Women’s Role in the Church (Don Blackwell)
- Can women preach in church?
- Can women be pastors?
- What can women do in church?
- What is the role of women in church?
I read an article recently that indicated that of the major u.s. religious traditions most of them now allow for women to become preachers a man named Christian piata has an article published on faith street calm in which he states that many of today’s Christian seminaries have as many women as men that is out of those studying to be ministers though studying to be preachers he says there as many women as there are men he then lists five reasons why he says churches need a female preacher not just to be fair but he says they need this and we’re being told today that the restrictions in the Bible against women preaching and against women being leaders in the church we’re being told that those were merely cultural issues and they have no bearing on us today prints clearly there has been a change in this country and in the world in the last several years with regard to the role of women in the church in fact some people would even go so far as to argue that the Bible actually downplays women and degrades and demeans women the well-known actress Amanda Donahoe once starred in a movie entitled lair of the white worm in which her character spits on a crucifix now commenting on that scene she said spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun especially for me a woman I can’t embrace a male God who has persecuted sexuality throughout the ages prints for the next several minutes we’re going to be studying these questions what does the Bible really say about the role of women can women serve today as preachers and elders and leaders in the church are the restrictions in the Bible merely cultural issues that died off a long time ago and does God does the Bible really persecute and demean women dear friend as we begin the study I want to suggest to you that if a person will honestly examine the Bible he will not find women being downgraded or did or persecuted by God the truth is he’ll find just the opposite of that if you open your Bible to the book of Genesis you’ll find God’s say it is not good that man should be alone Genesis 2:18 and so he created the woman and so from the very beginning we find woman being created by God to make a good situation out of one that was not good you come over to the book of Proverbs and it says he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord proverbs 18:22 you get to the end of the book and and the proverb writer says about the virtuous woman her worth is far above rubies proverbs 31 and verse 10 verse 28 says her children rise up and call her blessed her husband also he praises her and so when a person looks at the Bible what he finds is God having an exalted view of women you see a godly woman is set on a pedestal she is considered to be a great blessing okay going forward I want to examine the role of women in three different areas number one I want to talk about the role of women in the world number two we’re going to talk about the role of women in the marriage relationship and finally where we’re going to spend most of our time relates to the role of women in the church all right point number one let’s talk about the role of the woman in the world now I could spend a lot of time on this but I just want to make a very few remarks with regard to this topic I want us to contrast the way the world used the role of the woman as opposed to the way God views the role of the woman first let’s think about the behavior of the woman what what should the behavior of a woman be like the world puts forth the idea that the woman’s behavior should be provocative and irreverent you see this type of thing on television all the time that a woman’s demeanor is sassy and and sexual now contrast that with what the Bible says the Lord says purer and respectful 1st Peter chapter 3 and – now sassy and sexual contrasted with pure and respectful you see you’re not going to hear a godly woman using lewd and offensive humor you’re not going to see a godly woman smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol well what about the dress of a woman how should she clothe herself again the world says sexy the clothing industry pushes this the the clothing that is in vogue for women is that which men will find enticing now in contrast to that the Lord says modest 1st Timothy 2:9 now think about that sexy versus modest the Bible says chaste and discreet Titus chapter 2 and verse 5 well what about a woman’s speech how should she talk the world says you make sure everyone can hear you the feminist movement says I am woman hear me roar now listen to the marked contrast of God the Bible says with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is very precious in the sight of God first Peter 3 and verse 4 a gentle and quiet spirit why that sounds strange for our world doesn’t it now I could say a great deal more about this point but what I’m trying to communicate is that the world is very mixed up about what a woman should be and so if the world is setting our standards then we’re going to have big problems Romans chapter 12 and verse 2 says and do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind okay point number two let’s talk about the role of woman in the marriage relationship now before I begin this point let me mention that what the Bible has to say about this subject is not well-received in the world in which we live you know we live in a society of political correctness and what the Bible has to say about this subject is not considered politically correct in fact it’s very counterculture but dear friend we must never allow the world or political correctness or the fear of a ending someone else