I must have heard it a thousand times in my lifetime that the circumstances makes all the difference when it comes to God’s Word. These are the kind of people who won’t take no for an answer and refuse to obey God’s commandments. So, let’s examine the question once and for all, “Do circumstances matter?”
Women were commanded not to speak in the churches. This we know for sure because the bible says so. Let’s read it together: ”
33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Cor 14:33,34).
Now, it’s hard to get around a commandment which derived directly from the Lord Jesus Christ (vs37), but believe it or not, even members of the Lord’s church “think” they have a way to circumvent this commandment. How? It’s called the “Doctrine of Circumstance). I guarantee that you have never once heard of this doctrine. Yet, you have heard it preached time and time again, and most of you have bought it, hook, line, and sinker. It goes like this: “These women were prophet’s wives who were disorderly in the assembly. Therefore, Paul wasn’t silencing all women for all generations, but only the Corinthian women.”
What this doctrine fails to consider is that the bible actually is prepared to answer this kind of false doctrine. First of all, what Paul wrote to one church he wrote to all churches (1 Cor 4:17). Secondly, Paul actually said for women (plurality, meaning all women) were to keep silent in the churches. Notice, he didn’t say in the Corinth church, but churches, that is, all churches. Thirdly, even if they had questions to ask the teacher, she was prohibited from asking them. If she wanted to learn something, the proper places to ask them was at home. If she were married, she could ask her own husband.
Others will say, “Paul was single and a woman hater”. What they fail to consider is that even if Paul was a woman hater, and he wasn’t, Christ was not. This commandment came directly from Jesus Christ and not Paul. Do you dare call your Lord and Savior a woman hater? If you do, I feel so sorry for you come the day of judgment.
Then there are others which say “Women can speak in the church, and even become teachers in the assembly as long as they are not teaching men”. Now this is an odd theory considering Jesus Christ commanding all women not to speak in all the churches. For this strange doctrine they quote 1 Timothy 2:12 which says, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”. First of all, this applies not only in the churches but everywhere. The verse prior to this verse says women are to “Learn in silence with all subjection”. How is it that they are to learn in silence, but they can speak and teach in the assembly? Bottom line is this: Women are to keep silent in the churches. Women are prohibited from taking leadership roles in the churches. Women are prohibited from teaching men in or out of the church. There is no commandment or biblical example for any woman to teach other women in the churches or to teach children in the churches. Such is impossible when there is a ban for women to speak in the assemblies. Yes, women can sing, but she can’t lead the singing (Eph 5:19). Yes, women can pray, but silently (1 Tim 2:8 f; Acts 12). Yes, women can learn, but silently (1 Tim 2:11). None of these violate 1 Cor 14 or 1 Tim 2. However, teaching women and children in the assembly breaks God’s commandment of silence, and therefore is a sin.
There is no purpose for women to teach other women and children when the church has Elders, Deacons, and men preachers and teachers readily available. Even so, women were prohibited from speaking in the assembly in any circumstance whatsoever. Some will say, “What if there are no men to teach?” First of all, I have been a member of the Lord’s church for more than 45 years, and not once have I ever heard or seen where a church didn’t have any men available to teach. Secondly, the bible bears record of this scenario with King Saul. Samuel had told Saul to wait for him 7 days before going into battle with the Philistines. However, the battle was imminent and Saul became impatient. Therefore, Saul, a king and not a priest, took it upon himself to act where he was prohibited to take action. Saul did the sacrifice himself and for his reward had his kingdom taken from him, and given to one after God’s own heart, that being, David (1 Sam 13 f; Acts 13:22). Circumstances didn’t matter in a life and death matter with King Saul, and it doesn’t matter today. Even if there are no men to teach, preach, lead singing, or wait on the Lord’s supper, it is better to obey God and do nothing than to act where God prohibited action. Thus, even if there are no men present, women are to remain silent in the churches and to take no leadership role whatsoever.
This same application applies to Catholics who say sprinkling is permissible instead of immersion if the circumstance warrant it. How often it is said, “What if a man be so disabled he will die if he is immersed in water?” Once again, I know of no one who has ever died while being immersed in water. Secondly, even so, what a way to go. Imagine being buried with Christ by baptism and suddenly be with the Lord. Isn’t this what all Christians desire? No more suffering, no more crying, no more tears, and live with Christ forever in eternity.
There are circumstances where men and women can wait too late to be baptized. Some surmise, “What if a man believed and confessed Jesus to be the Christ and died on the way to being baptized?” Give me a break! No one has ever died on the way to being baptized to my knowledge. If this hypothetical ever were to occur, then the conclusion would be he waited too late. God saves no one separate and apart from baptism, and there are no exceptions to this rule (Mk 16:16). God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34 f; Col 3:25). What He commands one, he commands all.
Conclusion: Therefore, conclusively, circumstances do not matter when it comes to God. What does matters to God is whether or not we obey his commandments. As Samuel pointed out to king Saul, “For to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22). In all matters of the law of Christ, as the preacher concluded, “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13). It was then, is now, and forever will be, no matter the circumstances!