LET YOUR WOMEN…
1 Corinthians 14:34 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”.
This is a “take it or leave it” scripture for many so-called Christians. But to many who truly seek for Truth, it is a scripture that requires serious consideration especially in this day when gender-equality policies of the world have so strongly influenced many churches. When this scripture is brought into discussion, many who disagree with it quickly try to look for other scriptures which seem to support their view. But one issue needs clarification here – if there is another scripture that supports women preaching in church, then either the Bible contradicts itself OR man, wittingly or unwittingly, misinterprets simple truth of the Scripture.
In this message a list of different reasons used in support of women-preaching in church will be examined in the light of God’s Word. Even so, it is important to know that some Christians caught up in this fallacy are sincere and have fallen into the error either due to ignorance of scriptures or having an indifferent attitude towards Bible doctrines. But sincerity does not define truth as a person can be sincerely wrong.
I encourage you to approach this subject with an open mind and examine the facts dealt with in this message objectively. Let us examine whether Christians are walking in the light of God’s truth or are completely deceived and deceiving others to damnation. Let us bear in mind that when we are dealing with things that concern The Word and Doctrine of the church of Christ, we are not merely carrying out an academic exercise of analysing different doctrinal viewpoints of people; The Word and doctrine concerns God and what He desires of His Children. No matter how we claim to try to please God; if we have no regard to His Word, our fate has already been pronounced – “Because thou hast rejected the Word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee” (1 Sam.15:23).
COMMON VIEWS & SCRIPTURES USED TO SUPPORT
There are a number of excuses used by women preachers to defend their position, and much of which are exaggerated explanations of scriptures. Due to constraint of space, only the usual and common points of defence shall be dealt with in this message. These include the following:
1. The verse of 1 Cor.14:34 was written by Paul to deal with a local problem which occurred at the church in Corinth and is thus not applicable to all Christian churches.
If this view is correct, why did Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34 emphasise his admonition by using the words “as also saith the law” ? These words clearly indicate that Paul was not introducing some new teaching or special order suitable for just a particular local church but was actually emphasising and reaffirming an already established order from the Old Testament era of the Law. This can never be overemphasised as there is no record anywhere in the Old Testament scriptures where women were ordained to priesthood.
In verse 37 of the above scripture apostle Paul further warns that, “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”. So, what we read in 1 Cor.14:34 is not Paul’s opinion but a commandment God gave to Paul to be given to the church.
Here is another important thing to consider with regards to the above argument of pro-women preachers: If Paul forbade women to preach in the Corinthian church because of the alleged problem the local church faced, then what is the meaning of the same instruction Paul gave to Timothy to a church in Ephesus - 1 Timothy 2:11-14? Here are the words of the verse:
“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, for Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”.
In this scripture are words which in no uncertain terms give the reason WHY GOD FORBIDS WOMEN TO TEACH THE WORD. The explanation and reason given by Paul is clearly universal – applicable to all human beings and their culture IF THOSE HUMAN BEINGS DESCENDED FROM THE FIRST PARENTS OF MANKIND, Adam and Eve!
Notice the word “for” in the above verse. It is a conjunction which means “because”. A person doesn’t need a bachelor’s degree in English or Greek to understand this. So, the simple reason being given by the scripture for women not to preach is that Adam was formed before Eve and that she was deceived and not the man.
One day on a radio interview (Audio CDs of this Interview are available), two clergymen – one a lecturer at a Bible College and another, a woman preacher – challenged this stand for 1 Corinthians 14:34 by stating the following:
2. The verse in 1 Cor.14:34 is applicable to the culture of Jews or people of the East. And the doctrine should not be taken as absolute but relative and is subject to change with times and people’s cultures.
During the radio interview the Bible lecturer paused this question with emphasis; “Is there something really wrong in a woman for us to be able to think that they can not preach?”
With all due respect to the Bible lecturer for a college of Theology I must say that this question was supposed to come from an atheist and not a man professing to be a teacher of the Bible! In the first place that question should not be directed to me but God. If anyone feels he knows women better than God, then let him go on and challenge God’s orders. Perhaps the question should be extended by asking God this; “Is there something really wrong with a woman that she still has to bear the pain when delivering a child during labour?”
Any sincere person knows the fact that women are weaker vessels and easily fall for deception, sensationalism and fanaticism. That is the simple reason why God can never put them in a position of authority to lead men! (cf. 1 Peter 3:7).
