That's why I came over here tonight.)

Bethany

Eric said...

Howard,

I think we have different definitions of law. God's commands to the church in the NT are not law. They are simply his plan for his body. It is the practical outworking of his plans that is the challenging part. We're still working on it.

Eric said...

Bethany,

This is certainly not an easy issue. Like you I'm sure, we've got friends and family who love the Lord but disagree on this issue. We aren't even at a solid place with it.

My struggle is knowing how far Paul intended his words in I Cor. 14 to apply. Is is just to the judging of prophets, or is it to the entire gathering?

Alice does speak some, but in a fairly limited role. She does not teach. The men in the gathering do all the teaching, and probably do 85% of the total speaking.

I hope we are honoring Christ through what we do. It is a healthy challenge for all of us.

May God bless you as you deal with this issue.

Arthur Sido said...

Eric,

It certainly seems that when we look at passages like the ones referenced, Paul is speaking of women teaching or otherwise assuming authority. Casual conversation would certainly not be covered by that. When someone teaches in the assembly they are by definition exerting a sense of authority, something that women are prohibited from.

I think it looks different in different contexts. We have been meeting for a while in a fairly participatory Anabaptist group where the women do not teach and they all cover their heads, etc. That doens't mean that they don't make a sound from the time they enter until we all disperse but they never lead the teaching.

homward bound said...

Eric, does this take away free choice? from the woman and cause divisions? Does God have respect of persons? is God worshipped in Spirit or flesh? How does sin take place? by what? is it flesh? or Spirit? if we are free and women cannot talk in a gathering or preach how is this free? Did god give us free choice? do we still have free choice after we chose belief in him?
It is not a law to you and is the way it is supposed to be (roles). But Eric it is a law to others and are confused over it and end up in hate behind ones back for then they are not free. Put yourself in Joan of arc's place. See from others vantage points. Especially God's. Jesus said God his Father could use stones to make jews. God can do anything God desires, for God created all and if God chooses to use women in the ministry, who are we to kick against the pricks, through misunderstanding scripture. This is what I meant by being careful we could stumble over the stumbling block as the jews did and the gospel came to us, and through this doubtful thing we are suppressing the women of God that through trust in God might show us men a thing or two, oh right but man will kll her, for man is in authority. This is flesh ad blood brother, Roles. the only role is one believing in (Hebrews 8:10-13) God and is free to float like a butterfly. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. So I say let all be free and this will work itself out in the Spirit of God whom once one sees the freedom in God then god takes over as ones teacher, and I see anything that takes away freedom is a glitch to the freedom provided by God in the Spirit, causing error in our flesh again. That is to be considered dead.
Thanks Howard

homward bound said...

Eric, you know ronmans 14 might help with the answer here from God as you read it asking from God, and please do not cramp this by thinking this is just the food chapter, it goes way beyond that. The eating of food was and is the analogy. Like Christ said if you do not understand physical analogies, how will you ever understand Spiritual realities. and also watch out for straining out a gnat, we might swallow a camel. If the end of all discussions = love we all are good.
Love Howard

KeeperatHome said...

It seems that these scriptures would apply specifically to the times of learning and teaching during the gathering (1 Cor 14:35, 1 Tim 2:11-12), rather than times of fellowshipping etc. I'm not sure that the church gathering is so organic that all aspects of the gathering look the same. There may indeed be distinctions. For instance, does the time of eating and socializing look the same as the time of learning and teaching? No, it doesn't. During fellowship time, individuals are typically milling about, moving from one small conversation to another. Various interactions are going on simultaneously. However, during the study time, the whole group is gathered with a singular focus on prayer, singing, reading etc. If there is a time of teaching and learning during this latter portion of the gathering, then it would seem that these scriptures would apply during this time. If the men are teaching, then a woman who speaks would be taking on a teaching role when she is to be silent.

Perhaps in our attemps to be organic, we have blurred the lines of the application of scripture. For instance if the "teaching" time is really more of a Bible study free-for-all, then yes, it would seem that anyone should be able to speak. However, if the teaching time is led by those who are actually gifted to teach and have prepared a teaching, then it would seem that it would be clearer that women should remain silent during those times. How we conceptualize and put into practice the church gathering seem to impact our understanding of scripture... but sadly, it should be the other way around.

