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Suffer Not a Woman to Teach

The emasculation of husbands

The emasculation of husbands

Published on: Mar 8, 2009

Despite the title of the blog, I am not against women teaching. I personally benefit and enjoy listening to Joyce Meyer, Nancy Lee DeMoss and other intelligent women who hear God and speak on behalf of God. And I believe that these women when broadcasting through the airwaves or any other public communications medium are fine, because they are not specifically teaching men. They are teaching whosoever will. There is a significant difference.

I had to rethink through my point of view on this topic since I was recently excommunicated from a house church headed by a woman pastor. In post expulsion communication with the brother that had brought me into the fellowship, I expressed regret to him that I had not heeded my conscience in continuing my attendance when I found out that the group was being led by a woman. I told him that we have a tendency to rationalize and to justify what we want at the expense of the plain teaching of Scriptures which says:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Tim 2:12 NIV)

I further stated to my friend that it would be alright for her to teach younger women, as the Scriptures say:

Titus 2:3-4
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, (NIV)

My friend disregarded the second verse I quoted and replied to the first verse I quoted. He said:

“I disagree about the women in leadership of course. I think that particular Greek word “authentein” used in 1 Tim. 2:12 has been mistranslated. It is the word that is translated “to exercise authority over”. That particular word only appears once in the entire NT and it is in that passage. I have read that in some contemporary Greek source documents it has the idea of “to control through seduction.” The cult of Diana was prevalent in Ephesus where Timothy was doing apostolic work at the time Paul wrote to him. The temple of Diana was apparently dominated by female priests who used sexuality to control and dominate the men who worshipped Diana. Apparently some of this had crept into the church and Paul was addressing this.”

I am leery of making arguments based upon Greek or Hebrew word studies. They have a place and are beneficial, of course, but I am convinced that understanding the point, or spirit, of a text is found in its context, or surrounding verses. At first glance his argument made sense to me. When one considers the immediate preceding verses we have this context.

1 Tim 2:9-12
9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,
10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (NIV)

In this context his reasoning seems logical. And I have no doubt that there is some truth in his words.

Recently, I bought and have been reading another controversial translation called, “The Source New Testament,” translated by Australian Dr. A. Nyland, a woman whose version of the NT has been banned by the Christian book sellers here in America. The main reason for the ban is because she has also translated a version of the Bible for Gays and Lesbians. Whether she is a lesbian or not, I do not know. My interest in reading this book, however, is based upon her premise that the Greek words used in the New Testament are better translated by a common understanding of Greek as found in their usage in the secular works of Homer, Aristotle, and a host of other Greek writers whose work still exists.

As a personal translation, of course, she is also bringing in her personal bias. Hence the fear that it is intended to support homosexual lifestyles. So far in my reading, I have not found that to be the case, but I am not done reading it so we shall see. Her book is filled with footnotes with her commentary on the passages. In this particular verse of 1 Timothy she has this to say:

Inscriptional evidence includes women as Jewish leaders, testifying that women were elders as well as synagogue leaders. … A woman in a teaching position must first learn. … Paul tells Timothy about people who want to become teachers of the Law without understanding what they are doing. The women are not to become teachers until they have completed their learning stage.

I have never heard that women were elders in the Jewish Synagogues. As a Jewish Studies Minor in Bible school, I was taught that the women were separated from the men. Likewise, 10 men were needed to have a gathering. She cites a number of references to prove her point. If her point was true, it would make sense, but I find it hard, based on my understanding of the Jewish culture, to believe that this was so.

My friend made a similar argument in his correspondence to me. He said:

“There are several examples of women in leadership in the New Testament. Priscilla taught alongside her husband Aquilla and Phoebe was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Cenchrea. Junia was one of the apostles (Romans 16). There is debate over whether Paul wrote “Junia” or “Junias” – one is feminine and one is masculine, I forget which is which. “

These examples are certainly true. However, the fact that they did so is not an argument to justify this position. It is the logical fallacy of Appealing to the People. The Bible is filled with things that people do that are contrary to the mind and will of God. For example, the Mormons believe that polygamy is sanctioned by God since the patriarchs had multiple wives. Our doctrines have to be based upon the clear and obvious statements of the Bible that are consistent with the character of God as revealed in the Bible and witnessed in our hearts by His Spirit and in our consciences. The fact that women have and do minister is more along the line of Jesus saying ” whosoever will”. God needed someone to stop Balaam so an angel got in front of his donkey, which caused the donkey to turn an rebuke Balaam for beating him. Donkeys, of course, have not been sanctioned to teach men.