Take note that Paul, when dealing with the subject of women preaching in church (1 Timothy 2:11-14), gave reference to the events of Genesis chapter 3 in which God had established the law to put a woman under the headship of a man, after her deception by the serpent. In Genesis 3:16, God said to the woman:
“In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”.
Two things are note-worthy in this verse:
If God has now forgotten about the headship of man over a woman and that she now can hold the authority of preaching the Word, then WHY does the curse of great pain in child bearing still occur on women? Were not both the cursing and the giving of headship to a man consequences of her succumbing to the Serpent’s deception? Therefore if any person claims that the grace of God has now annulled the forbiddance of women preaching in church let him explain why that Grace hasn’t taken away birth pangs which were part of the judgement God pronounced on a woman. And are not the verses forbidding women to preach found in the New Testament of Grace? So, women preaching in church can never be a fruit of grace but disgrace!
[NOTE: Some theologians foolishly claim that a woman can be a preacher in church and still submit to the headship of her husband at home. This claim is a serious disregard and bypass of 1 Cor.14:34 which clearly connects (and does not in anyway separate) the issue of preaching in church and submission at home. How can a woman be a preacher without usurping authority over men in her congregation? A person can never be a preacher without possessing the authority of His master to feed His flock. The ascension ministry of Ephesians 4:11 are positions of authority – not carnal authority of proud men, but the authority to teach, expound doctrine and be a wise guide, judge and steward in the household of God (cf. Matt.24:45-46, Heb.13:17, 2 Cor.5:20).]
In addition to pronouncing birth-pangs on a woman, God said to the woman that “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”.
Thus, God established the headship of man over a woman right from that point. The question is: TO WHOM WAS THE LAW ESTABLISHED – Hebrews, Arabs, Africans or Americans? Is it hard to see that Adam and Eve were the first parents of all mankind? If a theologian wants to dismiss the headship of man over a woman as a mere cultural or racial custom, he or she must first establish what race, tribe or culture Adam was. It takes simple common sense to understand that even nature testifies that women folk should be under the headship of a man. By nature they are weak and require the strength and protection of a man. The trouble is we are living in a world in which common sense is no longer common; truth now sounds bizarre and nonsense sounds more appealing. What is more, the world has not only lost the human sense of distinguishing the different roles of a woman and man but people have become so stupid by now engaging in same sex marriage where a man marries a man and a woman marries a woman. Dogs are now more sober than creatures called human beings; you will never see a male animal trying to meet another animal of its own kind. In the next few decades, this insanity will become so normal that even some churches will sanction it.
3. Galatians 3:28 says that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”.
The above verse is usually taken to mean that God no longer distinguishes between a man and a woman and so it no longer matters to Him if a woman preaches.
Is it not surprising that all processes of nature – the formation of starch in the green vegetables, the process of respiring by all living things, the formation of minerals in the earth – occurs by following prescribed processes (laws). Imagine what chaos would be there if the chemical elements that make water (two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen) also demanded for “human rights” and wanted to have a feel of becoming paraffin. What chaos would be there to the fish in the rivers, the water we drink in our homes, the rain that waters our fields and forests?! God has created everything in the state it is in for a purpose. Try to challenge that purpose and one day you will wish you had not taken the way that you have.
Now, if Galatians 3:28 should be literally taken to mean that there is no difference between a man or woman, then why can’t men also start becoming pregnant to share the burden of women? If this sounds ridiculous, then the verse should be understood in its proper context. Paul, in Galatians 3:28 is explaining of how, through Grace, salvation no longer just belongs to the Jews only and neither is it based on the preference of men to women. In other words, anyone who sincerely repents and accepts the Lord Jesus as his or her Saviour – whether man or woman, Gentile or Jew – God will accept! The whole verse (beginning from verse 27) reads as follows:
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”.
Having stated the foregoing, it should now be clear that this verse has completely nothing to do with women preaching in church.
4. Women can preach because Joel 2:28 says that “it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy”.
Joel 2:28 is another scripture that is usually overstretched, exaggerated and quoted out of context.
Some theologians take the word “prophesy” and generalise it to mean “proclaiming God’s Word as in teaching or preaching”. Such people have no reverence for God’s Word and would make it say anything they want it to say as long as it satisfies their theological or doctrinal appetites. If prophesying and preaching/teaching of God’s Word is the same thing then how could Paul forbid women to preach and then turn around and allow them to prophesy in church? Would he not be contradicting himself?