BTW, I'm one of the "silent" women and even struggle with responding in this format.:-)

In Christ, Talya

homward bound said...

Eric, thanks for thoughts on working it out to understand it. I think God has got it all worked out and neither one of us has got it figured out, for God has not infrormed me on this matter, and really I think this to okay. It really is not a salvation issue. I just know we are free in christ to make descisions such as this one, and it is thankfully in love here
Thanks Howard

Frank said...

We invite a few friends around to share the Lord together. We all enjoy such a wonderful time of fellowship that word spreads. Others ask to join us. There are a multitude of situations in our small group which we pray and seek the Lord on. Wisdom flows from all there, male and female. Freedom for the Holy Spirit to minister through the gifts. Words of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy is regularly released from all and sundry in the body, both male and female. The word of God is taught, not drily as academic exercise, but as applications like ointment on painful wounds. Those that apply the ointment of the word are those who have experienced it in their own lives, again men and women, young and old freely minister one to the other. Nobody thinks of it as Church, we just enjoy each other.
Then some smart Alec, with a degree in theology arrives and points out that women should be silent.

Joy and freedom suddenly departs as a great legal net descends, and the freedom of the Holy Spirit to enjoy His children is supplanted by legalism once again. Attendance gradually reduces as people drift away with disappointment written all over their faces.
Satan titters as his allies in the academic world do his work for him.

Eric said...

Arthur,

I'm in complete agreement that teaching is out of bounds for the ladies. Any exercising of authority is.

My struggle comes with whether or not a woman is allowed to add comments that speak to application of what's been taught. For example, in our fellowship sometimes a lady will speak about how a passage that was just taught has been worked out in her life.

Scripture must be the final arbiter. We know that God is not a God of confusion. The fault lies in the finite human mind.

I suppose this is a healthy struggle to work through.

Eric said...

Howard,

Thanks for your input. I appreciate your desire to be biblical. Discussions such as this help because they challenge us to know why we believe what we do. Thanks again!

Eric said...

Talya,

Thanks for your comment. I've never heard anyone say that women should not speak at all during a church gathering. However, for those in favor of ladies being silent, there is usually a division drawn between the time of fellowship and the time of teaching. This is what you have mentioned. However, when I search the scriptures I don't see this sort of division. The lack of division between teaching and fellowshiping is one of the things that gives me pause in this discussion.

I'm not sure if you meant to do this, but you offered a sort of straw man argument/descriptor of bible study. You mentioned a bible study free for all and a time when those gifted to teach do so. I respectfully do not think that those are the only options. Why not have the gifted males teach but let the ladies offer thoughts of application if not done in an authoritarian manner?

I agree with you completely that we must let scripture determine our church practices. This is one of the daily struggles we all face.

Thanks.

Eric said...

Frank,

I appreciate your comment but am somewhat concerned. Scripture must determine whether or not women may speak, and if so how they will speak. We may disagree on the meaning of passages, but scripture must supersede experience. You may agree with this; I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but your comment speaks to scripture as far as using gifts is concerned but doesn't deal with passages that speak to women and silence.

A bigger concern is lumping the entire academic community in with Satan. You may not have meant to do this, but the comment implies it. This is painting with a brush that is far too broad.

If you'd like to explain further, please do so. Thanks.

Arthur Sido said...

Frank

Then some smart Alec, with a degree in theology arrives and points out that women should be silent.

I don't have a degree in theology and I am certainly not an "academic". I simply have a Bible that makes a statement about gender roles and women being silent. I guess you can brush that over as egg headed ivory tower stuff but it is a very real and very pertinent instruction from the Scriptures to the church and we ignore it, and other commands, at our peril and to our detriment.

Arthur Sido said...

Eric

I'm in complete agreement that teaching is out of bounds for the ladies. Any exercising of authority is.

My struggle comes with whether or not a woman is allowed to add comments that speak to application of what's been taught. For example, in our fellowship sometimes a lady will speak about how a passage that was just taught has been worked out in her life.


I have no issue with that but I could see it as problematic in light of "let her ask her husband at home". It is a hard issue because it seems so jarring in our current cultural context but as you rightly said Scripture must be our final arbiter in this issue.

