May Women Preach?

Posted: February 1, 2013 in Apologetics, Bible Doctrine

In perusing the DRHAC blog today, a post was made by Cynthia Umling McClasky on how the IFB brainwashes its members into following false doctrine and sites an article entitled Women May Preach? to show the fundamentalists’ error in subjecting women to abuse or as she describes it, leads to slander, contempt and harassment of women.

The question that will be addressed is, may women preach? And the answer is: NO, and I will use the article she posted to rebut the numerous misinterpreted passages of Scripture.

First, this is very simple. Paul gives the instructions for the qualifications of the bishop (preacher, pastor etc) in 1 Tim 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” It says the HUSBAND of one WIFE. It does not say the wife of one husband. And to make sure there is no room for error in misunderstanding this passage, Paul writes in verse 11, “ Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things”  The entire chapter makes it perfectly clear that the office of the bishop over the church is to be a male figure.

Paul reiterates this same message in Titus 1:6-7 ” If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre”.

Paul further instructs that a woman is not to have authority over a man, which she would if she were a preacher. And the follow-up is that she learn is silence. I Tim 2:12. Now this verse can and has been misinterpreted by many even in fundamentalist circles that a woman can never speak or speak up at all. The Greek word used here for “silence” is “hesuchia” which means a person that quietly works at home that doesn’t meddle with the affairs of others. In context with Paul’s command for a woman not to teach, usurp authority over the man, being in silence means not challenging his authority as the pastor. That does not mean she can not tell her husband that the preacher is speaking something that is clearly heretical, but she does not have the right to question his position as the pastor of the church. This does not mean she is never allowed to question him at all, but not his official capacity in his function of the office of the pastorate.

Only dishonest scholarship and Bible rejecting Egalitarianists attempt to perform the Biblical gymnastics necessary to make these verses mean something other than the plain meaning they were intended to give.

MAY WOMAN PREACH (Bushnell is listed as the author, and since it is dated 1923, I am assuming it is Katharine Bushnell, the woman considered to be the founding mother of feminist theology.)

Although this subject could be extended beyond this short article, I am going to limit it to a critique of this article.

The Church has often told woman — we might say very loudly– that Paul commanded her to “keep silence in the
churches.” The Church has told woman very softly, or not at all, that Jesus Christ obliged one woman to NOT KEEP
SILENCE (emphasis mine), but to proclaim before a great multitude, made up largely of men, that Christ had redeemed
her from that very “curse,” as it has been called, which is supposed by some to lie at the base of the doctrine of silence
and subordination for women, and which was the pretext for her original exclusion from service at the altar.~Bushnell

Bushnell did not address the specific reference to where Christians get this idea that “woman should be silent in the churches”. It is found in I Corinthians 14:34-35:

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. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church

Critics try to explain away this verse by either claiming that is was only cultural or based on a rabbinical reading and therefore not authoritative even though it was given to a GENTILE church to whom Paul was the apostle of (Rom 11:13) and in verse 37 Paul tells the church that what he says are the commandments of the Lord.

The main context was regarding speaking in tongues and the abuse of it in preaching the word of God in a church with unbelievers. (We at DRC are cessationists, but will not go into that issue in this article.) Although many churches have misapplied this verse to say that women should not speak at all, implying that because they talk too much they are expected to wait until they get home, that is not what the context is about. The context is directed at women preaching in the church.

LUKE 8

The account of this woman’s case will be found in Luke 8:43-48. Zechariah had proclaimed, 500 years before this
incident, that there was to be a “fountain opened for sin and uncleanness” (13:1), referring to the coming Christ, and
using the very word for “uncleanness” which, according to Levitical law, separated a woman from the congregation of
Israel (Lev. 15:19). Men straight from a battle; from stumbling over a grave in the churchyard; from administering
comfort in the home of the dead, and from many other conditions producing that same state called “separation,” (or
“uncleanness,” as translated), for which exclusion from the congregation of Israel was prescribed, have never thought of
excluding themselves, even temporarily, from the altar of the Church. In a word, men found that “fountain for sin and
uncleanness” when Christ came and took full advantage of it; but presently they excluded women from its benefits, and
placed her back under Levitical disabilities.