or anything for that matter take precedent over doing what’s right okay what does the Bible say about the role of the woman in the marriage relationship here it is Ephesians 5:22 wives submit to your own husband’s as to the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church verse 24 therefore just as the church is subject to Christ so let the wives be to their own husband’s in everything now Peter puts it this way in first Peter 31 wives likewise be submissive to your own husbands now notice the word submissive wives likewise be submissive now submissive to whom he says to her own husband some in the feminist movement today will march because they say they don’t want to be in submission or the in subjection to men but here Peter doesn’t say that women are to be in submission to all men rather he says that a woman is to be in submission to her own husband now somebody else says well you know I would be in submission or I would be in subjection to my husband if he were the right kind of husband but here Peter is talking about an unbeliever this is a Christian woman married to an unbelieving husband notice Peter says even if some do not obey the word now certainly if a husband is not faithful to the Lord he’s not the right kind of husband but still the Christian wife is to be in subjection to him now does that mean that the woman is inferior to her husband no it certainly doesn’t mean that in fact listen to 1st Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 3 Paul wrote but I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ the head of woman is man and the head of Christ is God now notice he says the head of Christ is God now does that mean that one member of the Godhead is inferior to another no does it mean that Christ and God are equal but Jesus made himself in submission to the will of the Father you know Philippians 2:5 through 11 talks about that in fact Christ submitted himself all the way to the cross and then when it talks about the fact that a woman is to submit to her husband that doesn’t mean that she is inferior to him but it does mean that she has a different role she is faithfully fulfilling her role as a god-given wife when she submits to her husband now does this mean that a woman is less valuable in the eyes of God than is a man no it certainly doesn’t mean that does it mean that a woman is less spiritual again it doesn’t mean that many times women are more spiritually minded than or men does this mean that women are not as intelligent as men no in fact sometimes a wife might be considerably smarter than is her husband well if that’s the case if the wife is smarter than her husband should she then take the lead in her family should she become the head of the household no the role that she has in the role that he has are both god-given they are assigned by the Lord and we have no right to try to switch around these roles because of our individual circumstances now somebody says well what about Galatians chapter 3 and verse 28 it says there is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither slave nor free there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus and now are you you see the text says there’s neither male nor female we are all one in Christ Jesus inference that’s true we are all equal in Christ but still we hold different roles you know this de-stem inist movement in the United States over the last 40 or 50 years I think has done a great deal of harm to our country it’s done harm to the country and into the home and into the family and even to the Lord’s Church and I would caution you against it because it’s in this evil I heard a story about a woman who got on a bus one day after work and she was with all of her co-workers who were men and she looked at one of them and she said once you give a lady your seat because all the seats were filled and the man looked at her and he said woman let me tell you something you work like a man you dress like a man you smoke like a man you cuss like a man you can stand like a man my friends that’s the end result of the feminist movement it degrades women it pulls her down from the pedestal that God puts her on the Lord puts a woman in a position that is honored but you see the world puts her in a position that God never intended for it to be what is the role of the woman in the marriage relationship and in the home Titus chapter 2 verses 4 & 5 says that she is to love her children she is to be a keeper of the home the New King James says a home maker and she is to be obedient to her own husband okay point number three let’s talk about the role of women in the church can a woman serve as a preacher can she serve as an elder can she be one of the leaders of the church you know these are questions that have been at the forefront of many discussions in recent years and some people are saying the church has been wrong about this we need to stop holding women back and we need to tap into their talents and allow them to be leaders of God’s people in fact many if not most modern denominations have embraced female leadership in their churches so what really matters and what we really want to know is what does God say about this what does the Bible say an answer to these questions now I want to begin in 1st Timothy chapter 3 the book of 1st Timothy is a book that explains how we are to behave ourselves in the church and that’s our topic the role of women in the church a key passage is 1st timothy 3:15 the apostle paul writes but if i am delayed i write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of god now listen which is the Church of the Living God the pillar and ground of the truth and so Paul is writing to Timothy to tell him how to be hate himself how to conduct affairs in the church now again that’s