Eric said...

Arthur,

If the I Cor. 14 passage is applicable to gatherings in general, then I agree that women should be silent. As I said, I'm not convinced that it extends past the judging of prophets.

Still undecided but glad for the discussion...

homward bound said...

Frank, thank you. the group that we all meet with are the same as you spoke, We are all one in the Spirit of God from God's vantage point. This is what I have finally come to see it is all God and none of me. Thank you for your post. Sorry you posted the last part, even though what you posted is true. And confirmed when one reads the book of Galatians as a whole. But it brought forth flesh, that I choose to stay dead to.
Howard

jcordray said...

Like many others, I do not find this to be an easy issue to settle comfortably. In our church and in our denomination we have allowed and even encouraged women to preach. Recently, due to my own study, I am not entirely sure this is a correct approach. To clarify, we have not allowed women into positions of authority in the church such as eldership or the pastorate. Yet, because some women seem gifted and able to teach, they have been allowed and encouraged to contribute in this way. As I said, my own study recently causes me to question this practice.

What I have found helpful in thinking about the passages concerned is to think of the wider context they were given in. The letter to the Corinthians was written (obviously) to the Corinthians. Perhaps it would be fair to say this church was full of considerably more problems than other churches and so some of Paul's instructions - especially regarding public gatherings - are stated more strongly here than in other places.

1 Timothy was written to Timothy and Paul lays down there instructions for Timothy to grasp and apply to ALL of the churches. So perhaps these instructions are both more general and more relevant to today's church. There is, as far as I can see, no contradiction between any of these passages. My observation is that Paul seems to state his views in 1 Corinthians in a much stronger way than he does in 1 Timothy and this is perhaps due to the differing purposes of these letters.

What I take away from these Scriptures, and what is hopefully influencing my thinking, is that Paul speaks in 1 Timothy about two things very clearly: He does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority. I think the key point is actually the second one. If women are not intended to have authority in the church, as Paul quite clearly says, then the principle of "non-authority" could be applied in a number of ways with the restriction on teaching being one possible application.

The forbidding of speaking is perhaps intended to quell any occasion of speaking as in arguing, debating or aggressively questioning a teacher in the church. Such dialogue could be seen as an attempt to assert one's authority in a way which Paul says is not godly.

My £.02.

Eric said...

jcordray,

Thanks for commenting.

I agree with much of what you say. Women certainly should not teach in an authoritative manner when men are present. As far as general commenting is concerned, I don't see a problem with that.

Regarding I Corinthians, I do think it applies to us. For example, Paul writes in 14:33, "...as in all the churches of the saints." This implies that what he is writing is his expectation for all believers as opposed to just those in Corinth.

My belief is that Paul is telling the ladies not to speak in judgment of male prophets (the direct context of the passage).

As for ladies preaching today, I've never heard a solid biblical argument for it so I understand your concern.

God bless.

lovesufjan said...

As a woman, I always feel lowly when I read these discussions. It seems the men always try to make up for it and say "No, no, we need you so much..especially in the kitchen" The way I have always interpreted scripture is by asking my best friend, Jesus, for knowledge and discernment and then he establishes my truth.

I have always think it is weird to take the words of the letters in the New Testament and make them the end all be all. I have always wondered if Paul or the other apostles knew their letters were going to be placed in a holy book and whatever they said would be the law for the rest of time.

When I lived in Savannah I was looking for organic church and I wrote you an email about your gatherings. The first email I got back talked about what you guys do when you gather and also that women are usually silent in your gatherings. I don't mind what everybody's beliefs are, everybody holds to their own truths, but I must admit it was a turn off immediately. My husband is an unbeliever at this time and I really didn't want to go somewhere where it wouldn't be comfortable to share what God has revealed to me for fear of not taken seriously because women are not allowed to teach men.

I do not feel convicted one bit about women teaching men or talking about their visions and gifts and interpretations the Lord has given them. I taken my advice from Jesus and I have not read or heard one thing from Him that would make me think that He would feel any differently.

Eric said...

lovesufjan,

Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your honesty and transparency.

Based on what you've said, it appears that the big issue right now for you is biblical interpretation and authority. In other words, what the bible means and whether or not that is important.