We have a lesson to learn from Christ’s bringing the woman to the front to declare her own redemption from an
infirmity, instead of His merely declaring it for her. It is not enough that Christ’s teaching is plain on this subject, WE
WOMEN MUST PROCLAIM THIS (emphasis mine). It is not enough for women to modestly and quietly seek their own
redemption, they must proclaim it, even when that proclamation lays them open to the FALSE CHARGE OF IMMODESTY
(emphasis mind)[sic]~Bushnell [I am assuming that the ’emphasis mine’ were added by Cynthia]

Here Bushnell is equating personal redemption from sin to liberation of women from rules that restrict their role in the church. There is absolutely nothing in the context of Luke 8 that can be used to reinterpret what Paul said in I Corinthians 14, Timothy or Titus. There is nothing in this verse that gives a woman the authority to preach or pastor a church merely because she was purified of her uncleanness by Christ.

LUKE 13:11-13

This brings us to another lesson that Christ taught, when he caused yet another woman NOT TO KEEP SILENCE. This case
is recorded in Luke 13:11-13. We can easily picture this poor deformed creature making her way wearily to the
synagogue, to hear the great Prophet; climbing the steps to the stuffy little compartment behind the lattice, usually up
in the gallery under the roof. How amazed she must have been to have the great Prophet call out suddenly, “Mary,
come here to me.” the other women help her to descend as quickly as possible, and she walks up the aisle to the
platform with trembling feet, and stands in a most unusual position–out in public, among all the men! Gently He spoke
to her and “laid His hands on her,” and behold! not only is she “loosed from her infirmity; “she was made straight and
glorified God.” This means, of course, that she broke the silence with her hallelujahs, and with rapid toungue [sic]began to
tell eagerly all about her former suffering, and healing, to all in the synagogue~Bushnell

This is what Luke 13:11-13 actually says:

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

First of all, the article is supposed to be about woman preaching in the church. Secondly, there is nothing in the context the indicates Jesus told her to say anything, let alone to “NOT..KEEP SILENCE”. She glorified God as a result of being healed, not because she was told to. And again, this passage has nothing to do with a woman preaching in a church. Her response was reactionary not imperative.

LAYING ON OF HANDS

This act of the “laying on of hands” afterwards came into use among the Apostles as the ceremony which fitted men for preaching the Gospel and to this day men boast that they are in the “Apostolic Succession,” which means that someone laid hands on them, who had had hands laid upon him, of one who had hands laid upon him, of one, etc., etc., all the way back to an Apostle. They forget that this “laying on of hands” goes farther back than to the Apostles, to a certain woman, who had Christ’s hands laid upon her; and she immediately responded by publicly glorifying God, in spite of the prohibitions of man. Men might have been not merely in the “Apostolic succession,” but in the Divine succession, had they not despised the ministry of women. They should have sought of this woman the “laying on of hands,” if there be any virtue in “succession”.~Bushnell

In this argument, Bushnell attempts to equate the laying on of hands for healing, with the laying on of hands for placing a man in the ministry.(see 2 Timothy 1:6.) And she offers a gross interpolation of traditions to make a completely unsupported premise that the laying on of hands for healing morphed into the practice of laying on of hands for ministry. She argues that the Jews in the temple opposed this laying on of hands and that Jesus gave her permission to defy mens orders, and thus the precedent is established that woman are not under the authority of men in the church. Again, a gross interpretation of Scripture. What the Jews were angry about was not that Jesus healed a WOMAN, or that a woman spoke in church, but that he healed her on the Sabbath. This issue was a major point of contention with the Pharisees against Jesus and was a debate that occurred quite often (Mark 3:1-6, John 7:23-24, Luke 14:1, Matthew 12:10, John 9:14-16, Luke 6:2).

While we are on the subject of laying on of hands for the ministry, there is not one single verse in the Bible where any apostle ever laid hands on a woman to ordain her into the office of bishop.

SOME “PROOF TEXTS” USED TO PROVE WOMEN CAN PREACH

Critics attempt to use Deborah as proof that God ordained woman to the ministry. Deborah was a judge (Judges 4:4), not a priest, she was not given the charge over a congregation of spiritual matters, but as a judge was an enforcer of the law, and a prophetess, and this was an exception, not the rule in those times. And even if it was the rule, it would not over-ride Paul’s commands in the New Testament. Although women like Deborah, Huldah, Anna, provide remarkable examples of the character, courage, and charisma of godly women in the Bible, their examples can not be used to prove that women preachers are permitted in the New Testament church.

Even during the tribulation, when God seals 144,000 servants whom work with His 2 witnesses in Rev 11:3 (Rev 7:4), all 144,000 are men (Rev 14:4).

