C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Does Scripture Bridle the Tongue of a Woman?

Here in 2007 we find ourselves with a question of where do women belong in the church in comparison to what we find in scripture. By this I mean as in roles of leadership, etc. not in whether a woman should or should not attend or be actively involved in church.

I realize that we have a multitude of churches and beliefs out there that all seem to declare that they believe and follow the Word of God, so why do we differ so much? We have women being “called” as pastors, most likely also as deacons, and other roles that put them over not only men, but the local church of God. Is this biblical?

Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:11, 12, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Why? “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” [13, 14]

How far is this to extend? Is this just in the church? 1 Timothy 2 does not appear to be limited to the church. [see here] Have we erred in allowing our women to teach or be in authority over men in schools, seminars, and in the work place, etc.? What about president of the United States?

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

Although 1 Corinthians 14 covers the speaking of tongues [see here], followed by the above verses, we still find women speaking in tongues in the churches today. Please know that I am not discussing whether tongues are of today or not [that would be for another post], but whether it is still ashamed for women to speak in the church today.

How far are we to take 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 35 without becoming too legalistic that we surpass scripture itself? Is it wrong for a woman to vote in church, serve over a committee of the church, speak in a business meeting, and/or pray out loud in the church?

Are we following scripture with regard to this issue in our churches today, are we just too scared to say that we are wrong, or is it that these verses are just obsolete?

What is your personal conviction and scriptural support?

Where do you draw the line in the sand?


Stephen said...

>>Is it wrong for a woman to
>>vote in church"

I don't see how.

>> serve over a committee of
>> the church,

depends on the committee and the authority that committee is granted. Generally I would say it's ok.

>>speak in a business meeting,
>>and/or pray out loud in the

I don't see anything wrong with speaking in a business meeting. I don't think women should pray out loud in church, but I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it if it happens.

Tony Davis said...

The issue of woman praying in a church meeting has been one of importance to me. I have called on certain women whom I knew would be willing to pray publicly on Wednesday nights. I can't see where that is against the Scriptures, but I am certainly open to correction if I am wrong.

As far as the others: Voting, committees and speaking in business meetings, I don't see how that is a problem---but I feel a lot like Steve "it depends on the committee."

Should women teach men? No, Paul is clear about that in Timothy. The godly women that I have known were always more than willing to submit to Scriptural roles.

Servant's Salute.com said...

This is my question: 1 Corinthians 14:34 & 35 says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

I realize that we can become too legalistic in our thinking that we end up going way beyond the intent of scripture, so I am not demanding what scripture says but I am not wanting to water it down for the sake of the Women's Rights Movement either.

Within the scriptures above and 1 Timothy 2:11, it appears that a woman is not even permitted to ask a question - [And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home - Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.].

This is where I find it unclear: Scripture says that a woman should learn in silence, keep silent in church, and that it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church, yet today woman very much have a voice in our churches.

If a woman is praying outloud, voting, debating or questioning in a business meeting, and/or serving on or as leader of a committee, is she still obeying scripture when it says it is a shame if she is not silence in the church?

Then what is meant by silent in the church?

Noted, I am not the final authority and I do not wish for someone to become angered at me for mentioning the subject, but scriptural things must be read, studied, and acted upon even if we don't really like to consider them or agree with them. To bypass scripture or simply not let it effect us does a disservice to ourselves, to others, and to God. If it is written in the Word of God, it is written for a reason.

Can we then be scriptural with a woman presdient? Is there a difference between a woman being over a man in a church committee as compared to a woman over a man in secular jobs? Why would or does it matter what committee or what job?

Stephen said...

Admit it Tim, you want to put a muzzle on them when they walk in the door. Dont you! LOL! (just kidding)

I understand where you are coming from. Quite honestly I haven't done very much thinking on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I think the context of I Corinthians 14 is clear. There were to be no disruptions in the church. The last verse sums it up; Let all things be done decently and in order. The context is that Paul is addressing the chaos in the worship service. Women, who let's face it, are much more emotional and much more vocal on matters are commanded to keep silent. They are not to be disruptive. but, in the same context neither are the men to be disruptive either.

I have been in Baptist churches for almost 10 years. And in those ten years I have only been really blasted by 4 people---but get this: 3 of those four were women and all four times I was blasted it was 5 minutes before I walked in the pulpit to lead a worship service. Though I did everything I could to maintain peace, including swallowing a great deal of pride, I think only one of the four had any basis for their remarks. I think all people need to be careful with the attitudes before during and immediately after worship services.

I may be wrong, but I see a clear distinction between gathering for formal worship and informal Bible Study and prayer. The Bible studies I lead on Wednesday nights are very informal and have room for input. At this point, I do not see how that would violate the Scriptures if a woman asked questions, or prayed out loud, or offered some input. But, that informal environment is the environment that I have always felt lead to pursue on Wednesday nights.

