It is regrettable to say, but the influences of the world also have an impact on our attitudes in religion. In the last few years we have suffered through the so called “women’s liberation movement.” This influence has been felt in religion, as never before in history. There has been a push to give women authority in the realm of what is referred to, by the world, as Christianity. As a result we now have women who serve as priests, pastors, preachers, elders, deacons, evangelists, Bible class teachers, “clergy persons” and every other imaginable position. It is a tragic yet true reflection of the spiritually depraved mind of modern man when we have those who desire to refer to God Jehovah as “she.”
In spite of the attitudes of the religious world, we must remember that our responsibility is to the Word of God and not to the social pressures of society. Those who find themselves in disobedience to the gospel on judgment day will suffer the eternal consequences of rebellion (II Thess 1:8-9).
In this article we want to notice the responsibility of the Christian woman to teach, as it is outlined in God’s word. It needs to be emphasized that women are responsible for teaching the Word as surely as are men but there are specific restrictions to women.
Where is a woman allowed to teach? She may teach in a private, informal capacity. Who may a woman teach? In this private, informal capacity a woman may teach:
1. A man – Acts 18:26.. whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
2. A child – Timothy was taught the scriptures as a child by his mother and grandmother (II Tim 3:15).
3. Another woman – Titus 2:3-4. Older women are instructed to teach the younger.
In summation of these Bible instructions we find a woman may teach in a private, informal setting. In this setting she may teach men, women and children. It is important to note that WHERE A WOMAN MAY TEACH SHE MAY TEACH ANYONE. The brethren who have disgressed to the class system of teaching find themselves in a spiritual dilemma on this point. The class system does not fit the requirements for women to teach. Their classes are neither private nor informal. One time I had the opportunity to make this observation. I asked a preacher, “are your classes public or private? If they are private, may a woman teach a man?” To which he replied, “our classes are public, a woman may not teach a man.” I then asked, “do you believe a woman can teach in public.” He replied, “No! Our classes are private.” Then realizing the contradiction he said, “Well, our classes are semi-private”, after a few seconds of reflection he said, “maybe our classes are semi-public.” So it goes when one finds himself outside of God’s Word.
A woman MAY NOT TEACH in the church assembly, or in any other public capacity. “I,et 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” (I Tim 2:11:12). This verse teaches that in the learning process for the woman she is to “learn in silence.” In the teaching process, we learn, “I suffer not a woman to teach.”
In a closer look we discover two prohibitions for women. “I suffer not a woman to teach,” this clause is an independent clause making a definite statement. A woman is forbidden to teach (to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses, Thayer p.144). She is also forbidden to “usurp authority over the man.” These are independent ideas connected by the word “nor.” The verse does not say, I suffer not a woman to teach over the man, thus implying that if the man (elders) gave her the authority it would be all right for her to teach.
The admonition for women to be silent in the church is further sustained in the letter to the Corinthians. “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 anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in church.” (I Cor 14:34-35).
Again, the lesson is that the women are to remain silent in reference to teaching “in the church.” Silence is an easy word to understand, you probably already know the definition. It means “to keep silence, hold one’s peace,” (Thayer p. 574). The same word for “silence” used in verse 34 is also used in verse 28 in reference to “tongue speakers.” “If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church,” (v.28).
The reasoning is obvious, if no one could interpret, the “tongue speaker” was to ‘keep silence, hold his peace.” The word means the same thing for the woman, she is to “keep silent, hold her piece.”
Brethren, I make this prediction: If it hasn’t already happened, within the next few years you will see women taking the pulpits of the more liberal churches of Christ. This is a natural evolution from women teaching in the classrooms. Once the gate is opened to one innovation there is no closing it. We may “wrest the scriptures unto our own destruction” but we will never cause them to allow women to teach in a public capacity.
Published in the July 1, 1991 issue of the OPA.