A Ready Answer (Part 1: Women in the Church)

In 1 Peter, we are told to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet. 3:15 NASB)”.  The only way to do this is to study continuously, always testing what you have been told with what is actually in the Bible.  Today, I asked my friends if they would provide some questions for me about the Bible, God, and the Christian faith so that I may test my knowledge of the Bible and know where I should study.  I wanted to share these questions here because I thought they might be beneficial to others.  Feel free to comment with any questions you also might have.

Question #1:

Why do you believe women can’t pray out loud in church or take more if a leadership role in the church? Don’t you think that was more custom than God’s command?

The short answer is simply what the Bible says:

“The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.  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” (1 Cor. 14:34-35 NASB).

The trouble comes when deciding which verses in the Bible to take literally and which verses we should deem “cultural” or “figurative”.  Almost all of us will say that Jesus spoke figuratively when He said

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell” (Matt. 18:8,9 NASB).

However, when it comes to gender roles, people seem to want to read more into it.  Mainly, because the Bible often does not mesh well with our politically-correct society.

When it comes to women’s role within the church, the conclusion I have currently come to (though please understand this is my opinion in so far as I have studied) is that the reason why certain woman have leadership gifts but aren’t allowed to express them over men is connected to the curse placed on us at the Fall. Women were to desire to rule over their husbands, but their husbands would rule over them. It’s a submission thing that carries over all aspects of our lives.  It isn’t just a “cultural” thing, it’s a God mandated thing.

That being said, there are many things that women can do (and will do), even in submission to men.  We can’t allow our position to make us envy or even resent others (or ourselves), but use our gifts right where we are to glorify God in the best way that we can.  He has wisely given us our gifts and position in life, it is up to us to figure out how to use that in the manner He intended us to.

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4 thoughts on “A Ready Answer (Part 1: Women in the Church)

  1. Here are 3 sites/articles you may want to explore with more in-depth material on this issue: http://juniaproject.com/ -and- http://newlife.id.au/category/equality-and-gender-issues/ -and- http://www.walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

    I could share many things, but I’ll mention just a couple: You state that your conclusion is connected to the curse placed on us at the Fall.

    While man indeed emerges as ruler in Genesis 3, this is the sad result of their sin and their ensuing judgments. It is certainly not an ideal to be followed or emulated. Why would we base our lives on the curse? Shouldn’t we basing them on BEFORE the curse – the way God originally intended things to be? I don’t want to model sin and its effects. The theme of Scripture is the redemption of humankind and the reversal of the effects of the Fall through the work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, men and women are to move beyond the curse and be an example of relationships that have been redeemed.

    Also – while you reference I Corinthians 14 about women being silent. You do not reference I Corinthians 11:5 that refers to women praying and prophesying in the church as long as they followed the cultural norm of having their head covered. So which is it? In chapter 11 they clearly can speak and participate in church. Why not in chapter 14? It seems Paul was dealing with some particular situations in Corinth. Perhaps some women were participating in a improper or disruptive way, so in 14 Paul tells those women to be quiet? When one is reading a letter written to a specific church at a specific time, we must be careful with interpretation for ourselves today.

    I’m not trying to be difficult, but just demonstrate that this is not a clear cut issue. Thanks. In case you are interested, here is a link to a paper I wrote about women teaching: http://lightenough.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/what-women-can-and-cannot-do-relative-to-teaching-the-bible/

    • Thank you for your comment. 🙂 You are right. This technically, does not seem to be a black and white issue, I was just attempting to keep it simple as far as what the Bible actually says. We have to be very careful when deciding which parts are “open for interpretation”. When I mentioned the Fall, I did not suggest we should emulate the sin, however as far as I have studied, it is my understanding that the curse still stands until Christ comes again (evidence, childbirth is still VERY painful). Even the chapter you mentioned in I Corinthians reiterates man’s authority over woman, as do a number of other verses. While it does mention women prophesying, it does not say in authority or leadership over men. I have not gotten to read all of the articles you shared, but I do appreciate your input. I will do some more reading. Thanks again for your comment.

      • Thanks for approving my comment, and sharing further thoughts. I think genuine believers can come to different conclusions on this issue, and we need to be gracious as we discuss – as you have been. I hope you can encourage people in their faith as you blog.

      • Thank you, Laura, you too. 🙂 I also believe that there may be some leeway here as there can be on certain issues within the church that are not strictly “salvation” issues. I think the important thing is unity within the church.

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