I chapter 11, Paul discussed women praying and prophesying in the context that they were to pray and prophesy with their head covered as a sign of submission. I want to be as open minded as the Scriptures are, but I also want to be as narrow minded as the Scriptures are. And it seems to me that submission is the context in both I Corinthians and in I Timothy for both women and men.

Now, we could certainly get into defining worship, but I do see a difference in what we do on Sunday verses what we do on Wednesday nights. Leadership in the church is given to men and men should function within those parameters. But, in the informal meetings I see no Scriptural problems with women speaking or praying.
As for a woman president, I could never be comfortable with that. Especially the one in consideration.

Tony said...

Oops. Anonymous was me on the fifth post.

Servant's Salute.com said...

I agree that there should not be disruptions during church, but neither 1 Corinthians 14 nor 1 Timothy 2 ever tells men to be silent in the church, except for if they want to speak in tongues without an interpreter. This command is only given to the women.

Verse 26 says, “when ye come together” as if to signify the coming together of the local church. Then he says in verse 27, “If any man”, and continues to talk about tongues and prophecy and what should happen when they are together in the churches. Then in verse 34, he says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”

I am not sure about a distinction between formal worship and informal worship, for Paul just uses the word “church” and both formal and informal worship takes place in the church and with the church. How do we draw a line between Sunday church and Wednesday church?

He also says, “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” [35]. So how do we get around this if we allow one to speak in church and ask questions?

Is 1 Corinthian 11 speaking of the prayer and prophecy of women vocally within the church? This is one verse compared to two verses directly saying not to speak in church. Have we let an uncovered woman pray aloud? What if she wants to?

I guess I am a little confused when we use 1 Timothy 2:11, 12, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” to say that a woman cannot teach or preach to a man, yet we don’t mind having them over men in a committee or in the secular world.

Then we come to where Paul says “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” and we want to say he doesn’t really mean they need to be silent all the time.

Where do we find the guidelines to when and how to break the silence? What scripture can we find that helps us draw a line? Is there scripture that shows women scripturally teaching, praying, and speaking in church?

As for a woman president: scriptural or unscriptural?

Tony said...

I knew better than to respond to this post. Tim you might need to join a monastery where there is only men and you don’t have to put up with women.... :-)

I will say this again: I want to be as open minded as the Scriptures and I want to be as narrow minded as the Scriptures.

The context of I Corinthians 14 is tongues, the context of I Timothy 2 is public worship. If you want to take the phrases “keep silent” and “learn in silence” to the degree that it seems to me that you are trying to do women would not even be able to sing in the worship services. Both are addressing problems with the worship service. Order seems to be the key in both places. Keeping silent in I Corinthians is in reference to speaking in tongues. I know that this will hair-lip some people but Paul seems clear that women are not to speak in tongues. It is disruptive and forbidden. Dr. J. Vernon McGee (as well as many others) agrees with this interpretation and said: “If women were to stop speaking in tongues the tongue movement would cease over night . . .”

I didn’t now I needed to list all the references I knew about in the previous post but there are a few verses (more than one) that I can think of right now that refer to women speaking, teaching and even preaching. Aquila and Priscilla both taught Alexandria (Acts 18: 24-26). Philip, one of the first deacons, had four daughters and they both did prophecy–that is they preached! (Acts 21:9). In Romans 16:1-2 Paul told the church at Rome to "receive Phebe our sister which is a servant of the church and to assist her in what ever business that she had need of you." Now, we could really open a can of worms with Phebe because the word for servant is the word for deacon in the famine position. She was a deaconess!!! Obviously, if Phebe was to be assisted she had some kind of authority. In I Corinthians 11 Paul gives instruction to women praying and prophesying (Verses 5 and 6). Now, you asked if this is public. What good would it be for them to prophesy if no one was around to hear? Of course it was public.

I am not making a case of for women to be in leadership positions in the church, but at the same time I want to be careful about making restrictions following the letter of the law that are not in keeping with the spirit of Christ. I hope you were in the services long enough to see the difference between Sundays and Wednesday night. One is formal and the other is quite informal and very relaxed.

Right now I have no problem with women asking questions during Bible study. I have no problem with women praying out loud during a prayer meeting. I do not see a contradiction with that and the Scriptures—My prayer is if I am wrong that God would show me. But it is Funny how we are caught up here on “in the church” because we don’t seem to have a problem with women praying during cottage prayer meetings.

I almost hate to say this because it could easily be misconstrued but, as to it being Scriptural or Unscriptural for us to have a woman president—Christian guidelines and principles were never designed to be enforced upon a secular world. So, is it scriptural or unscriptural? Neither—as far as I know, it is not addressed for secular society and non-Christians. But, I could never vote for Hilary.

