Saturday, August 3, 2013

Women: To Preach or Not to Preach?

Recently I delved into this rather controversial topic of whether or not women should be preachers. While some more theologically liberal denominations have embraced this practice for a while, more conservative groups are now as well. You may have seen the article in the Christian Standard a few months ago called Women Preaching. In our PACT Internship, this issue was brought up, especially in the context of house churches and small groups. Many verses get tossed around that seem to implicilty, and many times, explicitly prohibit all preaching and teaching of the assembly by women, I have always decided to err on the side of caution and agree with that side of the argument. In light of the article, verses, and situations, I decided to finally dig into the issue.

The two main verses that always sold me on the prohibition were 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 and 1 Timothy 1:12. This is a really deep issue that the research and explanation can span several pages. So here's a quick breakdown on my (and other scholars) conclusion: Women should not be the preacher/teacher. Women can be a preacher/teacher. For the technical explanation, Mark Scott said, "The prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 in light of the present active tense of the infinitive, 'to teach,' has the force of a substantive." In other words, when Paul says he does not permit a woman to teach, it would be more aptly translated as that he does not permit a woman to be the teacher. This would imply that it would be okay to have her on a preaching or teaching team. She would still be under the authority of the eldership, and thus the not exercising authority over a man would not be violated. Any authority being exercised would be done through the blessing and knowledge of the elders, making her as a vessel of their authority.

In terms of small groups and house churches, as Mark and I discussed, it might be best if the woman was paired either with her husband or another man in the group as the preaching/teaching team, rather than being solo. Further, I do want to explain that I do recognize that sometimes we men do not step up to the plate to serve. In those instances, where there is a congregation, and no man is offering his services as the lead preacher/teacher, then by all means, let a woman teach by herself (under the authority of the elders, as a man should be also.) If someone has an issue with her doing so, especially if a man has an issue, then sir, do your study, write a sermon, and preach it. 

As for how this applies to guest preachers and/or touring speakers, I do not know. I would hope they have some type of accountability/authority structure that they are under, whether men or women, and not acting as "free agents." 

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to you. I encourage you to do your own study on this (and any other) issue. When studying, make sure you don't just take one translations word for it. Remember, English was not the language of the Bible. If needed, ask someone who has actually learned Biblical languages to help you out. As for me, I am still studying it. I plan to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Mark recommended I read this as he said it has a good overview of both sides of the argument. 

In terms of how life is here in Albuquerque: I finally finished transition! I am now officially full time on the phones at Verizon, with a Monday through Friday shift. Sure, it's 2:45-11:30pm, but it's better than having to work Saturdays. We've decided to return to New City. Even though we've had mixed emotions, especially in regard to global outreach, we feel like God is telling us we need to be there. It's a very solid church, with a very Jesus minded outlook for the community and each other. In terms of our drought, it's still going, but the past few weeks we've actually received a few inches of rain. One night it actually flooded many parts of town. Pray that we continue getting rainfall, just in more manageable amounts. 

For now, that's all.
Grace and Peace


jeff youngblood said...

good word. Thanks for sharing bro! I tend to agree with what you wrote, though I would clarify that the size of the church is not that relevant, so house church/big congregation is not a deciding factor, as we see this no where in scripture. I could not tell if you were making that distinction, so just sharing my thoughts. I did a lengthy study on this subject a few years ago because I simply wanted to know the truth! And it surprised me, I must say. I recommend the book, "God's women, then and now" It also helped me deal with some of the latent sexism in my own mind and behavior passed down from culture and experience, which is sometimes defended using the bible. The scripture "what you do to the least of these you do unto me" is particularly indicting to our sexism inside the church, which I think even works counter to a lot of our ministry efforts like trying to rescue trafficked women. It is a bit of hypocrisy as I see it.I believe in Godly order, and that established by God concerning the sexes, but our traditions have added to, and nullified the word too!

Karl said...

No, I wasn't trying to make a distinction. Sorry if I gave that impression. I'll try to find that book. Who is it by? And I agree, tradition has many times done more harm than good, in gender issues and more.