our topic we’re talking about the role of women in the church now with that in mind I want us to consider first Timothy chapter 2 in first Timothy chapter 2 Paul writes that supplications prayers intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men now the word here for men the greek word is a word that means mankind it means all of humanity that is prayers should be made for all of humanity then in verse 4 he says that God will have all men to be saved again this is the Greek word that means humanity all of humanity God wants all of mankind to be saved then in verse 5 he says for there is one God and one mediator between God and men the man Jesus Christ again the word here for men is mankind there is one mediator between God and humanity mankind well then we get to verse eight and he writes I desire therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting now this word is not the same word that we have seen previously referring to men that means mankind this is not the word for humanity rather this is the word that refers to males that prayers be made by males and so what we learn from this passage is that when a group of Christians is gathered together and both men and women are present a man a male Christian is to lead that prayer now sometimes people will ask the question can a woman pray publicly now that’s not really a good question because of course you can pray publicly in factually must pray publicly when we pray together all Christians are involved in praying to God and and so certainly a woman is praying but the question is can she lead a public prayer and the answer to that is no but there’s a second thing that I want us to notice from verse number eight and that is the phrase everywhere in our to pray everywhere the American Standard says every place now this is an extremely important phrase because it tells us something about the context of our discussion now does this phrase everywhere or this phrase every place have limitations Frank Young wrote about this passage he said in first century usage this particular Greek word that’s translated as place he said referred to a meeting place he said thus the force of this passage is to limit prayer in a General Assembly Bobbie Liddell wrote the setting of which Paul writes in his apostolic authority is everywhere and certainly includes and is in fact a specific reference to the public assembly of the church the great scholar guy in Woods wrote about this section of Scripture it seems clear to me that the context is with reference to public devotions a correct exegesis of this phrase in every place must be understood to mean in every place where public worship is engaged and you know if this passage did not have reference to the public assembly but actually referred to every place then we would have a passage teaching that only males can pray and certainly that’s not what he’s saying and so the context is that of a public assembly of Christians gathered together now someone might ask why are you putting so much emphasis on this friends it’s because if we don’t understand the context and the limitations here when we get to verses 11 and 12 we’re going to run into a problem verses 11 and 12 say that a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man now some people have not properly understood the context here and they have incorrectly concluded that a woman cannot have authority over a man under any circumstances including the secular world I have a book in my office in which a preacher sets forth the idea that a cannot have authority over a man in any area of life he suggests that a woman cannot be a man’s boss in the workplace that she cannot be in a position of authority and a governmental role that she could not be a teacher in a secular school if if males if men are present I would have to ask what about a police woman you know if this preacher were stopped by a police woman what would he do when he say you don’t have authority over me because I’m a man of course if he said that he would soon be a man in jail the point that we’re making is you have to understand the context here and its limitations now a second way in which we could abuse the context of this passage is to say that a woman cannot ever teach a man the Bible under any circumstances several years ago I encountered a preacher who took the position that a woman cannot even sit down in the privacy of her own home and conduct a Bible study with her adult son she could not even talk to her adult son about the Bible in fact he said if she were to do this she would be sinning Prince you see the problem here that’s the type of doctrines that we get into if we miss the context we get to a point that a woman cannot even teach her own son the Bible in the privacy of her home in this particular preacher I’m talking about he binds that on other people we have to keep this passage in its context and that is the public assembly of Christians all right verse number 11 let’s talk about this for sympathy – and verse 11 let a woman learn in silence with all subjection under some silence now there’s another Greek word which carries that idea but that is not the one used in this verse if it were the word used here then a woman could not even sing in the Assembly she could not make the good fashion she could not say I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God okay verse number 12 and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be in silence now the word teach here is from the Greek word Dada schoo it means to deliver a didactic discourse it means to instruct with moral lessons it deals with a reason developed presentation that would include reproving rebuking and exhorting and basically it’s what we do when we preach so does this passage mean then that a