READ the rest of the series here.
I’ve taken a couple of weeks away from the blog as I’ve been celebrating the birth of my daughter, Sophia Grace. Perhaps it’s appropriate that my “baby-cation” interrupted a discussion in our Wednesday night Bible class on the role of women in the church as taught in 1 Timothy. What opportunities for church involvement and service will my daughter have? (Of course that’s a relevant question for my wife, sisters and all other women out there too.) As she grows what gifts should I encourage her to develop and how can she use them in God’s service?
The topic of the “Role of Women in the Church” could obviously carry on for months and still not reach a conclusion that pleases everyone. We could look at different passages in the Old and New Testaments. I’m only raising this topic because you can’t teach 1 Timothy without addressing it, not because I’m trying to initiate a debate. I expect to post 3 or 4 blogs on this topic.
My final precursor is to let you know that after a lot of study and thought, I generally adopt what has been described as the complementarian view of gender roles in the church. Which basically holds that men and women have equal value in God’s eyes, but different roles within the church and family. [You can read a brief description here, or a book on the topic here.] So I’m not wanting to debate the merits of that view.
In 1 Timothy 2 the key restrictions placed upon women are found in v12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet.” I find that churches often muddy the discussion by using the term leadership rather than the biblical terms teach and have authority over.
Perhaps at first glance we might say that the meaning of these terms is obvious, but church life provides so many opportunities for people to involve themselves, that it’s not always clear where these restrictions should apply.
I’ve composed a list of different teaching and leading scenarios for women. Please read through the list and consider how many are NOT RESTRICTED by the terms “teach and have authority”. PLEASE do not comment on every single item. I’m interested in seeing how easy it is to understand these terms and how much our understandings differ, so all you need to do is give a total number and some general comments.
In future posts I’ll explore more the methods of how we come to these conclusions.
Possible Areas of “Teaching & Authority”
- Teaching a ladies Bible Class
- Teaching a children’s Bible Class
- Teaching a children’s Bible Class with baptized boys in it
- Teaching a teen Bible Class
- Asking a question in Bible Class
- Answering a question in Bible Class (offering an interpretation of a verse)
- Co-teaching (with a man) a Bible Class on Christian parenting
- Teaching an adult Bible Class on serving people with addictions.
- Teaching an adult Bible Class on the book of Ezekiel.
- Writing a book on God’s grace, that may be read by men
- Writing songs
- Singing songs
- Leading congregational singing
- Sharing in Bible Class how God has worked in her life
- Reading Scripture in Bible Class
- Reading Scripture in a worship service
- Participating in a congregational reading in a worship service.
- Saying “Amen” and “That’s the truth” in a worship service.
- Making an announcement during a worship service
- Preparing powerpoint slides for a worship service
- Running the powerpoint slides for a worship service
- Managing the audio/visual system for a worship service
- Passing communion trays during a worship service
- Serving as an usher at a worship service
- Saying a prayer during a worship service
- Presenting thoughts prior to the Lord’s Supper
- Preaching at a worship service
- Serving as a ministry leader for church fellowship meals
- Serving as a ministry leader for children’s education
- Serving as a ministry leader for missions or benevolence
- Participating on ministry committees
- Standing before the congregation to report on a mission trip
Can you think of some more situations that are difficult to define? Leave a comment and add them to the list.
BONUS: Interestingly, David Lipscomb, an early american Church of Christ pioneer, had no problem with women teaching men in Sunday Bible Classes. You can read one of his quotes on the topic at this blog… just scroll down the page a little bit.