Romans 16:1-2 is where the Bible rejectors (NIV, NASB, ASV et al) butcher the text to prove that Phebe was a “deaconess” instead of what the King James accurately translates as “servant” because the Greek word is diakanon. The first Protestant reading with this perversion was in the Amplified Version New Testament in 1958.

The issue with translating diakanon as “deacon” is that it is a neutral word, not  feminine. In Romans 15:8, diakanon is translated as “minister” refering to Christ, and Christ was not a deacon, He was an Apostle (Heb 3:1). The same word is also translated “minister” in Eph 3:7 and is used to describe the function of Paul’s work, not his title. The requirement of a DEACON is to be the “HUSBAND of one wife” (1 Tim 3:12). Therefore to translate diakanon as “deaconess” is erroneous.

This does not exclude women from being helpers in the church as Paul described Phebe (Rom 16:2, “succourer” means helper), but there is no justification whatsoever for relying on Rom 16:1-2 as a proof text for women preachers.

CONCLUSION

Although the Bible is clear that women are not permitted to serve as pastors, that does not mean these are proof texts for bullying or harassment. The Scripture is clear that elderly women are to be treated as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, and WITH ALL PURITY (that means no raping them, no molesting them, no abusing them, no talking dirty to them)1 Tim 5:1-3. And especially for married couples where the husband beats his wife over the head with Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5 does not give the husband authority to dominate a woman and make her his slave. Paul makes it clear in 1 Cor 7 that the woman’s body belongs to the man, and the man’s to the woman (in marriage) which clearly demonstrates an equal partnership, not a “do as I say or you are being disobedient” type attitude. Being the ‘head’ over the household does not mean being a control freak.

Now granted, the role that women have taken on today whether it’s in the workplace, in the church and in making choices and decisions that the husband clearly has the final authority on has caused a breeding ground of rebellion and feminazi mentality. There’s a “new age” of woman’s liberation and Titus chapter 2 is not in it. And those women can not claim exemption by pointing to God and saying ” the husband thou gavest me”. But men need to bear the responsibility of treating their wives as Christ loved the church. Since a woman is crafted physiologically, mentally and biologically different from a man, WHAT you say may make sense to you, but HOW you say it may mean 10 different things to her. “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stirreth up anger”. I have never met a man who boldly claimed his authority over a women that didn’t do so in an angry manner, and if men act like that, the women is going to rebel. A Proverbs 31 woman, or an Abigail is a rare breed, but there is a way to help her WANT to become one and it has everything to do with your attitude, HOW you talk to her and communicate, HOW you listen to her. This doesn’t mean that a husband gives in when his wife is clearly acting in a unscriptural manner, but “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good” Prov 16:20. Too many men today treat their wives like a doormat by failing to understand  what the Bible says about the roles of women AND MEN.

A husband that dwells with his wife according to knowledge (I Peter 3:7), will seek to understand her, and work toward intimacy (into me see). God made woman from a rib under man’s heart, not from his foot. True, that men are not good communicators in general, but if God told the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church, any husband that is not willing to get out of his nothing box and learn how to love her is a lazy, rebellious and sinful man.

God has ordained a role for the woman, and a role for the man, and has clearly defined the boundaries of each in marriage and in the church. That may not be popular, and it may not fit today’s cultural ideologies, but what is written is what is written; but there is no reason for that to be a cause of contention between Christian men and women. God did not write the boundaries to make relationships oppressive, and when the proper balance is achieved and the Scriptures applied in context, men and women, and couples, can and will find themselves blessed in the will of God!

J/A

 

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Comments
  1. drjamesa says:

    Next one will be on her article called “Inerrant?” where she attacks the correctness of the Bible. Pretty silly logic that even those who disagree with the KJB Only position wouldn’t agree with, but that same Bible she says is corrupted as a “PROVEN fact” comes in awful handy when she needs it to try and correct Bible believers. (Like “Gods Anger is Limited” sited a plethora of BIble verses and at the end quoting from a source called “Bible Proofs. Doesn’t that just beat all! One article from “Bible Proofs” and another article on Bible dis-proofs).
    I sure hope that one paragraph isn’t all there is too the “PROVEN fact” that the Bible is corrupt.

    And and do send me all the comments about “what about all those IFB preachers that don’t obey the verses you quote?” Not every single article ever written must deal with issues of pastoral misconduct. If I write an article about black eyed peas and how they are great with Louisiana Hot Sauce, I’m not going to put in a paragraph, “Oh by the way, there are some bad IFB preachers out there”.

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