It is my conviction that Jesus will never tell us now anything that contradicts what he has said in the past in scripture.

Adam Dean said...

All, I apologize for not following up, I fully intended to do so, but I'm in college and finals kept me too busy to be able to say any more.

I'll just mention a brief comment to one of the questions you had regarding the worship service. You said you don't see that in Scripture, but obviously, that means you're only looking at the NT, and that is a grievous mistake. The Old Testament is to be followed completely except where the Bible tells us it is not. The Old Testament sets the standard for many of the things the New Testament church is to do today. No, I don't think we should still offer burnt offerings or not eat pork. The New Testament clearly shows that such _ceremonial_ law was given as a picture of what was to come, and is now no longer required as the truth of what it represented is here. Nonetheless, the Old Testament shows very clearly, and indeed, all of Scripture, that worshipping God is the _single most important_ reason for our coming together. Yes, there is to be fellowship and teaching, but above all, worship of God comes first. I believe based on the Old Testament and the pattern in the New Testament that the preaching and singing are the primary components of this worship service, and this is where women are not to speak, remembering again that there's a reason that the women aren't to speak, it's not just because, (although I must say, I am disappointed with some of the attitudes here, it doesn't matter whether God has what you consider a "good" reason or not, and it doesn't matter if it makes "sense" to you. If God said not to do it, _then don't do it!!!_ What is so hard about just obeying the Bible?) but because women were not given the same authority in the same places as men, especially in the church. There are clear gender roles in the Bible that God has given for all people.

As for the two parts of the gathering, yes, they happened together, but there does seem to be a difference between the intents in the two. One was as specifically a worship part, primarily for worshipping God, and had several parts of it's own, (direct worship as in singing, and somewhat more indirect as in teaching) and one was for the fellowship and spending time with/talking to fellow believers. Whether there is a clear distinction or not, it cannot be argued that women are _never_ to be pastors or even teachers of the whole assembly. This would be in direct conflict with the Word of God in the usurping of the authority in the church and the commands of women not teaching men.

Good discussion, all!

Adam Dean said...

Jcordray,

I think it's important to realize that _teaching is an authoritative position_. By nature of what the teaching of the Scriptures is, it is, in and of itself, taking authority over those whom you teach. This is why I not only have a problem with women holding a specific position such as elder, but also with any teaching of the men at large in any capacity, because it _is_ taking authority that the Bible says is not given to them. So, I think it's good that you're questioning even allowing them to teach in that manner.

Eric said...

Adam,

Do you keep the Sabbath as prescribed in the OT?

Adam Dean said...

Eric, in what way do you mean, and what is your point?

Eric said...

Adam,

Thanks for responding back. I should have been clearer with my question.

In your prior comment you wrote, "The Old Testament is to be followed completely except where the Bible tells us it is not." The OT gives specific instructions on the Sabbath. I'm just wondering if you keep them.

Adam Dean said...

Thanks for the reply. Not a problem, I just wasn't sure what you were getting at. :)

No, I do not follow the Sabbath per the Old Testament, for exactly the reason mentioned in my comment, the Bible shows us both by the reasons given in the Old Testament for the way they were to keep the Sabbath and by specific statements in the New Testament that many of those things (the clothing, temple, sacrifices, etc.) were given as pictures and symbols to show us spiritual truths. Don't get me wrong, the people of the day would've been sinning to not follow those commandments because God told them to do it. But He also didn't do it because that's the way that He always wants it done, He did it to show them things that, because Christ hadn't actually died on the Cross yet, they wouldn't have understood.

My point in the comment where I made this statement was that, while there are several things in the Old Testament that give us the model of worship that is not still required, there are also other things given in the Old Testament that have not been nullified or revoked, such as prayer, singing, the reading of the Word of God, and so on.

Thank you for the interest and the conversation. :)

Eric said...

Adam,

I agree with you about the Sabbath.

This is why I primarily look to the NT to inform my beliefs about church gatherings. We are of the New Covenant, now freed from temple-focused practices. That's why I reject the concept of worship services and instead embrace the idea of the priesthood of all believers.

Out of curiosity, do you see anything in scripture that resembles modern worship services?