woman cannot preach publicly when men are present yes that is exactly what this passage means Paul by inspiration wrote that a woman is not to teach in any manner in which she is going to have authority over the man and when a person stands up to preach Paul told Titus that an evangelist is to speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority Titus chapter 2 and verse 15 and so if a woman is not permitted to usurp authority over the man then she is not able to carry out the work of an evangelist unfortunately this is becoming something that’s very common I have met many female preachers and it grieves me deeply that this is bleeding over into the Church of Christ God said via Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he said I suffer not a woman to teach now this word teach means to deliver a didactic discourse which is exactly what a person does when he preaches so could a woman be a preacher for a congregation absolutely not she cannot do that without violating this passage all right here’s another question does this passage teach that a woman may not lead a public prayer or in lead in another act of worship yes and it does teach that now the American Standard translates verse 12 this way but I permit not a woman to teach nor to have dominion over a man but to be in quietness now that means that any public act of worship in which a woman would have dominion is forbidden now that would certainly apply to leading a prayer and you know besides that back in verse number eight he has already specifically said that a male males are to lead the prayers okay here’s another question does this passage teach that a woman cannot be an elder in the Lord’s Church yes that’s exactly what this passage teaches you know if a woman cannot teach and she cannot have dominion over a man how could she possibly fulfill the duties of an elder Hebrews 13:17 says that Christians are to obey the elders Christians are to submit to the elders if a woman were in that position it would put her in direct violation of first Timothy two and and many other passages and we haven’t even touched on the idea that one of the qualifications of an elder is that he must be the husband of one wife and of course a woman is not able to meet that qualification so a woman cannot serve as an elder here’s another question number four does this passage mean that a woman could not teach her son or her husband or or the man next door and in a private setting maybe around the kitchen table that she could not teach him the gospel she could not teach him how to be saved now this passage does not teach that remember the context of first Timothy chapter two is that of the public worship service and that’s not what we’re considering in this question in fact in Acts chapter 18 and verse 26 we find that a man and his wife their names were Aquila and Priscilla the two of them took a pollicis eyed privately and they had a personal Bible study with him and the text says they taught him the Word of God more perfectly and so you have a man and a woman and they are sitting together with another individual and they’re discussing the Bible in a private setting and that is not what is forbidden in 1st Timothy chapter 2 okay let’s summarize a woman cannot be a preacher a woman cannot serve as an elder a woman cannot lead in the public assembly she cannot lead a prayer or any other public act of worship a woman cannot teach a Bible class where men are present a woman can however teach in a private setting she can teach children she can teach other women in any setting and certainly she can teach by her example now let’s talk for just a minute about the reasons for these restrictions why has God placed these restrictions upon women you know one church in Nashville Tennessee has stated that the Apostle Paul gave these restrictions for cultural reasons and that in the day and age in which we live that they don’t apply that it would have been inappropriate at that time for a woman to teach a man but today they would say it’s different and then none of these things apply any longer you know some people have even gone so far to suggest that the Apostle Paul was a chauvinist and that he was just prejudiced against women and so we need to ignore what these people are saying and we simply need to ask the question what does the Bible say what does God say because these accusations against Paul and and to say these are cultural only that nothing could be further from the truth friends first we need to appreciate that Paul wasn’t speaking for himself rather he was speaking for the Lord he was speaking as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit and secondly as far as this being merely a cultural matter I want you to consider with me the next two verses verses 13 and 14 because the Lord gives us the reasons for these restrictions listen to it for Adam was formed first then Eve and Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into transgression prints these restrictions have nothing to do with the local culture at the time that Paul was writing these things go all the way back to the beginning they relate to the order of creation and the order of deception the man was created first and the woman was first you know I am deeply troubled by what is taking place in the religious world around us today and I’m especially troubled when I see it bleeding over into the Church of Christ may we always take the approach that no matter what happens in the world around us we will hold to the Word of God may we never be afraid to stand up for what God says about this or any matter Colossians 3:17 says and whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord that means we must have authority from God for everything that we do in religion god bless you