The answer to our question of the meaning of this verse is found in the context of the entire chapter. What is Paul talking about in general that this verse fits in with? The answer is “praying for authorities”.

Paul begins in verse 2:1 requesting that the saints should pray for all in authority, beginning with the leaders of multitudes, that is kings and those in such position, for prayer for authority is pleasing to God (v. 3) who wants all to be saved (v. 4) for salvation comes only by Christ (v. 5) who gave Himself as our ransom (v. 6), which is Paul’s job as an apostle (v. 7) to exhort (v. 8). Then he moves to the topic of women dressing modestly (v. 9) being adorned with good works instead (v. 10.) Now we come to our verse in question that women should learn in silence (v 11) and not to teach men (v. 12). Noting that Adam was first formed, then Eve (v. 13), nor was Adam deceived, but Eve (v. 14). Apparently childbearing seems connected to their salvation (v. 15).

Dr. Nyland had an interesting observation regarding verses 13-15. She says:

The Gnostics, however, stated that Eve was formed prior to Adam in ‘On the Origin of the World.’ … The human race was saved through the birth of Jesus, pointing back to Genesis 3:15.

So her argument is that Paul is referring to Gnostic teaching of which he is refuting. Likewise she translates the “childbearing” into “the birth of the Child” meaning Jesus. This has merit, although I am not convinced on this point yet.

But getting back to the point of the chapter, Paul is talking about praying for authorities. Not for all things that people tend to pray today, but for their salvation. What good works, then, should modest women be adorned with? It seems to be prayer. He seems to be exhorting women to pray for leaders, instead of desiring to be leaders.

We have a similar point in 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul says:

1 Cor 14:34-35
34 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.
35 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. (KJV)

Dr. Nyland makes the argument that Paul is quoting Jewish writings and that he refutes this writing. She says that these two verses were neglected by other translations to have put quotes around them or make them a block text to indicate that they are quotes and not Paul’s own words. I think she may be right in this point. It makes sense in that context that why Paul would then follow these verses with:

1 Cor 14:36-37
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. (KJV)

But once again, understanding of the verse is found in the full context of the chapter (and the epistle). Paul is taking about speaking in tongues and prophecy. His last verses are:

1 Cor 14:39-40
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (KJV)

The context of the entire chapter is operating in gifts within the body gathering, encouraging orderly conduct. So, like the Timothy verse, he is encouraging the group to allow the women to pray and prophecy, but that is not teaching.

Women are encouraged to teach, of course, as I have quoted Paul speaking to Titus above regarding their teaching younger girls. Teaching the younger women is the appropriate place of teaching for women. Notice that Paul is telling Titus that he should speak the things “which become sound doctrine” in verse one. Sound doctrine does not refer to eschatology nor elements of systematic theology, although they may be included. Sound doctrine refers to those teachings that result in greater godliness in living.

Jesus said that “wisdom is justified by her children” (Matt 11:19 and Luke 7:35) both times in the contrast to the results that Jesus produced “eating with wine bibbers” and “sinners” compared to the results that the Pharisees and Sadducees had produced, which resulted in bondage. This is the acid test of sound doctrine. What are the results?

Look at any congregation in America and the majority of the pew sitters are women. One would think that men are not interested in God since there are more women then men in the pews. But that is not true. Men want to know God and to walk with Him, but the God presented in these congregations is an effeminate God. Even though many pulpits proclaim that women should not teach, the men in those pulpits cater their messages to the sensibilities of women, so they emphasize the side of Jesus that is tender and gentle. This side exists, but at the same time He is a man’s man, which the pulpiteers do not seem to understand.

It is no surprise, then, that feminism has made inroads into the body of Christ. Marriages are wrecked in Christianity as much as in the world by divorce. I talk to Christian girls graduating from high school, and they have no thought of raising a family, only to have a career. My generation is rife with women who never married because of careers, or married too late because of pursuing careers. Now there are only a handful of the next generation who will be saddled with the expense of supporting the Baby Boomers with social security. And in their generation, they are also pursuing careers so that many grand parents of my generation are raising their grand children instead of their parents doing that job.