One does not require a degree in Theology to understand the usage of the word “prophesy” in the Bible. Its usage in the Bible – not according to Oxford or other modern dictionaries – refers to the act of God speaking using a person’s mouth or voice. The person being used does not plan what to speak. It is God speaking using a human vessel and that is why prophecy is often accompanied by the words, “THUS SAITH THE LORD”. However, today there are so many false prophets and prophetesses who mistake the anointing of God for their self-made sensationalism and hysteria. But that does not rule out genuine gifts which operate in some people.
Now, preaching on the other hand is different from prophesying; it may involve planning and studying what you will preach or teach about, using the wisdom God has given you. Of course one should spend time in prayer and seek God’s inspiration. But yet, even when God speaks to your heart about what to preach, you will use the wisdom God gave you to plan and select the words you will use to build up the sermon for the understanding of the people. Prophesying on the other hand is strictly “THUS SAITH THE LORD”!
Here is another important thing to note: if the prophecy of Joel 2:28 meant that women shall become preachers when the Holy Ghost comes on them, let us go to Acts chapter 2 and examine the events which transpired when this prophecy got fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and the years that followed recorded in the book of Acts.
When the Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and proclaimed to the crowd that;
“THIS is THAT which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…’”
If what happened on the day of Pentecost fulfilled Joel 2:28 and if the word “prophesy” has the same meaning as preaching or teaching the Word, can anyone mention one woman who stood up and began to preach as the result of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost and the years that followed recorded in the book of Acts? No woman preached following the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the entire book of Acts. The only thing we read is that of women who prophesied as in the case of the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9).
5. Phoebe, a woman, is referred to by Paul as a “servant of the church” (Romans 16:1). Also Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned to be helpers of Paul.
It is very sad to see how people can get to such extents of overstretching scriptures in order to satisfy their egos and ambitions. Theologians will read a statement like “Paul a servant of God” in one place of the scripture, and then find another similar word in a phrase like, “Phoebe a servant of the church” and then equate the ministries of Paul and Phoebe. This is a very ridiculous way of interpreting scripture. Let me illustrate:
If person X is described as B in a verse of scripture and person Y is also described as B in another verse of scripture, does it make person X and Y the same in every aspect, capacity and their roles? If yes, try to make out this:
The sky looks grey
That cat looks grey.
Does the above statement mean “cat” and “sky” are ONE thing? Ridiculous, isn’t it? But it’s how some educated theologians want to read scripture. They will define a prophetess as “a female prophet”. I wonder if they will define a prophet as “a male prophetess”.
I should state here that Phoebe was not a servant of the church in the role of preaching the Word. Reading the whole passage explains what Paul meant when he called her “servant”. Here it is:
“I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also”.
See, Phoebe was a servant of the church because her charity works through which she succoured many. There are other examples of women who fall in this category among which are Dorcas who was full of good works and alms deeds (Acts 9:36) and the women who accompanied Jesus and his disciples as they went about preaching the gospel. These women, the Bible says, “ministered unto him (Jesus) of their substance” (Luke 8:1-3). These women were probably engaged in businesses and honoured God by trying to support the ministry of Jesus through their substance. Such women can be called co-workers in ministry but that does not make them preachers!
THE PLACE OF A WOMAN IN GOD’S FAMILY
There is certainly a wonderful place that God has kept for women in his household. A woman in her rightful place is a great blessing.
· God can use elderly women to teach younger women the right way to conduct themselves – “The aged women… that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). DOESN’T THIS VERSE EVEN MAKE IT MORE PLAIN OF WHAT GOD EXPECTS WOMEN TO BE?
· A sober and virtuous woman takes pleasure and delight in raising up children in the noble and sober way. God has given a woman the blessing of the fruit of the womb, for a woman “shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” and “her children arise up, and call her blessed” (1 Tim.2:15, Prov.31:28). So as apostle Paul admonished, let the women “marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim.5:14);
· God can use a woman in a gift of prophecy as in the case of Anna, the daughters of Philip and other prophetesses (cf. Luke.2:36, Acts 21:8-9);
· God can use women in charitable works as in the case of the women who accompanied Jesus – Dorcas and Phoebe (cf. Luke 8:1-3, Acts 9:36-39);
· A woman, like any other child of God, can testify of what God has done for her and through that others may be edified and some can even come to Christ – “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:39).