I grew up in a church that was in some ways demeaning toward children and women. Though I still think there were some really good and godly people in that church, there were many things about it that I could not support today.

I probably have not persuaded you, but I appreciate the discussion. It has helped me out a great deal.


Anonymous said...

I had a great post, and the computer deleted it when I tried to log in and publish it. The jest of it was from Acts 2:17-21. Women, in New Testament Christianity, have a responsibility to be filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesy (not in the charismatic way).

Evelyn said...

Hi Tim! Thank you for inviting me to your blog and for pestering me to death to post a comment. I felt as though this particular blog entry from you was as good a spot to jump in as any.

I have a few comments, but please note that they are made in a calm spirit, and not in any sense of belligerance or unkindness. Just pretend you're sitting in my office, working on my computer - which has worked beautifully, thank you - and we're merely conversing. :-) Since we are not in church, I feel free to speak candidly.

My paraphrase: "I allow a woman to neither teach nor take authority from a man."

1. So, in essence, we don't have women teaching the men's Sunday School class or preaching from the pulpit in our church.
2. Nor, to take it further, do we have women telling the pastor or deacons what they may and may not do in church.
3. These verses cover what is to be done IN THE CHURCH. We have never been at anytime expected to impose the church's rules of existence on the secular world. Rules of morality, yes; rules of church governership, no. This clearly falls under the heading of "This here way is the way I want y'all doing things at church." Or something like that. :-)
4. Therefore, having a woman as President does not violate this 'church' rule. I will say, and you can excommunicate me later for doing so, that some people I've met have erroneously considered Pres. Bush and his office to be equivalent to a church and spiritual leader. However, I digress.

Moving right along...

The next scripture you mentioned is, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak;"

Let's take this part first. My father, when he preached, had a wonderful saying: "If you use a text without a context, you have nothing but a pretext."

1. Every verse leading up to this text is discussing speaking in tongues. First of all, 2000 years later, we are still in disagreement as to what speaking in tongues truly is and truly means in today's church house. Secondly, whatever it is that speaking in tongues meant, Paul was vehemently opposed to women doing so.
2. I don't personally know any women who speak in tongues in our Baptist churches, although I have heard a few mutter under their breath when the pastor has stepped on their toes; that, however, is a different topic for another day. So, suffice it to say, our Baptist churches are good with this church rule, too.

The rest of this passage reads, "...And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

1. I have never been in any church service where, during the pastor's sermon, a woman spoke up and asked a question. Perhaps you have, but I personally do not recall one. As for my own experience in this area, it is common for me to question Dennis about something as we drive home, and, although the car is not technically my home, I think it counts as being 'outside the church.' I would never consider interupting the pastor to ask a question. It is part and parcel of what is considered decorum and order. I would take it step further and say that if a man interupted the pastor's sermon, I would consider him rude at best.

To me, I see the 'point' being order and decency in the church. Services were never intended to be free-for-all's where anything goes.

As far as a woman serving in the church goes, one would be remiss to ignore the various times Paul praised women in the church for their dutiful service.

Now, I'm going to step on men's toes with my next comment. Again, I am merely pointing something out, not being unkind. Before I began attending Wednesday evening classes with the teenagers, I was in Bro. Tony's Wednesday night Bible Study and prayer meeting. (Hi Bro. Tony!!! [waving my hand!]) I was EMBARRASSED repeatedly when Bro. Tony would ask for a man to pray for someone on the prayer list. The silence was deafening. Cricket 3 miles away could be heard chirping. The proverbial pin could have dropped and been heard. Finally, FINALLY, a man would raise his hand to pray. Honestly, Tim, that was sad. Every single time I wanted to raise my hand to pray, and every single time, I kept it down for fear of being labeled an unsubmissive woman.

Seriously, it should never have reached that point. Just as the rule is always given to the servant first (servants obey your masters), there comes the moment when the master also has responsibilities (masters, be kind to your servants.) You have this situation with a husband and wife: wives obey your husbands; husband love your wife. Or wives, as the case was back then.

Thus, you have the same intended scenario in this scripture, in my oh, so humble opinion. Women, sit back and learn. Men, teach and do. To me, in this scenario, men are therefore given the responsibility to pick up the slack. So, men, get busy at it. Take care of the situation so that women are not the ones left picking up the slack. The responsibility always falls on the back of the leader. Always. So, be responsible.

In closing, yes, there is a close to this missive, if everyone would do what they were supposed to do, the world would be a happy place and we would have no need for blogs. ;-)


Servant's Salute.com said...

Mrs. Evelyn – I loved your post.  I couldn’t help but laugh while reading it, because I can just see you telling me this to my face – gracefully of course.

I appreciate all of you visiting my little dust spot of cyberspace and leaving your well thought-out honest comments on a subject that does cause controversy whether we have actually seen it or not.