Men refuse to walk with God because He is seen as a woose. The salt and light that is missing from American Christianity is the masculine characteristic of confrontation. Jesus was no woose. He confronted those who plotted to murder Him. But we are discouraged to confront one another, which is a biblical command (Matt. 18:15).

The emergent group, and the other groups that have left the institutions of Christianity (house churches), do not want to confront, either. They are more concerned with feelings being hurt, or “striving for unity” by ignoring differences in opinions. But we are not called for unity in the soul, of which are opinions, but in the Spirit. That is we are to strive to seek the will of God by his Spirit which will be confirmed by His Word. This reluctance to confront is cowardice, and this wrong understanding of “unity” is rationalization. In their minds, unity is agreeableness, not disagreement. So to simply disagree with confidence and authority is to bring disunity to them.

Men who lay their lives down for Christ, are not afraid to confront. Women cannot be spiritual heads of the house hold because they draw their strength from men. This is the order laid out in 1 Corinthians 11:3 which also is in the context of prayer and prophecy. When men allow women to lead, then they become submerged in cowardice and apathy, as well. But when men lead the women follow. A great example of this is Jim Elliot and the Plymouth Brethren who died in Ecuador. They refused to defend themselves against the attack of the Indians they knew in advance would murder them.

Their wives, after their deaths, followed suit and went to the same tribe. The tribe was so amazed that they forgave the murder of their husbands for Christ sake, and that they had to courage to come to tell them so, caused them to repent and to believe in the Lord. Those wives drew their strength from their husbands, not the other way around. They were following their husbands’ lead.

This does not deny the gift of teaching in women. Rather it understands the nature of the fallen world that we live in. I have no doubt that when eternity comes, it won’t matter whether a woman teaches or not. But it matters now because we are still in the fallen world. The order that God has set up for the Church is for the most effective living to impact the fallen world as salt and light. To let the women lead is to cause the salt to lose it’s savor and is causing the Church to be trampled under foot by the heathen.

Men, rise up, and speak the truth. Women, return to the order God has established for the sake of the lost in the world. Your leadership defeats the plan of God.

Comments to Original Post

Sarah
Submitted on 08/30/2009

I thank you for expounding God’s Word with clarity and respect for it’s authority, and also with balance!! There’s so much confusion on this subject. God bless you.

Alexander Douglas
Submitted on 09/03/2009

Sarah,
For a woman to give a compliment on the topic, is praise indeed. Thank you for your kind words.

Kat
Submitted on 09/06/2009

I don’t know what I think of the strict interpretation regarding women. But I do like this:

“But we are not called for unity in the soul, of which are opinions, but in the Spirit. That is we are to strive to seek the will of God by his Spirit which will be confirmed by His Word. This reluctance to confront is cowardice, and this wrong understanding of “unity” is rationalization.”

You hit something on the head there. Of course, the people you wish would understand that probably won’t. This is spiritually understood and these are of soulish rationalization.

Bible Study
spiritualbiblestudy.com

Submitted on 11/04/2010

I believe the scripture about women teaching represents the church taking authority over the man (Christ Jesus). I believe the woman represents the church and the man Christ Jesus. We are not to take authority over the word of God and to teach something contrary to the word. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with women teaching or preaching naturally speaking.

Alexander
Submitted on 11/05/2010

Thank you. That is a thoughtful point. And I agree that God will use a donkey to get His message spoken if no other will do so. The issue of a woman teaching depends on the relation the woman has over a man. In the broad sense of a woman preaching on the radio, for example, I would concur with your last statement. However, when it comes to a man in a group setting, I stand by my contention of the problem we have living in a fallen world.

Luh
Submitted on 01/11/2011

So much for progression.

Alexander
Submitted on 01/11/2011

What is meant by “progress”? Are we seeking to progress from the fallen state to the divine order established by God? Or, are we seeking progress as conceived by the natural mind of man? Two points need to be considered. One, the relationship between a husband and a wife is not the same as that between men and women who are not in a covenant together. Two, the organization of men is not the order of God since all organizations by people tend to lean on the arm of the flesh, or organization, than on the life and will of God. That includes house church organizations.

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