You may visit denominational churches and find women preaching, publicly teaching, or leading committees which frequently include men. This certainly seems fair given our modern, common social norms regarding gender equality. However, is this culture consistent with God’s Holy Word? We know what denominational churches have to say about women preachers and leaders, but what does God say about it?
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim 2:11-14).
Some Bible believers may shrug off Paul’s command, contending this only represented his opinion or the norms of the 1st-century culture. However, please notice that this commandment was not rooted in Paul’s culture, but rather, the inspired reason sprang from the order established by two universal facts: The creation and the fall of man. The God-defined roles of men and women are therefore transcendent and apply to all of Adam and Eve’s descendants as far as the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin have spread (Gen 3:16, 20). Furthermore, Paul gave similar instruction to the Corinthian women to not speak out during the assembly:
“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. Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:34-37).
Paul equates these statements to the “commandments of God” which all spiritual people are to “acknowledge” (1 Cor 14:37). Likewise, the qualifications of both elders and deacons restrict the offices to that of men (1 Tim 3:1-12 f; Tit 1:5-9). How can we dismiss these commands without questioning Paul’s apostleship, doubting the inerrancy of Scripture, and rebelling against God, since they proceeded by inspiration from Him and are preserved by Him (1 Pet 1:23-35)? If one is unwilling to trust Paul on these topics, how can he trust what Paul says about heaven, the resurrection, justification, grace, faith, or any other topic without becoming a “judge of the Law” (Jam 4:11-12)?
Some will contend that Paul’s silence of women was restricted for the Corinth church only. However, Paul confirmed that what he wrote to one church he wrote for all churches (1 Cor 4:17). That would include sound churches of all generations!
Older women are to teach younger women to love and obey their husbands (Titus 2:3-5). This does not imply that this teaching was done in the assembly. It does not imply women can teach minor children the Word while the church is assembled. This does not imply that women can preach, teach, wait on the Lord’s table, lead prayer, or lead singing when men are not present. This does not imply that older women are to teach younger women the gospel or the doctrine of Christ. It does not imply younger women can teach what older women were commanded to teach. It does not imply women can teach the gospel by writing articles on the internet, in church bulletins, or by authoring sermon books, etc. It does imply exactly what it said, “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed”.
Some may ask, “Does the woman’s absence from public leadership reduce her impact?” No, men and women are interdependent (1 Cor 11:8-12). The fact is, you can’t have the church without Christian women and you can’t have the church without Christian men. Yes, Christian men preach and teach the Word and lead the church, but mothers shape generations to come (Acts 16:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:5). In fact, if godly women did not bear children and rear them correctly for godly men, the church would be void of elders and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13 f; Tit 1:5-9). In fact, most preachers today are married men. If not for godly women who are willing to submit to their husbands, how unlikely would the gospel be preached as effectively as it is? Just look at the Catholic church today who forbid marriage for many of its leaders for the answer to that question.
In a generation and society where women are equal to men on so many levels, it is hard for many women to submit to man when it comes to handling God’s Word. Even so, God’s Word does not change from one generation to another. What was true for 1st-century Christian women is true for all other generations going forward. If anyone attempts to change God’s Word they shall be accursed! (Gal 1:6-9 f; Rev 22:18,19).
Yes, few people will be saved come the day of judgment. Most will not be able to walk the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life (Matt 7:13,14). The opinions of men and institutions shift with the changing pressures of our day, but as for us, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).