Bro. Tony and Bro. Dennis, I checked out the verses you gave: Acts 18:24-26 says Aquila and Pricilla “took him unto them”, which I took to mean they privately spoke with him, not as teachers per say. Act 21:9 says they prophesied, but it doesn’t say whether it was in church or not. Romans 16:1-2 says that she was a servant, but I am not sure she could be consider a deaconess. The reason I don’t know if we could call her a deaconess is [1] because she doesn’t meet the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and we have the WMU and other women that serve the church today that are not considered deaconesses. And in Acts 2:17-21, I also do not know if this is considered within the church or just among the people. I do not say this for the sake of argument, but prophesying could also take place in witnessing outside the church too, right?

Given the fact that I am the one who brought up this question, and although these are my conclusions to the verses above, that does not mean that I believe “women should be seen and not heard”. Women do serve a marvelous purpose in our churches today. Women do often think of things that many men would most likely not consider. So this post was never meant to take anything away from a woman’s service to God and to the church.

Through these comments and the scripture I believe we can conclude the following then:

[1] The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is spiritual gifts, both tongues and prophecy. Men are told not to speak in tongues unless there is an interpreter and only two or three may do so at the most. Only two or three may prophesy with one judging. So when we get down to verses 34 & 35, the context is saying that [1] women should not speak in tongues or prophesy at all in the church and [2] if a woman feels the need to question something that is done or someone in the church she needs to ask her husband outside of church instead of bringing it into question in front of all at the church. Would this be a fair understanding then?

[2] The context of 1 Timothy 2 is authority, which leads into the office of a bishop and deacon in chapter 3. So verses 11 & 12 is teaching that a woman should not be in authority over a man in any area of the church, but does not limit the ability of women to be in authority over a man in the secular world. Would this be a fair understanding then?

Mrs. Evelyn, I totally agree with your points about prayer service. I can remember my first times in prayer meeting and sitting in the deafening quietness with a room full of men [including deacons] and then only to hear a woman’s voice break the silence with prayer. Especially when it was asked should we do something different for prayer time and everyone said no it was okay. Not that a woman can’t pray [for I know that God can speak to a woman’s heart as clear as He can a man], but the men should be so excited to pray that a woman shouldn’t even feel like she could “get a word in edge wise”. Hahaha

So if authority is given from the pastor or leader during a business meeting, prayer meeting, etc. for the women to take part in asking questions or praying aloud it is allowable by scripture. But if the authority is not given, but is taken or demanded on the part of a woman she is clearly in violation of scripture.

With the above settled [or settling], I have one remaining question. Where lays the scripture in consideration of the teaching aspect of a woman? For example, there was a lady that was teaching a prayer class. Can a man attend and sit under her? Would that be usurping authority over that man, or not, since she was given authority by the pastor and the man submitted himself by choosing to attend? [I am not sure if a man attended or not, I am just posing the question] Another example would be the Beth Moore [and the other lady] that goes around teaching and men do attend? Where would this fall?

Thanks again. I appreciate your thoughts and comments, especially when they are scripturally based.


Tony said...

I think you summed this discussion up quite well. I give you an A +

But, I can’t help but offer a rebuttal to your last post.

Yes the Scriptures do say that Priscilla and Aquila taught Alexander--in fact the KJV reads that they "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." expound means to expose or instruct and to instruct means to teach. You just can't get around that. This is funny because I have always desired and sought to be an expositor of the Scriptures. Could you say that my exposition of the Word was not teaching?

What difference would it make if Philip's daughters were in the church or not? They still preached. Would it make you feel better if they preached on a street corner and not in a church building. If so, I guess I will give you that one :-)

As for Phebe meeting the qualifications of I Timothy 3, that is open to interpretation. While we do not have deaconesses in the SBC---many Baptist Churches do and interestingly, they use for their basis the reference to Phebe and I Timothy 3. Nice try though. Haha!


Evelyn said...

Hi Tim - I'm glad you smiled. That was the full intent of my post to your blog. I have a follow-up to another question you posed.

You mentioned the lady that is teaching the prayer walking class. The verse quoted says 'not teach a man nor usurp authority.' I "feel" that the "feeling" of that verse is one of "Man, you're going to listen to me, now LISTEN!" (And no, I haven't been listening in on any conversations between you and Lizzie.) :-) It specifically says 'usurp.' That's a pretty forceful term. I looked it up and it means 'to take from.'

I would assume from the "feeling" of the verse that, if a man knew a class was being taught by a woman and he CHOSE to place himself under her teaching, he should be allowed. It is his choice - no one is taking his authority from him, and the class is not required.

In this particular instance, only women are in the prayer class, and funnily enough, no men have elected to attend. :-)

I enjoyed your writing, by the way.

BEAST said...

An extremely misoygnic post, typical fundamentalism at its worst.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.