Question: I am aware of the 2 or 3 verses in Timothy, Corinthians, and Ephesians that say that women should not speak in church. I am just curious on where you stand and what your argument is against that. Many people have told me that it is cultural and doesn’t apply to us. Others who believe the Bible all applies to us, believe that we take it out of context. I am not sure what to believe, but my gut feeling tells me that God doesn’t care if you hear about Jesus and feed your spirit, whether it came from a man, woman, child, or brick wall! But unfortunately my gut feeling isn’t good enough to convince people. I emailed you to see if you had a reasonable argument on that side.
Answer. Thanks for the question. It’s very perceptive on your part. And I have to say that women have not fared well under religion. And yet when you read the Scriptures, it’s clear that women played a major role in both the Old and New Testament. Women were prophets, they were judges, and they stepped forward in critical times in both the Old and New Testament. Jesus had a strong relationship with women who played a vital role in his earthly ministry. It seems to me there are two issues at play here, when it comes to women leadership roles in the church. One, are women able or capable of leadership? Can they teach? Is there something about their minds or emotions that in some way disqualifies them? And the response has to be a loud, “absolutely not.” Women have proven themselves in every leadership area, in all walks of life. So women are capable of leading. The second issue becomes, is there some way women are inferior to men, not in their capability, but in their worth? And the resounding answer has to be “absolutely not.” Men and women were created by God as equal, but different. We have different strengths and play different roles. That doesn’t in any way diminish our importance or value. What really seems to be important to me in this question is how people use the statements of Scripture all out of context. You can cut and paste Scripture to make it mean anything you want it to. For example, are there places in the Bible where Paul talked about women’s heads being covered, and not wearing jewelry? Did he talk about at some point, women being quiet in the church? And the answer is he absolutely did. But the question becomes, was this to be a normative teaching that rises to the level of doctrine? Or was it dealing with a specific issue at that moment in time in the context in which it was used? I think interpreting the entire Scripture and the truth that it teaches, that Paul was talking about situation-specific moments in which men were not standing up to their responsibility. They were allowing women to step in and do what the men should have been doing. And that’s always true. Men and women both have different responsibilities and roles in marriage. I can’t do for my wife what only a wife can do. She can’t do for a husband what only a husband can do. There are some things that simply are specific to the role of leadership in the moment. The bigger picture is this. In the spirit of your comments, the most important thing is that the truth, God’s truth and the hope of the gospel be communicated. And I’m like you. I don’t think God really cares much whether it’s through a man or a woman. Even in the Old Testament He used a donkey. So He can use any mouthpiece He chooses, so long as the truth is communicated. It’s incredibly important, I think, that you continue to follow your gut in this matter. I think what you’re feeling is the leadership of the Holy Spirit that leads you as 1st John tells us, into all truth, that you don’t need another teacher overlaying all their biases on you. Be free, my brother, and teach and preach the Good News wherever you can, upon every occasion that is presented. And I’ll rejoice and so will God.