A spiritual man doesn’t abuse his God-given headship over a woman but he loves and respects his wife and together they relate as a bond of intimate friends, raising their family in the happiness and joy of serving the Lord. Husbands should love their wives and wives should respect and submit to their husbands (Eph.5:25-29).
Now, here is another excuse that is usually used by women preachers:
6. Deborah was a prophetess and judge in Israel (Judges 4:4); this shows that God allows women to be preachers and teachers of the Word.
IS THAT SO? If it was God’s perfect will for Deborah to become a judge and leader of Israel can someone explain Isaiah 3:12;
“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”
The above scripture clearly points out the fact that when a woman ruled Israel it was a shameful thing and only indicated that the nation of Israel was backslidden! And this is exactly so for Deborah became a Judge in Israel when Israel was backslidden and left the ways of God. So, how can any spiritual person point to the permissive will of God in letting Deborah rule Israel when Christ has come to restore us to the perfect will. This is no different than trying to justify polygamy simply because men like David or Solomon had many wives in the Old Testament. The Old Testament people were living in the permissive will of God because of the fallen nature of man. But in the New Testament of Grace the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore the perfect will of God. The Pharisees in trying to justify divorce, simply because Moses permitted it, had the Lord Jesus tell them this:
“Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt.19:8-9).
The issue of Moses permitting divorce or God permitting men to marry more than one wife was not different with the issue of Deborah being a judge in Israel. She became a judge at a time when Israel was fallen in sin (Read Judges 4:1-4). And as Isaiah 3:12 indicates, when a woman ruled in Israel it was considered a shame and not the perfect will of God.
7. God used women as evangelists; for example, the women who announced the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the woman at the well who went about testifying of what Jesus had done to her (Matt.28:5-7, John 4:1-39).
People who use such explanations to justify women preaching either lack sincerity in their explanations or respect and reverence to God’s Word. How can any sincere person equate giving a testimony to preaching and teaching the Word? When the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) was discerned by the Lord Jesus and He revealed her troubles, she went about testifying of what the Lord Jesus did for her. As stated in the foregoing, every child of God (whether man or woman, boy or girl) is free to testify of what God has done for him or her! When the people heard of the Samaritan woman’s testimony, many came to Jesus. Did that make her an evangelist? If a person has been sick of cancer and gets healed of God and then testifies to her family of how true God’s power of healing is, by which they get converted and become Christians, will that make her an evangelist or pastor. Was she preaching or simply narrating what God has done for her? Similarly did the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection by the women to the disciples make them preachers? What were they preaching and teaching about? To suggest that the Samaritan woman became a preacher when she testified portrays, not only an extreme case of trying to twist scripture to suit one’s views but also, a lack of simple and intelligent reasoning. If giving a testimony of what God has done makes a person a pastor or evangelist then there is no meaning to the words “pastor” or “evangelist” for every child of God has something to testify about the goodness of God in his or her life!
AND HOW ABOUT WOMEN PREACHERS WHO SEEM TO BE
SO SPIRITUALLY GIFTED IN HEALINGS, PROPHECIES
Although we live in a time of much falsehood, fanaticism and fake prophets and prophetesses, I believe that there have been women who rose up in the early days of the American Pentecostal movement with genuine gifts of healings. Many times an anointing of prophecy could genuinely come upon a woman, but as pride and ego took a hold of that person she would begin to think of going further than just prophesying but also teaching the Word. Although the gift could operate, it does not mean God sanctioned it. Through time many women preachers have arisen especially in the Pentecostal movement. Strange as this may seem, the Lord Jesus already warned us about this in Matthew 7:21-23:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
So, having a gift is one thing and using it in the proper way according to the will of God is another. Every man shall be judged according to what he or she has made of the gift of God – from the basic gift of life that we all have to the different spiritual gifts God has given us (Read 1 Cor.3:8-15).
God is a God of order. He has made the sun to shine during the daytime and the moon during the night time, yet the moon has never complained of why it is thus. This is simply because the moon has also a special role which the sun can’t do because it is not meant for the sun. Can you imagine how life would have been if everything else wanted to be anything else? Disorder and chaos will be the order of things. It’s only among human species of all the things that God created that you find female species wanting to be males, and vice versa.
May you keep yourself pure from the falsehood, deception and fanaticism that is so rampant in this day we live in is my prayer.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev.2:7). And “if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:9)
If through this message, you are feeling a conviction in your heart, God’s Word is admonishing you not to harden your heart – “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Psalm 95:7-8, Heb.3:15).
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